Browsing Tag

There should be a special level of hell for adaptation writers. Truthfully there can’t be a harder job in Hollywood that someone who is tasked with taking an existing story, universe, or timeline and adapting it for a feature film. Over the years we’ve seen hits and missing to both extremes, and at times we pleaded Hollywood to give up, but then rays of hope appear like Iron Man or The Dark Knight and our lust for our favorite properties on the big screen is renewed. Then there are films like Wolverine, which is sure to feel the wrath of fanboys and general comic book fans for years to come for basically not caring at all.

Wolverine is a passable action movie if it didn’t include some of host hallowed Marvel mutants this side of Captain America, as a comic book movie the film is terrible throwing caution to the wind the filmmakers, producers, and writers tear down one of the most beloved characters in comic book history and reassemble him, with a few other mutants in a film that should never have been made. Regardless of how you feel about prequels and origin stories, these types of films, if done right, are usually a great way to reconnect with characters created in a great film. Bryan Singer’s X-Men ushered in the new wave of high-budget, well written comic book movies only exemplified by the aforementioned Batman reboot, Spider-Man 2, and the X-Men series’ pinnacle, X2: X-Men United. Sure what Singer did wasn’t totally perfect, and the liberties that he took to modernize the series were also ambushed by the rabid, but his film started a franchise that has been run into the ground. Wolverine is to X-Men as Batman & Robin was to Batman, the fourth film in a franchise that basically murders it just for the hell of it.

The biggest obstacle for Wolverine was to meet up with the original X-Men film, after all, we see Sabertooth, Cyclops, Storm, and Wolverine all again. As the film ends you wonder how Liev Schreiber’s Sabertooth (who looks and acts totally different than Tyler Mane’s in X-Men) basically becomes a pitiful dumb-ass in the course of fifteen years. Here he’s able to sustain direct blasts from Cyclops (or Cyclops’ power, more on that later), jump off a cooling tower at a nuclear power plant and survive yet in X-Men he falls off the statue of liberty, into water, and dies. That’s consistency, look it up. Its like everyone who made this movie didn’t bother to even watch X-Men, even Hugh Jackman, who was IN the movie, let this pass. Didn’t he think anyone and everyone would call him out on this stuff? Lets not even get nitpicky with stuff like adamantium bullets, how Wolverine can heal his metal skull, how Stryker knew that Wolverine would survive a bullet to the head, but his memories wouldn’t, how Deadpool can have full swords in his arms, and still bend them.

While we’re on the subject, why did they even include Deadpool, or Wraith, or Gambit, or Silverfox, or Blob or anyone besides Wolverine? Each of the aforementioned gets about 10 minutes of screen time total, with the exception of Silverfox, and one of the biggest hyped additions was Reynolds as Wade Wilson, who basically has one scene and doesn’t even play Deadpool when he’s created. Each of the above characters is mutilated to the point they’re almost beyond recognition.

There’s just so much wrong with the film that it would take pages to explain just how terrible it is, how clearly and utterly pissed off a lot of people are, and should be, after viewing this train wreck. There was no care and no love put into this film, and the few good parts are marred by everything that’s bad. This film is a testament to what’s wrong with modern comic book filmmaking to the point where X-Men: The Last Stand starts to look like Citizen Kane.

What Max Payne does right via the video game source material, and there’s very little, it does great, but when it strays too far off course and tries to reinvent the decade old mythology of the acclaimed Rockstar Games series, it falls virtually flat.

Fans of the video games are not going to be happy with this movie in any capacity, there just isn’t enough left of the original story, which, itself was based on the detective noir classics of the 1940’s and 1950’s. Characters have been removed, plot points have been changed, and while Max Payne escapes the virtual disembowelment that was Hitman, it still is unfaithful to its core audience and mediocre to the general public, another missed opportunity in a long run of missed opportunities.

The film centers around Max Payne, a cold case desk jockey looking for the men who killed his wife and baby girl. While in the games Max goes to work for the DEA after immediately learning about the drug Valkyr, here it takes a better part of the movie for him to discover the circumstances behind his wife’s death and the connection to Aesir Pharmaceuticals. There’s a deeper conspiracy (of course) involving double crosses, a mercenary for hire in Mona Sax (Mila Kunis), and the discrediting of Payne himself. Gone missing are the entire “secret society” subplot with government’s involvement in bringing down Aesir and using Payne to do it for them. Sure there’s a tease at the end of the film for a sequel, but anything they include should have been included here in order to move on to the much superior story following Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne.

Generally Mark Walberg portrays the titular hero with ease and his general disdain for anyone and everyone comes across faithfully to the gruff graphic novel counterpart we see in the series. The dramatically underused Kunis in the role of Mona Sax is going to have the most fan uproar with the character being relegated to a backup character that is never put in the moral dilemma in which to kill Payne (in the game she refuses and is “killed” for her betrayal to her employers). Alex Balder (Donal Logue) survives the translation but is disposed of almost immediately (different from the game). The only character the really survives intact is B.B. Hensley (Beau Bridges) but by the time he appears on screen you’ve just stopped caring.

As a general movie, forgetting the source material, Max Payne is hardly above average with a general revenge story focusing on one wronged man aiming to take on the world to get to the bottom and put his wife and children to rest. The Punisher did this much better and even that isn’t saying much.

Max Payne will go down as yet another video game property brought to the big screen in such a sloppy manner that no one is going to like the results. How long before Hollywood realizes that to capitalize on the popularity of these games, they need to actually hire someone who has played and loves them to write and direct?

More so than its predecessor, Hellboy II: The Golden Army is an arresting visual experience with a loose story centered on the titular character and the army of paranormal investigators at the BRPD. The influence of Guillermo del Toro on the franchise, lifted from the pages of Dark Horse comics, has brought it to a more mainstream audience and amplified what it is to be different. The original film was a modest success for Sony and the ailing Revolution Studios, after passing on the sequel, Universal picked up the rights and brings us one of the top comic book movies of the year, so far.

Hellboy II manages to surpass its original installment, something that’s not easy to do, but becoming more common recently, in nearly all aspects. While the plot is still a prime excuse to link together fight scenes, the background story still has some muster and a mythological base treats fans of two different genres.

Long ago an elf king commissioned goblins to create an indestructible army commanded by a crown. The Golden Army was so destructive and indestructible that it nearly annihilated all of mankind and led to a truce between the two parties, the humans taking the cities, the elves taking the forests. While most of the elf population took this truce to heart for each generation, the king’s son Price Nuada (Luke Goss) drifted into exile only to turn up in the present day with the urge to command the army for himself and destroy the humans.

The antagonist is a bit weak, although its hard to top the terrorizing effects of undead Nazi’s from the first film. What really shines here is the character development of Hellboy (Ron Perlman) and Liz (Selma Blair) and their struggling relationship. The writing has been tightened significantly with Perlman delivering one-liners like any leading man and making them count. Both Liz and Abe (Doug Jones) receive expanded parts in relation to the original, new character Johann Kraus (voiced by Seth MacFarlane) really brings a bit of freshness to the film.

The film also maintains aspects of the comic book’s back-story and mythology including more and more allusions that Hellboy will be the destructor of our world, and when the pregnant Liz hears this as a choice between Hellboy living and dying she understandably choices his life over, what may be, everyone else’s. While a common theme of the character, del Toro again tries to play up the fact that the world will never accept Hellboy, even when he, Abe, and the BRPD are ousted into the public eye. The red-skinned one once again contemplates his position within human society and if he can ever survive and be accepted.

Perlman loses himself in the role and makes the doubters who initially opposed him for the role eat a good sized helping of crow as he further evolves the character down new paths. He’s able to make a giant red demon into a humanized character, naïve in relationships, and sticking it to authority figures much to the dismay of his overseer Manning (Jeffrey Tambor).

As mentioned previously, the visual imagery of the film is stunning with some major holdovers from del Toro’s Oscar-nominated Pan’s Labyrinth including the creepy, yet enticing Angel of Death near the climax of the film. The battle between our heroes and the Golden Army is also very well choreographed and a visual masterpiece.

When it’s all said and done, the Hellboy series continues on its high road (as long as we don’t count videogames) and manages to outdo the original film in a planned trilogy in nearly every category from writing to action to character development. One can only hope that the next film capitalizes on this one’s success and high points and continues to climb upwards.

Completely thrust the abomination of Ang Lee’s 2003 Hulk film from your mind, and if you aren’t able to, viewing Louis Leterrier’s 2008 version of The Incredible Hulk will certainly do it for you. Whether or not you are teetering on the ragged edge if this film inherits anything from its predecessor, be rest assured that this cinematic version of the Hulk character is infinitely better in every way. Fans of the comic book and TV show will be instantly drawn in to a modern, faithful telling of the superhero and his origins complete with nods, nostalgia, and a sad piano number.

The movie does right by not changing the origins of The Incredible Hulk too much, even going so far as to replicate scenes from the TV show, including the chair Bruce Banner (Edward Norton) experiences his accident in, and the film doesn’t spend more than a credit montage summing it all up. Unlike Iron Man, who isn’t instantly known to the common graphic novel aficionado, The Hulk is immediately identifiable and many know about the character, because you “wouldn’t like him when he’s angry.”

What the film does well is present itself as both a serious take on the character, but not brooding and emo like Lee’s version and Eric Bana’s portrayal of the titular character. Lee’s vision loved the change, whereas Norton’s wants to be rid of the green menace once and for all, to return to the love of his life Betty Ross (Liv Tyler) and return to a normal life. The film is a true reboot, maybe one of the quickest in modern times, or ever, for a series left languishing in obscurity by fans and novices alike. Here the Hulk is a more realistic nine foot, muscular beast, and while the CGI is a bit loose at times, the film is never hampered by this.


The nods for fans are frequent including the aforementioned sad piano theme from the TV show (which Marvel went out and purchased the rights for), there’s references to Bill Bixby, an appearance by Lou Ferrigno (who also provides the voice of The Hulk), hitchhiking, and the world’s worst secret cameo, Tony Stark talking about a team he’s putting together. Even future villains are set up providing enough material for a trilogy of movies, perhaps culminating in an Avengers super movie?

The story itself is lean and mean, after some initial setup in Central America, where Banner has retreated to escape General Ross (William Hurt), we’re taken directly into the action as Ross enlists Emil Blonsky (the ever capable Tim Roth) and eventually once again begins super soldier experimentation eventually culminating in the creation of Abomination and the film’s one-two punch of a climax.


The Incredible Hulk isn’t a perfect movie, and stands in the shadow clearly cast by the release of Iron Man and the looming of The Dark Knight, but as a series reboot with a clear direction and influence from the source material that made the character famous in the first place, the direction of the film couldn’t be more true than it is and it couldn’t be any more entertaining in the popcorn summer season.

With the history surrounding Speed Racer, and the craftsmanship employed by the Wachowski Brother’s one would expect the final product of a feature film version of the classic anime series to completely blow the audience away. However, at the end of the two-plus-hour-film all you are likely to remember is the remarkable race scenes and how you’re likely to skip over just about everything else when the film hits DVD later this summer.


Speed Racer is a kid’s film at its core with bright colors, ADD inspired action, a rather dull and mundane story to follow and enough sugary sweet fluff to over-bloat the film by 45 minutes. At a long in the tooth two hours and fifteen minutes most kids will find themselves bored in the second act just before the amazing racing scenes at the end of the film. There’s enough here to drag your interest along for the full runtime, but newcomers to the series might find themselves checking their watch every few minutes.

As stated before, the writing is sub par at best, catering to the children mentality the film is designed for, but whereas other “children’s” films like Pixar’s stable state and a majority of Dreamworks’ work have subtleties that only adults can pick up on, Racer is a straight shooter, never giving the older demographic anything to decode.


The casting is probably the strongest aspect of the film with the highlight being John Goodman as Pops Racer. Emile Hirsch as Speed Racer does an admirable job in the roll after his breakthrough in The Girl Next Door and dramatic turn in Alpha Dog. Matthew Fox (Racer X) also provides an admirable performance although he isn’t in the film for a good amount of time and fans of the series may be troubled as to the modifications to his origin from the original series, although the Wachowski’s wisely correct any creative freedoms they may have attempted before the film is over.


Overall there’s just too much going against the film for it to really breakout into a hit. Its story is too simplified for such a long running time, the seizure inducing visuals are pure eye candy, but lend no substance to the film, and aside from the races, there isn’t a whole lot to come back and see again, even packed with special features on the upcoming home release. Speed Racer is crafted for the fanboy and the newcomer, yet seems to disappoint both groups equally. While a sequel is not very likely, one can only hope a little more time and money is spent to keep the film interesting between the fabulous races.

With so much marketing and promise going into it, Hitman fails to break the game to movie curse by relinquishing most of what made the gaming series unique and intriguing instead turning it into another run of the mill, guns akimbo, shooting fest that has the flavor of the Transporter with only a fraction of the fun.


Hitman‘s main protagonist, Agent 47 (Timothy Olyphant), has been one of the most interesting leading men in video games with is dark black suit, signature red tie, and dual Silverballer weapons, the bald assassin had style and was interesting in all aspects. The game series’ storyline was also one of the more intriguing elements of the whole package with a genetically engineered assassin working for a secretive agency which adds layers to the fold as the series continues. The movie is a 2D extrapolation of this with only 47 and his handler Diana surviving. The script for the film shuns any real influence from the game series, instead placing Agent 47 into a Russian political controversy complete with a witness who knows too much and a compassionate hero who kills, but still has a heart.

There’s just so much cliché elements to the story that it becomes weighted down by its own lunacy as the picture wears on. The story is loose as best, and seems to only want to string together gun fight after gun fight. Yet, where movies like Shoot ‘em Up did this correctly, leaving story by the wayside and going strictly for testosterone fueled mayhem, Hitman just can’t leave behind its fractured narrative, which is a real shame because the game series has a unique and sometimes involving crux to stand on in the storytelling department. This should come as no surprise, however, from the man who wrote the similarly shallow Swordfish.

Olyphant, a personal favorite for his work on HBO’s Deadwood, seems uncomfortable in the role originally intended for Vin Diesel. His action comes off as wooden, although this could be attributed to the character. He spends the entire movie hauling around Nika (Olga Kurylenko) a prostitute who has been marked for death who was only saved by 47’s realization that he was set up to kill her. This all boils back into the political espionage plotline that is never really developed and turns into more of a joke than anything else as the story goes on.

Throughout the film 47 is pursued by Interpol and the Russian secret service, one hoping to capture him, the latter hoping to kill him to cover up their dark secret. All that really matters here for fans of the game is that the original storyline does nothing to really introduce us to the title character, nor inherit anything worthwhile from the game series even though the marketing of the film would lead you down that path. No where in the running time does it explain how 47 is “protected by divinity” and even through a series of flashbacks and a few fleeting lines of dialog do you even know how he came to be. A simple origin story, and the early missions would have been a great movie if done right, instead, this is what we get.

Hitman is yet another failed attempt to successfully create a mass-market video game movie while keeping the fans happy and the consumers buying tickets. Maybe one day a movie based on a game will be made where the source material is used more liberally, and the constructive story that’s been created over an entire console generation is not ignored. As it stands the film is a splattered mess of idiotic proportions and failed opportunities, yet another notch on the bedpost of mediocrity.

The most eagerly anticipated film of the summer is finally here, the long in gestation Transformers film came to the big screen never shying away from the controversy fans bestowed upon it. The choice of Autobots and Decepticons to be included was derided from day one by Generation 1 fans who wanted Soundwave included in the film, or Megatron to transform into his original pistol form, or Bumblebee to remain a VW Beetle. The list goes on of what people wanted to see in the film, but without actually seeing it, could they really be disappointed?

The question still remains open, but after seeing Transformers for the first of many times, and after reading the quotes, listening to the sound bites, analyzing the trailers one thing is entirely certain, Michael Bay knows how to do action movies, and Transformers is both his greatest film and a nostalgic fanboys dream come true.


The gigantic robots, who started life as a toyline and a comic book in the mid-1980’s, come to the big screen in a very big way. From the moment we see Bumblebee transform for the first time, to the triumphant battle between Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen) and Megatron (Hugo Weaving) your eyes are left in wonder at the spectacle before you. Transformers may be one of the single greatest achievements in visual effects on par with WETA Digital’s work on the Lord of the Rings trilogy and King Kong (2005). The robots’ new look is sure to cause even more controversy, but by aiming for the “scientific aspect” of the transforming process ILM and the producers have captured each character’s distinct look while making the way they transform as practical as it can be for a 40-foot robot to transform into a mid-size sports car.

As a movie Transformers is a flawed film, there’s not much to the story that finds Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) buying Bumblebee at a car dealership and eventually unraveling into a plot to obtain the location of the All Spark Cube which crashed on Earth thousands of years ago. Its all really lip service to string together the thin storyline with epic battles pitting man against machine and, more impressively, machine against machine.

The most surprising aspect of the film is its focus on the humans more than the namesake robots, but in the end it doesn’t matter too much. Megatron has a criminally little amount of screen time, never appearing until the film’s climax, but his battle with Optimus Prime and his characteristic disregard for life (robot or human) make up for any shortcomings. Even Megatron’s single line of banter to Starscream about failing his mission makes any fan feel right at home.


The filmmakers certainly know where the series has been and what the fans expect. Throughout the two-and-a-half hour running time there’s in-jokes, self-referential quips, and classic lines reborn for a new generation. The biggest standout is the casting of Peter Cullen to reprise his iconic role as the voice of Optimus Prime. From the moment he declares, “My name is Optimus Prime…” you know the film has you, no matter how bad you think it might be, in the end, that bit of fan-service was a major turning point in your opinion of the film.

Not enough can be said about Industrial Light and Magic’s work, its Oscar worthy stuff bringing the boxy animated toys from the 1980’s and infusing new life, ideas, and artistic care into them in an effort to modernize them for generations who both grew up on the series, and are being introduced to it for the first time.


Transformers as an experience is unrivaled by anything at the box office this year, it’s the epitome of popcorn pleasure with large set pieces, even larger robots doing battle on those sets, and a fan base who will wait four hours in line the day before the official opening date to be one of the many to see a semi-truck transform into a hero. There’s going to be things written about how the story won’t stand up, or how it’s all just eye candy and lip service to fans with disposable income, but as one of those fans, Transformers was so much more than a nostalgic $9 trip down memory lane. It’s the movie going experience of a theater packed with fans, decked out in T-Shirts bearing the familiar Autobot logo, and cheering the very first time that red and blue Peterbilt appears on screen with the ever familiar and soothing voice.

Transformers is an experience like no other, and until the inevitable sequel, we may not see one like it again.

Warning this review contains plot spoilers.

Almost like a loosely written comedy, the writers and producers of Spider-Man 3 choose to include as much material as possible gathered from the comic books, throw it at the wall, and see what stuck with the audience. All we are treated to in the end is an entertaining, albeit unfocused comic book film which tries to cram too much into its 145 minute runtime and doesn’t leave you feeling with the sense of conclusion you were hoping for.

If one was to gather any indication of a film’s quality from its first trailer we should have seen this coming, Spidey 3‘s initial teaser was a jumbled, underwhelming mess that certainly didn’t promote the biggest adventure for the web-slinger on the big screen.

It isn’t that Spider-Man 3 is a bad film; it just tries to do too much. In the span of two-and-a-half-hours we see the origin story for Sandman, the Venom symbiote crash to Earth and “infect” Peter Parker, a love triangle between Parker, Mary Jane and Gwen Stacy, Harry Osborne go from bad, to good, pretending to be good but still bad, then good again, Eddie Brock becoming Venom, and it just goes on and on. In an industry where many time critics complain about a lack of plot, this film goes into the opposite spectrum and tries to give too much to the fans.

Sure there will be fanboys all around who are practically drooling for another chance to see the black-suited Spider-Man toll around New York, or Venom appear on the big screen, but there was so much that could have been excised from the final cut of Sam Raimi’s picture that there’s almost two movie’s worth of material here. Even with all the plot thrown in here the Sandman character feels completely unnecessary, and his inclusion seems more as a way to take the focus away from Venom and Harry’s follow-in-your-father’s-footsteps-brooding.

It was nice to see how the black suit affected Parker, but his over-the-top emo look (ripped straight from an AFI concert) was a bit over the top, and his “jazz” routine near the end of the film’s second act is more of a distraction than really relating to anything pertinent.

The best part of the film is actually the short cameo by cult-actor Bruce Campbell, this time as a French maître d’ who steals each and every scene he’s in.

Spider-Man 3 is going to make a lot of people happy, it’s an entertaining film that puts the web-crawler on the big screen to finish up an initial trilogy, but like the original Star Wars trilogy, the third installment ends up being the big disappointment after a spectacular second chapter. After it’s all said and done, you’ll see the film again and again because its pure Hollywood popcorn, but you won’t come away from the movie like you did the first and second installments with a huge anticipation of the next chapter in the back of your mind. After Spider-Man 3’s credits wrap, you can honestly say, you don’t mind if they make another one or not.

Page 1 of 61234...Last »