Monday, September 16, 2013

Review - "Riddick"

I give Vin Diesel a lot of credit. He loves the character of Riddick. I'm glad he finally decided to make another movie. I heard he even contributed to the budget of the film. That's dedication. Let him keep making Fast And Furious movies (another series I love as well) if it allows him to make more Riddick movies.

Now, the movie.

Loved it. I like that they went back to a more basic story, a la Pitch Black. Now I liked The Chronicles Of Riddick, I liked the wider scope the movie. That said, Riddick had his more epic story with that, and it was time to get back to basics, and that's what this movie did.

Riddick is stranded on a planet, and needs to get off. The first part of the movie is just about him surviving, but he knows he needs to get off this rock, so he pulls a very Riddick type move, and a way presents itself. From that point, we get the mercenaries. Are they cliche characters? Yea, but they work in this movie. Without spoiling it, one character's identity came as a pleasant surprise to me.  The rest of the movie is Riddick being Riddick, putting his plan in motion through stealth, violence, & misdirection. Good bits of humor, good action sequences, all building up to an inevitable climax with some pretty nasty creatures.

The effects were quite impressive considering the movie's relatively low budget. Loved the creatures. To me, it looked as good as other movies costing twice or even three times as much. Now that's getting the most out of your budget.

Performances were solid all around, with nobody being what I would call outstanding, but I was totally buying that these people were their characters. Of course, Diesel was, well, IS Riddick.

Now, was this cheesy pulp sci fi? Yup. But it totally worked for me, because that is what Riddick is. It was exactly what I expected and wanted out of another Riddick movie, just a good time with a character I really like.

More please.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

The Greatest Movie Experience Of My Life

Movies today are not the events they once were. With the quick release of movies on DVD/Blu Ray, and the home theater experience becoming larger and larger, movies are no longer a “must see” in the theaters for a lot of people. The internet gives us much more information about movies then we have ever had. Some people are even happy with watching bootleg copies of movies while they are still in theaters, despite their usually sub par quality. I've been guilty of it a time or two myself, but I try not to do that. I prefer seeing movies on the big screen, something home theater really can't duplicate.

Which brings me to the last, and best, great experience I've had seeing a movie in the theaters.

The year was 1983, I was in my third year of High School. Everyone was waiting for the release of “Return Of The Jedi”, the third, and at the time, final “Star Wars” movie. We knew little about the movie, aside from the fact that we knew there was another Death Star. Anticipation was of course, extremely high for the movie. Being the hardcore “Star Wars” fan that I am, it had been what I was looking forward to more than anything.

May 25th, 1983, a Wednesday. The day we were all waiting for had finally arrived. The line at the theater I was at was so long, I can't even estimate its length. I was attending the movie with a friend and his sister, with the intention of seeing the movie at every scheduled showing, which we did. We brought a bag of food and drinks, and chatted with other fans while waiting on line. I made a conservative guess that at least 60-70% of my school cut class that day to see the movie.

I was dressed in a Darth Vader costume my friend had made. Many small children came up to me with their parents, wanting to meet Lord Vader. They shook my hand, I took pictures with a few of them, even scared one kid a bit when he said to me “You killed Ben!” I took two steps towards him and he ran back to his mother as she chuckled a bit. I was even briefly interviewed by a local radio station covering the premiere. Standing on line for a movie had never been so much fun.

We were finally let into the theater, and approximately 20 mins later, the lights went down, and the movie began. Oddly enough, this is not the moment it became the greatest movie experience of my life. The crowd applauded when the 20th Century Fox logo came on screen, and at various other times during the movie. The movie was great, and I couldn't wait to see it again. Luckily, I didn't have to wait too long. We sat through two more showings of the movie, and finally came to the last showing of the day. A few other friends had shown up and joined me and my friend for the movie. This is where it gets awesome.

The lights went down, and the applause started. Applause followed the Fox logo, then after “A Long Time Ago In A Galaxy Far, Far Away”. The applause erupted when the “Star Wars” logo appeared on the screen. Every major character received applause on their initial appearance.  When Luke first gets his lightsaber at the Pit Of Carkoon, everyone went crazy. You could just feel the excitement in the theater, the applause, the laughter, the reactions to things happening in the movie. It was like we were reunited with old friends, rather than just watching a movie.

Then we come to the final battle between Luke and Vader.

When their lightsabers first clash, applause. When Luke cut off Vader's hand, louder applause. When the Emperor was hitting Luke with his lightning, you could hear the crowd grumbling with tension. I've never been so glued to my seat and fixated on the screen ever before, and everyone else was reacting the same way. Then the moment came, Vader, looking back and forth between Luke and the Emperor. The rumbling of the crowd increased with each change of Vader's gaze. Luke's cries of “Father me” only increased the tension. Then, Vader turns and grabs the Emperor.

The applause were so loud, it actually drowned out the movie...that's right, the applause of the audience drowned out the sound of the movie. People were jumping out of their seats. It was a moment unlike any other I had ever experienced watching a movie. The applause finally calmed, but not for long. The destruction of the Death Star caused more, and when the credits rolled, the applause was almost as loud as earlier.

The air of excitement that day has never, even been duplicated for me. Even when “Star Wars Episode I:The Phantom Menace” came out, after a 16 year gap in Star Wars films, it was not as exciting as that day in 1983. It gave the movie a special place in my heart, than can never be replaced or duplicated. Is it my favorite “Star Wars” movie? No, but the experience of seeing it  was something very special, something that sadly, I don't think people will ever get to experience. I feel very fortunate to have had that experience. It's something I won't ever forget, and something I am more than happy to share with others, as I have told the story many, many times since then. I never get tired of telling it either.

Movies are still my favorite form of entertainment, and the first “Star Wars” trilogy are still my favorite 3 movies of all time. But the magic of that day in 1983, is something that has sadly disappeared from the movie going experience. Sure, people still applaud at movies, but it just isn't the same.

May 25th, 1983. A day I will never, ever forget....The greatest movie experience of my life.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Review - "Man OF Steel"

Been a while since I have posted anything here, seems like I have been saying that a lot lately, but unfortunately life has a tendency to get in the way of things, even something like this blog, which I love doing.

Anyways, now is as good a time as any to start things back up again, so here we go.

“Man Of Steel” Directed by Zack Snyder.

Where to begin....this movie was phenomenal, on every level.

1978's “Superman:The Movie” was the first really big, serious take on a superhero at the time. Since that time, the Superman movies that followed ranged from very good (“Superman II”) to mind numblingly awful (“Superman IV:The Quest For Peace”). Bryan Singer's “Superman Returns” was an attempt at a continuation of the series, and although I liked it very much, it was more of a homage to the earlier Superman movies. “Man Of Steel” is a new vision, a new beginning, and it's different in many ways, but manages to maintain the spirit of Superman.

One of the first things I really loved about the movie was that Krypton, Superman's home planet, was a fully realized, alien world. Visually stunning, and definitely not just another planet like Earth.

I have heard some complaints about the nonlinear storytelling that the first part of the movie utilizes. Clark Kent's childhood is told in flashbacks, as we see him progress from place to place, keeping a low profile as he comes to terms with who he is. In my opinion, it is a refreshing break from the standard structure of an origin story. Some have said that the first act drags a bit, but I never felt that at all. IT was great to see Clark's reactions to his emerging powers, it wasn't just “gee whiz I got super powers how cool is that” kind of thing, he struggles to understand and deal with what is happening to him, and at first, it's not pleasant, it's overwhelming. Even when he first begins to fly, he doesn't just soar away, it's awkward for him. I also love that he isn't the perfect hero from the start, he has a hard choice to make in this movie and it is handled perfectly, and makes Superman grounded in a way we have never seen before, and sets the tone for his future behavior.

When I first heard about this movie, I was a bit bothered by the fact that General Zod was going to be the villain, at the same time glad it wasn't going to be Lex Luthor, because he's been done to death. Lex Luthor should be a part of Superman, he just doesn't need to be the bad guy in every single movie. I also loved Terence Stamp's portrayal of Zod in “Superman II”, so like many, I was weary of another actor 's take on the character. After seeing the movie, I can honestly say I really loved Michael Shannon's take on Zod. He is a military man, dedicated to his planet and his people, unfortunately he takes that dedication to a genocidal level. But his intentions at first are not what I would call truly evil, they evolve into it. Shannon took the part and not only played it to perfection, he became General Zod.

The movie is visually stunning, as you would come to expect from director Zack Snyder (“300”, “Watchmen”). But his movies, while visually brilliant, have always felt devoid of heart, almost as if he really didn't understand his characters to the degree that he needed to. Not so in this case, I definitely felt that Snyder understood Superman, and gave him some depth. Having Christopher Nolan on board as a mentor to Snyder was a great combination, although the downside, as many have pointed out, is that the main female lead, Lois Lane, played by Amy Adams, wasn't as fully developed as I would have liked to have seen. Adams was fine in the role, but I felt like there was more she could have done, I feel like they didn't do the character the justice she deserves, but perhaps they are going to do that with the inevitable sequel. That has always been an issue with Nolan, as his female leads never seem to be as strong as the male leads. Hopefully Snyder will remedy this in the next movie.

The action was on a level we have not seen in a Superman movie. The fights between Superman and the Kryptonians are huge, and there is massive destruction, as there would be from super powered beings fighting each other. There is also collateral damage, it is clear that people were killed as a result of these battles, something else we never really saw in a Superman movie. While that is a good thing, it brings up another point that others have pointed out. The collateral damage seems glossed over, no one really stops to look at what has happened, when all is said and done, it's basically, “ok thank god it's over” and that's pretty much it. Even a few lines about it would have at least given recognition to the fact that everything comes with a price. Apart from that, I thought the action was well staged and exciting, and on the level it needed to be at. Visual effects were solid, what imperfections there may have been , I didn't notice. I absolutely loved seeing Superman break the sound barrier when he flew, a very nice touch. The score by Hans Zimmer was also very good, although at times the score wasn't as noticeable as it should have been, but it could just be that the movie kinds distracts you from it. The one thing I missed was a central theme, the theme from “Superman:The Movie” is iconic, and one of, if not the best theme for a movie, ever. I wasn't expecting anything along those lines, but I was really hoping for a new Superman theme that was as fitting as the John Williams theme was. Not a big deal, as the rest of the music was solid, just the nostalgic side of me coming out.

The acting....solid all around, with Kevin Costner and Russell Crowe being the standouts, they owned their roles, two of the best performances from them both. In fact, I'd say it's the best role Costner has done in a long time, one of the finest of his career in fact. Laurence Fishburne was a great Perry White, Diane Lane was also excellent as Martha Kent. Henry Cavill, as Clark/Superman. While he was not what I would call outstanding in the part, he was very good, he made the part his own, he was not trying to emulate Christopher Reeve (the quintessential Superman, always has been, always will be) but that's not what the film makers were going for, so on that level, they succeeded. He did what he needed to do to make this a fresh start for a new Superman. Christopher Reeve was an outstanding actor, so anyone who takes the part of Superman, has a lot of weight on them, and Cavill handled it just fine.

I can see why people would not care for this movie, as it is very different from any Superman movie we have seen to this point. Many people, including myself, have a great love and affection for the 1978 movie. But this is a different time, and as we saw from the reaction to “Superman Returns” trying to  recreate the magic of that movie is a difficult task, and one that probably should not even be attempted. Like I said earlier, I liked “Superman Returns” but I see it as a stand alone love letter to the Reeve movies, and looking at it from that point of view, makes it enjoyable for me.

“Man Of Steel” brings us a new vision of Superman, one that can stand on its own as a great movie, but also serves as the beginning of a new series of Superman movies, and I look forward to the future adventures that Snyder and co. will bring us.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Most Anticipated Of 2013

These are some of my most anticipated movies for the coming year. I am placing them in order of release date, except for the movie I am anticipating the most, at least right now.

“Oblivion” April 19th

Tom Cruise, Sci-Fi, Joseph Kosinski, the director of “Tron Legacy”, and an original story. Not a sequel, reboot or re imagining. Since this is a rarity in Hollywood these days, how could you not want to see this? “Tron Legacy” got a very mixed reaction, some loved it, some hated it, some were indifferent. Count me as one of those who loved it.  I really liked the visual style of the movie, and I feel like Kosinski will deliver a solid sci fi movie with Cruise on board. Both of Cruise's sci fi outings, "Minority Report" and "War Of The Worlds", were great movies, so it seems he has an eye for good sci fi.

“Iron Man 3” May 3rd

Director Jon Favreau is out, director Shane Black is in for the third installment of the Iron Man series. Expect a darker, grittier edge this time around. The trailers give a sense of real danger, as if everything in Tony Stark's world is about to come crashing down around him. After the enormous success of “The Avengers”, Marvel studios knows they have to up their game with the moves that will lead to the next Avengers movie. I am expecting all of Marvel's upcoming movies to up the stakes, but this one needs to set the bar for the other movies that follow.

“Star Trek:Into Darkness” May 17th

JJ Abrams and the crew of the Enterprise are back from the 2009 reboot for a new, and from the looks of it, darker adventure. Benedict Cumberbatch plays the mysterious villain, on a quest for some kind of revenge. Ok, so Nero from the first movie was after revenge as well, but as long as there is no time travel involved, i'm ok with the whole revenge angle again. The  trailers look great, so I am expecting another great outing from JJ & Co. I am hoping that this one has a different feel from the last one, Star Trek has always been about different tones....dark, lighthearted, comical, emotional, and I hope that we see a different tone this time, and so far it seems there will be.

“Fast And Furious Six” May 24th

This series is a that has gotten BETTER with each new installment. I did not see the second movie, “2 Fast 2 Furious”, and i'm sure i'll get around to it, but as far as i'm concerned, the only ones that really count are the one's with Vin Diesel's Dominic Torreto in them. So that would be the first, fourth, and fifth movies. Like I said, each movie has been better than the last. Fast Five being probably the best one so far. The presence of Dwayne Johnson really gave the movie a great presence, and seeing him back for the sixth movie is very exciting. This new movie looks to be even crazier with the car action than the last one, These movies are adrenaline fueled, balls to the wall action, and nobody does it better.

“Man Of Steel” June 14th

Superman has had one heck of a bumpy ride. Some good movies, some so so, and one god awful abomination (“Superman IV:The Quest For Peace” for those fortunate enough not to have seen it). Although the last movie, Bryan Singer's “Superman Returns” did decent box office (approx $200 mil domestic) it wasn't the return to glory Warner Brothers was hoping for. So they went and hired the stylized director Zack Snyder (“Watchmen”, “300”) to give the son of Jor El a much needed restart. A new cast, including English actor Henry Cavill, who plays Superman/Clark Kent, Kevin Costner as Jonathan Kent, Diane Lane as Martha Kent, Russell Crowe as Jor El, Lawrence Fishburne as Perry White, and Michael Shannon as General Zod. Batman master Christopher Nolan as Producer, and hopefully mentor to Snyder. All those add up to a lot of promise.The trailers are very cool, and it looks like Superman may finally return to his former glory.

“Despicable Me 2” July 3rd

“Despicable Me” really took me by surprise when it was released in 2010, an it was one of my favorite movies of the year. Of course, those little yellow minions stole the show, but the entire movie was great. Great characters, great voice acting, and a sweet, emotional heart among the laughs and silliness. It was nice to see Dreamworks getting away from “Shrek” and making something different and very entertaining. I hope they don't go too over the top with the sequel, strike the same balance that the first movie had, and you got a winner on your hands. They don't need to top the first movie, just equal its humor and sweetness.

My most anticipated movie of 2013 is....

“Pacific Rim” July 12th

Director Guillermo DelToro, monsters, giant robots fighting the monsters. That's a formula for a great movie. DelToro directed “Mimic”, “Blade 2” (the best of that series) and both “Hellboy” movies, 4 movies I really enjoyed. I have yet to see another highly praised film of his, “Pan's Labyrinth”, but I have heard nothing but good things about it. The trailer for “Pacific Rim” looks awesome, and it's refreshing to see a big summer blockbuster that is an original idea, not a sequel, or reboot. I guess you could say this is a decent year for those kind of movies, with “Oblivion” being the other one. I just hope that audiences embrace these movies. “Pacific Rim” has all the elements of a big summer movie, and a great director at the helm, Unlike the “Transformers” movies, which while entertaining, were devoid of any kind of substance,  DelToro should bring some.

Check the trailer out....

Along with the movies I just talked about, some others I will be seeing are: “Kick Ass 2” June 28th, “The Wolverine” July 26th, “Riddick 3” Sept 6th, “Thor:The Dark World” Nov 8th, “Ender's Game” Nov 1st, “Catching Fire” (the second “Hunger Games” movie) Nov 22nd, “Anchorman The Legend Continues” Dec 20th, “The Hobbit:The Desolation Of Smaug” Dec 13th. I am sure there are more that will come along, or have just slipped my mind. But so far, there's a lot I am looking forward to at the movies this year.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Dead On Arrival

This is basically one long rant, so if it doesn't make a lot of sense, forgive me.

This past Thursday, “A Good Day To Die Hard” was released, the fifth installment in the Die Hard movie series. Initially I was excited to see a new Die Hard movie, after the lackluster “Live Free Or Die Hard”.  Now, I have not seen the new movie, and unfortunately I won't be seeing it until it is released on video.

I normally do not go by what critics say about movies, a topic I'll cover another time. But the one time I put any merit onto what critics say is when they almost all say a movie is terrible. Currently “A Good Day To Die Hard” sits at 16% on Rotten Tomatoes. I also know people who have seen it and said it was, in a word...awful. Needless to say, that is extremely disappointing, as I am a huge fan of the first three Die Hard movies.

Part of Die Hard's appeal, is the character of John McClane,  a normal guy always being thrown into extreme situations, he doesn't always have the answers, and sometimes barely escapes being killed. But he's resourceful and clever, and that's what gets him through. Also, he's not indestructible. At least he didn't used to be. He used to walk away from things battered, cut, bruised and bloodied.

In “Live Free Or Die Hard” he never really seemed to be in a lot of danger, even when he was in dangerous situations, he was turning into a super hero. That's not what John McClane is.

Well, it seems as if the new movie is keeping the same idea, that he is a super hero, that has to vanquish the bad guys at all costs....even when he has no stake in the events, and can just walk away.

This is just another example of Hollywood coasting on name recognition. Seriously, the director of the new movie has the classic “Max Payne” and the needless remake of “The Omen” on his resume. So I guess that Die Hard is now gonna be played out like a video game. What's next? Are they gonna remake the first Die Hard with Zac Efron in the lead role? From what I understand, they couldn't get any worse at this point.

Word is that Die Hard 6 is already being planned. I don't know if that's good or bad. On one hand, hearing how bad the new movie is, you'd think they could only improve with the next one. But never underestimate Hollywood, cause just when you think it can't get worse, it does,

Here's an idea...keep it simple. The First movie was a guy, terrorists, hostages, and bad guys in a building. The second was an airport. OK the third was in New York City, but it still worked because of the strong cast and competent direction. They need to get back to the simplicity of the Die Hard formula. I guess they figured having McClane running around NYC in “Die Hard With A Vengeance”, worked, so they went with that free roaming in “Live Free Or Die Hard”. Keep the story contained, give McClane an honest reason to be involved, and put the guy in some real danger. Even though we know the hero always gets away, at least make us FEEL like there's a chance he may not.

Why does Hollywood always do this? Take something that was so good and make it....not good. This is my fear with Star Wars, I really hope they don't run it into the ground like they seem to have done with Die Hard. That's the problem, Hollywood doesn't know when to quit. Granted, with Star Wars, there are many more story possibilities, and what happens with that remains to be seen.

I get so frustrated with Hollywood sometimes. There are times when I think that they may actually be coming out of the lazy funk they seem to have been in for so long, and sometimes, for a short time, they do. But then they go right back into that creative black hole that always seems to suck them in. 2012 was actually a pretty good year for movies, something I will cover in another post. But with “A Good Day To Die Hard” 2013 isn't starting out too well, I just hope this isn't a sign of what's coming this year. The movie fanatic in me is hopeful that it isn't.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Star Wars Is Back For More

Anyone who knows me knows how dear the Star Wars franchise is to me. Since I first saw “Star Wars” in 1977 at age 11 (17 times in the theaters), it's been my favorite movie, and I have seen it literally over 100 times. The movies that followed subsequently became my favorites as well. In the years since, they became a world wide phenomenon, and grew into an industry. Movies, books, video games, TV shows, toys, role playing games, you name it. In 1999, Lucas released a new Star Wars movie (something I thought would never happen), the first in a Prequel trilogy. It's well known that I liked those movies more than most. Yea, I am very forgiving of George Lucas.

In 2012, George Lucas did something I never thought he would do. He sold his company, Lucasfilm and all his other companies to Disney, thus giving Disney complete control over all Lucas properties. George had come to the conclusion that Star Wars should continue, but under the care of someone else. Disney immediately announced that “Star Wars:Episode VII” was planned for release in 2015, with episode VIII and IX to follow. As much as I thought “Return Of The Jedi” would be the last Star Wars movie, and was surprised by the prequel trilogy, I never in my wildest dreams ever thought that a sequel trilogy would see the big screen.

So now comes the task of actually making these movies. Michael Arndt (“Toy Story 3”, “Little Miss Sunshine”) is writing the script. This is a screenwriter who gives lectures on the art of storytelling, and particularly why Star Wars works so well. So that instills me with a lot of confidence that Disney is taking this new venture very seriously. Then today I hear that director JJ Abrams will be in the chair for Episode VII. At the time of this writing, that has yet to be confirmed by Lucasfilm and Disney, but it's looking like it is going to happen.

NOTE:It has been confirmed that JJ Abram is indeed directing Star Wars Episode VII

Now, finally onto the point of this article...the future of Star Wars.

While it seems like for the time being, Star Wars is in good hands, I do have concerns. Disney has announced their intentions to release a new Star Wars movie every 2-3 yeas, and possibly even every year at times. On one hand, it is a Star Wars lovers dream, I know I can and never will get enough Star Wars (precisely why I hang my head in shame that I haven't really watched much of the animated Clone Wars series). But that also concerns me, and not in a totally positive way.

That much planned output could be a recipe for disaster.  As much as I would love to see a Star Wars movie every year, or every other year, I want quality movies. I don't want something rushed out with the Star Wars brand slapped on it. Now I would think that Disney would not allow that to happen. They have acquired two movie making giants in the past few years (Pixar and Marvel) and both studios have produced quality work, without interference from Disney. I hope that trend continues with Lucasfilm. As long as the movies are of top quality, keep making them I say. There seems to be no doubt that the new trilogy is being handled with great care, but is that just to pull us in? Again, I would hope that isn't the case, but with so much planned, it could be very easy for quality to suffer. Of course, if the movies fail to turn a profit, as unlikely as that seems, it could spell trouble.

I think the focus should be on quality, NOT quantity. As much as I'd love to see a Star Wars movie released every year, I’d rather wait a little bit longer and get a better movie in return. One of the big complaints about the Prequels was the writing, which honestly, was at times good, but most of the time, not so much. The stories are the heart and soul of these movies, and to me, that should be one of the top priorities with the new movies. Also, top directors need to be doing these movies as well. JJ Abrams is a good start.

Now, beyond the new trilogy, what does the future hold for Star Wars? In a word....anything. There are so many stories in the comics and books in the extended universe, that take place at so many different times in Star Wars history. Personally, I would love to see a series of movies based in the Old Republic, taking place decades before the events in all the movies. As much as I love the established characters of the Star Wars universe, I would love to see an entirely new set of characters. The rise of the Jedi, the Sith wars, the early Jedi masters and Sith lords, the possibilities are endless.

There are also a lot of great stories that take place after the events of the original trilogy, and I am interested in seeing what will be done for the new trilogy. It's been said they they will try to get the core three from the Original trilogy...Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher to reprise their roles. That's both good, and not so much bad, but not great either.

Harrison Ford is 71 years old, and while he is still making movies, it is doubtful he would be on board for three more movies, despite his saying he is open to the idea of playing Han Solo again. I can only realistically see him doing one movie.  Mark Hamill and Carrie fisher are not much younger, but I think they could make three films if they so choose to. But I really think as much as I wanna see them reprise their roles, maybe they shouldn't be the stars. Maybe the focus should be on new characters. Perhaps their children. Both Luke and his wife Mara Jade (from the Zahn trilogy of books) have a kid, Ben, and Han and Leia also have Jedi twins Jacen and Jaina. Of course those are characters from the books, and we don't yet know if they will be including characters from the extended universe.

Episode VII could be used to introduce new characters that would be the main focus of episodes VIII and IX. Like I said, the possibilities are pretty much endless.

There has also been talk of stand alone movies being made, movies that would be just one story told in one movie. That also could be very interesting, there are a lot of characters in the Star Wars universe that could easily carry an entire movie. Boba Fett....Darth Maul...heck even a movie about Chewbacca's days before he met Han Solo could be cool, I would love to see a movie take place on his home wold of Kasshyyk.

As of this writing, it has indeed been confirmed that in between the films of the new sequel trilogy, Lucasfilm will release stand alone movies. So far, they have a Han Solo story in mind (centered around a young Solo, and possibly a young Lando Calrissian taking place between Revenge Of The Sith and Star Wars) as well as a Yoda movie.

Now as good as all of this sounds, I am a bit worried that they could possibly end up diluting the brand. A Star Wars movie every year? Sure, I would love that. But sometimes anticipation is better than being given a constant flow of new movies. Obviously, I am very conflicted on this.

Part of the whole Star Wars experience is the waiting in between movies. The first two trilogies had a 3 year break between movies. Now I don't know how much of a gap there will be between Episode VII and Episode VIII, but there should be at least a two year gap. These stand alone movies will be filling that gap in between episode installments. I am worried that people may tire of Star Wars movies. It sounds incredible to say such a thing, but too much of even a good thing can be bad.

The James Bond movies have been a popular series since it started back in 1966. 23 movies over a 46 year period. That averages a movie every two years. Some didn't do as well as others, but they always did well enough to allow them to keep being made. That could work for Star Wars, but if they release a movie every year? They run the risk of overkill.

This of course, is all speculation. The prequel trilogy, as much as they were not nearly as good as the original 3, still made a ton of money. So if movies are released that are clearly better, there is no reason to think that they wouldn't do well.

All I know is that as a Star Wars fan, this is more than I could have ever asked for. Even if they only released the sequel trilogy, I’d be thrilled. But the ideas that they are throwing around are very exciting, and I really hope that Lucasfilm does the fans proud, and gives us top notch movies.

Star Wars is very dear to me, please Lucasfilm, don't let me down.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Review - "The Hobbit - An Unexpected Journey"

I came into this movie never having read the novel, so keep that in mind. I will start with the running time....2hrs 45 mins. Didn't need to be that long. Director Peter Jackson has a tendency to draw things out, sometimes longer than they need to be (“King Kong” anyone? Even though I liked his take on it, was too long) and in this case, it wasn't needed, in my opinion. Now let me clarify that statement by saying I was never bored the entire run of the movie, it just felt like things could have been tightened up a bit.

On to the actual movie....highly entertaining. Like most, I couldn't remember the names of all 13 of the Dwarves, but I didn't need to , they were all distinct enough that I could always tell who was who. Obviously the focus was only going to be on a few of the Dwarves, and it seems like a few kinda got lost in the shuffle. But with that many characters to juggle, it's bound to happen. It was a slow build up to things actually getting moving, but it kept my attention, which is most important. There was a lot of humor, the action was fun and easy to follow, thanks for no shaky cam Mr Jackson.

From what I understand, the Radghast The Brown character was made for the movie and not part of the original story. While I didn't mind the character, and thought he was well done, I haven't decided if he was actually necessary to add to the movie.I felt that his whole purpose was to introduce this Necromancer character, which we never see, and I felt like they could have at least given us a glimpse of the character. I was also a little disappointed we didn't get to see more of Smaug the Dragon, we barely see him in the beginning and a tiny glimpse later on. It feels like they are saving things for the next two movies. I feel like they could have taken the material from three movies to make two leaner movies.

Despite my criticisms, I overall enjoyed the movie very much, heck I even teared up at one point thanks to a very touching scene. The visual effects were well done. I loved the Goblin city sequence, and the stone giant scene was also very good, and the Trolls were really funny, I loved that scene as well. The ending was tense and exciting. The musical score was also excellent. Performances were good all around...Martin Freeman as Bilbo was just great, he had the presence that the character demanded. Ian McKellen was his usual great self, and Andy Serkis brings Gollum to glorious life again, save for some unintelligible dialogue. Nice to see Hugo Weaving and Christopher Lee in there as well. I definitely want to see the next two movies, I just wish they hadn't felt the need to stretch this tale out over three movies. Regardless, a solid effort all around.

Review - "Zero Dark Thirty"

Well it's been a long time since I did anything on this blog, (almost 3 years? Wth!) but I decided to get it going again, and I am gonna start off with a few short reviews of some movies I have recently seen. I will also be posting my Best of 2012, once I decide what exactly they are, So until then, here we go...

In a word....excellent. Director Kathryn Bigelow manages to create tension in a situation where you know the eventual outcome. Especially during the raid on Bin Laden's compound at the end. Performances were solid all around, Jessica Chastain was excellent as the agent determined to see this thru no matter what. While there are not many likable characters in the movie, you can see why they are the way they are from all they have gone thru to complete the difficult task they set out on. Jason Clarke was also excellent, as he is able to show the toll it takes on a person who is frustrated and tired, it was obvious that torturing suspects was getting to him, and it made me understand more about what it does to not only the one getting tortured, but the one giving it.

The action was tense and not stylized, not made to be the usual overblown Hollywood action sequences, they were realistic and well played out, the end raid really felt like you were following real soldiers into the situation....even though I have never done that, I got the sense from the sequence that it would be just like that.

There has been talk about if this was a true accurate account of what happened, but when the movie starts off with "Based on a true story" You KNOW it's probably not going to be 100% accurate. It's doesn't matter in this case, from what I know it is fairly accurate, and even if it isn't as factual as it claims, it is one hell of an entertaining movie, one I recommend highly.