Sunday, July 27, 2008

Review: Meet Bill (2008) [Reviewed By Kelsey Zukowski]

Starring: Aaron Eckhart, Elizabeth Banks, Jessica Alba, Logan Lerman, Timothy Olyphant
Directed By: Bernie Goldmann, Melisa Wallack
Written By: Melisa Wallack
Released: 2008
Grade: B

Meet Bill gives us the story of a man fairly well off at life; nice house, beautiful wife, and yet is completely miserable. This is a story we have heard countless times before and the trailer makes it look decent, but overall pretty average. The trailer really doesn’t do the movie any justice though. Meet Bill had me pleasantly surprised. Sure it takes a plot that has been done before and doesn’t necessarily accomplish that much with it, but is still smart and enjoyable along the way.

Meet Bill: he works in a dead end job at a bank working for his father-in-law and the rest of his wife’s family. His job is of no importance and his title was pretty much just created for him to have a paycheck to support his wife, Jess (Banks). He deals with it day after day though for her. Soon Bill gains suspicions that it might all be for nothing. Jess is giving him reason to believe that she is having an affair with a local, arrogant, self-indulgent news caster, Chip (Olyphant). The worst part is that she isn’t distant, but friendly towards him as if everything is perfect when that is far from the truth of the situation. Bill plants a camera in their house pointed at his bed. When he watches the video, his doubts in Jess are confirmed. The video captured Jess and Chip having sex on the same bed that Jess and him sleep on every night. Not to mention, during sex, Jess is constantly putting Bill down and describing all of the ways how he is the lesser man compared to Chip. For awhile, Jess won’t even admit that this is true and actually tries to make Bill out to be the bad guy for not giving her enough privacy and trust even though she has abandoned that trust.

Seeing the video himself and it not even doing much for him is bad enough, but than it managed to get leaked on to the internet and sent to every person that Bill works with on a daily basis. Since Bill is only human, he naturally has to put up a fight. By attacking Chip, this only ends up making him look bad. These attacks are all caught on camera and pin him as the “deranged fan”, as if he is some sort of an obsessed fan of Chips, not even acknowledging how he has been wronged. This is where it is most clear that Bill’s life is falling apart. His marriage is dwindling and most likely is over at this point. He is forced to continue going to work and even to have dinner with Jess’s family who have all seen the proof that she is no longer loyal to Bill. Bill is desperately trying to find a way out of his job as he feels more imprisoned now than ever. He decides a good way out would be too open a store that is part of a national donut chain. He has to be approved to do this, which ends up being a longer process than he would have liked. Plus they want to meet his wife, which is not really an option right now. Meanwhile, Bill has been assigned to be a mentor to a 15 year-old student at a private school known as “The Kid”. The Kid really helps Bill with everything he is going through and does everything he can to make sure his future is more enjoyable than his present is. He even pays off an older crush of his, Lucy (Alba), who works as a lingerie salesperson, to make Bill look more impressive and to pretend to be his wife in order to get his donut shop and have a chance at a new start.

Aaron Eckhart does wonderfully as Bill and a big part of the reason why the film worked as well as it did is because of him. Bill could have easily been a sad, pathetic character. Sure it would get sympathy, but that wouldn’t mean that we liked him or could really care for him or what happened to him in the future. Eckhart added a certain intelligence to him. He showed his struggle very well and had a very subtle way to how he carried and brought the character to life. Eckhart utilizes some of the sarcasm in the film, showing us some background and substance. With this style that he brings to Bill works off of a great struggle trapped inside a very unknown and unmotivated life. Elizabeth Banks did well as Jess, the disloyal wife. She wasn’t a flat out un-relatable character though. She contributed to Bill’s unhappiness and we looked down on her for that somewhat, but there was still a level of humanity that we saw in her. She was used and wronged to an extent too and ultimately she showed that she did genuinely care for Bill.

Jessica Alba did have noticeably bad acting in areas, but her part in the film was very limited. Her films that are good are the ones where she has a smaller part in them. The ones that end up being terrible are the ones that has a big part in. She is not good at conveying depth, her strengths are in being able to sell a film and to just look pretty. That is why her role in this film works. She is playing the hot girl and that is pretty much it. Since this isn’t asking a lot from her, we are able to accept this and can enjoy the finer actors in the film who luckily are the ones with the bigger roles. Logan Lerman played The Kid very well. He offers great youth, liveliness, and boldness that makes him stand out. He brings hope and life back in to our story and works wonderfully alongside Aaron Eckhart. Lerman is bursting with energy and potential and he deserves to be able to challenge himself further. Timothy Olyphant really brought forward the typical news caster. He was more in love with himself, and of course the hair, than anything else. Just the way he obsessed over his reputation was hilarious.

The low point of Meet Bill is that it takes a story that has been done before and not only doesn’t go anywhere new with it, but doesn’t even come to any real conclusion. Luckily, the rest of the film is impressive enough that we are able to accept this and let it go, remembering the many high points the film has to offer. The dialogue is very reach and highlights a certain sarcastic flair that works perfectly with Eckhart’s strengths. This really helps us see things from his point of view and to not be subjected to being someone we feel sorry for, but someone that has a spark in them that is only very subtly let out. Some of the jokes from the public viewing Bill as the “deranged fan” are pretty priceless too. In a fight Bill gets in with Chip, he demands that he apologizes for mistreating his wife. ‘Apologize’ becomes a punch line in itself to the entire community. There is one particular user of this word that seems to always be around Bill making it random and entertaining whenever we see him. There is a scene where Bill and The Kid get high and shop, terrorizing the stores, but having a ton of fun doing it, utilizing the goofiness within themselves, which is pretty refreshing considering Bill’s general negative take on his life at the time. While Meet Bill could have gone farther and done more with the story, it still takes a great cast and conveys sarcastic very subtle comedy that ends up working very well to give us a thoroughly enjoyable film.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Review: The Dark Knight (2008) [Reviewed By Cliffor Kiyabu]

Directed by: Christopher Nolan
Written by: Jonathan Nolan and Christopher Nolan
Genre: Action / Crime / Drama
MPAA: Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and some menace.
Released: 18 July 2008 (USA)
Starring: Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Aaron Eckhart, Michael Caine, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman, Monique Curnen, Cillian Murphy, Chin Han, Nestor Carbonell, Eric Roberts, Anthony Michael Hall

Plot: Batman and James Gordon join forces with Gotham's new District Attorney, Harvey Dent, to take on a psychotic bank robber known as The Joker, whilst other forces plot against them, and Joker's crimes grow more and more deadly.

Review: 10/10

My Thoughts: Since his debate in the late 1930’s Batman has been a world-renowned icon that has been said to be second only to Superman, people both love him and hate him on all corners of the planet, and rather you like him or not you cannot deny the fact you still know of him and, what he stands for. In truth more people like him than hate him (even the ones who say they dislike him like him) why is that? Is because he has cool gadgets? Or is it because he’s a billionaire playboy who is never seen without one or more hot women around his arms at once, and never the same women twice? The answer is none of the above, because if you take away the money, the power and the gadgets you’ll see what he really stands for and what we’ve come to love him for, justice, being able to go where no one else can, and doing what others can’t to maintain a balance between good and evil, the fact he does this completely at his own free will and is nothing more the a mere powerless mortal is what makes him truly great in my opinion. Now fast-forward throughout the years the Batman has had a live action TV show and many animated one too, which fallowed by four live action films made throughout the 1990’s fallowed by even more animated shows, however after the franchise suffered a serious low blow (Batman Forever, Batman & Robin) which had taken the franchise to such a low degree that both critics and fans alike said the Batman was dead and unable to be revived from the ashes that it had been cast down to,

Even the film studio themselves decided to slap R.I.P. over the franchise and call it quits. However, nearly eight years would pass before director Christopher Nolan would come along and bring us Batman Begins, a delighted film which not only served as a reboot for the franchise, but also give a further insight at how Bruce Wayne becomes the man behind the mask, in other words, it showed how he begins. Something that the Burton/Schumacher films never did, they’d show his parents get killed and he suffers growing up without a family left but his trusted butler, but what about how he learned how to fight, or when he decided to become a symbol of hope. We got that very thing with Christopher Nolan, which during the film’s production got pretty bad press, but in the end the film was soon the victor out of it all. Now in 2008 the long wait is over, and the highly anticipated sequel arrives with nothing but high praise from fans and critics alike. I personally fell in love with this film within the first five minutes of the film, so much that I told myself I didn’t have a choice in it if I wanted to review it or not, that it was a must, if not I wouldn’t , it was an order from within myself to do so, so by the time the film was over I walked out of the theater room and walked right back in line and bought tickets to the very next showing, yes, I saw it twice back to back without a minutes break from each other.

The tone The Dark Knight brings on screen is nothing short of amazing! The plot is solid, and even more so greater than the first film, not to mention with Batman’s arch nemeses The Joker in the lead this time around, the story couldn’t be any more epic then shown in the trailers, or so I thought, I went into this with very mixed feelings, the first being the fact that no comic book movie till this date had been able to fulfill the expectations they normally get everyone hyped up for, I being a fan of a great deal of them can honestly say that there has always been one or two things that left me more or less unsatisfied with everyone comic book film, rather I loved it or not none has been able to get a soled 10/10 out me, the second reason for these mixed feelings was the fact that since the lost of beloved actor Heath Ledger, I knew a part of me would feel both sadness and at the same time anger, sadness because we’ll never see him play the Joker again, and anger because I did not want them to screw up the character or mistreat the last film of such a talented actor such as Mr. Ledger.

That is until the lights dimmed and I saw what director Christopher Nolan was able to bring to an audience that is both highly anticipated this film and morning the lost of a great talent, what he brought was a real gut ranching mind turning spectacular that never stop for a single moment, from the moment it starts it blow my mind away, the bank robbery in the beginning of the film was a real mouth opener for starters, and that’s not even counting the fact we are shown Mr. Ledger as the Joker for the first time in the film ether, no sir, after witnessing the Joker’s first appearance in the movie I was of complete lost for words, never in a 100 years would I have guessed how mad someone can go before they are not a man anymore, and this film showcases that very thing showing us why the Joker is Batman’s nemeses, much in the same way Batman is an incorruptible symbol, the Joker stand for anarchy in its most purest form, he doesn’t want money nor power, he just wants to see the world burn and everyone in it suffer, much like Chinese philosophy, he is the yin to Batman’s yang. They are both in a way, a form of balance, without either the balance would tip too much to the other side, so in a way, they or both a necessary in the world.

So as the film goes on it seems the more and more they go into the film the more and more epic it gets, not to mention slowly showing the devilment of Harvey Dent, showing how he slowly falls from the grace of good and into the darkness which ultimately turns him into the name he’ll forever be feared as…Two-Face. Now with the introduction of Harvey Dent becoming a villain is a slow one indeed, but good, not rushed or badly handled in anyway what so ever, the film shows him as the White Knight Gotham City deserves, and unlike the character’s previous portrayal by Tommy Lee Jones in Batman Forever, Two-Face is not depicted as a murderous madman who kills out of pure fun or enjoyment, but rather as a scared soul that has endured so much pain and suffering both interior and exterior from playing by the rules, that a part of him has died, unfortunately for Harvey, that part of him was his humanity, now all that remains is a shell of the man he once was. This is exactly how he is supposed to be, it’s exactly how he’s in the comic and I’m glad that Nolan saw this and want with it, because it showed the even the most good of men can be corrupted in the end, and be driven to do unspeakable things.

Also this time around Batman himself begins to question his own motives and considers breaking his one rule for once, this shows that the Batman is not a superman or someone who is above all, but rather a man who is trying to do his best at saving his city from madmen like the Joker. Also the film shows us just how truly psychotic the Joker really is and how chaotic his true nature is, now I’m going to make this simple, everything you’ve ever seen of the Joker or heard for the matter, is merely child’s play to what is witnessed in The Dark Knight, he isn’t just crazy, no sir, he’s something else, something much more worse, he’s a symbol for pure evil, one that embraces his insanity, and drives to be more psychotic, more beyond saving, why, because he can, because he wants to and because it’s what he strives for, it’s what makes him the most fearsome villain to the good the people of Gotham city, and I guess the main reason why he’s loved by some much people despite being pure evil is deep down inside we envy him, we envy him because he is not bound by rules and plans, he does what he wants as he wishes, and I think deep down inside we all wish we could do the same. Over all I loved this movie, the first time I was in awe, the second time I was wowed beyond the point of no returned, [Laughs] and I really want to see it again real soon.

The story is about after the events the happed in Batman Begins, Batman (Bale) is trying to repair the damaged that had be done to Gotham City, however it seems thing are only getting worse by the day, with more and more copycats coming out of the woodworks trying to claim they are the Batman, however things start to look up for both Batman and Gotham City, when the newly appointed District Attorney Harvey Dent (Eckhart)cleans up new York by cracking down on police corruption and the big time mob bosses, teaming up with Lt. James Gordon and Batman, they become a force that can finally bring an end to Gotham City’s problems. The is however until a new form of evil arrives in Gotham, The Joker (Ledger) promising the Mob that their money and well being will be in safe hands if they agree pay him half of everything they have collected over the years running their drug operations, however money seems to be the last thing on the Joker’s mind as he seems to be more concerned about the Batman and his true identity, now giving Gotham City an ultimatum, have Batman reveal himself or one person will die every day, and he’s a man of his word, sure enough madness breaks out as none is safe from the Joker’s madness, and the Joker has targeted everyone may have had contact with Batman, this causes Gotham City’s White Knight, District Attorney Harvey Dent to fall from the justice he represented and into the injustice. They say it’s always darkest before the down but can Batman or Gotham be able to survive to see the down.

As for the acting, Christian Bale was amazing; I had my doubt about him back they chose him to play Batman, but after seeing him in Batman Begins, I was amazed with how good of a job he’d done that I saw he was by far the best actor to take on the role of Bruce Wayne / Batman. Heath Ledger was a pure masterpiece! I enjoyed seeing him play the joker, and I think his one of the best to take on the role, now I’m not saying that other actors weren’t as good, no, not by a long shot, all the actors who’ve played the role have done good, however none of which could capture the true psychotic Joker, Ledger not only shows it, he becomes it, he is the Joker in every way possible, I really hope he gets a Oscar nomination for this role, however it will be sad not seeing him act ever again. Aaron Eckhart was great, I personally didn’t care for him being picked for the role of Harvey Dent at first because I felt he wouldn’t be a great Two-Face, however he’s proven me wrong, and man am I glad for that. Michael Caine was very pleasing as Alfred Pennyworth, much like the last film, he gives the character wisdom and experience, and charisma to be Batman’s moral supporter.

Maggie Gyllenhaal was good, some have said that they didn’t like her as much as Katie Holmes, but I disagree, she does a much better job than Holmes, and even proves to be more committed to the role too. Gary Oldman was outstanding, he is one of the most talented actors out there now, and he’s played the role as James Gordon better than anyone who’s taken on the role. Morgan Freeman was fantastic as Lucius Fox, I was glad that they introduced his character in to the films this time around, his character has always played a role in the comics but was never shown in any of the Burton/Schumacher films, which was a disappointment for me, however I’m glad that Nolan did not make the same mistake. Eric Roberts was really good as Salvatore Maroni, in my opinion he may not look the part of Maroni, however he sure did play the part right, which is more than enough for me. Cillian Murphy was great as The Scarecrow, I really like him as The Scarecrow in the last film because he proved to be a more realistic The Scarecrow then the one in the comics or cartoons, and I will say his part was a little too short and I wanted a little more than five minutes or so, but I liked the fact he was still in this film because it leaves the way wide open for second reprisal by him in another sequel.

Final Say: I really enjoyed myself watching The Dark Knight it’s one of those rare films that must be seen in a theater room if you want to fully enjoy every bit of it, it’s got to be one of my all time favorite films ever seen, I swear I could see it over and over again, and can’t wait to see what Christopher Nolan can do next with this magnificent franchise. I highly recommend it.

Copyright 2008
All Rights Reserved

Monday, July 21, 2008

Exclusive: Interview with Author/Artist David McAdoo and Producer Steve Kozak

TCW’s Administrator Clifford Kiyabu sits down with Author/Artist David McAdoo and Producer Steve Kozak for an exclusive interview on their debut graphic novel Red Moon! As children we always fantasize of growing up doing something we love for living. However this never quite comes to pass for most of us. Usually we end up at a dead end job, hating it and always having the thought of, what if? But for some, the dream does in fact come true. David McAdoo has always had a strong respect for animals alike. Some would say a respect as strong as his love for comic books. Now combining them together, what was once a dream is now a reality. David wishes to share his dream with everyone as its being created, which is a rare thing indeed. Most artist and writers will not show one bit of their work until it’s done. And while David may not show us the entire story just yet, he still gives us the glimpses we need to keep us in the loop until Red Moon hits the shelves. You can check out his work as its being created at

CK: David, as a child you were very fond of studying and learning the different types of animals and insects, why is that?

DM: It's really just the artist in me, I think. I always felt very close to nature and animals & insects were (still are) fun to draw.

CK: What was your biggest influence growing up?

DM: I'd have to say my dad was my biggest influence. He drew, painted, wrote poems, wrote songs, played the guitar and built things. True Renaissance man/Jack of All Trades. Professionally, probably Frank Frazetta, Neal Adams or John Buscema.

CK: Are any of the characters in your graphic novel based off anyone close to you?

DM: None of the people but the main character was a pet I had growing up. A few of my other pets from my childhood & the present might make appearances too.

CK: How’d you and Steve Kozak meet?

DM: Steve was the boyfriend of a friend I had when I first moved to California. We're so much the same interests-wise that we kept in touch even after he and my friend broke up and he moved back to Florida.

CK: I’ve read in your online bio you grew up reading comics, what comics did you mostly read?

DM: Mostly just the staples: Superman, Spiderman, Batman, Conan, X-Men. I followed artists more than storylines, though.

CK: Who was your favorite comic Superhero?

DM: Growing up, it was Superman. It would be impossible to pinpoint, now, my tastes and exposure are so much broader.

CK: Are any of the characters in your graphic novel influenced after anyone in your life?

DM: Not really but if there were any parallels it would be the main character, Mox, is me as I am and the supporting lead, Daeden, is who I wish I could be like. Too deep.

CK: You’ve got a few webcomic prequels to your graphic novel up on the Red Moon official website for free, why?

DM: It's really just to show what the book will be like when it comes out. I had a few stories floating around that I didn't put in the main storyline that I liked and thought would work well as prequels.

CK: Do any of the stories in the prequels play a big role in the Red Moon graphic novel?

DM: They all lead up to the main story and give a basic background to some of the situations but they're not integral.

CK: Can you tell us when Red Moon will be on sale?

DM: Don't have a drop date but it will be in the first half of 2009.

CK: Will the webcomic prequels be added into the graphic novel or eventually put on sale for those who did not read the prequels online?

DM: They won't be in the graphic novel, but there's a possibility of them being printed as a compilation at some point.

CK: What would you say you’re a bigger fan of: DC comic Or Marvel Comic?

DM: See answer #6.

CK: So DC fan it is. [Laughs]

CK: I'd like to play to your fantasy for a moment if you will. If you were given the opportunity to take on one comic of your choosing to write for in the comic book industry, what comic would you pick?

DM: I have ideas of what I would do with a run on Superman, but I'd probably have more fun with a Spidey run.

CK: Steve, about two years ago both you and David got together to create Movie Battle Royale (MBR) which really took off on the social networking site MySpace, which got you guys really noticed on the internet. So how exactly did the idea behind MBR came about?

SK: I was driving home (from a movie) and there was this talk radio show on pitting comedy films against one another. Like, which one was better. I thought, this would make a great interactive blog!

CK: Have you always been a fan of comics?

SK: Since I was a teen, yeah. I started reading Batman comics when the Tim Burton movie came out, but I'm not so much into superhero stuff anymore. In college I started reading "Stray Bullets", "Milk and Cheese", more indie stuff. These days I'm into Doug Tennapel, Jefferey Brown, "Mouseguard", "Korgi", the list goes on and on...

CK: How long would you say the two of you planned on Red Moon and getting it off the ground and into motion in becoming a reality?

SK: David showed me an early draft of the Red Moon script about 3 years ago just to get my opinion. There were no plans for a book. He'd been trying to get Red Moon made into an indie animated film. But then this past September he showed me the final draft of the script and I asked him if he wanted to do Red Moon as a graphic novel if I funded the project. I'm glad he said yes!

CK: How did your addiction for movies come about?

SK: Am I addicted? [Laughs] I probably am. You know, when I go running in the morning, I have a special playlist on my iPod: tracks from "Run Lola Run", the "Rocky" theme, the "Chariots of Fire" theme, etc. So if that's any indication...Anyway, my love for movies comes from the fact that my Dad had a friend in the Cleveland area (where I grew up) who opened one of the first video stores, WAY before Blockbuster. My family had a VCR really early. I watched ALOT of movies growing up.

CK: Where David is known best as a master artist in drawing, would you say you’re a master of movie knowledge?

SK: Master? No. I listen to that podcast, Movie Geeks United. Jerry and all those guys put me to shame. They're awesome. I have a bunch of movie information in my head, that's for sure though. I'd do pretty well on The World Series of Pop Culture on VH-1. Oh man, I just mentioned VH-1. That means I'm getting old and unhip, right?

CK: Well if mentioning VH-1 means you’re old, then I’m just as much an old fart as you are [Laughs]

And that concludes my interview with David McAdoo and Steve Kozak, we had a great time doing this interview, and probably will do another sometime before the book is realesed, we continue to remain in contact with each other on a day to day bases, I’ve also been informed that David McAdoo will be at this year’s San-Diego Comic-con passing out flyers and advertising Red Moon, however he won’t have an official booth or anything for this year, but if you’d like to meet this magnificent Artist than keep an eye out for him at Comic-con, also you be able to help him out in advertising if you're free for an hour or so at comicon. If you’d like to see more his work go to their website at; or check out their official MySpace page by clicking Here. You can also contact David McAdoo directly by e-mailing him at: or his producer at:

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Review: Hellboy II: The Golden Army (2008) [Reviewed By Tony-D]

“Hellboy II: The Golden Army”
Release: 2008
***½ out of ****
Director: Guillermo Del Toro
Cast: Ron Perlman, Selma Blair, Doug Jones

I remember the first time that I watched the first “Hellboy” film, which was distributed by Sony and Revolution Studios, that I didn’t really like the film all that much. I just found it boring, stupid, and not even the least bit interesting. What I saw instead of the comic book movie I paid to see, I saw one ugly ass guy painted in red try to save the world. If I wanted to see someone red save the world, I could watch “Spiderman.”

There was just one problem – Ron Perlman is the fucking shit.

I wouldn’t be surprised if you haven’t heard of a man named Ron Perlman. His name is so unknown that he relies on his characters just to get his name around. “Hellboy” is probably his most famous character, not because of the name, but because it shows the true Ron Perlman. A true badass Ron Perlman.

He’s the only guy that could not look like a fool in an Uwe Boll film. He’s the only guy who can kick someone’s ass or get his ass kicked and still laugh about it after it is all said and done. He’s the only guy who can get a girl while looking like a hideous fucking chode. He’s the only guy in the business that can rule Hollywood and you will never know.


Because he’s Ron Perlman. He can do anything.

And that was the biggest problem with “Hellboy.” Here is a fantastic and underrated actor who puts on the performance of his life, and for a film as boring as “Hellboy,” he is the only thing that stands in the film’s way of making it a terrible movie. In this particular discussion, I will be the first one that will say, “Well you’re acting like you’re so fucking surprised,” but I can’t this time. “Hellboy” was supposed to be excellent. “Hellboy” was supposed to kick major ass. But it falls down like a crippled version of David Hasselhoff.

Guillermo Del Toro saved himself after “Hellboy” with the hit film “Pan’s Labyrinth.” I don’t think that never in my time I’ve watched such a dark film and had the audacity to call it beautiful. Not only were the visuals amazing looking, but they looked sexy as hell. It had a real villain, a real hero, and the obstacles that the hero had to take to achieve were excellently set up. It was the perfect fantasy film, and I dare you to go against me on that one.

Around this time, “Hellboy II” was being thrown around back and forth while Revolution and Sony were having their disputes. The rights for the film were eventually on sale, and Universal took hold of the project. With everyone from the first film returning for the second, Del Toro had to make a choice – make a shitty film like the first one, or keep the fans that he received from “Pan’s Labyrinth.”

I’ll give you a hint, it wasn’t the first one.

Because “Hellboy II: The Golden Army” is a MAJOR improvement of the first one. It has everything that you want from a “Hellboy” flick – a true badass who has to face a true villain, while trying to look good for the media and everyone else. There was plausible character development, great action sequences, and excellent dialogue. I’m telling you, it is freaking awesome!

Ron Perlman returns as Hellboy. While looking good and making his superiors asses for the media, he is having problems with his girlfriend Liz. (Selma Blair) The two of them and Abe (Doug Jones) arrive to an auction house where a bunch of tooth fairies (creatures that eat you from head to toe, starting with the teeth).

Prince Nuada (Luke Goss) unleashes these tooth fairies while he gets the first of three pieces of a crown. If the next two pieces of the crown are found and put together by the Prince, he has total control over The Golden Army, an elite force that could never be stopped. With Hellboy aware of this, he, Abe, Liz, and newcomer Johann Krauss, (Seth McFarlane) the four of them must stop the Prince before he finds the last two pieces.

Other complications arise though. Abe has fallen in love with Prince Nuada’s twin sister. (Anna Walton) The problem is that Hellboy wants to get his hands on the Prince and possibly kill him, but whatever happens to the Prince, it will happen to the Princess. This subplot brings possibly the funniest scene in the film. Abe is aware what could happen to the Princess once Hellboy does something to her brother, and he begins playing Barry Manilow. Hellboy and Abe (drunkenly) sing together. It’s so out of place yet so hilarious.

One of the main reasons why I loved the “Fantastic Four” movies that everyone dreads was because they were so involved with the media. When they went into costume, they were targets of the media. When they weren’t in costume, they were targets of the media. The problem that the character of Hellboy is that he can’t change the way he looks. The government wants to keep him secret from the public media, but Hellboy would rather be liked by others while being hated and feared by the people he works for. It takes a true badass to take it to those bastards.

“Hellboy II” brings on the excellent direction of Guillermo Del Toro back on the screen. Fresh off of “Pan’s Labyrinth,” many creative thoughts had to be put into this new film. He had to make sure that he wasn’t making a film in the style of “Pan’s Labyrinth,” yet try to create a world similar to the world that “Hellboy” lived in. Some of the characters looked similar to the ones in “Pan’s Labyrinth,” but their personalities and movements are the complete opposite. Del Toro is the best fantasy director working today next to Peter Jackson.

Which leaves us with Ron Perlman. Something tells us that he got the better end of this deal because not only is he starring in a truly awesome movie, but he is the best part of this truly awesome movie. I could only make one complaint – the script tries to focus too much on his feelings. Hellboy doesn’t need feelings to be badass. All the character needs is a good and very badass actor to play him.

Ron Perlman has it.

Review: Kung Fu Panda (2008) [Reviewed By Clifford Kiyabu]

Directed by: Mark Osborne and John Stevenson
Written by: Jonathan Aibel and Glenn Berger
Genre: Animation / Action / Comedy
MPAA: Rated PG for sequences of martial arts action
Released: 6 June 2008 (USA)
Starring: Jack Black, Dustin Hoffman, Angelina Jolie, Ian McShane , Jackie Chan, Seth Rogen, Lucy Liu, David Cross, Randall Duk Kim, James Hong, Dan Fogler, Michael Clarke Duncan.

Plot: Po the Panda is the laziest animals in all of the Valley of Peace, but unwittingly becomes the chosen one when enemies threaten their way of life.

Review: 8/10

My Thoughts: It’s no secret that since the mid 90’s DreamWorks has been competing for dominance over their highly successful competitor Pixar in the “Animation War”, but with every successful film they have produced, Pixar has always been able to do twice as better and end up on top in the end, it would seem that if it wasn’t for the “Shrek” films, DreamWorks would surely lose the fight, and even though the last instilment in their Shrek franchise prove to make a ridicules sum of money it still lacked in story telling that the last two film had provided quite nicely, for me this was a low blow for DreamWorks because it’s competitor Pixar has yet to overdo with the same jokes repeatedly to make up for a weak plot, this of course had cause me to pre-make up my mind on this film and want to avoid it in theaters. However I still got to see it because a few fellow moviegoers offered me a free ticket as long as I tagged along as company, the only thing I’d have to do is pay for my own popcorn, now how can someone like me refuse such an offer? [Laughs], so with that I was well on my way into seeing this movie, know I went into it with low expectations and already doubting the film’s success to entertain me in my mind.

So with the lights coming to a dim I said to myself “oh boy, here we go” while rolling my eyes at the screen. But then after about five minutes into the film had passed, something completely unsuspecting and quite remarkable happened, I found myself laughing, I than realized that I’m actually enjoying what I’m viewing on screen, and found the film had a very good plot that is able to be understood by kid, while very much enjoyed by adults, and the comedy itself is also to a level that both children and adults will enjoy. Now once I knew I liked how the film was going my only concern was that small children wouldn’t ruin the film by, yep you guessed it, making loud noise in the theater room. As most already know children screaming and making noise is inevitable in a theater room, and can be the ultimate mood killer for any moviegoer, but to my surprise the only sound kids were making was of cheer and laughter alongside everyone else in the theater room, the experience was a one of kind for me, not ruined and completely entertaining, my only problem was the tagline the plot carries, the whole “you can do it if you just believe in yourself” method.

Which as you know is so overly used in Hollywood that there isn’t a year that goes by that we get bombarded by films with such an ideology that one might think that the powers that be in Hollywood is trying to brainwash people into thinking a certain way. but with all things set aside it did not ruined the film one bit for me, in fact what I found was the film introduced some very important morals to the youth on today’s times, like hard work, discipline and a humble mind is the perfect combinations for achieving your goals, also the film deals greatly on the subject of discrimination, from hints of racial discrimination, to obesity discrimination, see our main characters, “Po’ (Jack Black) is an overweight Panda who is picked to become the chosen one, now in the story Pandas are not looked at as fighters and because of him being somewhat heavy he is looked downed on by both his peers and his teacher, however he must overcome all their negativity to become what has been foretold and become what many doubt to ever being possible, the film has quite a few touching moments which is heartwarming the very core of one’s heart. It also introduces the same cinematic feel that the old fashion Kung Fu movies had with a taste of its own brand of martial arts, overall it is worth the view, and rather you have kids or not, or just a kid at heart, and I will say it may not be able to compete against a powerhouse film like Pixar’s WALL·E, however it’s still greatly disserving to be right up there among the other fantastic film in it’s genre.

The Story is about, Kung Fu Panda is the story of Po, (Black), a sweet, but clumsy Panda who has dreams of fighting with the legendary Furious Five and protecting the city against all threats. The only problem is that Po has no real life experience of kung fu, and his real job is serving noodles at his dad's noodles shop. News of selecting the Dragon Warrior is sent out from the Jade Temple, and the whole city along with Po, go to the celebration. The competition is between the Furious Five: Tigress (Jolie), Viper (Liu), Crane (Cross), Monkey (Chan), and Mantis (Rogen). Po accidentally enters the contest and is named the Dragon Warrior. Master Shifu (voice Dustin Hoffman) must find a way to train Po and make him a Kung Fu Master, especially, after they learn that the snow leopard, Tai Lung (voice Ian McShane), is headed their way.

As for the acting: well I can’t really say that this is acting, after all this movie is an animated adventure, and the only acting that is done by the actors is their voice work, however I’ll still judge them in the best way that I can. Jack Black was great, I must say his voice matched Po the panda to such a degree that it’s unimaginable to even think of anyone else voicing this character, you could say he gave the character that extra fuel to light it’s fire even brighter. Dustin Hoffman was a very interesting mix to the cast, because I never would have thought him acting a film such as this, but boy was I wrong, not only did he do the voice of Master Shifu good, but he did so that I didn’t even recognized it was him at first until I saw the credits. Angelina Jolie was great as Tigress, she gave the character the stability and drive that was needed to make it work. Ian McShane was magnificent, he’s an actor that in my opinion has always had this sinister tone of voice, and adding that to his evil character Tai Lung made it spot on! Jackie Chan was wow! He completely surprised me with this role as Monkey, and left me satisfied to the fullest. Seth Rogen was great, I must say this isn’t exactly the type of film I’d normally like to see him in, he still did a great job, and I give him kudos for it. Lucy Liu did a wonderful job as usual. David Cross was also great, and the fact that he’s an actor I don’t really care for all that much, mean by me saying he’s did a great job means a lot coming from me. Randall Duk Kim was outstanding as Master Oogway, he gave the character kindness and wisdom that will touch the hearts of viewers all around. It was nice to see James Hong in this, I tell you, no matter what the film is, may it be good or bad, he always bring a bit of enjoyment to me when his on screen. sadly I can’t say the same for Dan Fogler, an actor I can’t stress enough I don’t care for at all, and don’t fimd funny in anyway no matter what film you put him in, however he did do a somewhat okay job in this, I won’t say good, but not bad, just okay. Michael Clarke Duncan has a small, but very satisfying role in this.

Final Say: Kung Fu Panda prove to have heart, and the ability to show that DreamWorks has what it takes to make something wonderful that can amount to what the mighty Pixar can dish out, I had a great time at the movies with this diamond in the rough, I look forward to DreamWorks next film to see what they can come up with next, and of course I will certainly be looking forward to Kung Fu Panda 2. I highly recommend.

Copyright 2009
All Rights Reserved

Monday, July 14, 2008

Review: Hellboy II: The Golden Army (2008) [Reviewed By Clifford Kiyabu]

Directed by: Guillermo del Toro
Written by: Guillermo del Toro (screenplay) and Mike Mignola (Story)
Genre: Action / Adventure / Fantasy
MPAA: Rated PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi action and violence, and some language.
Released: 11 July 2008 (USA)
Starring: Ron Perlman, Selma Blair, Doug Jones, Seth MacFarlane, Luke Goss, Anna Walton, Jeffrey Tambor, John Hurt.

Plot: The mythical world starts a rebellion against humanity in order to rule the Earth, so Hellboy and his team must save the world from the rebellious creatures.

Review: 9/10

My Thoughts: “And I looked down into the end of the world and saw the beast, and in his right hand was the key to the bottomless pit”

"Behold the right hand of doom."

Born from evil, son of the fallen angel, and demon Prince of Sheol, the demon whose true name is Anung un Rama was brought into this world as a weapon for the Nazis in the final days of World War II, he is the barer of the right hand of doom and destined to bring about The Ogdru Jahad (The Seven Gods of Chaos) and end mankind’s rain over earth, however with fate on the side of light, he ended up in the hands of good, and they called him, HellBoy, and he became humanity’s last hope. I can tell you that the majority would agree that this is not the usual makings of a superhero, nor is it one good would normally arise from, however writer-artist Mike Mignola proved the majority wrong when he created HellBoy in 1993, unlike you’re average superhero, Hellboy isn’t particularly liked by the people due to his nature and of course his appearance (Devil look) and the name doesn’t help him either, so because of this he must remain hiding at all time while still risking his life for people who would not accept him as one of their own, despite he proves to show more compassion and human like qualities within him then most humans, band together with fellow companions at the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense (BPRD), he becomes one of the most unlikely hero’s this world has ever seen, and I guess you could say I admire HellBoy, mostly because to people he is thought as something evil and must be destroyed, sure he’s made from pure evil and supposedly going to bring about the end of the world, and yet; he’s doing the exact opposite to what those pre-predicted of him, it tells you that our destiny is not pre-chosen for us but yet to be written, and not to judge a book by its cover.

So with the help of director Guillermo del Toro, and actor Ron Perlman in the starring seat, Mike Mignola’s dream became a reality in 2004 when HellBoy was adapted onto the big screen, however despite the film getting positive reviews by films critics it only did moderate at the box-office pulling just under its production budget, and broke even with DVD sales, this was bad news for those who wanted to see a sequel made, and at first the possibility of a sequel ever coming seemed unsure and more and more highly unlikely. That is until Revolution Studios sold the rights to Universal Pictures who saw a sequel to be more profitable then Revolution Studios thought after the results of the first film, and after a long four year wait we are finally reworded with Hellboy II: The Golden Army a sequel that has been one year too many overdue. Unlike the first film, our devilish hero has gone public and is no longer needing of the nanny squad fallowing him around; also this time around HellBoy faces new villains as well as many new challenges await, from battling a long forgotten kingdom to his relationship problems with his girlfriend Liz.

I was greatly impressed with the plot of this film; for one thing it’s not based off any of Mike Mignola’s comics, unlike the first film which was based off two graphic novels by Mignola, this one was written by both Guillermo del Toro and Mike Mignola as a new story written for the film, introducing both new and old characters into the mix, one most notable is Johann Krauss, one of the BPRD best agents, I’ve been a fan of this particular character since the comics, and now even more so in the film, the all new villains were fantastic, I must say a part of me was sadden by the fact that there were no Nazis in the mix this time around, people who aren’t fans of the comic books won’t understand that Nazis have always played a hug role in the overall plot in HellBoy comics, and to be honest one cannot deny the fact that they make the best of villains this earth as ever seen, who here can tell me of a more notable adversary then that of Nazis, but despite the fact they are absent in this film, doesn’t show as a sign of weakness, in fact it gives the film strength, because it shows we can have a good film without the typical and predictable stuff, also this time around the film doesn’t play out as a horror like its predecessor, it’s more like a action/fantasy with a lovely touch of comedy, in other words it’s a monster mash! [Laughs]

And besides the larger than life villains our red skinned hero faces, he must also face his own demons within, as the result to going public causes him to be subjected to racism, yep, that’s right, racism from the human race, as many humans have shown fear and anger towards him, and he is forced to look within himself and ask why? Why continue to save humanity when he will never be reworded with acceptance nor will his companions. It’s a much different story told then the one before hand, and on a more epic scale which proves to be stronger than ever possible, but I guess that comes with the territory of being a sequel, as I have found that in all films like this the first sequel always proves to be the best out of the series. Also the film gives a hint to what a possible second sequel will be about if another is made of course. And on another good note to the film is both Liz Sherman and Abe Sapien have much bigger parts this time around, Abe more so then anything, which was good because he was given too small of a role last time which was a downer for me a bit.

The film also has a bit of plot twists and turns that will keep you satisfied the whole way, and of course in the same tradition of the first film, this one gives a little more insight on HellBoy and Professor Broom, and their father son relationship by showing a flashback showing a young HellBoy and a less older Professor Broom on Christmas eve 1955, which a lovely look back at Professor Broom, and how his unconditional love as an adopted father made HellBoy the man he is today, and not the beast we thought him to be, you could say HellBoy has always resembled a Beauty and The Beast type of story if you’d call it that, beauty on the inside, and all beast on the outside. I must not forget how action packed it is, this film is filled with twice the action and twice the thrills than ever before, not to mention the action packed climax ending battle that left me in awe. Also the cinematography was fantastic, much better this time around, and the Special effect which was outstanding, I like the idea that director Guillermo del Toro is still using traditional style of Make-Up and Costumes and sets, something most directors now days will just cheat and blast their films with so much CGI it could make you sick to your stomach, but not Guillermo del Toro, he uses only the right amount of CGI that’s needed and nothing more, something I can’t help about admire about him as a filmmaker.

The story is about: after an ancient truce existing between humankind and the invisible realm of the fantastic is broken, hell on Earth is ready to erupt. A ruthless leader who treads the world above and the one below defies his bloodline and awakens an unstoppable army of creatures. Now, it's up to the planet's toughest, roughest superhero to battle the merciless dictator and his marauders. He may be red. He may be horned. He may be misunderstood. But when you need the job done right, it's time to call in Hellboy.

As for the acting; Ron Perlman does it ye again with another outstanding performance as HellBoy, let me tell you, he was born for this role, not only does he look and sound the part, but he is the part, it’s almost as if Mike Mignola created the character specifically for him, I mean I for one was blown away by the breath taking job he did for the role for the second time. Selma Blair lights up the screen on fire with her great performance as hotty Liz Sherman, I’ve said it once in my review for the first HellBoy film and I’ll say it again, she doesn’t look at all a bit like her character looks like in the comic, however where she lacks in appearance, she makes back in ace style acting that I believe no other actress in Hollywood can duplicate in this role, so I’ll let her go on the not looking the part, part, but I will say she does in fact give her own brand of sexy to the film that is just wow! Doug Jones was magnificent, much in the same respect of Perlman being HellBoy; Jones is Abe Sapien in every way you can think.

Seth MacFarlane was awesome as Johann Krauss, I must admit though, I didn’t think he’d be right for the role at first, because what his normal work is (Family Guy cartoon) which I have nothing wrong with, I love watching the show, but I felt he wouldn’t do the role justice, but that was until I finally saw what he was capable of doing for the character, then I was wowed to near death of enjoyment. Luke Goss was fantastic as Prince Nuada, he gave the character this sophisticated form of evilness that was so delightful that it was barbaric meets class. Anna Walton did a wonderful job as Princess Nuala, spot on I must say. Jeffrey Tambor was also great, his portrayal as Tom Manning was on target, and even better then he was in the last film, he bring that certain charm to the character that makes you enjoy hating him for it. I was delighted to see John Hurt reprising his role as Trevor Bruttenholm (Professor Broom) in the beginning of the film; he’s one of the best actors in Hollywood, and much like a fine wine only seems to get better with age.

Final Say: I really had a blast watching HellBoy 2, more so then the first one, I look forward to seeing it again when it comes out on DVD, and I highly saddest seeing it while it’s in theaters, however I will say it’s not for everyone, as it is a love it or hate it type of film, as where in my case it was a love it type of film. I highly recommend it.

Copyright 2008
All Rights Reserved

Friday, July 11, 2008

Review: WALL-E (2008) [Reviewed By Kelsey Zukowski]

Starring: Ben Burtt, Elissa Knight, Jeff Garlin, Fred Williard
Directed By: Andrew Stanton
Written By: Andrew Stanton, Jim Capobianco
Released: 2008
Grade: B+

WALL-E is one of the best reviewed films in years, possibly decades even. Not only to critics and pretty much everyone for that matter unanimously like it, but there is a general viewpoint that has almost become a fact that it is completely amazing and better than every film in years. Going in to a film like this that is an animated Pixar film, the hype almost takes over. The expectations are put so high in a movie that anything short of perfection and excellence in every way through the visuals, characters, story, emotions, critique, and intelligence ends up being much more of a disappointment than it should be. Not to say I was disappointed by WALL-E, on the contrary, I thought it was a great film that had many different aspects that worked wonderfully together. I am sure it was because the expectations were so high going in to it, that I cannot say I feel as strongly about this film as some do. It reminds me of the case of Pixar’s last summer hit, Ratatouille. It was very widely praised and many held it as the best movie of the year. I saw it after the hype died down, which I am sure helped. I enjoyed it, but still thought that Finding Nemo was the far better Pixar film. I am sure if I heard nothing about WALL-E and just went in to it, I might be as amazed as others or at least would have had the chance to be taken by surprise. Even though I wasn’t completely wowed by it, WALL-E is without a doubt one of Pixar’s greatest accomplishments not just through the popularity of the film, but by its’ dedication, an unexpectedly easy character to care about, and exerts a message we all need to hear.

The film takes place in the near future when Earth is nothing more than a giant garbage dump. WALL-E (Burtt), standing for Waste Allocation Load Lifter-Earth class, a robot who compacts the trash, attempts to clean up the massive mess that humans have left behind. The earth is widely deserted as all of the humans are in space since the planet has been reported to have unsustainable conditions for life. The only living thing WALL-E is able to interact with is a bug, who has managed to make it through the bad conditions. There are numerous storms and WALL-E has built a home for himself and to feel some sort of comfort, having a place of his own. Everyday he collects anything he finds in the trash that looks useful or that interests him at all. He has formed quite a collection over time including a VCR tape that he plays constantly, “Hello, Dolly”. He becomes so attached to this because it shows humans, which he has never seen before, activities like dancing that look invigorating to him, and most importantly emotions of love that he desperately longs for.

Each day he goes along with his routine of trash compaction until he meets another like himself. A spaceship comes along and drops off a robot named Eve (Knight), an Extraterrestrial Vegetation Evaluator. She is much more sleek, classy, and futuristic than the rugged, rusty, and worn down WALL-E. Yet WALL-E, simply by the site of her, falls for her instantly. He brings her back to his home and shares many of his fascinations including his favorite movie. It seems that WALL-E has finally found love in another robot, but when he gives her a plant, she seems to malfunction and is lifeless. WALL-E tries bringing her back to life, through sun, hoping that she is solar powered and even waits with her in the rain. Soon enough, the spaceship comes back and snatches Eve. Not knowing what else to do, WALL-E comes along with her. He finds it harder and harder to remain undetected as he is a foreign substance. When he gets there Eve just feels he need to go. Without Eve though that is the last thing he wants to do.

The message of the film comes out through the humans more than anything. They are all in this spaceship that hides them from everything else. It is an endless vacation that ends up making them unaware of any world encompassing reality. They literally don’t have to move. There are robots to do every single thing for them. They don’t even have to walk and just float in reclined, flying furniture. There are portraits of the captain’s aligned, starting out slim or in shape and getting bigger and bigger. Everyone on the ship is extremely obese from pure laziness and the lifestyle they have gotten used to. They sit here having robots do everything for them while other robots are cleaning up the mess that they made. There is a major lack of responsibility here on the humans part, which is pretty realistic. It is easier to have someone pay for the consequences of what we caused while doing nothing, while others are working hard. We fill this world with trash and worry little about the environment without caring about what the long term effect may be and only care about the short term. Sure, it might not directly effect us in our lifetime, but what about our children or those who come after us? Are we really selfish enough to leave them with all of the problems that we have caused?

Along with asking these questions, it confronts our obsession with technology from a medium of technology, the film itself, as well as the futuristic robots who do everything. There is even a classic case of robot take over. Especially in the humans being in such a weak state, the robot’s really have the power even if they are programmed to just follow orders. Being so weak and not even doing simple tasks, humans have lost their intelligence. Aside from not even knowing how to walk, the captain himself, the one who is supposed to be in charge of this ship, doesn’t even remember simple meanings. He has to use the computer to look up and define things that if living on earth everyone would know their meaning. Heck, he didn’t even know what the word, earth, itself meant. Realizing what this abandonment of your home has done to the entire living species, ends up being the most powerful thing to the captain. WALL-E is a cry against laziness. Not only will it make us selfish and kill the earth, as well as making us obese and extremely unhealthy, but it will ultimately fry our brains and essentially take any dignity or strength away from us.

Of course, the vast majority of the film is silent, particularly the part solely with the robots on earth. You cannot look in to WALL-E’s mechanical eyes without feeling for him or knowing just what he is feeling. There is a very isolated feeling and even though he is a robot, he struggles with keeping sanity. Sure this is all he has known, but the human artifacts that have been left behind are really what keeps him going. They fascinate him and through them he learns of, craves for, and eventually obtains love. We understand WALL-E and Eve even through their nearly silent moments. Their beeps become a part of them and we are clued in on this otherwise foreign language and are able to understand them and even admire the creativity that is intact in these scenes.

One of the biggest and only critiques really for this film is that it is a kids’ movie and there shouldn’t be these critiques geared at this audience. The critiques in the film aren’t just for adults. The point is that even the little kids in the movie are raised to have the same selfish, laziness. By saying that a movie with a general audience rating shouldn’t have any thought, meaning, or message in it, even if it directly reflects upon the people in our society and the world the kids watching it are being raised in is ridiculous. This is a film where kids can pick up on this, whereas with other films that don’t have this content, they may be bored or uninterested. WALL-E uses this but is still very loveable and fun to watch. Sure, adults will have a deeper understanding of what WALL-E has to say, but kids can see this to some extent as well. All films have some sort of a meaning to them, so why not use one that is so close for to home? The film takes place in the near future for a reason, the laziness, ignorance, and trash filled world really isn’t as far off as we would like to hope. If you haven’t seen WALL-E yet, I highly recommend you see it. It is a great film that does so many things right, I just don’t think it’s the best thing I ever saw, not even this year alone. If it is all possible, try to lower your expectations and try not to be expecting to see a masterpiece. If you can do this the surprises and unexpectedness will take a hold of you with compassion and intelligence. WALL-E is an important film that uses a lot of creativity, heart, and is desperately trying to speak to its’ audience and succeeds doing so.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Review: WALL·E (2008) [Reviewed By Clifford Kiyabu]

Directed by: Andrew Stanton
Written by: Andrew Stanton (screenplay) and Jim Capobianco (titles)
Genre: Animation / Comedy / Family
MPAA: Rated G for General Audiences, all ages admitted
Released: 27 June 2008 (USA)
Starring: Ben Burtt, Elissa Knight, Jeff Garlin, Fred Willard, Macintalk, John Ratzenberger, Kathy Najimy, Sigourney Weaver.

Plot: In the distant future, a small waste collecting robot that slowly begins to become sentient inadvertently embarks on a space journey that will ultimately decide the fate of mankind.

Review: 10/10

My Thoughts: Back in the mid 1990’s the Pixar creative team got together and started a think tank amongst themselves on one fateful day, through their brainstorming of random ideas that day, spawned every single Pixar film ever made from 1995 to 2008, and out of all their ideas, there was one that had yet to be given life, the last piece of their geniuses was none other than a little lonely robot named WALL·E, and after all of Pixar ideas from that day had gone through to the big screen, one still remained, and years and years of waiting silently in the dark WALL·E is finally given life on the big screen, and given the appreciation he so greatly deserved alongside the other greats, I went into this films knowing it would be great, however one thing boggled my mind, just how can they have a film with such little, and I mean very little dialogue, one would think this could end only in disaster, however this was not the case, nor was it the least liked in the lot, you could say they’ve been saving this film for last because it’s the best in the bunch, everything that is Pixar is wonderfully wrapped into this beautiful film, WALL·E has touched my heart in such a way that no animated film has done so in the last decade, the film is more than just a film, it’s an adventure into one’s self, a journey if you will, that will show you both the good and errors in humanity.

The film sends a strong and powerful message about the way we treat this planet, and if we don’t do something to better it soon, we may very well have to abandon it. It also takes a very deep look into ourselves and shows how we are lacking in social and moral fiber that we are losing the very thing that makes us who we are due to technology, the man of tomorrow that is shown in this will surely make you put your head down in shame and wonder, is this possible? Could we really be heading down this dark and downwards path? One cannot help but wonder if such a thing is possible, or fear of it being inevitable. As for the dialogue, I must say, the film has very little to it, with a cast roster of less than dozen actors, however to my surprise the film expresses so much warmth and love without even so much as a word at times and no matter who you are, you could understand everything that was going on as if you was reading it through an unspoken language. These robots had said so much without even saying a word, this kind of geniuses is so very and I mean very hard to find in Hollywood these days, take, and the emotion is so strong, I’d suggest taking a box Kleenex with you or not you well be sorry, I myself fell victim to the high intense emotion of the film, for example WALL·E spent so long alone doing his daily job that over the years he’s developed somewhat of a personality, and because of this he has become so very lonely, all he wants to be loved unconditionally like a human, and like a human he dreams of one day having a special someone to hold his hand.

Like I’ve said earlier, so much is said and expressed in this film with such little words that the best way I can put it, is to express what I witnessed in the theater room while viewing it, sitting two seats away from me were a young couple who were obviously very much in love (happened to noticed them holding each other tightly when I reached down to get my drink) and when the scene showing the WALL·E and Eve together flying in space just enjoying each other’s company, I saw the young couple lean on each other with such warmth on both of their faces that it was clear they understood the message that was being said here, I soon caught on too a moments after, it was the Love, the love between these two machines, it was so unconditional, so compassionate, that I could not help myself but shed a few tears to the moment, the message that is said is too few in these days and time do we see the kind of love publicly, too few do we see such a beautiful thing expressed that is true to the heart now days, and the fact that two machines wanted what we so much take for granted asks the question; does being human have to mean being a mammal? Or does being alive really mean one must be born? Does being alive really means being alive when in fact something that never lived is more so alive then most people, if this case no! So much life and personality is shown in something that was never really alive to begin with, but became something entirely unsuspected over so long of being alone and given the time to develop. Plus I cannot stress enough how humorist this film really is, as much as you’ll be touched by its story, so will you be laughing to tears, plus not to mention the Special effect is by far some of the best I’ve seen to date, mixing animation with actual motion picture, which is outstanding to the very end, I had a very good time watching this film, and I urge everyone to see this at least once, this film is the first film to receive a 10/10 from me in 2008, and the first animation from me ever, there is without a single doubt in my mind that this film deserves an Oscar.

The story is about in the early 2100s, the Mega-Corporation “Buy 'n Large” took over every service on Earth, including the government. Overrun by consumerism, the planet eventually became so heavily polluted that it could no longer support life. In an attempt to keep humanity alive, Buy 'n Large sponsored an exodus to space aboard hundreds of massive "Executive Starliners", the largest of which is the Axiom. Thousands of WALL·E (Waste Allocation Load Lifter Earth-Class) units were left behind to clean up the planet. However, seven hundred years later, only one WALL·E (Burtt) remains operational, scavenging parts from his inactive duplicates. Refusing to abandon his objectives; he spends his days continuing to clean up little by little and scavenging parts that may keep him in good condition, or what he thinks is interesting, but through all these years of doing this routine, WALL·E developed a personality of his own, and at night when his loneliness gets the better of him he wishing he had someone to hold his hand. This is of course until he meets EVE (Knight) a scouting droid sent to earth to scout the planet for organic life, EVE and WALL·E meet, so enough they become friends, however WALL·E wants to me more than just friends, he has falling in love with EVE, you could say it’s love at first sight, but just as their courting started EVE must go because she completed her scout mission and find organic life on the planet (A plant), not wanting to be alone again, WALL·E secretly hitches a ride aboard the pickup ship, now leaving earth for the first time in his existence he sees things he had never before, but none of which will be as new to him as when he arrives the Axiom, there he witnesses what has become of humanity and why they have not yet returned back home, when they should have only been gone for five years and not 700, there his curiosity of the ship and trying to reunite with EVE leads to uncovering the disturbing secret behind humanities overdue return home.

As for the acting; well it’s kind of heard to say on this since it’s an animated film, however Ben Burtt was great, his voicing on WALL·E was spot on, I honestly have to say he gives the character the extra bit of emoting that combined with the character bring you a stunning eye spectacle. Elissa Knight was fantastic as EVE, although you can’t really hear he voice a 100% in the film (this is due to it being altered to fit the robot character) there was one scene in particular where just what she had said brought me to tears. Jeff Garlin who plays the captain in the movie, was quite good, he plays one the few humans in this film that has dialogue, and does a really good job at it too. Fred Willard the only actor to not appear in animation form but in real life form did a magnificent job playing as the CEO of Buy 'n Large, and I must say, he really matched the part. It was nice to see John Ratzenberger in this, for many who don’t know, aside from acting, Ratzenberger is one of Pixar’s long time veteran voice actors that has been doing voice work her them in just about every Pixar going as far back as his role as “Hamm the Piggy Bank” from Toy Story, it’s no lie that his name added to the roster of this already perfect film only helped it become an even greater film. Kathy Najimy was a doll on this, her and Ratzenberger’s characters gives the film a small but still lovely subplot which revolves around how they see life in a new light after crossing paths with WALL·E, and also the fact that both actor have a wonderful voicing chemistry on the big screen. Sigourney Weaver was, well it’s hard to saw really because she plated the Ship's Computer, which isn’t much in this, however she does her part just as good as everyone else.

Final Say: WALL·E was probably one of the biggest surprises for me this year, and this is due to the fact I wasn’t expecting it to be as good as it turned out to be, and the fact shocked me to the very last scene in awe, the film was a real emotional joyrides for me, I laughed, I cried, and I downright fell in love with this film, and what shocked me the most was; when the film’s credits started to role the entire audience gave a standing ovation, and for the first time I stood there side by side with the audience applauding for its greatness, I have seriously not seen or done such for a film since my viewing of The Last Samurai while screening it along side local film critics back in 2003. I encourage everyone to see WALL·E in theaters, it’s just one of those films that must be seen in theaters, and is officially on my list of best films ever seen. I highly recommend it.

Copyright 2008
All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Review: Careless (2008) [Reviewed By Kelsey Zukowski]

Starring: Colin Hanks, Rachel Blanchard, Fran Kranz, Tony Shalhoub
Directed By: Peter Spears
Written By: Eric Laster
Released: 2008
Grade: B

Careless reminds me of a much more comical, off beat, and tamer Blue Velvet. At least upon the basic story of the film. Both films open up on a lost, detached finger found in a suburban neighborhood, involve a love story, and a crime organization is what causes complications and a major part of the initial conflict and harm that has been done. It wouldn’t surprise me if the filmmaker used this film as inspiration. If it consciously incorporated elements of Blue Velvet in to the script, it didn’t wish to copy the film. It has a completely different film. It feels much more light, which is the opposite of Blue Velvet. It is much more about illusions, suspicions, and how things aren’t really as bad as they seem. Careless uses a bizarre circumstance to make all of this feel authentic.

Wiley (Hanks) has been working at a small independently owned book store for four years now. Aside from this and spending time with his friend, Mitch (Kranz), there is not much else to his life. Soon things become much more complex for him after finding a single human finger in his kitchen. He is completely baffled by this and doesn’t know to think of it. He doesn’t see any blood, but can only assume however it got lost from a person’s body, it must have been a violent way. Wiley suspects his neighbors, who he has reason to believe are drug dealers. He figures they must have cut it off of someone for not receiving their money on a drug deal. Wiley continues to keep the finger with him at all times.

Soon after, Wiley meets Cheryl (Blanchard), a 9 fingered girl. Wiley believes that she is the person that his found finger goes to and is sure of it when she is unconscious and he matches the two up perfectly. Every time he brings Cheryl’s finger up, she gets mad and refuses to talk about it. She finally says that it was an accident and she can’t say anything else because others are involved. Wiley struggles with this constantly, questioning her, wanting to believe Cheryl, but ultimately can’t. She later tells him that she was cooking and accidentally cut her finger off with the knife, which doesn’t match up since she said other people were involved. The suspicions and hiding things comes in between what seems like it could have been a great relationship. Wiley just can’t let this go especially when he sees Cheryl go off with the drug dealers in his building. He attempts to save Cheryl from whatever else they may try to do to her and to find out the truth once and for all.

The acting was one of the better aspects of the film. Colin Hanks does very well as he usually does as the low key, but vibrantly quirky guy. He helps keep things interesting through the film, which may have felt like it was dragging otherwise. Rachel Blanchard worked in her role as the beautiful, but clearly tortured, Cheryl. We were able to like her, but wanted to know what else was really behind the wall she put up and why she felt the need to do this. This is essentially what Wiley was going through, making us connect with him more as our leading character. Tony Shalhoub gives us perspective as Wiley’s father. He is part of why Wiley is how he is, and perhaps he isn’t the best father. He is clearly flawed, never leaving his house, drinking constantly, and never experiencing anything new. Wiley criticizes this, but it reflects upon his behavior. He is stuck at a book store that he has been working at for years and doesn’t even like. Wiley just sticks with it because it is the same and safe. It takes a detaches finger with mystery embedded in it, to motivate him to take charge of his own life and to experience or at least dream to do something different, based upon his desires rather than being a safety net. In the end, Shalhoub shows sincerity, which is clearly not the easiest thing for his character, but it is genuine. Brian Psehn of the Sarah Silverman Program is very funny as one of the police officers who come looking for the finger after Wiley loses it who just seems dumbfounded by this.

Careless although given a very out there starting point and overall story, is very simple. It is not meant to be too much more, which helps it be as low key as the characters are. This light feeling is enhanced through a very funny and witty script that alone makes the film very fun to watch. It does show us that suspicions, distrust, and assuming things about people before you get the chance to know them never lead to anything good. This was really colored through Wiley and his inability to let the unknown story behind the finger go. He essentially becomes obsessed with it. He even carries it in his pocket everywhere he goes. It consumes his every thought and he risks something good he has with a really great girl. In some ways though, this obsession was necessary. He needed to find interest in something; something to challenge him. Wiley might have found it in a very unconventional thing, but it was exciting, mind boggling, and mysterious. Now anyone would probably freak out in this position, but he almost takes admiration to the finger and at least a deep concern.

There are also themes of inability to depend on the government and justice system shown through the police. Wiley calls in the finger he found and the police don’t seem to take him very seriously. They put him on hold and then hang up on him. Than, after Wiley mistakenly loses the finger, the police come to collect it. The police are only there when they are no longer needed. Family is also dealt with here; as difficult, faulty, and seemingly undeserving they might be, loyalty to them shows more than anything. Although, Careless might have borrowed elements of the story, but it puts it in a completely different tone and has a vastly different outcome through the end of the film and an overall enjoyment of the movie by its’ quirky tone with funny dialogue and many essential themes that work as well together as the cast does.