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Capsule Reviews: Movies (Walk of Shame, The Love Punch, etc.) Animation | Live-Action | My Reviews 07 SEP 2014

Batman: Assault on Arkham (2014)

Batman: Assault on Arkham is set in the universe of the Batman: Arkham video game franchise, and occurs after the events of Batman: Arkham Origins. The story focuses primarily on the Suicide Squad, particularly Batman villains Deadshot and Harley Quinn, with Batman in a supporting role. In the film, a Suicide Squad of six hardened, super-powered criminals is dispatched by Amanda Waller to break into Arkham Asylum and retrieve a specific item, where they must contend with the asylum’s inmates, including the dangerous as always Joker, and not to mention the ever present Batman, as they attempt to complete their mission.

When we first heard that the latest offering in the excellent DC Universe Animated Original Movies line was to be yet another Batman title, we sighed. But as it turns out, Batman isn’t exactly the star of this particular outing, making for quite the nice twist as we follow a rampaging group trying to achieve their goal and thus buy their freedom, against some pretty overwhelming odds. It is to date the most violent (and graphically so) outing in this great movie line, but ignoring that this genuinely isn’t a half bad attempt at doing something different and it certainly entertains from start to finish, with more than a few surprises hidden up its sleeve. It’s a solid, good looking animated film that is a great watch for any Batman comic book fans.

Rotten Tomatoes rating: 85%

batman assault on arkham movie screenshot

Walk of Shame (2014)

Walk of Shame stars Elizabeth Banks as a resourceful reporter whose one-night stand with a handsome stranger (James Marsden) leaves her stranded the next morning in downtown Los Angeles without a phone, car, ID, or money – and only 8 hours before the most important job interview of her career.

This movie had me laughing out loud, and as such, is a genuinely laugh out loud comedy that will keep you entertained from start to finish. Elizabeth Banks is thoroughly entertaining in her role, and as a whole the movie is well put together and a proper polished comedy gem, despite the weirdly low Rotten Tomatoes rating. Both Chantelle and I loved it, making it well worth it as a date night watch!

Rotten Tomatoes rating: 12%

walk of shame movie screenshot

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (2011)

There is a new criminal mastermind at large-Professor Moriarty (Jared Harris) – and not only is he Sherlock Holmes’ (Robert Downey Jr.) intellectual equal, but his capacity for evil, coupled with a complete lack of conscience, may actually give him an advantage over the renowned detective. When the Crown Prince of Austria is found dead, the evidence, as construed by Inspector Lestrade, points to suicide. But Sherlock Holmes deduces that the prince has been the victim of murder – a murder that is only one piece of a larger and much more portentous puzzle, designed by Professor Moriarty. The cunning Moriarty is always one step ahead of Holmes and Watson as he spins a web of death and destruction – all part of a greater plan that, if he succeeds, will change the course of history.

I enjoyed Guy Ritchie’s first stab at Sherlock Holmes very much, and as such, Holme’s second outing is equally as enjoyable. The second installment is as expected, louder, longer, and perhaps a little more action-orientated than the first (which is in truth a pity), but nevertheless remains a great action/mystery film watch with superb action, style, and filmography. Definitely worth picking up!

Rotten Tomatoes rating: 60%

sherlock holmes a game of shadows movie screenshot

The Love Punch (2013)

In a nutshell, a divorced couple of pensionable age (Pierce Brosnan as Richard Jones and Emma Thompson as Kate Jones), have their retirement nest egg wiped out when Richard’s investment firm is defrauded and the pension fund is siphoned away. Learning that the unscrupulous French financier behind the scheme has just purchased a $10 million diamond for his bride to be, the divorced duo grudgingly agree to set aside their differences, head over to France, and hatch a plot to gate-crash the wedding and steal the jewel.

Sadly, this movie just doesn’t work. Despite the talent and one or two chuckle-worthy moments, the whole plot is just too contrived and as a whole, The Love Punch comes across as a bungled attempt at classic caper cinema. Everything runs too smoothly, there are too many leaps in plot and as a whole, nothing feels believable behind the whole adventure. Not worth checking out to be honest.

Rotten Tomatoes rating: 27%

the love punch movie screenshot

Movie Update: Avengers | SF: Legend of Chun-Li | FMA: Sacred Star of Milos Anime | Live-Action | My Reviews 16 JUL 2013

The Avengers (2012)

Thor’s brother, the Asgardian Loki encounters the Other, the leader of an extraterrestrial race known as the Chitauri. In exchange for retrieving the Tesseract,a powerful energy source of unknown potential, the Other promises Loki an army with which he can subjugate Earth.

In the face of this overwhelming threat, Nick Fury, director of the espionage agency S.H.I.E.L.D., is forced to activate The Avengers Initiative – and in so doing bring together a group of Earth’s mightiest heroes, namely Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Hulk, Black Widow and Hawkeye!

Having recently watching this again on DVD after first catching it in the cinema on its initial release back in 2012, The Avengers by director Joss Whedon remains one of the best comic book movies done right. From start to finish this is an action spectacular, featuring all of our favourite Avengers (and more importantly giving each and every one of them more than enough screen time to shine), pitted against an overwhelming force of aliens in a drama filled story that keeps you fully engaged from start to finish. The perfect balance of action, intrigue, drama and even a couple of laughs makes for one of the best comic book movies ever made, and when you combine it with eye-popping visuals, both camera work and flawless CG, not to mention a pulse-pounding and superbly slick soundtrack, then you truly have a comic book fan’s fantasy movie right there.

And if that wasn’t good enough in itself, then it gets even better when you realize that each and every actor fits their role to perfection, leaving you with pretty much nothing to complain about whatsoever.

Definitely worth watching if you are even the slightest bit of a comic book fan, and easily one of my favourite comic book-related movies of all time!

the avengers movie captain america

Related Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Avengers_(2012_film)

Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li (2009)

As a young girl, Chun-Li’s world was ripped apart when her loving father was kidnapped by a violent crimelord right before her eyes, followed by the death of her mother from cancer. Both a talented concert pianist and skilled fighter, Chun-Li receives a mysterious Chinese scroll which leads her away from the life that she has built for herself, and instead into a world of hunger, suffering, and strife, as she links up with a mysterious kung fu master that holds the key to her unlocking the power within, as well as the path towards challenging M. Bison, the crimelord who may in fact still be in possession of her father taken from her all those years ago!

This is an interesting one to be sure. Despite characters sharing the names of characters from the hit Street Fighter universe, this movie is probably as far removed from the Street Fighter franchise as what you can possibly get. So if you dive in with that piece of info firmly in sight, then all that remains is overcoming the very silly little bit of CG they mistakenly throw in once or twice – and once you’ve done that, then you get a martial arts movie that is in actual fact pretty entertaining, engaging you from start to finish and featuring some good martial arts battles, not to mention the odd gun fight or two.

Kristin Kreuk is actually pretty enjoyable in this one as Chun-Li, as are the rest of the actors for that matter, but I have to say, despite the pretty heavy dramatic elements present in the story, it never really drives the emotional impact home very effectively, meaning that the movie will pass without you necessarily being completely drawn into it.

That said, lush and interesting Hong Kong environments, enjoyable action and fight scenes, and a pretty good soundtrack makes this a good way to pass the time if you’re the type of moviegoer who enjoys a good martial arts movie, and to be fair, I did enjoy the viewing, even if there wasn’t anything to chuckle about.

Just remember, this really isn’t a Street Fighter movie.

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Related Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Street_Fighter:_The_Legend_of_Chun-Li

Fullmetal Alchemist: The Sacred Star of Milos (2011)

Table City in the West sits on a raised plateau, surrounding by a deep chasm all around. Occupied by the Amestrian army and threatened by the Cretan military, the oppressed people of Milos, original inhabitants of Table City, lead a difficult and harsh life down in “The Valley”, just scraping by whilst living on the dumping ground that is the bottom of the chasm.

A dangerous prisoner, with the dual alchemist control over both electricity and ice, escapes just weeks before his parole in Central City, leading Ed and Al on a chase that leads them directly to Table City – and intertwines them in a tale of rebellion, wolf chimera, and a sinister plot that would see the birth of yet another blood-soaked Philosopher’s Stone, destined to bring death and ruin to all involved!

Fullmetal Alchemist: The Sacred Star of Milos is the second full length animated movie in the popular Fullmetal Alchemist franchise, coming out just after the second season of the hit anime series completed its full run. To get the most out of this particular movie one does need to be acquainted with the franchise as a whole, and that said, it does hit all the right buttons if you are a fan of Hiromu Arakawa’s popular manga.

It’s a fairly lengthy movie packed with the heavy drama that one has come to expect from the Fullmetal Alchemist series, and surprisingly features very few of the light-hearted moments which one has kind of come to expect based on Arakawa’s work. As expected it is a pretty dark tale, packed to the brim with exciting action sequences and loads of twists and reveals, and as a whole, is a very satisfying entry in the Fullmetal Alchemist universe.

Although I’ve never been a particular fan of Arakawa’s fairly flat and angular character designs, the film really is well animated by the Bones team, and features some particularly slick choreographed sequences and some stunning CG landscape enhancements. The backgrounds as expected are lush and very detailed, and as a whole, Fullmetal Alchemist: The Sacred Star of Milos is a very good looking animated film indeed!

All the voice actors from the original anime series are there, and thrown in with a particularly stirring soundtrack and some great sound effects, deliver an engaging viewing experience that will no doubt entertain pretty much any anime fan.

Well worth watching then, particularly if you are a fan of the whole Fullmetal Alchemist experience in the first place!

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Related Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fullmetal_Alchemist:_The_Sacred_Star_of_Milos

Movie Update: Iron Man 3 | Iron Man: Rise of the Technovore | Superman: Unbound Animation | Fanboy | Live-Action | My Reviews 14 JUN 2013

Iron Man 3 (2013)

A deadly extremist terrorist has now moved from causing chaos in the Middle East to striking out directly against the United States of America, rocking the country with a series of devastating and untraceable explosions. But the Mandarin isn’t the only demon that Tony Stark, aka Iron Man, will have to track and face-down: there is an even more sinister, homegrown plot on the brew, not to mention his own damaged psyche to get under control following the alien invasion of Earth just a few months ago.

In other words, things are going to get quite bad, quite quickly, and quite close to home.

Director Shane Black takes over the reins from Jon Favreau for the final installment of what has been a thoroughly entertaining Iron Man big-screen trilogy, and pleasingly he massively delivers the goods, releasing a relentlessly enjoyable comic book action movie, filled to the brim with story, drama, action, humor and twists galore.

Borrowing heavily on the concepts introduced by Warren Ellis’ epic Extremis story line, this particular script allows Robert Downey, Jr. to once again fully embrace the character of Tony Stark/Iron Man, with his usual combination of fun, intensity, irrelevance, and charm, and as per usual it is pretty difficult not to like the playboy inventor problem child Stark that Downey, Jr has so made his own in this trilogy outing.

Visually Iron Man 3 is epic, the special effects are amazing and as per usual the suits are simply awe-inspiring, especially now with the added trick which Tony has built in for this outing. Added to this, the strong performances from all the actors involved, the great fight choreography, and pumping musical score, all mixed together leaves you with a fantastic action movie that has a great story, delivers on the comic book-fuelled action, and is guaranteed to keep you watching from start to finish.

In other words, every comic book fan’s dream movie.

It certainly ranks right up there in terms of my favourite comic book movie adaptations, snuggled just behind Avengers (which simply can’t be beat).

(Oh, and I can even forgive what they did the Mandarin, that’s how much I enjoyed this one!)

iron man 3 tony stark looking at gauntlet

Related Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iron_Man_3

Iron Man: Rise of the Technovore (2013)

An enigmatic terrorist wearing an unusual, highly advanced techno-organic white suit of armour appears to have the ability to control both organic and electronic material – and appears to be quite happy to kill, destroy and maim on his way to fulfill his yet unveiled quest.

But it would appear that this new villain shares some sort of past connection with Iron Man, and unfortunately it may just be War Machine who ultimately pays the price for this…

2010’s Marvel Anime Iron Man outing, directed by Yuzo Sato and produced by the famed Madhouse animation studio, was disappointingly a monster of the week type of show, but it was certainly an interesting and not a particularly horrible experiment which I did rather enjoy in the end.

Well it obviously did well enough to spin off a full length direct to video anime film in 2013, this time with Hiroshi Hamasaki taking the directorial reins, and once again being produced by anime powerhouse studio, Madhouse.

Visually Iron Man: Rise of the Technovore is a tour de force, slickly animated with some exceptional choreography, visual style and flair that you only seem to be able to get from a Japanese anime production.

Unfortunately the story doesn’t quite match this, and disappointingly, the voice acting even less so. The story is a bit of a mess, and at times the pseudo-philosophical mechanized angst-driven plot bogs it down badly, especially when you combine it with an antagonist who is simply just too enigmatic and too unmotivated. Luckily the frequent action sequences do make up for this to a degree, and it has to be said, it IS quite a treat to get a bonus showing of Nick Fury, Hawkeye and even the Punisher on screen.

I’m not sure what the Japanese script and dialogue is like, but unfortunately the English version isn’t all that great. A lot of the lines are just a little bit too quick-fire, a little too forced and often insincere, unfortunately meaning that the voice acting suffers accordingly.

Nevertheless, this is a polished animated movie with a pulse-pounding soundtrack and fantastic visuals, meaning that even though it isn’t the greatest comic book related movie out there, it certainly is worth picking up if you enjoy Japanese anime sensibilities.

iron man rise of the technovore

Related Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iron_Man:_Rise_of_Technovore

Superman: Unbound (2013)

A dangerous android probe heralds the coming of a sinister galactic evil to Earth, prompting the Man of Steel and his newly arrived cousin, the young and unsure Supergirl, to take proactive measure to try and ensure Earth remains out of his treacherous and world devouring clutches.

But with the knowledge of literally tens of thousands of worlds at his disposal, there is very little that the all knowing Brainiac can’t overcome…

It’s a bit of a pity that financial risk means that only Batman, Superman and Justice League movies get churned out in the awesome DC Universe Animated Original Movie series these days, but nevertheless, Superman: Unbound is the 16th film in the series and as per usual, it is a strong, enjoyable, and worthy addition to what really is turning out to be a marvellous franchise for comic book fans.

Based on Superman: Brainiac by Geoff Johns and Gary Frank, Superman: Unbound brings to the screen an updated Silver Age villain and prop in the forms of Brainaic and the Bottled City of Kandor, and does so credibly. The story is entertaining, features the complete Superman cast, brings a lot of Krypton lore with it, and despite a slightly too clean resolution at the end, is a thrilling tail of an overwhelmed and outmatched Superman and Supergirl, fighting against the odds to save our planet.

A classic Superman tale in other words.

As with all the movies in the DC Universe Animated Original Movies series, Superman: Unbound features its own unique animation style and I have to be honest, I didn’t particularly like it. I certainly got used to it, but it is not a particular favourite of mine. Nevertheless, outside of the visual style and one or two silly animation gaffes, the actual animation is slick and well choreographed, and the movie is by no stretch of the imagination a poorly animated affair.

Voice acting is actually pretty enjoyable and the musical score is top notch (as expected given the series’ high production values), and overall it is a polished package that makes for an action-packed, enjoyable Superman viewing that is sure to entertain pretty much all the comic book fans out there.

Certainly worth the watch, and quite enjoyable to boot.

superman unbound - superman pounding robot

Related Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Superman:_Unbound

Iron Man My Reviews 21 NOV 2008

Iron ManSo I finally got around to watching this year’s big Marvel release, Iron Man a little while ago and damn it, I really should have made an effort to catch it on the big screen the first time around!

Iron Man tells the story of genius playboy and weapons manufacturer Tony Stark, who inadvertently gets caught in the middle of some Middle East conflict. Now near death, Stark must race against time to build himself a suit that not only will save his life – but also help him stop those abusing the very weapons he himself has created!

But all is not as it seems within Stark Enterprises as Tony is about to find out…

Surprise choice director Jon Favreau manages to craft a thoroughly entertaining movie that manages to keep you intrigued, make you laugh and then force you to clutch onto the edge of you seat as he cranks the action all the way up. The musical score and soundtrack selection complement the film’s visuals, tone and atmosphere perfectly, and the superb blend of CGI and special effects creates something that looks absolutely phenomenal (but surprisingly believable) on the big screen.

Admittedly the story isn’t exactly jam-packed with juicy material and suffers from a rather stinted and clichéd final section, but to be honest, the film is more about the journey to reach that end point and on this front it certainly doesn’t disappoint. Robert Downey Jr. captures the essence of alcoholic, free-spirited, genius playboy Tony Stark with a simple ease that is both joyous and astounding to watch. Long time fans of the Iron Man comic book series will immediately recognise their favourite character up in real life and this is a testament to just how well Robert plays his part.

Terrance Howard on the other hand didn’t put in a realistic or at least comic book faithful Rhodey performance and as such, I’m secretly relieved to hear that he hasn’t been offered the same spot for the upcoming sequence. Gwyneth Paltrow however delivered an excellent Pepper Potts and while Jeff Bridges shone in his role as Obadiah Stone, it’s a pity that the fairly weak script telecast his role from a mile away. Faran Tahir also puts in a particularly menacing performance, but one can’t help but wonder if as an actor he isn’t falling into that old typecast trap?

Another point to mention is the fact that Iron Man’s updated origin story is the first time I’ve actually not hissed and booed at the screen when confronted with changes to the comic book that I am already so familiar with. In fact, I must admit to being rather glad that the Mandarin was excluded from this first outing on the big screen! :)

So in summary, Iron Man is a popcorn-chewing, action-packed, laugh a minute and cliché ridden standard comic book adaptation that just happens to be better than most and will undoubtedly leave you feeling thoroughly entertained by the time the final credits roll.

Well worth the DVD rental then!

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Related Link: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0371746/