Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

The Steel Lady Review


The Steel Lady is one of those films where the plot could be just about anything. You can interpret the title in many different ways, the optimal one being a literal translation that could work like a Supergirl film. This isn’t exactly how it all ends up going down but it is a pretty fun retro film. It’s not great and there is a lot of plot has to be found but I will give it some props for throwing in a good fight.

The film starts with the main characters flying around in hopes of finding oil. Unfortunately they are using a really cheap plane in response to budget cuts and as a result they end up crashing in the desert. The nearest town is many miles away and the heroes certainly don’t have enough rations to survive that. Fortunately they find a tank that had been buried and decide to make a gamble. They’ll use the last of their water to fuel the tank and ride the whole way. One of the guys doesn’t like this plan but he is outvoted. Can the heroes make their way to the final in spite of the bandits?

The heroes are definitely lucky. That will be your takeaway as you finish the film. They make a multitude of mistakes throughout and have to rely on the kindness of strangers as well as general incompetence from the villains. Before I even get to that I should quickly discuss how the main team is already rather fractured. There are 4 main characters. One of them is a teen mechanic who is pretty good at cobbling things together. He is pretty reasonable except for the fact that he fell asleep at the job and blew their first chance at being rescued. If he had stayed up then the whole film may have been averted right from the start. He ultimately does help make up for it with his radio and by starting up the tank, but that was a pretty big mistake.

Then you’ve got the leader of the crew who is the tactician. He is the one who comes up with the plans and alternatives while the others sign off on it. He doesn’t take betrayal well and is ready to fight to defend himself. He is the best character here. Then you’ve got the drunk guy who may as well be an antagonist. He puts everyone at risk for some money and just doesn’t care what befalls the rest of the crew compared to him. Naturally this is all building up to a big redemption arc at the end but you just have to wonder if it is simply too late. It’s just hard to like this guy. At least he did have personality though. The final guy is basically just along for the ride and never actually does anything.

There isn’t much scenery to look at of course since the heroes are in the desert the whole time so get used to the sand. It’s hot out there but someone has got to trudge through right? The writing is pretty solid aside from the heroes getting lucky so often. It’s a classic script filled with a lot of verbal shots from all sides. The banter is half the fun here with the other half being the unique plot. Being out of water and supplies isn’t necessarily something new, but it’s not a plot that I’ve seen in action all that much. While the main characters may seem a little ruthless with how they barge into the camp and get ready for a fight, but being prepared is a bare necessity in this neck of the woods.

Back to how lucky the heroes are though, the camp that they bust into is naturally owned by bandits. The bandits then invite them in for a party and the heroes can’t refuse. So, the villains’ plan is to search for the jewels while the heroes sleep. After that they’ll send the heroes off to fight a different tribe while they get away scott free. Terrible plan, but why didn’t they just shoot the heroes? It was absolutely an option that they could have gone for at any time. Once the main characters were out of the tank a quick bullet would have finished them. The heroes went straight into the heart of the enemy camp so there is no way they should have left it alive. Throw in the fact that the heroes were naive enough to actually fall asleep and you have a losing combo.

Even after that the villains manage to surround the heroes. By this point the tank is nearly out of ammo, but more importantly the heroes are out of water. All the villains have to do is watch from afar and they’ve got the match. The problem is that they forget to keep watch so the heroes run in and murder the sentry while also stealing his water. The villains basically helped the heroes out at this point and should feel ashamed. There is also another occasion where a villain gets in the tank and gets to go 1 v 1 against a guy with a broken leg. He still decides to retreat so I can’t imagine how weak these antagonists must be.

Overall, The Steel Lady is a fun film even if the writing doesn’t usually hold up when you think about it. It’s a good movie to look at and wonder how you could have done a better job of it than the heroes. You don’t want to get overconfident of course but it just wouldn’t be that hard with how many mistakes they make. If you want to see an old school survival story about the heroes roughing it in tough terrain then this is the film for you. At the end of the day it’s supposed to be more of an inspirational story and it naturally wouldn’t have had that effect if the villains were clobbering them the whole time.

Overall 7/10

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Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

Warcraft Review


I always like to see a video game adapted into a film…but not like this! It seems like bad luck that films keep trying to adapt games that either shouldn’t be adapted or ones that should be adapted…in 20 years. I get that World of Warcraft is a very popular video game, but I’ve never cared much for it and I don’t think it ever had a whole lot of movie potential. People will inevitably compare it to Lord of the Rings and it’ll fall short since everyone already has the nostalgia goggles on. Then we’ve got Assassin’s Creed….this isn’t the kind of representation of video games that I wanted. Where’s Mega Man, Mario, Metroid, Legend of Zelda, Gravity Rush, or the really cool looking video games like that? The films keep on choosing the most realistic ones possible as I guess they feel this is the safe route, but it’s backfiring horribly. Wait…they already tried making a Super Mario Bros film? Nah….you must be mistaken, I’m sure I’d remember Princess Peach making her way to the big screen or that iconic Bowser design if the film had happened. Must have just been a mistake.

Anyway, Warcraft deals with two worlds coming together to avoid calamity. On one side, we have the world of the Trolls. Their world has grown desolate and soon it will be completely unlivable. To combat this, they have decided to invade the human world and eradicate all of the mortals. On the human side, they see that the Trolls are attacking and decide to slay them all. There can be no peace here, only war and destruction. Which side will emerge victorious here?

This film has a lot of problems, but action isn’t one of them. There’s a lot of action throughout as you’ll see people punching and tackling each other. A lot of guys are stabbed and it definitely feels like a war. I don’t care much for war fight scenes and prefer the classic 1 on 1’s. This doesn’t help to change my opinion of that, but considering that War is in the title, I knew what to expect from the get go. The CGI and overall special effects for the film aren’t bad. In the rare scenes where we actually get to see energy attacks and video game techniques, they hold up quite well. We get mythical monsters and fantasy backdrops that also fit in seamlessly.

The rest of the film is where Warcraft stumbles a bit. Lets talk about the characters. Gul’dan is the main villain of the film. He’s the corrupt leader of the Orcs (Trolls) and ensures that there is no peace. After all, you can’t make peace with a nation that’s trying to destroy you right? He rules with fear and is the only Orc to actually have special powers. He can drain your life force by making contact with an opponent and has a good array of energy blasts as well. This makes up for not being the strongest Orc on the battlefield. It’s really impossible for any character to beat him without plot hax and that’s a bit of an issue. The only way the film gets around this is by having the other Orcs pressure Gul’dan into retreating for honor reasons. He never loses and I guess this sets things up for the sequel. He was a pretty imposing villain and I suppose that I didn’t mind him being the big bad. I wish he would just get on with it though and I don’t see why he should even care about the Orcs liking him or not. His whole gimmick is that he rules by fear so if they start rebelling, can’t he just slay them all?

Lothar is the main hero on the human side. His character arc is pretty tragic as he decides to trust Garona and is then betrayed at the very end. He’s a pretty strong warrior and is headstrong. Lothar acts like a main character should for the most part. He can be a little generic and maybe not all that reasonable at other times, but he can handle himself in a fight and the humans wouldn’t have much of a chance without him. Llane is the more reasonable character, but at the same time he goes for the more conventional ideas. He decides on a full scale war against the Orcs and this doesn’t go well at all. He then makes a rather selfless decision to have Garona murder him so she can get out of there alive, but it’s also basically suicide since he’s asking to be murdered. You always got to fight until the bitter end even if the odds are stacked against you. The ending did not help him.

I actually place more of the blame on Garona though. Accepting this option shows that she put more value on her life than on Llane’s. Essentially, she was willing to continue existing at the expense of someone else. Lothar took this as a betrayal since he didn’t know the context, but it may as well have been one even with it. She was tasked with protecting Llane and she failed. Durotan is the main protagonist of the Orcs, but he is forced to work for Gul’dan the whole time. It’s a pretty tough film for Durotan since he doesn’t get the clan any closer to peace and is ultimately murdered in front of everyone. He put up a good fight, but was clearly outmatched thanks to the magic amplifications that Gul’dan had and it felt like his journey was rather pointless. He made some nice speeches, but since he had no control over the clan, it didn’t help much. He did inadvertently save the humans by getting the Orcs to doubt their leader though.

As this is Warcraft, there were other sub plots as well. One of the human’s strongest magicians was actually a traitor and ended up joining the villains. It was either his overconfidence that led the evil magic to slowly corrupting him or he was just a bad seed the entire time. Regardless, it was a huge blow to the humans since they need all of the magicians that they can get. They have another apprentice guy who wants to help out now, but that’s just a consolation. Honestly though, the humans should be doomed in this war. They now only have 1 guy with powers on their side while the Orcs have a few. That being said, the ending shows that there are many other factions of humans who will be helping now. Where were they the whole time? Who knows, I guess it just wasn’t their fight. Ironically the human mage sub plot was probably the most out of place, but also the most interesting part of the film.

The part of the film that will end up leaving a sour taste in your mouth is really the ending. Seeing Garona just accept the life and be accepted back to her people was a rather mean spirited way to end things. Now nobody gets along and tensions are even higher. It also feels like absolutely nothing was accomplished in this film. You should think of it as a promo to encourage you to play the game, but that doesn’t work so well as a large feature film. Especially if you were never interested to play the game in the first place. As the writing is also lackluster, it never really had a chance of getting you interested in playing the game.

There is also some iffy animal violence moments here. It sadly comes with the territory of war films as people ride horses and even birds into battle. It’s not a huge occurrence here, but enough so where it warrants a mention. It’s not as if things could have gotten much worse for the film though right? It was already rather boring and convoluted without a good ending so adding the animal violence is like the cherry on top.

Overall, Warcraft is a very generic fantasy war film. It’s just the same old Humans vs Orc battles that we’ve seen in LOTR and the Hobbit already. This film doesn’t really add anything to that. There’s not much reason to watch this film and since an ending is super important, having a bad one hurts the film all the more. I doubt this film will be getting a sequel anyway so it’s not as if the cliffhangers will be resolved anytime soon. If you’re a big fan of the games then you’re basically obligated to watch this one. If not, then I’d recommend just sticking away from it.

Overall 3/10

6 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Dynasty Warriors Advance Review


I own quite a few Dynasty Warrior games, but I haven’t had a chance to play most of them yet. I have 2,3, and 4 at the ready, but other games have taken priority so far. I hope to get to them soon, but in the meantime we have the Game Boy title to work with. Considering how old this game is, I’d say that it did a fairly good job of capturing the style of the main games. It could use some polish though and certainly shouldn’t be known as a great game. It’s fun to play through, but it’s the kind of game that you won’t find yourself coming back to.

One major gripe that I’ve always had with Dynasty Warriors is that the story is never all that interesting. The characters all start to blend together after a while and likewise with the armies. The plot is always about beating an army somewhere, but you don’t get invested into the plot. The same can be said for most beat em ups like this such as Samurai Warriors and Sengoku Basara. However, I give Basara more credit as at the very least, the Devil Kings spinoff did a good job of adding in a lot more personality to the characters and giving more of a full fledged story. At any rate, the story in Dynasty Warriors Advance is around, but you’ll forget it all as you play. All you need to know is that you’re beating up the villains. (Most of the villains end up joining you as allies anyway. It’s a little cheesy to hear a villain talk about how you must unite the land after you finish giving him lethal injuries, but at least it shows that their hearts were in the right place.

The gameplay is fairly simple and you have two different attacks. You have the standard slashes and power moves. Mix them together to create combos. You also get a final smash where you are completely invincible for a few seconds and can land some really devastating attacks. You can also block although I never bothered with that function. You’ll find that you can beat most levels by just spamming your standard attack. Most of the game is fairly easy except for the final level and one boss. Those guys are pretty crazy so you’ll want to harness your inner Kraft and cheese your way to victory. Just use the A button to fire dash an opponent. It has 5 hits, but you want to run midway through the attack. If you do this right, you’ll be able to zip in and out. This will deal some damage, but also get you to safety so the opponent can’t counter you. It can take a painfully long time to win the stage, but it beats losing and going back to the last save point right? I had to replay a level twice because I hadn’t saved recently. In my defense, I didn’t expect those random difficulty spikes to show up.

The boss was very overpowered as she would freeze you and then just as you would break free…she’d freeze you again. You had to button mash really quickly in order to escape her infinite combo. I don’t know why the difficulty spikes were so erratic, but I suppose they added a level of depth to the game. I believe there is even a hard mode in case you want to really test your skills. You’ll probably want to use the blocking feature a lot more if you choose to do that.

Graphically, the game is rather sub-par. Granted, the Game Boy Advance can’t expect to look like Sonic 2006, but the sprites just seem more compressed than they should be. I think the game definitely could have put in a little more effort if you ask me. I know that even for home console games, graphics are supposedly not as good in beat em ups since they have to process so many enemies at a time, but I still say that Hyrule Warriors had really impressive graphics. It’s probably the most impressive beat em up games although Dynasty Warriors Gundam also looks quite good. There isn’t really a soundtrack in this game as it’s all extremely generic music that will put you to sleep. I actually almost did fall asleep when I was playing this on my way back home from Texas and had to switch back to Professor Layton to wake my brain up.

The game is fairly short as it only has around 5-7 levels in it. Granted, the levels range in how long they are as some are pretty quick and others are long. Unfortunately, the game forces you to watch all of the turns and there are a lot of minions who will approach you so be prepared to fight a lot. I would have liked it to have been free roam like the home console versions, but I understand that this probably would have been impossible for the GBA’s systems to handle.

Overall, Dynasty Warriors Advance is a decent game. My main issue with it is that the game can be very repetitious. You’re basically using the same attack forever and since the story isn’t even engaging…there’s just not much to this title. You’ll complete it, but then it’ll go back on the shelf. I think the game did try to be a little deep as there are a lot of weapons to equip and you get level ups to make the characters stronger, but it rarely mattered all that much. I do recommend always equipping the strongest weapon to save some time though. If you like the series a lot, then you should check this game out. It’s an interesting portable take on the game and while it was only just barely successful, I still wouldn’t call it a bad game. It’s fun when you first start it and the game only starts to be a bit of a chore by the very end due to how repetitious it is. One way to alleviate this would be to play the game in short batches. 1-2 levels at a time is probably a good way to pace yourself.

Overall 6/10

Live Action Movie Reviews, Live Action Movies, Reviews

Red Dawn (2012) Review

Red_Dawn_FilmPoster
Looks like it’s time for round 2 for Red Dawn. The original got a reboot and now we can see if America could put up a better fight with the modern technology that we have at our disposal. Spoiler alert….America doesn’t fare all that well. While it’s a decent film for the most part, I can’t say that Red Dawn is really my style and the premise is completely unbelievable, although I’ll get into that in a second.

The main characters are enjoying the city life and having fun when the film starts off. Matt ends up losing his team the game, but he gave it his all and that’s what counts. His brother Jed is finally back from being abroad at war and it’s a good thing that he is. See, Korea and Russia have launched an attack against the US of A and we lost big time. The kids must now form a band called the Wolverines and strike back at the oppressors with their experience in warfare and combat. Can they really liberate the greatest country in the world?

Well, let’s go back to the premise since that’s the part that I can’t buy into. See, America is the greatest country in the world and no one can stop us. We have friendly ties with several countries like France and Great Britain, but even if they wouldn’t help us through such an attack, we’d be okay. Would they help us if we got invaded by Korea? I like to think so since it was an unprovoked attack and they would want to get in on the action and spoils of war before the enemies came after them.

Back to the America is for winners part. Apparently, all it takes is a well placed super EMP to take us out of the picture. Without our tech, America simply isn’t very tough and we were defeated in roughly a day. That’s….embarrassing to be honest. America loves its tech, but we also have the best defenses for it and they can’t be permanantely shut off so easily. Moreover, the enemies have closed circuit technology so that they can communicate…and we don’t? Booooooo. America is prepared for all eventualities and we wouldn’t have lost.

At most, they could maybe take a state or two, not 42. We would quickly win them back, turn our tech back, and then nuke the place. America cannot be defeated and we quickly proved this in World War II. Once America got involved, it was essentially Game Over for the enemies. So, this film really feels like propaganda from the enemy. I had this thought during the original one as well and it makes you wonder how this film got into theaters. Freedom of speech and films of course, but we don’t want the American people to get the wrong idea or for the enemies to take this as a challenge to attack. While not as politically controversial as that comedy film about Korea recently, this one’s still not quite as patriotic as you would hope.

There are still patriotic themes of course as the kids take out quite a few enemy soldiers and continue to blow up their bases. It shows that we will never give up and Americans will always have their freedom, but that should have been applied to the whole country, which is why we shouldn’t have lost. America fights hard and they fight to win. That’s how it’s always been and the only way to take us out is with Global Destruction. A mutual nuclear attack would do the trick and then it would be game over.

Naturally, this film is pretty dark given the serious themes that are at play the whole time. Characters drop off one after the other and the heroes are put in many tricky circumstances with people that they can’t always trust. It’s a film that will keep you interested from start to finish, but not one that is really fun to watch. It is fairly realistic as people go through these situations in other countries and in our past, but that’s part of the reason why it turns out to be a film that you won’t find very enjoyable.

There is a twist at the end to keep things real and all films need a twist of some sort nowadays. It’s expected and it adds more drama for the sequel. The event in question definitely comes suddenly and the film did a good job of not being obvious about it although the foreshadowing did start to get a little iffy as the heroes were having too much of a good time. You have to have nerves of steel at that point since everyone is dying so you learn to be able to get decently happy very quickly since you don’t know how long the peace will last. Still, they should have kept moving.

Jed’s a really good main character and the film does a good job of making him likable. The main gripe with him is just how much beer the guy drinks. It certainly won’t help him when he’s out in a firefight. Luckily, the guy has a lot of experience in the field and he really ends up helping the team a lot. Without him, it’s safe to say that the heroes may have been a little out of their league. Matt is not nearly as good. I really didn’t like his character from start to finish. His first appearance has him crumbling during the end of a football game and it seems like he barely cares. He just heads out to have fun with his girlfriend and really acting like one of those throwaway characters from any film or show. He’s the kind of guy that you just don’t like and the film tries to correct that later on, but it’s too little too late. He abandons the team and disobeys orders when he feels like it without any real remorse.

Most of the other characters are here to remind us that this is serious business and not for the faint of heart. The guy who lacked will power steals the food and betrays the heroes to the enemy. The surest way to tell who isn’t a real American is to find the guy who betrays you to the other country. That’s just sad and I’m pretty sure that the guy didn’t live through the experience. The other characters are typically all right or a little on the not cool side. Matt’s girlfriend certainly did not help him become likable and I thought that she was a bit much the whole time. Jed’s friend was much better as she was more reserved and dedicated to the cause.

The writing seemed to be decent as there was only one piece of unnecessary language that I noticed, but I saw this on TV so they helped the film out a little by covering this area. I don’t know how much or how little they cut, but that’s always nice of them. The film was over in a flash and felt way under 2 hours. That’s probably a good thing as short and sweet has actually been working out quite well lately. If you’re as good as Man of Steel or Avengers, then go for as long as possible. Otherwise, go for a shorter route.

Overall, This Red Dawn is better than the first version. The main character is easily the best person in the film and he puts the other guys to shame. It’s too bad that Matt couldn’t be quite as good. The film is pretty careful in terms of violence and while a lot of things happen to the heroes, it’s never as intense as in the original. That being said, the premise is still as unbelievable as ever. America simply doesn’t lose like that and this is the kind of film that shouldn’t be given a theater release without some kind of propaganda video before it to pump us up. At the very least, we should have had an epilogue about how we ultimately won the war and crushed everyone. It was neat to see the Marines and they actually looked impressive in this version, but they sure tried to be as unlikable as possible at times. If you like war films where the underdogs have to fight against large odds check this out. If you want a lighter film where America owns the world, check out The Avengers! Now that film shows us the determination and skill of The American people!

Overall 4/10