Friday, 16 May 2014

Review: Godzilla

Look, I have nothing against the 1998 American Godzilla, in fact, I like it as its own movie. As a standalone monster movie, it is ridiculously silly, funny and at the same time entertaining in its own way. But when you watched the original Japanese version, or had a glimpse of it, or even watched Ultraman before, that is not an actual Godzilla, it strayed too far from the original. The 1998 adaptation felt more like Jurassic Park on steroids.

So, when Legendary Pictures and Warner Brothers decided to reboot the whole Hollywood adaptation, I had some doubts whether it will succeed or not. But, Gareth Edwards' vision towards the Japanese version with his idea worked well, and rather brilliantly.

The movie is about the devastation of human abuse of the environment and the use of Nuclear based materials and its effects, which is the appearance of monsters of Godzilla. To make matters worse, Godzilla isn't the biggest trouble! Making the army had a torrid time throughout the movie. The brilliance about the new Godzilla is, it felt like Jaws. Godzilla makes the viewers felt terrified and nervous, even when Godzilla is off-screen.

The new Godzilla had some of the finest cast line-up, it has Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Kick-Ass, Avengers: Age of Ultron), Elizabeth Olsen (Avengers: Age of Ultron), Ken Watanabe (Inception, The Last Samurai), Bryan Cranston (Malcolm in the Middle, Breaking Bad).

These actors are some of the most popular and great actors around, and it is paired up with a really decent script. The movie is mostly centred around Ford Brody (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and his family (Olsen, Cranston) and of course Godzilla. The movie surprisingly had a really strong human drama to back it up, but the character development is somewhat forgotten halfway through the movie.

The main character of the movie is still the titular character, Godzilla. Gareth Edwards made Godzilla hidden most of the time until the film climax. I like this idea, but moviegoers who prefer the movie come out gunblazing from the first second might not like this. This version of the Godzilla stays true to its Japanese roots, and bigger than the Japanese version. This makes Godzilla feels terrifying, on and off-screen. Beside Godzilla, there are MUTOs in the movie as well

The movie had a really strong visual effects as well. Many of the action set-pieces are well made and well-polished to make it feel believable and exciting. The destructions created by Godzilla are massive and the great visual effects make these destruction much scarier and realistic.

While the visual effects is great, the best part of Godzilla is definitely the audio effects. The movie is loud at the right time with all the actions going on-screen, with the roar of Godzilla the highlight of the audio effects. The audio effects is the best I've heard this year, and it is some of the best I've heard in recent years.

Godzilla is a faithful adaptation to its Japanese counterparts, highlighting the movie's values correctly. It is silly, but believable that makes the movie so entertaining to watch. Despite its strong but stalled human drama, the movie has a decent story to back it up. Gareth Edwards' Godzilla is one of the year's most entertaining movie of year.

Pros: Good visual effects, one of the best audio effects of the year, strong cast and good story, Godzilla is back!

Cons: Character development is somewhat stalled halfway, some silly moments, some viewers might not like the beginning of the film.

Score: 4/5

Saturday, 29 March 2014

Review: Captain America - The Winter Soldier

Franchise Changing!

Those two words came up instantly in my head after watching The Winter Soldier, as the movie offer the most impact I've seen so far to The Avengers franchise than any other heroes' individual outing thus far.

The Winter Soldier takes place two years after The Avengers, where Captain America continues to work with SHIELD even though he doesn't like it, as he has no other way to go after 70 years in cryostasis and teamed up with Black Widow.

This basis set up for a more grounded approach in comic book movies, as the story mostly heavily influenced by the state of our real world, driven by fear and heavily political. This creative and different approach makes Captain America's second solo outing one of the best Marvel's adaptation in recent years, and aside from The Avenger, this is the best Marvel Cinematic Universe movie since the first Iron Man.

As for action sequences go, The Winter Soldier has also adopted a different approach. Contrast to the heavy CGI of previous films, Marvel this time has opted to go for a more grounded approach, with CGI sequences much reduced this time around. This has resulted The Winter Soldier to have a more exciting and realistic actions compared to its siblings.

Character-wise, The Winter Soldier is also brilliantly done. Chris Evans is Captain America, just like Robert Downey Jr. is Iron Man, he really portrayed the character well, Samuel L. Jackson is back as Nick Fury, Scarlett Johansson is back as the super duper sexy femme fatale secret spy, Black Widow, and Falcon is really really cool! The Winter Soldier himself is a really good character, he really makes the movie feel terrifying in many ways and exciting as well. Cobie Smulders is also back as Agent Maria Hill, whom has a more expanded role than The Avengers, but I still can't get over the Robin Scherbatsky of How I Met Your Mother, whom she also portrayed. Captain America: The Winter Soldiers features an actual and great character development that is interesting to watch.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier is a fine and smart entry to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It serves up with a smarter script, interesting character developments, terrifying villain and a more grounded and realistic approach to the action sequences. It is definitely worth a watch!

Pros: Smart and interesting script, heavy impact to the overall franchise, great character development, terrifying and well-matched villain, realistic action sequences

Cons: That Robin thing, although it is smart, the plot could be bit better.

SCORE: 4.5/5 (Watch)

Monday, 17 March 2014

Review: Need For Speed (film)

Trailers ended, the lights started to dim, Touchstone Pictures & Dreamworks Studios logo going through they standard splash screen. Then, some chuckles in the cinema (myself included) when EA logo appeared, probably because it is unusual to see it in theatres, and it feels like we are booting up a video game.

Introducing, HOWARD STARK!

This is normal as the movie I'm talking about is Need For Speed, a loose movie adaptation of the video game of the same name. At first glance, it feels like a Fast & Furious wannabe, fast cars, good looking dudes and babes and racing set pieces, but that's where the similarity ends.

Wait, I'm not coming with you? WHAT??!!

The movie features a bare bone storyline and backstory of characters, which is disappointing because of the loose adaptation of this vast franchise. The writers could almost write anything, but instead they make it feel like it was written in a matter of hours while distracted by some other stuffs. Some unneeded plot twist here and there, it feels like a total mess.

This can be a very good fitting for Caption Contest

Aaron Paul (Tobey Marshall) and Michael Keaton (Monarch) could only done so much because of  the bad script, they are the characters worth exploring, and while not as good, Imogen Poots (Julia) also felt limited. Other characters, well, they felt flat all the way that we could even see the whole movie without noticing them.

Burn Baby! BURN!!!

But luckily, the action sequences shine when they mattered the most in the movie like this. Director Scott Waugh clearly knows how to handle the actions stuff well, as I love the action sequences in Act of Valor (he directed) as well. He chose the use of first person view of the racing sequence, which I really like it as it added the thrill into the movie. Final race sequence, the first race and swerving around Detroit are particularly exciting. Some of the action sequences felt better because there's no music interrupting the action, which is sometimes essential for racing sequences.

Look ma!

What I'm really so impressed about the movie is the low to no usage of CGI in the movie, so the end result is it felt realistic. This also meant that a lot of the stunt driving by the actors and stunt drivers are actually real, which is really impressive as most of the actors nowadays rely on green screen or body double.

Played too much Burnout perhaps?

As a car nut, watching the movie first time around, I noticed a few errors that really caught my eyes. The Bugatti Veyron Super Sport (which I think it is) was not particularly well replicated, the Lamborghini Sesto Elemento features a freaking power window and  the McLaren P1 doesn't raise its spoiler at high speed. With EA and its partners involved, I'm pretty sure they can at least have a look at some of these issues before they get the green light eh?

All and all, Need For Speed is a good, entertaining, adrenaline pumping popcorn movie. Its action sequences managed to overcome its dreadful story, but only just. More work is needed if they want a sequel.

Pros: Well-made action sequences, audio effects, realistic driving is a big welcome
Cons: Abysmal storyline, some sketchy dialogue, worrying looking replicas

Score: 3/5