I can’t really recall a time that this has happened before. I have heard of sequels improving on the original before (“Spider-Man 2”, “Goldfinger”, even “Kill Bill Vol.2” as just a few debatable examples) but never to this degree. “The Raid: Redemption” was one of the most beloved action films to have come out in the past few years, and it took many by surprise as it was indeed a low budget foreign film that found significant success overseas. It’s no secret, I hated it, and I still do. I could see why people loved it but it wasn’t for me because people loved it for only one reason, the action. The problem was that if you weren’t a hardcore action — with an emphasis on martial arts — fan then there is almost nothing to enjoy. I can gladly say that Gareth Evans has increased his scope and made a truly stunning martial arts film, that improves on literally everything the original did. I mean it, there is not one thing worse.
Fantastic. I had so much fun with “The Raid: Redemption” and I couldn’t put it down for the entire time I spent with it. It lets you get right into it, just punching people, pulling off combos, breaking skulls and taking names. The best part? It just lets you fight fight fight! No boring dialogue for us! Why would we want that to break up our experience? Oh, and the final boss, oh my God. “The Raid” is the best video game I have ever played in my entire life.
But, this isn’t a video game — this is a movie. An awful, awful movie.
I have next to no previous affiliation with the “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles”. Until I watched this movie, my first “Turtles” experience, I didn’t even know all four of their names. Nevermind which was which. So my prejudices don’t have to be left at the door, I don’t really have any. That is a lie, Michael Bay has his name slapped all over this one and my recent forays into his way of doing things have been unanimously upsetting (Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen) but he didn’t direct in fairness. Jonathan Liebesman directed “Wrath of the Titans” which I had the misfortune of seeing twice in the cinema and fell asleep the latter occasion; and “Battle: Los Angeles”. I haven’t actually seen that last one and that is because the general consensus is that I should avoid it like the plague. Clearly “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” has everything going for it… so how is it? Make no mistake, he may not have directed but this is a Michael Bay movie, and all that implies.
Its been said time and time again with regards to what a “good” animated film is, the idea that a truly good animation should not only keep the kids quite for an hour and half but also keep the adults engaged as well. I don’t think every movie necessarily needs to cater to everybody, movies for children alone are totally fine. Movies like “The Iron Giant” however are special because they involve older and younger audiences perhaps equally. How can kids not appreciate a story where a normal kid befriends a friendly alien robot? How can adults not appreciate a great story with stellar visuals laden with relevant historical context? “The Iron Giant” is engaging and utterly rewarding.
“Akira” is one of the most influential movies to come out in the last 30 years. It opened up anime to film-goers outside of Japan in a big way, and the animation style was unique and expensive — but still lauded to this day. “Akira” is one of the most intense films I have ever seen — not just in animation — and even though I am writing this review the day after I saw it, I am still thinking about it. “Akira” is memorable not just because of its brilliant plot but also its visual design, fantastic setting, and the phenomenal soundtrack. Some people are put off by anime, but if you are going to cut your teeth on some and need something to get you started, watch this movie.
What can I say? People know by this point that “The Hobbit” trilogy isn’t my cup of tea. Yeah they’re OK, but people want more than that, and they get upset when I have less to give them — which I most certainly do. “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies” is the end of the cinematic universe of Tolkien for the foreseeable future due to issues with the Tolkien estate in securing rights to Tolkien’s other works (Christopher Tolkien, J.R.R.’s son, hates these films unequivocally). I’ll say this to accommodate Hobbit lovers as well as people more akin to my taste. “The Battle of the Five Armies” is again over padded — even though it is the shortest of the six Peter Jackson films — and it still oozes CGI where it isn’t always need, even more so actually. However, it is the best of the Hobbit trilogy so if you enjoyed those, best start emptying your wallets.
Many complained of the pacing issues with “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” — Peter Jackson’s first part of the prequel trilogy to “The Lord of the Rings”– and I can’t say I disagree. I do not agree with the general opinion that the initial films first half was the issue, no. As far as I’m concerned as soon as Bilbo Baggins left the wonderfully well adapted version of The Shire and the film began to descend into its second half, “An Unexpected Journey” seemed to lose its way. “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” seeks to resolve these issues by thrusting us right into the action, but then expects us to carry on caring until the credits roll and we are expected to empty our wallets for the next one. An unfortunate mistake.
(Note: This film is going to fill you in on previous events from the first movie. I suggest you watch the first film otherwise you’ll spend much of this one in confusion I would think. The first one is also better.)
It is good to be back, I’ll say that much. The opening scenes of Peter Jackson’s first entry into the prequel trilogy of “The Lord of the Rings” — “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” — evokes that now decade old trilogy. It is a welcoming feeling, but “The Hobbit” novel released in 1937 was never as dark as “The Lord of the Rings” and was intended for an entirely different audience, namely children. This adaptation isn’t bad by any means, but it loses steam in the latter half due to its overlong run time and evident padding.
Here it is. This is the definitive “Lord of the Rings” as cinema has decided to depict it. No, it still isn’t faithful to the books but we’ve established this. Taken on its own or with respect to the first two parts, “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” is probably the most consistently entertaining picture that spans a length of 200 or so minutes that you are ever likely to see. You know how I said “The Two Towers” was better than “Fellowship of the Ring“? Well this one dwarfs both of them.