Attack The Block (2011)


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Attack the Block is the story of 15-year old Moses, from street thug to savior of the planet, or at least savior of South London.  After mugging a neighborhood nurse, Moses and his crew are attacked by an alien that crash lands next to them.  After slaughtering the first alien, more start landing in search of the first one.  At first, it looked like Attack the Block would just end up another cult classic and fall into the realm of watchable B-movies, but the story never sank to the typical low levels.

The characters were meaningful and weren’t just a bunch of foul-mouthed teenagers with witty one-liners.  They were troubled but each boy had his own “thing” that he brought to the crew.  I also really appreciated the use of the katana in Attack the Block.  Kids might not have guns, but they can have swords, which ultimately proves to be much more effective in an alien invasion.  Even the really young kids, Props and Mayhem, come up with a creative way to slay bear-wolf aliens.

The story itself was simple enough, yet it was still fun to watch.  Some scenes would probably be too gory for faint of heart, but there weren’t many of those.  It was mostly just watching kids on bicycles trying to fight aliens with katanas, baseball bats, and a lot of fireworks; and also watching the one trying to hit on the nurse they robbed in the beginning, but later discovered was their neighbor.  The South London accent was a challenge to understand at certain points, but that shouldn’t stop anyone from setting aside 90 minutes to watch this exciting alien war.  I feel like Attack the Block is what would’ve happened if E.T. was evil instead of good.

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The Three Musketeers (2011)

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Neverland (2011)

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It was no surprise that Neverland was a Peter Pan story.  It was a big surprise that the movie was so long and included credits in the middle, then I found out it was really a two-part miniseries.  I like their take on the origin and existence of this fantasy world, and the fact that Charles Dance had a part in it.  Neverland was a spectacle of beautiful scenes and magical worlds that reminded me of the scenery from The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe movie–the snow, the mountains, the plains, everything.

The story was well-imagined, but slow pacing, poor acting, and poor effects made Neverland a sub-par movie for me.  Perhaps it is because I can’t stand poor wire usage in flying scenes, since they are much more practiced with their wire-fu movies.  But again, more than anything, slow pacing and long, dragged out scenes made the movie difficult to endure.  There were a number of moments when I wanted to stop watching.

Even when considered as a two part miniseries, the story was still long and slow.  The producers really should have written out more of the story and made this into a limited one season series.  I also miss the quality of having a series that is actually limited to one or two seasons, instead of dragging out until the title is no longer profitable.  Neverland would’ve made an ideal one season series.  And, seeing the ending, I guess such a series is still a possibility.  But, it would still need to be cut into shorter intervals for it to be bearable.

Rio (2011)

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The Iron Giant (1999)

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I remember hearing of this movie long ago, but finally someone forced me to watch it, strongly suggesting that I would enjoy it.  On this momentous day, I found a friend (in the movie) who also aspires like me to be just like Superman.  Who doesn’t want to be a hero?  I certainly do, although I’m not from Krypton nor am I made of iron with built-in weapons of mass destruction.

The Iron Giant is one of those friends that every dorky child, like myself and Hogarth, dreams of having.  Even if I could never be awesome and amazing, I might have a best friend who is all those things and more.  It’s not really that different from most people wanting to be like E from Entourage with Vinny Chase as the best friend, except that I guess most older people aspire to have famous millionaires as a best friend instead of a superhero.  The happy aspect of this movie was of course the blossoming friendship between a boy and his iron friend; the dark aspect though was the fears and insecurities of mankind desiring to own, control, or subdue all things that he does not comprehend.

I am always sad to see fellow humans act out in such rash ways without even an attempt to reach out in understanding.  I guess that’s why in movies we often hear them say “shoot first, ask questions later.”  Unfortunately that doesn’t work out so well when you are shooting at a killing machine which has been tamed.  Luckily, the giant has a better heart (mind?) than us, and becomes a true Superman by saving all the people of that little town in Maine from nuclear destruction.

But, poor Hogarth lost his only friend.  However, maybe the giant will be back someday?  Iron Giant 2?

Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut (2006)

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Only after I began watching today did I realize, that I had only ever seen the theatrical version of Superman II and never this newly re-released version, despite having heard so much about it.  After watching the opening scene, and seeing that I was looking at something relatively new, I became very excited.  After all, my childhood hero was Superman, and I do own the entire DVD collection of the four movies.  Unfortunately, I had purchased it before the Richard Donner Cut was officially released.

I mostly judge this movie in comparison to the original theatrical release, which despite hardcore fans’ criticisms, holds a special place in my heart.  It is also because the original release holds a special place in my heart that I cannot rate this edition above the original.  However, I can see the complete difference in the entire tone of the movie from beginning to end.  It indeed does link much more closely with the first Superman movie.  It also features much less of the original “campy” humor lines that were in the Lester directed version of the film.

I am neither a proponent nor an opponent to these changes; I only see them two very different ways of telling the same story.  Sadly, the original version featured some pretty poorly integrated scenes  in addition to scenes containing a drunk Margot Kidder.  But the new one had its own share of drawbacks, mostly likely due to the fact that they only used original shots and that it was re-made only through editing processes.  This means there were no new scenes shot and some of Lester’s scenes had to be used align parts of the plotline.  Poor editing also caused subtle inconsistencies in the video and audio quality when switching between camera angles and scenes.

Overall, I’d still say this version is more suitable for a more faithful Superman fan, and that the theatrical version by Richard Lester is much better for a broad audience which is looking for more of a fun film featuring Superman.  The Richard Donner Cut does indeed seem much more dark.  And because no additional filming was possible, some of the scenes and transitions still seem slightly disjointed.  Also, the musical score is not as well matched in this version since they were not able to re-hire John Williams for it, and merely had to use, again, what they already had available in their stock.

Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

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I didn’t really know what to expect from this movie.  Marvel has produced a vast array of movies in recent years which vary greatly in quality.  There are my favorites which include Spider-Man 2 and Iron Man; and then there are the ones that no one wishes to be reminded of such as Hulk, Daredevil, and Elektra.  On top of that, I was not impressed at all with Thor earlier this year.  In the end, this falls somewhere around the middle of the Marvel Studios spectrum.

Perhaps I was more unhappy with Thor than I thought, because in comparison, I really enjoyed this movie a lot more.  I might just be exceedingly satisfied with their reduction in “campy” humor lines, and they timed the witty lines a bit better than in some of the recent Marvel movies.  But in terms of comedic value, it still doesn’t compare to Robert Downey Jr. in Iron Man, the first installment more so than the second.

I also liked it because I can never resist loving a character like Steve Rogers, as Dr. Erskine says, “a good man.”  However, I can’t believe poor Steve Rogers doesn’t know what fondue is…  I guess it wasn’t common knowledge around 1942?  He is still brave though, and they display this well with the least graceful dive on to a grenade that I’ve ever seen.  But, “he’s still skinny.”  The movie in general reminded me of a combination of the recent G.I. Joe movie combined with elements of Rambo: First Blood Part II.

It’s always interesting to see how they adapt the characters original comic book storylines to the big screen.  I thought the Captain America adaptation was very acceptable, but that may also be because I don’t much care for comic book characters who have deep ties with actual historical events, like World War II.  I guess even if the producers ever think they’re going the wrong direction with the movie storyline, they just scrap the old cinematic storyline, reboot, and start over again.

Entertaining, but not that entertaining; dramatic, but not that dramatic.  As usual, the comic book has such a long story and the filmmakers must try to compress so much of it into a mere 2 hours, causing many events and milestones to be downplayed or altogether lost in translation.  Still an enjoyable movie, partly because the theater was so nice and cool compared to the 105 degree weather outside, partly because the movie was actually enjoyable.  If nothing else, The Avengers preview at the end of the credits was exciting to watch.  I’m already looking forward to next summer, with Amazing Spider-Man and Avengers both on the horizon, it should be good.