Archive for the 5 Stars Category

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.



Scott Pilgrim vs. The World

Posted in 5 Stars, Action, Comedy, Drama, New Movie, Review, video games with tags , , , , , , , on August 15, 2010 by russellsreviews

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is  very appropriately named. Just like Scott is fighting for love and the social status quo, so is the film itself fighting against really every other movie ever made. Scott Pilgrim vs the World doesn’t pull any punches or ask itself how can I make this work for the mass audience.  Just watching the trailer for this film a lot of people will just think oh well a geeky flashy film for the “Gamer” generation, but they couldn’t be farther from the actual truth. There is always a balance between style and substance. Scott Pilgrim manages a rare feat. It says you can massive amounts of both.

Scott Pilgrim is your less than normal guy. He doesn’t have that many friends and just enjoys just hanging out, playing video games, and listening to music more than partying. He is socially challenged which more guys can relate to than you know. Scott meets Ramona Flowers, literally the girl of his dreams, at a party and luckily manages to get a date. There is just one problem. Actually seven problems. All of Ramona’s Exes have formed a evil league that dedicate to make her life miserable and kill anyone she dates.

Scott Pilgrim vs the World is based of a indie comic by Bryan Lee O’Malley and doesn’t hide from that fact. Every comic movie before always asked itself OK how can I make this work in the real world. To director Edgar Wright credit this one doesn’t. He didn’t try to make a movie but hide where its from or who its for. The action is fast and every punch or feeling gets animated with text straight of a comic. They even use parts of the comic for flashbacks. Its not just comics, the film is overloaded with pop culture and video game call backs. The Universal studios title sequence alone got me grinning more than any movie in years. If you pay attention all of the music cues in the film are done with famous 8 bit music from Zelda and Mario.

Scott Pilgrim isn’t just love letter to geeks, it has surprisingly emotional stuff. The romantic elements will have your heart pounding and rooting for someone more than half of romantic movies made nowadays. Scott Pilgrim does a great job of giving people an accurate telling of whats going on in nice guys head when trying to get the girl.  The film also has a great coming of age story for most of its characters and you can see real growth on how to deal with relationships and other people’s feelings. If Scott Pilgrim vs. the World didn’t have all these things going for it it would have just been simply amusing and then quickly faded and forgotten. These issues give the film true staying power.

The movie just hit all the right notes for me. Not just the story, but how everything was cut, transitioned, and brought out with such enthusiasm just made it unbelievably awesome. The movie’s really only flaw is that unless you grew up on going to the comic shop on Wednesdays, staying up late at night on soda playing Nintendo, or experience true rejection pretty much most of the jokes might seem over the top to you. Normally I take things like that into count when I rate the movie, but this movie is so special and unique I have to only look at who it’s trying to reach and accomplish and it did that in spades. Although, even if your not a geek gamer there is still tons of things to love and get. I hope this becomes like the movie Inception and people recognize that there are still fantastic movies being made and go out and see it. The biggest compliment I can give is the Scott Pilgrim vs the World really has just created a new genre that I hope grows and lives on.


UP Review

Posted in 5 Stars, Animation, Comedy, New Movie, Review, Uncategorized on June 2, 2009 by russellsreviews

What’s starting to become the norm, every summer Pixar releases a new movie with a trailer for their next one. This year’s big release is UP, a story of the adventures an old man and a young boyscout floating in a house by thousands of balloons. I have to admit just by seeing the trailers I wasn’t as up for it as pixar past greats. The movie looked like it would be good, but not as iconic. However, I was wrong. UP is just as memorable as Finding Nemo, Cars,Toy Story, and Monster’s Inc. In fact, UP actually pulls at your heart strings more than any of those films.

Pixar’s movies have always been full of fun, energy, and soul for all ages, but this one really will make you laugh and cry young or old. Up has a shockingly mature story. Carl as a child wanted nothing more than to be like his idol Charles Muntz and dream to one day explore the place Muntz always wrote about, Paradise Falls.. One day while playing around in the neighborhood he meets Ellie, a talkative fellow adventurer . Through a brilliant montage you then see the two grow up together, fall deeper in love, get married, and show them  grow old together. When the day comes  when Karl finally saves enough money to take Ellie Paradise Falls, he rushes home only find Ellie has passed away. The montage of their happy days together just before was so powerful and moving that you care more about her death, and feel Karl’s pain more than majority of movies where they take the whole film to develop . Years later when Karl wraps  i up in daily life and even starts to calling the house they built as Ellie, you completely understand the state of mind he is in.

One day when Karl is basically forced to move out of this very important house, he decides to attach thousands of balloons to the roof and take the house with him, only he makes one mistake and accidently brings along a local boyscout. The boyscout Russell throughout Karl’s journey to escape to paradise falls gives him a much needed boost and reminds him of how he used to be. On their quest they meet up with Karl and Ellie’s childhood idol, crazy birds, and even hilarious ”talking” dogs. One of the such dogs, Dug, befriends the group and helps them along the way. All of these characters provide great fun and humor, but really makes UP stand out and put it up their with the elite is how the story of how Karl dealt with loosing his soul mate through the whole movie.

All Pixar movies have funny characters and a great life lesson, but this lesson is mostly for the adults and will make even the hardest heart melt. With most movies nowadays being either too kiddy, or too dark, its refreshing to see a movie like this especially in the summer. Pixar still has it and I don’t think any other move company in animation or live action can match the heart and soul they routinely put out. Leaving the theater after seeing UP will leave your heart will feeling twice as big and have a new found love for dogs.