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QUICK REVIEW: Tomb Raider

Howdy ladies and gents, time for a new film review and today I’m going to talk about the latest video game film, Tomb Raider. Now I could say a lot about this film but I will attempt to keep things brief this time around. So Tomb Raider, where to start? Well firstly let’s just get some background info out of the way:

  1. I never watched the Angelina Jolie films because I didn’t have the interest at the time.
  2. I also never really played any of the Tomb Raider games until last year when I played the 2013 reboot game.
  3. The marketing didn’t do much to convince me that the film would be worth watching. However, I wanted to remain optimistic because the film was based on strong source material.

So with all that out of the way what did I think of the film? It was fine, but it won’t break the video game film curse.

The story in the film involves a young woman by the name of Lara Croft who goes on a trek to discover what happened to her father who went missing years ago and uncover the mysteries surrounding his research. What follows is a journey of action, danger, self-discovery and interesting revelations. What I applaud the people behind the film for is taking so much of the 2013 game and incorporating into this film. The basic elements of the story, key locations and action set pieces were lifted from the game, and while a great deal was changed and streamlined, some of it was effective and I appreciated how much of that content was put into the film… That being said, the film features so many of the basic and cliché elements that made these big budget action-adventure films so average to watch. The story plays out almost exactly as you’d expect with certain twists and reveals you could see coming a mile away, the dialogue can be so cheesy and dull at times, and while some of the humour works, some of it really cringeworthy and there was one scene in the first trailer I prayed wouldn’t make it into the final film and just near the end it showed up and I was very sad haha. 😛 I’m only harsh on the story because the game had such a great foundation to jump off from and while there was only so much time available, certain story and character elements were needlessly omitted or changed resulting in a story that had less of dramatic and emotional resonance.

As for the cast they did their jobs well enough but none of the characters was all that unique or memorable beyond the main character. Alicia Vikander as Lara Croft was fine, she played the stubborn, smart and physically capable girl with issues relating to her past, she’s a fine enough hero with a great body and can handle herself in tough situations, but she doesn’t have that “je ne sais quoi” that makes a protagonist endearing. Dominic West as Lord Richard Croft was decent, though I wasn’t keen on how his character was handled in the story. Daniel Wu as Lu Ren was fine, I wasn’t sure how he’d fit into the overall narrative but it was revealed in a logical manner and I liked his character, but I thought Wu was underutilized considering his good work on Into the Badlands. Kristin Scott Thomas as Ana Miller was fine, and Walton Goggins as Mathias Vogel was okay as the bad guy, he did what he could with the material he was given, but it wasn’t a captivating or memorable villain, unfortunately. From a presentation point of view, the film has pros and cons. Visually, for the most part, the film looks good, most the visual effects are solid (safe for some questionable CGI and green screen), some of the action sequences were cool especially with the chase scenes, and like I said before, seeing several of the set pieces from the game implemented into this film did make me grin. And the film score by Tom Holkenborg was a little lacking in presence and didn’t do much to elevate the action on-screen.

So to conclude, I think most people reading this may think I hate the film but that is not the case. Tomb Raider a is a fine yet unremarkable film. I think there will be varying opinions about this film from fans of the games and those who are not. It does some things well and Alicia Vikander did a pretty good job in the main role, but alas the film’s story, action and characters are very plain and generic, and I think that there was so much material from the game that could have been adapted much better. Anyway, if you’re curious about this film give it a watch, it wasn’t as inconsistent as Warcraft and nowhere near as boring as Assassin’s Creed, but this isn’t the film to usher in the new era of video game films, nuff said.

So have you seen Tomb Raider and if so what did you think of it? Drop me your thoughts in the comment section below and I’ll see you in the next review, so until the next time, laters! 😀

 
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Posted by on March 15, 2018 in Film Reviews, Reviews

 

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Month of Superhero Film Reviews 2: Punisher: War Zone

Howdy people of the north, south, east and west, and welcome to Day #11 of Month of Superhero Film Reviews 2! During this month I’ll be reviewing of some of the best, average and worst comic book adapted films. After checking out The Punisher yesterday, I thought I may as well check out the reboot that came out four years later; Punisher: War Zone.

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So now we have last Punisher film to come out and the third live-action film incarnation of the character after the 1989 film and the 2004 film. Rather than being a sequel to the Thomas Jane film, the slate was wiped clean for something a little darker, more violent and unrestrained. The end result is one of debate among fans as to whether this film did a better adaptation of the comics or not. And today I get to tell you where my opinion lies.

The story can be summed up as the following:

“After hunting down and killing hundreds of violent criminals, Frank Castle, aka The Punisher, faces his most deadly foe yet: Jigsaw.”

The story here is more along the lines of how I’d envisioned a Punisher film. There’s no origin story, that’s explained pretty much in flashbacks and conversations, already on the right track. We have Frank Castle already established as the popular vigilante, he’s running around a taking names, the police and criminals know of him, it is all good stuff. I even like how Punisher does something that really messes him up and he has deal with it throughout the film. Even though there are a lot of things to like, I will say that the plot for all the stuff going on did feel a little thin and just felt like it was there help give Castle reasons to kill people. Certain elements with Frank’s past and the main villain work well, but in the grand scheme of things some of this stuff isn’t fleshed out enough for you to get emotionally attached to these characters and this film reaffirms my preference for the Punisher to be on TV because stories like his should be told over longer periods of time.

So then the question becomes which one is better The Punisher (2004) or War Zone? Well that’s a tough question to answer. The 2004 film, while I felt it wasted time with the origin story and didn’t display enough of Frank’s skills, we got to spend time with Jane’s Punisher, see him develop and have him in the classic attire. Whereas this film gives us the action, violence and badassery that Punisher is known for in swifter and more comic book styled affair. I would argue that War Zone win by a tiny margin because of the bloody action and skipped origin story.

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Now let’s talk about the cast. Ray Stevenson as Frank Castle/The Punisher is very good. What Stevenson lacks in dialogue and character moments, he makes up for in his physicality, charisma and approach to action, I also liked his dramatic moments, but generally he was just awesome in the action scenes. Dominic West as Billy Russoti/Jigsaw is alright. West starts out well, he’s cool and charming, but once he gets becomes disfigured his persona gets a little wacky and starts to channel Tommy Lee Jones’ Two Face from Batman Forever, and it’s quite troublesome. Colin Salmon as Paul Budiansky is pretty good. This character is fairly serious and really wants justice and has a beef with the Punisher. Salmon is always good in most films and TV shows that I’ve seen him in and he fares well here too. Wayne Knight is cool as Linus Lieberman/Microchip, you can tell that Linus and Frank have history and I liked his dialogue and Knight is still as charming and fun as ever. I just wish there’d been more time between him and Frank to show more of their relationship and why he was important to Frank. Doug Hutchison as James Russoti/Loony Bin Jim was initially pretty funny and interesting, but after a while the whole crazy act just got a little silly and cartoonish for my liking. Julie Benz was fine as Angela Donatelli and Dash Mihok was fun as NYPD Detective Martin Soap.

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Now let’s talk about the presentation. Visually the film is pretty insane. Action-wise the film basically just throws everything at you with some incredible set pieces that have a lot of style, flair and carnage. The violence is also turned up to one hundred with people getting cut, stabbed, shot, broken and exploded, there is no restraint, people get messed up and it is great… To a degree. After a while it can get a bit over the top and cartoony with some of these death being more funny than serious. As for the film score, Michael Wandmacher deserves a lot of credit for his work on this film as his score for the film was hard-hitting, aggressive, dark and beastly. I also have to say that some of the music tracks selected for this film was pretty good I especially liked the use of Justice, Slipknot and Pendulum.

And lastly how does it compare to the comics? Once again I’ve never read the Punisher comics, however from the animated versions I have seen and what I’ve read about, this film does give you better representation of Punisher’s relentless nature and marksman skills.

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So to conclude Punisher: War Zone is a violent action film that is a lot of fun and has a good central performance from Ray Stevenson. While the story is a bit substandard and the violence can be too over the top to a comical fashion, there is enjoyment to be found with this one if you can switch your brain off and enjoy the ride.

Rating: 6.5/10

That’s 11 reviews done, only 19 more to go. So have you seen Punisher: War Zone and if so what are your thoughts on it? Drop me a comment and let me know your thoughts yo! Come back tomorrow and I’ll have a new film review online, until then peace out!

 
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Posted by on June 11, 2015 in Film Reviews, Films, Media, Reviews

 

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John Carter Review

Good day to you ladies and gentlemen, today I come to you with a new film review and it will be on the recent sci-fi action film John Carter.

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Never before have I ever seen a film of such a high magnitude fall victim to such a questionable situation with its critical reception and box office numbers. I mean from what I know John Carter as a film is adapted from very rich source material called Barsoom which was a 11-volume series of novels by Edgar Rice Burroughs. And it is was that source material from the novels that influenced directors like Jame Cameron and George Lucas when making Avatar and the Star Wars films. So with all of this influential material and the novels looking like the basis of every great science fiction adventure film, it is hard to believe that the material could be adapted into something bad. Upon the film’s release there were critics that said it was great, while many others said that it was just okay while many others said it was terrible. But I believe the main thing that hurt John Carter was the box office numbers. So far it’s failed to rake in enough cinema-goers to make its money back, it cost $250 million to make which is an absurd amount of money and currently it’s just short of that at around $234 million which is pretty tragic really. So is the film really that bad? Well read on into my review to find out.

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The plot of the film is set in the 1800s and it focuses on the main protagonist, John Carter. A man from Virginia, he’s a natural-born fight whose fought in the Confederate Army and at that current point in time he was tired of war, didn’t take shit from anyone and was obsessed with finding his treasure of gold. However through a series of events he happens to find a medallion, say some magic words and gets transported to Mars (also known as Barsoom to inhabitants of that planet). So when he’s on Mars he discovers that he jump higher and has increased strength due to his higher bone density and Mars’ lower gravity. He then comes across a race of green aliens with four arms who witness his newfound powers and take him in, meanwhile on the other side of the planet there’s a princess called Dejah Thoris who is being forced into marrying the antagonist in the film because with that deed done he can end the war with his power, but the princess isn’t down with that so she attempts to escape, then meets up with John Carter and then they get to know each other and form an alliance. And now moving onto the antagonist Sab Than, a man who’s been given a great power called the Ninth Ray and under the influence of ancient powerful entities called the Thern he is destined to take the princesses hand in marriage to end the war. So somehow Carter is drafted into this war, while he is also trying to find a way of getting back home…

Confused much? Well if you said yes then you are not alone. I know that wasn’t a very good plot description but the fact of the matter is that there is many layers to John Carter, it would be hard to talk about the film without going into specific details about characters and story. The film’s main problem is that it has too much story. There’s too many layers and its mashed together in a very choppy and unorganized manner. John Carter’s story starts on Earth and there’s a lot of story there involving a lot of characters past and present, then you have the several events that take place on Mars and all the characters he interacts with, some of which have their own backstories and then you have the history of Barsoom (Mars). That’s a lot of material to cover in around 2 hours. There was too much source material to work with and while the story gets clearer as events play out on Mars, it still gets lost in translation at many points. I reckon that this film could have been split into 2 halves, though finding a clear-cut off point would be difficult, but I feel that approach would have benefitted the film much better especially with all of the back story that comes with Barsoom and Carter’s history on Earth.

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The cluttered story also makes for some awkward pacing over the course of the movie. It really felt like the film didn’t allow you to process the information it was trying to give you, much like Clash of the Titans and Green Lantern. I mean you are given the whole history of Barsoom at the beginning of the film, but it feels like it was breezed over and not given enough breathing space.It would have worked better at a later part of the film through a descriptive back story by one of the inhabitants that Carter encounters. You also have John Carter being on Mars, adjusting to the fact that he’s on another planet with light gravity, he then comes into contact with the green aliens just a little while afterwards, then there’s another new storyline with Dejah thrown in, and then there’s the whole thing with the Thern and Sab too. And the way you cut from scene to scene without enough time to take in is very frustrating because there are moments of emotion and good action, but they are all too brief and over in a flash. And it is because of this awkward pacing that we don’t get time to properly get invested in the characters or believe the budding relationship between Carter and Dejah, such a shame.

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Also when the film was going through like the first act on Earth I was like “What the hell is all this shit? Where’s all the action and adventure from Mars? When does he get to Mars? Skip this shit, I wanna see Mars!” When you are thinking about all of those things before a film has even gotten into its element then you know its got problems. Basically the first part of the film dragged, it had awkward editing, pretty dull characters and that part of the plot I didn’t really care about. And even after we get to Mars and things become more interesting, there’s still awkward, choppy and incomplete moments that arise.

Other failings of the film come in the form of its dialogue, characters and the film’s overall tone. Some of the stuff that happens in this film is actually weird or completely ridiculous regardless of whether its meant fictional. The dialogue is okay, but a lot of it is cliché and pretty lame at points. Secondly the characters in the film are the kind we’ve seen a good few times before except a lot better in those other films, Taylor Kitsch as John Carter is alright and did what he could with the role, but I feel like he was just a bit boring at times and Lynn Collins as Dejah Thoris was pretty and not half bad acting-wise but overall just a tad annoying and lacking in likability. Willem Dafoe as Tars Tarkas was probably the most memorable of all the characters because he had personality and was actually pretty cool and when it comes to Dominic West as Sab Than he was just the generic villain, no layers to him whatsoever and Mark Strong as Matai Shang was just Mark Strong being himself, an interesting character but a little dull. But the third and final thing that bugged me was this whole lighthearted Disney feeling that was sprinkled all over the film, from the comedic scenes to some of the dialogue or the choice of music. It felt very Disney-like, like watching old Disney animated films. That atmosphere created made John Carter feel like it was intended for children and dumbed down for adults, it was quite annoying like some of the scenes from the Pirates of the Caribbean films.I made a good few comparisons to Disney’s Aladdin due to the characters, plot and setting. But then the tone of the film keeps switching between kiddie and then adult when there are scenes of war and violence, especially when you see people being killed and decapitated. So you have to wonder what kind of tone was this film going for.

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Remember all this chaos and action-packed scenes from the trailers and posters? Well you have to wait for all that stuff and sit through half of a film that feels like its part of another film.

So after all of this hateful comments I’ve given to this film you probably think I hated it right? Well I didn’t. Before this film came out I thought it was just another Conan the Barbarian except it’s in space, but luckily it wasn’t nearly that bad. When I left the cinema screen I was bemused, I found myself liking the film, but it was hard to pinpoint the balance between how much I liked with how much I disliked. As I said before the film frustrates me because there are aspects of the film that do work, John Carter’s past and present story was a deep one and the adventure he goes on is pretty incredible, BUT that is offset but the execution of this film which defeats the elements that the film is trying to sell to you as an audience member. For a film that is meant to be basis of most other science fiction films it sure does pay homage to other films like the recent Stars Wars Episode 1 to Star Wars Episode 6 with the podracing and speeder chases sequences and there’s some obvious parallels to Avatar too.

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In the end John Carter meets somewhere in the middle; it isn’t completely rubbish or a masterpiece either. While it has some moments of genuine entertainment, it is also plagued with questionable dialogue, a very heavy and convoluted storyline, strange character personalities and awkward pacing. The film is just frustrating because it had a lot of potential and in a way you could see that it could be so much more, but unfortunately it’s just half a good film, half a mess of a film. Watch the film if you so choose, however I can’t recommend it because of how much it a disappointment it was to me.

Rating: 6/10

 
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Posted by on March 27, 2012 in Film Reviews, Films, Media, Reviews

 

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