Archive for May, 2009

Speed Racer Review

Posted in 4.5 Stars, Action, Review, Uncategorized on May 24, 2009 by russellsreviews

Speed Racer was one of the first tastes Americans got of the wonderful world of anime. If it wasn’t for Speed Racer  along with robotech, voltron, and battleship Yamato there never would have been a chance for mobile suite gudam, Dragon Ball, or Pokemon to come to the states many years later. The show was fast, surreal, and with races scenes never been seen before. The Wachowski Brothers from the matrix fame have stated several times they are huge anime fans and wanted to bring to life one of there favorite series and recreate the magic of the original. The Brothers managed to revolutionize films by taking fighting styles from anime and implanted in an American movie with great success with the matrix trilogies, but can they pull off a whole live action based off a mostly forgotten, but much beloved series?

Wow! Speaking from being a anime fan myself and growing watching old reruns, I couldn’t be more pleased. The Wachowski Brothers have boldy and faithfully adapted Speed Racer to the silver screen. They took the classic mock 5 and updated it enough to be cool for a new generation, but kept the old school feel. For what they did for fight scenes they did for the car races. The cars rushed and battled for position just like the anime and each turn grew faster and more exciting. There is also a great fight scene in the snow where the snow follows the motion of the punches and kicks. Luckily, this isn’t the only achievement. I have to really commend the Wachowski brothers for also trying to capture in a live action film the pacing and scene transitions anime does so well. The camera spins or characters several faces flood the screen it never looses focus or color. There is one scene when Speed is explaing why he is going to stay with his father’s racing team and what his family means to him and the background moves from moment to moment just add to the emotion and rarely seen outside of anime. They took so much care in the source material that they even gave the man who did mostly all the voices for the show Peter Fernadez a role.

Speed Racer doesn’t just rely on the action and great track locales its all about family. You really feel the impact of Speed’s brother Rex on the whole family the entire film and is the driving force for most of the characters actions. The two speeches from Speed’s parents are very heart warming,deep, mature, and would make anyone crack a smile. Emile Hirsch and John Goodman look and act like Speed and Pops. Christina Ricci gives a charming performance of Trixie and acts like a living breathing anime character. Mathew Fox in another stand out feature film role stole the show as Racer X. It could have been easy to just say the lines and call it a day, but he gave a great gravely voice and delivered the lines with uber coolness. His last scene where he remembers and reveals to the auidence the full extent and pain to hide the truth to the Racer family was put together masterfully with combination of his acting, great camera work, and a great score from Michael Giacchino. This scene still makes me emotional upon repeated viewing. I really think Mathew Fox deserves a starring role in a feature film. Since the Wachowski Brothers were faithful to the anime and wanting to make it more family friendly there are a lot of scenes with spritle and chim chim. Some of thier jokes were hit and miss, but some of them were actually being pretty funny.

For the untrained all these visual cues and speed can be a little itimating at first, but at the end I’m certain you will be caught up in the rush and emotions. I know the critics killed this movie and it bombed at the box office, but I don’t think this movie could have been made any other way. I really feel the Wachowski Brothers pulled it off and made my favorite movie last year. For people who don’t understand anime might feel this film is a sensory overload, but thats just them being Jaded. If you have a warm heart and open mind for something truly different and exicting then you will enjoy Speed Racer even if you are not a fan of anime or the original show. Speed Racer is groundbreaking and the Wachowski Brothers should be proud no matter what “critics” say. I hope they keep on making films inspired by eastern styles and animation, and show off thier imagination. The producers who made the awful Dragonball movie should have used this same approach. This is one movie where the critics and the masses are wrong. Speed Racer is a great film and I’m sad they will never make the sequels they originally planned. GO SPEED GO!

4.5 stars

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Constructive Criticism

Posted in Uncategorized on May 21, 2009 by russellsreviews

I’m still trying to work out all the kinks in my reviews so feel free to comment on any posts. Constructive Criticism is very welcome!! Besides I’m always game for healthy dialogue, debate, or suggestions!

LOST “The Incident” Review

Posted in 4.5 Stars, Drama, Review, Sci-Fi, Uncategorized on May 21, 2009 by russellsreviews

Being such a geek about the show Lost and after the great season finale I decided I had to write a review just to get all these thoughts out of my head. Viewers started to tune out during season 2 and then even more jumped ship season 3, but after seeing this season’s finale “The Incident” I can say they are going to be left out for LOST special last season. With only one season to go and still tons of mysteries and questions left unanswered they had to start cracking them out. The “Incident” didn’t disappoint.

The opening scene reveal of Jacob opened new take on the mythos of the island. Not only does Jacob not look like the long hair bearded ghost, but he is not alone and both appear to have lived on the island for a very long time. Through out the show during flashbacks and flash forwards we learned that the castaways were oddly connected, but it turns out it was all planned by Jacob and against his new “friend” wishes. Jacob has been appearing at key moments of the cast aways lives  feeling them out, and indirectly pushing them to come to the island. In a very LOST fashion, we still don’t know for what purpose, but it appears to me that its for some sick game of destiny vs. free will. My guess is Jacob stands for good since he was wearing the white clothes, and free will, saying to Ben right before he was seemingly killed “you always have a choice.”

Whats confusing to all this is how can a person or being stand for good, yet put all these people through these trails without their approval and be for free will . It’s also troubling how Jacob dealt with Locke. What was the purpose for bringing Locke to the island? He was told and groomed from the island that he was something special and a higher power and serving for good only to fail almost everything he tried to accomplish in life. His father betrayed him, he had no friends, no love life, crippled, was left alone with no one believing in him and only to get killed by his enemy Ben. All Locke became was a loop hole for this mysterious other to find a way to kill Jacob. Jacob had to have known that Locke was going to somehow fit in this loop hole. Was this Jacob’s plan all along? Is there still something great for Locke to do or is the real Locke really just a dead body

Which brings me to what really keeps me and millions of others to tune in every week. We all love Kate, Juliet, Sawyer, Jack, Ben, and the whole crew are great, but these philosophical questions and spiritual under tones engages the real fans. The frustrated rant that Ben gives Jacob asking why after all the things he did for him and he never got to see him until now I think any religious person has struggle with in their own understanding of GOD’s plan. Hearing Jacob’s reply of “what about you” would anger anybody and Ben’s rage becomes understandable. This last phrase really makes me question if Jacob is on the good side at all. Or again this could be Jacob simply acknowledging Ben and has plans to make everything up and more to Ben and Locke. This is whats great about LOST, the questions and how there could be several answers to each one. I hope this shows the empty suits at network TV that you don’t have to nothing but reality shows, Law and Order or CSI spin offs, contests to have a successful show. Viewers will accept a challenging serial Drama as long as its unique enough to keep people coming back.

The episode could have answered more mysteries with only 16 episodes left in the show, the season finale still really did a great job of setting up the last season. The episode ended with probably the best cliffhanger since Jack’s famous “We have to go back!” and really could go anywhere the writers want it to. After seeing the LOST logo change after five seasons from white on black to black on white, the last season can’t come fast enough.

4.5 stars

Posted in Uncategorized on May 10, 2009 by russellsreviews

Happy Mother’s Day!!!

Star Trek Review

Posted in 4 Stars, Action, Drama, New Movie, Review on May 9, 2009 by russellsreviews

Like me, most fans were extremely worried when we heard that Star Trek was not only being remade, but re-imagined for the masses or the uninitiated. J.J. Abrams created the great shows Lost and Fringe, and also made a successful third mission impossible movie, but everyone wants to know, can he make a film that isn’t dumbed down and anger the long time fans, but at the same time draw in a new generation of viewers?
Congrats on the bad robot team, they pulled it off. This a fun film for both. How did they do it? They focused on the heart of star trek, the engine that pushes all of the story, these guys…..

Yes, Nero wasn’t as good as villains past and the movie was more of  a summer popcorn style than intelligent sci-fi, but the feel and emotions you get from the iconic characters interacting pushed the story along. Kirk’s recklessness, knack of making the impossible possible, and the feel of  man who is destined for greatness. You really get goose bumps seeing the foundation and growth of Kirk becoming the man we all know he will become. Spock’s battle of identity of being from two very different races. These were common themes in the original series and it nice to know they still are in the reboot. Also, fans can relax a little on this messing up the cannon of Star Trek. They explain that its sort of a parallel time line that’s been slightly altered which does but some of the differences at ease to hardcore fans.

A lot of the credit does have to go to the cast. Much to my doubts, Chris Pine does a great job as Kirk. He has the charisma of William Shatner used, but still added something new and really made Kirk is own. Which is funny, because Karl Urban was great because of his dead on impression of DeForest Kelley.  The best anchor of the movie was Zachary Quinto  as Spock. The simple fact that after just a few scenes with him not only do you not think of his role of sylar on heroes, but you don’t think to yourself ” o this is just another guy playing spock”. You really feel this is Spock you know, love, and missed all of these years. Not to mention that same Spock(Leonard Nimoy) is also in film interacting with all this is enough to give the most casual trekie a geekgasim. Its really worth going to see this film  just to see Nimoy play Spock, hopefully not last, one more time.

I really missed William Shanter and wished he would have travel back in time with Nimoy or even a small cameo would have been nice. I don’t understand why he couldn’t be in this movie and hope they could maybe pull something like that off in sequel. I also hope that now the characters are in place, that maybe in the sequel they go in a little deeper territory for the overall plot. Other than this, J.J. Abrams pulled a James T. Kirk and made the impossible, possible. Star trek is new, fresh, and fun enough to bring in all those people who have been making fun of us trekies and at the same time homages the past enough, including a Hilarius joke about a doomed redshirt, to bring back on those fuzzy feelings you get when watching the original series. Star Trek is back!!!!

4 stars

X-MEN Origins: Wolverine

Posted in 2 Stars, Action on May 8, 2009 by russellsreviews

Seeing how I actually liked X-Men 3 the last stand, although it took a step backwards, I was really looking for X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Wolverine is probably a close second for the most popular character marvel has right behind spider-man. In fact, Wolverine is right up there with just as many original villains and a huge background he could have his own trilogy. Most people liked the X-men movies and everyone wanted more of the world’s favorite Canadian. Add in a rich history and a rapid fan base, its huge accomplishment, in a bad way, that Fox and Gavin Hood somehow made such a tame and average movie.

Wolverine is so popular because of his dark past and the weapon x back story, so it makes no sense that they just scratched the surface. Logan is actually hundreds of years old and besides the opening scene this whole time goes by in a montage during the opening credits. He spent most of his past in Japan becoming a samurai and learning to fight which was left out of the film. Several of his most famous comics took place during this time and even where, not knowing, had a son.  Leaving out such a big part of his mythos leaves the film feel like it’s missing something. In the comics Creed or sabertooth is not his brother but has actually been pointing that he is Logan’s father. Weird change. The most disappointed change is the character deadpool.

What? This isn't Deapool! WTH...

Anyone who saw blade trinity saw that Ryan Reynolds would be perfect to play deadpool. In the first 5 minutes he was. Problem is thats all the time he had to be deadpool. Much lesser characters as bradly, zero, and the blob got more screen time. I know the blob is a major villain for the X-Men but he has nothing to do with Wolverine. Was it really necessary to put a boxing match between Logan and the blob? With so many fans and geeks pumped to see Deadpool and he only get 5 mins? The worst crime comes at the end. Deadpool was a wise cracking, kick butt, merc with a healing factor. In the film he was combined with all powers of the Weapon X team (??) and had his mouth sewed shut. The thing that set Wade Wilson apart from all of the other mutants gets taken away? What sense does that make? Why does he have one long metal claw? The film butchered such a cool character that any hope of a spin off won’t make any sense or will be just as a downer. A different actor even played deadpool at the end of the film.

All of this could be looked over if fans got to see Logan do what he does best, but he doesn’t. It seems the writers were more interested in trying to fit as many young mutants in the film to set up X-Men origins: First Class than to showcase fight scenes at the end of the film. Not only that but the graphics and fight scenes in X-Men 2 were more imaginative and up to date. Some of the final action scenes most of it you already saw in the trailer even. This film very easily could have a been a 2 and half hour epic to bring X-Men to the next level, instead it was a dumbed and washed down 100 minutes. Don’t get me wrong Wolverine is a enjoyable movie, but to totally ignore the source material which is all they had to do to make a great movie everyone wanted is beyond me. If you go in not expecting much you should be happy, but you can’t help but feel like they really dropped the ball. Its a shame too, because its not Hugh Jackman’s fault, who put in another fantastic performance. There never will another actor who can play this part as well as Hugh. He IS Wolverine.

2 stars