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By Jonathan Balofsky On 20 Jul, 2016 At 11:37 PM | Categorized As Animation, Movie News, News, News, ROG News | With 0 Comments

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Legendary Entertainment has acquired the rights to make a Pokémon movie. Their first planned project is a film based on Detective Pikachu which is to be fast tracked into production

On the heels of Pokemon Go fever, Legendary has closed a deal for the film rights for the iconic Japanese property.

Legendary and The Pokemon Co. on Wednesday announced that they will launch the first Pokemon live-action film franchise based on Detective Pikachu, a new character in the Pokemon universe.

Details on the plot and story of the character are being kept under wraps. The film will be fast-tracked to start production in 2017.

While Pokémon has had many movies based on the franchise, it will be interesting to see a western take on the series, especially with Detective Pikachu as a film project. Detective Pikachu tells the story of a Pikachu who has learned to speak human language and solves mysteries with his human sidekick. There was a fan campaign at one point for the English localization to have Danny DeVito as the voice of the lead character

 

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By otakuman5000 On 14 May, 2013 At 06:20 PM | Categorized As Featured, Movie News, Reviews | With 1 Comment

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“Come at me, bro.”

Some of the content in Iron Man 3 may disappoint a few nasally-voiced nerds and fanatic purists, but for the non-comic book types who just like superhero movies, and the majority of the crowds herding along or riding their bandwagons to theaters this week, it should do just fine. It’s a much needed improvement after the second installment, and it makes a better companion to the first film, yet it doesn’t quite reach the thoroughly satisfying level that The Avengers provided (a comparison I make only because it seems to aim for a similar blend of magnitude, comedic levity, and character intimacy).

 

Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) is now suffering from PTSD and anxiety attacks (of the shoddy Hollywood variety) after he nearly sacrificed his life for humanity at the end of The Avengers. Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow), Colonel James Rhodes (Don Cheadle), and Happy Hogan (ex-franchise director/skinnier actor, Jon Favreau) return as Stark’s partners in anticrime. Stark has been ignoring them as he slips further into isolation and obsession with tech tinkering in his workshop. A trio of new characters come in the form of Maya Hansen (played by the underutilized Rebecca Hall), Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce), and The Mandarin (Ben Kingsley).

 

The film’s plot is introduced through some interesting ideas that never really play out. Killian comes to Stark Industries to propose a project, and it turns out he and Pepper are longtime acquaintances. He has gone from über-geek-loser to dashing millionaire scientist since she last saw him, and he resumes putting some moves on her. We think there might be some romantic drama derived from Killian’s strong interest in Pepper, as opposed to the relationship problems she’s having with Stark, but that potential plot thread fizzles out about 15 minutes into the movie.

 

Killian’s proposed project is also an intriguing idea at first. He explains that there is an unused portion of the human brain that can be targeted by his company’s formula, Extremis, to push humans closer to their biological potential. This notion turns out to be a plot device when Extremis falls into malicious hands and populates the film with mostly disposable bad guys who are fast, strong, get really hot and glow when they are angry, and stomp around wreaking havoc for no clear rhyme or reason. Aside from Extremis’ initial introduction, the movie has no interest in explaining the pseudo-science behind the drug. Some users seem addicted while others don’t, some can handle its effects while others explode, and some seem fully autonomous while others are basically murderous zombies.

Marvel's Iron Man 3 (2013) Iron Man/Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.)

 

The main missteps of Iron Man 3 are in its inconsistent narrative pacing and tone. As with most big-budget summer movies as of late, it runs over two hours and has its peaks and valleys. There are not any truly boring moments, but I found myself briefly zoning out a bit around the three-quarters mark. The action scenes are heavily computerized and overblown, but aside from the climax, they never really pour over into sensory overload.

 

The best action feat is the Air Force One crash sequence we got a glimpse of during the Super Bowl earlier this year. Not only is it the most visually exciting and superhero-y moment in terms of audience engagement, but it also counteracts the film’s tonal flaws. Shane Black directed and co-wrote the film, and he seems to be intent on seizing opportunities to subvert the superhero movie genre. There are numerous occasions where a scene sets itself up for something nerdgasmic and badass to happen, and breaks the expectation at the last minute by diverting to slapsticky humor.

 

There are two crucial situations in the last act in which Tony calls for his newly developed set of nanobot-respondent armor. In the first, one glove and one boot make it there before the rest of the suit, and he’s left ungracefully hovering around the room and fighting his attackers off. In the second, he’s poised and ready to have all the pieces assemble themselves on his body so he can triumphantly take out the main villain, and the suit collides with a pillar next to him, falling to the ground anticlimactically. The most obvious example of the film’s defiance of convention comes from a plot twist surrounding Kingsley’s Mandarin. Let’s just say he’s not exactly the archenemy, bin Laden-esque, America-hating, philosophizing super terrorist he makes himself out to be in the beginning.

 

It’s a conflicting thing to see this betrayal of audience presumptions. On the one hand, we’re always criticizing movies for being cliché and predictable, but at the same time it feels strangely off-putting when we are geared up by expectations for a familiar valiant pose, one-liner, or payoff, and they are deflated by a visual or narrative punch line. Some of these instances were clever and refreshing, but not all of them sat right with me. They were eliciting laughs from the audience, but I was almost wishing Black had just gone with convention and played more of them with the typical aggrandizing movie flair that makes the testosterone-loaded frat boys in the back row of the movie theater hoot and holler in approval.

Iron Man 3 Pepper Potts & Iron Man

“Tony, your eyes look so beautiful and blue in this light….”

 

Most of this humility is funneled into the main thematic stream of humanizing Tony Stark. There is a constant question about whether the man makes the suit or the suit makes the man. The trials and tribulations employed to develop Tony are actually pretty akin to those of a classic Joseph Campbell hero’s journey. We get to see him out of his comfort zone and away from his abundant money and resources for a long stretch in the middle of the movie. During this segment, there are a few MacGyver-like sequences that showcase the same brainy ingenuity that led Stark to escape his captors and become Iron Man in the first film.

 

All-in-all, this installment did not leave me with any strong positive or negative reaction. It’s more satisfactory than satisfying, but not completely forgettable like Iron Man 2. It takes a kind of ho-hum position in the Marvel adaptation lexicon, but that’s probably a fate that would have befallen any movie that followed-up The Avengers. It won’t leave a bad taste in your mouth, but don’t expect to be singing its praises either.

By otakuman5000 On 23 Apr, 2013 At 07:54 PM | Categorized As Reviews | With 0 Comments

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“We nuked the planet. Weren’t we lucky this single object that reminds me of you survived?”

Just when the latest trailers made Oblivion a somewhat promising early summer entry, its 125 minutes of derivative, dead-end narrative unfold into a visually slick, but intellectually dissatisfying attempt at high-concept sci-fi. Pulling (willy-nilly) from 2001: A Space Odyssey, Moon, The Matrix, Planet of the Apes, Independence Day, and even Wall-E, the film (adapted from writer/director Joseph Kosinski’s unpublished graphic novel) apparently wants to pay tribute the science fiction catalog without contributing any memorable voice or message of its own.

 

Jack (Tom Cruise) and Victoria (Andrea Riseborough) are left behind workers on a post-apocalyptic Earth. Their duty, as repeated multiple times in a relatively redundant script, is “drone maintenance and repair.” The first 15 minutes of the film consist of an expository Cruise voice-over that sets up the premise, but even that, and subsequent exchanges between characters, can’t manage to clarify the muddled premise. Without a clear sense of parameters and motivations, we’re left with low stakes and a miniscule level of relation to the characters, all of which exponentially degenerates through to the cliché climax.

 

I’ll try to recount the plot based only on memory and my understanding of it. In 2077, the planet has been ravaged by a war with an alien race referred to as “the Scavs.” They destroyed our moon and invaded our planet. Jack repeatedly insists that “we won the war, but lost the planet.” If we lost our moon and home planet, I’m not sure what meaning the victory holds. Jack and Victoria have two weeks left on Earth to fulfill their requirements of monitoring and repairing the armed flying drones that protect giant water-collecting tanks that float over the ocean. There are still some remaining Scavs on the planet (or are there?) that intermittently try to take out the tanks. There’s a giant space station called the Tet that orbits the Earth and houses some human technicians. The rest of the human race is living on the Saturn moon of Titan.

Morgan Freeman, Zoe Bell, and Game of Thrones’ Nikolaj Coster-Waldau hoping the title of the film isn’t the future destination of their reputations

 

From this point on, things spiral into confusing spoiler territory that’s populated by the aforementioned sci-fi rip-offs. Morgan Freeman pops in and out for about 15 total minutes of screen time as an underground leader named Beech (may as well be Morpheus); a woman (Olga Kurylenko) who has been appearing in Jack’s dreams (even though his memory has been wiped) shows up in a crash-landed space craft, inspiring a thin and fruitless love triangle; and a conspiracy plot starts to unfold as Jack begins to uncover mysterious goings-on.

 

What the filmmakers seem to forget is that twists and surprises carry no weight if the audience doesn’t understand or care about what is being twisted. On its surface, Oblivion is a sleek feast for the eyes, but much like its 2012 cousin, Prometheus, the merit of its stylish exoskeleton begins to disintegrate around the inner swelling of its faulty narrative machinations. The final outcome is a minor, forgettable misfire that could have been something great had it been formulated with proper ambition, scope, and substance.

By Charles On 4 Feb, 2013 At 08:45 PM | Categorized As Editorials, Featured, Reviews | With 0 Comments

No GravatarposterIt’s official: zombies are the new vampires. Okay, maybe this isn’t that big a revelation, since there have been literally hundreds of zombie movies, books, games and even anime offered in the past few years. There have been nazi zombies, time traveling zombies, snow zombies, smart zombies, dumb zombies, angry zombies, steampunk zombies, huge-chested females hunting zombies, zombie cops, and even a few zombie comedies. So is it any bigger a shock when the genre decides to push itself a bit more and create a zombie romance? Maybe if you’re a purist into the entire “undead have no identity or feelings” idea. But for the rest of us, we now have something new to “chow down” on.

Based on the novel of the same name, “Warm Bodies” is a new take on zombie mythology. While Romero built upon the older, prevailing notion of the animated dead, completely devoid of the sense of self and little more than walking corpses seeking to satisfy their eternal hunger, Warm Bodies decides to take the narrative in another, unexpected direction: it gives them a sense of humanity, no matter how buried under layer after layer of brains. While there is plenty of the aforementioned eating of the living throughout the film, it asks the question of “what if:” what if, rather than just being a walking corpse, the zombie is actually retains a bit of itself beyond the “grave;” what if the zombie becomes capable to emotion, feeling something “more” than just hunger and shambling; what if we “got it all wrong” in the end.

I’m getting ahead of myself again and waxing philosophical…need to stop that for the moment. Where was I?

Warm Bodies is the story of one zombie out of hundreds: a young male who has no idea who he is or where he came from, just that his name starts with “R.” He’s your typical undead: eat flesh, wander around aimlessly, and wonder about how everything changed. For the first act of the film, he is a silent narrator, pondering on and on about what it means to be a zombie, and asking if there is anything more to his seemingly monotonous existence. He has his “friends,” he has a “home,” and in many ways “lives” the same “life” he did before becoming a zombie. In many ways, he is reminiscent of the protagonist “Columbus” from the landmark “Zombieland” film: a boy at the crux of his young life, wondering what went wrong, and where to go from there, while being firmly fixed in the “unchanging here and now.”

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Gee, Brain, what do you want to do tonight?

His life changes the day he meets Julie, one of the survivors left on Earth and daughter of Colonel Riggio, the man who has kept humanity safe for the past 8 years in his walled mass of a city. While out looking for supplies, her team runs afoul of R and his mob of zombies, gunfire and feasting ensues, and in the midst of it all, R feels an emotion. Like the virus that changed him into one of the walking dead, it spreads first though him, then through those closest to him, giving them a taste of hope, and of a better “life” than what they have.

While the story itself is nothing new, and plays to the conventions of the genre rather closely, it is the idea that zombies can “revert” back to human that lends this story some metaphorical teeth. See, in this new take on zombie lore, the reasons why zombies go for the brain isn’t rooted in some primal fear revolving around the destruction of the self. Rather, it is the last chance they have to experience emotion. Eating a human’s brain gives them a chance to “experience” the memories of that person, and for a lifeless creature craving something more than shambles, it is their only resort. They’re not trying to obliterate the self, but rather are trying to remind themselves what it means to have (and lost) one. Wow, that’s pretty deep for a zom-com…

aliveBut there’s more. In the case of so many zombie films, the zombies themselves are often viewed as incarnations of personal fears: death, decay, rampant overconsumption, corporate control and the dictation of culture, nazis- the list goes on an on. But usually near the top is the fear of loss- in particular, the loss of self and self-identity. Slavery, if you will, be it to another person, a disease or something else. The loss of freedom, the loss of power, the loss of the ego itself, when the person becomes nothing more than a body without a “soul,” a “what” rather than a “who.” Perhaps more than the ravages of time or death itself, the loss of who one is inside might be the biggest fear we all have.

In the beginning, Warm Bodies is just that, a question about the loss of the self, and what the meaning of it all is. R can remember bits and pieces of what it means to be human, and wants more of them as time goes by, but he knows he’s stuck in a dead body endlessly repeating the same motions perpetually. After he meets Julie, R’s journey becomes less about becoming human, and more about regaining his lost identity. He collects things, and that allows him to make a connection with the girl. When he begins to dream, that’s a look inside what he wants. When he begins to speak, he’s finding his ability to communicate, and by extension, his ability to express, restored (beyond the “typical” grunts and groans). When he begins to feel…he remembers what it was like to be human again. Not because his life is being restored, but because his sense of self is being restored, and with it his ability to become more than a walking body. Again, wow…pretty deep for a zom-com.

Okay, philosophical ramblings out of the way. So how is the movie itself?

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Yeah, because I have no idea what you’re going for here…

I really hate writing this, because I really enjoyed this film, but the trailer pretty much sums up the entire movie. Every major plot point, every revelation and summation of R’s trip is contained in those two minutes of film. The rest of the run time is icing to the cake. While R’s internal monologues are especially fun, and watching the budding relationship between human and zombie is both lighthearted and emotional, there are no surprise twists or turns, the ending is obvious within the first few minutes, and the “romance” itself evokes a bit of Twilight: it’s idealized, expected and fluffy. Hell, Teresa Palmer (as Julie) even looks and acts like Kristen Stewart, albeit with more ability and charisma towards her “dead boyfriend.” Maybe this was intentional, maybe not, but the idea that this movie is “zombie Twilight” isn’t that far off the mark.

Nevertheless, Warm Bodies is a solid date movie, and hella fun. If you’re one of those folk who love a good zombie yarn, this will satisfy you. If you like sweet teen comedies, this will satisfy you. If you like zombie philosophy (like me) this will definitely satisfy you. But if you’re a diehard zombie purist, look elsewhere. The brains you find here will not appease your hunger.

WB corddryAddendum: I want to give kudos to a scene-stealing Rob Corddry. Usually I reserve these kudos for John Malkovich, but since he’s playing himself the entire time, it’s up to Corddry to ham it up and deliver the best performance in the film. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, then you’ll shoot him in the head…maybe.

By otakuman5000 On 21 Nov, 2012 At 04:36 AM | Categorized As Animation, Featured, Reviews, Reviews | With 0 Comments

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The wonderful land of OZ.

 

Summer Wars is a mere three years old, but its sheer anime geek value warrants a fond look back. For those who never got around to seeking it out on Bluray, DVD, or a special screening at the local arthouse theater, now is as good a time as any to get the crystal clear Bluray (take note of the string of accolades across the top of the disc case, including the 2010 Japan Academy Prize for Animation of the Year). Have faith in such a purchase—it has substantial reviewability.

Mamoru Hosoda, who is responsible for Summer Wars’ storyline and directing, is probably (hopefully) more well-known to ROG readers for The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (2006), than for his early work on the Digimon Adventure series and the sixth One Piece movie. He brings to this film a kinetic stylishness that excels in the action sequences, propels the abundant scenes depicting large Japanese family dynamics, and knows just how much to quail itself for some truly dramatic flourishes.

King Kazuma and Love Machine do epic battle. (It’s cooler than it sounds.)

The film’s protagonist is Kenji Koiso—a likeable, but ultimately generic anime high schooler (scrawny, insecure, prone to arousal-induced nose bleeds, but a whiz when it comes to generating computer code). Plucked from his comfort zone in the school’s computer lab, Kenji is recruited by area hottie, Natsuki Shinohara, to accompany her on a trip to Ueda to celebrate her grandma’s 90th birthday with her whole litany of family members. Kenji, of course, abides, but is horrified to soon discover that he’s being used. Natsuki pretends he’s her fiancé when introducing him to her grandmother, Sakae.

Kenji can’t help but forgive such a ruse, given that Sakae proves to be what is likely the most easily loveable old lady ever dropped into an anime, and Natsuki only wanted to make her proud by bringing home a would-be husband. Equal parts cantankerous senior citizen and wistful sage with a fun-loving, youthful spirit, it soon becomes clear that Sakae is practically the family’s demigod. She’s universally revered for her wisdom, compassion, know-how, and flexible ability to fill-in for all the missing supportive figures in each family member’s life. All but one, that is. Adopted son, Wabisuke, had a falling out with the beloved old lady, and he still holds a grudge. We’ll get to him later.

You’ll wish Sakae was your grandmother as soon as you hear her talk.

With all this calibrated sentimentality in place, Summer Wars is just as much an action movie. Seemingly the entire population is caught up in the happenings of a virtual world called OZ. Kenji happens to be a moderator and major player in the inner workings of OZ. These virtual reality scenes are where the film really hits its aesthetic stride. OZ is a sort of netherworld consisting of a white expanse of empty space in which a complex network construct floats. Each OZ member has a cartoonish avatar that resides in the construct and interacts with other members, sort of like The Sims meets Facebook. Multiple battles take place in this space, borrowing the spirit of Pokémon or World of Warcraft as concentrated nerds pound out commands on their keyboards to animate their avatar warriors.

When an anonymous person texts Kenji a long string of code, he intuitively cracks it and sends a response. In doing so, he unknowingly unleashes mass chaos within OZ, threatening the accounts of millions. In this middle act, the film’s stakes start to mount in both the virtual and material realms. The malicious hacker, Love Machine, has an evil avatar, reminiscent of Deadmau5 in appearance. As he starts to wreak havoc in OZ, killing off avatars and deconstructing code, tension builds amongst the family gathering when Wabisuke shows up for a late birthday wish. An argument breaks out and we start to see what it is like when someone challenges Sakae.

The climax won’t be spoiled here, but it manages be mostly suspenseful, unexpected, visually engaging, and an inventive merging of the real and virtual plot threads. Most importantly of all, it is inclusive of the entire cast and each of its members’ personal strengths. It thrives on the film’s persistent appreciation of familial importance, but never really dips into sappy territory. Due to a heartbreaking event midway through the film, the ending also has an emotional resonance that couples nicely with its final showdown in OZ.

Kenji, caught in the grasp of his usual facial expression.

All in all, Summer Wars achieves a multi-layered showmanship that encompasses the drama, action, artistry, and humor of a well-rounded anime. In making its virtual/material split both dichotomous and codependent, it explores the nature of modern human interaction in a world where people can create artificial identities and relationships with international strangers just as easily as they can have lasting bonds with the friends and family around them. It also questions the wisdom of investing so much faith and reliance in the effectiveness of technology and social networking. The real world hangs in the balance just as much as the world of OZ, and it becomes apparent how far removed the characters are from their reality. At the same time, the film counters the cold sheen of OZ with the comforting traditional Japanese estate the family lives in. Can the two realms coexist? We can only hope.

By otakuman5000 On 19 Nov, 2012 At 05:15 AM | Categorized As Featured, Movie News, Reviews | With 0 Comments

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Daniel Craig as Bond. James Bond.

This past weekend, 007 celebrated his 50th anniversary with a record-breaking bang. Big box office grosses and a solid 92% aggregate score on Rotten Tomatoes should silence any stubborn cynics who were still apprehensive about James Blonde, Daniel Craig, and the interesting directorial choice of Sam Mendes. Mendes is primarily known as a quasi-Hollywood drama buff, with such self-serious claims to fame as American Beauty, Revolutionary Road, and Road to Perdition (we’ll pass over the excessively quirky outlier, Away We Go).

Skyfall is a highly successful return to form that erases Quantum of Solace’s bland after taste, and may even surpass the delights of Casino Royale, Craig’s induction as 007 from six years ago. The film manages to find a perfect harmony with the Bondian formula ideal that has emerged over the last 22 films. It starts with an outlandish opening chase scene (complete with a car chase, a motorcycle chase, a train chase, the use of a tractor as a weapon, and the first time Bond has ever been shot onscreen), then an eye-pleasing credit sequence with the already popular Adele song, followed by some globetrotting and an introduction to the menacing villain (an eccentrically dastardly Javier Bardem), and concluding with a large yet constrained finale of gunfire, bloodshed, and resolutions.

Judi Dench’s M acts as Bond’s surrogate mother in Skyfall.

With that basic plot structure in place, other classic Bond tropes are injected throughout. The theme music makes a comeback, a whole new Q and another prototypical character (who shall remain nameless) are reintroduced, and Bond even gets back in the Aston Martin DB5. But while veteran franchise scribes Neal Purvis and Robert Wade team with John Logan to keep all this throwback nostalgia alive, they also contemporize the whole scene and use the film’s narrative to directly question the relevance of MI6 in 2012—both in terms of the story’s context and the real world Hollywood realm. Old-fashioned, old Bond, and old M become motifs.

Ben Whishaw as the snarky new Q. Watch out for his Goldeneye joke.

There’s also an interesting subplot revolving around the relationship between Bond and M. Skyfall’s attention to M as a matriarchal figure to 007’s willful, loose canon sensibility adds some human layers to these previously one trick ponies. Bardem’s Silver also factors into this dynamic, and he’s given a reasonable back story, which is not exactly common practice when it comes to movie characters of Silver’s variety. All these components of the old, the new, and generally refined filmmaking craft, add up to a honed entertainment value that we haven’t seen in the franchise for quite some time.

No GravatarLately when moviegoers and gamers alike talk about great movies based off videogames, most think of Disney’s latest hit. “Wreck it Ralph.” but another movie was released this year, and unfortunately, due to its relatively quiet release in Japan, it didn’t get the appeal it deserved.

Equally, Ace Attorney is a videogame series that had been relatively unknown outside its fandom, but as the character was used on Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, it has gained more recognition.

To many of you reading this, it may sound obvious, but with the success of the previously mentioned Disney movie, I believe it is as good a time as any to bring this movie to the masses’ attention.

“Gyakuten Saiban” or rather “Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney.” as it is known in the West, is the name of a movie released in theaters in Japan on February 2012, and it is probably the most successful adaptation of a videogame to movie medium. Period.

The movie stars our spiky haired attorney (played by Hiroki Narimiya) who begins his career as an attorney in the not so far future, and soon after his first trial, tries to unfold a dark secret involving his close friends, as well as his rival Miles Edgeworth (played by Takumi Saito), and many plot twists await, the sotry is based in the first game in the series, meaning that you probably know what is gonna happen.

The movie may follow the game’s story closely, but takes liberties by shrinking it down to the bare plot essentials, and it follows the game’s humor and atmosphere, which is both its high, and low points, but it succeeds in delivering the most believable setting during its course.

To an usual moviegoer, the movie will seem odd, random, and somewhat lighthearted (specially on character’s deaths), it also gets away with ridiculous plot points from the game that being seen on screen will make people question the writers (a parrot is summoned to the stand)  and the characters themselves seem way too comical for what is supposed to be a courtroom drama, not to mention the movie is a bit too long being over 2 hours long.

On the other hand, to the gamers/fans who want to check the movie out, you will find enough to love, the actors deliver a great performance giving them the personality that matches the characters, crazy antics that in real life may get you banned from the courtroom, (just like in the game) and over the top “Objections” given by both the Defense and Prosecution.

The soundtrack on the other hand is nothing short of amazing, it features orchestrated tracks from the game itself, but add something extra to the movie by becoming dramatic on its performance, helping the mood of the scenes, and bringing out the seriousness of the moment in which it plays.

Here is a trailer:

The movie’s setting is not very open, most of the time is spend on the courtroom, so it doesn’t bring much to the table in terms of variety, a moment Phoenix and his assistant are investigating, the next they are back in court, no surprise as the game does the same thing, and even if the movie tries to add great effects to the courtroom itself, this will still keep many from fully enjoying it.

The only sad thing about this movie, is that it hasn’t gotten enough attention, and as such, it is difficult to find it online, much less find it subtitled, I don’t condone piracy, but if you are intrigued, and you look hard enough, you may just find it hidden somewhere.

In conclusion, this film is great for those who enjoyed the games, as well as those who enjoy quirky, oddball random movies such as this one, Takashi Miike did a fantastic job in directing this, keeping just about enough things to make it at least appealing to casual moviegoers, as well as being loyal to the source material.

Now, if Uwe Boll could take lessons from this talented director…

By otakuman5000 On 28 Aug, 2012 At 12:39 AM | Categorized As Movie News, News, PlayStation, ROG News | With 0 Comments

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The last we heard about the Uncharted film was the news of Limitless director Neil Burger taking the reins. However, Variety reports that he is “no longer attached” to Sony’s adaptation of Naughty Dog’s famous franchise.

 

Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune‘s film adaptation has been described as following the journey of Nathan Drake as he looks for hte long sought after treasure of El Dorado, which is the premise of the video game, as well. Though, seeing as the film will sign on new writers, the film may go in a new direction.

 

The duo who wrote Disney’s National Treasure franchise, Marianne and Cormac Wibberley, will be rewriting Nathan Drake’s cinematic experience. Look for updates from Real Otaku Gamer as we follow Nathan and his treasure hunt to Hollywood.

 

By otakuman5000 On 22 Sep, 2011 At 04:21 AM | Categorized As Indie Spotlight, Movie News, Reviews | With 1 Comment

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From Untext Film Productions comes an amazing 34 minute short film called Aurora.  I saw it first advertised on a website in the body of a post, got interested, and went to see.  The result had me bolted to my seat for the length of the film waiting on the next thing to happen.  My main complaint:  It’s too dang short.  I can see so many possibilities for this film, but if leaving you wanting more is a hallmark of success this short simply blows a lot of stuff out of the water.  Unabashedly Steampunk, it really looks like it was made in a different world despite the epic panoramic views of the places it was made which can be found using Google earth.  The film uses natural beauty, costuming, and modern technology weaving them seamlessly together in a way that has to be seen to be believed. 

Critically, the storyline could be considered a bit simplistic, but for the length of the film it fits perfectly.  Good Vs. Evil never gets old, and I was ready to cheer at the end.  It’s almost impossible to believe that the entire budget for this film was $1800.  The actors are intense, and their acting rivals big-screen heroes of today.

The filmmaker states:  “We’re HUGE Star Wars fans but have also drawn inspiration from a number of sources like Firefly, Star Wars and Pirates of the Caribbean to create something we hope is fun and original.”

Well, it is.  You’ve succeeded!  I can hardly wait to see the next film you guys come up with, because this one hit hard and came on swinging.  Indie film-making is a tough market, but I really hope you guys submit this to all the right contests and win big.  You deserve a shot at the big time.

“After his wife Alina (Nikki Gaertner-Eaton) is kidnapped by a group of slave traders and put up for sale to the highest bidder, Emerson Marks (Peter Rossi), captain of the airship ‘Aurora’ flies out in search of her. With his crew’s opinions divided and the ruthless slave trader LeMaher (Mark Aitchison) in his way, Emerson must decide how much he is willing to sacrifice in order to bring back the one he loves.”

The full video is available free online at www.aurorathefilm.com

By otakuman5000 On 7 May, 2011 At 08:56 PM | Categorized As Movie News, Reviews | With 2 Comments

No GravatarDoes Thor Bring the hammer down or drop it?

The summer movie season kicks off with a thunderous boom thanks to Marvel Studio’s THOR.  Kenneth Branagh, an unlikely choice of director for a summer blockbuster/comic movie, has crafted a fast-paced ride through a comic book world that kept me entertained from the first to final frame.  Credit has to go to Kenneth Branagh and the script for conveying a lot of THOR/MARVEL lore without coddling the audience or forcing you to sit through an hour of exposition to explain the difference between a Heimdal and a Heimlich.  A tight running time (under two hours), superb casting choices, and dazzling set/costume design propel THOR to its rightful place among MARVEL’s top tier movies.

The film kicks off with a tour of Asgard (the world which Thor and his kin hail from) and its residents.  We are introduced to Odin (played with snarling confidence by Sir Anthony Hopkins) and how he has kept evil forces at bay and watched over the realms from atop Asgard.  It is explained what Asgard is and where it exists in relation to Midgard (Earth for you non-asgardian folk) and how our histories intertwine.  The writers do a tidy job here of culling a single origin story for Thor and Asgard from several different comic myths spanning Marvel’s prime and Ultimate universes.  Basically, enough information is given for the proceedings to make sense to a new audience, but enough easter eggs and bread crumbs are given for Thor fans to be kept satisfied.  There are also plenty of hidden gems working to connect THOR to the larger Marvel Cinema Universe, but thankfully they aren’t as overt as they were in Iron Man 2.  Kudos.  We see how Thor (in a breakout performance from Chris Hemsworth aka the father of one Captain James Tiberius Kirk) has come to be Odin’s heir, and his younger brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) is next in line.  A group of Frost giants, ancient enemies of Odin, breach the walls of Asgard and set the wheels in motion for Thor’s banishment to Earth.  Thor immediately sets out for the home of the frost giants to get answers and knock heads.  Disobeying Odin’s direct commands, Thor brings his world to the brink of war and Odin strips Thor of his powers and casts him down to Earth where he must learn humility before he can ascend to his rightful place as heir to the throne.  From here, Thor meets Jane Foster and Erik Selvig (Natalie Portman and Stellan Skarsgard doing their best with some pretty plain roles), astrophysicists who are exploring the connection between Earth and Asgard.  It is at this point that the film takes on the characteristics of a fish out of water story and much of the movie’s laughs are generated.  All the while, we keep flipping back and forth to see what is occurring in Asgard during Thor’s absence.  The movie has a lighthearted sense of humor here and much of it works because Chris Hemsworth’s comic timing is impeccable.  Every time I felt that the film was beginning to meander or get too funny for its own good, it would switch back to the turmoil in Asgard.  The final act of the film is all about Thor rising up from his banishment and becoming the hero he is meant to be and features some big action set-pieces and effects work.  It’s a classic tale, but one that is shown through the lens of a new world and backed by heartfelt dramatic turns by the leads.

 

Thor, Sif, Odin, Loki, Padme, and Heimlich

Chris Hemsworth is given a lot of screen-time and rightly so.  He does a lot to humanize Thor, who has been a rather one-note character in the world of comics.  He truly looks the part, and his rigorous training pays off during the fight sequences.  Early in the film, when Thor goes to confront the frost giant’s King Laufey (Colm Feore sporting some great practical effects make-up), we are given the chance to see Thor fight like a god.  The action choreography had my eyes glued to the screen.  Chris Hemsworth, with the aid of some top notch effects work, pulls off iconic moves taken straight from the comic’s playbook and it translates extraordinarily well to the screen.  Tom Hiddleston’s Loki is also a standout performance.  In lesser hands, Loki’s role could have fallen into scenery chewing and mustache twirling, but Hiddleston imbues his Loki with just the right amount of outward conniving and inner menace.  Anthony Hopkins was also a perfect choice for Odin.  He reigns in his performance here, which could easily have been over the top, and balances Odin’s bellowing with just as much being expressed in silence or with the gaze of his one eye.  These three form the core and heart of THOR and the film works best when they are on screen and playing off of each other.  Thor’s comic book cohorts The Warrior’s Three and Sif (Ray Stevenson, Tadanobu Asano, Josh Dallas, and Jaimie Alexander) are also represented, but just don’t have that much to do.  I feel like they were written in for completion’s sake.  They do look the part and have some interesting action moments, though.  The best small roles go to Idris Elba as Heimdal (Asgard’s gatekeeper and sentry) and Clark Gregg (reprising his role as Agent Coulson of S.H.I.E.L.D. from the Iron Man movies).  Clark Gregg has fun with Agent Coulson and gets some great lines and funny moments.  Heimdal however, is seriously imposing as played by Idris Elba.  He looks and sounds exactly how I would have imagined and his brief but important role is bolstered by one of the film’s best costumes.

 

Most extravagant bathroom ever.

I hope the production crew gets some recognition for THOR because the set and costume design of Asgard is truly a spectacle.  The comic book look of each of the characters is faithfully re-imagined and given an updated sheen while seeming functional and realistic for the characters that wear them.  The set designs are grand and there is a massive amount of detail to take in.  Kenneth Branagh and his creative team did an amazing job of creating this other-worldly place, and it really does look fit for gods.  The scenery becomes a bit more humdrum during the sequences set on Earth, but that’s mostly because they take place in a small town, and are juxtaposed between the grandeur of scenes from Asgard.  If THOR does well I hope to see a bigger budget for the sequel, which can be spent to showcase more time in Asgard.

Thor has a lot going for it, but perhaps its greatest strength is the titular character’s relatively low profile in the minds of the mass market audience.  Like Iron Man before it, THOR has a great opportunity to introduce itself to audiences who have little to no expectation for what the character could bring.  THOR is not as widely recognized as Spider man, Hulk, or Wolverine.  The director, Kenneth Branagh, has no giant action movies in his credits, and the leads are relative unknowns.  Kenneth Branagh and company, however, deftly maneuver what could have been a rehash of an all-too-familiar tale into something more by giving its main characters a Shakespearean family drama as a backdrop for all of the heroics and action to play out against.  If audiences give THOR a chance I think they will be happily surprised by how well it all comes together.

Recommendati0n:  ‘Tis 0n.  Go check it out for a verily good time.

The more you know: Kenneth Branagh is actually pronounced Kenneth Branner (like Bruce Banner)

Tom Hiddleston (Loki) was originally auditioned and considered for the role of Thor.  He also worked with Kenneth Branagh on the BBC’s Wallander.

Thor was relegated to the 9th ring of development hell for nearly 20 Years with everyone from Sam Raimi and David Goyer to Matthew Vaughn and D.J. Caruso attached to the project at one point or another.

Stay for an extra scene at the end of the credits.  It’s worth it.