Friday, September 26, 2008

Movie Review: RocknRolla

English director Guy Ritchie is known for crime films, so it's no surprise when seeing his latest creation, RocknRolla, to find that is revolves around the British underworld. London gangster and real estate tycoon Lenny Cole (Tom Wilkinson) is making a deal with a Russian billionaire (Karel Roden). To seal the deal, the Russian loans Lenny his prized "lucky" painting. Unfortunately for Lenny, the painting is stolen by his stepson, a crackhead missing-presumed-dead rock star named Johnny Quid (Toby Kebbell), the titled RocknRolla. Meanwhile, the Russian's personal accountant Stella (Thandie Newton), is bored and looking for excitement, and hired a trio of gangsters called the Wild Bunch (Gerard Butler, Idris Elba, & Tom Hardy), to help her steal from her boss. Ultimately, they all explosively collide, everybody trying to claim their fortune.

The Pros: This film isn't called RocknRolla for nothing. Just like the trailer, this film's soundtrack is filled with rock music various artists. The music is all but constant, even though RocknRoll has little to nothing to do with the plot. The dialogue is very well-written and witty, including lines like "there's no school like the old school, and I'm the @#$%ing headmaster".

The Cons: While the film is hardly boring, it's far from action packed. The violence is surprisingly tame a very infrequent. The first action scene occurs well over and hour in. And as hot as Thandie Newton is, all she does is stand around smoking and talking, with the exception of one 5-second sex scene where all we see is her face. The plot is a bit nonlinear and muddled, and the side plot with the Wild Bunch and Stella feels pretty unnecessary.

The End: "People ask the question...what's a RocknRolla? And I tell 'em - it's not about drugs, drums, and hospital drips, oh no. There's more there than that, my friend. We all like a bit of the good life - some the money, some the drugs, other the sex game, the glamour, or the fame. But a RocknRolla, oh, he's different. Why? Because a real RocknRolla wants the @#$%ing lot." These are the opening lines of the film, and they describe what's to come pretty well: a tale filled with dangerous characters that want it all. And while this is definitely Guy Ritchie's best work in a while, it's hardy Reservoir Dogs. It's an interesting Dark comedy, but ultimately promises more than it delivers. Ironically, this British film has gained better reviews here in the US than the UK. Though Guy Ritchie claims a sequel isn't certain, the ending of this film doesn't just hint at one, it explicitly names a sequel. So if Guy Ritchie gets his way, expect The Real RocknRolla before long.

My Rating:

Click here to visit the official website for RocknRolla.

Movie Review: Fireproof

From the same self-proclaimed "small church in Georgia" who brought us Facing the Giants, comes yet another Christian film, Fireproof, this time dealing with the subject of marriage. Caleb Holt (Kirk Cameron) is a decorated fireman who lives by an old fire fighter's motto: never leave you partner behind. But he's about to do just that in his marriage. His wife Catherine (Erin Bethea) have been married for ten years, but have drifted so far apart that they file for divorce. However, Caleb's father (Harris Malcom), unwilling to see a relationship fall apart so easily, convinces his son so try an experiment called "The Love Dare", a forty day challenge of showing love to one's spouse in order to "fireproof" the relationship. Caleb takes the dare, mainly for his dad and not his wife. But eventually he comes to realize he still loves his wife as God teaches him the true meaning of love and marriage. But is it too late to convince Catherine that he has truly changed?

The Pros: So often the biggest problem with Christian films is the writing. The dialogue is written stiffly, especially is the faith-related parts, and the characters sound as if they're reading from a Sunday school book. But while this film does still have that problem is a few areas, it's not nearly as bad as usual. They characters feel real and keep our interest. The humor is good, the acting believable, and the emotions are heartfelt.

Also, the makers of this film have obviously come a long way since Facing the Giants. Not only were the able to obtain a recognizable actor like Kirk Cameron, but they are able to afford bigger & better effects than last time. Speaking of Kirk Cameron, you have to admire him. It's clear he is not doing this for a paycheck or recognition, as this is still a small, independent film with a limited budget. He's here because he believes in the project, and as such gives a great performance.

The Cons: As I said, the dialogue still feels pretty scripted is some parts, though it's not as bad as it could have been. Aside from Kirk Cameron, none of the cast has any recognition, though they fill their roles well enough. As Christian films go, this one has zero subtlety. It's clearly made for the church-going crowd, so if that's not you, this is not your film.

The End: In comparison with other Christian films, this is definitely a step above the rest. It's much more well written and entertaining than most, and certainly pleases it's target audience. Hopefully we'll see more from the people, who, for a church, have proved capable filmmakers.

My Rating:

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Mad as Hell: V for Vendetta for Real

One of my favorite graphic novels is Alan Moore's V for Vendetta. It echoed all the frustration many must be feeling during the slow destruction of democracy in the UK. Alan Moore, who lived in Great Britain, wrote a compelling story that unfortunately bear an eerie resemblance to reality. It's seems they take another step toward socialism everyday. They banned guns. The violent crime rate went up. They rig traffic cams to monitor drivers like they were children. But surely they wouldn't resort to censorship, would they? Oh wait, yes they would.

Most of you remember the action film Wanted, which was released in theatres a few months ago. According to a recent news article, Britain's Advertising Standards Authority has banned several promotional posters from use in the UK, after receiving complaints that the posters glamorized firearms and violence. No duh.

Anyone else wish V would show up right about now? How many angry voices do you suppose it took to ward such censorship. Hundreds? Thousands, even? Nope. According to the article, only 17 complaint were filed concerning the posters. Yeah, you heard write. Count 'em, 17. Who mostly likely all can from the same snooty circle.
Just in case your not already shocked, let me give you an idea of how amazingly small that number is. The population of England (not including the rest of the UK) is roughly 50,762,900 people. Now, 17 is what percent of that? Hold on a sec, I need a bigger calculator. Man, I hate math.......OK, got it. 0.000033%. That's less than zero percent. So it's not exaggerating to say that literally nobody is offended by these posters.

So apparently is takes literally nothing to get something censored. Imagine if this had been applied to the recent Tropic Thunder controversy. The film would have never seen the light of day. They had hundreds of people complaining, when apparently it only takes seven-freaking-teen. Once again we have PC tyranny at it's worst. How can art and free expression prosper in a world where any overly sensitive whiner can shoot it down at will? It makes me mad as hell.

Just in case you haven't seen them, here's a few of the banned images:

Source: Yahoo News

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

News: Stallone as the Dark Knight?

Hey, hey, calm down! Christian Bale isn't going anywhere. However, Sylvester Stallone has just been named by Frank Miller as his first choice to portray Batman Sr. should his most successful graphic novel, The Dark Knight Returns, ever get cinematic treatment. In a recent interview with the LA Times' Geoff Boucher, Miller was quoted as saying “Just that mouth of his, the scowl and the way it would look in a mask. I loved Rocky Balboa. This wounded warrior, that’s what Batman is in The Dark Knight Returns.”

Obviously, The Dark Knight Returns is the popular Batman graphic novel of them all, and for my money the best. The prospect of bringing it to the big screen definitely excites me. But I don't know about you, but when I picture such a movie in my head, the face I attach to Bruce Wayne isn't Stallone's. Don't get me wrong, he's one of my favorite stars of all time, he just doesn't seem to fit the role.

Geoff Boucher himself didn't seem too fond of the idea. “Put Stallone in a mask and you get Judge Dredd again," he later said, "and nobody wants that.” (personally I liked Judge Dredd, but I wouldn't waste time defending it.)

It's always been my dream to one day have a Dark Knight Returns movie with Clint Eastwood in the lead role. Sure he may be so old that major special effects and stuntmen use would be needed, but I still can't think of anybody even close, unless you want to wait 30 years for Christian Bale to grow old. I'm not saying I couldn't see Stallone as Batman. After all, he did two similar movies, Rocky Balboa & Rambo, that dealt with bitter aging fighters much like The Dark Knight Returns did with Batman. People haven't been too fond of Frank Miller lately, but I for one still have faith in him. The Spirit is one thing, but there's no way he could screw up The Dark Knight Returns. Could he?

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Update: New Ratings System

If any of you read the reviews I put out in this blog, you know that I've been using a standard 10-point ratings system on movies. But lately I figured that it might help to have a more unique rating. So I played around with some stuff and came of my these new system. Instead of points, I'll be using something I like to call "Anarchy Coins". And I want to give credit to Fury the Film Fan, for the inspiration for this system. Check this out:

The Gold Anarchy Coin
This is obviously the highest rating. Five stars, a perfect 10. This is for films like The Dark Knight or WALL-E, that are amazingly good, and have the potential to endure as classics.

The Silver Anarchy Coin
Not a perfect film, but a great one. Worth seeing on the big screen at full price.

The Bronze Anarchy Coin
A decent film. See it at the theatre, but pay matinee price.

The Copper Anarchy Coin

Definately not a good film. Worth renting, but not worth going to the

The Black Spot of Anarchy

A horrible film. Like Meet the Spartans horrible. If you must see it, see edited for cable, while you do something worthwhile.

Monday, September 1, 2008

DVD Review: Next Avengers: Heroes of Tomorrow

For those hoping for a second sequel to Ultimate Avengers: The Movie, you're outta luck. Next Avengers: Heroes of Tomorrow shares no continuity with previous Marvel animated films, and is decidedly aimed toward the younger spectrum of comic book fans, sort of like the Marvel Adventures comics. The backstory is that the Avengers were defeated and killed by the evil supercomputer called Ultron. One of the survivors, Tony Stark/Iron Man (Tom Kane), smuggles the children of the Avengers to safety. These children are James Rogers (Noah Crawford), son of Captain America and the Black Widow, Torunn (Brenna O'Brien), daughter of Thor, Azari (Dempsey Pappion), son of the Black Panther and Storm, and Pym (Aidan Drummond), son of Giant-man and the Wasp. Iron Man raises the children in a secret base in the Arctic Circle. 13 years later, the children have grown and developed their powers and skills. Unfortunately they inadvertently give away their bases position and are discovered by Ultron, who by now has conquered half the planet. Iron Man is captured, by the kids manage to escape with the aid of the damages android Vision (Shawn MacDonald). Encountering and enlisting the help of an aging Hulk (Fred Tatasciore), and the rebel leader son (Adrian Petriw) of the archer Hawkeye, these young heroes must rescue their mentor and stop Ultron, before he completely conquers the world.

The Pros: If you're into comic books this movie shouldn't bore you too much. Like most films based on comics, there of a number of references and in-jokes for fans (Jocasta cameos as a base computer, the Savage Land is mentioned, etc.) As usual, there's plenty of action, albeit tame action, but still enjoyable. Part of the plot even involves fighting Iron man robot versions of the original Avengers. The Hulk is sporting the old-and-grey look from Incredible Hulk: The End, which looks pretty cool, though certain shot look very cartoonish. The animation quality hasn't gone down since the other animated Marvel movies, though it isn't as spectacular on the whole. This whole story is very much in the spirit of other team super teams, such as the Teen Titans and the Power Pack, so if you were a fan of those franchises, you should enjoy this.

The Cons: Obviously this film is far tamer than other Marvel Animation works, seeing as it's their first PG-rated film (all the others were PG-13). Thus all real sense of danger is eliminated. No real violence here, just kid-friendly smash-fests and explosions. They're not even allowed to use the word "kill" or show anyone dying (except robots). Most of the dialogue is just fair to corny, and none of the jokes are really laugh-out-loud funny.

The End: In 2005, Marvel started a comic series called Young Avengers, featuring teen heroes who based their identities on the Avengers. Though that may have inspired this movie, they are nothing alike, in either story of tone. This actually has more in common with A-Next, a comic starring the Avengers' successors in an alternate future. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but personally would like to have seen the Young Avengers more. Rating this against Marvel's other animated features, this is definitely not their best. Not terrible by any stretch of the imagination, but not their best. Certainly worth renting, but I personally wont be preordering this on Amazon.

Overall, I rate Next Avengers: Heroes of Tomorrow as a 6 out of 10.

Click here to visit the official website for Next Avengers: Heroes of Tomorrow.