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Review of “Warcraft” 3D

Here’s the scoop: Warcraft is proof that video game adaptation movies are just getting started. As China’s showing us, they are BIG business and more importantly, fun business. That’s the review right there. This flick’s a clean 7 outta 10. Not earth-shattering but I’ll be damned if it wasn’t a good time.warcraft-quad

Pros:
-The orc intro to the movie, right up ’til the Blizzard logo, is fantastic. If the rest of the movie had that level of “oomph” to it, it’d be movie of the year hands down. Sick introduction to the orcs and a great sense of impending doom to kick the flick off with.
-Durotan, the lead orc, is fantastic. I cared about him, an entirely CGI character, more than anyone else in the story by a mile and a half.
-Gul’dan is one hell of a villainous orc.
-The effects are very, very solid. Good CGI, far superior to the trashy visuals Marvel and DC seem to be content with churning out.
-The orcs have an insane sense of weight and heft to them, making every hammer smash against a human wince-inducing.
-Basically, the orcs are phenomenal all around.

Those five things honestly carry the movie enough for me to call it a good time. So when I list a million things down below in the cons (in no particular order), understand I’m not declaring Warcraft a death by a thousand cuts situation. It narrowly avoids that.

Cons:
-There’s a super forced, garbage romance subplot hinted at. Not every story needs romance.
-Travis Fimmel has no charisma and lacks the sense of leadership his character is supposed to radiate. As such, the next movie is going to be a skip on my part simply because he won’t have Durotan to balance the movie with.
-Paula Patton’s character could’ve been a cool warrior sister. Instead, her dialogue is written like trash and she doesn’t try all that hard to save it with a good performance.
-The ending is rushed as hell.
-The mages look like cosplaying geeks (with homemade cotton capes) plucked right from the game’s primary demographic.
-The movie does a poor job explaining the Fel, and why certain characters are so drawn to it. I still don’t know why the big twist character was so obsessed with it.
-The rock creature thing looks stupid and is the single CGI mishap present in the flick.
-The battles are underwhelming. Not to mention there’s more than a couple of moments where you can visibly make out extras just standing around instead of fighting their CGI foes. Takes you out of the moment instantly.
*SPOILER* Gul’dan does so much shit against orc code that it requires constant self-induced lapses in logic to accept that he wasn’t overthrown by the end of the movie.

Surprises:
-The 3D was half-decent and actually helped communicate the orcs’ immense strength in fights.

In conclusion, go see Warcraft and support the best video game adaptation to date. Be a part of the dawn of kick-ass video game adaptations as we, the gaming community, usher in a new era of cinematic entertainment for the world to enjoy. Let’s watch orcs, assassins, blue hedgehogs, lombaxes and a whole host of other video game creations make their way over to the big screen in style.

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Review of “X-Men Apocalypse” (3D RPX Experience)

In a world where Marvel and DC are both churning out shit, only the Fantastic 4 underdogs at Fox are left to satiate my superhero needs. And, against all odds, they did it.xmenapocalypseimax-1.jpg

To keep it brief, X-Men Apocalypse does three things Marvel’s been utterly failing at over the past few years: it delivers a coherent plot with virtually zero gaping plot holes, it has a solid villain and most importantly, it has actual stakes. Let’s analyze each.

Plot coherency: I couldn’t spot a single plot hole. Between the friend I saw it with and myself, we were able to justify every single lingering question using the movie’s own logic, something shit flicks like Civil War and Batman V Superman sorely lack. More importantly than that, the plot is coherent. There was a natural flow from location to location at a pace that was wonderfully brisk but never jarring, unlike Civil War which randomly hopped its cast all over the globe without a single explanation.

The villain: everyone is raging that they didn’t get to see Oscar Isaac. This gripe that most people have solely depends on if you’re going into this movie to see an actor or a character. Given that I don’t give a fuck about who the actor is as long as he’s a good villain, I didn’t mind the blatant lack of Isaac’s personality in the performance. I went in with the expectation that I was going to see Papa Smurf fuck the planet up and he does exactly that, pushing the X-Men to their absolute limits and killing hundreds of millions of people in the process. If you wanted X-Men: Isaac, I understand your anger. But I just wanted to see X-Men: Apocalypse, and didn’t care which actor filled the titular character’s role. Apocalypse is the Ultron that Age of Ultron deserved (Apocalypse uses everything to his advantage unlike Ultron, a hyper-intelligent AI that just happens to overlook a million ways to instant victory). He’s less a villain than he is a Hitler figure, a rallying cry for all the anger swirling through a group of people who feel they’ve been wronged. In that sense, he’s easily the best comic book antagonist (technically protagonist, since he’s the one with a goal making the X-Men the antagonistic obstacles) we’ve gotten this year. With that said, they did waste quite a bit of money securing such an A-list actor for a role any scrub could’ve filled.

The stakes: In Marvel movies, everything wraps up tidily. Civil War? More like Civil Scuffle. Literally everyone is back to where they were at the start of the movie by the end. Same with Age of Ultron. And Thor’s movies. And Ant-Man. And—need I go on? Point is, nothing changes. Similarly, Batman V Superman has no consequences, erasing the refreshing precedent Man of Steel dared to set. X-Men, however, doesn’t pussy out like its other comic movie brethren. It carries over the brutal consequences of Days of Future Past, which result in the hatred of mutants throughout this movie and culminates in Magneto’s tragic story. Apocalypse escalates that tension to its logical conclusion in the most earth-shattering way (literally), leaving me nervous for how the sequel will successfully continue the overarching, movie-spanning consequence chain without pulling a Marvel and copping out.

Not to mention there aren’t any random characters thrown in for blatant fan service/money grabs *coughSpider-Mancough*. Every character in this movie, even Wolverine, is introduced in a way that feels organic and natural to the plot. The inclusions are smart and succinct, but never too short to feel shoehorned. And yes, this means we get another awesome Quicksilver scene. Two, actually. For everyone complaining about the Four Horsemen just “standing around”, they’re only ever assembled for three scenes, and yes, one of them is spent with the four standing while Apocalypse has a one-on-one conversation with a character. What did people want? Random, incoherent fights just for the sake of fighting? No. Just like any real posse, the leader calls the shots and everyone only goes to town when he says so.

On a final note, the fights are all fantastic. I mean it; every single fight in this movie trumps any throwdown plucked from Civil War or Batman V Superman with ease. Especially the Nightcrawler-Angel brawl at the end, which is definitely one of my favorite face-offs in superhero movie history. The film revels in its character’s powers and capitalizes on the action, rather than viewing the fights as an obligatory byproduct of the genre.

Overall, Marvel’s cookie-cutter bullshit and DC’s pathetic game of catch-up evidently haven’t encroached on the amazing skills of Brian Singer, a man who’s shown us on more than one occasion that he gets the X-Men and what makes a movie great. Basically, if you’re tired of the weak offerings from the enemy camps (and now boycotting them like myself), know that Fox still cares about giving you a good time at the theatre.

BONUS REVIEW: Regal Cinema’s RPX Experience

When I went to see this movie, all the 2D, 3D and IMAX showings were over, leaving only something mysterious called RPX. This stands for “Regal Premium Experience.” It’s fucking awful. Like, honestly, so bad. Never again. No matter how desperate I am to see a film, never in RPX.

Here’s the issue: it’s two regular 2D theatres stacked on top of each other, making it a budget, knock-off and shittier version of IMAX. The screen is twice as tall and there’s two rows of speakers on each side versus the usual single rows. The results are as follows: shit. While the bigger screen makes for a fun time if you’re not quite in the mood for IMAX but want something bigger than average, the sound system is AGONIZING. It’s a regular 2D theatre with the blaring volume of IMAX in a theatre not built for that kind of noise. As such, it’s deafeningly painful. And notice I didn’t say quality of IMAX sound, just volume. That’s because it still uses the regular 2D speakers, not the special shit used for IMAX. This means not only is the sound painfully loud, but it’s tinny and low-quality, like a budget pair of headphones turned up to 100 pressed right up against your ears. It’s hell.

To put it aptly, this is Regal’s sad attempt at challenging AMC’s new recliner-style theatre system. Whereas one theatre jacks up the price for way cooler seats, the other jacks it up to the same dollar value for marginally comfier than shit chairs and a sound system designed to kill you over the course of two hours. Bad.

BONUS BONUS Review: X-Men Apocalypse 3D

The 3D in the movie is lackluster and not worth the price, as is the case with most post-converted 3D cash grabs. It’s shit and there’s not a single scene that makes real use of it.

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Review of “Point Break”

I went to this movie for one reason: that scene from the trailer when millions of dollars are bursting through the air as skydivers wingsuit through the flurry of green. It struck me that this movie was selling itself solely on the premise of “You want things that look cool? ‘Cause we got ’em.” And I’m here to say, yes, this movie had them.point-break-poster.jpg

The issues: the movie sometimes tries to explain itself too much, thinking we care about the motivations of the “bad guys.” They’re terrorists! No, they’re eco-terrorists! No, they’re nirvana-seeking eco-terrorists! No, they’re actually just petty criminals! Give it a rest, Point Break. We get it, they’re misguided. That’s all that matters.

The acting is functional. The plot is functional. Basically, everything meant to get you pumped up for the action does its job. Then the action hits and the fun kicks in. There’s quite a few high-octane sequences in this movie, and the one that got me the most is the one that’s not in the trailers at all. Let me just say this: if you have even the mildest fear of heights, don’t go into this with a full stomach. I haven’t had white knuckles in a theatre since, well, ever. So props to this movie for getting me on the edge of my seat. And besides that one sequence, all the other action bits are breathtakingly well-shot as well. The surfing bits especially are gorgeous, what with the green-aqua riptides swallowing up surfers in some of the most intense camera angles I’ve seen to date. Good stuff.

Here’s the bottom line: it’s exactly what the trailers sell it as, and that’s all you can ever really ask from an advertising campaign. If you liked the trailers like I did, you’ll like this movie. It’s extreme sports taken to a whole ‘nother level with a story woven right through the center, and that’s a niche that needed filling as of late.

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Review of “Victor Frankenstein”

Ignore the Rotten Tomatoes critics for this one, I implore you.

Victor_Frankenstein_2015

To begin, the acting is stellar. James McAvoy and Daniel Radcliffe are on-point (I really mean it, Radcliffe is clearly giving it his all as Igor and McAvoy is reveling in the mad scientist fun of Frankenstein, though he does give the character surprising layers), Andrew Scott is a GREAT detective who really embodies the greatest fears towards science of the time period, and Jessica Findlay plays a VERY believable love interest (my theory is that she, in real life, is such a big fan of Radcliffe that it was easy for her to slip into the fantasy of being his bed partner). Basically, I bought every character on their own and every relationship that connected them. That is a rarity, and good job on Victor Frankenstein for achieving such a feat.

Next up: the story. Click here to read more

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Review of “Hitman: Agent 47”

Back in April, I was so stoked for this movie. I fully understood it would probably turn out to be shit, but it’d at least be shit I could have fun with.

Then the second trailer came out, and I became less optimistic.

Next, the third. Slightly surprised and intrigued, but still not returned to my hype levels from the first trailer.

Then I found out the writer was Skip Woods and that Aleksander Bach was making his directorial debut with this film. This was yesterday. I was worried yesterday.

Today, I am here to tell you that it’s nowhere near as bad as the 7% on Rotten Tomatoes would have you believe. Still, it’s not very good.hitman-agent-47-poster-art

Here’s the scoop: the action is enjoyable and definitely cool-looking, even if it’s extremely far-fetched. I laughed out loud during a couple of action scenes simply because of how blasphemously preposterous they were, but I was still enjoying myself. Even Skip Woods’ cheesy dialogue wasn’t enough to derail the fun, with the exception of one or two bits.

Honestly, it’s the quintessential 6.0/10 B-rate Euro-trash action movie. It’s a good enough time to justify a one-time matinee price, but I’ll probably never watch it again.

Nitpicks and gripes: there’s one dialogue bit where 47 asks his female accomplice to “try not to disassemble” his knife, and it is one of the (fortunately) rare moments during the flick where you can distinctly smell Woods’ hand in the writing like the breath of an unwanted mutt in your pantry. Secondly, there’s an action montage near the end which is accompanied by porno music. For no reason. No joke, nothing. It’s just very unfitting. Thirdly, the scene in the American embassy (the bit in all the trailers with the sniper rifle) makes no sense, as Zachary Quinto’s character is able to break out of an interrogation room with nothing but his body’s momentum. This is an embassy interrogation room, I’m pretty sure the one-way see-through windows are a bit more reinforced than that.

Unrelated, but while we’re talking about foreign films I might as well review a second movie I saw a few weeks back. It’s called Tu Veux Ou Tu Veux Pas, a French rom-com, minus most of the romance because both main characters are sex addicts and just want each other for the sake of screwing. Not that there’s anything wrong with that; it’s just not very romantic when all they’re really into is repeated and constant thrusting 24/7. It’s pretty slow and I only chuckled twice, so I guess in that sense it’s not very comedic, either. I think if it were a made for TV movie, I’d probably be a little nicer to it. As things stand right now though, don’t bother.