By Richard Jao
Never since the inception of the ill fated Catwoman movie has a superhero movie, much less a reboot, missed the mark on what made the source material great in the first place.
With the knockout success Marvel's having in the last several years, many tend to forget that it was the Fantastic Four that put Marvel Comics on the map a year before Spider-Man sprang onto the scene. Unlike the Justice League or the Avengers, the Four were less an alliance of superpowered do-gooders and more of a surrogate family of flawed people who's lives are complicated by superhuman abilities. You would think that such a simple premise would be easy to translate to cinema, and yet all the Fantastic Four have under their names are two lukewarm movies and an unreleased ash-can film. It's sad then that the newest iteration of Marvel's first family is not just sub-par: it sets a new low for superhero movies as a whole.
In this version of the four directed by Josh Trank of Chronicle fame, Reed Richards (Miles Teller) and Ben Grimm (Jamie Bell) are childhood friends that work together to build a teleportation machine. The device piques the interest of Franklin Storm (Reg E. Cathey) and his adopted daughter Sue (Kate Mara), who are working on a large scale inter-dimensional teleporter designed by the seclusive Victor Von Doom (Toby Kebbell). Johnny Storm (Michael B Jordan) is later brought onto the project and everything goes smoothly until a trip to the Negative Zone traps Doom in another dimension and the other four come back with superhuman abilities that the US government immediately takes advantage of.
It's obvious from the get go that Fox was aiming to avert the cheesiness of the first two movies by going for a darker, more realistic tone. To the film's credit it does introduce a couple of ideas that today's audiences would find interesting such as substituting the old space race for inter-dimensional travel and showing off the initial body horror reaction of having these strange new powers. There are also scant glimpses of character interaction that show a movie that "could have been" if it were executed differently. Sadly, the rest of the movie saunters on in a gloomy, joyless fashion that honestly made me feel nostalgic for the cheese of 2005.
There are a lot of nitpicks that many have already jumped upon such as miscasting, obvious reshoots, and shoddy CGI, but all of that pales in comparison to the fact that the movie is dour, poorly paced, and completely mishandles the idea of the four as the inseparable family that fans have enjoyed for decades. Remember when having awesome superpowers was supposed to be fun? Apparently Fox doesn't, since according to this movie all superpowers will do is make you a tool for the government and ruin all of your relationships. It doesn't help when a good majority of the movie is spent in a dark bunker or a washed out barren dimension, sucking whatever life this movie could've had into a dismal black hole. The fun bits you remember in the comics are given a dark context, and any moments of levity are quickly extinguished by setup that never fully pans out.
Whatever talent this cast might have had is completely wasted on forgettable characters who barely understand the idea of human interaction. Moments of "character development" and "conversation" come off as tired line readings with no emotion or energy injected in them. I would call the dialogue and acting wooden, but I've seen walking trees emote better than this. Save for one scene that had the cast drinking and laughing with each other, there's absolutely no sense of camaraderie or bonding with this team. Even interactions between Franklin Storm and his kids boil down to straight exposition that might as well been delivered by complete strangers.
Have I mentioned that for a team that's supposed to be called the Fantastic Four, they barely interact as a unit until the last 20 minutes to fight the completely rushed Doctor Doom? Or that there's no emotional stake between the group or the world that we're supposed to care about? Or that somehow after all that mess these guys are going to stick together just to set up a sequel that'll probably never come? Truly, this is shining example of Marvel's First Family.
Perhaps if this was the Fantastic Four people saw back in the early 2000s where black suits and gritty realism were the norm then maybe it would've had a better reception. But ever since Marvel has proven that you can be both fun and dramatic, there's honestly no excuse for having something this depressing smeared on a team that's supposed to be a bit ridiculous and fantastic. Nor can you excuse the lack of development between this team in one hour when so many other movies before it can establish a cast in less than 10 minutes. Want proof? There's actually a great Fantastic Four movie out there that immediately establishes fleshed out characters and captures the idea of an imperfect family with superpowers that will stick together through thick and thin; it's called The Incredibles.
The Fantastic Four were part of my childhood and I want to see them do as well as their fellow Marvel heroes on the silver screen. With a box office this abysmal, the best outcome is that the film bombs so badly that Marvel will finally buy it back from Fox and do this team justice, and that's the most tragic part of this whole mess. Until Fox and Marvel can agree to anything, it seems that both companies will be doing their best to sweep this under the rug and pretend that it never happened.
Oh well, at least Fox still has the X-Men and Deadpool.
Written by Gregg Dietz
Tembo the Badass Elephant comes from Game Freak and Sega. It’s quite the treat to get to play something new from the developers of Pokemon. The premise is you play as Tembo, an elephant that works for the military and as an invading force called The Phantom takes over Shell City, you must stop them. Throughout the game, each level has 10 hostages that act as challenges for you to rescue. The secondary challenge of each level is to kill enough Phantom forces, a score will be present throughout the level to show progression. You will also collect peanuts and after 300, you will get a jar of peanut butter that will act as your lives.
The gameplay is interesting as it’s clearly been inspired by side scrollers of the past. Sonic the Hedgehog, Crash Bandicoot, Metal Slug, Donkey Kong Country and Yoshi’s island. This is especially evident in how Tembo controls. He has a plethora of moves and abilities. Tembo can dash forward that destroys anything in his way, a down smash, a wrecking ball sort of thing, an uppercut attack, a floaty jump similar to Yoshi.
He can also use his trunk to spray water where ever he needs to. I have to admit, I’m a big fan of simplicity and this is a bit too complex for what I feel would have for made a better game. It isn’t inherently a bad thing but in the midst of battle, it’s easy to forget what attacks you have. The boss fights are relatively easy because they follow the boss trope of patterns and memorization. This is something that is very enjoyable as it hearkens back to a simpler time.
My favorite thing about this game are the visuals. The voiceless cut-scenes were all hand drawn and this moves into the gameplay as well. Everything is cell shaded and most of the things look hand drawn as well. Even though the game is a military based idea, it is very colorful. Different enemies will have a different color pallet based on their ability. This is actually vital to how you decide to attack a scenario. With the games short length, the amount of different enemies is really diverse. Giving the player a new obstacle with each level is great and I commend them for the massive variety. The boss designs were also a lot of fun, even though only 4 exist.
There are a lot of issues with this game though. First would be the level design, this is something that is very important to me in side scrollers. There are a lot of very fun and satisfying moments like when you destroy a ton of things, or roll a giant bowling ball over everything. What isn’t fun is taking leaps of faith or it not being clear as to where the branching path is to find that next hostage. Being punished for simply moving forward is not a great mechanic. I also have a great distaste for games that force the player to replay levels to unlock further levels. You must garner enough points in the first 3 levels of each section to unlock the 4th level, I sincerely can't stand this.
The games difficulty ramps up so fast that I couldn’t keep up, I almost quit this game in the final level. Having a ton of enemies on screen that have no readable pattern makes for a very difficult time. There is a cap on lives, this confounds me, if I collect 300 peanuts, it needs to go past 7 lives. This is something that is a major over sight. I didn’t go too much into it above but the controls are so damn wonky at times. This all might be that I tap a button too many times and it’s all my fault, it might be that I played this on the Xbox One and the controller is too sensitive but I died far too many times from accidents.
Overall this game is fun in most sections. Most levels are fun and enjoyable to replay and find those branching paths to the other hostages. This maybe hyperbole but the enemies make this game frustrating at times. I would love to see Game Freak make a different game, not sequel to Tembo but an entirely new game and see where they could improve on ideas used in this game. Tone down the abilities and improve level design. Give players more choice or at the very least the illusion of choice. This game is good, not great and not quite worth $15 bucks but still fun enough to not feel like a waste of money. I give Tembo the Badass Elephant a 7 outta 10.
What did you think of Tembo the Badass Elephant? What are some of your favorite side scrollers?
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Written by Gregg Dietz
I have to admit, my knowledge on Ant-man is not as extensive as other Marvel characters. I wasn’t introduced to Hank Pym before he was Giant-Man. When I heard that the film was going to focus on Scott Lang, I honestly hadn’t heard of him. I of course did some research prior to the film to have some sort of context. The film stars Paul Rudd as our protagonist and follows him on his journey to becoming the hero he needs to be. The film co-stars Michael Douglas as an older Hank Pym and Evangeline Lilly plays Hope van Dyne. Our antagonist, Darren Cross a.k.a. Yellow Jacket, is played by Corey Stoll.
The plot is a bit more complex than some advertisements might lead on. Hank Pym discovers a way to decrease the distance between atoms in the 80’s. Years later, Darren Cross becomes his protege. The film takes place today where Hank Pym is retired and his daughter, Hope Pym, is Darren’s right hand man. Scott Lang is brought in after Hank Pym discovers that Darren is attempting to sell suits to military contractors that have the same abilities as the Ant-man suit. Scott is an ex-con down on his luck and is given a second chance to put a stop to Darren Cross and his Yellow Jackets.
I really enjoyed how this movie was very “paint-by-numbers” but still made it feel fresh due to various comedic moments, lovable characters and great special effects. What makes this plot also so clever is we don't have a typical origin story. Ant-man is an already established, retired hero within the history of the MCU. Scott has an entirely different story arc than other supers. Being an ex-con allows for us to see him not have incredibly strong moral restraints. Hank is a bit of a mentor to Scott simply due to Hank having already been Ant-Man. Point is it allows for stronger character development versus character building and that's always a good thing.
The visuals were fantastic throughout the whole film. Not once did anything feel out of place even when Ant-Man is literally riding on an ant. Speaking of the ants, there are a lot of ants on screen at multiple moments. Whether they are building a bridge or being a raft, it was always fun to see them on screen. The clever thing about the ants was how they made them not creepy. In most movies where a bug of some type is supposed to be a friend, it can come off as gross and weird, however for Ant-Man, they are adorable.
There aren’t many gripes with this movie. Some that I imagine people will have is that it's too short. I of course disagree with this and feel that it's the perfect length. I imagine some are saying that Darren Cross’ antagonist arc isn’t fleshed out enough, my argument there is that it isn’t necessary. Giving him more screen time would have bogged down the film's pacing and made for a disconnect to the audience. There is a reason his back story scenes were cut from the film. Another thing I’m sure others are not happy about were the side characters who served as comedy relief and allies to Scott. They were here to show a distinct difference between Scott and other ex-cons and how well Scott can get along with others.
Overall I found this movie to be absolutely wonderful and a great addition to the already stellar Marvel Cinematic Universe. I would hope that Ant-Man not only returns in future films but gets a well deserved sequel. Everyone brought their A game when presenting a character with a sordid past. I would also love to see more older Peggy Carter and Howard Stark running Shield. I give Ant-Man a 9.5 outta 10.
What did you think of Ant-Man? What are you most looking forward to in the future of Marvel?
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- Review by Richard "Rikun" Jao
There's been a lot going on these past couple of months in terms of movies, and the summer isn't even over yet. So instead of writing three long posts, I am going to give my personal impressions on three of the summer movies I managed to catch within the start of blockbuster season.
Mad Max Fury Road
It's been 30 years since audiences went Beyond Thunderdome, and for a while the Mad Max saga seemed like one that was destined to be a cult trilogy of the past. When the first trailer for Fury Road came out, nobody knew what to expect except tons of explosions in a desert wasteland. So now in a new era and stiff blockbuster competition, can Fury Road bring in a new generation of fans? Absolutely.
It may not seem like it at first, but Mad Max Fury Road feels a little different from its action packed blockbuster counterparts, and the main selling point is it's use of practical effects and direct, hard hitting action that many argue modern action films have lost throughout the decades. I watched this movie three times and while I thought it was a rock solid action movie, I couldn't understand why nearly everyone around me was caught up in such euphoric glee. It even had me questioning if I really was an action movie fan for not being as swept up as nearly everyone else in the audience.
Fear not though, since after letting it stew for far to long I can confidently say that this latest entry into the Mad Max series is not only worthy of its namesake, but will become one of those myth-building cult classics that will endure for years after Fury Road is released to DVD. The world that George Miller has crafted and the attention to detail
The story is dead simple: Max (Tom Hardy) is wandering the wastelands as always until he gets captured by a band of marauders known as the War Boys, lead by charismatic tribal leader Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne). Trouble erupts when Furiosa (Charize Theron) double crosses Joe for the sake of his captive slave girls, which starts off what can only be described as the craziest wasteland car chase ever to be conceived in film.
Perhaps for me, it's the sheer amount of detail and care that was put into Fury Road that stood out for me. Every shot was composed to ensure the action stayed front and center, the entire movie was built off thousands of storyboards to emphasize visual storytelling, and every crazy setpiece has a function within the universe of the Wasteland. That's right: even the doof warrior with his flamethrower guitar and beefed up soundstage has a practical purpose amongst Immortan Joe's army.
As for our main players Tom Hardy plays Max as the grizzled badass fans of the old trilogy have known him to be, but the real star of the show is Furiosa and her journey to find her homeland. Theron embraces the role full tilt and shows that she can handle a leading lady role with all the intensity that you'd expect from a post-apocalyptic mad world. The side characters are also memorable in their own right in their own little twists to what one would expect from this sort of world: a seemingly random War Boy becomes a secondary character, the so called "damsels in distress" prove to be more competent and savvy than your typical sex harem, and nothing can beat the awesomeness of an amazon tribe with survival-savvy grandmas amongst them.
This really is a movie that has to be seen to be believed and will no doubt become a staple in any action fan's DVD collection. With sequels on the way, it's safe to say that a whole new generation will get to experience the wonder and insanity that is the desert wasteland, and they'll enter it shiny and chrome.
The first Jurassic Park movie in 14 years, Jurassic World presents a fully realized amusement park that John Hammond could only dream of way back since the first film. It's going to be a given that paleontologists around the world will be cringing at the inaccuracies that carried over from the 90s, but to be fair these are what dinosaurs are to the public eye and seems the entire film knows it. I was one of those kids that knew of Jurassic Park and loved dinosaurs in my elementary days, but never had the unshaking nostalgia many other fans had. Would it measure up to Steven Spielberg's milestone blockbuster? Probably not, but it'll be a fun ride nonetheless.
The self-awareness of this movie oozes out of the catalyst of the movie: in order to increase attendance, InGen has decided to create a bigger, badder dinosaur to bring in the crowds with little regard to what could happen in the long run. As one can guess this never ends well, and it is up to those in charge of running Jurassic World to contain the situation before all the dinos wreak havok.
There's no two ways about it: this movie is dumb fun with dinosaurs, and that's what we're all here to see. The human characters are enjoyable enough, especially Chris Pratt as Owen Grady, the "Alpha" of the raptor pack that have become the fan favorites of this film. Our main character Clare (Bryce Dallas Howard) plays the part of stuffy businesswoman turned determined survivor as well as you can expect, and I personally found her to be fairly endearing when it came down to her saving her nephews. Everybody else from Clare's nephews to the park staff and all the civilians involved play their parts as well as you'd expect, and for a fun popcorn flick it's serviceable enough.
The real attraction though are the dinosaurs in all of their glory. As mentioned before the Raptor Pack is fun to watch and the sheer spectacle of the damage Indominous Rex can wreak on the island. And while the setpiece spectacles are great to see, many fans have already called out the films overuse of CGI, which can become jarring when you're treated to a scene that uses practical effects to bring an Apatosaurus to life. It continues to be an example of the modern use of CGI, and only time will tell if it will age as gracefully as the first movie's combination of CG and practical effects.
It may seem like I may be offhandedly bashing this movie since this review can be reused for any given Transformers movie, but the Jurassic Park movies have always done a decent job of creating likable characters as opposed to annoying humans, and there's an unmistakable sense of lightness throughout the film that keeps the spirit of Jurassic Park alive.
Overall, it's worth seeing if you're looking for a simple action movie with a touch of prehistoric nostalgia. Fans of the old will appreciate the callbacks to the first films and the climax of the movie alone is worth watching through the entire movie. To those who were disappointed with J2 and J3, you'll be glad to know that Jurassic World has made liking dinosaurs awesome again.
Ah Pixar. We've had our in and outs before, and I was afraid that for a moment Disney might had just outshone you in terms of greatness, what with Frozen and Big Hero 6 under their belts. I will even admit to not eating up the hype that other Pixar fans were squealing about when the trailers first showed up, but I managed to see it and am I glad that I have.
Let me be frank here: while Pixar's other movies wrenched at my heartstrings (like Up and Wall-E), Inside Out was a movie that was hard to watch due to the emotional wringer that it will put you through. However, it's a wringer you'll have to go through to fully appreciate such a worthwhile ending.
There are several stories going on here. On the outside we have Riley Anderson, an 11 year old girl who's going through the emotionally taxing process of moving from Minnesota to San Francisco. Inside her mind, we have Riley's five driving emotions that are trying to keep her stable as she adjusts to her new life. Due to an accident in Riley's control center, Joy and Sadness have become lost within the recesses of Riley's mind and have to get back home before Riley breaks down both physically and metaphorically. Don't let the colorful character designs and the amazingly creative world within the mind fool you: this is a movie that children shouldn't watch alone, but rather with the whole family to get the full emotional impact the film has to offer.
Each emotion acts exactly how they're named: Fear (Bill Hader) is panicky, Disgust (Mindy Kaling) is cynical, Anger (Lewis Black) is short tempered, Sadness (Phyllis Smith) is depressed, and Joy (Amy Poehler) is boundlessly upbeat. What's great to see though is how multi-faced said emotions can be and how ultimately they all help to create a healthy mind (even if some of them seem negative at first). All of this translates to a normal, yet emotionally taxing slice-of-life story with Riley, and by the end I wouldn't expect to see an unmoved soul in the audience. The writing is on point, the set pieces are wildly creative takes of the inner mind, and the movie is a great mix of both crazy humor and gut-wrenching scenes. Just the way Pixar likes it.
So if you thought the first ten minutes of Up or Wall-E were hard to sit through then buckle up, because you'll be in for one heck of an emotional roller coaster when you see this one.
Hope you all enjoyed my reviews for the summer's starting blockbusters! Now if you excuse me, I'll be sitting back and waiting for Ant Man to show up.
Over the past few weeks, a lot has been going on in my life and writing took a short back seat. I was able to play a few games at certain intervals and planned on full reviews but time is limited. Today will be 3 short reviews on 3 titles that released over the past few weeks. First will be Oddworld: New n’ Tasty played on the Xbox One. The second will be Mortal Kombat X and the last will be Mario Party 10. Lets get started, shall we?
Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee – New 'n' Tasty!
I’ve never played the PlayStation version of this game back in the 90’s, maybe a demo but not the full game. I figured that I might as well give it a shot and try out the remake. This comes from the same publisher, Oddworld Inhabitants, who made the original series. This remake was released originally on the PlayStation 4 back in June of 2014 but was released on Xbox One in March of this year.
The visuals are really nice especially if you compare them to the original. In the classic version, everything had to be made in a 2D due to the limitations of the PlayStation. However here, they can all be rendered in a full 3D space and it looks gorgeous. The gameplay is relatively the same as far as i could tell. As Abe, You must save other mudokons from getting turned into meat for the Glukkon. To do so, you must use game-speak, this will allow Abe to communicate with the other Mudokons and have them do various things until they are safe.
This mechanic is nice as it gives the player a moment to assess any given situation and execute properly. The controls are the only thing that really bothered me. I do understand that they are intentional to give the player a sense of lack of control over the character but when i need to jump or stop and the animation needs to activate, it can get very frustrating. The only other gripe i have is that after a certain part, there seems to be a lack of solid direction, this could be cleared up with the bird things Abe uses to aid occasionally.
Overall this is a great game that is worth the time whether you are new to the franchise or an old school fan. My only warning to newcomers is to have patients with specific mechanics. I gave Oddworld: New n’ Tasty a 7.5 outta 10.
Mortal Kombat X
NetherRealm Studios is comprised of ex-Midway developers and in 2011 released Mortal Kombat, a reboot of sorts to the ever popular franchise. Mortal Kombat X is its direct sequel. Fighting games aren’t usually my forte when it comes to playing games but i must say, i really enjoyed this one. There are many modes to play around with here. We have the classic modes, Story, 1 vs 1 ranked, King of the hill, Survivor and test your luck and new modes Living Towers and Faction Wars. Living Towers is an evolved form of challenge towers from original Mortal Kombat games.
Faction Wars is interesting because you don't play this one normally. At the start up of the game, you are asked to choose one of the 5 factions, Black Dragon, the Brotherhood of Shadow, the Lin Kuei, Special Forces, and White Lotus. Playing as members from these factions and completing specific challenges will earn points for your faction and the faction that wins at the end of the week, the members will see rewards. I always received rewards because the Lin Kuei always won it seemed.
The story was interesting because I do not remember what happened in the previous Mortal Kombat and it seemed to me that the developers didn’t care. I think thats what made it so much fun to. I really enjoyed the addition of the new younger characters like Cassie Cage and Kung Jin and new villains Kotal Kahn and D’Vorah. NetherRealm has figured out that fighting games with stories are ridiculous, so why not play with that.
Overall its a great fighting game with a silly story and loads of content. Visually beautiful and disgusting at the same time makes it stand out as a truly wonderful title. Familiar but new fighting mechanics will have fighting fans playing for hours. I give Mortal Kombat X an 8 outta 10.
Mario Party 10
Nintendo’s next installment of the Mario Party franchise has a lot of shoes to fill. After the last few games being panned both by fans and critics alike, Nintendo needs to bring something new to the table. There are 3 game modes here, Mario Party, Bowser Party and Amiibo Party. Mario Party plays exactly like 9, a group of 4 players travel together in a vehicle and compete for mini stars. Im not a huge fan of this as it takes away from the boardgame aesthetic. This is however solved with Amiibo Party.
This game type is classic Mario Party with much smaller boards represented by which ever amiibo you place down. You compete for stars, coins and items like you would in any other Mario Party game. The only major downside to this is you need at least one amiibo to even begin playing. This is exactly the issue i take with every game having amiibo support. As an extra piece of fun, please add it, but if you lock me out of an entirely different mode because I didn’t spend $13 extra on a tiny statue, that's the opposite of fun.
The last game type makes up for any disappointment that may have been caused in the previous comments above. Bowser Party is amazing and fun in every way. The way this one plays is 4 players must make it as a team to the end of a long map, all while a 5th player controls bowser using the Gamepad. After all 4 players roll their dice and move around the board collecting power-ups and the sort, Bowser rolls and he gets a lot of dice, if he happens to catch up to the party, a mini game will begin. Bowser mini games don't play like the others, each player has a series of hearts that Bowser can knock out. if all players lose their hearts, Bowser wins, however players can regain hearts and bring back fallen teammates with items or board spaces.
The only other gripe besides amiibo board support I have is that there aren’t as many mini games, they all seem very uninspired as well. Especially for Bowser Party as there are only 10 minigames and once you’ve played them all including the boards, it stops being as fun. Overall the game is fun for a night of drinks and merriment. You just may not have the desire to play the game past that night. I give Mario Party 10 a 6.5 outta 10
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Warning: This review will be very spoiler heavy, there are a lot of elements in Age of Ultron and I will try and cover as many as I can and in doing so I will be not holding back major plot points. Unless you do not care about spoilers or are looking for a reason to mad at me, please do not read further until you have seen Avengers: Age of Ultron.
I had a very special opportunity with this film, I was able to view it twice within 24 hours. That was much needed because there is so much happening at all times during this film. Other movies with multiple protagonists or antagonists tends to suffer from a cumbersome plot and this one skirts that line so strongly. That is not to say that the movie is bad because of this, it’s just so noticeable that when it has a slow moment, you feel yourself catching your breath.
The film was written and directed by Joss Whedon, who was the director and screenplay writer for the first film. The cast for this film is unreal, I’m not going to list them all but just about every major player from the past Marvel movies who constitutes as a good guy made some sort of appearance. We have 3 new characters in this installment. Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch and The Vision are the newcomers this time around.
Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch start off as antagonists but shortly change sides when they realize that Ultron wants human eradication. I really enjoyed how they were portrayed here because they were angry at Tony for killing their parents, blaming him for a bomb that didn't go off when they were children. This not only allows for the audience to connect to them on a fundamental level but question what makes a villain.
The Vision was a very welcomed addition to the cast but I do have to admit, he did get a bit close to the uncanny valley (if you are unsure what that is, click here). In his action scenes, he looked great, but in the close up dialog heavy parts, it was very rough to look directly at him. I was very happy to see that they kept his general design from the source material. His powers seemed to be the same as well. Phasing into enemies and ripping out the insides, using the mind gem as a power beam, flying around and punching through things, it was great.
The rest of cast brought all they could to the rolls and whether it was the director, editing or acting, the comedic timing was perfect. Every time there was tense moment or dramatic moment, something comedic was said to remind us that this is supposed to be fun. Joss Whedon was once quoted saying “Make it dark, make it grim, make it tough, but then, for the love of God, tell a joke.” I think this is a fantastic way to tell a superhero story and this movie has that in spades.
The major, titular antagonist Ultron, performed by the wonderful James Spader, was easily the best part of the movie. Tom Hiddleston, who played Loki in the previous Avenger film and the 2 Thor movies before it, was quoted saying “Every villian is a hero in his own mind.” This is something that I couldn’t agree with more. A good bad guy’s actions are always driven by a need to change how they see the things, not a need to be a villain.
Ultron falls perfectly into this by seeing the human race as the problem and to save the world, humans need to be extinct. Everytime I saw anyone interact with Ultron, I didn’t want it to end because he was so captivating. Apparently on set, James Spader wore a suit and facial trackers with marks for actors to look at, Elizabeth Olsen was so entranced by James’ acting that she would forget to look at the balls above James’ head. Aaron Taylor-Johnson would then yell “Red Balls! Look at his balls, Lizzie!” This is just the caliber of acting James’ brings to the eerily, omnipotent, destructive Ultron.
The action scenes are full of excitement and destructiveness as you would expect. The first one in the movie is the Avengers are raiding Baron Von Strucker’s base. It was a blast to be immediately impacted with what we came to see. As Joss said in an interview, we came to see the Avengers kick ass, not what Shield or Loki has been up to. The next action packed scene was the first real fight with Ultron and the Twins. This fight was contained for a little bit but then lead into a huge fight with Mind Controlled Hulk and Tony’s Hulkbuster suit. This battle was amazing to watch as it was something that I knew would be incredibly destructive.
The 3rd action scene was when they proceeded to find Ultron as he was making a new body to be a bigger threat to the Avengers. This would later be Vision but this fight was mainly between Ultron and Capt. America as Tony and Bruce were back at Stark Tower and Thor was on a vision quest. I really loved how this fight was just as destructive but also very contained. This was also the first scene where we get to see the Twins become good guys. The final action scene is the longest as it’s the finale of the entire movie but you could easily break this down into different parts.
The first part is when they are trying to evacuate the city and fighting off Ultron bots. I really enjoyed how much action was being presented as it felt big but was preparing me for a biggest fight. Later as the city is rocketing into the atmosphere, there is a lot more saving people and less fighting robots until the final showdown with all the Avengers vs all of Ultron. This final confrontation was so massive but so incredibly contained that it was a major strain on the senses. My second viewing was so much better as I was prepared for the fight.
My Gripes with the film are that there are moments that don't fit the movie or feel weird and out of place. The first is Hawkeye’s family, it was a massive change of pace and felt very artificial to the rest of the plot. I understand that they wanted to give more humanity to these god-like characters but in doing so, made them feel more distant. The other thing that was very forced was Black Widow and Bruce’s relationship. It really didn’t work for the portions of the movie they tried to make it work. Even at the end when Widow kisses Bruce and pushes him off the edge, it felt wrong. The final thing that bothered me was how quickly the plot moved along, a movie shouldn’t need to be viewed twice to catch everything, this consensus is also shared amongst a lot of my friends.
Overall this movie is great. It has loads of action and characters to make everyone happy. The psychological undertones presented by Ultron while still being a very fun ride was definitely worth the wait. The problems I noted above are something that did take me out of the movie because they are aggressive plot points. If these were changed slightly or altered to be less aggressive, it might not have stood out so strongly. I will say that they weren't enough to keep me from enjoying a large majority of the film and for that, I give Avengers: Age of Ultron an 8 out of 10.
What did you think of the movie? Will you watch it a second time? What are your thoughts on the extra credits sequence with Thanos? Please leave a comment below, on our Facebook Fan Page, or tweet us @MissionStartP
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When I was kid, I was big fan of Spider-Man, still am and I say so in my review of Amazing Spider-Man 2. When Spidey would team up with other heroes, it was fun and exhilarating, for a 12 year old at least. One of my favorite team-ups was always Daredevil because there would be more acrobatics as they took down whomever was the villain. So I started reading Daredevil and was completely entranced by the fact he had a huge disability but was a successful lawyer and superhero. The problem was always that Daredevil never seemed to receive the love from other readers. When this series was announced, I was very hopeful that it would show the Daredevil I love.
The series is a Netflix exclusive and because of that, they are allowed to get away with more than they could on television. Created for television by Drew Goddard and showrunner Steven S. DeKnight, Daredevil joins the Marvel Cinematic Universe in a very bloody way. Matt Murdock A.K.A. Daredevil, played by Charlie Cox, is blinded by hazardous materials as a child but gains extrasensory powers which aid him to “see” his surroundings. Him and his college buddy, Foggy Nelson, played by Elden Henson, open a law firm in the heart of Hell’s Kitchen, a small section of Manhattan, right as all hell’s about to break loose...pun intended.
One of the most clever things about this show were how they integrated Daredevil into the MCU. After the events of Avengers, New York was partially destroyed and the rebuilding efforts must have made some people very rich. Something that later graphic novels I’ve read had addressed was “what happens when the superheroes leave?”. Usually this is addressed in a somewhat passive sense with a regular human seeing it. But what if one of those people becomes a hero himself. How would the rich react to this?
This show isn’t for kids mind you, it’s very adult and this is due to its graphic nature, I found it refreshing that Marvel allowed this. Broken bones sticking out of limbs, heads being smashed, brains all over a wall, graphic violence was something of the 90’s comics that I'm incredibly happy have made it to the adaptations. The language was also very strong but never made it past pg-13 standings, however they certainly skirted that line very closely. It resembled the Frank Miller “The Man Without Fear” series which I’m the proud owner of the first 5 issues.
When watching this show, one might say that they are trying to emulate Batman’s dark and gritty style but I argue that Daredevil has always been that, or at least tried to. The show makes Hell’s Kitchen look down right gross as times but also very vibrant. The fight scenes are something to be absolutely admired, especially episode 2’s hallway fight scene. According to an interview with IGN, the fight team put it together in “Just a few days”. Normally something like this takes weeks to coordinate.
I must talk about Vincent D'Onofrio's portrayal of Wilson Fisk a.k.a. Kingpin. He does an excellent job of showing a troubled man with a dangerous past. Every scene he’s in completely becomes about him and no one else. His right hand man Wesley, played by Toby Leonard Moore, became a terrifying combo and filled every scene with anxiety. Normally we get very little time with the villain due to the hero taking the spotlight but this show allows us the courtesy to understand our adversary beyond the surface.
Not only do we get to see Wilson Fisk’s past but we also get flash backs for so much more. The show isn’t filmed in a traditional “origin story” format. Throughout the series, we get spontaneous flashbacks that correlate to what's happening in the present. The reason I love this format of storytelling is it allows the audience to become familiar with our hero without having to wait for him to kick ass. I love Ironman, Spiderman, Captain America, Hulk, but if I have to sit through one more origin story where the first 40 minutes are build up, I’m going to lose it.
I’m very excited to see where this series goes, I know that we will be getting A.K.A. Jessica Jones next, then Luke Cage and Iron Fist after that, leading to The Defenders tv show. However I'm interested in seeing more Daredevil. His character arch and development with the supporting cast made for a very fascinating story and I crave more. My gripes are that the show had some strange pacing for a couple of episodes and it was incredibly noticeable, very dramatic where it wasn’t necessary. There were a few very dry lines where it felt like the actor had phoned it in instead of creating the emotion needed for the scene. Luckily these are very few and spread so thin, they do not become a problem.
Overall the show is phenomenal, from storytelling to action scenes. The visceral nature of what is shown and how it’s shown made me incredibly happy. Marvel is starting to understand that telling the story that needs to be told is far more important than pandering to an audience. One more point of adoration, the title sequence was brilliant as it perfectly depicts the ideas featured in the show from Matt Murdock and Wilson Fisk’s respective perspectives. I cannot recommend this show enough, if you enjoy Marvel’s Cinematic Universe, please don’t hesitate and watch this show. I give Daredevil Season 1 a 9.5 outta 10.
Did you watch the show on the weekend release? What villains would you like see make an appearance in the coming seasons? Let us know in the comments below, on our Facebook Fan Page, or tweet us @MissionStartP
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So it's been a month after I saw Chappie, Neil Blomkamp's latest sci-fi foray into cinema, and after letting it stew as to whether I really liked it or not, I've determined that it honestly depends on whether or not you like Neil Blomkamp or not.
Three movies in and you can see Blomkamp's fingerprints all over this film: realistic special effects in a brightly lit environment, an obvious love of his homeland South Africa, and a copious use of Sharito Copley. Combine all this in a simple action story and you have an entertaining piece that feels smarter than Transformers, but not as heady as Interstellar. Sure there's heart and the titular character is endearing enough to latch onto audiences, but the more I think about it the more I realize that by now Blomkamp might be resting on his laurels a bit too much.
There was enough to like from the main characters, such as the well-meaning engineer Deon (Dev Patel) and Chappie himself, who grows from a childlike drone to a young, self aware teenager. The robots themselves look great and the locale is a fantastic setting to showcase the impact of a fully robotized police force on an impoverished population. However, I found the secondary protagonists in Ninja's gang to be a bit on the unsympathetic side, and the main antagonist Moore (Hugh Jackman) came off as a militaristic thug who appeared all too eager to unleash an overcompensatingly amount of firepower upon Johannesburg's criminal element.
The story isn't too complex, especially if you're familiar with robots who wish to become humans. The beats of having innocence lost upon a naive young AI are sometimes harsh to see, yet it also feels fairly safe and perhaps stock in its execution. The visuals are great and there are great moments to be had especially towards the end. However, when all is said and done one can't help but feel that for all the good Chappie has, it plays more like Blomkamp's greatest hits rather than a revolutionary new story.
Chappie overall isn't a bad film, but it's nowhere near as transcendent as his first outing in District 9. Maybe by now the novelty of gritty, realistic robots in a dusty modern city has lost its shine. Perhaps Blomkamp may be a great director but only an average writer. It could also be a case of Blomkamp being at the right place at the right time when District 9 came out, but hasn't moved from his comfort place since. Chappie overall feels like a fun movie one would be willing to watch on cable, but not the sci-fi classic it was marketed to be. Go and watch it if you're in the mood for a popcorn flick with robots that isn't too overblown. Otherwise, just wait for the DVD and watch it at your leisure.
Fingers crossed that Blomkamp can do Alien proud.
- review by Richard Jao