Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Whisper of the Heart (Yoshifumi Kondô, 1995) Review

I've been watching way too many Studio Ghibli films recently so I thought I might as well share some that I watched. This isn't 'Ghibli month' or anything but just expect a few Ghibli films in the coming weeks. I decided to start off with Whisper of the Heart becuase I wanted to review The Cat Returns...then realised that it's technically a sequel and I should really review the first one first. So...this is it (and for these Ghibli films, I watched the dubbed ones so that's the cast I'm writing down).

Shizuku (Brittany Snow) is a young student with a love of books but starts noticing that all the books that she rents from the library all have the same name in then: Seiji Amasawa. She begins to wonder what the connection is but meets a rather astute boy (David Gallagher) who shows Shizuku an old antique show that his grandfather (Harold Gould) runs. The boy tells Shizuku about his dreams and aspirations which gets Shizuku thinking about her own future and what she hopes to achieve.

One glance at it and you probably think that it's just a stupid high school teen film. It is not. It's far deeper than that as it delves into the idea of aspiration and what people do with their lives. It's kind of inspiring in a way. You care about the characters and their backstories because of how the actors potray them and also how the writing and animation acompanies this and brings them to life. They actually seem like real people...but animated (missing the point? Probably).

It's not ALL good though. There are a few flaws but the biggest is the pacing. It's starts off a bit slow but 3/4 of the way through it suddenly speeds up! The ending is really sudden and doesn't really give you time to say "what, er, what just happened?". It's a good ending but that's only becasue I've watched it more than once. First time through, it's a bit fast. It sort of means it's out of control at times but I guess in the long run, it comes together rather well.

Whisper of the Heart isn't exactly Ghibli's best but it is nowhere near the worst (they've done some...okay films). Shizuku is a belivable protagonist and it does a good job of being Ghibli's most realistic film. The animation is still good today and it features one awesome rendition of 'Country Road'. It's often an overlooked Ghibli film and I want this to stop. Go and buy it now.

A deep, realistic Ghibli film that, while it has some pacing troubles, is an inspired and inspiring film (yes, both).

Friday, February 22, 2013

Man on the Moon (Milos Forman, 1999) Review

It's time for a bio-pic! I can't remember the last time I reviewed a bio-pic (you know, those films that basically sum up the life of someone). Hell, I'm not sure if I've even reviewed one. So why am I reviewing it. Because I saw it a couple of days ago...that's all, no other reason. For those wondering, this is based on the life of Andy Kaufman (look him up)

Man on the Moon tells the story of comic actor/comedian Andy Kaufman (Jim Carrey). The film shows most of Kaufman's life dictating such events as Kaufman's agent, George Shapiro (Danny DeVito), getting Kaufman one of his most famous roles in the TV show Taxi and his controversial rivalry with wrestler Jerry Lawler (as himself) and even his love life.

If I were to ask you what film makes you question reality, what would you say? Inception? The Truman Show? How about Man on the Moon. If you are familiar with Andy Kaufman, you may be aware that he was impossible to take seriously. You had no idea whether what he was doing as really happening or just an act. I'm not really sure if this is a good thing or not. Yes, it's clever but man is it frustrating. I suppose that means the writing is good, so I'll give the film that....that and the cast and acting is pretty good.

Quite a lot of films have loads of outstanding things in it. Take something like The Dark Knight. The cinematrography, performances, music etc were great. Man on the Moon only excels at one thing: Jim Carrey. Carrey does an excellent job portraying Andy Kaufman. He does a very god job of the awkwardness of Kaufman but I don't feel like it's enough to hold up the whole film.

Man on the Moon is an alright film. I did enjoy it and I appreciate the good writing and cast but the rest is a average. Andy Kaufman is an interesting man and I appreciate what this film does in order to convey his life, I probably won't see it again. Sure, it's not a bad film, it's not even an average film, but the only thing that excels is Jim Carrey's performance. I'm glad I saw it but I probably won't again.

Jim Carrey holds the whole film up but, other than him, there isn't much else here. Made me question reality though...maybe I'm looking at it too deep.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Dawn of the Dead (George A. Romero, 1978) Review

Save zombie films for Halloween? Nah, I'd rather just talk about them when I feel like it...such as now. I have been a fan of the Dead Rising video games for quite a while now and was a bit puzzled by the message on the front that seems to distance Dead Rising from this film. Well, I finally got round to seeing it and thought I'd deliver you this So, was it worth it? Let's find out.

During an on-going zombie apocalypse. four survivors, Stephen (David Emge), Roger (Scott H. Reiniger), Fran (Gaylen Ross) and Peter (Ken Foree), escape from the un-dead via helicopter. Running low on fuel, the group sees an abandoned mall that they can use as a base. Upon finding a way into the mall, Roger and Peter go out into the mall in search of supplies in order to survive and face off against the zombies and anyone else that dares enter their base.

With a zombie film, is was expecting some horrible gory stuff and just horror. This is not. I mentioned in my last review that ParaNorman lacked the horror aspect and focused more on the humour. Arguably, Dawn of the Dead does the same thing (although there are some gory and shocking moments) as it is pretty damn funny. The very idea of some people having a mall all to themselves is great and I'm glad that it focuses on this idea. It leads to some great moments and I can see the comparison to Dead Rising.

The characters go through some excellent development and it's hard to believe that the main actors haven't actually done that much else. They do a good job, especially Reiniger and Foree. The only problem I can really find is that there were some moments that I think were very stupid or just a bit slow. It seems zombie films have a habit of being a bit slow at times. The good outweighs the bad, however, so I guess just sit through the first fifteen minutes and you're good.

Dawn of the Dead is certainly one of the better zombie films I've seen. It's not THAT violent (well...until the last act) and the idea behind the mall setting leads to some great moments. Is it the best zombie film? Nah but it's up there. The great acting, setting, humour and some iconic moments certainly brings this film together as one of the greats within the genre.

Filled with some great acting, humour, an excellent concept which all comes together as a great zombie film.

No, I'm not reviewing the remake next. Shut up.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

ParaNorman (Chris Butler and Sam Fell, 2012) Review

You know, considering that the Oscars are commencing this Sunday, I thought it would be a good idea to see the competition for best animated film. Frankenweenie isn't on DVD yet so I decided to take a look at the other one I haven't reviewed: ParaNorman. Considering it's from the same makers as Coraline, I had high hopes for this film. Does it live up or is it a disappointment? Let's find out.

Norman (Kodi Smit-McPhee) is a strange boy who has the ability to see and talk to ghosts. He shares this gift with another man named Mr. Prenderghast (John Goodman) who tells Norman that once a year, it is his Prenderghast's duty to read a book to a witch's burial sight to stop her curse for another year. When Mr. Prenderghast suddenly dies, Norman is left to read to the book. However, local bully Alvin (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) causes Norman to mess up and the curse is unleashed. Now Norman must team up with his friend Neil (Tucker Albrizzi), his sister Courtney, Alvin and Neil's brother Mitch (Casey Affleck) to fight off the un-dead.

First things first, this is a VERY slow film. I don#t really see how it could be advertised for kids as their attention span probably couldn't handle it. Half of the film could probably be done in about half an hour in a normal film. It tried to stretch things out. This is good and bad. It's good because it helps give characters time to develop and also allows things to go in depth however this also means that some scenes drag out for way too long. Another bad thing is that there's too much focus on comedy. Coraline was good because it was generally terrifying. not. Does this destroy this film? Not really, it's just a little disappointing.

It's not all bad. The stop motion has definitely improved from Coraline and even looks CGI at times. I also like how it has a unique character style. It looks very nice and is well animated. Another thing is, while it's by no means original, the plot is a nice refreshing change to other zombie films (without giving too much away, it isn't strictly a zombie film...which is awesome). The voice work is also pretty good and has some pretty likeable characters.

All in all, ParaNorman was a disappointment. I wish it hits the heights that Coraline hit, especially in the horror department. Sure, it's not bad but it certainlly isn't the best animated film of the year. Do I think it deserves the Oscar nomination? Eh..not..really? There is better out there (look at my Top 10 Films of 2012) but I'm glad that I saw it once but I probably won't see it again.

A disappointment but still enjoyable. It has some good things but the slow narrative and lack of horror makes me want to watch Coraline instead.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Mortal Kombat (Paul W.S. Anderson, 1995) Review

With HMV going down the crapper, I took it upon myself to search around the bargin bin to see what I could find. I found this film for less that £3. Considering that I heard this was one of the better video game adaptations, I thought I may as well considering the other crap that games like Mario and Street Fighter went through as a result of Hollywood's evil grasp. Well, is it really a better adaptation or is this just another crapfest? Let's find out.

Shang Tsung (Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa) steals the soul of the brother of Liu Kang (Robin Shou). Kang wants revenge and sees a window of opportunity when Tsung announces a tournament called Mortal Kombat. He gains a mentor known as Lord Raiden (Christopher Lambert) and enters the tournament along with actor Johnny Cage (Linden Ashby) and a cop named Sonya Blade (Bridgette Wilson-Sampras) who have their own reasons to compete. With the warriors gathered, Shang Tsung begins Mortal Kombat.

I knew I was doomed when I saw that the age rating was 15. This is Mortal Kombat we're talking about, one of the most violent games of all time. So let's NOT make it gory. Good move. I guess that main reason they didn't do this was because the CGI looks terrible. I know it's 1995 but it looks absolutely terrible. I will admit that Goro looks fantastic (although I think he's animatronic so I guess that's justified) but the rest looks terrible. Yes, the costumes are great (just look at Sub-Zero up there) but when you take out the main essence of Mortal Kombat, you're just left with a generic martial arts film.

Do I have anything good to say? Yes. I though that, while the casting wasn't 100% perfect, the actors were pretty good and I thoroughly enjoyed this version of Johnny Cage. Yes it's cheesy but it's certainly entertaining...even if I got a bit bored in the middle. Despite the lack of gore, it's still pretty accurate to an extent.

Mortal Kombat has some good stuff but an equal amount of bad stuff which places it perfectly in the middle. I did enjoy it to an extent but will probably be nothing more than a guilty pleasure. Yes, it is miles better than other game adaptations but I'm not sure if that's saying a lot...probably not. Do I recommend it? Only to gaming fans looking for a decent video game adaptation. I haven't seen the sequel so I won't even bother with it.

An average adaptation of the video game. Sure it completely misses the point of the game but there is some good stuff here.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Seven Psychopaths (Martin McDonagh, 2012) Review

It seems that every year there is a film that it seems I'm the only one who saw it. 2010 had The A-Team, 2011 had Limitless and now 2012 has Seven Psychopaths. The biggest surprise initially was that this is actually a British film...yeah, this film that has a (primarily) all American cast and is set in America with American themes...made by Film4. Pretty damn surprising. Well, let's take a look at this underdog of a film.

Struggling script-writer Marty (Colin Farrell) is trying to write a narrative about seven psychopaths. His best friend Billy (Sam Rockwell) goes out of his way in order to gather together psychopaths to give Marty inspiration for his screenplay. Billy works with a pacifist named Hans (Christopher Walken) in a scam which involves kidnapping dogs and giving them back for rewards. Things take a turn for the worst when he steal a Shih Tzu named Bonny who just happens to be owned by a mobster named Charlie (Woody Harrelson) who will do whatever it takes to get his dog back. Now Marty is caught up in a war between Billy and Charlie.

The highest honour I can five this film is that this has some excellent writing. The great writing is also helped by some excellent acting specifically from Farrell and Rockwell. It has some of the most sincere talking in a recent film. There are also some fantastic moments (one near the beginning is especially good) and easily one of the funniest scenes of 2012 (thank you Christopher Walken). The film is excellent at having mood whip-lashing since one scene with have you laughing while the next will be a scene that's borderline tear jerking.

It's not exactly an innovative film. Sure the writing is very well done but there isn't much here that's a game changer. Is it a good film? Yeah but it's not exactly going to sway anyone over. It will probably fade into obscurity but it will leave a small impact mostly down to the great characters and genius writing. The plot may sound a bit ridiculous but it comes together nicely.

While Seven Psychopaths isn't exactly going to rock the movie world, I imagine it's going to hit cult status once it's released on DVD. Some excellent writing and a top notch cast helps make one of the underdogs of the year. I'm glad I saw it and implore that you see it at least once when it comes to DVD. It's not exactly Oscar bait but sometimes a film doesn't have to be, it just has to be engaging.

One of the best examples of an original film of 2012. The top notch writing, while helped by the actors, makes an enjoyable enough film.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Top 10 Films of 2012

Yup, it's finally time for this. I know it took me long enough (it's already 2 months into the year) but I wanted to get the films I wanted to see done. Sure there were some I missed like Lincoln and ParaNorman but...I imagine they won't be as good as these 10 films (yup, prejudice and bias at the same time). Well then, it's time to start my very first top ten list and my very first 'Best Films of the Year' list. Let's do this!

10. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
While it doesn't reach the greatness that the Lord of the Rings films reached, it is still a great film in its own right. Martin Freeman stands out with excellent talent on an amazing quest that recaptures the vast world of Lord of the Rings that enthralled us all those years ago. The series has definitely come a long way and I anticipate what lies ahead on this journey.  

9. The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists!
Aardman is back with a bang as they managed to win over the crowd with a brand new film. I thought that it would be good, but not great. I was very wrong. The key to this film is likeability due to how well the characters are developed with the help of a star studded cast and some amazing modellers. It's good to see Aardman back in the game to rival those other stop frame animated films. Also, you may want to watch this film several times. You'll probably notice some new films (yes, it's one of those films).

See original review here: The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists! (Peter Lord, 2012) Review

8. Wreck-It Ralph
Being a massive gamer, this was a must-see! I came for the video game references and cameos but I stayed for the heart-warming adventure and excellently crafted characters. Naturally, if you're any kind of video game fan you should have seen this already but in case you haven't, it's the best video game film of all time. Do yourself a favour and watch this even if you're not a game fan.

See original review here: Wreck-It Ralph (Rich Moore, 2012) Review

7. Life of Pi
And here we have another film up for best film at the Oscars. Most people tell me that they all wanted to see this film because of the epic action of epicness and the bizzare island seen in the trailer. I didn't. I wanted to see it because I wanted to see if it could pull of the isolated feel of being trapped on a boat with a tiger. I get the feeling that this is one of those films that will probably sweep the Oscars (well, this or Lincoln).

See original review here: Life of Pi (Ang Lee, 2012) Review.

6. Argo
This was the film that one the Academy Award for Best Picture and I can certainly see why. The writing is great with some excellent and memorable acting from the likes of Alan Arkin and Bryan Cranston. The only weak links are Ben Affleck's rather bland performance and making America out to be the best thing ever (really?). Certianlly deserving of the award.

See original review here: Argo (Ben Affleck, 2012) Review

5. Looper
From what I can tell, not alot of people saw this film. I'm not really sure why considering that it stars two very popular actors and is about time travel. Maybe people thought they would get confused. Well, I didn't so that must mean they did something right. Well trust me, they did alot right. The only other film I've seen that deals with time paradoxes is Back To The Future Part II which Looper seems to get its inspiration from. It's a clever film that you should pick up now that it's on DVD.

See original review here: Looper (Rian Johnson, 2012) Review

4. Les Miserables
I think it's a good sign when I can say that Les Miserables was the first film I ever cried at...well, I say cry, it was more a single dramatic tear going down my face (I'm a dramatic person). Why? Because of the scale and beauty of this film. The songs are fantasticly performed especially considering that the actors sang them live on camera and there is some amazing strokes of genius involving the casting. You've probably already seen this but if you haven't, then you're missing out.

See original review here: Les Miserables (Tom Hooper, 2012) Review

3. Avengers Assemble
Wow, this was the very first film that I reviewed (honestly, that review is a bit crap now but I still stand by my score). Most big action films have original characters that we've only just met but what Avengers Assemble does differently is establish these characters in previous films and therefore makes the coming together of these iconic characters even better. Quite a lot of people who don't even like comic book films have found something they like in this film so clearly Joss Whedon has done something right.

See original review here: Avengers Assemble (Joss Whedon, 2012) Review

2. The Dark Knight Rises
Well, this was an obvious choice. I'm almost certain that this is on everyone's top films of 2012 list and for good reason. The conclusion to the epic Dark Knight Trilogy was everything I wanted from the finale. With one of the best endings and best villain of the year under it's belt, The Dark Knight Rises was everything that the huge hype lead to. Some people thought it didn't quite hit the height of The Dark Knight and, while I can see why, I think the idea that it's the finale really escalates the film. But wait...there is one more film to look at.

See original review here: The Dark Knight Rises (Christopher Nolan, 2012) Review 

1. Skyfall
Talk about a much improved sequel. After the disappointing bland Quantum of Solace, it would seem that many people weren't ready for a contemporary James Bond. After fighting through development hell, we were given Skyfall, the 23rd film in the franchise. Who would have guessed that this would end up being a candidate for the best Bond film! Daniel Craig pulls all the punches as he solidifies his role as Bond against Javiar Bardem's amazing villain Raoul Silva. All I need to do to convince myself this was good is just listen to the theme tune alone. It's good to have you back, 007.

See original review here: Skyfall (Sam Mendes, 2012) Review

So what didn't make the cut?

The Amazing Spider-Man (Marc Webb, 2012)
Men In Black III (Barry Sonnenfield, 2012)
Seven Psychopaths (Martin McDonagh, 2012) 
The Hunt (Thomas Vinterberg, 2012)
The Hunger Games (Gary Ross, 2012)
Ted (Seth MacFarlane, 2012)
Brave (Mark Andrews, Brenda Chapman and Steve Purcell, 2012)
The Woman In Black (James Watkins, 2012)
ParaNorman (Chris Butler and Sam Fell, 2012)
Ice Age: Continental Drift (Steve Martino and Mike Thurmeier, 2012)
Prometheus (Ridley Scott, 2012)
The Lorax (Chris Renaud and Kyle Balda, 2012)
Adventures In Zambezia (Wayne Thornley, 2012)

And for the record, this quote was from my review of Prometheus : "Trust me, Prometheus will be nominated for something...I just don't know what!" CALLED IT!

So with that out of the way, there probably won't be a review tomorrow...kind of just did this list so...yeah...

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Wreck-It Ralph (Rich Moore, 2012) Review

It's finally out! My God, it's finally out! For those who didn't know, Wreck-It Ralph was released in America waaaay back in November while here, it came out yesterday. No reason for it, Disney just wanted to annoy EVERYONE (well, everyone that wanted to see it). I'm so glad I can finally review this film but was the film really worth the wait or is it just a massive sell-out from Disney? Well, let's find out.

In a video game called Fix-it Felix Jr, Ralph (John C. Reilly) is the villain of the game who is hated by the people in the game. Turns out, Ralph is a nice guy who ends up telling is villains anonymous group (consisting of characters like Bowser, Dr. Eggman, M Bison and Clyde the ghost from Pac-Man). Having made up his mind, Ralph decides to leave his game and 'game-jump' across the arcade to find a game where he can be the hero. Fix-it Felix (Jack McBrayer) goes on his own quest to find Ralph and bring him back to his game.

Let's be honest, you only saw this film because of the game references and cameos (just look at that image above) and, being a massive gaming geek, I was suckered in too. I'm glad I was. I came for the references and stayed for the heart-warming adventure this film takes you on. The characters are surprisingly well made (If you can make Sarah Silverman likeable, you've done something right) that are subtle homages to exsiting game characters (Ralph as Donkey Kong, Felix as Mario and the such) and has a surprisingly well written story. Sure it sounds like the same plot as Despicable Me and Megamind but it has it's own interpretation on it and even challenges the stock narrative. Innovative is the name of this film...well, Wreck-It Ralph is the name but...never mind.

Are there flaws? Well of course, every film has flaws (yes even ones I've given 10/10. That's based more on recommendation). The first and last thirds of the film are really good but the middle lacks in what the rest of the film has. It goes from video game humour to candy based puns. Not that thrilling and is certainly something we've seen before (was there a video game based on Candyland?). Yes, I do wish there were more references but I think, for what he got, it was well worth the horrendous wait (to which I still see no reason for!).

Wreck-It Ralph is definitely one of Disney's better films that felt we with a heart-warmed feeling. The amount of emotion conveyed is staggering and even has some surprisingly dark stuff (did I mentioned Mortal Kombat characters are in this) for older movie-goers. While I wish it came out eariler, I'm sure glad that I finally got to see this film. It's a great film for gamers and non-gamers alike.

Technically, the best video game film ever. It's filled with heart-warming moments and some excellently crafted characters.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Batman: Under the Red Hood (Brandon Vietti, 2010) Review

So if Mask of the Phantasm was just a movie for the animated series, was this film just a spur of the moment? This wasn't really based on a specific Batman medium other than adapting the 'Death in the Family' comic so I guess it makes it special. I would gladly have liked this film to be in the cinemas because I think the animated Batman films need more love. Well then, let's get this show on the road...

After a recent run in with the Joker (John DiMaggio), the second Robin/Jason Todd (Jensen Ackles) is killed leaving Batman (Bruce Greenwood) in mourning over the loss of his sidekick. Back at Gotham, a new villain known as the Red Hood has taken control of the mobs in the city which puts him in strict competition with Black Mask (Wade Williams). Batman teams up with the first Robin, Nightwing (Neil Patrick-Harris), in order to find out who the Red Hood really is and how Joker and Ra's Al Ghul (Jason Issacs) are connected.

The main reason I wanted to see this on the big screen was because the animation is amazing. It has a great animation style  I know that Batman is really about colour but it looks very nice and compliments the smooth animation. The focus on action and loads of dark moments (and incredibly violent) makes this one of the most accurate Batman adaptations based on one of the best stories in the comics. It's also great to see Black Mask get a big role for once. He wasn't in any episodes of the show or films and his role in Arkham City is just... pitiful. I'm glad he was finally given some dignity.

John DiMaggio steals the show which I guess is to be expected if you play the Joker. I was sceptical after Mark Hamill retired from the role and I can safely say that I want DiMaggio to voice the Joker more in the future. Other casts members are pretty good like Neil Patrick Harris and Jensen Ackles but Jason Issacs' role as Ra's Al Ghul is pretty forgettable and I have to wonder why they didn't bother to get Kevin Conroy to play Batman. Ah well, it all comes together as a great film nonetheless.

Batman: Under the Red Hood is only a bit worse than Mask of the Phantasm but I was tempted to say they were both equal (just imagine this is 89% and the other is 90%). The plot is well written and leads to an excellent twist (if a bit predictable). I recommend this to anyone that considers themselves a Batman fan...also watch Mask of the Phantasm. They are both excellent films that rival the phenomenal Dark Knight Trilogy.

A well animated adaptation of a classic comic story. The new cast does a good job and is just as good as Mask of the Phantasm.

Yes! I didn't mention that Red Hood is basically DC's answer to Deadpool...oh wait, I just mentioned it...oops.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (Eric Radomski & Bruce W. Timm, 1993) Review

Heh, you thought I was done with Batman films. Well you've clearly never heard of the animated films. I think it's safe to say that Batman: The Animated Series is one of the best TV shows of all time so it only makes sense that a feature length movie was made. No, this wasn't a simple direct to video film, no no, this was released in the cinemas. That clearly must mean that this is an amazing film. Well, is it? Let's find out.

When a new villain known as the Phantasm (Stacey Keach Jr.) starts killing all the big mob bosses in Gotham, Batman (Kevin Conroy) is blamed. Things get worse for Bruce Wayne when his old girlfriend, Andrea Beaument (Dana Delany), returns to Gotham after leaving Bruce 10 years ago with her father. In fear of the Phantasm, the last mob boss, Salvatore Valestra (Abe Vigoda), hires the Joker (Mark Hammil) for protection. Now Batman must clear his name, stop the Phantasm and the Joker and fix his relationship with Andrea.

This film reinforces why I love the animated series so much! The voice acting is nothing short of fantastic with arguably the best Batman and Joker actors, Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill (yes, that is Luke Skywalker). Conroy has never had to do too much emotion as Batman but the complications in his life that he faces really bring out his talent as an actor. Naturally, Mark Hamill displays an excellent mix of insanity and just being hilarious. While there were a few moments that felt out of character, the cast is great and even the new actors bring in a pretty good performance.

I am so glad that we FINALLY get to see the origin of Batman in the animated universe. Because of showing his origins, this is a very emotion and dialogue driven film. Sure there's action but that's not the focus of the film. The animated series has always been about the psychological turmoils of the characters and how emotive the stories can be. The writing is excellent and leads to one hell of a twist...two twists actually.

Batman: Mask of the Phantasm is an underrated gem. This may be because it got little to no publicity when it was released theatrically but now that it's on DVD, you have no excuse to not watch this film. The film is filled with mixed emotions like humour, sadness, badassness and it's even pretty terrifying at times. If you grew up with the show, you have to watch this. It treated the audience more like adults than th elive action film at the time did! This review has inspired me to do a top ten...yeah I'm probably gonna do my top ten Batman episodes...because I can.

A underrated gem. An excellent voice cast topped off with great writing and a great look into the animated Batman world.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

The Hunger Games (Gary Ross, 2012) Review

Yup...STILL reviewing films from 2012. Now I actually missed the film in the cinema as it didn't really look that great. Honestly, I though it was just some fan fiction inspired think that fan girls get mad over like Twilight. I'm still not even sure if I'm right about that...well, i just watched it on DVD so I guess it's time to see if it really is better than I could have imagined...ok... obligatory out of context "Let's find out!" is my catchphrase after all...

In...some kind of future (doesn't really specify), the world is split up into 12 districts who, every year, have to nominate one boy and one girl in order to take part in The Hunger Games, which is basically a fight to the death with the other districts. Catniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) are picked to represent district 12 and are sent to a place called Capitol in order to compete in the Hunger Games. They meet their mentor, Haymitch (Woody Harrelson) and proceed into the arena.

Normally I tear apart a film that 'borrows' a plot from another film like Avatar did but the idea around The Hunger Games was only really used before with Battle Royale and, let's be honest, no-one remembers that film so I let The Hunger Games off the hook. Sure, there are a few moments where it felt more like The Truman Show at times but the idea of a fight to the death allows for some very suspenceful scenes and has you rooting for certain characters. My personal favourite tribute (As the contestants are called) is Thresh (Dayo Okeniyi) for one particular moment of awesome late in the film. There are some great twists and turns but, really, it's pretty predictable.

This is a very character driven film which, for me, is usually the kind of film mainly because it leaves a greater impression on you because you remember the great characters. The most memorable characters in my opinion are Haymitch (probably just because of Woody Harrelson!) and the two commentators Caesar Flickerman (Stanley Tucci) and Claudius Templesmith (Toby Jones) mainly because of a combination of star appeal and hamminess...beautiful. I must also mentioned that Cato's () little alliance are probably the most hateable characters of the year...maybe some of the most hateable ever but this honour goes specifically to Clove (Isabelle Fuhrman)...I've never wanted a character dead so much in a film before.

The Hunger Games was a very nice surprise and way better than I could have possibly expected. I look past the main characters like Katniss and Peeta and prefer the side characters like Haymitch and Thresh. The narrative, while not necessarily new, leads to some very satisfying and suspenseful moments. While it may not the best film of the year, it is certainly one of the most surprising.

A surprising film that, while not exactly original. was very suspenseful and had some satisfying moments.