REVIEW: Robocop (2014)

A thought has been troubling me…This is the second time an Alex Murphy has been blown apart and reassembled on film, and not once do either of them ask, ‘What happened to my dick!?’  Anyway…First thing’s first, this is not the future of law enforcement…It certainly isn’t a crime though, far from it.  This largely unwanted remake is quite a different beast to its 80’s predecessor,  gone is the sharp 80’s corporate excess satire,  in with the political, foreign policy,  patriotism and the morals of science.  It’s pretty compelling too, it’s well acted (the new boy does good), the action hammers home effectively, although the hardcore gory violence is gone, it’s certainly not as tame as many feared (a scene showing what’s left of Murphy’s innards might even be considered a bit disturbing).  Far from the CGI videogame the trailer appeared to show.  This mostly comes across as practical, real bullets and stunts…mostly.  The bike is awesome, feeling like a tribute to Street Hawk as much as anything.

The big controversy about the suit?  Well…While not a patch on Rob Bottin’s original,  which still looks astounding today,  isn’t half bad.   The decision to go ‘tactical black’ is nowhere near the problem everyone expected…no spoilers,  watch it…The human hand issue however?  The director has explained it in interviews,  but the film explains nothing.  A strange and quite annoying decision.  Unfortunately, the script lets it down in the final third.  Certain characters’ morals become fuzzy, certain plot threads are settled in sudden and unspectacular fashion and a major major plot line is forgotten and shoved under the carpet, leaving a real sense of WTF…?

The scenes with Samuel L Jackson are a mixed bag in my opinion, clearly a nod to the satirical news sections in the original, and a swipe at certain big US current affairs personalities, largely feels out of place in this new take.  Jackson is clearly enjoying himself;  he hams it up spectacularly, but apart from an excellent segment showing live footage from Iran, it feels a bit unnecessary.

As a complete package, though, it’s far far better than I thought it would be, if only the money men had been brave enough to create a new franchise,  as this will always be compared to the original, a stone wall 5 star classic,  a fight it was never going to win.  Mechanicopper?   Popobot?  Autofuzz? Anything but Robocop…

Sent by the mighty bear of truth.

[usr 3.75]

 

 

Justice League: War – The Review

I sat up watching Justice League: War last night in the dark.  My notes may not make much sense as I convert them into this review but I want to start off by saying there may be spoilers for you ahead but I’m going to give more of a general overview rather than a step by step breakdown of the entire movie.

A lot of what transpires in the movie is well known via various comic arcs and animated episodes of the Justice League.  Based on Justice League: Origin by Geoff Johns, Jim Lee and Scott Williams to kick of their debut on the New 52 Justice League arc, the movie gives us a quick introduction to Green Lantern, Batman, Flash, Wonder Woman, Superman, Cyborg and Shazam as well as bringing Darkseid into the fray with his converted minions to terraform earth and consume it as he has multiple other planets and universes.

So, we start off with reports of the ‘Batman’ with terrified victims being snatched by a bat-like creature.  Batman is clearly still a being of myth and legend, still hunted by the GCPD based on reports of the elusive crime fighter that people would rather deny the existence of.  It soon turns out that this is not Batman but a creature similar to a lizard but equipped with alien technology and armour as well as the ability to breathe fire.

Green Lantern (Hal Jordan) swoops in after the kidnapper swipes his latest victim and soon discovers that this is a formidable foe.  After a beautifully animated fight sequence with complimentary explosions, Batman arrives to assist.  This is HIS city, after all.

We encounter our first of many comical comments from Green Lantern when he says, “Batman?  You’re REAL?!”  As the movie progresses, Green Lantern and Batman have a few sarcastic and comical exchanges.  It nails the character of Hal Jordan from the comics and the dry, matter-of-factly Bruce Wayne.

Another fantastic sequence ensues when Batman attaches his grapple-hook to what we later find out to be a Parademon.  Just as he takes off he states “This is my city”  To which Green Lantern responds “This entire space sector is mine”.  It [Parademon] flies through Gotham with Batman in tow, swooping by buildings and other objects that would make you hurl with fear of dying if you came into contact with them.

Shortly after, the creature escapes into the sewer system.  As they pursue, another pleasant exchange takes place between the two.  “I’m a Green Lantern, I can do anything.”  “Except shut up, apparently,” Batman responds.  Green Lantern then probes Batman in the familiar fashion of the comics by questioning what his abilities and powers are.  My favourite part of this scene is where Green Lantern asks, “Do you fly?”  And Batman responds with, “In a plane.”  It’s a very short line but the humour rings through for those die hard fans of DC comics – every incarnation of the meeting of the two has an element of disbelief and sarcasm when it comes to the fact that this guy, Bruce Wayne, is just a guy in a bat suit.

I’m not going to give a running commentary on the movie, you’ll see and hear everything I describe if you watch it yourself – that was just a taste of the first few minutes of the movie opening and sums up the overall tone. Later we get introduced to Wonder Woman in the company of Steve Trevor, about to introduce Diana to the President of the United States when the Parademons attack the White House.

The way all of the remaining members of the reluctant ‘team’ and ‘super friends’ are introduced is great, Cyborg’s creation by far one of my favourite parts of the movie.  Darkseid’s eventual arrival and the way he swats Superman and the others out of the air and breaks Green Lantern’s arm using less energy than a halogen heater on it’s lowest setting spells impending doom for Gotham, Metropolis and the rest of the world.

Through problem solving and teamwork, Darkseid is defeated and teleported back to his homeworld.  The heroes who were hated and feared previously are now celebrated as champions of Earth.  Their little remarks and conversations as the President addresses the public shows how much they do not want to work together and they want to go their separate ways, but we all know that Earth will be under attack again and again and this unlikely bunch will need to band together to save us all.  Meet the Super Seven!  Wait…that name sucks.

So…how does this movie fare?

Well, the story is fantastic.  Most DC fans already know it but it’s great to see it in a feature length film with what animation has to offer today.  The animation is amazing and fluid and it makes it feel like we’re watching a comic book unfold in motion on our screens.  The voice acting takes a little while to get used to when your Batman is Kevin Conroy but once you get past the voice talents that are missing you can enjoy the ones that are actually there.  My reaction to the voices was similar to when I watched Batman: The Dark Knight Returns – I couldn’t embrace Bruce Wayne/Batman and Commissioner Gordon’s voices but after a few viewings I got over it.

The movie is done in a way that, regardless of your knowledge of the characters and the DC universe, everyone can enjoy it.  Fanboys may see some things they haven’t seen before and newcomers can just enjoy the ride.  DC know what they’re doing and, by tying this release as well as some of their other titles in with the New 52 series, it may gain a new readership rather than potential readers being put off by wondering where to start in the massive back catalogue of previous titles.

So, here’s my breakdown via the gift of stars:

[usrlist “Movie:4.5” “Animation:5” “Story:5” “VoiceActing:4”]

 

Two Peas In A Pod(cast)

Podcasts…not many people know what they are let alone listen to them in the circles I move in.

I started listening to podcasts about 2 years ago.  I’d heard of them for ages and just assumed they were to do with iDevice users so never bothered (I’m not an Apple fanboy).  I’m not sure how I ended up listening – I had an iPod after my iRiver 320GB MP3 player broke and I used iTunes to manage my media and I think I just stumbled upon SModcast when I was randomly browsing through iTunes. It’s not the first time I randomly stumble into Mr Smith’s work…

I had been a huge Kevin Smith fan since I saw Mallrats (the cover just caught my attention – basic but eye-catching) in my mid-late teens.  I remember browsing through the DVDs as I did every day on my lunch breaks from work.  Not a day went by for a while that I didn’t purchase at least 2 DVDs daily – I worked Monday-Friday 9-5.  And then I’d buy videogames on the weekends.  It was great having a job and only paying my mum some ‘dig’ money (rent).  The rest was for my drinking and multimedia habits.  Anyway, I digress.

So, Mallrats sat there looking at me.  I had never heard of Jason Lee or anybody else linked to the movie.  I used to watch it whenever I was bored and had nothing else to watch – it was my ‘go-to’ movie to keep me entertained (I was dismayed to find out that this was like the black sheep of Mr Smith’s movie making career as I loved and still love this movie).

After that, I inadvertently bought Dogma, not realising it was the same director at the time.  When I saw Jay and his hetero-life-mate Silent Bob the link clicked in and my interest was piqued in Mr Smith’s work.  Dogma was one of the most fantastic movies I had ever seen and this, alongside Mallrats, became a go-to movie.  The amount of times I would watch this over and over, eventually falling asleep and waking up, in the wee hours, to the menu music playing over and over.  Around this time, I got the internet (“What the f*&# is the internet?!)

It was then, having access to interwebbery shenanigans, that I found Clerks.  I had to import it from the States (via the gift of eBay).  Clerks opened my eyes to what I had been missing.  It awakened the geek that I had repressed for years.  In primary school, I was into Batman, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, M.A.S.K and various other geeky delights – most of my friends weren’t into the stuff I was so I felt like the odd one out and it became a point of mockery and bullying to some extent so I stopped being a geek to fit in.  Clerks awoke the sleeping beast.

Chasing Amy set the benchmark for me in terms of what a romantic film should be – the one that got away.  The fact that there aren’t guaranteed happy endings.  This was around the time I was trying to find my way in the world with love and had my fair share of hurt feelings and heartbreak so this movie hit home with a bang and I loved it for the fact it seemed to ‘get me’.  Obviously it was the other way around really, I got it because of where I was in my life.

After Clerks,I discovered the animated series (again, dismayed at the lack of love for this amazing cartoon series).  I imported this from Australia as I couldn’t find it anywhere else on (yep, you guessed it…eBay!)  The voice acting, stories and the fact that my favourite characters were back (in colour, I might add) was a pure nerdgazzum for me.

Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back was next for me.  I dread to think how many times I watched this movie.  I lived the fact you had Ben Affleck and Jason Lee reprising their roles from Chasing Amy and seeing how they had moved on, so to speak, within the View Askewniverse.  The gags had me hurting from laughter and, despite the fact I can pretty much act the movie out, it still gets the laughs and the adoration I had all those years ago.

Another abomination in Kevin Smith’s career(if you listen to the media and critics).  I loved this movie – it isn’t the strongest by far, but it had it’s outstanding moments.  It was the movie that actually made me interested in catching a show (Sweeney Todd or some other dark play/musical).

Well, what can I say?  You take Clerks, age the characters a bit, add colour and make it more vulgar and fucked up and voilà, you have this epic masterpiece that has also been watched an insane number of times by me.  Watching Kevin Smiths career unfold (albeit like watching a distant star in terms of my observation of it based on the fact I was a late Smiddy-bloomer).

And then, I discovered SModcast.  I was a good few episodes behind when I discovered this.  It was well into its stride when I found it in 2012.  I have managed to catch up on it as well as some of the other SModcast network podcasts that I listen to regularly – Tell ’em Steve-Dave (TESD), Last Week On Earth, SModco SMorning Show, Hollywood Babble-On and so on.  It allowed me to also catch the new ones as they began such as Edumacation & Fatman on Batman.

But, I shall leave it here – the precursor to my upcoming podcast dedicated blog post detailing my favourite shows and hopefully find other kindred spirits that enjoy the same shows…or even get you into them.  Enjoy the free funny.  Who knows…maybe I will do a podcast one day.  We have the hosting sorted after all.  Until then…

Keep tasting our awesome.