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REVIEW – Ewoks: The Battle for Endor

June 23, 2017 1 comment
Directed by: Jim Wheat, Ken Wheat
Produced by: Thomas G. Smith, Ian Bryce
Screenplay by: Jim Wheat, Ken Wheat
Story by: George Lucas
Edited by: Eric Jenkins
Cinematography by: Isidore Mankofsky
Music by: Peter Bernstein, John Williams (themes)
Starring: Wilford Brimley, Warwick Davis, Aubree Miller, Siân Phillips, Paul Gleason, Carel Struycken, Niki Botelho, Eric Walker, Daniel Frishman, Tony Cox, Pam Grizz, Roger Johnson
Year: 1985

 

Well, they talk now… Or, at least, Wicket does. And by “talk,” I of course mean “speaks English” – or, if you will, “speaks Galactic basic” – rather than just Ewokese. Released a year after the first Ewok-starring Star Wars spinoff, Caravan of Courage, and set months after the events of that film, The Battle for Endor sees the friendship between Cindel Towani and Wicket the Ewok blossoming, to the point where Cindel’s lessons from the first film have apparently paid off. But, sadly, the Towanis have also made progress in repairing their star cruiser since being rescued from the Gorax by Cindel, her brother Mace, and the Ewoks, and so it’s almost time for them to go back home and say good-bye to their furry friends. Read more…

REVIEW – Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Directed by: James Gunn
Produced by: Kevin Feige
Written by: James Gunn
Edited by: Fred Raskin, Craig Wood
Cinematography by: Henry Braham
Music by: Tyler Bates
Starring: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Bradley Cooper, Vin Diesel, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan, Pom Klementieff, Kurt Russell, Sean Gunn, Elizabeth Debicki, Chriss Sullivan, Sylvester Stallone
Based on characters from Marvel Comics
Year: 2017

 

The first Guardians of the Galaxy was the little known film that could, becoming an unexpected smash hit with audiences and critics back in 2014 despite possibly being the most obscure and quite literally out-there property to be given a major film by Marvel Studios – or, really, any previous comic book adaptation, save for maybe Howard the Duck, a fact acknowledged by Guardians’ post-credits scene. Say what you will about Phase 1 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but while Iron Man, Captain America, and Thor were almost certainly not on the same level as Batman, Superman, and Spider-Man, they weren’t nearly as bizarre in concept as a team that features a talking, gun-toting cybernetic raccoon and his sentient tree companion whose specifically limited vocabulary makes Chewbacca’s system of howls seem plausibly understandable by comparison. Smart marketing and director/writer James Gunn’s keen sense on how to make all this palatable to even mainstream audiences, however, won out, and the film – and even its soundtrack – was, again, a massive success. Naturally, a sequel has been made. Read more…

REVIEW – Power Rangers

April 7, 2017 Leave a comment
Directed by: Dean Israelite
Produced by: Haim Saban, Brian Casentini, Marty Bowen, Wyck Godfrey
Screenplay by: John Gatins
Story by: Matt Sazama, Burk Sharpless, Michele Mulroney, Kieran Mulroney
Edited by: Martin Bernfeld, Dody Dorn
Cinematography by: Matthew J. Lloyd
Music by: Brian Tyler
Starring: Dacre Montgomery, Naomi Scott, RJ Cyler, Becky G, Ludi Lin, Bill Hader, Bryan Cranston, Elizabeth Banks, David Denman
Based on the Power Rangers and Super Sentai TV series
Year: 2017

 

The film I’d always been asking for is finally here! … Sort of.

… Okay, let me clarify. A few years ago, I’d gotten all nostalgic about my childhood along with some friends, as people are wont to do, and the idea of creating a serious adaptation of the Power Rangers series we’d grown up with became a topic of fascination – at least for myself. I’d always imagined it as being something between serious and openly campy, acknowledging the series’ ridiculous qualities (“teenagers with attitude,” frenetic gesticulating and dramatic declarations prefacing every action, Rita Repulsa and her frequently giant-sized cronies, etc.) and embracing them alongside the aspects that could be made obviously and genuinely awesome (the action, the Zords, the monster battles).

Years later, we got what I always wanted. It’s called Pacific Rim. And it is incredible.

Now, years after that, we now have an actual Power Rangers movie – one that is somehow a more serious film than Pacific Rim, which is actually based on the original Mighty Morphin Power Rangers series – Zordon, Alpha 5, Rita, and everything. Read more…

REVIEW – Logan

March 17, 2017 Leave a comment
LoganDirected by: James Mangold
Produced by: Hutch Parker, Simon Kinberg, Lauren Shuler Donner
Screenplay by: Scott Frank, James Mangold, Michael Green
Story by: James Mangold
Edited by: Michael McCusker, Dirk Westervelt
Cinematography by: John Mathieson
Music by: Marco Beltrami
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Dafne Keen, Boyd Holbrook, Stephen Merchant, Richard E. Grant, Eriq La Salle, Elise Neal, Elizabeth Rodriguez, Jayson Genao
Year: 2017

 

Released in 2000, about 3 years after the abomination known as Batman & Robin seemingly killed off the superhero film genre, the first X-Men, even more so than its 1998 predecessor Blade, proved that comic book superhero movies really could find new life in cinemas, provided that the filmmakers took their subjects seriously. While Fox’s X-Men films have had more than their fair share of stumbles, particularly last year’s massively disappointing X-Men: Apocalypse as well as more egregious works like X-Men Origins: Wolverine and The Last Stand, they have also proven that the studio is willing to take some bold chances, too, rebooting and reorienting timelines with period films, or greenlighting a breakout R-rated comedy action film that proved that risks sometimes pay off with Deadpool. By far, however, the breakout element out of any of these films has been Hugh Jackman as Wolverine, who has been a constant presence throughout all these films from the very beginning, appearing in films even when his presence wasn’t necessarily needed because the studio knew he was just that good in the role. Hugh Jackman’s a talented guy, no doubt, but we’re all curious about whether or not it would have been as good as it has been had it not been for his casting in the first X-Men film – something that both nearly didn’t happen and was once a controversial decision at the time due to Jackman’s height betraying the comic character’s usually small stature. That was over 17 years ago, however, and now we’re facing the end of an era, with Jackman declaring Logan will be his final film as the iconic berserker. And thank God for that, as I think we’d all be disappointed if his cameo in Apocalypse was the end and not the phenomenal Logan – a film that may very well be the best superhero adaptation since The Dark Knight. Read more…

THEATRICAL REVIEW – Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

December 18, 2016 1 comment
Rogue One: A Star Wars StoryDirected by: Gareth Edwards
Produced by: Kathleen Kennedy, Allison Sheamur, Simon Emanuel
Screenplay by: Chris Weitz, Tony Gilroy
Story by: John Knoll, Gary Whitta
Edited by: John Gilroy, Colin Goudie, Jabez Olssen
Cinematography by: Greig Fraser
Music by: Michael Giacchino
Starring: Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Ben Mendelsohn, Donnie Yen, Mads Mikkelsen, Alan Tudyk, Riz Ahmed, Jiang Wen, Forest Whitaker, Genevieve O’Reilly, James Earl Jones, Valene Kane
Based on characters and concepts by George Lucas
Year: 2016

 

Disappointment. No, that’s not my reaction to Rogue One. Heck no! But it was the general consensus I gathered from people after they were told that the 2016 Star Wars film was not a follow-up to last year’s The Force Awakens but rather an ominously pre-A New Hope film that was mostly independent from the Skywalker family and friends’ saga. Most of that was just because they were eager to see that story continue, but, for some, there was also an added level of scorn for a film they seemed to consider… illegitimate. Which is unfortunate, as Rogue One, in both style and focus, is a much more important and bolder move forward for Disney and their still nascent new property, signaling a promising future for the franchise that isn’t beholden to repeating itself for the sake of nostalgia and familiarity. Read more…

THEATRICAL REVIEW: Star Trek Beyond

July 27, 2016 1 comment
Star Trek BeyondDirected by: Justin Lin
Produced by: J.J. Abrams, Roberto Orci, Lindsey Weber, Justin Lin
Written by: Simon Pegg, Doug Jung
Edited by: Greg D’Auria, Dylan Highsmith, Kelly Matsumoto, Steven Sprung
Cinematography by: Stephen F. Windon
Music by: Michael Giacchino
Starring: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Karl Urban, Simon Pegg, Sofia Boutella, Zoe Saldana, John Cho, Anton Yelchin, Idris Elba, Joe Taslim, Lydia Wilson, Deep Roy, Shohreh Aghdashloo
Based on the TV series created by Gene Roddenberry
Year: 2016

 

These new Star Trek films are seemingly starting to make a lot of fans of the original TV series feel a lot like how Mission: Impossible TV fans must feel when a new one of those movies comes out: befuddlement at the lack of tonal comparability to the source material. Or, in the case of some even more dedicated fans, the lack of total fidelity by way of reiterating information and storylines we are already familiar with (if one must adapt it in the first place). And, you know, I kinda get it. As hard as it is to continue a property after a prolonged period of time – 50 years for Star Trek this very year, in fact – it’s probably even more pressure to adapt something into another medium and/or revive it for a new era, lest the property disappear into obscurity. In trying to appeal to potential new fans and audiences, you run the risk of ruining everything the series had set up previously and getting accused of “betraying” fans or, heaven forbid, “ruining childhoods.” With Fast & Furious director Justin Lin taking over the helm from non-fan J.J. Abrams, it seemed like fans were in for a whole new level of alleged stupidity and mindless action for a series that was previously famous for its philosophical bent. Surely, after the insult of having been lied to about Khan’s presence in Into Darkness, the third reboot film, Beyond, was destined to top even that one in terms of backhanded insults! Read more…

THEATRICAL REVIEW: Independence Day: Resurgence

July 2, 2016 1 comment
Independence Day ResurgenceDirected by: Roland Emmerich
Produced by: Dean Devlin, Roland Emmerich, Harald Kloser
Screenplay by: Roland Emmerich, Dean Devlin, Nicolas Wright, James A. Woods, James Vanderbilt
Story by: Roland Emmerich, Dean Devlin, Nicolas Wright, James A. Woods
Edited by: Adam Wolfe
Cinematography by: Markus Förderer
Music by: Harald Kloser, Thomas Wanker
Starring: Liam Hemsworth, Jeff Goldblum, Jessie T. Usher, Maika Monroe, Brent Spiner, Bill Pullman, Deobia Oparei, Travis Tope, Angelababy, Nicolas Wright, William Fichtner, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Sela Ward, Judd Hirsch, Joey King, Vivica A. Fox, Nicolas Wright
Year: 2016

 

I’ve long held that the first Independence Day was one of the best bad movies ever made. Of course, as a kid, I thought the movie was genuinely one of the best movies ever made, and it was the first movie I was able to convince my parents to let me see multiple times while it was still in theatres. As time went on, the flaws and eccentricities of Roland Emmerich’s ridiculous alien invasion movie became much more apparent, of course. However, what became even more apparent was that I still undoubtedly loved the movie, often more because of its quirks rather than in spite of them. The cast that was assembled for that movie was seriously stellar: Will Smith, Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pullman, Judd Hirsch, Vivica A. Fox, Brent Spiner… And that scene where the aliens finally unleash their ultimate weapon remains one of the standout special effects moments I’ve ever seen. Sure, it’s obviously an effect, but I recall watching the special effects feature on the DVD and being completely in awe of just how much care went into making those scenes. (Did you know they built model cities, tipped them on their side, and then launched the flames upward to get those destructive effects?) Read more…

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