A Good Day To Die Hard (2013)

I can’t boo hard enough at this waste of time. The fifth installment in the Die Hard franchise has lowered the bar so far that the stale breath of Bruce Willis can’t even escape the clearance. When it was announced I didn’t really have high expectations, my expectations were so low they were floating above the planet core, but this is just awful shoddy work. The script is bad, the acting is worse and the villains make so many stupid ass decisions that this film is right down on my bottom list with the likes of Salt. If you’ve read my work, you know how mad I was about that movie.

Who wrote this? This garbage pile of donkey shit had the worst writing ever. At the same time that John McClane is trying to find his son and make up with him for years of unseen neglect, he is also completely wittingly pulled into a half assed terrorist plot by the most poorly written Russian terrorists I have encountered since, you guessed it, Salt. So you get the whole trying to make up during the scenes where they are resting between these really stupid action scenes that throw plausibility out the window. It completely puts the movie off kilter, trying to blend a father/son bonding with an action film. It is done so poorly, so poorly.

I’m holding back so much rage writing about this. So here is the stupid plot filled with stupid SPOILERS. The movie begins with a good father and daughter relationship repaired after the events of the fourth movie, so it’s time to fly to Russia to rescue the father/son relationship. One weird, Sinatra filled, Cab ride later, we arrive at the courthouse where his son is about to be executed arraigned likely killed by terrorists that are trying to get to a Russian scientist so he can lead them to “The file”. Jack, John’s son, is also trying to get his hands on the file so the American government can stop an evil Russian politician from gaining power through blackmail. John McClane serves to fuck everything up for his son, but provides his services as a brutal, one-liner spewing, killing machine throughout the entire film. Eventually ending up in Chernobyl, Ukraine; John and Jack find that the man they are protecting is in reality the evil mastermind behind the whole operation.  They kick everything’s ass. End game.

Get use to seeing this.

Get use to seeing this.

I don’t want to get started on this flick, but that’s what this is about. The movie was a mess. The bad guy’s defection was the only surprising moment of the film. It seems that this one tried to follow a lot of what James Bond has been trying to do as of late; that is to introduce weird quirky villains. This one has a stupid laughs and eats carrots when he’s taunting you. What the hell was that? There is practically no exposition in this film. The end of the action only serves as a loading screen to the next action scene. In fact, I wouldn’t have been so disappointed in this if it was a Die Hard video game. No! You have to sit through it and watch it for its short and disappointing run time. You don’t get to choose, this movie sucks any way you look at it.

The ending of the film was by far the worst ending to a film ever written, even worse than Salt! So after John McClane drags a helicopter down by driving a truck out of the back end. When the helicopter regains its momentum, it is out of ammo… and out of pure vengeance, the pilot and daughter of the Russian leader tries to ram the helicopter into the building to kill the John’s McClane. But instead of aiming right the hell at them, she aims to the left, enough to literally watch them jumping out the window completely avoiding the death she attempted to rain on them. She dies… the stupidest and needless movie death ever. Her poor co-pilot dies too. Poor guy. Then the McClanes get home… and silently walk into the sunset, freeze frame on them smiling and scene. Fuck you Die Hard 5.

Oh, almost forgot. They try to carbon copy the fall out of the window that Hans Gruber does in the first film. Which fails miserably.

Much better.

Much better.

This film also includes the death of John McClane, not literally mind you. He dies because his character has no character. He is very little like the original. It is quite obvious that the writer (who wrote X-Men Origins: Wolverine and The A-Team, so you know he was ready to tackle a beloved franchise like Die Hard) had absolutely no idea what to do with this legend of a character. So he did nothing. He said lines, and shot guns and that’s all John McClane does right? Right? Wrong you asshole! Wrong! John McClane has a load of character. This tired excuse of an action hero was nothing like what we saw in Die Hard 4, which wasn’t that long ago mind you. He was great in that because he was given things to do. Things go boom in this film and it’s John’s doing. That’s all you get folks. No character, whatsoever.

Final Word: Forget this. Don’t ever see it. It’s not worth the aggravation. It’s not worth the DVD. I want my money back and my mind wiped.

Final Grade: F

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Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters (2013)

I’ve been looking for a movie that would really make me scratch my head and January’s “Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters” made my scalp bleed with questions. There are plot holes upon plot holes, useless characters and a plethora of WTF moments. Don’t get me wrong, in no way was this film anything short of entertaining. However, to borrow a phrase from Red Letter Media’s Harry S. Plinkett, this film was made for the “dimwitted popcorn eating masses.” And ate it up they did because this beat Mama out of the top box office spot, and I hear that is nothing short of worth it. Oh well, here’s what I think of this film.

Poor editing and sloppy writing plague what could have been something pretty good, but instead we sit through an underwhelming ninety minutes of confusion. We have characters jumping leaps across forests in a single scene without explanation to show up for plot convenience, needless deaths caused by bad writing, villains whose plights make no sense whatsoever. I could go on, but I’m afraid I’d kill someone. I’m really saddened by this, because there were some good names attached to this film. Without the proper source material, you get this pile of garbage.

Spoilers Begin HERE.

Throughout the film, without any explanation how they are able to travel miles of forest, people just kind of show up at different locations for plot convenience. The first such situation is when Hansel is injured in a battle with witches and BAM, the woman he saved earlier shows up to heal him. Why was she there? How did she know he would be there? I don’t even. Anyways, then later when Hansel and Gretel are separated and Hansel happens upon their childhood home BAM Gretel is there. They were very much separated at this point. There is no possible way they could have traversed the distance needed to meet in the time allotted in this short ass film.

Furthermore the geography of this forest seems to change for plot convenience as well. In an overhead pan we are shown that this forest goes on as far at the camera can see. However we are later shown a rather large mountain range not established in that shot. Unless the camera was facing directly away from the range, I don’t see why it wasn’t in that shot. Also, again for plot convenience the locations in the film seem to move around so that you can get from A to B in seconds. I guess when you don’t have a Lord of the Rings length film, then you can’t have several traveling montages and you really need to get a move on.

Something that really surprised me when I saw this film was the violence, nudity and coarse language. Now I may sound the intro to a movie that you’d see on TV, but this was a film not suited for children. The violence was bloody and gratuitous with its B movie special effects, there was a brief scene of nudity and that was fine by me and this film had enough swears to be on par with your swear-tailored South Park episode.  Not that I have any issue with this, but I had no warning coming into this and I was kind of happy no one brought their kids.

So who was the violence directed at? The first would be the Witches, whose sole purpose in the film isn’t revealed until the last twenty minutes. They’ve decided to make themselves immune to fire which will apparently stop them from being captured and burned. However this doesn’t stop them from being killed by the numerous other ways shown in the film which includes nothing short of decapitation, hanging, numerous gunshots, crossbows, being cut in half, tasers. I could go on, but apparently fire is their number one concern and eliminating this will make them, and I am quoting the movie here “invincible”. Good luck with that.

What saves this film from a horrible score is that while filled with plot holes, you have to give it credit for what it offered. It offered humorous jokes, some boobies for the guys and mind-numbing action. Does that save this film from being bad? Not in the slightest. I’m glad I went to the cheap theatre and didn’t see it in 3D because a $17 ticket just wouldn’t have been worth the money.

In short Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters is nothing short of pretty awful, but has some redeeming qualities. I would actually recommend going to see it at the cheapest theater you can find. I can only imagine that the DVD would actually be more expensive. It is worth some cheap laughs and an entertaining evening, but don’t expect leaving without at least a few questions.

Grade: C-

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A Third Skyrim DLC (and should I care?)

Just recently, as I scrolled through my newsfeed, I noticed that Bethesda had announced their third downloadable content “Dragonborn” for the award winning and reviewed by me ‘The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim’. At this I let out a deep sigh; for as a Playstation 3 owner I am still waiting to play the first downloadable content that Bethesda shipped out to the Xbox 360 on June 26, 2012 and shortly later to the other Microsoft dominated console, PC, only a week later. This comes shortly after their plans for The Elder Scrolls Online release were posted. One full MMO, and three DLC later, we PS3 players are still waiting. This raises a few questions which I will attempt to ask and answer at the same time. You may dismiss this as the rantings of another “PS3 fanboy”, but I’m not, I’m only a PS3 owner who believes that he and the other players are due their DLC.

Coming to PS3… whenever.

1)      If Microsoft can pay for scattered releases, why can’t Sony?

Sony darling, it’s not like you’re hurting in cash.  Sony Computer Entertainment is a division of a much larger company that creates household items of an everyday sort.  It would not be too much of a stretch to put a little money into your coffer and outbid Microsoft. This is a good hint that either Microsoft loves their fans, or they’re just too rich to be outbid. What does this say of Bethesda though?

2)      Consider this.

Consider that between posts about DLC for Skyrim, I practically forget the game exists. I’ve been busy playing Borderlands 2, Pokemon Black 2, and an admittedly Bethesda game called Dishonored. People have moved on from Skyrim, especially people on the PS3, who beat it long ago. If people forget about your game, when you release the DLC a year or more, no one will care. I’m more than willing to pay and play, but get a bloody move on.

It is apparent that they create the game for Xbox and port it over to the Playstation, which is why the myriad of bugs is constantly more prevalent on PS3 versions than they are on the Xbox/PC versions of Skyrim. This is something that should be worked on while the game is in development. If you know you’re going to port something over, can you please for god sake work on it while on the fly? It is the equivalent of developing two games at once, sure, but you’re going to be in a position where you won’t have to say to the customers “We are not satisfied yet with Dawnguard‘s performance on the PS3. We would like for every to have a chance to play Dawnguard, but we aren’t going to release it for PS3 knowing that some people’s experience in Skyrim will be worse.” Wait, so if you make the game for Xbox, wouldn’t the same problems be on that version?

3)      Bethesda, can we believe you?

It is incredibly hard to buy the “game isn’t performing well enough” excuse that Bethesda shoved down our throats almost four months ago. However this might just be part of the excuse that Microsoft has asked them to fabricate in order to cover up their buyout of Bethesda’s scattering releases. What worries me even more is that this will make it the third DLC directly available for Microsoft and none for the Playstation. If you have a deal where Microsoft has bought the rights to your content and it is to be released first for that system, don’t fuck around; be honest and let people know. It has never been this brutal, we’ve never had to wait this long to be appeased. This leads me to my next question;

4)      How long before we can sue for false advertising?

It clearly states on the back of my copy of Skyrim, “Add-On Content”. How long before the statement becomes a fabrication and we have the right to say “There is an inherent expectation that we are able to get the content in a timely fashion or we have the right to some kind of compensation.” What I fear is that the Playstation 3 users will likely never get this content in the form of a downloadable content and what will happen is that Bethesda will release “The Elder Scrolls V Skyrim: Game of the Year Edition” and we will be forced to shill out another sixty plus dollars for what will likely be an even buggier version of the game that we have come to know and love.. as pretty goddamned buggy. So finally;

5)      What can Bethesda do to keep its PS3 player fan base?

Stop doing this to your fans. You cannot imagine the frustration we are enduring when we are promised something, it is given to someone else and for months we have no news on progress to remedy the issue. So I have a few suggestions:

–          The DLC should be available at a discount price.

–          It should be released all at once.

–          PS3 players would be appreciative if they got something Xbox didn’t.

–          Do not add them as part of a GOTY; if you do drop the price in half.

–          Give the next game to Sony and the PS3, let them have the timed exclusive DLC first.

As a person who stood outside in the blistering cold suffering from bronchitis to get this game almost one year ago; this is a big kick in the nuggets. Right now, you have a good chance of losing me. Suck up to me Bethesda; suck up to all of us. Post-haste!

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The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

While not being as impressive as its predecessor, The Dark Knight Rises is a true testament to what film making is today. It is visually stunning and sounds amazing. Newcomers to the franchise including Anne Hathaway, Tom Hardy, Jason Gordon-Levitt and Marion Cotillard wove themselves in to the universe so well, you believe their characters lived in this universe and experienced what they did. This incredible plot lives up to the hype of the film and raised my interest in the film as it continued.

I wasn’t surprised when I thought as the credits rolled “This wasn’t as good as The Dark Knight”, but found solace in the fact that while it wasn’t; it had elements that I found pleasing. Christian Bale’s performance is a bit more seasoned and far more understandable than his role in The Dark Knight. It was easier to understand his deep and often guttural speech. His presence in the film and the role he played was significantly different, as the story tells of Bruce Wayne well after having abandoned the cowl and cape, eventually returning to free Gotham from the clutches of Bane and the League of Shadows.

Once you have seen this movie, then you have my permission to die.

I have much to say about the casting in this film. I was happy with it, and most of the character changes between TDK and TDKR. You may notice many of the actors in this film appeared together in the 2010 film Inception (Tom Hardy, Marion Cottilard and Jason Gordon-Levitt), and do just as well in this film as they did in their previous Nolan film. The choice of Tom Hardy as Bane continues to fuel my fascinations with his roles, as he was introduced to me in Star Trek: Nemesis ten years ago.  His portrayal of Bane relied heavily on the strength and body language of the character. His confidence in both his training and his strength gives him a malevolent stance when facing off against Bale’s Batman. Jason Gordon-Levitt’s role as John Blake is confusing at best, but certainly entertaining. His character doesn’t really serve any purpose to main plot per say, but does well as an auxiliary character. Anne Hathaway’s portrayal of Selina Kyle is fantastic. She does well portraying a thief on the run, while also keeping composure as both a master of deceit and eventually as a partner to Batman. Her role resembles many of the earlier incarnations of Catwoman, although not named directly, her role as an anti-hero continues to be prevalent.

While I was very impressed with the overall plot of the film, I have to give special praise to giving the Nolanverse Batman a bit of vulnerability. It was the fact that he had met his match in Bane, and again in Selina Kyle, that gave Bruce Wayne the drive to return to Gotham and save it from certain destruction. I enjoyed the fact that it had to do with the return of The League of Shadows, an incredibly powerful group that received much of the same training as Bruce Wayne did under the command of Ra’s Al Ghul. It also had to deal with Bruce Wayne accepting his role as Batman, and finally finding the peace he deserved after his parents death.

Hans Zimmer returns to score the third film, again showing his incredible talent in scoring such an epic film. His co-writer James Newton Howard did not return which marks the first Zimmer only film in the trilogy. His exceptional skill at crafting the music to fit exceptionally into each scene gave compliment to the film, its cinematography and the characters. There were many instances in the previous film that had Nolan using silence as a major piece in a lot of his movements.

As with any review I have written, there are always be a negative aspect of the film that has to be addressed. There were way too many characters in this film, especially minor ones. John Blake, despite having a pivotal role at the end of the film, is shown far too often and Commissioner Gordon is shown far too little. Deputy Commissioner Foley was an incredibly annoying character that kind of served to just yell at characters when they were trying to do things right in the film. He is reminiscent of Deputy Chief Dwayne D. Robinson in Die Hard, a character notorious for his bonehead police procedures.

Aw, shit; I’ve been mentioned.

So would I recommend it? Sure! Whether or not it lives up to TDK as a successor is a moot point. It was hard to gauge this as a film because it loomed in the shadow of a film that broke so many accolades it makes my character on STO blush. If you haven’t seen it, and I imagine you have, see it. If you have, see it again. Especially if you were in second row IMAX and pretty much looked at Bruce’s crotch for the whole film.

Final Grade: A

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Diablo III (PC – 2012)

After twelve years, it had finally arrived, Diablo III. This game was one of the most highly anticipated of 2012 and boy did it deliver. It delivered a mountain of complaints right off the bat. From server errors, inability to log-in, in-game glitches that broke the game completely; it has been touted as the worst launch in Blizzard history. Now, I’m a patient man, but this kind of thing doesn’t sit right with me. It seems that the more complicated a game is in the way it is presented, the worse and worse the launch gets. I’ll touch more on this later, but now let’s delve into the awesome world of Diablo III.

A complex world where good battles against prime evil.

If you’d played Diablo II, you’ll have a very good idea of what to do in this game. The controls remain the same, the setting has changed and the enemies provide a challenge to each player based off the way the game is played. For those who may be completely unfamiliar with the franchise, as I was before Diablo III, it is a point and click action role-playing game. The settings in the first two acts mimic the acts of Diablo II, from the town of New Tristram, to the desert outside of Caldeum; while Acts III and IV take you to the battlegrounds outside Bastion’s Keep and finally the silver spires of the High Heavens for the final showdown.

While praising the overall look of the game, I can’t help but feel that my computer was wasted on it. The engine, while allowing for 3D movement for enemies, relies on an overall look that feels outdated by today’s gaming standards. Sure, it’s still a pretty game, with lots of interesting locales that change on occasion, thunder and lightning in the background and cliffs to look off to see the span of the world. I’ve seen games from years ago that look and feel fresher. Not too much of a complaint here, the game looks great. In contrast, you can tell a lot of time and effort went in to the thing that we are going to skip the most in this game, the cut scenes. These are just, breathtaking, the character animation is so close to human in this day that I’m just floored by the detail.

The skill system has been enhanced, which allows for players of all kinds to choose their class abilities and passives in a way that compliments their style. I chose to first roll a Barbarian, pure damage output and I chose skills that assisted me in murdering as many demons as possible in the shortest amount of time. However, by the time I reached Act IV of Hell difficulty, I had to change my skills to pure defense as to not get completely slaughtered by enemies that are hitting for a third to half of my health. The ability to choose and mix these skills is what I believe makes the gameplay a lot more interesting. You’ll encounter public players of the same class with a completely different play style. As you progress in level, skills gain runes that augment abilities to add damage, slow, reduced cost and many different effects. It’s a great skill system, can’t give it enough love.

Finally, a skill system that works!

I get a lot of satisfaction out of this game. Because of the ability to go back to the earlier difficulties with your higher level characters, it takes the grind out of achievement hunting. It does take the challenge out of it, but it does make it a lot easier for people who don’t have the proper skill necessary to pull off some of the more challenging achievements. Currently I am sitting just shy of fifty percent overall, but after a bit of hunting I’m sure I can get some of the more tedious collecting challenges out of the way. I do like that you unlock new banner accessories as you go through the game. I’ve always enjoyed designing my own logo.

Then we have the issue of it being an online only single player game. This DRM, while having the best of intentions, causes extreme discomfort among gamers as it prevents Diablo from having the option for offline play. This in part lends to the awful server issues and error codes that plague the game. Unfortunately this represents the future of gaming. We can expect to see a lot more of this in the future. This anti-piracy front is good, but the method is intrusive.

I wish I didn’t have to gripe on this game, I really do, but there are issues that just cannot go overlooked. If you don’t want stress, you might want to wait a couple months before some of the more incredibly annoying bugs and glitches are fixed. Many reported a game breaking bug quite early in the story. This bug, gone overlooked, crippled players making them unable to log-in to their game and in some cases their account in general on other Blizzard titles. I’m incredibly surprised that this wasn’t fixed in a timelier and polite manner, as the game, Blizzards main site and forums were shut down for hours after Diablo III launch.

The game continues to suffer from incredible latency at times, at one point causing my computer to blue screen. A quick change in the foreground FPS led to my first day without crippling lag. For a computer that has run some of the most graphically heavy games of all time on very high to be halted by a game like Diablo III has confounded me, but I will have to swallow it on this one, it was kind of my fault sometimes. However, with the General chat being plagued with more complaints than good, one could wonder exactly how prepared they were for this launch and the bugs that followed. The plethora of error codes shows you just how many things can go wrong.

A big “fuck you” to the gaming community.

Finally, at this moment they are currently fixing the third and final issue I have with this game. The imbalance at higher levels makes it tough to beat the first act of Inferno difficulty and pretty much breaks the second, with enemies hitting for more than your total health. It is expected that it will be nerfed in this coming patch along with the damage output of my beloved Barbarian at higher levels. Players can look forward to not dying as much very soon.

Overall, I’m still enjoying the game. If you overlook the bad launch, numerous error codes, disconnects and lag; you’re going to find an amazing game with an excellent story, some decent visuals and an excellent combat and skill system. The level balance leaves me topped out for now, but once the new patch comes in, I can look forward to playing a well-balanced game. I think you’d enjoy this game, but in a few months when they have it ironed out. Until then, happy gaming!

Final Grade: B+ (The launch gets an F)

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The Avengers (2012)

I was joking!

Seamless action and an all-star blockbuster cast compliment the first major superhero movie of the year, The Avengers. I have nothing, but good things, to say about this movie. A crew of unparalleled talents came together to create what may be the best superhero movie of all time. The Avengers was an excellent blend of humour, action, thrills, and suspense. Hey, they even had time for some back-story for the rather new or undeveloped characters from previous films.

If you’re a superhero movie buff, you’ve probably seen the previous Avengers tie-ins. In case you haven’t, go to the movie rental store that doesn’t exist anymore, break in and “borrow” Captain America, Thor, Hulk and both Iron Man films. Go ahead. I’ll wait. Okay done? Excellent! Let’s begin shall we? After the events of each film, Stark has continued being a billionaire playboy industrial philanthropist and is working on sustainable energy, having turned down Nick Shield’s offer to join the Avenger’s initiative; Thor has returned to Asgard and watches Earth closely, Dr. Bruce Banner hides away in India while avoiding the authorities and Captain America has just acclimatising himself to the 21st Century. Through a portal generated by the Tesseract. Loki appears, and steals the power source to bring an army to Earth with the intent to rule it. This brings together Stark, Thor, Banner, Rogers and newcomers to the team Natasha “Black Widow” Romanoff and Clint “Hawkeye” Barton to stop Loki and close the invading army’s portal for good.

Looks like they have their work cut out for them.

Joss Whedon had a hard task ahead of him. So first I must thank him and praise the work that he did on this film. This movie pulled off something that was very difficult to do. It brought together the stories and the identities of each Avenger, and molded them so well together. Each of these characters have different personalities and ways of dealing with things, which is indicated by much of the dialogue between Tony Stark and Steve Rogers, whereas Tony has a devil may care attitude that clashes with Roger’s for the uniform style of command. There was enough time given for character development, another difficult process considering the amount of people involved in the main plot. They even had time to give a small back story to characters like Agent Coulson. When you have a film that runs no longer than a movie about one superhero, which gives enough time for anywhere between eight and ten stories, that is talented direction and exceptional writing.

The action itself, to reuse the term, was seamless. I was incredibly happy with how well the action flowed. Believe me; this film has such an incredible amount of action within the last twenty to thirty minutes of the film. The camera’s follow and switch between characters with such precision that you can’t be removed from the fight. There is even dialogue between characters during the fight coordinating with each other and it keeps you entertained. This is the kind of action that any action film fan should be looking for.

So begins the action!

There is some amazing writing in this film. Between technical dialogue about locations, shady S.H.I.E.L.D. dealings, explanations about Loki’s origins or the humorous banter between the Avengers; there is a lot of work to be done. The task was bringing different characters from different backgrounds to speak together on terms in which they could understand. You have the overconfident Stark butting heads with the man out of time, Rogers; and then Banner befriending Stark as a kindred spirit as they both realize that they’re geniuses working together. The writers pulled this off without a hitch. All the character blended well with each other.

I’m going to skip a review of the main credited actors; we’ve already seen them do their films. They all did amazing work. However I wanted to speak about some of the supporting cast. This is my first real experience with Hawkeye, outside of brutally killing my friend in UMvC3, so I was actually looking forward to seeing how Academy Award Nominee Jeremy Renner would bring his skill to the role. I believe that Renner brought everything he had to the role and came out on top. The strength and conviction of Hawkeye blended well with a lot of the strong roles that Jeremy Renner was known for playing. He essentially played two versions of Hawkeye in the film, which is a challenge, but he certainly pulls it off. Cobie Smulders was a passable Maria Hill, whose role seemed really lost in this film. She was there to take orders, question them and then shrug and carry them out. Not much else to go on there.

And the rest…

Regarding acting, there were a lot of people wondering if Mark Ruffalo fit the big man’s pants in this film, following Edward Norton backing away from the film. The answer is yes. Mark brings his acting chops to full bare in a role that requires specific attention to how you carry yourself and how you speak. One move and you’re going to be seeing green. This actually makes me want to go back and see the previous Hulk movie with Ruffalo superimposed over Norton. I think he might even do a better job. He seems to have what it takes for it and I look forward to seeing him in future Marvel films.

So, here we have the film that beat record after record at the box office in a weekend, rivaling the final Harry Potter and The Dark Knight with its money making momentum. Can it keep up? If the third day viewing crowd was any indication, I think we may have another four weeks at the top of the box office style run that The Hunger Games carried. If you enjoyed any of the previous films you should go get avenged. You seriously won’t regret it.

Final Grade: A+

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The Lorax (2012)

I’ve been seeing a lot of the new animated movies lately, but none had my interest until The Lorax. This is the Dr. Seuss tale that I was completely unfamiliar with. Without doing any research I happy went to see the film. It was not my first choice, but since I waited too long to see The Secret World of Arriety, this had to do. I was actually quite happy with the entire experience. I’ve never seen such a quiet theater full of children. This movie had a message, one that may have been lost on the younger audience, but resounds true with adults.

Timber!

The film begins with young Ted Wiggins setting out to find the one thing that will win over the girl of his dreams; a tree.  His grandmother suggests speaking to the Once-ler, a strange hermit who lives well beyond the border of Thneed-ville, their artificial city.  Making contact, the Once-ler agrees to tell Ted the tale of the trees if he agrees to do hear it over multiple visits. Even after numerous attempts to be strong-armed into staying inside Thneed-ville, Ted escapes and learns the true nature of what happened to the trees, the story of The Lorax and plans to revive trees in the region to both save the environment and get the girl.

The story itself has a strong message, which may have been more relevant at the time the tale was created. Logging was and is an ever present danger to the natural environment and will cause more harm than good. Business correspondent Lou Dobbs stated that the film is trying to “indoctrinate children”. I find such business first ideals like this are exactly what this film is trying to avoid. I believe the message is a good one and doesn’t necessarily reflect any harm that could be done by creating that message in the film. It was in part of an effort of more than fifty thousand people that there was even an environmental messaged attached to the website of the film, so it’s obviously not corporate Hollywood making a strong effort, but the views of many people, businesses, actors and artists.

The 3D effects were likely the most impressive I had seen since Toy Story 3. The image did at times reach out at me, which indicates that the process of 3D animation is being refined and improved. An animation studio that I hadn’t heard of, Mac Guff, created the film. Alongside this film, as examples of their exemplary work are Dragon Hunters and Despicable Me, both I have seen an enjoyed the animation. Though I didn’t quite understand the way the trees were shown, almost cotton-candyesque, I enjoyed the character animations, the way the environment was created and especially the animation of the water. The animation was very well done.

What can you say about the acting though? Experienced actor Danny DeVito is hilarious as the Lorax, a short statured creature that speaks for the trees, carried the humour of the film. Zac Efron was an excellent selection to play Ted and Taylor Swift, though her role was small, was a good Audrey. Supporting cast includes the amazing elder that we have all come to know and love in the comedy world, Betty White, was the best choice to play Ted’s grandmother, one of the last to see the trees in the area. Other roles included Rob Riggle as Alaster O’Hare and Ed Helms as The Once-ler, both Daily Show Veterans, whose appearances in the film make me miss them a heck of a lot on that show.

A fitting role for DeVito.

What is a film without its music? The score and soundtrack were both exceptional with many of the songs having such humourous tunes, whimsical lyrics and excellent singers. In particular that stand out are “Truffula Valley Fantasy” from the score, “Thneedville” and “Let It Grow (Celebrate the World)” from the soundtrack to the film. John Powell, the composer for the film is best known for his work on X-Men: The Last Stand, Happy Feet and How to Train Your Dragon.

Final Word: The Lorax did have a message and yes it was an environmental one, it did inspire children to promote environmental awareness. Is that really a bad thing? It was a great film with excellent animated movie for early 2012 and the theater was packed with people. On the way out I didn’t hear anything bad about the film from viewers, but the adults understood that it had a message. I enjoyed it, if you can find it in the theaters still, I am sure you would as well.

Final Grade: B

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