Pacific Rim Review

Posted in 4 Stars, Action, Anime, New Movie, Review, Sci-Fi with tags , , , , , , , , on July 16, 2013 by russellsreviews

There are a lot of genre’s in film. Spy, romantic comedy, adventure, horror, super hero, drama, science fiction, and martial arts just to name a few. Genre’s sometimes slowly fade, but never fully go away and sometimes make huge comebacks like what we have seen with westerns and the musicals lately. That cannot be said about the monster genre. No, I’m not counting those really awful movies on the Sci-Fi channel like Sharknado. I’m not even talking about Frankenstein or wolfman. I”m talking about the giant city stomping monster movies like King Kong and Godzilla. The last one ever made was in Gamera the Brave in Japan in 2006 and the last anyone in the west would remember is the remake of King Kong by Peter Jackson of Lord of the Rings fame just the year before. Pacific Rim is director Guillermo Del Toro and Legendary Pictures attempt to bring back this beloved idea to a newer generation. If Guillermo Del Toro stopped there he would have already been my hero. Del Toro then tries to infuse some elements of mecha anime that have never been attempted in live action before. The very thought of this mix is enough to make my head explode of excitement.  Does Pacific Rim deliver on my high expectations and more importantly is it accessible for the mainstream to sell without loosing it’s purpose?

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Pacific Rim twists the formula for giant monster movie. The world has been thrown into terror being constantly attacked by giant monsters called Kaiju. Instead of scientists scrambling to make some ray gun or bomb to stop them, or having the planet’s own kaiju take it down which we have seen over and over, humanity fights back by building towering robots to defend themselves. This theme has been used over and over in anime, but has never been attempted in live action for whatever reason. I imagine the cost of making a story like this believable and digestible for the American public would be a master undertaking and a huge gamble. I can not give anymore props to Del Toro and Legendary pictures for taking on this project. The world is fully realized and the giant almost human looking robots called Jaegers are sight to behold. You will scream with joy in your head every time one launches or lands. Each evil Kaiju has a unique look to them and fighting abilities making every battle different and a surprise. Sparks, metal, buildings, and even pilots will get tossed around in the warfare. This is the reason why you see this film.

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The human characters are just as varied and over the top. The characters of the film will be where most people will start to distance themselves from the film however. All of the side characters are played to their part times 10. This was done on purpose and each character is a common trope in the mecha genre. The scientist who is a little more interesting in the enemy than he should be, the mysterious cool general,  overly bully co-worker that gives no respect, and a girl with a troubled past. If you are unfamiliar with these archetypes these characters might come off a little ridiculous and off putting. They all still fair better than the lead character Raleigh Becket. I don’t know if they were trying to have a normal center in all the madness, but instead he comes off too safe and quite frankly very boring. I cared more about the funny scientist dying in the middle of the film than I did about Becket in final fight scene which isn’t a good thing. I don’t really blame the actor fully because I just think there wasn’t much room for him to perform. Then again neither did Idris Elba as Stacker Pentecost the leader of the Jaeger team and he still was fierce and more memorable so maybe I can. Idris Elba is a beast of an actor and needs to be in more movies. Charlie Day as the quirky Dr. Newton Geiszler was my favorite character for how he reacted to everything was probably the same way I see myself reacting to a world where their are freaking giant robots and world destroying monsters duking it out.

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The main gripes of Pacific Rim is that dialogue of the characters let down the film for achieving true greatness and might keep more people from seeing how ground breaking this film is. The concept was high, the world was brilliant, art design was perfect, and the ideas were smart, but somewhere some of the lines just failed to elevate it. The dialogue was not stupid like in transformers it’s just sometimes wooden. I give it credit for adding in anime elements, but I wish Del Toro took it a little farther with the weapons and really show of how dark and creative anime can get. Speed Racer did a much better job translating anime into the big screen and wished it used that movies techniques of story telling between the fight scenes. This review sounds like I’m bashing the film, but I”m not. Pacific Rim is awesome for what it is and I strongly recommend it, but I’m afraid some people might only see the flaws and not notice the nuances of what’s going on. I just wanted them to take it to that next level so bad.

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I loved Pacific Rim. I loved the action and the chances it takes. I”m so happy it was made and Guillermo Del Toro deserves big praise and more fans. He just made me a fan. I just wish they took a little more chances on the story and main character. It’s a fun ride. Just sadly don’t expect anything more than beautifully choreographed Kaiju vs Jaeger action. It’s a summer film not based on a old TV series, video game, a remake, or comic book. Pacific Rim is original and deserves to be applauded. If you have any itch to see it please do. This might be your one and last chance to experience this genre.

4 STARS

Star Trek: Into the Darkness Review

Posted in 4 Stars, Action, New Movie, Review, Sci-Fi with tags , , , , , , , , on July 6, 2013 by russellsreviews

In 2009 J. J. Abrams breathed new life in the Star Trek series. He managed to update it to make it more exciting for a newer generation while at the same time keeping everything in place to appease the long time trekkies. The film was not just smart science fiction, but just plain fun to watch for anyone. J.J. tries to keep the momentum going with it’s long awaited sequel Star Trek: Into the Darkness.

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Star Trek: Into the Darkness faces a new set of challenges that might be harder to deal with that the original reboot. Now that the new Star Trek universe has been set how can you top the first? If you push for more action and please the new fan based you run the risk of disappointing your very loyal fan base. Do you take the chance of a more traditional route building on what you made and greatly encouraging the trekkies that the reboot was more than a one hit wonder, but then loose the mainstream push you gathered? J.J. Abrams once again decides to take the same approach as his first and tries to get both.

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Trying to accomplish both in this sequel the film starts off with a high concept adventure movie and then about half way through throws  a twist bringing back a famous story from the original show. Just like before the movie does a great job of explaining how this event could happen before it did in the show and fits very well being something new as well making it feel like it fits into Star Trek lore perfectly. That being said it does bring about the only negative I can see in the film. If you are a long time Star Trek fan you will probably guess who this person/twist is and even though the writers flip the roles you will know how it ends. It’s still exciting seeing it all play out, but it does lower the score of the film in my eyes.

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I can not finish this review without talking about the break out performance of actor Benedict Cumberbatch playing John Harrison. You might recognized him since he played Sherlock Holmes in the perfect British TV mini series Sherlock and if you don’t you will remember him now. Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto reprise their roles so well that the fact that he even stood out above them only testify how great he really is. He out does the original character and bring not just charisma, but true superiority. (Hint, hint)

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Star Trek: Into the Darkness is just as smart and entertaining as the first reboot. All of the crew members you know and love get their time to shine and perhaps even more so. Did I forget to mention Klingons? Yup, the fan favorite race finally makes an appearance and with a unique interesting take, but don’t worry they keep the essentials of what makes them so popular. This new Star Trek doesn’t surpass the original only because it looses some steam because it retreads some old ground, but everything else is done so well its only as good as the first. Sometimes when a film tries to better its former sometimes it can get a little ridiculous and loose its heart. Being only just as good as the awesome first film isn’t a bad thing. In this reviewer’s eyes that’s a huge compliment. When this film ends you will be ready to go on a five year voyage of the Starship Enterprise. To boldly go where no man as gone before.

4 STARS

The Avengers Review

Posted in 5 Stars with tags , , , , , on May 16, 2012 by russellsreviews

There has been a lot of comic books made in the last decade. Some had new updates for a younger generation and others stayed tired and true with a touch of dark realism. A successful formula was established and each one tends to follow that path. The Avengers has even a bigger and nearly impossible task than all of those of combining already established heroes with their own formula and universe already in place. These kind of events are common place in comics, but never before have been tried to be put on film. Can this film come close to the insane expectations placed upon it? Rest easy fans because not only did The Avengers delivered, but reached a new level that all comic films should be judged.

The Avengers is the best team up movie ever made. The X-Men movies were really good in their own way, but they might as well called them Wolverine with friends. It was wise choice for those movies, because Wolverine is the most popular X-man. This isn’t X-men. It’s Captain America, Iron Man, Hulk, and Thor’s movie. These guys already have their own star power and each need a chance to shine and a reason to be there. The director/writer Joss Whedon couldn’t have put together a better feeling of this is a team of unique individuals putting differences aside to team up.

The movie was more from Shield’s Nick Fury perspective of trying to form the team rather than favoring one hero over the other. The move ultimately gave a greater importance of the team gathering and a bigger payoff when they finally do work together. The Avengers works as a film even if you have no prior knowledge of any of the other movies because of this idea. Actor Tom Hiddleston does another noteworthy job of Loki of not only with a stand out performance, but gives the story a weight for the need for the heroes to form a partnership to begin with.

The Avengers clicks on every level. Every moment you wished and wanted to see are there. Joss Whedon is known for witty banter and you have that in spades here. Captain America says what he should say. Nothing feels forced. All conversations between the heroes is smart and has a natural flow to them. Besides the dialogue, the other achievement was just how good the action was. Other comic films had great battles that fit the character, especially the Spiderman films come to mind, but the action here felt ripped from the comics. When you see a great fight scene in a comic or a cartoon you think yeah that’s awesome, but that could never work in real life or on the big screen. You can’t say that anymore. The word epic gets thrown around too much nowadays, but the Avengers fight scenes are truly epic. By the way, if this movie doesn’t prove to everyone that the Hulk is an interesting character who deserves another chance I don’t know what will.

I applaud Joss Whedon for pulling this off. The Avengers set the bar high that you can have a great comic movie and keep all of the comic book style and make it great where everyone can love it. I would say even that the characters were written more like themselves than they did in their own movies and even breathed new life into less popular ones like the Hulk. You will have a blast seeing this movie and if your a comic fan your nerd heart will grow twice in size.

5 STARS

Captain America: The First Avenger Review

Posted in 4 Stars, Action, New Movie, Review, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on August 14, 2011 by russellsreviews

Captain America: the First Avenger isn’t the patriotic hero first adaptation to live action. He has been in several TV series and even already has his time on the big screen. Unfortunately, all of which have been embarrassing failures for the character. Following all of the successful marvel movies of late marvel feels like its a ripe time to try again. Captain America is a integral part of the upcoming ground breaking Avengers movie and must get it right this time. Does Captain America make you feel proud to be an American or leaves you walking out shaking your head?

Steve Rogers is a very patriotic young man who just simply wants to do his part in helping America fight the axis powers during world war two. Only problem is he is a small meek boy with asthma that no military division would accept him.  Dr. Abraham Erskine manages to see past that weak body and sees the greatness within and gives him a chance to be a part of the experimental super solider program. Rogers’ body is reborn and gets power any other man would dream of. He slowly becomes a ray of hope for America and inspires the country to do the necessary sacrifices that it takes to beat the greatest evil the world has ever known.

What’s odd in this film for comic book fans is that Chris Evans the actor who play Steve Rogers has played a famous marvel character before, the Human Torch in the Fantastic Four. Not only that but he mostly plays cocky wish cracking characters and fans have been really nervous how he would played such a strong reserved character. The film quickly puts that to bed and he actually carries most of the film. Chris Evans is a lot better actor than people give him credit for and it shows in Captain America. Along side of him are perfectly cast actors who all help elevated the film which did its part making people take this story seriously. Tommy Lee Jones is great as a military sergeant and the always good Hugo Weaving plays the Red Skull with the perfect amount of crazy. The always great Stanley Tucci plays another stand out role as the Dr. Erskine. The one that stands out the most for me is Hayley Atwell who plays the British agent Peggy Carter. She shines in every scene and mostly because of her we get to have one of the best romantic relationship in any comic movie.

The film does a great job of keeping it real and yet still giving tons of winks to the comic fans that even the more experienced fans might miss. The progression of his costume is spot on and make even the hardcore purist happy. Keeping things real hurt the film a little however. The fight scenes are good, but nothing stands out or is memorable. He uses his shield enough and its never silly, but nothing really creative that we have seen in the comics. Another aspect of the film that hurt it is the bookends of the story. Captain America opens with people finding his body frozen in ice then flashbacks to how he came to be. I don’t have problem with this kind of story telling, but I think it was handled very wrong. When the climax of the film is pretty much ruined because you know he is going to crash and get frozen even if you had no prior knowledge of the character. The most important scene where he wakes up in modern New York was shot intensely, but when he wakes up and the film has already shown the card that he gets found takes a lot of punch of it. If they would have left that prologue out and tweaked the ending some Captain America good of been more than a good film, but one of the best comic book films ever made.

Captain America is not only fun like Thor or Iron man, but also has tons of moral messages that in my mind make the best comic book films. They’re not as subtle as the Spider-Man films, but you can appreciate them. Even his shield has a meaning to what the USA really stands for. Captain America is special because he represents a time and moral clarity that America has forgotten. A type of hero that can’t be made anymore.

4 STARS

True Legend released in American theaters!

Posted in movie trailer, New Movie, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on June 3, 2011 by russellsreviews

I’m very glad IP-man was a succes in the states. Now because of it western theaters are slowly getting another wave of martial art films. I’m not sure why westerners go through phases were they will see films like this and then dissappear forgeting about them. Anyway, Yuen-woo-ping the master behind Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, the Matrix,and Kill Bill who hasn’t done much in while as released his new movie True Legend. Jump on the bandwagon and try to support these movies if your a fan now, because you never when Hollywood forgets about them again.

Thor Review

Posted in 3.5 Stars, Action, New Movie, Review with tags , , , , on June 3, 2011 by russellsreviews

The summer of 2011 is filled with comic book movies. Thor, however, has a total different battle than the rest. Even though very important in the Marvel comic universe, Thor is the least known for the casual crowd and has the hardest chance of capturing the viewers acceptance. The previews and hype of the Avengers movie got people to go see it, but does the film have enough to be the next Iron Man or is it a Elektra?

Thor is a son of the most powerful Odin whose sole purpose is to protect all worldly realms from the once mankind greatest evil the frost Giants. Thor is handsome and strong beyond belief and next in line to the throne. His abilities have made him reckless and arrogant so Odin punishes him by stripping his powers and sending him and his legendary hammer to learn humility on our planet Earth.  

My biggest worry for the film was how well they were going to be able to translate the world from where Thor was from, Asgard, to the big screen. I was pleasantly surprised that they toned down the things they needed yet kept what made it so fascinating in the first place. The armor Thor, Odin, and Loki wore wear believable and yet still stylized and other worldly. Asgard was so interesting that you will wish they spent more time in that realm than on Earth.

This movie could have very have been too cheesy and ended up a disaster, but I was impressed how much they pulled it off. Part of that is how well the actors brought so much emotion to something they could have just cashed in and let the special effects do all the work. Actors Anthony Hopkins , Tom Hiddleston, and Chris Hemsworth all did a commendable job. Natlie Portman, who brought her acting skills to a new level in Black Swan, seemed to simply enjoying playing more simple role was the weakest link to the film, but in the end wasn’t that bad.

Although not digging as deep or as good as  the Spiderman,  first two X-men, and Batman films it’s still as entertaining as Iron Man or any other summer movie. Thor even holds well as its own movie rather than just one hyped tie in movie that Iron Man 2 was for the upcoming Avengers movie. Thor isn’t one of the best comic books movies ever made, but its upper middle and with all the things that could have gone wrong I call this movie a nice success.

3.5 STARS

IP man 2 releases today!

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on January 28, 2011 by russellsreviews

Ip man was one the best kung fu films in many years. It had huge success in china and mild succes in the west. From what heard from reviews from China Ip man 2 is even better. Ip man 2 I believed even won best picture in China. Not only is Ip man have fantastic kung fu, but has a the drama to back it up even if it its a little “selective” on the part America played in its development. The film has a very limited release, but hopefully there is a showing near you.