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Capsule Reviews: Anime and Movies (The LEGO Movie, Paul, etc.) Animation | Anime | Live-Action | My Reviews 07 AUG 2014

War of the Worlds: Goliath (2012)

War of the Worlds: Goliath is a 2012 Malaysian animated science fiction film directed by Joe Pearson that was released in November 15, 2012 in Malaysia. Unlike other War of the Worlds films, this film is a loose sequel to H. G. Wells’ novel The War of the Worlds.

With strong dieselpunk/steampunk undertones, the film is set in an alternate reality Manhattan, New York City, in 1914, just before the First World War. As it happened, Earth was invaded and laid waste to by Martian invaders, doing most of their damage via giant tripod battle machines. However, the invaders eventually succumbed to common Earth bacteria, thus allowing humanity to recover and rebuild.

However, the aliens are set to return, now immune to Earth’s bacteria, setting the stage for a second confrontation. This time around though, humanity, having learned a few tricks of their own since the first war, are ready – as are their giant battle mecha!

Honestly, this wasn’t very good as a whole. The backdrops are generally beautiful and well animated, but the main characters and action sequences not so much. Simple lines, over-muscular builds on all the male characters, and often very flat CG overlay effects (particularly for things like fire, lasers and explosions), means that visually not everything works on this one. The story is relatively simple and just a little too ‘rah rah’ for me as well, and I have to be honest, despite one or two nice ideas (particularly the steampunk aspect of it all), I struggled to make it through this one in a single sitting.

It isn’t for kids I don’t think (given all the death rays employed to great success), but it doesn’t really work for adults either, leaving this film stranded in a bit of a no man’s land scenario really. Not recommended, nor worth the time.

Rotten Tomatoes rating: N/A

war of the worlds goliath movie

The LEGO Movie (2014)

The Lego Movie is a 2014 computer animated adventure comedy film directed and co-written by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, and featuring the voices of Chris Pratt, Will Ferrell, Elizabeth Banks, Will Arnett, Nick Offerman, Alison Brie, Charlie Day, Liam Neeson, and Morgan Freeman.

Based mainly on the Lego line of construction toys, the film tells the story of an ordinary Lego minifigure named Emmet prophesied to save the Lego universe from the tyrannical Lord Business who plans to use the Kragle to glue everything in place.

Sounds simple enough, but oh my goodness, what a fantastic, heartfelt film that is guaranteed to please absolutely anyone who watches it – provided of course they’ve had some sort of exposure to LEGO in their lifetime. It pushes all the right buttons, features humour on levels for both young and old, carries a huge sense of nostalgia for older viewers, and then to top it all off, tugs equally hard at the heartstrings at the very end.

It’s a fantastic tale, that is brilliantly done, featuring the perfect voice actors, fantastically clever visuals and an awesome soundtrack. Having gushed all that, by now you might just have guessed as to how much I enjoyed The LEGO Movie – and just how much I recommend you see it, especially with your kids!

Rotten Tomatoes rating: 96%

the lego movie emmet batman and wild style

Paul (2011)

Paul is a 2011 British-American Comic science fiction road film directed by Greg Mottola and written by and starring Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, with Seth Rogen as the voice of the title character. The film is about two British science fiction fans who meet an ET-like alien who has a sarcastic manner and a penchant for alcohol and cigarettes. The two help the alien to escape secret service agents who are pursuing him so he can return to his home planet.

Hmm, I have to say, I’ve come to realize that I’m not actually such a big fan of Simon Pegg and Nick Frost buddy movies after all. Paul has a moment or two, but to be honest, it felt as if it just lumbered through some over the top scenarios (one after the other) and just didn’t put in the necessary laugh a minute punches to make it a memorable comedy film. Maybe it is because I’m a little jaded, but I have to say, I can’t really remember enjoying this one all that much.

Still, the CG visuals are great, and the soundtrack pretty good too – plus, the surprise ending certainly proved a unsuspected treat!

Rotten Tomatoes rating: 71% (looks like a lot of people enjoyed it after all).

paul movie simon pegg nick frost

Æon Flux (2005)

Four hundred years in the future, Aeon Flux is the top underground operative at war with the totalitarian regime governing what appears to be a perfect society. But is this perfect life hiding a perfect lie? Aeon is on the front lines of a rebellion that will reveal a world of secrets.

Hmm, it’s hard to say that I found Aeon Flux a complete disappointment, primarily because at the end of the day I really did enjoy the visual style, the visuals themselves, and all futuristic concepts on display. That said, the acting is perhaps not the greatest in the world, and there are some action sequences that are just too over the top (read silly) to be enjoyable. The story starts out interesting enough and there is certainly twists and turns that you don’t see coming, but it feels jerky quite often in terms of pacing, and there are just too many implausible logical jumps (and twists), all of which combine with some seriously dull dialogue that eventually just weighs the movie down.

Honestly, it probably isn’t worth watching, even if you adored the original MTV cartoons. Unless of course you’re a big Charlize Theron fan that is.

Rotten Tomatoes rating: 10% (That rating seems a little harsh to me)

aeon flux movie charlize theron

The Skull Man (2007)

Studio BONES adapted Skull Man into an anime TV series which premiered on Fuji TV in April 2007. The series is directed by Takeshi Mori and written by Yutaka Izubuchi. Unlike the previous Skull Man, the story closely focuses on a journalist named Hayato Mikogami who returns to his hometown at Otomo to investigate strange rumors of killings done by a man wearing a skull mask. Tailed tightly by a young photographer, Kiriko Mamiya, the two soon uncover the many strings of connections between the victims, a local pharmaceutical company, a mysterious new religious sect, and strange half human, half animal creatures, which roam the night streets for blood.

Nice and short, lots of intrigue and some decent twists and turns (even if the plot does hasten a little too fast towards the end) makes for an enjoyable viewing that starts out strong, fumbles a bit during the middle, and then picks up some good steam to deliver an action-packed finale – which doesn’t necessarily satisfy the viewer mind you. Dark visuals, slick animation and a generally likable cast makes for a decent drama/horror watch that will certainly entertain followers of the genre.

In the end, I did enjoy the viewing, though I can’t necessarily say that I loved it. Worth catching given the slickness of production though.

the skull man anime

Capsule Reviews: Movies (John Carter, The Wolverine, etc.) Animation | Live-Action | My Reviews 21 APR 2014

I’m not really into spending time collecting my thoughts in the form of movie, gaming, television reviews any more, but that said, I do like coming back three of four years later to see just how my enjoyment/appreciation of any given piece may have changed over time.

Hence these little capsule reviews of things I’ve watched over the last few months.

John Carter (2012)

Civil War vet John Carter is transplanted to Mars, where he discovers a lush, wildly diverse planet whose main inhabitants are 12-foot tall green barbarians. Finding himself a prisoner of these creatures, he escapes, only to encounter Dejah Thoris, Princess of Helium, who is in desperate need of a savior.

I have to say, I enjoyed this otherworldly sci-fi action film literally from start to finish. Great actors, great action sequences, wondrous worlds and a truly enjoyable story + ending means that I can’t help but give a solid thumbs up for this polished epic.

john carter backdrop

Justice League: War (2014)

When the powerful Darkseid and his massive, relentless forces invade Earth, a group of previously unaligned super heroes – misunderstood and, in some cases, hunted by the authorities – discover that the only way to fend off the attack will be to work together as a cohesive unit. Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Flash, Shazam! and, in his origin story, Cyborg combine their respective talents in an all-out battle to save the planet.

The animation is slick and superb, the voice acting is perfect, and the action is perfect comic book action. The New 52 angle means a fresh look at some tired faces, and quite frankly, everything just works in this over the top, enjoyable, and action-packed Justice League animated movie hit!

JLA Adventures: Trapped in Time (2014)

With Lex Luthor granted the power to go back in time and eliminate the Justice League before it was even started, it is left up to young heroes of the 31st century, Dawnstar and Karate Kid to travel back in time and try and fix this disaster they accidentally unleashed – before all the timelines are completely altered beyond repair!

This is a standalone direct to video film that doesn’t form part of the current DC Animated Original Movies stable, the reason being that it is pitched at the slightly younger viewer and as such the story comes with a strong moral motivation attached to it. I’m not the primary audience and as such can’t say I really enjoyed it, even if there isn’t really any wrong with it per say. That said, the fact that the primary Leaguers aren’t the stars of the show here, might just hurt it as well.

Pacific Rim (2013)

Giant monsters arise from the deep and threaten to overrun the world. Earth’s only defense are the gigantic fighting mecha known as Jaegers. But after years of slugging it out, the Jaegers have all but fallen, and the monster Kaiju appear to be increasing in number and strength!

An absolute visual feast, there is no other way of describing this epic sci-fi monster versus mecha slobber knocker. It’s a great film from start to finish, loads of action and drama, plus a satisfying storyline even if the majority of the international Jaegers get so little screen time! Excellent acting and a fantastic soundtrack makes for a very polished film outing which I thoroughly enjoyed!

pacific rim backdrop

Thor (2011)

God of Thunder Thor finds himself disobeying Odin one too many times, and as a result, is punished by being banished to Midgard (Earth) for his disobedience to the All Father. However, this perfectly orchestrated play by the Trickster Loki, is exactly the opening he has been waiting for – and his allies the Frost Giants at his side, the play is made to make Asgard his once and for all!

This movie couldn’t have been better cast quite frankly, with the characters and actors all being perfectly matched up. Chris Hemsworth as Thor and Tom Hiddleston as Loki are literally perfect, and in the end, so is the movie. This is a fantastic comic book movie done right, with a larger than life story, mind-blowing visual affects, and just the perfect amount of drama and fantasy action. Comic book movie perfection in other words!

Thor: The Dark World (2013)

A malevolent evil spirit is awakened, and bonded with the hapless Jane Foster. This in turn awakens the Dark Elf Malekith, and with him comes a renewed attempt to take down Odin and Asgard with him. With Jane now under Asgard’s protection, Thor is forced to team up with his imprisoned brother Loki if there is any hope of stopping Malekith’s overwhelming forces – and the immense power of the Aether!

Following on from the slick and thoroughly enjoyable first Thor movie, this second outing pretty much continues where the original left off. Once again the actors are perfect, and in turn, the story is a perfect fantasy comic book yarn, with big stakes, plenty of action, and not to mention more than a little drama to go around. Great soundtrack, superb visuals, this is yet again another comic book film done right!

The Wolverine (2013)

An old acquaintance sends word from Japan that he is on his deathbed and as such would like to personally thank and say farewell to Logan. Of course things are never quite so cut and dry for the Wolverine, who soon finds himself leaving his self-imposed exile, travelling to Japan, and embroiled in the middle of a fierce battle over the daughter of a powerful and rich family. A life that needless to say he feels responsible for and must save, no matter the cost!

The first standalone Wolverine movie (X-Men Origins: Wolverine [2009]) was quite frankly horrible. Pleasingly, this time around it is much, much better. Hugh Jackman has without a doubt grown much more into his Wolverine persona, and with a drama-filled story that features exotic locales, ninjas, yakuza and not to mention exhilarating (and bloody) action sequences, The Wolverine ends up being a fantastic comic book movie. It is ever so slightly too long, but that isn’t a complete deal breaker for me, and in the end I seriously enjoyed it – which is great, because the X-Men family of movies really does need a bit of a boost in my book (based purely on how bad they look compared to the awesome current crop of Marvel Universe releases!)

the wolverine backdrop

The World’s End (2013)

Gary King and the lads are all grown up these days, well everyone but Gary King that is. A man with a lot of personal problems to deal with but with no concept of responsibility anyway, rounds up the old gang for the sole purpose of completing a pub crawl they failed to complete as lads. The final target of the 12 pub crawl being the renowned World’s End. Unfortunately for the group though, they’re about to find out first hand that something downright alien is going on in their old stomping grounds…

Rounding out the so-called Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, The World’s End), this is another Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg, and Nick Frost collaboration and thus blends the same everyday life and drama with some completely over the top twists and then some completely over the top action sequences. As expected, the film is slickly done and well put together, the twist is over the top – as expected, and to be honest, it really does fit in as another installment of the Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz puzzle. In other words, if you liked those, then you’ll like this one. As for me, it wasn’t horrible, I did laugh occasionally, but I can’t say I necessarily walked away having enjoyed it.

Covered: 2000AD 1384 (Shaun of the Dead) Comic Book Art | Comic Books 08 JAN 2011

Shaun of the Dead is the rightful cult king in terms of British zombie films, finding that perfect balance between horror, zombie, romance, black humour and all out laughs.

As a tie in with the movie, director Edgar Wright and main honcho Simon Pegg joined forces with artist Frazer Irving to produce a Shaun of the Dead related tail, “There is something about Mary”.

Needless to say, the talented and moody Mr. Irving needed to whip up a decent cover to mark the occasion covered by 2000AD issue 1384, and as you can see, no problem there!

Related Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shaun_of_the_Dead_%28comic%29#2000_AD

How to Lose Friends and Alienate People My Reviews 30 DEC 2008

Alienate PeopleSo after a delightful afternoon lunch with Monty and the rest of the Montgomery clan on Sunday, Chantelle and I finished off the day by catching Simon Pegg’s latest American movie attempt, How to Lose Friends and Alienate People.

Now the movie is touted as a romantic comedy and seeing how we thoroughly enjoyed his previous attempt at the genre in the clever Run Fatboy, Run, we had pretty high hopes for this one as well.

Well, let me start off by saying that How to Lose Friends and Alienate People is certainly a fairly funny comedy, but it kind of falls flat on the romantic side of things. To be honest, the film just fails to evoke any sense of emotion or attachment from its audience and this is a pretty big failing that in all honesty needs to be laid squarely on the doorstep of fairly unknown director Robert B. Weide (best known for his Curb Your Enthusiasm stuff) and his team of scriptwriters.

Why you might ask? Well simply put, each and every single actor appearing in the movie actually puts in near perfect and absolutely brilliant performance, that’s why! Simon Pegg plays his usual British dry physical and deadpan comedic persona to perfection (as always), and indeed 90% of the film’s laughs are evoked by the very versatile and very funny Mr. Pegg. Alongside him, Kirsten Dunst fulfills the confused colleague/love interest with a deft and witty hand and puts in a role that is simply a sheer pleasure to watch. Similarly the supporting actors like Danny Huston, Jeff Bridges and Gillian Anderson all put in great performances, though I did feel that the gorgeous Megan Fox came across quite forced at times.

That said, it might just have been her being in character, in which case I retract my negative statement. :)

The script itself is nothing mind-blowing and relies heavily on the square peg in a round hole situation that the free-spirited British journalist brings to the more stoic and professional American tabloid industry. Whiffs of romantic drama permeates the story at times, but for the most part the movie plays out as a series of comedic happenstances, the most of which play out pretty damn funnily. Of course, Simon’s hand is more than evident in a lot of the humour as there is quite a bit of his trademark dark British humour to be found and this raises the profile of what might have been a pretty dull affair just that extra little bit.

David Arnold, the current Bond franchise score provider of choice, provides the musical selection for the film and he does a credible job, serving up some nice compositions intermingled with a good choice of soundtrack songs to present a nicely polished aural package.

Oh and just by the way, the movie tells the story of a witty, cynical British tabloid journalist who gets invited to join a top-flight American tabloid operation, only to find that on arrival, he has pretty much been sidelined to the bottom of the company. A man known for his outrageous stunts and the complete and utter disrespect for any system or set of rules, he soon finds himself fighting to gain the respect he feels that he deserves from the man who brought him over in the first place. However, this battle will not make him popular and in fact, the only woman that will still talk to him happens to be the very woman who he pissed off right on his first night in America!

So the problem? Just how much of his integrity is he willing to give up in order to get what he wants?

And that’s it. In summary, if you drop the romantic expectation from this movie, then How to Lose Friends & Alienate People is a pretty funny and credible comedy that lovers of British humour and Simon Pegg in particular are sure to enjoy. Leave the romantic expectations in and you are left with a bit of a flop in terms of a romantic comedy. So take your pick: me, I went in with the wrong expectations and didn’t enjoy it all that much; Chantelle on the other hand thoroughly enjoyed it!

Go figure.

Alienate People1 Alienate People2 Alienate People3 Alienate People4
Alienate People5 Alienate People6 Alienate People7 Alienate People8

Related Link: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0455538/

Run Fatboy Run My Reviews 16 OCT 2008

Run Fatboy RunLove. Commitment. Responsibility. There’s nothing he can’t run away from.

Took out a really enjoyable DVD on Monday evening, a movie by the name of Run Fatboy Run, starring Simon Pegg, Thandie Newton and Hank Azaria in the lead roles.

Basically the story revolves around one Dennis Doyle (Simon Pegg) who runs away on his wedding day, leaving his pregnant bride to be, Libby (Thandie Newton) standing at the altar. Fast forward five years and Dennis is now a security guard in a lingerie store, living in a shared apartment, while Libby runs a bakery, seemingly enjoying life. Simon gets to see and interact with his son on a regular basis, but that is about it – as much as he would like to rekindle his romance with Libby, there are some things she can never forgive.

However, on hearing that she has a new man in her life, a wealthy, knowledgeable and superbly fit man by the name of Whit (Hank Azaria), Dennis can’t help but nose in on Libby’s business. All this comes to a head when he decides to try and impress her by competing with Whit and entering the London River-run marathon.

Of course, for someone who has never finished anything in his life and always runs away from challenges, this may be something just that little bit out of his reach. Or is it?

Run Fatboy Run is a 2008 romantic comedy which is surprisingly directed by American actor David Schwimmer (from Friends if the name sounds familiar), surprisingly because the movie manages to not lose any of its British charm or wit in the process. The story is partly penned by Simon Pegg himself and you can clearly see his subtle black humour influence on this involving and thoroughly enjoyable romantic comedy that will have you chuckling throughout. The movie is well made and there are some particularly brilliant pieces of work littered throughout, like the superb ‘hitting the wall’ scene towards the end of the movie.

Simon Pegg is sublime in his role, while the always entertaining Hank Azaria (think Simpsons if the name isn’t coming to you) plays the ‘villian’ to perfection. Thandie Newton also puts in a great performance, though a lot of her thunder is stolen by the comical genius performances of Dylan Moran and Harish Patel.

If you are looking for some light hearted fun with just the right amount of romantic twist and drama that means your girlfriend will enjoy it too, make an effort to pick this one up. It didn’t last longer than a week here on our local cinema circuit, so best you get moving to the video store then. :)

Related link: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0425413/

Hot Fuzz My Reviews 23 APR 2007

Hot FuzzIf you want a barrel load of laughs (cheaper than a barrel load of monkeys) then don’t miss out on Hot Fuzz, the latest film from the guys that brought you the hilarious cult hit Shaun of the Dead.

In Summary:
Police constable Nicolas Angel (Simon Pegg) always gets his man, but these days his impeccable record seems to be more indicative of his fellow officer’s shortcomings than his own formidable skills as a keeper of the peace. Loathe to stand idly by as their once respectable track record is steadily soiled by the hyper-competent actions of one lone overachiever, Officer Angel’s superiors at the Met soon determine to remedy their problem by relocating the decorated constable to the West Country village of Sanford – where tranquil garden parties and neighbourhood watch meetings stand in stark contrast to the violent crime and heated gunplay of the city.

As Officer Angel does his best to adjust to the relative calm of his new environment, his oafish new partner Danny Butterman (Nick Frost) strives to gain the respect of his fellow constables while sustaining himself on fantasies of his favourite action films and police shows. Later, just as it begins to appear as if Officer Angel has been relegated to an uneventful existence in the relative calm of the countryside, a series of horrific accidents lead him to suspect that the tranquil hamlet of Sanford has fallen prey to a sinister plot which reeks of foul play.

Honestly said, if you are not familiar with or a fan of Brit comedy especially the darker variety of it, then you’ll probably wasting your time. That would probably explain why the cinema was half empty at the primary 20:00 screening on Saturday evening. Oh well, no skin off my back.

Hot Fuzz is an absolute blast, from beginning to end. The one-liners and puns keep on coming at you, hardly giving you time to duck. Both Simon Pegg and Nick Frost are absolute brilliant in their roles, but to be honest, I don’t think there is a single miscasting in the entire movie. Honestly, I don’t want to say too much about the movie in fear of spoiling any of it so I won’t.

In short, if Brit dark comedy is your thing, don’t miss Hot Fuzz.

Note: you’ll need a strong stomach in certain places – death is done in typical dark comic fashion.