REVIEW: Turbo

Another two week session of no blog entries! I was working another camp session in Princeton, and thus had no time to write. However, now that I’m done working this summer, entries should resume their weekly updates! Let’s kick this off with a movie I saw a couple days ago: DreamworksTurbo!

Plot:
 
Turbo‘s premise is cool. Theo, a garden snail that dreams of being a racer comes into contact with nitrous (the stuff you see in racing games and the Fast & Furious series that gives racing cars a temporary boost of insane speed) and is able to utilize it, much to his brother Chet’s dismay. After some unfortunate events, he and Chet are fired from the garden they work at and shortly after Chet is taken by crows. Using his speed, Theo (who I will now call Turbo because that’s what he calls himself) follows the crows and saves Chet, only to be captured by humans and entered into a snail racing competition. Turbo shows off his insane speed, and is entered into the Indianapolis 500, where he competes with the best of the best racing cars.

The plot itself flows quite nicely. I was pleasantly surprised to see some real character growth in a film that looked, to me, like one of those silly and fun kid’s films.

Acting:
 
Let me just get this out of the way: the actors for voicing were amazing. Ryan Reynolds, Samuel L. Jackson, and Snoop Dog/Lion? Sign me up! The acting was great, the one-liners were funny. All the characters meshed together really well. I enjoyed it.

Atmosphere:
 
The atmosphere is, well, pretty much racing. The animation itself is nicely done, the effects are really cool, and watching a snail go over 200 mpg alongside formula 1 racing cars in an iconic race was really cool to watch. Also, the music choices and the definite reference to pop culture was very funny. It was nice to see an animated film that referenced remixes being made on the Internet (and the remix was actually pretty catchy!)

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If you’re looking for something fun and cool to watch, or you want to see a snail body formula 1 racing cars, check out Turbo! It’s a solid film.

Rating: 3 out of 5 (stars)
 
Just Sayin’.

REVIEW: Iron Man 3

Last Friday, I got to see the third installment in the Iron Man series. Does it live up to the hype? I would say so.

Plot:

The plot here is a typical super-hero plot. Some guy Tony Stark met years ago has now invented something called Extremis which causes humans to regenerate wounds (even body parts) and turn into super-soldiers. To be honest, I wasn’t too impressed with this.

What’s under this plot is a psychologically damaged Tony Stark trying to come to grips with what happened in The Avengers. I want to point out that one of my main concerns for this movie was if this was going to be before or after The Avengers happened, and I think it’s awesome to see that the movie (and I assume future Marvel films) will now all take place after The Avengers, meaning the characters are all affected by what happened.

Acting:

Robert Downey Jr. once again is a star. Ever since Iron Man, I’ve loved him as Tony Stark, and it feels like he’s only become more of the character now.  Don’t get me wrong, Gwyneth Paltrov (Pepper Pots), Don Cheadle (James Rhodes), and even Guy Pearce as the new villain, Aldrich Killian are all great, but Robert really steals the show.

I also have to give credit to the writing team here because, despite being the third movie, Iron Man 3 is still very funny; funnier than most modern-day comedies, I would say, and I think that’s impressive considering comedy films are made to make people laugh.

Atmosphere:

There’s really not much to say here, as the setting is pretty much the same as its been in all the Marvel films: modern-day USA.

I do want to point out that there is a lot less action in Iron Man 3, and instead focuses in on Tony as a character and how he’s dealing with what happened after The Avengers. This may seem off-putting, but I assure you, it’s still just as engaging.

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If you’re a fan of the Marvel films or the Iron Man series, I would definitely recommend this. It’s not perfect, by any means, but I think it ranks a little higher than Iron Man 2.

Rating: 4 out of 5 (stars)

Just Sayin’.

48fps movies – yay or nay?

On opening night of The Hobbit (I will not be using that dumb subtitle), I went with some friends to see it at midnight in GLORIOUS 48fps. Let me tell you how amazing the experience was… then I’ll get into the movie. Actually, I’ll do that later; I just want to talk about how incredible this was.

We sat down, went through all the trailers, blah blah blah, and then put on our 3D glasses, and sat back to view 3 hours of amazingness. If anyone has a or has watched something on a high-end HDTV, you’ve probably noticed that your favorite shows move faster than on other TV‘s. A 48fps movie moves exactly like that, and while it may take some time getting used to, I guarantee you that it’s way better on a movie than on How I Met Your Mother. Everything is wicked smooth, and battle scenes look so much more…clean? Yes, clean. Instead of just watching a battle and kind of following it, maybe not knowing what’s going on, I was able to follow everything perfectly, and it all looked incredible.

When you’re watching a show that moves that fast, everything looks so much more real. All the movements are much more life-like – it’s really something you don’t notice until the characters really move. At 30fps, there’s a noticeable choppiness to everything – you know it’s a movie. At 48fps, it’s almost like you were watching it live, which I think is way cooler when applied to a movie than to a TV show.

If this is what the future of movies is going to be, I’m really excited for it! Bring on the 48fps, please! I give it a yay/10.

Just sayin’.

REVIEW: Wreck-It Ralph

Last weekend, after much hyping on my friends’ parts, I finally got to go see Wreck-It Ralph, a movie that is not so much about video games as it is a movie featuring a video game theme. This film could easily be the best video game-themed film I’ve seen. Ever. So, let’s get into the review!

Plot:

Wreck-It Ralph is the bad guy of Fix It Felix Jr. During the game, he gets thrown off a building while Felix gets a medal if the player wins the game. He’s okay with that. What he’s not okay with is how the game’s characters continue to treat him like a bad guy when the arcade is closed. To fix this, he decides to prove that he can be a good guy and go get a medal and bring it back.

This is a really interesting (and completely character-driven) plot, and I really enjoyed it. When I think of a good movie, I think of a movie that doesn’t waste a single scene. I think Wreck-It Ralph does that, so kudos to Disney. You’ve made the video game equivalent of Toy Story!

Acting:

The acting is spot-on. Every character is casted perfectly (and I love Jane Lynch). To add some bonus points, every recognizable video game character (besides the zombie and the Pac Man ghost) was voiced by their respective actors in the game. How can you go wrong with that?

Atmosphere:

I’ll admit, I’m a little biased towards the atmosphere because I’m a gamer, but I want to point out something about this film that I thought really made it stand out: you don’t have to be a gamer to truly enjoy this film. Gamer’s get that nostalgia boost and will be excited to see some recognizable video game characters (Sonic, Bowser, Zangief, Ken, Ryu, Pac Man, etc…), but really, that’s it. The games portrayed (to my knowledge) are completely original games, and so gamers and non-gamers alike are introduced to it.

This is really important. Everyone’s calling Wreck-It Ralph a “video game” movie. To me, placing that label on it kind of pushes a few prospective viewers away, but the film does an absolutely fantastic job not excluding anyone in terms of its look and feel. This is a film any non-gamer will enjoy, maybe even more than a gamer would.

The music is great. The 8-bit retro was awesome when it was played, but the only composition that really stood out was the ending theme (I admit I love Owl City).

Character:

The characters are fantastic, and complement each other really well. The humor that comes from these characters interacting is great! And, they all have clear-cut arcs that you can see change in throughout the film, and all of them are resolved. It’s nice to see every major character resolving their arcs instead of being left in the dark.

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Wreck-It Ralph, while being hyped as one of the best “video game” films of all time, is one of the finest films I’ve seen all year. If you love games, go see it. If you don’t love games, go see it. If you love Pixar or Toy Story, go see it!

Actually, don’t even put the if statement in there. Just go see it!

Rating: 5 out of 5 (stars)

Just sayin’.

REVIEW: Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

On my birthday last week, my friends and I went to go see Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, which was released that night at midnight. I went in there expecting a horror/action film, and what I got was probably one of the best comedies I’ve seen all year. So let’s jump in and see why this film is so funny!

Plot:

I think this is probably one of the best parts. As you can probably take from the title, this is a movie that takes place during the time Abraham Lincoln was alive. We see him grow from boy to young man to our 16th president, and during the latter two periods he hunts vampires. Yes, you get to see Abraham Lincoln, as president, hunt down superhuman creatures with an axe. If you’re smiling and laughing after reading that sentence, go see this movie – you won’t regret it!

Really, the plot is Abraham Lincoln’s rise to becoming the president along with the civil war, and it all includes vampires, where the vampires are aiding the South in their desire to conquer the North in battle and keep slavery as a practice. What’s striking is how vampires are weaved in. It’s almost ridiculous how they just end up in the south and feed on slaves, and then aid the South in the civil war.

And Henry, Abe‘s mentor, being a vampire was such a twist…except it wasn’t, but I wasn’t expecting great twists from this movie considering it’s supposed to be part-historic.

Acting:

Honestly, the acting is good. That’s why it’s funny. These actors are legitimately trying to convince you that this could have happened – that Abraham Lincoln was, indeed, a vampire hunter. I don’t know exactly who the actors and actresses were (nor am I interested enough to look them up because none of them astounded me), but they were good, and I enjoyed their acting, especially the interactions between Abe and Henry, his mentor (and also a vampire).

I can’t really comment much on the characters – they’re ones you know, and since it’s made out to be like history, you kind of know where each of them is headed in terms of arc progression.

Music:

The music was pretty standard. Nothing really to comment on because I wasn’t too engrossed by it. It wasn’t bad, just not stellar.

Fighting:

This was the best part. To see Abraham Lincoln with bloodlust eyes as he hacks away at a vampire ind killing them in gruesome/badass ways was, simply put, amazing and hilarious, especially once he becomes the president. I really don’t want to go into too much detail, but believe me when I say that it’s gory, although the blood looks kinda fake, but maybe that’s because vampires have a different kind of blood…yeah, I’ll just go with that.

Anyway, the war scenes are also pretty cool, especially once the vampires come in. The battle of Gettysburg is hilarious because of the vampires!

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Really, the movie isn’t too bad. I mean, it’s a movie about our 16th president hunting vampires, so take that as you will, but I very-much enjoyed it because of how serious the presentation was. It’s movies like this that present a hilarious concept seriously that I love to watch, and I find these kinds of movies funnier than most movies that are actually comedies. If you’re not against seeing some gore and vampires, and want to watch Abraham Lincoln be a complete badass, do go and watch this move – you won’t regret it!

Rating: 3 out of 5 (stars)

Just sayin’.

REVIEW: Howl’s Moving Castle

This movie is good for ONE REASON ONLY:

Christian Bale Bird Man!

Bird Man - played by Christian Bale

Oh yes, Christian Bale becoming bird man. It’s the only explanation!

I lied, there’s two reasons:

BA scarescrow

The most bad ass scarecrow to have ever existed...

But, seriously – continuing the Miyazaki trend, I recently watched Howl’s Moving Castle. Did you know that Miyazaki throws in sub-themes as casually as strolling into a party where jeans and a t-shirt at a business casual event? Neither did I, and because Arrietty was my first of Miyazaki’s films, I was under the impression his other works would be a little more sensible.

Now, I can take chaos. The movie’s premise of a girl who feels old, ugly, and incompetent and being cursed to reflect her mood is an enchanting premise, and I was really enjoying the movie for a while as we explored Howl’s gigantic moving ‘castle’ and its ability to warp doorways was awesome.

Then came war.

Now, a funny little note here is every single time (and I mean every. Single. Time.) the characters talked about war or we saw war happening, my friend would turn to me and say, “Hey, Kappy, did you know this movie’s about war?”

As annoying as that may seem, it was funny to me because it felt like the concept of war was literally shoved into the movie as a skeleton to the plot being driven by Sophie (I think that’s the spelling) and Howl. Was war really what the movie was about? It shouldn’t have been, but in the end it was.

I applaud Miyazaki for trying to weave a story of two who belittle themselves and are cowardly and, in the end, confront their problems head-on with war being the wrong solution to problems, but was that supposed to be a metaphor for how we as people need to confront our problems head-on with discussion instead of duking it out? Maybe, but if so, it was executed poorly.

We would go from a scene with Sophie to towns and villages being destroyed and Howl just flying around destroying battleships. Um, OK, great. Why? Why was the war even there? How did it start? Why was Howl summoned by both sides?

Let’s move onto something a little more positive: the voice acting and characters. Here’s where this movie really shines. Disregarding any lines about war, the characters develop wonderfully. Being able to actually see Sophie come to terms with her feeling old and weak was incredibly powerful. The supporting cast really helps move things along, and that living scarecrow is easily the greatest character in film history. There, I said it. I loved that scarecrow. It was funny, but really helped Sophie grow, and I thought that was awesome.

Talking of characters, let’s talk about the voice acting. Since I watched it on Netflix, I listened to the english dub, and I was once again impressed by it. Especially Howl, who was voiced by none other than Christian-fucking-Bale. That’s right, Christian Bale voiced Howl in this movie, and damn does he sound good when not talking like Batman!

And how can I forget the gorgeous visuals? The animation and art were, simply put, stunning. Panning across the sky or an open lake was 10-12 seconds of delicious eye candy, and a few of the scenes (specifically when they ‘moved’) were animated really nicely.

All in all, this movie was good. There were some things I think it could have done much better concerning execution and the development of their sub-themes, but other than that, everything was great. I’m excited to watch more of Miyazaki’s work!

Rating: 7 out of 10

Also the concept of Christian Bale turning into a bird man is hilarious.

And credit to the photoshopped photo of Christian Bale goes to my friend Jacob (Xyless)!

Just sayin’.