Day 151: Terminator Salvation – The Machinima Series

Terminator Salvation The Machinima Series - 2009Terminator Salvation – The Machinima Series
Tor Helmstein, Kelly Ward and Ian Kirby
Starring: Moon Bloodgood, Cam Clarke and Jim Meskimen
Rated: NR
Length: 74 min.
Release: May 18, 2009

The resourceful A-10 pilot from Terminator Salvation has her own story in this kick-‘bot prequel filmed via the innovative Machinima process that turns video-game elements into a full-blown animated story. Moon Bloodgood reprises her T4 role, providing the voice of Williams as she takes on an explosive mission to track what or who is disrupting comm links during the Resistance’s fierce guerrilla war against Skynet. T-600s emerge, guns blazing. MotoTerminators patrol post-Apocalyptic L.A. Aerostats hover. Hunter Killers rain death. Machinima delivers action and style in a big way. Reboot the future with Terminator Salvation: The Machinima Series.

My Thoughts:
I’m not gonna spend much time on this as it would be a waist of your time to read it…just like it was a waste of my time to watch this stupid collection of lame video game reals with a poorly done voice over dubbed in. Keeping in mind that this collection is really a series of internet shorts created as a precursor to the movie and as a strange promotional of the Terminator Salvation video game. It was a strange promotional that ultimately failed.

The back story on Williams is interesting…but not interesting enough to put up with how poorly the execution of this idea was. The whole time watching it I just couldn’t get past the fact that they used a really bad video game engine to create this waste of space story. The whole video game engine thing doesn’t come off as creative…it comes off as cheep. Really…really…REALLY cheep.

The only reason I sat through this piece of garbage was to write this review. I knew right away it would be bad, but I hoped it would get better…it does not. There is no take away from this story that adequately justifies the need to sit through it. There is no set up to Terminator Salvation that makes this worth your time.

So let this be your warning…don’t waist your time. Seriously…don’t. It’s 74 min. you’ll never get back. .5 stars out of 5.


Day 112: Fantastic Mr. Fox

Fantastic Mr. Fox
Wes Anderson
George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Jason Schwartzman, Bill Murray, Willem Dafoe & Owen Wilson
Length: 87 min.
Released: November, 25 2009
Trailer Synopsis:
It is the story of one Mr. Fox and his wild-ways of hen heckling, turkey taking and cider sipping, nocturnal, instinctive adventures. He has to put his wild days behind him and do what fathers do best: be responsible. He is too rebellious. He is too wild. He is going to try “just one more raid” on the three nastiest, meanest farmers that are Boggis, Bunce and Bean. It is a tale of crossing the line of family responsibilities and midnight adventure and the friendships and awakenings of this country life that is inhabited by Fantastic Mr. Fox and his friends.

My Thoughts:
It’s a cute family movie and a wonderful adaptation of the book. The thing I love most about it is how well they bring these characters to life and give them all personalities that fit so well with the story and each other.

It’s animation was great. I don’t know that I could say it’s as good as the Tim Burton team that made The Corps Bride, Coraline and The Nightmare Before Christmas…but it’s rather close.

The voice work was…well, fantastic. They were cast perfectly and really captured the mannerism and characteristics of each character very well. Each actor’s voice just seemed perfectly tailored to character they played.

By far, the best part of the movie was how spot on it was in bringing the whole book to life. It was amazing to watch, because it was a perfect adaptation. Again, the animation wasn’t as perfect as others I’ve seen, but in the grander picture it was a beautiful and fun filled movie to watch. 4.5 stars out of 5.

Day 106: The Prince of Egypt

The Prince of Egypt
Directors: Brenda Chapman, Steve Hickner & Simon Wells
Starring: Val Kilmer, Ralph Fiennes, Michelle Pfeiffer, Sandra Bullock, Jeff Goldblum, Danny Glover, Patrick Stewart, Helen Mirren, Steve Martin & Martin Short
Rated: PG
Length: 99 min.
Released: December 18, 1998
Trailer Synopsis:
Egypt, eons of years ago: Pharao Seti commands all male hebrew babies to be drowned. A desperate mother places her son in a basket and lets the Hebrew god guide it along its way on the river. The basket is found by the Queen, and Moses is brought up as a brother to the heir of the throne, Ramses. Years later, the brothers, who grew up happily and wealthy, are split by Moses’ recognition of his true heritage and the suppressing system his brother is about to inherit, willing to carry it on. Fleeing from the city in despair, Moses finds himself being called by God. He is given the task of being the messenger in order to free the Hebrews and to lead them into a country where milk and honey flow.

My Thoughts:
One of the first animated films to come out of Dreamworks Pictures, The Prince of Egypt is absolutely brilliant!  An animated masterpiece by all accounts. Emotionally griping, powerful and perfect in every way.

Most who know me know that I’m not one for musicals and/or song in movies…but when the songs are as powerful and well integrated as these I make an exception. This is how it should be done. The song itself becomes an enhanced tool to tell the story in a more emotional way. The songs really are powerful…and they add to the strength of the movie so much.

The animation is 100% perfect. It blends traditional animation with CG animation so seamlessly! It’s such a grand scale movie, and yet grounded in such a personal story. My favorite part of the story is the dynamic of the brotherly relationship between Moses and Rameses. It’s a great foundation for the film and a perfect for the audience to connect and relate to these powerful and historical figures. These two men have such a history and are so easily put on pedestals. Making them so relatable keeps them grounded. That makes you get really invested in the story, the characters and the outcome of their relationship because you care about them so much.

The all-star celebrity cast that jumped on board is awesome and they fit their characters perfectly. I’ve seen the Exodus story told several different times…this is hands down my favorite. If you have not seen this film I don’t just highly recommend it…I implore you to watch this movie. It is animated perfection and the best representation of the story of Moses I have ever seen.

You guessed it…5 stars out of 5.

Day 101: Renaissance: Paris 2054

Renaissance: Paris 2054
Christian Volckman
tarring: Daniel Craig
Rated: R
Length: 105 min.
Released: September 26, 2006
Trailer Synopsis:
Paris, 2042: a dark Rotoscope world of shadows and right angles. Ilona Tasuiev, a brilliant young scientist, is kidnapped, and her employer, Avalon, a major health and beauty corporation, wants her found. Karas, a jaded police captain, is assigned to find her, fast. He seeks help from her sister, Bislane, and they are soon uncovering identify theft, missing files, and hints that something back in 2006 may explain what’s going on. Ilona’s mentor, Avalon’s vice president, a Japanese researcher, an underworld boss, and Bislane’s drug connection all figure in the mix. So does an attraction between Karas and Bislane. What’s behind the kidnapping? Who’s the victim?

My Thoughts:
I had the privilege of watching this movie at the Chicago International Film Festival for my Birthday back in 2006. It was only one of three screenings in the US…and I just loved it. I’m really not one for French films. No it’s not in French…it’s in English, but it was made in France. French Director, crew, motion capture actors…and so on and so on. On occasion they come out with a movie that just blows me away. This is just such a film.

The main thing that turns people off about it is the very stark contrast of the animation which took me a couple minutes to get use to it. To be honest, I think that’s the best part of this film. Not only is the entire film done with ground breaking motion capture acting…the color scheme is done entirely in black and white. There is only a few key placed elements of color and little gray. The fact that they can pull off an entire film with such a sharp contrast was mind boggling. It was such a unique idea.

The use of Daniel Craig for the lead voice was a fantastic idea too. It was a very smart choice on the part of the casting director. The film was released in time to build on the hype of him being the new James bond (which was also a great choice) and gave the English and US audience a point of familiarity to connect with and draw them in.

The story itself was incredibly engaging, action packed, suspenseful, entertaining and it has a thought provoking surprise ending. It is a great film that most people have never heard of…and I highly recommend it. This one is getting 5 stars out of 5.

Day 97: Casper

Brad Silberling
Bill Pullman, Christina Ricci, Eric Idle & Cathy Moriarty
Rated: PG
Length: 100 min.
Released: May 26, 1995
Trailer Synopsis:
Furious that her late father only willed her his gloomy-looking mansion rather than his millions, Carrigan Crittenden is ready to burn the place to the ground when she discovers a map to a treasure hidden in the house. But when she enters the rickety mansion to seek her claim, she is frightened away by a wicked wave of ghosts. Determined to get her hands on this hidden fortune, she hires afterlife therapist Dr. James Harvey to exorcise the ghosts from the mansion. Harvey and his daughter Kat move in, and soon Kat meets Casper, the ghost of a young boy who’s “the friendliest ghost you know.” But not so friendly are Casper’s uncles–Stretch, Fatso and Stinkie–who are determined to drive all “fleshies” away. Ultimately, it is up to Harvey and Kat to help the ghosts cross over to the other side.

My Thoughts:
This movie was “not allowed” when I was growing up. Neither was the cartoon. Let’s just say I had some rather strict parents who didn’t want me watching anything that was remotely scary, ghostly or mystical in any way. That said, I did end up seeing this one…in school for Halloween. I never told my parents. Oops. 😉 Eventually my parents came around to see the error in their over exaggeration and over protection. I still don’t know if they’ve seen this one yet, but if not…they are missing out.

This movie is really a brilliant real life adaptation of the animated classic. The characters are such good replications of the original cartoon characters. Simply put, the CG animation of the ghosts is fantastic! Even 15 years later they are perfect for this concept. They are far enough away from straight cartoon CG to be believable in real life while still staying true to the animated characters and having a slight cartoon/animated feel to them which helps it feel like the original cartoon.

The story is real engaging too. It’s funny, it’s serious, it’s suspenseful, it’s heart warming, it’s scary…it’s just perfect! The whole idea of a psychiatrist trying to help Casper and the incredibly quirky trio of Stretch, Stinkie and Fatso is such a great concept. Lord knows they’ve got some issues to work out.

Its also got a few cool cameos in it too. Like, Ben Steine, Mr. Rogers, Clint Eastwood, Mel Gibson and Dan Aykroyd among others. Those are always fun to see.

I’m giving this one 4 stars out of 5.

Day 89: The Animatrix

The Animatrix
Directors: Peter Chung, Andy Jones, Yoshiaki Kawajiri, Takeshi Koike, Mahiro Maeda, Kôji Morimoto & Shinichirô Watanabe
Starring: Pamela Adlon,  Clayton Watson, Hedy Burress & Akio Ôtsuka
Rated: NR
Length: 102 min
Released: June 3, 2003
Trailer Synopsis:
Anthology of nine short anime (Japanese animation) films tied in to the 1999 blockbuster “The Matrix” and its sequels. “Final Flight of the Osiris”: The crew of the hovercraft Osiris attempt to warn their city of an imminent attack. “The Second Renaissance, Parts 1 & 2”: The story behind the war between man and the machines, how mankind scorched the sky, and the creation of the Matrix. “Kid’s Story”: A teenager is contacted by Neo, and manages to escape the Matrix. “Program”: Two warriors battle in a samurai training simulation when one decides to betray his crewmates and re-enter the Matrix. “World Record”: A champion sprinter manages to break free of the Matrix by sheer physical effort during a record attempt. “Beyond”: A young girl searching for her cat discovers a haunted house caused by a glitch in the system. “A Detective Story”: Private investigator Ash tracks a hacker named Trinity through the looking glass. “Matriculated”: A group of humans capture a machine scout and insert it into a ‘human matrix’.

My Thoughts:
Originally I thought this was going to be super dumb. I don’t like Japanimation at all… or “Anime” as the nerds call it. But this one ended up being pretty cool. They all had their own unique flavor to them, and it gave an interesting lead in to the other two films.

Really there was only about two of the episodes that relate directly to the story of the next couple films, but they give an interesting background on a few minor characters that show up.

Then there are a couple that are totally different, like a detective story or one about a portion of the Matrix that’s got a glitch and causes weird stuff to happen. They were all pretty cool ideas and the animation wasn’t bad…or that annoying. I’m giving this one 3 stars out of 5.

Day 86: The Sword in the Stone

The Sword in the Stone
Wolfgang Reitherman
tarring: Rickie Sorensen, Karl Swenson & Junius Matthews
ated: G
Length: 79 min.
Released: December 25, 1963
Full Film on YouTube Synopsis:
Arthur (aka Wart) is a young boy who aspires to be a knight’s squire. On a hunting trip he falls in on Merlin, a powerful but amnesiac wizard who has plans for Wart beyond mere squiredom. He starts by trying to give Wart an education (whatever that is), believing that once one has an education, one can go anywhere. Needless to say, it doesn’t quite work out that way.

My Thoughts:
A forgotten gem of the Disney Collection…and one of my favorites! It has the same feel as so many other classics like Sleeping Beauty, Robin Hood, The Jungle Book and so on. For some reason this one doesn’t come to mind right away for most people when thinking of the Disney films of that era.

I’ll be honest, I have been one of those people. Everything that makes a Disney movie works…lovable characters, fun songs, a great moral to the story and fantastic animation. It’s got it all. I’m particularly a fan of the songs in this one…and the wizardry battle between Merlin and the villainous witch Madam Mim.

I’m giving this one 4 stars out of 5.