Movie Review: Iron Man

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Score: 7/10

I recently got access to Disney Plus, which means I now have access to all the Marvel movies. Disney has conveniently laid out of these movies in their intended watching order and I’ve decided to give them all a watch through. First on the list is Iron Man, a movie so successful that it spawned the entirety of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Tony Stark is technological genius. He is the head of Stark Industries, a weapons manufacturer who sells weapons to the United States military. After getting kidnapped by terrorists in the middle east, Tony realizes that his business may cause more harm than good. He then constructs the most technologically advanced weapon on the planet, a high tech suit of armor powered by a nearly limitless power source. With this new weapon, he seeks to rectify the mistakes his company has committed.

Much of what I liked about this movie are the same thing I enjoyed in Sam Raimi’s first Spider-Man movie. It’s the perfect balance of comedy and drama, which is a high dose of comedy with a little drama. The action is very good and the special effects — which were amazing at the time– still hold up surprisingly well.

The main attraction of this movie is Robert Downey Jr., who plays our protagonist Tony Stark. Downey does a great job portraying a charismatic jerk. His dialogue flies fast and loose. Part of that may be because much of film is flying by the seat of its pants. I watched some behind the scenes for this movie and much of the dialogue was not finalized until the day of shooting. Production simply moved too fast to slow down (probably due to financial restraints) and the actors adapted accordingly. Somehow, the dialogue and performances still felt natural and fun, though you can see a little bit of that improvisational energy that you’d see in your local improv troupe.

Overall, this was a fun movie. It doesn’t get too dark like Batman Begins nor does it get too campy like the old Fantastic Four movies. It’s the right balance of funny, action and special effects. Iron Man stands the test of time as an ideal summer blockbuster movie.

Anime Movie Review: KONOSUBA -God’s Blessing On This Wonderful World!- Legend of Crimson

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Score: 7/10

Legend of Crimson is a movie spawned by the fairly popular anime, Konosuba. While I greatly enjoyed this comedy, the movie was somewhat disappointing as it lacked that higher level of animation quality you’d expect from a movie. What’s also sad is that even though the humor is exactly the same here as in the anime series, I didn’t find it as funny. I think I just grew out of this type of humor and don’t enjoy it as much anymore.

Konosuba is an isekai story. Generally in these types of stories, someone from the real world dies and is reborn into another world, usually a fantasy world. That person is usually granted immense power as isekai stories are usually power fantasies. However, this is a comedy and our protagonist is reborn into the new world with almost no power. Now, we get to watch our unfortunate, sleazy protagonist flail about while meeting other oddballs in this new world.

One of the funniest parts of this anime is watching these pathetic characters struggle. Most scenes usually start off with our protagonists confident in their ability to handle the situation. Then the true danger appears and we get to watch our protagonists crumble into a pile of cowardly dust. They play up this scene structure over and over again and mostly, it’s hilarious. It’s almost always funny watching an arrogant character knocked into the shadow realm of humility again and again. Also funny is watching how these characters start off trying to be decent human beings, but once a situation escalates, they degenerate into the vile of characters. The main draw of Konosuba is watching these cowardly, perverse, sleazy characters flail about as the world their in continues to throw them in difficult situations.

My biggest gripe with this movie is the animation. The animation quality is about the same as the anime series, which isn’t terrible. It’s just that you’d expect a movie to up the quality just a bit over an episodic series because a movie is just one big episode. I don’t know how their budgeting and time management went, but the higher quality of animation just isn’t here.

Overall, I enjoyed this movie, but it could’ve been better. Also worth mentioning is that there is a lot of fan service in this show… though some of the fan service is turned around on you into a fairly hilarious joke. I won’t explain it more than that for fear of spoiling the plot.

Movie Review: Soul

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Score: 8.2/10

Pixar has done it again. Soul is the latest classic and masterpiece from those geniuses at Pixar. It is a unique, incredibly creative story about finding your purpose in life, before life and after life.

There will be some spoilers ahead.

Joe is a high school music teacher who dreams of being a successful jazz musician. After getting the gig of his dreams, Joe dies. He goes to the after life and meets 22 a soul who has yet to be born. Together, the two must figure out a way to get Joe back to his body so that his dreams can finally come true.

There’s just so much here that is amazingly unique and creative. Firstly, the portrayal of New York City is incredible. If you’ve ever been inside a New York City public school, you’d recognize that grungy dirtiness in the movie. They also take a lot of real world New York City locations and portray them accurately. I recognized a lot of the streets in the movie, including a more obscure one from Woodside. I think they may have even chosen real world locations for every scene in the movie. But what I love about the portrayal is that it is a noisy, dirty, grungy, accurate portrayal of New York City and that works wonderfully for the narrative. This is a story about appreciating the beauty of life and Pixar does an amazing job of contrasting that noise with narrative moment of clarity and beauty.

The other thing I loved was their portrayal of the afterlife. It is one of the most unique, hilarious, yet universal portrayals of the afterlife I’ve ever seen. The visuals they use are so abstract, spiritual and conceptual, which is exactly what a higher state of being should be. And yet, it is hilarious. It’s one part philosophical and existential, one part played for laughs. The beings that govern the afterlife all look like they walked out of Picasso paintings and behave like something not from this world. And yet, they have English accents. It’s a wonderfully creative balance between high concept and just funny enough to being enjoyable to children. That’s one of the things Pixar has done well historically; they tell stories complex enough for adults, but enjoyable for children as well.

Overall, this movie was fantastic. It’s an instant classic and enjoyable for audiences of all ages. In my opinion this movie easily ranks up there with movies like Coco and Ratatouille.

Movie Review: Train to Busan

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Score: 7/10

This year, Parasite, a Korean movie, won best picture at the Academy Awards. This has predictably invoked greater interest in Korean cinema in the United States. When asking Korean film aficionados what’s another good Korean movie, Train to Busan almost always gets a mention (along with Old Boy, but there some nasty crap going on in there). Train of Busan is a an average zombie movie except that it also combines elements of a bottle episode in that it mostly takes place in a single place: a train.

Train to Busan is about a zombie outbreak in South Korea. A kid and her dad take a train to see the mom when all hell breaks loose. Now, the two and the rest of the passengers must find a way to survive this nightmare of a train ride.

The movie is all right. It can be divided up into a number of set pieces. All of it was entertaining but pretty standard for the zombie movie genre.

Overall, a good zombie flick, but nothing to write home about.

Movie Review: Bedazzled

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Score: 6.6/10

Bedazzled is an old comedy released in 2000 starring Brendan Fraser and Elizabeth Hurley. It’s somewhat charming, but not particularly great. It’s a nice fluff film to keep you entertained on a boring afternoon.

Bedazzled is actually a remake of a film of the same name that was released in 1967. The plot is generally the same. The devil (played by the vivacious Elizabeth Hurley) appears before a lonely loser of a man (played by Brendan Fraser) and offers him seven wishes in return for his soul.

This is basically a Monkey’s Paw type situation. Fraser’s character keeps making wishes and Hurley’s devil character keeps finding ways to mess them up. A lot of these wishes involve scenarios that actually have not aged well, meaning that they played off racial and gender related stereotypes that are arguably insensitive in todays environment which demands more awareness. With that in mind, I still chuckled a little.

I think the most incredible thing is that this was directed by Harold Ramis. Ramis is famous for directing Groundhog Day and for writing a bunch of famous comedies like Ghostbusters and National Lampoon’s Animal House. I feel like a big reason this movie didn’t do so well was simply because the directing could’ve been better and unfortunately, that falls on Ramis. In Ramis’ defense, this movie is decent for its time.

The biggest things I got out of this movie is simply watching Elizabeth Hurley and Brendan Fraser in their prime. Hurley has never been more beautiful and somehow carries the film just by showing up in an impressively large number of attractive outfits. Brendan Fraser is a sight for sore eyes as I grew up enjoying many of his movies. If you didn’t know, Fraser went through a bitter divorce a while back where his ex-wife took almost everything and that pretty much took the sails out of his acting career. In addition, I think he also had some relatively severe injuries from past stunts that didn’t help. It was nice to see him again in a comedy, the genre he was best known for.

Overall, this movie wasn’t great, but was a nice reminder of the movies that came out of the early 2000’s. I’m not sure I’d recommend it, but I did enjoy it for what it was.