Shmee Survives World War Z!

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World War Z is a big budget zombie movie produced and stared in by Brad Pitt.  Before its release it was known for its exploding costs and script rewrites, and then the ending tested so poorly that they had to totally scrap it and film a new one at the last minute, but it seemed to turn out okay provided that you didn’t want a movie that resembled the book.

The story follows a former UN investigator Garry Lane (Brad Pitt) as he travels the globe looking for the cure to the zombie plague ravaging the world, so that the UN boat that is looking after his family doesn’t kick them off.

The plot is simple, but since it is a zombie movie that is to be expected.  The zombies in this movie are a mix between 28 Days Later and its PG13 sensibilities, so fast and scary looking but without being gruesome, unlike most of the creatures from their genre.  The special effects are good with the zombies looking the part, and the huge zombie waves attacking human strongholds are well done.

It is interesting that parts of this movie that work the best are not the large epic fights, but the close quarters with zombies hiding in the dark scenes, and while the large set pieces do add scope, they loose a lot of the tension.  There is nothing better than a person with their back against the wall trying to survive against these relentless foes.

I like this movie, and it says a lot about how the public feels about zombies these days that the market can sustain such a large scale project, but at the end the day the reason it works are the old school zombie scares.

The Return of the Man of Steel

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The Man of Steel is one of 2013’s tentpole blockbusters.  It was produced by Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight), and directed by Zack Snyder (300).  DC/Warner Bros is pinning all its super hero movie hopes on this movie, and I think that they mostly succeeded.

The movie is about an alien from a dying world, who was sent to Earth to be saved from the end of his planet by his loving parents.  He is taken in and loved by an Earth couple even as he struggles to figure out who he is, and his place in this world.  I am of course talking about Superman (Henry Cavill).  His soul searching has to end when a threat from his home world comes to threaten Earth.

The problem with this plot is that since Superman’s origins are so well known that there are not a lot of surprises to be had in this story.  We know all about Superman even if we have never picked up a comic book in our life, but since they decided to do a total reboot, we got to watch it all over again.

All that being said, I still liked this movie.  Zack Snyder once again proves that he is a special effects genius, because this movie looks great, and the action it produces is top notch, and there is something fun about Superman learning to be Superman, and having him being guided by his two fathers Jor-El (Russell Crowe), and Jonathan Kent (Kevin Costner).  They shape his life and lead him to being the man in the blue tights.

I know that some people were upset about the body count at the end of the movie, and it is quite high, but I think that Sups is new to the game and he is doing the best he can.

This was not the greatest movie ever, and I think that since the Batman movies were so good that is going to hurt Man of Steel, but I think it is still a fine movie, and one that sets up the franchise quite well.  I just hope they can write a story we haven’t seen next time.  If you want another take on the movie my buddy Daniel gave it a watch was well.

Star Trek Into Darkness!

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Star Trek Into Darkness is the twelfth Star Trek movie, and the second that features the recast original crew of the Enterprise in their alternate reality.  J.J. Abrams was once again the director of this film, but can it live up to the hype following the last film? Not quite, but it is still pretty darn good.

Captain James T. Kirk (Chris Pine) is forced to brake the Prime Directive of not interfering with primitive cultures to save Commander Spock (Zachary Quinto) from a volcano, and has his command taken away from him, but only to get it back again to go after the terrorist John Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch).  That is about as much of the story as I can tell you without spoiling anything, and trying not spoil things is also why it will be hard for me to explain why this movie wasn’t as good as the last one, but I will do my best.

The main problem I have with this movie is that script makes us believe that a very dumb chain of events happened to kick off the plot of this movie, and you don’t get see how dumb they are until the end of the film, and this seems to be something that writer Damon Lindelof struggles with since he was charged with the same offence with Prometheus.  But he did get the character interaction right.

Despite the lens flares, I think J.J. Abrams does a great job directing this film, and he keeps the pace up so you never get to sit and think about the dumbness of Lindelof’s script until after the movie is over, and everything looks and feels great.

The actors once again prove that they were selected to fill their roles well.  The swagger of Chris Pine as Jim Kirk, the irritating logic of Quinto as Spock, and the bromance they develop is great.  Karl Urban is excellent as the Bones we have all come to know and love, and they way the crew interacts with one another is pitch perfect.  Cumberbatch as the villain does his job, but I wish they the would have used him better.

I liked this movie, and without a doubt Star Trek, and Star Trek Into Darkness are the best back to back Star Trek movies yet, but I wish in the four years it took to bring this movie to theaters that they would have tightened up the story a bit, but as it is it is still well worth watching.

I hang out with Iron Man 3

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Iron Man 3 is poised to be one of the biggest movies of this year, if not the biggest.  They decided to use a different director this time, Shane Black of Lethal Weapon fame.  Robert Downey Jr. picked him because he helped restart Downey’s career by casting him in Kiss Kiss  Bang Bang.  This movie does a pretty good job as a follow up to The Avengers, but it just doesn’t go as deep into Tony’s character as I would like.

The movie starts off with Tony (Robert Downey Jr.) retelling some events that happened in 1999, pretty much he was a jerk to Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce) by blowing off a business proposal, and then he uses scientist Maya Hansen (Rebecca Hall) as a one night stand, and says that he created his own demons.  It then fast forwards to current day and a terrorist called The Mandarin (Ben Kingsley) is blowing up places all over the world and the US saying that he is trying to teaching the US a lesson.  When Happy (Jon Favreau) gets hurt then Tony Stark  takes in on himself to end The Mandarin threat.

This movie promised that it was going to get deeper into Tony’s mind and explore his self destructive ways, and they kind of do by having him not be able to get over his PSD from after The Avengers events, but because they are trying to make an action movie, and a kid friendly one at that, they don’t get in to his alcoholism or his drug use.  They just gloss over everything, and it makes it more of a distraction instead of a plus.  We do get to see that his has made much deeper bonds with Pepper Potts ( Gwyneth Paltrow) and Happy, so that is good.

As far as the action and special effects go, they are all top notch.  Showing that the people over at Marvel still know how to make an action movie.  Downey is Tony Stark, so I am not sure what they are going to do when he decides he is too old to wear the suit, because without his wry wit, and perfectly jerky attitude I am not sure we would like Tony so much.

Despite my problems with story I still liked this movie.  The action is good, and Downey is just fun to watch at this point.  It is just a shame that Disney decided that they didn’t want to make the movie that Marvel promised.

Is Jurassic Park Still Good After 20 Years?

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Jurassic Park was a landmark film in 1993.  It showed how far special effects had come, and brought people in to a world where dinosaurs once again roamed the Earth, but after 20 years and countless special effects laden films does the movie still hold its own?  Yes it does.

The plot is fairly basic, a group of people are getting a preview of a new theme park that contains cloned dinosaurs.  When a man turns off the power to steel dinosaur embryos and sell them to a rival company, and then of coarse everything falls apart endangering everyone at the park.  However, when your movie is about recreating and showing dinosaurs a simple plot is for the best, and it works wonderfully.

It is amazing how well the special effects still hold up, and I think the reason for that is that they blended animatronics with computer generated imagery (CGI) to make these amazing creatures come to life.  Now all movies use is the CGI making everything loose the weight and solid feel of the creatures they make, but have something real makes it all the more believable.

Another reason this movie holds up so well is that lesser directors and story tellers would have just made this a monster movie, and there is nothing wrong with a good monster movie, but instead Steven Spielberg makes this more like a safari gone wrong, and treats the dinosaurs just like animals that are doing what animals would do.  This allows the T-Rex to be a hero and a villain all at the same time, and it makes the world he creates believable, and despite the danger someplace I still want to visit.

I never got to see this movie in theaters because I was not 13 yet and Mom wouldn’t let me, and after seeing it in theaters now I have to say that this is the format this movie was made to be seen in.  This movie is big and demands to be seen on a screen equally as big, from the amazing sounds to the incredible sites.  The one major drawback is the new inflated price, it is $17 a person to see it in IMAX 3D, and the 3D does not add a whole lot to the film, but it is better then most post produced 3D treatments, and the new high resolution looks great.

If you have the money, or you are like me and have never seen this movie in theaters, then do yourself a favor and re-watch this classic film by one of our greatest filmmakers.