Monday, June 18, 2018

Solo: A Star Wars Story Is A Fun Yet Flawed Space Aventure

      With the releases of Avengers: Infinity War and Deadpool 2, the 2018 box office summer movie season has gotten off to a promising start with the first two big releases meeting expectations and exceeding them. With the release of Solo: A Star Wars Story, a big question mark loomed over it's box office and critical prospects as the film experienced a deeply troubled production with the films original directors being fired by Disney due to creative differences and ultimately being replaced by Oscar Winning filmmaker Ron Howard, best known for his wide variety of works ranging from Splash to Cocoon, Willow, Far And Away, Backdraft Apollo 13, Ransom, How The Grinch Stole Christmas, A Beautiful Mind, The Davinci Code, Angels And Demons, Frost And Nixon, In The Heart Of The Sea, and Cinderella Man. With a resume like Howards, the producers of Solo were banking on the fact that he can reshoot the film while bringing the final product up to the standard the studio was hoping for. There's no denying that the films misfortune during it's production led to the film receiving a great deal of bad publicity before it's release. While the film has received a generally positive reception, that's in some cases more favorable than the reception Rian Johnson's The Last Jedi received 5 months prior, Solo has suffered largely at the box office due to the polarizing reception that film unleashed with the Star Wars fanbase becoming more divided than ever. The question that hovers over the Star Wars franchise, is whether franchise fatigue has kicked in or whether the film suffered due to the fact that someone else is playing the part of Harrison Ford or perhaps it's just that so many people dislike the previous Star Wars film before it. While all reasons listed above play their significant parts in the film underperforming at the box office, the actual movie itself is much better than the reputation that it's unfortunately stamped with.

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      Solo: A Star Wars Story is not a perfect film by any means, but Ron Howard managed to salvage it as best as he could to deliver a space adventure, that's pure fun and thrills while not going too deep into it's story. The film was made with one specific purpose which is to entertain and satisfy fans of the franchise, while doing justice to it's iconic antihero turned hero, who largely thanks to the performance of Harrison Ford, sits as being one of the greatest characters turned heroes in movie history. Recasting the part of Han Solo with a younger actor to play the role famously played by Harrison Ford previously always proved to be a dicey move, as many fans were simply not willing to accept anyone else in the part regardless of how strong of an actor they are or how uncanny the physical appearance came across. The casting of Alden Ehrenreich proved to be a controversial one among hardcore Star Wars fans, as it was reported during production that his performance was so lackluster that an acting coach was required to help him deliver his lines (Why someone didn't make the same suggestion for Hayden Christensen for the Star Wars prequels is beyond me?). Surprisingly enough, Alden turns in a reasonably satisfying performance as a younger and less confident Han, whose still learning the ways of becoming a professional smuggler while showing traits of the Han fans later come to love in the original Star Wars trilogy. Alden doesn't come close to Harrison Ford's impeccable performance as the latter was born to play the part, but he does a good job of making the role his own while honoring the legacy of the character. The audience still cares about this character and will be happy to learn that his legacy is not tarnished nor destroyed here.

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      The plot for Solo takes the universe ten years before the events of A New Hope with a young Han Solo meeting a younger Chewbacca and Lando, and first coming across the Millenium Falcon. Solo shows younger Han joining a gang of galactic smugglers years before he joins the rebellion. While Ron Howard and the writing team behind Solo deserve points for trying to add more backstory to the legecy of Han Solo to show audiences where he came from and how he ended up with the rebellion, the overall story proves to be a tad dry at times and unexciting. The film is lacking in a true villain which makes Solo's storyline seem less engaging outside of it going through the motions of feeling like a generic space adventure at times, blending Guardians Of The Galaxy with A New Hope. Despite the story feeling rather weak this time around, the film is elevated by the performances of the cast and the intriguing characters both new and familiar. The films key moments come when Han has his fateful meetings with Chewbacca, Lando Calrissian, encountering the Millenium Falcon, and ultimately winning the Falcon from Lando in an intense card match. These moments were hinted before in the original trilogy, but seeing them on the big screen for the first time makes the experience of watching Solo a rewarding one. For example, Hans scene where he meets Chewbacca for the first time is both clever and well-staged thanks to Howards directing as well as the performances of the two actors.

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      As far as acting performances go, Alden proves to be the ideal pick for Han Solo despite the fact that it's near impossible to look at that character and not picture Harrison Ford in the part. One suspects that's a big reason for the film underperforming as that would be like Hollywood remaking Casablanca and choosing to recast Humprey Bogart's character with someone else along with Ingrid Bergmans with the irony being no one can replace nor surpass them. Ehrenreich deserves major props for stepping into such a huge role and doing his best to honor that legacy while leaving his own stamp on the character. Contrary to what the rumors said about his performance during production, Alden does a solid job despite the fact that he doesn't come close to matching Harrison Ford's charisma in playing the part. The actor who does a great job of imitating the original actor playing his character is Donald Glover in a scene stealing performance that does the utmost justice to both Lando Calrissian and Billy Dee Williams work. Glover shines through the material and steals every scene he's in while working off Ehrenreich, Woody Harrelsen and Emilia Clarke deliver strong supporting roles with Harrelsen playing the mentor type role for young Han Solo, and Emilia Clarke doing a fine job playing Han's first true love, a smuggler herself, before meeting Princess Leia.

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      As far as the films technical aspects go, the score by John Powell does a serviceable job of trying to bring the familiar tone of John Williams score to the new story with familiar ques settling in some of the films most thrilling moments such as the Millenium Falcon making the Kessell Run in less than 12 parsecs intercutting with music from both the Tie Fighter chase in A New Hope as well as the Asteroid run in The Empire Strikes Back. The films costume cesign and art-set decoration does a fine job of keeping consistency of the 70's look A New Hope gave off with it's sets and costumes. The films cinematography on the other hand feels inconsistent and is the weakest of the camera work presented in the Disney era of Star Wars films. Perhaps that could be attributed to the fact that the film had multiple directors juggling it and reshoots were conducted, but the end result shows the cinematography doesn't feel as impressive as other installments despite keeping the audience believing their witnessing a wild space adventure. The films visuals and sound effects once again shine with the use of actual practical effects and backgrounds being more effective and realistic than making everything CGI like the Star Wars prequels. The technical aspects of a Star Wars film never disappoints and Solo: A Star Wars Story proves to be no exception.

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      Solo: A Star Wars Story is a light, enjoyable, and exciting space adventure, that will generally please the majority of fans willing to give it a chance. If one can look past the fact that someone else is playing a younger Han Solo other than Harrison Ford and that the movie does the best job it can at being a solid yet somewhat dry origin story of an iconic hero in film, then they'll have a reasonably good time watching it. It's not the best Star Wars movie forsure but for those who found great disappointment in The Last Jedi, Solo might be the medicine they need to move past the disappointment of that film while feeling good again about the Galaxy far far away. Solo: A Star Wars Story is not a perfect film by any means as it's script lacks depth, but the characters and the performances are enough for the audience to become invested in the story while having a fun experience in the cinema for two hours. Solo defies the odds of what Star Wars fans initially expected it to be going in, and is deserving of being a much bigger box office hit rather than going down as the first official box office bomb in the Star Wars franchise. One strongly suspects that the lack of Harrison Ford, the unwarranted origin story of Han Solo, and the polarizing reception to The Last Jedi had much to play with the film failing financially, but the fans that remain open-minded will discover that the movie is actually a decent entry in the universe. As the second non episode in the series, it's a step above Rogue One as it feels more energetic and less stiff. One of the Summers most underappreciated films.

                                                                                                              Final Verdict: SEE IT

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Deadpool 2 is One Of The Rare Superhero Sequels That Outshines The Original

      The 2018 summer box office movie season has begun with Avengers: Infinity War making it's splash at the box office and conquering the first weekends of May. With Deadpool 2, the hope is that Infinity War will not only hand off the box office crown to Deadpool 2, but also that the sequel to the 2016 smash hit is not only as good as the first film but surpasses it while making a bigger splash with audiences. Now that Deadpool 2 has been released, the verdict is that the much anticipated sequel to the original is not only more action-packed and funnier than the first film, but surpasses it overall in terms of quality.


       Deadpool 2 is one of the rare comic book movie sequels, that outshines the original in nearly every aspect from action to storytelling. This time the budget is much bigger allowing for more creative freedom and a bigger scope for the filmmakers to play with. The storyline for Deadpool 2 takes place after the events of the first film with the main character bringing together a team of fellow mutant rogues to protect a young boy, possessing supernatural abilities, from the brutal time-traveling cyborg named Cable. Deadpool 2 feels like a combination of the first Deadpool mixed with the plot for Terminator 2: Judgment Day with a touch of X-Men: Days Of Future Past at the end, making for a helluva blockbuster ride. With Deadpool 2, Ryan Reynolds reprises the role he was born for and proves to be as equally engaging in this film as he was in the original. While the first Deadpool movie contained a much smaller budget, the story was more grounded allowing for the main character to be established as well as his romance with his one true love played by Morena Baccarin. Audiences fell in love with the character because unlike most comic book movies which are usually rated PG-13, Deadpool was obnoxious, uncensored, clever, and played like a satire of the comic book genre with Reynolds boasting undeniable charm in the role. His performance was so well received that the Golden Globe Awards nominated him for Best Actor in Musical or Comedy with the film ultimately receiving a Best Motion Picture nomination. Whereas many films flopped or disappointed at the box office in 2016, Deadpool proved to be one of the great yet unusual success stories of that year. Fast-Forward two years later to Deadpool 2.


      Deadpool 2 follows much of the formula that made the first film such a smash hit with the sequel getting an upgrade in the spectacle category. Taking over the directorial duties from newcomer Tim Miller, who helmed the first film, Deadpool 2 director David Leitch directs the sequel with the film having a similar look and feel that makes it feel like a true part 2 to the first film while delivering more explosions and special effects to go with the films mayhem. Despite the first movie being rightfully character-driven and story-based, the second film feels more personal than the previous despite the budget and scope being bigger this time. Reynolds carries the film on his shoulder once again with his charismatic performance with Josh Brolin defying fan expectations by turning in an effective performance as Cable. Much like the first film, Deadpool 2 is bold and unapologetic in his humor and lack of censorship, but it serves to stay true to the nature of the character.


      Whereas Robert Downey Jr. has proven to be the perfect choice to play the part of Iron Man in the Marvel Universe, Reynolds delivers the same impact with both movies demonstrating that he was the perfect choice for the role from the start, going as far as course correcting the awful Deadpool shown in the 2009 Wolverine: Origins film. As far as experiences go, Deadpool 2 proves to be a highly entertaining yet bombastic experience that builds upon what was established previously in the first film. Deadpool and Deadpool 2 are the equivalent of Bryan Singer's X-Men and X2: X-Men United with the first film being small in scope but does a strong job of establishing the story and characters with the sequel being bigger in almost every aspect. For audiences, the thrill is watching this character starting as being an antihero that answers to no one, but finds himself performing noble deeds that show deep down within all the potty-mouth antics, there's moments where Deadpools actions can be deemed to be that of a superhero.


      With endless amounts of laughs, pop culture references, and an upgrade in the characters and explosions, Deadpool 2 is the popcorn summer blockbuster entertainment, that adult comic book fans have been waiting for and desire to watch. In an era where comic book movies have dominated the box office while being more family-themed with their PG-13 ratings, it's refreshing to see an R rated comic book franchise meet the audience thirst for relentless commentary that's both clever, witty, and plays off the audiences knowledge of other movies and iconic characters. The Deadpool franchise was never intended to be aimed for kids and their successes show that there's an audience out there, that wants to see more adult-themed comic book characters on the big screen (Deadpool's success has helped speed up the development of rebooting Spawn). The film is fast-paced with the editing feeling as if the audience rarely has time to catch their breath with the mayhem unfolding on the big screen.


       Deadpool 2 is one of the rare sequels that successfully manages to meet the standards and expectations set forth by it's predecessor, while building upon that film's universe. Despite the film being bigger in scope, the story manages to feel just as personal or more than the original with Reynolds having much more creative freedom this time. His participation in this films production is evidenced by his name now appearing in the writing credits. Much like the first Deadpool, Deadpool 2 is not for everyone and should be seen strictly by those who love this character and thoroughly enjoyed the first film. If you're one of those who didn't find the first movie to be that great or overhyped, then this one could possibly win you over. One of the stronger films of 2018 thus far.

                                                                                                 
                                                                                                     FINAL VERDICT: SEE IT

    
     
    
     
     
    



Friday, June 8, 2018

Avengers: Infinity War Is Marvel's The Empire Strikes Back

       The summer movie season begins with the much anticipated third installment in the popular Marvel universe titled Avengers: Infinity War. Making the 10th anniversary of Marvel's beginning as a cinematic universe with the release of Jon Favreau's Iron Man, the universe has grown over the course of a decade spawning endless comic book origin story film's and television shows.The first Avengers film not only stands as being one of the best superhero movies of all time largely due to it's ensemble cast of iconic characters, but also for it's dynamic chemistry as well as it's rich development of characters. For many fans, the first Avengers was a dream come true for comic book nerds and was the start of a grand trilogy of films in which the heroes joined together at the end of each phase. Avengers: Age Of Ultron wasn't as good of a sequel to the first Avengers movie nor did it make as big of a splash with audiences, but it still provided the thrills and promise that the iconic Marvel characters would all join together again to combat a new threat. Fast forward three years later with the release of Avengers: Infinity War, expectations as well as anticipation for the new installment is high with the stakes being raised with the presence of a newer and more powerful enemy Thanos, brilliantly played by Deadpool ll's Josh Brolin. With many fans finding disappointment with the last entry in the Avengers franchise, Infinity War successfully manages to make up for that films shortcomings with a much darker story that can best be summed up as Marvels The Empire Strikes Back with a helluva climax, that will be talked about and discussed until the next installment releases next May.



      
   Marvel's Infinity War is not just an improvement over Age Of Ultron, the film completely blows it out of the water and stands with the first Avengers as being one of the finest superhero films ever made. The storyline for the third Avengers film centers around the Avengers and their allies being forced to take on their greatest threat yet with the powerful space enemy Thanos with the team realizing that they must be willing to go as far as sacrificing themselves in order to defeat him before his sudden reign of devastation and ruins wipes out the universe. Infinity War is a popcorn blockbuster, that lives up to it's name in delivering relentless action and excitement while managing to completely surprise and shock it's audience. While it's true that the film doesn't have enough time to flesh out every single character in the film thoroughly, but given the scope of the story and the movies ambitious running time, it does a damn fine job of juggling them all together. The stakes are much higher in this film and the threat is more lethal to both mankind and the Avengers team with the films opening sequence despite being brutal, sets a different kind of tone for the film in comparison to the other Avengers movies where there was always hope hinted throughout the story. With this installment, hope is thrown out the window with the knowledge introduced that anything can happen in this film. Directed by Anthony and Joe Russo, Infinity War retains the freshness of the first Avengers film while being more witty with it's characters. Despite Josh Whedon's noble efforts with Age Of Ultron, one could feel the filmmaker was tired and the film not being as fresh nor as innovative as the first movie. The Russo brothers prove to be fine replacements in the directors chair as they manage to engage the audience and keep them invested in the characters and story. What helps the film significantly is the presence of it's main antagonist who appears to be larger than life as well as being the gravest threat the Avengers team has faced yet.

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      As far as the acting performances go, Infinity War shines not just because of it's technological aspects, but also because of it's remarkable cast of actors that bring believability to their roles as well as surprising yet effective moments of emotion (Cough Tom Holland as Spiderman Cough). Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Evans both shine in their roles as Iron Man and Captain America, both proving beyond a reasonable doubt that each man is born for the role and simply irreplacable. It will surely be a sad day for Marvel fans when the time comes for both actors to retire from their roles. Chris Hemsworth is fantastic as Thor with Mark Ruffalo poving to be the true Hulk. Scarlett Johansson, Tom Holland, Don Cheadle, Benedict Cumberbatch, Chadwick Boseman, Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Paul Bettany, and Anthony Mackie all delivering terrific supporting performances with the limited time they all share. The films main scene stealing performance however goes to Josh Brolin as Thanos, commanding the screen whenever he appears as well as being one of the most powerful and indestructible villains to grace the big screen since the T-1000 in Terminator 2: Judgment Day. With Thanos, there is a feeling that all hope is lost in trying to defeat him as he feels too powerful for the Avengers to take head on, With the weight of the cast on the films shoulders, the script and story had to be up to par to deliver the spectacle the audience is anticipating. Thankfully the script manages to tie all the character subplots and general plotline together without losing focus of the main narrative that this story isn't so much about winning but is more so about defeat, failure, and even death.

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      On the films technical aspects, this is the most visually stunning Avengers film thus far. The visual effects are impressive as usual as Marvel movies are heavily dependent upon special effects. The cinematography and sound effects are top notch with the films editing proving to be fast-paced for a two and a half hour film. As far as summer blockbusters go, this is probably the fastest two and a half hour comic book movie since The Dark Knight where the action and sequence of events are so consistent that there isn't enough time in between for the audience to relax too long before the Avengers find themselves in another intense scenario. The films Art-Set Decoration and Costume Design are stunning with the epic climactic battle being nothing short of pure spectacle that shouldn't be missed on the big screen. Avengers: Infinity War is not just the most impressive Avengers film on a technical note, its also one of the most visually striking superhero movies ever made as well as blockbuster. The film is worthy of both visual and sound effects at next years Academy Awards, though if Black Panther beats it in both those categories, that's perfectly fine.

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      Infinity War is a dark superhero film and summer blockbuster, that's not to be taken lightly as the film centers around themes such as genocide, overpopulation, failure, revenge, vengeance, sacrifice, and reality.  The message behind the film says that great power, and the pursuit of even greater power, doesn't come with great responsibility or a medium of both sanity and empathy. Infinity War is a film that's epic in story, spectacle, and themes. The film is not only a tremendous improvement over the previous Avengers film, but shows a darker side of the Marvel Cinematic Universe than what fans are accustomed to. The movie is sure to divide some fans over it's controversial moments such as the films shocking climax, but one cannot denounce without giving credit to the Russo brothers as well as Marvel for having the guts to go as far as they did with the story as well as providing the ending they did. Much like Empire Strikes Back, Infinity War is a bridge to the next film which will be the finale to the first four phases of the Marvel universe. Like that movie, the movie ends on a downer note that's both powerful and badass with hope being ,lost but the excitement to see what comes next slowly builds up after audiences exit the theater. While not every Marvel fan will agree with the decisions made in Infinity War, the movie stands proudly as being one of the finest comic book movies ever made as well as being one of the best summer blockbuster for it's ambitious nature and fearless approach to telling it's story. Not every comic book movie needs to have a happy ending and here, the ending is perfect as it blows the audience away while leaves them wanting more. Despite Black Panther being a stronger film in regards to story, Infinity War is bigger and more exciting. It's a must see film as the anticipation for Avengers 4 slowly begins to build up for next year.

                                                                                                                Final Verdict: SEE IT

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Friday, May 4, 2018

Read Player One Is The Pop Culture Film 80's And 90's Fans Have Been Waiting For

      Steven Spielberg scores yet another triumph with Ready Player One. The year 2018 has gotten off to a strong start at the movies thanks to the breakout hits such as Black Panther,  A Quiet Place, Rampage, and Avengers: Infinity War. With the release of Ready player One, high expectations were placed upon legendary filmmaker Steven Spielberg to not only bring the best-selling novel to life, but also perform his magic and deliver a blockbuster virtual reality adventure that catered to gamers as well as those who lived throughout the 80's and 90's era of pop culture, that would bring home unlimited nostalgia for those paying to see it. Given the extremely versatile profile of Steven Spielberg's biography ranging from Jaws to Close Encounters Of The Third Kind to E.T to Jurassic Park, one expected and hoped for Steven Spielberg to once again show us that he is not just a great storyteller, but also one of the greatest revolutionary as well as visionary filmmakers on the planet. With the release of Ready Player One, Spielberg once again hits a home run and proves that he is a still a director at the top of his game both as a visual as well as an emotional storyteller.

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      Ready Player One is to put it frankly not only an extremely fun ride, but also one that's build on nostalgia that's aimed towards those who lived and breed during the 1980's and 1990's era. For those who grew up during those decades, this film is for you as Spielberg delivers the ultimate love letter for his audience. That's not to say the film can't be enjoyed by persons who grew up after those decades such as today's generation of young audiences and gamers, but it won't hit them the way this film will hit the audiences it's intended for. Setting the obvious facts aside, this movie is visually striking much like Spielberg's other films with him once again using technology as a tool that propels the story he's delivering to the audience, not the other way around. Spielberg is one of the rare visionary filmmakers that knows how to perfectly balance action, storytelling, drama, and amazing visual effects. Watching Ready Player One shows a director in full control of his craft, and only needs to bring the story to life as it's already mapped out with the novel it's based on as well as the clever and witty screenplay brilliantly written by Zak Penn and Ernst Cline, who also wrote the novel the film is based upon. The story for Ready Player One centers around the death of a virtual reality world creator, who releases a video in which he challenges all users of the program OASIS to find his Easter Egg, which will give his finder their fortune. With Ready Player One's story, the opportunity is there for Spielberg to deliver a visceral rollercoaster ride for audiences familiar both with the novel and the eras the film pays tribute to really deliver a unique type of blockbuster, one that is full of heart and will evoke powerful feelings of nostalgia for members of it's audience.


      On a technical aspect, Ready player One is one of the years most visually stunning films as it boasts fantastic visual effects as well as beautiful cinematography, effective music, brisk pacing that never makes the film feel too slow nor moves too fast, and strong performances from the cast particularly Tye Sheridan in the lead role of the young gamer, who is essentially Charlie in a virtual reality version of the classic Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory story except searching for the golden ticket is swapped out for an Easter Egg in this film. Both stories essentially are about a young boy, who stumbles upon a great opportunity that takes them on an unusual adventure. Olivia Cookie does a strong job playing Wades love interest Samantha along with Lena Waithe as Helen. The films main antagonist Ben Mendelsohn delivers a strong and likeable performance as the businessman and gamer competing for possession of the Easter Egg. Mendelsohn delivered a notably strong performance in Star Wars: Rogue One, leaving a positive impression upon audiences and doesn't cease to do the same here. As a film, Ready Player One comes across as being both a mixture of being a thrill ride as well as a groundbreaking video game. Some of the films finest moments are the race at the beginning, a brilliant key sequence involving the main characters blending with Stanley Kubrick's The Shining, and the final climactic battle. The key behind this movies success is that it's fast, spectacular, and always fun. Since his breakthrough hit with Jaws, Spielberg has continuously proved himself to be a master of entertainment, as well as being one of the rare directors that can evoke emotion from the audience by striking the right chords with his storytelling capabilities. The soundtrack also drives home the nostalgia by playing a mixed variety of old 80's tunes, that will go a long way with adding nostalgia to the audiences experience in the theater.


      Ready Player One's moments are easily those that bring nostalgia to it's audience such as the inclusion of characters such as Robocop and The Iron Giant in the film as well as blink and you'll miss moments such as the car from Back To The Future and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The film's message as a whole says that it's not about winning but that it's about playing. The presenting of the nerd trivia is done tastefully in a subtle way in which it never feels forced nor excessive as every familiar image brings out the excitement with audiences. If there is one criticism that can be directed at the film, it's that some of the minor characters could've been developed more as the films pacing is so quick it doesn't leave much room for true character depth for the minor ones. Despite the films minor faults, it still manages to end up being one of the years best films thus far along with serving to be a great nostalgic thrill ride for pop culture fanatics of the 80's and 90's era. Ready Player One is not one of Spielberg's very best films but it reaffirms the notion that he is without a doubt one of the worlds greatest storytellers as well as a director who pushes the technological boundaries of storytelling much like George Lucas and James Cameron. For those who adore the eras the film pays endless homage to, this movie is a treasure for those audiences. The film is a faithful adaptation of it's bestselling novel along with being a thrill ride that aims for the young inner child in its audience representing nothing but heart. For those who crave solid popcorn entertainment with brains, solid acting and stellar direction, this film is for you. Just don't expect the characters to be developed to their full potential, this film is made for the audience to experience the spectacle of the story. Two major thumbs up.

                                                                                                             Final Verdict: SEE IT

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Tomb Raider Tries Hard But Lacks The Thrills And Excitement Of It's Source Material

      As 2018 gets off the ground in terms of its release of high profile movies, one studio is hoping that their noble effort to reboot a classic video game movie franchise for the big screen would be a win with audiences as well as channel the kind of box office success Angelina Jolies 2001 Lara Croft: Tomb Raider received upon its initial release. The 2018 reboot comes 15 years after the last attempt at bringing Lara Croft to the big screen with Tomb Raider: The Cradle Of Life. While the Angelina Jolie films were nothing groundbreaking in regards to storytelling nor capturing the spirit of the video games, they were entertaining as mindless summer popcorn blockbusters. With the new Tomb Raider, the expectations and hope placed upon it is that the new film would go further than thee Angelina Jolie films did and bring back the soul of the games while delivering a compelling storyline for audiences. With the release of the latest installment in the popular Tomb Raider franchise, it can be said that the newest Raider film is an admirable effort to re-establish the iconic character for audiences but ultimately falls short of it's potential.

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       To put it in blunt terms, Tomb Raider is a letdown when one looks at the lost potential with the latest reboot. Besides Alicia Vikander proving to be a worthy casting choice for the new film as well as being more than qualified to take on the physically demanding part of Lara Croft, her performance ultimately doesn't save the rest of the movie, which is surprisingly dry and lacking true excitement and thrills. It also doesn't help that Vikander's Lara Croft doesn't feel like the Croft we've grown to love and worship from the classic games, despite the known fact that this is an earlier Croft before becoming the professional female version of Indiana Jones. The plot for Tomb Raider centers around a Lara Croft, a fiercely independent daughter of a missing adventurer, finding herself being pushed beyond her limits when she uncovers the island that lays key to her fathers disappearance. The character of Lara Croft in the gaming world was viewed both as a step forward for women, but also received criticism for representing a sexist character tailor created for the male demographic in the gaming community, wearing short shorts and a T-shirt covering her enlarged chest. The character of Lara Croft can essentially be seen as a balance between James Bond and Indiana Jones as she borrows heavily from both but more so Bond with the wealthy Scottish background, British education, and a cavalier attitude towards sex. The characters adventurous side with her going on missions to find lost artifacts or doomsday devices definitely mirrors that of Indiana Jones as her adventures are just as daring and life-threatening yet thrilling. The premise for Tomb Raider however closely mirrors that of the 2013 rebooted game, which basically reconstructed the origins of Lara Croft for a newer generation of game players. The problem with the new Tomb Raider is not that the film closely mirrors the 2013 rebooted game, but that the film as well as it's story is not fleshed out very well nor is truly as exciting as it could've been. Alicia Vikander delivers a strong performance as Lara Croft, but her character doesn't feel like the iconic character that audiences and video gamers grew up playing and loving. This Lara is more vulnerable, less tough, less intimidating, and less cunning than the Croft that's in the games and pales in comparison to the Lara Croft portrayed in a superior form by Angelina Jolie.

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      The screenplay written by Geneva Robertson Dworet and Alastair Siddons never truly allows the opportunity for Alicia Vikander's Lara Croft to morph into the action heroine figure, that's made her iconic with audiences. The father and daughter subplot in the film is more fleshed out than the one shown in the 2001 Lara Croft: Tomb Raider film, but somehow that smaller subplot conveyed more emotion and feelings between the characters and the audience than the father and daughter subplot shown in the newest Raider film (Perhaps Jon Voight whose also Angelina Jolie's father in real life playing the fictional father of her character added a touch of sentimentality to the film). Regardless of what made that subplot work, it was more effective and powerful than the relationship in the newer film. On a technical aspect, Tomb Raider is well shot with strong Cinematography and Art-Set Decoration, that gives the audience the feeling that they are in the jungle being apart of this characters journey. The films grittier look helps to give it a more grounded approach compared to the Jolie versions with this Croft coming across as being more human than the past one on film. The film moves at a brisk pace although it feels too quick as there isn't much time to flesh out characters the way the filmmakers could've done. There's no denying that this film desperately wants to be looked upon as the Batman Begins style reboot of the Croft character but somehow the film as a whole falls flat as it never truly feels like it's exciting. As far as the films look goes, it gets a strong A for effort as the movie feels like a video game brought to life on the big screen, it's just too bad the films story couldn't be as inspiring as it's visual aspect. The performances from the main cast are convincing with Vikander proving that she's the right choice for the part and possesses strong acting abilities with Dominic West turning in a strong performance as Lara's father Lord Richard Croft and Walton Goggins as the films main antagonist Mathias Vogel.

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     Tomb Raider isn't a terrible movie by any means, but it's also not the theater experience that fans of the game are expecting and quite frankly, deserve much better. What makes the Tomb Raider games so remarkable as a franchise is not that they exciting, but also how how much story the games carry. The film had it been in the hands of more passionate storytellers could've been the female Raiders Of The Lost Ark as the character of Croft proves that she can be Indiana Jones equal if given the right story to put on film. As far as video game movies go, Tomb Raider is not among the worst but it's also not the best (That title still belongs to Paul Anderson's 1995 Mortal Kombat), it falls somewhere in the middle as the film itself is average and never truly captures the excitement nor thrills of it's source material. What separates the Jolie films from this one is those felt like they had a sense of fun and adventure to them whereas this one feels like it never truly has fun with it's story. Tomb Raider lacks what Jolies films both had regardless of those movies faults and that's heart. Those movies not only were fun but had thrilling set-pieces, Tomb Raider is too much grounded in reality for it to really leave an impact with the audience.

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      If one is going into this movie wanting a halfway decent way to kill nearly two hours then this movie is for you. If one is looking for an exciting film that does justice to it's main character and delivers genuine thrills, then the chances are you will either be very pleased with the film or extremely disappointed as many fans appear to be split on the final outcome. Choosing between Angelina Jolie's performance and Alicia Vikanders as Croft, one has to pick Jolie as her character felt more like the true Lara Croft despite Vikander demonstrating strong emotional range. Despite the new film in the popular Tomb Raider franchise receiving a thumbs down, one does acknowledge the strong effort by the cast and crew to deliver a worthy reboot of the classic game and character, it's too bad the script couldn't have been stronger. Perhaps someday we will receive a movie based on a popular video game that does it's source material justice while breathing new life to it's story, this unfortunately is not that film.

                                                                                                        Final Verdict: Thumbs Down

Image result for tomb raider 2018 movie pics
Image result for tomb raider 2018 movie pics
Image result for tomb raider 2018 movie pics
Image result for tomb raider 2018 movie pics
Image result for tomb raider 2018 movie pics
Image result for tomb raider 2018 movie pics
Image result for tomb raider 2018 movie pics
Image result for tomb raider 2018 movie pics

Image result for tomb raider 2018 movie pics
Image result for tomb raider 2018 movie pics