REVIEW: Green Lantern

"Don't beleive the haters, this is what summer movie fun is all about."

Hal Jordan is an overconfident test pilot who can't seem to stay out of trouble, but when an alien craft crash lands on earth, it's dying pilot, a member of the intergalactic Green Lantern core,  must will his ring to choose a new master.  The ring chooses Hal Jordan.  Burdened by this sudden responsibility, Hal must overcome his own insecurities if he's to properly wield this new power against an ancient evil who threatens all in its path.

I just walked out of GREEN LANTERN and I have to say I'm rather confused.  All week I've been hearing negative buzz surrounding this flick which was bumming me out because I've been looking forward to it even since I watched the animated origin story GREEN LANTERN FIRST FLIGHT.  I'm confused because I don't understand where all this hate is coming from.  Let me be the one of the first critics to assure you that this film is everything a summer popcorn blockbuster should be...one hell of an epic good time!  Forget the incredible Hulk, Hal Jordan is the new king of all things green.

Now to be brutally honest, I was never a Green Lantern fan, I don't even think I knew his name was Hal Jordan until I watched FIRST FLIGHT.  But after watching the animated version I grew very interested in this story and curious about how they would make it look believable on screen.  Everyone's been mulling over the fact that they dumped a few more bucks into the CGI and effects just prior to release but who cares?  The effects were great.  People were worried about Ryan Reynold's suit, but I say relax folks, it too looked fine.  Parallax, the other Green Lanterns as well as their home planet Oa, all looked phenomenal so rest assured when it comes down to effects they were bang on the money.

Now the storyline is where this film soars in my opinion and all the nay sayers really should take a step back and admire what's been accomplished here.  The mythos behind the Green Lanterns is vast and over and above any other obstacle that needs to be overcome, there's the challenge of fitting as much back story into one movie as possible and that's where things can get tricky.  This isn't a kid getting bitten by a radioactive spider here, this storyline travels a much more complex road with a strict hierarchy that can be a lot to take in for a novice of the comic book genre let alone a newcomer to the Green Lantern universe.  The scope of this film is vast, epic, larger than life and you really have to think outside the box here.  I remember when the first MISSION IMPOSSIBLE came out, so many people were belly aching about how confusing it was, leading to the "dummying down" of the second.  Some people can't handle a film that isn't paint by numbers and that's fine, not everyone can properly bask in the glorious spectacle that is DONNIE DARKO either, also fine, I'm not here to judge but you should know that about yourself and avoid these types of films rather than watch them out of spite and then rip them apart online.

GREEN LANTERN is not the end all, be all of comic book films, it's no master piece but I liked it more than THOR and about as much as X-MEN FIRST CLASS.  For a second tier hero in the DC universe, you certainly can't ask for much more than GREEN LANTERN richly provides.  Ryan Reynolds was perfect as Hal Jordan.  Again, some people gripped about his comic relief but Hal Jordan is a smartass, he's a lot like Maverick from TOP GUN, an cocky smart mouth sure, but still the best at what he does.  Mark Strong was also perfect as Sinestro, the character you love to hate.  I won't divulge any spoilers but Sinestro plays a rather unique part in the Green Lantern universe and will definitely play a major role in the next film (make sure you stay past the credits).  This was no easy film to put together and mad props go out to DC, Warner Brothers, the stellar cast and director Martin Campbell for pulling off something special here, something no one thought would ever see the brightest day (sorry, I had to).  This is no Nolan masterpiece but it's a pretty tight way to start up a franchise that I personally hope we see more of.

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TRAILER: Conan The Barbarian

I was hesitant about this one from Jump Street and the first teaser and trailer did nothing to help my growing worry. This red band trailer however, along with Jason Mamoa's character presentation in GAME OF THRONES (which admittedly isn't far from being Conan) has changed my mind. I'm now looking forward to this far more than I thought I would be.

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TRAILER: Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 2

I still can't believe this series is coming to an end, and what better way to wet our appetites than with a balls out final trailer like this one. If this doesn't pump you up then nothing will. It's going to be a happy/sad day for potter fans worldwide.

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TRAILER: Moneyball

It's funny, I don't even like baseball but there are a slew of baseball movies out there that I just can't get enough of. This flick looks like it's soon to be amongst them. Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill, sign me up baby! I'm not usually a big fan of "based on true events" flicks but this one looks promising.

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TRAILER: 30 Minutes Or Less

I love ZOMBIELAND and since this is from the guys who gave us ZOMBIELAND featuring Jessie Eisenburg, I'm sure it's worth watching on that principle alone. Now add to that the fact this is pretty funny concept with hilarious looking characters and I'm hoping we've got our sleeper summer comedy. 

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REVIEW: The Roommate

"I've honestly had crazier roommates."

Sara’s beginning her freshman year at college and pushing toward a future in fashion design.  She’s made some new friends, got her eye on a new guy and got first dibs on her side of the room.  When she finally meets her new roommate things seem like they can’t get any better, but unfortunately for Sara, Rebecca is far from the innocent girl next door.

I distinctly remember the buzz around the campfire when this hit theatres and it wasn’t good.  In fact, it was downright terrible.  Now I wouldn’t go as far as to call this flick terrible, truth be known, it has its moments but it’s certainly not memorable in any way shape or form.  My biggest beef here is that this baby was being pushed as a horror movie, thriller maybe but horror it most certainly is not.  The tone of the film tries to be chilling but the characters just aren’t feeling it.  Sara’s a nice girl and all but she’s totally clueless.  Her roommate, Rebecca, is totally nuts and continuously throwing up red flag after red flag but Sara and Stephen (her new guy) just laugh it off and make jokes about it for three quarters of the film until they pass the point of no return.  I’d have given that chick the kybosh after her initial freak out over partying late.

The best way to describe this film is by saying it feels a lot like a two hour season finale on THE CW television network.  Now don’t get me wrong, I’m a fan of THE CW, SMALLVILLE, SUPERNATURAL, THE VAMPIRE DIARIES, I watch them all.  However, all of the above mentioned shows are far more interesting and even scarier than this supposed horror film.  If you happen to be a fan of THE VAMPIRE DIARIES you’ll enjoy seeing Nina Dobrev and Katerina Graham in very small cameos (don’t blink or you’ll miss Graham completely).  This flick seems to be aimed at that demographic though as the rest of the cast all hail from shows like GOSSIP GIRL, FRIDAY NIGHT NIGHTS and HELLCATS.  If these shows ring your bell you’ll no doubt be pleased with the casting here at the very least.

The other problem I have with this flick is that it’s been done quite a few times before and much better.  SWIMFAN is a great example of how this plot works but the best similar film I can think of is THE IN CROWD and let me say this, if you haven’t seen it and have any inkling to watch this movie, I suggest you go rent or buy THE IN CROWD instead.  You’ll thank me I promise. 

THE ROOMMATE isn’t a total bust, as in it’s not as bad as I thought it would be, and if it wasn’t being labelled a horror film and I hadn’t seen those other flicks I might have enjoyed it more than I did.  Like I said, there were moments, specifically Billy Zane as the teacher who bends the rules for hot chicks (I can dig that).  I found the sub plot about Sara’s ex-boyfriend to be rather lame and I wasn’t terribly impressed with how that scenario played out either (insert large amount of suspension of disbelief) but at least I can say the overall ending wasn’t bad.  It wasn’t sensational but I didn’t throw anything at the TV.  I don’t like how watered down this genre is becoming but at the end of the day you could do worse than THE ROOMMATE.  

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BLU-RAY REVIEW: Beverly Hills Cop

"That Ed sure WAS funny."

Detroit’s fast talking, street smart detective Axel Foley is led to Beverly Hills in search of his best friend’s killer.  Axel quickly learns that things don’t work in Beverly Hills quite like they do in Detroit as he’s assigned two local cops who intend to keep him out of trouble…or so they think.

God I miss the late eighties/early nineties, those were the best years for action films.  Sure, some might consider BEVERLY HILLS COP to be a comedy and I suppose it is, but it’s also very much an action piece and a damn good one at that.  Old Eddie Murphy was a blast.  And Axel Foley was a fast talking, ass kicking, shoot first ask questions later kind of cop that commanded love and admiration each and every time he was on screen…with the exception of the horrendous BERVERLY HILLS COP 3 that is.  Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer struck gold with this character and lighting definitely struck twice with BERVERLY HILLS COP 2, one of the best sequels ever created in my humble opinion.  But let’s not get ahead of ourselves,  for now let’s just agree on the fact that this film still holds its own (hands down) after all these years.

Paramount certainly does love their ebony and ivory collaborations though and why not I suppose, if it ain’t broke there’s no need to fix it.  48 HOURS was fun, though admittedly I enjoyed ANOTHER 48 HOURS more.  What worked there worked even better here with BERVERLY HILLS COP.  Toning down the white dudes was a good move.  Judge Reinhold and John Ashton were perfect as Rosewood and Taggart even if their characters didn’t get to fully bloom until part two.  I loved the antics (the banana in the tailpipe bit never gets old), the dialogue and the camaraderie between characters which again doesn’t fully bloom until the next one but it works fine for our beginning adventure.  Victor Maitland was also a cool baddie and I’ve always loved that scene where they throw Axel through a window as well as when Axel manhandles one of Victor’s goons, throwing him through a food table with him leaving pissed and covered in potatoes.

BERVERLY HILLS COP is a fantastic flick which makes me both sad and angry.  Like I said before, they nailed the sequel in every way which left the fans (myself eagerly among them) begging for more (who couldn’t love the final scene in BERVERY HILLS COP 2?).  The third film was atrocious, a real slap in the face to everyone.  They dummied down the tone, the violence and worst of all the language.  All in all, they cut Axel’s balls off and threw him out there to die.  There have been rumours galore about a fourth film to help restore faith (no easy task) and it’s even been whispered that it’ll go back to the R rated roots of the first two films.  The rumour mill’s been silent on that front for quite a while now but as we live and breathe in this day of sequels, remakes and re-imaginings one can only assume it’ll pop back up here sometime down the road.  God knows Eddie needs it right about now and despite his fall from grace comedy-wise I’m still a fan for life and hope he gets this shot.  If done correctly, we could be in for a real treat.  Here’s hoping Hollywood does something right for a change.

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BLU-RAY REVIEW: The Terminator

"He'll be back...to sleep with your nanny.  Too soon?"

A machine covered in human tissue called a terminator is sent back through time to find and kill Sarah Connor, a woman whose son will rally a resistance against them in the future.  Hell bent on seeing the machines lose this war, the resistance sends back one of their best soldiers to protect Sarah from this seemingly unstoppable enemy.

At this stage of the game I’m sure it’s safe to assume that everyone knows what a terminator is; an evil cyborg sent back through time from a post-apocalyptic future where the rebels have been such a nuisance that they felt it would be easier to simply wipe out their family tree in the past rather than fight fair.  This storyline has been tampered with over the years through sequels, comics and TV shows but you have to admit this was a pretty damn badass way for James Cameron to put body builder Arnold Schwarzenegger on the map.  Character-wise I don’t feel this is Arnold’s film.  There are some villains like Riddick, Hannibal Lecter, the Joker and Keyser Soze that we so desperately want to see prevail but the terminator doesn’t fit that bill.  That said, this would be why T2 is such a fan favourite as Arnold came back alright, but this time as the good guy.

For me THE TERMINATOR is Michael Beihn’s film.  Kyle Reece is the perfect hero, a man of honor and loyalty, a man who values the mission over his own life.  Reece is a battle worn soldier but this mission gives him a chance to be human and that’s where this story’s heart is.  Beihn is an underrated actor whose list of accolades would take far too many lines to properly convey.  He was amazing in TOMBSTONE, ALIENS, THE ROCK and NAVY SEALS to name a few.  He’s one of the few action stars able to properly navigate the balance between good and evil in a time when action stars are only believable as one or the other.  I was hoping to see Beihn take on the role of Solid Snake in the METAL GEAR SOLID movie that’s been swirling in and out of limbo over the past few years (which sadly never happened) as in case you didn’t know, that’s Beihn on the cover METAL GEAR for the Nintendo, posing in a scene from THE TERMINATOR.  And speaking of balance, Linda Hamilton’s character is the exact opposite of what she is here in T2, a fact I’ve always found fascinating.  There is true depth to her character as the story progresses and it’s certainly fun to watch.

THE TERMINATOR redefined Sci-Fi action as we know it and I don’t think anyone truly understood what a phenomenon they were unleashing at the time but it’s one that’s still going strong today.  We’ve lost this film’s R rated grit to a more rating’s conscious era but the curiousness surrounding the terminator concept is still just as ripe as it was in the eighties.  I didn’t care much for T3, missed the show and despite what many believe to be the worst of the series, I actually enjoyed TERMINATOR SALVATION.  Where this series is heading is anyone’s guess but the first instalment in this fantastic series is just as relentless and fiery now as it ever was.  I’ve never really understood the fascination behind Arnold’s “I’ll be back” line, sure it works in THE RUNNING MAN and even COMMANDO but I don’t really feel it belongs or has much impact here.  THE TERMINATOR‘s action is intense and the effects far before their time (there is that one part where he’s fiddling with his eye that looks very plastic but hey, it was the eighties) making this a spectacular addition to anyone’s Blu-ray collection.

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REVIEW: X-Men First Class

"Everything I want to see in a Marvel flick."

Charles Xavier and Erik Lehnsherr were close friends before they became mortal enemies, uniting mutants to help fight The Hellfire Club, an evil band of mutants led by Sebastian Shaw, who wants to see all humans burn in a nuclear war.

I remember when X-MEN first hit the big screen.  I'd never been in love with the comics but like most guys I was a huge wolverine fan.  Without dissecting this film to the bone, I'll simply say this; X-MEN was a gamble, one that leaned heavily upon Hugh Jackman as he brought Wolverine to life.  For me, X-MEN felt like a Wolverine film which I didn't mind because lets be honest here, Jackman blew this out of the water and as for the rest of the film, it wasn't bad for a first attempt, something they immediately overcame with X2.  There were some things I didn't care for that seemed a bit cheap and lazy, mainly Magneto's helmet which looked like a plastic five year old's toy and in no way, shape or form resembled the awesome helm he wears in the comics.  That, and they tried to fit as much into that first film while trying to give the audience what they thought we wanted to see (Wolverine VS Sabertooth) all in one shot, seeing as how they didn't know at the time if they'd get another chance.

I can forgive all this simply because they made up for it down the road but looking back it's pretty damn easy to point out X-MEN's weaknesses.  These films jumped all over the place with storyline and that's certainly where X-MEN FIRST CLASS attempts to fix this and in my opinion succeeds admirably.  Origin stories can be boring and tedious but FIRST CLASS moved along at a crisp pace and failed to disappoint.  The Hellfire Club are a cool bunch and Kevin Bacon did a phenomenal job as Sebastian Shaw but I'd have loved to see more of him.  That said, for a film that sported such a large cast, each and every character had enough screen time to make their presence known despite a couple obvious "filler characters" but that's to be expected. 

James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender rocked as Xavier and Magneto.  Their chemistry was bang on and believable.  I was impressed with the angle they gave Mystique and equally impressed with up and coming Jennifer Lawrence though not surprised by her efforts after seeing her performance in WINTER'S BONE.  The cast was well rounded and impressive though truth be told I was most intrigued by Azazel, his fight sequences were pure gold.  If you dug Nightcrawler's opening scene in X2, you'll really love Azazel (who just happens to be Nightcrawler's father).  Magneto was no slouch either, he definitely supplies the badass factor here and once he gets his helmet (thank God they finally made it look right) and suit on you know you're seeing the birth of something amazing.

X-MEN FIRST CLASS is exactly what the X-Men franchise needed; new faces, new direction and a much tighter team.  I miss Storm and Logan but have to admit Jean Grey and Cyclops never did impress me all that much.  There are a couple mind blowing cameos here (I wouldn't dream of ruining them for you) which add to the idea of cool things to come.  This film was well balanced, well written, had a fun tone and still managed to be sharp as a blade when it needed to be.  THOR was alright for what it was and I'm not sure how I feel about CAPTAIN AMERICA or GREEN LANTERN so as for right now, the X-Men have dominated the summer for me.

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GAME TRAILER: Tomb Raider

I've never been a fan of this series and was only remotely interested in the films (personally, I feel the upcoming remake of that movie series could actually be cool). What caught my attention here, aside from the fact that this is first class trailer material, is that Square Enix, the boys behind Final Fantasy, are board for this revamp of the popular game series. That in itself demands my attention, so I guess I may now be a Tomb Raider fan. What strange times we live in.

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GAME TRAILER: Batman: Arkham City

This is a good year to be a Batman fan, we got a third Nolan led Batman flick on the way (featuring one of my favourite villains, Bane) and then there's the grandiose Arkham City, sequel to the phenomenal Arkham Asylum. This trailer shows off Catwoman's skills and implies that we may indeed be able to take control of our favourite feline. Either way, bottom line is that October is still so very far away.

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GAME TRAILER: StarCraft 2: Heart of the Swarm

When it comes to games and in depth story lines nobody does like Blizzard Entertainment. StarCraft 2 was long overdue (I won't even get into how long we've been waiting on Diablo 3...sigh) and after a fantastic campaign I was hooked. Now, the first expansion teaser is here and it looks like a fights coming from the Zerg.

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TRAILER: Don't Be Afraid Of The Dark

This film has been on long time coming so you'd think I'd be more impressed but I'm not. A little creepy, yes it is, but I'm not feeling Katie Holmes here. I'm also hoping the little CGI critters aren't too fake looking but it's leaning in that direction from what I'm seeing here. Hopefully I'm wrong.

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TRAILER: The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

Much like what happened with LET THE RIGHT ONE IN, here we have another independent film being remade and all glamoured up Hollywood style. The trailer looks pretty slick and the cast is phenomenal so because we can't stop the train at this point, I'm hoping it'll at least be a cool ride.

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TRAILER: Horrible Bosses

With all the comic book love this summer, I'm glad to see that comedy hasn't been put on the back burner. This is one of four or five comedies that looks like it'll be good fun and way to go Jason Bateman, you're actually starring in two of them.

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Mortal Kombat Legacy Episode Eight

I hoped that after the Jax and Sonja continuation they would realize that we don't need or want any of our few precious minutes eaten up by useless backtracking but we get a minutes worth anyway. I love where this goes and though I'm not a big fan Quan Chi, his influence made sense and added to the story. Again, eight minutes guys? Come on!

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Mortal Kombat Legacy Episode Seven

This is the one most of us have been waiting for, part one of a two part Scorpion and Subzero showdown. I'm digging the vibe here and I'm glad they used the same guy from the original trailer but I'm not sold on his mask. Nitpicking aside, these damn things just need to be longer.

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Mortal Kombat Legacy Episode Six

I'm on the fence about this episode, featuring Raiden, the protector of Earth realm. I'm not saying there was an easy way to represent Raiden in a "grounded" fashion but I'm not sure this is how I'd have done it. Either way, here's Raiden.

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