Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Review: Kung Fu Panda 2 (The Kaboom of Doom?)

Rarely do sequels come close to being as good as, or even surpass, the original. Now, I wouldn't go so far as to say that Kung Fu Panda 2 is better than the first; regardless, it is still a good movie.

The Dragon Warrior is back in action in Dreamworks' follow-up to their 2008 smash hit. This time Po finds himself struggling with once faded memories about his painful seperation with his biological parents while, at the same time, trying to save China from the world's first WMDs.

I know you've probably heard it from many other critics, but the voice acting in this film is terrific. Jack Black leads a talented voice cast made up of big names like Dustin Hoffman, Angelina Jolie, Seth Rogen, Jackie Chan, and Gary Oldman, who plays Lord Shen, a power hungry peacock bent on reclaiming the throne his father once promised him.

It is up to Po and the rest of the Furious Five to stop Shen and destroy his multitude of powerful cannons in order to save China and the Kung Fu lifestyle. They go about doing this through beautiful animation and one nicely stylized fight sequence after another. I have yet to see it in 3D so I cannot comment on that just yet.

Aside from the large amount of talent and , this movie is flat out enjoyable because it is easy to become emotionally connected with these characters; either I was laughing at the jokes, with the characters, or I was feeling their pain. At all times I felt invested in what was going on and it made the hour-and-a-half runtime fly by.

This movie owes its success to its large heart and its ability to take already lovable characters, mix in some great new ones, and blend it all into one great, heart-tugging animated flick.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Review: The Hangover Part II

zRemember The Hangover? The sick gags and hilarious jokes? Well picture that same exact thing... Only in Thailand.


I have been reading (and watching) reviews of this movie and the biggest complaint, by far, is that 'Part II' is the same, exact thing as 'Part I'. Okay, so that part isn't far off...

Remember when Doug was getting married and the boys got hammered at his bachelor party, only to wake up the next morning and remember nothing? Well, this time it's Ed Helms' Stu who is getting married and yes, the do get hammered at his bachelor party only to wake up the next morning and find they remember nothing. However, there are slight variations: Instead of missing a tooth, Ed Helms is sporting a Tysonsce tattoo; instead of a tiger in the room, it's a drug dealing monkey; instead of a missing Doug, Stu's future brother-in-law is MIA. See, not the exact same thing.

But since when have moviegoers cared about originality? Have they not been paying attention to most of what Hollywood has been putting out lately or what they plan on? A fourth Pirates of the Caribbean? A fifth Fast and Furious? Scream 4? Another 'Madea' movie? The Smurfs, among many others? Originality isn't exactly a valuable commodity these days. In fact, I cannot decide whether or not this movie is incredibly lazy for just rehashing the same formula as the original or if it's genius for proving that you can top the box office with the same, old song and dance.

Anywho, none of that really matters because this movie is frickin' hilarious. Ed Helms keeps on his roll as the nice guy with a bad boy side, Bradley Cooper is just as crude as ever, and Zach Galifianakis has the best lines in the movie and nails all of them with impeccable delivery.

My only complaint with this movie is that it starts off slow, but once it gets going, it will keep you entertained all the way through the end credits and isn't that what movies are supposed to do?

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Review: Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

What do you do when your name is Disney and you hit the jackpot with a insanely popular, billion-dollar movie franchise? Well, you make more! But that doesn't necessarily mean you should...

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides brings everybody's favorite swashbuckler back to the big screen for his fourth crack at eternal life. This time around, Captain Jack Sparrow is hellbent on finding the Fountain of Youth.

After the previous two installments in the series, I must say that I feel some personal satisfaction to see Disney ditch Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley. Their bickering, on-again-off-again relationship eventually overshadowed Johnny Depp and, along with some serious story issues, sucked all of the fun out of the last couple films. Now I'm not saying that On Stranger Tides is flawless, but it sure is nice to see Captain Jack take back the franchise that made him so popular.  

With that, Disney has not totally ditched the idea of a more love interests. In this sequel, we get a romance between a missionary and a mermaid to mirror that of Will and Elizabeth's; even Captain Jack gets a few raised eyebrows as an ex-lover of his is brought back into the picture. At times, these romances feel a little out of place under the circumstances: we've never met most of these characters but suddenly we're supposed to feel for them just because their in love; but they never overshadow the plot, which is much easier to follow than some of the other films.

Having seen this movie in both dimensions, I can say that the 3D  does not enhance the overall viewing and if it does at some point, the screen was too dark to make a difference.

Yes the plot is a bit silly, there are two awkward romances going at the same time, the 3D was a fail, and most of the scenes are dragged out for far too long, but you know what? I was consistantly entertained.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Review: Dylan Dog: Dead of Night

Dylan Dog came out on April 29th and already it has dropped off the radar. I am here to tell you that there is a good reason for that.

Continuing the trend of boring vampire/ werewolf films, Dylan Dog adds a new element to the mix- film noir. At least it tires to... Based on a series of Italian comic books, this film follows the story of the title character, a detective of the undead, who is is brought back into the life he thought he left behind after an alleged werewolf attack kills a mere mortal after years of peace.

Now if you saw the trailer for this a few times and then heard nothing about it after it was released, it's because this movie is pretty horrible.

To start, the dialogue in this film is boring and uncreative. It is full of cheesy one-liners that fail to pack a punch or even make the audience laugh. Admitedly, I laughed at a couple lines in this film but they were all delivered from the comic relief fellow who seemed to be trying just a little too hard and, in all honesty, I had to laugh to keep myself awake. Even the voiceover lacked any umph.

About halfway into the film, the action sequences started becoming a bit too tedious for me. Dlan Dog would pull out his gun, get the gun knocked away from him, and then he would have to kick butt in hand-to-hand combat. It was the same formula almost every time and each action sequence started off with the exact same scare tactic. Eventually I just knew when somebody was going to jump out and that a fight would follow.

I am not going to waste your time (or mine) anymore by going into anymore details about why this movie almost put me to sleep. There was so much potential for this movie and nothing got taken advantage of.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Review: Water for Elephants

With Remember Me, Robert Pattinson didn't have too much luck with his first break from the Twilight franchise. So is second time the charm for this young actor?

Well, that is kind of a tough question to answer. Robert Pattinson cannot play a large range of characters, as he is limited by his lack of talent. In Water for Elephants he plays Jacob, a 1930s Cornell U student studying to be a veterinarian; however, doesn't graduate after the death of his parents leaves him with no home and no money. Jacob becomes depressed as he must walk away from everything he has known in order to rebuild his life.

This type of character is, in ways, similar to that of Edward Cullen, the role that made Mr. Pattinson so famous with preteenage girls all over the world. In that respect, he does an exceptable job for the first twenty minutes of the introduction. However, it is when Jacob stows away aboard a circus train and meets the love of his life, along with her psychopathic husband, that Pattinson becomes upstaged by much greater talent than his own.

Academy Award Winner Reese Witherspoon plays Marlena, the circus' star attraction and wife of the circus' owner. The romance scenes between Pattinson and Witherspoon feel lopsided, aslmost as if an Oscar-winning actress is rehersing her lines with a stand-in, who can only murmur his lines, because her opposite got sick and couldn't show up.

Things only get worse for Pattinson after yet another Academy Award Winner rears his face. Christoph Waltz plays August, the circus' corrupt owner who suspects Jacob and his wife of having an affair. Waltz is one of the greatest villain actors of our day and he doesn't hold anything back for this film. His performance quickly becomes the film's main attraction and made me feel as if though my time was well spent.

Outside of the two Oscar winners, however, the rest of the supporting cast does not give a very performance and some of the lines felt dry and lacked any type of originality.

By the end of the film, I felt like this movie barely reached its goal of being a moving, romantic drama. Had it not been for the two  talented supporting actors, this film would have been completely boring. Maybe you should just rent it.

My favorite ending in a film since Jurassic Park.