Franchise Weekend – Kung Fu Panda (2008)

Director: Mark Osborne, John Stevenson

Writer: Jonathan Aibel, Glenn Berger (Screenplay) Cyrus Voris, Ethan Reiff (Story)

Starring: (Voice Talents) Jack Black, Dustin Hoffman, Angelina Jolie, Ian McShane, Jackie Chan, Seth Rogen, Lucy Liu

 

Plot: The Dragon Warrior has to clash against the savage Tai Lung as China’s fate hangs in the balance: However, the Dragon Warrior mantle is supposedly mistaken to be bestowed upon an obese panda who is a tyro in martial arts.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Enjoyable Family Film

 

Story: Kung Fu Panda starts as panda Po dreams of being a martial arts warrior joining the furious five Tigress, Monkey, Mantis, Viper and Crane. All trained under their master Shifu but when Tai Lung escapes from prison, Shifu must accept a new student from the wise Oogway who holds a contest to retrieve the dragon scroll declaring Po as the latest Dragon Warrior.

Po is rejected by Shifu, who pushes him to the limits hoping he will quit, but Po isn’t going to just give up. This gives Shifu a chance to fulfil his destiny of training a dragon warrior to defeat his once greatest warrior Tai Lung before his evil ways take over once again.

 

Thoughts on Kung Fu Panda

 

CharactersPo is a clumsy panda that dreams of leaving his family business and becoming a warrior next to the Furious Five. When he gets picked as the next Dragon Warrior he must overcome his own fears to prove to everyone wrong. Shifu is the master that wants nothing to do with Po but when his best student is coming for what he claims to be his, he must train Po to defeat him. Tai Lung is the former student that grew in darkness which led to him being captured but once he escapes he looks to continue his rampage across the country. The Furious Five are great warriors with their own different strengths and weakness. All the characters do add to the story, we also get the inclusion of the different species which get their trademark moves to defeat opponents in battle.

StoryThe story focuses on an unlikely hero coming from nothing to become the hero in a battle against an evil that will put a former master back on the right path when he searches for the mistake he once made. This all comes off extremely well getting everything you need without making anything complicated for a family audience.

Action/Comedy/FamilyThe action is martial arts sequences you couldn’t pull off in real life movies which gives us no limits to what we could see and also used to add comedy to everything going on, most of the comedy is slapstick which works for the martial arts theme which fits into the family genre without getting too violent or crude with jokes.

SettingsThe settings all look fantastic for everything going on showing where Po comes from and where he could end up once he is fully trained.

AnimationThe animation all looks stunning like you would expect when you see budget this big.

Final ThoughtsThis took a while for me to see but now I have I can say I did enjoy this movie more than I thought.

 

Overall: Enjoyable action family movie.

Rating

 

 

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Franchise Weekend – The Scorpion King: Rise of a Warrior (2008)

Director: Russel Mulcahy

Writer: Randall McCormick (Screenplay) Stephen Sommers (Characters)

Starring: Michael Copon, Randy Couture, Natalie Becker, Karen David, Simon Quarterman, Tom Wu, Andreas Wisniewski

 

Plot: In Ancient Akkad, Mathayus grows up as the proud son of Ashur, a captain in the world-renowned military corps of Black Scorpions, first-rate bodyguards, most of which are sent to courts wide away. By objecting to young Mathayus joining the corps, Ashur incurs the undying enmity of ruthless generalissimo Sargon, gets killed and the orphaned knave is shipped off to a desolate training camp for six years by king Hammurabi’s clemency. When he returns as a Black Scorpio, Sargon has bloodily seized the throne and demands cruel proof of blind loyalty. Mathayus refuses, becoming a chased hero. With youth friends, the resourceful Greek Pollux and various mercenary warriors, he embarks on a daring quest to obtain a legendary sword from Sargon’s magical ally, the war-goddess Astarte.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Re-Writing Mythology Sequel

 

Story: The Scorpion King: Rise of a Warrior starts with an origin story, yay, Mathayus’ father Ashur was part of the elite warriors known as thee Black Scorpions but objects of his son following in his footsteps but after Mathayus finds himself training under the ruthless general Sargon (Couture) making an early enemy within the kingdom. When his father is killed by Sargon, Mathayus has no proof, so he sets out to prove himself by learning the ways of the Black Scorpions, but upon his return Sargon has risen to power.

When Mathayus (Copon) refuses to surround blind loyalty to Sargon, he learns the strength he posses with the dark arts and must train to return to bring down the tyrant Sargon with the help of friends along the way including old friend Layla (David), Ari (Quarterman) and Pollux (Wisniewski) who must first fight against the Minotaur.

 

Thoughts on The Scorpion King: Rise of a Warrior

 

Characters/PerformanceMathayus is the young warrior trained in the art of the Black Scorpion which again goes against everything we have learnt in the first two films. But away from these strange new character developments, he is mostly just a warrior seeking revenge for the murder of his father. Layla is the strong adventurous woman that wants to be a warrior and love interest for Mathayus. Sargon is the deadly warrior who has become king, he has used the dark magic to gain his power and makes for a great opposition for Mathayus.

Performance wise, Copon doesn’t reach the levels we have come to expect from this character with Johnson’s ability in the leading role. Karen David is good in the lead lady role with Couture struggling to make the impact with his villainous role but he can handle the fights well.

StoryLooking at the story, we get a prequel to the prequel that was involving a character from a sequel, yeah it is getting confusing already. This time Mathayus gets trained by the Black Scorpions and works under a king in what is a flat-out revenge adventure action fantasy film. we dive into a mix of mythologies now mixing Greek and Egyptian and a deadlier villain. It works as a one of film but as a sequel it is almost irrelevant.

Action/Adventure The action is plenty of combat scenes which all are fine without being anything special with the adventure being to the underworld and back which does make for a good fantasy side to everything.

SettingsThe settings all look fine but you don’t identify with enough of them for the ancient world.

Special EffectsThe weakest of all here are the special effects that are nearly all awful looking CGI.

Final ThoughtsThis is a fine starter for an action adventure on low budget but as a sequel/prequel it goes in the wrong direction for me.

 

Overall: Easy to watch action adventure.

Rating

 

 

Original v Remake – Let the Right One In (2008)

Director: Tomas Alfredson

Writer: John Ajvide Lindqvist (Screenplay) John Ajvide Lindqvist (Novel)

Starring: Kare Hedebrant, Lina Leandersson, Per Ragnar, Henrik Dahl, Karin Bergquist

 

Plot: Oskar, an overlooked and bullied boy, finds love and revenge through Eli, a beautiful but peculiar girl.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Modern Day Classic

 

Story: Let the Right One In starts as we meet bullied school boy Oskar (Hedebrant) who in secret is looking for a way to fight back against these bullies, he attention is caught when a new family with a young girl Eli (Leandersson) moves in to the same apartment building in the dead of night.

Around this same time Hakan (Ragnar) Eli’s father is seen performing a certain style of murder, draining the blood from his victim. This becomes clear when we see him interrupted leaving Eli having to show her own true colours as she hunts in the dark.

The two meet and become friends, but only at night, when it is safe for Eli to come out but Oskar doesn’t know the truth about Eli yet, so does he know what he is getting himself into with this young vampire? When Eli’s father is taken, she finds herself alone with the only friend in the world Oskar, this brings out the truth and a chance for Oskar to get revenge on all of his bullies.

 

Thoughts on Let the Right One In

 

Characters/PerformanceOskar is the typical lonely school boy who never fits in with the people around him finding himself being bullied by class mates looking for an escape from this world. Eli is also lonely because of the vampire side of her, she desires friendship but the vampire in her prevents that happening. We don’t get too much from the rest of the characters, we have the loyal guardian, the bullies and the neglectful parents.

Kare and Lina are both brilliant in the lead roles making you fully understand the motives they both face, the struggles they are going through and just carry this film effortlessly.

StoryThe story focuses on two different loners that are drawn together to help each other solve their own problems. While there is a deeper look at how a vampire could well struggle in the modern world alone which is a huge draw to this movie, we also get to see how one boy handles being bullied with the extreme measurements. This is a slow-moving story that packs a real punch in the second half and is a much watch for the fans of vampire movies and high school movies.

Horror/RomanceHorror side of this film is in the pure violence involved when it comes to the kills or attacks in the movie. The romance side comes from the two young children falling in love with each other.

SettingsWe are kept in this small Swedish town for this movie which shows it to be a perfect location for a vampire to hide out as well as being a place where someone could feel all alone.

Special EffectsWe only have a few special effects in this movie, which I do feel works to all the levels it needs to in this film to make the terror filled moments work to their full effects.

Final ThoughtsThis will go down as a modern classic in the vampire genre, with the final swimming pool scene easily the iconic scene of the movie.

 

Overall: This is a must watch film for the vampire fans.

Rating

 

 

Movie Reviews 101 Midnight Halloween Horror – The Cottage (2008)

Director: Paul Andrew Williams

Writer: Paul Andrew Williams (Screenplay)

Starring: Andy Serkis, Reece Shearsmith, Jennifer Ellison, Steven O’Donnell, James Bierman

 

Plot: In a remote part of the countryside, a bungled kidnapping turns into a living nightmare for four central characters when they cross paths with a psychopathic farmer and all hell breaks loose.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Fun Horror Comedy

 

Story: The Cottage starts when David (Serkis) and Peter (Shearsmith) have kidnapped Tracey (Ellison) taking her to a remote farmhouse. The two are brother’s looking to make a quick quid with this half assed attempt with the kidnapping.

When everything stars to go wrong it doesn’t take long for a bigger threat to come after the unlikely group who along with Tracey’s step-brother Andrew (O’Donnell) must survive against a deadly psychopathic farmer.

 

Thoughts on The Cottage

 

Characters/PerformanceDavid is the brother with a plan, he wants the money to get away from this life, Peter is filled with panic about the kidnapping not wanting to upset his wife back home. Tracey is the victim who is tougher than both the men involved in the kidnapping.

Performance wise, Andy Serkis is good as the deadpan lead through the film, while Reece Shearsmith is good in what you would expect to be the leading lady, constantly screaming. Jennifer Ellison goes against her type cast of a dumb blonde by being a tough blonde who take nonsense.

StoryWhen looking at the basics of the story it does come down to a kidnapping gone wrong with deadly consequences. It is something we have seen before and it is a good formula for horror comedy so I can’t find anything bad with this aspect of the film, I do also like the surprise that you are left to wonder just who will get killed next with no one being safe.

Comedy/HorrorThe comedy is good in this film we have great chemistry between Peter and David which add to the laughs with their hapless attempt to kidnap Tracey along with the reactions to the killer. The horror is generic to say the least, it is just a disfigured killer trying to kill the main characters in a gore filled way, nothing to fancy.

SettingsHaving the film set on the remote farm comes off well because it shows a good idea for location of the kidnapping as well as a god location for the killer to hunt in.

Special EffectsThe special effects are mostly all practical and all come off very well to add to the extra gore needed for the film.

Final ThoughtsThis is a good horror comedy that doesn’t take any part of the film too serious with over the top kills and colourful characters.

 

Overall: Easy to watch horror comedy.

Rating

 

 

Franchise Weekend – Anaconda: The Offspring (2008)

Director: Don E FauntLeRoy

Writer: Nicholas Davidoff, David C Olson (Screenplay)

Starring: David Hasselhoff, Crystal Allen, Ryan McCluskey, Patrick Regis, Anthony Green, John Rhys-Davies, Alan O’Silva

 

Plot: A mercenary-for-hire accepts a mission from a billionaire to capture a dangerous snake that could possibly help cure a terminal illness.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: No Amount of Alcohol Can Make This Good

 

Story: Anaconda: The Offspring starts with Hammett (Hasselhoff) with his group of mercenaries telling everyone to sit back and enjoy the ride as his men kill a giant anaconda with very annoying cutting between gun, blood, snake, screaming on a rinse repeat idea.

Now back in America Mr Murdoch (Rhys-Davies) the CEO for Wexel Hall has continued the blood orchid experiments to help cure Murdoch’s cancer, but when questions on the methods of the experiment are getting questioned leading to Murdoch looking into the methods. Amanda Hayes (Allen) is the handler of the snake and security is concerned with the safety in the research lab and she is correct when the anaconda escapes.

To contain this situation an elite group of mercenaries are called in to hunt down the anaconda with Hammett needing to return from his own travels to help with the clean-up operation.

 

Thoughts on Anaconda: The Offspring

 

Characters/PerformanceHammett is the master hunter, he will do anything for money and enjoys hunting down the any animal he faces. Amanda has worked with the snakes for the whole research mission and now she is the only one that knows the true danger the snakes possess, she wants to end the project before it gets out of hand. The rest of the characters are generic soldiers, a millionaire and an officer lackey that don’t do much to the film.

Performance wise, well when you cast the Hoff in the leading role you know you won’t get acting gold, the acting isn’t good from anyone in the film.

StoryGenetical enhanced snakes have escaped and need hunting down to save a millionaire’s life, this seems like an easy formula, well it works on the basic level but ends up just being lost of running around shooting trees, I mean snakes. This does try to build on what the last one created though.

Action/Horror The action is mostly guys running around shooting, while the horror is a giant snake trying to kill people, there isn’t anything scary going on here.

SettingsThe setting is back in America but for budget reason it looks like anyone went down to some local woods and ran around with toy guns.

Special EffectsNope.

Final ThoughtsThis feels like an idea to just use the name Anaconda and go full blown we just don’t care anymore.

 

Overall: Just terrible now.

Rating