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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.

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.

SF-193

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!

fullmetal-alchemist-the-sacred-star-of-milos

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

Mark Bagley and Danny Miki: Avengers Assemble Vol. 2 #8 Cover (2012) Comic Book Art | Comic Books 26 JAN 2013

The explosive conclusion to the Avengers’ cosmic odyssey! Will the Avengers and the Guardians of the Galaxy be able to stop Thanos from making Earth the throne world of his new empire? The fallout of this story will change one Avenger’s life forever!

Written by Brian Michael Bendis and with interior art from the team of Mark Bagley on pencils and Danny Miki on inks, issue 8 of Avengers Assemble came wrapped in an awesome pulse-pounding action-packed cover featuring Thor and Hulk taking on Thanos, courtesy again of Mr. Bagley and Mr. Miki.

Review: The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes – Season 2 (2012) My Reviews 16 JAN 2013

Having thoroughly, thoroughly enjoyed the first season of The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, it is pretty awesome to be able to say that I was just as thrilled with 2012’s Season 2, featuring the return of Iron Man, Black Panther, Hawkeye, Hulk, Thor, Wasp and the First Avenger, Captain America!

Season Two depicts the Avengers as they track down the remaining members of the Masters of Evil and end up facing the secret invasion of the Skrulls in the first half of season, followed by the Kree in the second half. Intertwined with this is a number of other story plots that get opened up and then closed again, making for an enthralling, overarching storyline that is guaranteed to satisfy any long time comic book fan, never mind the people getting exposed to the Avengers for the very first time.

The amount of characters drawn in from the Marvel Universe over the course of the series is staggering, with the likes of Ms. Marvel, The Vision, Spider-Man, Wolverine, Scott Lang, Heroes for Hire, Doctor Doom, Surtur, Crossfire, Thunderbolt Ross, his Red Hulk form, Guardians of the Galaxy, Falcon and Beta Ray Bill all making an appearance.

The show is cleverly written, the characters well handled, the touches of humour are all in place, but above all else, the unrelenting superhero action is without a doubt what makes this such a pleasing watch.

Whilst the voice actors all do a terrific job with their respective characters, and backed by an outstanding musical score and soundtrack, I remain a little disappointed with the chosen animation style – the stylized designs are just a little too square for my liking and although visually The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes does stand out as its own animal, I can’t help but feel that a stronger, more streamlined animation style could have been employed, something similar to say what Young Justice and ThunderCats is currently doing.

But this is a minor gripe because I really can’t fault Avengers in terms of keeping me on the edge of my seat and entertaining me all the way through. Plenty of twists, action and drama, and more than enough superheroes to make even the hardest to please comic book fanboy happy!

Well worth tracking down and watching then.

Related Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Avengers:_Earth%27s_Mightiest_Heroes

The Mighty Thor Cosplay: Lady Sif (Yaya Han) Cosplay 07 OCT 2012

Popular Asian-American cosplayer Yaya Han is at it again, this time donning her fantastic costume and armour creations in order to transform herself into Lady Sif, ready for action against the vile trickster, Loki. (Who for some reason is now a woman. Oh well, details, details.)

An Asgardian warrior just as Thor is, Sif has long been enamored with the God of Thunder and has been his on and off love for many years now. A skilled warrior, she often accompanies Thor into battle, fighting often alongside the rest of their merry group, including the likes of Balder and the Warriors Three, made up Fandral, Hogun, and Volstagg.

As with any other Asgardian, Sif possesses enhanced strength, durability and longevity, as as the extra ability to teleport, though whether this is through her sword or herself isn’t quite established. An excellent swordsman skilled in the use of cold weapons, Sif is also a fantastic hand to hand combatant.

In other words, truly a warrior to be feared!

Related Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sif_%28comics%29

Stephen Segovia: Thor: The Deviants Saga #3 Cover (2012) Comic Book Art | Comic Books 06 OCT 2012

Issue 3 of Thor: The Deviants Saga now has us right in the middle of a fantastic story, with Thor invading Lemuria, the home of the entire Deviant race, as things get out of hand when Deviant turns against Deviant, not to mention the return of Gilgamesh, perhaps better known as the Forgotten One!

Robert Rodi is behind the keyboard for this one, whilst Jason Paz and Jeff Huet provide the inks for penciller Stephen Segovia’s fantastic visuals. And of course, what is a comic book without a great cover?

This electrifying pounding is dished out courtesy of Stephen Segovia who obviously had far too much time on his hands!

Comic Book Art: Thor by Mike Mayhew Comic Book Art | Comic Books 27 AUG 2012

Mike Mayhew is a very talented American illustrator who specializes in photo-realism with regards to his work.

Having been in the industry since 1993, he has produced work for the likes of DC, Topps, Harris Comics, and Marvel, including both interior and cover runs on titles like Zorro, Vampirella, Mystique, Elektra and She-Hulk.

This particularly stunning piece of his depicts the ever popular Asgardian thunder god in action, i.e. Thor for any of you still lost, with trusty Mjolnir firmly in hand!

Stephen Segovia: Thor: The Deviants Saga #1 Cover (2012) Comic Book Art | Comic Books 14 JUL 2012

2012 kicked off with Issue 1 of the 5 part Marvel miniseries Thor: The Deviants Saga, which arrived with the following synopsis: The ageless enemies of the eternals turn on Asgard! Beneath the ruins of Asgard, the Deviant villainess Ereshkigal seeks a mystic means of saving her race from extinction – and finds instead a weapon capable of dissolving all reality. With the Eternals who would oppose her mysteriously vanished, Thor stands alone to stop the entire Deviant race from dominating the world!

With Robert Rodi handling the writing duties and Jason Paz the inks, it was left up to penciller Stephen Segovia to whip up this fantastic, electrifying and powerful cover image of everyone’s favorite Asgardian son, Thor!

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