Movie Mania Part 1

Sorry for the 2 month hiatus, been sorting things out offline and online. As such, I’m back with some movie reviews and a little news. I’ll be posting more videos, primarily of gameplay and streaming more on my twitch channel and maybe hitbox. I also had worked for a bit, so I picked up a PS4, so expect a game review or two. Also, I’m splitting these reviews in two, just because there’s 18 movies on this list I want to cover.

As expected with that many movies, they all are very different, so here we go.

Birdman

I loved this movie, granted I am a Michael Keaton fan, but as mentioned in the Robocop 2014 review, I don’t always enjoy the movies he’s in. This is one of the good ones, go see this movie, either rent it or Netflix it. It is worth the watch, Keaton probably should have won the oscar this year, but I can see the others were deserving as well. From start to finish, this movie is complex, dealing with the inner workings of a man torn between what the actors and critics tell him what to do, and what he wants to do. The war between the artistic and intellectual vs the fun and exciting. With an excellent cast, awesome score and fantastic camera work, making the movie with as minimal of cuts as possible. Go see this movie.

The Lego Movie

This movie is great, from the music, the animation, the voice acting and double performances from Will Ferrell, this movie is awesome for both kids and adults. It brings out that creativity and imagination from our childhoods, of picking up those plastic blocks and putting them together in ways the kits didn’t show. I usually would build robots and cars and various things out of Lego. This movie celebrates what its like to be a kid and use their imagination to bring worlds to life. This is a movie worth watching for everyone.

Kill The Messenger

Based on the true story of reporter Gary Webb, as he uncovers reports from various sources into the secret mission of the CIA with rebels in Nicaragua, where the CIA knowingly took drugs and money from the rebels in exchange for weapons to fight their own government. Then turning around and using a middle man to work with drug dealers in various locations in the US to sell to the people. This movie may have been criticized as loosening on the facts in favor of adding Dramatic Tension. So far they haven’t given meaning to their statements. The movie is worth the watch to those that enjoy drama on the screen. With a star-studded cast, delivering great performances across the board. Jeremy Renner gives an awesome performance on-screen. Sure, He maybe Hawkeye in Marvel’s movies, but this is the kind of movie that shows off Renner’s talents as an actor.

The Hobbit: Battle Of The Five Armies

The movie I saw over the holidays, man was it rough. It’s good, but not as good as the previous two. From the start, this book should have been one, three-hour movie, or two of them, but not three. A lot of the scenes feel like filler, even more so than the first movie. They tried to go big with the action in this movie, like they did with Return Of The King. However, it feels like they were banking on the scene to be more epic. It feels like they tried building it too much. A lot of the choices made feel like rehashing of elements from the Lord Of the Rings trilogy. I may actually check out some of the fan edits that cut the fat of the movies, and maybe I’ll enjoy them better. This one just doesn’t deliver, and I can see why. It just didn’t need to be tree movies. There just wasn’t enough meat on the bone to warrant it. Considering its a short novel to begin with.

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit

A great action movie, even though its source material is of Jack Ryan Jr. As all the previous Tom Clancy movies, featuring Jack Ryan, are all Jack Sr. This one, being based on Jr’s source material, but being given to Sr, is meh in concept, but in practice, turned out pretty well. Chris Pine and Keira Knightley work out great in the movie, along with Kenneth Branagh as the villain. Good popcorn action flick for those that are fans of the Tom Clancy novels and movies. Although the origin story should have been Jr’s instead of Sr’s. I thought Sr’s origin being told in The Sum Of All Fears worked out better in that regard. Although this one works as a standalone. Definitely worth a watch on Netflix or rental.

John Wick

Keanu Reeves is back in the action movie scene with a lot of his crew member friends from the Matrix movies. As the special effects and choreography teams come back to make a hell of a movie. The cast is awesome in the movie too, . including Daniel Bernhardt and Randall Duk Kim, whom had supporting roles in the Matrix Sequels (Bernhardt was the Upgraded Agent that Morpheus fought on the semi truck and Randall Duk Kim was the Keymaker). We also have quite a few guest stars of various TV shows, including Lance Reddick of Fringe, Adrianne Palicki of Agents Of Shield, Bridget Regan of Agent Carter, and Alfie Allen of Game Of Thrones. The movie is a great action movie, with complex and great fight choreography and gun play. Keanu Reeves is a bad ass in this movie, granted the catalyst for his character’s revenge is a bit odd. Although I understand the meaning behind it, some may not. Still a good movie to watch.

Into The Woods

Yes, I watched a musical, even though I’m not always a fan of them. I was curious, as it was a rental my mom wanted to see, so we watched it with my dad over dinner. Although I think he may have passed out watching it. The movie feels a bit too long, and the intertwining storylines work up until a point. The whole giant revenge plot could have been cut from the movie and it would have worked out just as well. Granted it is based on a stage musical, I don’t know if it worked out as an adaptation. Meryl Streep, while a fantastic actress, really felt to me as if she was intentionally hamming up her singing voice for the sake of “Why am I in this Disney movie?” If you like musicals, you can probably watch it and enjoy it. Its something to turn your brain off to as not much thought is needed to watch, much less enjoy this movie. I just didn’t care for it in the end.

Foxcatcher

Definitely worth a watch, if you’re into true stories. Involving wrestler Mark Schultz, (not the stylized wrestling one sees on tv, the sport that is performed at the olympics). It details Mark and his brother, David’s story of meeting with Team Foxcatcher coach, Jon du Pont and working with du Pont, while trying to get into the next olympics and just after. Steve Carrell as John du Pont is chilling, between the effects make up and his performance, makes it scary. As you see a man who wants to be a coach for wrestling, while not knowing very much about it, go from attaining his dream, to fear of losing it. With great performances by Mark Ruffalo and Channing Tatum, this movie is worth the watch.

A Walk Among The Tombstones

Adapting from the book of the same name by Lawrence Block, tells the tale of private investigator Matthew Scudder (Liam Neeson), as he uncovers the truth behind the kidnapping and death of a drug dealer’s wife. It’s a good movie, a nice crime drama to watch. Neeson does good work being the investigator, with a good blend of action and drama. Worth a rent or Netflix watch. Interesting choice for music in the credits, a cover of Sound Garden’s Black Hole Sun. Although not the best cover, but I get what they were going for with a soft piano tune.

with that I’ll wrap this up for now, stay tuned for tomorrow. I’ll post the second half tomorrow

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The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug

So, here we are again, Christmas Eve. 2 Year Anniversary for me. Didn’t even realize it until now, haha. Well, to keep with last years tradition, I went and seen The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug.

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As such, thoughts: This one is a much quicker pace than the last one, and previous trilogy for The Lord Of the Rings. Being that this trilogy is mostly padding for the fact the Hobbit is only a single book. Much smaller than the others, being a children’s book after all. You do tend to notice as I do that there is less blood in these movies. Well with The Desolation Of Smaug, we do see the padding. It’s just woven masterfully into the rest of the parts from the book. Granted, anyone whom has read the original book will notice, as they know which parts would be the padding. I myself as I stated before, have not read the book yet.

I’ve read The Two Towers, from The LOTR trilogy. Unfortunately, it is not a very easy read for some. Hobbit, though I hear is much easier. The LOTR books, have tons of description, and set up, and very little pay off in terms of action. Anyone who knows me, will know that while I like the book, I just found we spent WAY too long in that stupid hole next to the gate of Mordor. Thankfully the movie made it much easier in that respect and we sat there for maybe 5 minutes.

Anyway, back to Smaug. The movie takes place right where we left off with the previous movie, the band of Dwarves, Gandalf and Bilbo are getting closer to the mountain. The movie’s padding is mainly in the fan service that it gives us, characters and places added in to give those of us who have seen the LOTR trilogy set up for that one. So, without spoiling too much, I will start with the usual technicalities.

The Acting: Everyone delivers a deeper, even more involved character arcs as we continue the story. Not to mention, Richard Armitage as Thorin is still bad ass, and much more so in this movie than last time. Ian McKellen still is the lovable Gandalf we know, but gets his own bad ass moment during the fan service moments. Despite his lack of screen time in comparison to the others, none the less. I enjoyed everyone’s performances, although as much as I liked the character of Legolas in the LOTR trilogy, he is an asshole in this movie. He hasn’t had his character arc that we saw in the other trilogy, so he hates the Dwarves right now.

Evangeline Lily does a good job as Tauriel. She doesn’t feel shoed in, although can be a bit predictable in a good way. You’ll know what I’m talking about when you see the movie. Martin Freeman’s character of Bilbo grows more and more dark, much like his older self in the LOTR movies/books. Mainly from his use of the ring, and holding it. One thing is though, he has more resolve than Frodo. Frodo was feeling the effects of the ring a lot, it felt like a ball and chain to him, slowing him down. In this, Bilbo feels the addictive nature of the ring, but snaps himself out of it.

I suspect its due to the power of Sauron being very weak in comparison. In this, he’s non-existent with the ring. Where as in LOTR, he was almost holding it the entire time Frodo had it around his neck. With that it brings us to Benedict Cumberbatch, and the gravitas his voice brings to the movie. For those who have been following the production, he plays Smaug: The Dragon. While the movie went on I didn’t notice his voice as much, probably due to the special effects put in place to make him sound loud and deep, very much like a dragon. As a villain, he’s huge, all-powerful, and not completely stupid. Which is always a plus, when it comes to villains. The necromancer sub-plot that is added, I can’t say much on. Mainly because it’s a huge spoiler in this one, if I do.

Special Effects: Brilliant for CG and practical blending. The thing is, the CG is mostly in big scenes involving something huge, much like Smaug. The artists behind it, make the things happening on-screen look like they would happen in real life. Like buildings being destroyed, fire looks pretty close to what it would be, mainly for the huge bursts of flame. The little ones are practical, as it would be stupid to CG in a small flame, like we’ve seen before in other movies. 3D, I believe was a post effect again, as there were moments I took my glasses off, and some things in the foreground were 2D and the background had the 3D effect. Its miles better than Clash Of The Titans was for 3D.

All in all, a good popcorn movie for anyone really. Not as much humor in previous movies, but still good for a cheap laugh for some parts of the Dwarves. I’d say give it a shot at the theatre, but go on a Tuesday to save some money. Theatres are ridiculously expensive in this day and age, unless you feel like spending 30 bucks and getting the digital download of both the previous movie and this one from Cineplex.

Trailers: Godzilla, which looks amazing, and the pay off is right at the end. Which is bad ass in a trailer. A movie adapted from a book, that looks like its supposed to compete with Hunger Games and Twilight for the teens. That trailer was pretty forgettable, so was the title, as I don’t remember, haha. 300: Rise Of An Empire, looks pretty badass, granted its Zack Snyder’s production team returning to the movie that made them pretty big. So we have the return of the remaining cast, at least those who survived. Although I didn’t see David Wenham as Dilos, but according to the IMDB for the movie, he will be returning. Which is always a plus, as continuity is always good.

The Amazing Spider-man 2, which looks pretty good, although a lot of CG for the action sequences with Electro. Also, the glimpses of Rhino’s costume are not looking good. Granted, I know his normal costume makes him look like a body builder in a spandex suit with a horn. This is supposed to make him look badass, but it looks like he’s in a mech suit. Seems like all the villains in these two movies are horrid, despite the rest of it being good. Anyway, I’ll find out whenever I get to see it.

With that I’ll sign off, look for a small mini review of The Lone Ranger coming shortly. Being that it’s Christmas, I will wish those who celebrate it to have a Merry one! Those who don’t celebrate Christmas, I’ll just say Happy Holidays!

A few notes on Red Faction Armageddon and Assassin’s Creed 3

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I figure, because its been a while since I posted. I’d throw some notes out there on a couple of games I’ve been playing recently.

So for Assassin’s Creed 3, I pre-ordered it a while ago for my PS3, just because I own and have played all the previous games in the series for my PS3. The only one I haven’t picked up is Liberation, as I don’t have a PS Vita. I liked some of the new features in the game, like the fix in the control scheme. Where as if some of you may remember from previous games, when jumping from a stand still, the directional input was spotty. So one would jump in the wrong direction, either leading to injury or de-synchronization. With the new engine Ubisoft used for the game, it fixed this problem. Which is great, it was the one nitpick I had with previous games, that hadn’t been fixed. With this game, we got a robust story with lots of extra features, and a new combat management system which allowed for more quick adjustments even while in combat.

I find the game is a major improvement in the previous franchise, however, other fans have made other claims, like the ending is intentionally weak for playability and extremely difficult. *coughs*Kotaku*coughs*. Where the writer of the article  complained that it took him almost 30 times to complete the chase. Granted I know its difficult, as I’ve finished the storyline, and I had some issues with it as well, but I was able to figure out which path to take, while keeping my synch up and keep up to Lee. It’s not much of a spoiler, as in most games there’s a chase scene of some sort. More specifically he called it a kick in the face, now I’ll admit, Connor’s decisions aren’t exactly what I would do, but in that final chase, its understandable that there would be a lot of obstacles between Connor and Lee.

He said it was the worst ending to a game he’s played all year. Granted I can’t play as often or as many games as they do in one year, but even so. Just from the comments section alone in his article, obviously people were divided, probably more so with me, where they were saying “It took you 30 times, big deal. Barrels full of gun powder explode, and you missed the fact Lee turned momentarily and shot the barrels.” Which is true, Lee did have time to shoot the barrels as the two ran. I will say this about that mission, the optional objective is kind of annoying, and its thrown in several times in the game. “Avoid shoving people” is a pain in the proverbial ass, to be blunt. I find if it’s a slow, walking mission it makes sense. Move through the crowd slowly, but keeping within a good distance from the target. However, when its a mad dash rush to catch a really fast opponent, having that optional objective is kind of obnoxious. Especially when the target runs through enemy checkpoints that shoot on sight, even if you’re incognito.

But I digress, it’s just a nitpick I had with that objective. People have complained the graphics could be better, however someone like me who knows the specs of consoles, know that the engine is not weak on graphics, the opposite in fact, where it’s actually pushing the consoles just passed their limit. So if you were to play the game on a PC, where the hardware is interchangeable and able to process more video, the game would run with more polish. The game is beautiful regardless of the finer details. AI is a little bit better in some regards, but as the Meme goes, they still can’t swim.

Now that I’ve covered the thoughts on AC3, I’ll move on to Red Faction Armageddon for the PC.

While I enjoyed the beauty and story that is AC3, it wasn’t always fun, I hadn’t found any signs of a secret crypt and puzzle that led to some ancient armour upgrade. Red Faction is more fun, it gives you the ability to destroy man-made buildings, and equipment with a very sophisticated engine mod. Then after blowing everything up or cutting it down, you can repair it to traverse the area and provide more cover from enemies. As a bonus to all the destruction, you pick up salvage points, which are used to upgrade your abilities. The difficulty spike isn’t impossible, just a bit of a pain sometimes.

I happen to prefer the Singularity Cannon, which creates a black hole around an enemy and then after sucking everything up, it explodes. Another weapon I enjoy, especially for precision cutting, is the focused plasma beam rifle. Cuts through anything including a large assortment of enemies. Not to mention from a distance. Another great choice is the Nano rifle, using nanoscopic machines to de-atomize enemies, buildings and equipment. The story is pretty generic, but it works for me. I enjoy playing the game and with multiplayer features it makes it more interesting. The controls for RFA are solid, traditional third person controls, and an assortment of enemies that make it interesting for combat. The mechs are always a nice welcome, everything from a Leo suit, to a giant walker.

Now that I’ve got these thoughts out of my system, I can move on. I decided to not do a review on Wreck-It Ralph, as I could sum it up in one sentence. Although I will have a review of The Hobbit up, probably around Christmas, as I’ll be seeing it on Christmas eve.

Thanks for reading and enjoy the next review.