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Friday, July 19, 2013

Justice League: Flashpoint Paradox Review

Very little needs to be said about this animated feature film. However, I will try to put together some words of use. I usually go the route "If you are a fan..." vs "If you are not familiar with the comics..." etc, etc.  It doesn't really matter here.  

This is one of the best Animated Features DC has made to date. Among all the animated features between the two rivals DC and Marvel, much of the DC animated features are slightly (if not consummately) better.  I say this in reference to what I thought was atrocious on Marvels behalf - ULTIMATE AVENGERS, and ULTIMATE AVENGERS 2, with some of Marvels best work in the HULK VS... & IRON MAN: RISE OF THE TECHNOVORE set of films.

To be fair both I-II were really weak films.

But for the most part, we as fans starve until we get the next DC animated film. I'm still mixed over the recent BATMAN: THE RETURN OF THE DARK KNIGHT PARTS I-II films. I loved part 1, I am still extremely mixed over the 2nd, especially with some of the weird things we saw Superman do. SPOILER: Most folks are hung up on the Batman Killing Joker scene...END SPOILER (If you havent seen this film, what are you waiting for).

Flashpoint takes place within a comic event equally named "Flashpoint" which gives us a glimpse of Flash longing for a change from his past, but by actually accomplishing this change pretty much ruins the future - completely...

I have to dig through my comics to read Flashpoint again - without remembering much of the details I went into this film almost blind. I remember the general concept in Flashpoint, but none of the details...strange? I'm in the middle of a move, which makes it more annoying to find a set of comics that are boxed and stored away...

Perhaps its a good thing, because I was literally able to enjoy the film without the comicbook nerd judgement I always have when watching these types of films.

Let me state (if it's not apparent), It was an absolute joy to watch this film. There are elements of the Golden and Silver age variations of these characters quietly embedded in the storylines DNA. We know its there, but its not overt. The voices were done by mostly familiar artists. Among my favorite newcomers to the film were Kevin McKidd (Luscius Vorenus from the HBO series ROME) playing Thomas Wayne, Batman's father; dawning the cape himself. 

We also got to see a variety of characters from the Superfriends era of the Justice League, most notably, Black Manta among a cornucopia of Atlantean characters.

Here is a Youtube video with a Legion of Doom Roll call 

This is by far the bloodiest and most violent DC animated film I have seen to date.  DC spared no argument toward keeping censors at bay, taking on the killing of children as a plot point and aspect of shock value. It makes perfect sense, this is a world torn apart by war, and the characters we meet are extreme counters to what we know. Most favorably and gloriously created is the time-altered Batman Story (did I mention this already? O_o)...That I think everyone will absolutely love! I also get some screen time from one of my favorite characters, Etrigan, poetically I might add.

As much as I love Superman, I absolutely love how he did and did not play a major role in this film. Allowing all the other characters to shine in the spotlight, without a nonsensical explanation (or lack thereof) for his absence.

Overall, there is a lot I'd love to say, but shouldn't as the film releases on the 30th and I don't want to spoil it for anyone. I think I might have already stated too much. It is in my opinion, among DC's best animated films. It made me laugh, I felt like a kid again, marveling at the characters. I had moments of surprise when I saw characters I hadn't seen since I was very young, much to my personal glee. It moved me to tears with some of the very bittersweet moments between Flash and Batman. This is almost a perfect film. I found myself constantly thinking..."Too bad it's already animated, this would have been a perfect story to convert for live action...", potentially for a Flash entry, or a weird option for the Justice League film.  It's not a stretch to imagine this as GREEN LANTERN: FIRST FLIGHT is what DC based the Ryan Reynolds version of GREEN LANTERN upon...Either way, I'm glad it was made.

I Think you will too...Comment, Follow, Tweet with me...

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Pacific Rim: Review

I loved this movie - It made me feel like a kid again. At the core of the film, that is pretty much what it is supposed to do - Everything else almost doesn't matter. It's hard to reminisce about films like a child, because I tend to analyze what I see, especially when our good hard earned "dinero" is thrown in...That being said, the film in my mind resonated two things - I expected both - A live action film of what I used to love playing as a teenager - "King of the Monsters"... And as my friend Shannon Baker put it "Godzilla vs Transformers" -- Now I use that phrasing loosely, but in effect, it's not too far off. A few scenes, regardless of how much, Mr. Del Toro stated (he wanted) to be away from existing Anime themes, was nearly impossible for us that know Anime and not see those themes (that obviously) inspired much of this film.  I loved seeing the launch sequence for the Llagers, seeing in my mind what "Evangelion" could be like in a live action setting (especially with the remakes still in the works).

I see, to a degree, what the live action "Gaiking"might be like (if it would have actually been made) . 

Overall, in terms of what was good with this film, it does exactly what its intended to do (didn't I say this already), make you feel like a kid by marveling at the crazy things that are on the screen.  It's fun, and it definitely delivers a great amount of wow factor, with the crazy amount of nods to a variety of genres that it throws it you.

-- The Bad --

There are very few general gripes I had with the film, one, I didn't walk in expecting Oscar performances... Anyone that does, you are deluding yourself without any purpose, and in so doing, are robbing yourself of simply a fun film. You might also simply be a pretentious hipster, and I'd warn anyone from watching movies like this with pretentious hipsters...Sorry, I'm extremely prejudiced against Hipsters (and Trolls), now you know.

In terms of some Sci-Fi concepts, there are a few things that (if you understand physics, or general amounts of scienctific concepts) will break you from the "moment" because your nerd brain (like mine) will say...that doesn't make sense...You have to jar yourself back into reality and just say..."it's a movie, who gives a crap, shut up brain!"

In general there were little developments into the characters with a few exceptions, and the focus of the development of the systems of the Llagers (themselves) left little reason for its existence, and acceptance. The best way I can describe this would be.  If Tony Stark was kidnapped and placed into a cave and told "here are a bunch of spare parts, make us a missile" and he brakes out of the cave with a fully functional Mark VII type Suit, we wouldn't really believe it, there would be a disconnect in continuity and the acceptance of what we see (similar problem happened in the 1st "GI Joe" film with the level of tech used in the film, it was not believable, and scaled back to levels of reality in the sequel - especially when compared to the Transformers films)... The tech behind the concept of the suits is gorgeous and marvelous, but the innovation behind it is so extremely futuristic and evolutionary that its not believable - especially when the rest of the world is still operating on what we see is normal tech - like the choppers in the film, (mostly) older Sikorsky type helicopters...This doesn't line up...expecially if you mix in the types of interfaces they were using to monitor the Llagers.  I won't spoil any scenes - but keep this in mind - Communications and Vital'll know when you see it. While these things were complete and utter eye candy, the point is almost completely apparent to anyone watching the film.

-- The Ugly --

For me, this may seem like a big issue, for others it is no big deal...

The music. It was underwhelming. This film is the reason a word like "Epic" exists.  Of the hundreds of myriad films that are produced each year, this is the type of film most people will pay to see in the theater and not wait for a home based release.  This is the type of film that keeps IMAX and 3D film theaters open.

Why would the music be so plain and boring?

Let me back up a moment, the music, was fine. It was simply not Epic, at least not to me.

Imagine if "Star Wars" was not composed by John Williams...Imagine for a moment it was composed by someone else - chances are the "Star Wars" we know and love would not be "Star Wars"...The music in those films are so Epic that its played in 4th of July fireworks sequences

...That's Epic...

Score is quite possibly the 2nd if not 3rd most important ingredient in a great film - 1st being Acting ( and Story), the other in contention for 2nd/3rd (depending on the observer) is Visuals. If the acting is bad, most people hate the film, but if the visuals and the score can somehow keep you in the moment, the acting doesn't matter anymore (basically I'm describing a Summer Blockbuster) - can we honestly say films like "Star Wars" had great acting? Hell no...But we love those films don't we? What makes it that much more frustrating for me, I'm a bit of an audiophile elitist and I love being immersed in sound. The composer of this film has put together amazing work for Iron Man, Game of Thrones, and has worked with Hans Zimmer. So I wonder if his vision...rather "Ear" for the film was steered away by other controlling entities.

My final gripe, again, depends on the observer - this movie seems to have been converted in post for 3D - it was not designed as a 3D film, ergo, its an awful 3D experience...there were 3D scenes in the Coke Commercial prior to the trailers (that were excellent) advertising the fact we were in a 3D theater, on a much better scale than the 3D conversion in this film.  Had Mr. Del Toro designed this film with 3D in mind, most of the objects would have been thrown at the camera, not away from it as in most of the film.  So don't waste your time watching this in 3D. 

-- Overall --

The film is a great joyride through an old and classic film genre, with many nods in respect to a variety of the themes that help inspire and bring it to life. The action is solid, the Kaiju are over-the-top and felt amazing. The music could have moved me more, and could have been scored to be more epic and grandiose, but it suffices.The story is interesting and will captivate a whole new generation of young minds that will now be seeking all kinds of content on the genre of Kaiju films, games, anime, and the like...and for that Mr. Del Toro I thank you - just next time get someone like John Williams, Hans Zimmer, or Basil Poledouris-esque (R.I.P. Basil)! Perhaps just let this composer do his thing without compromises, yeh... (Del Toro micromanages the entire process...So I wonder if he was driving the composition to his tunes.) 

If you don't like giant monsters, robots, mechs, anime, have an imagination, or an inner child...don't see this film. If you go to the movies to see riveting award winning acting that can move you to tears and hangs you on the very words of the actor - like watching anything (say) Daniel Day-Lewis is in? ...this is not the movie for you.

If you want some mindless fun in a film worthy of your $30-40 bucks (factor in the junk food, and the obligatory round of DDR, Shooting game, or Pac Man for people like my bud Todd Rogers - who i'm sure will get a round of Pac-Man in before the trailers start) - then this is a movie perfectly intended for the theaters -- I recommend IMAX...stay away from 3D...