Saturday, April 28, 2012

Titanic II (2010) Review

Written by Stuart Cooper

TITANIC II (2011) Starring Bruce Davison, Shane Van Dyke

Recently James Cameron released Titanic 3-D in theaters to celebrate the 100 year anniversary of the Titanic disaster. By now I’m sure you all know the story and you all have the Celine Dion track looping through your brain involuntarily. I wish I could say the movie I’m about to review would cleanse your pallet, but it will not. My tribute to the 100 year anniversary of Titanic will be to review the one thing people thought would never happen, a SEQUEL to Titanic! Well…kind of. The film is called TITANIC II and yes it is a real movie. The film is not directly a sequel to the famous James Cameron film, but The Asylum hoped to create some confusion with the title, and thus Titanic II was born. How do you make a sequel to a movie about a ship that is now at the bottom of the ocean? Well, you just redo the story all over again, duh! Hollywood has been using this formula for decades. It’s very easy to take a pre-existing idea, use the same name, and just change the setting and cast, and call it a re-imagining or sequel. This was the case with the TITANIC II.

The film takes place in modern times and follows the creation of a new mega cruise liner called…you guessed it, THE TITANIC II! Now let’s just stop there for a second. Who in their right mind would purchase a ticket to a cruise named after the most horrific boating accident in history? Even if the technology got better, that’s like purchasing moon flights on a space shuttle called The Challenger. It’s just a terrible idea in the first place.

The opening of the film follows a surfer who is catching waves off of the broken ice caps. That’s right; a guy is surfing off the melting polar ice caps. Do people actually do this?! The surfer is quickly disposed of after he realizes that the ice caps are breaking off in bigger chunks and causing massive tidal waves. This serves as foreshadowing for the problems the Titanic II will face later. Basically they updated the storyline and instead of random ice caps in the middle of the ocean causing the problem, it is now global warming and the polar ice caps. Al Gore would love this movie! The cast of characters then boards the Titanic II and the adventure begins. There aren’t really any notable actors in the film other than Bruce Davison whom you might remember as Senator Kelly in the X-men films. Davison plays some type of Captain/Researcher who is the father of the main character and ultimately discovers this polar ice cap problem before anyone else. Other than Davison the film revolves around a doctor on board the Titanic, and the owner of the ship who is apparently some type of celebrity (though they don’t ever fully explain who the hell he is). These characters are cookie cutter and remind me of characters from the Poseidon films. After the Titanic II sets sail the problems begin almost immediately. It’s quite hysterical how quickly the ship has problems after assuring all the crew members that “issues with icebergs are a thing of the past” and the ship is design to “avoid all ice patches”. Then almost immediately they are faced with ice related issues. You really have to turn your brain off and bury it in the ground at this point.

The film then turns into your basic “oh god we are all going to die” disaster movie. The tidal waves from the melting polar ice caps apparently dwarf any wave ever created. You know it wouldn’t be an Asylum movie without gigantic MEGA DISASTERS! At one point the tidal wave actually takes out an airplane! That’s right…an airplane could not out run a wave in the ocean, but don’t worry Bruce Davison outruns the wave with his trusty helicopter! So yeah at this point in the film I’m just waiting for the ship to sink and the credits to roll. Unfortunately the running time still has about 40 minutes left at this point and we are treated to “danger” scenes recreated from Poseidon and The Titanic. The ending of the film even resembles the ending to the original Titanic, almost exactly. There isn’t much else to say about the film at this point, it pretty much works out the way that the viewers would predict. The only other note I made about the film is that the longshots of the ship looked like CGI out of a Sega Saturn game, so that might provide you with a few laughs. Otherwise I would say do what the Titanic didn’t do, and steer clear of this iceberg. If you have to watch an Asylum film I would recommend checking out Two headed Shark Attack or Sharktopus, not this one. The only way I would watch this film again is if James Cameron himself sat down with me, simply because his face would be priceless. And spoiler alert, they still don’t find the heart of the ocean.

The Actual Trailer: TITANIC II Trailer

Saturday, April 21, 2012

The Raid: Redemption Review

Written by Bobby Ramos

Starring Iko Uwais, Ananda George,and Ray Sahetapy

I haven't been this excited over an action film that was not Comic book related in a long time. When I first heard about The Raid, I wondered if the pictures in my mind, would match up to what was actually filmed. When I first saw the red band trailer, my mind's mental images were beaten up and shot dead in their tracks. A movie that combined martial arts with gunplay, in the spirit of the underrated era of kung Fu movies in the 80's. But instead of Cynthia Rothrock we have the awesome Iko Uwais which if you have seen his previous collaboration with Director Gareth Evans (Check out “Merantau”), you will know that this is gonna be a fun ride. Before I get into how I felt about this movie lemme run down the plot real quick.

A team of cops are about to raid the building of a notorious crime boss that is entirely inhabited by killers on each floor, but there seems to be more behind it than just a simple tag and bag.

Yup that’s it, the entire plot summed up in a few sentences, which if you ask me is what an action movie should be, and not everything needs to be a slow paced story with a huge 3 hour storyline. This is something that is a love letter to both the genre of Action as well as it's fellow fans.

This movie was a huge “Picnic Basket” full of ass kicking goodies. You got elbows, knees and throws that are so painfully realistic looking. No wire work, no flying in the air, nothing that Hollywood has beaten to death. I will say this, if you are looking for a different style vs. another then you will be disappointed, but if you know the country and that it is the fighting style to know there, you will enjoy what this movie has to offer. You will see some of the sickest kills in fighting history. From broken door frames, to machete gangs, to simply being chucked over the side of a rail!

The characters are all different in their own way, you have the hero who knows the difference from right and wrong but has no trouble killing, and the villain is not a sharped dressed man. It is a dude who says to the world “I don't give a damn what you think about my style, I can eat ramen while shooting you in the head and still be respected."

The direction is a clear display of someone who watched their share of GOOD kung Fu movies. No close up shaky cam stuff that we are being force fed, it's the right amount of framing and the right cuts at the right moments. Yes the action is fast paced but the camera man can keep up with the action. I was in a theater with a crowd who knew how to react and this just added to the violence on display. You will say “OOH” on instinct thanks to the direction and editing.

The soundtrack is an element of its own; I am not a Linkin Park fan AT ALL (Yes even the Hybrid Theory years ((Band not album)). But I give props to Mike Shinoda for seriously providing the best action soundtrack to a beat em up, without having to resort to your typical random usage of Lapdance by N.E.R.D., or Bodies by Drowning Pool. (Dis-honorable mention “Hoobastank” ((Anything by them))). But I haven't wanted to make a playlist for my video games with a modern movie soundtrack in a long time.

With all that said, you will love the final fight of the movie. You will seriously have to pick the people you root for, but despite your decision you will want to stand up and applaud the fighters for putting on a great and bruising fight.

So do I think you should see The Raid: Redemption? Yes, but only if you crave something different, something brutal and something very exciting. But if you don't like subtitles, and non-American leads, then I will suggest this, open your damn mind cause you are missing out!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Youtube Spotlight: Joe Gagne's Funtime Pro Wrestling Arcade

Written by: Stu Cooper

It's time for a new edition of the Youtube Spotlight! This week I wanted to focus on a video game related youtube account. Video Games are something I am going to begin covering on the blog, so you may see several posts about retro gaming in the near future. Today I wanted to talk about a youtube account that has stolen countless hours from my life and is responsible for giving thousands around the world flashbacks to their childhood. This account is MikeandTomPresent and the particular video series I am referring to is Joe Gagne's Funtime Pro Wrestling Arcade. This video series focuses on pro wrestling video games and their history. Joe is slowly working his way through the entire library of pro wrestling games. The coverage is often accompanied by a review and several wrestling jokes. It makes for a great quick watch. If you grew up a fan of pro wrestling or just video games in general, you will enjoy these videos. Here are some of my personal favorites, tho I suggest checking out the entire channel:

So after checking some of these videos out and thinking about it, what is your favorite wrestling game? Post in the comments below and let us know!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

21 Jump Street Review

Written by Stu Cooper

21 Jump Street (2012)
Starring: Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum, Brie Larson and Rob Riggle

At this point in my generation I’ve come to terms with the fact that we are witnessing very few original concepts on the big screen. The amount of remakes and adaptations at this point is staggering, and the list continues to grow by the day. In a few years I can imagine that almost every hit show or film will have been remade or have a deal to be remade. When I first read that 21 Jump Street, the once popular 80’s undercover cop drama starring Johnny Depp, was going to be remade, I was a bit speechless. The show seemed like a very random choice for an adaptation, though it was not unheard of since we had to endure the Starsky & Hutch and Knight Rider remakes. I was not old enough during the peak of the show’s popularity to appreciate it, so I really was rather indifferent going into the film. With that said, I was incredibly impressed with the final product! This 2012 R rated comedy stars Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum playing two rookie cops who are chosen for an undercover mission in which they would have to go back to high school. Channing Tatum plays Jenko who was once the popular high school jock, and Hill plays Schmidt, a timid awkward guy who spent most of his high school tenure working up the guts to ask out a girl. The two men are total opposites, but find themselves bonding through the police academy. While the television series was more of a drama, this film is definitely in the comedic category. The film takes itself very lightly while staying based in reality. It uses the “Dumb and Dumber” cop idea that we’ve seen before in films like The Other Guys.

The film starts off with a glimpse into the lives of Jenko and Schmidt in high school. Almost immediately there is a moment of bonding between the two men in the film. They realize that while they are both dramatically different personality wise, they both have frustrations with their lives. The film then jumps to post-high school where both men find themselves enrolling in the local police academy. The two men immediately recognize each other from high school and begin to bond. Schmidt is definitely the brains of the team, while Jenko is the obvious brawn. The two men team up while in school and help each other pass. The film then cuts to their current situation in which they are stuck being bike cops and lacking the sense of adventure they had been anticipating all those years. After a failed drug bust attempt the two men are quickly shipped off to a special operations section of the police department. The special operations are located on…you guessed it, 21 Jump Street. Soon after you meet their boss, Ice Cube! Ice Cube definitely brings the funny to the table. He plays off the stereotypical loud black police chief role and provides tons of laughs. I would have to say he was actually my favorite character in the film. The chief quickly gives the guys their mission. Their mission is to go undercover back to high school and find out who the new high school drug kingpin is. This is where the true comedy begins. I don’t want to spoil all of the laughs but I must say most of the comedy is found in the hilarious social commentary regarding the difference in the 90’s generation and the 2000’s. The new form of “bully” is an environmentalist poet and the oversensitivity of the kids is hysterical. If you grew up in the late 90’s and are displeased with the current “hipster” generation, you will appreciate the humor. From that point the film really tells the tale of these two guys and how they are forced to adapt to situations they are not comfortable with. The jock has to learn to use his brain, and the nerd has to learn how to be the popular kid. It’s a bit teeny, but doesn’t over do the American Pie party movie elements.

The film really finds the perfect balance between a goofy comedy and a quick witted American action movie. The action sequences are reminiscent of Pineapple Express in which people actually use guns, get hurt, but still have a sense of humor about it. Throughout the film you meet some secondary characters that have memorable performances. Rob Riggle who never disappoints, plays their burnt out high school gym teacher and ends up with quite a few funny lines. Scott Pilgrim alumni Brie Larson and Johnny Simmons also have roles in the film. The casting is really spot on. The only aspect that was a bit off was when Schmidt develops a crush on his high school friend (despite him being a full grown adult), but the audience is to assume the girl is at least 18 I guess, and they do a good job of not crossing any pedophilia lines. By now you’ve also probably heard about the Johnny Depp cameo, which I can assure you, is memorable! I was smiling ear to ear when I finally heard Depp’s voice in the film. It is truly random and has to be seen to be believed. It’s nice to know Depp still has his sense of humor and appreciation for his roots, I’m sure he had a lot of fun with this one. When the film concludes you are left wanting more, at least I was. Hill and Tatum end up being the perfect onscreen team and play off each other as if they were real police partners. I was actually left hoping to see a sequel (a plot device is set up for this possibility).

The film really has no downsides that I can think of. The casting, the jokes, the runtime, the pacing, it’s all perfect. The film left me very pleased and surprised at how much it made me laugh. This will be a definite Blu-ray purchase for me upon its release. If it’s still in theaters near you I suggest checking this one out, if it’s already gone then put it on your amazon wishlist and check it out as soon as it’s released. 21 Jump Street is officially a comedy homerun.

The Hunger Games Review

Written by Bobby Ramos

The Hunger Games (2012)
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, and Liam Hemsworth

If you are like me, well then you would be a clone, but we are not here to talk about Multiplicity, we are here to discuss the new novel adaptation that is catching Hollywood by storm, of course I'm talking about The Hunger Games.

This is the first in a series of 3, which means that there will be more (Well since the movie has topped the box office for a few weeks now). People if you love foreign films and you would know the essential movie is Battle Royal, a movie (also based on a book) about how the government is scared that the rebellious youth of today will rise up and take over so they pass the BR Act which means that a School and class are picked at random via government lottery are gassed out and sent to an island where they are fitted with electronic collars, They have 3 days to kill each other, last one standing gets to go back home, but if the 3 days are up and there is more than 1 standing then the collars will activate and nobody wins. This movie showcased what a person is capable of if put in such situations and with the mild dramatics of school life being given the license to kill, we are able to see who was the bullied and who were the real weaklings.

The Hunger Games is an annual event in which 2 are selected from each district (Boy & Girl from the age range of 12-18) to participate in a game of skill, chance and death. Much like reality TV and the worlds desire to watch horrible things, this event is televised and has been a huge success running into its 74th year. The one we root for is Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) a 16 year old who had to grow up fast after the death of her father, Who volunteers to participate in the brutal event after her little sister is picked and would obviously be the first one dead come kick off time. Hunger Games is a slightly different approach. Now unlike the aforementioned Japanese classic, The kids ARE taken with their knowledge and are sent to be fed, trained and well tarted up for the cameras for interviews to get the audience behind them with their back stories, personalities and fighting skills.

Behind the scenes is the character of “Head Game Maker” Seneca Crane ( played by the dark eyebrow-ed Wes Bentley). Who is basically the shows director who has to make sure everything is up to par not just with the audience but with the network exec or the President by the name of Snow (Played by the slowly aging Donald Sutherland. Who makes it clear that if these games are not better than before and are kept in tight control then Crane will be canceled well his life will be.

Now here comes the part most of you will want to know about (Well the guys mainly). Yes there are some mushy tween love moments, Hell it can't be avoided I mean it is a franchise with a strong female lead and it for some damn reason has to have a love interest or in many cases a love triangle, it is not touched on too heavy like the so called “Vampire” trilogy (that was turned into 4 movies and just won't seem to end), but just to warn you it is there and also it is shown with hilarious reveal that Katniss has more balls than the boys when it comes to pain.

So what did I think of this movie, well since I did not read the books (It takes a lot for me to read these days, nothing has been the same since Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs.). I didn't think it was a total waste of time, the development could have been trimmed just a bit but all together it was not a bad movie. I looked at it as this, much like entertainment stolen and brought here (amongst other things we have taken in the history books) This is like an Americanized version of Battle Royal in a sense of a tv exec seeing this show from Japan where they passed a law to kill off kids to stay in power and thought to himself “Hey, we can do that, this would be a ratings goldmine” and were to take it up to the network execs and they say “We love it, but we need to change some stuff up, instead of gassing them how about we just pass this law and make it known that they can be selected and have to go, oh also we can't just give them random bags of stuff how about they all run towards it they can grab food, water or weapons, But lets not fit them with exploding collars, lets just add obstacles, Oh also we ned to interview these kids, get the audience behind them, If I were to watch something like this I wouldn't be able to care about a kid getting killed unless I know about them. Well let's see how we can avoid buying the rights, and send it down to production. Good Job Collins.”

So in closing, Check out the Hunger Games if you are a girl who loves a strong female character, or a guy who loves a strong female character (Or Jennifer Lawrence in tight gear, Oh yeah side note she is 21 but is playing 16, flip a moral coin on that one and see where it lands.)