Patema Inverted: 4/5
Kingsmen: 4.5/5
The Maze Runner: 3.5/5
Big Hero 6: 3.5/5

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Friday, November 11, 2011

Geek Charming (2011)

Cover of the Adapted Book

                It’s a movie within a movie: movieception. Directed by Jeffrey Hornaday and based off the novel by Robin Palmer (Cindy Ella)Geek Charming stars Sarah Hyland (Modern Family) and Matt Prokop (Furry Vengeance) as stuck-up high school diva and loser film geek, respectively, as they attempt to work together to make a documentary on the lives of popular people.
                The movie’s primary plot is for both Sarah’s character, Dylan, and Matt’s character, Josh, to achieve their goals. Dylan dreams of being crowned Blossom Queen at the spring formal, while Josh aspires to win a film competition to gain a trip to Hollywood. To meet these goals, the two must form an unlikely partnership to create a documentary on Dylan’s quest to become Blossom Queen. However, their respective peer groups warn them against the dangers of mingling.
                The exposition of the movie is terribly misleading. What opens as a cheesy, poorly executed cliché ends up developing into a very moving story about friendship (that’s new for a Disney Channel movie, right?). After watching the first minute of movie, I prepared myself for a grueling two hours of watching corny jokes and overplayed characters. Fifteen minutes into the film, my opinion had not budged an inch. But once the completely unsurprising plot began to unfold, I finally became interested. Don’t misunderstand – Geek Charming is an extremely predictable movie that has been seen an infinite amount of times under other titles. Honestly, one of its more gripping features is that it makes many of its characters so annoying that a viewer cannot help but stay through the entire film in hopes of seeing that character get stabbed through the heart. Alas, the movie being Disney, no such justice prevailed.
                Horrendous acting dominated the first part of the movie, but the characters soon settled into their roles and stopped trying to oversell their given personas. Possibly the best performance in the movie is given by Hyland as she slowly transitions from an incredibly annoying popular girl to a sensitive and relatable average girl.
                 Some well-placed, recognizable tunes paired with overly dramatic visuals save the comedy in the movie from being an utter disaster. The movie provided nothing new for audiences and, while enjoyable, will end up being forgotten in only a few days. The cast, after settling into their roles, performed excellently, at least for a televised Disney Channel movie.
                The one thing unsettling about this movie (aside from the creepy mother character) is the fact that, despite its unoriginality, I began to cry at the emotional scene at the end. Despite what the movie does wrong, it apparently did something right in crafting a story that makes a person care like that. Geek Charming itself would be an unlikely candidate to win any film festival, yet it is a wonderful choice for family movie night. 

Rating: 3/5

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Bakuman Volume 7 (2011)


Avery's Review

     Since its first chapter, Bakuman has gone against all standards that characterize shonen manga, a direct contradiction to what the story actually reveals about the world of creating manga. Volume seven is no different in this respect. One of the slowest volumes in the series, it proves yet again that shouted words can be more exciting than gory violence. 
     Many important characters get sidestepped like landmines in lieu of the rest of the cast, which is not atypical for this series. Fukuda got maybe two pages total, if even that, while Miho was not even seen, unless one counts her text messages. This volume truly focuses on Mashiro, Akito, Miura, Ko, and, to a lesser extent, Nakai. These characters all have deep moments in this volume that truly allow their characters to shine. The Ashirogi pair argue heatedly against their editor, Miura, while Ko struggles with some advice given to her by her new editor as well as her own emotions. To add to the already overwhelming cast of characters, old faces reemerge and intersect with the current characters. As a final note on the cast in this volume, the characters appear to be better structured in this volume as opposed to the previous one. 
      It is still surprising that everybody seems to know everybody in this manga. It is like the cast is trapped within a cage that forbids them from interacting with anyone not relevant to the plot. Speaking of being unrealistic, Mashiro and Akito finally seem normal in this volume, at least for a chapter or so, anyway. They enjoy (sort of) free time, go to college, and gaze at girls, just like two healthy teenagers should be doing.
      Volume seven suffers from the same problem as the past six volumes: walls of text.  The daunting amount of speech bubbles found on every page looks intimidating and might frighten readers away. Though, once one gets past this external appearance, one finds that the enormous amount of dialogue, in some ways, helps the manga excel. More content is covered in Bakuman thanks to its large amount of text, allowing readers to get more substance for their eight dollars than other shonen titles.
      Obata and Ohba have twice now proven to the world that all a story needs to be interesting is a solid plot. Excitement does not strictly pertain to action scenes; it can simply be three people sitting in a diner arguing over creative differences. Volume seven, with its superb artwork and even greater storyline, manages to instill a sense of excitement in a reader when exactly that is happening. All in all, this volume won’t make anyone sweat with anticipation, but it certainly will grip at one’s attention and hold it tight, just as any great story should.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Friday, October 7, 2011

Moneyball (2011)

               SPOILER ALERT


Avery's Review 

                Is Moneyball a magnificent homerun or simply a strikeout?
                Moneyball is the story of the general manager of the Oakland Athletics professional baseball team, Billie Beane (Brad Pitt, The Tree of Life), who embraces an unorthodox approach to forming a baseball team. Adapted from the novel of the same name by Michael Lewis (The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game), the movie begins right when three star players on Beane’s team are bought off by rival teams. Frustrated at being so close to the championship, Beane agonizes with his team of scouts on how they are going to make up for the loss of their players. Weighed down by an undersized budget, Beane decides to try and haggle with the Cleveland Indians for some player trades.
                While visiting, Beane encounters Yale economics graduate Peter Brand (Jonah Hill, Get Him to the Greek), a youthful man who uses mathematical formulas to decide which players will best benefit a team overall. After testing the man with a question about his own past as a professional baseball player, Beane buys Brand from the Cleveland Indians. Beane and Brand put faith in some unlikely players based on their on base percentage when they meet with Beane’s scouting team, causing tension between Beane and his coworkers.
                Once Beane gets the players he desires, he informs most of them that they are not going to be playing the positions they formerly did. This requires many of them to be trained to play radically different positions than they are used to playing. In particular, Beane’s selected first baseman, Scott Hatteberg (Chris Pratt, Parks and Recreation), must take on a role entirely unlike his previous ones. Beane and Brand continue to test out their concept for forming a winning team, even faced with the team’s disagreeing manager, Art Howe (Philip Hoffman, Jack Goes Boating), who distrusts this seemingly unreliable approach to baseball and continuously goes against the advice of the duo.
                The team enters into the season with a rocky start, causing Beane’s and Brand’s experiment to be branded as a failure. However, with some rash decisions by Beane, the team begins to win more games than it loses, rocketing it toward a potential record-breaking win streak.
                This movie has heart. Unfortunately, it’s hard to pinpoint exactly where that heart is. Beane is miles away from his loving daughter, he faces the possibility of losing his job, and he recounts his days as a failed pro player. These moments are touching, yet not touching enough due to their sporadic placement throughout the film.
                The biggest downfall of this movie is that it’s about forty-five minutes too long. We get some plot, we get some character development, and then we get scene after scene of Beane driving around in circles or breaking something out of frustration. These scenes, as characterizing as they are, are repetitive and plain out boring in most cases. The movie appears to have completely zipped over the editing stage, leaving all of its dull, unimportant moments intact. However, it’s obvious that the movie did in fact see the editing stage when another, almost-as-annoying aspect is brought to light: the muted scenes. About every ten minutes, the movie would go completely silent, probably for dramatic effect. The first time it happened, yeah, it was cool. The second time was plain annoying. The tenth was almost unbearable. Sure, moments in the actual baseball games are mute-worthy, but two people looking at each other when they aren’t even going to duel is not. Speaking of duels, the third and final flaw of this movie is its lack of…anything interesting. I kept waiting for some furious ex-player to storm into Beane’s office and try to put a few bullets in his skull. It never happened. I think the people behind me were actually snoring through part of the movie.
                While this is not a flaw of the movie, it is still worthy of mention. The cast grew from a manageable few to a perplexing many, most of the characters either generic looking elderly men or voiceless baseball players. The number is not why the cast got so muddled; the amount of screentime each received is. Maybe if the movie had not jumped from character to character without looking back on most of them, the characters would have become more defined. In the end, it’s probably a blessing that did not happen or else we would have had a movie with a run time equivalent to Gone With the Wind.
                A major plus to the movie is the acting. No actor or actress failed to deliver. Enough said.
                Lacking in direction as well entertainment, Bennet Miller’s (Capote) Moneyball is not a home run by any means. The movie does not pitch many curveballs to the audience in terms of plot twists, but instead induces drowsiness.  The acting, though, is enough to save this movie from being a total strikeout, though (Too many puns?). There is some comedy threaded into the movie as well, alleviating some of the drowsiness. Sports fans and, well, Brad Pitt fans should go see this movie, for sure. Though, to most general audiences, Moneyball  serves as a mere curveball, distracting them just long enough from even more mundane tasks.                           
                 Well, there goes my theory that sports movies are the best movies. 

Rating: 3 out of 5

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Bakuman Volume 6 (2011)

Spoiler Alert!!!

     This is the first review of a book (this time a manga) that we are posting. This is actually Avery's review that was published on another site as a guest review. However, we are deciding to post it here as well. Also, note that this is the review for the English release of the item.

Avery's Review

       This installment finally explores the drawbacks to creating manga while trying to maintain a normal life.
                However, the main characters of Moritaka and Akito are anything but normal, especially the former. They’re incredibly motivated, to a point that truly starts to feel unrealistic. The two seem to rarely get out and actually enjoy life. It’s good to be motivated, but they are bordering on obsessed, if they have not already crossed such a line. This, however, can be overlooked in lieu of the other aspects of the story.
                Plotwise, in volume six, if it was not obvious from the preview in volume 3, Moritaka basically collapses from work overload. He is then rushed to the hospital and finds out he has to have surgery. To make matters worse, the editor has decided to put his and Akito’s manga, Detective Trap, on hiatus until they graduate high school.
                  Whereas the cast in previous volumes have only given glimpses at Miho, this volume finally brings her into contact again with some of the other characters, most notably Moritaka. Her relationship with Moritaka continues to feel otherworldly, yet this volume gives it a more relatable aspect by showing how the two interact with each other. As always, Akito and Kaya (not just their relationship) are pushed to the backburner by Moritaka and Miho.
      At this point, the love aspect of the story seems to be on the backburner. Again, the character interactions and development are what really shine in Bakuman, and this volume sheds more light on some of the characters that have only had a couple panels per volume in the past.
               A lot of characters seem to break their previous personalities in this volume, specifically Aoki, Fukuda, and Nakai. However, it seems that part of these personality changes, at least for the last one mentioned, are due to the stress of creating manga, so it is somewhat understandable. Almost all of the previously introduced characters gather in this volume as a huge source of drama and tension.
                 The art continues to shine in this volume. The backgrounds are not constantly forgotten as happens in other series. The characters’ expressions also show a wide array of emotions.
     Bakuman, despite some trouble it may have with depicting real life, is a great read. Unlike other manga, its pages are actually filled with substance rather than big pictures and sound effects. It is definitely worth the money in comparison with other manga, as it lasts almost three times longer due to the walls of text on each page. The characters are all likeable, and, aside from having a few unstable personality designs, they all add to the drama of the big picture of the manga – Moritaka and Akito achieving their goals. Huge, intense battles are not needed to satisfy a craving for an interesting and enjoyable read in this case – a great story and an even greater cast will suffice just fine.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Lion King 3D (1994/2011)

The Lion King 3D

Avery's Review

      Seeing as how this is not really a new movie, this will be a short review. Hooray! 
     Disney, in an attempt to grab up some more dough, brings a favorite classic back into theaters. Audiences roared in delight (Get it?). The Lion King, even as a supposed ripoff (thought not in a bad way for audiences) of the anime Kimba the White Lion, has still found a place in the hearts of almost every American today. Now it reasserts itself in the hearts of those younger moviegoers. 
      I won't go into the plot, since most people already know what this movie entails. Suffice it to say that it's a bit rushed, yet it's such a compelling story that nobody really cares.
     The real reason I am bringing this movie up is the 3D used in it. Blarg. The effects were hardly noticeable. All I recall being better was the opening (only because I was looking for the 3D) and a part where some leaves blow in the wind. The rest of the movie's 3D was lacking. That's what happens when you try to incorporate 3D into a 2D movie. However, my personal biggest disappointment was that kids over a certain age were not allowed to receive the special Lion King 3D glasses. Bleh. At least Harry Potter loves his teen audiences enough to give them special glasses. Even so, the lacking 3D was not enough to make my movie visit outright awful.
     Anyway, if for some odd reason you have not seen The Lion King before, go see it. If you have, go see it again. 3D or 2D. It doesn't really matter. Just go see it.

Rating: 4/5
P.S. This movie borders on a 5. Just saying.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

The Debt (2011)

     The Debt

Avery's Review

Sorry for the gap since the last review. School and whatnot.
      A short and sweet review? No can do. I’ll try, though.
     Through about half of the movie, my brain was aching from trying to figure out just what in the world was going on. The movie kept switching between two different time periods involving the same three people. It took me about thirty minutes to finally get that much straight. Aside from this, I was not super interested in what was going on in the movie, but I was not bored either. Everything was fairly bland. However, the plot twist that is delivered in this movie is what really got me liking this movie.  However, that affection was soon crushed.
     The Debt  stars Sam Worthington, Helen Mirren, Jesper Christensen, and Marton Csokas, along with others who play those actors’ respective roles in different time periods. The movie revolves around three Mossad agents who were sent to Germany to capture and bring back a Nazi war criminal (Christensen) who had sadistically experimented on thousands of Jews. After thirty years have passed since their mission, they have been celebrated as heroes for their work, yet something dark lingers over all three of them.
The acting is good, to use a bland word. I do not recall a single performance being unbelievable or just bad. I thought Christensen and Jessica Chastain (who portrayed the young version of Rachel, the main protagonist) delivered the strongest performances in the film.       
     I mentioned earlier that there was a huge plot twist that really grabbed my attention. It got me excited for the rest of the movie. However, I was sadly disappointed to find out that the movie’s ending…really did not tie up things. Lots of things were insinuated, but nothing was every fully explained, or rather, closed up. Happenings in the movie seemed too coincidental or unbelievable, even though they were executed well. Probably one of the things I liked most about The Debt was the fact that it portrayed the protagonists, Rachel, David, and Stefan, as normal humans with just a bit of combat training. In other words, when they got injured, they did not instantly jump back up as if nothing had happened. They seemed legitimately human, a rarity in movies nowadays. (I will refrain from talking about how the methods of causing people to become unconscious were not realistic, even if they were better than most movies.) Another pet peeve about this film is that the action happened so fast to the point that the motions were not comprehendible. Maybe we’ll get a Director’s Cut with slow-mo?
     According to my mom, the advertisements praised "Helen Mirren with a gun." I do not recall seeing her with a gun...a syringe, yes. A gun, no. Maybe I just missed something, though.
     Overall, the movie was more frustrating than enjoyable. It was a fun ride, but an ultimately unsatisfying one. Had five more minutes been added onto the feature (which was already of Harry Potter length), I feel that everything could have been cleared up. As a movie reviewer, I’m sorry I am not going into as much detail as I normally would; it’s late, I’m still confused about this movie, and, well, it’s late. Sorry, guys. Maybe I'll be up to par next time. 
Avery's Rating: 3 out of 5

Final Score:

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 (2011)

Avery's Review
     My love toward the Harry Potter movie franchise has pretty much consistently decreased since the third film. While not spectacularly pieced together, the first and second movies were still a fun, magical ride. The third, in my opinion, was excellent all around. Beginning with the fourth movie, I felt that all magical (in terms of wonder and awe) aspects were forgotten in lieu of darkness and grit. I know the books are supposed to become darker as they progress, and I did enjoy the books. Maybe it's because they felt rushed - like items were left out from the books, particularly in The Order of the Phoenix. My opinion of The Goblet of Fire has gotten somewhat better after watching it multiple times as part of ABC's neverending Harry Potter Weekend(s). I loved Deathly Hallows Part 1. I don't know why. I just did. But Deathly Hallows Part 2 seemed to have way too many plot holes for me to completely enjoy it.
     So many things in this movie are not explained. I won't even go into them, but it's like important parts of the book were left out just so we could get straight to the action. It felt really rushed, like many major, or at least semi-important scenes were cut just so we could focus on Harry and not his friends. The only protagonists focused on for any length of time at all besides Harry are Ron, Hermione, McGonagall, and Neville. The rest of the cast make fleeting appearances, so quickly that it's hard to distinguish each individual from another.
     To the movie's credit, the King's Cross part now makes much more sense to me. I had no idea what was going on in the book at that point. I think I missed the whole part about the Deathly Hallow Harry found before facing Voldemort. But Dumbledore was waiting for him there. What? Had Dumbledore just been wondering around there, not passing on for a year just in hopes that Harry would come along soon enough? Must've been super boring in there for a year. But maybe I'm looking at that all wrong. After going to Harry Wiki, I see that the stone had nothing to do with his resurrection. There goes my understanding. Anyway, this isn't important to the review, so I'll move on.
     Alexandre Desplat does a great job with the score again. I liked his score for the last movie better (I'm in love with the Ministry of Magic theme), but this one is still great. 
Rupert, look the other way,! No, the other way! Ah, nevermind.
     Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Tom Felton, Alan Rickman, Ralph Fiennes, Matthew Lewis, and all those fine fellows return to reprise their roles (minus Jamie Waylett, who portrayed Vincent Crabbe in the previous movies) and once again do an outstanding job.
     Once again, the movie differs a lot from the book. But I suppose that is to be expected. One thing to note about this movie is the comedy. There is a good bit of it, placed expertly throughout the movie. The Half-Blood Prince had comedy as well, but not quite as much and only one laugh out loud scene that I can remember. 
     The effects, not just 3D, are great. Seeing it in 3D (at midnight, and in a hot costume no less) with the special Harry glasses was cool. I really only noticed 3D in the beginning parts of the movie, as I think I was too preoccupied with the movie for the rest of its duration, which was surprisingly short.
     Well, I've rambled a lot here, as I usually do, but now allow me to sum it all up. The movie should have been longer to allow for better plot explanations. The plot is loosely the same as the book, just with differences that affect individual elements but not the overall outcome. This movie has enough action to make up for the action that is actually missing. Important characters die, but you don't even get to see how they die. What a bummer. If you're a Potter fan, sure, by all means go see this. It is a good movie. If you're really into Potter, it's a fantastic movie. If you're a casual moviegoer who has not seen a Harry Potter movie in your life, I suggest you either start with the first one or read the books. But if you don't want to, it's up to you. Despite all the movie's flaws and muddled plot points, it was fun. I can't criticize it too much.
Rating: 4 out 5

Zack's Review

     As a person that read only as far as The Order Of The Phoenix and then didn't take the time to read more, and had only seen the 6th Harry Potter movie, I didn't have any sort of expectations for this movie. However, I am glad to say Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows Part 2 still somehow surprised me. Unlike some book-to-movie adaptions, it is accessible to all (although I would recommend watching the other movies at least instead of just jumping in like me).
     If you don't watch for the plot, at least watch for the spectacularly epic battle sequences. It was a fantastic movie, not necessarily because of the acting or screenplay, but because it was an excellent joy ride.
     So yes, if you are a super-dedicated Harry Potter fan, it may dissapoint you. However, for casual fans or regular movie goers (such as myself), it is a must-watch-at-some-point-in-time.
     As such, I give this movie a 5 out of 5.
Rating: 5 out of 5

Quick Ratings: None So Far

Final Rating: