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All reviews - Movies (157) - TV Shows (2) - Books (4) - Games (30)

"Monsters University" (2013)

Posted : 4 years, 12 months ago on 25 July 2013 10:11 (A review of Monsters University)

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

I have very mixed feelings about Monsters University. On one hand, I was pleasantly surprised at how relentlessly fun it was. On the other hand, I still think what I thought before: this movie has no reason to exist.
It is, of course, a prequel to Monsters, Inc., in which Mike and Sulley enrol at Monsters University to learn to become Scarers.
Our heroes are both familiar stereotypes: Mike's the bookworm who knows it all but lacks the talent, while Sulley's the slob who gets by on nothing but talent – and his family name. The story is about as predictable as it gets, but the sheer level of glee and humour with which it's told is what keeps it interesting. Plus I loved seeing the tasks of the Scare Games and how our heroes' team triumphs.
But the problem with any prequel is that you already know how it's going to end, because it has to lead in to the original film. So Mike's singular desire to be a Scarer basically renders this whole film moot, because we already know that's not going to happen.
Also, Mike had a line in Monsters, Inc. where he implied that he'd known Sulley since the fourth grade. So this whole movie is essentially one huge continuity error!
Basically, Monsters University is this year's Prometheus (though don't get me wrong: it's a much better movie): as its own movie, it's entertaining, but as a prequel, it's inconsistent and unnecessary.

My rating: 75%


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"Pacific Rim" (2013)

Posted : 4 years, 12 months ago on 25 July 2013 10:09 (A review of Pacific Rim)

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

The plot is that giant monsters, known as Kaiju, have been appearing through a dimensional rift under the Pacific Ocean, so giant robots called Jaegers have been built to combat them. But now things are getting desperate.
I can't vouch for how good a tribute this is to the giant monster and mecha genres, but I can say how well it succeeds simply as a piece of entertainment! This is more what the Transformers movies should have been like. The characters may be archetypal, but they're still effective and well-executed archetypes. And the action scenes are terrific. The effects work is absolutely top-notch, and although I sometimes couldn't tell what I was looking at, at least there's no shaky cam making it worse.
On top of that, the movie is actually witty. For example, the Jaegers are controlled by two mentally linked pilots, and I like how they actually do address how delicate and dangerous mind-melding is.
However, there was one major letdown for me. The dialogue was pretty hard to follow at times. It may be for that reason that, during the climax, I was actually sort of burned out; I no longer cared much about what was happening.
Still, on a side note, the idea that this lost to Grown Ups 2 at the box office is just sickening!
While I might need to see this movie again to understand it better, I can definitely say that it's a very solid summer blockbuster. It's fun but not brainless.

My rating: 75%


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"The World's End" (2013)

Posted : 4 years, 12 months ago on 25 July 2013 10:03 (A review of The World's End (2013))

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

Okay, The World's End, the third collaboration between the double-act of Simon Pegg and Nick Frost and director Edgar Wright. Being a huge fan of Shaun of the Dead and especially Hot Fuzz, this is one of the movies I was most looking forward to this year. And for the most part, it didn't disappoint. :)
The plot is that Pegg's character, Gary, gets his gang of childhood friends back together to relive an epic pub crawl that they never completed. But as the night progresses, they realise that something's very wrong about town. To say much more would unfortunately mean getting into spoilers. Especially, the moment that first reveals what's happened to the town is hilarious not just for what happens but because of just how out of the blue it is. (Ha! Blue! Those who've seen it probably get my drift.)
What else can I say? It's just really funny, so it works. :) I especially liked how, contrary to Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, Pegg plays the wild and free character, while Frost is the stick-in-the-mud.
The tone of the film sort of walks hand-in-hand with the characters' mindset: as they get more and more drunk, things get more and more insane. The ending really flies off the deep end.
Overall, it's not as good as Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, because the developing plot is a little too involved, but it's still a rollicking good time.

My rating: 85%


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"The Island" (2005)

Posted : 5 years ago on 18 July 2013 06:52 (A review of The Island (2005))

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

The plot follows a man and woman in an underground hive who discover the truth behind their living conditions and escape into the outside world.
Well, among all of Michael Bay's movies, I'd say this one is the most story-driven. …But that's not saying much! It still prioritises action and visceral thrills over the actual plot, and the plot itself gets increasingly predictable anyway.
The idea of containing a civilisation in an enclosed facility and feeding them a false past is nothing really new. Some aspects of this movie's take on that idea were interesting, especially the reason behind it all, but on the whole it just didn't win me over.
Like I said before, the movie clearly cares more about action than the plot, and the action itself is always that over-edited, disorientating Michael Bay action that I hate.
I also hated how, like several other Michael Bay movies, many lines are unnecessarily shouted.
Not to mention, the two leads' attempts to interact with the real world are just painful to watch.
But the movie really lost me quite early on, when our hero gets probes implanted in his eye, which I got the impression would record whatever he saw. And nothing ever comes of them!
To sum up, out of all Michael Bay's movies, this one is probably the least bad. It has a more defined premise than most of his other movies, but it still finds a way to be boring as hell.

My rating: 30%


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"Bad Boys II" (2003)

Posted : 5 years ago on 17 July 2013 06:40 (A review of Bad Boys II (2003))

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

Dear God, this movie sucks! The first Bad Boys had me tearing at my hair every five minutes, but this one fails in an entirely different way.
The plot is that Mike and Marcus have joined the PD's drugs department since movie one, and are investigating an ecstasy shipment.
I've made it abundantly clear that I can't stand Michael Bay's hyper, jumbled direction and editing. Well, here, it's worse than ever before! The action scenes couldn't possibly be less exciting, because half the time you can't even tell where people are in proximity to each other. The lead-in to several of those sequences certainly doesn't help! It's all down to poorly established dialogue that I don't understand or care about.
All the characters returning from the first movie are just as annoying as before. Right from Will Smith and Martin Lawrence's first appearance, I knew I was going to detest them all over again.
The humour is still painfully unfunny. In particular, every joke in both these movies that focuses on corpses is just straight-up tasteless.
There are a couple of good ideas here and there, like the boat on the road, but it just made me wish they were in a better movie.
In conclusion, while it's not as annoying as the first Bad Boys, it is the most insufferably boring Michael Bay movie up until Transformers 2. This movie is two-and-a-half hours long, and believe me, I felt every minute of it!

My rating: turkey


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"The Rock" (1996)

Posted : 5 years ago on 12 July 2013 06:58 (A review of The Rock (1996))

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

Like Bad Boys, this is one Michael Bay movie that sounded like it might be somewhat tolerable.
The plot is that a rogue general is holding tourists on Alcatraz for ransom, so a team is sent in to stop him, led by a chemical weapons expert and the only man ever to have escaped the Rock.
First of all, the performances are all just as wooden as any other Michael Bay movie. Right from the first line, where Ed Harris says, "I miss you," at his wife's grave with no conviction whatsoever, I could tell what I was in for.
But my main issue with this movie is just the fact that it's boring. The action scenes are almost relentless – and I probably wouldn't mind that if it were good action, but it's not. It's that incomprehensible Michael Bay action. There isn't a single camera angle that works, and the editing is just a random mess. In particular, the scene with the derailed tram could have been awesome, but it's ruined by an overreliance on shaky cam.
But, to be fair, this movie did have potential. The second half is actually pretty well paced and has enough momentum that, in the hands of a good director, it probably could have been enjoyable. Michael Bay really seems to have a talent for ruining anything he touches!
In conclusion, while I didn't hate it, this was just as underwhelming as I probably should have expected.

My rating: 25%


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"Oz the Great and Powerful" (2013)

Posted : 5 years ago on 4 July 2013 07:14 (A review of Oz the Great and Powerful)

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

I guess you could call this a prequel to the classic Wizard of Oz because, although it says it's based on the whole book series, it makes many attempts to keep continuity with that movie.
The plot is that a carnival magician nicknamed Oz is whisked away to the Land of Oz in a tornado (what else?), and learns that a prophecy foretold he'd save the land from all evil.
I obviously wasn't expecting this to be as good as The Wizard of Oz, but maybe it'd still be fun. Well, parts of it were, but the overall tone of the movie was a bit of a letdown. For the most part, it just felt like it was being aimed exclusively at young children, especially in how a lot of the dialogue is either overly simplistic or states the obvious.
On top of that, the acting is pretty wooden, and the CGI just looks too artificial to make Oz seem real.
But like I said before, I did really like parts of it. The climactic battle had some very clever moments that I won't dare spoil. I'm glad they didn't go for the clichéd "liar revealed" scene. But for me, the main highlight was the little china girl: she was simply adorable, and her introductory scene was actually genuinely heartbreaking.
Overall, the dialogue and visuals were constantly disheartening, but the good parts were still good enough that I can't quite say I disliked it.

My rating: 45%


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"Movie 43" (2013)

Posted : 5 years ago on 4 July 2013 07:12 (A review of Movie 43)

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

Movie 43 was probably the most infamous movie at the start of the year. Many people billed it as so repulsive that they wished they could unsee it. And to tell you the truth, with all that bad press… I'm surprised I wasn't more disgusted.
I mean, don't get me wrong: it was still sickening! It's basically an anthology of aggressively gross-out short films. It's a movie that mistakes simply being tasteless for being funny. But I guess the reason it didn't completely appal me (besides all the negative hype perhaps lessening the effect) was that I was actually kind of fascinated by it. I was like, "How did they come up with this shit?!"
I don't have time to describe all the sketches, but I will say this. The Catch, The Proposition and Beezel were the three worst: I could barely look at the screen during those ones. Homeschooled and Middleschool Date were just uncomfortable. During Happy Birthday, I did get a laugh out of the insults the leprechaun threw, but that's it.
One thing I have to say: the overarching interlude binding the shorts together was completely different from what I'd heard. Instead of a Hollywood producer pitching movie ideas, the version I saw had teen brothers finding the films online. I guess the difference is between the British and American versions of the film.
Whichever version you see, if you watch it from beginning to end, you'll just ask yourself, "What the fuck am I watching?!"

My rating: 20%


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"Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters" (2013)

Posted : 5 years ago on 4 July 2013 07:00 (A review of Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters)

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

In this reimagining of the classic fairytale, Hansel and Gretel have grown up to be witch bounty hunters. Now a massive witch ceremony is approaching, and they have to stop it.
I had somewhat low expectations for this movie: I was just expecting it to be violent trash. What I wasn't prepared for, though, was how pathetically predictable the story was. Literally every single turn the story took was no surprise at all. I don't usually complain about formulaic stories, so long as the movie is doing something to entertain me, but this one just didn't. If the movie had been as gleefully violent as I'd been expecting, that might actually have helped. The acting isn't nearly good enough to compensate, either.
The gore itself is really underwhelming. For example, early on, there's a moment where a guy gets all his limbs ripped off, and it's so obviously CG that it's really distracting.
But I think the worst aspect of the movie by far is the sheriff played by Peter Stormare. I've complained before about one-dimensional villains being a waste of screen time, but this guy takes it to a whole new level! He just doesn't listen to reason at all! He's so clearly out of his mind that I don't see how anyone would ever follow him!
Overall, I sat there indifferent to almost the whole movie. I wasn't entertained, but I wasn't mad at it either.

My rating: 35%


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"Man of Steel" (2013)

Posted : 5 years ago on 3 July 2013 08:55 (A review of Man of Steel)

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

Okay, I know I'm late to the game on this one, but I went to see Man of Steel yesterday. And I… didn't like it.
First of all, it fails in the same ways as many other modern bad blockbusters. The acting across the board is astonishingly wooden, and it's shot entirely in shaky cam, making it impossible to tell what's happening at times.
On top of that, the characters aren't given any humanity at all. Any attempts at character development are quickly glanced over to move on to another loud, abrasive action sequence. It's completely shallow. I think Mark Kermode said it best: the movie gets half the title right, but it clearly doesn't care at all about the man, only the steel.
And, as other people have pointed out, it does not properly represent the character. I'm not a huge fan myself, but I still understand his virtues and ideals. This movie does bring them up, but completely betrays them. I could rant on about this for hours, but I'll just let this sum it up: in the massive final battles in Smallville and Metropolis, Superman isn't making any effort whatsoever to prevent all the destruction! It seems all the movie cares about is the destruction.
I hate to say this, but honest to God, this is like if Michael Bay did Superman!
Overall, because of the unconvincing effects, universally wooden acting and complete lack of substance, I was bored stiff throughout.

My rating: 30%


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