Tag Archives: 3D

Review of Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (2011)

14 Oct

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (2011) is an action/fantasy/thriller film, based on the Marvel Comics character Ghost Rider and is the sequel to Ghost Rider (2007).

Directed by the filmmaking duo of Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor (Gamer (2009), Crank (2006)).

Written by David S. Goyer (Death Warrant (1990), The Unborn (2009)), Scott M. Gimple (The Walking Dead (2010 TV), Life (2007 TV)) and Seth Hoffman (House M.D. (2004 TV), Prison Break (2005 TV)).

Starring: Nicolas Cage, Violante Placido, Ciaran Hinds, Idris Elba, Johnny Whitworth, Fergus Riordan, Christopher Lambert and others.

Neveldine/Taylor is enough for me to sell a movie, ranging from their best (Crank 2: High Voltage) to their worst (Gamer) movies, one thing is clear, it’s going to be interesting to watch what crazy shit they’re going to pull this time. So here we have a sequel to what is generally considered one of the worst comic book movie adaptations. And then there’s Nicolas Cage.

We open to some black guy coming to a monastery led by Giles from Buffy. He rescues a woman and her son from some bad guys. And then the woman and kid run away from the black Frenchman, who decides to turn to our good old friend – burning skull guy.

Poor Johnny Blaze, his hairline has completely changed in just a couple of years and now is decidedly receding. So the black guy approaches him and basically says „Save this chick and you’ll get your soul back,” and Blaze is like „ok”. The deal is some bad guys have the woman’s son and he goes to get him back. He does get him and then there’s scenes where Blaze and the kid, who is pursued because of his destiny, start bonding and the boy starts admiring him, it reminded me a lot of Terminator 2.

This time the Ghost Rider effects look a lot better and he’s actually sort of terrifying. When you first see him as Ghost Rider you realise, that these guys were meant to make this movie. It’s as usual. visually very stylised, even dialogue is sometimes shot handheld with rapid zooms, there’s animated sequences, and great, memorable action set-pieces. Ghost Rider is actually bad-ass, he sort of now has a personality of his own. To be clear, I know almost nothing about the Ghost Rider mythos and so I didn’t care how faithful it was to it.

But the most important thing is that Nic Cage is used correctly, he’s a powerful tool in the right hands. I just love the guy. Here, they have him totally start freaking out as he’s about to turn into the Rider and Cage goes into his overacting mode, which is gloriously entertaining. The key aspect here is fun, when Cage seems to be having it, he’s awesome.

Maybe I’m not allowed to judge it, because I watched the movie on a 3D TV, but I really found the 3D barely noticeable. Speaking of 3D, Christopher Lambert appears as a monk with a tattooed face. Yeah, I know, maybe Christopher Lambert was worth a separate paragraph.

It’s not trying to be this over-the-top B-movie, but it is and that is what I like about Neveldine/Taylor, it’s that they do things that they think are cool and funny and those are the same things that I like. Seeing Ghost Rider pee fire? Count me in! Although, I would almost wish they would’ve gone even a bit crazier, but they did a lot within the constrains of the PG-13 rating. Yeah, I’m never satisfied.

Overall, it’s really not a „good” movie, don’t get me wrong, but it’s entertaining as shit. If that shit was on fire and hitting people with a chain while being on fire and hitting people with a chain. Recommended.

They’ve really outdone themselves in the special effects department this time. Those glowsticks look so bad-ass together with the halloween kids make-up.

 

Review of Dredd (2012)

25 Sep

Dredd also known as Dredd 3D (2012) is a British/South-African action/sci-fi/thriller film, based on the 2000 AD comic strip series Judge Dredd.

Directed by Pete Travis (Henry VIII (2003), Endgame (2009)).

Written by Alex Garland (28 Days Later (2002), Never Let Me Go (2010)).

Starring: Karl Urban, Olivia Thirlby, Lena Headey, Warrick Grier, Wood Harris, Domnhall Gleeson and others.

Sadly in the public mind Judge Dredd is most often associated with the 90’s Stallone movie, and even though I thought it was ok as a kid, deep inside I knew it was shit and never cared to find out more about Judge Dredd. Had I seen this movie as a kid, I would have been running around with a bicycle helmet on my head for at least a week. I can’t stress this enough – this is not a remake of Judge Dredd (1995), this is another adaptation of the comics.

It’s the future, Judges are like the last thing that upholds the law. Dredd is one of those Judges and one day on his patrol he is forced to take a rookie female Judge with him. They both go to an apartment block, to investigate brutal triple homicide. They crash into this apartment, where gang members are dealing and using drugs, they arrest one of them to interrogate, but the gang leader learns of this and closes of the block, locking Dredd and rookie Anderson inside it. They have to find a way to get out of there alive.

This  is just one of the things I loved about the  movie – it’s on a limited scale and period of time. It’s basically a ‘day-in-the-life’ story about Dredd. It’s simple, yet not simplistic. The setting is also cool, because, despite being a dystopian future, it’s not over-the-top, it’s very believable.

The gang uses a new drug called ‘Slo-mo’, guess what it does? Nice to see a movie, where there’s actual reason for using slow motion. The slow motion shots are just beautiful, combined with 3D and sometimes gore, that’s just art. The 3D use is actually the best I’ve seen so far in any movie, the compositions are great, it doesn’t feel forced or gimmicky, while adding to the entertainment.

Judge Dredd himself is really cool. Yes, the helmet is always on, which is a thankless role for Karl Urban, who did an amazing job, being virtually unrecognisable, but adding so much personality to a character, who is supposed to be the faceless hand of law. He seems pissed off, but doesn’t lose his cool, he’s not arrogant, but is confident, he doesn’t have any huge character arc or romance pushed onto him. At the end of the movie he hasn’t changed, his opinion about something might have changed, but not him as a character.

Both the side-kick rookie Judge Anderson and gang leader Ma-Ma are both great, not being more than they should be, but suggestive of much deeper characters than we’re shown.

Overall, one of the best action movies of the year, a comic book movie not afraid of the letter „R”, but probably suffering at the box office due to that fact, combined with the previous adaptation of the character and pretty low awareness about the movie. Go see it, while it’s in the theatres, first time I can really say it’s worth to go see a movie in 3D. Definitely recommended.

“Well, my father was a cop and my mother was 😦 , so yeah…”

Review of The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)

16 Jul

The Amazing Spider-Man (2012) is an action/sci-fi/drama film, based on the Marvel Comics character Spider-Man, rebooting the film franchise.

Directed by Marc Webb (500 Days of Summer (2009), Lone Star (2010 TV)).

Written by James Vanderbilt (Darkness Falls (2003), Zodiac (2007)), Alvin Sargent (Gambit (1966), Unfaithful (2002)), Steve Kloves (Racing with the Moon (1984), Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (2001)).

Starring: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Denis Leary, Martin Sheen, Rhys Ifan, Sally Field, Irrfan Khan, C. Thomas Howell and others.

My first introduction to Spider-Man was through the animated series, probably when I was around six. I loved him, the series itself wasn’t as good as X-Men and not that great overall, but I loved it. Then the Sam Raimi movies came along and I sort of liked them, but that wasn’t it, I didn’t love the guy himself, I was carried by my affection for the character, but this doughy-faced, bulky, man-child bearing the name of Tobey Maguire wasn’t him. So for about 15 years I’ve been waiting for a movie to re-ignite my love for him. Turns out I was waiting for this movie.

I did somewhat enjoy the Raimi ones, especially the second one, but at the same time I found them too cheesy and, at times, making me cringe. However, I’ve never wanted The Dark Spider or something overly realistic and “gritty”, I just wanted to care about characters and not caricatures. Also for something as campy as Raimi’s Spider-Man adaptations, they were basically humorless. Watching this I genuinely smiled and laughed.

Oh, Andrew Garfield is just brilliant. He is Spider-Man, he’s got the right kind of build, athletic, but lean, agile, but physically awkward. I believe he’s actually really intelligent (mechanical Web-Shooters FTW), he’s adorably twitchy in conversations, nerdy, but not a wimp. And when he cries you don’t feel uncomfortable, but feel with him. Watching Maguire cry, I forgot if I was watching Spider-Man or The Elephant Man.

The relationship between him and Gwen Stacy is really good too, it’s sort of a teeny romance, but Marc Webb knows how to not make it too cliché and also Stacy learns early that Peter is Spider-Man and it’s nice that he has a confidant. Emma Stone being one of the cutest young actresses out there right now also helps a great deal. Other supporting actors do a great job too. Rhys Ifan is cool, Denis Leary is bad-ass and Martin Sheen really makes you care about the Uncle Ben character and his fate is really impactful.

I’m not a fan of 3D and even though it was still unnecessary, I liked it in this movie. The action scenes mostly, because the shots are incredible, it really feels like a person is doing all the crazy shit Spidey does. The swooping over the city is spectacular, I actually felt immersed in the space of the movie sometimes. The downside is that, the dramatic scenes have basically no 3D effect whatsoever, I mostly just lifted my 3D glasses and there was no layering blur or anything.

The special effects are pretty solid, there’s an awful looking, mutated CG lab-rat, but, thankfully, that’s only a few seconds. Then there’s the big thing of The Lizard. It didn’t look great, but it wasn’t bad either, it was very middle ground. I could accept it, because he did walk around in a lab coat for a bit, that was all I was asking for.

Overall, not flawless, but a great superhero movie, definitely in my top 3 Marvel movies (if not my favourite), it made me laugh, it made me teary-eyed, it made me want to run around and pretend to be Spidey, it made me 10 years old again. I thank you for that, movie. If you like superhero movies, definitely recommended.

“I’m melting!”

 

Review of Magnificent Bodyguards (1978)

7 Jun

Fei Du Juan Yun Shan also known as Magnificent Bodyguards (1978) is a Hong Kong martial arts/action film, it was the first Hong Kong movie filmed using 3D technology.

Directed by Wei Lo (Fist of Fury (1972), Dragon Fist (1979)).

Written by Lung Ku (The Magic Blade (1976), Butterfly and Sword (1993)).

Starring: Jackie Chan, Peng Cheng, Siu-Lung Leung, Kuo Chung Ching, Fang Fang, Yuen Hsu, Kuang Kao and others.

First scene of the movie I was really confused, they kept jumping and swinging sticks right in the camera. I thought “oh, this looks like it’s a 3D movie, what’s next? Am I going to get a yo-yo thrown in my face.” And then I found out it was an actual 3D movie. I wished I’d seen in 3D.

This is one of those few Chan movies, where he has long hair and I remember from my childhood that if I saw one of these on TV, I never quite understood what was going on in them and not surprisingly, since even now I found it terribly confusing, the bad English dub didn’t help either, I only could make sense of about half of what was said. So yeah, I didn’t get it as a kid and I don’t get it now, so I just watch it for the fight scenes.

Chan’s acting is unusual for him, he does play a cocky guy in other movies, but usually in a silly kind of way, here he is both an asshole, looks cool and kicks ass.

In some of the fight scenes there’s this over-the-top gore, which I like, but it seems a bit out-of-place, there’s a scene where a guy’s face is ripped off during a fight. The fights themselves are quite impressive, the choreography is tight. And it’s kind of weird, in some scenes people get stabbed and shit, it’s all serious and then there’s a scene where people just pick up boulders like in some cartoon and chuck them at other people.

The fighting sound effects are generally a lot more realistic than in other movies of this time. They all have some kind of echoing effect going on, so they have some sense of space and don’t feel just flatly put on in the editing room. Ok, they do, but less so than in, for example, Snake In The Eagle’s Shadow. Originally it had music from Star Wars used in its soundtrack, but my version of the movie sadly didn’t.

On a side note, one guy is wearing a pink robe. I wonder if in Hong Kong it doesn’t have these implications, but could he be a gay character?

I’m sure no one cares about the spoilers, so I’ll just go ahead and reveal the ending. It turns out that a short stocky woman was wearing a mask, pretending to be a tall, lean and strong white-haired man. She even fights the man she is impersonating, while in disguise. It makes very little sense.

Also the movie doesn’t really end, there’s a big fight scene with a lot of people and then another, smaller one in the woods and the fight doesn’t end, at one point it just freeze frames and the credits roll. I mean, I could kind of guess what happens next, but not really. Were they attempting an ambiguous ending? I’ll never know.

Overall, it’s confusing and the fight scenes after a while feel a bit repetitive. It’s a pretty bad movie. Definitely not recommended.

“You want me to stick this thing right into the camera?”
“Yes, that’s right!”
“As you say, Mr. Kha-Mer Uon.”

Review of Friday the 13th Part III (1982)

14 Feb

Friday the 13th Part III (1982) is a horror/slasher/thriller film and the third entry in the Friday the 13th franchise.

Directed by Steve Miner (Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981), House (1986)), that’s right, he also directed the previous one.

Written by Carol Watson (Meatballs Part II (1984), South Park (1997 TV)) and Marti Kitrosser (Meatballs Part II (1984), Silent Night, Deadly Night 5: The Toy Maker (1991)), who later on wrote the fifth entry in the series.

Starring: Dana Kimmell, Paul Kratka, Tracie Savage, Jeffrey Rogers, David Katims, Larry Zerner and others.

We start of with an idiotic title song, that doesn’t fit the movie at all.

And then we get the usual flashes of the previous movie and then we also get a little intro, so that’s 15 minutes before seeing any of the main characters.

They were really going for the 3D effects. I love this sort of gimmicky 3D, but if the shots don’t make sense when you strip them of the 3D, then you’re really forcing it. I mean, it really is ridiculous, when there’s a yo-yo going towards the camera or the camera is looking straight into some popcorn popping or an interesting instance when a weed joint is passed from hand to hand right past the camera so it sort of would seem like it is given to someone in the audience, but to me it just looked like a badly done and pointless shot of passing a joint. Of course there’s some good ones too, like when Jason takes one guy’s head and presses it so hard his skull crushes and an eye pops out towards us. That was awesome.

It’s painfully cheesy at times. A lot of those times thanks to that annoying nerdy kid, who wears masks because he’s… well, ugly and does some practical jokes with fake blood. So it seems to me that it’s what the filmmakers think horror fans are like.

Then there’s a few too many jumpscares that turn out to not to be Jason. It’s like „Yes, here I am just standing around naked and I hear some rustling leaves, so I quickly turn around [blasting music cue TA-DAH!], oh, it was just a midget lying in a huge bowl of corn flakes. Ok, back to being naked.”

Jason Voorhees this time finds a hockey mask and an icon is born. And I really liked Richard Brooker’s Jason, he’s tall, lean and fast. I like Kane Hodder and all, but I didn’t mind this Jason either. And he really seems to enjoy himself.

Of course the acting is mostly bad, but at least the lead actress is really hot.

Again the ending is some contrived and absolutely stupid crap. It only accented my feeling that I’m watching just a rehash of the first two movies. I understand that there’s a sort of a formula, but it doesn’t do anything new, except having harpoons fly outside of the screen, of course, if you’re watching it in a theatre in 1982 and not on TV 30 years later.

Overall, I didn’t find it very good, the kills are nice and it’s more or less entertaining, but I don’t think I’d recommend this to anyone, except to the kind of people who probably have seen it anyway.

"Ah yes, you've got the old 'crush skull - out comes the eye' syndrome."

Review of Thor (2011)

10 Dec

Thor (2011) is an action/fantasy/drama film, based on Marvel comic books and is one of the movies leading up to The Avengers (2012), where the title character teams up with several other comic book characters.

Directed by Kenneth Branagh (Henry V (1989), Dead Again (1991)), who is best known for starring and directing William Shakespear’s play adaptations.

Written by Ashley Miller (Agent Cody Banks (2003), X-Men: First Class (2011)), Zack Stentz (Andromeda (TV), Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (TV)) and Don Payne (Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007), My Super Ex-Girlfriend (2006)).

Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Anthony Hopkins, Tom Hiddleston, Kat Dennings, Stellan Skarsgård and others.

I love comic books, some of them less than others. Thor is one of those characters I don’t find interesting. While in comics he had this alternate personality, which gives his personality another dimension, but this movie version disregards that and makes Thor just this powerful guy with some family issues, so he doesn’t fit in with the idea of Marvel characters being relatable, unlike DC characters.

However, despite my opinions on the character, maybe influenced by my lack of knowledge about him, I thought this movie did a good job of making him very likable, by not overcomplicating him. Chris Hemsworth’s charisma also helps that significantly. Thor is almost as cheesy a character as Captain America and they succeed in making him more or less fitting in a realistic world.

Speaking of acting the stand-out is definitely Tom Hiddleston as Thor’s brother who is the main antagonist, because he’s pale, slim and has black hair. Seriously though, he does a great job and totally rocks that ridiculous helmet he wears later on in the movie. Anthony Hopkins is Thor’s very Shakespearian father and does it just like you expect him to. Natalie Portman tries to do this quirky Jodie Foster-like scientist, but the script doesn’t do her justice and throws her in as a love interest for Thor, who develops the hots for him very quickly. With the Asgardian characters, I think that Scandinavian accents would’ve been more suiting than the British ones they use.

It felt like the script asked for a lot longer movie and to get it into the 2-hour frame, they cut a lot of it short, so they had to force some points, take some shortcuts and rush some of the character developments.

Some of the CGI looks pretty awful, but some was quite impressive, like that rainbow bridge in Asgard and I found that robot thing (Destroyer, was it?) cool and something about how it moved made it  was just right.

I was pleasantly surprised by Hawkeye’s (Jeremy Renner) cameo.

Their choice of director is very odd. Hearing Kenneth Branagh’s name doesn’t really make me think of action oriented comic book movie. I guess they really squinted and saw the Shakespearian drama of the Nordic mythology in the source material, so to add some gravitas they got a “classical” director like Branagh. He does a good job aside from the damn dutch tilt‘s (slanted camera angle) all the time. Seriously, there’s no need to turn the camera every third frame, it starts feeling like watching Battlefield Earth.

My favorite part was definitely when Thor arrives on Earth and the movie turns into this fish-out-of-water type of comedy, where Thor is funny and Kat Dennings is cute.

Overall, it’s a solid, good movie. My least favourite of the big comic book movies of 2011, but that just means it’s been a pretty good year for them. Recommended, if you want to catch up for The Avengers, it’s fun and all, but not great.

"Hey guys, I'm one of those very prominent Asian characters of Nordic mythology."

Review of Up (2009)

10 Nov

Up (2009) is a computer-animated adventure/drama/comedy film, which is to date the third highest grossing PIXAR films, only behind Finding Nemo and Toy Story 3.

Directed by Pete Docter (Monsters, Inc. (2001), Mike’s New Car (2002 Short)) and this is only his second feature-length movie.

Written by Bob Peterson (Finding Nemo (2003), Ratatouille (2007)), who also served as co-director and a voice actor in this and also Pete Docter (Toy Story (1995), WALL·E (2008)), so there’s CG animation guys all over this.

Starring: Ed Asner, Christopher Plummer, Jordan Nagai, Bob Peterson and others.

This is one of those movies that creates my distaste for the modern animation films. It is so sappy and pushy in the emotional department and at times utterly idiotic and unbalanced and I didn’t enjoy it at all.

It starts of with this story of a little boy, who’s a nerd for this explorer guy and then he meets this androgynous girl, so, as it happens to all about-6-year-olds, they, of course, fall in love, marry and live happily forever after. That is except that time when they were sad that they can’t have children and that other time when after Carl forces Ellie to climb a hill one too many times, she gets sick and dies. At this point it could seem like I just spoiled the whole plot, but no, that’s just the first 15 minutes, also known as the best part of the movie. Then it goes on to this stupid adventure story, which involves huge birds, talking dogs, an annoying kid and some unexplainable logic.

I think PIXAR should just stick with drawing animals because their artistic choice on the designs of the people really baffle me. Why the hell does the main character is the only person to have this huge, blocky head? I don’t seem to recall Spencer Tracy looking like that. Seriously, how come no one notices how horribly disfigured Carl is? It is not fun when the main character of an adventure-comedy is the Elephant Man.

Then there’s this fat, little asian kid, who looks like he’s suffering from Down’s syndrome and his obesity doesn’t make it more appealing. I really hated that kid, I identified with the blockhead only because he was annoyed by him as well. I just wished I could reach in and punch his oddly small face deeper into his irritating head. And I so despise this cliché film trope (e.g. Cop And A Half, Real Steel), where and adult at first doesn’t like a child/animal and by the end has become attached to it, basically a type of a buddy film.

Ed Astner was a good choice for the voice of Carl, others were ok, no stand outs.

I won’t say there weren’t any good jokes, I liked that prehistoric bird, especially when he swallows and then throws up the walker-cane, I also liked that they inserted that Pluto thing, which the dog does at one point. But then it does this stupid gag, when the main bad dog has a broken voice-box, which makes his voice very high-pitched, so the joke is that everything he says is not intimidating anymore and also it uses this idiotic joke, which is common in family films involving animals, the bird Kevin turns out to be a girl. Hilarious, right?

Every time when I saw the balloons attached to the house, I kept remembering that Mythbusters episode, where they fail to lift a child with a shitload of balloons, yeah, it’s a cartoon, I can forgive them not giving a shit about physics. But then there’s this concept children do understand – aging. I mean, how come that this guy that was an adult, when Carl was a toddler, now looks the same age if not younger than him?

I didn’t hate the movie, but also there was nothing I really liked about it. I guess I would recommend it to you if you have lost someone close to you and a movie about coming to terms with the death of a loved one would be something to identify with, otherwise, I don’t see any reason to see this film. PIXAR has done better.

Real tasteful, huh?

Review of Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs (2009)

24 Oct

Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs (2009) is a computer-animated comedy/sci-fi/family film loosely based on a children’s book of the same name by Judi and Ron Barrett.

Directed by Chris Miller and Phil Lord’s creative team (Clone High (TV)).

Written also by Miller and Lord (Extreme Movie (2008), How I Met Your Mother (TV)).

Starring: Anna Faris, Bill Hader, Bruce Campbell, James Caan, Andy Samberg, Mr. T, Neil Patrick Harris and others.

I’m not a big fan of these modern computer-animated films, but I still can enjoy them from time to time. And this makes it even more rewarding when I actually like this kind of animated films. And this one might be my favourite of all those I’ve seen.

I mainly enjoyed this so much, because it was actually funny. The jokes were good, the character’s had interesting fun personalities, the visual gags totally work and so on, it succeeds first of all as a sci-fi comedy and only then as an animated family film. It also has the funniest depiction of getting kicked in the eyes I’ve ever seen. I could list a lot of great jokes, but that would be stupid, just know that there’s enough of humor. It also shows how hilarious anaphylactic shock can be.

Another pretty innocent, yet kind of disturbing joke for me was how the main character Flint as a child invents “spray-on shoes” only to discover the effects are irreversible and so he goes on to live with sprayed-on shoes. Somehow this made me think only about how fast his feet would have gotten infected and started to decay, leaving Flint in a wheelchair. Children’s movie my ass. It’s just as Flint says “You can’t run away from your own feet.” So you probably will have to amputate them.

At least here people aren’t as creepy looking (with an exception of main character’s dad, who does suffer from some kind of deformity) as in, for example, Up.

The cast of actors is amazing. Mr.T’s character is hilarious and the opposite mohawk is a nice touch. And everyone else does a great job as well. And I’m glad every time Bruce Campbell is in a major studio movie, even if just his voice.

The score is really good.

The animation is just beautiful, the action scenes and the backgrounds just look spectacular. And I’m glad I didn’t see it in 3D, so I could fully enjoy all the rich colors, although I suppose the 3D works a lot better in animated films and heard some good things said about the use of 3D in this.

Sony Pictures Animation should do more movies like this and less like The Smurfs or Surf’s Up.

As in most animated movies (for marketing reasons) the messages are made to seem subtle, but really are quite obvious and this movie is no exception as it addresses issues like modified food and obesity. Or you can look at it as a religious film, portraying one of the seven deadly sins – gluttony. And that’s what it does, it makes you see that, yes, falling, free food would be awesome, but only for a very short period of time. Also that’s basically a summary of the plot.

So yeah, I thought it was a hilarious and beautiful movie, totally loved it and recommend seeing it, you’ll have some fun.

"I pity the foo' !"