Review: The Legend of Tarzan

CVzfZmYUkAAk3Vm The last time the general public cared about Tarzan to any significant degree was back in 1999 when Disney released their version of the tale of a boy raised by apes. I still like that movie. it's fun and funny and has entertaining music and really great animation. So honestly it was a typical Disney animated film which you should go check out if you haven't already in the past. If you have then go watch it again. Refresh your memory and cherish those images and songs so that you can use them to blot out this film that should not have been made this century.

Summer came early this year. The huge blockbusters are hitting in the spring now. Currently we are in the exact middle of summer yet the films we are seeing feel like the dregs at the end of the season. Those films that the studio spent far too much money on yet turned out rather pathetic so they schedule it away from any competition. You might watch this movie and wonder why it was ever given the greenlit considering no one really gives a damn about the subject matter. I don't wonder. This, my friends, is what happens when the old white guys that own the movie studios push forward something they find interesting. Because they are old. Very very old.

This film opened with a ton of exposition told to you via text across the screen. If you're not Star Wars you have no business doing this. Write a better script where the exposition is told naturally. Also make the exposition at least interesting as we are given a history lesson on the Congo and the Belgian's claim to it and blah blah blah. This movie starts boring and pretty much stays there so bare with me as I try to stay awake through this review. Anyway, the year is 1890 and we're in the Congo.

After the lengthy exposition we see Leon Rom (Christoph Waltz) wondering through the Congo with a band of soldiers. I don't want to give away what happens but just know he's there seeking diamonds. He makes a deal with a local tribe and in particular Chief Mbonga (Djimon Hounsou) to get a bunch of dianmonds in exchange for Tarzan. It's at this point we are brought to London where an American convoy lead by George Washington Williams (Samuel L. Jackson) and some British folk are trying to convince John Clayton (Alexander Skarsgård) to return to the Congo for some fancy press nonsense. Honestly it didn't make a great deal of sense. The important information here is that John is Tarzan, this is about ten years after he left the jungle and is civilized to the point of pointing out his pinky when he sips his tea and Sam Jackson wants to get him into the Congo so he can break up a slave trade put together by the Belgian King and run by Leon Rom.

From here on out nothing is ever actually interesting. First we think we've skipped the origin story that everyone knows but nope. We get it all in flashbacks. Bit by bit throughout the film wherever it's related to the plot. There is nothing new here at all. Well except that he's naked instead of wearing a loincloth since he has no idea of clothing. This dude is built. Lots of shirtless time on camera and that might be the only selling point for those that don't know how to search Tumblr for porn. For the rest of us we get uninspired acting from everyone, a bit of Margot Robbie playing Jane as a woman that doesn't need a hero yet gets one anyway, awkward CGI animals all over the place including a really fake looking butterfly and a hell of a lot of black folk given jobs as the Congolese people.

I really can't express how boring this movie was. I kept checking my watch. I kept wondering how many plots we were going to sit through. I was curious as to where this was all going... then it became really obvious. The rich white man is there to stop the entire continent of Africa from being enslaved. Yup, we have ourselves a Great White Savior movie and it's really damn gross. In fact I have no idea why the Congolese couldn't save themselves as the warriors of the tribe friendly with Tarzan could do everything he could do. They were running and swinging and jumping and keeping up with him with ease. Why did they need this guy to show up and save them all? Because some old dude behind a desk wanted it to happen because that's the kind of story he grew up with.

This movie is easily forgettable. It's dull and uninteresting and it rehashes a story no one was really interested in revisiting. I would tell people to just leave it on in the background when it shows up on Netflix but I can't even do that. This great white savior crap needs to end, it's 2016. We should be better than this. Hell, there's a civil war era movie coming out featuring Matthew McConaughey called Free State of Jones that almost had my interest except the trailer seems to be the White Savior nonsense again. No thanks. I don't need movies featuring white men saving other minorities over and over. The Legend of Tarzan started out meh then turned into hot garbage. Someone spent a lot of money on this movie and it's a damn shame it wasn't put to better use.

[easyreview title= "Review of The Legend of Tarzan" cat1title="Rob's Rating" cat1detail="Overall Review" cat1rating="1.5" overall= false]

Review: Kingsman: The Secret Service

kingsman-the-secret-service-the-perfect-movie-for-valentines-day-e47d56fb-de6b-4b6e-bc7a-755617fbf6e2 This film is easily the first must-see of 2015.

Kingsman: The Secret Service is based off of the comic book by Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons (just called The Secret Service, which ran from 2012 to 2013). It follows the exploits of Eggsy Unwin (Taron Egerton) as he goes from a street punk in London to a formidable super-spy as he works alongside the Kingsman organization to take down Richmond Valentine (Samuel L. Jackson). Eggsy trains under Harry Hart (Colin Firth) in his attempt to become a full-fledged member of the organization, but things go awry as they uncover Valentine’s plot.

Kingsman is very timely, thanks to the fact that the book it’s based off of only came out a couple of years ago. It clearly plays into societal fears of rapidly advancing technology, the “One Percent," as well as looking at the problem of domestic violence (via Eggsy’s home life).

The film is directed by Matthew Vaughn, who previously directed other comic book-adapted films such as Kick-Ass and X-Men: First Class; he’s clearly applied his experience in those films to Kingsman. It’s resulted in a stylish action film that looks straight out of a comic book. A mid-movie fight scene that focuses on Colin Firth’s character might be one of the best action sequences I’ve ever seen.

The cast is also unbelievably strong. Taron Egerton shines in the lead role of Eggsy, which also happens to be his first major film role of his career. Oscar-winning Colin Firth shows that he can amaze in an action film just as much as he can in any drama, and Samuel L. Jackson’s charisma is perfect for the villain. The supporting cast of Mark Strong, Sofia Boutella and Sophie Cookson is equally as strong, and bit roles by Michael Caine and Mark Hamill add a lot as well. I personally would have liked to see the women play greater roles, but since their characters were either minor or non-existent in the book, I guess that’s to be expected (do better, Mark Millar). I also wish that the names hadn’t been changed; it seems pretty silly to do so for really no apparent reason.

Though the film does not follow the original comic frame-for-frame, it’s close enough to where anyone who’s read the book will easily be able to anticipate what will happen next. Actually, even if you haven’t read the book, it’s still pretty predictable – probably the film’s only downfall.

At a two-hour run time, it may seem as though there would be parts that drag on, but that never happens. The film feels quicker than 129 minutes thanks to the writing and direction. Kingsman: The Secret Service is a must-see for fans of action, comedy, or the classic spy thriller.

[easyreview title= "Review of Kingsman: The Secret Service" cat1title="Carrie's Rating" cat1detail="Overall Review" cat1rating="4.5" overall= false]

Review: Robocop


This is all I’ve been hearing and it’s time for everyone to stop crying. Accept that remakes are going to happen in this day and age. Why? Because money. But on our side of things it’s also about bringing the properties we loved as kids and making them more accessible to a modern audience. Take off the nostalgia glasses and realize that old movies are old. Sometimes a nice new polish for a fresh set of eyes is a good thing. With Robocop it’s a very good thing. I feel I can safely say that seeing as I am a huge fan of the original and always will be.

Robocop 2014 is entirely about modernizing the franchise. What this gives us is a much more practical view of the world in which OCP resides. Set, of course, in the not too distant future we have a world that has allowed robots to police the streets of every country except the United States. We are introduced to this world through a television show hosted by Jack Lewis (Sam Jackson). Think Bill O’Rielly on the set of a CNN show with tons of needless holograms and the same Jingoistic attitude. Through his show we see ED-209s (a slight update of the classic) as well as human sized droids called 208s policing a middle eastern street. We’re told this is a great thing as they make citizens come out to the street to be cleared but it looks absurdly oppressive, and it is as several citizens fight back. Without getting into spoilers lets just say there is a new take on the old ED209 board room malfunction scene. It’s much quicker, far less graphic but for some will be much harder to deal with than the original. It’s hits hard and fast and in the gut. The point is clear…robots can’t be trusted to make human decisions.

This is the crux of the film. The US won’t allow robots on the streets so they find a way around it by putting a man in the suit (as well as throwing money at congress like any real world corporation would do these days). This man is Alex Murphy after a crime boss attempts to have him murdered through a car bomb. Now many have complained about this because it’s not as gruesome as the original. I say get off it already. That scene was part of the satire/commentary on the films of the time. That’s not what we deal with these days so we get a more realistic take on an attempted assassination instead of a bunch of cartoonish bad guys laughing as guts fly around the room. Though never fear, there is at least one scene that won’t leave your mind any time soon after seeing it.

So now we have the classic story of Alex Murphy in the suit. This time it’s public knowledge and he knows of his past. However he still has to fight the system and regain his true self in a much more realistic take on events that led up to his… robo-nature. So never fear, we do indeed see plenty of classic “robo-walk” and “robo-talk” though with the augmented voice. Which is again a bit more realistic.

I need to address the casting of Joel Kinnaman as Alex Murphy…it’s perfect! They needed a tall and thin dude to fit in this slimmed down armor but could still look imposing. He does the robo-strut perfectly and gets into the swift action just as naturally. His deep voice is great and commands the scenes he’s in. His face? So perfect. He does an amazing job of emoting the pain and frustration he is going through after his body has been reconstructed. You feel trapped with him in the machine.

What I left with was a film with great visuals. The robotics in the film are simply a pleasure to watch. Good fast action though the shaky cam was a bit annoying and that says a lot coming from me as it normally isn’t an issue with me in any film. The story was great and filled with a top notch actors hamming it up and enjoying their roles. The pacing might seem slow if you expect non stop action but it’s never boring, always interesting. All of the concerns fans have will be addressed. Yes, that includes the color of the suit. There’s even a very obvious nod to the original as well as other… robot based films.

The bottom line is they made this film by making it their own thing while fully respecting the source material. But most importantly they made a GOOD film. So don’t be a hater. Get out there and see this movie and enjoy it for what it is: A modern realistic take on a classic action franchise. I eagerly anticipate a sequel.

[easyreview title= "Review of Robocop" cat1title="Nerdpocalypse Rating" cat1detail="Overall Review" cat1rating="4.5" overall= false]

Review: The Avengers

The Avengers

In 2008, Marvel Studios released Iron Man starring Robert Downey Jr. That movie had the now infamous after credits scene that started it all. When Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) made his surprising announcement the comic book movie genre was forever catapulted to a different level. No longer were these movies going to be one offs, but rather they would build to a large event that may be the most ambitious movie idea in years. Under the directorial control of Joss Whedon, fanboys/girls and everyone in between got to see something truly special. When a familiar Asgardian foe, Loki, steals a mysterious weapon from Nick Fury and his S.H.I.E.L.D. organization it sparks a global crisis. No longer being able to handle this level of a threat, Fury calls upon a ragtag group of super powered misfits to come together to save the planet. The premise of the movie is simple and easy to understand. I do believe that if you never saw the previous solo films you would be fine. Every character's powers/abilities are explained in a smoothly done reintroduction.

The Avengers is an action movie, with a brain. I specify that because this is so commonly not the case in American cinema. Director Joss Whedon’s stylistic dialogue can be seen throughout. Robert Downey Jr. benefits the most from this. At times it seems the RDJ was born and bred to be Whedon’s microphone. The first half of the movie is used as nostalgia for the characters from their solo outings and brings you up to speed on their lives. When the Avengers do come together Whedon is able to show you why they shouldn’t, in a good way. There are real conflicts in personalities that come to the forefront rather quickly. The level of balance that is needed to keep these scenes from being too much is handled masterfully by Whedon. Largely, in my opinion, this is the reason why he was brought on to the project. Balancing multiple complex characters is essential to this movie doing well with critics and fans, alike. Interspersed throughout the movie is well paced fun action. Unlike a Transformers we do not get the movie split in half - first half buildup, second half mindless action. I was glad to see there was a decent mixture of the two until the last 40 minutes.

The Avengers is more character driven than you would think for a summer blockbuster that looks to break a series of opening weekend records. One of the largest fears I had going in was that this would somehow become IronMan 3. Being that IronMan was the most popular Avenger its hard not to give him a good amount of screen time. However, at no point did I feel like any of the team was being slighted, including the ones with no super powers. Everybody had their moment in the sun. Whether your favorite Avenger is the Hulk or Black Widow you got to see them on screen plenty of times and more importantly do something spectacular.

As much hype as this movie is getting in this review and I’m sure many others it does possess some faults. The first 20 minutes seems very rough to me. Disjointed at times and character line deliveries seemed to fall flat. I was worried because it didn’t seem like the Whedon writing I was use to. Now we know the movie had major rewrites so I’m not sure if Whedon ever edited the beginning of the movie’s writing. The pacing felt nothing like the rest of the movie. When the Avengers begin to meet one another the movie makes the ultimate pivot towards heroic greatness. Sometimes the dialogue can get a little too heavy in parts and should be a tad trimmer. This is hardly a big deficit as you enjoy the banter back in forth anyway.

Overall The Avengers is something to see on the big screen. I think this movie would look and sound amazing on a quality home setup, but there is nothing like seeing in theaters. I saw it in 3D and felt that it did nothing to add or take away from the movie. If you want to save a few dollars, skip the 3D. Lastly, I saw this movie with my 11 nephew and glancing over at him was my favorite part of the experience. I realized very quickly that the new Star Wars trilogy isn’t his generation's Star Wars, the Avengers is and I’m very ok with that.

[easyreview title= "Review of The Avengers" cat1title="Jay's Rating" cat1detail="Overall Review" cat1rating="4.5" overall= false]

We will of course talk in depth on this week's upcoming podcast episode. Stay tuned.