The Purge: Anarchy is in theatres now, and expands on a lot of the ideas presented in the first film. The first film had some mixed reviews, but as Hollywood would have it, a sequel was made anyway. So how did it do? Is it a good sequel, or should it be hunted in the gardens?
I wanted to like the first Purge flick. It had an interesting concept, and it seemed like it was going to be an interesting film. In practice though, all the interesting bits got thrown into the background as nothing but cover for a wildly mediocre home invasion film. I was hoping a sequel would touch more on the politics and motivations of the purge, and even maybe expose some of its seedier side. Thankfully, it does all that, and more.
So the plot of the film is handled pretty uniquely. We are shown the prospective of a handful of characters, and events of the night of the purge that lead them all together. Once together, they get thrust into a seedy underbelly to the purge, and work together to escape, and survive. I’m being as vague as possible, because honestly, the plot is excellent. It’s everything I wanted in a sequel, and more. It expands on the societal side spoken of in the first film, and it shows the dark side of super rich weirdos with a twisted sense of well doing. It really shows how fucked up the purge is, and how much deeper it is than it appears.
While the plot is a great part of the film, the cast however, isn’t so lucky. I don’t think I can narrow it down to the writing, or how the actors portrayed the characters. The group of characters just feels really generic, and that makes it hard to feel for them sometimes. Theres the stereotypical couple, with the man trying to to protect the woman. Theres the stereotypical family group, and the stereotypical guy hellbent on revenge. All the characters fit their mold to a T, to the point where their actions are so predictable that nothing seems surprising.
Theres no surprises that arent telegraphed a mile out, so in the end you don’t really feel any attachment. Honestly though, as weird as it is, it doesnt really take away from the film much. The focus is much more on the events of the purge itself, and exposing how messed up the whole thing is. So bland characters in a sense help that, so the focus isn’t entirely on them. You can better focus on the background things and secondary characters. Its an odd approach, and whether it was intentional or not, it works.
To me, this is what a great sequel should be. The first film had an interesting concept, but it was used as nothing more than a simple plot device. This film takes that idea, and expands on it. Turns it from a reason things happen, to a fully fleshed out event, with background and quirks. Its well directed, and the aesthetic of the film just feels seedy sometimes. You’ll know things are going to go pear shaped, just by the atmosphere. The tension is well done, and while not inherently scary, there is a fear factor that will make you edge to the end of your seat. The best part? Its all really well done.
All in all, its a great sequel, and a great film. If you didnt like the first one, don’t let that stop you from seeing this one. Its nothing like that film.
4.5 out of 5
The newest Micheal Bay helmed Transformers film is plaguing theatres now, and there is no doubt that it will drag in boatloads of cash. These films have always done a balancing act on the edge of totally ridiculous and most hated films of the year, and always seem to really piss off fanboys. So how does this one do? Does it finally do the property justice, or is it just another huge pile of crap that can transform into an even bigger pile of crap?
I’ve cut some of the Transformers films a lot of slack. The first film was kind of fun, and they just kind of went down hill from there. I can appreciate a big, dumb action flick, but there’s a point where it just stops being fun and turns into a bad movie. I don’t hate the Transformers flicks as much as some, hell I even gave the third one a decent review, but I think thats because I never had a super close connection with the franchise. I loved Beast Wars, and I watched a lot of the old cartoon, but thats where it stopped. To me, they’re just not good movies. To others, its a hated pile of filth. And this film will sway even more people into thinking the later.
The plot, if you can even call it that it by far the dumbest of the series. Transformers are hated by humans after the battle in Chicago, and go into hiding. Marky Mark finds out a big rig he has is Optimus Prime, and half assed exposition catches us up on the last few years, and tries to make us care about the human element. Secret military forces show up to try and destroy Optimus, he and the humans escape only to continue to be hunted. Its shown that a Transformer bounty hunter is leading the secret military force, and they have a deal to deliver Optimus to him for some artifact. Another company comes into play, a company that has been building their own transformers after discovering Transformium (I seriously cannot make this shit up) and reverse engineering Transformers tech.
To save you from the mind numbing details, from there stuff explodes, people die, robots fight other robots, and it all becomes a giant mess. The plot is at points literally nonsensical, and it literally only exists as a way for Transformers to meet up and punch each other. Of course theres a few half assed surprises, and some dumb backstabbing, but it literally makes no difference to the overall film. If you the plots of the last batch of Transformers movies were bad, be prelared to have your mind blown.
The one thing I had hope for this time around was the human element. They brought in a hand of good actors, and I thought it sounded really promising. Well, you can firmly throw that into the pile of crap Bay messed up. Again. After the opening exposition, there is literally no reason for them to be around. They are literally a hinderance to the Transformers, and constantly mess stuff up for them. Unlike the Witwicky family, their ties begin and end with Optimus was in my barn. They should have stayed very far away from the majority of the flick after that, instead of popping up and spewing one liners.
From a fan standpoint, this film had so much potential. Introducing characters like Galvatron and the Dinobots should make any fan of the series drool uncontrollably, not shake their heads in disgust. Theres so many cool little nods to the universe that you might actually think that Micheal Bay cared for a few minutes, before seeing something shiny or an explosion that disrupted his concentration. I think thats what is such a bummer about this series, theres little glimmers of what the franchise should be, what it could be, you just have to sit through a crapfest to find them. Theres portions and influences that shine through that show that somewhere, someone working on the film cares about the property, but it ultimately gets buried behind Micheal Bay’s crapfest. But hey, it sure is pretty to watch, even if you can’t tell what the hell is going on.
All in all, its not a good movie. Short of a few minutes that show potential, the rest is really bad. Unless you have a disease where you need to see as many explosions as you can in an hour or you’ll die, theres better out there. Hell, starring at a brick wall smeared with crap would be an overall better experience. The only reason Im giving it even a small score is for the people who cared about the flick, and made a small part of it enjoyable.
1.5 out of 5.
The newest game in the Wolfenstein franchise is out now for consoles, and brings the name to next gen consoles. But how does it do? Is it a decent game, or should it have never escaped the castle?
You should know the drill by now. B.J. Blazkowicz hates Nazis. He kills Nazis in an attempt to save the world. The formula hasn’t changed a whole lot. This one does pump up the plot some, in a weird alternate timeline. Its the 1960s, and things are a little different. The Nazis won World War 2, nuked New York, and now rule the world. Blazkowicz meets up with the resistance, and tries to take out the crazy weapons the Nazis use to keep the world in its grasps. Pretty straightforward. Of course theres a good handful of forgettable secondary characters, and at least one of them will stab you in the back over the course of the game. Thats where the game makes its first fault. The secondary characters aren’t all that important, and they never really get fleshed out enough to care about them. They just seem to be there in between missions. The game itself has a good narrative, but with good characters, it could have been way better.
And with the game itself, the developers didn’t try to reinvent the wheel. The controls are tight, simple, and easy to get used to. You can take cover, lean around it, and slide into position. The slide isnt nearly as helpful as it could be, and I forgot about it quite often. Protip - it is a good buffer for explosive damage, though. If you can’t outrun a grenade, slide right as it goes off. But it’s overall tight controls, and it feels natural. It definitely has more of a Halo feel over Call Of Duty, but it works. There are some context actions sprinkled around, and they do feel sluggish for the most part. The melee attacks are also a bit hit or miss, but you don’t get a chance to use them all to often. Stealth kills on the otherhand are swift, but the stealth sections are few and far between.
The game definitely puts running and gunning at top priority, and it does a great job of making it fun. The weapons are varied, fun, and can cause massive damage when dual weilding. Most levels are huge, and are designed to make big, massive firefights that much more fun. Enemies come at you from every direction, and cover only helps for so long. Some of the later levels are pretty frantic, but it always stays fun. Some areas are very frustrating unless you get the rhythm down, but replaying where you failed never gets boring.
The overall design of the game is pretty cool, too. The nazis and the tech all have a really cool retro futuristic vibe, and the bigger enemies later on are awesome to fight. And there’s so much detail to everything. They really created a big, full world and it’s beautiful from top to bottom. The enemy bases, and even the resistance headquarters are fun to run around in and explore, and chocked full of easter eggs and fun stuff to reward you for exploring.
How they handled health and ammo also add to the frantic fun of some levels. You have set health, and need to find health kits to get it back. Health kits aren’t litered around the levels either, so later on in the game it gets pretty intense. Along with ammo, it is a valuable commodity. While it does take a little getting used to, i think it adds a little to the difficulty. It’s a welcomed change, at least for me.
All in all, its a great game. Tons of fun, and it honestly feels like a throwback to FPS’s of days past. The campaign length is great, and even though its all pretty simple, it never gets boring. Fun levels, fun guns, and fun enemies.
5 out of 5
X-Men: Days Of Future Past is in theatres now, and it acts as a sequel to First Class, and ties that series in nicely with the first three films. Based on one of the bigger storylines from the comics, its quite an undertaking. So how does it do? Is it another good entry, or should it stay at the bottom of the Potomac river?
In the future, the X-Men along with all mutantkind is hunted by giant murdering robots. They have the power to adapt to any mutant power, and are nearly indestructable. The remnants of the X-Men gather at a monistary, and make a plan. By sending Wolverine back in time with the knowledge of future events, they plan on changing the future. Charles and Erik have grown quite different than shown in First Class, and it’s quite a task to get their heads back in the game.
Overall, its not a totally bad plot. It handles time travel pretty well, and when the bulk of it ramps up, the plot really solidifies. There is a handful of decent sized plot holes and some things that just dont make any sense, though. But, something like this isn’t going to be perfect. When you stray this far from the source material, problems will arise. Compared to the comic plot, though, it’s quite different. They changed alot, but I can see why they needed to.
Alot of the cast of the previous films comes back, and its a welcome sight. Its weird, but awesome to see Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellan back, but they do it so well. The strongest characters get the most screen time, which makes sense. But with a few standout exceptions, the new minor cast is either so insignificant, or get killed off so quickly that they were just essentially filler. Which sucks, because some of the characters have some decent potential. Bishop seemed interesting but underused, same with Blink. The script is what kills some of it though, honestly. The writing in some scenes is so bad, it would make the writers of The Last Stand blush.
For the handful of things wrong with it, it does do a few things very well. It looks amazing, and the scale is huge. There’s only a couple of times it dips into the subpar elements that plagued the first trilogy, but for the most part it looks amazing. It’s generally fun to watch throughout most of it, and the big climactic battle is an awesome spectacle. Its well shot, and the action scenes are well thought out. The sentinels are pretty awesome to watch. I wasn’t the biggest fan of the design choice, but to finally see them on the big screen is pretty awesome. The score is perfect, and fits the movie.
All in all, comic purists will find plenty at fault with this flick. The casual watcher will more than likely enjoy it. It’s not a perfect X-Men film, but it’s probably as close as we’re going to get with Fox.
Four out of Five!
The newest iteration of the titluar beast, Godzilla, is in theatres now. There’s been a handful different versions of the creature, and some have fallen totally flat. Promising to be closer to the original film, this version tries its hand at another redesign. So how does it do? Is it a great film, or should it be nuked in the pacific?
I love Godzilla. There was a U.H.F. channel that always played two on Sunday afternoons, and I was glued to the TV when they were on. As I got older, I found the rest of the films on VHS, and I collected all the ones I could. I always love the idea of an antihero, and Godzilla is the perfect example. When rumors of this film started to swirl, I wrote it off. I figured there was no way that this wouldn’t be a typical Hollywood shitshow. When little news chunks started coming out, I got a little bit more interested as time went along. Between Toho’s heavy involvement, and the choice of director I knew I was going to see it.
So what kind of plot does a giant monster movie need? Apparently a pretty dense one. The film begins at a disaster at a nuclear facility in Japan, which results in some destruction. Fast forward a fifteen years, and we catch up with the characters from the plant, and the weird spiral their lives have taken. Joe Brody, and his son Ford go back to explore the ruins of the plant at Janjira. They are aprehended by the military, and the bulk of the story finally picks up. Over the rest of the film, tons of stuff gets destroyed, people die, and Godzilla acts appropriately badass. For a movie about a giant monster, there is a big human element. I’ve heard some people complain about it, but honestly, it’s not that big of a deal. While there were times I wished for more Godzilla and less humans once he shows up, over all it’s a decent balance. It boils down to narrative and without the human element, it would have been crap.
As a whole, the plot, the script, and the over all film is well directed. There are a few leaps of logic that are a little far, and a couple of plot holes, but with such an overall good movie its easy to overlook. There are times I feel the cast could have been better as ocassionally they fall pretty flat, especially in the front part of the film. But once the action picks up, it takes the focus off of the borderline bad acting. Gareth Edwards overall did a great job of crafting a unique world, and a situation that makes Godzilla seem relevent. There’s a good amount of throwbacks to earlier films as well, and they’ll make any fan giggle.
Now here is where I’m going to nerd out a bit. I absolutely love the design choice of Godzilla and the other kaiju. Godzilla is huge and looks threatening, but still looks recognizable. The other kaiju are fairly interesting, too, even if it looks like they took a lot of inspiration from other giant monster movies. From their crysalis stage all the way up to their massive fight with Godzilla, they are pretty unique. And the damage is on a massive scale. Entire cities fall waste to the creatures, and It all looks brilliant.
All in all, it’s a great flick that does it’s job wonderfully. The balance of Godzilla and humans will annoy some, but the screentime Godzilla does get will redeem his lack of face time.
5 out of 5.