Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Movie Review - Passengers

   The title Passengers doesn't evoke the sci-fi plot behind it.  Is it a love story, a suspense, an action film?  Well, it's a lot of those things over the course of a lot of time but one has to focus on the journey over the destination and the film has a lot of it.

  On a trip to a distant planet, Preston is awoken years before the proper date.  He is crippled by the isolation and loneliness and the unspeakable occurs and things fall apart.

   The trailer and premise tries to disguise giving away the thorniest conflict in the film but it can't be helped as it is part of the plot.  The story moves into different phases, from a solo psychological conundrum to a sweet romance and even to a tense thriller.  The sci-fi angle in the beginning is extremely appreciated but might not be readily accepted by the general populace as it is.  They might prefer a simple one or the other.  Perhaps that is why the solo segment was kept to a minimum before it took a traditional route.

  Now the production design of the interstellar ship and the spacescape are quite astounding and that can't be denied.  It might be kept in the background but the rooms, the machinery, the robots, the specific aspects like the holo entertainment center and even the swimming pool are amazing.  Floating into space will always be a wonder and this film keeps the quality of the technological advancement to a fair standard.

  Chris Pratt is too much of a nice guy, to be honest.  He's too amiable to be a leading man with a dark edge but he's tries, even though he's just too loveable.  Jennifer Lawrence gets to show off her flexible acting skills in the more tense segments more than he does but they make a very sweet couple.  Almost too cute, at first.  Michael Sheen as the robotic bartender gladly or sadly doesn't go beyond his pivoting pivotal supporting role.

  Passengers is a great sci-fi flick that deserves a bigger audience so the potential for outer space as a setting for a variety of genres and themes can be explored.  The sci-fi background is sound and the romance is a good draw so here's hoping more folks will take a ride in this unique journey.

Movie Review - Sing

   I was quite looking forward to this flick.  Anthropomorphism by way humanized animals is making another huge comeback (over regular talking creatures) and the singing is bound to be fun, right?  Absolutely!

   Buster Moon's love for his theatre prompts him to stage a singing competition with false promises.  Everything literally falls to pieces but the power of passion and performance saves the day.

  Oh yes, the world of Sing is pretty diverse and well rounded with more than a few species representing all walks of life as wildlife.  The reluctant criminal, the overworked mother, the angsty teen, the overconfident confidence man, the shy sweetie and even the sketchy manager himself are all linked together by their dreams.  It's a very uplifting message and, even though it's not exactly remarkable or groundbreaking, it's still a pleasing positive vibe.

  The music obviously has a lion's share of the film.  There's a variety, though most are upbeat pop and mostly for general consumption over specific niches but there are special set, even if they might be virtually cameo samples.  They are all largely enjoyable and not offensive as can be.  They might possible experiment more if there's a sequel, which would be welcome if they maintain or exceed the current level of quality.

   There are too many voice actors to get into but all did a wonderful, wonderful job with more than a few surprises if one didn't read the cast list in advance.  They could have gone further with the plot but is satisfied with their rating, plus they were juggling about seven different character arcs at the same time.  Sing is a hit, a harmless chart placer that is enjoyable as a piece of background music but deserves to be recognized so it could stage another comeback.

Movie Review - Assassin's Creed

   I've known about the Assassin's Creed franchise but I've never actually played it.  It's a pretty popular game series so I had high hopes for the film adaptation.

  Callum was saved from death so he could relive his ancestor's life through an immersive virtual process.  The endgame involves locating a mysterious apple but secret sects have their own agendas.

   As an action and visual effects flick, the movie does display some adept fight choreography and some stunning tho muted scenes.  So why does it seem so slow?  The pace is plodding and bland toned atmosphere doesn't quite excited or thrill.  The vaunted, acrobatic combat demonstrations are spaced out pretty well but the plot that ties them together is vague and not that engaging.  There's little to draw the audience into the plot, though they did try with the paternal angle.  There is style in the execution of the cinematography but the narrative flow is lacking.

  The main character that Michael Fassbender plays has his own drama but lacks proper humanity.  Only Marion Cotillard as the project manager displays relatability and this is even through her ice princess facade.  The others are practically props or even NPC's in the gaming sense.  

  Assassin's Creed had the talent and lore to bring the gaming industry into the forefront for the world to see and appreciate but it fails to hit the mark.  It's a huge shame because other equally worthy game franchise might be wary of expanding their product to movie multimedia because of this disappointment.  But I do hope they try again.

Friday, 23 December 2016

Giveaway - Stargate Atlantis Swag from Comet

   So Comet is a new Sci-Fi (and horror) Network showing classic, cult, creepy cinema conglomerations for couch crashers who don't even need to subscribe so gorge on them.  You can watch everything for free at CometTV.com and you know what else is free?  Stargate Atlantis swag!

   You a fan?  You want to show that you're a member of the Stargate crew?  Then wear the shirt and two patches plus a dazzling Stargate necklace (it's not a mini portal though, aw) to prepare yourself to squeeze evil aliens to submissions (by practicing on an alien stress ball) or taking care of benevolent ones by covering their oversized heads with an alien beanie.

   Just write down the name of your favorite Stargate Atlantis character in the comment section along with a way to get in contact with you and a random winner will be chosen to receive all five goodies. It's that simple, woo!

   While interstellar travel is possible in Stargate, sadly, the giveaway is only available for US residents.  Each household is only eligible to win One COMET / Stargate Atlantis Swag Pack via blog reviews and giveaways. Only one entrant per mailing address per giveaway. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you will not be eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.  The prize will be sent via FedEx or USPS. No P.O. Boxes please.

  BTW, Comet has Tank Girl as well. It's got livewire Lori Petty and man kangaroos to mess with your head, hehe.

  Remember...   CometTV is available on television digi-networks and online at CometTV.com. COMET offers something for everyone and has an incredible array of movies that you simply can’t get with a subscription to streaming platforms like Netflix, Amazon, or Hulu.

   This month catch greats like Wolfen, Flash Gordon, and Tank Girl! And of course... Stargate Atlantis is back every weeknight this month at 10/9C!

   Merry Christmas!

Monday, 19 December 2016

Movie Review - Rogue One

  This Star Wars Story isn't part of the numbered Episodes but it does start out as the first 'one' of the new spin-off movies.  It makes itself integral to the mythos, trying to get a more solid foothold into the franchise.  It's going for a darker feel, unlike the original spin-off which was the Ewok Adventure, which was a children's adventure.

   The Rebels enlist the help of the cynical Jyn, a criminal whose father has ties to the creation of the Empire's new devastating weapon.  She and her companions change their views on freedom fighting as the fate of planets rests on their shoulders.

   The film is decidedly not set in the tone of the typical Star Wars film.  It's not a light fairy tale adventure with set, stunted dialogue but something heavier and more cynical.  The beginning would set most fans ill at ease, at least at first.  Once they get past the second planet, the rogue-ish nature of this spin-off unfolds itself to be true to the heart of Star Wars and even more so.  With its advanced (yet retro) space and surf skirmishes married to its mature presentation, the intensity of the action explodes on screen and every casualty holds so much weight.  While it went on a bit longer than necessary, the finale was a triumph with its depiction of gritty Star Wars battles.  Perhaps the lack of the usual abundance of deus ex machina mysticism helped in grounding the grim proceedings but the resulting conflagration was quite spectacular.  It's marred slightly by an insertion of some retro humor concerning a switch but it's still arguable one of the best and intense encounters in the franchise.

   Granted, the leads Jyn and Cassian, played by Felicity Jones and Diego Luna respectively, have character developments that seem almost abrupt but, in the end, they will undoubtedly be cherished by the fandom for what they accomplish.  Other heroes such as the Asian duo Chirrut and Baze portrayed respectively by Donnie Yen and Jiang Wen, are memorable for their short, spectacular time on screen, tho they might possibly almost considered a stereotype.  The hapless pilot Riz Ahmed as Bodhi provides bits of humor but it's K-2SO, voiced by Alan Tudyk, ... who breaks out as the snarkiest, deadpan deliverer of one liners.  Surprisingly, a villain stands out as well.  Krennic is quite relatable in his anger and desperation concerning the status of his personal project, successfully humanizing the villain. 

   Seeing as this spin-off isn't numbered among the Episodes, it is considered a true Rogue, One that exceeds all expectations by not being part of the set standard.  Despite being brought low by the somberness, Rogue One soars above the recent films in the franchise and rightly leads to A New Hope for the future of Star Wars.

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Movie Review - Allied

 Brad Pitt has another romantic spy film but this is a thriller instead of a comedy.  Plus it's set when Nazi's are a current threat so there's more gravity to the situation.

   Max meets Marianne in Casablanca for a mission but eventually gets too involved with his partner.  His trust is pushed to the limit when new information comes to light.

   Despite the tense situations, the film takes everything quite slowly.  There is a long build up where the pair get to know each other before the main thrust of the plot is revealed.  While setting the background is essential, this could have been trimmed a bit more.  Those who know the conflict beforehand are just chomping on the hit until that point.

   Brad Pitt seemed to be quite reserved all throughout.  His proposal is even practically devoid of emotion.  It's Marion Cotillard who gives it her all to fit into her role, both within and without.  The others don't quite stand out as much, perhaps trying not to act over Pitt's stony deliveries.  

  While not without its share of emotional moments, these patches of warmth are few and far between.  Allied isn't the steamy spy thriller it may make out itself to be, being too cool for this cold war of sorts.  It's serviceable but doesn't go beyond the call of duty.

Sunday, 20 November 2016

Movie Review - Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them

  So the Harry Potter universe returns with the expansion of the minor character into a full fledged series.  Will it be able capture the magic of the original source or will the rabid classic fans be proven to be untamable? 

  Newt arrives at New York city amidst a crisis revolving around keeping the world of wizardry secret from the general populace.  He makes trouble for the local sorcerer enforcement agency but makes friends as well as he strives to keep his rogue animals in check and solve a mystery too.

   This film is considered an adult fairy tale.  The theme is decidedly mature with the fashion (Queenie, my goodness!) and the speakeasy setting (check out the singer).  The theme on discrimination and persecution might actually be good timing with the resolution of the US election, in a way.  There's murder and mayhem and even abuse of a sort that would be considered a spoiler but these topics, while could possibly be considered too much for children, are still treated with rose tinted glasses that are synonymous with the projected reality in the world of Harry Potter.  There's a heady, wonder-filled tone that pervades throughout the film that removes the grim harshness of the city. 

   This is assisted most heavily by the astounding special effects, augmented by the use of mystical props, thereby creating a fantasy scenario that is easier to swallow.  The beasts are, yes, quite fantastically brought to life to the big screen, not to mention the effects of spells being cast .  The score is also a huge asset in the proceedings and is quite evident during the drama that unfolds during the climax and denouement.  While more than a tad manipulative in swaying emotion, it is very effective at what it does. 

   Eddie Redmayne as Newt comes off as an odd, unassuming smiler and his carelessness is just a vehicle to start conflicts.  His passion is understated and he fills the blanks in his personality with mannerisms such as not looking a person in the eye and mumbling his words.  His costar Katherine Waterston is an awkward partner-in-crime and a bit cringy in her obvious desperation.  It's Dan Folger and Alison Sudol who shine as the sidekicks.  They may be stereotypes but it's their character arcs that are the most memorable in the film.  Colin Farrell does well as the main enforcer and gets creepy with his treatment of Ezra Miller's character.

   J.K. Rowling tries to get away from the childish trappings of Hogwarts by transporting the cast to America with a criminal case but the storytelling approach still turns simplistic, especially with the heavy focus on the cutesy romance.  America is a European colony and the spells are all familiar standbys from the past/future, which should please diehard fans. The Potter franchise gradually matures the students along with the plot but the players of Fantastic Beasts are adults already so their progression will be different.  As a special effects flick, the magic astounds and amazes.  It does a wonderful job at creating a mystical sub network in a completely urban setting and the foreign land will add a completely new facet to this promising franchise.