Review: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014)

Image resultOut of a combination of interest and “why the hell not?” I decided to watch the 2014 version on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. And yes to my regular readers….both of you. I know this isn’t a newly released film, and the sequel is already out on DVD, “so why are you reviewing it then?” Firstly, don’t tell me how to run my blog, and the second reason is that if I can think of something worth typing, I’d do it; and boy is this worth talking about I assure you. Now for starters, I’m only a causal fan of the Ninja Turtles. I’ve watched and enjoyed the 2003 cartoon, I adore the 2012 series, and I’ve seen and liked the films, well the first two live action films I like, and the 2007 animated film is still pretty damn good. The third live action film; OH MY GOD, KILL AND BURN IT! And this film can go join the bomb fire.

So where to start, the plot? Ha! For a Ninja Turtles film, this film’s script is on creative auto pilot. It’s basically the four Turtles fighting the Foot Clan as they stop Shredder’s big plan, with some dashes of the Turtles established backstory, and the third act of The Amazing Spider-man. Image result for teenage mutant ninja turtles 2014 aprilOh and April O’Neil is in it. OK to the film’s credit we do learn said back story through her, and we do learn about William Fichtner’s character, or as I like to call him: not Shredder given the back lash to the film’s original casting. So April isn’t the most unless character in the film; that title goes to Will Arentt’s character. That said she is as forced into the script’s situation, the same way a brick is forced into a light socket. The actual plot itself has less depth than a pen cap, and it’s structurally linear as the pen itself. The back story almost gets the source material right, but in order to have Splinter and the Turtles know martial arts, the writers end up reaching so far; their arms must be the length of their entire body.

Moving onto the performances And what’s not helping Megan Fox is that her performance has the range of a shot from an asthmatic pea shooter. Image result for teenage mutant ninja turtles 2014 shredderAs for Shredder, his just a big brute for shake of having the chrome tar beaten out him by the end of the film. With the CGI Silver Samuri suit having more personality than the actor himself. Which again, isn’t helped by Fitchner’s recast; with him being the only villain with some sort of personality, even if his motivation comes down to: we wouldn’t have a movie if he didn’t. The only some what interesting characters in this, are the Turtles themselves. And even then Raphael is the only one with a character growth, Michelangelo is just there for comedic relief, which is neither comedic nor a relief or any kind; especially when he can’t seem to keep it in his pants, when around April. I’m serious; his behaviour is so odd, you’d feel guilty for leaving him alone with a vacuum cleaner, let alone a human woman. As for Leo,  he’s just the leader to get every one of their asses, while Donatello is just the exposition guy. But I will say that the voice actors were well picked, and do work decently with each other. Even if it’s just standard by comparison against the other media with their green faces on it.

Speaking of the Turtles’ green faces, the CGI is good, when it comes to the movements. While some cases they do look decent, other times they fail to blend with the live action sets; and the faces some how look worst than the puppet heads that used in the live action films. And given little of a crap the studio gave at film three, that’s saying a lot. Speaking of the looks, yet again it’s the action is the only saving grace that Micheal Bay decided to create for this franchise, wait he wasn’t the director? Well the action is the only saving grace that Micheal Bay let someone else decided to create for this franchise. With the chase down the snowy mountains being the highlight, as it was fast paced, and the only interesting set piece that isn’t just: just people fighting in the dark. The combat itself is basically any martial arts film, but not as fun or inventive. The ending fight is done well, but it’s mostly just ripping of The Amazing Spider-man, to the point were it’s the heroes vs the big bad guy, on the top of skyscraper, trying to prevent a toxic fart cloud from being unleashed onto the nearby city, and infecting/ killing the people below.

And now for the lighting round of complaints. The costume designs are basic. The pacing is sperattic with some scenes being the duration of a melting candle, to then switch into quick dashes, like The Flash on buretto Thursday. No seriously, there is a point where characters make it back to the sewers of New York, from some snowy mountains, with the span of a couple of hours. And while we’re bashing the plot. It’s revealed that Splinter learned his skills in martial arts, from a Japanese book about martial arts. Let me repeat that. A mutated rat, that has gained Intelligence and human speech, despite living in the sewers throughout the later half of his life. Becomes a master in ninjitsu, by reading a Japanese bloom about the subject. I’ll gladly give all of the money in my bank account to the animal scientist who can explain, how the hell that works?!

In closing the film kind of unfocused and kinda dull. Mainly due to flat characters, dialogue so forced you see the scene crack around it. Overall while the action is fun in an over the top way, and the four leads do well; this isn’t really worth the attention if I’m too honest.

And as for the sequal…i’ll get back to you on that.

Thank you for your time.

Review: Suicide Squad (spoiler free)

DC Films.jpgWhat the hell is going on with DC? When The Dark Knight left cinemas back in 2008, did a curse fall upon the land, dooming them to eternal bad luck? Because while Marvel is constantly killing it with their cinematic universe; DC and Warner Bros have been also releasing comic book films between now and 2008, with catches on each one; that wasn’t part of the Dark Knight trilogy. Watchmen in 2009, bombed. Jonah Hex in 2010, panned. Green Lantern in 2011 did both, as the film crashed and burned harder the ship that delivered Hal’s lantern ring.

MoS BvS ratingsEven films in the Extended Universe (The DC Extended Universe, that is what they’re calling it) like Man of Steel and Batman v Superman made by Zach Synder, faced untold amounts of mixed reviews from fans and critics a like; despite the box office figures. Some loving Synder’s direction; while others…didn’t. Dawn of Justice faced negative feedback coming from both fans and detractors alike. It’s been like three months or so since the film’s release, and Snyder is still pulling buck shot shrapnel from his nut sack. Well…he was until film’s “Ultimate Edition” improved a large amount of the film’s flaws; even if it still is a prequel for Justice League, and the film knows it. And with the recently released trailers for Justice League and Wonder Woman, fans are slowly starting to be won over again.

Anyway, the change in styles between those two films and this new Suicide Squad film, got fans excited; especially with a new director, tone and trailers that used tunes like Bohemian Rhapsody and Ballroom Blitz. Hell something new from a DC film that’s not Batman or Superman, plus given how fun the two trailers were. How could this fail? Can this film finally win over audiences and critics a like towards DC’s film universe?  God damn it!

 

Well let’s do this. Taking place after Batman v Superman, the government grow concerned over the possibility of other super powered brings on earth. Thus Amanda Waller (played by Viola Davis) sets up a team of criminals with skills ranging from weaponry, combat and even magic; as they’re ordered to do missions for the government, and not activate the bombs implement in their heads; in return for lower prison sentences. Their first mission leads to the group having to stop a rouge squad member, a woman known as Enchantress, as the group fight for their survival and freedom against her and her demonic brother.

Despite the flack i gave Batman v Superman early this year, for its ridiculous amount of characters; here the story is much more focused. Each character feels relevant to the story, and their given the opportunity to interact with each other and the world around them. The cast themselves have great chemistry with each other, as the group start to open up and slowly start to work together. Quickly establishing their characters, and allowing the actors to get on with the story. Will Smith and Marggot Robbie as Harley Quinn and Dead Shot being a good example. I enjoyed their scenes together;  as it was interesting watching Smith’s cynical smart ass, interact with the crazy but tough as nails chick of Harley Quinn; who Robbie captures excellently, making her fun to have on-screen. The rests of the cast do great with their roles as well; Rick Flag and Enchantress’ scenes were good, making you understand the conflict of their relationship (long story) with Joel Kinnerman doing a great job as a Sargent who’s just trying to keep the squad in order.

Jai Courtney really surprised me as the loud mouth Captain Boomerang; with this being the guy’s best performance since….um….One of the biggest surprises for me was Jay Hernandez as El Diablo. The guy is great as the more sympathetic character who doesn’t want to fight or use his powers really; in fact for this type of story, his only there because he was dragged into it by Waller, more on her later, and his back story is a really great pay of for his arch. If this is how the guy is like in the comics, i’m really interested to learn about the character. But for me the best performance was Davis as Amanda Waller, the lady excellently pulls of the cold, manipulative, cynic that gets under the squad’s skin; as she “persuades them” into joining the fight. She greatly captures the character of the comics. But that said, the rest of the main cast are pretty wasted,Slipknot is only there to prove Waller’s point, Killer Croc and Katana only get a few lines of dialogue, they’re mainly there to be in the battle scenes; with her just showing up as the group heads out to Midway City. And despite the amount of marketing featuring this guy, The Joker is barely in the film. He has a subplot with Harley, and then his gone for the rest of the film; which sad because it’s clear that Jared Leto can do a very good Joker, i like what he does with the character. Please let him be the villain for Ben Afleck’s Batman film.

So despite the large amount of characters, the story didn’t feel forced or blogged down like Dawn of Justice. The film quickly establishes the character’s past, their skills and that their now in prison. The plot is tightly focused on its characters and it’s goals, and it always knows where it’s going throughout the run time. With each character having one moment to shine as a character, or show of in the excellent fight scenes. The choreography from the actors is superb, its fast paced with the characters giving a variety of fighting styles making the scenes look and feel fun to watch. All this with very good CGI on the creatures that serve Enchantress. As for the CG on her brother, it’s….noticeable; in particularly the face they give him. But all of the editing, the makeup, the production design is just excellently made with very good designs and attention to detail. Plus the film has a very good soundtrack throughout; ranging from artist such as: Eminem, Black Sabbath, and many more, which fits the tone of the very well. In particularly Dead Shot’s try outs set to Black Skinhead by Kanye West.

But, the one major thing I’ll say about the story, going back it, the plot isn’t really original. The plan of Enchantress and her brother is basically: “We were trapped for centuries by the mortal humans, so watch as we take vengeance upon them.” Yeah it isn’t exactly the most creative plots ever as most story’s that feature a trapped demon usually involve him pulling a revenge plot on someone, or the rest of the world. Enchantress was probably the weakest character, when she’s on her own. But overall, DC and Warner Brothers has stepped up in terms running a DC Cinematic universe, as this by far the best film they’ve done so far in the DCEU. With well written characters performed by a great cast, fun action that looks amazing on the big screen, all within a tightly focused story that constantly knows where it’s going despite a large amount of characters where some are more shown than others; but do have enough back story and development to make you interested in what’s happening.

So yeah, DC is fun again. As much as I liked the previous two films despite any flaws, this is a major step up, and would highly recommend despite the story being done before multiple times, that would’ve benefited with some tweaks and polishing; ending up with some characters better developed than others. But DC, more fun films like this please!

Eight out of ten.

Thank you for your time.

Review: Ghostbusters (2016) Another remake on the pile

  So after a disastrous marketing campaign, the remake of Ghostbusters has finally arrived in cinemas. A lot has changed since my blog on the subject. For one thing the cast went from being mostly silent to at least willing to talk to Graham Norton and Ellen DeGeneres, yet again word on the street (or Internet) is that after multiple on set arguments the cast were legally required to not bad mouth the film, due to Sony not wanting a repeat of Josh Trank’s meltdown during his time on Fantastic Four back in 2015. And given the stuff that went down….can’t say I blame them. Secondly the “all haters of this film are woman hating, basement dwelling, neck bearded, lifeless, Trump supporting (really) friendless misogynist” line of defence has gotten so out of control, to the point  where a female YouTuber like Comicbookgirl19 can bash the trailer and go unscathed, despite outright boycotting the film. Meanwhile James Rolfe can simply say he won’t review the film, and somehow make headlines in the process. Screenshot (2).pngHell Melissa McCarthy (and now recently Leslie Jones) went from regularly slagging the film’s director of to her friends and crew mates; to now labelling the trailer’s detractors as sexist so often you’d expect her to be preaching this stuff from her Tumblur account given her body shape. Come at me feminist! Oh and Fall Out Boy released a cover of the original Ghostbusters theme (because) with Missy Elliot (for some reason). So now the film is finally here; how does the birth / potential death of Sony’s Ghostbusters’ cinematic universe pan out?

Being a remake of an old film, the story is not much different in the new film. We follow three scientists: Abby, Erin, Jullian and Patty, the group’s token black Ghostbuster. As they set up their business hunting ghost. The main difference (outside of the cast) is the change of villains. Instead of Gozer, a demon crossing our dimension to enslave us all; we instead get Rowan, a guy suffering from the same condition as the kid from The Sixth Sense, as he builds a machine to summon ghost, as he uses them to take control of New York after becoming a ghost himself. Yep turns out the Reddit leak was more accurate than we thought, despite the dis jointed writing.

Now then the elephant in the room, the cast. They’re good. They’re competent actors that work with what they’re given, and they work well together. That said, if you’ve seen any of the leads act in anything, They are basically doing that again. If you’ve seen McCarthy and Wigg in Bridesmaids, Spy or the such; not a lot has changed as they are just playing themselves really, as per their other work. Wigg is the awkward straight woman, McCarthy is the rude wise crack (to the point that she’s just redoing her character from The Heat), and Jones is the sassy black chick. On that subject, SONY! If you’re going to preach about how progressive you are to your audience; why did you cast the black woman as the stereotypical, sassy, loud black lady? She’s only on the team due to her street smarts, and will loudly scream her lines every other chance she gets, in an attempt to be sassy. No wonder the Social Justice Warriors of the Internet ate the trailers up, it wears hypocrisy like a fancy hat, as they do. To the point where the people involved talk about how the all female cast shows their progressive side; in a story where every male character falls on the spectrum of jackass (e.g Rowan and the mayor) or dumb-ass like Chris Hemsworth’s character. You get the feeling that the film is punishing the guy for being the funniest character in the film by making him one chromosome away from a short bus and a drawl bucket.

On a more calmer note, while the three do well as their characters, Kate McKinnon is trying to pull of the tom-boy-ish tough girl, she does well at it. Her moments were the most fun to watch, particularly the end fight in Time Square. It’s her and Chris Hemsworth that are the comedic heights of the film; even if his jokes all ended being: “ha, isn’t he dumb?!” Their timing and their material were the comedic high lights, while the other jokes are just….meh. I will also say that Jones is probably best written as a character, because while the rest of team are pretty much fearless to the point where the only time they experience fear towards a ghost, is the opening at the mansion. Meanwhile Jones as Patty naturally is scared at the start; and then braves up throughout the story. In a cast of exaggerated performances, she’s the most realistic character.

But the problems are mostly due to the script than the actors who say them; at most, the rest of the jokes will make you chuckle. However i will give the script some pros when it comes to the more serious aspects; such the action and scenes with the ghost. Which just make the film a bit disjointed, as in between those moments, the film is mostly busy trying to crack jokes after one liners. Some better than others.

One other element of the trailer that got torn apart upon the release was the effects that range from weak to “oh good god there are games on the original Xbox that look better than this”! That being said upon seeing the final film, they are well animated and are detailed nicely. But it’s the rending that’s holding it back, making each ghost look like the love child of a neon glow stick, and the rejects of The Haunted Mansion ride. When compared to the live action actors, it’s just embarrassing to see the two contrasting against each other makes it more obvious. However the practical elements, such as the props, the costumes and the like were done well and look good; same with the editing and cinematography

Now given how this is a remake, of course call backs to the original were inevitable; and compared to the rest of the film, they stick out like saw thumbs. I already talked about how the original cast are legal obligated to show up….i mean appear in cameos. With Bill Murray and Ernie Hudson having the best ones, as they are relevant to the events around the cast. While Sigourney Weaver is just there, and Dan Akyrod’s cameo just wants to make bang my head against a wall given how forced it was. And the forced nostalgia keeps on going. As not only do the original cast return, not only do they re harsh elements of the first film’s plot, not only do they force characters like Slimer and The Stay Puff Marsh Mellow Man into it; but they repeat the ending of the first film. Note for note, and the characters don’t take any notice until Rowan starts to attack them; it’s that shameless.

And speaking of Rowan, he was the low point for me. As a villain he isn’t interesting; as he falls under revenge motive #446, the picked on, bullied loner. Now that’s a lame motivation, but he spends his time monologing his motives to himself/ the audience; because having that be explained through the narrative was too difficult without pulling a Frank Underwood…i guess. Also can i just say how the guy has he fastest decent to omnipotence i think I’ve seen in a film. As he starts making stuff himself, to entering god mode by the time the third act arrives. Do you want to know why, so would i. Oh can i just that Rowan’s final fight has the worst effects in the film, with his ghost form looking as fake as it did in the trailers.

In conclusion as much as we may or may not have bashed the trailer, discovered the behind the scenes mess, and called out Sony for actively shaming and bullying the demographic they need to see the film. Yeah Sony, turns out if you get criticism from the fan base of an existing franchise you’re working on, and then label said criticism as bigotry; well then you shouldn’t be shocked that you drove away the people who were going to give you the money you wanted. So is it bad? No. Is it good?  Meh….While it has its good moments and the cast being one of the highlights of the film. It is just OK; but I fear that the back lash will probably be the most significant thing to come out the film.

Five out of ten.

Thank you for your time.

Review: X-Men Apocalypse 

The comic book movie craze keeps on rolling with the newest X-men film, simply subtitled Apocalypse. The X-Men films have had an interesting run since the first film back in 2000. With two major successful films that did well with fans, critics and at the box office. Other things got…weird when Brian Singer (the director of both films) left to make Superman Returns.X-Men films

Then came X-Men: Last Stand which was a massive miss step in the eyes of fans, the prequel X-Men origins that was as popular as a fart in a stuck elevator. And in terms of adapting the characters from the comics, it set the javelin record away from the point. With changes so randomly clueless that Deadpool, one of the more recent X-Men films, made fun of the film, numerous times. New X-Men filmsAnyway, then came the surprising great X-Men First Class and The Wolverine two years later. But to hell with the last one, because Singer came back to make the absolutely amazing sequel X-Men: Days of Future Past literally the following year; in which he grew the gigantic balls to erase all past films that wasn’t First Class from the events of the franchise’s overall story. So now that film, Days of Future Past, Deadpool and now this film remain as the new continuity. Now film goers know what comic continuity is like.

But is the new film any good? Let’s do this. The story follows the mutant students of Professor Charles Xavier played by James McCavoy, as they come across the existence of Apocalypse played by Oscar Isaac who plans to destroy the world with his new servants known as “the four horsemen”. Said plot involves the capture of Charales by Apocalypse. Thus the newly formed X-men team set of to find Apocalypse in order to prevent him from destroying everything. Like Days of Future Past, this was a highly anticipated film for this franchise, as Apocalypse is the biggest and most dangerous villain in the X-Men comics; so when fans heard there was going to be a live action blockbuster with this character, the hype was tense.

Like the past two films (well the ones that count) the cast old and new do excellent work as the characters. Since First Class, James McCavoy has always shown the warmth, compassion and optimism of Prof Xavier; and once again he doesn’t disappoint, showing real development from the previous film. Him and Micheal Fassbender as Magneto have been the highlight of this new trilogy, and Fassbender is great again. Even if his given a new back story of losing the family he gained while on the run from the White House. It’s basically a new reason to hate humans. But still the emotion of the scene and actor works beautifully. Even Quick-Silver from the last film is done well again here. When it came to Days of Future Past, one of my main gripes was the question of: why did each step of Logan’s plan not involve the term: “and get the speedster to do”. And here not only does the guy spear more often, but is as like able as ever, with further development. Jennifer Lawrence as Raven is still as confident as the character, even if she gets a smaller role compared to past films in this new franchise.

The replacements for characters like Jean Gray, Nightcrawler and Scott Summers do great jobs as these characters, you really see their characters come through, plus the fact that their clearly not as experienced lifts up the tension. And let’s talk about Apocalypse. Oscar Isaac does an excellent job, his aggressive while soft-spoken, calm and patient. Which works as you have no idea when this god like persons going to snap. While Oscar does great work, the guy has limited motives character wise; his a guy who wants the world to burn after being trapped in a pyramid for centuries. That’s really it.

On the subject of Apocalypse, my only other gripe is that three of his four merry horsemen. Outside of Magneto, do very little of…anything; Storm, Angel and Psylocke get very little to do outside of the end fight. They establish the past briefly, show their powers, then stand around with Apocalypse as he gets the work done. Again that’s it. But it’s the effects and production design that saves each character; with their costume mac thing the comic character excellently. And the effects bring so well detailed and polished.

The scenes where Apocalypse uses his powers are breath-taking, and match well with the scale of the film; because a lot goes on and the world will pay the price. Which goes well with the excellent set design and production. But like the last X-men film, it’s Quick Silver’s scene that steals the show, and almost out does the kitchen scene from Future Past.

While this may not out do Days of Future past, Apocalypse is a stunning film that is  a worthy follow-up to the past two films in this new trilogy. With excellent acting and the best effects in the X-men series. Go see it, the big screen is indeed worth it.

7 out of 10

Thank you for your time.

Discussion on Penny Dreadful season three, episode two (spoilers)

So this will not be a usual review, instead its a dissuasion on my feelings towards the latest episode of Penny Dreadful, Predators Far and Near. Specifically it’s ending, so if you haven’t seen any of the show; it’s best to just go away and do something else. Because this will be spoiling this latest episode, as well as the last two seasons leading up to this one.  Either way it’s an excellently done episode of an amazing show, so fans of the show who are readying this, don’t worry I’m not going to rip into it and say how bad it is. In any case before i bring up some points towards this episode, let’s address the ending. Again you have been warned.

So after Vanessa Hives (the main character) won the battle against the demon that had possessed her throughout most of her life, she is now free, but miserable with her life; to the point where she’s now seeing a psychologist name Doctor Seward. During the times in between sessions, she meets a zoologist named Alexander Sweet. The two have started to form a friendship throughout the past two episodes; and most likely a romantic relationship. Meanwhile she has been followed by two unknown characters who later turn out to be vampires working for their mysterious master, Dracula a character who constantly remains hidden from the audience. And then we get to the ending, this is now the point of no return if you don’t want to know the ending. The episode ends with Seward’s assistant Renfield (now turned vampire) is begging Dracula for more blood to feed on, so Dracula cuts his arm for Renfield to drink for it. To which we find out that Sweet is actually….. Dracula, and is clearly hanging out with Vanessa in order to kill her; for what reason, we’ll find out soon.

So while this is a farther good twist with potential for great drama, my main complaint is this. This season is set to have nine episodes, and we’re currently on episode two; two! And they’ve already reveled the main villain’s identity. See in most shows that keep the identity of the villain a secret, you’d expected to find out who the master mind is until around the half way point of the series; maybe later. But here, we’re technically just out of the starting gate with this series’ new story lines, and yet they’ve already given the main twist of the story.  

An example of how to do this right would be season one of Flash. In which the main mystery is the identity of “the man in the yellow suit” who is then known as “The Reverse Flash”. In terms of the character that it’s revealed to be; the show takes it’s time establishing the both sides of the character, his back story that doesn’t revel his true origins, his relationship with the other characters, and how he fits into the main story before the mystery is revealed. In the meantime we’re given other possibilities of who this guy is, and any clues that could make the viewer suspect the real identity of the masked villain. But with Alexander Sweet, we have an understanding of his character and his relationship with Vanessa, but in the context of the story, the two have only known each other less than a week. So while it will the whole idea of him not being who she thought he was, it won’t exactly have the same impact to the viewer as the Reverse Flash arch; especially when everyone else trusted the guy before find out about their powers.

Of course the show will continue the romance between the two characters, it would’ve been so more shocking to see the two so happy together before we as the audience learn the horrible truth, about the man our main character has fallen for, and then get shocked about Vanessa being killed after seeing gain her hope again. But now while we watch the romance develop, we’re just left waiting for her and the other characters to catch on to Sweet’s plans. It’s like opening a Sherlock episode with crime taking place, with a full shot the criminal writing their name onto the wall of the scene;it’s done way too damn early is what I’m saying.

But that’s what I think about this otherwise excellent episode, what did you think? Did they rush the surprise of the Dracula reveal, or could there something bigger install for this season? Either way if you’ve seen this episode what did you think?

Thank you for your time.

Review: Captain America Civil War

From one set of heroes beating the crap of each other to another, we head of to the next big comic book movie release; this time it’s Marvel’s Captain America Civil War, based on the Marvel comic of the same name.

After a failed mission in Nigeria ends up with multiple people dead, the world’s governments are fed up with the damage left behind by The Avengers. The team are presented with a new bill written by the UN called “The Sokvia Accords”. Which requires the team to run by the government, in order to keep them in line with the law. While Tony Stark is willing to comply, Steve Rodgers isn’t so willing to give up his freedom. Thus group is split up in to two factions; as Tony leads an effort to bring the opposing side to justice.

Screen Shot 2016-05-01 at 17.59.37.pngAs usual with the Marvel films, the cast does an excellent job with what their given. They give great performances and you do feel them in this fight, and you do identify with the reasoning. Robert Downing Jr.and Chris Evans especially, as this is some of the best works as their characters. You feel for them as the story goes on. You identify with Steve’s compassion against the team being mislead by the wrong people; while also feeling sorry for Tony, as his left ashamed by the collateral damage left behind by his friends.

Screen Shot 2016-04-30 at 12.08.27.pngThe two stand out roles are Tom Holland as Peter Parker (Spider-Man) and Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa (Black Panther). As the two new heroes in The Avengers, you insistently see their capabilities to play these characters. They’re good performers, they’re great during their action scenes, and you really get a sense of the way they fit into the world around them. T’Challa is a sympathetic character who clearly wants justice to be done, even if he has to take things into his own hands. Holland steals the show as Peter Parker, he greatly shows the jokey and cocky side of Spider-man, giving him the funniest lines in the film, while also doing a great job as Peter. This guy is prefect as Spider-Man.

While the story doesn’t follow the comic perfectly, it more than makes up for it with what is presented here. You see and understand both sides of the struggle. Tony wants stop injustices while preventing damage those around him, while Steve believes that having multiple people breathing down their necks will prevent them from getting things done, especially if their efforts are diverted else where; or flat-out rejected. While characters like Hawk-Eye and Ant-Man are clearly here only to get into the airport fight seen in the trailers, everyone gets the right amount of screen time, and you do see where they stand, in a believable away. This film will constantly have you switching sides of who is right; when really, no one is even wrong.

Once again Marvel has knocked it out of the park when it comes to their effects. The CGI is excellent, the costumes look great, and their fights scenes are incredible; with the first big fight between the two sides leaving me thrilled and exhausted from how much is going on, but in a good way. Not to mention how well rehearsed and choreographed everything is, and yet still feels raw and real. It kept up the same style and effort as was seen in the second Captain America film, The Winter Solder.

A pity that the first two action scenes come across with a case of bad shaky cam syndrome. No not hand-held shots where the camera has slightly shaky movements, but shots where the majority of the scene was barely view able given the camera shakes so damn much the scene could be measured on a Richter scale. Dear the Russo brothers, I’d like to inform of s film called Attack the Block, it came out five years before this did, and with the exception of a couple of shots, it didn’t come out as an absolute mess. Yet Civil War apparently has the money to make fifteen other films, and yet it struggled to a do a fight scene in an apartment building, and a street chase scene that didn’t look like the crew were in dire need of a tripod. Again the previously mentioned film did both of those types of scenes on barley a quarter of this film’s budget, and it still looked more presentable. Seriously, these scenes would be laughed out of any other action movie, but given the quality of Marvel’s past action sequences, this is inexcusable. The fact that the airport and final battle between Cap and Stark are the exception was a damn miracle at that point. Oh and the 3D makes it even more hard to watch.

Finally can I just ask why the film needs the villain it featured? I get why his doing what does, but when the film is based around the conflict of two friends in disagreement, do you really need a villain around other than to just give them more reasons to fight? I mean the villain should be the side against the one you’re for. The character they get could have been replaced or removed and things would’ve gone the same way. With out spoiling anything, it’s clear this character is here because fans of the comics will know who he is. The actor does well, and his Interesting to follow, don’t get me wrong, his just not a stand out compared to Loki, Red Skull or Ultron.

With that said, I still enjoyed this movie, great cast, excellent acting, some damn good moments of action and drama; and a I stressing character piece for Tony Stark and Steve Rodgers. While it may not have beaten The Avengers or Winter Solder as many fans have claimed to have done; but this is an excellent follow to the past two Captain America films. Given the new elements it brings to table, I’m more excited to see the movies of Black Panther and the Spider-Man Homecoming reboot, than I was before seeing this.

9/10

Thank you for your time.

Review: Batman V Superman (spoiler free)

It’s no secret that DC Comics have been competing against Marvel Studios in terms of releasing super hero films based on their characters. 2013 was when DC got the ball rolling with Man of Steel, a reboot of the Superman franchise. Now they plan to keep going forwards with the film’s sequel: Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice. 

The story takes place 18 months after the events of Man of Steel, where we see Bruce Wayne (Batman) starts forming a grudge towards Superman after witnessing multiple casualties at Wayne Industries during the destruction of Metropolis in Man of Steel. Which leads him to take on Superman; all the while Lex Luthor is creating a weapon that could be powerful enough to destroy them both. First things first, the cast does great with what they’re given, especially our main players. Henry Cavil and Amy Adams were great as Clark Kent (Superman) and Louis Lane, and work well together in Man of Steel. And they still do well here. This new film lets us see more of their friendship, and Cavil still shows the compassionate personality of the character,many the film further explores the side of the character is willing to do the right thing to help, even if no one in Metropolis wants him to.

That said I felt Louis had very little to do plot wise other than follow a lead to expose Lex Luthor, she’s clearly a smart and strong character, but this is something added to get her involved with the ending. So now we move on our three new main characters. Starting with Ben Affleck as Batman, who pretty much steels the show. He plays Bruce as a rough and woren down version of the character, similar to the version seen in Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns. Which given how he lost multiple people in his life, it makes sense. Plus he nails the intelligence, resourcefulness and attitude of the character greatly. Not to mention how well the character is during the action scenes, with his moves, choreography and gadgets, this ends up giving him some of the best action scenes in the film. Plus the costume is just perfect. Then we have the random inclusion of Wonder Woman, and some how it works. Gal Gadot fits the role well, her role makes sense in the story; and we finally she a live action version of the strong, confident and bad ass hero that is Wonder Woman on the big screen….shame really because I liked what I saw and want more. Again costume, perfect.

The weakest link in the cast is Jessie Eisenberg as Lex Luthor. While confident in the role, and the guy is capable of acting well. The social awkwardness of his personality doesn’t really work well given the character of Lex Luthor. While Jessie nails the smooth talker that would seem trusting at first, outside of his intelligence and the plans he enacts, his not exactly threatening. Like the previous film, the effects are excellent. Great attention to detail, well made CGI, with the sound giving it the tremendous impact the scene needs. This gives way into the action scenes. Such as the fast camera movements in the Batmobile chase, the choreography during the fights with Batman, and the scenes with Clark’s powers. Great action overal. However the final fight against Doomsday tries to throw way to many effects into the mix. This isn’t a spoiler you learn this in the trailer. Given the CGI character with tons of lighting effects when he regenerates, I’m surprised the computer that rendered it didn’t explode. Oh and the design of Doomsday doesn’t help matters either. Throughout the beginning of that scene, I was waiting for Viggo Mortenson to go ” They have a cave troll”.

Which leads in to the films biggest problem: it try’s to do way too much, making it longer than it should do. Without spoiling the outcomes you have:

  1. Clark’s efforts to gain respect from the public after the last film.
  2. Bruce’s reasons to fight Superman, and his plans to do so.
  3. Lex’s plan to destroy Superman along with Batman
  4. As well as using and creating Doomsday.
  5. Louis uncovering on Luthor’s scheme.
  6. Wonder Woman’s reasons for going after Luthor.

Now that’s busy enough, but I could manage it, but then the film try’s to include build up to the Justice League film, multiple cameos from other DC heroes, and other characters throughout the story, and other scenes that are just not needed. With the first two acts mostly filled with talking and plot points to set up later; which would be fine if it didn’t run so long. And that’s why this is such a problem, the film ends up going for what feels like forever, in order to finish everything it sets up that isn’t Justice League related. The third act being the most guilty of this. There is so much happening at once, and the ending scene drags on; again, i liked what happened in those scenes, especially the way the plot goes during the end. But a lot of it could be shortened, or flat out removed and it’ll still work.

Overall while i enjoyed the movie, i felt that it had so much on it’s to do list, that it made the film a lot longer than it should’ve done. Like i said, everything with some exceptions were greatly done; and it’s certainly an enjoyable film i recommend you go see. While Man of Steel is the superior film, this is a worthy follow up…..Just don’t see it in 3D.

 7/10. Thank you for you’re time.

The world of Big Finish: A introduction of the Doctor Who Expanded Universe for beginners

If you don’t know this, I have a YouTube channel called Filmmaker Kenny and i advertised this blog in one of my previous videos. To those people it’s no secret that I’m a fan of the show Doctor Who. However what they don’t know about me, is my opinions on the audio dramas produced by the company Big Finish Productions.

Big Finish is a British company that produces audio dramas, that was founded in 1996. They produce many different series such as: Blake’s 7, Dark Shadows and a series of Sherlock Holmes. However they’re mostly known for their Doctor Who audio dramas along with spin-off series to many different characters; this has gained the company a lot of popularity, mainly due to how many cast members of old and now new Who have been regularly featured; but also due to their success with fans and critics they’ve been so popular.

Since getting the rights to make stories using these classic characters (as New Who wasn’t out at the time) they’ve been writing stories featuring classic doctor’s since 1999 with the first story they made called ‘The Sirens of Time’; later they moved onto giving the Eighth Doctor Paul Mcgann his own series, with new companion Charely Pollard in 2001; along with multiple spin offs of other characters. They’ve been doing this mostly through their monthly range of Doctor Who stories. In which each month a classic Doctor and his companion (from the classics or original) would face an old or original monster, and would need to defeat it. With each month having a different Doctor and adventure.

While they were doing well throughout that time, they’ve gained more attention with the release of the new Doctor Who in 2005; since old and new fans were watching, people learned about Big Finish and their fame continued from there. Not to mention how ratings of the new series went higher when Matt Smith replaced David Tennant as The Doctor. More publicity for the company. Hell some fans even claim that Big Finish has produced some of the best Doctor Who stories ever written.

So how did i get introduced to Big Finish? Honestly the most that i knew about them, was from the publicity shots of their next upcoming story Dark Eyes back in 2012. See the Eighth Doctor series has been majorly successful; lasting to this day. Given the large amount of new viewers Matt Smith’s era brought to the show; Big Finish naturally pushed a new start for The Eighth Doctor in their new epic story line called the Dark Eyes series. A four volume Dalek story that marketed itself as an epic start for new listeners. New story, new companion, hell even his costume was different. Seriously look up Paul Mcgann’s costume from the Doctor Who TV Movie, then look at the costume of the cover of Dark Eyes. As interested as i was… i didn’t buy on release; mainly due to the cost of the four parts it featured (Four volumes, each a four-part story) which totaled to £40 per volume. Yeah given how i was in my mid teens and didn’t have that much money; £40 for something i didn’t know about, along with three other parts to get, seemed like a royal piss take.

So years later, I decided to look upon reviews of Big Finish’s catalog, and looked at which stories people seemed to like the most, and which ones sounded cool. My first story i listened to was a multi-doctor (a story featuring more than one established version of The Doctor) story The Light At The End; Big Finish’s way to celebrate the show’s 50th anniversary. I wanted to check out Big Finish for ages, and given how some people have claimed this story to be better than Day of The Doctor (the show’s 50th anniversary special) And I was impressed; it was well acted, tense, dramatic and i highly recommend it to any fan of Doctor Who. Hearing these actors i grew up with watching the show, speaking new lines in a new adventure with all the classic doctor’s interacting with each other was such a thrill to listen to for the first time.

From there I’ve now brought quite a few Big Finish stories since then; not exactly a huge collection, but enough to say that i like their work. “OK” you may say, “but what makes them stand out in terms of being a franchises expanded universe?” Aside from the well written story’s, to put it bluntly; the stories felt like an episode of classic Doctor Who. I mentioned how many actors from the shows past have returned to retain their roles. Doctors, companions and even villains have had their actors come back to reprise the role. This has also happened for Big Finish other times as they’ve made dramas based on shows like Terra Hawks and The Prisoner.

What’s great about the returning actors is that the characters they play still feel like the ones from the show. It’s easy to hear that from the performance and the way their written, we as fans still identify that specific character. Plus the new (and often continuous) stories allow the characters to grow and develop further as characters. The Sixth Doctor as played by Colin Baker is an excellent example of this. Through out his short time as The Doctor he played him as smug, mean and self-centered; this has left fans split in opinions with some like myself being fine with that direction and thought Colin played the part well; while others claim Colin to be the worst TV doctor. What changed? Over time with many new companions acting as the person bring him back to reality and smack some sense into him. We’ve seen (or rather heard) a transition into a more humble and kinder person. That’s not to say a cynical character can be enjoyable, but Big Finish thankfully tamed the character to no long be a flat-out jerk. Stubagful on YouTube has made excellent video on the topic.

Along with the use of sounds and music from the old series and the length of the episodes in the monthly range, the overall experience feels like watching an episode of the classic series. Repeating an old formula is all well and good, but what new elements did they bring? Well given how it’s all done on audio there is no real limitations to what can be done; the writers can create what ever adventure they want, and won’t be tied down due to the lack of money in order to make real props. Thus the characters can face enemies in epic battles in extraordinary and surreal locations every month; with the details of such being left to your imagination. This has paved the way for any new monster and villains to be created as well as villains that never appeared much; such as the shape Shifting Viryons and The Eleven.

I’ve mentioned the developing characters; as many of the listeners are adults who watched the show when they were kids; the stories matured and yet darker to match the adult nature. Not to have the characters swear of the sorts. But rather the tone was darker and more adult themes were included along with often violent outcomes. Stories like Master, Protect and Survive and Live 34 show case this point with violent scenes and harsh out comes for the unlucky characters who don’t make it to the end.

There is also the new types of story’s they put out. Whether it’d be the pure historical stories, a typical Doctor Who time travel to historical event; only this time there’s no monsters or sci-fi elements. Just the two leads interacting with the people of the time and getting caught in some sort of problem. The Wrath of the Iceni being a good example of this; in which it’s a political drama queen Boudica in her fight against the Romans. One plot they like to use is the ‘two time lines plot’; let me explain. The story will feature two sets of characters in two different points in time; their actions will lead into the furthering of the other story, and then meet up again to finish the story. Many Big Finish adventures such as The Girl Who Never Was and The Last of the Cybermen used this plot in very clever ways in order to link both story’s into one narrative.

Experimenting is the word that can describe them best. There’s always something new with each adventure: multiple established characters meeting each other, new ways of tell the story. Which is a good thing as since they’re doing a new story each month, why not experiment with new things and see what works and what doesn’t.

So if I’ve interested you, you’re probably wondering,where do i start? Well where ever you want. There are many blogs and YouTube channels that talk about this stuff, so can find recommendations. However i find it best to look at Big Finish’s web site or any store that sells their content, read the back of the case of a story, and decide whether that sounds good, if you did that ad the plot sounds interesting; then you may be in for a good time.

So here are some of my favorite Big Finish dramas:

  1. Blood of the Daleks: Blood of the Daleks Part 1An excellent way to start the first of the 8th Doctor’s official series with his new companion Lucie Miller; one of my favorite companions. A very interesting mystery surrounding the events of the planet, great performances all around; and the chemistry between Lucie and The Doctor from absolutely having each other to getting along is just so fun to listen to.
  2. Spare PartsSpare Parts: Who would’ve thought a Cyberman prequel would work as well as it does. One of the best examples of Doctor Who doing dark and dramatic and nail the hammer on the head. You become very attached to the characters as they have to go through flat-out horrifying events in order to stay alive. A bleak story that will shock you and will keep you on the edge of your seat while listening.
  3. Live 34:Live 34 This political thriller is told from the perspective of a news show broadcasting to a human colony, as The Doctor and his friends take on a corrupt government.  This ingenious way of telling the story paints a well detailed picture of what our heroes are doing, while showing how bad the planet has gone. Showing what our leads are fighting for as we route for them to put things right again. Go buy this, if you’re a fan of political dramas like House of Cards you’ll love this.
  4. The Light in the End: What a perfect way to celebrate the show’s 50th anniversary. As we see all eight classic Doctors take on The Master. The chemistry between the doctor’s is excellent as well as the pacing as each Doctor is given their own segment of the story before their paths meet; and yet none of it feels rushed to get to the next part. An epic adventure for anyone who loves these versions of the character.

Here are some more for you to look out for:

Dark Eyes, The Last Adventure, Terra Firma, the I, Davros series, Brave New Town, Human Resources and finally Lucie Miller/ To the Death.

If you’d like to buy any of these please visit their website here: http://www.bigfinish.com/

Have I missed any story you like, let me know.

Thank you for your time.

Review: The Light Princess: a musical production.

So recently the soundtrack to Tori Amos’ musical theatre production The Light Princess has been released onto Amazon and Itunes. Haven’t heard of it? Not surprised really; the show was open at the National Theatre in London in mid to late 2013; to which it later fell of the radar meaning that the show is no longer on at the theatre. Which given the quality of the show itself; that’s absolute shame. Mainly because it’s definitely a theatre experience worth going to; so I hope a DVD recording of the show comes out, because I’d by that on Blu-ray no questions asked.

I saw the show as part of a course for my high school musical theatre class; in which we had to learn about the style of theatre used in the production; along with writing a review of it. Despite me now being out of high school and in college; i still have the report. So i found it ,recited it and it’s right here for you to read to explain why you should buy this soundtrack; you won’t regret it. http://www.amazon.co.uk/Light-Princess-Original-Cast-Recording/dp/B0131W0S4Q/ref=as_li_tf_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=univemuisc-central-21&linkCode=as2&ascsubtag=TORIAMOSTheLightPrincessUmSu

No I’m not being sponsored by Amazon; shut up. Here’s my review. Enjoy.

The story of the musical can be described as a dark fairy tale version of Romeo and Juliet.  In which there are two kingdoms that hate each other, in this case the kingdoms are The Kingdom of the Sea (the antagonist) and The Kingdom of the Desert (the kingdom of the protagonist).  The plot centers on a young princess named Althea, a princess with out gravity and spends the majority of the story floating around the stage on wires and stage hands moving her around. Anyway to make a long story short after escaping from her dad who is fed up with her less than serious attitude and her ability to float and unwilling to become queen of the land. Althea and prince Digby of the rival kingdom meet up and fall in love with each other and the two kingdoms start to break out into war. Instead of the death of a family member; it’s rivalry over the land in general.

The first positive thing that can be said about the Light Princess is the staging and the special effects that are used. The effects that used on stage are absolutely fantastic and highly creative. This can be seen in scenes when Althea is floating, the show use wires for most of her scenes, but when there is also use physical theatre, in which three stage members are pulling her down to the ground, climbing on the set with the actress attached to their bodies or balancing the actress on their feet to make it look like she is really floating of the ground. Yes all three of them balance a five foot woman on their feet; that is determination for their craft. All of this created a fantastic effect as if the actress was really floating up and down on stage, showing of the sense of wonder the shows trying to give the audience.

Also the rest of the effects, scenery and costumes are done very well. The locations were very bright, large and colorful; each location had its own unique look and feel; like the sea kingdom in a blue military style look and the dessert kingdom characters were looking like something from Aladdin; especially Althea’s father. This as a result made each location every remember able and different from each other. All of the costumes had their own styles and were every colorful and well designed.

The cast members operating the effects were also working with puppets. Such as birds, the falcon and even creatures of the forest, all the puppetry was done excellently as well-looking like the animals there meant to look like, while giving out emotions and interacting with the events on stage.
In terms of the musical sides of things, it is absolutely amazing. With the high light being the actress who plays Althea (Rosalie Craig) . Who gives of loads of emotion in her voice and has a lot of range in her performance, which gave out a lot of weight and power during her solo numbers. Also the actor plays Digby does a very good job as well. When the two perform duets together, the singing is still fantastically done and the two actors work brilliantly of each other as performers. Althea being stubborn while Digby is more straight-faced; which leads to very well done banter between the two; their first meeting (the song “Althea”) being an example. Along with a very well done musical score, which brought out the tone and emotions of the scenes, and helped gave the songs more impact.

However what really hurts the show as a whole is the story. A side from the floating parts of the story which cleverly used the effects as part of the story. As i mentioned the story is a mix of Romeo and Juliet, Beauty and the Beast and Gravity as done by the team behind Once Upon a Time. It has the same plot structure of Romeo and Juliet where: the prince and princess of rival kingdoms fall in love, the two kingdoms find out, the two get separated and then back together by the end; Spoiler warning but the show even features a similar ending, that is just like the Shakespeare play. Not only that but a lot of the plot points were really predictable such as: the two get back together after being separated, the father and daughter bounding together and the ending itself once all the plot points are resolved, if you’ve seen the show you’ll properly agree.

But however in the end; the characters were very like able and had some interesting story arch’s which made us want to continue watching and route for them. In short the story isn’t really original, but it does make up with good characters we grown to like as the story goes on performed by talented actors.  With fantastic stage work and special effects which makes the show look gorgeous to watch.

Thank you for your time.

Review: Sam Smith’s Writing’s On The Wall (Spectre theme)

For a while now, the new James Bond film Spectre has been advertising itself with trailers and multiple set photos released onto the internet. But also today the official theme song that will be playing over the opening title sequence (the standard of 007 movies) of the film. As a fan of the Bond series i feel like i should make some comment over the recent news about the new theme; this blog does say that i would talk about movies in the description.

I could talk about the meaning of Spectre itself, but there are already videos on Youtube and stuff over the internet explaining this, and their connection to the new Daniel Craig 007 series (Casino Royale,Quantum of Solace and Skyfall for those not in the know) So for the sake those not that far in the know about Bond; i’ll leave a link to Bandit Incorporated’s video on the topic.

 In the meantime i shall discuss my feelings to the new theme song released today. Sam Smith’s Writing’s On The Wall…if you haven’t read the title of this post. For those who don’t know; Sam Smith is a British soul and pop singer; who first gained attention with the release of the song Latch in 2012 which he did along side with the band called Disclosure.  After that his gained major popularity with a solo carrier producing songs such as: Money One My Mind, Stay With Me; which in turn led him to win four awards at the 2015 Grammy music awards. So before we start, what do i feel about Sam Smith? His OK. Admittedly the man has talent and is a well skilled singer and pianist. But i just never really got into him; with some exceptions. I felt his’ mostly just stuck to emotional piano ballets for a large portion of his musical career; again his good at it; but i fell he could try something other than the slow style he always seems to do. If you like him, good for you don’t let me turn you away from what you like; he’s just not my cup of tea.

Which brings us on to Writing’s On The Wall. Now i have to confess on how i was skeptical about the choice of Smith to do the theme song; but hey multiple Bond themes have been ballets and and less energetic tunes. Said songs including ‘Diamonds Are Forever’ and Adele’s ‘Skyfall’. So is this song any good for a James Bond movie? Kind of. It’s decent..i guess.

Yeah that seems to be the general reaction this song has got on the internet. Channel 5 news went to the Bond in Motion exhibit in London (a exhibit i highly recommend going to by the way) where they played to the track to people who went there; in order to film their reactions. And the majority of people said it was ‘alright’. Not exactly a great sign there. Honestly for a Bond theme i find this one kind of dull. As i said about Sam;  his vocals are well performed, while the music and the melody are lacking.

The most i can really call this song, is Skyfall 2.0. Mainly due to how their both vocal based ballets. So we now have the theme to Skyfall with a male singing this time. While the music behind that tune was decent; this track is rather dull and almost lifeless even by Sam’s standards. The beat mostly goes through with a simple piano chords and a short melody, with changes in their chord and rhythm patterns; and even then it still goes at the same pace, with the verses being unmemorable to listen. With the exception of the intro and the second half of the chorus, the whole song sounds the same. The whole thing separating the chorus from everything else is the change of pacing and the volume and Sam’s voice.

His vocals being the saving point of this whole track, but not by much. The song itself is really bland and is flat out boring. This is the theme to a action movie; no one should’ve fallen asleep by the first ten minutes. While Sam in tune, and does show concomitant vocals skills; given the note and volume changes in the chorus, it’s less of a emotionally high point and more of a a tempt to wake the listener up.

Overall while i am still excited to see Spectre when it’s released in cinemas, i can’t say i will be too pumped to continue on wards when this is the pay of after the first action scene (With the exception of Dr No it’s usually the first scene, then the opening credits). I wanted to give Sam a chance despite what i said about him early, i wanted to say: “yes this is really damn good, and i think this guy’s on to something here”. And while i’m still all for you disagreeing with me on the quality of his work; but for me instead of challenging my thoughts on the guy, his now given me a key example of what i said about him several paragraphs ago.

If you’d like to listen to his track, it can be found on Spotify and on Youtube; as all ways thank you for reading.