Sunday, 24 April 2016

Zootopia Review


Release Date: 17th March 2016 - Australia

Production Companies 
Walt Disney Pictures
Walt Disney Animation Studios 

Walt Disney Studios Motion 
Pictures Australia

Genre: Animation/Family

Rating: PG

Runtime: 108 minutes 

Budget: $150,000,000

Box Office Gross: $1,023,784,195 (Worldwide)

Plot Summary
All animals live together 
in the city of Zootopia, 
but when Officer Judy 
Hopps arrives as the 
first bunny on the police 
force, she doesn't fit 
the way she thought 
she would. 

In order to prove herself 
she tries to track down 
 (fox) Nick Wilde, who has 
go on the run after being 
framed for a crime that 
he did not commit.

Both Judy and Nick find 
themselves at the centre
of a conspiracy, and they 
must work together in 
order to get to the bottom 
of their problems.

Voice Cast
Ginnifer Goodwin - Lt. Judy Hopps
Jason Bateman - Nick Wilde
Idris Elba - Chief Bogo
J. K. Simmons - Mayor Lionheart
Jenny Slate - Bellwether
Nate Torrence - Clawhauser
Alan Tudyk - Duke Weaselton
Octavia Spencer - Mrs. Otterton 
Shakira - Gazelle
Tommy Chong - Yax
Bonnie Hunt - Bonnie Hopps
Don Lake - Stu Hopps
Raymond S. Persi - Flash
Maurice LaMarche - Mr. Big
Della Saba - Young Judy
Kath Soucie - Young Nick
Phil Johnston - Gideon Grey
John DiMaggio - Jerry Jumbeaux Jr.
Gita Reddy - Nangi
Jesse Corti - Mr. Manchas
Tommy 'Tiny' Lister - Finnick
Leah Latham - Fru Fru
Rich Moore - Doug
Kristen Bell - Priscilla
David Campbell - David
Koalabell (Cameo) (Australia/
New Zealand only)

Story/Directors - Byron Howard 
and Rich Moore 
Story/Screenplay/Co-Director - 
Jared Bush
Story/Screenplay - Phil Johnston 
Story - Josie Trinidad, Jim
Reardon & Jennifer Lee
Executive Producer - John Lasseter
Producer - Clark Spencer
Production Designer - David Goetz
Co-Production Designer - Dan Cooper
Character Designer - Shiyoon Kim
Character Designer/Art Director: Characters - Cory Loftis
Head of Animation - Renato Dos Anjos 
Co-Head of Animation - Tony Smeed
Animation Supervisiors - Nathan Engelhardt, 
Jennifer Hager, Robert Huth, 
Kira Lehtomaki and Chad Sellers
Head of Effects - Cesar Velazquez
Visual Effects Supervisor - Scott Kersavage
Film Editors - Fabienne Rawley 
and Jeremy Milton
Music - Michael Giacchino 

Given in recent years, the renewal of the Disney animation department reaching its peak since the largely infamous FROZEN grossed a billion at the box office. Though it's been years since the craze of that landmark movie ended and two years after BIG HERO 6 (click here). The studio has unveiled its 55th feature and latest production ZOOTOPIA - it's a different spin to the animal kingdom. This animated feature has a Midas touch and it brought complexity to the story and characters. I've been noticing the liberties of inspiration that it has taken from Disney's early movie and cult classic ROBIN HOOD. It tackles the hot button issues of real life society like prejudice and police bias that are often integrated into an anthropomorphic world of CGI. Disney is clever at grafting these messages into entertaining stories with a high standard of quality animation. It must mean that ZOOTOPIA is now a better movie than FROZEN and a breadwinner of the animation unit of the house of the mouse.

ZOOTOPIA had a wide range of celebrity voice talents with many well known actors selected for major parts. One of the best is Ginnifer Goodwin who voices the officer with a cottontail - Judy Hopps and is the kid-friendly version of the character seen in HOT FUZZ (click here) except without the self confidence. I wasn't sure about her previous work in ONCE UPON A TIME, but her contribution to this film as the voice of Judy in ZOOTOPIA was excellent. Jason Bateman was sophisticated and witty in voicing the sly fox - Nick Wilde. We would have related to his character's  background more if his character was more prominent in the story and it'd be closer to the film's original vision. Idris Elba was known to many Marvel fans as Hemdall when he lends his booming distinctive voice as Chief Bogo, head of police - similar to his role as another authoritative figure in PACIFIC RIM (click here).

I would hope to see ZOOTOPIA again if it is available in other formats, it may be the best Disney animated feature released since THE LION KING (click here). Audiences of all ages will enjoy viewing the unforgettable world of ZOOTOPIA and understand its message.

Star rating: (10/10) Best Movie Ever 

Friday, 22 April 2016

In Memory of Prince (1958-2016)

Prince (1958-2016)

Dearest movie bloggers and music lovers, I deeply regret to inform you that the legendary pop musician Prince whose full name as Prince Rogers Nelson is dead on April 21st 2016 at the age of 57 in his Paisley Park recording studio. His death has highly affected us that the legacy of his music will live on as long as it continues to be listened on the radio and his albums among fanatics of the Purple Badness. He was notable for his famous movie and best-selling soundtrack 'Purple Rain' and his albums of '1999' and "Sign o' the Times' and songs like the two aforementioned title tracks, "Little Red Corvette" "Delirious" "Kiss" "When Doves Cry" and "The Most Beautiful Girl in the World".

From his humble beginnings at his birthplace in Minnesota to his career transition as a musician, Prince joined a band of 94 East formed by the husband of his cousin before signing a contract with Warner Bros. Records in 1978. Staring with his early vinyl album of 'For You' it was then followed by his self-titled album 'Prince' that later generated a few hit singles and went platinum after reaching the Billboard magazine in charts like the 200 at No. 4. Prince was not yet a well-known musical celebrity and changed his sound of funk in the sexually-explicit 'Dirty Mind' and earned his way at the top with the double album '1999' which over a three million copies were purchased and released three hit singles. It was that this era, that Prince would start forming his own band of The Revolution and began his filming for his own movie of 'Purple Rain' which is accompanied by its soundtrack. The songs around the movie were created and mostly performed by himself would not be in its official until 1984 when both the album went into the pop charts and the feature itself is released in theatres and became the year's top grosser. He would soon later get an Academy Award of Best Original Song Score for that successful movie. Prince had more albums recorded which a few served as soundtracks to his underwhelming features that he would later direct and star in both such as 'Under the Cherry Moon' and 'Graffiti Bridge'. He made a concert tour feature of one of his albums 'Sign o' the Times' which was also a box office flop and produced several songs for Tim Burton's 1989 movie interpretation of 'Batman' and went to have its own album in June 20th 1989. It peaked on the Billboard 200 at No. 1 and 4.3 million copies were sold. Prince has also written songs that were performed by other artists such as "Manic Monday" for The Bangles and "Nothin' Compares 2 U" for Sinbad O'Connor.

In 1993, Prince began to adrift from his name and changed his identity to a symbol and thus became known as The Artist Formerly Known as Prince. Despite the name changed that lasted until 2000 when he changed his name back into Prince, he continued to write, produce and perform his own music until his death. In 2004, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for his noted contributions in the music business. 

Monday, 18 April 2016

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice Review

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

Release Date: 24th March 2016 - Australia

Production Companies
Warner Bros. Pictures 
DC Comics
DC Entertainment
RatPac Entertainment 
Atlas Entertainment
Cruel and Unusual Films

Roadshow Distribution 

Genre: Action

Rating: M

Runtime: 151 minutes 

Budget: $250,000,000

Box Office Gross: $873,260,194

Plot Summary
When some begin to fear 
Superman because of his 
great power, Gotham City's 
vigilante, Batman decides 
to take on Metropolis's 
superhero. However, the 
infighting leaves the world 
exposed to a new threat 
that puts mankind in 
greater danger than anyone 
could have possibly imagined.

Henry Cavill - Clark Kent/Superman 
Ben Affleck - Bruce Wayne/Batman
Jesse Eisenberg - Lex Luthor
Amy Adams - Lois Lane
Diane Lane - Martha Kent
Laurence Fishburne - Perry White
Jeremy Irons - Alfred Pennyworth
Holly Hunter - June Finch
Gal Gadot - Wonder Woman
Scoot McNairy - Wallace Keefe
Callan Mulvey - Anatoli Knyazev
Tao Okamoto - Mercy Graves
Michael Cassidy - Jimmy Olsen
James Mamoa - Aquaman
Ray Fisher - Victor Stone/Cyborg
Ezra Miller - Barry Allen/Flash
Kevin Costner - Jonathan Kent
Jeffrey Dean Morgan - Thomas Wayne
Lauren Cohan - Martha Wayne
Brandon Spink - Young Bruce Wayne
Robin Atkin Downes - Doomsday 
Harry Lennix - Secretary Swanwick
Carla Gugino - Kelor (Voice)
Christina Wren - Major Carrie Farris

Director - Zack Snyder
Batman Creators - Bob Kane and Bill Finger
Superman Creators - Jerry
Siegel and Joe Shuster
Writer/Executive Producer - David S. Goyer 
Writer - Chris S. Terrio
Executive Producers - 
Christopher Nolan, Wesley Coller, Geoff Johns, 
Benjamin Melniker, Michael Uslan and Emma Thomas
Producers - Charles Roven and 
Deborah Synder
Co-Producer - Curt Kanemoto
Co-Producers/Unit Production Managers - Jim Rowe and Gregor Wilson
Production Designer - Patrick Tatopoulos 
Costume Designer - Michael Wilkinson
Director of Photography - Larry Fond
Second Unit Director/Stunt Coordinator - Damon Caro 
Stunt Coordinator - Tim Rigby
Co-Fight Choreographers - Guillermo Grispo and Ryan Watson
Senior Visual Effects Supervisor - Joe Letteri 
Visual Effects Supervisors - 
John 'D.J.' Des Jardin and Dinesh K. Bishnoi 
Visual Effects Supervisor: Weta Digital - Keith Miller 
Film Editor - David Brenner
Music - Hans Zimmer and Junkie XL

In 2014, I've wondered if BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE would be as good as the hype had suggested it would be. I am sorry to say however that it's nowhere near an improvement to MAN OF STEEL (click here), unfortunately its director Zack Snyder has assembled a poor narrative with characters that were all flatly developed with the exception of Ben Affleck's Batman portrayal. Even the redundant inclusion of the Doomsday character is too early to be featured in the climax. Unfortunately Zack did little to improve his mistakes from his last average feature, MAN OF STEEL. BATMAN V SUPERMAN in my opinion is in much need of a directors cut and could greatly benefit from some refinement and polishing to the editing of the feature.

The majority of the flaws on BATMAN V SUPERMAN really degraded the overall quality of film and made a near-unwatchable experience. Such notable deficits include Jesse Eisenberg's interpretation of the Man of Steel's arch-nemesis Lex Luthor. This character is supposed to be a technological genius and being so clever. His interpretation was spastic and loopy and is mainly a cross between his previous role of Mark Zuckerberg and Heath Ledger's Joker, but not like Gene Hackman's. I was starting to like Eisenberg at his previous role in NOW YOU SEE ME (click here), but after seeing his latest character as Lex, I have to say this has brought him down a notch in my book. The other faults is Henry Cavill who appeared once again to try and have his Superman character similar to his previous feature and did not appear to make any changes to the character to improve from his last film. 

On a positive note, Ben Affleck's performance as the middle-aged Batman was mesmerising and I thought it was impossible to cast him as a masked vigilante like his previous role in DAREDEVIL. It was an unexpected move to replace Christian Bale as the caped crusader, but he had a nice surprise for the fans that were now welcoming him as the new Batman. One of my favourite actors Jeremy Irons was a touch of surprise as splendidly portraying Alfred Pennyworth. I see no reason why Irons of all the old English thespians is not having consistent success like Michael Caine. Gal Gadot was amazingly perfect as Wonder Woman and the action sequences are stunningly beautiful in CGI and have a sense of realism.

BATMAN V SUPERMAN does not live up to the expectations and does not beat Marvel at their own game. It's been nice knowing that this is a now passable movie of 2016, but I do hope that following movies from Snyder do raise the bar from this mild disappointment.

Star rating: (5/10) Average

Monday, 11 April 2016

Around the World in 80 Days (2004) Review

Around The World In 80 Days

Release Date: 26th August 2004 - Australia

Production Companies 
Walden Media
Spanknyce Films
Mostow/Lieberman Productions
Studio Babelsberg
Babelsburg Film
Fitzwilliam Productions
80 Days Productions

Roadshow Distribution

Genre: Comedy/Adventure

Rating: PG

Runtime: 119 minutes

Budget: $110,000,000

Box Office Gross: $72,175,895

Plot Summary
Phileas Fogg is an 
inventor living in 
Victorian England. He 
believes he can travel 
around the world in 
80 days. Another 
inventor challenges 
him to make the trip, 
and Phileas agrees. 
Accompanying Phileas 
on his journey are 
his manservant 
Passepartout and 
Monique, a beautiful 
navigator. Utilizing a 
variety of transportation 
means and Passepartout's 
martial arts skills, the 
trio embarks on a globe-
spanning adventure.

Steve Coogan - Phileas Fogg
Jackie Chan - Passepartout/Lau Xing
Cécile de France - Monique Laroche
Robert Fyfe - Jean Michel
Jim Broadbent - Lord Kelvin
Ian McNeice - Colonel Kitchener
David Ryall - Lord Salisbury
Roger Hammond - Lord Rhodes
Adam Godley - Mr. Sutton
Karen Mok - General Fang
Ewen Bremmer - Inspector Fix
Arnold Schwarzenegger - Prince Hapi (Cameo)
Yin Tze Pan -  Lau Xing's Mother
Yotaka Cheukaew - Little Jing
Sammo Kam-Bo Hung - Wong Fei Hung
Prasit Wongrakthai - Man Ting
Daniel Wu - Bak Mei
Rob Schneider - San Francisco Hobo (Cameo)
Luke Wilson - Orville Wright (Cameo)
Owen Wilson - Wilbur Wright (Cameo)
Mark Addy - Steamer Captain (Cameo)
John Cleese - Grizzled Solider (Cameo)
Will Forte - Young Bobby (Cameo)
Kathy Bates - Queen Victoria (Cameo)
Director - Frank Coraci
Based on Novel "Around the World in Eighty Days" - Jules Verne
Screenplay - David N. Titcher, David Benullo and David Andrew Goldstein
Executive Producers - Willie Chan, Solon So, Alex & Alexandra Schwartz and Phyllis Alia
Co-Executive Producers - Jeff Goeffray and Walter Josten
Producers - Hal Lieberman and Bill Badalato
Co-Producers - Henning Molfenter and Thierry Potok
Production Designer - Perry Andelin Blake
Costume Designer - Anna Sheppard
Director of Photography - Phil Meheux
Special Effects Supervisors - Gerd Nefzer and Kit West
Visual Effects Supervisor - Jessica Norman
Film Editor - Tom Lewis
Music - Trevor Jones

Over the years there have been several movie adaptations that were based around Jules Verne's classical novel AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS. When it comes to the book, you could either revisit the notable 1956 classic or explore the loose modern interpretation with martial arts superstar Jackie Chan. Some consider this version to be an unfaithful translation of the original storyline. This interpretation is not improved by the participation of Chan and Happy Madison director Frank Coraci. The experimentation with the action and comedy in a globetrotting adventure set in the 19th century were not in the original novel. The humour is necessary for this 2004 flop, but the changes throughout the entire story are a quick turn-off to those that were Vernians. The character of Passepartout was rewritten from a Frenchman into an Asian which explains how he is idly portrayed by Chan in the movie.

The Chinese action star at the time was making a poor string of a few heavily CGI-laden movies that were released between his successful RUSH HOUR and SHANGHAI NOON series. There is no excuse for Jackie Chan being in the movie. He is a full-time stunt expert and comic genius that oftentimes felt out of place in this film that killed all the other planned adaptations. Steve Coogan does a good impression in portraying the well-mannered and quirky inventor Phileas Fogg, but he winds up playing the foil to Chan's character rather than the main hero of the story as it was intended. There were many cameos in the movie from other stars from Arnold Schwarzenegger to Will Forte in his debut.

Overall, while this adaptation was forgettable at best, it could have been a lot worse. This movie is not for Vernians, is it barely based on the source material. If you aren't a Vernian, you may actually find the feature more enjoyable.

Star rating: (5/10) Average

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Sky High Review

Sky High

Release Date: 8th September 2005 - Australia 

Production Companies
Walt Disney Pictures (presents)
Gunn Films
Max Stronghold Productions Inc.

Walt Disney Studios Motion 
Pictures Australia 

Genre: Family 

Rating: PG

Runtime: 95 minutes 

Budget: $35,000,000

Box Office Gross: $86,369,815 

Plot Summary
A son of famous superheroes 
is relegated to the rank of 
sidekick on day one at Sky 
High. Despite his lack of 
super powers the wannabe 
hero gets a chance to prove 
himself when an old villain 

Michael Angarano - Will Stronghold 
Kurt Russell - Steve/The Commander
Kelly Preston - Josie/Jetstream
Danielle Panabaker - Layla
Kevin Heffernan - Ron Wilson Bus Driver
Dee-Jay Daniels - Ethan
Kelly Vitz - Magneta
Loren Berman - Little Larry
Nicholas Braun - Zach
Malika - Penny
Khadijah - Penny
Jake Sandvig - Lash
Will Harris - Speed
Mary Elizabeth Winstead - Gwen/Royal Pain
Bruce Campbell - Coach Boomer
Dustin Ingram - Carbon Copy Kid
Steven Strait - Warren Peace
Cloris Leachman - Nurse Spex
Jim Rash - Mr. Grayson/Stitches
Dave Foley - Mr. Boy
Kevin McDonald - Mr. Medulla
Patrick Warburton - Royal Pain (Voice)

Director - Mike Mitchell 
Writers - Mark McCorkle, Robert Schooley and Paul Hernandez
Executive Producers - Mario Iscovich and Ann Marie Sanderlin
Producer - Andrew Gunn
Production Designer - Bruce Robert Hill
Costume Designer - Michael Wilkinson
Director of Photography - Shelly Johnson
Special Effects Supervisor - Al Broussard
Visual Effects Consultant - Hoyt Yeatman
Film Editor - Peter Amundsen
Music - Michael Giacchino

Before the production company Disney purchased Marvel and its characters, there was a time where the studio created their own original stories of superheroes on the silver screen. Only two successful features were released during the superhero boom of the 2000s which were THE INCREDIBLES (click here) and to a lesser extent SKY HIGH. Although the first film was an animated top dog in the previous year, the other was filmed in live action and it wasn't as successful as Disney would have hoped. SKY HIGH is said to be one of the best and most likely underrated feature to come out in the spring, but after viewing it on Foxtel, it is most surprisingly a solid coming-of-age story that has satired the traditional superhero movie clichés and blended well with a large dosage of teen comedy. 

Brilliantly envisioned by the men that were behind KIM POSSIBLE, it could have been a remarkable quadrilogy for SKY HIGH if there had been three more chapters as it was planned to continue the movie's characters in their years of high school until their graduation. The tongue-in-the-cheek humour was fitted much appropriately to the film and keeps the pacing of the movie fresh and watchable. The young actors and actresses did very well in the ensemble cast of teenagers who work well with Kurt Russell and Kelly Preston. It is good to see Kurt once again team up with Disney after his long-running partnership with the multi-billion dollar company.

SKY HIGH is a light-hearted and well-paced high school movie which appeals mainly to the adolescents population. This movie would be good to re-watch again as it has an interesting spin on superheroes from the perspective of high school life and mixes this element with some engaging action sequences.

Star rating: (7/10) Good Movie

Monday, 4 April 2016

London Has Fallen Review

London Has Fallen

Release Date: 17th March 2016 - Australia

Production Companies
Millennium Pictures
Gerald Butler/Alan Siegel Entertainment 
LHF Film

Roadshow Distribution 

Genre: Action

Rating: MA15+ (Not Suitable
for Young Children)

Runtime: 99 minutes

Budget: $60,000,000

Box Office Gross: $205,754,447

Plot Summary
In this sequel to the 
riveting Olympus Has Fallen, 
Agent Mike Banning is in 
London for the Prime 
Minister's funeral. The 
Prime Minister passed 
away under mysterious 
circumstances and all of the 
Western World's leaders are 
called to attend his funeral. 
Mike discovers that what 
appears as a well-intentioned 
funeral service turns out 
to be a plot to assassinate 
all the attending world's 
leaders. President of the 
United States Benjamin 
Asher, Banning and an 
English MI6 agent are the 
only ones in the world who 
can stop the planned 
terrorist attack from their 
potential assassination.

Gerard Butler - Mike Banning
Aaron Eckhart - President Benjamin Asher
Morgan Freeman - VP Trumbull
Alon Moni Aboutboul - Aamir Barkawi
Angela Bassett - Secret Service Director Lynn Jacobs
Robert Forster - General Edward Clegg
Melissa Leo - DS Ruth McMillian
Radha Mitchell - Leah Banning
Charlotte Riley - MI6 Jacquelin Marshall
Jackie Earle Haley - DC Mason
Sean O'Bryan - NSA Ray Monroe
Waleed Zuaiter - Kamran Barkawi
Mehbi Dehbi - Sultan Monsoor
Colm Salmon - Chief Hazard
Patrick Kennedy - MI5 Intel John Lancaster
Bryan Larkin - Davies
Michael Wildman - Agent Voight
Andrew Pleavin - Agent Bronson
Deborah Grant - Doris
Clarkson Guy Williams - Leighton Clarkson
Penny Downie - Rose Kenter
Philip Delancy - Jacques Mainard
Alex Giannini - Antonio Giusti
Nancy Baldwin - Agnes Bruckner
Nigel Whitmey - Robert Bowman
Tsuwayuki Saotome - Tsutomu Nakushima
Shivani Ghai - Amal Mansoor

Director - Babak Najafi
Based on Characters/Story/
Screenplay - Creighton 
Rothenberger and Kathrin 
Screenplay - Christian 
Gudegast and Chat St. John
Executive Producers - Boaz 
Davidson, Danny Dimbort, 
Avi Lerner, Heidi Jo Markel, 
Trevor Short, John Thompson, 
Zygi Kamasa, Christine Cow, 
Christine Otal and Peter Schlessel
Co-Executive Producer/
Production Business Affairs - 
Lonnie Ramati
Producers - Gerald Butler, 
Mark Gill, Danny Lerner, 
Alan Siegel, Matt O' Toole 
and Les Weldon
Co-Producers - Peter Heslop and 
Danielle Robinson
Production Designer - Joel Collins
Cinematography - Ed Wild
Stunt Coordinators - Steve Griffin and Dian Hristov
Action Coordinator - Sid Karne
Fight Choreographer/Stunt Coordinator - 
Trayan Milenov-Troy
Special Effects Supervisor - Mark Meddings
Senior Visual Effects Supervisor - Sean Farrow
Visual Effects Supervisor - Viktor Muller
Film Editors - Michael J. Duthie and 
Paul Martin Smith
Music - Trevor Morris

LONDON HAS FALLEN is comparatively different to the original, it repeats the same formula that used once in the first movie and manages to do a great job of it in the second movie also. Since OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN (click here) is now in popular demand, the studio has reached a settlement to continue the political drama and thrilling action in the barbarity of this next installment. It doesn't reach the cinematic heights of the the first movie, but it changed the setting to the European shores of Great Britain so it is nice to see the use of different locations and a change of scenery. It makes you wonder in what part of the world the next installment will be based. Its still crammed with brainless action sequences that continued to have that sort of violence which may concern parents for the underage viewers. 

Main actor Gerard Butler appears to be in a steadfast and good shape after having the success of the original and continuing the winning streak with another successful Die Hard knockoff. Aaron Eckhart and Morgan Freeman were crucial for the success of this movie and the new director clearly knew this fact as he convinced them to reprise their roles in this latest sequel

The rules have changed in LONDON HAS FALLEN and it still doesn't matter that the movie is repetitive and unoriginal. Because at the end of the day, this is a movie that you will watch just for some instant edge of your seat thrills and good popcorn action. It's a fairly enjoyable film to date. If you get chance, you should watch this movie in theatres, and you do not have to have seen the original to understand this movie as it is the same old formula.

Star rating: (7/10) Good Movie