Tag Archives: special effects

Invisible Target: Jackie Chan & Son

Jackie Chan has officially passed on his torch as the #1 stunt fighting action star in Asia. And who has he passed this gigantic burden of fame and stardom onto? Why Jaycee Chan of course! With this lineage created and the dynasty struck, good things can only come from Jackie and Son. And this movie, Jacyee Chan’s first debut on the big screen, Invisible Target promises great things from the son of a master.

In this cop vs bad guy film with a resonance of Police Story, Jaycee and fellow action stars Nicholas Tse and Shawn

3 Badasses right there.

Yue (the first name thing must be a sign of Chinese stardom) battle hand to hand and guns to guns with 7 of the most feared ex-military/con demons known in Shang Hai (or wherever this movie takes place. Bangkok?) After the intial heist of a armored truck that killed Carson Fong Yik Wei’s (Shawn Yue) fiance, three detective/inspectors are hurled together from differing pasts and fighting/justice styles to band together for one stand against some of the worst crime China has seen.

Filled with corruption of the police force and some badass roundhouse kicks, this film promises actions scenes at an almost intermittent pace, mixed with a few car chases and explosions. I mean, come on, some guy is forced to eat bullets with a straight leg to the face. This movie delivers hard with at least a 35 minute lull between action scenes in one section. For you action fans out there, this may prove hard to move past, but all-in-all there are at least 4 action scenes that are worth checking out, most importantly the final battle. Through this entire 2 hour, 20 minute movie, a plot of intrigue unfolds among scenes of unnecessary violence.

Look forward to a lot of this.

As far as the good and bad things, nothing necessarily sticks out to me. Jaycee Chan, as far as Chinese and English acting, seems to excel in the former and it is yet to be seen if he excels in the latter. Hopefully he’ll be given the chance. What’s strange is that it seemed that Chow Yun Fat, Jet Li, and Jackie Chan all gave children to star in this movie, following their very particular fighting styles. Amazing, if you ask me. Decent, yet semi-cheesy special effects and digital graphics, a decent foreign cast, and some fantastically orchestrated fight scenes. I give Benny Chan (relation?) and the whole crew of this movie a 7.3 out of 10.


Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows: Parts 1 & 2

Wow, it’s been far too long since my last post! Been busy, but now coming back more furious than ever. (Not mad.) So first things first. Let’s start with the last of the Harry Potters. Didn’t catch the midnight showing, but watched the first part the day before and the second part only 3 days after its release (matinee in the middle of the day? Yes thanks.). I gotta say, I was semi-impressed. In totality, these movies do justice to the end of an era. But separately, it just seems as if they need to be combined. (Total of 4 hours of film in a row? It’ll just be Gods and Generals with magic.) It’s the final battle, and Harry has to take on the wizard of wizards, Voldemort. If you haven’t read the books, then I won’t spoil anything for you. But here it is.

Good old Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) has to find the Horcruxes. These are items in which Voldemort

Harry, Ron, and Hermione vs...

stored his soul through the act of committing unspeakable evils (a.k.a. killing people). With one down (Dumbledore’s sacrificed hand to the “ring”) and another out there in the kid’s peripherals (a locket), the adventure is set. The Ministry of Magic,

...Voldemort & Crew

Gringott’s, the Malfoy’s house, and even Hogwarts, this movie goes everywhere. And as the books did, everything sums up and becomes clearer and connected. People have always had problems with the movies not lining up with the books, but come on, there’s no way all of the info and exact actions of the books can be portrayed, so some slack has to be given to Warner Bro.’s. But that’s besides the point.

The action is fantastic. No 3-D for me though, there’s really no point in any film being in 3-D. I would continue to rant about this, but the movie industry likes the money coming in from it and doesn’t care about the headaches and unrealistic way 3-D alters the films. Oh well. The magic duels were great

Just some of the movie magic from Part 2

and the carnage was really brought to a level not a lot of children’s books would go to in theaters, hence, the PG-13 rating. The effects, as usual for every movie, every year, are top notch. The locations are interesting and breathtaking. (I always picture any adventure film outside must be filmed in New Zealand since LOTR.) It feels almost as if every location were waiting for the characters to return to play their part.

These 3 have thankfully improved over the years.

The acting, thank God, has gotten better with every film. Daniel Radcliffe’s flighty and flinty acting has improved to an acceptable level, but I’m sure, in most fan’s mind’s eyes, Harry should’ve been different. (No offense, you did the best you could Daniel.) Ron (Rupert Grint) with his older age has improved and gone on to make other good films (two I would recommend would be Driving Lessons and Wild Target.). Hermione (Emma Watson), in addition to her beauty, has become a wonderful young actress (come on, I’m her age and I’ve grown up with her basically.) who I’m looking forward to seeing in other films now that the H.P.’s are over.

There’s still the supporting cast (in reality, senior acting class that really give the movies their class) that needs to be mentioned. Snape (Alan Rickman) gives a stirring performance in Part II that was tearful, heartfelt, and lovely. It completely redeems his misunderstood character over the years. Ralph Fiennes is as

Snape. You were the best.

fierce as ever as Voldemort, scary and unrelenting as he was meant to be. Helena Bonham Carter plays the deranged (yet sexy, well at least to me) Bellatrix Lestrange, Voldemort’s right hand woman and biggest fan. Jason Isaacs plays Lucius Malfoy. Although completely defeated and beaten by Voldemort and his failings, I respect Malfoy and his wife and child, Draco (Tom Felton) for their misunderstood compassion shown in the films that is taken for cowardice. Rhys Ifans plays Xenophilius Lovegood, Luna’s father, a smaller part but still important. One of my favorite characters, besides Sirius of course.

Neville Longbottom. Just as heroic as Harry.

And there’s the rest of the kids. I won’t go through all the great acting that the students of Hogwarts have given over the years, but it’s spectacular. Neville becomes the hero he always could have been, Dean has gone through some freak growth spurt, Seamus still blows shizz up, and Luna is as quirky as ever. The whole Weasley family is amazingly brilliant, the Hogwarts teaching staff has all come back for the fight and Hagrid is disappointingly left out for pretty much all of the movie.

I feel a sadness in me as the books of my childhood leave me. When I turned 11, for that birthday I went to see the first movie with my friends. From the beginning I was blown away. The books I was reading were coming to life on screen. I was growing up with Harry as a constant friend. They were all my friends I would return to read and see every year. I, like everyone else my age, wished we were wizards. (Or had crushes on Emma Watson.) We wished we had the adventures of Ron, Harry, and Hermione. And now that it’s over, now that Voldemort has been beaten for good, what is there left to do? Will J.K. Rowling write more on Harry and his children’s lives? Will she be a one trick pony? I hope not. I hope generations to come see Harry Potter and become as bewitched with it as we all did. In its entirety, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows deserves the 10 out of 10. (Separately, Part 1 – 8.8 out of 10, and Part II – 7 out of 10) This magical empire has come to an end, but its the books that will be read and movies seen that will live on forever. In all those Muggles who believe in magic.

Will it continue? What is the future of Harry Potter?


Pirates of the Caribbean: On Decent Tides

So I thought I’d give the last of the Pirates movies a go and I found I wasn’t disappointed. Despite a staggered cast without Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightly, this movie still finds a way to deliver. (I guess they really weren’t that much of a loss. But really, what have they been doing lately?) Johnny Depp has taken up the sword and three-cornered hat again as Jack Sparrow and he doesn’t disappoint. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides picks up with Sparrow’s last excursion on the high seas in pursuit of the Fountain of Youth. And despite the years, this movie is just as good. (Don’t bother with the 3-D.)

So Jack Sparrow has been caught again by the English and it looks like it will be a short drop with a sudden

Cruz and Depp. Match made in Heaven?

stop. But Jack has a plan. He’s back in London for one reason. To discover who’s impersonating him and why. And he does find that out. It’s Angelica, his former love. (Jack Sparrow has many former loves, but I guess that’s beside the point.) He really did love Angelica (Penelope Cruz) and this fact ropes him into her wild adventure. And her wild adventure comes with baggage. Major baggage. Angelica has acquired the help of Blackbeard (Ian McShane), the new Barbosa and ruthless pirate of the sea. Their goal is the Fountain of Youth, and its Blackbeard/Angelica vs the English (plus Barbosa) vs the Spanish Armada vs the one and only Captain Jack Sparrow.

What a wild ride...

And what a thrill ride it is. The chases, the mermaids, the magical island (Florida, I think) and the start of an actual myth that has kept the world searching. It all adds up to an amazing little roller-coaster of action and adventure. I’m sure it’s fine in 3-D, again, it’s just as good in 2-D, and the special effects really shows it. (I expected something with zombies, but I was disappointed.) The mermaid scene is quite cool and all the stunts look top notch. And the acting is what you expect from a Pirates film.

Johnny Depp is classic Jack Sparrow. Penelope Cruz is kind of annoying (I don’t picture a hispanic female pirate would have anything to do with the Pirates movies) but I guess she fulfills her purpose. Geoffrey Rush was amazing as Barbosa, the whole reason I love Pirates of the Caribbean. His witty,

Geoffrey Rush. You show that Jack Sparrow.

devil-may-care attitude and  amazing personality really brings a whole other level to the rapport of the films. Ian McShane (a respectable actor) really leaves something to be desired. I felt as if he was doing his own imitation of Barbosa, and it just wasn’t as good. Sam Claflin plays a small part as some sort of pastor who falls in love with a mermaid. A comment on religion vs magical realism? You tell me. And Richard Griffiths, good old Uncle Vernon of HP, plays a small part as King George.

Rob Marshall (Director of Nine and Chicago… what?) Delivers a good addition to the Pirates franchise. The story is sound and gives another reason for everyone to go to Disney World and have a go on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. And it sure is worth it. If the movies are any attest to the ride and the entity that is Pirates of the Caribbean, you should check this movie out (DVD or in theaters, doesn’t matter.), it’s worth viewing. 7.6 out of 10.


Gulliver’s Travels: Jack Black at His Worse Worst

So there are very few reasons why this movie was at least decent. But the biggest reason this film flopped, straight up, is Jack Black. His atrocious act of not acting is what plain and simple killed this movie. It might’ve had a chance at being a decent children’s film if it had been any other comedic actor. Hell, Paul Rudd (my favorite comedic actor) would’ve made me buy this film before I watched it. It would be more

You suck Jack Black. Period.

entertaining with Cedric the Entertainer. I think this was Jack Black’s attempt to make a bit more bank on another terrible children’s film. I dread the day that Kung Fu Panda 2 comes out. And that’s soon. Ugh.

Besides Jack Black, there were some decent actors in this film. Jason Segel pulled off a more than decent English accent, which I commend highly. He is, I would say, one out of three actors that made this film okay. (It was only 85 minutes long, but any scene of Jack Black alone was agony.) Emily Blunt

You capture that Princess, Chris O'Dowd. You rule.

was quite beautiful and charming in this film, and, not having seen a lot of her films, this movie didn’t destroy her career. And, most importantly, Chris O’Dowd of The IT Crowd was in this film. He is, quite literally, the backbone of comedy in this film. He had more comedy in his moustache in this film than Jack Black had in his entire, gelatinous body. (And he was 100 times their size.) He was cynical, and always in the position of protagonist, and it worked out great for him. I’ve never seen him in a villainous role, but this was great. He keeps getting better.

Okay, now I should probably fill you in on the plot. Lemuel Gulliver (Jack Black) is a mail room clerk who wants to impress an editor at his work, Darcy (Amanda Peet). In order to do so, he fakes a travel piece, and then travels to the Bermuda Triangle to do a piece on the area. He is sucked into a reverse whirlpool and lands in Lilyput, the island of the small people. There he meets Princess Mary (Emily Blunt), her soon to be husband General Edward (Chris O’Dowd) and her father, King Theodore (Billy Connolly). He’s imprisoned, released, and saves the town with the help of fellow small person and Princess Mary’s true love, Horatio (Jason Segel). And that’s basically it.

Wedgie the shizz out of that waste of time actor.

I give this movie credit for one thing besides the supporting cast. The effects. In whatever way they had Jack Black interact with the small people, it looked spot on realistic. The interactions looked real, I mean. The tiny sets meshed perfectly with the close up shots on the smaller characters and the set uses were interesting. So I give the special effects crew a lot of credit for really creating a backbone for some of the comedy. (i.e. Urine fire) So, accompany that with a great performance from Chris O’Dowd and you have yourself a barely B-rated kid’s comedy. 4.4 out of 10.


Priest: Just as Good as Legion

I’d been waiting quite a while to see this movie with my roommate. Ian and I always get that excited feeling around our college finals when its time to take some time off and go catch a flick. And catch a flick we did. One of the best flicks of the year, if I do say so myself. Priest, another incarnation of Paul Bettany portraying the badass side of himself in real life, but in a movie. Like Legion, Paul Bettany’s character descends from his high throne in order to protect those around him. And this is the way that I like to perceive Paul Bettany. A man of the people. And it must be quite true.

Priest, to put it simply, is the story of a priest. But not any ordinary priest. This particular priest is of an order of priests that

Paul Bettany. He messed up that familiar.

was created for one sole purpose. To eradicate vampires. And not your everyday human-turned  vampires. These vampires are creatures, fearful of  light and hungry for human flesh and blood. And they can only be defeated by the light they fear or priests, the greatest super-weapons on the face of the Earth. And the priests have done this. Now in retirement in the “near future,” these priests roam the streets hated by their fellow humans for representing the state of fear they all once held.

But not is all well. The vampires were placed in “camps” in order to repress any more outbreaks. But they have risen in great numbers to attack the humans once again in their high-walled cities. Led by Black Hat (Karl Urban), these creatures will stop at nothing to kill every human on Earth. So, once Priest’s family has been assaulted and his daughter kidnapped, he must pick up his crosses once again in order to protect those he loves. With the help of Hicks (Cam Gigandet), and a fellow Priestess, (Maggie Q) this rag-tag group of vampire hunters must run against the clock in order to save their world. And do they? Well, please watch it and find out.

Nice tatoo.

Well, let me just say 50% of this movie is top-notch actors. Paul Bettany, it goes without saying. His dramatic, A-rated acting never fails to amaze me, despite whatever role he may take on. (Some of my favorites?: Knight’s Tale, Master and Commander, A Beautiful Mind, and, of course, Legion) And, in my opinion, Paul Bettany always gets better. Maggie Q gives a great supporting role as a fellow Priestess. Despite most of her role being focused on action, she brings a

Maggie Q. Always looks good walking away from an explosion.

dramatic/romantic element to the movie. Karl Urban, for the third time in his career, pulls of an action villain worthy of the movie. And Cam Gigandet, well… he’s just doing his own thing. Not anything special. And Brad Dourif (Wormtongue from Lord of the Rings) makes a surprise appearance as a vampire “cure” seller. All-in-all, Paul Bettany carries the acting load in this film.

Nice save. And nice movie.

The director Scott Stewart, is primarily a special effects guy. Other than Priest, he’s done (surprise) Legion. But his special effects really come out in this film. Probably why they released this in 3-D. But I really feel (although I’ve never read the graphic novel) that this movie does the graphic novel justice. Or I would hope that it did. I really thoroughly enjoy films like this, and I feel there will always be people out there like me that enjoy action films with a new twist. And it’s movies like this that really give me hope for a future of movies that don’t necessarily look promising. So thank you Scott Stewart and thank you Min-Woo Hyung, the creator of Priest, for bringing about what I looked forward to for 5 months. 8.6 out of 10.


Silent Hill: The Movie of the Video Game that Freaked Me Out

This little gem of a horror movie scared me a bit the first time, but watching it again, I find it to be a worthwhile watch. Never having played the video games, I can appreciate the adaptation this game portrayed onscreen, and can understand if anyone was offended by this adaptation. But it really is up to those who see the film and have played the games to decide for themselves.

From what I gather from the films plot line, this is a story about a mother Rose De Silva (Radha Mitchell) searching for her adopted daughter, Sharon (Jodelle Ferland). She comes upon Silent Hill, the run down West Virginia coal town that has become a ghost town. While there, Rose comes upon some disturbing encounters that leads her to discovering the past behind her daughter. Along the way, Rose encounters undead coal miners, pyramid heads (popular cosplays, if I may add), and dead nurses. All of this leads to some comment on religion and you can decide what the end of this movie means to you.

I gotta say though, this movie did freak me out a bit the first time I watched it. The whole idea of the demonic children in Rose’s first encounter was a bit ridiculous. And I do admit that I watched this at 2 in the morning, a poor choice if I ever made one. But this movie really delivers when it comes to the effects. It may be 5 years old, but this movie is a true testament to how special effects and a digitally graphic environment hasn’t really changed all that much over the years. The guts and gore remain about the same in horror movies, if only the slightest bit more real. Otherwise I give this movie based on a video game (hint to where it gets its effects from) a rather solid grade when it comes to its effects.

And, from what I’ve heard from game players, the game experience itself is like a horror movie. Except its gameplay. And you can run away or *scoff* fight. In its similarity to Condemned, this game probably brings it pretty hard in the fright department. I will probably not be playing this game if it delivers the way that Condemned did. That was a fright and a half. Not to mention how, in the game world, you’re experiencing these frights firsthand, with no musical cues. Forget that.

Acting. Not too bad. Radha Mitchell was quite decent in the film as Rose De Silva, Sharon’s mother. I found it quite notable that she has had experience before

Radha Mitchell. Decent

in the horror movie department and I think that lended to an overall great heroine/woman in distress hybrid performance. Sean Bean was a classic Dad on a Mission character as Rose’s husband Christopher. Although he never entered Silent Hill, he provided the back story from beyond the white veil. Deborah Kara Unger was great and quite beautiful as Alessa’s mother, and I think the only problem was attempting to hide her good looks under some sort of old witch outfit in this movie. Another more notable actress was Alice Krige, the South African actress who usually (so far as I know) brings a dramatic performance to her films. And you definitely hate her guts in this film, trust me.

The ending came as a bit of a surprise, so far as how the religion and “survivors” of Silent Hill ties in. But a decent cast and good effects ties together what makes a good, at least one time watch of this film. And then hey, you can go play the video games if the movie sparks your interest to have the poop scared out of you as you play. But who knows what this movie will do for you. I commend five time French director Christophe Gans on his work. It seems this film was right up his alley. So if you want to have a demonic experience (apparently a demonic experience that’s being re-released? in 3-D) check this out. It’s worth at least a cringe. 7.3 out of 10.

Pyramid Heads run train.