Independence Day: Resurgence

It’s been 20 years since the aliens launch their assault on planet earth, only to find a unified humanity with the help of a great speech from the President. Now they are back and with vengeance in their plans. Earth, with a much further along technological advancements thanks to alien technology, has prepared themselves for possible alien threats. Bringing back a few fan favorites like the president and my personal, and probably the film’s saving grace, Jeff Goldblum along with a new young group of heroes in Liam Hemsworth and Jessie Usher who plays Dylon Hiller, the son of Steven Hiller played by Will Smith.
ID:R is a pretty much the typical sci-fi sequel. The plot runs in the same vein as the first one and there’s very little character development. The main focus, as it seems with all of Roland’s film, is the amount of destruction that is wrought onto the big screen. As Doctor Levinson quips, “They always go after the landmarks.”
What made the first one a great summer blockbuster even with its thin plot and little character development was that we were given characters with charisma that can entertain the crowd. Will Smith had that and the rest of the cast fed off of it. Here, not so much. Acting veterans Jeff Goldblum and Bill Pullman worked with what they could. Also, what made the first one works is that there was a sense of believability. The aliens came in our timeframe (the 90s) and we had to fight back with what we had. With our military knowledge technology of the late 90s. This movie brought us to 20 years of learning alien tech advancing our human race to a level of advancement that becomes almost unbelievable. Which makes it harder to escape into a thin plot story.
The special effects are done extremely well. The aliens look creepily as ever, even though they went full cgi as opposed to some practical effects like the original.
If you are into just a popcorn special effects driven thrill, then “bang for your buck” ID:R is the movie to see on the big screen, at least in my honest Noble opinion.

 

Featured image courtesy of Fox Pictures.

Director Spotlight: Roland Emmerich

This weekend we have a release of Independence Day: Resurgence, set 20 years after the original. Which was exactly 20 years since the release. I’m not sure if I’ll find time to squeeze in the world annihilation popcorn flick of the summer this weekend so we’ll see if I’ll have a review out by the end of the weekend.
Every director has some signature features that every one of their movies have. A few months ago I did an expose on Michael Bay. There’s a lot of similarities between Emmerich and Bay, most noticeably is the amount of explosions and special effects driven destruction. (By the way. I’m literally writing this while I’m watching 2012.)
Emmerich loves to destroy landmarks in his films. “Disaster porn” is what has been dubbed when it comes to Emmerich’s work. Independence Day has a very famous white house destruction scene that is even used in other movies. Even Godzilla, had specific scenes of destroying key New York City landmarks. As I’m watching 2012, I’m reminded on how much destruction that Emmerich unleashes onto the screen. He doesn’t hold back. And honestly, I expect nothing less. Below is a short list of films directed(that I have currently seen) and is probably most known for. The percentage is the critics rating according to the tomatometer.

Independence Day (1996) – 61%
Synopsis – The aliens are coming and their goal is to invade and destroy Earth. Fighting superior technology, mankind’s best weapon is the will to survive.

Of course, this is probably Roland’s most popular movie. That riveting speech from the President before launching an assault on the alien warships will always be one of the best president speeches to grace the big screen. And who can forget Will Smith’s charismatic performance and punching an alien in the face then greeting him with the iconic line, “Welcome to earth”. Not only that, probably one of the most memorable part of the film is the destruction sequence that the aliens unleash onto the major cities like New York, L.A, and D.C. I still think that dog should have been dead. Independence Day will always be one of the best summer blockbuster thrills.

The Patriot (2000) – 61%
Synopsis – Denny Gibbons, a peaceful farmer Benjamin Martin is driven to lead the Colonial Militia during the American Revolution when a sadistic British officer murders his son.

This would be Roland’s highest critic rated film, and I believe its historically inaccurate in most if not all of its aspects. It’s been awhile since I’ve seen this. What I remember most is Mel Gibson taking down a group of men with an ax, that epic slow-mo scene of the guy trying to erect an American flag when everything is exploding around him, and when that cannon ball taking out the one fella’s leg. All that pretty much says how I felt about that movie.

Godzilla (1998) – 16%
Synopsis – A giant, reptilian monster has surfaces, leaving destruction in its wake. To stop this monster (and it’s babies), an earthworm scientist, his reporter ex-girlfriend, and other unlikely heroes team up to save their city.

I remember when this came out in theaters, I begged and begged for my dad to take me to see it. By the time he time he caved, it was pulled out of theaters and instead we saw Michael Bay’s Armageddon. I did end up seeing it when it came out for rental and as a kid, i really enjoyed it. Nevermind, that the giant lizard look nothing like the original Japanese monster. I watched it again a few months ago, and never realized how cheesy it was. For what it’s worth, a giant lizard tearing up New York makes for a fun popcorn flick, but I wouldn’t call it Godzilla.

The Day After Tomorrow (2004) – 45%
Synopsis – Jack Hall, paleoclimatologist, must make a daring trek across America to reach his son, trapped in the cross-hairs of a sudden international storm which plunges the planet into a new Ice Age.

New York gets all the spotlight when it comes to Roland’s disaster flicks. This time, New York gets hit with a tsunami then blasted with an ice age temperature that kills almost instantly if someone wasn’t near a heat source. Except for those random wolves that show up when the students, for whatever reasons, had to go to the big ship that was left onto the streets of New York after the tsunami pulled away.

Stargate (1994)- 48%
Synopsis – An interstellar teleportation device, found in Egypt, leads to a planet with humans resembling ancient Egyptians who worship the god Ra.

Stargate was one of those films that wouldn’t be classified in Roland’s disaster line, but more along the lines of an original cult classic for the sci-fi genre. It spawned a long running series Stargate SG-1 with a few direct to video movies and tv spinoffs. The original movie starring Kurt Russell nearing the end of his prime, although recently he has returned to co-starring in films like Tarantino’s Hateful Eight and the recent Furious 8. Now, we know that there will be a reboot to the franchise, but what’s interesting is Emmerich will be rebooting his own movie.

White House Down (2013) – 51%
Synopsis- While on a tour of the White House with his young daughter, a Capitol policeman springs into action to save his child and protect the president from a heavily armed group of paramilitary invaders.

I get this one confused often with Olympus has Fallen which was released a few months earlier. The premise is pretty much the same. Though, this one may be a little less serious with Channing Tatum than Gerald Butler. Also Jamie Foxx was a better livelier president than Aaron Eckhart was, but that’s just my opinion. The destruction I believe was more catastrophic in Olympus with the Washington monument taken out, but the same time White House Down had obliterated Air Force One. If anything Olympus was rated R, so there was a higher on-screen body count.

10,000 B.C. (2008)- 8%
Synopsis – A prehistoric epic that follows a young mammoth hunter’s journey through uncharted territory to secure the future of his tribe.

When the trailer came out, I thought this movie was going to be so cool. Man, was I wrong. Sorry if you happen to like this movie, but I thought it was a major disappointment. The only highlight was the opening mammoth chase sequence. Then everything went downhill fast. I still remember being hugely let down with the fight with the sabretooth. Maybe someday soon in the near future, someone will come up with a better script and pitch a movie set in the prehistoric era.

Universal Soldier (1992)- 19%
Synopsis – Private Luc Deveraux and his sadistic sergeant, Andrew Scott, got killed in Vietnam. The army uses their bodies for a secret project – reanimating dead soldiers as deadly obedient cyborgs. However, their memories come back too.

I remember seeing this when I was a little kid, and all I remember is that it stars Jean Claude Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren. I may need to revisit this film. I’m aware that there has been sequels to this film, so there is some merit.

2012 (2009) – 39%
Synopsis – A frustrated writer struggles to keep his family alive when a series of global catastrophes threatens to annihilate mankind.

The one thing I couldn’t shake while watching this movie is how damn lucky John Cusack’s character and his character’s family is throughout the whole movie. The way they managed to escape every single falling debris, ground splitting open, outrunning flaming clouds and tsunamis that literally covered mountains is beyond me. When he was getting his family out of LA, I laughed about half way through that sequence because there’s no way anyone would have driven out of that catastrophic disaster. But alas, we wouldn’t have our protagonist had he and his family not survive. I felt like 2012 was Emmerich pushing the limit on just how much destruction he can fit into one movie and see how the audience responds.
There you have it, a look into Roland Emmerich and his movies. Last but not least, Emmerich has pitched a movie idea which seems be gaining interest called Moonfall, which is exactly what it sounds like. Coming very soon is the review for the latest film, Independence Day: Resurgence.

Featured Image courtesy of Fox Pictures.

Finding Dory

After 13 years since Pixar’s stunningly beautiful animated tale of a deep ocean adventure, Finding Nemo , I’m sitting in the theater seats staring down every toddler and adolescents hoping and pleading that they won’t bedistracting to a long-awaited sequel. Thankfully, at least to my knowledge, they were well-behaved. Finding Dory takes us a year after the daunting rescue across the ocean to find the son, Nemo, of a clown fish named Marlin. The world fell in love with an unforgettable blue tang fish with a severe short-term memory named Dory, voiced by Ellen DeGeneres. This time around, Dory, goes in searching for her lost parents.
Whereas Finding Nemo was all about the journey, Dory was more about the destination. The movie spent most of its time already at the location site of where Dory’s family may be, a marine rehabilitation facility. We meet several new and vibrant characters that helps Dory along the way. Hank the Octopus (Septopus), Destiny the near-sighted whale shark, Bailey the beluga whale, and a few others. There’s some great laughs from these characters as they help Dory navigate around the marine sanctuary.
One of Pixar’s many strengths is the incredibly stunning animation and extreme attention to details. Every frame, it seems, is taken with intricate care.
Another major strength is what brings Pixar several best animated feature wins at the academy and occasionally a nomination for best picture, which is the story. Being able to tackle real human issues and thrust them into an imaginative story (like last year’s Inside Out) and evoke conversations about how we as humans can relate with one another in the midst of whatever issue is presented is a powerful thing. With Finding Dory, the underlying heart is mental disorders and that is shown through Dory’s short-term memory loss.
I do have to say that even though Pixar has usually manage to evoke a tear or two out of me, (Inside Out nearly had me bawling) Finding Dory didn’t achieve that goal. Not that there weren’t emotional moments because there certainly were. I guess I came emotionally prepared. In my honest Noble opinion, Finding Dory is another great addition to an already impressive portfolio and well worth the watch, especially for Pixar fans. Be expecting this to be nominated for best animated feature in the next Academy Awards.

 

Featured image courtesy of Disney and Pixar.

Central Intelligence

Had it not been for Kevin Hart comedic chop and Dwayne the Rock Johnson huge charisma, this movie would be a forgettable action comedy. Hart actually toned down his comedic side to give the boost to the Rock who again shows why he’s the king of summer blockbusters. What makes Central Intelligence work is the chemistry between the two thus giving the audience some huge laughs. I laughed pretty much through the whole thing. It’s a comedy and that is ultimately what you will get. The over arching storyline is pretty much by the numbers, but the focus remains on the 2 leads. Hart settles down into a straight man type role but still goes into his fast talking comedian shtick while Johnson fully commits to his role of CIA agent while poking fun at himself. There’s a strong anti bullying message that resonates through the movie as well. In my honest Noble opinion, this is the summer blockbuster comedy worth seeing on the big screen.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows

I cringed when I heard the announcement of the sequel to the previous TMNT live action reboot which was a disaster to critics including myself, but a box office success. I have to give credit to Michael Bay, the man understands the formula to creating a box office success. Look at the numbers for the last (incredibly painful) Transformers. And yes, I know Bay didn’t direct the Turtles movie, but both the last one and the new one are littered with Bay’s signatures or as I call them Bayism. I actually wrote a blog on all the typical Bayisms of the Michael Bay films.

Yes, back to the Turtles. Out of the Shadows is actually a lighter fare in terms of chaotic action sequences. The previous movie had incredibly fast chaotic action that i zoned out a few times and became completely unaware of what was happening. With Out of the Shadows, I managed to be more attentive.

What was nice about this film as opposed to the previous film was that there was more focus (and screen time) with the Turtles than their human counterparts, especially Megan Fox’s April O’Neil. We get to see a deeper character development with each of the brothers without rehashing the same storyline of Ralph’s rebellious nature. There was a strong emphasis on what made them different from each other and how their differences benefits the team.

Shredder comes back not as a freakish robot but badass ninja warlord with his iconic yet darker armor, particularly his helmet. However Shredder is greatly overshadowed by the new villain in the famed Krang, an alien that looks like a chewed up gum with a face that inhabits the belly of a robot. Bay seriously has a robot problem. Also included in the villains department is Rocky and Bebop, henchmen’s of Shredder mutated into a rhino and a warthog. They may seem a bit ridiculous but it is a movie with mutated ninja turtles trained by a mutated rat whom they refer to as their father. However, both of them seem like they came straight out of the saturday morning cartoon. And the same goes for Krang. Joining the turtles is Stephen Amell from CW’s Arrow. I enjoy Arrow and I like Stephen Amell as Oliver Queen/Green Arrow. I did, however, felt Casey Jones was a bit underwhelming.
Aside for a few eye roll moments like when Will Arnett’s character, who is not a fighter at all, slams a Foot Clan soldier, who is a trained assassin, into the wall and knocks him out. Out of the Shadows is a fairly entertaining film, in my Honest Noble opinion. It’s worth seeing on the big screen, just lower your expectations and you’ll have a good time. Especially if you grew up with the Turtles.

 

Featured image courtesy of Paramount Pictures

Warcraft

Video games to movies in Hollywood has a bad track record, with the exception of a few “meh”. Duncun Jones, who has gained some attention through his directorial effort of both critically acclaimed, Moon (which I have not seen) and Source Code (which I have seen and quite enjoyed), was hoping to break that record and create a viable franchise. Upon the release of this news, I came into this movie with a bit of hope because I’m a big fan of fantasy movies, especially The Lord of the Rings. With the slight disappointment of the extremely bloated prequel of the Hobbit, I had high hopes for Warcraft. Maybe a little too high.
One of the things that Warcraft does well is creating incredibly stunning visuals. The amount of time they spent on polishing the CGI pays off really well. And with it gave a glimpse as to what World of Warcraft is all about. What the movie struggles in is story and character development. We jump from scene to scene with minor details as to who the characters are and we are left with little concern for the heroes as they fight against the orc army.
Now, I don’t believe Duncan Jones has broken the record of bad video game movies, but judging by the box office being smashed in China, we can probably expect sequels in the coming years. I really believe if the amount of attention given to the visuals would be the same to creating the story, we could have a huge hit. Warcraft is rich with potential.
I have only played the game World of Warcraft for about a month nearly 10 years ago through a free trial period. And while I enjoyed the world, the creatures, the species, armors and weapons, etc., playing the game was frustrating because all I did was die and have my stuff looted from me. Apparently, you need friends and people to play along side with to help you gain experience to strengthen the characters you create and I came in as a lone wolf, an inexperienced, unequipped, weak wolf. I digress. In my honest Noble opinion, Warcraft isn’t the worst video game movie, but it could use a lot of work, especially with the potential of being a huge franchise.

 

Featured image courtesy of Legendary Pictures.