Archive for August, 2010


Quick Reviews – Green Lantern: First Flight, Batman: Under the Red Hood, Wonder Woman

Can you guess this week’s theme?

Green Lantern: First Flight (4.5/5)

Origin stories are always a challenge, you have to set up a lot while crafting an interesting story.  First Flight manages to do both well.  Personally, I do not know much about the DC universe  (more of a Marvel man), so this was all very new to me.

They wasted no time in getting Hal Jordan into the green lantern suit. Seriously he becomes the green lantern in the first five minutes.  A few minutes later, he is at the Green Lantern headquarters and told that a human can not be a Green Lantern.  (we are to primitive of a species)  He is given a chance to prove himself and that is where the film takes off.  It seems there is trouble brewing in the galaxy, and Hal gets thrust into the center of the action.  I don’t want to talk about the plot to much, for fear of spoilers.

The action is also really fun in a way that only the Green Lantern allows.  The ability to use the ring to create anything allows for some creative battles.  The violence is brutal but not overly violent.

Overall, this film should be fun for both newcomers and fans alike.

Batman: Under the Red Hood (4.5/5)

This is a great film.  There is a new baddie in town and his name is “The Red Hood”.  He has all the skills of the Batman, only he isn’t afraid to kill.  Worse, he seems to be taking over crime in Gotham.  It is up to batman to solve the riddle of who is under the Red Hood and stop him, before it is too late.  I don’t want to ruin anything for you, but the “secret identity” of the red hood is really obvious.  I mean, I know that comic-fans already know.  But even if you have never heard of the Red Hood, it will still be painfully obvious.  This one was definitely made for readers of the comics.  You can understand it all with just a small amount of bat-knowledge, but there are a lot of things that make more sense if you know you history.

They got a new guy to play Joker.  At first I did not like him because…well, he is not Mark Hammil.  But the guy does a very good job in the role, and he really wears on you/

The film is really good and pretty dark.   The action scenes are amazing, and the story keeps you hooked.  I have a few small complaints, but it is really just nit-picking so I won’t go into them here.  Overall, this is a great movie, rivaling The Dark Knight.

Wonder Woman (4/5)

Coming into this, I did not know a whole lot about the Wonder Woman mythology (again, Marvel) but I did know she seemed like a cool character from the things I have seen her in.  (namely a few justice league comics and cartoons)  The only thing I knew to expect was great action sequences, and boy did they deliver.  The fights were epic and brutal.  It was great.  But oddly, that is not what impressed me about this film.  Rather, it was the sheer amount of humor.  This is my no means a comedy, but they manage to squeeze in a lot of funny moments.

The bulk of the humor comes from Steve Trevor, the first man to meet the Amazons in years.  His culture and theirs are so different it leads to a lot of funny moments.  He is always saying the wrong thing, or explaining US customs wrong or something.  It was genuinely funny.

One big thing about this film is it likes to point out how America still treats women differently.  On some level we still think of them as the weaker sex.  (much to wonder woman’s amazement)  While, I see the point, these sections start to feel a little preachy after a while. Although this is just a minor complaint.

A bigger complaint would be the way the story progresses.  Sometimes it feels as though the film is just going through the motions.  There is not much in the way of transition between the scenes, and it just feels like they are going on the adventure of the sake of making a movie. It just doesn’t always feel organic.  Granted, we don’t get this in all the scenes, in fact some of them feel remarkable real.  But the story itself is just too predictable.

The worst part is when they show up at a secret bad-guy hideout without actually explaining how they know where to look for it.  They just show up!  It is annoying and it pulls you out of the film.

But for all its faults, Wonder Woman is still a great film.  It is funny, it has exciting action sequences, and is just plain fun.  I would definitely recommend it to anyone.

Coin-operated self-destruct, not one of my better ideas.

Kingdom Hearts: The Manga (4/5)

I have wanted to get into Kingdom Hearts for a while, but alas, I do not own a PS2.  Nor does my PS3 play PS2 disks. (curse you Sony!)  So imagine my glee when my friend lent me the copies of his Mangas.

The basic premise is simple: Lets have a big, Disney themed crossover and throw in some Final Fantasy characters for good measure.  The story itself, however, if far from simple.  Ok, lets see if I can explain it without getting confused (or giving away spoilers):

Each disney film is a world that exists out in space.  These worlds are slowly being conquered by evil creatures known as heartless.  The worlds are then vanishing.  On a small island a young boy, named Sora, is about to set out on an adventure with his two best friends, Kairi and Riku, to see if there is there is another world on the other side of the Ocean.  The heartless attack and Sora wakes up on anther world called Tanverse town, sorta  a haven for those who have lost their worlds to the heartless.  Stuff happens and before long he realizes he has been chosen by a magical weapon called the Keyblade.  He meets up with Donald Duck and Goofy who are under orders from their king (guess who) to follow the Keyblade master.  They then set off from disney movie to disney movie.

It may sound like I am giving away a lot of the plot, but this is really only a cliff-notes of chapters 1-8.  (there are 42 total)  The fact of the matter is that for four little mangas, there is a whole lot of story.  I mean a whole lot of story.  This is cool in some ways as you can tell there is a rich mythology here however it makes it hard to follow.  However, it is not impossible to tell what it is going on, you just have to pay close attention.  (Read slowly! 😉 )

The story is actually really good.  Each world feels like its own adventure, yet you never really lose sight of the higher goal.  Of course, some of the worlds were better than others Shockingly, my favorite movies were not my favorite worlds.  For example, Alice in Wonderland was my least favorite world, yet one of my favorite Disney films.  Also it should be noted that the story gets better and better as you get further into it.  I think this is because they are struggling to set up the world in the first volume, but as you go further into it they can really start to have fun.  (This could be why I did not like Alice’s world as it is the first one they visit)

While I don’t think Disney was directly involved in the writing of these mangas, the magic is still there.  They actually manage to get away with a lot of stuff that would seem campy, corny, or even downright lame if it was not for the fact that it was Disney.  For example, without giving away and spoilers, all the clichés involving the word “Heart” are here:  Follow your heart, key to your heart, I’ll be with you – in your heart, etc.  Were this any other series, I would slam it for being corny, but with Disney it somehow works without feeling lame.  In fact, it is quite awesome.  I think it is because they take these phrases quite literally, which you don’t see very often.

One problem I had with it was the humor.  I am sure the game was funny, but the manga wasn’t.  It tried, and to some people it may have been.  I just did not get the humor, which consisted mostly of people randomly screaming things and/or making exaggerated facial expressions.  I think it may be due to the Jokes not translating well into English.

Another problem I have with the book is the characters.  While we see plenty of the main characters, and we already know the Disney characters, there are plenty of other supporting characters that help out heroes on their journey.  They seem like really interesting characters, but we never get a chance to really see them.  I know they are more fleshed out in the games, and I would like to have gotten to know them better in the Mangas.

But overall, it is a fun series.  I enjoyed it and I think you will too.

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