Ghostbusters (2016)

xvUdBJks5ju6PF7MCH7Jck-650-80Ghostbusters 2016 is a disappointing remake/re-imagining/reboot of the 1984 film and the franchise that was built on the success of the original. Unfortunately the film isn’t different enough to be a spectacular failure nor is it close enough to the original to be a lame remake. Instead it falls into an area of blandness that neither soars nor falls.

I didn’t hate it. I did laugh during parts of it and my general impression upon leaving the theater was that it wasn’t bad but nowhere near where it needs to be with all the baggage that comes with kick starting a franchise again. Ultimately it’s frustrating to think that after 30 plus years this is the best they can come up with. The film starts and finishes strongly but everything in between seems to be coasting. There’s little in terms of script and leaves the heavy carrying to the improvisation of the cast. Unfortunately it’s not humor that I find funny. It’s not the gross out type of humor I was expecting from the trailer, thankfully that goes about as far as vagina farts, but it is just kind of senseless banter and play acting that any group of people might get up to on a Saturday night after work. It worked in the 1984 film because Bill Murray is a genius and was the only one who overtly let loose on the material while Ramis and Aykroyd played their rolls a little more tightly with the ab libs and Hudson played the straight man.

As for the cast of the 2016 movie I didn’t know any of these actresses besides Kristen Wig. I thought more well known female leads might have helped the movie a little more as Saturday Night live is not a show broadcast all over the world. Wig does a fairly good job of carrying the film, she is the heart of the Ghostbusters in this film but unfortunately her role gets pushed to the side a little by the antics of the rest of the cast.
Melissa McCarthy is fairly good in this and plays well against Wig, I would have liked to have seen more of their relationship. I thought they could be the Ray and Peter of the film.
Kate McKinnon, i’m sorry to say just didn’t work. The most interesting character visually with callbacks to Egon from the Real Ghostbusters series, I had higher hopes for this character but all she does here is act goofy, not funny. It embarrassing in the way Tommy Lee Jones was embarrassing in Batman Forever. I just kept thinking what the hell is she doing? She’s the annoying kid in school who won’t leave you alone after you said “hello” to them.
Leslie Jones was excellent. The funniest of the group, the one who sold the movie. Even in the second trailer I was laughing at her scenes. Chris Hemsworth is excellent although does play it a bit too dumb to be believable at times.

The main villain Rowan has been criticized as a weak villain but I didn’t think so. Since this film is introducing us to a new cast and origin story it doesn’t need a villain that could be scene stealing. I found him one dimensional but I thought it interesting that he is a human villain bringing ghosts into the world instead of a usual Ghost baddie. He does become a ghost baddie in the end and it’s kind of cool to see.

As for the art and design of the film I thought the effects are just ok. I expected better for the budget it had. The ghosts look good but they have that damn neon blue look to them that is way too prevalent in the world and movie visuals.
The design of Ecto-1 is a very nice update to the series. The proton packs are not bad though a little clunky and now they’re all actiony used as whips and ropes. The proton puncher? thingy is a bit stupid. I think just keep it simple, proton packs and traps and leave the proton punchers to Kenner toys.

When this film was first announced I thought it sounded lame because it was based on the premise that changing the genders of the cast would somehow make it funnier. Instead of developing a strong story with strong female leads the director of Ghostbusters 2016 seems to have just tried to capitalize on the popularity of a brand and “wing it”. It’s a shame because I was really hoping Ghostbusters would launch a new era in Ghostbusting films.

Favorite Quote: “my pants are toast“- Ed Junior

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X-Men Apocalypse

I don’t quite get the lassitude this film has received from fans and critics. The general consensus seems to be that it’s a good movie but has little heart with vast amounts of meaningless destruction on a grand scale. This attitude may have begun when the first images of Apocalypse appeared on the web which reminded a lot of people of Ivan Oooze from the first power rangers movie. The trailer did little to raise the excitement in fans too. I guess after blowing the wade with Days of Future Past it’s difficult to one up.

Before I get into mu review I have to say I was less than impressed with the look of Apocalypse. This is Apocalypse, he should be bigger, more alien like, more threatening, I thought he should have been a CGI creation like Ultron or that Thanos guy in order to fully realize the character.
I was also less than impressed and unexcited by the trailer.
The movie however is great. I enjoyed the heck out of it and found it funny in places. I should put more faith in Singer and his X-Men movies. I can see now where he was going with Apocalypse. He wanted to make a character of him rather than just have him as a villain. While he doesn’t exactly succeed and find the right balance between apocalypse’s motivation and pure evilness he does create a character that can challenge the X-Men on a human level as well as a superhuman one.

As for the level of destruction, I can kind of get it. This is Apocalypse after all. The Thanos/Darkside of the X-Men universe. The most powerful and dangerous mutant ever. Why not destroy a city or two in this movie to convey that? Considering we have starships flying into cities, radioactive lizards using them as playgrounds and Superman not giving a crap either way why should this be even seen as a fault of the film? It’s almost a given these days to raise the bar to insane destruction to entertain.

Unlike the other X-Men films though this doesn’t have a clear message. It’s not discussing diversity or racism under the veil of mutants. Instead we get scenes and imagery depicting the horrors humanity is capable of. The main focus (in between the action) is on the characters and their personal journeys. At this point though i’m getting pretty tired of Raven’s journey, the character has kind of bottomed out and bounces back and forth between wanting to help and wanting to show her true blue self. I expect any future film with Raven will explore the same journey again, leaving the x-men and coming back into the fold to save the day as a team.

Again the highlight of the film is Quicksilver. Loved it. Was hilarious.
The whole movie is worth your hard earned cash and worth a watch on the big screen if you can catch it there. It’s not bad, it is enjoyable, you won’t leave the theater feeling annoyed or shaking your head. These movies, with the exception of ‘The Last Stand’ have always left me with a smile on my face as I walked out of the theater. There are a lot more stories to be told with these characters.

When the hell is Bryan Singer going to direct a Star Trek movie? I think X-Men being morally similar to Star Trek shows what he could bring to a Star Trek film or show.

Favorite Quote: “I feel a great swell of pity for the poor soul that comes to my school looking for trouble.”  Charles Xavier

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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

HarryPotterBookPA_468x678It’s not the best in the series and for the first time I actually felt this book was a step backwards. After blowing the wad of mysteries in the previous book Rowling seemed to have trouble tying everything up and concluding things in this final book. The frustration seems to be reflected in the characters themselves whom also spend a large portion of the book hanging around in their tent not knowing what the frick to do

How Rowling writes herself out of these situations is also less than impressive, bordering on the author claiming the power of deus ex machina and dropping her characters in large pots of luck and fortune such as happening to overhear a conversation from fellow wizards and goblins outside their tent despite the fact that they regularly moved around the country and tried to find quiet hiding places, yet they are stumbled upon unknowingly by characters who let drop key pieces of information.

This kind of logic is again used when Harry hears noise outside the tent, goes to explore and finds sword of gryffindor(the precise item he needs to destroy a horcrux) lying under ice in the forest. While the latter of these is explained towards the end there is still a feeling that these kind of instances are unimaginative ways of writing one out of a tight corner. One might hope for something a little more after the brilliance of ideas that JK Rowling has demonstrated in the past.

Anyway once these plot points are brushed over things finally get moving and it does become the satisfying conclusion you want it to be as it becomes a race against Voldemort to get the last Horcruxes.

Poor Dumbledore gets dragged through the mud in this book and again it’s the same theme as the other books where Harry thinks Dumbledore has betrayed him in some way, kept him in the dark until Dumbledore himself explains everything to him and it’s like “why did I make a big deal of that in my mind to begin with?” kind of thing for Harry. Here though it does seem like Dumbledore is an imperfect person for the first time, as adults we rarely understand what’s going on in kids minds and as kids we don’t understand adults until we get closer to been an adult ourselves. Dumbledore pretty much admits all his faults and reminds harry that “shit happens and we sometimes screw up” even if you’re a great Wizard.

As for the mysteries behind Harry’s powers, survival and magic there is a ton of exposition towards the end in the chapter King’s Cross Station. So much so that it boggles the mind and the actual truth is far more complex and difficult to discern than it really needed to be.

So after 6 years of reading these books I’m ahead of schedule on how I planned to read them which was one per year. I don’t regret picking them up and it has been fun to see what all the fuss was about after being something of a massive skeptic as to how good books about a boy wizard could be. While they aren’t the greatest thing since slice bread they are very entertaining and represent a large chunk of the reading culture  of today. I think I still prefer the ‘Lord of the Rings’ to this in terms of fantasy fiction. There were times where I just wanted the story to move a bit faster.

The only bad thing about reading the Harry Potter books is that they’ll ruin the movies for you. You’ll never look at the movies in the same way again. To me it feels like the movies are just on fast forward now and I’m left unsatisfied and wondering why they didn’t try to be more different and do there own thing. As for comparisons to the Deathly Hallows book I remember that it was with those Deathly Hallow movies that made me decide to jump into the books. There’s a lot of stuff that I was confused about with the movies, where did the mirror come from, what was the deal with the wand at the end, the Horcruxes. Well the books explain it all and now I’m on the other side of the door wondering what the big deal is and all these things are simple to understand. Dumbledore’s past is completely ignored in the movie though which is also another reason why I wanted to read the books. His relationship with  Grindelwald, a dark wizard who was as deadly as Voldemort and the events surrounding Dumbledore’s sister. There could be a whole other book series if these characters were explored more.

While I don’t want to compare a book to it’s movie I do get the feeling the film makers oneuped Rowling this time by working around the holes she wrote herself into and seeing the end game as a destination rather than a journey. Being a 2 parter film it makes for more digestible viewing yet can still seem somewhat confusing to those who aren’t au fait with the books.

So that’s that book series done. But as I write this a new book of the Play ‘Harry Potter and The Cursed Child’ has come out and ‘Fantastic Beasts’ will be in cinema’s later in the year. It seems my journey in the wizarding world continues.

How I’d rank the books.

The Order of the Phoenix

The Philosophers Stone

The Half-Blood Prince

The Deathly Hallows

The Goblet of Fire

The Prisoner of Azkaban

The Chamber of Secrets

Favorite Quote:That which Voldemort does not value, he takes no trouble to comprehend. Of house-elves and children’s tales, of love, loyalty, and innocence, Voldemort knows and understands nothing. Nothing. That they all have a power beyond his own, a power beyond the reach of any magic, is a truth he has never grasped. ”  Dumbledore

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10 years

So it’s 10 years since I started writing this blog which started at the film journal blog ran by digitalfix before I moved it here to wordpress about 3 years ago.  Here are some highlights and lows of the past 10 years.

The Batman Motion Picture Anthology 1989-1997

I like Batman.

Star Trek The Beginning

A script review of the unmade Star Trek film ‘Beginnings’ which was fun to write.

I Come With The Rain

This blog post got a ton of hits, particularly due to Josh Hartnett fans stumbling upon it. Thanks guys. Perhaps the most popular review I ever wrote.

Bullet In The Head

One of my all time favorite Hong Kong movies.

Top Science Fiction Movies

My favorite Sci-fi movies

To Live and Die in L.A.

You didn’t watch this yet?

Star Wars Saga Marathon Episode I-VI

With the new Trilogy in the making I’ll have to sit down again in future and watch all 9. Until then here is my one day sitting of the first 6.

A Trip To The Moon

Beautiful dreams.

Taxi Driver

Thor’s hammer couldn’t touch this.

Ring

The rise and

Sadako 3D 2

…fall of the Ring franchise

Great Martial Arts films

Flying Guillotine Movies

Zatoichi

The Grandmaster

 

Star Trek Into Darkness

Well I really liked it…..

Get Carter the Book
‘Get Carter’ the film

The book and movies

Flight

hungover days

Frankenstein

A monster I feel for.

Top Science fiction series

 

Thanks to anyone who read and suffered through some of the reviews I wrote. It’s mainly a blog to record my own opinions on film and remind myself what my impressions were.

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Ghostbusters: Get Real

Ghostbusters_Joe_QwebUnlike Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles/Ghostbusters I found this to be a far more satisfying comic to read. Things seem to gel together better between The Real Ghostbusters and Ghostbusters then they did with the turtles. The art is beautiful and the characters of the Real Ghostbusters are right out of the Cartoon. Please give us a continuing comic of these RGB characters. I loved it!

After reading this i’m a little more inclined to check out IDWs other Ghostbuster comics although it still seems to me that these Ghostbusters spend too much time at the firehouse talking things out rather than doing. As for fans of The Real Ghostbusters I would think this comic is a must read as it fits snugly into the continuity of the animated series although you don’t need to have watched the animated series nor read the IDW comics to enjoy this.

After reading Get Real I decided to catch up on some episodes of the animated series. You’ll see why yourselves. The Ghostbusters with the interesting hair are definitely a stable of nostalgia and fun.

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Enterprise: The First Adventure

Now, the untold story – Captain Kirk’s First Mission!

latestCompared to Star Trek Academy Collision Course and the 2009 film I felt this is a fairly satisfying first meeting between these classic characters. I say that a Star Trek fan who likes his continuity in large doses. I think the characters and their interactions in this book are what we expect and want from them. They are familiar, at times a bit too familiar with each other. Kirk and Spock’s relationship could have been a little rougher, their conflict remains fairly close to what we see from the first season of the original series onward. However, lesser known characters such as Janice Rand definitely benefit more with this type of novel due to their backgrounds been open for exploration.

The Sci-fi concepts in the book are interesting. I like the idea of the world ship and the power of it’s inhabitants that the crew of the Enterprise cannot yet fully comprehend.
The mixture of fun, adventure and danger are a little off balance. While on the one hand you have characters dealing with a first contact situation with a powerful and advanced species, on the other there are moments of minor squabbles among crew and circus performers during this first contact and then there is  large emphasis placed on if an Equiraptor (a horse with wings) will have enough room to fly around. Then you have the Klingons thrown into the mix and a situation that might lead to an interstellar war with them. The book suffers from not being able to focus on any of these situations. The strongest impression I was left with after reading was of the horse. I like horses but frankly that’s not the story i’m interested in here when I pick up a book about the Enterprise’s first Adventure.

My only other nitpicks are that the story doesn’t really go anywhere. It’s an exploration of the characters and where they’re all coming from in this part of their lives. Unlike the 2009 movie which brings the characters together through action and the looming threat in the distance ‘The First Adventure’ book develops and fills in the backgrounds of things only hinted at in the series and movies. That’s all fine and it does make for a must read but it would have been nice to see them a little bit more challenged.

Favorite Quote: Vulcans claim they control all their emotions in order to eliminate anger and violence, as if anger were the hardest thing to conquer. But it’s ridiculously simple compared to grief, compared to love.

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Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince

9780747581109Definitely feels like JK Rowling let her hair down a bit more with this one, Harry, Ron and Hermione are more adult, mature, confident and reckless as they pass into their later teenage years. I felt their interactions are far closer to the reality of kids in secondary/high school. To put it simply, she nails it. Nothing feels forced, the budding relationships between the teenage characters are more real than any trash you’d find in the romance section of a bookstore.

The book starts off well and the summery of recent events between the Minster of Magic and the Muggle Prime Minister only takes up a mere chapter before we get down to the good stuff.

I was delighted that Dumbledore shows up so early in the book and is in so much more of it. For the first time he’s on the ropes, you see him get angry, lose his patience, become emotional. He’s not just a wise, motherly wizard, this time he is a human one. The change in character is not only because of the events he is involved in but I think he’s is pushed into being a bit harder with the teenage Potter who wants to make his opinions heard. I could no longer imagine the voice of  Dumbledore as Michael Gambon or Richard Harris. There was another voice in between because this is the book where Dumbledore comes into his own.

As for Voldermort, he’s not really in this beyond memories of him but this book blows the doors open on the character. If you want to read a good story about a dude who goes way over to the Dark side then read this. The character is bad ass in his desire to go all dark. He and Emperor Palpatine would be best buds for sure.

JK Rowling has said that this was the book she had most well planned out after encountering problems with TGOF and TOOTP. Overall ‘The Half Blood Prince’ is the most satisfying book for it provides so many answers to questions fans had had over the year. It’s also a book that never lets up on the pace and of all the HP I have read up until this point I think this was the one that was most difficult to stop reading. It’s a real page turner.

I’m not sure if it’s the best though. I say that half begrudgingly. I think because of where The Order of the Phoenix leaves Harry at the end of it’s book. Half Blood Prince is the pay off to the books that came before and sets up the adventure and quest for the final book. I feel slightly manipulated. As a standalone book I can’t put it above ‘The Order of the Phoenix‘ or ‘The Philosopher’s Stone‘. But when and if you reach this far in the books it’s a f’ing awesome read.

Favorite Quote:I am not worried, Harry,” said Dumbledore, his voice a little stronger despite the freezing water. “I am with you.” – Dumberldore

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