Sunday, December 20, 2015

Star Wars: The Force Awakens Review


Title: Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens
Distributor: Lucasfilm (Disney)
Director: J.J. Abrams
Writer(s): Lawrence Kasdan, J.J. Abrams, and Michael Arndt  
Starring: Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong'o, Andy Serkis, Domhnall Gleeson, Max von Sydow, Peter Mayhew, and Gwendoline Christie.    
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for sci-fi action violence.
Running Time: 135 min
Synopsis: Three decades after the defeat of the Galactic Empire, a new threat arises. The First Order attempts to rule the galaxy and only a rag-tag group of heroes can stop them, along with the help of the Resistance.

What Others Are Saying? 

Rotten Tomatoes: 95% "Fresh", Top Critics: 91% "Fresh", Audience: 93% "Liked It"

Metacritic: Critics: 81 out of 100, Users: 7.6 out of 10
MRQE: 82 out of 100

My Review

Preface: I'm going to try my best to do this review spoiler free, but I may spill the beans if being vague become too complicated of a taste. So for those who haven't seen the film yet, you have been warned, there may be spoilers ahead. I also want to note that I'm writing this after only seeing the film once, so my opinion will most likely change after seeing it a couple more times.   

Source Material: Original story by Lawrence Kasdan, characters by George Lucas.

Entertaining Value:

  • Action Elements: Star Wars is back! It may not be action-packed from open crawl to end credits, but there are a good amount of action sequences. These sequences actually move the story along, making for an exciting film.
  • Comedy Elements: The comedy in this film works. The jokes are witty and come at the right moments in the film.
  • Dramatic Elements: This is still the weakest aspect of Star Wars in general, but with that being said, I believe this film has some of the best dramatic scenes in Star Wars.
  • Sci-Fi / Fantasy Elements: Star Wars has always been more of a fantasy in space than Sci-fi. Don't get me wrong, there is more than enough sci-fi elements as well. This film brings out those classic Star Wars tropes we were missing in the prequels.
Cinematic Value:
  • Acting and Dialogue: 9: Let's be honest this is by far the best acted Star Wars film. I want to highlight the new talent in this film. The first is Daisy Ridley. This film was basically her frist movie. All her acting gigs before Star Wars was small screen and indie flicks. For me, Daisy Ridley turned out a great performance. The next one is John Boyega. I had a slightly bad feeling that Boyega was going to be the weakest link, but he is actually one of the strongest. I suggest watching Boyega's frist film Attack the Block, it's a fun sci-fi film. Every good fantasy needs a strong villain and Adam Driver is that villain as Kylo Ren. Adam Driver brought out the inner struggle that Kylo Ren was dealing with perfectly. Another face of evil is General Hux played by Domhnall Gleeson, who give one of the best speeches in the film. To bridge the gap between old and new is Oscar Isacc. Oscar Isacc is beginning to become a household name in Hollywood. I think this role is going to rocket ship himself there. Poe Dameron was my favorite heroic character. Now on to the old guys. Han Solo is back. You could tell Harrison Ford had a blast revisiting the Star Wars universe. Carrie Fisher, on the other hand, was the weakest link.
  • Cinematography: 8: For me, one of the main reasons The Force Awakens felt like a Star Wars film was its use of cinematography and how it matches up with the original Star Wars trilogy. There was just enough fan-service to keep us fans happy without watering down film with a bunch of easter eggs and nods to the original trilogy. I personally, like action scenes where I can be a part of the action without being a part of the action, meaning the action unfolds before my eyes without the sensation of a first-person account of the event.
  • Direction: 9: J.J. Abrams knows how to work with actors, bring out their strengths. This cast was primarily compiled of relatively new actors, and for the most part, you couldn't really tell. That's how you do your frist job as a director, getting the best performance out of your cast and crew. J.J. also excelled at the second job of a director, telling a good story.
  • Editing: 8: I liked that they stuck to old school Star Wars transitions. From an editing standpoint, the film was ever so slightly too fast on its pacing. Overall it is well edited.
  • Screenplay: 9: I love the story of this film, granted like the cinematography there are a lot of beats from the original trilogy woven in. I have heard some say the similarities to the original trilogy, story wise, was the weakest aspect of this film. I personally disagreed. I think the similarities creates a space of familiarity, drawing the audience back into the Star Wars universe. I'm glad that the writers retaught us with the Star Wars mythology, especially The Force. The film's title, after all, is The Force Awakens. The other positive aspect of the screenplay was the character development for the most part. Really, only two character that I can think of could have used a little more explanation: Lor San Tekka (Max von Sydow) and Captain Phasma (Gwendoline Christie). I felt that Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis), who had just as much screen time as those two characters, had more impact on the story, overall. Then again, that's just a bit nitpicky.
  • Sound and Music: 10: The two major themes of this movies is Star Wars is back and mixing the new with the old. The sound and music follow that perfectly. John Willams mixed old iconic Star Wars themes with new themes, which brought me back to Star Wars even more than seeing Han and Chewie on screen.
  • VFX: 9.5: Star Wars screams a lived in "future." I liked that J.J. made an effort to use as many real set and props as possible. I think using those types of effects brought depth to the scenes. I also like that every little detail had a story, for example, Kylo Ren's lightsaber was built to be dangerous. There were a few moments where you say to yourself, "that is 2015 CGI."
Overall: 9: As of right now, I would rank The Force Awaken as either the second or third best Star Wars film right behind The Empire Strikes Back. Hopefully by the time you read this review you have seen the film, if not go see today...May The Force Be With You.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Journey To The Force Awakens - Revenge of the Sith


Title: Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith
Distributor: Lucasfilm (20th Century Fox)
Director: George Lucas
Writer(s): George Lucas  
Starring: Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman, Hayden Christensen, Christopher Lee, Ian McDiarmid, Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker, Frank Oz, Samuel L. Jackson.   
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for sci-fi violence and some intense images
Running Time: 140 min
Synopsis: Three years after the onset of the Clone Wars; the noble Jedi Knights are spread out across the galaxy leading a massive clone army in the war against the Separatists.

What Others Are Saying? 

Rotten Tomatoes: 79% "Fresh", Top Critics: 67% "Fresh", Audience: 65% "Liked It"

Metacritic: Critics: 68 out of 100, Users: 7.3 out of 10
MRQE: 77 out of 100

My Review

Preface: Collider Video just posted their commentary video of this film a few days ago. To catch everyone up. I'm following along with Collider Video and creating my own, "Journey to the Force Awakens." They plan on watch all the live action Star Wars film leading up to the Force Awakens. I'm responding by writing a movie review for each film. If you want to read my review of Attack of the Clones click here.

Source Material: Original story by George Lucas 

Entertaining Value:

  • Action Elements: Out of all the prequel Star Wars film this film has a good balance of action vs non-action sequences. Unlike the Attack of the Clones, this film's action actually has meaning. There really isn't any action for action sake.
  • Comedy Elements: Guess who doesn't really show up, yep, Jar Jar. Therefore, there is less cheesiness and humor for children.
  • Dramatic Elements: I felt like there was more of an effort, but the dramatic impactful scenes seemed to fall a little flat.
  • Sci-Fi / Fantasy Elements: This film started to get back to the Star Wars fiction, but again it didn't quite make it. This film focuses heavily on war, more so than the other prequel films.
Cinematic Value:
  • Acting and Dialogue: 6: For me, the person that flexed his acting chops was Ewan McGregor. We see him own Obi-Wan as a character. His emulation of Alec Guinness made me feel that Obi-Wan was real. Ewan McGregor didn't give a perfect performance, but he was one of the stronger actors on screen. I would say the person who gave the best performance was Ian McDiarmid. He commands the scene with his acting. It was a shame that most of his scene were shared with Hayden Christensen, who in my opinion was the worst actor on screen. Don't get me wrong he did improve vastly from Attack of the Clone to this film. We see the best interchanges between Obi-Wan and Anakin in the prequels. Even his scene with Natalie Portman showcased a little more chemistry. Even though Hayden did improve he still gave a, "reading off the page" performance, which in my opinion sucked out the impactfulness of some scenes.
  • Cinematography: 8: I thought this film was shot beautifully. The opening sequence was one of my favorite sequences in this film. The tone of the film was brought out through the cinematography, especially since the acting wasn't on point.
  • Direction: 6:We got a classic George again with this film.
  • Editing: 7: I thought the editing on this film was better than the other prequel films. With that being said, I still believe there were a few scenes that could use some tightening up, like the fight between Anakin and Obi-Wan.
  • Screenplay: 5: I have to say it again, the major downfall of the prequel Star Wars films is its dialogue, but even that wasn't the worst of the worst. I think there were some major flaws. Anakin's transformation to Vader was sudden. He goes from wanting to arrest Palpatine to a straight up, evil killing machine. Anakin's fall to the dark side takes up less than five minutes of screen time. Other scenes were more or less a waste like the battle on the Wookie homeworld of Kashyyyk. It was cool to see but didn't press the storyline forward. It also made an unnecessary connection. Everyone in the Star Wars universe doesn't need to be connected i.e. Yoda and Chewbacca. It seems like George was trying to cram as much connective storyline into one film as he could which made for a weaker story overall.
  • Sound and Music: 9: Awsome score and awesome sound design as usual.
  • VFX: 9: I enjoyed the visual effect in this film over the other prequel films. My eye didn't catch any, "that looks weird or fake" moments like it did in the Attack of the Clones.
Overall: 7: Out all of the prequel films, the Revenge of the Sith would be the one I would recommend seeing. Because it has good action and a decent story, even though that story has many flaws. May the Force Be With You.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Journey To The Force Awakens - Attack of the Clones


Title: Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones
Distributor: Lucasfilm (20th Century Fox)
Director: George Lucas
Writer(s): George Lucas  
Starring: Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman, Hayden Christensen, Christopher Lee, Ian McDiarmid, Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker, Frank Oz, Samuel L. Jackson, and Temuera Morrison   
MPAA Rating: Rated PG for sustained sequences of sci-fi action/violence
Running Time: 142 min
Synopsis: Ten years after initially meeting, Anakin Skywalker shares a forbidden romance with Padmé, while Obi-Wan investigates an assassination attempt on the Senator and discovers a secret clone army crafted for the Jedi.

What Others Are Saying? 

Rotten Tomatoes: 65% "Fresh", Top Critics: 40% "Fresh", Audience: 59% "Liked It"

Metacritic: Critics: 54 out of 100, Users: 6.0 out of 10
MRQE: 67 out of 100

My Review

Preface: Collider Video just posted their commentary video of this film yesterday. To catch everyone up. I'm following along with Collider Video and creating my own, "Journey to the Force Awakens." They plan on watch all the live action Star Wars film leading up to the Force Awakens. I'm responding by writing a movie review for each film. If you want to read my review of The Phantom Menace click here.    

Source Material: Original story by George Lucas 

Entertaining Value:

  • Action Elements: The Phantom Menace had two big action set pieces: the pod race, and the Invasion on Naboo, which included the battle between Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan vs. Darth Maul. Naturally, Lucas probably want to up the action game, especially since this movie depicts the beginnings of a major war in the Star Wars universe. He delivered us more action sequences but not necessarily any of quality. Quantity doesn't always equal quality.There was a hand full of action sequences that were added in just to have action, case, and point, the assembly line scene on Geonosis. It didn't really add much to the story and it wasn't 100% exciting start to finish. I felt like some of the bigger action set pieces like the Geonosis gladiator scene didn't feel as epic as it should have. Come on a whole army of Jedi taking on an army of droids, should haven been epic but it fell short of that mark. Don't get me wrong there were some amazing action sequences in this film, like Jango Fett vs Obi-Wan or Yoda vs Dooku.
  • Comedy Elements: This film focuses more on the "developing love story" between Anakin and Padmé. I'm glad there was quite a bit less Jar Jar scenes, meaning there is less dumb childish humor that doesn't fit in the Star War universe.
  • Dramatic Elements: There could have been really good impactful dramatic scenes in this film but the dialog and acting ruined any chance for that.
  • Sci-Fi / Fantasy Elements: Like in The Phantom Menace this film strays ways from the adventurous aspect of a fantasy. The Star Wars fiction wasn't really expanded upon. We did get a small glance into Jedi culture, which I enjoyed.
Cinematic Value:
  • Acting and Dialogue: 5: I have to highlight Ewan McGregor, right off the bat. He starts to grow into the character of Obi-Wan. I personally think he was one of the better actors in this film. Granted, nothing can compare to Christopher Lee as an actor. I think McGregor found a happy medium on delivering such bad dialog. Sadly, Hayden Christensen suffered the most punishment on bad dialog, mainly because he had to act like a spoiled teenager who whines when he doesn't get his way. But then again, Hayden Christensen hasn't been known for his acting chops before or after Star Wars. From my understanding, better actors were up for the part of Anakin, like Ryan Phillippe and Collin Hanks but Hayden won the part because he looked good together with Natalie Portman. I can't really say Portman's acting improved from The Phantom Menace, but her sex appeal did. For me, the major downfall of this film is the bad dialog.
  • Cinematography: 7: The camera work and lighting was satisfactory. It didn't detract from the film, which is always a positive.
  • Direction: 5: I have the same feeling about George's direction on this film that I have on The Phantom Menace. He doesn't get the best performance out of his actor that he could. Maybe that's due to the fact that the script wasn't polished. Just listening to the dialog clued me into how unpolished the script was. We have seen good storytelling via directing from Lucas in the past.
  • Editing: 6: One big negative pertaining to editing I would like to point out is the action sequences. I think the action sequence would have been better if they were shorter in length, especially, if you are going to add action for action sake. 
  • Screenplay: 4: Exposition, exposition, exposition. This film was just as bad, if not worst than The Phantom Menace, at people standing around, boring us to death, with exposition. If you can bear those scenes, the next battle is the bad chemistry between Anakin and Padmé. I know a lot of that is due to their bad acting and dialog, but at the same time there wasn't much story to work with either. The entire film Padmé treats Anakin as a close friend, then right before they are sent into the Geonosis arena Padmé confess her deep love for Anakin. All the setup to this "confession of love" scene feels out of place, from a story aspect.           
  • Sound and Music: 8: In general the score was great as usual but there was a few place were the theme being played didn't quite fit the scene, in my opinion. Note: great sound design from Ben Burtt, again. 
  • VFX: 8: I think it's funny that a subplot was cloning, and that's precisely how the VFX were treated. Fun fact: all the clones were 100% digital made. No man in a physical suite this time around. For the most part, the VFX looked good. There are some background shots were you can tell it was an art piece. I personally loved the character design through the prequels.  
Overall: 6: I think I can agree that this is the weakest film overall in the Star wars saga. Again I think I can only recommend this film to Star Wars fans, but even then barely. May The Force Be With You!     

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Journey To The Force Awakens - The Phantom Menace Review


Title: Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace

Distributor: Lucasfilm (20th Century Fox)
Director: George Lucas
Writer(s): George Lucas  
Starring: Liam Neeson, Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman, Jake Lloyd, Ian McDiarmid, Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker, Frank Oz, Samuel L. Jackson, Ray Park  
MPAA Rating: Rated PG for sci-fi action/violence.
Running Time: 136 min
Synopsis: Two Jedi Knights escape a hostile blockade to find allies and come across a young boy who may bring balance to the Force, but the long dormant Sith resurface to reclaim their old glory.

What Others Are Saying? 

Rotten Tomatoes: 57% "Fresh", Top Critics: 42% "Fresh", Audience: 60% "Liked It"

Metacritic: Critics: 51 out of 100, Users: 5.9 out of 10
MRQE: 67 out of 100

My Review

Preface: In the next few weeks I'm going to create my own "Journey To The Force Awakens." I'm going to do this by writing reviews to all the Star Wars films, leading up to Episode VII. I got the inspiration from Collider Video. This past week Collider Video put together their own commentary video on The Phantom Menace. They plan on doing the same for each of the Star Wars films, tackling one film per week.  I'm going to follow Collider Video's commentaries with my reviews. I plan on having the reviews up a few days after their video goes up on YouTube. It's now time to geek out on Star Wars. 

Source Material: Original story by George Lucas 

Entertaining Value:

  • Action Elements: Action is a pivotal part of the Star Wars fantasy. For me, some of the most exciting parts of Star Wars is the lightsaber battles. One of the greatest positives of the prequels is lightsaber battles. Not only are they cool but they are poetic like in a dancing way.  
  • Comedy Elements: Lucas thought the best type of humor of the prequel trilogy was kid joke like poop and fart jokes.
  • Dramatic Elements: Anytime there was a dramatic moment, it was usually ruined with a poop or fart joke. 
  • Sci-Fi / Fantasy Elements: Star Wars draws inspiration from both Sci-Fi and Fantasy. The prequels lost a lot of those elements. The prequels were lacking in the adventuring aspect of the original trilogy. Lucas focused more on war in the prequels, not the dramatic parts but the political and boring parts.  
Cinematic Value:
  • Acting and Dialogue: 6: Liam Neeson was by far the best actor in this film. He seemed to put his all into the character of Qui-Gon Jinn. Talk about giving a great performance on a badly written script. After Liam, I would praise bothEwan McGregor and Natalie Portman. Both of them were relatively newcomers. Ewan McGregor was known for indie film, most notability Trainspotting. While Portman was a fairly young actress, with only four or five films prior to Star Wars. The only other actor with less experience on set was Jake Lloyd. From my understanding, there were better actors to fulfill the role of young Anakin, but Jake had the innocent child spirit that Lucas was looking for. In my opinion, Anakin would have function better as a character if he was slightly older like 12 or 13. The veterans showcased good performance, except for Samuel L. Jackson. It wasn't terrible, but it wasn't up to par to what I was expecting out of Sam Jackson.             
  • Cinematography: 7: The camera work and lighting were good in the film. To be honest its one of the stronger aspects of the film. I praised the action above and apart of that is well shoot action sequences.     
  • Direction: 6: The frist job of a director should be getting the best performance out of your actors as possible. Second is tell a good story. George isn't the best at getting good performance out of his actors. This film shows that flaw more than his other films. Even the storytelling was weak in this film, which is where Lucas usually shines at. I guess you can't be 100% all the time.   
  • Editing: 6: In general, there were quite a bit of long drawn out parts, case and point the pod racing sequence. That sequence takes up a good chunk of the film. I believe that sequence takes nearly 15 minutes. It was a cool 15 minutes, especially in my teenage mind, but the race felt repetitive. I felt the film could have been tighter on the editing front.      
  • Screenplay: 3: George Lucas created this immersive space opera in the original trilogy. He had a universe with a great fiction and mythology. What does he do with this awesome mythology? He trashes it by over-explaining. For example, The Force. In Star Wars: A New Hope, Obi-Was defines, The Force, as an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us, it penetrates us, it binds the galaxy together. In this film, Lucas changes the Force by making it "ruled" by midi-chlorians. Basically, the Force become a genetic trait rather than a cosmic force. The second major change Lucas made was lowering the target audience. The script became riddled with humor made for a much younger audience, as in poop and fart jokes. There were so many of these types of jokes that it sometimes ruined a scene that could have been very emotional. This mentally spawned the worst character ever written for Star Wars, Jar Jar Binks. In general, I'm fine with a clumsy comic relief character, but that type of humor doesn't fit the humor established in the original trilogy. Even Jar Jar's speech patterns were childish and annoying.  If you edit out Jar Jar like a fan has done, the film increase in quality because Jar Jar doesn't add anything to the story.   
  • Sound and Music: 10:  Frist and foremost the score from John Williams is great as usual. For me, the piece of music that stands out the most, in my head, is the Duel of the Fates. You know, the music that plays during the Darth Maul, Qui-Gon, and Obi-Wan fight. I want to draw attention to Ben Burtt's sound design. If nothing else, rewatch the pod racing scene. Each and every pod racer has it own unique sound. Even the sounds of the race in of its self is awesome.
  • VFX: 10: For 1999 the visual effect were revolutionary. George Lucas is more or less the father of Industrial Light & Magic (ILM). He was pushing CGI technology of that time to the max. Oddly enough the CGI holds up today, granted CGI today is damn awesome. I have to note that I personally like the character design in this film. I may not like the characters themselves but how they looked on screen was good.  
Overall: 6: As a Star Wars film The Phantom Menace failed to deliver. As a film, in general, it wasn't any better, but there are quite a few redeeming qualities. I personally don't hate the prequel films. I have accepted them as Star Wars canon and can get some enjoyment out of them. At the same time, I can really recommend them. Out of all the Star Wars films, The Phantom Menace would be the one I suggest skipping.     

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Star Wars: The Force Awakens Is Almost Here

So you may have noticed that the official Star Wars: The Force Awakens poster and trailer dropped in the last couple of days. The poster drop Sunday morning along with short teasers saying the trailer was on its way. Let me frist start, with my two cents on the poster. The poster shouldn't dictate the quality of the film. A movie poster could be awesome and the film suck and vice-versa. 
The Good:

I like the duality of the light side and dark side of the Force, showcased in the poster. I also like the pyramid shape that frames in the poster. If you go back and look at the other Star Wars posters, you will notice that the pyramid / triangle theme is utilized in every single one of them. Since this theme is carried out into this poster as well, the poster feels very much like a Star Wars poster. There are other themes being use in this poster that give us Star Wars fan joygasms. For me, it is the looming antagonist motif. Granted, Kylo Ren isn't as looming as Vader in the original poster. Which leads me into the bad.

The Bad:

The frist thing that stands out, which has been a common complaint across the internet, is all characters showcased on the poster. I agree with this argument, all the floating heads do give me a slight feeling of claustrophobia. Personally, I could have done without the cast from the original trilogy. Don't get me wrong, I love seeing them there, but I believe this film is going to be a "passing of the torch" type movie, so, why not focus 100% on the new characters. I really dislike most of the characters crammed in the center of the poster. Some of which, needs to be zoomed in on to see what's going on. 

What do you guys think?

The Trailer:

I don't own a television, so I went over to Buffalo Wild Wings to watch the Monday Night Football game. During the halftime show the full Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailer dropped, as advertised. It was AWESOME. You don't believe me check it out yourself:

We got to see and hear a lot of things for the frist time, which absolutely excites me. Oh, BTW the tickets are now on sale. If you want to stay in the know on Star Wars news visit: 

Until next time, "May The Force Be With You"

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Review: Mr. Holmes


Title: Mr. Holmes

Distributor: BBC Films
Director: Bill Condon
Writer(s): Jeffrey Hatcher (screenplay)  
Starring: Ian McKellen, Laura Linney, Milo Parker, Hiroyuki Sanada, and Hattie Morahan  
MPAA Rating: Rated PG for thematic elements, some disturbing images, and incidental smoking
Running Time: 104 min
Synopsis: An aged, retired Sherlock Holmes looks back on his life, and grapples with an unsolved case involving a beautiful woman.

What Others Are Saying? 

Rotten Tomatoes: 87% "Fresh", Top Critics: 82% "Fresh", Audience: 78% "Liked It"

Metacritic: Critics: 67 out of 100, Users: 8.2 out of 10
MRQE: 72 out of 100

My Review 

Source Material: Based on a novel titled "A Slight Trick of the Mind" written by Mitch Cullin.

Entertaining Value:

  • Action Elements: Sherlock Holmes has been known for being proficient in hand-to-hand combat, this film doesn't focus on that aspect of the Holmes character. If you want an action pack Sherlock Holmes film watch the film starring Robert Downey Jr. This film's primary focused on Holmes during his retirement years as he reflects back on his last case.
  • Comedy Elements: There are some light-hearted moments sprinkled in the story
  • Dramatic Elements: The drama is where this film shines the most.
  • Sci-Fi / Fantasy Elements: Most portrayals of Sherlock Holmes showcase his detective skill as some sort of supernatural power, in doing so raising the Sherlock Holmes character to folk-hero status. This film constantly mentions that portrayal of Holmes was heavily embellished upon compared to the "real" Holmes. In this film, Holms detective skills stem from his aptitude for observation and deductive reasoning. 
Cinematic Value:
  • Acting and Dialogue: 10: Nerds and Geeks, like myself, praise Sir Ian McKellen for his portrayal of Gandalf in The Lord of the Ring and Hobbit trilogies. Some of us may even mention his performance as Magneto in the X-men franchise. What we as film fans sometimes forget is Sir Ian McKellen is a classically trained actor, with a frist love for the stage. Before becoming a movie star, he was well known for performing in many Shakespearing plays with the Royal Shakespeare Company and the Royal National Theater. When I heard he was playing Sherlock Holmes, I thought it was for a stage adoption, because of his history with theater, but I was mistaken. I personally connected with Sir Ian McKellen portrayal of Mr. Holmes. Sir Ian McKellen's performance was so good that my feelings were reflective to the Holmes character in the film. I wouldn't be surprised to see a nomination when award season rolls around.
  • Cinematography: 8: I thought the locations of this film was the best part of the cinematography. In my opinion, its hard to mess up a beautiful landscape. I know cinematographers don't necessarily pick the locations, but they have to figure out how to shoot them, and I think this was a well-shot film.
  • Direction: 7: I have to be honest, I'm was clueless on the works of Bill Condon. After looking him up on IMDB, I realized he was the one behind, Kinsey, Dreamgirls, and Breaking Dawn parts 1 and 2. I was a bit shocked to find out that the guys behind this well-made movie was also directed a Twilight movie, I digress. I think Bill did a decent job overall on Mr. Holmes.
  • Editing: 7: There was two main flashback: Holmes last case and his trip to Japan. I though the way the filmmaker handled the flashback from an editing standpoint was less than perfect. I personally liked the two flashbacks and how they add to the story but at the same time I thought they slowed the film down.
  • Screenplay: 7.5: I thought the story was inserting. This film brought to us a different Sherlock Holmes than we are accustom to seeing. I liked that the film was more or less a commentary on the fictionalized Sherlock Holmes. This film ran with the idea that Sherlock Holmes was a real person with real life experiences. Mr. Holmes had been living in the glorified image of himself written by his friend and colleague John Watson. We, the audience, meet the retired Holmes who want to write a story that's based on facts, unlike the stories Watson wrote. It was those accepts of the Sherlock Holmes story that made this film compelling.
  • Sound and Music: 8: I really enjoyed the score of this film.
  • VFX: 7: There were hardly any visual effect shots in this film. I'm sure they may have used some visual effect shots to enhance or extend shot but thats about it.
Overall: 8: I really enjoyed this film. It's nice to watch a film like this to take a break from the sea of CGI action-packed, summer blockbusters.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Review: Ant-Man


Title: Ant-Man

Distributor: Marvel Studio (Disney)
Director: Peyton Reed
Writer(s): Edgar Wright (screenplay), Joe Cornish (screenplay), Adam McKay (screenplay), Paul Rudd (screenplay), Edgar Wright (story), Joe Cornish (story)  
Starring: Paul Rudd, Michael Douglas, Evangeline Lilly, Corey Stoll, Michael Peña  
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for Sci-fi action violence
Running Time: 117 min
Synopsis: Armed with a super-suit with the astonishing ability to shrink in scale but increase in strength, con-man Scott Lang must embrace his inner hero and help his mentor, Dr. Hank Pym, plan and pull off a heist that will save the world.

What Others Are Saying? 

Rotten Tomatoes: 80% "Fresh", Top Critics: 76% "Fresh", Audience: 92% "Liked It"

Metacritic: Critics: 64 out of 100, Users: 8.2 out of 10
MRQE: 72 out of 100

My Review 

Source Material: Based on a comic-book characters created by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee. 

Entertaining Value:

  • Action Elements: There are some really good action sequences in this film. Even though the action sequences are good, there wasn't a lot of them. Let's just say there isn't a visceral overload like in Age of Ultron.
  • Comedy Elements: With the people attached to this film you may expect a "yuck yuck comedy" but it's not. The jokes are clever and quite funny.
  • Dramatic Elements: Surprisingly for a "superhero" film there were some really good dramatic moments. There is one father/daughter scene in the film that pulls at the heart strings.
  • Sci-Fi / Fantasy Elements: On the surface this film is a superhero film so there is a good amount of Sci-Fi elements including shrinking and communicating with ants.

Cinematic Value:

  • Acting and Dialogue: 8: First and foremost I want to bring to your attention that Michael Douglas is in this film and he does a fantastic job. When a high-caliber actor like Michael Douglas is in a potential big summer blockbuster, we begin to wonder if he just collecting a paycheck and not earning it. Well, Michael Douglas earned his paycheck. He portrayed a convincing old Dr. Hank Pym. I could continue singing praise about Michael Douglas's great performance, but there are other performances I would like to talk about as well. When I heard the casting of Paul Rudd, I wasn't all that excited because he was known for comedy, and Ant-Man is a superhero. After seeing the film, I can safely say Paul Rudd was perfect for the role. Evangeline Lilly and Corey Stoll were good in their respective roles even though their character's weren't my favorite. On the other hand, one of my favorite characters was Michael Peña's character. His character made me laugh every single time he was on screen.   
  • Cinematography: 8: I really liked how they handled the micro-cinematography in this film. I'm glad the shrinking aspect wasn't cheesy like in Honey I Shrunk The Kids. The filmmakers made Ant-man's powers make sense while at the same time making it look and feel cool. The perspective shots made me more acceptable to the idea that Ant-man was the actual size of an ant.    
  • Direction: 7: I was jumping ship with everyone else when I heard the news that Edgar Wright had left the production of Ant-man. I became even more disappointed when I heard Marvel hired Peyton Reed to replace Edgar Wright as director. I'm sure I wasn't the only one thinking, "Marvel why are you hiring a director known for bad comedy movies." I was proven wrong after seeing the film. You could tell Peyton Reed was an Ant-man fan and knew the source material. Also, there was a level of respect of Edgar Wright's original draft of the script.   
  • Editing: 7: The editing wasn't bad overall, but I felt that there could have been some minor edits. I personally thought the film was a little heavy on the montage sequences.
  • Screenplay: 9: I thought this film was well written. Usually having more than two screenwriters is bad news. I definitely saw Edgar Wright's touch in the story, especially in the final battle sequences. From my understanding, they left a lot of Edgar Wright's concepts in the film but tweaked them to be more "Marvel". I personally like how the screenwriters interject this film into the MCU. I feel like other MCU films and television shows (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.) has forced connections, whereas, Ant-man's are elegantly placed. Even though I like the little sprinkles of MCU goodness this film offered, I wasn't the biggest fan to their "hard" connection to the MCU. SPOILER-ish There is a part in the middle of the film where Scott Lang has to steal a piece of tech from an old Stark warehouse. Surprise, the old Stark warehouse is the new headquarter's for the Avengers. This reveal then leads a fight between Ant-man and Falcon, granted it was an awesome fight, but in my opinion an unnecessary one. SPOILER End. This "hard" connection was disruptive to the follow of the story, but I personally think the dialogue references were enough of a connection to the MCU. Realistically, I'm being a bit nitpicky because the scene I described in the small spoiler section was pretty bad-ass. I though the character development was good was well.                 
  • Sound and Music: 8: I really enjoyed the score of this film. 
  • VFX: 8: The one main praise I have for the visual effect on this film is the ants. It's hard to watch this film and not get emotionally attached to the ants. The ants are just as much apart of this film as any of the actors.
Overall: 8: I'm not 100% sure this film is going to be for everybody but I a good time at the theater. I think it was a good end to phase 2 to the MCU. I recommend that you at least give the film a try. 

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Should Conventions Provide A Virtual Ticket?

I personally like going to conventions, especially if I have the extra time and money. Let's face it conventions are a giant meet and greet, that allows a person to geek out with other geeks and potentially meet celebrities. The thing I hate the most about going to conventions is the cost. If the ticket to get into the doors doesn't burn a hole in your wallet, the traveling expenses will. Maybe for some the financial burden isn't a problem, but getting the time off work. Maybe neither off these things are and issue but you're an unlucky person and the convention sells out before you could get a ticket. What I'm trying to say is there is a limited amount of people who can go. I personally would like conventions to expand their business model and find an online space.

Follow me here. There are many live streaming sites that could easily sponsor a convention and broadcast the event worldwide. The convention could go the free route and limit the broadcast to the "main stage" and maybe a few other things. If the convention wants to make a little bit more money, they can charge a reasonable amount (I suggest half the price of a physical ticket) and show nearly everything. There could still even be room for exclusive content for those who are lucky enough to be at the actual convention.

The only convention I can think of that use this model is BlizzCon. BlizzCon, for those of you out of the loop, is Blizzard Entertainment's convention they throw for fans of their games. Blizzard usually announces their newest games including expectations to they're already popular games (World of Warcraft, Starcraft, and Diablo). Blizzard knows their fan base is very large, so large that not everyone could fit under one roof. Blizzard fixed this problem with the Virtual Ticket. I believe their Virtual Ticket is sponsored by DirectTV and cost roughly 40 US dollars. With this 40 dollars, you get access to the majority of the conventions, which includes all the panels, eSports stages, and high-quality trailer. There are also some in-game incentives for buying the Virtual Ticket.

Let's imagine for a moment the SDCC (San Diego Comic-Con) used the BlizzCon Virtual Ticket model. One: people like myself who can't make it out to the conventions, for one reason or another, could experience those events as well. I'm positive I'm not the only one who would like to see the content released in Hall H. Usually, low res version of the panels are placed online, then taken down shortly there after. Two, this could be a way to release a non-pirated version of a trailer, and true market to their fans. This beats a journalist, blogger, or Youtuber's synopsis any day. There still could be exclusive content with this model. At this year's SSCC, Lucasfilm gave all the attendees of the Force Awaken's panel, a free Star Wars concert. Those who have the "virtual ticket" don't get to see that content, period. Maybe there are more incentives for those in the crowd, so the "virtual ticket" doesn't take out the point of going to the convention in the first place.

What I'm trying to say is I would love an opportunity to experience the major conventions like SDCC when life doesn't allow me too. How about you?           

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Review: Jurassic World


Title: Jurassic World
Distributor: Amblin Entertainment (Universal Pictures)
Director: Colin Trevorrow
Writer(s): Rick Jaffa (screenplay), Amanda Silver (screenplay), Colin Trevorrow (screenplay), Derek Connolly (screenplay), Rick Jaffa (story), Colin Trevorrow (story)
Starring: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Vincent D'Onofrio, Ty Simpkins, Nick Robinson, Irrfan Khan, and BD Wong
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of science-fiction violence and peril.
Running Time: 124 min
Synopsis: 22 years after the original Jurassic Park failed the new park (also know as Jurassic World) is open for business. After years of studying genetics, the scientists on the park genetically engineer a new breed of dinosaur. When everything goes horribly wrong, will our heroes make it off the island?

What Others Are Saying? 

Rotten Tomatoes: 70% "Fresh", Top Critics: 64% "Fresh", Audience: 86% "Liked It"
Metacritic: Critics: 59 out of 100, Users: 7.3 out of 10
MRQE: 67 out of 100

My Review 

Source Material: A continuation of the Jurassic Park franchise.

Entertaining Value:
  • Action Elements: There are small tense moments sprinkled throughout the film that get the heart pumping, but the real action doesn't start until last 20-30mins. 
  • Comedy Elements: Chris Pratt wasn't being his normal dorky self in this role, so it was less comical. With that being said, there were some good one-liners, most revolving around audience nods and winks. 
  • Dramatic Elements: Not really. 
  • Sci-Fi / Fantasy Elements: I'm only going to say this once, DINOSAURS.

Cinematic Value:

  • Acting and Dialogue: 7: I think the actors did a good job for what they were given. I liked seeing Chris Pratt step out of his comfort zone and be more serious. I' m glad Chris Pratt's character wasn't Star Lord cosplaying as a raptor trainer. I would have like to see Bryce Dallas Howard as a slightly stronger female lead, but overall she did a fine job. I thought the dialogue was a little too nostalgic and a bit cheesy in parts.
  • Cinematography: 7: The nostalgia didn't end at the dialogue. Most of the shots felt like Jurassic Park. There were a few iconic shots from Jurassic Park that were used in this film. One of the major things that took me out of the "Jurassic World" world was the product placement. The over sponsored theme park gags were fun, (Starbucks, Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville, and Verizon) but the Mercedes "commercial" that happened ever time someone need to drive anywhere, was annoying.
  • Direction: 6.5: Colin Trevorrow did a decent job on his first major summer blockbuster film. It was nice seeing the guy behind Safety Not Guaranteed join the Jurassic franchise. His fandom of the original Jurassic Park film shined on screen from shot choices to jokes.
  • Editing: 7: I thought the passing of the film was good.
  • Screenplay: 5.5: The story was clunky, it felt very much like an amusement ride in of itself. I felt the first act gave the audience, the "2014 Godzilla treatment" (Not seeing the "monster" on screen fully.) It was like we, the audience, were the two boys at the park and couldn't see over the adults heads, holograms and "petting zoos" weren't cutting it. I was mostly along for the ride, once the film introduced the new big bad "dinosaur" or should I say hybrid-dinosaur, Indominus Rex. I thought the "new features" of this "dinosaur" were underutilized, except for one, but I don't want to spoil it for you. I also really didn't like the two boys haveing a deep backstory. I thought the storytellers were forcing the audience to care for these two boys. I liked them more as a spectator than anything else.
  • Sound and Music: 9: First and foremost you can't have a Jurassic Park movie without John Williams iconic theme. I think Micheal Giacchino brings an interesting take on the Jurassic Park Theme. I thought the score was one of best parts of the film. This movie goes from an okay / decent movie to a good movie, because the score is so good.
  • VFX: 7: I appreciate the attempt to emulate the creative process from the first Jurassic Park film, but I wasn't as impressed with see dinosaurs on the big screen as I was with the original Jurassic Park. I think the VFX team did a good job overall with the design of each dinosaur.

Overall: 7: I'm not sure if "checking your brain at the door" is a fair assessment for this film, but the film becomes a lot more enjoyable if you refrain from thinking, "Wait a minute, that can't or shouldn't happen." I personally enjoyed this film.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Review: Mad Max: Fury Road


Mad Max: Fury Road

Distributor: Village Roadshow Pictures
Director: George Miller
Writer(s): George Miller, Brendan McCarthy, and Nick Lathouris
Starring: Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, and Nicholas Hoult
MPAA Rating: Rated R for intense sequences of violence throughout, and for disturbing images.
Running Time: 120 min
Synopsis: In a stark desert landscape where humanity is broken, two rebels just might be able to restore order: Max, a man of action and of few words, and Furiosa, a woman of action who is looking to make it back to her childhood homeland.

What Others Are Saying?

Rotten Tomatoes: T-Meter: 98% "Fresh", Top Critics: 98% "Fresh", Audience: 94% "Liked It"
Metacritic: Critics: 89 out of 100, Users: 9.1 out of 10
MRQE Metric: 87 out of 100
My Review

Source Material: A continuation of the Mad Max franchise.

Entertaining Value:
  • Action Elements: Non-stop action from beginning to end. This is very much a high octane film. Some of the best action I have seen in years.
  • Comedy Elements: I laugh at some of the ridiculousness shown on the screen. This is an action film through and through.
  • Dramatic Elements: The drama plays out in the tension of the action sequences.
  • Sci-Fi / Fantasy Elements: Mad Max take play in a post-apocalyptic world, so there is a good amount of Sci-fi elements.
Cinematic Value:
  • Acting and Dialogue: 7.5: There is very little dialogue in this film. Tom Hardy as Max, probably has the fewest lines in the entire film. Most of his performance was grunts and groans. I really enjoy seeing Nicholas Hoult play the eccentric war boy named Nux. I would say the star of the film was Charlize Theron. She was the driving force behind the film. She portrays a great strong female lead.
  • Cinematography: 9:  What makes the action in this film good, is the cinematography. This film does a great job at placing us, the audience, in the driver seat without placing us in the driver's seat. Most action films will use a shaky or jittery cameras to represent "being-in-the-action" but this film utilizes fluid and continuous shots to achieve that very same goal. I also liked the contrast between daytime shots and nighttime shots. The daytime was bright and orange (primarily because the film takes place in a sandy wasteland) while the nighttime was dark and blue.
  • Direction: 7: George Miller is known for Mad Max, Babe, and Happy Feet. From my understanding, this film was more or less been a passion project for Miller, that passion was shown on the screen.
  • Editing: 8: The cinematography and editing make the action in this film believable and watchable. I thought one of the major flaws of the Avengers: Age of Ultron was the pacing but in this film its one of its strengths.
  • Screenplay: 6: I personally felt there wasn't enough development of the characters. For me, the only character that had a "clear" motivation was Furiosa (Charlize Theron). Most of that clarity came in the form of exposition, which didn't come until there was a slight break in the action. Let's be honest, we are not going into a Mad Max movie looking for a deep story. As long as there an action packed car chase, we fulfilled our exceptions of a Mad Max film.
  • Sound and Music: 9: The action was great, the cinematography was great, but the music was fantastic. The music was even more of a driving force than Charlize Theron. I believe the music is what elevates this film into the good category for me.    
  • VFX: 8: I like that most of the effects were practical, and If they weren't kudos to the vfx guys and girls.       
Overall: 7.5: I left the theater happy and I enjoyed the film overall, but I think it could have a little bit better story.     

Monday, May 11, 2015

What Do My Ratings Mean?

John Campea, Editor-In-Chief of AMC Movie New, posted an editorial video on how he reviews movies. I bring this up because I have a similar system when I review movies. For those of you who have been following me over the years know I use to grade movies using the common scale 90, 80, 70, 60 (A, B, C, D, or F) to judge films. I soon didn't like that system and switch to a numerical system (1 to 10). I want to further explain my system. 

0 = Worst of the Worst 
1 = Garbage, or Hated It 
2 = Awful, or Terrible
3 = Bad, or Disliked It 
4 = Poor 
5 = I Don’t Know, Not Sure, Indifferent 
6 = Average, Decent, or Okay 
7 = Good, Enjoyed It, or Liked It 
8 = Great, Grand, Wonderful 
9 = Awesome, Excellent, or Loved It 
10 = Perfection, or Oscar Worthy 

 Hopefully this is a useful tool for understanding my metric of reviewing movies.

A Series of Genres: Sci-Fi

I think it’s about time to wrap up this series. This genre study has been an adventure, to say the less. I want to end this series with my all-time favorite genre, Science Fiction (Sci-Fi). In my Fantasy post I defined Sci-Fi as being, “rooted in science or scientific theory that usually has an outer space setting.” I would like to take that definition and expand upon it. Science fiction films use science, pseudoscience, and / or scientific theories as their primary plot device. The “science” in these films tend to be partially fabricated, if not totally fabricated. Along with “science”, the Sci-Fi genre usually showcases these characteristics: outer space as a setting, time or interstellar travel, new technology, aliens, mutants, androids / robots being used as characters, or exploration of an else-world scenarios. Sci-Fi films give the audience an outlet to escape reality, much like the Fantasy genre dose, hence why most combined the two genres as Sci-Fi / Fantasy. 

There have been many visionaries, throughout history that have given us that escape. In the modern world, movies and their director are the ones responsible for proving that form of entertainment. I would like to share a handful of directors that have given us some of the best Sci-Fi worlds in cinema. First off there is J.J Abrams, he started his career as a television producer, creating shows like Alias, Lost, and Fringe. He then made a jump to the silver screen directing Mission: Impossible III, from there Abrams flexed his geek muscles and made the reboot to Star Trek. J.J. Abrams has continued down this Sci-Fi path directing Super 8, and the sequel to Star Trek, Star Trek Into Darkness. His latest project is none other than Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens. 

The next director I have to mention is James Cameron, the father of The Terminator. Looking at James Cameron’s filmography he has written pretty much everything in the Terminator universe. James Cameron is also responsible for Avatar (not the Last Airbender) and their sequels, which he is currently working on. His plan is to film Avatar 2, 3, and 4 all back-to-back. Other Sci-Fi films James Cameron has been a part of include, The Abyss and Aliens. Before James Cameron there was Ridley Scott, who made Alien, the preceding film to Aliens. His very next film was Blade Runner, which is arguable one of best Sci-fi films ever made. Ridley Scott didn't touch the Sci-Fi genre again until 2012 with the film Prometheus, which was a prequel / spin-off to the Alien franchise. As far as, Ridley Scott future career goes, he is in talks of producing an Alien movie directed by Neill Blomkamp, along with a sequel to Prometheus. 

I’m going to move from Ridley Scott to Steven Spielberg. Spielberg is synonymous with filmmaking, his name has been attached to many different projects, spanning across film, television, and video games. I’m sure you have heard of this guy, but if not, let me rattle off some of his films: Close Encounters of the Third Kind, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Jurassic Park, The Lost World: Jurassic Park, A.I. Artificial Intelligence, Minority Report, and, War of the Worlds (remake). Those are only the Sci-Fi films he has directed, which is only the tip of the iceberg, especially if factor in all of the films he has produced. Form his resume it seems like he know what he is doing when to come to Sci-Fi. As a matter of fact, some of my all-time favorite Sci-Fi films were directed by Spielberg. 

If you have been paying attention, so far, then you may have realized that a lot of the films I have mentioned are big budget summer blockbuster films, with intense visual effects. To bring these vast worlds to life on the big screen, filmmakers have to create them digitally and sometime partially. For me, good VFX is a perfect balance of “real” and “fake” some may even call it, seamless. I found it interesting that most filmmakers that work on Sci-Fi films usually have to create new ways to capture visual effect shots. One of those filmmakers is George Lucas, who founded Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) in 1975 while working on the first Star War film. ILM should sound fairly familiar because that company is responsible for most of the visual effects today. One of the films that stick out in my mind, which made major breakthroughs in visual effects and “CGI” is Tron (1982). 

Tron is credited as the first film to use extensive computer animation, but because of the capacity of the computers, at that time, the film only uses that form of technology for about twenty minutes of the film. The rest of the visual effect shots had to be done more traditionally by filming in black-and-white with an all-black backgrounds. The color bits were added in later with rotoscopic techniques and cel-animation. It’s been said that because of the process and cost, that form of animation hasn't really been used again in a feature film. The next film to have similar ambitions as Tron, visually speaking, was Terminator 2: Judgment Day, which was nearly ten years after Tron. T2’s visual effects, advanced the applications of CGI by being the first film to utilize natural human motion from a CG character. These advancements landed the film an Academy Award in the Best Visual Effects category. 

At the end of 1990’s, 1999 to be exact, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science gave The Matrix and Oscar for Best Visual Effects. Personally, I think The Matrix has heavily inspired visual effect artists today, by popularizing the effect known as “bullet time” See this effect for the “first time” in the Matrix was one of the coolest things in a movie. I remember being in full amazement at point in the film. Now days, that effect or a variant of that effect is used quite often, case and point, Zack Snyder. 

I could spend a whole post talking about visual effects and CGI, and I may in the future, but we are here talking about Sci-Fi films. Well, Sci-Fi films and visual effect go hand-in-hand, especially films being made now. The visual effects in a Sci-Fi film tend to be its best quality, so much so, the Academy takes notice awarding them the Best Visual Effects Oscar. This category and other visual categories like Best Make-Up is really the only love the Academy shows towards Sci-Fi films. Every once in a while a Sci-Fi film is nominated for the Best Picture category. In 1982, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial was nominated for Best Picture but, Gandhi took home the prize that year. In recent years, the Best Picture category has expanded its potential list of nominations to ten nominations. Since that change, only five Sci-Fi films have been recognized as one of the greats: Avatar, District 9, Inception, Gravity, and Her. 

What Sci-Fi films are considered great? We have already examined some of the great directors that have produced great Sci-Fi films. We have even explored the world of visual effects and how Sci-Fi films have evolved that area of filmmaking. This exploration leads us into the many accolades these films have received for breathtaking visuals, some have even been nominated for the most prestigious film awards, The Academy Award (Oscar). Now, I want to share with you my favorite Sci-Fi films.

My favorite Big Budget Sci-Fi films are: 

  1. Guardians of the Galaxy 
  2. Tie: Interstellar / Inception 
  3. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial 
  4. 2001: A Space Odyssey 
  5. Independence Day 

My favorite Indie Sci-Fi films are: 

  1. Moon 
  2. District 9 
  3. Donnie Darko 
  4. Sunshine 
  5. Attack The Block 

Top Franchise in Sci-Fi:

  1. Star Wars 
  2. Back to the Future 
  3. Jurassic Park 
  4. Star Trek 
  5. Terminator 

  • Honorable Mention: Planet of the Apes 

I have mentioned before in this series that Star Wars was a Fantasy set in space. I still hold that to be true. The story element line up with many fantasy tales, but there a lot of Sci-Fi elements as well. Star Wars become a full Sci-Fi film, if you compare it to the definition I stated back in the first paragraph. I have been a Star Wars fan for quite some time, well since the 90’s when I first learned about Star Wars. My parents had the original Star War trilogy on VHS. I was part of the millions who watch every single prequel film at their midnight release. I understand why die hard Star Wars fan disown the prequels. As I aged, I began to sway with that line of thinking more and more because Star Wars became very kiddie. My excitement of Star Wars has been rekindled because of The Force Awakens. If you are a huge Star Wars fan, like me, than I suggest checking out AMC Jedi Council. It’s a weekly show, hosted by cast members of AMC Movie Talk, which covers everything Star Wars. 

Back to the Future is by far one of my all-time favorite movies. The funny thing about Back to the Future is that it could have been on any one of these genre lists. It is first and foremost a comedy, with the premises, what would it be like to hang out with your parents when they were a teenagers. To achieve that goal a time machine is in order, and if you're gonna build a time machine into a car, why not do it with some style? This film franchise first takes us back to 1955, were Marty has to hang out for a few days while Doc Brown figures outs how to send Marty back to 1985. The second film shows us the future, 2015, that right the future is now. In the third film, Doc has become trapped in 1885, the old west era, and Marty has to rescue him before Biff’s descendant kills him. Overall Back to the Future is a great action / adventure comedy with sci-fi elements. 

Have you ever been to a museum and seen dinosaur bones, or even a model of a dinosaur and think, “I want to see a real dinosaur?” Well, the Jurassic Park franchise made that dream come true. Steven Spielberg brought, a world where dinosaur can be visited by humans at a theme park named Jurassic Park. Our amazement is shared with the character Dr Grant (Sam Neill) when the first dinosaur is revealed. By the end of the film our opinion to see a real dinosaur, changes because of the apex predator known as the T-Rex. He reigns king of the dinosaur until the third movie, when the Spinosaurus becomes the new big bad dinosaur. The next film in the franchise is Jurassic World, it’s kind of a reboot. The film’s synopses: In an attempt to boost visitor’s attendance, park scientist create a new dinosaur by mixing the DNA of many different dinosaurs. This new species of dinosaur, Indominus Rex, escapes its enclosure causing death and destruction upon the park. It’s up to Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) to save the day before too much damage has been done. 

I didn't really get into the Star Trek universe until the rebooted movies directed by J.J Abrams. These movies brought an updated version of the original Star Trek series / films, and revitalized the franchise. I personally liked The Next Generation television series a little better than the original series, but original series had a better set of films. Arguably, the best film in that franchise is Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn, some even claim it to be the best Sci-Fi film ever made. Star Trek is what I imagine when some say Sci-fi, because the characters have to use their own wits and science to solve the problems in the universe. Star Trek also screams Sci-Fi because of the tech. The original series didn't have that big of a budget, so the show’s creators had to be creative in creating “futuristic looking tech.” I know that some of these effects were achieved in the sound design, who could forget those classic beeps and bops. 

I almost didn't include The Terminator franchise because this film series hasn't made that immense of an impact on my viewing experience. I think I speak for most film fans that The Terminator, and Terminator 2: Judgment Day are the best of the franchise. Let’s be honest guys the only real reason we watched Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines is to see Kristanna Loken in tight leathers. Besides the eye candy I didn't think that film was that good. Terminator Salvation was a decent film. I’m personally NOT the biggest fan of McG’s work. I kind of enjoyed his television show, Chuck, but that’s about it. I’m kind of looking forward to Terminator Genisys, primarily because of the cast: Jason Clark (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes), Emilia Clarke (Game of Thrones), Matt Smith (Doctor Who), Lee Byung-hun (G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra), and Arnold Schwarzenegger (The Terminator). For me the one person that keeps The Terminator franchise alive is Arnold Schwarzenegger. He made The Terminator / T-800 an iconic character. This movie made Arnold Schwarzenegger a cool action hero that you don’t want to mess with. 

Honorable Mention: Planet of the Apes nearly made it to my top five over The Terminator. The main reason I didn't include this franchise is because I haven’t really been that invested into the films. Much like Star Trek I was more or less introduced to the franchise with the reboots. I do remember watching the 1963 film with my father, one of the times it aired on the television network TCM. I barely remember the first rebooted film by Tim Burton, starring Mark Wahlberg. The newest incarnations of Planet of the Apes are really good. I think Andy Serkis should have gotten at least a nomination for best supporting actor for his work in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. I also think that Dawn of the Planet of the Apes should have won the Oscar for best visual effect last year, over Interstellar. 

What are your favorite Sci-Fi films?