mcfjr42

IMDb member since May 2011
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    8 years

Reviews

Shin Seiki Evangelion
(1995)

Simultaneously Amazing and Severely Overrated
Evangelion is probably one of the most famous anime series out there. You could probably ask quite a few non-anime fans if they've heard of this series and have them answer in the positive. Many anime fans consider it one of the greatest anime of all time, and a brilliant, deep, and symbolism-packed classic. And... well, I don't entirely agree.

Evangelion is good, don't get me wrong, but there are a lot of problems with it, the most major I saw being the main character, Shinji. I'm sure we've all seen people cracking jokes at the expense of poor Shinji and his whininess before, so I'll just straight-up say I thought he was a really lame protagonist. I don't mind characters with elements that make them more human, and Shinji's misery and feelings of alienation do make for a realistic depressed person. But when a lot of episodes in the earlier part of the series have him complaining all the time, and his catchphrase is "I mustn't run away," that's not fun to watch.

Another problem is the symbolism. The thing is, I don't really think any of the symbolism is all too symbolic of anything. I think most of the religious imagery and such was thrown in simply because it looks cool. The mindscrews and bizarreness that the series became infamous for also seems to be there only so that people would argue for eternity about what it really means.

And therein lies a bigger problem: this anime made a large number of its fans into pseudo-intellectual armchair philosophers. They can be worse than high school English teachers in their ability to read meanings into innocuous things.

This review has, so far, been rather critical, and one would probably assume I hate this show were it not for the 10 stars up top. And I don't hate this show; I really do like some elements of it. For all my criticisms of Shinji as a protagonist, Shinji is a good character. His crippling self-doubt and depression is portrayed quite well.

The designs of the Angels and EVA units are fantastic as well, and the fight scenes are good too. There's a lot to like about this show.

In the end, this show may be a really important anime, but definitely not the best. I'd say in terms of importance to anime history this ranks up there with Akira in terms of its impact. But at the same time, I find it to be given way too much credit as well as severely over-hyped. I honestly prefer the Rebuild movies, as they cut out the whining and keep in the good stuff.

Evangelion is good, great even, but it is not and never will be the best.

Face/Off
(1997)

Crazy Awesome
From what I've seen of John Woo's films, when he does action it's always over-the-top and insanely cool, and this is no exception. This may very well be the pinnacle of 90s action in terms of the pure, insane cheesiness and awesome action.

The plot has Sean Archer (John Travolta) hunting down dangerous criminal Castor Troy (Nicolas Cage), who six years earlier killed his son. After apprehending him, Archer finds out that there's still a bomb threat, and with time running out and with no other alternatives, he decides to undergo a crazy procedure that will allow him to wear Troy's face and masquerade as him to get the info from his brother. Things go awry when Troy wakes up and puts on Archer's face, stealing his life.

The film's greatest strength is the two leads, who convincingly play each other. It helps that both actors are pretty over-the-top to begin with, and it gets even better when you see Travolta doing the best Nicolas Cage impersonation you'll ever see.

The action is just as awesome as you'd expect from a John Woo film, with improbable explosions and guns with seemingly infinite ammo all around.

The biggest problem I had with the movie is that the lead-up to killing Troy-as-Archer is really, REALLY long. There's a Mexican standoff, a church shootout, a hostage scene, a boat chase, it goes on and on and on, though it does lead to an awesome explosion and unconvincing stunt doubles. Still, that's not too much of a big deal because the action doesn't stop, but it can be a bit tiring.

If you like crazy awesome action, crazy awesome actors, or just craziness and awesomeness in general, then this is the film for you!

Shrek Forever After
(2010)

Far from being a failure, but Far, Far Away from being great
The Shrek series seemingly comes to its conclusion in this movie, and this is probably for the best; the series really lost its touch with the third movie, and sadly this movie, despite being okay, just can't recapture the magic and hilarity of the first two Shreks.

The plot is simple: Shrek is fed up with fatherhood and his life as he is no longer taken seriously as an ogre, so he sells a day of his life to Rumpelstiltskin so he can live one day of being a feared ogre again. Unfortunately, Rumpelstiltskin took the day Shrek was born away, meaning Shrek never existed. He's in a race against time to find a way out of this mess or he'll disappear forever.

The plot seemed to me to move by really fast, and I don't necessarily mean that as a positive; for instance, Shrek gets in with the ogre resistance rather quickly, giving no time for any of the other ogres to really be developed. This also doesn't leave much room for the alternate timeline Shrek is in to be explored; we see characters like Gingy and Pinocchio but they don't contribute much aside from a couple of joke scenes.

The Pied Piper shows up at one point, but after his one scene he's never mentioned again. I was rather disappointed he wasn't used in the final battle.

The biggest problem this movie has is the comedy: it's just not as funny as the first two. Yes, it's leagues better than the third, but that's not saying much. There are a few laughs to be had, but they aren't as consistent.

Overall, this is a harmless and forgettable outing for the grumpy green giant. Though Shrek probably deserved a better sendoff than this, it's still okay for what it is. I'd say check it out if it's on TV, but otherwise you can just skip this and watch the first two and Puss in Boots instead.

Kick-Ass 2
(2013)

A Solid Sequel
Kick-Ass 2 is one of those sequels a lot of people seem to be on the fence about; either you love it or you hate it. I suppose I'd fall into the former camp, as I found this movie to be fun and enjoyable for the most part, with some amusing moments, good performances, and action that lives up to the title. However, this movie does have a couple of problems.

The first problem is the characterizations of some of the characters. Dave, for instance, becomes a jerk who incessantly badgers Hit-Girl into resuming her vigilante duties, and his girlfriend Katie shows up just long enough in the movie to dump him and call him a pedophile. This is quite a 180 in personality from the last movie, though it brings her more in-line with her portrayal in the comic (though I did prefer the movies being a separate entity from the comics). The plots whirling around involving Dave, Hit-Girl, and Chris D'Amico give the movie a sort of cluttered feel, which leads to a Pirates of the Caribbean sequel level of bloatedness.

The other problem is that Jim Carrey's Colonel Stars and Stripes and John Leguizamo's Javier are a bit underutilized. Both of them are only in the movie for about ten minutes each, and that might be being generous. However, let it be noted that in their short amount of time on screen they deliver some of the best performances in the movie; Jim Carrey has a really cool action scene with some funny lines, and Leguizamo is great as the guy who looks out for Chris and puts up with his ridiculous supervillain scheme.

Of course, the movie's strengths for the most part overshadow the annoyances. As stated before, Carrey and Leguizamo turn in fine performances for their limited screen time, and Christopher Mintz-Plasse manages to make Chris D'Amico stay funny and even a bit likable as he perpetrates heinous act after heinous act. Chloe Grace Moretz is, of course, fantastic, and all the new superheroes who show up are pretty fun too.

And speaking of the other superheroes, they may be the coolest part of the film. The final battle, where masked heroes and masked villains clash in a battle royale of epic proportions, is infinitely superior to the final battle of the first film.

This movie does stumble a bit with juggling so many plots, but in the end it's still a fun action-comedy with some great performances. I'd say it measures up to the first, or at least comes very close. It's certainly not a perfect film, but it is a fun film.

John Dies at the End
(2012)

A unique, funny, and flawed adaption
I'd read quite a bit about this movie before seeing it, and I was really worried. As a fan of the book, I was rather appalled with what I'd heard they cut out. Needless to say I was skeptical going in; in the end, however, I was pleasantly surprised by what I'd seen.

The story of the movie focuses on David (played by newcomer Chase Williamson) telling the story of his supernatural misadventures to the reporter Arnie Blondestone (played by the always-welcome Paul Giamatti). Dave details to Arnie his experiences with his friend John and the insane drug called 'soy sauce' that lets them see things that aren't there.

Fans of the book will be happy to know that a lot of the dialogue is kept from the book; Dave's opening monologue about the ax, for example, and even some of Korrok's dialogue at the end. The meat monster and the, uh, unusual doorknob scene is still in, and so is Bob Marley, the black cop (though he's not called Morgan Freeman), and lots of other things that look like they've come straight from the book.

Unfortunately, this movie isn't a very faithful adaption, despite all of its good qualities. Amy has been demoted to your standard love interest with no personality, seemingly combined with the Jennifer Lopez character. This is one of the biggest disappointments in the film, as Amy in the book was a much more interesting and useful character. Molly also got a gender flip and became Bark Lee.

Marconi has a more prominent role, and he's even played by Clancy Brown (of Highlander and Spongebob fame). However, his role is relegated to a couple of short cameo scenes, and he really doesn't add all that much to the story.

A lot of things were cut on the way to the big screen, including the trip to Vegas (hence Marconi's nearly nonsensical and random appearance), the shadow people,and, most egregiously, Monster Dave. They kept the other big plot twist at the end, so this makes this cut a lot more jarring. These are only a few alterations; surely there's some I've missed.

Still, I really liked this. Yes, it's an incredibly flawed adaption, it cut a lot of good parts out, some scenes are confusing and rushed because the context they had in the book is gone... But it's still an enjoyable flick. John and David are both at worst likable and at best pretty funny, Paul Giamatti is great in his role, the film is just really creative and quirky... Despite its problems I can't help but recommend it.

If you can, buy this movie. You may or may not like it, but by buying it (instead of, say, pirating it), you're showing your support for JDatE, and if it does well enough maybe someday we'll have a more faithful adaption. Still, this movie is good in its own right, and will hopefully become the cult classic it deserves to be.

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1
(2011)

An Abomination
The Twilight series has never been good; anyone who's trying to convince you otherwise is a preteen girl. But I will say this: up until Breaking Dawn the movies were at least enjoyably bad. Breaking Dawn, however, decides to suck any joy out of it and fill the film with the worst acting and visuals of the entire franchise.

I won't bother recapping the plot here; there's just no point, especially when the books and films are so prominent in pop culture. Instead, let me get into the many things wrong with this film:

-Kristen Stewart rarely smiles in this film. Oh, there are a few forced-looking smiles, but even at her character Bella's wedding she looks downright miserable. Looking miserable all the time worked well for her in Speak; here in a romantic role like this it's just awful

-The long-awaited sex scene is probably one of the most bland, passionless sex scenes ever put to film. Some furniture's destroyed, sure, but still, that isn't enough to save the lifeless lovemaking that occurs between Bella and Edward

-The stupidity of Bella astounded me in the book, and here it's just as bad. Bella easily lets Rosalie talk her into keeping the baby Edward impregnates her with. This is a girl who hated her and wanted to kill her at one point; they may be family now, but still, Bella shouldn't just blindly listen to her stepsister, especially when it becomes increasingly apparent she couldn't care less if Bella lived or died, as long as she gets the baby.

-The film tries to deal with a topic like abortion. And, surprise surprise, they do a terrible job. The way it's brought up is so blunt it looks like it was written by someone who honestly believes all abortions are performed in back alleys with coat hangers. The handling of such a controversial topic can be done well in the right hands, but the Twilight series and Stephanie Meyer are nowhere close to being intelligent or deep enough to handle a topic like this.

-A lot of scenes involving Jacob and the wolf pack are way too dark; I could barely tell what was going on half of the time in those scenes. Not that what was going on in those scenes was particularly interesting, but it was still rather irritating.

-Jacob, played by Taylor Lautner (who, throughout the series, seemed to be giving an 'Ewan McGregor in the Star Wars prequels'-like effort to actually act), imprints on baby Renesmee. While imprinting is not explained well enough for any viewer to understand how it works, the fact that Jacob will someday be dating the newborn is really uncomfortable. While not outright making Jacob a pedophile, it really makes one of the few likable characters left in the movies a lot creepier. This, of course, is kept from the book, because bad choices and poor writing like this could only be the work of a monumental hack like Meyer.

-The birth scene is one of the few things I've ever seen in a movie that made me sick. Not since I saw some of the cut animal scenes from Cannibal Holocaust has a movie actually made me nauseous. It is one of the most tasteless, disgusting scenes ever filmed.

Don't watch this movie. It rivals The Last Airbender film in terms of awfulness. There is so much wrong with this film that it is devoid of the charming stupidity found in Eclipse or even New Moon. If this review doesn't keep you away from this horrific cinematic dung heap, I wish you the best of luck in sitting through it.

The Tall Man
(2012)

A contender for 'Worst Film of 2012'
Don't listen to all these reviewers on here praising this film. This movie is not deep, it is not meaningful, it will not make you think, it is not unique. The only thing this film is is a tedious waste of time that will leave you completely dissatisfied, as well as delivering one of the cruelest and most idiotic messages possible while attempting to give some sort of social commentary.

This movie seemed promising at first, with a town where children would occasionally be stolen away by something called "The Tall Man." However, the movie veers off into ludicrous insanity all too quickly; it ends up looking like what you would get if a Lifetime original movie and a terrible episode of "The X-Files" had a baby.

Jessica Biel is the mother of a young boy who is kidnapped by this local boogeyman, so she goes off to save him. The entire town seems to be working against Biel as she goes out to find her son. This is actually a decent and interesting premise, and despite some pretty dopey action scenes the film is decent enough to keep you watching. However, as soon the kidnapper is revealed the movie starts spiraling into blatant stupidity.

The kidnapper is revealed to be the real mother of the boy, and the whole time Biel was the real kidnapper. It is later revealed she is part of aworldwide child abduction organization that steals kids from bad homes and gives them to 'better' homes. This is one of the most infuriatingly stupid plot twists in any movie ever.

It seems like the filmmakers were trying to convey some sort of message with the child kidnapping organization, but whatever that message was supposed to be certainly doesn't come across as anything intelligent. If the message was "If you think that a kid is in a bad home, kidnap them and give them to a family somewhere else so that their life might be better," then this film did an excellent job getting that abhorrent message across. There's really no happy ending in this movie; all this organization does is steal children from homes they think aren't good and leave broken, miserable parents behind. The real mother of the boy Biel had at the beginning of the film is absolutely heartbroken, especially when Biel lies and tells her that her son and every other disappeared child was murdered. If Biel is supposed to be the hero of this film, then this just makes The Tall Man an even worse film; it's really hard to root for a child abductor who destroys families due to a misguided and idiotic belief they are making things better.

All the other twists (of which there are several) end up piling on top of each other, ruining a very promising premise. Why the filmmakers opted to go with some idiotic plot about a child kidnapping organization is beyond me. This movie had at least two opportunities to end, and to end on a high note at that, but it decided to keep chugging along to deliver twist after twist, destroying any sense of entertainment the film had with increasingly ridiculous reveals.

This movie is dull, insultingly bad, and mind-bogglingly stupid. There are so many better thrillers you could be watching; don't settle for this bargain bin trash. This film would have been much better as a straight supernatural horror film, but instead it was a mediocre thriller that tries to deliver some kind of social commentary. Honestly, what is wrong with these filmmakers? They squandered such an interesting premise so that they could instead deliver the message "parents that are poor deserve to have their kids taken away from them, and have said kids put in the homes of complete strangers who shower them with riches and toys," which is one of the absolute worst morals in movie history.

There is no reason to ever watch this.

Wreck-It Ralph
(2012)

Disney Has Done it Again!
It's pretty disturbing to see all the hate for Disney lately. Sure, they've purchased Star Wars, Indiana Jones, and Marvel, but that does not mean they are going to ruin the quality of all those things. People seem to be deluded into thinking Disney makes awful movies; to prove them wrong, you need only point out Wreck-It Ralph.

The story is actually very similar to The Nightmare Before Christmas: A dissatisfied villain (the titular Ralph, played perfectly by John C. Reilly) who is tired of the same old thing decides to go out and try something different. Ralph, after a disastrous appearance at his game's anniversary party, decides to jump into the game Hero's Duty and win a medal to prove he can really be a good guy to the NPCs in his game. Things don't go smoothly however, and Ralph ends up crash landing in the candy go-kart game Sugar Rush, where he meets Vanellope, a bratty little kid (played by Sarah Silverman) who steals his medal so she can enter the daily race. Soon enough, Ralph and Vanellope are forced to form an unlikely partnership to get what they want, and this drives the remainder of the plot.

The animation in this movie is fantastic, even better than Tangled. The opening zoom into the Fix-It Felix arcade character where it goes from 8-bit to 3D gets me every time.

The music is good as well; Skrillex actually provides a good track used in the Hero's Duty part of the movie, Owl City gives an excellent credits song, and Buckner & Garcia of "Pac-Man Fever" fame give one of the catchiest songs in recent memory to the soundtrack.

The voice acting, as is often the case for Disney, is fantastic. Jane Lynch is especially fantastic as Calhoun, the leader of the space marines in Hero's Duty who aids Fix-It Felix in his quest to find Ralph (though she's also tracking down a virus from her game that could potentially destroy the arcade). Alan Tudyk channels the Mad Hatter from Disney's Alice in Wonderland in his role as King Candy, who is one of the most amusing characters in the film, and certainly one of the funniest Disney antagonists.

The video game references scattered throughout are also well-done. From the opening Bad-Anon meeting to the 'Sonic Sez' to Q*Bert's somewhat big role, the cameos and appearances never disappoint. The graffiti seen throughout the movie contains even more references, and the background of Game Central Station and Tappers is filled with little shout outs to dozens of video game series.

This is probably one of my favorite films of all time, and likely one of Disney's finest films. I highly recommend it; this movie is perfect for kids and adults alike.

Evil Dead
(2013)

A "remake" that doesn't disgrace
This movie is actually really good as an homage/sort-of remake, though in all honesty it could be a sequel to the original trilogy; it's less a remake than a re-imagining/retelling. Instead of redoing the entire story we've already seen with the same old characters, this film opted instead to tell a new, different story that follows the same basic plot while doing things a bit differently. This is certainly for the best; any attempt to replace Ash with a new, non-Bruce Campbell actor would have been a fatal error on the part of those involved .

In this story, David has come to a getaway with his girlfriend to meet some old friends of his and his sister Mia, who the group is attempting to get off of drugs. Things take a turn for the worse when one of them finds the Necronomicon and reads aloud from it, calling forth the forces of hell.

This movie does a good enough job at telling the same basic story as the original Evil Dead, and even throws in a bit of Evil Dead 2 to the mix. They pay tribute to the chainsaw, the severing of the hand, the POV force of evil, the Oldsmobile, even the tree rape! Still, it doesn't do everything exactly the same; the detoxing of Mia is actually done really well and realistically, and adds a dash of realism to this story.

The acting isn't awful, but it's not really amazing either; still, it's better than most modern 'horror' films. The amount of gore is what you'd expect from a modern horror film, though in all honesty it's just as over-the-top with its gore as the original films.

Of course, there are two problems with this film, and they're kind of big: The first is that the Necronomicon is never explained at all, or even named on-screen. Its origin is only implied, and it's implied it's the same as in the original trilogy, but you wouldn't know that unless you have watched them. This is a bit annoying if you aren't a long time fan.

The other problem is how the deadites are summoned: One of the group reads aloud from the Necronomicon, despite multiple warning notes written in blood inside the book, which he sees. In the originals, they had an excuse, as there was no way of knowing that the tape recording they listened too would summon evil. There's no excuse here, just plain and simple idiocy.

Still, it's hard to fault this movie when it's such a good tribute. It probably would have ended up a lot worse without Campbell and Raimi's involvement. Overall, it's a very good movie and one of the best re- imaginings out there if you give it a chance. Still, it's even better if you think of it as a stealth sequel to the original, and that soon we'll get a movie where Ash and this movie's hero team up to destroy the Necronomicon once and for all.

Overall, it's a solid standalone film, and certainly one of the better horror films to come out in a long time. It's best to go in not looking at it as a remake; you'll find a lot more to enjoy that way.

Southland Tales
(2006)

A Confusing, Astounding Mess
This is perhaps one of the most bloated, confusing, incoherent, mind- bogglingly frustrating movies I've ever watched. By all accounts I should hate this movie. But... I don't. because truth be told, there are parts of this film that do work.

For example, some of the actors do really well in their roles. Jon Lovitz as an emotionless psycho cop, Dwayne Johnson as a nervous, nerdy movie star, Justin Timberlake as the narrator and a scarred veteran... Surprisingly, their characters worked rather well.

Some scenes work well, while others are just...weird. A man has his hand chopped off, Timberlake lip-syncs to a Killers song, a woman asks Johnson a rather odd request before being shot; none of these scenes make any more sense in context.

The story, from what I made out, is that after a horrible terrorist attack on U.S. soil, the government became an Orwellian Republican society. An underground movement of Neo-Marxists are fighting back, and there's also something about the 4th dimension and new energy sources. None of it makes any sense at all.

This movie is not for everyone. I don't mean that like, "Oh, not everyone will get this film," because honestly, there's nothing to get. I mean that this movie just won't appeal to everybody, because it's just too ambitious for its own good. I saw a review here that was extremely insulting to people who like this movie; that reviewer is an idiot. There is nothing wrong with liking this movie, because honestly, it isn't terrible. It's when you say there's some sort of deeper meaning to it, that you understood it, that's when you are in the wrong.

This a glorious, overblown mess of a movie. You may like some of it; you may hate all of it. That's really up for you to decide if you ever watch it.

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