The Karate Kid

The 2010 remake of the 1984 film The Karate Kid is anything but a remake. Harald Zwart (whose last big title was Pink Panther 2), showed a new brilliance by making an old story new with a classic feel.

Did I say classic? I did. Single Parent family with a disrespectful kid takes a trip and while the opening credits show some shots of a charming, run down, rainy city as the music plays and before you know it, they've arrived. The kid gets a wake up call. The kid gets the girl. The kid proves himself. Jackie Chan acts. Everything a classic movie needs.

So let's dissect it a bit. The silly, but lovable hooligan Dre Parker (Jaden Smith) is forced to move to China with his mother and quickly learns that you should never flirt with a chinese girl. Or something like that. But knowing his stubborn ruffian ways it gets him into trouble only to be saved by a chinese version of Jackie Chan who teaches him the right way to life which not only changes Parker's life, but the lives of those who once opposed him.

Smith's debut lead performance proved deserving of an opening credit. His snarky attitude, mixed with his childlike spontaneity makes him a lovable character throughout his journey. Along with Jackie Chan playing a father-like mentor figure it provided a perfect balance of actiony kung fu and developmental (yet touching) back story. Put all of this in a honest to goodness Beijing China, and balance the length of each sequence of plot to an appropriate time limit and you have not only a remarkable remake of an already great movie. But at the same time a beautiful new movie with a similar plot, aptly nicknamed The Kung Fu Kid.

5/5 Stars


Kick Ass

I have to hand it to Matthew Vaughn & Jane Goldman, it's incredibly refreshing to finally see a movie that's not a remake of some old movie no one has seen in years, or a recreation of a popular superhero back in the way. It's nice to see a new idea.

Not great. Don't push it, let's leave it at nice.
But it did surprise me.
What I thought was another teenage comedy movie about an awkward teenager (Aaron Johnson) who wants to be a superhero but is so under trained that he somehow ironically defeats supervillians turned out to be a realistic (ha) movie about a boy who wants to be a superhero, realizes that it takes more than just flailing beating sticks. It's about training, ability and a shit load of weaponry. The cheesy owl/bat man costume is totally optional (Nicholas Cage).

The movie sheds light on that commonly debated idea of what it means to be a hero. And in his own way the super hero named Kick Ass (Johnson) learns that lesson well and experiences the exact life of a hero, pain and all. But emerges a stronger and better individual all in the process of becoming said hero.

It would've been better, if there wasn't that overhanging atmosphere of a cheesy superbad comedy lingering over every transition scene. It would've been better had they just removed the half-assed comedy from it and made the main character less of a Michael Cera.

Though it is kind of funny to see a little girl act in a movie that she probably won't be able to see for a good number of years yet.

3/5 Stars

Iron Man 2

Robert Downey Jr. is back to his snarky, fast talking, egotistical of a character Tony Stark in Jon Favreau's sequel to the hit movie based on the comic super hero Iron Man.

Picking up in the same futuristic, technological world that Iron Man 1 created Tony Stark has created the Stark Expo, a year-long Expo set inside a specially designed city of his father's design for the purpose of allowing inventors to introduce their newest advancements to the world.

But wouldn't you know it, there's a catch. Tony Stark is dying. Apparently the giant heaping chunk of metal and science rocking his chest is poisoning him. Only causing him to act out like a pubescent high school jock embarrassed about his changing voice and uncompensated man parts. Creating a rift in his personal life with the girl he loves and people who may or may not be spies.

Meanwhile some Russian dude's father was friends with Tony's dad and following the same clarity of that of Harry Osborn's father induced revenge rage, he builds a high tech whip and attacks Stark a couple of times.

2 relatively short hours later Tony builds a particle accelerator in his basement, cause you know, he fucking can, and has solved all his problems and proceeds to go and kick ass.

In terms of plot and story, it fulfills it rather nicely but it just tends to overload it with explosive fan service which draws the movie out a little longer than average. But the excellent graphics and compelling sequences make up for the length by keeping you enthralled throughout. While the complexity of the movie is noticeably simple, the acting powerhouse led by a lovably narcissistic Downey wraps everything up in a nice, polished and actiony bow.

What I'm trying to say is that a guy in a high tech robot suit blows the shit out of stuff. Sounds like a movie.

3.5/5 Stars

The Royal Tenenbaums

Wes Anderson's story about a father who only wants to reclaim the love of his above average family is surprisingly realistic, deep, touching, overtly strange, relatable, and most likely could've been told in the time it took to write this sentence.

Featuring such blockbusters names like Danny Glover, Bill Murray, Owen Wilson and even Ben Stiller, where could this movie go wrong?

Try a two hour run time.

Now I don't mean to be one to take a good movie and disrespect it by knitpicking, but I feel almost as if I need to justify taking up as much as your time as I can to tell you a basic and simple story while maintaining the same level of character development and emotional connection.

If I had to pick the best and worst parts of this movie I'd have to say this: The best part is how realistic the events, characters and story is portrayed in this movie. Save for the few times where you kind of scratch your head and wish that random shit happened this often to you, the actual story and emotion behind the offbeat event-list is spot on and allows everyone to connect to it.
The worst part of this movie is how bloody realistic it can be. Which includes those awkward moments inbetween suicide and a car crashing into the house that is just there to direct the plot in the right direction, and fill in the (already underlined) character depth.

It's like watching someone's life. Granted a life where random shit happens to more interesting people than anyone that I think has ever existed (excluding Genghis Khan of course). But still, it's the story of someone's life and the only prize for this two hour long story of an old man is when the loose ends to everyone's fucked up lives get concluded and resolution is clear. Personally, it's the strongest part of the movie because there's actual meaning behind it. (And not just cause it's a cheesy happiness).

But hey, at least it wasn't The Curious Case of Benjamen Button.

Rating 4/5 Stars

The Box

It's the 70's in Virginia and Norma Lewis (Cameron Diaz) is a typical housewife teaching classes on the side. Her husband Arthur Lewis (James Marsden) is a NASA scientist and ridiculously commited to his wife and their one son Walter (Sam Oz Stone), what could go wrong?!

Let's throw in Martians.

The story starts when a mysterious man (Frank Langella) with an intense (clearly CGI'd) burn on the missing half of his face shows up at Diaz's door offering a proposition. The deal is simple. He leaves a box with the family for 24 hours. The box has a button. Push the button, someone they don't know dies and they get One million dollars. Don't push the button, he comes back, leaves and life goes on.

About a third of the movie is them deciding whether or not they want to push the "mysterious" button. Until finally stress becomes too much and Diaz smacks the living shit out of the thing. They think they've been had, the box is hollow, the button connects to nothing, how could the man know?


So now the family finds themselves in a series of Unfortunate Events the likes of which Jim Carey has never before witnessed. They're tossed in and out of clues and plot devices which really by the end feel like a small waste of time. I'm not going to ruin the plot for you, because I'm not quite even sure where the plot stopped.

But let's put it this way, they took an interesting philosophical question and story and turned it into a half-assed mystery which is supposed to turn the viewer's mind until they can't follow it at all, ultimately wrapping it all up at the end. It kind of did that.

Much like all stories turned movie, it was pretty well off as a story and in all honesty probably would've been better if all the unexplainable elements were not introduced. But instead, you got a hollywood production with 70's dressing styles, horrible wallpaper, and not quite awkward cgi effects.

And if that doesn't tell you to watch this movie, consider this:

2/5 Stars



James Cameron's Grand Slam hit movie Avatar embraced theatres with its eye melting big screen graphics, which are only enhanced by the infinitely impressive technologies of the third dimension.

Let's look past the obvious, it was a ridiculous well crafted film. The world was beautiful, well thought out and the creatures would make any Author, Sci-Fi Nerd, or Biologist weep with excitement. The acting done by the main leads Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Sigourney Weaver, Michelle Rodriguez and Stephen Lang (etc etc) were not only well portrayed, but the characters balanced the story of the movie near perfectly.

Walking out of the theatre straight after the movie it is really easy to see why someone would see this movie upwards of 5 times in theatres. Everything came together perfectly. A little too perfectly if you ask me...

Here's what I caught of the story.
A group from Earth arrives at a strange new world where they were sent to mine for gold. I'm sorry, I meant unobtainium. Common mistake. Aboard this crew is an ex-marine named Jake Sully. He joins researches and ventures out into this new world in his Avatar (a biologically engineered version of the natives which he can drive).

Long story short, Jake Sully manages to separate from the group and isolate himself within this strange world where he runs into a native Na'vi. This female is named Neytiri is the daughter of the chief of the tribe. John Smith, I mean Jake Sully follows her and they run into Tsu'Tey, the best warrior of the tribe and Neytiri's future husband. Neytiri convinces Tsu'Tey to not kill Jake Sully and instead they take them back to the tribe where the Chief Eytucan would rather kill him. Instead the psychic consults with the Tree of Spirits; Grandmother Willow. Wait, that isn't right. I meant to say the psychic consults with the Spirit of HomeTree Eywa and decides that their daughter, Princess Neytiri shall teach John Smith their ways. I meant Jake Sully. You know what? Let's just call him JS from here on out.

Well Neytiri and JS spend a lot of time together now as she teaches him how to hunt like them and dress and walk like them and how to appreciate the value of the nature around them and the spirits of ancestors past, and how to see the colors of the wind and all that. Naturally, with all this time spent together they happen to become quite close to one another and end up falling love.

Which pisses off Kocoum the warrior, because they were supposed to be mated together. Well with JS's involvement in the tribe the military has learned some tactics to attack the natives which they implement to the full extent causing ripples in the tribe and a sudden distrust between JS and Neytiri.

I'm not one to spoil the ending of movies for people so let's run through this really quick. Chief Powhatan dies. Trust is remade between JS and the people, Kocoum fights along side of JS, when he once tried to kill him out of jealousy. There's a lot of fighting and explosions and Kocoum dies from the settlers. Well pretty much everyone dies except for John Smith and Pocahontas, who live happily ever after within the spirit of nature. And the settlers learn a valuable lesson about life.
Well you know what I meant.

4/5 Stars

The Hero of Time

Oh Thank God! FINALLY! Someone understands the true genius behind the Legend of Zelda video games! They see that these stories are meant to be more than just plots. They are meant to be portrayed through live acting. Deepening story lines. Fake British accents. Cheesy virtual effects and fat asians as Gorons? Wait... you lost me.

Joel Musch's The Hero of Time is about as accurate to the video game Ocarina of Time as Michaelangelo's Sistine Chapel is to the video game Ocarina of Time.
But let's not get too hasty...

As per usual, let's go over some things that were done pretty well:
- Stayed true to the main story. Sure it skipped some minor and major details, but I mean hey, it's really hard to CGI some special affects for a light arrow when you've wasted all your budget on a 5 minute fight scene with a CGI fire dragon. Clearly, the more pertinent executive decision stuck.

- ... Yeah I'm all out of things I liked. When it comes right down to it, this was an independent movie done without the staggering budget of a Hollywood Production and that in itself is admirable. But in all honesty, not an excuse for some of the film's weaker sides. I myself believe the hardest part to bear was the acting. There was some sort of quasi British accent flowing through the characters and the fight scenes were clearly choreographed.

The movie did show a clear ability to wow from time to time as some of the stabbing and fighting proved itself worthy of a movie. But the fake killing that surrounded it wasn't enough to hold that suspension of reality long enough to entrap you within the movies depth.

I could go on and on about the things in this movie that I didn't like (Ocarina was used once. Tri-Force marks looked like Sharpie Marker. Ridiculously obvious green screens. Link actually speaks. A lot.) but I won't do that. I'll just leave you with that simple conclusion that tells you all you need to know:

This movie felt like a fanboy's attempt at an independant movie.

2.5/5 stars

Where The Wild Things Are

In an average American home magic happens as the small child Max leaves his dysfunctional family to go live in a fantasy world among gigantic monsters who contrary to popular belief of monsters, -don't- rip him to shreds and eat all of him, but instead live with him in much of the same functionality (lack there of).

The movie highlights the importance of being a child. And exemplifies it in every way. When you're a child, all you want to do is have fun, and have friends and be loved. It's sad when the things you do get crushed: such as igloos and adventures, and forts, and well... damn near everything else if you're Max. But the point is that even children feel the effects of family fighting. So wait, I forgot, is this a children's movie or a dysfunctional family intervention?

Oh right. It's about a book! How could I forget?
Possibly because the book is about 1/100th the length of the movie and as such they more or less created a whole new movie just using the characters from the book. In that regard, they did fantastic. The characters are just how I remember them.
In terms of creating a new story around these characters, I also enjoyed the imagination.

In terms of creating a children's movie? They failed. I'm sure that all of the kids who watch this movie will enjoy simply seeing their characters on the big screen. But for all of the adults who watch this movie (with children or without it) it's not only a good story to follow along and reminisce about the days of being a child, but also a shocking reminder of the problems each and every single one of us face every day or our lives.
Despite our ages.

4/5 Stars.

Dragonball: Evolution

Setting:... well actually I'm not quite sure of that. It's like high tech gizmos in kung fu times and well... let's come back to this.

Rather than going through the entire movie and listing out what happens and how it is wrong, let's go through all the things I felt were actually pretty well done, or were fairly accurate.

Goku's name was Goku.
There were 7 dragonballs.
You can revive people with kameha-... wait no. No you can't.
Roshi was a pervert.
Piccolo was green...
Chichi was hot?

Okay let's face facts here. This movie strayed so far from concepts of Dragonball that at times it was hard to remember what the movie was based on. When talking about the movie in an independent sense (say it wasn't based on anything), I might've actually liked it. Cheesy acting, cheesy fighting, explosions. All good stuff. But the sheer reminder of how off the mark it was makes it lack luster. Granted, the concept of ki leaving the body is flashy, and the fight scenes were pretty well done (to a point). But that old faithful feeling of Dragonball then comes rushing back and bitch slaps you across the face. Which makes you wonder, Why the hell did I watch this whole movie to the end?

... And then you see Chichi and you remember.