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Thor, Iron Man and Captain America wonder what to do next

THE BOX office patrollers confirmed it: “The Avengers” broke the biggest opening weekend, garnering more or less $210 million, and about $700 million worldwide. It wouldn’t be a surprise to hit the $1 billion mark on the next few days.

Of course, the film is more than just statistics. “The Avengers” is as good as an action sci-fi film you can get, offering CGI bonanza, gun-toting enemies, explosive weapons and devices, mashed up with our childhood superheroes, and not to mention the skinny trying-hard villain. You surely won’t miss the fun

Earth’s threat

Borrowed from the “Captain America: The First Avenger,” an energy cube, so called as Tesseract, exists that is capable of housing unlimited source of power and, in the bad hands, also capable for a weapon of mass destruction. Based from “Thor,” Loki, a human-looking alien, is out to get it to destroy the earth and redeem his honor as a rightful king. The earth organizes a highly-skilled team to prevent them, also known as The Avengers.

As epic as this heroic film is, one question might come to your mind: Do I need to watch the previous “solo” films to understand “The Avengers”? It’s not essential but I would recommend it. So you get the mockeries and puns of Ironman when he is talking to out-of-time Captain America, and know why Thor keeps on hoping Loki would have a change of heart, and not reduce it as a homosexual affair. Rest assured, you’ll still adore the film without watching its predecessors. But I have these feeling that after you watch “The Avengers”, you’ll want more. So you probably end up watching the previous “solo” films anyway.

Apart from the clear-cut threat of saving the mother Earth, a threat also exists in the Avengers themselves. They later learn that they have different motives in securing the cube, following the old adage: “Together we stand, divided we fall.” Next to the Manhattan chaos, this is the part I liked the most, since this is the part where we get intimate with them before the breath-taking fight scenes, even though it bar the film for a while for further plot development.

Hawkeye, Captain America and Black Widow are about to enter the fight

Not overrated

You might remember the time when your friend kept raving about a certain film for a week, but when you finally saw it, it was nothing short of a shameless contribution to film making. There are films that get more attention that what they’re worth, but not this one. “Avengers” have cleverly put up a cinematic experience that satisfied its fan base, fairly almost all children and adults alike, and that is hard to come by.  That’s possibly because of not just offering a hard-skinned action but also embedding the screenplay’s wit with each Avenger’s personality, especially with Iron Man.
(Unfortunately, my mother went out of the cinema for a urinal break but didn’t come back. She just couldn’t take chaos. My mother is the tear-jerky type and certainly you can’t expect any in this film. Not to mention, a moviegoer sleeping while the film as its climax.  “Viddy well, little brother. Viddy well” Let’s just not talk about genre stratification but the film per se.”)

The Avengers

Iron Man is not really famous for being a “genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist” nor we like him because of “big man in a suit of armour.” I guess a handful of us identify him as a cynical character who annoys several in the scene, and amuses everyone else outside it. That’s what actually keeps us on the first half, since Thor at this time, together with Hulk, Hawkeye, are somehow underplayed. Captain America still has the spot light – come on we have to give him credit for being “The First Avenger”, and Black Widow tries to keep up being an all-around assistant, (e.g. fetching Hulk, touring Captain America), and for being ravishly beautiful and sexy.

The choice of having multiple character leads is detrimental because it may take some time to sympathize with them or attempting to do so may fall short, giving the other lead more screen time than the others, that’s where “The Avengers” is on the edge. Since the backstories of several of the Avengers have been set-up, there’s less time for nostalgic moments and more for blowing heads off.

More surprisingly, each of them get their own respective moment fighting with the horde of Earth’s conquerors. By this time, Hulk gets more of the attention. He is just too unpredictable. Two of the memorable scenes come from Hulk, and even though he had previously allotted two solo films, people seem to clamor for another.

Hulk calling for battle

The only thing I noticed about the casting is one of the agent of Avengers, played by Cobie Smulders, the famous child-hater Robin from “How I Met Your Mother.” She is an entertaining actor, but in this film her character is reduced to a figurine, a display, a walkie talkie. She could have more of use like Agent Phil Coulson, played by Clark Gregg, who happens to have a one-on-one with Loki.

Since we have multiple characters, I am obliged to name them all, in .gif format, followed by brief description of their powers. They are presented, according from the Vulture, in order of their screen time: (1) Captain America: 37 minutes, 42 seconds, (2) Iron Man: 37 minutes, 1 second, (3) Black Widow: 33 minutes, 35 seconds,(4) Bruce Banner/The Hulk: 28 minutes, 3 seconds(5) Thor: 25 minutes, 52 seconds, and (6) Hawkeye: 12 minutes, 44 seconds.

Chris Evans as Captain America

Captain America has a a superhuman ability after the lab experiment. He can punch, jump, kick and what-not like no other human. But still, he is human. Primary weapon is his shield which was made from a specialized metal that is (1) Bullet proof (2) Boomerang quality (3) Stainless steel, among others.

Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man

Iron Man has a suit of armor that have following features: (1) Fly (2) Guns and Missiles (3) Fly as fast as missiles (4) Almost impenetrable and, the most underrated, (5) Music player, among others

Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow

Black Widow is a professional assassin that specialized in the ff: (1) Martial Arts (2) Stealth weapons (3) Sexy in latex suit.

Mark Ruffalo as Hulk

Hulk has anger management issues that when provoked he obtains the ff: (1) ginarmous green six-pack-abs body (2) formidable strength (3) Jump as high as a skyscraper, and  (4) Looks cute when he is angry.

Chris Hemsworth as Thor

Thor has the mjolnir, a star-made hammer. With it he can do the ff: (1) call thunder (2) fly at top speed.

Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye

Hawkeye is also a professional assassin, that has an incredible marksmanship. . . yea that’s about it.

I guess it would be unfair to leave out Loki. No, he is not an Avenger. He is our skinny trying-hard villian!  But yes he has powers. I’ll leave his powers for you to ponder.

Tom Hiddleston as Loki

For the future

The success of “The Avengers” is also helped by the crescendo of the solo hero films. Who wouldn’t want to see these fantastic heroes in action, all in one event, and at the same time? I know I do.

Marvel and Disney have officially announced release dates of the following sequels: Iron Man 3 on May 3rd 2013, Thor 2 on November 15th 2013, Captain America 2 on April 4th 2014. This is also expected that Joss Whedon, the director, will get more recognizable films to direct. Until then, all we have to do is mark our calendars.
Last thoughts

I know there has been some inconsistencies with the film like why Thor’s troops, who swore to protect the Earth, among others, doesn’t come in action, or why the Avengers need Black Widow, or why Hulk can control himself all of sudden. The film also contains a rudimentary plot and not as intricate as “The Dark Knight.” I’m proud to say that these things didn’t really bothered me.  It doesn’t really necessary to seek for answers, when enjoying the questions are enough.

P.S. I know there were many, but what was you’re favorite Avenger scene? (Spoiler) Mine was when Thor says, “He’s adopted”, among others.  That was just hilarious.

IMdB: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0848228/

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eOrNdBpGMv8

Rating: ★★★★★

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The fallen angel's smile

In the story, Japan experiences serious economic downturn, which is evident by “the 15% unemployment” and “800,000 students boycotted school and juvenile crime rates soared”. Japan’s government is forced to pass the Battle Royale Act, whereby a set of students are dropped in an island with one goal: to kill each other until only one is alive.

Character and emotional depth

One reason why watch Asian films, particularly in Japan, Korea and India, is that it digs an abyssal emotional depth that their western counterpart can’t match. Like most Asian films, “Battle Royale” still have purity and innocence, even though it ironically celebrates violence.

But if there is a slight modification for improvement it would be to build more relationships of the characters at the start of the film. Show the lovers. Show the best friends. That way when you see a friend killed, or a friend running after you, waving pistol in air, it would be more gripping and heart-breaking. Besides, it wouldn’t be hard to set up that drill since the chosen participants are a high school class and not some random street kids plucked from the pavement.

Will this film make you cry? No, but it’s really sad. A boy arrives in an abandon warehouse, where a girl hides. The boy calls out her name but the girl panics and she shoots him. The boy is dying only to find out that he comes to confess his long silent love. It’s sweet. But sad. There’s even a group of girls getting killed for a misguided argument. You can really see how insanity corrupts even the most kind and cute person.

“Battle Royale” is based on a 1999 Japanese novel penned by Koushun Takami. Apart from film, it also has a manga version. On the film release of “Battle Royale”, it has been controversial on its idea of killing and has been banned on several countries. Nonetheless, it’s still considered as one of the  best film made in the decade. More information about their wiki page.

Nanahara retrieving a photo after seeing his best friend killed

Did it achieve its goal?

The Battle Royale Act was approved to warn and discipline the youngsters of their misdeeds. Unfortunately, this is the part where the film fails to show. At the start of the film, we see the winner of the recent batch of Battle Royale. The winner looks horrid and twisted. But if cut to the outside world, we don’t really see much violence in what the film is trying to show, only a teacher getting stabbed for fun and a father on a suicide but all of you will agree that isn’t enough. “A Clockword Orange” scenes would have been good sample for a teenage outrage.

You would think that this ridiculous violent act of forcing teenagers to kill other teenagers to at least make some impact to the outside world, but you never really see so. The film lacks visual elements to support its narrative ones. This makes me think that the whole Battle Royale is just put up to provide a cunning entertainment with no grounds. Although that is not what the film is trying to achieve, but it has certainly implied so.

Kitano, the proctor of the program, perceived as the ultimate villain

Battle Royale and its influence

After seeing films like “Inglorious Basterds” and “Kick Ass”, both films who are indebted to “Battle Royale”, it’s sad to admit that the former is more visually superior than the later, and has better narrative. After watching Battle Royale, although it’s already gory, I thought it was still conservative in showing flesh and blood, comparing it to the other films. Just as “Hunger Games” will be more popular than “Battle Royale”. To reiterate the old adage: “It’s sad but true”.

Addendum: Battle Royale and The Hunger Games

The hit movie blockbuster “The Hunger Games” (blog review) has been gravely compared to Battle Royale. Most Battle Royale fans say that “the Hunger Games” is no good, not new and just a ripped off of the former because of the following recurrent subjects: evil and corrupt government, and teenage killing. I won’t deny the similarities but I won’t also say that Hunger Games ripped off Battle Royale.

Suzanne Collins, author of the Hunger Games Trilogy, haven’t heard of “Battle Royale” until finishing her first book, and suffice to say she has a different sources of her inspiration. Besides, the idea of kids/teenagers killing each other for survival is not an eye opener.   We first heard it from a 1954 novel written by William Golding, “Lord of the Flies”, (blog review) at least as far as history can record. But that also can’t guarantee that it is the first story to tackle about cute little kids running around with spears. Who knows what stories have been told by our ancestors?  Not to mention “Battle Royale” has been rumored to pluck inspiration from “Lord of the Flies”. So originality is out of the context.

Original or copied, as long as the film looks fresh and/or entertaining, we couldn’t care less. Don’t you think?

IMdB: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0266308/

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N0p1t-dC7Ko&feature=related

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Jones tries to get the golden statue

The then 39-year old Harrison Ford plays Indiana Jones. We first see him in the middle of a treasure hunt, out in the deep forest of Peru, to retrieve a golden statue, that is heavily guarded by booby traps.(I really wonder why of all the places would you hide an artifact in an enclosed cave that is mostly suspicious for such materials rather than bury it 10 feet below ground.) He carefully replaces the statue for a pouch that has the same weight, thinking that this will fool the “security measures”, i.e. booby traps. He slowly walks away from the altar but the cave starts to collapse. He runs and dodges swift arrows. He jumps from a pit and he has to run after that or else he gets hit by a gigantic rolling stone.

First ten minutes of the story and we are already in adventure.

Apart from being a history professor, Jones is an enthusiastic archeologist. And apart from being an enthusiastic archaeologist, he is also an uncommonly handsome man, even his student drools over him. (Don’t worry, this film has nothing to do with pedophiles). Jones donates his treasures to the museum for the public’s pleasure, but as the film shows, his past treasure hunts has not been succesful. He is stepped over by an archenemy, Belloq, a fellow archeologist who have been fond of pestering Jones up until the end. Despite the failures, he has already received publicity on his past discoveries, as the “obtainer of rare antiquities”.

It is not surprising therefore that one day two U.S. military personnel, on behalf of the U.S. Government, hires Jones to search for the lost ark that is believed to be a “source of unspeakable power”, before the Nazi could turn it against them. This sets off Jone’s mind ablaze and he is then set off across Nepal for another journey.

Directed by Steven Spielberg (Saving Private Ryan (1998), artificial Intelligence (2001)), the film has never been short of action and adventures. The moment you think it is going to end, you realize that the end has not started yet. I can picture out that Indiana Jones has been the father of succeeding action adventure films. By some anonymous decision, according to Wikipedia, it is the best action adventure family film, as it appeals to adults and children.

Jones and Belloq having a "friendly" conversation

We must also give thanks to George Lucas for the story, and Lawrence Kasdan for the screenplay. In addition to the charming actors and the classic soundtrack, you’re also likely to be impressed by how the story is told. Close to the end, Jones almost has the ark on his disposal but because of his deep interest in historical objects, he suspends his decision. This leads him to be a captive, and ultimately, for the story, the last confrontation.

During his journey, Jones is accompanied by Marion. I’m glad Marion is not that classy or goody-goody suburban girls. She knows how to run, punch, kick, somersault, almost anything similar to Jones, but still maintains that look for sexual interest.

Despite thirty year of its release, I still see some authenticity. When Jones is chasing to retrieve Marion from the enemies, he clutches on a moving vehicle and makes his way down to the back of the car. This stunt really looks dangerous as Jone’s back is sliding and clashing on the ground. To this day, “Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark” still remains one of the top of all action films and is classified under the banner “classic”.

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Nothing tells victory other than walking with a backdrop of fire, smoke and explosion

Based on a novel, “I Am Number Four” is a teen action science fiction film that might be identical with “Twilight”, except that we’re not talking about vampires we’re talking about aliens.

In my childhood days, aliens are supposed to have deformed bodies, numerous eyes, extended parts and, in most cases, inaudible languages. But in this film, “I Am Number Four” shows aliens as well-fed, well-trained human figure with mystic powers. I reckon they are attempting to revolutionize the people’s perspective on aliens like “Twilight” did with vampires – except of running away from the fangs they come straight towards it.

Like “Twilight”, the main character is in High School named John Smith (a.k.a. Number Four), an alien that came from Planet Lorien. Their planet is destroyed and their being hunted down by another race for no particular reason. (The story says it’s not for colonial reason, what then . . . for fun?).  There are nine of them in total. Number one, two and three are dead. Who’s next? Go figure.

In order to protect them, “aliens” have babysitters (a.k.a. Guardians), which is ironic since these babysitters don’t have any powers except knowing hand-to-hand combats and having a piece of glowing dagger. They can’t fly, run fast or lift a refrigerator. How can these “babysitters” compete with villains who have laser guns, ginarmous winged beasts and an uncommonly sense of smelling? (more…)

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Eat my dust

“TRON:LEGACY” is a film you might describe as a perfect treatment from your stress-related jobs or stress-related homework, whichever is more applicable. With its vibrant visual and a one-dimensional plot, this film tells the story of Sam Flynn having a rescue operation for Kevin Flynn, his father, who is trapped in the digital world.

I bet it’s a hard-core gamer’s dying wish to replace their RPG characters and actually play their favorite games – slaying dragons, dodging fire balls and saving damsel in distress. But of course, for now that is impossible. Given the modern technology, however, and creative artists, they can have a feel of what would it look like through Disney’s Tron:Legacy, a sequel that made the dying fans of the first movie “Tron” squeal for joy.

Sorry, I can’t tell where “Tron” left off because it is a 1982 film, an era that is beyond my age of birth and field of interest. But I heard it follows through the storyline and gives justice to the whole story. Still I don’t know to what extent.

In the early scene, Kevin (Jeff Bridges) narrates a bedtime story for his son that he had an invention that could change the human kind called The Grid, a digital world that has an endless flow of information and possibilities. (He is, perhaps, dreaming of the internet.) The next day, however, the news reports that he is nowhere to be found and his company is now pointing hands of who is the next CEO, and not the culprit. This left his son as an orphan but after twenty years finds a portal that leads to that digital world and eventually to his father. (more…)

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the other guys at work

The trailer is funny and so is the film, but only the selected parts.  The whole film is like a parody because of its paper-thin or thoughtless plot. It has humor but the length of the film kills it. This is one of the comedy flicks which you just appreciate clips of the movie and not the whole movie itself.

The Other Guys is a story about two cops who spends most of their duty sitting behind the desk. However, they have different motives. Allen is afraid of gunfight and chose to be the department’s accountant and takes any paperwork – his idea of being safe, while Terry,  an intelligent and well-trained cop, is forced to be with Allen, his partner, because he shot an innocent man but still eager to get back in the battlefield. That’s why when their leading crime fighters died on a “heroic” act Terry drags Allen to various cases, hoping this will be their grand debut. (more…)

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In today’s streams of action and thriller films, Hanna is different. It transcends to the plot not by narration but by brilliant imagery. This film showcases the beauty of film making.

Hanna underwent intense home-schooling. Apart from being trained to be assassin, Hanna was intelligent. She knew the discoveries of science and the mysteries of literature. Thanks to Eric, her father, she was deprived from social interaction. Without any questions, she was determined to kill Marissa, an official whom Eric worked with.

You are not always plunged in through a series of action. But when it happens, it will leave you breathless. The fight scenes are something to look forward. They are well choreographed and you can sense gracefulness as it leads your eyes to amusement. I’ve started to appreciate steadicam on Joe Wright’s portrayal. The effect couldn’t have been achieve if a different technique was used.

(more…)

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