Movie Review: 47 Ronin


47 RoninSci-fi/Horror, 126 Minutes, 2007: “47 Ronin” on IMDB

The tale of the 47 Ronin is based on an actual event that took place in Japan early in the 18th century. It’s widely considered to be the most important example of the samurai’s code of Bushido. The tale describes how a feudal lord was unjustly forced to commit ritual suicide and how his former Samurai planned for almost two years to avenge him knowing that they would share, and accept, the same fate. It has come to epitomize the Japanese sense of loyalty, honor and duty and is one of the most adapted stories in Japanese culture. Some call it, the country’s “national legend”.

Read more of this post

Movie Review: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

IMDB, The Hobbit, The Desolation of SmaugFantasy/Adventure, 161 Minutes, 2013: “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” on IMDB

This is the continuation of Thorin Oakenshield’s quest to reclaim the throne of his forefathers from the powerful dragon Smaug. Bilbo the Hobbit has proven his worth and courage and is a true member of the company. The movie picks up as the last ended, with the company being hunted by Azog’s orc pack.

Read more of this post

Movie Review: R.I.P.D

IMDB, RIPDAction/Comedy, 96 Minutes, 2013: R.I.P.D. on IMDB

What if the “Men in Black” [IMDB] hunted ghosts instead of aliens?  That’s the movie in a nutshell. Not at all original, but also not a bad idea, really.  The agents, here, are dead themselves and doing community service on Earth before being allowed into Heaven.  The fugitive ghosts hiding among us need to be found and revealed so that they can be put down for good.

Read more of this post

Movie Review: The Croods

IMDB, The CroodsFantasy, 98 Minutes, 2013: The Croods on IMDB

The Croods are cavemen.  In fact, after a series of misadventures, they are the very last cavemen in their area.  They say they survive by fearing everything, rarely leaving their cave and never doing anything new.  They actually survive via bombastic, attention-drawing action sequences that completely ignore everything they say.

When the Croods cave is destroyed by a nebulous earthquaky, firebally, argmageddony kind of thing they team up with a lonely wanderer, Guy, from a more advanced tribe.  He introduces them to fire, new ideas and new ways of doing things which are difficult for the head of the family, Grug, to accept.

Read more of this post

Movie Review: Orc Wars

IMDB, Orc WarsFantasy, 100 Minutes, 2013: Orc Wars on IMDB

This was from a lot of the same people that brought you the weirdly fun “Orcs” [Our Review].  Apparently they got a good deal on the equipment because they’re back again with even more orcs.

In this cross-over fantasy a magical portal connects a land of elves, orcs and dragons with our own.  The elf princess has been chased through by a horde of orcs driven on by an evil witch.  The portal, somehow, provides itself with a heavily armed guardian on our side who, as you might guess, has to be convinced that he’s a guardian.

Read more of this post

Movie Review: Jack the Giant Slayer

IMDB, Jack the Giant SlayerAdventure, 114 Minutes, 2013: Jack the Giant Slayer on IMDB

A retelling of “Jack and the Beanstalk” the movie plays fast and loose with the particulars of the story but stays comfortably in the genre.  It adds a beautiful, strong-willed princess; a heroic, selfless knight; a devious royal advisor and ups the giant-ante considerably.  Instead of our hero outwitting a single giant we get a whole big bunch of giants!

Here the giants – who have a sweet-tooth for people meat – have faded to legend because the magical beans that bridge their world to ours have been keep safe for hundreds of years.  Of course the beans resurface, the beanstalk grows and Jack and the Princess are caught in the center of everything.

Read more of this post

Movie Review: Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters

IMDB, Hansel & Gretel Witch HuntersAdventure, 114 Minutes, 2013: Hansel & Gretel: With Hunters on IMDB

This is directly in line with other high-firepower, low-respect updates of old-world classics like 2004’s “Van Helsing” [IMDB] or 2005’s “The Brother’s Grimm” [IMDB].  The formula gets tweaked but is basically the same: a hot guy and a hotter gal take on monsters with completely unrealistic steampunk firepower.

Read more of this post

Movie Review: Life of Pi

IMDB, Life of PiAdventure/Drama, 127 Minutes, 2012: Life of Pi on IMDB

One of the most common remarks heard before this released was that the book was “un-filmable”.  After it was released,  all you really heard was “ooh!  A tiger!”  The truth, in my opinion, lies someplace in between.

The story is focused on Pi, a smart, curious Indian boy who spends most of his free time collecting religions.  He smooshes all these religions together into a happy mash of grins and smiles.  While many parts of Pi’s childhood are wonderfully touching and meaningful the focus on his religious fusion tended to be overly simplistic and off-putting.  Ignoring thousands of years of history and millions of people that could not reconcile the irreconcilable aspects of major religions, the movie basically tells us to “just worry about the good parts”.  I respect that I may be in a minority, but I found the sentiment intellectually dishonest.

Read more of this post

Movie Review: Oz the Great and Powerful

IMDB, OZ - The Great and PowerfulFantasy, 130 Minutes, 2013: Oz the Great and Powerful on IMDB

The Oz-stories have charmed people for over a century and, in fact, were first put to film by Frank L. Baum himself in 1914.  The 1939 “Wizard of Oz” [IMDB] is a well-deserved and universally known classic.  The unofficial sequel in 1985,”Return to Oz”, [IMDB] was brilliantly dark but is often misunderstood or just plain forgotten.  This time director Sam Raimi [IMDB] dives into the pool with a lovingly crafted prequel.

Read more of this post

Movie Review: Age of the Hobbit

IMDB, Age-of-the-HobbitsFantasy, 87 Minutes, 2012: Age of the Hobbit (aka “Clash of the Empires”) on IMDB

[After I released this review I learned that this was also released under the title “Lord of the Elves” and this is how you’ll find it – if you really insist on doing so – on Instant Video.]

On a scale of “one” to “what-the-steaming-shit?!” this ranks a solid “Whaa?”  Apparently the title “Age of the Hobbits” pissed off somebody and so they officially changed it to “Clash of the Empires” (for, I presume, the many re-pressings this will need once word of mouth gets out).  Like other quality films, this has two people that you may have heard of and then a whole lot of people pulled off the local street.

Read more of this post