Thoughts On: Smurfs The Lost Village

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This past Weekend Sony’s latest theatrical outing for everyone’s favorite little blue gnomes debuted in theatres worldwide and thankfully unlike the previous two live action atrocities this one is full animated!  But will even that be enough to save the Smurf’s Hollywood carrier!?  Lets find out!

 

 

Focusing on the positives of the film first the most obvious one as mentioned is that thankfully Sony had the smarts to keep the film fully animated this time around.  In fact despite some people calling the film Smurfs 3 this is more of a soft reboot for the film franchise.   The film all but ignores its predecessors and instead tries to stay more in line with the continuity of the original Peyo comics and earlier seasons of the Hanna-Barbera cartoon.  And on the subject of animation this film looks wonderful!  The colors are vibrant, the motion is fluid and the whole thing feels as it is brimming with life!  Sony Animation put some genuine effort in making this film.  There is also an updated voice cast that gives much better performances then the previous incarnations as well.  Dani Pudi is a perfect choice for Brainy and Demi Levato is a much better Smurfette then Katy Perry was.  And speaking of female Smurfs the film also introduces all new female Smurfs that are a much welcome and needed addition to this decades old franchise.  The Amazonian like lost village Smurfs are both cute and fierce and their personalities range from intimidating like Stormy, Wise like Willow or Kind like Blossom.  The forest the live in is also a visually stunning place, even if it does borrow a few minor things from James Cameron’s Avatar for its aesthetic.   Compared to the past feature lengths films this is obviously the strongest outing yet.

 

On the negative side however the plot of the film is extremely simplistic & straightforward as it involves Smurfette trying to discover what her role in Smurf Village should be as she feels like an outsider being a artificial Smurf created by Gargamel as opposed to a naturally born er Smurfed one.  It is set-up well though despite being simple children’s storybook fare.  Another negative is it never explains why the titular lost village was lost in the first place or why the male and female Smurfs ended up creating their own separate societies.

 

Overall Smurfs: The Lost village is step in the right direction for the cinematic interpretation of the series, given not the leap it needed but progress is progress and I can’t fault it for wanting to play it safe after the last two less than Steller outings.

 

So far the film has had a fairly weak U.S. opening with only fourteen and a half million earned the opening weekend, but unsurprisingly has done better in the international box office with 40 million earned.  And I for one would urge others to go see it as I would much rather see more fully animated Smurfs films as opposed to what they were doing before hand and despite what you may hear it is much more worth your time and money then talking babies and yet another soulless live action remake of a animated Disney classic.  But hey, that’s just my nerdy opinion.

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Thoughts on: Kong: Skull Island

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Warning: This post may contain spoilers

Disclaimer: The views in this post are solely my opinion.  King Kong, Skull Island and all related content are property of Warner Bros. Legendary and Universal Pictures.

This past Friday, Kong: Skull Island launched in theatres nationwide.  It is the second film in the Legendary/WB Kaijuverse series as well as the first King Kong film to hit the big screen in roughly twelve years.  Is it a film worthy of the King Kong legacy, or is this ape a false prince!?  Lets find out.

 

In terms of negatives, thankfully there aren’t very many, the only thing I could think of off the top of my head is some of the soldier characters are all pretty generic and one dimensional,  though given that most of them end up being cannon fodder this makes sense, but it would have helped the film to give more then a couple of them a defined personality.  Also Samuel L. Jackson, who plays the leader of set soldiers and the one who ends up being the human villain of the film is a fairly stereotypical villain to the point it gets ridiculously over the top , also the CG effect used to make Kong and the other beasts at times does seem a bit off and other then Kong himself some of the monsters look more like beasts who walked out of a video game as opposed to ones made for a film.  But overall these are minor complaints in the big scheme of things and in no way ruin the film as a whole.

 

Kong: Skull island has a lot of positives going for it, it is finally an original story with the Character and not yet another rehash of the same old tired tale, it also serves as a decent prequel and set-up to Godzilla and the other upcoming Kaiju films in a way as it takes place in 1973 as opposed to the modern day.  The actors all give genuinely solid performances especially John Goodman, John C. Riley & Jason Mitchell who all help bring some fun and life to the cast.  And while true Tom Hiddleston and Brie Larson’s characters are fairly subdued in terms of line reading most of the time, they do execute their roles well enough to make you care about their character’s survival.  Kong also thankfully has a pretty active role in the film, unlike other monster movies which show more of the humans then the title creature, Kong balances out its time well between the humans trying to survive the island and Kong fighting various other not so gentle giants, ranging from a giant squid to the main threat of the Skullcrawlers

 

As for story and structure, things are fairly straight forward, John Goodman’s character believes Skull Island will finally help him prove that monsters exist and the group piggybacks on another scientific expedition to the island under the guise of geological surveying.  After that it is your typical survival story mixed with your typical giant monster story, but that is by no means a bad thing as both are well executed and both the Kaiju and survival aspects of the film are well balanced out  for the most.  Kong may not fight a T-Rex like in days of old, but his fights with the squid and the Skincrawlers, and the human soldiers fights with a giant spider and deadly mini pterodactyl like birds are all fairly entertaining ones.  Like most stories things escalate up to the end point where Kong ends up facing both Samuel L. Jackson and the leader of the Skincrawlers which is as large as him.  The film of course is given a happy ending with Kong defeating his foes and the remaining humans successfully making it off Skull Island.  The film also gives us a nice little easter egg at the end as Tom Hiddleston and Brie Larson’s characters are told Kong wasn’t the only monster out there and we see pictures of cave paintings of Godzilla, Mothra, Rodan & King Ghidorah.

 

Overall if you are a King Kong or Kaiju fan, I would say the film is indeed worth checking out.

Thoughts on: Logan

WARNING: This Post Contains Spoilers!

DISCLAIMER: This Post is Solely My Opinion.  Wolverine/Logan and all other characters are property of FOX and Marvel Entertainment.

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  On March 3rd 2017 Logan opened in theatres nationwide, and has quickly become the most successful solo Wolverine film to date, as well as one of the most successful X-Men films in the domestic box office joining the likes of Deadpool and Days of Futures Past.  Today we will take a look at the film to see if it holds up after all.

 I’ll go ahead and get the negatives out of the way first.  One thing that really bugged me about the film was the stereotypical and somewhat racist undertones the film had at times.  In the very beginning of the film Logan is confronted and gets into a fight with a group of Hispanic gangsters, because of course when you are in a town in Texas that is near the border the criminals have to be Hispanic.  I will give the film credit for trying to balance things out by having this incarnation of X-23 aka Laura being half Hispanic herself, and they do have some jerky white rednecks for Logan to intimidate/beat down later on, but that still doesn’t negate the sour taste in my mouth the opening scene left.  It also doesn’t help that when Logan’s evil clone X-24 is sent to kill Charles Xavier the innocent African American family that Logan and co were spending the night with basically become cannon fodder as the monster kills them off one by one.  And then there’s the fact that Charles Xavier himself is killed off in a very anticlimactic way which is kind of disrespectful to a character so important.  So yea, between all the pointless death and pseudo racism, even if it was unintentional  Logan does have some elements that leave a sour taste in one’s mouth.

  On the positive side however, I will say the overall script of the film is solid, the story is basically a western with superheroes, we see Logan as a grizzled old man taking one last job to try to get his daughter to the Canadian border so she can meet up with other young mutants and find sanctuary, all the while being tracked by a group of mercenaries, evil scientists and an evil clone. Hugh Jackman also gives one of his best performances in the role yet, we see a more vulnerable and more human Wolverine who is still just as stubborn as ever despite the Adamantium in his body slowly killing him due to his healing factor slowing down to a crawl.  We also see him doing his best to keep Charles Xavier, who seems to be suffering from strokes that make his psychic powers go crazy, alive and well. Throughout the film there are many emotional moments both large and subtle that really help you sympathize with Logan despite his jerky attitude as well as constantly rooting for Laura, Logan and Charles to make it through, even though you know by the end of it at least one of them won’t.  The film has just the right amount of action, dark humor, drama and heart tugging moments to keep you engaged with the story, and as things escalate by the time you get to the end you get a genuinely satisfying fight scene with Logan and the kids fighting all the forces that have set out against them, which ends with a tear jerking moment between Logan and Laura.

 In terms of technical aspects of the films, as it doesn’t have to be as overly dependent on computer generated special effects as other superhero films, we get a more down to earth and organic feel from the story, and the music, sound, pacing and cinematography all blend together perfectly to hit all the queues as needed.  The only real nitpick one could have is that like with many modern action films it can be a bit overly dependent on explosions at times.   Modern Hollywood’s obsession with destruction aside though, the film looks, sounds and runs smoothly from act to act.

  So yes, even though Logan is rough around the edges in some spots it is a genuinely well written and well executed film.  It is a strong last hurrah for Hugh Jackman’s portrayal of the character, and for the most part genuinely deserves the praise it receives.  If you haven’t seen it yet I would definitely recommend doing so.