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BLOG/REVIEWS/FILM REVIEWS

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Pacific Rim - Film Review: Family Sized Monster Hit

Lars Hindsley
By Lars Hindsley Thu 11 Jul 2013 11:11 PM EST
Category: Film Reviews | 3776 Views
Three Dangers

(DL) – With superhero films appearing as the only reliable summer blockbuster draw, Pacific Rim provides a change in diet to theater goers. Updated only slightly from known monster verses mech stories, Pacific Rim is reminiscent of Evangelion and a homage to campy Godzilla monster movies of the 1960's. There is nothing original about it, combining concepts from sci-fis since film began such as King-Kong to Avatar

In a narrated montage Raleigh Becket played by Charlie Hunnan walks you through the first five minutes setting up the plot. You should interpret that as a spoiler mistake by the director. If you have half a brain, you understand this point. If you don't have the brainpower to figure out what the implications of a protagonist operating as the narrator means, then be advised your ignorance is bliss. 

Computer Generated Imagery (CGI) has been honed by directors over time. Each new movie using CGI increases the detail and our senses adjust expecting more. At Comic-Con geeks were lead to believe Pacific Rim would be a game changer in this category, instead it feels like Transformers with a story. I'd say much better story but Transformers has no story. To Transformers credit, they gave us well lit scenes. In Pacific Rim, darkness and rain are used not to enhance but hide detail. Perhaps the budget was being busted on so much CGI? Hype for Pacific Rim started a year before release, almost every poster highlighted a well lit fight scene. Throughout the film most monster vrs mech scenes are tight dark shots. Perspective shots are short. The interior settings are odd, war bunkers are a combination of post apocalyptic with a dash of steam-punk. Why so much rust in places that would never oxidize? Style without substance is just one more reason Pacific Rim doesn't reach great levels in storytelling. You get the feeling a world was created that can't exist. 
Gypsy Danger
Becket is your typical American hero. No character flaws, strong and mild mannered. In his calm voice you learn he is a pilot of huge robot machines named Jaegers, pronounced (yea-ger). A Jaeger must be manned by two humans, which I'll leave for you to learn why in the story. They are the world's only means to fight the war with giant undersea monsters known as Kaiju (Japanese for strange beast.) Here is what every theater goer should be asking. "What is the motivation for these colossal beast to rise up out of the sea and stomp all over buildings?" They lumber up out of the ocean and they are pissed off for what reason? Are they hungry? Can they get their fill on tiny human morsels? Wouldn't dining on whales be an option? Worse yet for myself if I'm going to get a subtle understanding of why we are at war with these creatures - other than the obvious fact they are destroying everything, there is never a clear visual message of what our monolithic enemies are up to when they surface. If things like this nag at you when you watch an action blockbuster, reasons such as this are why the film is good but not great. 
Pacific Rim Diagram
The Kaiju are relentless. Meant to look like a cross between a shark and alien they look more like generic sea monsters. Becket tells us that for a time humans were winning the war against the Kaiju through the procurement of Jaegers but the size and the frequency of the Kaiju have become more than the Jaegers can handle. In the establishing montage there may be only one small glimpse of a Kaiju getting owned by Jaegers in battle. We see the Jaegers fighting with the upper hand but aside from a visual or two of the Kaiju getting socked in the face with oversized metal fist, there isn't much to be excited about. For as brutal as the fight scenes are you don't get the feeling earth is being saved, you get the feeling it's being destroyed....Read more...



Man of Steel - Film Review: Deliberately Harder

Lars Hindsley
By Lars Hindsley Thu 13 Jun 2013 1:54 PM EST
Category: Film Reviews | 3934 Views
Four Dangers

The once all-American fictional superhero of Detective Comics (Then Action Comics) created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster in 1938 is once again rebooted in the most modern effort yet. With comic book movies shifting from all action to dramatic character dynamics, storytelling mastery in a darker style similar to Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy is the vehicle delivering the goods in Man of Steel. If there is any challenge to a Superman movie it is making a dry character like Superman relatable. Can a change be done without going too far?

It's hard to provide any spoilers as this story has been told many times in print, radio and celluloid of all forms. Familiarity is what makes sitting through Superman Man of Steel  potentially a bit underwhelming. The good news – casting Henry Cavill against animation and print type as Superman is part of what makes this new character relatable.  He's not the Superman you'd expect. Visually, the slicked black hair is all that remains. He's a deliberate new definition of dashing, not-in-tights. To anyone who knows the name Superman you ask yourself what surprises can be offered in yet another reboot? What is the message or story to be told if it's the same story being told? Director Zach Snyder is careful to not give us another version of Batman. No one wants to see one more brooding superhero. What we get is the soul of Superman.
...Read more...

After Earth - Film Review: Avoid Earth It's Bad

Lars Hindsley
By Lars Hindsley Wed 5 Jun 2013 9:45 PM EST
Category: Film Reviews | 1992 Views
One Danger

(DL) –  After Earth is a failed attempt at a father son bonding experience. Kitai Raige (Jaden Smith) and father Cypher (Will Smith) are the only two survivors aboard a crashed space vessel which just so happens to return to Earth 1000 years after its abandoned, for inexplicable reasons. The father son re-connect theme makes up the bulk of the story in a convoluted sci-fi that yearns to be huge visual blockbuster.

If you've seen the posters they sum up the entire film's premise. Danger is real, fear is choice.  Suppressing emotions can be a great message, but inside twenty minutes the theme is exhausted and we are left with a worn out plot, overcoming a challenge coupled with a father son re-connect theme.  Throw in a bit of overcoming guilt and that is it. That's all you got.  Oh, and that Danger is real, fear is a choice message – that is an L.Ron Hubbard teaching. If you don't know what that is, it's Dianetics (Scientolgy).  Through Scientology you are supposed to rid yourself of all your fears.
...Read more...

Star Trek Into Darkness - Film Review: Better than the first but not as good

Lars Hindsley
By Lars Hindsley Thu 16 May 2013 6:23 PM EST
Category: Film Reviews | 1688 Views
Three Dangers

(DL) – Star Trek or Star Wars?  Remember when that mattered?   The line became blurred once again with the latest 2009 reboot of the Star Trek universe which actually kept a continuity intact as it relates to the movie franchise.  It's not as if this modern behemoth isn't in the hands of a unworthy story teller.  That's important to know because JJ Abrams second installment of Star Trek Into Darkness re-introduces us once again to Khan.  As in The Wrath of Khan.  We even get another cameo of Leonard Nimoy reprising the older Spock.  Sound interesting?  If the answer is slightly, that's how you should respond....Read more...

IronMan 3 - Film Review: Actionless Convoluted Let Down

Lars Hindsley
By Lars Hindsley Fri 3 May 2013 1:17 AM EST
Category: Film Reviews | 2705 Views
Two Dangers

(DL) – Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) opens Iron Man 3 narrating with an analogy to summarize the entire story before we experience it. It's not good. And that sums up what you can expect of the entire movie experience. It's not good. It doesn't suck, but as Iron Man 3 continues with characters quoting forgettable analogies meant to be memorable, they fail even in the category of cliché.

The producers of Iron Man 3 had a host of good stories to pull out from the Iron Man cannon. Extremis being a great choice as Iron Man ( 2008) essentially features the new desert origin with the modern armor design. Both Iron Man ( 2008) and Iron Man 3 (2013) borrow heavily from the Extremis storyline, a six part comic book series written by Warren Ellis and illustrated by Adi Granov.  

With such a great start to Marvel's film version of Iron Man, you'd expect any more of Extremis to be a big hit on film. It misses. I blame director Shane Black. He makes great use of Robert Downey Jr's interpretation of Tony Stark by way of Tony's selfish humor, but everything else about Iron Man is watered down.  Many will argue that Iron Man 3 is filled with action. If you constitute Iron Man parts flying around by themselves or attaching them to Tony as action, then I stand corrected. Watching Tony drag it around, sit on the couch in it and fly out of a bar using it as his ride home is not action. Continuity comes into question numerous times. What is with the sudden power concern? Didn't he resolve that issue with the arc reactor in the previous two installments?  Another question you'll need to ask yourself is why do the Iron Man suits suddenly show weakness to heat? I'm all for suspending disbelief, don't mess with continuity or movie goers struggle to stay on board.
 ...Read more...

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