Sunday, July 31, 2011
In the world of motion pictures, a good film based off a video game is harder to find than a cute girl in a comic shop. This argument is especially true when it comes to movies adapted from games belonging to the fighting genre. While one might be able to argue the merits of films adapted from first person adventure/shooter games like “Resident Evil,” and “Tomb Raider” (said merits being a hot lead actress in skimpy attire and not a whole lot else) there is little chance in any sane universe for one to find much in the way of lasting value for stinking, cinematic turds like “Street Fighter,” “Mortal Kombat: Annialation” and the dubious “Double Dragon” movie.
So what is it about these movies in particular that makes audience members feel as abused as the characters doing the fighting? The one dimensional characters? The cheesy effects? The costumes so outlandish as to suggest the combatants would look more at home in a budget conscious staging of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show?” In this writer’s final prognosis, it may come down to a fatal combination of all of these. .
When I first caught wind that they were making a movie based off the popular, long running “Tekken” fighting game series I was immediately intrigued. Along with Crash Bandicoot (love that little guy!) the Tekken games have always been particularly special to me since Tekken 2 was one of the first games I unwrapped the wonderful morning Santa brought me the Playstation that had dominated my list back in the Christmas of 96. Despite my excitement that some of my favorite Tekken characters (e.g. the enigmatic, Robinhood-esque Toshimitsu, the cunning, jaguar masked wrestling powerhouse, King, and the lightning fast, Bruce Lee inspired Marhall Law ) would finally be given the big screen treatment, I could not help but feel a nagging twinge of concern about the film suffering from the same pitfalls of its less than Stellar forbearers. The fact that the movie only saw a brief lifespan in Asian theaters and was never released in the States did not exactly inspire me with confidence either.
After finally getting my hands on a copy of the dvd I can see why the film was never given much in the way of legs to stand on. The production value is, big surprise, pretty shlockly, and rather than attempt to create something new and interesting the story hinges on the worn out cliché of an angry young man fighting for revenge, wining the hearts of the people, threatening the established order, yadda yadda yadda, seriously, the movie is like a straight rip-off of “Gladiator” now that I think about it. To it’s credit though, most the movie’s seven fight scenes are fairly brutal and intense, adding a much needed dimension of realism to the silly gymnastics showcased in other movies of the same genre. Though they served as little more than background, I suppose there was also a certain “geek factor” in seeing the characters from the video game fleshed out on screen that is, if one can overlook the annoying decision to randomly select fighers from all six games, minus King I might add, (jerks!) instead adhering to the roster of one or two of the series.
In summary I suppose if you are a fan of the games you should probably give Tekken a chance. It isn’t terrible, and the fight scenes are actually pretty decent. Unfortunately, with all its clichés and cardboard characterizations, they are not quite enough to save the show..
Sunday, July 24, 2011
In a summer movie season dominated by mythic hammer wielding gods, societal outcasts with uncanny abilities, and intergalactic lawmen with sparkly green finger bling, perhaps the most unabashedly patriotic of superheroes finally steps up to receive his cinematic due in “Captain America: The First Avenger.” Chalked with explosions, superheroics, and Nazis getting stomped under Cap’s shiny red boot heal, Captain America, while not quite as intense and thought provoking as it should have been given the hellish WWIi setting, is still a lot of fun and a solid entry into this summer’s superhero movie lineup.
At the heart of the movie is Steve Rogers, (Chris Evans) a shrimpy kid from Brooklyn who longs to be out on the front lines fighting against Nazi Germany but is met with rejection every time he tries to enlist due to his numerous physical ailments and an all around stick figure build. Steve’s persistence and earnest desire to help in the war effort catches the eye of Dr. Erskin, (Stanley Tucci) a German refugee and brilliant military scientist who has perfected a serum that enhances strength, stamina, and regenerative capabilities, literally transforming ordinary men into super soldiers. Impressed by the admirable qualities he sees in young Rogers through talking to him in person and observing his behavior in basic training, Erskin asks Steve to be the first American to undergo the controversial super soldier program.
As the square jawed, no-nonsense Cap, Chris Evans gave probably his best performance yet in a role that was succinctly different from the smirky wise guys he has gained recognition for playing especially well. I admit I had plenty of reservations when I heard of Evans casting, mostly due to the redundancy of his already having portrayed a Marvel superhero, Johnny Storm, aka. “The Human Torch,” in the now dried up “Fantastic Four” franchise. However, after seeing his range deftly handled in the character’s journey from literal nobody to American icon, I can definitely say that Evans was definitely the right choice to wield Cap’s shield.
Probably my favorite scene in the movie is the thrilling chase sequence that ensues after a mole for Hydra assassinates Erskin. Having barely survived the super soldier treatment and narrowly escaping being killed himself, the newly buff Rogers chases down the Hydra agent who flees the scene in a cab, barefoot, across several city blocks of 1940‘s Manhattan. Being the selfless, willful man that he is, Rogers is so bent and determined on catching the guy that he doesn’t even register the borderline superhuman feats he performs until he nabs the culprit and the scene draws to a close.
Just like in the comics, Cap’s mission pits him against the nefarious Red Skull, well played by Hugo Weaving. the leader of “Hydra, a splinter division of Nazis with more occult leanings who is eager to get out from under Hitler’s thumb and pursue his own megalomaniacal agenda. Ensuring his success is the cosmic cube, a shimmering sapphire ruminant of an age when gods walked the earth that is infused with powers of a catastrophic level.
There to assist Cap on his quest to stop Hydra and save the day is a Colonial Phillips (Tommy Lee Jones) a world weary veteran who enjoys some of the movies most genuinely funny lines, private James “Bucky“ Barnes (Dominic Cooper) a young soldier who is also Steve’s best friend from home, Howard Stark, (Sebastian Stan) a slick weapons contractor and eventual father of another certain iron clad marvel superhero who equips Cap with his decidedly un-spandexy red, white, and blue duds and state of the art vibranium shield, and Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) a tough military gal from across the pond who develops a soft spot for Steve and plays a pivotal role in his ascension to All-American hero.
Despite all its positive attributes, Captain America is not without a few drawbacks. The more fantastical elements of the film, (e.g. the cosmic cube) are fun and succeed in evoking a “Raiders of the Lost Arc” kind of feel but in the long run, detract from gritty, low tech approach I would have preferred to see in a Captain America origin story. I think it would have been interesting to watch Steve endure some of the horrors of WWII while struggling to keep his pure and virtuous character in tact.. I was disappointed that this was one aspect of the comic books that was almost entirely glossed over in favor of the cosmic cube subplot that I‘m sure works in to this big Avengers movie that Marvel studios will finally get out of their systems in 2012..Another aspect of the movie that kind of let me down was Red Skull. For a villain that has the potential to be truly terrifying I found Red Skull to be more or less your typical, run of the mill super villain with a bad complexion and a superiority complex. While I think Hugo Weaving is a phenomenal actor and probably did his best with the script, I didn’t quite feel the hatred and intensity that is so synonymous with the character.
Overall I would probably have to rank Captain America behind Thor and Green Lantern as being my third favorite superhero movie to come out this summer Though a bit too removed from reality at times, Captain America reinforces everything that is fun about superhero movie escapism and like its protagonist, will surely win you over with its quaint charm and never say die attitude. Oh Captain, my Captain!
Saturday, July 23, 2011
Hey everyone! So it looks like after months of having nothing to go on but leaked set footage and grainy cell phone images we finally have an official trailer for next summer’s “The Amazing Spiderman.” Watching the trailer, I was a little disappointed that they are re-visiting the origin again after the Raimi and Maguire franchise did a such a memorable job at telling that story in the 2002 film but am more than willing to give it a chance considering the rich new layers of intrigue this movie appears to be adding to Peter’s history as it relates to his long absent parents and his eventual transformation into the wall-crawling hero.
At the end of the trailer following a breathtaking point of view sequence in which Spidey deftly hurdles over a series of New York skyscrapers like Tarzan through the jungle, we even here a voiceover from Andrew Garfield stating “There are two kinds of secrets, the ones we keep, and the ones that are kept from us.” What does this mean I wonder? That the radioactive spider bite that granted him his arachnid abilities was not random? That some nefarious figure is orchestrating everything somewhere behind the scenes? Needless to say I am very exciting to see what fresh new angles will be added to the Spiderman mythos come July.
Speaking of Andrew Garfield, the guy looks to be a near perfect choice to portray the brainy misfit turned web-slinging superhero Peter Parker and unlike his diminutive predecessor, definitely looks more in line with the classic Stan Lee Steve Ditko renderings of Spiderman as a tall skinny dude.
I can’t wait to see more of this movie in the months to come. Hopefully this new film will succeed were the previous franchise went astray and bring some of the “Amazing” back into Spiderman.
Thursday, July 21, 2011
Hi everyone! So by now I hope by now you guys have taken the time to check out the official teaser trailer for “The Dark Knight Rises” that hit the web earlier this week. I don’t know about you but I’m sure glad it was not that long in becoming available to watch online since I was about ready to shell out the ten bucks it would have cost to see the new Harry Potter just to watch that flippin’ trailer!
Even though a good portion of it is narration over scenes from “Batman Begins” and “The Dark Knight,” the tidbits of actual footage shown from the new film, (Gordon confined to a hospital bed, Bruce Wayne doing pushups in a jail cell, an anonymous character scaling his way out of a dungeon-ish looking hole in the earth) is nothing less than striking and offers a truly tantalizing peek of what lies in store for us Batman fans in the summer of 2012.
Finally, who can deny the emotional gut punch of that last image of a staggering Batman, fists raised yet looking as though he could collapse at any moment, shrink away as Bane, an unstoppable freight train of a man, lumbers toward him like a monster. It is as though Bane is at a hundred percent and ready to dish out a world of hurt and Batman is just running on empty.
On top of being a fugitive and hunted by the police, per the ending of “The Dark Knight,” this makes me nervous about the extent Batman will have to endure in this final chapter, but if the the giant bat signal that shines out over the the crumbling skyscrapers of Gotham in the trailer is any indication, he will rise up in Gotham’s most desperate hour and be the hero they need.
Monday, July 11, 2011
Hi everyone! So the other day I saw “Tron: Legacy” (finally!) Watching this movie with my Dad, I have to say it struck me just how many similarities there are between this film and another Sci Fi fantasy film that opened last month, perhaps you have heard me talk about it before, “Green Lantern!?”
Lets look at the facts shall we? Each film finds its protagonist in an essentially good yet troubled young man whose issues stem from their father being taken from them at a young age. In Green Lantern, Hal Jordan witnesses his worst fear happen before his eyes when his father’s plane crash landed in a test flight gone horribly wrong. In Tron: Legacy, Sam’s father seemingly vanishes into thin air when in fact he has become a permanent prisoner in the Tron world after his efforts to grow the world result in his own creation turning against him. As a result of being left without a paternal figure to guide them, both Hal and Sam lead precarious lifestyles and instinctively run from greater responsibility. We see this play out in Green Lantern when Hal comes out the winner in a midair dogfight against two prototype drone jets though the ego stroking ultimately comes at the airfield’s expense when he is forced to eject from his plane after losing control, thereby jeopardizing a very important military contract. In Tron: Legacy, Sam commits corporate espionage on a company he technically owns when the men at the top try to enact a policy he does not agree with though he refuses to do little more than strike out from the shadows.
And of course where would we be without the scie fi. Both films see the main character transported to an extraordinary world were, confronted by a seemingly insurmountable challenge, they emerge with a renewed sense of responsibility and are humbled by the experience. In Green Lantern, Hal is given an emerald ring by a dying alien which harnesses his willpower and allows him to create solid objects out of green light. Joining the ranks of a cosmic peacekeeping force comprised of every imaginable alien life form Hal is awakened to a greater sense of purpose and rather than letting his fears get the better of him, fights for and defends his planet when almost everyone else has abandoned him. In Tron: Legacy, Sam is laser beamed into the Tron world and forced to compete in its deadly gladiatorial games were, interestingly enough, vehicles and weapons also appear to be fixtures of light, before he escapes and is reunited with his long absent father. Though initially careing for little more than his own survival, Sam eventually comes to appreciate and defend what his father allowed himself to remain a captive to protect.
This concludes my comparison of Green Lantern and Tron: Legacy. I hope this encourages you to check both of these awesome movies out and see which one you like best.