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Vulcan Stev family movie review: Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief

Starring:
Logan Lerman …  Percy Jackson
Brandon T. Jackson …  Grover
Alexandra Daddario …  Annabeth
Jake Abel …  Luke
Sean Bean …  Zeus
Pierce Brosnan …  Mr. Brunner / Chiron
Steve Coogan …  Hades
Rosario Dawson …  Persephone
Melina Kanakaredes …  Athena
Catherine Keener …  Sally Jackson
Kevin McKidd …  Poseidon
Joe Pantoliano …  Gabe Ugliano
Uma Thurman …  Medusa
Maria Olsen …  Mrs. Dodds / Fury
Julian Richings …  Ferryman

20th Century Fox * 118 mins * PG * 2010

Synopsis from IMDb: It’s the 21st century, but the gods of Mount Olympus and assorted monsters have walked out of the pages of high school student Percy Jackson’s Greek mythology texts and into his life. And they’re not happy: Zeus’ lightning bolt has been stolen, and Percy is the prime suspect. Even more troubling is the sudden disappearance of Percy’s mother. As Percy finds himself caught between angry and battling gods, he and his friends embark on a cross-country adventure to catch the true lightning thief, save Percy’s mom, and unravel a mystery more powerful than the gods themselves.

VS: 1.55 pointed ears
Greek mythology has always fascinated me.  When I first heard about this movie I was intrigued, however, part of me wrote it off as a Harry Potter rip-off.  I was surprised to discover that there is in fact a book series upon which this movie is based.  So it can’t be a complete riff on the Harry Potter-verse.  Let’s face it, coming of age stories are coming-of-age stories regardless of the genre or the characters which inhabit them.  Similarities are going to abound regardless.  So we’re going to skip the fact that there’s a trio of heroes (two males and one female).  We’re not going to mention the act that our protagonist knows nothing of the world that he’s going to be pulled into.  And we’re going to gloss over the fact that our hero just happens to be one of the more powerful members of his new-found group.

Aside from a brief mention of the stolen lighting bolt bringing about a war of the gods,very little of e movie is actually devoted to the title piece.  Zeus automatically assumes that Percy (Poseidon’s son) has stolen it.  So naturally every mythological bounty hunter begins attacking Percy in the hopes of recovering it for Zeus.  Doesn’t Zeus lo-jack his lightning?  Persephone allows her pearls to be tracked via the Marauder’s… er a mystical map that Luke just happens to have in his collection.  For an all-knowing god, Zeus seems to be awfully short-sighted.  But the maybe it’s a good thing that Zeus doesn’t have a magical lightning tracer considering where the dumb thing finally shows up.

Percy also seems to be blessed by Fortuna the Geek goddess of Luck.  He doesn’t get in trouble for leaving the camp and embarking on his little solo quest.  Even though he and his friends are the subject of a nationwide manhunt nobody ever seems to recognize them or call America’s Most Wanted tip line.  Nobody seems to mind that Percy and his friends destroy at least one national landmark.  It’s also probably just a coincidence that the casino left the keys in that car.

I see a lot of complaints on the net about Olympus being attached to the Empire Sate Building.  The novels make it known that Olympus attached to the mortal plane a nonlinear fashion instead being anchored to the “Center of Civilization”.  I wish the movie had explained that little feature.  I’m also seeing complaints about the actors not being the age the characters are in the novels.  Director Chris Columbus has been quoted as saying that after Harry Potter, he was NEVER going to work with that many ten-year olds again.  Given the way the Potter actors have aged beyond their characters, I’m not going to fault Mr. Columbus on that one.

If this movie has one redeeming feature.  It is in the fact that both PITs have expressed an interest in actually reading the Percy Jackson novels.  I enjoyed the movie and cannot wait for the DVD.

Pvt Black Spartan: (coming) she’s on an FTX and will get us her review later.

PIT #2: 2 pointed ears
I liked the fact that the writer was able to bring the Greek myths and legends to life in 21st century America.  By using these archetypes there wasn’t a whole passel of exposition that need to be made.  The characters were believable.

PIT #3: 2 pointed ears
I didn’t hear any bad language in this movie.  I liked the fact that there was ZERO kissing in the movie.  This movie had awesome special effects.  I thought it was cool that they got James Bond to play Percy’s teacher.

I was so impressed with this movie that I actually want to go read the novels that this movie is derived from.  I can’t wait for Percy Jackson 2.

5.55 pointed ears out of 6 – A nice popcorn family friendly flick.  Take the time to see it while it’s in theaters but this a definite must-see on video.  Despite my complaints I really did enjoy the movie.  I sincerely hope that 20th Century Fox has the next “Potter” series here.

March 24, 2010 Posted by | Movie Reviews, Movies | , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Vulcan Stev family movie review: Godzilla: Final Wars

Starring:
Masahiro Matsuoka …
Earth Defense Force Soldier Shin’ichi Ôzaki
Rei Kikukawa …
UN Molecular Biologist Miyuki Otonashi
Kazuki Kitamura …  The Controller of Planet X
Don Frye … 
Douglas Gordon (Captain of the Gôten)
Akira Takarada … 
UN Secretary General Naotarô Daigo
Kane Kosugi … 
M-Facility Soldier Katsunori Kazama
Maki Mizuno …  Newscaster Anna Otonashi (Miyuki’s older sister)
Masami Nagasawa …  Shobijin (Twin Fairy)
Chihiro Ôtsuka …  Shobijin (Twin Fairy)
Kenji Sahara …  Paleontologist Hachirô Jingûji
Kumi Mizuno …
Earth Defense Force Commander Akiko Namikawa
Masakatsu Funaki …
M-Unit Commanding Officer Kumasaka
Masatô Ibu …  The Xilian General
Masanobu Takashima …  Major Kita
Mick Preston …  New York Co

Toho Pictures, Inc./Sony * 125 mins * PG * 2004

Synopsis from IMDb: Evil Space Aliens called the Xilians unleashes all the Earth’s monsters to lay waste to most of the world’s major cities, including Tokyo, New York, Sydney, Shanghai and Paris. It is up to Godzilla and the Earth Defense Force to vanquish the monsters and aliens to rescue the world in the ultimate “Save the Earth” battle.

VS: 1.75 pointed ears
I’ll admit that this is only the second Toho Godzilla movie I’ve ever seen.  There is something to be said for the sheer enjoyment of watching the direct ancestor of the Power Rangers.  Guys in rubber suits destroying miniature buildings.  This is pure camp.  To be honest the “story” left me flat.  I didn’t buy this DVD to listen to bunch of Japanese (at least it was subtitled). I bought this movie to watch Godzilla duke it out with every monster in the cannon.

The two biggest complaints I had with this movie were the stereotyped view of New York (pimps and cops) and the fact that the English speakers in the movie seemed to understand Japanese and vice versa.  If it’s an Earth Defense Force, the unit all needs to be speaking the same language.

The mutant sub-plot is not a complaint but rather a distraction from the true purpose of the movie.

I know that I’m going to anger Godzilla purists but I actually prefer the American version of Godzilla over the Toho series.  I’m not taking anything away from the studio that gave birth to this worldwide phenomena but I just cannot take the rubber suit version “seriously”.  It’s pure fun.

PIT #2: 1.2 pointed ears
This movie followed the plot of Godzilla: Destroy all Monsters for the Gamecube.  If it hadn’t been for the game I wouldn’t have been able to understand what was going on at all.  It was very hard to follow the dialogue from subtitles.  Nice effects in cheap sort of way but nothing to rush out and see.

PIT #3: 1.75 pointed ears
I love the whole concept of the movie.  It reminds me of the GameCube game Godzilla: Destroy all Monsters.  That’s one of my favorite games to hog the TV set with.  I like the fact that Godzilla is the hero of this movie.  It would’ve been nicer if the producers had done all the monsters as either people in costumes of CGI.  The mixing of the two just didn’t work.  It als would have been nice if the DVD had included an English language dub of the whole movie.

I found it VERY difficult to believe that if the characters could understand both English and Japanese that they would not use the same language when talking to each other.

Overall 4.7 pointed ears out of 6.
Unless you’re a serious devotee of Godzilla or there’s nothing else to rent or watch then by all means enjoy yourself.  If you have trouble following subtitled movies than leave this one on the shelf.

March 22, 2010 Posted by | Movie Reviews, Movies | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Vulcan Stev Family movie review: Die Hard

Starring:
Bruce Willis …  Officer John McClane
Bonnie Bedelia …  Holly Gennaro McClane
Reginald VelJohnson …  Sgt. Al Powell
Paul Gleason …  Dep. Chief Dwayne T. Robinson
De’voreaux White …  Argyle
William Atherton …  Richard Thornburg
Hart Bochner …  Harry Ellis
James Shigeta …  Joseph Yoshinobu Takagi
Alan Rickman …  Hans Gruber
Alexander Godunov …  Karl
Bruno Doyon …  Franco
Andreas Wisniewski …  Tony
Clarence Gilyard Jr. …  Theo
Joey Plewa …  Alexander
Lorenzo Caccialanza …  Marco

1988 * 20th Century Fox * 131 mins
Rated R for violence and language

Plot synopsis from IMDb: Tough New York cop John McClane finds himself in a tight situation when an office building in Los Angeles is taken over by terrorists. Apart from himself, everyone else in the building – including his wife – is held at gunpoint while their captors spell out their demands. The F.B.I. are called in to survey the situation, but John McClane has other plans for the terrorists…

Vulcan Stev: 1.6 out of 2 pointed ears.

The film that made Bruce Willis a movie star, this is one of the first “violent” films I actually went to see in the theater.  I’ll admit to having a squeamish side (needles creep me out more than snakes do Indiana Jones), I don’t like the sight of blood and this movie has quite a bit.  Definitely a movie of its time period, the story still holds up and with a few minor rewrites the story could be told again today.  The violence is not overly gratuitous but it can be excessive.  The language on the other hand is a little too gratuitous, F-bombs abound.   The whole “terrorism is a front for massive theft” plot, although unique at the time, has been done to death (no pun intended) and in today’s political climate doesn’t seem quite as entertaining.

PIT #2:  1.2 pointed ears
Even though this is the first movie of the franchise, it is the last one that I saw (darn little brother watching movies on his day off from school when I’m not home).  The language was a little too gratuitous for my tastes.  The action seemed minor compared with what comes later.

PIT #3: 2 pointed ears
This was a cool movie.  I liked the fact that nobody believed him about the terrorists until they were getting shot at themselves.  McClane’s antagonism of the terrorists was also very cool.  I also like the fact that McClane is not above talking to himself.

4.8 pointed ears out 6
This is not a family friendly movie.  Language and violence are pervasive throughout.  The violence can be needlessly gory at times as well.  Older teens should have no problem with this flick but only you can determine what is appropriate for your family.

March 13, 2010 Posted by | Movie Reviews, Movies | , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Vulcan Stev Family Movie Review: Sherlock Holmes

Sherlock Holmes

Warner Bros. – 128 mins – PG-13

Starring:
 Robert Downey Jr. …  Sherlock Holmes
 Jude Law …  Dr. John Watson
 Rachel McAdams …  Irene Adler
 Mark Strong …  Lord Blackwood
 Eddie Marsan …  Inspector Lestrade
 Robert Maillet …  Dredger
 Geraldine James …  Mrs. Hudson
 Kelly Reilly …  Mary Morstan
 William Houston …  Constable Clark
 Hans Matheson …  Lord Coward
 James Fox …  Sir Thomas
 William Hope …  Ambassador Standish
 Clive Russell …  Captain Tanner
 Oran Gurel …  Reordan
 David Garrick …  McMurdo

Synopsis from IMDb:  After finally catching serial killer and occult “sorcerer” Lord Blackwood, legendary sleuth Sherlock Holmes and his assistant Dr. Watson can close yet another successful case. But when Blackwood mysteriously returns from the grave and resumes his killing spree, Holmes must take up the hunt once again. Contending with his partner’s new fiancée and the dimwitted head of Scotland Yard, the dauntless detective must unravel the clues that will lead him into a twisted web of murder, deceit, and black magic – and the deadly embrace of temptress Irene Adler.

VS: 1.9 pointed ears
I am not a Sherlock Holmes fan.  I ‘ve read maybe one of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s novels.  I am familiar enough with the character that I know the basics.  From what I remember of the Holmes canon, this movie is a faithful interpretation of the character right down to Holmes’ use of cocaine (inferred in a scene but not mentioned on screen and my reason for a point 1 reduction).  That said I was sufficiently intrigued by the trailers to put this movie on my “See it if it comes to Grundy” list (Grundy being our local dollar theater).  I was not disappointed.  I enjoyed this film from start to finish.  The violence is not gratuitous and is used to depict Holmes’ analytical mind in more than one scene.  19th century London looked appropriately gritty and smog infested.  Given the state of special effects that shouldn’t surprise me but it did look nice.  I was also pleasantly surprised to find that Mrs VS enjoyed the movie (but I’ll let her tell why in her section).

Robert Downey Jr. played Holmes to the nines.  Never did I see a hint of Tony Stark, too often when I go to see a film I can be distracted by seeing too much of an actor’s previous performance.  Downey gave life to a character who could well be an ancestor of Tony Stark without calling on the previous character. 

I also failed to see the supposed “gay subtext” in this movie.  I suspect that blog rumors and pronouncements of the former  are from people who are over analyzing everything.   This movie goes in the DVD collection when it is released.

Mrs. VS: 1.5 pointed ears
This was a fairly decent movie.  The scenery was appropriate to the era being depicted.  It is not a good-looking movie, but then 19th century London was not a beautiful place.  I happen to like murder mysteries (ed note I didn’t know that) and this movie was rousing good mystery.  The man bursting into flames was a little gratuitous but understandable given the aspirations of the villain.

Pvt. B.
rating coming

PIT #2: 2 pointed ears
This movie is the best movie of 2010 (OK it’s only February but it’s STILL a good movie).  This movie took everything that I knew about Sherlock Holmes and put it up on the screen.   You can be a complete Sherlock noob and still enjoy this movie.

PIT #3: 2 pointed ears
This movie rocked.  I didn’t see a single kissing scene.  Although there were no car chases, I understand that is because the automobile had not been invented in Holmes’ time (though we did get to see a large ship sink).

Overall 7.4 out of 8 ears

Families be warned the PG-13 rating is earned for depictions of (legal) drug use, depictions of cultic rituals and minor language.

Definitely a must-see if you get the chance.

February 17, 2010 Posted by | Movie Reviews, Movies | , , , , , , | 5 Comments