All right, all right I can admit when I’m wrong. When the G.I Joe live action movie was announced I was excited, but then the trailer came out and it looked like a total disaster. It came up in every conversation I had with my legion of nerds (I’m trying out new things to call my cabal of friends) and we all laughed and cringed at how bad the movie looked. There was talk of seeing it just to see the car crash that we all knew was coming, I even read the awful comic book adaptation…even though I admit I skimmed through it because the story was pretty brutal. So when I settled down to watch the movie I was excited to see how bad the movie was, but surprise at the end of the movie I didn’t hate it or think it was the worst thing ever created.
I will also gladly admit that as a kid and today I LOVE action movies. As a kid I also loved G.I Joe, even more than Ninja Turtles and Transformers for a time(never Ghostbusters, I wasn’t crazy). I spent most of my time as a kid playing with my G.I Joe toys and imagining my own “epic” movies and that’s kinda what I got from the movie. Now while I say that, the movie isn’t the G.I Joe movie I dreamed of all those years ago. I got that movie in the animated one, that movie is one of the biggest influences in the way I judge and enjoy action movies.
G.I. Joe:Rise of Cobra is effectively a live action play session that I used to have as a kid, complete with amateurish story structure/dialogue/creativity. This movie’s not made for adults, simple and plain. The movie doesn’t have or play by it’s own rules. There’s a certain rule with movies or just any work of fiction, to get a good story you have to play by the rules of the world your story is in. In the movie Duke and Ripcord use battle suits, which help them run after and keep up with a hummer. That being said the movie proceeds to invalidate the need for the suits, when Snake Eyes catches the hummer…on foot. Later still Storm Shadow out runs Ripcord on foot, after being inside a car that for some reason Duke shot a rocket at and it only blew up the back of the car not igniting the gas tank that is in the half of the car that blows up. The movie constantly breaks and invalidates rules they set up through character dialogue and actions.
I also couldn’t get who’s point of view the movie was trying to show because at first I thought it was just a Duke centric movie because they shove in a old relationship with the Baroness that is pretty weak but adds more to the dynamic than just Cobra bad, Joe good. Then all of a sudden we switch, for a few seconds to a Snake eyes centric movie with more flashbacks. The other characters get kinda short changed in that we learn about them in dialogue, no flashbacks…thank god. Even there we only get to learn the bare minimum about Scarlett and Ripcord, not enough to really warrant the time they’re given. At least they get time, because the other joes, all two of them get nothing at all. For a movie about G.I. Joe it was basically about Duke and Snake Eyes who just happen to know people in Cobra.
I’m not even going to get into the awful design and execution of Cobra Commander, he used to be one of my favorite villains but they made him Dr. Mindbender for most of the movie and then gave him a mask that looked like the fake heart from CRANK 2: HIGH VOLTAGE. Zartan was also pretty crappy in every scene. I know it sounds like I hated it, but I had fun. It’s dumb, loud and the CG looks awful but the movies still better than Van Helsing and a few other action movies I’ve seen this year so far. Sometimes I need a break from heavy dramas and need some really, really dumb escapist action.
I’ll admit here and now that I wasn’t exactly excited when I heard McG was tapped to direct a fourth Terminator movie. I still remember fondly what it was like to see T2 in the theater with my dad, having not seen the 1st Terminator movie, and walking out loving the Terminator franchise. Then there was nothing for a long time, until T3 came out and just seeing the trailers made me cringe so I waited on the dvd and wanted to weep because it was so bland. Not really awful mind you, just bland and not as cool as T2. It seemed like T4 was going to do the same when I saw the first teaser trailer and I wrote it off. But when I saw the longer trailer I couldn’t believe how excited I got just because the washed out colors, I got giddy. So when May 21st rolled around I sat down for the first showing of the day and settled in for lots of explosions and gun fire, keeping myself away from story points. Once the lights came on I was glad that I made myself forget what I felt when I watched T3 and saw this movie.
Terminator Salvation does something different and finally puts the story in the fabled “future” the franchise had built it’s story around. John Conner(CHRISTIAN BALE) isn’t the official leader of the resistance, and it’s obvious at the start of the movie with Conner going on a grunt mission. I found myself really enjoying this John Conner. I instantly thought of the bits from the bible that don’t really delve into Jesus’ time before being all saintly(could be wrong, but have to admit never really delved into the bible). As a aspiring writer that part of the story is usually the most interesting to me. I want to see the hero/heroine before they’re the head honcho. John Conner is angry, stubborn and flawed and it’s great to see. This John Conner reminds me of the character in T2, and not the loser from T3. The grunts Conner is with all die and he survives a pretty kick ass fight with a terminator and does the usual thing and argues with his commanding officers, who are all too old and set in they’re ways to see that they suck. It’s the usual old vs young arguement we get in movies. I haven’t enjoyed the character John Conner this much in a long time, be it the character in Sarah Conner Chronicles(most of the time) or in T2, this is the John Conner I want.
I’m not going to go through the whole story because I really enjoyed the experience I got from seeing the movie without any real big story points. It made it a more entertaining viewing for me. I talked to Joe today and he told me that some reviewers are calling it ‘visually entertaining’ but not up to the ‘heritage of the franchise’. Here’s where this review kinda turns into a op ed peice. So just to get it out of the way, I really enjoyed TERMINATOR SALVATION. It’s good, it’s not the best movie ever but I really enjoyed the story and visuals.
CHARLES’ GRADE: B+
PROS: VISUAL STYLE, THE ACTION, IT’S TERMINATOR, DRAMA WITH MY BIG ACTION
CONS:SOME DIALOGUE DOESN’T HIT IN THE RIGHT WAY, FELT A LITTLE SMALL ON THE STORY END
Now to the idea that this movie isn’t up to the heritage of the franchise…That kinda crap kinda gets on my nerves. I applaud McG for having the stones to make a Terminator movie. I applaud anyone for stepping in to direct a sequel or part of a franchise movie because it’s a kind of thankless job. No matter what you do your going to get some people who’ve already made up their mind to dislike what you do. I know from experience, when you go into a movie with that kind of mindset all it takes is something small to feul your turn on the movie. That mind set can come from all different kind of places. It can come from friends, or some odd ideal that I call the “selective fanboy memory”. The “selective fanboy memory” is the weird practice of remembering a movie from your childhood/adolescence in a insanely glossy way. It happens for most franchises: Indiana Jones, Star Wars, etc. etc. The funny thing is it usually happens for movies that have had three or more movies. When the prequel trilogy came out old school ‘Wars’ fans were out raged that it wasn’t just the same story that had come before and accused Lucas of “raping childhoods” they even had a South Park episode dealing with this idiotic mindset. I love some Star Wars and when Episode I kinda left me bland(mostly because of the Pod race and Jar Jar) but I can enoy it and the other two prequels for what they are, more stories from a franchise I loved. When Indy 4 came out people were rallying against the Atomic Bomb scene, the aliens, and the monkey swinging scene. I really like Indy 4, but I knew what I was getting before I watched it. I knew about the aliens and when the A Bomb scene happened I said, “well alright, this is what’s going on so I’m down…Let’s see how crazy this movie is going to get” and I enjoyed the rest of the movie like I would any of the pulp action stories that the series was based on. I still don’t get how people can swallow all the christian stuff in the 1st and 3rd movie but can’t just let the aliens thing go. Terminator seems to fall into this as well. I’ve rewatched the 1st one and the 3rd one last week(didn’t need to rewatch the 2nd as I’ve watched it a million times) . The 3rd one wasn’t the total abomination I made it out to be when it came out. It’s not good, but to me it’s just the story of the fact that sometimes we fail and have to make the best of it. The first one is a B movie, but it’s mostly a drama about fate and being a slave to the future(once again to me). I enjoy the Terminator franchise a lot, but it’s basically a story about the human spirit and Salvation is all about that. Marcus Wright’s character, while being a machine, still has his heart and wants to believe he can make amends for his past and finally do something worthwhile…or human. Marcus had pretty much been a cold, heartless criminal and it took him being turned into a machine to finally touch into his humanity. John Conner’s story in SALVATION is that even during this awful war against the machines he’s trying to help the resistance keep it’s humanity. I love discussing my views on themes in movies, but at the heart of it all the Terminator movies are action movies with some drama and a few things you can delve deeper into, but it’s Machines trying to destroy the human condition. I’m not a perfect nerd, but I’m trying to stop idolizing things from my childhood, because I think it does those things a disservice by not taking the time or care to let them evolve with you. Oh and GHOSTBUSTERS is still the funniest movie ever, and nothing’s ever going to change my mind on that.
I’m just gonna say it now so people can rant at me: “I don’t really care for the Watchmen comic.” While I do see and understand why people rant and rave about it, I put it in the same category I put Citizen Kane in. Like Citizen Kane, Watchmen is a great story, but it’s pretty boring…to me. When I was younger I felt like I “needed” to go along with the crowd and say how great it was, but after rereading it last year and watching the motion comic recently I feel like there’s alot of good stuff in it, but there’s also alot of stuff that literally grinds the interesting parts to a hault. When the movie was announced and actually got made I was interested to see if Zack Synder could “trim the fat” so to speak. Thankfully(in my eyes) he did. Gone is the really boring (to me) Black Freighter allegory stuff and meetings and conversations are either smashed together or cut (thank god, the Rorschach and Moloc stuff is so much better trimmed down).
While watching the movie it was much easier to get the feeling of dread that I just couldn’t make myself feel for the characters in the comic. I loved seeing the characters living and breathing, although at times some of the performances were a bit stiff. Like in the comic I instantly took a liking of Rorschach, Niteowl, and Silk Spectre II. After seeing Jackie Earl Haley’s performance as Rorschach I’ll watch anything he’s in, although I already have but it was mostly cause he was in Bad News Bears. To me this movie works because there aren’t any huge stars, because it makes it easier to “believe” them as the characters for almost three hours. I already know I’m not going to be popular for saying I didn’t really like the comic, that along with me preferring the film I also prefer the films ending to the story. I’m not going to spoil the comic ending cause I’m not that guy, but this ending while frustrating and kinda neatly scrubbed over I don’t mind. I may really like the movie and the movie’s ending but I can see a lot of people not liking either. I can see the comic book purists who don’t want movies based on comics to have their own thing (I can be that way sometimes but I understand what makes the two art forms so different) and people who know nothing of the story being bored if they go into it expecting just another popcorn flick. This isn’t Iron Man, this is Watchmen.
CHARLES GRADE: A
PROS: TRIMMING THE FAT, GOOD NO BIG NAME CAST, NOT A POPCORN FLICK
CONS: SOME STIFF ACTING HERE AND THERE, NO CAPTAIN METROPOLIS AT THE LAST MEETING
By now anyone who’s been paying attention(no one but me and Joe that I know of), DC has a history of making awesome animated projects(not even going to talk about the clusterpuck that was Gotham Knights). They’ve covered two of the DC Trinity (Bats and Supes) individually with Wonder Woman only getting a smaller part in NEW FRONTIER. With WONDER WOMAN we finally get this classic characters solo story. When I started to watch the movie I was instantly surprised that they decided to go with a much more violent Amazon…by surprised I mean happily surprised. The movie opens up with the God of War, Ares(Alfred Molina), taking on Hippolyta(Virginia Madsen) and the amazons in full scale battle. The fight is shown in all it’s violent glory, we get to see Artemis(Rosario Dawson) reveal in the blood lust and Ares and Hippolyta’s son slaying Amazons with ease. Here’s where we get to the first of two big decapitations.
DC has always had some of the best fight scenes in animation, look at any of their cartoons and the fights always have a sense of scale and importance. Wonder Woman has that in spades, even when WW is fighting one monster in the streets of DC it still feels like an epic battle. When during a battle against some enemy, Col. Steve Trevor(Nathon Fillon) crashes onto Paradise Island we get to see Diana(Keri Russell) get a chance to become the representative of the Amazons to the world(by secret of course). Of course Trevor has a thing for Diana, we can’t just have it be about Diana becoming Wonder Woman and stopping Ares from destroying the world. To be honest this movie isn’t the greatest Wonder Woman story ever told, as a character she hasn’t been known(to me) to have that one great story like the death of Superman. I hate to say it about the most well known female characters in comics but to me I’ve only ever really enjoyed her in JLA issues or team ups with Batman or Superman. I’ve read her book off and on as long as I can remember but I usually lose interest when it gets boring. What this movie did was help me remember that Wonder Woman is a really interesting character when examined as a character whose both warrior and peaceful in the same breath.
CHARLES’ GRADE: A
PROS: STORY DOESN’T OVER STAY IT’S WELCOME, THE USUAL AWESOME DC ANIMATED FIGHT SCENES, GREAT VOICE CAST
CON: WONDER WOMAN AND AMAZONS FIGHTING IN DC AT THE WHITE HOUSE AND SUPERMAN DOESN’T AT LEAST MAKE AN APPEARANCE…I KNOW IT’S ALL I COULD THINK OF I REALLY LIKED THIS MOVIE.
My first vivid memory of Jason is from Friday the 13th part 3 when I was in Elementary school. Luckily my parents weren’t overally protective of what I watched as long as I understood it was just entertainment. Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street were my first horror movies and imagine my excitement with the news that a reboot of Friday the 13th was coming. As soon as I saw the scene where Jason runs towards a downed woman I smiled and proclaimed that I had to see that movie. So after seeing it, did the movie live up to my fanboy expectations? Yes and no.
There’s a formula to the Friday the 13th series and this movie used alot of it, but scrapped some of my favorite. This reboot takes stuff from 2 and 3, but puts it in “present day”. I liked the fact that they left the original movie alone and built a new start from that. I heard that there was supposed to be 13 kills in this movie, but only counted 11. A big number to be sure, but some of the deaths where just rehashes of earlier movies. I read a ton of interviews/articles with the director and cast touting the creativity of the kills in this movie and really wondered where that creativity was 90% of the time. Most of the kills where the same kills you’ve seen in every Friday the 13th movie ever, and I’ve seen them all (except Jason X, I just won’t do it). During the movie the drug and sex stuff was just as dumb and tacked on as before, so it kept within it’s wheel house.
I know that people are supposed to be dumb in horror movies, but some of the characters where oddly suicidial. Two examples stick out to me the most. When the “nice girl” and the “hero guy” first stumble upon a corpse carrying Jason and manage to evade him, the guy actually starts to follow the seven foot Jason…he actually says “Where’s he going?” and starts to follow him until the nice girl stops him. Then when everyone (living) knows that there’s a pyscho killer outside, one of the group goes outside BY HIMSELF to look for a friend who is obviously dead already and his “friends” argue with him for about 2 seconds before giving up. I have to say that this movie has about the dumbest group of pyscho killer cannon fodder I’ve seen in a long time.
I had almost forgot what it was like to watch a slasher flick in the theater. I mean the last one I saw in the theater was Scream 3 with my best friend Te-Lo. If I decide to watch one it’s usually in the comfort of my home and it’s like night and day. Now that being said I could have done without the three talkative 15 year olds and their mom. At the end of the day the movie was alright, it wasn’t as good as the Texas Chainsaw remake but it is light years better than the awful Prom Night remake and the Texas Chainsaw prequel.
CHARLE’S GRADE: C+
PROS: It’s a Friday the 13th movie
CONS:The predictable jump scares, the aggravatingly cliche jump scare ending, the extremely suicidal character choices
I’ve been on a little mini vacation from the site due to a very interesting rental of sorts, but now I’m back to what I do best… Piss off the interwebs with my style of reviews. Since I passed off future Wolverine and The X-Men reviews to Joe (I’m tired of hating on it, so I thought it was Joe’s turn) and I’m taking Spectacular Spider-Man for myself. Episode 2 of the second season is called “Destructive Testing” and features a old favorite of mine, Kraven. So while watching this episode I was really excited to see another classic villain from Spider-Man’s cabal of foes, which to be honest isn’t that great a list. Kraven was always really interesting to me because he was essentially a superior hunter that grew bored of chasing animals and wanted what he considered to be the ultimate prey, Spider-Man. He’s the main villain of my number one favorite story in a Spider-Man book, KRAVEN’S LAST HUNT. So you can imagine I was ready to love him animated like I have in every Spider-Man cartoon over the years. Well, I did and I didn’t.
Kraven shows up twice in this episode, the first time he’s just the usual Kraven. Overconfident and smug is the kinda Kraven I expect. It’s the kinda Kraven I got…at first. After Kraven is bested by Spider-Man he gives his scent to his Lion friend who then goes around the city looking for him. Kraven finally reaches The Conners lab and runs into a pretty jerk off of a scientist who is trying to co-opt Conner’s research(the same research that made him the Lizard) and use it. Well I think you know where we’re going here, Kraven decides that he wants the same treatment that he believes Spider-Man got from this guy and becomes a Thundercats reject. As soon as they made Kraven into a man cat I checked out. I’m getting the feeling that every normal human Spider-Man villain is gonna have to go through some experiment to make them more attractive for childrens’ action figures. The episode overall wasn’t too bad, but the Kraven thing ruined it for me.
CHARLES’ GRADE: C+
PROS: KRAVEN (IN THE BEGINNING)
CONS: KRAVEN (AT THE END)
You guessed it, I am refering to the soon to be released Hulk Vs. Dvd featuring everyones favorite Canucklehead (Yea Charles I used it), and the Thunder God. After just watching both features I felt I needed to get in there before Charles and give my perspective. So Lets get to it.
Hulk Vs Wolverine
The DVD starts out already hot and heavy into the action which is always a great way to start off an animated feature. The fighting is bloody and brutal which surprised me at first, but not so much as what surprised me as when the fight went to round 2. Get this… WOLVERINE FINALLY USES HIS CLAWS!!! No posing with his claws to try an show how tough he is, no using his claws on doors, walls, gates, etc. Nope, he actually uses his claws to carve into just about everyone he fights in this. Apparently, Marvel finally got the memo and lets Wolverine really slice and dice the way we all had wanted him to. Now I’m not stupid, I know the rating on the shows and the rating on this DVD are way different and for that purpose alone they couldn’t have Wolverine being a butcher, but still its nice to see.
The 37 minute feature goes on to have a plot surprisingly, I originally thought it was just gonna be a slugfest. It involves alot of characters I never would have thought, including Professor Cornelius, Sabertooth, Deadpool(who is actually pretty funny), Omega Red, and even Lady Death Strike, as Logan-less Weapon X Team. Other characters are hinted but not revealed which is a pretty interesting way for Marvel to kind of bridge together them an Wolvie.
The DvD menu’s have nicely animated backgrounds, containing alot of character art and clips from the feature but thats really as glamorous as this dvd gets. Special features aren’t really anywhere to be found. No Hulk/Wolvie documentary, no art concepts, nothing of that nature. Just typical commentary and a trailer/sneak peak at the new Wolverine and the X-Men series which if you ask me and Charles could have been left out.
Hulk Vs Thor
Hulk vs Thor.. Well.. If your thinking that that title alone will inspire a jaw dropping, bone breaking, earth shattering, clash of the titans like battle… you are way off. Through means I wont divulge, Hulk finds his way into Asgard as a pawn in Loki’s scheme to destroy the Thunder God and quite frankly, almost does. Thor proves that when matched up to the Hulk, punching bag is as good a rating as he’s ever gonna get. Considering that Thor is Marvel’s answer to DC’s Superman this was extremely disappointing. Blondy gets in a couple of nice shots, but Hulk really wipes the floor with him. Oh and if you have a hatred for “Thor-speak” as our leader here at Tippingthescales.com does, thats gonna be another irritance. Considering they are in Asgard, thats the only way they talk.
The story continues through out Asgard and to hell and back (literally) as Loki and Thor team up to save the soul of Bruce Banner from Hella, Mistress of Hell. This part gets a little tense as we see things as Bruce would have liked them to be instead of as they are. That part touched me and I felt alot of sympathy for the character. The writers did a great job in that aspect, showing Hulk/Bruce banner as a brooding, conflicted, and sympathetic Hero. That was probably the best thing about this feature because the fighting certainly was not.
Again there is no bonus content to speak of on this feature either, aside from the well animated menu background and commentary. The feature is 45 minutes and probably so because of the extremely long intro credits scene.
All in all aside from missing bonus content, this really was not as bad as I thought it was going to be. Sure the Thor fight was really lame but it wasn’t all bad. If you ask me this was Marvel’s answer to DC’s awesome Superman:Doomsday feature, and they did one hell of a job.
PRO: Wolverine uses his claws, Hulk is a sad man, Deadpool was funny.
CONS: Thor got his @$$ whooped, No bonus content.