BurningStar Studios




Age of Boredom

Category : Reviews · No Comments · by Jun 27th, 2014

hr_Transformers__Age_of_Extinction_41A Film Review of Transformers: Age of Extinction for KC Studio Magazine

Well … that happened. All 165 minutes of it. All two hours and forty five minutes of low quality special effects, horrific dialogue, zero story and ridiculously lame characters of it.

To say Transformers: Age of Extinction is a colossal waste of money, resources and time, is an extreme understatement.

To be fair, I did spend quite a bit of time trying to write a review that would attempt to constructively critique this film. However, with no redeeming qualities, I can’t. Even with films that I find overall unappealing, I can usually describe aspects that I could see people enjoying – but not here. This is bad. Real bad … and not in the “Hey, let’s get together and make fun of it,” kind-of-bad. This is the kind of bad that makes you wonder “what were they thinking?” Showcasing an unbelievably large amount of product placement with a throwaway plot (if you can call it that) that, when finished, you realize has been nothing but fodder to set up another sequel. This film represents everything that is wrong with the big business of making movies. It is taking advantage of consumers. It hangs it’s hat on the nostalgia of adults and the premise of huge robots riding robot dinosaurs and it barely delivers.

This is a failure in storytelling at the highest level.

Everyone involved should be ashamed of themselves. This is not entertainment. This is not even interesting. This is trash. The cost of this film could have educated countries or fed American children for years. The time it took to develop this film could have produced beautiful, inspiring works of man-made ingenuity. The wages the cast and crew earned could have been a paycheck worth being proud of it. But it isn’t. It is not. Under the leadership of director Michael Bay, this is a travesty.

Have I ever made a film? No. Is it difficult? For sure. But this. This should never have been made. Anyone and everyone who signed off on designs, script and/or direction needs to be fired and made to refund audience members for sitting through this drivel.

Do I sound angry? You bet I am. I get to watch movies and tell people what I think as part of my job and the idea of audiences supporting this digital puke has sent me into a downward spiral that clearly puts me the category of internet troll.

I do not care. Transformers: Age of Extinction is the definition of being without quality.

This film is a mess. A horrible unappealing mess. Where the first film was a decent attempt to really make something interesting, something that tried to capture the spirit of the Transformers franchise, this film is the complete opposite. Soulless and uninspired, this film is just not good.

Set after the events of part three, the Transformers are in hiding and being hunted by a special ops division of the CIA. Why? We are told because they are all considered as hostiles after the destruction of Chicago. However, even that premise is up in the air as, at one point, the Chief of Staff requests to have a photoshoot with the President and Optimus Prime. If all the Transformers are hostile – why is the President wanting meet and greet? Who knows. Moving on, just like the subsequent films, this film chooses to stupidly focus on a collection of humans that do not matter. Spouting lines of dialogue that induce mad fits of cringe, this collection of actors and actresses are underdeveloped, cliché and worst of all completely boring. All new to the franchise, they add nothing new and, at times, are nothing but carbon copies of characters seen in prior films. Poorly directed, they spend more times repeating themselves and smacking us in the face with their reasons to be in the film that, by the middle, it becomes laughable. Mark Wahlberg’s character, Cade Yeager (a not too subtle attempt at pulling the Pacific Rim fans – Yeager/Jaeger) states that he is an “inventor” so many times that either he or the writers were in denial and were trying so hard to make it true that had to keep repeating it over and over and over again. The only “fun” character that audiences would even consider caring about is T.J. Miller’s Lucas and he gets thrown away in the first act. I won’t even get into Nicola Peltz’s lame daughter/hot chick character and how obsessed this film is with trying to make her a damsel in distress. Infuriatingly disgusting.

Notice how I’ve barely mentioned the overall story yet? Yeah because it sucks. Amidst all this heavy-handed, tough-guy crap of hunting Transformers, we are made to try and relate to these garbage humans.

I don’t want to waste your time any more, but let’s just say in includes a decapitated Megatron’s evil plot to set off a bomb/tool called “The Seed,” a ton of explosions, more stupid human tricks, bad special effects, very poor editing, disturbingly bad Autobots and possibly one of the biggest product promise let downs in recent history – the Dinobots.

They couldn’t even deliver on that.

Seriously, I want to try and be more constructive but I’ve already wasted enough of my time and yours.

You should not see this movie. You should not wait for it go on DVD or digital download. You should not pay your hard earned money nor should you use your energy to sit through this over-saturated pile of rubbish. Every copy needs to be burned with a public apology issued by Michael Bay.

This film is a failure and under Bay’s leadership this film franchise has been diminished to nothing more than ephemeral idiocy.

I apologize to anyone reading for this review being nothing more than a simple rant. However, this film deserves nothing more.

1 out of 5 Boot Jets That (Spoiler Alert) Send Optimus Prime into Space Thus Showing How Unnecessary Everything That Occurred in This Film Was

Die Another Day

Category : Reviews · No Comments · by Jun 6th, 2014

Edge-of-Tomorrow-Poster

A Film Review of Edge of Tomorrow by Alexander Morales

Pure popcorn munching, soda-fueled adrenaline racing goodness hits movie screens this summer with Edge of Tomorrow, Doug Liman’s latest action/adventure. Featuring money-magnet Tom Cruise partnered with a badass Emily Blunt, this film is perfect viewing on the soon-to-be-sweltering summer days. Visually stunning with a compelling (never boring) story-arc, Edge of Tomorrow does something that most films have failed at lately – blow lots of stuff up and be really loud, while remaining a coherent, interesting time at the movies.

Based on the 2004 novel All You Need is Kill by Hiroshi Sakurazaka, Edge of Tomorrow follows an American soldier caught in a time-loop where, every time he dies, he is made to relive the experience over and over again. Set prior to an all-out strategic offensive to halt an alien invasion, the soldier uses his experiences to become a better warrior and, eventually, learn why he has been blessed/cursed with this ability.

While it will be easy for many people to dismiss this movie as just “Groundhog Day with guns,” the combination of strong direction mixed with excellent visuals and two solid lead performances help it stand alone and hopefully will allow it be praised (and criticized) on it’s own merits. Honestly, I was surprised at how much I actually enjoyed this film. I am a fan of both Cruise and Blunt and I have enjoyed the past films of Liman, but to be honest, I’m just getting tired of watching stuff blow up. As a super-hero geek at heart, that’s a difficult thing to admit, but after watching New York, San Francisco, one of the Hawaiian Islands and Washington D.C. get torn to pieces, the idea of more explosions and debris just seemed like a sensory overload. To be fair … Edge of Tomorrow is that, however, it luckily comes in specific doses which help keep the experience balanced and the story an important part of why the action is occurring.

While Edge of Tomorrow does fall into well known and established Hollywood cliches along its way, the partnership of Cruise and Blunt keep the film from ever going too cheesy. With a strong chemistry and presence, the audience is never disengaged from their combined plot-line and, as the film progresses, the two characters are made to change their relationship in a way that feels seamless, sensible and natural. Cruise is, as always, a dynamic character to watch. Clearly, just as Liman commands the visual aspects of the film, Cruise commands the audience. Charismatic, charming and heroic, at every point in the film you are on his side and you want him to succeed. The same can also be said for Blunt. Presented as the stoic war hero, she quickly shreds a portion of the coldness and makes a stereotypical character into much much more. At the same time, I really appreciate the fact that the film never really allows her to ever become a “damsel in distress.” Too many times, the lead female character falls into this tired trope of needing her heroic male counterpart to save the day. Not here. While there is some softening, she remains the brave, strong, intelligent soldier that she is a presented as start to finish.

Along with the strength of the acting, the visual effects are phenomenal. While not as emotionally draining as Saving Private Ryan, following Cruise into combat was a fantastic rush that continually felt hazardous every time it had to occur. With a grittiness to the overall look of the film, weaponry, set pieces and alien life forms all reside perfectly beside one another. I was fortunate to view this in 3D, and while I am not a fan of the 3D experience, this film uses the technology well and uses it’s special effects to immerse the audiences in the more perilous moments. At the same time, the Mimics – the alien menace – look and move so beautifully that when viewed up close they are glorious. Organically scary, they are far removed from humanoid and are presented in a way that make each and every one of them feel beast-like, unpredictable foes.

However, while there a ton of things this film gets right, there are also a few things that, in my opinion, could have been delivered a little better. There are aspects of the film that feel very forced that essentially “dumbed-down” the experience. One character in particular is used to help explain the phenomenon that Cruise is experiencing and it just feels too convenient. All the details could have been ironed out in a more useful manner with less exposition and more creative storytelling. At the same time, while most of the film is well balanced in terms of action to story, there is a portion of the third act that highly resembles a section of The Matrix: Revolutions and quickly dissolves into loud bangs and flashy lights. Lastly, while I was still satisfied overall, I was slightly disappointed with the ending – but I won’t get into that … spoilers.

Overall, Edge of Tomorrow is a fantastic summer film. It’s not over-bloated with too many characters, the special effects are used well and the acting greatly enhances the experience. Condensed and focused, the story stays true to itself and presents an engaging ride that can go from harrowing scenes of war to funny mistakes Cruise’s character makes at any given time. While there are a few plot-points that I feel are not as strong as they could have been, Edge of Tomorrow is far better than I expected and a worthy contender for the best summer blockbuster this year.

4 out 5 minivans with trailer hitches
(As reviewed for KC Studio Magazine – www.kcstudio.org)

Days of Future Awesome

Category : Reviews · No Comments · by May 23rd, 2014

x-men-days-of-future-past-posterA film review of X-Men: Days of Future Past by Alexander Morales

Right out of the gate, it is imperative that, if you are a super hero fan and you are not yet sick of the unrelenting onslaught of hero-themed films filling our eyeballs these days, stop reading and go see this movie. For real. I’ll wait.

Back now?

Great. Let’s begin.

While many seemed to enjoy X-Men: First Class (2011), I on the other hand was extremely disappointed. I loved the premise, most of the cast and small portions of the film, but in the end, I felt like it was an unbalanced attempt to re-spark a film franchise that miserably failed its fans with X-Men: The Last Stand. Just my opinion. However, holy crap snacks! X-Men: Days of Future Past is light-years superior to both those films and is a high-contender for one of the best films this summer.

Directed by Bryan Singer (as you may remember, the director of X-Men and X-Men 2) and loosely based on a 1981 two-issue storyline (issues 141-142) in the pages of the Uncanny X-Men, Days of Future Past is a highly-engaging, high-concept summer flick that should satisfy hardcore and mainstream audiences alike. With a returning cast which includes Hugh Jackman, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Halle Berry, Ellen Page, Patrick Stewart and many more, this film has raised the bar in terms of balancing a large cast while telling a interesting story.

To be honest, I am shocked at how good it is.

The film in a nutshell:
The future is bad. Real bad. Mechanized, mutant hunting peacekeepers called Sentinels have evolved and nearly wiped out both mutant and human populations. It seems in our government’s attempt to control fear, that fear became realized and backfired. Now, only humans with no trace of a mutant strain are allowed to exist. The last of the X-Men are trying to survive and, in a last ditch effort to save the future, Wolverine must go to the past, bring friends, now enemies back together and stop an event that triggered the domino effect of hate. Effin’ Groovy!

The Good:
First and foremost, the best part of this film is how the mutant powers are showcased. Leaked onto the Web near a month ago, audiences were allowed to watch an opening sequence where six X-Men try to hold off a Sentinel attack. I wish I never saw that. Seeing it on the big screen is fantastic and I spoiled it for myself. Fluid and seamless, the X-Men each showcase their skills as a team in a gorgeous way that had never been shown in this franchise. A huge standout is Bingbing Fan’s Blink and how the director and writers choose to show how she uses her abilities for herself and her team.

Speaking of powers – Quicksilver is flippin’ wonderful! While his costume in the released promotional photos looks ridiculous and sad, Evan Peters’ portrayal is both fun and another shining moment for the film. Not even close to the arrogant, snobby, aristocratic Quicksilver I grew up with in the comics, this different take on a young mutant is a ton of fun. I really enjoyed how he was used and, in comparison to First Class, why he as a character was relevant to the overall story – a problem I have with most of mutants showcased in that 2011 film.

And that’s just stuff that happens in the first half of the film. I haven’t even gotten to how well Hugh Jackman carries this film or how, in comparison to X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009) and The Wolverine (2013) the character of Wolverine is able to be highlighted and well represented. Nor have I even mentioned how the rest of this all-star cast, regardless of the amount of screen time, add to an excellent movie-going experience.

Yet, even with all of that, the best thing about this film is the story. An issue that has plagued this genre of films for a long, long time. Our summers have been sunburned too many times by effects-driven movies with too little substance. From any of the three already released Transformers films to the last three Spider-Man films to the Man of Steel, an inconsistent representation of super films have been allowed to be released and, in my opinion, damage the importance of comic book lore to our popular culture. Turning Days of Future Past into a film was already a difficult feat, but delivering such an outcome this solid is amazing and should prove high box office results that will last throughout this season. The idea of mutants is already a stretch for some audiences to get behind, but time-traveling consciousness with ripple effects to a time stream makes it that much harder, and while other franchises like Doctor Who and Terminator have proven success, they have also failed at times (mostly Terminator). The writing team behind Days of Future Past should be commended for being able to take a core story, breaking it down into understandable chunks and then piecing it back together in a way that never talks down to the audience and remains entertaining throughout the entire film. Well done.

The Not So Good:
While not perfect, there are a few things in the film that, in my opinion, could have been represented just a little differently. Mainly in regards to the the Sentinels. There are two versions shown in the film. Why they are different is a story point so I won’t get into that, however, in the 1970s the design of the Sentinels just bugs me a little. I wish they looked a little more clunky and bulky like they did in the comic books. On screen, they have a very sleek, high-design that seems more technologically advanced for that time period. The look of them seemed out of place in my opinion.

Along with that, while I am fan of Peter Dinklage and I think his portrayal of Dr. Bolivar Trask (the developer of the Sentinel program) is well done, his motivation as a character seemed forced. In the original Days of Future Past story, the core character was a Senator whose platform against mutants was born from a hate and negativity for their differences. Clearly a metaphor for race relations in the late seventies and early eighties. Here however, it seems he is driven more by a fear/need for peace that while, in the wake of the Vietnam War is relevant to that moment of our history, seems more a statement based on our current events. The theme of hatred and bigotry against mutants has always been the backbone for why the X-Men are necessary and I wish in this film that theme was more in the foreground – like it was in X-Men (2000). As a character in this film, I never really dislike Trask like I did (and still do) Senator Kelly and so, for me, that was slightly lacking.

But honestly, that’s it.

A fun, smart super hero film that uses every ounce of its talent, X-Men: Days of Future Past is the film to see this summer. In the wake of an average (yet disappointing) Amazing Spider-Man 2 and a super-sized Godzilla, this is the kind of epic, big-budget summer film every one should see. Quality from start to finish, Days of Future Past is well worth the cost of admission and is a huge push in the right direction for more mutant films. Like I said, I was shocked at how much I enjoyed this film and that is coming from a highly opinionated X-Men snob who only has liked X2 thus far in the film franchise.

Go see this film!

4.5 out 5 Plastic Bullets
(As reviewed for KC Studio Magazine – www.kcstudio.org

Amazingly Average Adversaries

Category : Reviews · No Comments · by May 2nd, 2014

the_amazing_spider_man_2_movie_poster

A Film review of “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” by Alexander Morales

Back in 2012, audiences were sort of thrilled to receive the newest incarnation of our favorite neighborhood arachnid onto the big screen with Marc Webb’s “The Amazing Spider-Man.” Critics were a little rough on the film overall, while, for the most part, audiences seemed to enjoy the newest incarnation. However, two things were very clear. First … nearly everyone, in a moment of Zen-like spiritual awakening and connectivity across the world asked “Why do we need another remake only 10 years after Sam Raimi’s adequate attempt?” and, after viewing the film, “Wow, this Andrew Garfield kid is flipping wonderful as Spider-man!”

Well friends, gladly I can say that yes indeed he is still wonderful. Amazing in fact. Perfect casting to play Peter Parker, the traumatized young man trying to balance a normal existence of school work and family while spending his evenings risking life and limb, fighting crime throughout the city of New York. Honestly, I cannot say enough about him. Garfield is Spider-Man. The heroic character I grew up reading about every month in the pages of “The Amazing Spider-man,” “Spider-Man,” “The Spectacular Spider-Man” and so on – yeah, he’s that guy. The wise-cracking, conflicted, confused hero trying to live up to his Uncle Ben’s mantra of “with great power comes great responsibility.” 100 percent yes.

Now … take that enthusiasm, that positivity for Garfield and mix it with Emma Stone’s Gwen Stacy and you get some of the sweetest, most genuine, believable and electric chemistry two young performers have had on film in quite a long time. To be honest, I wasn’t a big fan of the relationship side bar from the first film. Teen angst just isn’t my cup of tea. But here … Here we get two people, two lovers who seemingly seriously care for one another with drama, that while rooted in comic book ridiculousness seems real. Seems important. Seems like something I could relate to. Other superhero films take note – this is how you do relationship building. This is how you get some pulpy, emotional responses from your two lead characters. This is how you raise the bar.

And then, then you throw in Sally Field’s Aunt May. Yes please! Peter and Gwen, May and Peter. Yes, yes and more yes. Excellent.

Yet, and sadly, they were not the only part of this film that we have to consider. Unfortunately, nearly every part of the rest of the film never matches their greatness and thus, what could have been the epic hero adventure/human interest combo, falls to average because of two very strong, very important, near fatal flaws – the villains and the story.

Let’s continue with more of the good though:
I’ve already gone a little in depth about Garfield and Stone, as well as a little about Field, however, this film would not be a superhero film without action and boy does this film rev it up. One of my main criticisms from the first “Amazing” film, this movie does an excellent job showcasing Spider-man’s abilities, intelligence and overall badassedness (if that is even a word.) “The Amazing Spider-man 2,” in my opinion, is the best representation of Spider-man we have every received on film. This is true for both masked and unmasked. While the special effects do at times get a little muddy, overall the fight scenes are handled extremely well with big choreographed effects that keep you engrossed and wanting more.

At the same time, while I think the character overall was mishandled, Electro’s effects are perfect, big-budget, summer movie eye candy. Honestly, I was skeptical when I saw early make-up photos releases on fan sites. However, I think that, as a character with these powers, he is wonderful to look at and the fight scenes between he and Spidey are a ton of fun.

Now … let’s talk about the bad:
The villains. Horrible. Laughably represented poorly throughout most of the film with little or no motivation, the villains are nothing more than retreads of other bad villains. Sadly, the relationship between Dane DeHaan’s Harry Osbourne and Jaime Foxx’s Electro is the exact same as Topher Grace’s Venom and Thomas Haden Church’s Sandman from the excruciatingly disappointing “Spider-Man 3” with the action culminating nearly beat for beat in the exact same way as that film did. Ridiculous. There are nine writing credits on this film. Nine. Nine people allowed director Marc Webb to remake the third act of “Spider-Man 3” and all of them are still getting a paycheck. Again I say ridiculous.

But let’s back up. Fox’s character, Max Dillon, is nothing more than a combination of Halle Berry’s Patience Phillips from “Catwoman” and Jim Carrey’s Dr. Edward Nygma from “Batman Forever.” Two films not remembered for their extraordinary character development. Dillon’s character score and home even resemble the Riddler’s from “Batman Forever.” Stereotypical and left to just be a sidebar, if allowed, Fox could have been awesome. When his powers fully come into play, Fox delivers his lines with confidence and menace that is fantastic to watch – however, with poor dialogue and no motivation, I found myself asking, “what, why?” Yes he’s obsessed, and yes he is conflicted with social issues, but that does not equal “kill everyone” crazy. As a character, he is treated like nothing more than Frankenstein’s monster and thus never given the proper time to develop or be as good as he could have been.

Along with that, Harry Osbourne. Nothing more than a spoiled brat with a medical condition. There are glimpses of good character development, but in the end, just like his relationship with Electro, it seems his character traits were lifted straight from Tobey Maguire’s emo Peter from “Spider-Man 3.” Couple that with his “transformation” into the Green Goblin and you just shake your head and ask “why?”

I won’t even get into the silliness that was Paul Giamatti’s Aleksei Sytsevich … a.k.a. the Rhino.

Of course, everything is based on the story, and centrally, you have this extremely heart-warming relationship between Peter and Gwen, but all of that is diverted, several times throughout this film (and the last) to focus on this stupid conspiracy that involves Peter’s dead parents and Oscorp. Nobody cares. It sidetracks all the good stuff in the film so much that it completely negates one of the finest scenes in the film that involves Peter, Aunt May and a ton of emotion. Is this a super hero film? Yes it is. Should there be some ridiculousness? Possibly, but when you compare the excellent work that three cast members are putting in as well as the larger than life action that the special effects team is developing, we have to be allowed to expect more from the stories that are being told. For me, this film’s overall story arc feels forced and recycled from past, unsuccessful films.

Overall:
With everything I’ve stated, this film is still entertaining. I don’t think it’s fair to compare this movie and “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” since, while they are both superhero stories, they are very different takes on film genres – I will say that “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” is far better than it’s predecessor “The Amazing Spider-Man.” Held firmly together by it’s two leads, I was 100 percent engrossed by their relationship. At the same time, the action and special effects kept me engaged and will keep audiences shoving delicious, buttery popped balls of corn into their mouths all summer long. However, all of that goodness is unbalanced with silly villain characterization and an inadequate story arc that never allows other characters to truly develop or be as good as they could be.

This film will make a lot of money this summer season. That much is clear. It is a perfect distraction for adults and kids (of a certain age) to enjoy, however, like other less than average recent releases like “Divergent,” it is clear that audiences need more from their heroes and while Spider-Man can always draw a crowd, if he has nothing to say or do, the crowd will quickly move on … which at the end of this month includes a team of mutant super heroes and a giant lizard from the East.

3 out of 5 Outdated Computer Equipment That is Still Able to Connect to the Internet at Super Fast Speeds

KC Studio Magazine – www.kcstudio.org

A Soldier’s Story

Category : Reviews · No Comments · by Apr 4th, 2014

Captain-America-The-Winter-Soldier-PosterA Film Review of Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Opening the flood gates of super-hero themed films for 2014 is Captain America: The Winter Soldier – an over-the-top, thrill ride that simultaneously builds on the Marvel Studios overarching film mythology while doing a fantastic job of modernizing a hero’s role in the constant fight for freedom.

Returning to the role of our star-spangled hero is the always compelling Chris Evans. Bold, built like a tank and beautiful, Evans fills not only the costume perfectly but also the role by giving audiences a believable and honest performance of a man lost in a time and a hero looking for answers. While extremely naive to the realities of politics and government agencies, Captain America still holds true to himself and the thematic goodness of what he believes America is and what it should stand for.

Set after the devastation of New York in the 2012 film The Avengers, S.H.I.E.L.D. (America’s Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement, and Logistics Division) has kept the Captain busy, sending him on missions, stopping terrorist threats, and so on. However, it is quickly becoming harder to know who to trust while the freedom he believes in begins coming at a higher cost.

Enter a new threat: The Winter Soldier – an elite assassin with a secret past that can perform his assignments with amazing precision and unbelievable accuracy.

While very muddy with backstabbing and conspiracy connections as the film unfolds, I thoroughly enjoyed this movie. More espionage thriller than the expected super-hero film, I found myself extremely engrossed in story’s arc and, by the end, I was pleased at how big of an impact that this film could have on the rest of the film universe – something I did not really feel in some of the other one-off hero films (specifically Iron Man 2 and 3, Thor 2: The Dark World). Plus, while a component of the film is very personal to the main character, it was lovely to hear gasps from my fellow audience members who were not familiar with The Winter Soldier and his true identity.

The Positives:
In my opinion, there are a ton of good things happening in this film. From the action to actors, I found it very easy to let go and just fall into the story. Even as it weaved deeper and deeper into its own history, I never found it difficult to comprehend what was going on or get confused by the various components. While, with any film like this, there are moments of ridiculous exposition that will hammer home either the primary themes or the purposes of certain characters, I was pleasantly surprised that everything still felt very fluid less based on coincidence. Like I said before, I love, love, love the consequences that are established in this film and, without giving any spoilers, what it could mean for the entire Marvel Studios universe. It presents a new dimension of vulnerability that is both wonderful for dramatic development while also reestablishing a menace that will affect each and every hero in the Avengers.

Chris Evans. Do I really need to say any more? While I am not the biggest proponent of Captain America: The First Avenger (2011), I do feel Chris Evans was the perfect fit for this role. Quickly my opinion was solidified with his performance in The Avengers. Here, he is amazing. While never looking stupid, Evans wonderfully portrays the ignorant hero while confidently following his heart and jumping into action. At the same time Scarlet Johansson returns to her role at The Black Widow/Natasha Romanoff, and while, at times, her character has seemed lost in the grandness of the other heroes, here she is perfect. Adding a snarky, new level to the playing field, she presents a fantastic soiled balance to Captain America’s cleanliness.

Also, I don’t think enough can be said about Anthony Mackie and his portrayal of Sam Wilson (a.k.a. Falcon). Fresh, likable and interesting, Mackie adds a great deal of dimension to a character that in many different situations could be left as just another stereotypical side role. Witty with great appeal, Mackie proves his worth and makes a solid case for being included in future Marvel films.

The Negatives:
While in theory, the Winter Soldier as title villain is amazing and, from what I can remember, this film does a fantastic job adapting Ed Brubaker’s comic book tale (he is also credited on the film), the character is never really given room to full establish himself. It’s clear he is a badass with an extremely important past and in our first encounters with him, he proves his worth greatly. However, with all different conspiracy levels of the film, his silent killer aspects make him a little too quiet and, by the end of the film, he becomes just another heavy for the hero to get around. Without spoiling anything, I feel his role could have been far more significant to the core of the story versus, in the end, just feeling like a small part to a greater threat. This could be intentional since, as a symbol, the Winter Soldier is the perfect protagonist to Captain America and as soldiers, they both are relegated to following orders, but, especially since his name is in the title, I wish there was a little more.

In contrast, I wish there were far fewer explosions. Where I feel this film really works is in the more intimate and, for lack of a better term, grounded action moments. The third act is based on three massive air-based threats, that while wonderfully show off the Falcon and validates his role in the film, quickly disintegrates into massive explosions, large amounts of debris and utter destruction. In my opinion, while spectacular to look at, large special effects and set pieces like these over-power the importance of the characters and overshadows them as characters in a way that negatively impacts the story. For example, an explosion goes off that separates the Captain and the Winter Soldier, distracting from their connection and ending their moment of action. For me, watching those two characters fight was far more engrossing than breaking glass and fire and stopping their moments added an unnecessary break in quality action.

And … well … that’s it.

I sincerely enjoyed this film. Evans is perfect as Captain America and as a leading man; he elevates this film and clearly has helped inspire confidence on what he can accomplish with the character. With a high-quality story as its base, I believe fan boys will be pleased with its dedication to its source material while more mainstream movie watchers with just enjoy a solid film experience. With the success Marvel Studios has been having with these Phase 2 set of films, it is no doubt that these films with just continue to get stronger and stronger. Hopefully the next set of superhero films from Fox and Sony (X-Men: Days of Future Past and Spider-Man 2) can live up to their hype and the expectations that Disney has laid out this far.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier opens today April 4, 2014.

4 out of 5 Encrypted USB Drives That Can Be Analyzed at the Apple Store
KC Studio Magazine – www.kcstudio.org

Everything Truly is Awesome

Category : Reviews · No Comments · by Mar 11th, 2014

A film review of The Lego Movie by Alexander Morales

There are so many reasons why you should go see The Lego Movie. Seriously … so many amazing, wonderful, hilarious reasons. It’s that good. That smart. That heart-warmingly sweet. From the fantastic voice acting to the unique animation style, The Lego Movie is the perfect antidote to warm families up this snowed over season.

Admittedly, at first, I was a little unsure. When I saw the trailer, it was easy to brush off this film as just another movie marketing ploy to hypnotize young people into buying even more over-priced toys (see Hasbro’s Transformers and G.I. Joe snoozefests). But now … now I am happy to report that this genius movie marketing ploy to hypnotize young people into buying over-priced toys is chalk full of every reason I was obsessed with Legos as a child and why, as an adult, I am still secretly in love with them. (Truth be told, I can’t wait until my kids are old enough to play with these little blocks of imagination crack.)

With a constant smile on my face, I was delighted to follow the misadventures of Emmett Brickowoski (voiced my up and coming “it” guy Chris Pratt) as he and a small team of “master-builders” fight back against the evil and overpowering menace of Lord Business (Will Ferrell) and, without shame, I immediately went home and started searching Craigslist for any and every low-priced building set I could find.

Overflowing with talent, this film combines the voices of some of the most recognizable live actors and actresses working today with a seemingly never-ending ton of pop culture’s most famous characters, heroes and uh … things in Lego form. Morgan Freeman, Will Arnett, Liam Neeson, Elizabeth Banks, Alison Bree, Nick Offerman, Charlie Day, Channing Tatum, Jonah Hill and on and on and on lend their voices adding so many levels of fun that every other scene is a lovely surprise.

By the way, to say I loved this film is completely an understatement.

Incredibly intelligent, willing to make fun of itself and amazingly meta, these building blocks of joy break completely through the fourth wall and oddly create a touching story in its third act that helps bridge the gap between the kids and adults in the audience. While the overall story seems pretty basic – yet another tale based on the concept of “the one” hero that will save the day – the Legos brand uses its variety to keep the plot line fresh, moving forward and always remaining visually stunning.

Now, usually, it is around this time that I begin to point out the few flaws so that I can keep my reviews balanced, fair and reasonable. But not today. While some of the jokes may land flat with the kiddos, I was happy to see that both by 5 and 2 year-olds were laughing and following the story without any issues. At the same time, where I feel some animated films could do with a shorter run time for kids, I observed that my two little ones were glued to their seats and very much caught in the endless loop of singing “Everything is Awesome!” on the way home.

Seriously, enough is enough. Stop reading this. Stop wasting another minute and go see this film. I’m already planning my second viewing and I know I will love every rewatched minute of it. The families been cooped up in the house these last few days of Snowmageddon 2014 and this film will cure the frozen blues.

5 out of 5 Kragles
(As Reviewed for KC Studio Magazine)