Kong: Skull Island Review

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It’s time to take a look at the new King Kong film. I’m not a King Kong fan nor will I ever be at this rate, but this film got a lot of hype since it’s in the same continuity as Godzilla. Maybe the latter’s quality would rub off on King Kong and elevate the series to new heights. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. It’s still the same old King Kong with a fresh layer of paint. It makes the same mistakes although at least it doesn’t force any random romance plots into the film. Still, you can’t help but wish that the film had chosen a very different path.

The film is about two scientists convincing the government that they should head to Kaiju island to see what’s there. They are escorted by Preston and his team of commandos along with James, a skilled mercenary. They decide to bomb the island to scare everyone into submission, but this wakes up the mighty King Kong. The majority of the “heroes” are destroyed in the initial confrontation and the survivors have to find a way off the island. That’ll be tough since there are many monsters aside from King Kong. Preston also wants revenge on the big gorilla and he has some guns at the ready. Can he win this round?

One thing about King Kong is that a lot of people don’t find him to be all that scary. Why would they when falling off of a building is enough to destroy him? This version is a little bigger than most of the old film versions so that helps his case a little, but he is still injured by bullets here. A well placed fire blast does a lot of damage as well so I’m going to feel bad for him if he ever has to fight Godzilla. If ordinary fire can do that, imagine what ATOMIC breath will do to him. The poor guy would be incinerated in an instant. The only sad part is that King Kong is the heavy under dog in the fight so I wouldn’t be surprised if he wins as a result. Anyone remember Batman V Superman? The Godzilla angle is the main reason why you guys are watching this film so you should start to consider this angle. I am hyped for the big crossover even if it isn’t happening for quite a while. It’ll certainly be worth the wait. There is an after credits scene in this film so stick around.

Now, why am I disliking this film so much? There are a few reasons, but lets start with the obvious one. The animal violence is a problem here. We get a whole scene where we see Preston blow up a bird’s head. He’s the villain here so it’s to show us how mean he is, but it’s not helping the film’s case at all. There is a very thin line between monsters and animals and this film opted to have them be closer to animals than monsters. Bad move because the violence is a lot worse this way. It’s also sad when you consider that the humans are picking this fight. The monsters were just fine on their own until their island started to get blown up. They were simply defending themselves even if the film tries to get you to root for the humans. Not me, I was on the creatures side from day 1. It doesn’t help that all of the humans are just annoying the whole time. They weren’t all bad though, just not likable enough to be excused.

Preston was certainly not likable at all. The film gave him a ton of hype though so that was amusing. He is so out classed here so I couldn’t take that angle seriously. James is another hype character, but he never gets to do all that much. He has his big scene at the beginning, but he seems to panic just as much as the others and didn’t seem as tough and gritty as you’d expect. His “confrontation” with Mason on the bottom of the ship wasn’t as hype as the film thought it would be. They both talk tough and call each other’s bluff, but neither one actually gets anywhere. They were essentially fueling each other’s ego. James essentially never got any real character and the scene where he grabs a sword was just incredibly random. It also wasn’t a good scene since he was slashing a bunch of bats. Mason wasn’t a bad character either, but she really had no character either. At least she tried to help one of the monsters which was nice. She beats her counterpart from the earlier films. The rest of the cast were basically comic relief and didn’t do anything. A common trend here is that most of the characters weren’t bad, they just weren’t that interesting or likable either.

King Kong’s fight against the Skullcrawler was pretty good. The mini ones were pretty outmatched so they went down quickly, but I’ll definitely take that over the usual T Rex fight. These guys certainly had a better design after all and then the big one made for a nice villain as well. I was actually expecting a plot twist about these guys being the original Godzillas and the final one would return after the credits in his new Godzilla form. Maybe it’s for the best that it didn’t happen, but that would have been interesting. The King Kong vs human scenes are what you’d expect as they just get stomped the whole time. Preston puts up a fight of course, but once the gimmicks are gone, he doesn’t last all that long.

The film had some nice cuts like the spider claw stabbing a poor guy and King Kong rising up above the Sun. Those were probably the highlight as far as the visuals are concerned. I would still take Godzilla 2014 over this though with the awesome energy blasts and the fight against Muto was a lot more fun. What King Kong needs is his own energy blast or an opponent who has one. Of course, then King Kong would probably lose if it’s the latter so maybe he can get his own special attack in the sequel. This film probably took its special effects a little to seriously in some scenes as you’d see the characters load their guns rapid style. A Scooby Doo film used the same trick a while back and I actually don’t care for it. The sounds are distracting if anything and the visuals weren’t cool to look at. Maybe do it for something with a little more pop like a cool lightning blast or something. King Kong doesn’t have much options for that though so the technique is just wasted here.

None of the themes really stood out to me. It’s your standard action film stuff, but without the one stand out theme that is usually around. The end credits really pressed the point as they were eerily silent the whole time. The tune they picked for it really did not work. I’ll give the film some props for having the characters on the island the whole time. The film did start rather quickly and the action never stopped once they were on board. This was a double edged sword with all of the animal violence of course, but in theory it was a good move. I doubt the film would have been much better without the island anyway, maybe it could have scored a 6, but it would have been rather uneventful. You’d be taking the Skull Island out of Kong: Skull Island. New York City is a far superior backdrop, but I guess we can’t have every film take place there. Hopefully the crossover does though as that will really help with the visuals and intensity of the film.

The writing for this film wasn’t terrible. There isn’t constant panic with expletives this time around although they do artificially force the worst word in once just to get the crowd going. With the review just about done, lets briefly talk about what could be cool to see in a sequel. To make the sequel better, we need to have King Kong come to NYC. That’s step 1. Next would be to give King Kong a cool robot suit or a transformation where he grows wings and does battle with a true Kaiju. Next, ensure that the main humans are all red shirts so they can all die in the crossfire without any humans getting too much hype. We don’t want another fire damages King Kong scene after all. Throw in a cool techno theme and we’ll have the makings of a great movie.

Overall, Kong: Skull Island didn’t do it for me, but the odds of me liking the film were never great. You can’t take place on a retro island like this one that’s filled with animals and expect to be good. The odds of animal violence are simply too high and King Kong doesn’t have a great track record either. Also, it’s not like the film was subtle with the animal violence…a bird’s head was blown up…I’m not getting over that one. I don’t care much for apes and monkeys either so it would be very hard for me to really like Kong as a character. He did a good job of protecting his turf of course so I can respect that, but he’s still not all that “cool.” I’m excited for seeing where the cinematic universe goes from here though. We should be getting a lot of hype battles in the near future. Still, you don’t need to see this film to understand that though so I’d recommend checking out Pacific Rim or Godzilla (2014) instead. Both of those films do a better job of tackling the giant monster concept and have far better scenery and backdrops to grab your attention when the monsters aren’t around.

Overall 4/10

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Jurassic Park Review


Jurassic World is almost upon us and I shall certainly be checking it out. That being said, I’ve never been a huge fan of Jurassic Park. Come at me! Now, I do like the concept behind it and who doesn’t like to see a good T Rex? The main problem is that a film like this one tends to have quite a few animal violence scenes and this film was no exception. I have a bad feeling that Jurassic World will be using this as well so it may go the route of most animal films. That being said, let’s see just how it fared.

John is rich and decides that he wants to open a theme park where people can meet dinosaurs. That would be pretty epic for the whole world, but an accident happens and a member of the staff dies. The only way that he can open the park now is if he can get a pair of signatures from top line professionals to agree that the park is a good idea. That’s where Alan, along with his partner Allie, and Ian step in. These guys are skeptical about the operation and then the power goes out. The dinosaurs are free and they are ready to eat everyone all around the world. Still, they shall have to start with Jurassic Park!

Have you ever been face to face with a T Rex? I haven’t, but I’ve been face to face with my pet dog, Sonic, and I’m sure that it is a similar experience of terror and wonder. Ignoring that this is a film for a second, I don’t think that this park would ever be able to exist. People simply wouldn’t allow it too with all of the various protest groups that are around. Even if Jurassic Park was created, it would “leak” all over the world way before it actually opened. It would be hard to hide them even with an elaborate helicopter ride.

I’m not an outdoors guy so I wouldn’t check out the park, but I’m sure that it would certainly earn quite a bit of money. That was a bit of a detour so let’s go back to talking about the film. Many comparisons can be made to Attack on Titan. Jurassic Park really feels professional. The soundtrack is solid and makes the film feel theatrical. The characters quickly gain a lot of personality and it is a fairly exciting experience. Pretending that the animal violence was not present, I’d say that the film was a blast and a half all the way until the car scene where Alan goes to help the kids. That’s where the film quickly started to go downhill.

It may not come as a surprise to you if you’ve read a lot of my reviews, but I don’t tend to care for “kid” characters. If a character is around 13 or younger, then they’re probably going to be very unlikable. That doesn’t change here as I don’t like either of the two kids who join the adventure. They just slow the main character down and result in a subplot that is fairly boring the whole time. The guy risks all of their lives by clinging to an electrified net and the girl breaks down during their stressful adventure. The sneezing scene with the dinosaur was also very gross and one of the kids threw up at one point.

The film is very messy to the point where I would call it crude humor. You could also just say that the film is being way too realistic. The heroes get muddied and we are very far away from civilization. That doesn’t make for a good mix and it’s the primary reason why I want all films to take place in New York. Now, that’s the kind of backdrop that can make a film more exciting. In the jungle, it’s just not the same. It’s why the film lost a lot of its excitement and replayability once the heroes were all stranded among the trees.

Given the nature of the film, I’m not even going to talk about the plot hax. Just know that there is a lot of it, but you were likely expecting that when you walked into the film. Back to the positives for the film. The dinosaurs certainly look life like and I like the Raptor’s design. They remind me of Yoshi and I’ve always liked the Raptors. Those guys knew when it was time to win and when it was time to hunt. The T Rex is also a classic and it’s hard to picture him losing to a Spinosaurus. This guy was just invincible in this film.

Alan made for a likable main character even if he was a little overly rude to the kids at some points. I’m not a kid guy myself, but you have to at least put on a bluff face or whip out a Nintendo 3DS to save face. Alan knew his stuff though and didn’t change his mind about the park being safe towards the middle like I was expecting. Ellie is his partner and she isn’t afraid to get her hands dirty as she gets to the bottom of the dinosaurs being ill situation. She is also prepared to go into the battlefield when necessary as she proves to be critical in turning the power back on. She’s a strong heroine and made for a good supporting character.

Ian is a solid rival for Alan aside from the flirting at the beginning of the film. He sees the big picture that the other characters do not and he is the first guy to realize that Jurassic Park is not going to work. He’s certainly the cleverest character of the bunch and someone that you can root for. Things don’t end too well for him during his big fight with the T Rex, but it’s hard to picture anyone lasting long against that monster. He’s certainly an improvement over the average “rival” in this kind of film.

John is the rich guy in charge of Jurassic Park and he seems like a likable fellow. He uses his old age to his advantage to try to get the others to not want to vote against him, but the main characters are professionals so they make the tough calls. He got some good ice cream and he really did a good job on the park. While he made the wrong decision in continuing on with his adventure, he did mean well and was a nice person. The only guy that he didn’t get along with was the tech man who ended up betraying the team. It’s too bad that the guy was a villain since he had been one of the more humorous characters. He’s the kind of guy in real life who has nerves of steel. You can imagine him snapping at the President or insulting a would be kidnapper. This guy was always ready to make his case and nothing could make him back off. His end isn’t pleasant and will remind you of how tough the dinosaurs can be.

That being said, the film isn’t overly violent although still more than you would expect from a 90’s blockbuster. The main thing that cripples the film is the large amounts of animal violence. It gets so bad that I couldn’t even come close to saying that this is a good film. We see an animal part get thrown onto the car and several animals are eaten alive. It’s barbaric and reminds me why John is more cruel than he appears to be on the surface. Condoning such behavior is simply not right. Other dinosaurs are also eaten and the film really broke down when it counted. If it was just one or two scenes it may have been okay, but by the end, I knew that the film had been defeated.

You can have the best soundtrack, the most likable characters, and the best graphics that money can buy, but if you step into a big enough hole, the film is going to lose regardless of all the precautions that you could have taken. That’s what happened here and I fear that it will happen in the other three films as well. Hopefully it will be safe, but you shouldn’t count on it. I do fully expect at least one of the other three films to beat this one though, maybe all of them. We’ll see I suppose.

Overall, I’ve seen this film at least twice by now and other clips of it I’ve seen on numerous occasions. The kids really throw you out of the film along with the animal violence. It’s a classic that really has not aged well and the movie just isn’t my type. It certainly wouldn’t pique my interest aside from the fact that I do technically like creature films a lot. It’s like me and alien films, I like aliens even though their films tend to get really low scores. The holes are regrettable and stop me from giving it a good score, but the films are still fairly fun while in the moment. You are just thrown a curve ball every 10-15 minutes. If you are okay with the animal violence and kids getting in the main character’s way, you should enjoy this film. Otherwise, I recommend watching a classic film like the Bee movie if you want a film that is more about animals than humans. Now, I’m ready for the T Rex to continue to conquer all of the foes who stand in his way!

Overall 3/10

Avengers: Age of Ultron Review

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The first Avengers film was one of the greatest movies of all time. I knew that it would be extremely difficult for this film to match up to it. Still, I had high hopes when I walked into the theater and I was ready for anything that the film could throw at me. Would it be able to live up to the hype or would it ultimately crumble and make me go re watch Man of Steel? Also, what happened to Thanos? In the first film, it ended with him getting ready to attack Earth or at least think about it..yet he isn’t in the trailers so what happened. Behind the scenes drama? These questions at the ready…I saw the film!

The Avengers may have split up after they saved the world from the invasion, but they are back together to reclaim Loki’s scepter. After embarking on many missions to find it, they finally find it at a Hydra base. It seems like peace has finally returned and the Avengers can disband once more, but that is when Ultron strikes. Ultron wishes to destroy the human race and the Avengers must now deal with their toughest threat yet!

There is certainly a lot to say about this film so let’s launch right into it! The tone is identical to that of the first film, which is a great thing. There is a nice balance of humor and action in this film, which makes for a very enjoyable watch. Replay value is not a problem either as I could easily watch this film again tomorrow. There is so much action that you will likely notice extra details each time you watch the film.

Following up on that, the writing for the film is excellent. Avengers: Age of Ultron has numerous jokes throughout the film and with bad or even average writing, it would have gotten old very quickly. As it stands, the jokes come at good times in the film and you’ll be sure to laugh a few/lot of times throughout the film. It can be a little iffy to see the heroes joking during life threatening situations, but I suppose that it takes their mind off of what is happening. I would be upset if the heroes were joking around after someone had been killed or if a friend was in mortal peril, but they typically control themselves in those situations. The film even puts some twists on old jokes from the first title by switching things around a little.

As for the soundtrack, it is essentially the same as the first film. I only noticed one new theme, which played during a somber scene. It was a good theme and the soundtrack holds up just as well as in the 1st film. Admittedly, I would have liked some more new tunes, but for those of us who haven’t seen the first film since 2012, it was likely very nostalgic. I’ve seen the original film around a half dozen times at this point so I am very familiar with the music at this point.

Since there is a lot of action, the visuals need to look very good. I can safely say that they are convincing and I have no real issue with them. This film has more energy blasts than usual, which is great since those really make this feel like more of a comic book film. A certain triple attack towards the end looks really sweet as a result. The only time that the CGI may look a little iffy is the Cap vs Ultron scene during the daytime, but it may just be because he looks so lifelike that it ends up being a little out of place. If anything, you can think of that as a positive since it was so realistic.

Time to look at the main characters. Captain America was my favorite Avenger here so let’s look at him first. He is the noble hero that we would expect him to be and I thought that his portrayal was fairly spot on. From his point of view, I can see why he would disagree with Tony Stark on the A.I. issue. While the captain may have overreacted a little after Ultron struck, it was understandable that he would be upset since his history with secrets hasn’t been a good one. A running joke in the film arises from a scene where Captain America reprimands Tony for using a swear word. That was cool because while it was played for laughs, it was nice to see. Superman and Captain America are two characters who I have always imagined to not use such language. The way that the joke ends could have been better though. Either way, fans of the first Avenger will be pleased with how he looks here. Captain America shows off his fighting skills throughout the film and he makes for a very good leader.

Tony Stark is naturally as charismatic as ever and he is my second favorite Avenger. His heart was in the right place for project Ultron, but messing with A.I. programs never seems to end well for our heroes. I was wondering how Iron Man’s role would be since he blew up his armors in Iron Man 3, but that doesn’t seem to be a problem. He just continued to build since then and it makes sense since Tony would never give up on robotics forever. It’s his life after all. He gets a lot of great scenes and Iron Man has shown that he still has what it takes to be the leader if Steve Rogers ever decided to give up the position. With Captain America: Civil War coming up, that could happen sooner than expected.

Thor rounds out the main three and he is still the power hitter here. It is nice to see his strength displayed as he takes on dozens of opponents throughout the film. His combo attacks with Captain America prove to be very effective and having someone who’s Hulk level in strength with the ability to fly is extremely handy. His reaction times are also given their due credit as he manages to counter-throw an opponent who had rushed him. Thor has also grown more competitive as he is consistently trying to outdo Tony Stark and the others. Some friendly competition is always fun and it shows that Thor is really getting close to the team.

As for Bruce Banner, I was thrilled with his role in the first film. I thought that it was perfect and that Bruce Banner’s portrayal was the definitive version of the character. I don’t think that he looked quite as good here and he would actually be my least favorite member of the team. What happened to him being able to control the Hulk? It seems like a rather big plot hole here as the Hulk needs to be calmed down by the Black Widow every time and then he is left as an emotional wreck for a little while. It seems to really contradict the first film. He doesn’t get to act rebellious or get nice banter like in the first film, which hurt his portrayal here because that is why I liked him a lot. I really think that Whedon messed up here, but Banner still had his moments. He just wasn’t the hero that I remembered from the first film.

Black Widow has upgraded her tech for this film so that she is ready for the Ultron onslaught. She looks good in the film as she helps out a lot in many key scenes. Widow gets shaken up at one point, but due to the visions it was understandable. How she copes with it is really my issue. The plot between Bruce and Widow really came out of the blue and I don’t think that it was necessary here at all. Widow just acted out of character when he was around, but the ending of the film seems to have rectified that. She is more likable than Bruce here, but I think she could have been better.

Hawkeye ends up being the best Avenger after the big three and his role here was fun. Hawkeye fans will likely be worried at the beginning since he is taken out of action rather easily, but things go up from there. We get to see how professional he is and why he is the lead archer. Hawkeye means business here and he deals a lot of damage to Ultron’s army, but he still knows how to make a nice wisecrack. He certainly gets a lot of character development here and that is sure to help Hawkeye’s character throughout his future appearances as well.

Age of Ultron had a nice amount of guest stars, which was cool. Some of them you may be aware of and others not so much. I won’t mention any names, but each of the big three get a supporting character who gets a decent role in this film. Nick Fury and Maria Hill are also here of course and they contribute. It makes you wonder how this film will affect the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. show. It’ll be fun to see how that handles this event. The ending is fun and leaves a lot of potential for future installments. Also, you’ll want to stick around for the end credits scene. It’s rather short, but still really good and gets you set up for Avengers 3.
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Still, I’m getting ahead of myself. Now, let’s look at some of the other characters to appear in the film. First up, we’ve got Quicksilver. After his solid role in X-Men Days of Future Past, it was going to be tough for this version to match up. Luckily, I can say that the character was still fun and his speed was handled well for the most part. He’s rather unlikable for the first half of the film, but he does have some solid moments. It’s easy to root for him as the film goes on and even the accent grew on me. His speed is something that the Avengers didn’t really have an answer for and film writers have to be very careful with it since plot hax can ensue. Some did occur of course, but not too much.

Scarlet Witch has interesting hex powers involving probability, which can be tough to show so the film decided to take a solid approach to this issue. They mainly focused on her telekinesis and telepathy. By using these abilities effectively, she can emit energy and create barriers. I much prefer this to her hex abilities so I’m fine with the change. She’s a better character than I expected and I look forward to seeing her become one of the heavy hitters on the team. I would already say that she could take on Captain America and possibly Iron Man. Her abilities should definitely not be underestimated. I don’t care for her in the comics, but the film version was good so I can safely say that this is one of those rare times where the comics were surpassed. I also did like how the film borrowed from the horror playbook during the scene where Scarlet Witch takes on Captain America. We get a Paranormal Activity stutter step as Scarlet Witch demonically backs up and closes the door. It’s hard to describe, but if you have watched a lot of horror films, you will know what I am talking about here.

Ultron is the main villain here so there should naturally be a lot to say about him. His portrayal will likely be controversial and some will like it while others won’t. As an Ultron adaption, I think you will be disappointed. He is nothing like the cold, calculating machine that we are used too. So, if you are to like him, you will just need to think of him as an original villain. With the…intriguing design, that should make things easier. The film decides to give him Tony Stark’s personality so he is a fun villain, he just isn’t Ultron. As this “new” villain, I liked the portrayal. He has some witty banter to be sure and who doesn’t like a good “eradicate the humans” plan right? His strategy was sound and once again it shows how easy planet busting can be. Just wait until Thanos arrives on Earth someday, the stakes will really get high! Ultron was a little weaker than I expected and I’ll get into this a little more in a second, but he was strong enough to still be a fun villain. Loki was probably still more fun, but Ultron was more of a threat, which is a fair trade off.

All right, we’ve looked at the characters and a lot of the positives to the film. So, let’s look at some questionable moments. One scene that I disagree with is Thor’s hammer being lifted. The actual scene is a fairly important one so I won’t mention who does it. You’ll know what I’m talking about once you see the movie, but I completely disagree with the film. There’s no way that this character should be able to pick up the hammer unless Captain America can. After all, being worthy is something that I can certainly agree with. I don’t agree with technicalities that can sidestep the enchantment…simply isn’t possible if you ask me.

Age of Ultron has a lot of action and it is one of the reasons why it is so much fun. The film starts off with a bang in the epic intro scene and the film rarely lets up as more and more action scenes appear. While this is an overwhelming positive as you will never get bored, most of the action scenes are simply action scenes. Like the first film, the Avengers are dealing with armies and no real 1 on 1 fights occur. When some appear, they are fairly short since the villains can’t handle the heroes. There is a point where Ultron is actually defeating Thor handily, but Ultron had been getting served by Iron Man earlier so I still wouldn’t say that he was immensely powerful. I’m assuming that Thor was simply caught off guard. Ultron didn’t get his iconic power up here so he was only a little more durable than the average machine. I’m assuming that Avengers 3 will finally have the big fights that I’ve been looking forward too so that will be fun. I can see some people listing this as a negative since the climax is very similar to the first film’s, but who doesn’t like a nice invasion battle? It gives the heroes a lot to do.

The 1 on 1 fight that we did get was the Iron Man vs Hulk battle. It was a fun fight and while I still prefer Iron Man’s standard gear for combat, the Hulkbuster looks powerful. I’d say that Hulk is still portrayed as the strongest Avenger by a longshot, but with this new armor, Iron Man can now fight alongside Thor for the second spot. The other Avengers are going to need to keep on improving or they will be left in the dust before long.

I won’t say his name for the fans who don’t know about this character, but a certain other android appears besides Ultron. His abilities are certainly potent and I’m glad that the film kept most of them in. The only one that they didn’t show will likely be shown in a future film. I’m not a huge fan of the character here as his personality isn’t really my style, but he’ll be a good ally to have on the team. His abilities will definitely make him a powerful ally and maybe he’ll grow on me. There’s certainly a lot of time for that since he just joined.

I just finished seeing this film about an hour or two ago so I’m trying to make sure that I get down all of the major points that I wanted to discuss before wrapping up the review. With a film like this, you can’t really get all of your thoughts down on a review so I at least want the big ones to be there. It was a lot of fun and I highly recommend watching a big movie like this one on opening day or the night before opening day at least once for the sheer experience. It is a lot of fun to watch such an exciting film with other fans who are hyped for it as well.

A minor thing, but Quicksilver is probably a little too fast in this film. At the speed that he is going, I don’t think that Hawkeye’s attack should have surprised him or that Captain America could have even hit him. Even when Quicksilver tried to grab the hammer, he should have been able to have escaped since it would have pulled him very slowly even considering the speed of the throw. That being said, he is a speedster so I would always find some plot hax there. The film handled it better than most and the plot hax in general wasn’t that bad. Your usual action hero moments at times where humans dodge lots of point blank energy attacks, but no scenes that stuck out in particular, which was great.

The film seems to be rather unchanged from the trailers, which is good. Unfortunately, one of the changes was the scene where Iron Man is trying to pick up Thor’s hammer. I preferred his old line about ruling firmly, yet in a fair way. I also seem to recall Bruce Banner being in a straight jacket or at least something that resembled that kind of gear more than what was in the film, but I’m less sure about that so it really could have just been a trick of the eyes. A lot of things are set up here for future films so you’ll definitely want to continue watching the solo films to get a feel for what will happen next.

All right, I think that’s a good amount of reviewing for now. I made sure to keep this review spoiler free so if you have a question relating to a topic that has spoilers, feel free to drop a comment since I made sure to avoid those topics in the review. Although, I hinted at some because I wanted to mention my take on them so I merely left out the names when necessary. I highly doubt that any film will be able to come anywhere close to this one from this year’s roster, but it will be nice to see them give their best shot. It is too bad that Whedon won’t be around for the next Avengers film, but I trust that it will be excellent as well.
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Overall, Avengers:Age of Ultron was a great follow up to the first film. The first Avengers will always be my favorite Marvel film, but this one is the second best in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It possesses just about all of the same qualities as the first title while having even more action. The only real negative would probably be the plot between Bruce Banner and Black Widow. The hammer scene along with many of the other things that I noted aren’t really negatives so much as things that I noticed. I still find it a little ironic that the Ultron minions had a more accurate design compared to the comic Ultron than the main body, but it helps that point I made earlier about looking at Ultron as a different villain. It was tough deciding between an 8 and a 9 to be honest, but this is the kind of film that really doesn’t come by all that often. I believe that it earned the 9. Granted, I typically score films a little more generously when I just finished watching one in theaters so you may want to take that into account. (I got the full IMAX 3D experience, which was incredible!) Still, I think that I’ll be able to stand by this rating and I will certainly be watching this film more times before Avengers 3. I probably won’t see it quite as much as the first one, but still more than most. If you haven’t seen this film yet, I highly recommend checking it out as the earliest opportunity!

Overall 9/10

Unbreakable Review

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It’s time to look at a superhero film that doesn’t involve good ole DC or Marvel. Naturally, that can be a little dicey at times since we don’t have the tried and true Stan Lee to ensure that character development goes well. Unfortunately, my fears were realized as the film quickly crashed once the superhero element began. Seriously, the film was good for over 60% of its run time, but then everything went downhill from there!

David works as a security guard and he’s pretty good at his job. One day, he is approached by Elijah, a man who claims that David may have the uncanny ability of being unbreakable. David cannot get sick and Elijah is on the opposite end of the spectrum as his bones break at the slightest touch. David is intrigued, but he doesn’t know what to do about all this. Ah well, he has about an hour-90 minutes to decide where he goes from here.

All right, here’s why the superhero part failed. The film decided to go for grit and darkness instead of actually providing us with a real threat. David can see the past, which is one of the worst powers that you can think of since he will know that things have happened to people, but he can’t stop them. Conveniently, he sees a problem that he can still help with, but the damage has been done and that’s why the film sunk. The film showed us a bunch of grim happenings that happened to the characters around the lead and there’s no need for it. Assault, Rape, Murder, you basically see all of that and the main character can’t do anything about this. As far as I am concerned, that destroyed any chance that the film had of being even somewhat decent.

David attacks the murderer and defeats him, but the film didn’t need to show us the other situations. If they had to display his ability to see the past, they should have just showed us people stealing jewels or robbing a hot dog stand. Minor crimes would give us the same image without just being dark to be dark. It’s a lesson that more films could definitely learn if they want to succeed the way that Bonds Beyond Time did.

The final fight is actually pretty humorous because of how it happens. Let’s just say that it’s hard to know what the director was going for here. David has been shown to be able to bench press over 350 pounds so we know that he has some degree of super strength. And yet…he can barely take out the average thug. He gets the guy into a choke hold and then they wrestle for an awkward 5-10 minutes. The guy simply won’t go down and David looks extremely unimpressive. Naturally, David decides not to take any prisoners so he pulls a Man of Steel on us. Yeah, this guy’s going to end up being more like the Punisher than a real hero at this rate. He also lost round 1 when he was simply pushed into a pool.

Again, every bit of the superhero part of this film was pretty bad, but it was actually good before that. Elijah’s backstory was pretty sad, but we got to see him make it through that in one piece and own an art gallery. He was pretty unreasonable, but the scene of him defending comics as actual art was pretty funny. Elijah was a decent character for a while. The ending makes him very unlikable of course and the way that he trashed the comic store was completely uncalled for. So, he had his moments in the film, but he could have been better. Considering his condition, he shouldn’t be much of a threat to David.

As for David, I guess he’s a decent character although he’s rather slow on the uptake at times. He just spends a lot of time dragging things out and being rather indecisive. I find it hard to believe that he simply forgot about his past. You don’t really forget events like that and how has he never realized that he had super strength? A bit of a stretch in those areas, but he tries to be a nice guy. The main outlier is the opening scene where David decides to flirt and hides his wedding band. That made him pretty despicable. For most of the film, he’s certainly not a bad character, but you can’t easily forget such a scene. David gets some development later on, which possibly counteracts the scene. Hopefuly..he just needs to work on improving himself a bit. That shouldn’t be a problem. Once he is used to being a hero, maybe he’ll remember that you have to be heroic and take the villains to the authorities to qualify.

David’s kid is a pretty annoying character I’m afraid and he shows why kids should never be main or supporting characters in any films. His decision to shoot David to prove that he was a superhero is pretty crazy and he should know that with great super strength doesn’t always come great durability. The kid certainly hasn’t been keeping up with the comics even though he owns some action figures. There was an odd romance going on between David and the heroine, but it didn’t have a place in the film and it makes you wonder what the point of it all was. They are already married so that subplot could have just been terminated before it even began.

The film isn’t great with pacing. There are many points in the film where it is clearly stalling to inflate the run time. This film could have easily happened in closer to 70 minutes as we have almost half an hour of fluff. David just thinking or other characters standing still and waiting to be blown away. The film needed to move a little quicker and show us that there was still a point to all of this. The problem is that there isn’t much to the plot if they played it straight. It was a little convenient how the characters found out about David’s weakness and it would have been more natural if they hadn’t found out until he fell in the pool. It would have been a big “Connect the dots” moment and more of a shocker that way. Not really a negative though, just a different path that it could have taken.

Overall, Unbreakable is a classic example of what happens to a film without an end goal in mind. Once David became a superhero, the film fell apart very quickly. If it had just stuck to being a suspense thriller, it really could have gone far. As it stands, you are better off checking out Man of Steel or the Avengers. Those superhero films are always ready for action and they will inspire you to see other superhero films while this one can just make you avoid them. I can’t say that I would hold out much hope for a sequel being good, but you never know. Either way, the next time you want something that is unbreakable, I recommend buying some Jaw Breakers! (Disclaimer, those candies are choking hazards and are as tough to chew as they are delicious to eat)

Overall 2/10

Changing Lanes Review

Keep in mind that this review pertains to the edited TV 14 version of this film. All thoughts written below should be treated as such as a review of the unedited version would be significantly harsher.

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Let’s look at a retro film from about 10 years ago. The two main actors are fairly popular in the form of Ben Affleck (Maybe not popular, but at least well known) and Samuel L. Jackson. Despite this, I definitely can’t say that I had heard of this film before. It’s a pretty good adventure and it’s certainly a lot more fun than I had anticipated. (Although, I did find the premise to have potential right from the start) It’s basically the light hearted version of the cop film that I saw a while back where Samuel L. Jackson was also a main character. The main difference is that this film is just better in every single way.

The film starts off with two main characters. One of them is Doyle who is preparing to buy a house. He must head over to the court house after that to try and convince his wife to keep the house and then hopefully they can get back on friendly terms. He has managed to quit drinking and things are looking up for Doyle. Meanwhile, we have a bright and upcoming lawyer in Gavin. Gavin is about to bring some critical evidence to his case and victory is just about assured. His firm will win 3 million dollars and he’ll probably get a raise or a promotion. Both main characters must alter their plans when they crash on the highway. Doyle is unable to make it to the courthouse in time and Gavin left his evidence with Doyle by mistake. Doyle is furious with Gavin while Gavin is panicking with this new development. So starts the battle between these two men as they take turns making each other’s life miserable. Who will win…or is it a matter of “Will anyone win?”

If you’ve been following this site for a few years then you may know that I love it when films add that court plot to the mix. I love a good trial and both plots revolve around the court house, which was pretty cool. Things definitely don’t go Gavin’s way in the trial and it’s cool to see how quickly the tides can turn. Even without the court scenes, the film is a lot of fun and that’s the main reason as to why it succeeds. It’s not without its weaknesses of course, but the positives in Changing Lanes far outweigh the negatives.

There aren’t many negatives here at all so I’m going to quickly get them over with right here. One plot that I could definitely have done without is the one where we find out that Gavin is cheating on his wife. She knows it and tolerates the act, but I would have preferred her to have just split up with him. Gavin also shouldn’t be messing around like that as it takes away any chance that he had of being a likable character. That being said, the film makes sure to show that the wife is pretty corrupt while the secretary seemed to care a little more about the injured party. By engaging in the act with Gavin, she’s still not a moral individual, but the film makes sure that both choices are unlikable.

And….that’s it. That’s basically the only thing that I could find wrong with this film as it’s basically up hill from there. There’s no animal violence here, no scenes to cringe at, etc. The film expertly maneuvered around the usual obstacles that a film faces while holding true to its positives. The writing is consistently good throughout the film as well. There’s no real soundtrack, but I’ll let it slide this time.

As we’ve already seen, Gavin is not a very likable main character. If not for his little affair, he would be a lot more sympathetic. That being said, he is a little unreasonable at the beginning of the film and he should have definitely given Doyle a lift. As it happened, they were both going to the same place anyway. If only he had known right? Still, Gavin makes a lot of good decisions by the end of the film and I like to think that he will manage to get his life back on track soon. I just wish that could have happened on screen instead of me just having to take a guess at that.

Doyle is definitely better than Gavin although he is also the first guy to escalate the tensions between the two main characters. His circumstances are more sympathetic than Gavin’s and he was really trying to do the right thing as the film began. Unfortunately, missing the court date was pretty major and he couldn’t get back from that very easily. He gets to have some nice closure as the film ends so he managed to stay on the side of the heroes.

Changing Lanes can get annoying as one character tries to do the right thing when something happens, which causes him to rethink that. This happens to both of the leads several times so that their battle can continue. One of them even brings in a hacker who is able to manipulate bank statements. That being said, the film manages to keep things light without ever getting too dreary and dramatic. The premise is one that can easily get silly if handled poorly, but the film does a good job of still keeping it fairly realistic as this happens.

One area that could have been tricky for the film was the ending, but it’s handled really well. I would have felt bad for the old man’s heir otherwise as the main character’s firm nearly got away with stealing 3 million dollars. Doyle’s plot also had the potential to have a pretty sad ending, but it’s wrapped up nicely by the end. It’s the kind of film that could get a sequel someday, but there really wouldn’t be a point. The two heroes were able to set aside their differences and Gavin will strive to be a better person in the future. I would be open to a sequel where the hacker decides to blackmail Gavin so the hero has to team up with Doyle. That could definitely be intriguing.

Overall, Changing Lanes is a fun film. The movie never gets too out there with the steps that the main characters take to defeat each other so it’s still pretty realistic by the end. It manages to have a happy ending that feels satisfying without being too perfect and the two main characters made the right calls by the end. It’s simply a complete film and it’s one where you will walk away feeling good about the time that you just invested in this film. This is also good news for Batman V(s) Superman since I have now seen an Affleck film where he looks pretty good. Perhaps a little different than I remembered him from Daredevil, but it was a solid performance. I definitely recommend this film if you want to see two grown ups go at it with all that they’ve got!

Overall 7/10

Lakeview Terrace Review

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Looks like it’s time for a thriller film. Lakeview Terrace may sound like the type of film where the main characters go to a nice looking hotel that is actually in a bad neighborhood, but that’s not exactly how it plays out. It’s a pretty distasteful film that can rival many horror films that I have seen and I can understand why the reception wasn’t very good for it. It’s one of those films that’s just frustrating to watch and it’s certainly not one that will have you smiling throughout.

Chris and Lisa move into a new house where they plan on staying for a while. They’re hoping that it works out, but they were not counting on their next door neighbor. Able is a police man, but he’s racist against couples with different ethnic backgrounds so he decides that he’ll intimidate and terrorize them until they go away. Chris definitely doesn’t want to back down to this bully so they begin to escalate their actions. The main problem for Chris is that Able has been living here for a long time and he has a lot of connections. Home Field Advantage is not something to be taken lightly!

I will admit that the film’s beginning was pretty clever since you initially think that Able could be the heroes. We’re not sure what’s going on with Chris and Lisa, but one of your first guesses could be that they’re bad apples since they keep making moves while the other figure isn’t looking. After he leaves, they still act like pretty unlikable characters for a while. Eventually, we figure out that it’s still Able’s problem, but the beginning does try to give you some doubts at first.

What makes this film unlikable is that it simply goes too far. Able keeps humiliating the heroes and intimidating them without the heroes firing back. One of the worst scenes in the film is easily when Chris goes to Able’s party to tell him to tone down the music. He’s essentially manhandled in that scene and he displays some incredibly weak strength of will there. Naturally, his actions there are quickly sent to Lisa for some more drama. It was a very unpleasant scene to watch and it just went way too overboard. Another cringe worthy scene is when Able goes to Chris’ house to fetch his daughter and totally threatens Lisa. Chris isn’t there to help so there’s nothing that she can really do and you have to hope that the main characters will bring in the cops. Chris probably would have ended things by now, but he wasn’t allowed to buy a gun for 10 days due to a grace period.

Abel is the main villain and he’s definitely very unlikable. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen an openly racist villain like him. He provokes the heroes a lot and takes many chances. He’s basically willing to risk the job that he’s had for decades just to get rid of the main characters. He’s a pretty sick individual so he probably doesn’t care or even think about the repercussions of his actions. It’s all worth it to him and naturally it all comes down to a traumatic event that happened to him a long time ago.

Chris is the main character and I like the fact that he stands up to Abel at the very end, but it’s too little too late. He spends too much of the film trying to be polite to Abel when he should be more direct. Abel loves to torment the heroes only to pretend to be nice before pushing them back down again. It’s one of those social things that is hard to sidestep, but the heroes should definitely be willing to do so. Unfortunately, Chris is one of those guys who does have a whole lot of flaws, which really doesn’t help his case. He’s actually a very unlikable main character. He smokes behind his wife’s back and he does a poor job of exposing Abel’s actions.

Lisa suffers from her poor handling of the Abel case as well. After Abel threatens here and goes onto her property without permission, she doesn’t let Chris know. Instead they have another argument about their romantic drama. One area where I was definitely against Lisa was when she decided to skip her pills so that she could have a baby. Just dumping something like that on the main guy is pretty unreasonable. If she didn’t like the fact that he didn’t want a kid, just breaking up with him seems like the best option. It was a bit of a low blow to say the least and she’s no more likable than Chris.

One of the film’s negatives is naturally that there is a lot of romance and it’s not handled in a good way. There are films that can make a nice romance and there are others that just want to have the main characters constantly flirting and being provocative. This is the latter and they definitely don’t provide a good example to the other characters. You can’t blame the dad for not approving of Chris although Lisa definitely deserves half of the blame as well. They need to tone it down a lot and remember the good ole days where just holding hands was considered to be bold.

There is a subplot about a fire cloud that is approaching the house, but it ends up being a plot that doesn’t really go anywhere. It finally comes in at the end, but we don’t get a big fire to help the climax. No, instead it just gives us smoke. Luckily, that’s enough to get the police to run away so that Abel can make his final stand. The cops were pretty slow at the end since they see that a car has crashed and they’re still unsure of what to do. Telling the main character to drop his gun is great, but they should have also went to Abel to see if he was concealing one. They had quite a few cops on them so it would have still been pretty easy and relatively safe. At most, only 2-3 would be shot and they would be able to mow down the assailant.

Still, as I mentioned, the main negative of the film comes back down to the fact that it’s simply a chore to get through. The party scene with the unwilling consent from Chris was really bad and watching Abel constantly mess up their parties is just sad. The film just leaves a bad taste in your mouth and you’ll be waiting for it to end. You’ll also wonder how the main characters ever accepted the house since there are evidently no locks to secure the perimeter. It’s an easy matter for the villain to jump the fence or just walk in through one of the dozen entryways. You can never feel safe in such a house and I would have moved out (After defeating Abel) immediately.

Overall, Lakeview Terrace is a film that you will want to skip. You’re definitely not going to have fun watching it. Watching the police acting inappropriately while off duty is a stereotype that needs to go and there are no likable characters here. While the villain is really unlikable, it is still hard to root for the main characters since they are really below average when it comes to leads. The film also drags on a little since the heroes are just getting bullied for so long that you wonder when the climax will arrive. No, if you want a thriller film, go check out Final Fantasy VII Advent Children!

Overall 2/10