Wednesday, 27 May 2015

The Emperor's New Groove Review (Updated)

The Emperor's New Groove

Release Date: 5th April 2001 - Australia

Production Companies
Walt Disney Pictures
Walt Disney Feature Animation

Walt Disney Studios Motion
Pictures Australia

Genre: Animation/Family

Rating: PG

Runtime: 78 minutes

Budget: $100,000,000

Box Office Gross: $169,327,687

Plot Summary
In this animated comedy 
from the folks at Disney, 
the vain and cocky Emperor 
Kuzco is a very busy man. 
Besides maintaining his 
groove, and firing his 
suspicious administrator, 
Yzma; he's also planning 
to build a new waterpark 
just for himself for his 
birthday. However, this 
means destroying one of 
the villages in his kingdom. 
Meanwhile, Yzma is hatching 
a plan to get revenge and 
usurp the throne. But, in a 
botched assassination 
courtesy of Yzma's right-
hand man, Kronk, Kuzco 
is magically transformed 
into a llama. 

Now, Kuzco finds himself 
the property of Pacha, a 
lowly llama herder whose 
home is ground zero for 
the water park. Upon 
discovering the llama's 
true self, Pacha offers to 
help resolve the Emperor's 
problem and regain his 
throne, only if he promises 
to move his water park.

Voice Cast
David Spade - Emperor Kuzco
John Goodman - Pacha
Eartha Kitt - Yzma
Patrick Warburton - Kronk
Wendie Melick - Chicha
Kellyann Kelso - Chaca
Eli Russell Linnetz - Tipo
Bob Bergen - Bucky the
John Fiedler - Old Man

Story/Director - Mark Dindal
Story - Chris Williams
Original Story - Roger Allers
and Matthew Jacobs
Story Supervisor/Additional
Story Material - Stephen J. Anderson
Additional Story Material -
Don Hall and John Norton
Producer - Randy Fulmer
Production Designer - Paul A. Felix
Cinematography - Thomas Baker
Film Editors - Tom Finan and
Pam Ziegenhagen
Songs - Sting
Music - John Debney


2001 Academy Awards
Best Music, Original Song "My Funny Friend and Me" -
Sting and Dave Hartley (Nominated)

THE EMPEROR’S NEW GROOVE was pretty hilarious for Disney to make something more light-hearted and whimsical in the tradition of flicks such as ALADDIN (click here) and the horrible HERCULES (click here). The plot scenario is meaningful, humorous and nothing is said of the fact that this underrated movie had certain developmental hurdles during its production such as removing the songs by Sting and changing the story at the last minute. The best things about this movie I narrowly point out are the voice acting chemistry by David Spade and John Goodman. Their characters are total opposites and essentially their characters make progress in learning to accept each others' differences. Furthermore the other mentionable two stars Patrick Warburton and the late Eartha Kitt, perform with much extreme energy as the two villains.

THE EMPEROR’S NEW GROOVE is considerably the zany and funniest animated movie that I ever seen and I would say that it almost reached the heights of the success before SHREK came in surprise for the audiences. NEW GROOVE should not be mistaken for an animated musical as it certainly is not.

Star rating: (9/10) Excellent Movie

Monday, 25 May 2015

Home Review


Release Date: 19th March 2015 - Australia

Production Companies 
DreamWorks Animation

20th Century Fox Australia

Genre: Animation/Family 

Rating: PG
Runtime: 94 minutes 

Budget: $135,000,000

Box Office Gross: $386,041,607

Plot Summary
After the alien race 
called the Boov invades 
Earth to make it their 
home, a resourceful 
human girl named Tip 
avoids capture and 
embarks on a road trip 
of a lifetime with a 
banished Boov named 

Voice Cast
Jim Parsons - Oh
Rihanna - Gratuity "Tip" Tucci
Jennifer Lopez - Lucy
Steve Martin - Captain Smek
Matt Jones - Kyle
Brian Stepanek - Gorg

Director - Tim Johnson
Based on Book "The True 
Meaning of Smekday" - 
Adam Rex
Screenplay - Tom J. Astle 
and Matt Ember
Head of Story - Todd Wilderman
Producers - Suzanne Buirgy,
Chris Jenkins and Mireille Soria
Production Designer - Kathy Alteri
Character Designer - Takao Noguchi
Film Editors - Jessica Ambiner-
Rojas and Alexander Berner
Music - Lorne Balfe and Stargate

On a cold Sunday, I went to the cinemas to see HOME since there is no other interesting movies to watch. This animated film boasts some genuine animated graphics and tangible laughter, it frankly does not compliment the animation company DreamWorks which after a series of commercial disappointments (minus THE CROODS and HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON 2) blew its chances to dream big to impress everyone. HOME attempts to regain the quality and hype of previous DreamWorks films but unfortunately, the story is quite simply too childish and inconsistent. Even the Boovs are very immature and self-centered beings who only care about themselves in their cowardice and the underdeveloped story did not explain how they were able to get past the planet's defence forces when they are meant to be invading Earth. If more attention had been given to the finer details and events in the story than it might have been less confusing and disorganised.

There is a reason why I wanted to see HOME which is perhaps because I am a fan of Jim Parsons who you might know as the actor who plays Sheldon Cooper from the TV sitcom BIG BANG THEORY. He fits in perfectly as voice actor for the character Oh who presents as a somewhat odd being whom the audience can sympathise with and laugh at his quirkiness. Aside from Parsons acting to which I deeply enjoyed hearing, there are a few other notably praise worthy voice talents of Steve Martin and Rihanna; I certainly don't have to criticise her acting versatility like I did once on BATTLESHIP (click here) where she had her first big break away from the music stardom.

The film apparently has similarities to the modern Disney classic LILO & STITCH (click here), especially the concept of a lonely girl bonding with a wanted alien, still HOME can still be an entertaining feature is you're in the mood for something light-hearted. I think people would agree to my critical opinion that HOME is an average film in comparison to other successful productions that have been released by DreamWorks.

Star rating: (5/10) Average

Monday, 18 May 2015

Avengers: Age of Ultron Review

Avengers: Age of Ultron

Release Date: 23rd April 2015 - Australia

Production Companies
Marvel Studios
Marvel Entertainment

Walt Disney Studios Motion 
Pictures Australia

Genre: Action

Rating: M

Runtime: 141 minutes

Budget: $279,900,000

Box Office Gross: $1,402,413,868

Plot Summary
When Tony Stark tries to
jumpstart a dominant peace-
keeping program, things go
awry and Earth's Mightiest
Heroes, including Iron Man,
Captain America, Thor,
The Incredible Hulk, Black
Widow and Hawkeye, are
put to the ultimate test as
the fate of the planet hangs
in the balance. As the
villainous Ultron emerges,
it is up to the Avengers to
stop him from enacting
his terrible plans, and soon
'Avengers: Age of Ultron' first stills: Iron Man fights The Hulk; Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch flex their superpowersuneasy alliances and
unexpected action pave
the way for an epic and
global adventure.

Robert Downey, Jr. - Tony
Stark/Iron Man
Chris Evans - Steve Rogers/
Captain America
Mark Ruffalo - Dr. Bruce Banner/Hulk
Lou Ferrigno - Hulk (Voice)
Chris Hemsworth - Thor
Scarlett Johansson - Natasha
Romanoff/Black Widow
Jeremy Renner - Clint Barton/Hawkeye
James Spader - Ultron (Voice)
Aaron Taylor-Johnson - Pietro
Elizabeth Olsen - Wanda
Maximoff/Scarlet Witch
Paul Bettany - JARVIS/Vision
Samuel L. Jackson - Nick Fury
Don Cheadle - James Rhodes/War Machine
Cobie Smulders - Maria Hill
Anthony Mackie - Sam Wilson/The Falcon
Hayley Atwell - Peggy Carter
Stellan Skarsgard - Erik Selvig
Linda Cardellini - Laura Barton
Claudia Kim - Dr. Helen Cho
Thomas Kretschmann - Strucker
Andy Serkis - Ulysses Klaue
Henry Goodman - Dr. List
Idris Elba - Heimdall
Josh Brolin - Thanos

Writer/Director - Joss Whedon
Based on Comic Book Series
"The Avengers"/Executive
Producer - Stan Lee
Based on Comic Book Series
"The Avengers" - Jack Kirby
Producer - Kevin Feige
Production Designer - Charles Wood
Costume Designer - Alexandra Byrne
Cinematography - Ben Davis
Senior Visual Effects Supervisor: ILM - Ben Snow
Visual Effects Producers - Abbigail Keller, Ron Ames and Lauren Weidel
Visual Effects Supervisors -
Ray McMaster, Michael Mulholland, Katherine Rodtsbrooks, Dan Seddon,
Alan Torres, Ryan Stafford, Dusan Strugar and
Christopher Townsend
Visual Effects Supervisor: Animal Logic VFX -
Paul Butterworth
Animation Supervisor - Erik De Boer
Film Editors - Jeffrey Ford and
Lisa Lassek
Music Supervisor - Dave Jordan
Music - Brian Tyler and Danny Elfman

In 2012 when I first came to see the first AVENGERS movie (click here) on the 3D aspect upon its initial screening, I was amazed by its quality and proclaimed it to be one of the best from the superhero-action genre next to THE DARK KNIGHT (click here). Having glorious anticipations and high hopes for the newly fresh instalment AGE OF ULTRON, I find that its not as powerful as it due to a lack of fanciful qualities of fun and energy which blended together to make the first one irresistible to every die-hard comic book fan. Although this is only Joss Whedon's second time he directed (and wrote) a feature to continue Marvel's first superhero league on a big-scale, I would say that he has proven his worth as an accomplished visionary director. The visuals are flawless, every frame is top-notch.

Other factors aside from the CGI expansion include the acting from the original cast which continues to empower the sequel. The talented newcomer James Spader gives a sharp but intensifying vocal performance as the killer android Ultron. He provides a subtle impression of an evil metallic version of Tony Stark minus the humanity that is just deep and compelling of which I would best describe as a HAL 9000 (2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY) trapped in a machine's body.

This movie has been made on a big budget and this I would say has been money well spent as the scenes are of such a large scale and magnitude. That's all for now in reviewing the sequel of THE AVENGERS and I would definitely watch it again, but I would not say it is better than the first instalment.

Star rating: (7/10) Good Movie

Monday, 11 May 2015

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes Review

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Release Date: 10th July 2014 - Australia

Production Companies
20th Century Fox 
Chernin Entertainment 
TSG Entertainment
Relativity Media (in association 

20th Century Fox Australia

Genre: Sci-Fi

Rating: M

Runtime: 125 minutes

Budget: $170,000,000

Box Office Gross: $708,835,589

Plot Summary
It is 2026, and humanity 
has been pushed to near 
extinction by a deadly 
virus. When a group of 
survivors desperate to 
find a new source of power 
travels into the woods 
near San Francisco, they 
discover a highly evolved 
community of intelligent 
apes led by Caesar. The 
two species form a fragile 
peace agreement but 
dissection grows and the 
groups find themselves 
hurtling toward an all-out 


The Apes
Andy Serkis - Caesar
Toby Kebbell - Koba
Nick Thurston - Blue Eyes
Karin Konoval - Maurice
Terry Notary - Rocket
Doc Shaw - Ash
Judy Greer - Cornelia
Lee Ross - Grey

The Humans
Jason Clarke - Malcolm
Gary Oldman - Dreyfus
Keri Russell - Ellie
Kodi Smit-McPhee - Alexander
Kirk Acevedo - Carver
Jon Eyez - Foster
Enrique Murciano - Kemp
James Franco - Dr. Will
Rodman (Cameo)

Director - Matt Reeves
Based on Novel and Suggested
Concept "La Planete des
Singes" - Pierre Boulle
Based on Characters/Writers/
Producers - Rick Jaffa and
Amanda Silver
Producers - Peter Chernin and
Dylan Clark
Production Designer - James
Director of Photography -
Michael Seresin
Senior Visual Effects
Supervisor - Joe Letteri
Visual Effects Supervisor - Dan Lemmon
Visual Effects Supervisor: Weta Digital - Erik Winquist
Animation Supervisor - Daniel Barrett
Film Editors - William Hoy and Stan Salfas
Music - Michael Giacchino


2015 Academy Awards
Best Visual Effects - Joe Letteri, Dan Lemmon,
Daniel Barrett and Erik Winquist (Nominated)

I would like to make a statement that I will plan to watch and review any new PLANET OF THE APES movies that are released in the future. To date, I have currently reviewed RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES (click here) which was the re-start of the timeline. I have been a very busy body with working on the other movie reviews instead of continuing the saga of a world where apes are the inheritors or the oppressors, but I have recently had the privilege of watching the new one. Although the setting of DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES is perfect in the sense that it creates an authentic apocalyptic theme which was not in the original 1968 classic. My visit to its predecessor explained the origins of how apes turned against humanity and the second instalment shows that the surviving humans are struggling to co-exist with the dominant apes. Stepping up to the directorial helm is Matt Reeves who has previously gone through the success of an another sci-fi great CLOVERFIELD.

With the use of the motion capture technology used to craft the apes visual design instead of using make-up which was originally used in the classic trilogy and the Tim Burton remake. Returning once again is Andy Serkis who uses the mo-cap technique to portray the main ape of Caesar whereas the last movie showed the beginning of his character rising to power. Toby Kebbell was believable in the role of the treacherous ape Kopa who takes no pleasure in hating the human race when he is almost the exact opposite of Caesar. At first, I was stunned that Gary Oldman was taking on a different role after appearing as Commissioner Gordon in the Batman series and this time, he actually takes it seriously after having been sloppily miscast in the 2014 remake of ROBOCOP (click here). 

In my opinion, this film is great entertainment value and I would like to say to the Ape fans, it definitely matches the quality of RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES. Great continuation or not, this instalment fits well and is a great addition to an already reinstated franchise. If you have not seen it, I think you should give it a watch if sci-fi is your thing.

Star rating: (8/10) Very Good Movie

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

The Transporter Review

The Transporter 

Release Date:
31st October 2002 - Australia

Production Companies
20th Century Fox (presents)
TF1 Films Production
Current Entertainment (in association with)
Canal+ (in association with)

20th Century Fox Australia

Genre: Action

Rating: M

Runtime: 88 minutes

Budget: $21,000,000

Box Office Gross: $43,928,932

Plot Summary
Frank Martin is the best
at what he does: transporting
dangerous or illegal goods
with no questions asked.
But his latest shipment,
a beautiful young woman
kidnapped by international
slave traders, brings deadly
complications to his delivery
plans. Now Frank must kick
into overdrive in a nonstop
action-packed fight to save
his precious cargo and his

Jason Statham - Frank Martin
Qi Shu - Lai
Matt Schulze - Wall Street
Fran├žois Berleand - Inspector
Ric Young - Mr. Kwai

Action Director/Choreographer/
Director - Corey Yuen
Artistic Director - Louis Letterier
Writer/Producer - Luc Besson
Writer - Robert Mark Kamen
Producer - Steven Chasman
Production Designer - Hubert Tissandier
Costume Designer - Martine Rapin
Director of Photography - Pierre Morel
Stunt Coordinator - Philippe Guegan
Car Stunt Coordinator - Michel Juilenne
Film Editor - Nicolas Trembasiewicz
Sound Designers - Vincent Tulli
and Ken Yasumoto
Music - Steven Clarke

It has come to my attention after having reviewed FAST & FURIOUS 7 and watching Jason Statham portray one of the characters in the film that I actually have not seen all of his work and this inspired me to starting doing reviews of some of his movies. He first became a global superstar from his action series called THE TRANSPORTER in which he was known for his role by audiences as ex-military man turned mercenary Frank Martin. The first instalment was alright but highly focused on fast paced kinetic fighting and vehicle chase scenes and not enough story development and I feel it is not a film to be taken too seriously. This movie has been composed from the collaborative efforts of Luc Besson and directors Corey Yuen and Louis Letterier who were able to make THE TRANSPORTER a very decent film of their own style and surely than can raise the bar. Perhaps this movie could have been better if more attention had be given to the development of the story in terms of creating more believable and more realistic.

It is however a fair movie to watch if you are just in the mood for a simple action packed treat. I seen it once, but now I'm not so sure if I want to watch it for a second time. Hopefully I can get through the second instalment with a better opinion than the first.

Star rating: (6/10) Fair Movie

Monday, 4 May 2015

What Made The Empire Strikes Back So Special? (Updated)

Beware! There will be some spoilers in this review!

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away... there came a time when THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK (click here) didn't exist until George Lucas began pre-production after the original STAR WARS movie (click here) came out in May 25th 1977. He had his sights on doing the next chapter of the series which prolongs the space adventures of Luke, Han, Leia, C3PO, R2D2 and Chewbacca in their struggle to fight against the tyranny of the Galactic Empire. During its theatrical run in May 1980, EMPIRE received a mixed reception from the critics and audiences alike who have argued that the sequel is largely inferior to the original. It is then changed when after the release of RETURN OF THE JEDI (click here), fans of the franchise and critics begun to warm up over time and THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK gradually became a well-renowned sci-fi smash hit that after its release,  was regarded as the greatest science-fiction film and forever more holds the title as the best of the classic Star Wars trilogy. 

This is an analysis to my all-time favourite movie and I'm coinciding it with Star Wars Day, if you are unaware of what this is than it is a appreciation day for fans of Star Wars which celebrations include cosplay, movie viewings, social media and other ceremonies. I'll be then presenting this tribute of seven factors of what made EMPIRE ever so popular and then innovative and appealing to the present generation of newly fresh movie-goers. Forget what Lucas did to the original trilogy in these recently updated versions, not with changing the scenes of Han shoots first. Since Lucas is no longer in control of his ultimate movie franchise, maybe there is hope after all that the classic versions are to be released in Blu-Ray before Disney can release EPISODE VII in whatever the date is.

Believe me what you've now just heard, I used to think EMPIRE was slow because of its downhearted ending and I preferred RETURN OF THE JEDI as a lightweight addition. I've grown to watch EMPIRE through the years and have now a different opinion than when I first watched the film. I believe that EMPIRE wouldn't have been as successful, if it didn't introduce the fan-favourite characters like Yoda and Boba Fett or the interplanetary worlds such as the winter landscapes of Hoth, the swamps of Dagobah and even the floating Cloud City of Bespin. Then Darth Vader certainly wouldn't be Luke's father, if it weren't this scene that surprised audiences of this daring twist of a story.

#7. Han + Leia

Now I take a look at the first
factor of this feature which is 
the romance between Han 
and Leia. Sure this would be a 
better love story in EMPIRE 
and it beats the misguided 
attempt on the ATTACK OF 
THE CLONES prequel which
by far has less experience 
of romantic drama, even the 
line said by Anakin to Padme 
"I don't like sand" will not stop 
it from going unmoving. 

Somehow this relationship works without the use of bad dialogue, it flows terrifically and both characters were a perfect match for each other. Even in their moments, they argue and then up to the scene where they professed their love as Han and Leia in their last moment together before being separated. I was going to mention that Luke should have been the one to fall in love with Leia, if she weren't related to him than none of us would have ever seen RETURN OF THE JEDI and REVENGE OF THE SITH. 

#6. The Action

For moments of the film, we've
have seen the Battle of Hoth, 
the chase on the asteroid belt 
and the first ever lightsaber 
duel between Luke vs his 
oppressive father, there all 
part of the action scenery that 
keeps EMPIRE loaded with
energy to give us an edge
of our seats. Particularly the
Hoth battle scene which is
one of the most memorable
pieces that ever brought to
the screen. It shows that
instead being an outer space battle like the original where it took place on the Death Star, they've taken measures to create a land-scale battle with hovering snow-speeders and giant walking AT-ATs.

#5. Yoda 

BACK, we have characters
that contribute to the story
of its motion like Lando
Calrissian and Boba Fett,
who can forget about the
little fella that gives us the
wisdom about the Force and
say the more important things
like Yoda. Although the
prowess of CGI technology
of creating characters in a
live action backdrop was not
introduced until 1999, Yoda
was created through puppetry and he serves as an odd though actually wise mentor figure to Luke. He often imparts his profound sentences to the protagonist when he teaches him his skills as a Jedi like for example "Do... or do not, there is no try". 

This remains Yoda as he is one of the best of iconic characters created for the Star Wars saga and even in EMPIRE, he serves as a plot purpose to Luke when he has to learn more ways of the Force.

#4. The Music

For every one composition
in his movies, John Williams 
is always the greatest asset and 
this is certainly the case in 
Star Wars and nobody will 
forget his memorable musical 
pieces that were included on
the official soundtrack and
became a top-standard and
sensational score. Such stand-
outs include the iconic 
"Imperial March" theme which 
was brooding anthem to the 
Imperials of which they are 
represented of their oppressive 
dictatorship and serves as a character theme of Darth VaderAmong the rest of instrumentals including "The Asteroid Field", "Yoda's Theme", "The Clash of the Lightsabers" and "Han Solo and the Princess" were enough to create the tempos of a fantasy sci-fi feeling, the rapidity and the gentle atmosphere of the scenes which were way different than what he previously done in his work with making the first original Star Wars soundtrack

This one would definitely be shown in a debate as the best of the series music, however, this depends if you decide on listening to the instrumentations of EMPIRE, A NEW HOPE or THE PHANTOM MENACE. That doesn't matter if you listen to all six of them as they are all brilliant?

#3. The Ending

Instead of a happy conclusion
or either end in a bitter-sweet 
tone as seen on the prequel
trilogy, THE EMPIRE 
different to the rest of the 
Star Wars films in that it 
concludes in a downer ending. It doesn't help that the protagonists were left broken and defeated by the Empire and the film is left open in a cliffhanger which leaves viewers in question about whether there will be a next instalment that would soon resolve the conflict on both sides. 

Some die-hard fans like Joss Whedon may not want to watch it again if they couldn't find the perseverance to get over this depressing conclusion. I disagree to what Joss said about the bad ending ruining the film, but rather I feel this miserable ending represented a very emotional, impacting and though provoking conclusion to a stunning movie.

#2. Direction & Writing

Part of the reasons why 
EMPIRE is always the 
greatest of all Star Wars 
movies is perhaps it had the 
least input from George 
Lucas. Especially the directing
which is all handled by the 
late Irvin Kershner and the 
duties of the writing to the late 
Leigh Brackett and Lawrence 
Kasdan. While not known for 
many of his movies even later 
ones like the ROBOCOP 2 
sequel, Kershner did a
significant enhancement of the series and an exceptional job to shift Star Wars from being a pulp science fiction adventure into a dramatic chapter. He even did a better impression on the acting and let them deliver most of their lines straight from the script. 

While George did write the story for the sequel, the screenplay was written by Leigh Brackett (until her death when after completing the first draft), Lawrence Kasdan took over from her and is more accomplished in partially writing the superior key plot points and the character dialogue which suits the film better to balance the humanity and sense of humour in specific scenes of the film. 

#1. "No, I Am Your Father"

Kicking off this top spot in
the EMPIRE tribute is the
father of all plot-twists. In two
years before the release of 
EMPIRE came to be leaked
when there's talk of rumours
that Darth Vader is actually
Luke's supposedly deceased
father and eventually the
audience didn't see it until 
in the next two years they 
started watching EMPIRE
and were unexpectedly
shocked of this horrifying 
revelation. Nobody actually knew at the start that Luke was the offspring of the most feared and notorious Sith Lord in the universe

It is when during the shooting of the instalment that Dave Prowse who is then playing the body of Vader wasn't actually given the scripted line and instead says to Luke that Obi Wan killed his father to keep the big reveal as a secret. It is then changed in post-production when James Earl Jones dubs over that scene of performing the actual line. Only five people including Jones, Lucas, Kershner, Kasdan and Mark Hamill knew about it at the start and this trivial fact has been finished.

I can relate the experience of the plot twist that this is one of these pivotal moments that catapulted EMPIRE into the iconic status and grown a lot more of the Star Wars fandom over the years.


We may get this belief that THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK is the crown jewel of the enthralling action-packed science fiction saga that we grew up in that endearment. I don't care of which version of EMPIRE I want to watch, even I have got the altered version on Blu-Ray and see the original on the web. Anyway, this concludes the analysing tribute of the fifth Star Wars chapter and I hope to be back again in posting my review for all of you which I hope you will stay tuned for further updates.