Sunday, July 28, 2013

Kim Possible: A Sitch in Time (2003) Review:

It was obvious that with the success of the TV show of Kim Possible, that there was bound to be a TV movie to come. Kim Possible, her batch of friends, family and even villains are all pieces of what makes this cartoon so successful. And the best thing is, this hour long TV movie keeps everything the same, which is what should be done for any lovable franchise. But, making things even better is how the writers were able to twist the story to be even cleverer than one would think.

Kim &  Rufus 3000 (ripped) @___@
The story is as many would guess without reading the plot is about time travel. Dr. Drakken, Shego, Duff Killagan & Monkey Fist team up to travel back to Kim's early years to keep her from being the crime-fighting good girl that she currently is. Unfortunately along with this news comes word that Ron Stoppable will be moving to Scandinavia with his family. Because of this, the duo tries to keep ties strong but it ends up getting too inconvenient for both to travel to the same location from different parts of the world. Soon, these events will lead to the intervention of individuals from the future to inform Kim Possible about the impending danger.

Parent talk about Norway for Ron.....
This is where things get funny and interesting because by the finale, the third act will take place in the future. What's funny is to see the current cast in the future and it's hilariously clever. One of the ongoing jokes is that everyone is ripped and muscular. Funny. Also, the voice actors chosen for the future character roles are a load of laughs too. It is just so oddly placed but funny all the same. As for the rest of the characters, their respective voice actor is with them which is great because no one can do it better than like the originals.

Now it's a little hard to say whether this movie had a budget bigger than its series but the backgrounds are good looking and the animation is well done. The action scenes were sequenced great and the music by TV composer Adam Berry made an energetic score as well. But like most TV movies, the score is never released which is rather disappointing. The only quarrel people might have with this movie is again that it deals with time travel and how messing with the past can alter the future. But all around it's still a lot of fun.

Although it wasn't made for the theater, this TV movie of Kim Possible is still one to enjoy. The action is great, the music is energetic and comedy is always abundant.

Points Earned --> 9:10

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988) Review:

Wouldn't it be great if cartoons lived among people in the real world? Imagine how different the world could be. Honestly, it might drive a few people insane, but I believe the majority of us would be totally fine with it. Well unfortunately, that kind of fantasy isn't around so in place of that, we have this movie that honestly would make every single cartoon lover fall over with happiness. Just like The Avengers (2012) where that contained all the favorite characters, so does this - all one's favorite cartoon characters are all in one movie.

Roger Rabbit & Eddie Valiant (Hoskins)
What's interesting is that this movie plays like a regular detective movie but with cartoons. This is a unique step because any film after that to incorporate cartoons into their story would be just to stop an evil mastermind with a supporting human character that just didn't give the audience the believability they needed to have the best connection with. So this story does take place in the 1940's, but, that's when times and the technology used was simpler and crimes were solved with just a few clues. The plot revolves around a cartoon star named Roger Rabbit who ends up getting framed for homicide.

Leading this investigation is a troubled detective named Eddie Valiant (Bob Hoskins) who has a tragic history. Together, when these two are paired up, it makes an interesting watch due to how well this whole movie was made. And it's not just this duo that makes the film an interesting watch. Along with the set of famous cartoons that have their own cameos in this picture, comes a bunch of new characters that also display their own charm. The Weasels, Judge Doom (Christopher Lloyd), Baby Herman and several others are an interesting bunch of cartoons.

It's rare but this it happened for real!
The most astounding element to this film is the animation and puppetry used to make the cartoons look as lifelike and three-dimensional as possible. It is by far, the most convincing live-action special effects ever done for a live-action cartoon film. It may have been done for the other films to come after, but it just doesn't match the quality here. The effects just look so much more real. Also the musical score provided by Alan Silvestri may have not been special in a sense that it provided a main theme for Roger Rabbit, but he have one for Eddie Valiant and much of it were jazzy tunes involving bass lines. This helped support the period that the story takes place. However, the music was a little short on running time. But either way, it must be seen; it has Warner Brother and Disney cartoons sharing the same frame!

If one wants to experience a cartoon ensemble movie, this is the one to see. The acting is superb, the characters are lovable and it has a great story.

Points Earned --> 10:10

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Daylight (1996) Review:

Director Rob Cohen is considered by most critics to produce average to slightly above average films. Majority of these opinions are based on who's starring in them. The Fast and the Furious (2001), xXx (2002) & The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (2008) all were popular at the box office at the time because of who the main lead was. This is no different here. It's no surprise that because Stallone is the main lead that many people decided to go see this movie at the time. In this "disaster" genre film, Sylvester Stallone plays an ordinary man, Kit Latura, who looks straight into the face of death in order to save some survivors when an explosion goes off in an underwater highway tunnel and ends up having both ends sealed off with no escape.

Stallone as the lead with his community of survivors
Along with Stallone are a few other well-known actors like Chief Frank Kraft (Dan Hedaya) and wealthy businessman Roy Nord (Viggo Mortensen). Even Stallone's son, Sage, plays a smaller role as a convict. Do any of these characters stand out - no not much. If there's any character to really root for, it would be Mortensen's character. Mortensen gave his character a charm none of the others seemed to know how to make. Perhaps because Mortensen just looked at the situation in a whole different way. Compare that to Stallone's performance and it seems like Mortensen should have been the main lead.

But if there's one thing that this movie got right, it was the tension. Holy cow was this movie packed with tension! There was not one moment where it felt that no one would make it out. Quite honestly, I don't blame the actors for half their reactions to this situation. If any of us viewers were in their shoes, the majority of us would be freaking out too. It really does feel like a lose-lose situation. Unfortunately, this is another reason why it doesn't entertain as good as it should though. The atmosphere was way too depressing. Not one character (except Viggo Mortensen's character) had one shred of a positive outlook. Not even Stallone's character had one, which kind of shocked me.

I'm not sure if Stallone's character was written like that, to make him seem more human but you can still make a character human even if he faces adversity with a confident outlook. But that wasn't visible here. But I assume this is due to the screenwriter, Leslie Bohem, whom according to her pre-writings and post work display that her writing capabilities really need to be assessed more. On the side, Randy Edelman's score to the film was proficient in its work like most of his other productions. What amazed me though is that I enjoyed the music but I also didn't appreciate of how it didn't pick up in tone. It consistently felt depressing. I think Edelman put in a little too much emotion this time (even if it was effective).

Viggo Mortensen as the Roy Nord
Finally, the special effects and set designs were probably the most astounding because of how real the situation felt and looked. The scene I was the most nervous about was when Stallone was going through a timed sequence of fan about gut wrenching. But hey, according to Stallone, that's why he took on this project because he wanted to concur his fear of close quarters. Good for him, I'll assume many of us regular people and including myself would not be so eager to go jumping into such problems.

As a whole, it works at increasing the tension to a high level along with effective music but sadly it also encourages the characters to be depressing and unlikable. It's close to start being a disaster.

Points Earned --> 6:10

Saturday, July 20, 2013

R.I.P.D. (2013) Review:

Dark Horse Comics isn't one of the most publicized comic book companies around but they are just as significant as Marvel and DC. Starting all the way back to 1992, Dark Horse has produced their own adaptations to movie industry of their own popular comics. Unfortunately, most of their films did not gain the recognition they deserved because most of them weren't supported enough. Plus, most weren’t bad to begin with. On that note, it's important to understand that this movie isn't just a copy of Ghost Busters (1984) and Men In Black (1997); it's mix along with its own unique traits.

Nick Walker (Ryan Reynolds) &
Roy (Jeff Bridges)
The reason why people relate this film to those two movies because it's about a duo, one is newbie and the other, a wisecracking veteran who work together on a paranormal force to take down ghost like creatures. But there's more to that. To get into this division known as the "Rest In Piece Department", you have to die; which is exactly how our main character Nick Walker (Ryan Reynolds) finds out about this place. What's interesting just about this concept is that the R.I.P.D. exists along side Heaven and Hell. Even if they aren't mentioned directly, it is shown that this particular division is able to have a say on who can join and who can't. Interesting and cool at the same time because it's a third way out if one isn't sure if you're making it to Heaven.

Now it's time to elaborate on the actual antagonists. The "ghosts" that the R.I.P.D. fight are "ghost like" in the sense that they are killed in a ghost like fashion. But honestly, they’re more like zombies called Deados, which gives it a unique spin. In Men In Black (1997), Agent K & J used various techniques to unmask aliens in disguise. That's done here is as well but in a goofier fashion using Q&A cards and, another interesting clue is that the Deados cause things to decay around them. That's also awesome; a cool giveaway.

Back to characters, partnering up with Walker (Reynolds) is Roy played by the charismatic Jeff Bridges. Both these two actors share some good onscreen chemistry. Reynolds was the weaker half but he still played his character fairly well, however, he did embody the comic character more accurately as well as Bridges. Another one of a kind thing about these characters is how they're disguised as other people. Bridges as model Marisa Miller and Reynolds as James Hong - from the outside, it is one funny looking couple. Don't forget that you also can't die falling off buildings or getting hit by falling cars. Yeah, that's pretty awesome, it's like the writers incorporated a little bit "indestructible" into the equation; sounds kind of like The Mask (1994)...another Dark Horse property.

But that's not all, Kevin Bacon plays Hayes, Nick Walker's human partner. Actually it's been two years since Bacon has been in a movie, so it's nice to see him again. Also Proctor played by Mary-Louise Parker was done well too, her performance was possibly the most deadpan and it worked. Even more interesting is that she carries a small relationship with Roy. The special effects should be appreciated as well. One of the better-looking aspects of the film are the vortexes. They carry a beauty to them that make it irresistible to look away; maybe because it reminds me of Disney's The Black Hole (1979), I don't know.

Nick & Roy's disguises XD
One other part that was different about the special effects was the stop motion frames, where everything froze. That was different too, to just walk around and see everything as it was when you died was eerie. The direction was also well executed. Robert Schwentke, who directed the first RED (2010) film is at the helm and his ability to keep the audiences attention is done in the correct manner. Plus his shots move fluently, which makes it an easygoing viewing experience. I do have to pick a little with the writing though. A significant part of the plot relies on an ancient artifact, which to me is used way too often. There could've been something a little more interesting to use.

The music composed by Christophe Beck wasn't bad either. Most of the time, the tracks were light and goofy and even had a twang in it for the character of Roy. There was even one scene where Bridges is at a stare down and music is being played where it sounds like a mix between Daft Punk’s Tron: Legacy (2010) score and Ennio Morricone’s The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1961). What was even more effective were the softer moments, Beck knew how to evoke the right emotions there. My only pick with him is that his score is a little too light, as in its not as present as should have been in the film. I also would have wished there was a main theme for this franchise but for the most part, he did a decent job. So honestly, to say that this movie doesn't have good quality may be judging it too quickly.

Dark Horse Comics may not be as massive as DC or Marvel but they still produce very entertaining films. The characters are funny, the special effects are unique which allows it stand by itself even if it does take parts of other films before it.

Points Earned --> 9:10

Friday, July 12, 2013

Hotel Transylvania (2012) Review:

How many times are creatures and monsters ever portrayed in a human like fashion? Not often. As for this movie, it is one of the few who come out of the woodwork and display a sense of creativity, charm and even a life lesson. And to be honest, just from the trailer, it seemed that careful thought was put into making this movie be as good as it is. For his first feature film, director Genndy Tartakovsky’s direction in animation and character design have a very unique style. And although this is his first time taking on a movie, he is able to display his talent thoroughly after directing several other animated cartoons like Samurai Jack (2001) & Dexter's Laboratory (1996).

Count Dracula
The story is about an over protective dad / hotel owner, Count Dracula (Adam Sandler) who only wishes to keep his free spirited daughter Mavis (Selena Gomez) from visiting the outside world. Thankfully, the hotel he has created is what's supposed to keep the outside world from coming in. This allows the Count and his daughter to live safely along with every other monster / creature one could think of that would want to spend time at his hotel. Little does Dracula know that someone from the outside world will come strolling in, a human named Jonathan (Andy Samberg). But when this happens, things turn around for the better.

Along with Sandler, Samberg and Gomez are various other popular comedians like Kevin James as Frankenstein, Fran Drescher as Eunice (his wife), Steve Buscemi as Wayne the werewolf, David Spade as the Invisible Man, Ceelo Green as Murray the Mummy and tons more. Together, they make characters so likable that it's hard not to resist them. Again going back to Tartakovsky's direction, the way each character looks, resembles their actors quite proficiently. Compare Dracula and Adam Sandler and you'll understand. Plus, the computer animation is so evenly mixed together that the whole movie will feel like a very smooth ride, which is great.

The writing isn't mediocre either. If there's one thing I'll pick at, it's that for a while when Jonathan (Samberg) entered the frame, there seemed to be no break or pause between the dialog which made me feel like the characters were on a sugar rush. It did slow down later on but before that it was moving very quickly, almost to the point where I felt like I wasn't catching everything that was being said. But besides that, I love how the story starts and ends. What's even more interesting is how the story doesn't revolve around Mavis (Gomez) as much I thought it would. Mavis plays an important role but the character development of her father Dracula (Sandler) is what stands out. And to be honest, seeing the character development in Dracula was more gratifying than if he were to take a back seat by the third act.

Jonathan & Mavis
And although the story is cliche in some senses with finding true love and everything is hunky dory at the end, there are two things that must be understood; it's a family movie and that particular part isn't necessary to get upset over for this kind of movie. Along with the actual story, the comedy was also well executed. There are several things people will be able to relate because of how Dracula and his family perceive to handle various situations as us humans would. They even mock at Twilight (2008), talk about breaking the fourth wall huh? The musical score provided by composer Mark Mothersbaugh did a decent job too. I didn't hear a main theme but to be honest, it wasn't needed this time. His music flowed with the movement of the picture and it worked nicely.

The animation is smooth, the actors use their voices effectively and the comedy is strong. But what makes it good is its story with an integrated moral lesson.

Points Earned --> 9:10

Thursday, July 11, 2013

The Cannonball Run (1981) Review:

Seeing people get away with some of the most ridiculous actions in comedic fashion is always tantalizing. How do they get away with such foolishness? That doesn't happen in the real world as often as this. If only I (as in the viewer) could be that crazy with no problems. This is exactly what this live-action version of Boomerang's Wacky Races (1968) is. It's a movie where rules don't apply to main characters as well as physics, gags and mindset. The movie just can't be taken on a literal level; otherwise, the viewer will not enjoy it.

Reynolds & DeLuise in their goofy roles
Joining director Hal Needham in this racecar comedy is veteran actor Burt Reynolds who has also completed several projects in the past with him; so it's no surprise they are in this project either. Co-starring Reynolds is a slew of other well-known actors, singers and models. Playing Reynolds right hand companion is Dom DeLuise who also has an alter ego whom no one seems to understand of how he shows up and exits. Together they ride in an ambulance as a disguise to help them win the race. Accompanying them is their doctor played by Jack Elam who was cast perfectly because of his unmoving left eye. To name a few more, Farrah Fawcett, Sammy Davis Jr., Dean Martin, Jackie Chan and even Roger Moore (who pretends he's Roger Moore) all play funny characters.

This is the real strong point to this movie; it's an ensemble cast and if you're a viewer who likes seeing movies with lots of star power, this is one of them to see. The story however, written by Brock Yates isn't anything special. The plot is about a bunch of wacky racers doing what they can to win and really that's all this movie needed. It does give a back-story to Reynolds' character and DeLuise's alter ego but it's nothing to be real interested in. As for the comedy parts of the writing, that is a slight bit stronger than the story itself. However, that also doesn't mean every joke was funny. There were some places there just were not funny enough when it should have been.

Jack Elam as the funny doctor
Each actor has their own thing going for them and it's because of that, that they all don't rely on the same thing to make a joke. Again, my favorite was Jack Elam playing the doctor. God he was a laugh! And surprisingly, the score provided by Al Capps did a decent job as well. His tunes may have not been longer than a good 30 seconds, but it did evoke the right feeling of the movie, which was lightheartedness. One thing that did bug me was how politically incorrect and sexist everything was though. I understand that it this time it wasn't taken seriously and I also understand that this is partially what helps make the film effective in a comedic sense but unfortunately, in today’s age, it can be offensive to some who are closed minded individuals.

There isn't a story to fall back on which can leave some people feeling empty. But if you're looking for a film with a lot of star power, fast vehicles and various sparks of clever comedy, then this goofy car race just may hit the spot.

Points Earned --> 7:10

Friday, July 5, 2013

End of Days (1999) Review:

It's understandable that over time Arnold Schwarzenegger has become one the most popular actioneer actors in Hollywood. Whenever he was cast as a good guy, he would be unbeatable, if not immortal. The prime example of this kind of aura that Mr. Schwarzenegger has established for himself is in the movie Commando (1985). And for most viewers, it is easy to suspend our belief when it comes to that, and come up with various explanations to how he can withstand such bodily strain and continue to push forward. The reason behind this was that Schwarzenegger was fighting ordinary people. But this crosses the line on believability.

An older looking Schwarzenegger
The story is about the ever popular "End of the World" prophecy that got nearly everybody cringing on New Year's Eve of 1999, where the devil is predicted on returning to open the gates of hell. Thankfully there's Schwarzenegger, playing a depressed ex-cop, Jericho Cane, who lost his family to some no-name robbers and now plays by his own game. But seriously, Schwarzenegger is going to save the day? How does a human being stop a supernatural force like the devil? That should be impossible! Well apparently not, but I still found the whole concept flawed.

Character wise, Arnold Schwarzenegger doesn't even give a truly convincing performance. It's obvious that he put on some weight too since his last appearance in Batman & Robin (1997). Plus, most Schwarzenegger films have good one liners, I only laughed at one here. His performance was just dry. Playing the devil is Gabriel Byrne and he's even worse. For the majority of the film, Byrne will just walk around with a smirk on his face blowing up things or killing people. He's not menacing at all. However, there was one good scene between Byrne and Schwarzenegger when the devil tempted Cane into joining him. That was interesting, but the rest was slow dialog. The writer, Andrew W. Marlowe who also wrote the script to Hollow Man (2000) didn't do a good job here.

Gabriel Byrne as the Devil
The makeup effects I do favor along the various horror elements that were randomly inserted in the movie. Those were okay, and I say "okay" because they weren't scary but it was ugly visuals, which makes them horrific. Even special effects master, Stan Winston headed the creature effects, which I was happy to see. However, the effects used even in here were almost barely on screen. I also didn't understand some of the editing in this movie. There was an alley fight scene and some of the shots switched out too often too quickly. That was frustrating to sit through.

Lastly, the score John Debney composed wasn’t great either. There was a theme, which is fine, but it wasn't memorable. There was also a motif for the devil but honestly that particular tune was more annoying. Every time it played, the audience will know the devil is coming but it's so annoying that audiences will roll their eyes when they hear it, instead of cringing in fear. Also, the tracks that covered the action scenes were too generic, there was nothing that made me sit on the edge of my seat hoping for the best. The music wasn’t compelling. This movie works in some places but not many. The people who will enjoy it the most are the Schwarzenegger fans.

Schwarzenegger's acting is plain, the action is generic and the music is too formulaic. What makes it worse is that the story is way too unrealistic. There is very little that works here.

Points Earned --> 3:10