Movies: Fantastic Four

One word: Suxxor.

Well, not really. It’s okay I guess. When I first heard they were making a Fantastic Four movie, my first reaction was, “Uh…that can’t be good.”

The plot is barely servicable…the thing that really made me think “suxxor” was how Victor von Doom’s role was handled. I mean, in the comics, Doom was a monarch, ruler of Latveria. He wasn’t a madman bent on revenge. He was a madman bent on world domination!

In the comics, Dr. Doom is like a machiavellian villain, craving for power, but never exposing himself directly to harm. He’d always get his minions to do dirty work for him, and just when the Fantastic Four thought they had him — damn, it was a Doombot all along! Curse you, Doom, you got away again! In the movie, Dr. Doom is like, “Holy crap, I’m bankrupt and Richards stole my girlfriend! I’ll use these newly-acquired non-canon cosmic powers to kick his ass! And maybe get into a punching contest with the Thing, or see if I survive a supernova.”

Another thing, the FF hardly do anything “heroic” here. The only time they really do a public service (the scene at the bridge) would have been avoided if the Thing wasn’t who he was. Yet, despite this, the people of New York (hm…was it New York? Well, the Baxter Building was there, so…) easily accept them as heroes. This is ridiculous. Movie Spiderman did a whole lot of good deeds, but he received also a whole lot of crap before people started to realize he was a hero. And he’s just wearing a mask. What makes people think the people would so easily accept someone like the Thing?

The Thing is of course, the most tragic member of the FF, and a good part of the movie focuses on the problems caused by his transformation and his desire to find a cure. To compensate, he gets all the funny scenes, such as they are. There’s one that reminds me an old Simpsons joke: “Your fingers are too fat for this phone…”

The best thing about this movie? The Fantastic Four are represented quite accurately.

(Edit 11-Jul-2005: Actually, the best parts were those involving the Thing and thr Torch. Reed was pretty much what I expected, but Sue’s character was quite weak, and at some points Jessica Alba seemed uncomfortable with it. It can’t be helped though, as before Franklin was born, Sue Storm-Richards had the weakest character development in the comics, and her lacking role in the movie simply reflects that.)

The worst thing about this movie? Doctor Doom and the people of New York are not.

The best line in the movie?

“It’s clobbering time.”

Movies: Batman Begins

Awesome. Definitely better than the all the other Batman movies. This movie is no kids’ movie either. The movie is less about Batman’s crimefighting adventures and more about Bruce Wayne’s journey from being a angry, confused rich orphan to the billionaire playboy/costumed vigilante popularized by the earlier films.

The movie captures the essence of Batman’s character perfectly. It’s all about fear — Bruce overcoming his fear of bats and eventually turning that fear into a symbol to strike terror into the hearts of criminals. The Batman here is nowhere near Joel Schumacher’s colorful crusader, or Adam West’s *Biff*Pow*Sock* type of action. This Batman is a true dark knight, striking from the shadows, unseen, terrifying. I can just imagine the rumors rippling through the underworld during the movie: the Batman is a terrifying monster; he can fly; he can command bats; he is darkness incarnate.

The two villains that appear in the movie – Ra’s Al Ghul and Scarecrow – complement the general fear and deception theme of the movie. Jim Gordon’s character is great, although it’s a bit weird for me to see Gary Oldman in the role. As for Katie Holmes, well, her character didn’t seem to have an important enough role from my point of view. Michael Kaine is a worthy Alfred Pennyworth, and this Alfred seems a bit more smartass than those that appeared in the earlier movies.

All in all, worth the watch. The tantalizing hint at the end of the movie suggests a sequel, but the question is, who will play the Joker?

Also, we watched in the new cinemas at SM North. Nice, everything seems a lot roomier and the seats were comfy. I didn’t get to see what the comfort rooms were like as the movie had me glued to my seat.

Movies: Transformers the Movie

I should’ve thought of this as soon as I got DSL: I went ahead and downloaded Transformers the Movie.

Transformers was of course, the epitome of my youth. Unlike most other guy kids, I preferred the Transformers to G.I. Joe. I guess I preferred high-tech fantasy over soliders back then, with the war of the heroic Autobots and the Evil Decepticons appealing more to my young mind than soldiers trying to fight terrorists. I watched the show, I read the comics (the first comic series I really collected), I had a lunch box, and I even bought and ate the unhealthy cheap knock-off Transformers-branded chips they sold near the St. Joseph parish.

Transformers: the Movie was the pinnacle of my childhood experience with the Transformers cartoon, since the seasons following the movie were never broadcast on Philippine TV. I watched it yesterday, hoping I would still find the old charm which enthralled me as a child.

I was not disappointed. Well, not much anyway. As an adult I’ve grown more critical of things in general, quick to spot and point out minute flaws. Some notes:

The year is 2005 in Transformers the Movie, some 19 years after the movie’s actual release. At least they didn’t predict flying cars like Back to the Future, but how come we don’t yet have cars that look like Hot Rod? The “futuristic” look of the six new Autobots introduced in the movie (Ultra Magnus, Hot Rod, Kup, Blurr, Springer and Arcee) give you an indication of how the people of 80s perceived future transportation.

Apparently, Transformers can use lightsabers, er…Laser Swords! Megatron pulls one out during his fatal battle with Optimus Prime, and later in the movie one of the Autobots does too. (I think it was Hot Rod, I forget.)

Amazingly, while the Autobots and Decepticons never actually hit each other with their weapons in the TV series, their appearance in a movie suddenly made Starscream’s use of the Megatron-gun a lot more efficient, accurate and lethal. Ironhide, Prowl, Brawn and Ratchet go down with a single shot each in the first few minutes of the movie. More Autobots died in the first twenty minutes than in the entire run of the series prior to the movie.

This wouldn’t be much of a problem if the Autobots actually had the same numbers they had in the series. It’s a well-known fact that the Autobots greatly outnumbered the Decepticons almost all the time, since there are far more types of cars than there are jets and guns and other stuff. But in the movie, there are apprently less than twenty Autobots still in active service. What happened to the rest? We’re limited to Optimus Prime, the more popular first-batch Autobots, the Dinobots and the new guys. The Decepticons get a slightly better deal. They get both the first and second batch of jets, the Constructicons, Insecticons, and even the triple-changers Blitzwing and Astrotrain. Also, I think Blaster’s cassette-bots make their first cartoon appearance here. Conspiciously absent are the second set of ‘combiner’ teams…the Protectobots, Aerialbots, Combaticons and Stunticons. Some of the fights might have gone better had the Autobots thought to bring around Omega Supreme or Skyfire.

The Dinobots are apparently stupider than I remember. I guess my memories preferred the comic-book Dinobots, where Grimlock actually managed to become Autobot leader. Here Blurr has trouble convincing them to board a ship.

It’s too bad the Autobots didn’t think of bringing Optimus Prime to the planet of junk, where apprently an Autobot can still live after being blown into some twenty-thousand pieces.

The Ultra Magnus character was created solely to have someone fail to be a leader.

Strangely enough, when the Autobots crash through Unicron’s eye, we don’t see any sort of optic sensors on the other side.

The rest of the movie went pretty much as I remembered it. With a lot of forgettable 80s-style music running in the background. Amazingly, at the end, Rodimus Prime declares an end to the Cybertronian wars, and a new era of peace. I don’t recall any peace being negotiated with the Decepticons, who looked like they outnumbered the Autobots fifteen-million to one during Unicron’s attack.

I’m quite relieved, as watching the movie failed to change my nostalgic childhood memories of the Transformers, although I still vastly prefer the comic book series. Not at all bad for a series made to sell toys.

Gateway

We saw Revenge of the Sith at the Gateway mall in Cubao. It’s less than a year old, and it’s target audience is a higher class than the usual malls. It’s like it’s trying to be something like the Podium, which makes it a bit out of place in Cubao. The mall is good anyway, as you’d expect. Not my type of place to hang out, but has the comforts you’d expect of such a mall…clean, not much of a crowd, and people greeting you when you get off the taxi. It seems a bit tight, though. The hallways are a bit narrow, and the layout is a bit confusing. Or maybe I’m just used to Megamall.

The last time I was there, the only thing to see was the Taco Bell. It was therefore my first time at the cinemas there. It’s okay. We got reserved seats, so no crowds for us, and Alvin kept laughing at all the lined-up people who didn’t have the foresight to buy reserved tickets.

Alvin and Brian really liked the armrests that you could lift up to remove the barrier between seats — I guess it’s okay if you had a girlfriend. So, yeah, I didn’t care. :p

Movies: Revenge of the Sith

The circle is now complete. The whole tale has been told. Revenge of the Sith completes Lucas’ space opera. And the Force is strong in this one.

Highly enjoyable movie, if you take the time to push away your inner critic and look past the spotty acting, the so-so dialogue, and all the little flaws and inconsistencies you spot throughout the movie. Get past all of that, and it’s a decent enough ride, and a fitting conclusion to the Star Wars epic.

Seriously, people need to stop picking it apart and just enjoy the movie. Spoilers follow.

R2-D2=funny. Apparently that droid can do anything. Imagine having a universal socket that can hack any computer system? Plus apparently he’s smart and handy enough to fight off a couple of war droids. Not bad for an Astromech.

Mace Windu vs. Palpatine=good fight. Better than Yoda vs. Palpatine. Mace Windu is obviously better than Yoda at this, probably because he’s Morpheus’ cousin or something, or so my brother claimed. Speaking of which, my brother, sitting beside me, was cringing all throughout their fight. “Oh…he’s gonna die…he’s gonna die…”

Seriously, what was up with those 3 Jedi Mace Windu brought with him? They had like 1 hit point each. What was he thinking?

Anakin: Palpatine is a powerful Sith Lord. You’ll need my help.
Mace Windu: No way, fool. He’s just an old man. These 3 noobs will be enough.
(Palpatine kills the 3 noobs almost instantly)
Mace Windu: Crap.

Anakin’s turning to the Dark Side was believable enough, given a bit of suspension of disbelief. We should’ve known it was Padme that would lead to his fall. Too bad Anakin was so gullible…despite Obi-wan praising him for his wisdom. Women…why do they lead us to the dark side?

General Grievous was boring, kept running away. I hear he was better in the Clone Wars animated series. I’ll watch it sometime.

If you think about it…all those references to the later trilogy seemed conveniently crammed into the last part of the movie. So don’t think about it. Just enjoy the wholeness of the circle. 😀

Overall, the six-episode story was very good. Lucas’ sub-par execution make it an easy target for nitpickers, but the Star Wars mythos as a whole is rock-solid foundation, upon which writers far better than Lucas can improve on.

The story from beginning to end is very tight, from Anakin’s discovery as the “one who will bring balance to the force”, to his fall, to the rise of Luke, and eventually to Anakin’s redemption and Luke becoming the last from both lines – Jedi and Sith. And balance is brought to the Force.

Movies: Spiderman 2

I suppose everyone and their mother has had a chance to voice their opinions on Spiderman 2 by now, so here’s mine: Some parts are hokey, some parts are cheesy, some parts are gratuitous Hollywood crap, it has quite a few inconsistencies and plot holes but overall, it’s a hell of a ride, and I found it considerably more ‘fun’ than the first one. That being said, I’m not entirely excited about the Goblin making an obvious comeback in Spiderman 3, but the only other Spidey nemesis worthy of being in a movie would be Venom…and bringing alien symbiotes in the equation would completely change the feel of the movies.

The Recruit

Good plot twists you could see from a mile away.

Unfortunately, we had arrived at the theater too late to catch the start of the last showing of Gangs of New York, so we had to settle with the second choice. The Recruit didn’t get as much critical acclaim as Gangs, but what the heck, Al Pacino in a spy thriller? How could I lose?

The story is simple enough. Colin Farell plays James Clayton, a young man just out of MIT, recruited by CIA agent William Burke (Pacino). Clayton is obsessed with finding out what happened to his father, who was lost in an accident some fifteen or so years ago. Pacino taunts him by dropping the occasional hint about his father’s fate, and Clayton throws away the promising career he would have had in Engineering to join the CIA. The third entry to this little affair is Leila, Clayton’s batchmate at the Farm, a
chick who may or may not be a double agent, but definitely has the hots for him. The three of them expectedly get involved a complicated plot involving double agents, unofficial operatives and the standard amount of secret agent sex.

The best parts of the movie involve the CIA training. We get a glimpse into the kind of psychological warfare business they teach the recruits at the training centre affectionately called “The Farm.” Here Al Pacino does what he does, drilling his principles into his students: “Trust no one.”; “Nothing is what is seems.”, and “Everything is a test.”

The weakest part has to be the character of James Clayton himself. The character of Leila puts it best: Why the hell does James feel like doing anything he can to please Burke? James never has any real motivation for following Burke like he was the Messiah. Aside from that mysterious star on the CIA wall at Langley (which may or may not be related to his father), there is nothing stopping James from just calling it quits and heading home. Hell, I wouldn’t have wanted to go through that training,
secret agent or not.

Overall: Enjoyable enough, despite the predictability of the overall plot. Ending is a bit disappointing, but only a bit, as it leaves an important plot point hanging. I hope we see these characters again sometime…

Bourne Identity, Goldmember, Signs

The Bourne Identity

A new action hero is Bourne

I was a bit anxious to see this movie, as I had thoroughly enjoyed the book of the same name a long time ago, and I was hoping the movie would give me the same satisfaction. The Bourne Identity stars Matt Damon as rogue CIA agent/amnesiac Jason Bourne. In his quest to uncover his own identity, Jason travels all around Europe pursued by the CIA’s agents and dragging along an innocent gypsy girl who just happened to be his best shot for a ride to Paris.

Now, I haven’t read the book in ages, so I can’t say for sure how faithfully the story translates to the movie (although as I recall there was a lot more traipsing across Europe — I may be wrong though) so I have to judge the movie on its own merits.

On its own merits, the movie falls short of my expectations. Mainly because I was expecting some fast-paced action, but most of the time it’s just Jason and Marie running and hiding from the CIA. It’s more of an action/thriller than a straight action flick — Jason spends a lot of time trying to uncover the conspiracy behind his pursuers. However, it doesn’t seem to pull off either the thriller part or the action part very well. The thriller part doesn’t fly because we know what’s going on well before Jason does — the movie shows us what’s going on at CIA HQ, how his boss travels to Paris to mete him, et cetera. The action part doesn’t fly because the thriller parts get in the way. DOn’t get me wrong, there are some cool action stunts here — Jason riding a free-falling body down the center of a spiral stairway to gun down one of the CIA agents — but they are few and far between. Also, the director seems to enjoy some sort of shaky, jarring camera work — not really a problem but occasionally
annoying.

Overall: Good enough, I suppose. The director is no Robert Ludlum
but the story is told well enough.


Austin Powers in Goldmember

Do I make you horny baby?

Another Austin Powers movie? Well I knew what to expect — more of the same. I got what I expected, but that isn’t really a bad thing. As usual with Austin Powers movies, some parts tend to drag on, while some parts are simply “laugh-out-loud” funny. This time, Dr. Evil enlists the aid of 70’s criminal mastermind Goldmember in a nefarious plot to extort money from the world leaders (as if you didn’t know.) Austin himself gets some help (aside from the requisite Powers girl Beyonce Knowles as Foxy Cleopatra) — from none other than his dear old dad, legendary secret agent Nigel Powers (played by Michael Caine) This one has a bit more story than the first two — you get to find out more about Austin and Dr. Evil’s history, and some strange plot twists ensue. Expect the return of such characters as MiniMe, Fat Bastard and Dr. Evil’s wayward son Scott. Also a new character on the side of British Intelligence is played by Wonder Years star Fred Savage

The funniest parts are mostly during the opening sequence and towards the end. Expect more gross, insensitive and blatantly offensive humor, more naked bodies, more Fat Bastard crapping, more silhouette jokes, more making fun of MiniMe, hollywood cameos, movie spoofs and the like. This time however, things don’t stay the same. Some changes in the status quo happen towards the end and this will obviously not be the last Austin Powers movie.

Overall: I liked the second one better, but this one’s good too. As is the case with Austin Powers movies, it’s not for the easily offended.


Signs

Crop circles? This isn’t the X-files is it?

Of the three movies I saw this week, “Signs” was the one I was looking forward to the least. The trailer didn’t really give me a good impression — looked like some cheap X-Files ripoff with Mel Gibson as Fox Mulder. As it usually happens, turns out I was wrong about the whole thing – “Signs” is one helluva good movie.

Let’s get it out first: “Signs” is about an alien invasion. We’re talking spaceships and green men. However, unlike movies like Independence Day which tell the story of how the world comes together to defeat an alien menace, “Signs” tells the story of how a family comes together to survive fear, paranoia and green men knocking on their door. All of the Independence Day stuff happens, but never at the forefront of the story — the giant spaceships are there, somewhere in the background, shown on
TV.

The story is about a farmer and his family in a small rural town. Overnight, mysterious crop circles appear in his fields. Later on, more signs appear — prowlers around their house, strange radio noises. As a former minister, Mel Gibson faces what he fears the most — the idea that there is no God, and that he and his family are left to fend for themselves against whatever threat is there lurking in the shadows.

The movie is extremely well-written, with all the characters playing their parts well, and all the elements coming together towards the end to make a whole lot of sense.

Overall: Go see it. Now. Unless you’re like my kid brother who would probably get nightmares just thinking about an alien invasion.

07 Jan 2002

For some reason, I keep wanting to update this site. I’m actually doing this more often than studying for the board, studying game development, studying Japanese or writing anything else. I wonder why? Anyway, I added a humor page and a special “Who Am I?” page. Check ’em out. Also the Anime ROMs site should be fully operational by now.

So I went and saw Lord of the Rings last Friday. As everyone expected, it was an excellent movie, and the theater was jam packed. We had to use all our mighty skills to get seats. Even my first brother, who doesn’t normally watch movies, enjoyed it and said it was great. My only complaint is that the movie is too long! I mean, I know Tolkien created a huge world and all, but did they really have to show the party traveling through numerous forests, mountains and snow without advancing the plot? That’s one of the reasons I didn’t get to finish the book, I felt the plot dragged along in favor of the lengthy descriptions. The movie does this too, but to a lesser extent.