Archive for CCH Pounder

Batman: Assault on Arkham

Posted in Action/Adventure, Animation, Movie Reviews, Superhero Films with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 18, 2018 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Being locked away in Arkham has little effect on Joker and his latest desire to detonate a dirty bomb within Gotham. The clock begins to tick and a deadly triangle unfolds as Amanda Waller unleashes Task Force X to save the day…while Batman has his own plans for salvation.

What people are saying:

“…gleefully immoral” heist film which, having “no real [plot] arc to speak of”, relies on its violent action and clever character dynamics within the Suicide Squad to carry it. Due to its villainous protagonists, dark comedy, and sexual content, Mendelson considers the production of Assault on Arkham an experimental decision by DC, and a successful experiment as it tells a style of comic book story that would never get approval as a live-action project” 4 1/2 stars

“DC Entertainment thrills with one of its boldest and mature films yet while finally figuring out the secret to telling engaging and fun adventures of DC Comic characters beyond Batman and the Justice League.” 4 stars

“The versions of the characters are well done and the voice-work is as good as always for DC comics animation, the story has a good set-up and some nice twists and turns, but it feels like more could have been done with the characters and the small moments of development some have don’t quite work. Also the whole thing is over-the-top in its machismo, at times to the point of parody.” 3 stars

“A little dumb and rushed at times, Batman: Assault on Arkham seems to be fan service for both the comic book fans and for the teenage boys watching it. Some of the charters are completely useless, like that communist that even got his own title card and everything that dies in less than half an hour into the film. And the plot has to revolve around batman not the side-characters this film was made to showcase, the dubbing of the animation can be terrible at worst and bad at best. But with that said the fight scenes are cool and the story is creative. all in all this is an OK movie worth checking out.” 3 1/2 stars

“The animation team at DC did a good job with this feature. It is like a darker, adult version of the Batman universe more akin to Chris Nolan’s “Dark Knight” Trilogy. I really liked how they merged the elements of the superhero genre with the tropes of a heist film (with the various surprises and complications, switched allegiances, Deadshot as the jaded leader who has done missions hundreds of times, Captain Boomerang being the rebellious new guy, Harley Quinn as the crazy, untrustworthy one who could easily FUBAR the mission, King Shark as the muscle, etc.). It also included plenty of great action and numerous cool little node to the “Arkham” games. The voice casting is almost spot-on, too, with the only exception being Matthew Gray Gubler sounding a little off as the Riddler. I just had a couple of minor issues with the film, though; they detract from the overall movie, but do not derail it from being entertaining. First, I think they over-sexualized Harley Quinn (even more so than the “Arkham” series the movie is based on) with no compelling reasoning behind this move. Secondly, while it gets course-corrected in the last ten minutes of the film, the climax ends up devolving into a retread of the main “breakout” plot of the first “Arkham Asylum,” which was disappointing after all of the other elements in the film (including the interesting plot, for the most part) were so new and shocking compared the previous animated DC films.” 4 1/2 stars

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The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 8, 2013 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In New York City, teenager Clary Fray (Lily Collins) begins seeing a strange symbol, worrying her mother Jocelyn Fray (Lena Headey) and her mother’s friend Luke Garroway (Aidan Turner). Later, while attending a nightclub with her best and only friend Simon Lewis (Robert Sheehan), Clary witnesses the murder of a man by the hands of Jace Wayland (Jamie Campbell Bower), whom appears only Clary is able to see. Meanwhile, Jocelyn is abducted by two men, Emil Pangborn (Kevin Durand) and Samuel Blackwell (Robert Maillet), but not before leaving a message for Clary to warn her that someone named Valentine is coming after her. Jocelyn then drinks a potion which leaves her in a comatose state. Returning home, Clary is attacked by a demon, but Jace appears and kills the demon. He reveals himself to be a Shadowhunter, a warrior trained to slay demons hidden on Earth, such as the man in the nightclub. Jocelyn was a Shadowhunter as well, and Clary has inherited her powers, including the ability to use runes.

Clary and Jace visit Clary’s neighbor and friend of her mother, Madame Dorothea (C. C. H. Pounder), a witch who deduces that Pangborn and Blackwell are after the Mortal Cup, one of the three Mortal Instruments given to the first Shadowhunter by the Angel Raziel, that allows normal humans to become half-Angel Shadowhunters. Simon, now able to see Jace, joins them as they leave to meet Luke in his bookstore. There, they discover that Luke is being interrogated by Pangborn and Blackwell, stating that he cares nothing for Jocelyn, and is after the Mortal Cup himself. The trio then escapes to the Shadowhunters’ base of operations, the Institute, where Clary and Simon meet Jace’s fellow Shadowhunters, Alec Lightwood (Kevin Zegers) and Isabelle Lightwood (Jemima West), and their leader, Hodge Starkweather (Jared Harris), who reveals that Pangborn and Blackwell are working for Valentine Morgenstern (Jonathan Rhys Meyers), an ex-Shadowhunter who betrayed the race of the Nephilim and sought to steal the Mortal Cup to gain control over all Shadowhunters and demons.

Believing the key to find the Mortal Cup lies within Clary’s mind, Hodge instructs Jace to take Clary to the City of Bones, where fallen Shadowhunters are laid to rest, to meet Brother Jeremiah (Stephen R. Hart), a member of the Silent Brothers who probe Clary’s mind and uncover her connection to a powerful warlock, Magnus Bane (Godfrey Gao). Clary, Jace, Simon, Alec and Isabelle meet Magnus in a nightclub, where he reveals that Jocelyn has hired him to block knowledge of the Shadowhunters from Clary’s mind. Their conversation is interrupted when Simon is kidnapped by vampires, leading to a confrontation in a nearby hotel. Their group is nearly killed until the werewolves (that share a truce with the Shadowhunters) intervene and rescue them.

Back in the Institute, Clary shares a moment of romance with Jace during a romantic evening with him in the Institute’s greenhouse, sharing a kiss. Simon confronts Clary about it and Jace gets angry and confused when she refers to it as just a kiss. Simon pours out his heart to Clary and Simon leaves the room leaving Clary feeling guilty.

Clary discovers that the Mortal Cup is hidden inside a tarot card painted by her mother, so the group returns to Madame Dorothea’s apartment to retrieve it. There, they discover the witch has been replaced by a demon sent to steal the Cup. It is killed by Simon and Jace, not before critically wounding Alec, while Clary retrieves the Mortal Cup.

The group returns to the Institute only to find that they have been betrayed by Hodge, who takes the Mortal Cup from Clary and summons Valentine Morgenstern. He reveals himself to be Clary’s father and persuades her to join him in his cause, but she refuses and escapes with help from Luke, who is revealed to be a werewolf. Luke tells Clary that she has a brother called Jonathan, and returns to the Institute with her and his pack to fight Valentine, who uses a forbidden spell to open a portal and summon an army of demons to New York. Simon and Isabelle manage to close the portal with help from Hodge, who sees the error of his ways and sacrifices himself to kill Blackwell. Meanwhile, Magnus arrives to heal the injured Alec, and Luke kills Pangborn.

Clary and Jace fight Valentine, who reveals that they are siblings, and that Jace’s real name is Jonathan. He once more attempts to convince them to join him, but they refuse again and push him through the portal with a false Mortal Cup, and after a brief struggle the portal is destroyed by Jace. Jocelyn is rescued but remains in a coma at the hospital, where Luke accompanies her. Clary assures Simon that although she does not love him back, somebody will. Clary heads back home and uses her powers to repair the damage done to her apartment. Shortly thereafter, Jace appears, confessing that he needs her and wants her to come back with him to the Institute. Without much thought, she agrees to go with him.

REVIEW:

Harry Potter has come and gone, becoming a part of cinematic lore. Since then, Hollywood has been struggling, and I emphasize that word, to find the next young adult novel that will go on to make them lots and lots of money. The Twilight franchise, much to the chagrin of many who weren’t in the demographic worked, but they’ve also come and gone. The Hunger Games books have proven they can make some bank, but they aren’t going to be around forever, so what else is out there? Well, apparently The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones.

What is this about?

After teen Clary Fray witnesses a murder at a New York nightclub, a sinister stranger named Valentine attacks and kidnaps her mother. Endowed with supernatural vision, Clary recruits a band of youthful human-angel hybrids to help rescue her mother.

What did I like?

Effects. The CG demons and werewolves were pretty impressive, especially the demon dog that attacks our heroine. I went into this film expecting some cheesy effects and was pleasantly surprised that wasn’t the case. I can’t recall if this was released in 3D, but I’m sure if it was, people would be gushing about how great these creatures looked.

Bach. Johann Sebastian Bach is far from my favorite composer. Apparently, when his music is played, it affects demons. At first, I though this was a nice little bit of comedy thrown in there, as well as some demon hunter history, but it turns out that Bach actually was a hunter, himself. When they show the portrait of him above the piano, you can faintly see the tattoo he is covering above his wrist. Did I mention that my college mascot was a Demon? Perhaps that is why his music affect me so. Ha!

Tone. While watching those Twilight movies, all I wanted to do was slit my wrists. That isn’t a commentary on the films themselves, but rather a statement regarding the morose tone they maintained throughout the entire franchise. Truly, it wasn’t as bad as something like Requiem for a Dream or Black Swan, but man, those films are not happy. Luckily, this film (and perhaps the books?) don’t go down that path. Sure the leading man is a bit of a downer, but on a whole, the film won’t depress you, depending on how you feel about the villains, of course.

What didn’t I like?

Mix and match. One cannot help but notice the amount of genres that seem to be shoved in here. Pretty much if you can name the sci-fi franchise, it is in here somewhere. This would’ve worked, but this seems to be more done to make the film appeal to the male demographic, rather than move the film forward. Yes, guys want to see action and such, but not at the expense of good filmmaking.

Comedy. Usually, I am the last one to bitch and moan about jokes thrown in here and there, but the jokes that are force-fed to us all fall flat. Whomever it was that wrote the jokes obviously did not know how to write a joke. I appreciate the attempt at comedy, I really do, but if you can’t do it right, then don’t do it at all.

Casting call. The cast isn’t horrible, just full of more “pretty people” that you would see on the CW. As it turns out, looks don’t mean talent. Many of the cast come off as wooden and stiff. Jonathan Rhys Meyers, as good an actor as he is, is just chewing up scenery and going over the top with his character. If he would have scaled it back just a little it would have worked better.

Having not read the book, I think The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones could go on to become a successful franchise, if they listen to the criticisms people have with this film and make those changes moving forward (a sequel is planned for next year). Do I recommend this film? Well, if you’re into goth night at Hot Topic, you’ll love the look of it, but as far as the picture itself, I hesitant to give it a recommendation because it isn’t good, but it isn’t bad. It just exists. I may need to read the book and watch again, maybe that will help my decision. For now, I say give it a shot. What harm can that do?

3 1/3 out of 5 stars

Robocop 3

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 7, 2010 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

The main plot of RoboCop 3 involves RoboCop (Robert John Burke) finding a new family, as he has apparently given up hope of seeing his wife or son again. He forms a bond with an orphaned little Japanese-American computer whiz girl named Nikko, as well as coming into contact with an underground paramilitary resistance. The resistance, built up of underprivileged urban families, formed after Omni Consumer Products (OCP) began relocating them in order to build Delta City on the land encompassing Detroit’s Cadillac Heights area. RoboCop also finds one of the original scientists from the first two films, Dr. Marie Lazarus (Jill Hennessy), who built and operated on him, and has left the organization after becoming disillusioned with it.

Meanwhile, OCP is on the verge of bankruptcy and creates an armed force called the Urban Rehabilitators (“Rehabs” for short), under the command of Paul McDaggett (John Castle), to combat rising crime in Old Detroit and augment the ranks of Detroit Police in apprehending violent criminals, while in reality forcibly relocating the residents of Cadillac Heights, killing some of them (including Nikko’s parents) in the process. The Police force is gradually superseded by the Rehab forces, and violent crime begins to spiral out of control once more. The Delta City dream of the former CEO and “Old Man” lives on through the help of a Japanese zaibatsu, the Kanemitsu Corporation, who bought a controlling stake in OCP. Kanemitsu sees the potential in the citywide redevelopment, and moves forward with its own plans to remove the current citizens. The company develops and uses its own ninja robots (called “Otomo”) to help McDaggett and the OCP President overcome the resistance of the anti-OCP militia forces.

When RoboCop and Lewis try to defend unarmed civilians from the Rehabs one night, Lewis is killed by McDaggett. Unable to fight back because of the Fourth Directive, RoboCop is saved by members of the resistance and eventually joins their cause. Due to severe damage sustained in the shootout, RoboCop’s systems efficiency plummets, and he asks the resistance to summon Dr. Lazarus, who promptly arrives and begins to treat him, deleting the Fourth Directive in the process. During an earlier raid on an armory, the resistance has picked up a flight pack prototype originally intended for RoboCop’s use, which Lazarus modifies and upgrades.

After recovering from his injuries, RoboCop conducts a one-man campaign against the Rehabs. He finds McDaggett and attempts to subdue him, but McDaggett is able to escape, and accepts information from a disgruntled resistance member (Stephen Root) to find the base. The base is invaded by the Rehabs, and most of the resistance members are either killed or taken prisoner. Nikko escapes with the help of Lazarus, who is taken back into the OCP building as a prisoner.

RoboCop returns to the rebel base, only to find it abandoned. One of the Otomo ninjabots shows up and attacks him. RoboCop experiences another power drain, but is able to destroy his opponent. Meanwhile, Nikko infiltrates the OCP building and manages to have Lazarus broadcast an improvised televisation of OCP being behind the entire criminal outbreaks and implicating them for the removal and termination of the Cadillac Heights residents. RoboCop hears this broadcast and latches the jetpack onto himself. The broadcast also causes OCP’s stock to plunge dramatically, driving the company into total ruin.

McDaggett decides to execute an all-out strike against Cadillac Heights with the help of the Detroit City police department, but all of the police officers defect to the resistance in outrage, as moving people out of their homes is not part of a cop’s job; as a result, McDaggett hires street gangs and punks as additional muscle. Just when the combined forces of the Rehabs and gangs are about to wipe out the rebels and Detroit Police, RoboCop flies into the scene with his jetpack and defeats the attackers before he proceeds to the OCP building, where McDaggett is waiting for him. Two other Otomo robots confront RoboCop and nearly manage to defeat him when Nikko and Lazarus succeed in reprogramming them, forcing them to destroy each other. This, however, triggers a self-destruct in both units. RoboCop reignites his jet pack, the discharge of flame hitting McDaggett’s leg and rendering him immobile, and escapes with Nikko and Lazarus, while McDaggett perishes in the blast.

As Old Detroit is being cleaned up, Kanemitsu arrives and bows to RoboCop. When the now ex-OCP President calls RoboCop by his former name Murphy, RoboCop scolds him, “My friends call me Murphy. You call me RoboCop.”

REVIEW:

This franchise started with such promise, but the sequels just have not stood up to the brilliance of the original Robocop. Robocop 3 should be a lesson to filmmakers on why you don’t make a random third film, unless it furthers the story along.

My initial issue with this film is, first of all, they changed the actor who played Robocop. While it doesn’t take the best Thespian to play Robocop, there is juts something about continuity here. I read that there was a scheduling conflict that kept him out of it. If that was the case, then they should have waited for him to be done. Just having him in this would have made it at least more bearable.

Next, this thing is so un-Robocop like that it isn’t even  worthy of the title. They reduced this to a PG-13 rating, For those of you that have seen the first two films, you know that they are graphic, violent, and deal with lots of intense themes. This one totally ignores such things and just plods along through some plot that a 5 yr old kid could have come up with.

My frustrations continue with the killing of Nancy Allen’s character. I’m torn on this because on one hand, killing her makes for a good plot twist (one of the few good things about this film), but on the other hand, taking her away took something away from Robocop. The guy doesn’t have much, and you take away his one human friend. WTF?!?

Action is alright here, but I was so disillusioned and borderline pissed-off at this thing, that it was hard for me to enjoy it, but I did notice that it wasn’t really anything spectacular. Maybe because I was expecting some kind of blood and guts to be spilled. The watered down rating, diluted the action, that’s for sure.

The plot, as I mentioned could have been written by some kid in kindergarten, and I really wonder if that was the case. Robocop 2 didn’t have the best plot, but at least it didn’t feel like it was done with the same handiwork as a popcorn necklace.

What is it about the plot that I dislike? Well, the Rehab force made no sense. The fact that Detroit has seemingly gotten worse since the previous two films (even though it looked better in Robocop 2) bothers me, the ninja robots seemed thrust in just to give Robocop a robotic adversary. Oh, and the jetpack was nothing special. If they wanted to make that big of a deal about the thing, then they should have built it into him when they repaired him and have him make a big deal about his new equipment.

Robocop 3 is the weak link in the franchise (not counting the TV show). No wonder they wanted to reboot this thing. After seeing this, I’m almost tempted to back off my stance on reboots/remakes just to erase the memory of this mess. As much as I have sat here and bashed the hell out of this, but it isn’t a truly horrible film, it is just bad, especially in comparison to its predecessors. For that reason, I can’t, in good faith, recommend this film, unless you just want to finish the trilogy. It just isn’t worth it, unless you want to get angry seeing how far this franchise has fallen since the original Robocop.

2 1/2 out of 5 stars

Orphan

Posted in Horror, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , on June 12, 2010 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Kate Coleman (Vera Farmiga) and John Coleman (Peter Sarsgaard) are experiencing strains in their marriage after Kate’s third child was stillborn. The loss is particularly hard on Kate, who is still recovering from a drinking habit. They adopt Esther (Isabelle Fuhrman), a 9-year-old Russian girl, from the local orphanage. While Kate and John’s deaf-mute daughter Max (Aryana Engineer) embraces Esther almost immediately, their son Daniel (Jimmy Bennett) is less welcoming.

Kate grows suspicious when Esther expresses far more knowledge of sex than would be expected for a child her age. She is further alarmed when Sister Abigail (C. C. H. Pounder), the head of the orphanage, warns her and John about Esther’s tendency to be around when things go wrong. Esther overhears this and kills Sister Abigail by bludgeoning her with a hammer. She convinces Max to help her hide the weapon in their treehouse.

Daniel decides to retrieve the hammer used to kill Sister Abigail to prove Esther’s guilt. He announces his plans to Max and is overheard by Esther, who sets the treehouse on fire. Daniel falls trying to escape the fire. Esther tries to kill him with a rock, but Max shoves her out of the way. Daniel is hospitalized from his fall. Esther unsuccessfully tries to kill him at the hospital by smothering him with a pillow, but doctors save him. Kate, knowing what happened, furiously slaps Esther and knocks her down. Before Kate can do anything else to Esther, she is stopped and restrained by John and a couple doctors. As John takes Esther and Max home, the doctors sedate a furious and thrashing Kate.

That night, Esther tries to seduce a drunken John, who finally realizes Kate was telling the truth. He threatens to send her back to the orphanage. Esther, angry and hurt at being spurned, ransacks her room and repeatedly stabs John. Max sees this and hides in her closet. As Kate is coming out of sedation, she receives a call on her cell phone from the Saarne Institute. Dr. Väravra (Karel Roden), reveals that Esther is actually a 33 year-old woman named Leena Klammer. She has hypopituitarism, a disorder that stunted her physical growth, and has spent most of her life posing as a little girl. The doctor tells Kate that Leena is dangerous and especially violent. Kate rushes home, only to find John dead. Leena collects a gun from their safe and shoots Kate in the arm before she goes to search for Max. While firing at Max in their greenhouse, Kate manages to break through from above Leena and knock her out.

Leena follows Kate outside to a frozen pond where they struggle as Max watches from a hill above. Max maneuvers herself to grab the gun that was dropped by Kate during the struggle. She shoots at Leena but breaks the ice instead, causing Kate and Leena to drop into the water below. After a brief struggle under the ice, Kate climbs out followed by Leena. Leena begs Kate not to let her die, calling her “Mommy” while holding a knife behind her back. Kate furiously responds that she’s not Leena’s mother and kicks her in the face, snapping her neck and sending her back into the pond. Max and Kate are met by the police moments after.

REVIEW:

This film upset quite a few people in the adoption world who thought that this portrayal of orphans reflected bad on them. Yet another case of overreaction to a movie. If someone is dum enough to let this film dissuade them from adopting, then they don’t need a child in the first place, it is as simple as that.

All that aside, this is a bit of a creepy flick. Sure, there are no monstrous serial killer types running around slashing any and everything in their way, but instead we get a 13 yr old who goes around killing. Later we find out she’s really 33, but the actress playing her is 13, which really makes it creepy.

Maybe it is just me, but it seems as if all these suspense/thriller films nowadays are set in places where it snows. At least the last few I’ve seen fall into that character. Each one starts with a fresh coat of snow on the ground and some sort of iced over body of water. This isn’t a complaint, but rather an observation.

The star of this film is Isabelle Fuhrman (who reminds me of Soleil Moon-Frye circa her Punky Brewster days). I have found that child actors really give their all in films like this and then disappear, but given the strength of this performance and the subject matter, I’ sure we’ll see more from her soon enough. I don’t think this would have worked without her. Sure she played a convincing 13 yr old, but all she had to there was be a schizophrenic version of herself. The impressive part was when it as reveled about her real age and some of the things she had to do. That is what impressed me.

Vera Farmiga seems to be a bit overemotional here. GRanted, she’s a recovering alcoholic and recently lost her child. That I can understand, but it seems like in every scene she’s crying or yelling or having some sort of emotional outburst that really isn’t necessary. Her showdown with Esther at the end in the lake was pretty interesting, though.

Peter Sarsgard seemed to be completely oblivious throughout most of the film. Let’s face it, this guy is there to just be the husband in this thing. The only time he has anything interesting is at the end when he realizes what’s going on. Of course, there is that scene where he takes his wife from behind, but that just to break up the monotony and humdrum of this thing.

The other children are just children and aren’t really worth mention as they are nothing more than supporting cast, if that. Although, the deaf and mute girl was a pleasure to watch as she interacted with everyone (whether she was really deaf and mute or not).

I’ve seen better films of this genre before. The only thing memorable about this one was the performance of Isabelle Furhman. If no for her, this would have been a total mess. Having said that, it is worth watching just to see her, but as I said, if you take her out, there is nothing worth watching in this thing, and it nearly unbearable. I won’t waste the time watching this again, but I can recommend it to this of you that are big fans of this genre.

3 out of 5 stars

Avatar

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 19, 2009 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

In 2154 AD, humans are engaged in the colonization of Pandora, the lush moon of Polyphemus, one of three gas giants that orbit Alpha Centauri A, 4.3 light years from Earth. Pandora is filled with incredible life forms, and is home to the Na’vi, an indigenous sentient humanoid race who are considered primitive by human standards, yet are more physically capable than them. The Na’vi are tailed, slender creatures with sparkling blue skin, standing three meters tall. They live in harmony with their unspoiled world, which the humans have found to be rich with unobtainium,a valuable mineral that is essential to remedying an economic and energy crisis that is gripping Earth.

Humans are unable to breathe the Pandoran atmosphere; in order to interact with the Na’vi, human scientists have created genetically engineered human-Na’vi hybrid bodies called Avatars, and use them to interact with the natives and gain their trust for a relocating operation. A human who shares genetic material with the avatar can be mentally linked to it, allowing them to control its functions and experience what it experiences, while their own body sleeps. The story’s protagonist, Jake Sully (Sam Worthington), is a former U.S. Marine who was wounded and paralyzed from the waist down in combat on Earth. His twin brother Tony was a scientist working on the Avatar program; when he is killed, Jake is extended the opportunity to take his brother’s place, as he shares Tony’s genetic material and is therefore compatible with his avatar.

Jake travels to Pandora, and assumes control of his avatar body, delighted at being able to walk and run once again as a whole being. Sent deep into Pandora’s jungles as a scout for the soldiers that will follow, Jake encounters many of Pandora’s beauties and dangers. There he meets a young Na’vi female, Neytiri (Zoe Saldaña), who teaches him the ways of her people: the Omaticaya clan of the Na’vi. Despite having originally been sent to gain the trust of natives, and convince them to abandon their Hometree, which sits above a large deposit of unobtanium, Jake finds himself caught between the military-industrial forces of Earth, and his love for his adopted home and people. He is forced to choose sides as the humans grow increasingly violent in their mining activities, and the oppressed Na’vi rise up to protect their home, resulting in an epic battle that will decide the fate of an entire race.

REVIEW:

Avatar is, above all, something different to come out in theaters. What’s different about it? Well, it’s not based on a comic book, novel, foreign film, musical, and most importantly…IT IS NOT A REMAKE!!!!  I guess you could say the most refreshing thing about it is that it is…now brace yourself for this…*GASP* an original idea!

James Cameron apparently has had this story in his head since he was a young boy. The fantastical world of the Na’vi that he has created rival that of Oz, Wonderland, and other wonderous worlds we’ve seen on film.

Let’s get the bad parts out of the way first…At 3 hrs long, this film is a bit lengthy. Sometimes 3 hrs can work for a film, and other times it works against it. Avatar suffers from the latter. Although the special effects are nothing short of spectacular, and the scenery is breathtaking, the film itself drags on and has the lull in the middle that I can’t stand. It even gets a bit preachy during this period, which makes it worse.

It seems apparent that Netyri knows that Jake is not a Na’vi, but it is never fully reveled to the audience until the plot thickens after the film’s apex. I would have liked for the filmmakers to have either made it clear that she does or doesn’t know. That goes for the entire tribe…with the exception of Mo’at, she should know based on her role in the tribe being similar to that of a medicine woman.

Speaking of tribes…I was under the impression that there was only one giant tribe on planet Pandora, but at the end of the film, all of a sudden there are tribes popping up all over the place. Now, I’m not saying they should have been made known at film’s beginning or anything like that, but rather, they could/should have been mentioned during Jake’s learning period. I don’t know, maybe I’m the only one that thinks that, though.

Finally, when it is revealed Jake is a traitor, they leave him to die, but do everything they can for Grace, even after they had just had her hanging for crimes against the tribe. This is very minor, but it just seemed a bit weird that not five minutes before she was a criminal and then she is forgiven.

Also regarding Sigourney Weaver’s avatar…she looks like Sigourney Weaver in blue makeup. For some reason, her face wasn’t altered. I’m not sure why this was, but my belief is that she was an early model avatar, before they perfected the process.

On the positive side, the special effects are gorgeous. The luminating forest took my breath away. You could even go so far as to say the scenery is another star of this film.

If I was an actor in Hollywood, I’d be a little worried. It seems to be that the trend is to motion capture, or whatever the word is, your movements, rather than actually cast you. Take for instance Zoe Saldana. She plays Netyri, but unless you pay close attention, you would never know. Sure she’s has her recognizable movements, but you just know that had this been done with her in makeup, she’d be more recognizable. That being said, they did a smashing job making her look like herself, only as a Na’vi.

Sci-fi films of late have been known for making stars. If this picture ends up being as big as they think it’ll be, then Zoe Saldana and Sam Worthington will be on their way to bigger and better things.

Someone brought this up in their review of this film last night, and I would like to touch in it briefly….Michelle Rodriguez is actually playing a character with a heart. Shocked? I know I was. Usually, she plays these hard characters with a hidden agenda. On top of that, she seemed a bit cuter, and dare I say it…HOT! Amazing what a change in attitude can do for someone, right?

Stephen Lang is downright scary as the colonel in charge of everything. On top of that, this old man is built, which made him more intimidating. I was almost expecting him to rip his skin off and reveal that he’s some sort of renegade Na’vi hellbent on destroying his own kind.

Music usually sets the tone for any film, no matter the genre, and James Horner’s dramatic, moving score doesn’t fail to deliver here. Then again, when has he ever failed to create a moving score?

One  of the most talked about films not to come out during the summer, Avatar has all the makings of a summer blockbuster, but with the added factor of making the audience actually think. James Cameron talked excessively about how this picture was going to revolutionize and change the way movies are made. I just didn’t see it. As a matter of fact, I’m a little upset that I paid the extra $1.50 for the 3D glasses. There were plenty of places 3D could have been used to its maximum potential, but just wasn’t. Heck, the previews took more advantage of it than the actual film. Having said that, though, it is worth the time and money to go see this in the theaters. I may have been a little disappointed with the 3D, but I belive that was more due to the hype. This is not a “game changing” film that way Cameron wanted it to be, but it is a very well made picture and something he and all that were part of it, should be proud to have been associated with. There is already talk of a sequel. As long as it doesn’t fall of from the quality of this one, or take away from the story, then I’m not complaining.

4 1/2 out of 5 stars