Tag Archives: film

Review: Hulk Vs (2009) My Reviews 05 JUL 2012

Hulk Vs Wolverine: The Incredible Hulk has been tearing a line across the Canadian countryside, leaving a swath of destruction in his wake. He must be stopped at all costs, and there’s only one man up to the job. He’s the best there is at what he does, but what he does isn’t very nice. He’s Wolverine.

Hulk Vs Thor: With the forces protecting Asgard at their weakest, Loki the trickster seizes the opportunity to destroy his cursed stepbrother, Thor, once and for all. In an epic battle that pits god against monster, the Mighty Thor is forced to clash with the only creature that has ever been able to match his strength – the Incredible Hulk!

Hulk Vs is an interesting experiment I guess, in that it consists of two unrelated short Hulk battle movies, pasted together on one disc to be sold as a single animated feature film. Sure, this feels like a bit of a cheat, but when you think of it, it is actually pretty cool that for a change they didn’t cheat you by asking you to only buy one disc instead of two!

The first tale, Hulk Vs Wolverine is directed by Takuji Endo and is based on a screenplay by Christopher Yost and Craig Kyle. This is very much a no holds barred slobber-knocker-fest, as for the first two thirds of its shortish runtime, the feature consists of little more than Hulk and Wolverine brutally pummelling one another (with a surprisingly large amount of blood for a Marvel animated feature).

However, things take a twist with the arrival of a couple of super villains towards the end, which adds a little more depth to the tale, and thanks to the inclusion of Deadpool, injects a little humour into proceedings.

In terms of animation, it does take a moment or two to get into the heavily stylized character designs, but the animation itself is fluid and the fights well choreographed, making for a good looking animated feature. Similarly, the voice actors used work well, and are accompanied by a decent music score to take in, the end result of it all being a non-stop guy-orientated feature, with lots of animated violence and the occasional chuckle or two to go along with this entertaining little piece of Marvel eye-candy.

The second tale, Hulk Vs Thor, is a little more cerebral than the first fight-fest, also based on a screenplay by Christopher Yost and Craig Kyle, and is directed by Takuji Endo and Sam Liu.

This one sees the usual plot device of Loki attacking Asgard whilst Odin is in his Odin Sleep state, but this time around Loki manipulates Hulk into doing his dirty work for him, by extracting Bruce Banner out of the Hulk, leaving behind a rampaging monster over which Loki has some control and who pretty threatens to rip Odin’s kingdom apart if left unchecked. Enter Thor and what follows is again a great big battle movie (with less blood that the previous feature funnily enough), though this time around there are more than a few fronts on which fights need to be fought.

Certainly more serious than the first tale, but at the same time equivalent in terms of the amount of raw, untamed action you get subjected to.

The art style switches for this second feature, featuring slightly less stylized characters than in the first outing, but nevertheless stylized enough to set it apart from other animated features found on television at the moment. Again action and animation is fluid and well executed, making for a polished visual outing, complemented by a good voice acting cast as well as solid supporting soundtrack.

So in summary, Hulk Vs is an interesting experiment and well worth picking up for the short bursts of exciting comic book hero mayhem that it delivers, though you must go into it not expecting a story masterpiece to be able to get the most out of it.

A worth entry into the Marvel comic book film stable then, even if it does feel slightly out of place.

Related Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hulk_Vs

Dead Space: Downfall My Reviews 04 NOV 2010

Finally, the discovery of the mysterious alien artefact, the second “Marker” Earth has been hoping it would one day find. Located deep within a dead planet by a local mining team, plans are soon launched in order to retrieve this strange, tooled rock, and the Ishimura, a planet cracker is launched to handle the pick up.

However, something is not right. Chief Security Officer Alyssa Vincent is concerned with the unusual spike in violent crimes that has all of a sudden befallen the usually quiet mining colony, characterised by particularly bloody and brutal murders carried out by otherwise normal, everyday people.

But there isn’t time to fully investigate, as the operation to pull the massive landmass out of the planet is already underway, and soon the Marker finds itself onboard the ship, ready to undergo a series of tests and experiments as it slowly begins to make its way back towards the Earth.

However, where matters were of a minor concern before, they are about to get a whole lot more serious and attention grabbing now. Something is in amongst the colony, killing every living thing in site. And now it would seem that it may have made it onboard the Ishimura after all.

Whatever it is, Alyssa Vincent is about to enter the most horrific and bloody fight of her life… a fight for which the fragile humans are very little prepared!

Alyssa Vincent and her team blast away at the undead!

EA’s hit survival horror third person shooter, Dead Space is certainly going all out to establish itself as a proper franchise, and what better than releasing a full length animated film to act as a prequel to the game story itself?

Dead Space: Downfall hit the DVD racks in October 2008, directed by Chuck Patton and written by comic scribe/inker Jimmy Palmiotti and his comic book partner in crime, Justin Gray, with animation chores handled by Film Roman.

A gory, violent space horror, Dead Space: Downfall goes straight for the jugular, dishing up plenty of action and suspense, combined with loads of violence and a mysterious alien presence.

There is very little character development throughout this film, most of which can be attributed to the fact that most characters simply don’t stick around for long, and more importantly, the relentless pace of the film simply doesn’t allow for it.

The start of the film sets us up well for what is to come and after we are introduced to the main character Alyssa Vincent, we get stuck straight into matters as we are first tasked with solving a murder puzzle which slowly ratchets the tension right up, before being dropped right into an all out battle for survival against a very real, very alien horror!

The film juggles its suspense, drama, violence and action very well, and as such draws a viewer in from start to finish, managed to maintain its sense of enigma throughout the story as the horrific events unfold before you.

In terms of the visual front, Film Roman’s animation is pretty slick and apart from the slightly silly gun fire,  everything looks and works pretty well. In particular, the grotesque, animated dead are well depicted and Film Roman moves easily between the various forms of these distorted monsters.

The color palette naturally contains a lot of red with all the blood splatter permeating through everything and the visuals make very effective use of light and dark, to keep the suspense and horror at its maximum.

Of course, gore and brutality is at the heart of this horror survival and this film is certainly not for the squeamish – even at its animated level, some of the visuals will require you to have a particularly strong stomach to take it all in!

Aurally, the film hits all the right notes, with a great soundtrack which serves well to set up the mood for the various sequences, from the tentative investigations to the all out running for survival. Bruce Boxleitner and Kelly Hu are the only real recognised live-action actors in the voice cast and they do their respective roles quite well. However, the aggressive Nika Futterman really steals the show as the voice of Alyssa Vincent.

Wouldn't really want to meet him in a dark alley, that's for sure!

In summary then, Dead Space: Downfall succeeds 100% in what it set out to do. It is a competent, terrifying survival horror story out in space, one with no chance of a happy ending and lots, and lots of blood and body parts lying all over the place. Fans of the game will no doubt enjoy this piece of animated cinematography, while there is certainly something in there for fans of horror in general.

As for me, well I don’t really do horror normally, but putting that aside, Dead Space: Downfall is really well made and a very good ambassador for its genre, making it well worth checking out if you are into that kind of thing!

Gory death, guts and blood. You won't believe how much that stuff splatters!

Related Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dead_Space_Downfall

Finding Lenny My Reviews 05 JUL 2010

I caught quite an enjoyable little movie on DSTV this evening, a locally produced 2009 film by director Neal Sundstrom going under the title “Finding Lenny”.

Starring Barry Hilton in the main role of Lenny Vincent, we get introduced to a man who starts his day on what should be a very auspicious morning – after all, it is his 50th birthday! However, things couldn’t possibly get worse on this particular day as Lenny is about to find out – in one foul swoop he will lose his job, lose his wife, get robbed, hijacked and then dumped in the middle of nowhere!

But this could all have happened for a reason. Lenny is about to embark on an adventure of a lifetime in which he will help coach a village football team, reunite warring brothers and attempt to save a tribe’s land – oh and perhaps even learn a little more about himself as well what is really important in this thing called life.

As a film, Finding Lenny isn’t anything you haven’t seen before, it is about an underdog taking on a giant through the medium of sport (in this case soccer) and in that respect the movie doesn’t hold anything new about it. However, the sheer local feel to the story, the fantastic South African scenery, and the great acting from guys like comic legend Barry Hilton, Russel Savadier, Yule Masiteng, and Ron Smerczak for example, bring this fun feel good drama, with a heavy splash of comedic elements, to life and will leave you smiling to yourself as it slowly wraps itself neatly up and spits out the ending credits.

It is well shot, features a great soundtrack and is really one of those “local is lekker” productions, meaning that there really isn’t a reason to skip it if you are a South African and looking for some good South African on-screen talent. Catch it on DSTV this month if you can – it really is well worth it! :)

Related Link: http://www.findinglenny.co.za/

Wonder Woman Comic Books | My Reviews 02 MAR 2010

The Island of Themyscira, a mystical place populated by the strong Amazon warrior caste that shun all male contact and who have gone so far as to cut themselves off from the corrupt world of man entirely. However, one of their sisters has broken their rank and aided the escape of Ares, the fearsome God of War. Seeking the enslavement of man and revenge on the hated Amazon race, Ares now threatens everything that civilization has ever created on a global scale.

However, strong-willed and impetuous daughter of the queen, Warrior Princess Diana vows to leave the island and re-capture Ares, determined not to be stopped in her newfound mission no matter who might get in her way – including her very own mother! Together with the cocky fighter pilot Steve Trevor who managed to survive crashing his plane on their sacred island (thus becoming the first man to set foot on Themyscira in eons), Diana tracks Ares down to the United States, where she now prepares for a battle, the likes of which this world has yet to see!

Princess Diana of Themyscira, a.k.a. Wonder Woman!

The warrior princess, Wonder Woman is a 2009 direct to video animated film arising from the Warner Bros. Animation and DC Comics growing stable of comic-book related films. Written by Gail Simone and Michael Jelenic, Wonder Woman is directed by Lauren Montgomery who had previously directed the second act of Superman: Doomsday as well as being involved on the storyboards for Justice League: The New Frontier. As with almost all the current crop of DC Comics animated movies, legendary DC Comics animation veteran Bruce Timm casts his producer eye over the proceedings.

Taking us back to the roots of the Wonder Woman mythos and focussing on how Diana got to take up the mantle of the Amazon Princess, the story delves nicely into the motivations behind Themyscira’s isolation policy and the general attitudes of its inhabitants. Walking us nicely through the type of people that the Amazon sisterhood  represents, it then continues to build up some tense steam by revealing the movie’s atagonist and setting in motion the events that will eventually see the headstrong young Diana leave her island and come to the world of man, where she’ll get to learn about us from her already narrowed mindset. This presents us with some great character development as the movie progresses and the interaction between Diana and the cocky fighter pilot Steve Trevor makes for a great dynamic that eventually takes us straight into the heart of the matter as to just why Diana eventually becomes the iconic Wonder Woman that we all know and love so.

As for the conflict, Ares proves to be a great foil to Diana and provides some fantastic tension which the story then cranks up and finally lets blow with one huge battle sequence at the end of what can only be described as quite the entertaining outing. Some great humour, good character development on the part of Diana, lots of action, and quite frankly, an excellent interpretation of Wonder Woman’s origin story.

As for the musical score and voice casting, the entire job do an absolutely sterling job. Also, apart from the usual bunch of voice actors like Tara Strong and John DiMaggio who always seem to have their hands in these particular projects, Wonder Woman manages to throw in some surprise inclusions in terms of the character voices, featuring for example Keri Russell as an excellent Princess Diana, Nathan Fillion as Steve Trevor, Alfred Molina as Ares, Rosario Dawson as Artemis, Marg Helgenberger as Hera and even Oliver Platt as Hades! All of these recognisable TV and movie faces bring their best to the game and in the end we are left with an absolutely great sounding film that just happens to have the extra little boost in terms of star power.

Visually, Wonder Woman is absolutely slick. A sumptuous palette of vibrant colours and extremely detailed backgrounds lays the foundation on which some beautifully designed and realised characters find themselves acting out the film’s often intense scenes. There are a number of huge battle sequences and action-packed  fight scenes and the animators seem eager not to take shortcuts and show everything in its full glory. Often violent, often bloody, there is some really great choreography to be had here, over and above the already smooth and detailed animation presented here.

In summary, Wonder Woman is an absolutely fantastic animated film that is well made, well presented and will be sure to please the most hardened of DC Comic book fans. There are a couple of gaping plot scratching head moments like the Amazons storming the beaches of America to join in the final battle, but if you can cast aside these worries about ‘realism’ for a bit, then you really should be enjoying this animated feature. It is faithful to its source character and examines the world exactly like she would and in the process, delivers some killer fight scenes, a great little story and plenty of animated bliss to absorb and enjoy! :)

Diana taking on Steve Trevor, who's bitten off slightly more than what he can chew!

The Amazon Warriors of Themyscira

Related Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wonder_Woman_(film)

Live-Action Adaptation of Beck Manga Announced! Anime | Manga 03 JUN 2009

Beck Mongolian Chop Squad DVDOne of the best music-related manga projects, and perhaps one of the most enthralling anime-adaptation series that I have ever watched, has finally gotten the go ahead to transform itself into a live-action movie, scheduled for release in Japan in 2010.

Beck: Mongolian Chop Squad, for those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about, finished its print run last year June in Japan, ringing in with a total of 34 volumes and having managed to sell around 15 million copies since it began publishing way back in 1998. Creator Harold Sakuishi’s rock ‘n roll-based story portrays the lives of five members in a Japanese rock band on the rise, led by the charismatic guitarist and band leader, Ryusuke Minami.

Now while the excellent 2004-2005 anime version focussed heavily on band member Koyuki as its protagonist of choice, the proposed live action feature, under the directorship of Yukihiko Tsutsumi (20th Century Boys, Trick, Ikebukuro West Gate Park, H2), will focus on Ryusuke, the role of which has been given to popular actor Hiro Mizushima, the 25-year-old star of the manga-based Absolute Boyfriend, Hana Zakari no Kimitachi e: Ikemen Paradise, and Lovely Complex projects.

Other cast members linked to the project include 20-year-old Takeru Satoh (Princess Princess D, Kamen Rider Den-O, Rookies) as the vocalist and guitarist Yukio Tanaka/Koyuki, 29-year-old Kenta Kiritani (Crows Zero, Rookies) as the rapper Chiba, 18-year-old Aoi Nakamura (Shinigami no Ballad., Q.E.D., Koizora) as the drummer Yuji Sakurai, and 27-year-old Osamu Mukai (Honey and Clover, Nodame Cantabile, Monochrome Factor, Mei-chan no Shitsuji) as the bass guitarist Taira.

Apparently 30 original songs are currently being written for the actors to perform and the idea is that after undergoing some rather intensive training regimes, the actors will be required to actually perform the musical numbers using actual instruments on the fly!

Anyway, it is going to be interesting to see if the live-action version will manage to inspire as much as the anime and manga outings did, but needless to say, this is definitely one future project to certainly look out for!

Review: Rocky Balboa (2006) My Reviews 15 MAR 2007

For lack of anything else to watch at Stellenboschs Eikestad Mall, Liz and I settled on watching Rocky Balboa, Sylvester Stallones last attempt at cashing in on what is probably Philadelphias most famous fictional character. But call it what you may, debase it, hurl insults at it, Rocky Balboa brings is the perfect conclusion to this legendary franchise. It pits the much older Stallone as an aging Rocky Balboa who now lives a quiet life running a restaurant, content with living out his past through the stories he tells to his customers.

But the beast inside has quite been lost yet, and when the opportunity to bring it out for one final fight arrives, Rocky sees himself having one last shot at glory against the worlds current heavyweight champ, Macy Dixon.

The film is written by Stallone and its a perfect match as Sylvester is more intimate with the character than probably anybody else. The film is slow, clichd, predictable – and yet thoroughly enjoyable to anyone who has ever seen the previous movies and know anything about the character. A lot of homages are made and in the end, one cant help but walk out of the cinema feeling good.

(And yes, Stallone still looks and sounds like hes slow, stupid and in a permanent drug haze – just in case you were wondering)