Tag Archives: film review

Review: Edge of Tomorrow – starship troopers meets groundhog day while running after lola

Edge of Tomorrow is a sci-fi film starring Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt, directed by Doug Liman and written by Christopher McQuarrie, Jez Butterworth and John-Henry Butterworth.
It’s about the United Defense Force waging war on an alien invasion in Europe, Major Cage (Cruise) gets plunged into combat, without adequate training he stumbles upon a time loop. Throw in some very hand held camera work, nice visuals and Tom Cruise, and… go!

The good; there’s nothing new here as far as story, but boy do I like it. The aliens are called Mimics, and they’ve got humanity beat, but our newest latest, best weapon is this Battle Suit. It gives the common soldier more fire power, strength and speed capable of combating these mimics. Whenever we have a superior alien force battling humanity, in films anyway, common bullets always seems to be the answer (Starship Troopers, Battle Los Angeles, Battleship…), this time we get a little more firepower, which makes it more believable, although the battle suit isn’t all encompassing/enclosed for protection…

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, love or hate Tom Cruise, but the man is a movie star, he carries this film. When we first see him in his pseudo-Marine uniform I first thought… “that hair cut isn’t regulation sir… but this is a world they’ve created, plus we’re in war time so maybe hair cuts aren’t the biggest priority.” But then he’s not a combat soldier, so that makes sense.

If you’ve seen the trailers, then you know that Cage (Cruise) dies over and over again, the film does a great job in explaining how this happens, it’s actually very satisfying, and builds up to how Cage can do what he does.

The bad; the action sequence… why all the hand-held crappy, I mean, camera work?? Did Liman go to the Michael Bay school of crapulence? There’s some great stuff going on, it’s the D-Day invasion of Normandy, but with exo-suits, frikkin’ exo-suits! It looks awesome… yet, I can’t see things.

The trailers give a lot away.

Overall, check it out, go see it on the big screen and enjoy the visuals with a very satisfying story.

Reading up on the production of this film, there were problems with the third act, I like to credit McQuarrie for making the script great. All through the film I had this anime feel/notion, then I come to learn that it’s based on the Japanese light novel (young adult) entitled All You Need Is Kill.


Review: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey in to a little song and dance

I saw The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey this weekend.  Is it me?  Or is the Sherman Oaks Arclight degrading?  The audience there as of late has become that of a dollar theatre.
Back to the movie, it’s the first in a prequel trilogy to that of Lord of the Rings.  We follow a young Bilbo Baggins as he embarks on a journey through Middle-Earth.  A Dwarf King is seeking to reclaim his rightful mountain kingdom from a dragon that’s occupying it now, he needs help, and that’s where Bilbo joins their merry gang.  We also get to see some familiar faces along the way.

The good;  the score, I love Howard Shore’s music.  Its swelling grandeur really compliments those wide shots.  This is the exception where a prequel actually worked for me.  We’re again brought in to the world of Middle-Earth, a time and place where not much changes in terms of technology.  So I’m ok with this, it’s not like a sci-fi prequel, where the technology of the world is far better in the past than it is in the future.
Speaking of music, there’s singing in this movie!  I actually wanted more songs.

Martin Freeman is great as the young Bilbo.

The bad; there are certain scenes where there’s too much going on, the frames are just too busy, one example that comes to mind is the mining caves.
I realize that the work of literature, The Hobbit, story, where it is one.  It felt more epic, when it wasn’t, it’s a very straight forward story without any twists or turns.

Overall, I enjoyed An Unexpected Journey,  it was delightful seeing the shire again, as well as some familiar faces of Middle-Earth.  I’m now curious to see it in forty eight frames 3D.  The scene with Gollum is amazing, the emotions that they get out of his computer generated face was frighteningly real and… well emotive.  It was a treat seeing that scene filmed live action, we all know the scene from the Bass/Rankin The Hobbit.
Still uncertain why this is a trilogy, but my butt will be in the theatres.

Review: Wreck-It Ralph wrecks the box office

I saw Wreck-It Ralph this weekend and apparently so did everyone else.  It’s about Ralph, the villain in an old 8-Bit game called Fix-It Felix Jr, who is fed up of being the bad guy, so he game jumps and decides to find his own destiny.

The Good:

Where to start… where to start… the humor is great, lots of stuff for the grownups who grew up with 8-bit games.  When they’re in Game Central Station there are a lot of characters from other games, Wreck-It Ralph is the Who Framed Roger Rabbit of video games.  I enjoyed seeing all the other characters throughout the movie, as well as the other arcade machines that pass time in the arcade.

The animation is top notch.  Each game is a separate world and the characters that inhabit that world behave and look differently.  An example is Ralph’s world, the inhabitants of the apartment of Niceland behave in short quick movements, almost with a staccato beat, which is very evocative of the 8-bit world in which their video game takes place in.  Then we go on to Hero’s Duty where everything is in high def with lots of action going on in the background.  Next we visit Sugar Rush where the world is made up of some form of candy.  A standard movie takes time establishing one world in which the protagonist lives in, with its own set of rules in the case of sci-fi or fantasy, but with Wreck-It Ralph we’re treated to at least three other worlds, amazing that the filmmakers were able to accomplish that.

My main praise for this film has got to be the story.  The story is what grabbed me immediately, from the beginning Ralph is a relate-able character and his journey is one that is simple yet complicated in its own way.  The arc of the story is very very similar to Brave and The Iron Giant.  The ending especially reminded me of The Iron Giant.

The Bad:

I don’t think I have anything to put here.  Only that people will immediately dismiss this film as being a cartoon and not an animated film.  “I don’t watch cartoons,” to those of you whom this applies to… I say, stretch your brain, and allow yourself to experience something new, it might shock and amaze you.  And if it doesn’t, then you have no soul and you should have a doctor look in to that.


I cannot recommend this movie enough.  There’s something for everyone, it’s a throw back to the 8-bit games that pioneered video game entertainment industry, as well as a commentary on the state of video gamer entertainment today, but above all it’s touching and moving in the right places.  I predict a best animated feature nom.

Another bonus is the short Paperman that we got before the main feature, what a pleasant little treat.

It’s also great to see all the other video games, here are some to name a few; Bowser, Paperboy, Ryu, Ken, Blanka, Pac-Man, M. Bison, Zangeif, Chung-Li, Sonic, Q*Bert, Frogger, Princess Daisy…


Frankenweenie is the latest from Tim Burton. From his previous short film, this feature length version is about a boy who loses his dog and longs to bring him back, a modern take of Frankenstein.

The good; it’s black and white, I mean, who else does black and white these days? Love the feel that it adds and you don’t even notice.

The film starts off right away introducing us to Victor, our main character, we waste no time connecting with him, bravo in the way they were able to pull that off. Granted, it’s sorta biased to people like me, film school graduates and what not.

At first I thought, “why make this a full length feature film, when the short film was fine?” But they made wonderful additions to fill the runtime of a feature. We get more characters and complications in the plot, building to a wonderful ending.

There’s a nice touch with the science teacher and his view on science. As Victor’s mentor he’s a shapeshifting one, you don’t know if it’s a good guy or a bad guy, he’s designed to scream bad guy but his message to Victor, as well as the audience, is surprisingly meaningful… wrapped in humor at times.

The bad; not much here, you either love Tim Burton’s character design style or you don’t. Personally, I didn’t mind it, but I can see it turning others off.
This isn’t necessarily a kid’s movie, I’d say it’s for mature kids, kids that can comprehend what’s going on, and see the deeper message behind the scary images. There are some frightening scenes, which help punctuate the message of responsibility and love.

Overall, worth watching. The setting is timeless, not exactly a period piece, but just a timeless suburban small town that may or may not have existed in history, except in the way that we remember it. It was also great to see the cast of the original short film thanked at the end. John August and Tim Burton have teamed up again for another success.


The Raid: Redemption

I just saw The Raid: Redemption.  Why did we wait this long to see it??
It takes place in a slum of Indonesia, in this particular apartment building lives the mob boss, and all the tenants are under his rule/employ.  A SWAT team goes in to take out this boss, little did they know that they’ve entered a hornet’s nest.

​The good; ​ wall to wall action, in the age of close up shots and shaky camera action, this Indonesian film knows how to cover an action and covers it well.  I get a sense of geography with the wider shots, I get the impact of punches and kicks from close ups, I get a sense of training and skill from the medium shots and I appreciate that I can see things without getting dizzy.
The film starts off with gun fire and as they ditch the guns for obvious reasons they have to switch to hand to hand combat, which is beautifully choreographed and executed.  The skill of all the bodies on camera is very apparent and appreciated.  Makes me think that everyone in Indonesian knows the martial art of Silat.

There’s also a lack of a love story, the film opens with Rama, played by Iko Uwais, praying before he goes to work as he then says bye to his pregnant wife.  Here we get that he’s a family man, expecting a child, and he’s Muslim, it’s a nice way to introduce this character and get the who love interest thing out of the way.  If this were an American movie there would’ve been a “hooker with a heart of gold” that’s in the apartment building and she’d want to help the Police, thank you for not having that archetype.

​Thebad;​ ummmm, not much in this department.  The movie’s a lean one hundred minutes, it’s a meat and potatoes type of movie that showcases martial arts skills.  Oh, they use they forearms to block a lot, A LOT, of hits from enemies, and yet they’re arms remain unbruised or bloodied.  Some wounds there would’ve made it more believable, but maybe they train so their forearms are like leather??

One very bad thing… they’re remaking this in America… go watch the original and learn to read, cause this movie is subtitled.  You just might learn a new word or two, or heaven forbid, learn what some words are in another language.

Overall, ​The Raid ​does not disappoint.  It’s directed by ​Gareth Evans ​who’s Welsh, and this is his second film with Iko Uwais​ Please make more like this.