Monday, April 27, 2009

Movie Review - 17 Again

17 Again

Starring: Zac Efron, Leslie Mann, Thomas Lennon, Matthew Perry, Tyler Steelman, Allison Miller, Sterling Knight, Michelle Trachtenberg, and more…

Premise: Mike O’Donnell’s life is falling apart at the seams. He’s passed over for a promotion at work, his wife has kicked him out of the house and is pursuing a divorce, his kids don’t want to be around him. The only time he remembers being in control was high school. So he goes back and thinks of his glory days. A janitor at the school notices him and asks him if he had it to do all over again, would he? Not paying much attention to what he’s saying, he says yes. After trying to rescue the same old man at a bridge during a rain storm, Mike falls into a seeming vortex. When he gets home to his friend Ned’s house, he finds himself transformed back to 17.

Review: This movie looked like it would be an incredibly cute, feel good film and it delivered that and more. Zac Efron was adorable as the late 30 something man in a 17 year old body. The times when his adult brain and father tendencies shoot out to interfere with his 17 year old persona are hilarious. The comparisons between his high school life then and high school life now were way too fun. And the reactions of his children and soon to be ex-wife as he interacts with them are a total riot.

Yet what made this film so much more for me, was a totally unexpected side angle. While I was expecting the cuteness and feel good and life clashes, what I was not expecting was the fabulous use of Ned Gold, Mike’s best friend. Buddies since high school and possibly before, I’d seen the scenes where Ned, Mike’s geek friend, was forced to get involved to get him back into school. Ned’s house ROCKED! For all the Sci-Fi and gamin geeks out there, this man’s place was beyond awesome. Close to our geeky dream homes if we could ever afford such a thing. But there was more!

What I did not expect was the total awesomeness that followed Ned meeting the school principal and falling head over geek in love with her. Then all his hilarious attempts to woo the woman. But it all reached new heights of outrageous fun for me when he finally gets her to go out with him and we got the scene at the restaurant. I thought I was going to die! Lol. And the things which ensue after were total amounts of fun. (My inner geek was singing! Lol!)

So overall, this was an incredibly cute, “see what’s before your eyes and appreciate it” movie, with a side of mucho fun for geeks/gamers/Sci-Fi lovers everywhere. Definitely recommend it for a fun movie watching experience.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Movie Review - Dragonball: Evolution

Dragonball: Evolution

Staring - Justin Chatwin, Yun Chow Fat, James Masters, Emmy Rossum, Jamie Chung and more...

Premise: Based on the famous Japanese manga and anime series by Akira Toriyama, this live action rendition centers around Goku, a young martial artist, an ancient legend about an evil destructive alien named Piccolo, and seven Dragonballs that if gathered together would summon the dragon Shanglong (sp?) and grant the summoner one wish.

Review: I've followed Akira Toriyama's works for twenty plus years and have read/looked at all the Dragonball manga as well as watched the 200+ episodes of Dragonball and the 200+ episodes of Dragonball Z, even watched a chunk of Dragonball GT. I've also seen many anime turned into Live Action films and I've seen the mutations they go through and those not always pretty.

That being said, this wasn't half bad! While all the characters from the early Dragonball days did not make an appearance (basically all the non-humans except Piccolo and one other (which I won't mention as it would be a spoiler), they kept pretty much everyone else and even left them their names intact. No Pilaf, but we got his ship and Mai (dang she kicked ass!). Got the Dragonball Radar, though it looked more like PDA, even got Capsule Corp and a capsule or two, though these worked more like Transformers than encapsulated dimensional spaces.

The fight at the beginning between Goku and his grandfather Gohan was a blast. And the Dragonballs themselves were utterly wicked looking! Legends got tweaked, Piccolo's way of making minions altered (and sadly they made that part so dark you never could get a good look at those guys! and they were tall! lol), but the essence of everything was still there, which was fab.

Goku was way less naive and clueless than I was used to, which was a shock, but then he wasn't quite as isolated in the movie as in the series. Yun Chow Fat was awesome as Master Roshi though I wished they'd given him at least the glasses if not the turtle shell, but he did have the bright shirts and the lecherous attitude, so that was something.

The special effects and martial arts were decent. Some of the basic elements on the chi powers seemed to shift, but again nothing major. The Kamehame Ha was in there and that's the most important thing! :P And we do see Shanlong summoned - though theirs does not compare to the anime/manga's in scope or flashy theatrics.

Still, overall, it was a cute, fun little film. Lots of little details and bits from the characters and series the fans love, even the cities being made a little more futuristic to fit the manga Dragonball world. If you've not been exposed to DB at all, there's less to get in the way as all items are explained and explored sufficiently for the non-initiated.

There's even a nice Japanese song in the end credits. And make sure to sit through them as there's a little extra something at the very end.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Movie Review - My Name Is Bruce

My Name Is Bruce
Staring Bruce Campbell, Grace Thorsen, Taylor Sharpe, Ted Raimi and more!

Premise: A Chinese god, Guan-Di, has been released in the small town of Goldlick, and it is set on revenge for the death of some Chinese miners back in the 1800's. Not knowing what to do, the town kidnaps the down on his luck actor Bruce Campbell, hoping he will come and save the day. Except Bruce believes this is just a set up by his agent for his birthday. Things get ugly.

Review: Bruce Campbell is a hoot! He's always been a hoot and will probably always be a hoot! (Have much enjoyed following his career and he's a blast in person!) This is a film about making fun. And a lot of fun making does ensue. It pokes at the fans, it pokes at the industry, it pokes at Bruce, but most of all it pokes fun at itself.

A low budget film that makes the money go quite far. The years of experience from the crew and cast (a family affair of sorts as a lot of the old guard are friends of Bruce's from way way back or picked up along his career, while others are actual family (he get to shoot them!), and others up and coming local talent) shines forth in every frame, so you get the expected campiness we've come to love and expect from Bruce but in high form. The acting, especially from the townspeople and support is spot on, giving the film the right touch of reality/unreality for a story breaching the 4th wall in story telling. And Bruce is Bruce. Need I say more? (He's a hoot!)

Kudos to Guan-Di, which looked rather creepy. But mega kudos to the FX team as the lightning and sounds really added a lot to the atmosphere. And so much more for the super campiness of Cavealiens 2 (pronounce Kah-veliens per the tre-chic director - bit of fun in the extras on the DVD) Oh and major kudos to Ted Raimi as well. Poor thing had to play three characters in the film, and he was great! Loved his Mr. Wing. Heh heh.

There's even a catchy tune to haunt you in your sleep as well, with the lovely chorus of "Guan-you, Guan-me, Guan-Di."

Loads of extra stuff on the DVD like the "Heart of Dorkness" (no it's not a typo) a behind the scenes documentary on the filming of the film, love rumors, Kif, Bruce philosophies, and more. Some beautiful slices on the process of film making and what those poor people had to go through.

If you meet any of those who had anything to do with the film, just mention poison oak, or bees, and watch the reactions. Heh heh heh.

So if you enjoy Bruce Campbell and are looking for something light to laugh at and fill your evening, give "My Name is Bruce" a try. I think you'll be quite satisfied.
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