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This film will be taught in classes but for all the wrong reasons
First off I'm not paid off by a major Hollywood studio. On a macroscopic level, the concept of this film is quite interesting. A police procedural in a reality much similar to our own save for the fact that there are also fantastical creatures. The concept is one thing the execution is another. And so lets give it to the director of Suicide Squad.

You would think David Ayer would've learned how to pace and structure a film after the Hindenburg that was his last film. But no. This film has no clue on how to use planting and payoff and so you're never engaged. And it becomes infuriating at times. There is basically nothing pushing the plot. It just seems that stuff just happens to the characters. There are only one or two moments where a character makes a decision, be it minor or major. Hence the characters go through no arcs. And I would be remiss if I didn't mention the cringe worthy dialogue: "Fairy lives don't matter(?)".

Strike two goes against the world building. Now again, when dealing with a high concept film like this where you are setting up the universe and its rules, you have to be meticulous. The world building is so sloppy that, again, the audience is no longer engaged. There are references to the Alamo and Shrek. How is that possible in that reality? Explain! And what does it mean when an Orc gets blooded? And with the film's Macguffin, a magic wand, they set up the rules, but yet then the characters aren't aware of the film's internal logic. And so it renders much of the second act quite moot.

Ugh. But the worst offense is the film's use of allegorical racism. Even a good film like Zootopia really missed the big picture, so imagine how poorly handled it was here. Racism is, for lack of a better word, complicated. It operates first on the concept of race, an arbitrary social construct. Human beings exhibit very superficial physical differences, but overall we are still one species. I can't tell you how many pointless conversations I've had with my simpleton friends when it came to defining a person's ethnicity, how their rules tended to fall apart after a few sentences. So it is not a one to one comparison when defining the relationship between a black dude and a white dude to a rabbit and fox or specifically an orc and a human. The marginalized group in this film are the orcs, because 2000 years ago there was a war with a Dark Lord or w.e. and they sided with him blah blah blah and that's it. There aren't any other institutional, societal or historical factors. And the characters that present their resentment towards the other are not subtle about it at all. Racism operates on many levels, and its not just based on emotion.

I wonder why Will Smith, one of my favourite actors, has been choosing such awful projects. Why is it that in every film now he is scowling when back in the days of Bad Boys and Independence day he was an overall happy and charming charming character. But while his last couple of films were forgettable, I can't really say the same for this. This film will be studied in classes, I guarantee it, but for all the wrong reasons. So while Will Smith chose another bad film, he at least chose a film that is pretty infamous, so I am interested to see what kind of career trajectory this will take him. Touche.

All Eyez on Me

If your going to do a Tupac Shakur biopic, don't half ass it
Movie's centered around the hip-hop scene has hits and misses. You have really good ones like 8 Mile and Straight Outta Compton and then you have not so good ones like Get Rich or Die Trying' and Notorious. Most of these take place during the golden age, from the late 80s to the mid 90s. And at that time you cover a lot of social and political issues with the crack epidemic/war on drugs and the fact that middle America was beginning to hear about the movement and the effect it was having on the culture.

We've seen biopics on the Notorious B.I.G., NWA and now they are adapting the life and story of one of the most enigmatic and complex people of his generation. Tupac Shakur was not one of my favourite rappers (that would go to Method Man). In fact he was nowhere near the wordsmith as Rakim, the Wu-Tang Clan or even his friend turned rival Biggie was. However he was influential in the aesthetics. There are many rappers now brandishing tattoos and bandanas and going to the gym. He also had an insane work ethic, just see how many posthumous albums he has. And speaking of which, he is best known for being hip hop's first martyr, in which his lifestyle tragically caught up with him (and Biggie).

Within his 25 years of existence Shakur has gone through a lot. So as a filmmaker adapting his life story, what would you focus on? His family members being Black Panthers? His complicated relationships with women? His struggle to be a role model for young Black Americans? His constant battle with law enforcement? His search for a father figure? Or his downward spiral since becoming involved with Suge Knight?

Well it is possible to look into all of that. But you need a very talented person behind it. So let's get the guy who did music videos for Nelly and directed... Next Day Air and... SWAT Firefight? Yeah you can see this is doomed from the beginning. There are some good scenes, especially the ones with Afeni Shakur and Jada Pinkett. But then there are some laughable scenes, one of which involves a serious moment where he got shot in the lobby on his way to meet Biggie.

Overall this feels like a quick skimming of a textbook rather than a film about Pac. I would recommend watching Tupac: Resurrection.

Spider-Man: Homecoming

Another harmless entertaining flick in the MCU that Sony should be happy with
See Sony you get to have your cake and eat it by giving Spider-Man back to Marvel. I haven't done a review in a while because I get really defeated with typing my thoughts out and there ends up being a lot to say. But this film was a pretty shallow entertaining flick brought to again by Marvel.

And like an MCU film it hits those same beats, frenetic action sequences, a rich colour palate (a huge step up from the Webb films by the way), tons of cgi, and ohh the incessant humour.

Overall I liked this film, but I wasn't so excited about this like I was as an 11-year old back in 2002 seeing my favourite superhero come on screen for the first time. I liked the fact that they didn't rehash the origin story. This time Spider-Man is a small player in a much bigger Avengers laden world and he's figuring out what his purpose is. The villain in this film is actually interesting which is a rarity in Marvel. There is very little setup for future films and it actually is pretty self contained. And they actually goofed on the fact that him swinging around to transport himself is hardly possible outside Manhattan.

Now onto gripes, which are there but it didn't take me out of the film like the Webb films did. Spider-Man's suit is way too tricked out with Tony Stark's gizmos, which makes him too much like Iron-Man and not really himself, which is a plot point but still. And it occurred to me: where's his Spider sense? Isn't that a key component to this character?

Anyways just watch this. Have fun. It's a huge step up from the Amazing Spider-Man films but still doesn't stir the emotions of the first two Raimi films. I think I'm done here. It's good. Have a watch. Or don't. Up to you. I made a review. Hope you found it useful.

Kong: Skull Island

Such a weird film experience that really ended up being fun
I wanted to see a movie on discount Tuesday and thought to myself why not watch another studio churned cgi mess? This is exactly what it was but somehow managed to be subversive enough in its presentation that I had a lot of fun watching it.

This is supposed to take place in the same universe as the Godzilla film of 2014. That is why King Kong is the size of a 30 story building, in hopes that he can throw down with Godzilla in a crossover film. Unlike Godzilla however, this film didn't shy away with showing as much Kong as possible and it was glorious. The scenes where Kong smashes helicopters and fights monsters had that perfect blend of over-the- top action and just being visceral. And the violence in this film had a degree of macabre, so there were moments I was like gasping and chuckling saying "Oh my god!". So many characters get picked off at unexpected moments that it kept the film really suspenseful.

Now this film follows a trend where this is the sophomore film of a director who's debut was a low budget indie film. I think studios do this so that the director is easy to push around and you can cheap out on his share of the budget. And I think the director knew this so he decided to mess around with the audience. There is so much weird dialogue about nothing and I swear the median shot length of the first act was around 1 second because it kept quick cutting. And rather than being annoyed with it, I embraced it and only make me like it more as I placed myself in the directors shoes.

The plot was also weird to say the least especially the setting. Why they wanted the film to be set during the Vietnam War confuses me still. Is it because they wanted to represent a demoralized military force being defeated again by a primitive enemy? Or to push Samuel L Jackson's character as really jaded as he is a Colonel in the US Army. Either way it really worked, because what we ended up getting was a mix of Apocalypse Now, an adventure film, a monster film, a b- movie and Moby Dick.

The characters in this film were a mixed bag. Loki and much of the cast were uninteresting and one dimensional. I don't recall Loki ever going through a character arc and all the blonde girl was characterized as an anti-war shutterbug. The two most interesting characters were played by John C Reilly and Samuel L Jackson. Reilly plays a WW2 pilot who crash landed on the island and had survived off the natives. He was so eccentric and funny and I loved him. Samuel L Jackson though stole the show. As mentioned he plays a very Jaded US Army Colonel who basically becomes the Captain Ahab of the film. I love it when he plays these intense unhinged characters and was so glad he could fit this into his filming schedule. Please keep making movies Sam, I beg you!

So yea, I highly recommend this. Its a very entertaining film that doesn't take itself too seriously unlike Godzilla 2014 did. It has a lot of the generic big budget action tropes but it also manages to mess with your expectations.


The last film with Hugh Jackman's Wolverine just happens to be a borefest
Look I'm not trying to be non-conformist here. It seem's like I've been crapping on every X-Men film since the 3rd one. However there are actual good things to say about this film. The acting and the script are really good, and the tone is actually pretty consistent here. Its also very nice to finally see a Wolverine film where there there is a good amount of blood.

But for every scene where Wolverine hacks away at the bad guys does it have to be filled in with 40 mins of snail paced scenes? There are so many scenes of just... talking and... driving and...drinking and... pill popping and... sleeping and driving and talking DEAR LORD! I know this is supposed to be a gritty, almost western like film based off the Old Man Logan comic where its more about the character arc than saving the world but... no that's still no excuse. The studio threw a budget into this and this is Hugh Jackman's last outing as the character, it could've done better.

The plot could've been better. It could've been about Wolverine renouncing the use of his claws (just like Old Man Logan) but something from his past comes back to haunt him and he must fix this before his time runs out and in the process hacks away at some armour-clad gunmen. Instead we get a weird Last of Us ripoff mixed in with a road trip movie where Wolverine, the badass mind you, is a baby-sitter and nurse.

And the villains suck by the way. The first one is played by the guy from Narcos, and I don't remember the character's name at all that's how forgettable he was. He didn't really do anything menacing. The second is the first one's boss. A scientist who just happens to make stuff happen with little to no explanation. There is a huge bit of exposition regarding the second villain and in essence the film's premise but it was all condensed into one throw-away line.

Let me compare this to another R-rated superhero film with a brooding protagonist which also kick-started the Marvel boom: Blade. I remember there were actually a lot of quiet slow paced scenes. But why do I like that film way more? Well actually even the slow paced scenes served a purpose, they weren't filler. The protagonist was consistently badass and stoic and had a mission from the beginning and wasn't thrust into a situation. The villain was a lot of fun. The movie had a lot of atmosphere and world building. And most of all, every character tried to be pro-active.

I'm sorry you had to read this but this is film. It's subjective. I understand there are some emotions attached to this as Hugh Jackman will say goodbye to this character and I think X-Men will start fresh. But take off those goggles and watch it as just a film and you will see just how boring it is. Hey at least that opener with Deadpool was fun.

Independence Day: Resurgence

This isn't as fun as ID4, but it still is harmless, mindless popcorn fare
I remember Independence Day and how huge it was. It is one of the defining blockbusters of the 90s and that decade had only a few (Jurassic Park, Titanic and Phantom Menace are what I can think of immediately). Now in the 2010s there is a massive hit almost every month. ID4 wasn't a culturally significant film in the sense of Schindler's List, but it is still known as being the quintessential popcorn flick. And I think that is what Roland Emmerich is good at.

There are some comparisons you can make with Roland and Michael Bay but I think Roland is a competent director. He does not engage in harmful ethnic stereotypes or female objectification or low brow humour like Bay. And I'll say this: Roland can handle an ensemble cast WAY BETTER than Bryan Singer and give them their proper screen time.

Now with this long awaited sequel, 20 years to be exact, how does it hold up to the original? It doesn't. But that does not mean I hated it. I thought it was fun for what it was.

Let me get into what I disliked first. No Will Smith. Ohh man how I missed the Fresh Prince in this movie (he better kill it on Suicide Squad). So the film basically lacked the charm of the original. I'm glad Jeff Goldblum was there in all his eccentricity, I love the guy. So was Bill Pullman who gave a very inspiring monologue in the third act. Brent Spiner returns as Dr. Okun waking up from a 20-year coma apparently and he has a bigger part this time.

But it is the younger cast which I wasn't too fond of. Liam Hemsworth is OK but he is oddly enough a poor man's Chris Hemsworth. The guy playing Will Smith's son was such a terrible wooden actor - Oh why Fresh Prince were you not in this?! There is another young cast member who was just annoying, I don't know his name but he plays Liam's wing-man.

There was also some really stilted expository dialogue that plagued the movie's first act. And the plot did not fit the 3 act structure that well of the first film. It takes a while for the aliens to begin invading and then it tries to rush into the final battle. There were still characters being introduced well into the second act. You see tertiary characters die that we were supposed to be emotionally invested in but no proper screen time was given to them. Like any major blockbuster film in the 2010s the climax is hyperactive with many simultaneous things being cross cut together. And like a film of the 2010s there is a lot of really ugly, glossy CGI, which made me yearn for the practical models in the original.

So what did I like? A lot of things actually. First off it built from the original. It did not rehash plot elements (*cough*Force Awakens*cough*) and in fact, unexpectedly built on the mythology. You saw from the trailers how Earth took the alien technology and appropriated it for themselves, so it delves into a futuristic almost space operatic sci-fi film compared to a straight up alien invasion film the original was. On top of the original characters learning from their previous experiences, almost every character goes through a satisfying-ish story arc.

But what I enjoyed the most is that it still tries to maintain the optimistic tone of the original. I still haven't decided whether is succeeded or failed. For now I think it did a good job. There is a lot of destruction but it is presented as a spectacle rather than in a gloomy way. We have seen all these big budget films that try to recreate 9/11 imagery (*cough*Man of Steel*cough*) that it was kind of refreshing to just see mindless destruction again without taking itself too seriously.

So is ID4 1996 the superior film? Yes. But is this sequel a disappointment? I don't think so. To each their own. I'm OK with Roland Emmerich. His films are stupid but they're not offensive. And he doesn't look down on his audience. So yeah, it should be an enjoyable experience in the end.

X-Men: Apocalypse

So the era of big budget messy comic book films continues
This is not Bryan Singer's fault. I love the usual suspects and the first two X-Men films. I can definitely see a leaky script and studio meddling here.

I don't get it? Why does every comic book film since the advent of the Avengers have to be these poorly paced bloated CGI messes? And are we really following the messy continuity and character arcs of First Class ?

Re-watching Singer's first 2 films I realised how brilliant they are and how much I dislike everything since. Those first two films basically showed us how less is more. I found it strange how back in 2000, when comic-book films were still finding their footing, Fox decided to adapt one of Marvel's longest running and convoluted properties of a team of superheros where the roster constantly changes. Especially with a relatively low budget considering what they cost now. But it worked, since Singer stuck to limiting the characters, grounding the story and stylistic elements and focusing on the main themes of persecution and prejudice. And they hold up really well.

It was unfortunate how the first two films focused a little too much on Wolverine. But hey, the character is the most popular and he serves a purpose so it really never bothered anyone. However for this new reboot/prequel series, I DO NOT CARE ABOUT MYSTIQUE! PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD STOP TRYING TO MAKE HER HAPPEN! STOP TRYING TO MAKE HER A PIVOTAL CHARACTER! I don't care that the studio got Oscar winner Jennifer Lawrence to play her. She is a shapeshifter, what good is that going to do when you are fighting a demigod who can bend reality?

Oh yeah the villain, Apocalypse. He is your generic villain that wants to end the world while ensnaring other mutants to do his bidding while he speaks in a Buffalo Bill monotone. What you expected a villain on par with Ian McKellan's Magneto or Brian Cox's Stryker who were actually layered and multi-dimensional?

And yeah Fassbender's Magneto is so all over the place? What are his ideologies? What are his convictions? Why is he still on good terms in Prof X even though he paralysed him and dropped a baseball stadium over the white-house only furthering the fear of mutants?

Usually I moan about character development especially with a film that features an ensemble cast, but actually some were done right. Jean Grey and Cyclops were actually pretty interesting. We see them young and trying to develop their powers, although still they have yet to explain why Cyclops can't control his beams while his eyes are opened (hitting his head in a plane crash). And Jean Grey is mostly a telekinetic so why did they focus on her telepathy so much? The Quicksilver scenes were awesome as usual with his slowed down perception. One character who I felt somewhat got the Shaft was storm, as early in the film she became Apocalypse's underling. She is one of my favourite X-Men and is very powerful but we don't see her use them in a useful way.

The pacing. There is one sub-plot which came out of nowhere and was used for fan service. And the many of the Mystique scenes.

Ultimately this suffers from Age of Ultron syndrome. This is not a bad movie. Nowhere near the mess of Batman vs Superman. However it does not have the balance of Captain America Civil War. It is still another CGI orgy. In the end I really like the first two Singer films. They were so in tune with the themes of the comic book and didn't really care about the look so this film is not my cup of tea. If you like the flashy stuff and not really care about character dynamics then you should be fine with it.

Captain America: Civil War

What can you say? The MCU's batting average is pretty solid
The Marvel films have come a long way now. First they started with movies establishing the characters. Then they all crossed over to fight threats. Now the only sensible thing to do is to start having them come into serious conflict with each other.

The MCU films have so far been solid. You have had great ones like Iron Man, The Avengers and Winter Soldier. And you've had meh ones like Iron Man 2, Thor the Dark World. For me personally, the worst of the bunch is Iron Man 3 but even that is somewhat well made.

I will say Civil War is the more appropriate Avengers sequel. Ultron somewhat gave me a headache as it was all over the place. And its no surprise Joss Whedon just quit after that. This film is surprisingly contained despite being based off of Mark Millar's very extensive storyline. Having removed Hulk and Thor really helped contain the story.

The action set-pieces, while not as all over the place as Ultron was, were still sometimes difficult to watch. I like that the Russo brothers introduced some grit in the Winter Soldier, but they introduced a mild form a shaky cam in Civil War. Yes the camera jolted up and down at times during a frenetic action sequence with some quick cuts.

The best set-piece though had to be the airport throwdown. And unlike Batman v Superman earlier this year, there was a proper build-up to the throwdown between the two disagreeing factions. Not only that, the airport was empty so you can watch the fight with maximum comfort and not worry about civilians or wanton destruction.

And with the build-up to the fight, you can definitely see the characters really develop, not only in this film but the preceding ones as well. Tony Stark started off as basically a neo-con in the first film, then to a guy who opposes the government to now believing in accountability therefore being surprisingly in favour of the superhero registration accord. Steve Rogers a guy who is a relic from a different time is basically someone who always wants to do the right thing and working for the government that looks out for its own self interests may not be the right thing. Both have equally valid points.

There are two new additions. Black Panther or T'Challa is the first. And I'm so glad he finally got his big screen treatment. He is such an awesome character and adds to the diversity sorely lacking in superhero films. His costume is amazing as well. With the director of Creed making his film, it will kick a lot of ass.

The second addition is Spider-Man. And this is one of the better adaptations of the character as they really embellished on his youth. We keep forgetting that Spidey is in his teens. Although I am concerned now that the Marvel films have an over-abundance of quippy characters: Iron Man, Starlord, Ant-Man and now him.

As usual in an MCU film, the villain is forgettable. In this case however, you can excuse that because the main conflict is between the heroes. The revelation in the third act really helps to reinforce that.

So yes this film was really enjoyable. More focused than Ultron and better story telling than the DC films. The only gripe is just with the filming and editing of the action sequences. Marvel, you done it again.

Green Room

Who knew that punks vs. Nazis would make for one of the most viscerally intense thrillers ever
Let's get into a little background here first before discussing the movie itself.

Like the director of this film, I am a huge fan of the hardcore punk (or more simply hardcore) genre. I am a fan of bands like Black Flag, Bad Brains, Minor Threat, Agnostic Front, Sick of It All, Cro- Mags, Gorilla Biscuits, Suicidal Tendencies, Dead Kennedys and the more recent metallic incarnations like Madball, Hatebreed, Earth Crisis and Vision of Disorder. In short, it is characterized by frenetic instrumentals and shouted (and later screamed) vocals. It is not a well known genre as I have a very difficult time finding anyone who knows about it let alone be into it. It's a shame because it has come to define modern day rock and metal music as the genre has influenced very well known bands like Metallica and Nirvana.

I have been to hardcore shows. Because of the lack of basic popular support, hardcore bands are pretty poor and perform gigs in small, dark, dingy bars where they are right next to the audience moshing. Hardcore as a genre has attracted a wide array of audiences of differing ideologies: the straight edgers, the skaters, the vegans, Hare Krishnas and even, unfortunately, Neo-Nazis.

And that is the film's premise. A hardcore band that gets booked into a gig for neo-Nazis and they witness a murder which leads to them being held captive in the green room.

As a thriller, the premise is quite original. And its not really a battle of ideologies between the parties. Yes you have punks and skinheads but both sides are just trying to get through an ordeal as we see with Chekove and Picard. But also as a thriller, its pretty clich├ęd. The so called protagonists don't make the best decisions when dealing with their captors. But that is OK, since the film wasn't trying to be subversive in that manner. Where it was really effective in was its violence and gore.

There was one particular scene that really affected me profoundly. One character gets his arm savagely mutilated and his fingers broken where the makeup was uncanny. It showed all the deep lacerations and the bone sticking out and the camera did not cut away from it, making the audience collectively gasp. Now I've seen enough violent films, but the acting that accompanied that scene of the character reacting to his situation really unnerved me. Usually in hyper- violent films, the violence has an almost comic tone. Here it didn't. And I swear, this is very true, I passed out momentarily.

This is a thriller that is not meant to put you on edge. It is mean to really put you off balance and make you insanely uncomfortable. This movie is not for anyone with a weak stomach, as I figured out the hard way. We as film audiences have become so fascinated with violence but have never seen a film that lets us soak in the realism. Believe me, If I am to watch this film again, I need to down a glass of whiskey or something before doing so. Yea I'm just gonna watch some cartoons to offset this experience.

Well there you have it. This review went from hardcore punk to ultra-violence. I still hope whoever's reading this has a listen to the bands I mentioned at the beginning. Really hardcore is actually very positive music albeit loud and unclean.


A way better love story than Twilight
2016 is going to be an insane year for superhero movies, yet the only one I was really interested in is this one. Seriously I am so disinterested now with the big budget superhero films with such convoluted plots, excessive and gratuitous use of CGI, awful pacing, and even being unfaithful to the comics.

Speaking of unfaithful, I was so looking forward to seeing Wade Wilson in the 2009 Wolverine movie, even more when I heard Ryan Reynolds was playing him. That's perfect! Van Wilder can quip like no tomorrow so he's perfect for playing the Merc with the Mouth... sewn shut. Yea great job there Fox. And great job with Fant4stic too...

Then the leaked test footage came out and all of us were like DO THAT! And the coke snorting corporates at Fox listened. From the cleverly designed marketing campaign you knew exactly the direction they were going and man did they not disappoint.

This movie was so much fun. They really got the character so right because I was laughing non-stop. This was a really funny movie. Deadpool is one of the very few characters in the Marvel universe that can break the fourth wall and is self aware. And the movie really got because it is rife with meta-humour which can be seen in the very beginning with the best opening credits scene ever.

And yes we see him breaking the fourth wall, making pop culture references, and slicing up bad guys. The film is not tame. The humour is nowhere near South Park levels but it does give the biggest middle finger to PC culture.

The action scenes are also a lot of fun. From the sword fighting, to the shooting, to the acrobatics, they were all filmed really well. It delivers on the violence too, which is cartoonish enough but it doesn't go too much into Blade territory. Although with Wade Wilson's face, in the comics it is really boiled and deformed and here he just looks like a prune. Guess they wanted to use Ryan Reynolds as much as they could.

The story is quite simple here. Its a love and revenge story. It is well paced though as it is told in a non-linear style. It somewhat slows down for me when it does get to the love story part but thankfully those scenes are mercifully short. There are some plot holes, but you really don't care because of how fun the movie is.

This movie is so refreshing. I thought I was too jaded by superhero films but when you pick the right character to adapt, you can have so much fun with him or her. Honestly I really don't care about any of the upcoming Avengers films or this new X-Men film or the Superman vs Batman film because they're all so formulaic. Deadpool brought us something different and it was awesome, like a chimichanga.

Jurassic World

It's actually not as silly as I thought
OK it still was but there are some very interesting moments. This film is a mix of things, part Spielberg movie, part monster movie and part brainless summer popcorn flick.

Let's start off as I usually do with the plot. Let's be honest, the first film had a lot subplots that went nowhere like the sick triceratops, the lysine contingency, the dinosaurs breeding and especially the stolen embryos. Sorry Spielberg fans.

Here there is simple albeit a very cohesive plot. The park is now operational for many years but attendance is dwindling so they engineer a hybrid. The hybrid gets loose and chaos ensues. It does get silly however, especially in the third act with the velociraptors.

So yeah, lets talk about the dinosaurs. From a technical standpoint, the CGI The first two films had such gorgeous digital dinosaurs because the animators used a lot of computing power to produce altogether 4 minutes of shots. They got the lighting and the physics right and they were only used in wide shots. In this film they are ugly, pasty, floaty and cartoonish looking things. Also they seem to behave more like movie monsters than animals. The velociraptors are supposed to be intelligent, I get that, but its supposed to be in the sense of opening doors and cornering their prey and not in the sense of communicating with Chris Pratt and what happens in the third act.

Then the human characters. They are all very one dimensional. With the exception of Bryce Dallas Howard's character, no one else seems to have a story arc, again something the first film did really well. Chris Pratt is basically Muldoon but he just espouses Legolas like commentary like 'she's killing for sport' which is very insulting to the audience's intelligence. Bryce Dallas Howard is this uptight corporate person who wears high heels throughout the entire movie, even during chases scenes. Vincent D'Onofrio is this military industrial complex guy who wants to weaponize dinosaurs- yeah you read that right. BD Wong who had one scene in the first film returned for a much more expanded role here.

Then we have the two kid actors who are supposed to be Lex and Tim. And oh god I hated them. This was one of the more futile attempts to make the film more Spielberg-ish and no, let Steve handle child actors from now on.

Among all this silliness though there are unusual flashes of brilliance. What am I talking about? I actually saw some of the themes, motifs and imagery of Michael Crichton's original novel. The original novel went at great lengths to describe unstable systems and chaos theory which sadly the original film just glossed through. In the novel the park was said to be an unstable complex system doomed to fail by Ian Malcolm, then Nedry shuts off the power. In the film it shows Nedry being more or less responsible. In this film its actually more subtle when we hear the guy from Let's Be Cops hint at it and we see the Indominus Rex destabilize the park.

Also the death scenes are very akin to Crichton's book. For a PG-13 film there is a lot of blood spatter. However there was this one death that was in very poor taste and I felt should've weighed in on the characters a bit more but no. And that's what I meant when I said this more or less is a brainless film.

I still think the movie is pretty silly overall but whenever it goes away from being a Spielberg wannabe and a Michael Bay film, it actually has its moments. It will never be as good as the first film, hell even the second which I actually liked but it more than surpasses JP3 as it does manage to capture the theme of Man vs Nature again pretty well.

Avengers: Age of Ultron

I think the Marvel studio heads should realise now that comic books and film are two very different media. I don't feel like I'm watching a film franchise any more but a television series on steroids. And everything has to tie into the next couple of episodes.

And hence you get to see this bloated mess with so many sub-plots and really uneven pacing. Initially it starts off strong, cool action sequence in a snowy mountain and everything. Then Tony Stark and Bruce Banner create an artificial intelligence via Mcguffin and it becomes sentient and then genocidal. Which at this point in the MCU Tony has become such an unlikeable character. I don't understand why Hank Pym wasn't introduced earlier on in the franchise. It wouldn't balanced out Tony's character a lot more, but now he's reckless and just straight up stubborn.

Once Ultron gets loose this is where you get to see why the first film was so much better. Much of the second act in the first film had all the characters, even the antagonist Loki, in the heli- carrier, and you get to see them all interact, develop character and advance the plot. Here the second act was literally all over the place as they hopped from one set-piece to another. First you have the Iron-Man Hulkbuster throwdown in Wakanda where they level a 30 story building where it brought up uncomfortable 9/11 imagery. Then the movie just stops where all the characters reconvene in a log cabin where Hawkeye can finally get some character development so the audience can be told 'Hey! He's not that useless. We hired Oscar Nominee Jeremy Renner for a reason'. Then you have a forced romance between Banner and Romanoff which came out of left field. I'm sorry what was all that between her and Captain America in the Winter Soldier for? And what happened to Betty Ross? Then you have Thor and his water well, I dunno. The second act was disorienting to say the least.

Ultron is not a good a villain as Loki. He's an artificial intelligence who has access to nuclear launch codes, and the characters point that out but he doesn't go through with it and instead opts for a more convoluted scheme. Also at times he gets very comical. The final confrontation between the Avengers and Ultron was also messy. The previous film also had an intense chaotic final act but it was still easy to follow. This one got really difficult to follow with characters disappearing for minutes at a time and attending to stuff which really seemed minor to me at times.

As a Marvel film its nowhere near as good as the first Iron Man, the fist Avengers film or the Winter Soldier. However as a popcorn flick its still there. Hmmmmmmmmmm.

Furious Seven

Wow there are seven of these
This is my third review of this franchise. Instead of going through the absurdity of the action set pieces, the insanely cheesy dialogue, and just the overall middle finger to logic and the laws of physics I will just talk about how I feel about the franchise itself.

First of all I absolutely wholeheartedly recommend you watch this film. Yes its stupid and cheesy but the film knows it. Unlike Michael Bay's films, the Fast & the Furious films are actually tolerable. I think its because the action set pieces are properly shot with little quick cuts and shaky camera and hence do not induce headaches. The humour in these films are a lot more organic and not at the expense of stupid racist gags. The female leads while attractive are not sexually objectified. There isn't any weird fetishism involving the military. The action sequences aren't fireworks shows. And overall the, same film is not being made over and over again.

Yes believe it or not there is a proper well driven plot here albeit it gets insanely convoluted. Its a revenge story but it also involves the retrieval of this God's Eye MacGuffin, I dunno. The movie knows its stupid though and boy is it really really stupid. These movies now show you can basically do anything with a car, possibly open a beer bottle as well. And the human body apparently is made of steel too as it can survive being in a car tumbling down a cliff and ... screw it you've heard me say this before in the previous review.

I remember in early 2001 when I was 10 or 11 years old seeing a TV spot that had Limp Bizkit blaring in the background and people driving brightly coloured sedans starring that pretty blonde dude from Varsity Blues and the Iron Giant. This film looked stupid as it was one of those Point Break rip offs that explored a subculture. I would've never guessed it would turn into a multi billion TV show that jumped the shark. And there will be more. What you think they'll stop when there's money to be made?

I'll also have to admit I got really emotional when it came to Paul Walker's story arc ending. The film really handled his send off well and did a really good job in paying him tribute. Ultimately I'm glad this was his last film and not Brick Mansions.


Not Nolan on his A Game
Look this is still a good film and my rating system has no actual weight here. Christopher Nolan is a brilliant film maker but lately you start noticing that he is not without his shortcomings.

His films are laden with the same tropes especially the massive plot holes. And that was the reason I wanted to see this film, to see what plot hole he had this time and yes they are a plenty.

I will still give credit to where it's due. He really wanted to make a head scratcher and this time with the laws of general relativity which the film does closely follow. Basically the emotional device here is that Matthew Mahogany traveling at a fraction of the speed of light through space makes him age slower than his kids and basically its a race against time.

However the Nolan-isms come full circle with not-so-subtle foreshadowing, overly pretentious unnatural dialogue, heavy-handed symbolism, a really ear-ringing Hans Zimmer score which make the Inception horns sound like and an unnecessarily long run time.

I can see that this is a script he didn't really have time to think through but you can see he tried and its still pretty entertaining. However it's no 2001 A Space Odyssey. He should stick to thrillers. Sorry.

X-Men: Days of Future Past

Messy but still enjoyable
I really love the first two movies. I really do. They were made during a different climate. Audiences are very used to comic book films now and their grandiosity but back then the first two films were very much contained. Therefore they had more subtlety and sophistication.

They were also directed by Bryan Singer, the genius behind one of the coolest films I've ever seen (KEYZER SOZE!) and it makes you wonder: where the hell was he in the last four films?!

And you an definitely see that he is now cleaning up the last four turds that were dropped on the franchise he built. Yes I even include First Class which basically butchered any discernible continuity and messed up all character arcs.

And the film messily incorporates all the elements of the preceding four and on top of that has to incorporate fan service, build the plot around CGI heavy set pieces and a gratuitous ass shot of Hugh Jackman's bare ass (shudder). Throughout the film I've had more questions than answers. The plot is all over the place that some characters are rendered useless, especially our favourite Wolverine, since he time travels to when he had bone claws.

However when you get past all that and go straight to the Singer elements that's when you appreciate it. The acting is still really good and the imagery and themes capture the pathos of the comics really well. Also the opening credits just like the first two with the DNA helix roller coaster, just awesome to see that again.

I can honestly say that this film series has seriously jumped the shark. But as a film with the basic metrics of acting, production value and emotion it is still very good. However for the love of god just give the rights of X-Men to Marvel studios, the same goes for Spider-Man.


Eahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhr! (Supposed to be the Godzilla roar)
This was one film I really wanted to see this year thanks to be shrouded in such secrecy. It could really enhance the film experience or ruin it. In a way, while I still enjoyed this film, it did kind of both.

I will try not to spoil this film but what the trailers hinted at is that this movie takes place in a world where monsters exist. And given that zombies have taken over pop culture, Pacific Rim really needs some backup.

The plot basically starts out with Heisenberg trying to figure out the truth behind an incident which he witnessed and that leads to the revelation that monsters exist. However Malcolm's dad isn't the central protagonist of this film, he actually gets cut short of screen time. Thats what happens when you get the 'and' label in the opening credits. However the amount of screen time he had, it was either go hard or go home, and he put his Breaking Bad chops into play.

Actually the central protagonist is Kick Ass, and really? He's too damn young or at least too young looking to play a high ranking military guy and family man. Just because he's married to a lady twice his age doesn't mean he can play mature roles. And he's basically has a Brad Pitt World War Z story arc, trying to reconnect with his wife, a good looking Olsen sister I didn't know exist. There is Saito, who plays the scientist researching the monsters and has some pretty questionable philosophical views. And there are way too man expendable characters.

I've been talking about the actors too much and that's because the movie focuses on the humans. Which is good story telling because it's easier to be invested in the story, just like the Walking Dead. But let's be honest, aren't we here to see monsters scrap? Well we kind of do but there's way too much buildup. Whenever we do see monsters finally come on screen the first couple of times it immediately cuts to the aftermath. You get serious blue balls. Eventually it does pay off, not the way you hope but it has some insanely cool moments.

The imagery of this film, wow. Remember that 1998 Roland Emmerich film? Yea that's a Disney film, with all the markings of a pre-9/11 light hearted romp. This film has such beautiful but shockingly dark and brooding imagery. When the carnage and destruction takes place, it's a little disturbing but jaw dropping at the same time. It basically recaptures the sense of atmosphere by the original 1954 Ishiro Honda picture.

This movie also has a not-so-subtle anti-nuclear power and weapons theme. Come on, Hollywood why do you keep demonizing something that you clearly don't fully understand? Nuclear energy is clean and renewable, and if disposed of properly the waste decays in time without doing much harm. And nuclear weapons while scary, will always be used as deterrents and not as actual weapons.

In the end this film is a very solid effort. You will find yourself, like me, nitpicking the crap out of it, but still enjoying it. It is not disappointing at all like the 1998 movie and it manages to capture its tone really well.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2

It's the Amazing Hipster Spider-Man
I'm sorry, I really want to love this film and in general the film series but for the most part I was mildly thrilled. I still have a soft spot for Raimi's film's even though I know Garfield and Stone are way better to watch than Maguire and....ugggggh...Kirsten Dunst and the 3rd film was awful.

However I will give credit to where credit is due, this film does do some stuff better. Like they show the Rhino, pre-armour, as this crazy Russian gangster. The swinging and action sequences look cool as hell. Spider-Man makes his wise cracks, which were rarely in the Raimi films. Also Peter Parker takes the initiative and researches ways to defeat his foe. And Spidey's got the original costume.

Yes I said foe, singular. The plot is too dense for it's own good and it ends up devoting screen time to the wrong things. The villains are one of them. It eventually ends up being that Electro is the main villain, and man is his story arc weak and silly to begin with. Seriously, who keeps a vat of electric eels lying around, and conveniently place them under a live wire and- OK calm down. And they call Raimi's films silly.

There are way too many plot threads, and some really didn't require a resolution. Especially that thing with Peter's dad. Any idiot from a mile away could've easily figured out that his dad was fleeing because this company wanted to misuse his inventions and blah blah blah screen time wasted.

Another thing that wastes screen time is the on again off again relationship between Peter and Gwen. Sure the two actors have chemistry but this stuff relative to the plot was tooth rotting. And also it really pushes the hipster aesthetic on you. And for those who've read the comics, you can tell that this movie has way less than subtle foreshadowing.

And this is where my argument, on why the previous decade's Spidey films (at least the first two) are actually better, comes full circle. The Raimi film's have more of a timeless quality to them. They have that post 9/11 vibe and the stories flow really well albeit being very simple. When I watch the Amazing Spidey films, I can easily tell how dated they are. From the bad haircuts and clothes to the dubstep-ish music. Thank you director of 500 days of summer.

In the end this movie is enjoyable. I can nitpick it to death but we all know Marvel needs to consolidate all their characters, now.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Captain America and SHIELD is a more apt title
Well for starters as a Marvel fan I was pretty happy. And as a Canadian watching a film about a walking American flag, I enjoyed it. 'MURICA! Any ways I usually give films a 10 star rating as long I don't get wholly taken out of the film and for the most part this film managed to keep me invested.

I do like the fact that it is very tonally different from the other Marvel films we've seen so far. This is very much a spy thriller film with comic book stylization peppered in. It has a very engaging plot with a very cool twist in the middle which I won't spoil.

The plot involves Cap now working for SHIELD, doing missions, 70 years after being in suspended animation. He no A major story arc in the comics is how Rogers is trying to adjust to modern society. While the film does touch on this, it gets sacrificed for screen time and it looks as if Cap is more or less content. Something I do like is how, this once unrelatable superhero from the 40s who did nothing else but punch Axis agents in the jaw, is now the voice of reason against blind patriotism, over surveillance, the climate of fear and the drone culture.

The titular character, the Winter Soldier, is in all of his bad ass glory. While he doesn't get a poor send off like Bobba Fett or Darth Maul or get reduced to a punch line like (shudder) the Mandarin, he still kinda gets pushed aside for the larger plot elements. I do like the fact that they totally stuck to the comic book design of this character although the Soviet Star on his metal arm only confused me with his allegiance. You will see why.

The other characters were just awesome. Robert Redford doing his spy movie thing, Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow is hot as always although these films really like scratching at her back story but never provide. Anthony Mackie's character as the Falcon I thought was a cool addition and not too contrived seeing that Black superheroes are generally lacking.

The more technical stuff I enjoyed was actually the downplaying of CGI, the action set pieces and the fight choreography. I will have to say Marvel, they're on the up and up again after Iron Man 3.

White House Down

Um Yea.... This is totally Die Hard
Look, I personally found this film enjoyable despite knowing the director has this weird fetish of destroying American landmarks. Hey, at least he found a way to make it a plot point. As with any Emmerich film I watch it for the effects but sadly you don't get to see a wide variety since the film is geographically limited in plot, but they're still visually awesome.

As with any Emmerich film, the characterization is pretty much non- existent. Although I will say Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx have chemistry. It did take me a while to buy Jamie Foxx as the President because of his comedic and musical background and its not his thing playing an articulated soft spoken guy. But then Jamie Foxx spoke in Russian and I was sold. Channing Tatum on the other hand, he seems to be having fun. The dude's now an action star why wouldn't he? The rest of the cast was good enough, Maggie Gyllenhal, James Woods, the guy from Zero Dark Thirty. Oh but I actually got really excited when I saw Lance Reddick, that's right Cedric Daniels from The Wire. That dude really nails chain of command parts.

OK, so the similarities to Die Hard here we go. The most blatant one is the fact the posters show Channing Tatum with a gun in a wife beater. He has a family member taken hostage (and the media reveals to the terrorists who she is, seriously why are they stupid in these films?). He kills one of the baddie's best friends. There's a computer nerd who steals something for the baddies while all the explosions are happening. And get this, classical music plays while hes doing the computer stuff. The terrorists motives are not what they seem. And in the climax, there are helicopters, and a roof showdown where even Channing Tatum is mistaken for a terrorist.

This movie is not at all original (although I do remember a particular moment where the wife of one of the terrorists actually condones his actions, pretty funny), but its great escapism.

Man of Steel

You'll believe that a Superman film can be satisfactorily done
Right now you need to ignore most critics if you're a fanboy. This isn't the Dark Knight by any stretch of the imagination but it still is a pretty cool adaptation of a huge cultural icon. Since it's explosion from the beginning of the millennium, superhero films are being taken more seriously and are even becoming more plot driven. Now unlike Batman, it's quite difficult to get a proper story for Superman due to him being what fans call "over-powered", so it's hard to present a challenge. Superman's more of an image of the perfect being rather than a character for good storytelling.

However this film actually managed to get a plot going, and just like all the recent superhero films it even ties the story arcs of the hero and the villain. That is why the film actually spends a good amount of its beginning in Krypton. And this has to be the coolest depiction of Krypton yet, as it actually looks like something out of the Lucas pages.

Because it spent some time on Krypton, when baby Kal-El lands on Earth, it immediately cuts to him as an adult. It presents him discovering his powers and coming to terms with his origins in the form of flashbacks. This causes some pacing issues though and you sort of get lost in some scenes. And all of a sudden he comes out as Superman with no big reveal like the 1978 film.

He isn't shown flying around Metropolis saving cats from trees, stopping bank robberies and just flat out messing with Darwinism. And this is what I actually enjoyed. It's a very different take on Superman, he isn't the boy scout Christopher Reeve portrayed, he is this flawed individual who has to step up when Earth faces a Kryptonian invasion. And Henry Cavill was a really good choice to portray this version of Superman, his undersized height notwithstanding.

Yes time to get to the actors. Amy Adams as Lois Lane, not the best choice because Lois is supposed to be feisty and Adams doesn't give that kind of vibe. But her Lois was still well portrayed and thank god she's not an idiot. She actually figures out Superman's identity and you should've picked that up in some of the featurettes. Michael Shannon as Zod, while to me he was still the best choice to play him, it wasn't necessarily a part exclusive to him. Russel Crowe was good as Jor-El. Kevin Costner and Diane Lane were good as the protective Kents, and it was nice to see Costner again. Fishburne was good as Perry White. And Faora, wow, she sort of stole the show when it came to the bad guys. Every line she delivered oozed sensuality. So the cast was solid.

While the film had some Nolan influences you could still tell Snyder was in full creative control. However because of Snyder's penchant for the visual the throw-down scenes between Kal-El and Zod got a little excessive almost delving into Michael Bay territory.

While the actual tone of the movie wasn't actually emotional, like it was presented in the first 3 trailers, and instead more of a sci-fi action flick, my majority feelings were positive. I enjoyed the hell out of this and it easily washed away the bad taste Iron Man 3 left. It was really awesome to see a very headstrong Superman that actually threw punches and was not a complete dork. This is the proper launching pad for sequels and possibly now DC's movies can compete with Marvel. Justice League movie anyone?

Furious 6

Watch it with half the brain you used to watch Fast Five with
Oh wow, this is what you call jumping the shark. It all started in 2001 with a low budget film about the street racing subculture. Now its become an action film franchise with over the top machismo. Each film progressively chipped away more logic and physics.

Now I actually liked Fast Five because it actually had a believable premise given the context. Yes it was cheesy and over testosteroned but it actually had a well paced plot. However the cast has ballooned to a very large size, this film's become very unfocused. So much so that every character is now laughably one dimensional. There are numerous contrived plot points and no character ever questions anything. The Rock's character is after a bad guy but since the bad guy uses cars, oh, I need Vin Diesel AND HIS TEAM for this. And yeah, everyone is willing no question.

I thought that Fast Five actually concluded the characters story arcs but they wanted to due a fan service by resurrecting Michelle Rodriguez. And it was done in the most contrived fashion as possible by giving her amnesia.

The film did have some pretty good set pieces but sadly you saw all these action sequences in the trailer. And thats because the film slows down in the second act and it tries to liven up by even putting in a street race in the middle of a surprisingly empty London. And that's weird seeing how each film's plot revolves around how many car stunts they can put in.

And the action scenes really make the vault drag in Fast Five physically plausible. There is so much flying around and defying gravity, I'll bet you'll see less in the upcoming Superman film. And the physics of this film is so inconsistent. In the tank scene we see the villain engage in casual murder by pancaking all the cars in a highway yet it seems to have trouble crushing Tyrese's car. Also the plane scene in the climax; that must be the longest runway in the world.

I can see why Justin Lin took this franchise to that many films, because the initial ones weren't that profitable. However at over 2 hours long, you start wondering how you could take any of the cheesy dialogue that fills this film seriously.

Oh well, its pure popcorn pleasure. It knows what it does, even though you'll be palming your forehead at many instances.

Star Trek Into Darkness

I would be lying if I told you I wasn't impressed
J.J. Abrams to me has now become sort of interchangeable with Joss Whedon. Both filmmakers made good television shows, wrote mediocre scripts in the 90s and now directed really good films which are immersed in fan fiction.

Now I am a Star Wars fan, so I never really was into Rodenberry's... stuff. So yeah I prefer light sabers over phasers. I know bits and pieces but not anything like the Klingon language.

I do know that the even numbered films are way better than their odd numbered counterparts and this still makes the case. The first film was OK, but it was mostly set up and the villain was a generic Romulan.

Here the villain was, and lets be honest here they weren't fooling anyone, is Khan played by elongated faced British man. A white Khan, but nonetheless Khan. However its a more densely layered story, so there is another villain played by RoboCop who wants to start a war with the Klingons. And Iron Man 3 should take notes. What they did with the two villains was brilliant, with Khan initially forming a loose alliance with Kirk and then ascending as the main bad ass. So instead of lame cop outs, you have one take out the other and go hard.

And I was completely blown away by Spock. In the third act, he actually showed emotion! And he was able to match himself mentally and physically against Khan, and I would be lying if I said that I didn't get overjoyed when he used his Vulcan death grip. But sadly he wasn't able to pull off that classic line by Shatner: "KHAAAAAAN!".

Now this film had some things that weren't necessary. The prologue sequence didn't really drive the plot, it was meant for purely for some establishment of characters. The conclusion was also very abrupt. There was constant use of pans, Dutch angles and lens flares. And that gratuitous scene of the blonde chick in her lingerie, really? Are you that desperate to get prepubescent teens? That still is very well compensated by a really well paced film and a very great plot in which only a percent of the elements are contrived for fan pleasing. It's now guaranteed that Abrams will make an awesome Star Wars installment.

Iron Man Three

I am never watching another Iron Man film ever again
OK severe spoiler warning impending. There will and there are a lot of fanboys who are incredibly outraged myself included.

First of all as a film it was genuinely decent. It was the only Iron Man film with an actual driven plot which is loosely based on the Exremis graphic novel, unlike the completely filler 2nd film. In fact its the plot that made me stay in the theatre, which in itself is complex enough for a 2 hour long film. Basically Tony is dealing with post traumatic stress and insomnia after the events of the Avengers. So with that he becomes a workaholic making his suits with more artificial intelligence. And he has to deal with the threat of the Mandarin, a terrorist who has become a threat to the Americans.

Now I was fine with not making him Chinese or East Asian. I was fine with him not coming face to face with Tony Stark liked he did in the comics. I was even fine with not making his rings magical even though we're in a post Avengers universe. Here was this bin Laden like figure who was incredibly menacing but ....


He was not real. Nope. He was an actor hired by Aldrich Killian as a ruse, to put a face to the villainy. Except it used one of Marvel's most iconic characters. Never mind that Killian was breathing fire or Iron Man wasn't actually in person when he saved the passengers of Air Force One, this is what really got me heated.

And its not even in the same vein as Batman Begins where it turned out that there's a real Ra's al-Ghul. You do have Killian saying 'You wanted the Mandarin, I am the Mandarin!" while he's spewing fire and sporting dragon tattoos, but well.... no. Killian being the Mandarin is analogous to your parents being Santa Claus, yes he did do those villainous things but he is not the Fu Manchu sporting long coat wearing arch-nemesis of Iron Man who's been in the mythology for almost half a century.

I understand that filmmakers are entitled to some artistic liberties but to take it to the point to negate the existence a character thats was ranked among IGN's top 50 comic book villains, what was the point of all that buildup? In the first film his presence was really hammered in with the Ten Rings and all the Genghis Khan talk. I do know that the portrayal of the Mandarin has varied from a bad ass to a complete buffoon (lets not forget Modok) but... that is the same for any comic book villain including the Joker (*cough* Ceasar Romero *cough*).

I honestly wanted to walk out of the theatre after that big twist but I felt like this film still deserved my full viewership (and I didn't want to waste $11) as it still was a good film let alone. If you are not a die hard fan of the source material, you would really enjoy it.

Like said, comic book films are now in decline. I still look forward to Man of Steel because it genuinely looks like it's a good movie actually improving on the source material.

Silver Linings Playbook

Fly, Eagles Fly!
I am a Philadelphia Eagles fan. One of the few in Canada, because most NFL fans here are Patriots, Bills and Packers fans. Why am I talking about the Eagles? Well they are actually a large plot point of the film. I'll get to that in a bit.

Bradley Cooper plays Pat Solitano, a man discharged from a mental institution as he is diagnosed with bipolar disorder. He is trying to patch things up with his family and his wife while focusing his aggression into something constructive. Cooper was excellent for the part and I think it has something to do with this film being centred in his hometown. When I think of Philadelphia, two actors come to mind: Will Smith and him. Too bad he didn't do the accent, would've loved the have heard 'dat Philly tawk yah mean?'. And he can dance, that's nice. I heard Mark Wahlberg was in talks for this role... yeah... dodged a bullet there.

Jennifer Lawrence plays Tiffany, a fellow nutcase who helps Pat find focus by involving him in her dance project. She was very good in her performance. It just keeps bugging me that she's my age. She is already and accomplished actress while I still have no clue whether or not to apply for grad school. Damn.

Robert De Niro, I love seeing him back. He plays Pat's dad, a very superstitious Eagles fan. See. He also bets on Eagles and Phillies games. This role is slightly different but still De Niro. Since he is from New York it was nice seeing him as a South Philly dad.

And it was great seeing Chris Tucker again especially in such a downplayed role. As a comedian I never thought he was funny, he was always just shrieking in his whiny register, here I actually liked him. And also the Indian guy who plays Pat's therapist, man the onslaught of Indian actors in American films continues.

I guess I liked this film a lot because it was directed by the director of Three Kings, which is actually one of my favourite films. Also this film wasn't over-dramatic it had the right balance of emotions.

Going back to the Eagles. I could tell from the beginning line that this film took place in 2008 because they were referencing DeSean Jackson dropping the ball at the 1 yard line. That was a surprisingly good season, since they went to the NFC title game for the 5th time but they lost. I hate Larry Fitzgerald for that. Because of this film I really miss Donovan McNabb as quarterback and Andy Reid. Hopefully Michael Vick and Jason Peters can recover and give us the ring we badly deserve.

Finally in all the bits involving the Birds, why couldn't they get Merrill Reese to do some voice overs?

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

I must be one of the few
Now I haven't read to book but I am a fan of the original Star Wars trilogy so epic franchises aren't foreign to me at all. I must be one of the few that just wasn't completely blown away by this franchise.

These films are good but to me they aren't worthy of really good, like Godfather good or Dark Knight good. I would make it Titanic good.

Well the effects are mind blowing given that this was less than a decade after Jurassic Park. Also the sweeping shots of the New Zealand landscape were incredible. There was a really rich blend of colours used to indicate the tone of each scene. All in all it does a great job in showing the epicness and that the stakes are incredibly high. The casting was very well done. A very ambitious and fruitful effort which took between 4 to 6 years to make.

OK now that's out of the way. There are a lot of elements of this film that really took me out of it. I know its nitpicking but all this stuff happens way too often.

First of all the choice of close up shots. I know that this film won an Oscar for cinematography, but for every sweeping shot of landscape, there's a weird close up shots. Why is there a wide angle lens shaky camera in front of Sam's face? What's with the chopping of frames in some shots? Why is the camera so invasive to so many actors' faces? Then there are just some moments that come off as silly. Like when Saruman was spinning Gandalf on his head, it looked like he was break dancing. Or when Elrond was chanting in Elvish, they used a wide angle lens right in front of his face with a fading background and its edited so weirdly. Then there's the crying. Oh man how many characters just keep shedding that one tear. All Arwen ever does is cry. And I laughed when Boromir spontaneously cried when Galadriel communicated with him. Galadriel by the way just came off as creepy.

The biggest thing that annoyed me was Frodo. To me he just came off as, and I'm sorry for saying this, retarded. OK I know Frodo is meant to be this non-adventure seeking hobbit with very little warrior skills but HE KEEPS FALLING DOWN! I know he is under four feet tall but seriously that doesn't mean he has the coordination of a toddler! He is the main protagonist and his constant clumsiness really took me out of the film. Every other hobbit was likable but holy smokes.

But still after all this, this really paved the way for larger films and is still quite epic. One redeemable part of this film is Ian McKellan's performance. Magneto saves the day.

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