REVIEW: Captain America: The First Avenger

"A welcome addition to the marvel universe."

Civilian Steve Rogers wants so badly to help his country in its time of need but due to his many physical limitations he's turned down for military service, that is until he's enlisted into a secret government experiment looking to produce an army of super soldiers.  Uncle Sam doesn't get an army, instead he gets a one man army, a man they call Captain America.

Much like Marvel's earlier summer film THOR, CAPTAIN AMERICA was no easy film to bring to life for several reasons.  Some super heroes handle the leap from page to film quite flawlessly while others require larger amounts of finesse.  Cap is one such example, and if you had the misfortune of catching cheese-fest eighties version you'll know why.  I've always liked Cap though I've never collected his brand of comics.  That said, I came to know him through various cosmic events that rattled the marvel universe, like THE INFINITE GAUNTLET series.  In these times of universal need, Cap is always one of Earth's heroes who lead the forces of good and his contribution is always both respected and welcome.  On a smaller scale, his leadership of THE AVENGERS is also something of legend.  His humble solo missions against the Red Skull are something else entirely.

I've never liked the idea of the Red Skull, to me he's just another Hitler and two Hitlers is one Hitler too many.  I'm not a fan of the World War 2 backdrop either, I know it's a necessary way to introduce Cap's character and truth be told, I rather enjoyed this origin story but the fact that it's done through the eyes of the war has never been something I relished.  Due to his name, one of Cap's greatest battles on screen was going to be overcoming the costume's cheese factor as well as that of his trusted weapon of choice, his shield.  On the one hand, the way they handled his costume was smart, playing it off as a gag gimmick which he later on re-develops.  His shield however, is still one of those things you have to just accept without thinking or dwelling on the mechanics of it all.  Obviously, there is no metal (otherworldly or no) that makes for boomerang action.  Now as far as that goes, I'd have been content with them saying this metal came from Asgard and had the same properties as Thor's hammer, after all his hammer returns to his hand so why not run with that idea.  Hell, I'd have been fine with Stark saying he'd somehow manipulated the metal to respond to Cap's DNA or something to that extent, either way would've made the shield one; cooler and two; easier to process as an onlooker.

Hugo Weaving gave a great performance as the Red Skull and likewise Chris Evans' portrayal as Steve Rogers was beyond excellent.  Now their rivalry worked on some levels and failed on others.  I liked the chemistry between the two of them, particularly that scene when he's rescuing Bucky and the facility is blowing up.  The Red Skull has never been my favourite villain but Weaving did bring a certain swagger to the role.  That said, for all of Red Skull's limitless intelligence, power, influence, sharp wit and bravado, he and his Hydra enforcers were all made out to be quite the bumbling lackeys.  I get that Cap's the man and all, but he literally decimates a handful of facilities, lays a beat down on every soldier that gets in his way (regardless of their high tech weaponry) and all the while he doesn't even break a sweat.  Now I know part of this is a jab at Hitler's reign and seeing as how this story is told from America's point of view the German's were bound to be regarded as inferior...still, the ease with which the day was won is quite obviously a deliberate message.

CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER is both another score for Marvel's hero universe as well as another cog in the great Avenger machine which is in full swing and set to blow up theatres next summer.  This flick had solid acting, well timed comic relief and a strong hearted hero who is bound to win people over.  Everyone who knows Cap's story knew where this film was headed and in that regard, Marvel pulled off a winning origin story.  Evan's is the perfect choice and I personally can't wait to see what he does with his team next summer.  I enjoyed this film a little more than I expected despite it's faults, but when it comes to bringing Cap to the big screen in style, you can't get much better than this for a valiant first attempt.

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TRAILER: The Amazing Spider-Man

I'm going to be honest, I'm not fan of re-boots but SPIDER-MAN was the first comic I ever collected and coincidentally enough, the first issue had Spidey fighting the Lizard, who just happens to be the villain this time around (I feel for Dylan Baker). This looks darker than Raimi's trilogy, which is good. I like Garfield as Parker (didn't care much for McGuire), which is also good, not to mention Emma Stone for Gwen Stacey. I've dared not expect much from this film but something tells me I'm going to love it.

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BLU-RAY REVIEW: Source Code

"Smart, entertaining and most of all, fun."

A military helicopter pilot wakes up to find himself communicating with a television screen in what appears to be some sort of underground bunker.  He comes to find out that he's part of a government led covert mission to uncover the identity of a terrorist bomber whose eye's set upon Chicago, but soon discovers there's more to this mission than he's being told.

I've been a big fan of Jake Gyllenhaal since DONNIE DARKO.  Now within the ten years since DARKO, Jake's had more than a few great roles to be proud of.  There's been a lot of experimentation with these roles as well and I respect any actor who has the balls to go after what he wants.  The early buzz for SOURCE CODE was mixed and the marketing for the film a touch weak, but I had a blast with this flick from start to finish. 

The premise, despite being attached to relatively common thread (the government experimenting with soldiers both alive and dead), is lobbed out into centerfield in a fresh way that's both intelligent and engrossing.  Having an eight minute window to find a bomb, discover the perpetrator and foil the crime is a hell of a lot to bite off for anyone, military soldier or no.  Not to mention how much of a mind-f*ck the whole thing is for our main character to begin with.  I get him freaking out a bit, but I found it odd that this Christina chick hanging with him wasn't bothered by the fact that her friend wakes up and doesn't know who he is, or the fact that later on he knows everything that's happening before it happens.  Her character wasn't very bright and that bothered me, yet the film itself was smart which more than made up for it.

I thoroughly enjoyed the idea behind the source code itself, it's ingenious.  I picked up on the idea of it before it was explained guessing that it had something to do with two people's brainwaves, souls or auras tapping into one another resulting in "something" that the government wanted to harness and use to their advantage.  I dig that here just as I dug in UNIVERSAL SOLDIER.  Sure, it's not quite the same thing but at the same time it is.  I'm not sure how I feel about the government using dead, dying or live soldiers for scientific experimentations, whether it's for the better of mankind or not, and I certainly see why they'd keep it a secret if said experiments were/are going on today.  The families of these men and women (along with the media) would have a field day with this, but you can't help but wonder if (all things considered) it's a valid theory.

SOURCE CODE is an edge of your seat thriller that delivers much better than most thrillers I've watched recently, specifically because it keeps you guessing and has wondrous flow for a flick that re-uses the same eight minutes numerous times over.  Now I've heard some critics attack the validity of the end result, which of course I won't spoil, and to that I say "c'mon folks, it's a movie after all."  I enjoyed where this film went, though on the subject of parallel realities and such, I do feel that though the idea of this was mentioned it was by no means built upon very soundly.  They could have done a bit more with it in my opinion but then again, this would also feed the fire when it came down to credibility and logic, the main two things people were criticising it for.  Just don't think about it too much and I'm sure you'll enjoy the ride.

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TRAILER: The Dark Knight Rises

A lot of us who went to HARRY POTTER this weekend got a peek at the new teaser for final Nolan led Bat-flick. Like last time, Nolan's giving us just enough to wet our lips and not a drop more. I can't wait for this movie and am particularly impressed that they brought in Bane. I wrote a C'MON HOLLYWOOD article (check it out here at Joblo.com: http://www.joblo.com/movie-news/cmon-hollywood-218) just after the last Batman came out, before we knew anything about RISES and in this column I cried out for a KNIGHTFALL storyline and then Christopher Nolan answered. I like to think this my doing, and who knows, maybe it is.

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REVIEW: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2

"This is one of the coolest movie posters I've ever seen."

Voldemort has the elder wand and time is running out for Harry and his friends.  With only three Horcurxes remaining, Harry, Hermione and Ron race against time as Voldemort and his evil minions close in on Hogwarts ready to destroy anyone and anything that stands in the way of the dark lord's vengeance.

The Harry Potter series has come a long way since its humble children tale beginnings, something far more evident now when looking back at the early films and trailers.  I didn't watch the first three in theatres as I wasn't a fan of the books or the feel of the early films.  I'm not much for little kids being plunged into an adult world, spouting off adult dialogue you know they wouldn't say as well as being exposed to adult situations that they shouldn't be able to handle with the ease they always seem to.  That said, when GOBLET OF FIRE came out I did hit the theatres and was blown away by just how grown up and dark the series had become.  This got my attention and I've been captivated ever since.

I can say with all honesty that I'm no fan of breaking a film in half, especially with a sure fire hit like HALLOWS.  Maybe the story IS so big that it's merited and maybe it's not.  The point here is that everyone (especially in Hollywood) knew this would make enough money to build a space station with a connecting shuttle route from Earth to half the neighbouring planets in our galaxy.  So at the end of the day you can't help but think they did it for the money (not the fans) and that leaves a bad taste in my mouth (the same can be said of the abysmal looking BREAKING DAWN).  Beyond that, though slow, the first half of HALLOWS apparently followed the book quite closely as does the second half so who knows, maybe it was for the best.

This film doesn't even remotely suffer from slow spots or boredom, the action is front and center and runs right off the page.  The effects are bare none just as extravagant as they've ever been (that white dragon was gorgeous down to the last detail) making it clear that no expense was overlooked.  I found the story's twist with Snape to be a decent, fulfilling and very enjoyable.  Like I said, I didn't read the books so I was in the dark here and that's precisely how I wanted this experience to be.  For some reason though, I thought I'd heard or read somewhere that two of three friends died in this film but clearly I was mistaken.  As for the ending, without giving anything too much away here, I was mildly let down by the mundane "here we go again" vibe.  It felt a little too perfect and fairytale like for my tastes, especially considering the dark turn this story has taken over the past few years.  I'm not saying I didn't want a happy ending, I just felt Rowling could have wrapped it up a bit better than she did.

HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS PART 2 is everything you want out of a potter film; epic on every level (save for the very end in my humble opinion) from the action, to the drama and most definitely the acting.  By now these fine actors know their roles, they're portrayal of these magical characters is one of love, respect and talent.  The potter kids are all grown up and shine just as bright as their adult counterparts, there are many characters featured this time around but most get to have their say and/or go out with a bang.  I do feel that there's a sadness in the air now, that Harry, Hogwarts and all those who dwell there will be sorely missed.  Hollywood will try (and have been trying) to fill the gap left by this beloved series to no avail and will no doubt continue to fail in that regard.  Once in awhile we get treated to something magical like this and it's near impossible to replicate that magic.  It's something that just happens (like GAME OF THRONES).  I know I'm not the first the first to say this and probably won't be the last, but I'd like to thank Harry and his friends for letting me tag along on this wonderful journey and know that I'll look in on you guys from time to time always happy to revisit this fantastic world.

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TRAILER: Dexter S6

With the sixth season of DEXTER right around the corner (and watch for him at Comic Con next week) the anticipation is really starting to build. Last season was alright but I admit that after the ridiculously awesome fourth season it was gonna be hard to top. This season hints at Dex going back to his roots and I'm all for that, not so sure about Tom Hanks' little bro as the season's serial killer but we'll see how that turns out. Here's a taste of things to come.

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TRAILER: John Carter

Supposedly this flick is supposed to be a big deal but it looks like a watered down cross between AVATAR and the NARNIA series to me. Since Disney backed out of the NARNIA world, it doesn't make a lot of sense to head up another similar series but I guess time will tell. I like Taylor Kitsch but I'm not sold on this one yet. I'll be keeping an eye out for the next trailer.

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TRAILER: The Thing

Now they're calling this a prequel/remake of the John Carpenter classic, but if you ask me this looks exactly like the original THE THING only without the badass exploits of Kurt Russell. I do love this concept however so I know I'll be in line to see this bad boy regardless. Two things though; one, I hope they go with an R rating and two, there's no way they'll beat the old poster's look in the cool category.

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TRAILER: Contagion

This looks like one part THE STAND, one part OUTBREAK and one part I AM LEGEND...without the infected monsters. That said, I'm always up for flicks like this, especially when they threw in the Bird Flu angel (that shit still scares me). Stuff like the Bird Flu and SARS are scary and the idea of these viral time bombs evolving to wipe us out isn't so far fetched.

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TRAILER: Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows

What we have here is a seemingly rushed attempt at a first teaser trailer to compete with the fact that Comic Con will be tossing a few our way as well as HARRY POTTER this weekend. I loved the first film and am excited for this one but the trailer feels off and isn't overly enticing. I can forgive that because a nibble is better than nothing, I just hope the real trailer delivers bigger numbers.

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REVIEW: Beastly

"Love may not be ugly but Hollywood's desperation certainly is."

Kyle thinks he's the winning ticket; he's young, good looking, loaded and the most popular face on campus.  But his less than stellar attitude crosses the wrong chick for the last time.  Cursed, Kyle's boyish good looks go "bye bye" as he's forced to look as ugly on the outside as he is on the inside.  Kyle has one year to find true love or be stuck a monster forever.

Let me begin by saying that I'm neither happy nor impressed by Hollywood's asinine idea to revisit old fables like RED RIDINGHOOD and the so very worn out, BEAUTY AND THE BEAST.  I mean come on, how many times has that story been told outright or in this case, in a vain attempt to be subtle.  Both RED RIDINGHOOD and BEASTLY are terrible movies (surprise, surprise) but yet here we are.  Yes, I'm as dumbfounded as you are.

This modern day re-telling is remotely believable for the first thirty minutes and by remotely I simply mean that our main guy Kyle is just another rich, snobby douche who thinks he's better than everyone else at his high society college.  I can buy that, and I doubt this role is much of a stretch for young Alex Pettyfur to play considering he was only twenty when this was filming.  Because he's still young and green I won't beat up on him too much, he wasn't bad for most of the film yet some of the off-beat dialogue and reactions to his failed attempts to impress Lindy were cringe worthy.  That said, I can't see anyone winning any sort of competition with a ridiculous speech like the one he gave, coolest kid on the block or not.

Even within the first thirty minutes I was thrown by the idea that Mary-Kate Olsen's character Kendra was a "known" witch.  I'll let it slide because she was particularly enticing and fun to watch (loved her killer final scene).  The last hour of the film, however, is something else entirely.  First off, the ideology behind what happens with Bell and the Beast to make her his prisoner is a stretch but one you can forgive because it's a cartoon.  The way it's tackled here is outright lame but beyond the scope of reason to begin with.  It just doesn't make a heck of a lot of sense and anyone involved in this crazy scenario probably wouldn't be as open to suggestion, friendship or least of all love, given the circumstances.  I'm a romantic at heart and all, but I just don't see the pot of gold at the end of this rainbow.

BEASTLY is a pitiful attempt at cashing in on the Twilgiht-esque generation of influential teen angst.  There was no reason whatsoever to make this film, and at no point did they really try to do anything different or remotely memorable with this opportunity.  If you're going to plagiarise a good story, the least you can do is up the ante and blow that baby out of the water!  This story doesn't even make a ripple.  I dug NPH's presence and despite everything else, I can't help but smile when he's on screen.  I can't make fun of the fact he's here (or that he's headlining THE SMURFS) because he's just too damn cool.  All I can say is that I hope this little social experiment with the fables, nursery rhymes and fairy tales will come to an end now.  Seriously Hollywood, count your losses and move on already as films like this are an insult to our intelligence.   

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REVIEW: Zookeeper

"And so, we lose another great comedian to talking animals."

Griffin Keyes isn't exactly winning with the ladies, and according to his ex-girlfriend it could be because he spends all his time at the zoo.  But because Griffin is the best zookeeper his zoo's animals have ever had, they decide to communicate with him (yes, verbally) in hopes of helping him win back his old flame.

Poor Kevin James.  Don't get me wrong, I love the guy, KING OF QUEENS is one of my all time favourite comedy sitcoms.  My girl has them all on DVD and I'll never get tired of watching Doug Heffernan rip it up.  His move into acting was a good call, the guy's hilarious and there's no reason he shouldn't have upgraded to the big screen.  I NOW PRONOUNCE YOU CHUCK AND LARRY wasn't perfect but it was comical and a much better spotlight role than the one he had in HITCH.  I have yet to see GROWN UPS or THE DILEMA but one thing I can say with confidence is that there can be no bigger career crusher than the epic dud that was PAUL BLART MALL COP.  What happened?  I mean, he must have came to same conclusion, thus we got better attempts like THE DILEMA and GROWN UPS only to come full circle with ZOOKEEPER, a film that clearly crushed what little dignity Kevin James had left.

Let me first say that I don't need every comedy to be a rated R balls to the wall blowout, I don't mind tamer comedies from time to time.  That is, as long as you do something productive with the effort.  Having people mingle with talking animals is not productive, I don't care if Sylvester Stallone is voicing the lion and Nick Nolte the gorilla (though the outing to TGIF's was mildly amusing).  It doesn't matter, talking animal comedies are terrible.  Do people run up to Eddie Murphy and say, "Man, I LOVED your DR. DOOLITTLE movies, can you PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE make another one!?".  No, they do not.  And they don't do this for a very good reason, again, because these films make you want to slip into a coma and die in the movie theatre.

The story is what really irks me here though as it's made up of just about every romantic comedy cliché going, all pooled together in a sloppy and incredibly lazy fashion.  Again, why?  Why play this one by the numbers when a guy like Kevin James can do so much more?  There was a brief moment there when he was turning into the evil version of himself (or more specifically reverting back to Doug Heffernan) and I almost had a good time only to be let down by the old "I'm trying to be somebody I'm not" bit.  Now I'll also admit that I don't know much about zoos or zoo keeping but I'm pretty sure you won't find hotties like Rosario Dawson on their payroll.  Too bad though as that would definitely make me want to hang out at the zoo.

ZOOKEEPER was precisely the mess I expected it to be, a special kind of mess with a peculiar cast roster that confused me to the point where I wasn't sure if I should laugh or cry.  Thank god for Ken Jeong, he wasn't on screen often but he's a man who can always put a smile on my face.  I can't believe he was a doctor until he decided to try comedy at an open mike club, but even he couldn't help Kevin James pull this one off.  I really want Kevin James to succeed in Hollywood, but he needs to want it bad enough to say no to garbage like this.  PAUL BLART should've raised all the red flags necessary to avoid this mess, but hey, sometimes one kick in the face just isn't enough.  Hopefully this kick will leave a mark and smarten him up because Kevin James has the potential to be one of the funniest guys out there.  Maybe Sly should make him download Eye of the Tiger and tell him to listen to it at least once a day.  

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BLU-RAY Review: American The Bill Hicks Story

"A intriguing, dark and equally tragic look at the road to fame."

This is the true story of the life and troubles of Bill Hicks, a rare and extremely intelligent mind that took the world of stand up comedy by the balls and never let go.  His ten closest family members and friends share their most intimate times with him from early in life until just before he passed away joined with footage of the Bill doing what he did best.

Personally, as much as I love stand up comedy, I'd never heard of Bill Hicks prior to watching this documentary/true story.  He looks vaguely familiar to me though, like I may have caught a bit of his at some point but I can't say for sure.  What I can say is that I was blown away by the intelligent hilarity of this man's dark style of comedy and it's a real shame that he (like so many others) was taken during his career's prime.

When it comes to comedy, many comedians use not only their personal experiences as muses but their families as well.  Eddie Murphy did it very well and Russell Peters is still doing it today.  Bill Hicks was no different during his humble beginnings but it was what he evolved into that really caught my eye.  When he started focussing upon real world incidents like that false messiah and his followers getting burned alive, or going on about flag burning and the government, it was then his true genius started to shine.  Lots of people rant, lots of people make fun of others and situations, but the way Bill did it was much different than anything I've ever seen and I thought it was brilliant.

It's clear that Bill had talent, from watching him and his best friend Dwight entertain their fellow classmates, pulling off great stand-up shows as kids or even going on to get script writing deals, the talent was there but like so many before him and so many after, the story does take a turn for the worst with classic vices like booze, drugs and finally cancer at thirty-two, hitting him the hardest after he'd finally tamed his inner demons.  His family and close friends are all very forthcoming and heartbreakingly honest here and you can tell that their emotions are running high throughout the process.  Like most true stories or biographies it can get hard to watch at times because you know where the character is heading but it's a powerful story nonetheless and worth watching to the end.

AMERICAN THE BILL HICKS STORY is not the feel good movie of the year, nor is it a rip roaring comedy despite being about a comedian.  Is it however a powerful tale of ambition, passion and raw determination in a "go big or go home" world.  I was particularly intrigued by the whole thing on psychedelic mushrooms and their trips to the ranch.  They did some serious soul searching and spirit walking and he's right when he says that countless people's of the Earth have been doing it for years as a way of seeking guidance and enlightenment but for some reason it's always painted as negative.  That's quite a double edged sword of a topic but he sure does make miles of sense when he's telling it.  Rest in peace Bill and don't worry, your work will definitely live on.

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BLU-RAY REVIEW: Point Break

"They don't get much better than this."

Rookie hot shot Johnny Utah is transferred to the FBI's robbery division where he and his partner investigate a theory that notorious bank robbers The Ex-Presidents could in fact be surfers.  Johnny soon gets in deep with the natives led by the charismatic thrill seeker Bodhi, and before long the lines between right and wrong get more than a little blurry.

POINT BREAK came out when I was still just a kid watching all my restricted movies at my grandparent's house because my mom wouldn't let me watch them at home.  I was too young (and a little naive) to fully appreciate how truly phenomenal a film it was at the time (I was so confused after War Child and his crew were busted, wondering who the robbers could possibly be), but since then I've watched this flick dozens of times and it's gotten even better with age.  This is easily one of my top ten favourite action flicks of all time and an absolute welcome to my Blu-ray library.

I've heard people refer to Keanu Reeves' acting as bland, saying that he plays every character the same way in each of his films (can't that honestly be said of most action stars?) but I enjoy him and think he puts foot to ass rather nicely.  He was still relatively green when it came to leading man material but I think he held up his end of things well.  Gary Busy's wild character Pappas is a riot.  Sure, some of his one liners are a little rough around the edges but his intense demeanour and spurts of yelling almost remind me of a white Samuel L. Jackson.  The back robber plot has seen its share of exposure but making them surfers was certainly one for books!  It worked marvellously and I loved every second of it.

The true glittering gem of this film is Bodhi, one of the greatest villains of all time as far as I'm concerned.  Patrick Swayze (I sincerely hope you're drinking up there with the best of them and teaching people how to tear a man's throat out) gave an outstanding performance, his best in my opinion, as a guy you can't help but root for.  Who the hell wouldn't want to be Bodhi's friend?  You get to go to all the cool parties, you meet tons of women, you get to surf and skydive in your spare time, and sure, rob the occasional bank here and there to fund your adventures but hey, nobody's perfect.  There's a brotherhood pact between Johnny and Bodhi that any guy would relish and the idea clearly still works on audiences too as THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS films are based upon the same principle.     

POINT BREAK is one of those immortal films that remains unaffected by the passing of time, a film you never outgrow and never get tired of no matter how many times you've seen in on TV or watched it with your buddies.  Add to that the fact that this film's final scene is one of the coolest and most powerful showdowns I've ever seen on film, a killer ending that still gives me goose bumps.  Some people hear Patrick Swayze and think DIRTY DANCING, some think GHOST and others probably ROAD HOUSE (I love that one too) but for me, POINT BREAK is that one magical film that can do no wrong and wins every time no matter how you stack it.  Every now and again we get a solid action flick but one thing I say often is that we don't get many like this one anymore.  It's sad but true.

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TRAILER: Final Destination 5

Sure we get an interesting new twist, some familiar faces and Tony "Candyman" Todd himself but I'm still a little annoyed by the fact that the last sequel was indeed supposed to be THE LAST Final Destination film. I guess nothing is ever final in Hollywood though. Truth be told, I'd watch this simply for Tony Todd, he's the man.

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TRAILER: The Walking Dead S2

Okay, so this is barely a teaser but I'm pumped for season two, especially after getting all the hardcover graphic novels for my birthday. There are some damn cool characters on the verge of being introduced and though the first season went off the reservation a bit when compared to the graphic novels I'm hoping they stay closer to the original story this time around.

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REVIEW: Transformers Dark Side of the Moon

"My faith in the series has been restored."

Having beat down the Deceptacons twice already, Prime and his crew are helping us out as military liaisons while Sam gets a job in the real world.  But before anyone can get too comfortable information about a covert mission on the moon reveals a sinister secret that will put the entire planet at risk.

When it comes to the Transformers I happen to be one of those people who grew up loving the original cartoon series and toys.  Despite the fact that most films based upon these types of cartoons have and still are coming out a generation late, I was still flushed with youthful exuberance and childlike glee when I first found out Transformers would finally become a movie.  When I heard Michael Bay would be directing I felt even more at ease because although some critics may like to throw pot shots at Bay, there can be no denying that he's brought us some of the best action films of the past decade.  When it comes to action, intensity, adrenaline pumping scores, comic relief and yes, explosions, who better than Bay to make it all happen consistently well. 

The first Transformers film was exactly that; a breakout film to test the waters and because of that I can overlook some of the easier nitpickings that came with it.  The second film suffered from too many issues to ignore, and not just from a fan's perspective (devastator turning into a dog with balls), but from a editing, plot and overall script perspective as well.  In light of this, many people lost faith in the idea of another sequel.  The trailer for DARK SIDE OF THE MOON peaked my interest with the cover-up mission within a mission with Neil Armstrong and the Cold War moon landing.  That right there was an ingenious hook that worked well within the film.  I liked what they did with the story, the ship landing on the moon was especially cool because it mimics the original cartoon's beginning only here the ship crashes on the moon with one Autobot rather than on Earth with all of them.  Yes, I would have preferred something like this in the first film but it's better late than never.

The casting choices and character arcs also impressed me this time around.  The roster for this film kept getting bigger and bigger (sort of how THE DARK KNIGHT RISES is going) which sometimes can be disastrous but here worked out rather well.  Firstly, congrats to Rosie Huntington, she was the underdog here due to the ridiculous Megan Fox debacle and as far as I'm concerned she did just fine.  Fox's beauty comes off snobbish whether she intends for it to or not and Huntington felt more like an adorable, sweet girl next door, a perfect match for Sam's off the wall character.  And speaking of The Beef, Shia rocked out as Sam bringing the action and all sorts of laughs.  Now the rest of the human cast all got fit in but John Malkovich and Ken Jeong were the surprising diamonds in the rough who really added to the experience.

Which brings me to the Autobots and Deceptacons.  First the good.  The smartest thing Bay and co. did when putting this franchise together was get Peter Cullen to reprise the original voice of Optimus Prime.  Every time Prime is on screen I feel like a kid again, eyes wide and full awe.  Leonard Nimoy came aboard as Sentinal Prime (a fan irony as he helped voice Unicron in the original cartoon movie) which was fine by me but the real let down was Shockwave.  I guess original voice actor Corey Burton was offered the role and said "no", I was taken off guard by that news at first but now I can understand why.  Shockwave only really speaks once in the film and from there is unforgivably underused (I was pumped to see Laserbeak as well, his design could have been a little better but he was cool nonetheless).  The Deceptacons as a whole, are given the short end of the stick here (I can't really say why but you'll understand when you watch it), even Megatron only gets a couple lines here and there, so on that front I was a little let down. 

TRANSFORMERS DARK SIDE OF THE MOON is an Molotov cocktail of pure hellfire which was both beautiful to behold and sinfully entertaining.  This was the sequel we were hoping for after the first film, but like I said earlier, it's better late than never.  The tone was also nice, pushing the language barrier like last time to make it feel more adult themed.  Yes, thankfully the Wigger-bots are gone though the two small guys do grate on your nerves from time to time.  The 3D aspect of things didn't blow my mind but it sure made those flight suit jumping scenes look unreal (also, big thumbs up to those guys too, they were magnificent).  All in all this was a satisfying summer popcorn flick and a joyous Delorean ride back to my childhood.  This is definitely one you MUST see in theatres.

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REVIEW: Game Of Thrones S1

"Never before has Fantasy been captured quite like this."

Trying to sum up the sheer calibre of epic goodness that is GAME OF THRONES in one review is as futile as trying to squeeze one book into a two hour film, but hey, I'll give it my best shot. First and foremost, thank you HBO and thank you Mr. Martin for giving us fans the chance to see this magnificent story and all it's delicious characters on screen. There are so many books out there (especially when it comes to the Fantasy world) that many fans treasure like the rarest of gemstones. For me in particular, I'm a fan of both R.A. Salvatore's Drizzt novels as well Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman's Raistlin novels, and though both would make for some excellent HBO viewing, I sincerely doubt we'll see it happen on either account. But if anything could pave the way to future hits, it's the popularity of this series, GAME OF THRONES.

As far as the Fantasy genre goes, this is one large step forward, the only real step forward the genre's seen since THE LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy. The story here is rich with intrigue, political drama, supernatural elements and some magic, though in all honesty it's pretty rare. That's okay though as GAME OF THRONES doesn't need to rely on fancy sleight of hand or pretty fireworks to put you under its spell, the characters are intricate, well balanced and fun enough to win you over without all that. Now for the veteran fans of the books, we know a thing or two about George R.R. Martin's character style and his obvious "no one is truly safe" writing tactics. People unfamiliar with the books were in for an emotional roller coaster ride and some may not be particularly happy with the end result, but rest assured this is one (of many) things that elevate Martin's storytelling above the norm and yes, as much as we may curse him at times, this is definitely a good thing.

When it comes down to the cast, I was very impressed. Naturally Sean Bean nailed the role of Eddard Stark but of that, I had no doubts whatsoever. Lena Heady was also a fitting choice for Cercei Lannister. Now it's been about four years since I've read the books but I couldn't help but think Cercei was supposed to play a larger role than she did. Her attitude and wrath are as sharp as I'd envisioned but she felt like a back ground character. Mark Addy's portrayal of Robert Baratheon was marvellous. His emotional lines packed a lot of punch and that scene with him and Cercei being truthful to one another was riveting to say the least. I enjoyed Peter Dinklage as Tyrion and was pleasantly surprised by Nikolaj Coater-Waldau as Jamie Lannister, Emilia Clark as Daenerys Targaryen and Kit Harington as Jon Snow. The entire cast worked, don't get me wrong, it would take another two paragraphs to fully convey my impressions so I'm cutting it short but I had nothing to complain about in the casting and acting department.

The pace and plot moved along nicely but as you can imagine with so many characters, the building of tension does take some time. One of my favourite things about the books is that each chapter is labelled by the character's name in which we're seeing the chapter unfold through. Obviously this couldn't be done here but I felt each character was properly attended to and done justice. The dire wolves should have played a larger part in the story but then again, they were a detail I wholeheartedly enjoyed in the novels. It's easier to write about them I suppose, but it's one thing I did feel a little disappointed with. Drogo's army didn't feel as ominous as I'd imagined either, but again, some things are indeed easier to write about. The assassination attempt on Bran, the Bravosi sword practicing sessions and pretty much every scene with Robert Baratheon were some of my personal favourite highlights of the series. Also, The Wall looked phenomenal and the final scene with Daenerys was pure gold.

GAME OF THRONES took the world by storm and couldn't have been done better by anyone other than HBO. The books are written in a very adult tone and thankfully this is exactly how they were portrayed on screen. I read an article by some Los Angeles Times Television Critic, bitching and moaning about female frontal nudity. Her article (what as surprise, she's female) boats about HBO's tendency to show more than what's needed and then sites various shows that she felt were culprits of this foul play (she didn't seem to mind all the male nudity in SPARTACUS though, as that series wasn't mentioned). What a joke. Look, I review films, TV Shows, Games and I write psychological thriller novels and if there's one argument I've fully backed over the years it's this: Life is rated R ladies and gentlemen and to properly (not to mention realistically) portray life in an effective, provocative, believable and entertaining way, you absolutely need that R rating. Staging an all out orgy every ten minutes would be a debatable rating's tactic but no such thing happens here. Sex and violence are part of
our every day and to disclose them from a story for any reason is ridiculous. It's a give and take subject to be sure but there's no reason to get into a huff about this show (or any show for that matter) in that regard. GAME OF THRONES left me foaming at the mouth for more (I was hoping for more episodes, twelve at the very least) and I was overjoyed to hear season two got picked up so quickly. I have nothing but high hopes for the future of this series and I think I speak for everyone when I say thank God April first is right around the corner.

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TRAILER: Mission Impossible Ghost Protocal

Now this is a trailer I've been anxious to see! I love Tom Cruise and I love the MI series so this is double the fun. There doesn't seem to be a whole lot of "new territory" being explored but the gang's back, we get Jeremy Renner added to the roster and the action looks sweet as always. Looking forward to this one.

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TRAILER: Apollo 18

I'm still not sure what to make of this "BLAIR WITCH" in space flick. This is the second trailer I've seen but there's been literally no buzz, marketing or word of mouth surrounding this one. Nothing. It looks remotely interesting but this type of thrill seeker's been done to death so it'll no doubt just end up rental fodder.

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TRAILER: Immortals

Considering how much I loved 300, naturally I'm excited to see what IMMORTALS can bring to the table. Of course, it would've been nice to see them go this route rather than remake CLASH OF THE TITANS but hey, you win some and you lose some. November's still a ways off but this looks like Christmas may be coming early.

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