Saturday, December 27, 2008

Review: Force Unleashed & The Dark Knight

Force Unleashed (somewhere else) the book

During the annual video game get together, Saturday after Thanksgiving, I watched some of this video game being played. The graphics are awesome and it looked like you could do a decent amount of stuff as the character. While at the library a few weeks ago, I picked up this book, plus Revenge of the Sith, to read. Force Unleashed takes place between RofT and A New Hope.

I read through Revenge first. Vey had suggested giving it a look, so when I saw it on the shelf, I picked it up. I honestly didn't expect it to be much. The "new" trilogy comes across as very stiff and plot point driven. I didn't feel compelled to like any of the characters, even though I enjoy watching several of the actors. What I discovered about Revenge is that if I tune out the stiff acting and horrible dialogue from the movie, it's a really good story. The author wove in more than the movie did and I actually began to pity Anakin. I felt sorry for Padme, being pregnant and married to a guy who can't seem to really grow up. By the end of the movie, I finally understood what the story should have been, a classic tragedy with Anakin at the heart of it.

With that, I picked up Force Unleashed and dove in head first. Sadly, this book is nowhere near as good as Revenge. Granted, it's based on a video game. I was willing to look beyond that and try to enjoy it, nonetheless. Unfortunately, I couldn't finish this one fast enough. The action sequences from the video game read horribly. The character development is as shallow and stinted as it would be in a video game. There's no real big payoff feeling like there would be from beating a video game. And the video game's story and how it plays into the Star Wars metaplot? meh. Interesting idea, but meh. If you want to experience Force Unleashed, play the video game and skip this book.

Anyone wanting the plot elements that fit into the mythos, let me know and I'll post spoilers.

The Dark Knight
potential for spoilers ahead

I got this one as a Christmas gift. I've only watched it once, so I'm sure I've missed things. It's a very good follow up to Batman Begins. The development of Gordan and Batman's relationship is good. The inclusion of Dent was nice. I would have liked a full movie of him as Dent before the creation of Two Face. Ledger was good as the Joker.

I was surprised at the direction they went with the Joker's personality. He came across as the quiet guy, who finally snaps, instead of the cRAzY mAn I often expect him to be. You know, closer to the '60s tv show version. The portrayal as a quiet, more subdued personality, perhaps more unsecure?, was a great turn and for some reason, a little easier to relate to. This is not to say there was no over the top insanity from Joker, there was. However, there was not a lot of cackling "ha-ha-ha-ha"s. I could have used a few more. Joker definetly upped the ante on what he was willing to do for his cause. That was nice. It wasn't just some random kill people here, blow that building up there. The character was well thought out. There was still some comic book pastiche, but that's to be expected.

I didn't care for the ending with Batman and Gordan's interactions and Batman taking the heat. It felt very forced and just didn't jive with the rest of the movie. I felt it could have been left out. I understand the need to have him outside the law and on the run. After all, we can't have people rooting for a vigilante, now can we?

I wouldn't be surprised in the next movie if they include Gordan's wife moving back to Chicago as part of the plot. They set it up this time, with Two Face's actions.

If you liked Batman Begins, you'll like most of this movie.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

War Zone - Spoilers ahead

I went to Punisher War Zone this evening. They got a lot right in this movie, but I also feel there was enough bad to go around. I want to make one statement before I throw in the cut. The cut, because I'm bound to spoil. The statement,

This movie is rated R for strong violence, gore, horrific visuals, swearing (not a lot, really), and an over the top amount of anger (hey, it is Frank. I cannot recommend kids seeing this movie. Nor can I recommend it to people who have trouble with the latest round of Batman movies, Blackhawk Down, or Event Horizon.

What they got right:
Atmosphere of Garth Ennis era, MAX Punisher
Ray did a great job as Frank
Camera work

What they got wrong:
Horrid script
Someone couldn't decide if this was a Marvel Knights movie or Marvel MAX movie
Let's kill a whole bunch of characters from the comic book, thereby making it impossible to include them in the future
Silly comic book bad guy's brother
No Frank Castle War Journal voice over

Right now, an hour after seeing Punisher War Zone, I feel like I enjoyed the movie. Frank's base of operations looked good, I enjoyed the actors that portrayed the mainline characters from the MAX comic. I'll refrain from spoiling all your fun by mentioning who they are. I will say they kill all nearly all of them. The amount of violence, level of violence, the same topics with blood, Frank's seriousness while in combat were all good. Blood is seen, innards are seen, bodies are broken, heads blown off.

Jigsaw's brother was atrocious as a character. His lines were iffy. His actions were often stupid and stank of "supervillainy."

The script sucked. It really was horrible. I think one of the problems was they couldn't decide if it was a MAX or Marvel Knights movie. During the fight sequences, it was a MAX movie. When it wasn't a fight sequence, it was "a softer side of Sears." I'm all about showing Frank's weaknesses. They didn't do that. Instead, they wrote two scripts, one for The Punisher and one for my mom.

I can now understand why Tom didn't want to do this movie. He may not have liked the ultra-violence or he may not have liked the shitty script. Either way, he made a good decision, as he doesn't fit this Punisher. I'm not putting him down for this, but Tom played a different character.

The first and second movie are ignored.

There is no extra ending after the credits.

I think I was one of the few people in the theatre that laughed as Frank wove his revenge against the bad guys. I'm sure that doesn't say much for my psyche, but The Punisher is my favourite superhero, even if he is an anti-hero. People like will enjoy this movie for what it is - Garth's Punisher if Garth didn't write it.