Archive for May, 2010

The latest SHREK entry is surprisingly good aside from some flaws.

Posted in Reviews with tags on May 20, 2010 by Steve Mesa

Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz and Antonio Banderes reunite for the last time in the best Shrek movie since the first one, Shrek Forever After.
In the city of Far Far Away, Shrek (Myers) is adored by the public and loved by his friends, Donkey (Murphy) and Puss in Boots (Banderes), and family, including his wife Fiona (Diaz) and his three little kids. However, he is not happy as he misses scaring the living pants off people. When he has a public meltdown at one of his children’s birthday party, he runs off to clear his head and meets Rumpelstiltskin (Walt Dohrn) who offers his a deal where he can relive his days as a single ogre. Shrek takes the deal and enjoys it at first by terrorizing a local village, but he realized that he made a mistake where he finds out that he is an alternated universe where Rumpelstiltskin is the king of Far Far Away and everyone of his friends that not know who he is. It is up to Shrek and his friends to find a way to reverse the deal he made and return to his normal life.
I have to tell you that my expectations for this movie was low as I thought it was going to be the same as the past two sequels with a lot of pop music and pop culture references that would make these movies “hip”. However, the story is very strong and relatable to any parent or married couple who watches this when Shrek wishes he was single again.
The best part of the movie is seeing the alternate versions of Fiona, Donkey and the Gingerbread Man. However, the character that steals the scene the most is Puss in Boots as a pampered, obese and lazy cat.
Shrek Forever After is also offered in three-dimensions in movie theaters. The 3D element enhances the animation in the movie and adds depth to certain sequences that include Shrek riding on a runaway flying broom in a palace.
While the movie is good in most areas, there are some flaws that keep this movie from being one of the best animation movies of the year. There is no doubt that the story is good, but the last 15 minutes that includes the big climactic fight scene is really disappointing as Shrek Forever After seems go out with a fizzle instead of a bang.
The new characters to this fourth entry of the Shrek franchise include witches and new ogres never really do anything for the story except being character to fill the background. When I look as the credits to see that Jon Hamm and Jane Lynch played the characters Brogan and Gretched, I was expecting more from those two actors. They might as well be named Ogre #1 and Ogre #2 for all I know.
However, Walt Dohrn really does a better job as Rumplestiltskin. He is kind of unique character with a Napoleon complex, his big-toothed pet duck at his side and a variety of wigs that expresses his emotions.
Shrek Forever After is a complete surprise as it carries a strong story, new versions of old characters and 3D element that enhances certain sequences, but the flaws are visible with the disappointing final act of the movie and new characters that are just filler for the background.
SHREK FOREVER AFTER: 3.5 out of 5 stars

IRON MAN 2 is a fun ride despite too many characters to follow

Posted in Reviews with tags , on May 13, 2010 by Steve Mesa

Oscar-nominee Robert Downey, Jr. returns as eccentric billionaire/superhero Tony Stark and he faces his inner-demon and new villains in the sequel to one of 2008’s biggest blockbuster, Iron Man 2.
Six months after Tony Stark (Downey, Jr.) reveals to the world that he IS Iron Man, he becomes even more famous then he was before, but he is put on the spot when Congress pressures him to turn in his suit to the military. His main competition Justin Hammer (Sam Rockwell) wants to Stark’s Iron Man designs in order to make his own design of the suit. Hammer manages to enlist the help of Ivan Venko (Mickey Rourke), a former Russian physicist-turned-criminal, to create Iron Man clones sans man in a suit. However, Venko seeks revenge against Stark when his father (John Slattery) deported Venko’s father to Russia several years ago. His friend, Lt. Col. James Rhodes (Don Cheadle) is stuck between sticking with his best friend and following his superiors’ orders to take one of Starks’ suits. Starks’ new assistant Natalie Rushman (Scarlett Johansson) is causing friction between him and former assistant, Pepper Pots (Gwyneth Paltrow).
As you can tell from my summary of the film’s synopsis, there is a lot going in Iron Man 2 as it seems Tony Stark have a bigger problems to deal with. However, one of the weakness’ of Iron Man 2 is that it is trying too hard to squeeze as many sub-plots into the sequel, which become very muddled when it comes to trying to keep in track of what is going on. Another weakness that Iron Man 2 has it has too many characters condensed in a two hour film, which was one of many problems that another Marvel-made movie, X-Men: The Last Stand, suffered from. This movie is more of a transitional movie for the upcoming Avengers film as the film foreshadows the Avengers film by including familiar items from Captain American and Thor that would make a fan of the Marvel Universe giddy like a little schoolgirl.
Do not get me wrong, Iron Man 2 is an entertaining ride and the movie really delivers in the action department. The two action scenes that stand out in the film includes Stark fighting Venkoa on a race track in Monaco and an all-out war that takes place in the last half hour of the film that includes a showdown with Iron Man and War Machine taking on several of Venko/Hammer’s Iron Man drones. The special effects by Industrial Light and Magic is tremendous eye candy as it complements the action sequences in the film including a scene in where Stark changes into his Iron Man suit via a portable suitcase.
Robert Downey, Jr. delivers another great performance as Tony Stark as he struggles with the big target on his back, while is struggling with his own mortality as the arc reactor in his chest that s keeping him alive is also poisoning him. Downey really delves deep into the dark side as with Death looming over him with each day that comes, Stark develops increasingly bizarre behavior that includes drunkenly displaying himself in his Iron Man suit at his own birthday party. Another great performance in the film is from Sam Rockwell (Moon, Choke) as the perfect counterpoint to Downey’s Stark, Justin Hammer. Hammer also reminds Stark on what Stark could have been without his moment of clarity in the first film. The character of Pepper Pots and Lt. Col. James Rhodes are fleshed out further in the sequel as Paltrow is given more to do when Starks appoints Pepper as CEO of Stark Industries and Cheadle takes over the role from his previous predecessor Terrance Howard as Starks’ friend who finally becomes War Machine by teaming up with Stark to kick some ass and take names.
Iron Man 2 delivers with great action scenes, outstanding special effects and another great performance from Downey. However, the sub-plots and the mish mash of characters in the film keeps this movie from being superior to the first film.

IRON MAN 2: 4 out of 5 stars