Best Example Movies in Genres

  • Action: The Dark Knight (2008)

  • Adventure: Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) and Seven Samurai (1954) both have two mentions
  • Biopic: Raging Bull (1980) has two mentions – but also two more that see it as mainly a Sports movie
  • Coming of Age: The Breakfast Club (1985) has two mentions
  • Fantasy: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003) and Pan’s Labyrinth or El Labrintho del Fauno (2006) both have two mentions

  • Gangster: The Godfather (1972) has three mentions (plus one more under the parent genre “Crime”)
  • Musical: Singin’ in the Rain (1952) has two mentions
  • Mystery: Rear Window (1954) has three mentions
  • Romance: Casablanca (1942) has two mentions
  • Sports: Rocky (1976) has two mentions – Raging Bull (1980) also has two, but also two more that see it as mainly a Biopic
  • Thriller: The Silence of the Lambs (1991) has two mentions
  • War: Saving Private Ryan (1998) has two mentions

  • Western: The Searchers (1956) and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966) both have two mentions

Warcraft Movie

World of Warcraft is the huge MMORPG—Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game—that you might be more familiar with more recently, but it’s not the originator of the… well, the world of Warcraft. Before World of Warcraft, Blizzard Entertainment made a series of PC strategy games set in the same fantasy universe.

(These games were originally meant to be based on Games Workshop’s Warhammer fantasy games, but the deal went nowhere, necessitating Blizzard to write their own story.) These PC games were called Warcraft: Orcs and Humans, Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness and Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos.

So World of Warcraft takes place several years after the events of those strategy games—in fact, the MMO takes place nearly 3 decades after the events of the first game.

So which one is this one based on?

Naturally, the first game, Orcs and Humans. Warcraft will tell the story of how the Orcs, manipulated by demon entities called the Burning Legion, came to the world of Azeroth from their own planet, Draenor, for the very first time.

Wait. They’re space orcs???

Sure! Well, they don’t have laser guns or anything, but the orcs of Warcraft come from a different planet to the Humans: Draenor. A few orcs were corrupted by these demons with the promise of power, and they persuaded their fellow orc clans that in order to survive (Draenor was a harsh world) they had to invade another world.

With the help of a human traitor, the orcs, lead by the evil warlock Gul’Dan, constructed a Dark Portal that bridged Draenor and Azeroth together.

The Orc you keep showing a picture of is brown. Aren’t orcs green-skinned?

They are—and they are in Warcraft as well, eventually. While native Orcs are brown skinned, part of the process that brings the Orc clans together under the thrall of the Burning Legion involves drinking the blood of a demon. This grants them increased strength and a sort of blood rage, but also turns their skin green. Yes, like the Hulk but with more permanence.

Eventually, even Orcs who didn’t drink the blood—some clans disagreed with Gul’Dan’s plan and refused, like the Frostwolves. More on them in a second—found their skin turning green, simply because of exposure to demonic energy.

Cool. You mentioned those Frostwolf guys. Aren’t all the orcs bad guys in this?

Nope! Part of Warcraft’s storytelling has always been about a sort of blurring of lines. Not every Human is good (Remember that traitor guy I mentioned earlier?), and not every Orc is bad. The Frostwolves are just one group of dissenters who refuse to drink the demon blood. They’re led by Durotan, played by Toby Kebbel in the film.

Right. So who else is important in the movie?

The movie’s cast is fairly split between the two sides—The orcs of the Horde, and the humans of the Alliance. Here’s the main cast that we know of so far, split into each faction:


  • King Llane (Dominic Cooper)
  • Anduin Lothar (Travis Fimmel)
  • Lady Taria (Ruth Negga)
  • Medivh (Ben Foster)
  • Khadgar (Ben Schnetzer)
  • Garona Halforcen (Paula Patton)


  • Durotan (Toby Kebbel)
  • Orgrim (Rob Kazinsky)
  • Blackhand (Clancy Brown)
  • Gul’Dan (Daniel Wu)

If you want to know more about each of these characters, here’s a handy guide I wrote about each of them—it’s largely spoiler free, but I go into some detail about who exactly all these people are. Sure these are spoilers for 20 year old games, bear in mind—but hey, there’s a movie coming out soon, so you might want to avoid them!

Wait. There’s an Orc on the humans’ side? I thought you said they came over from a different planet!

Garona is a weird case. She originally worked for Gul’Dan as a spy, and was sent over to Azeroth as a liaison between Gul’Dan and the human helping him construct the portal. While she was there, Garona became friends with the Mage Khadgar, and she decided she wasn’t too keen on her master’s plans. So she warned the humans about the impending Orc invasion and decided to fight with them. Like I said, bad guys and good guys on both sides.

All you those people you mentioned are Orcs or Humans, right? There aren’t any other fantasy races in this?

There are, actually—in the very first game, there were only Orcs and Humans (hence the name), but later on more races were introduced: Dwarves, Gnomes and High Elves joined the Alliance, Tauren (a race of cow-people) and Trolls joined the Horde. By the time of World of Warcraft, each side had a few other races join their cause, but they won’t be a factor in the movie.

Although it would be true to the game not to see any other races, it’d be kind of a bit boring (and Warcraft fans are much more familiar with these multi-racial factions from the current games.)

In fact, we already know there’ll be more races in some form: a trailer shown at a Blizzard fan convention last year featured Elves at the very least, and we’ll probably be seeing some more fantastical characters too.

Trailers? Are there any clips I can watch?

Sadly, no. That trailer was only for fans attending, as was the most recent footage shown at Comic-Con. But, you can read a description of that Comic-Con footage here.

Better than nothing, I guess. There’s a lot of focus on a baby Orc in that description. Who is it?

The child mentioned is Durotan and his wife Draka’s son. He has an Orcish name—Go’el—but is more commonly known by another: Thrall. He’s not important to the first movie, but he eventually grows up to become a leader to the Orcs and the Horde as a whole, and a pretty major player in World of Warcraft. You’ll probably be seeing more from him in any potential sequels.

Right. So that’s pretty much what I need to know going in, but one thing: Why are people so excited about this?

Lots of reasons. Warcraft itself is incredibly popular, thanks to the success of World of Warcraft, which has become a pop cultural force in its own right over the last decade, played by millions and millions of people. Plus, a movie adaptation has been in the works for years—Sam Raimi was originally attached to the project in 2009 but that fell through, before Duncan Jones (director of the awesome sci-fi film Moon) signed on—so fans have been waiting a long time.

Plus, video game movies have a pretty bad rep, for good reason: they’ve mostly been terrible. Warcraft’s popularity, combined with the fact that it seems like the creative teams behind it are at least talking like they understand how to adapt a video game to film, has a lot of people hoping that this film could break the trend and bring video game stories and worlds to wider audiences.

There’s also the fact that post-Lord of the Rings, there hasn’t been much in the way of big-ticket fantasy on the big screen, and people looking for more of that are pinning their hopes of Warcraft being a success and kick-starting a new wave of cinematic fantasy. So basically,there’s a big fanbase and a lot of expectation that Warcraft could be the start of something special.

Controversy of Dracula Untold

Many will be aware of the new Hollywood film which has been recently released entitled: ‘Dracula Untold’. It might not be well known that, supernatural powers aside, the tale of Dracula is actually based on a real person. Unfortunately however, this film is such a fictitious remake that it speaks volumes about the rise of Islamophobia as well as it does about the West’s attempts to seek to rewrite history by glamourising mass murders whilst peddling the fear of the ‘Muslim invaders’. What follows is a summarised account of the real, well-known history of Dracula.

Vlad Dracula was a three-time Voivode of Wallachia (modern day Romania), ruling mainly from 1456 to 1462, the period of the emergent Uthmani Khilafah, the Ottoman Caliphate, and its conquest of the Balkans. His father, Vlad II Dracul, was a member of the Order of the Dragon, which was founded to protect Christianity in Eastern Europe and was fashioned after the military orders of the Crusades requiring initiates to defend the Cross and fight the so-called “enemies of Christianity”, in particular the Muslim Ottoman Caliphate.


There was a time, when much of what is modern Bulgaria, Romania, Ukraine, Belarus, the Balkans, the Crimea and almost all of southern Russia was ruled by Muslims. This was once part of the Muslim heartland of Islām, the Ottomon Empire and produced many great leaders and scholars. Today of course, the only majority Muslim community found in mainland Europe is in Bosnia, Kosovo and al-Baniya, Albania.

The Christian communities in Hungary and Wallachia wanted to fight against the Ottomans, however they were very weak and there was much disunity amongst them. In 1436, Vlad II Dracul ascended to the throne in Wallacia only to be dethroned by those loyal to the King in Hungary, János Hunyadi. Vlad II sought the help of the Ottoman Muslims who in turn sought payment of the Jiz’yah, a tax which non-Muslims pay to a Muslim ruler in return for their protection from outside nations. As part of this deal, Sultan Murad II asked that Vlad II send two of his four sons to Istanbul to be educated. Vlad II agreed and so he sent his two sons and he in turn was ascended to the throne again in Wallachia by the Ottomans.

The two sons who travelled back with the Muslims to Edirne were Vlad Dracula and his younger brother, Radu. Vlad is the one who we have now come to know as Dracula because the word Dracula means ‘son of Dracul’ which was the name of his father. The word ‘Dracula’ has of course since taken on a different meaning, being synonymous with a devilish evil, and we will see why this is.

Whilst under the tutelage of the Ottoman Muslims, the boys were provided with education including that of Islamic texts. Radu became Muslim and was a close friend with the young boy of the Sultan Murad II, Muḥammad (Mehmet II). Vlad however was rebellious and is recorded to have developed a well-known hatred for Muslims even though he too studied the Qur’ān, spoke Arabic, Persian, Turkish and of course Wallachian (Romanian).

In 1447 the King of Hungary attacked Wallachia and killed Vlad Dracula and Radu’s father and brothers. Given that Vlad’s father had paid the Jiz’yah, the Muslims defended them against the Hungarians and they installed Vlad Dracula in power.

In the meantime, Radu at the age of 22 became a leading Mujāhid (one who strives in the path of Allāh) within the Ottoman court and commanded the Janissaries (the foreign contingent of the army). He was sent by his good friend Muḥammad, who by this stage had become the Sultan at the age of 19, to subdue various rebellions such as that in Anatolia. Perhaps more importantly, he participated alongside Sultan Muḥammad in the Ottomon siege which eventually led to the fall of Constantinople in 1453. Constantinople was the capital city for the Roman Byzantine Empire. Napoleon was quoted as once saying, “If the Earth were a single state, Constantinople would be its capital” . As for Sultan Muḥammad, he was from here on forever to be known as Muḥammad Fātiḥ (Muḥammad the Conqueror), and his new city was from here on forever to be referred to as Islambul, meaning the “City of Islām”. It should be noted that it was only during the secularisation process of Ataturk where it took on the name of ‘Istanbul’ which has no relevant meaning. Incidentally, there are coins in the British Museum from 1730 where the name of the city, Islambul is clearly imprinted . By conquering Constantinople, Sultan Muḥammad Fātiḥ had also fulfilled the blessed words of the Messenger of Allāh (sallAllāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) who said concerning this event:

“Verily, Constantinople shall be conquered. Its commander shall be the best commander ever, and his army shall be the best army ever.”


With the fall of Constantinople, Pope Pius II called for crusade in 1459 against the Ottoman Muslims, at the Congress of Mantua. In this crusade, the main role was to be played by Matthias Corvinus, son of János Hunyadi, the King of Hungary. To this effect, Matthias Corvinus received from the Pope 40,000 golden coins, an amount that was thought to be enough to gather an army of 12,000 men and purchase 10 warships. In this context, Vlad Dracula allied himself with Matthias Corvinus, whose family it should be remembered killed his family, with the hope of keeping the Ottomans out of the country.

The Declaration of War

Later that year, Sultan Muḥammad Fātiḥ sent emissaries to Vlad in Wallachia to urge him to pay a delayed jiz’yah which Vlad Dracula had put off paying. Unknown to the Ottomans, Vlad Dracula had already allied himself with the Hungarians and joined the Pope’s call for a Crusade against them. Vlad Dracula met with the emissaries and said to them, “If you want to step inside of my port, you have to take off your turban and bow.” The Muslims responded that they would not remove their turban and “we only bow to Allāh”. So Vlad once again demanded, “Take it off” and again they refused. Vlad Dracula then told someone to come with some very big nails and hammers and he said, “If they refuse to remove it for me then they will never remove it again.” And he commanded that their turbans be nailed into their heads. Of course, this resulted in them being killed – this act was a declaration of war against the Muslims which Vlad Dracula had been spoiling for.

Sultan Muḥammad Fātiḥ sent the Bey of Nicopolis, Hamza Pasha to eliminate Vlad Dracula. Vlad Dracula however planned an ambush. Hamza Pasha, the Bey of Nicopolis, brought with him 10,000 cavalry and when passing through a narrow pass north of Giurgiu, Vlad Dracula launched a surprise attack. The Christians had the Muslims surrounded and defeated and almost all of them were caught and impaled, with Hamza Pasha impaled on the highest stake to show his rank. Impalement was Vlad Dracula’s preferred method of torture and execution and it was this which makes him stand out in being remembered as absolutely evil and barbaric. Impalement is the penetration of an organism by an object such as a stake, pole, spear or hook, by complete (or partial) perforation of the body, often the central body mass. What they would do is get a very long stick, make sharp one end and insert it through a person’s back passage, driving it through their body until it came out of their mouth. Often, the victims would be alive and this is how they would be killed. Then they would put this stick into the ground and impale others, putting them next to each other.


In the winter of 1462, Vlad Dracula crossed the Danube and devastated the entire Bulgarian land in the area between Serbia and the Black Sea. Disguising himself as Turkish, utilising the fluent Turkish he had learned whilst under the care of the Muslims, he infiltrated and destroyed Ottoman camps. In a letter to Corvinus of Hungary, he wrote:

“I have killed peasant men and women, old and young… We killed 23,884 Turks (Muslims) without counting those whom we burned in homes or the Turks whose heads were cut by our soldiers… Thus, your highness, you must know that I have completely broken any peace with him (Sultan Muḥammad Fātiḥ).

Vlad Dracula’s attack was celebrated by the then western Christendom; the Saxon cities of Transylvania, the Italian states and the Pope. A Venetian envoy, upon hearing about the news at the court of Corvinus, expressed great joy and said that the whole of Christianity should celebrate Vlad’s successful campaign. The Genoese from Caffa also thanked him.

In response to this, Sultan Muḥammad Fātiḥ raised an army of around 60,000 troops and 30,000 irregulars, and in spring of 1462 headed towards Wallachia. This army was under the Sultan’s commandership and in its ranks was his friend and brave Mujāhid, Radu. Vlad Dracula was unable to stop the Ottomans from crossing the Danube on June 4, 1462 and on entering Wallachia, they found that on one of the very long roads leading to the capital of this area were 20,000 Muslims impaled along the sides of these roads. Imagine this, we suffer today no doubt but incidents of such brute are very rare indeed. You can imagine how Sultan Muḥammad Fātiḥ felt to see even one Muslim killed which was too much to bare, but to mutilate their bodies after this was something, which was beyond acceptable.

Vlad Dracula constantly organised small attacks and ambushes on the Muslims and adopted what we would call today ‘Guerrilla warfare’. Pausing for a moment and thinking of the current state of the Muslim world, it is clear that it is now the Muslims who usually adopt guerrilla tactics in view of their weakness and inferior military might whereas Muslims were in the time of Muḥammad Fātiḥ, the superpower of the day.

The End Game

After some time, Radu, who remained faithful to Islām and the Sultan and spent his entire life on the frontlines of Jihād and battle in protection of the frontiers of the Ottoman Empire, was charged with the responsibility of pursuing his brother and thus showing the world that in Islām, brotherhood in faith is given priority over blood relations where they have an enmity towards the faith. Vlad Dracula was running out of funds and returned to Hungary to seek help from Corvinus, who instead of helping Vlad Dracula, imprisoned him as he was seen as a liability even for the Christians. In his absence, Radu defeated the remnants of Vlad Dracula’s army and became the ruler in Wallachia and he ruled from 1463-1473 when he died at the age of 40. Meanwhile, Vlad Dracula was released from prison and he returned to Wallachia once again and retook power in 1476 with Hungarian support. He immediately assembled an army and invaded Bosnia, slaughtering its Muslim population and impaling 8,000 on stakes in a forest of human bodies. Vlad Dracula had arisen from the darkness with the objective of eliminating Islām from the Balkans once and for all and installing Christianity. Sultan Muḥammad Fātiḥ invaded Wallachia and faced the forces of Vlad in Bucharest, Romania. Vlad’s army was overrun in a blitz and all were killed, including Vlad himself. His head was removed from his body and was taken back to Istanbul. They impaled his head and put it at the gates of Islambul where it stood for about 2 – 3 months to send a clear message to others. “If you want to be like this man, then dare wage war against us.”

7 Best Performance of Johnny "Bloody" Depp

7. The Rum Diary

When American journalist Paul Kemp takes a freelance job for a local newspaper in Puerto Rico during the 1950s, he realizes he must work to find the balance between island culture and the expatriates who live there. Based on an early novel by Hunter S. Thompson, Depp’s portrayal in the film adaptation engages all the treachery, rum and lush writing fans of the book can expect.



6. Cry Baby

Teen musical? Check! This 1990 American cult classic featured the likes of Iggy Pop, Amy Locane, Traci Lords, Ricki Lake, Kim McGuire, David Nelson, Susan Tyrrell and Patty Hearst.

5. Sleepy Hollow

The brainchild of Burton and Depp began on the set of Burton’s 1999 period horror film adaptation inspired by the 19th century short story The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. In total, the two have partnered for six films. This May, Burton and Depp will drop Dark Shadows, rounding out the collaboration to a healthy seven films.

4. Pirates of The Caribbean
All judgment aside, Johnny Depp made a character everyone loved. The first Pirates of the Caribbean film was a huge commercial success and pretty well-received by critics. Pirates became cool again because Johnny Depp created a bumbling, funny character based off of a real-life character (Keith Richards) that everyone could get along with. So despite any animosity you may still hold towards the now quadrilogy, admit it… He’s Captain Jack Sparrow.

3. Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas

Hunter S. Tompson created Raoul Duke. Johnny Depp brought him life. The book’s tales of the psychedelic escapades of Duke and Dr. Gonzo pioneered gonzo journalism and brought explosive social reactions. The 1998 film was a box-office failure but became an American cult classic. Depp almost didn’t get the opportunity to play the role he’s made iconic, as Jack Nicholson, Dan Aykroyd and John Cusack were all considered for the part.

2. Edward Scissorhands
It’s a story of an uncommonly gentle man. The unfinished Edward is taken in by a suburban family. He subsequently falls in love with their teenage daughter. The seemingly rudimentary plot drives a powerful perspective on civilization’s corruption of innocence along with themes of isolation and self-discovery. Gothic archetypes and German expressionism line the floor for the iconic way-before-its-time 1990 American romantic fantasy film.

1. Blow
We’re not talking about Blow the film. We’re talking about Blow Johnny Depp. Despite the overall mild reception of the 2001 biopic, Depp took “Boston George” Jacob Jung and rang him through our emotions and our minds. He’s the king of destruction, a desperate, egotistic, fatally flawed human being who never gets a leg up, always lets someone down and cannot surpass his greed. Depp’s riviting performance makes his portrayal of Jung our favorite of all.

Tops 10 Will Smith Movies – 2007

10. I, Robot (2004) 58%

Isaac Asimov’s classic short story collection had a long journey to the screen — and when it finally arrived in 2004, the end result bore little more than a passing resemblance to its literary namesake. It may have disappointed purists, but I, Robot was another in a line of hit summer films for Smith — and although its transformation into a big-budget action thriller may have sacrificed thought-provoking subtext along the way, it was still enough for Nev Pierce of the BBC, who argued, “Whether there’s anything substantial under the sheen and CGI of Alex Proyas’ glistening future vision is debatable, but this enjoyable, engrossing picture is at least intelligently artificial.”

9. Independence Day (1996) 60%

After establishing himself as an action star with Bad Boys, Smith kicked off a string of July 4 blockbusters with Independence Day, Roland Emmerich’s 1996 ensemble sci-fi thriller about the worldwide chaos unleashed when an armada of terribly unfriendly aliens stops by Earth for a visit. With a worldwide gross of over $815 million, Independence Day was the biggest hit of the year, and although Smith had a lot of help along the way, his wisecracking heroics were a big part of what inspired critics like Empire’s Angie Errigo to hail it as “a throwback to traditional entertainment with an old-fashioned, gung-ho good time thrilled up by ’90s-style state-of-the-art technology.”

8. Ali (2001) 67%

Smith trained for a year to prepare himself for the title role in Michael Mann’s Muhammad Ali biopic, both inside the ring and out, with a workload that included everything from live sparring to Islamic studies and time with a dialect coach. While Ali ultimately packed a somewhat disappointing punch at the box office, where its $87 million gross failed to earn back its budget, all that preparation paid off handsomely for Smith, who walked away with a Best Actor Oscar nomination — as well as glowing reviews from critics like Jay Carr of the Boston Globe, who wrote, “Smith makes contact with enough of Ali’s swagger, sweetness, wit, and pride to convince us that justice is being done to the boxing champion.”

7. The Pursuit of Happyness (2006) 67%

Otherwise known as the film that proved Will Smith’s cinematic dynasty would eventually extend to his kids, The Pursuit of Happyness used the real-life story of Chris Gardner’s journey from homeless single parent to stockbroker as the basis for an inspirational drama starring Smith alongside his son Jaden, who was all of eight when the movie came out (and stole the picture anyway). It takes a special kind of performance to make audiences believe a multimillionaire box-office king as a desperate dad on the brink of losing everything, and Smith delivered it here; as Tom Meek wrote for the Boston Phoenix, “Smith turns in a career-capping performance, and director Gabriele Muccino ingeniously turns the material inward, cautioning us all to be grateful for what we have, for we’re closer to the edge than we think.”

6. Hitch (2005) 69%

Romantic comedies get a pretty bad rap, but when they’re put together with enough sensitivity and skill, the results can be pretty hard to resist. Case in point: 2005’s Hitch, starring Smith as a legendary “date doctor” who’s playing matchmaker for a schlub (Kevin James) and his celebrity crush (Amber Valletta) while wooing a gossip columnist (Eva Mendes) whose latest assignment puts her on an unwitting collision course with Hitch. It’s all familiar stuff, but that was just fine with critics like Terry Lawson of the Detroit Free Press, who wrote, “Smith and Mendes are terrific together. He brings her game up so high you’d think she has had as many good parts as Smith.”

5. I Am Legend (2007) 70%

After languishing in development hell for more than a decade and passing through the hands of a list of stars that included Tom Cruise, Mel Gibson, and Arnold Schwarzenegger, Richard Matheson’s classic novel finally made its way to the screen for the third time in 2007, with Will Smith starring as Robert Neville, the virologist who just happens to be one of the last healthy people left after a government-engineered vaccine goes awry and turns the human race into vampire-like beings. Although its deviations from the book — particularly in the final act — made the movie something of a blown opportunity as far as some fans were concerned, most critics enjoyed Legend on its own merits, with an appreciative Rex Reed calling it “a grenade that goes off when least expected. It has more horror than heart, but it is never boring.”

4. Enemy of the State (1998) 71%

Depending on your ideological leanings, Enemy of the State‘s pre-9/11 warnings of an encroaching government surveillance state are either quaint or chillingly prescient — but either way, this techno-thriller, which united Bruckheimer with director Tony Scott for their fifth film, is a solidly built piece of big-budget entertainment. Starring Will Smith as a lawyer targeted by the NSA, Gene Hackman as the retired spook who helps him evade capture, and Jon Voight as the creepy bureaucrat who will stop at nothing to ensure the passage of a key piece of legislation, State blended good old-fashioned man-on-the-run action with state-of-the-art technology, and scared up a healthy $250 million along the way — as well as praise from critics such as Marc Savlov of the Austin Chronicle, who called it “a thriller straight through to its sleek, millennial-fever heart, an onrushing, giddily paranoiac roller-coaster ride with bad brakes, clever dialogue, and a reach that only occasionally exceeds its grasp.”

3. Where the Day Takes You (1992) 80%

As a rapper and an actor, Smith spent the first several years of his career largely in comedy mode — so when he decided to make the jump into film, he chose the decidedly unfunny role of a handicapped, homeless Los Angeles youth in the ensemble drama Where the Day Takes You. Surrounded by a crowd of veteran actors that included Dermot Mulroney, Lara Flynn Boyle, and Kyle MacLachlan, Smith was able to test the dramatic waters without having to carry a movie on his own — and it paid off for critics like Roger Ebert, who wrote, “Maybe the director, Marc Rocco, is good with actors. Or maybe these actors haven’t had this kind of strong material to work with before.”

2. Six Degrees of Separation (1993) 88%

The fascinating story of real-life con artist David Hampton formed the basis for Six Degrees of Separation, adapted from the John Guare play about a smooth-talking young man named Paul (Smith) who shows up on the doorstep of a wealthy New York couple (Donald Sutherland and Stockard Channing) and convinces them he’s not only friends with their college-age kids, but that he’s the son of Sidney Poitier. Before the night is out, he’s sleeping in their guest room — and before the closing credits roll, the extraordinary truth of Paul’s story is revealed. While far from a blockbuster on par with Smith’s future efforts, Separation earned Channing an Oscar nomination and won praise from critics like’s Fred Topel, who called it “a compelling drama” and “Will Smith’s greatest performance.”

1. Men In Black (1997) 92%

The success of The Fugitive catapulted Tommy Lee Jones from “distinguished character actor” to “leading man” status, and after Bad Boys, the mid-to-late 1990s pretty much belonged to Will Smith — so Men in Black wasn’t just your average action/comedy/sci-fi summer blockbuster, it was an Event Movie with almost $590 million in ticket sales (and a pair of sequels) waiting to happen. It didn’t win any awards for storytelling depth (although it did win a Best Makeup Oscar), but its unapologetic popcorn thrills, fueled by Smith and Jones’ easy interplay, entertained a whole lot of people — including Slate’s David Edelstein, who called it “The smartest, funniest, and best-looking sci-fi comedy since the movies learned to morph.”

5 Horror Movies You Must See in 2015

Victor Frankenstein (Oct. 2)

Max Landis (World War Z) wrote this origin story for Igor, the long-suffering friend and eventual assistant to Victor Von Frankenstein. Daniel Radcliffe stars as Igor, with James McAvoy as the good doctor and Jessica Brown Findlay as a romantic interest. Paul McGuigan (Wicker Park) directed.

Victor Frankenstein

Crimson Peak (Oct. 16)

Guillermo del Toro’s new horror offering is a period tale set in and around a spooky old mansion in northern England in the 19th century. A new bride (Mia Wasikowska) discovers that her husband (Tom Hiddleston) is not who he appears to be. Jessica Chastain and Charlie Hunnam also star.

Crimson Peak

Scouts vs. Zombies (Oct. 30)

A coming-of-age zombie movie, this horror-comedy stars Tye Sheridan, Logan Miller and Joey Morgan as scouts who must save their town after an outbreak of zombies. Christopher Landon (Paramormal Activity: The Marked Ones) directs.

Scouts vs. Zombies

Friday the 13th (Nov. 13)

Six years after the last reboot comes a new reboot of the venerable franchise. Rumors have been swirling about which characters will be featured; at one point, Jason Voorhees was said to be out, while more recent rumors suggest that his mother will have an active role. It’s also been reported that the movie will be set in the 1980s; whatever (and whoever) is involved, it’s sure to be a must-see for horror fans.

Friday the 13th (2009)

Krampus (Dec. 4)

Allison Tolman, who was fabulous in the TV version of Fargo, stars in a new horror-comedy from director Michael Dougherty, who made the wonderfully macabre anthology Trick ‘r Treat. It’s based on a legend about a pagan demon who punishes the wicked.


Special Performance Jim Carrey in "The Incredible Burt of Wonderstone"

LAS VEGAS — Olivia Wilde is the rare actress who can accuse Jim Carrey of hair robbery.

The crime took place before shooting began last year on the magician comedy The Incredible Burt Wonderstone. Carrey was contemplating his edgy street magician character, Steve Gray, before a camera test when he noticed the long blond wig meant for Wilde, who plays an assistant to the title character (Steve Carell).

“Jim picked it up, put it on, and got an idea,” Wilde says. “Steve Gray was born. It gave him this Christ-like air. It was a metamorphosis that I assume happens to most actors behind closed doors.

Carrey’s character loves taking magic to extremes, from holding his urine for 12 days to sleeping on hot coals. Carrey himself has a penchant for absurdity — see 1994’s Ace Ventura: Pet Detective — that is immeasurable on a normal 1-to-10 scale.

“I think Jim starts at 11 and he takes it up to a 28,” Wilde says. “He has the whole Spinal Tap amp thing going.”

Carell, who produces and stars in the title role, says he suggested Carrey for the role as a lark. To his surprise, the actor came onboard and had the crew in hysterics, doing improv in his scenes.

“It’s amazing how fertile his mind is,” Carrell says. “it’s hard to not just be an audience member when you’re watching him work.”

Carrey (who was not available for an interview) agreed to go shirtless for the hot-coal stunt scene, but he asked director Don Scardino to delay it so he could get in better shape. Scardino was dubious but agreed to move the shoot.

Carrey worked out every day with trainer Paul Vincent and ate nothing at cast meals but “some nasty green slop,” Scardino says. “When he came back to do the shoot six weeks later, he had this incredible six-pack. He totally transformed his body.”

Carrey might be off the strict food and exercise regimen, but he is still lean, mean and looking for more comedy.

“He told me that making the movie made him appreciate how much he loves comedy, and he wants to get back to it,” Scardino says. “He never really left, but he’s been trying other things. I think after this we’ll see more comedy from him.”

Exodus: Gods and Kings banned in Egypt for ‘historical inaccuracies’

Egypt has banned Christian Bale movie Exodus: Gods and Kings on the grounds of “historical inaccuracies”.

Ridley Scott’s epic, based on the Bible’s Book of Exodus, stars Bale as Moses and Joel Edgerton as Egyptian Pharaoh Ramses.

But despite the Hollywood pulling power, the country’s censors were unimpressed with the film’s claim that an earthquake sparked the famous Parting of the Red Sea, rather than a divine miracle, and another suggesting that Jews built the Pyramids.

Christian Bale stars as Moses in Exodus: Gods and Kings

Exodus: Gods and Kings is also believed to have been banned in Morocco, with reports suggesting that officials chose to cancel screenings the day before the movie was due to premiere.

Agence France-Presse has speculated that Morocco does not want to screen the film because it is a largely Muslim country, and Muslims believe that Moses is prophet and hence should not be depicted on the big screen.

Scott angered film fans last month when he addressed the casting controversy over Exodus: Gods and Kings.

Responding to months of criticism over the movie’s apparent lack of ethnic diversity, the Gladiator director brushed off the outrage by insisting that, had white actors not filled most of the key roles, his epic would never have got off the ground

“I can’t mount a film of this budget, where I have to rely on tax rebates in Spain, and say that my lead actor is Mohammad so-and-so from such-and-such,” he told Variety.

“I’m just not going to get it financed. So the question doesn’t even come up.”

Christian Bale stars as Moses in Exodus: Gods and Kings

The film grossed a relatively disappointing $24.5 million (£15.5 million) on its opening weekend after mixed reviews from critics.

Other recent biblical retellings have fared far better – from 2004’s The Passion of the Christ, which took $83.3 million (£52.9m) on its debut, to Darren Aronofsky’s Noah, which earned $43.7 million (£27.7m).

Top 5 Best Undead Movies

5. Juan of the Dead (2011)

A recurring theme with modern zombie films is not taking the zombie apocalypse all that seriously, which is exactly the charm of the Spanish-Cuban Juan of the Dead. After the undead outbreak, the chosen Juan decides to start up his own ethically unsound zombie-killing business with differing results. Equal parts slapstick comedy and political allegory, this is a smart and heartfelt effort, which isn’t too bad a result considering it’s viewed as the first Cuban zombie film ever made.

4. Dead Snow (2009)

Continuing the trend of smart, exciting foreign zombie moves comes Dead Snow, or Død Snø in its native Norwegian. When you combine Nazis, zombies and a dash of comedy for good measure, you will only ever been onto a winner and that’s exactly the case here. Dead Snow is smartly shot, fantastically paced and doesn’t fall into the same old tropes that hamper so many similar films.

3. The Battery (2012)

A film which I cannot espouse enough, The Battery appeared in a period of fantastical, ridiculous zombie movies to do something that so many simply fail to do: tell a story. As a low-budget affair, this allows first-time director Jeremy Gardner to explore the mental toil of a zombie apocalypse on two begrudging baseball players who were thrown together through necessity rather than choice when the world went to shit. Essential viewing.

2. Shaun of the Dead (2004)

It would almost be easier to just copy and paste a load of memorable quotes from Edgar Wright’s now famous romzomcom than to actually write anything about it. If you haven’t seen Shaun of the Dead yet, get your life together and turn on ITV2 right now because it will invariably be playing on there as we speak. How’s that for a slice of fried gold?

1. Dawn of the Dead (2004)

A film that I make an effort to watch at least once a year, Zack Snyder’s remake of the classic original is a breathless action film which only shares the location (a shopping mall) with its source material. It’s not the thinking man’s zombie movie, but I will be damned if it isn’t the most entertaining, set up perfectly by a relentless opening sequence.

Critic reviews Attack on Titan movie

attack on titan review top

We here at RocketNews24 been waiting for the release of the live-action Attack on Titan movie with cautious optimism. At first it looked great, but as we’ve received more information, it has begun to sound less and less promising.

But now the wait is over: tomorrow is the official release date, and reviews have started coming in from critics given advanced screenings. Unfortunately, the early response isn’t great.In fact, one popular Japanese movie website wrote such a scathing review of the film that even the director felt compelled to respond to it on Twitter.

Read on and see all the drama for yourself!

The Attack on Titan live action film review comes from the Japanese website Cho Eiga Hihyo (“Super Movie Reviews”) run by movie critic Yuichi Maeda. They score movies out of 100 points, and awarded Attack on Titan a failing 40. Yikes. Why so bad?

Here are some parts of the review, which we’ve translated into English:

“The Attack on Titan live-action film was created with the concept of changing things that were ‘unrealistic’ in the manga, rather than simply adapting the manga to the big screen. Unfortunately that concept undermined the entire film, making it feel even more like an ‘unrealistic’ manga than the work it was based on.”

Talk about not sugar-coating your words! The critic doesn’t hold back and sets the tone for the rest of the review right off the bat.

“The only character who gets away with being funny while acting stupid is Hans, played by Satomi Ishihara. However all the other characters, the story, and the direction is just as stupid as she is.”

Them’s fighting words, that’s for sure. Any examples of what was so bad about it?

“For example, right before a titan attacks, they’re told this: ‘The titans are sensitive to noise so don’t speak. If you’re going to yell then bite your tongue!’ So then why do Eren and the rest of the team immediately afterward gossip like little old ladies while they advance on the enemy? Sure they’re new recruits, but they can’t listen to something they were told barely a minute ago? Are they two years old?”

Apparently this isn’t an isolated incident in the movie. Eren and the gang running into titans while screaming is a common occurrence. But didn’t they do that in the anime too? Either way, that’s not this critic’s only problem:

“There’s a sex scene, right in the middle of a titan attack on the town. What would make the producers want to put something ridiculous like that in? It doesn’t add anything to plot and it’s not funny or interesting. All you can do is stare in disbelief with your mouthing hanging open.”

To be fair, I haven’t seen this scene myself so he may have a point. But in all honesty, this sounds hilarious and I’m kind of interested to see how the film’s makers wove it in.

“The awkward plot keeps moving forward, making you more annoyed with the characters every minute. I wished the titans would eat the kids so the movie would just end. That’s not a good sign, because I’m pretty sure they’re not the team I was supposed to be rooting for.”

Another jab right in the movie’s face. The critic has certainly spouted a lot of angry words, but he hasn’t done a ton to back them up. Maybe we can get some insight in his conclusion.

“The producers felt that the characters being Japanese and having foreign names wasn’t realistic, so they changed them. And yet the three-dimensional maneuver gear, which is just as unrealistic, is perfectly fine to them. They misunderstood that the movie is its own reality, not ours, and it affected the entirety of the film.”

This is probably the critic’s most legitimate point. Of course things have to be changed when adapting a written work to a movie, but when the changes don’t help achieve the film’s goal, it takes the audience out of the movie. It prevents them from suspending their disbelief. Little problems like Eren yelling or an awkward sex scene can be laughed off, but if a movie just doesn’t feel right throughout, then that’s a big problem.

After conceding a few good parts about the film (presumably why it got 40 points and not zero), such as the titans attacking being well done, and the Spider-Man-like three-dimensional gear being cool, the critic ended his review on this final note:

“I may have a lot of problems with the film, but I will acknowledge that perhaps the sequel Attack on Titan: End of the World (to be released September 19) could fix everything with an unexpected twist. Maybe the titans are actually allies of justice, working together to eliminate the worst of humanity that is left in their world. Now that would be satisfying.”

Mic. Drop.

But wait, that’s not all! The Attack on Titan live-action film’s director Shinji Higuchi caught wind of the review and posted a response on Twitter. He has since deleted the tweet, but here’s a translation of what he posted:

“Awesome! I had no idea what I’d do if the great-teacher movie critic actually praised us, so I feel so relieved now. Er, what I meant to say is, who’s the idiot who gave this guy an early release of the film?!”

Not exactly the most PR-friendly response, but it’s almost as entertaining as the review.

Assassin’s Creed movie reveal: this is Fassbender in costume

Michael Fassbender doesn’t just count X-Men enemy/ally Magneto among his geek cred roles — he’s also the lead actor and an executive producer on the upcoming live action Assassin’s Creed movie.

Based on Ubisoft’s long-running stealth action gaming series, the live-action adaptation has been in the works since 2011. Despite delays, and the concerns of anyone who has seen a movie based on a video game before, it’s going ahead, and the first look at Fassbender in costume has now been revealed.

The image was shown first on Yahoo! Movies, and it looks to be incredibly accurate to the style of the original sequence of games. Of particular note are the signature hidden blades, extending from the detailed gauntlets on Fassbender’s wrists. Overall, the costume is one of the most accurate translations from game to film we’ve seen.

Don’t expect a repeat of the stories from any of the Assassin’s Creed games though. The movie sees Fassbender as Callum Lynch, who discovers his heritage lies within the Assassin Brotherhood. The film will maintain one of the series’ core concepts though, that of genetic memories. Yet while modern day protagonist Desmond Miles was distinct from Altair, Ezio, and Connor in the games, Fassbender will have a dual role as Connor’s ancestor, Aguilar de Agarorobo, with the historical segments of the movie set in 15th Century Spain.

The separation of game and film is probably for the best — cinematic adaptations of games have rarely worked when trying to hew closely to the source material, suffering both creative strangleholds and attracting the ire of angry fans objecting to changes. Allowing the movie to stand alone gives it chance to work within its own medium. The solo nature also fits with the wider Assassin’s Creed franchise, which has canonically explored other Assassins and Templars through comics, novels, and gaming spin-offs — Callum and Aguilar will merely be two more characters in the wider lore.

The first look at the outfit comes ahead of the movie beginning actual production. Fassbender and his fellow cast, including The Dark Knight Rises‘ Marion Cotillard, 12 Years a Slave’s Michael Kenneth Williams, and Before Midnight’s Ariane Labed will appear before director Justin Kurzel’s cameras from next Monday. The shoot is expected to cover London, Malta, and Spain. The finished product should hit cinemas on 21 December, 2016.

Old Vs. New: A Night at the Movies With Cinderella

This is going to compare the Disney Animated version of Cinderella to the 2015 live-action retelling. For the sake of convenience, I’ll refer to the animated character of Cinderella as Cinderella and her live action version as Ella.

Spoilers ensue. You were warned.

The entire first act of the live-action Cinderella develops the characters of Ella and her biological parents as opposed to just telling them in exposition form like in the animated version. We see that Ella’s optimism comes from her mother and that when Ella’s father marries again, Lady Tremaine tries to make it work but feels like she can’t compete with the shadow of Ella’s mother and the presence of Ella herself so that by the time Ella’s father dies, Ella’s life is degraded to that of a servant. It’s stated in the narration that Ella did the chores as a distraction from her grief.

Later on in the live-action film, Ella goes out riding on her horse and meets the prince, who is dressed as a member of the Royal Guard and calls himself “Kit.” (The animated prince shall be referred to as Charming, not to be confused with the Prince Charming from Once Upon a Time.) Kit tells Ella that he’s an apprentice. Later on, Kit meets back with his father, who is dying. The king and the Grand Duke remind Kit that he needs to marry a princess as required by law, but since Kit is head over heels for a girl whose name he doesn’t even know, he extends the ball’s invitation to every eligible maiden.

Both versions show their respective Cinderellas making a dress for the ball with the help of the mice. But this leads to the first scene that bugs me: the dress ripping scene. In the animated version, the stepsisters tear Cinderella’s dress to shreds, leaving her tattered and torn beyond repair. It also serves as an emotional breaking point for her because Cinderella has been working hard for so long and just wanted one night where she has a good time and that gets ruined.


In the live action version, the stepmother tears a sleeve and the stepsisters tear off pieces of Ella’s dress here and there, but the dress is not beyond repair nor is it worthy of breaking down in tears. Yes, it probably would’ve been harder to tear actual fabric, but it would’ve been even more dramatic if they actually tore the dress to a dilapidated state.


I will say that both Fairy Godmother scenes were done nicely here. Helena Bonham Carter totally steals the show, since she’s the narrator of the live-action version. I kind of miss the fun musical number, though. But the animated version only had 2-3 musical numbers anyway. Moving on to the ball!

The two entrance scenes are played very differently and I like both of them equally. In the animated version, Cinderella walks into the ballroom while the Grand Duke snarks about how love at first sight doesn’t happen in real life all while Charming sees Cinderella and does just that. In the live action version, Ella gets a grand staircase entrance and realizes as she sees Kit that Kit is actually the prince. Instead of a song like in the animated version, Kit and Ella spend time together by escaping the ball and sneaking into a hidden garden.

There’s a slight subplot in the live-action version involving the Grand Duke wanting the prince to marry a princess from a nearby kingdom and Lady Tremaine learning this fact. But more on that later.

Both versions also show their respective Cinderellas running off before they could tell the prince their name and the glass slipper gets left behind as they flee. The carriage turns into a pumpkin and both Cinderellas walk the rest of the way home. However, the live-action version gives Ella a moment with the King as she runs out, showing the King why Kit fell in love with her.

In the live action-version the King passes away, and after the period of mourning passes, the prince goes looking for the maiden who fits the shoe.

The shoe-search scene differs in the live-action version because live-action Lady Tremaine makes Ella an offer she can’t refuse: Make her the head of the royal family and give her daughters husbands. Ella refuses. Lady Tremaine breaks Ella’s glass slipper before Ella could go and meet her prince. Both Cinderellas get locked in the attic. Live-Action Lady Tremaine reveals the identity of the mystery princess to the Grand Duke and offers her help in getting the prince to enter into an arranged marriage in exchange of getting the title of countess and husbands for her daughters.

Eventually, the shoe-search leads to the Tremaine residence and in spite of the Cinderellas being locked in the attic, the mice are able to save them. The Cinderellas get their princes and they all live happily ever after.

So with plot aside, let’s compare characters!

First of all, I give major points to the live-action for developing the character of the prince and his relationship with Ella. It’s similar to how Prince Henry and Danielle were in Ever After, another Cinderella adaptation, with neither of them revealing who they truly were.  I’ll go into Ella’s handling of her relationship with the prince later.

I like how the king was written in both versions, although I’m sad that in the live-action version, he’s a dying man. The king in the animated version was funny and had a good motivation. He wants to have grandkids and isn’t as close to Charming as he was when Charming was younger. I also liked the Captain of the Guard who was basically the Prince’s Black Best Friend.

I don’t like how the Grand Duke became a villain in this version, either. The Grand Duke was actually kind to Cinderella in the animated version, willing to take the King’s insane demands in stride. I understand the Grand Duke’s intentions in the live action version, looking out for the good of the kingdom and all, but honey, you’re in the wrong movie. Save that deviousness for Game of Thrones!

I liked Lady Tremaine, Anastasia, and Drisella in both versions, but there’s just something more menacing about the animated version. Live-action Lady Tremaine has a bit of sympathy because she wanted to love her new husband, but it doesn’t explain why she treats Cinderella so harshly. Yes, she explains that she loved her first husband and it’s implied that one reason she treats Ella so badly is because Ella is so kind and optimistic in spite of what she has been through. But if she really wanted to make things work, she could’ve put in a little more effort or cleared things up with her second husband.

Now the majority of the movie really rests on the shoulders on Ella herself and it’s hard to compare the animated version and the live-action version. They’re similar in how much they have to endure, but if you look closely at the animated version, you can see that Cinderella is actually slightly more realistic than the live-action version. See, Cinderella is shown to be patient, hardworking, but still wants to go to the ball and has normal reactions to Lucifer’s pranks as well as putting up with all the work her stepmother and stepsisters give her. She has to endure a lot, which makes her eventual breakdown at the dress-tearing scene all the more heartbreaking.

The live-action Ella is a bit too optimistic at times. I can get her doing chores as a way to deal with her grief, but again, the dress-ripping scene doesn’t exactly warrant her breaking down in tears. When she gets table scraps, she just decides to share the food with the mice. I also don’t like the fact that Ella just accepts her fate of being trapped in a tower, thinking that her memories with the Prince are enough to live on. Cinderella actually wanted to get out and begged her animal friends to help her.

I will give the live-action points on making Ella a queen in the end and saying that she and Kit ruled fairly and kindly. Evil queens are a stereotype that needs a makeover. But until we see more benevolent queens in fairy tales, my favorite “Evil Queen” is still my dear, beloved Sass Queen Regina from Once Upon a Time

Overall, both movies are good on their own. But if you ask me which telling of Cinderella is my favorite, I would honestly say that I choose the Rodgers and Hammerstein version starring Brandy and Whitney Houston. If you ask me to choose between the two, I think I want to give the animated version a visit again. It just feels more timeless to me, in spite of people’s preconceptions and problems with it.

Tomorrow, I’ll go into how the story of Cinderella as a whole provides proof as to how faith and works actually go hand in hand when it comes to receiving ultimate happiness.

3 Problems The ‘God Of War’ Movie Will Face

So, Sony seems like they’re really serious this time. They’re really going to make God of War into a movie.

Yeah, I can foresee a couple of problems with that. Even if they did hire a screenwriter who thinks he’s making the next Batman trilogy.

3) There’s Really No Plot To The Games

This is every God of War game: Kratos is pissed off at a God, or a Fury, or something. He needs some object to defeat them, because Kratos solves his problems with murder. This object is hidden in a temple full of overly elaborate traps and locks that he travels to. Also he kills his way out of Hades at some point.

Patrick Melton, the poor bastard stuck writing this movie, has argued that Kratos’ origin story will be the first act… and is notably silent on what will happen next.

2) Most of the Plot Points Involve Horrible Ways to Die Or Worse

When Kratos rips a god’s head off and pokes the back of it with his finger to make him scream/use him as a lantern, I laugh because despite the “realism” of the graphics, it’s ridiculous. On film, live-action, it’d probably be awful. Similarly, most of the game involves Kratos going somewhere and killing something in some absolutely grisly way, usually for the crime of being between Kratos and what he wants. That makes for fun video games, not compelling cinema.

1) The Antagonists All Have Weak Motives or No Motive Whatsoever

OK, that’s unfair. The ultimate end boss in Chains of Olympus had a reasonable motive and was fairly sympathetic. Hades also has one of the best speeches in the entire franchise. He’s not a nice man but if anybody’s got reason to want Kratos dead, it’s Hades.

Everybody else, though, can be summed up with “because he’s a prick.” And that’s a bit… tricky, to write around.


Anyways, this pisses me off for a whole mess of reasons, not the least of which is that I legitimately LIKE Tekken 2010 despite some issues with it, and consider it one of the few acceptable game-to-film adaptations yet made (the others are Silent Hill, DOA and Resident Evil Extinction, fyi).  So to explain and hopefully settle things, I’m going to break down both films into their constituent parts before comparing and contrasting their performances.  Some of these factors will pertain to how faithful they are to the source material, others are based more on simple filmmaking qualities/decisions, but all are important.
And I’m not covering Tekken: The Motion Picture because it is a movie based on a fighting game that does not contain any worthwhile fighting so its failure should be obvious to everyone.
The Plot
The importance of plot/story shouldn’t require an explanation, but just so we’re clear: no form of entertainment media – be it movie, book, game, comic, anything – that features entities which could be called ‘characters’ can succeed as entertainment without a functional narrative.  It doesn’t have to be complicated, original or lengthy, it just has to succeed in justifying why the characters are doing what they’re doing.  Look at the Super Mario games – how many of those have stories that boil down to ‘save Princess Peach’? (not as many as you think, actually, but that’s another topic) And sure, snarky internet types might find that to be a source of neverending jokes, but it works.  It justifies why Mario is running a crazy gauntlet of Thwomps and Goombas and bottomless pits, and it gives us as players a reason to want to defeat Bowser.  Now, granted, when it comes to games, yes, you don’t always need story.  Tetris does not have a story, neither does Space Invaders, or Geometry Wars…the list goes on, but you’ll notice these games do not have characters in them. The player’s presence is limited to an invisible hand or a nondescript object (which might be a spaceship, or maybe just a floating triangle), and so narrative can be excised as we aren’t being given any viewpoint to sympathise with.  Tekken games have characters – loads of them – and so narrative does matter.
Tekken 2010 will never win awards for freshness or originality where plot is concerned; a gifted teenaged (or young adult) martial artist with a rebellious streak witnesses the death of his mother and mentor, and his unrestrained need for revenge drives him to join the fighting tournament held by the man responsible, in the hopes of getting close enough to kill him.  You’ve heard it before, one way or another.  That said, clichés tend to exist because they work, and the same is true here.  We completely understand Jin’s desire to kill Heihachi, and are behind him in his quest all the way.  Every one of his battles is justified as a roadblock, an obstacle on his path that he must overcome either by himself or with the help of the allies drawn to his side.  And when the (clearly foreshadowed) twist comes along, we still feel some of the inherent gut-punch because we are made to give a damn about the boy and his journey.
By comparison…I am so tempted to say that Blood Vengeance has no plot, but that’s not true.  The problem is it has two plots and neither of them are complete.
For the first…let’s say hour of the 90-minute runtime (probably more, actually) we follow Xiaoyu and Alisa as they chase down, and squabble over, Shin Kamiya, a sullen schoolboy whose DNA holds the secret to…a secret, which we aren’t told about except that it’s really important.  Eventually, they follow the seemingly-captured Shin to Kyoto Castle, where Heihachi makes a surprise appearance and reveals that, um, actually, Shin is irrelevant, simply part of a ploy to lure out the other Mishima men for a climactic throwdown, and the boy is thus dismissed fatally without impacting anything of note.  Thus, the girls’ arc concludes without an actual ending and without them learning anything or undergoing much change, and we instead focus on a big fight that has been set up with…uhm…I think it was mentioned fleetingly earlier, except without Heihachi, and wasn’t stressed enough to seem important.  So we have a coda without build-up and a first 2 acts without a 3rd.  Again – it’s not that there is no story; it’s that there isn’t a complete one.  As a result, nothing that happens within the story – not one conversation, accusation or battle – has any meaning, and all of them fall flat.

Though a fair part of getting the viewer on the main character’s side is based around the handling of the plot, straight characterisation of the protagonist can be just as important.  A good example would be the 2009 Star Trek reboot-a-thon directed by JJ Abrams; though I don’t have much issue with the plot, it’s hard to care about James T. Kirk’s journey when Chris Pine is acting like a complete arsewipe in every.  Single.  Scene.  A lead doesn’t have to be likable, but they do have to behave in a way that fits with what we learn about them.
Jin Kazama in Tekken 2010 is an angry, impatient kid who always takes the direct route out of any problem scenario and pretty much thinks with his fists.  The film does not delay in setting these character traits up; it’s all there very clearly when he’s talking with mummy Jun at their home.  Both of them are living under the oppressive yoke of Heihachi’s regime, and Jun has been trying to teach Jin just to keep his head down and go along with it, for which he becomes angry and storms out – a decision that saves his life but perhaps seals her fate, ultimately.  This also gives him something of a guilty conscience, which makes his repeated flashbacks to Jun’s teachings over the course of the film more logical (even if that device does outstay its welcome).  Once he’s in the tournament proper, he nearly kills his first opponent in a blind rage, then gets distracted by Christie Monteiro’s attentions, both moments showing points of weakness in the character to demonstrate that he has a lot of growing up to do, which he eventually does, becoming a stronger fighter and realising there’s more to the tournament, and life, than revenge.  The important things to note here are that he is both focused on a tangible goal AND he is not a monk.  Monks are boring; they stick to their guns so solidly there’s no hope for drama or risk.  The fact that Jin can falter on his path because some girl has a nice butt both emphasises the youth of the character and provides some light relief.  On a similar line, the comedy antics of Bruce Lee in something as otherwise-serious as Way of the Dragon (blithely following a nice lady to her house assuming it’s all innocent then running in fear from OHMYGOD NAKED BREASTS) provides the same function.  And you’re not about to argue with me when I say Bruce Lee did it so it must be good, right?  No, you’re not.
Ling Xiaoyu in Blood Vengeance is a harder nut to crack.  She’s an immature, rebellious schoolgirl, except she’s willing to take commands from apparent strangers who clearly have shady motives because…well, because.  She varies between extremely competent – sneaking into Shin’s room and a high-security lab without trouble – or being virtually useless for the last 30 minutes of running time.  She has a pet panda which can run at 60+ miles per hour and take out a squad of armed soldiers in seconds, but gets freaked out by a humanoid robot removing its own head.  Why?  I…I can’t answer that.  There is no answer.  Xiaoyu’s skills and attitude shift purely based on what the screenwriter and director felt they needed for the next scene in the film to work best, ergo she shifts from determined to curious to confused to doe-eyed wurrrve to just plain dumb from moment to moment in a fashion befitting a junior Alzheimer’s patient.  By the time the credits roll, she has not undergone even the slightest bit of growth; any change to her persona is almost immediately retconned the next time we see her.  This renders it virtually impossible to sympathise with her – not because she’s not relatable (a helpful but unnecessary trait in a protagonist), but because not a single aspect of her being aside from her appearance is set in stone.
One of (IMO) the more undervalued qualities of filmmaking, pacing is the somewhat intangible suggestion of how fast or slow time is moving within the film, communicated by how rapidly events appear to be moving along.  For the record, there is nothing inherently wrong with a slow pace, but when it comes to action movies – and any film based on something like Tekken is invariably going to be an action movie – faster is better.
To change things up, let’s look at Blood Vengeance first.  The film certainly starts quick, with the opening highway crash and Nina/Anna scuffle leading to heads-up infodumps with both Jin and Kazuya, establishing Shin as the MacGuffin in human form that everyone wants, all in around five minutes of screentime.  This is fast, but not so fast it’s unintelligible.  Good.  Unfortunately, things take a misstep once Xiaoyu gets involved, as the movie holds off on delivering more action in favour of endless scenes of Xiaoyu talking to Alisa, or talking to Shin, or talking to herself, usually ignoring plot relevance in favour of clunky attempts at emotion (and fair play to the English translation here, because even in Japanese it’s a mess) or twee comedy that’s so sugary it threatens to rot the viewers’ teeth.  Bad.  Even when we cut away from our heroine to see what’s happening, it’s still just talking.  Nina talks on her phone!  Anna talks to her teapot!  Lee talks to an empty room!  Think about this: this was a CGI film.  They have no budget constraints; when it comes to making things happen, the only limit is the creators’ imagination.  And the best they could come up with for these insanely crazy kick-ass characters to do was talk for an hour.  By the time another fight happens (Alisa/Xiaoyu, for…something) the viewers’ attention has waned past the point of no return.

Tekken 2010 doesn’t have a problem here.  Yes, there is talking – of course there is – but what is said is kept economical and to-the-point.  We don’t linger on talking scenes any longer than we have to, and where possible something else is actually happening while the talking is occurring to keep you watching, just in case you miss something good.  Granted, this doesn’t magically make the dialogue better (the banter is generally functional, but does lack true wit) but you’re never required to endure it for longer than you can take in one go.  And there’s also far more action, spread far more sensibly, in Tekken 2010.  There’s a lot more fights – 8 at the least – and even beyond that the film keeps things noisy and fast, with the opening chase scene, the ‘ninja’ attack, the jail break; hell, even Jin and Christie going clubbing.  No, that’s not exactly ‘action’ but it’s something happening, which beats out 80% of Blood Vengeance.
Does this one need explaining?  Any adaptation of Tekken in any form will live or die based on how much ‘action’ there is, and how good it is.  This doesn’t have to be straight 1-on-1 (or even 2-on-2) fights, but obviously that’s what the audience would expect.
Whatever else I may think of Blood Vengeance, when it stops sitting on its hands and lets the Tekken cast do Tekken things, it gets pretty fantastic.  The fighters regularly pull off recognisable signature moves from the games (along with weird shit like whatever Nina’s doing up there), everything’s super-fast and gorgeously animated, and the camera choices are dynamic without getting in the way.  If I have a problem with the fights it’s in the lack of ‘selling’ (to use the pro-wrestling vernacular); none of the characters remain hurt by any assault, no matter the severity, for more than a matter of seconds.  It’s like dealing with an army of John Cenas!  Even so, I’m inclined to give the filmmakers a break here, as I’ve had the same problem with pre-rendered story sequences (and in some cases actual gameplay) in the games for a long while.  What I won’t give ’em a break over is the scarcity of this sort of thing.  I know I mentioned it before under ‘pacing’, but c’mon, there’s 3 fights in this 90-minute feature, the first of which lasts under a minute and is both one-sided and meaningless (Anna claims “It’s all a distraction!” but it doesn’t seem to distract anyone from anything), the second of which ends without resolution and the third…well, it’s just batshit insane, which I wouldn’t normally mind, but thanks to the editing going ADHD on us, it’s hard to keep track of everything once the Devils start flying.
Tekken 2010 caught a lot of flak for its fights, mainly due to most of the cast not really fighting much at all like their in-game selves.  I will concede that point, though oddly it never really bothered me too much.  Maybe I just never expected flesh-and-blood humans to match the craziness of true Tekken, or maybe I’d seen enough preview material to be forewarned of this issue in advance, and thus made my peace with it.  There were also complaints about the fighters using weapons, but this I will defend…later. 😉 Anyway, this is another case of fans focusing on what was wrong without acknowledging what was right; even if the fights aren’t ‘game-accurate’ they’re still exciting.  The choreography is smart, everything’s shot clearly, the editing doesn’t mangle things (often) and the performances of the cast and their stunt doubles are generally on the mark.  Better still, as I mentioned earlier, there’s like 8 fights across the film, and smartly each differentiates itself from the other in one way or more.  There’s a cage fight, an Eddy Gordo dance-off fight, a swordfight, a catfight, a chain-vs-spear fight…variety is the spice of life, after all.  And going back to my point about ‘selling’, Jon Foo as Jin does a fantastic job of convincing the viewer that he’s feeling the pain of repeated ass-kickings over the course of the film, aided by the make-up department.  It’s a small thing, but it makes him a touch more sympathetic and gives his journey more meaning – he’s paying a price in blood for his victories.
Leading Lady/Main Supporting Character
Every hero needs a partner, be it of the romantic or platonic kind.  After all, they need someone to act as a sounding board when they’ve got something to get off their chest and don’t wanna look like a weirdo who talks to himself, and the way they treat those closest to themselves can say a lot about their persona.  Additionally, the supporting player can knock them down a peg and be a source of wisdom/common sense for the protagonist to tap, so they don’t look like they just instinctively know everything about the world from the get-go.  And frequently, these characters tend to be ladies, because why not.  Such is the case for both films here.
Alisa Bosconovitch was tasked with aiding and abetting Xiaoyu’s stupidity in Blood Vengeance and, in fact, often feels like she’s threatening to steal the star billing from her inexplicable new BFF.  Indeed, most of the (constant, unceasing) dialogue of the film is fixated on this robot girl and her struggling to define what ‘human’ is and if she really is ‘human’ and ‘humanity’ and blah blah blah…look, this is an interesting theme.  I’m on record as listing the Battlestar Galactica reboot as my favourite TV series ever and that show got incredible mileage out of mining that idea.  Thing is, in Galactica the ‘robots’ really had evolved to the point where the differences between them and the humans were almost entirely semantics, whereas here, Alisa rarely (if ever) is allowed to behave like anything resembling a rational human being.  Her mood swings are just as random and baffling as Xiaoyu’s, her higher brain functions can be switched on and off by Nina’s iPhone (!), she needs to be recharged by plugging herself into a wall socket, and even if that all wasn’t an issue there’s a bunch of other robots (the ED-209 things that Nina has a ‘copter full of) in the movie that are treated as nothing more than mute cannon fodder, which basically undoes what little good Alisa may have accomplished.  Also:  “I’m your refridgerator!”  Punch me in the face.
I should probably save this point for talking about faithfulness-to-source later, but let’s just get it out of the way – Kelly Overton as Christie Monteiro in Tekken 2010 is as good an example as any where it’s absolutely right of the filmmakers to embellish upon the source material.  Christie in the Tekken games is a borrowed moveset, a chirpy voice and a sexy body, and not much else.  She has few storyline relations to other characters, shows very little range of expression beyond happy-go-lucky, and has undergone little in the way of change since her debut in Tekken 4 (she was chasing Eddy then, she’s still chasing him now).  If the filmmakers wanted to get any use out of her at all, they’d need to put some work in, and they did.  Movie Christie is still sexy, and chirpy at times, but she also has a full range of emotions that are employed in reaction to what goes on around her, and tell us a lot about who she is.  Yes, she goes after Jin purely out of lust, but her interest in him is tempered by her disapproving of his blind anger; couple that with her obvious hatred of anything that isn’t clearly ‘fair’ or ‘right’ and we can tell she has a strong moral code and no hesitation in backing it up.  She gets understandably upset by her friends being hurt but doesn’t suffer a full breakdown over it, and even after she’s captured she refuses to yield internally to Kazuya and his minions, showing true strength of heart.  Movie Christie is, frankly, superior to her inspiration in almost every way, and equal credit is due to writer Alan McElroy and actress Overton for pulling that off.  What?  Why was Christie the lead in the first place?  Uh…no idea, really.  I’m just glad it was a good Christie.
Visual Design (Faithfulness)
There’s obviously a lot of work by a lot of different people that goes into setting the ‘look’ of any given film, but for the sake of simplicity here I’m going to put the various facets of ‘set’, prop and costume design (and other such things) under one banner, because this post is already crazy long and I’d like to finish it some time before I’m 30.  However, there are 2 different aspects of visual design which are important, with the first one being the one that invariably gets the most fan attention – faithfulness, aka ‘does it look just like the game?’.
And thus we arrive at Blood Vengeance‘s biggest points-scoring opportunity so far.  With direct access to Namco’s past character renders and concept art, not to mention the luxury of being CGI and thus not having to worry about finding actual human beings that look like Tekken characters, Digital Frontier made sure that every name character from the games who makes an appearance in their movie, if nothing else, looks exactly how they should look.  Every strand of hair, every flawless female curve, every one of Heihachi’s old man wrinkles – it’s all there.  And the costumes!  Everybody either dresses exactly how they do in the games, or wears something that’s still believable as a fashion choice made by them; no, Lee’s never worn an all-white suit before, but why wouldn’t he?  That’s easily eye-catching enough for the big campy buffoon.  Of course, nothing in Blood Vengeance is perfect, and so I direct my ire towards the armoured blokes in the above shot.  They look like Tekken Force, right?  Yes, but they’re not, they’re G-Corp soldiers.  Remember they were in Tekken 6’s Scenario Campaign mode?  With green body armour, sunglasses and largely-exposed faces?  I.e. not looking like the Helghast?  Also, the Mishima Zaibatsu don’t use ED209 knock-offs. (NANCY doesn’t count) They have the Helghast-lookalikes.  Who got this one jumbled up, eh?  Actually, I’m just gonna make a broad statement here and say every new thing the Blood Vengeance team had to design for the film was a failure.  Shin is just the single most boring, generic anime male possible, Heihachi’s ridiculous Mokujin Force Voltron thing at the end got lost on its way to Fern Gully 3, and the new stage-2 Devils?  Errrrrgh.
Tekken 2010, by comparison…well, it tries.  Most of the fighters wear something at least resembling their character’s signature gear, although the results are mixed at best, with Miguel especially looking like a last-minute improvisation.  Then there’s the odd few characters that are practically reconstructed from the ground up; I spoke favourably of Christie before, but when you’re dealing with Kazuya – probably the most unfuckup-able character in the whole franchise – making any sort of change seems wasteful.  Granted, I think the version of Kazuya they wound up with (essentially a mash-up of his origin and a more serious version of Lee) works within the context of the movie, and Ian Anthony Dale frequently kills it with his line delivery and bastard smirk, but this is certainly a far cry from the demonic, nigh-invincible ass-kicker of the games.  The same could be said of Heihachi; I get what they were going for, and I wouldn’t want to lose Cary Tagawa’s presence from the film, but taking away his status as a fighter diminishes the character to no little degree.  Then there’s Steve Fox, who really isn’t Steve Fox in any way besides being English.  I figure that role went by another name until they hired Luke Goss, then they checked the games again to see if there were any English characters there they could name-drop as a reference, since the alternative would be forcing Goss to use his pretend American accent and, by god, does that voice sound awful.  And going back to the Tekken Force, I get the joke behind their new name (they’re Jackhammers, the city is called the Anvil…between the Hammer and the Anvil, get it?) but was that really worth ditching their real name?  They already have a Tekken City and Tekken Corporation, why not Tekken Force too?
Visual Design (Consistency/Worldbuilding)
The other side of the design coin is more introspective.  Here, I’m talking about how well the films create a believable world in which the characters and the events taking place feel like natural fits.  This isn’t always easy, as it requires all the various design departments to be working hand-in-hand toward a common goal, and with some smart people overseeing everything and making sure it all sticks together sensibly, even when the individual components aren’t that sensible at all.
Given the constraints of being live-action and a relatively modest budget, it’s fair to say the team behind Tekken 2010 worked their ass off trying to come up with a world that was relatable but still new and alien, and frankly I’m impressed with the results.  There’s a clear shift between the grimy Bangkok-alike slums of the Anvil and the clean, concrete-and-glass skyscrapers of Tekken City – and more importantly, everything within Tekken City looks like it belongs there.  In the real world, a platoon of private militia wearing kendo face-masks would be weird, but here, with the overt Japanese stylings of everything under Heihachi’s rule, that seems natural enough that we don’t question it.  The fighters all wear gaudily-coloured outfits, but when placed inside the arena, with its mix of deep shadow and sharply contrasted neon, not to mention constantly swirling lights, they look like they belong.  You don’t doubt for a minute that this is how pro martial artists are supposed to dress within this universe.  Also, because I said I’d cover it earlier and haven’t, the whole weapons thing?  Makes sense to me.  Although there’s a lot that’s recognisably Tekken about the movie’s world, it’s also a lot closer to reality, with even the toughest characters having their ‘power level’ scaled back to a degree that’s only a little more than human.  By that logic, Kazuya introducing weapons to what’s normally a hand-to-hand fighting tournament to ‘raise the stakes’ makes sense; these are not the kind of Tekken fighters who see Yoshimitsu, with all his armour and nasty swords, as no more dangerous than Asuka Kazama and her weirdly large man-hands.  If someone points a gun at them, they’ll freeze because they’re not bulletproof.  This is a rule the film establishes early on and sticks with throughout, and that sort of consistency is what makes the world of Tekken 2010 interesting to me, because it fits together logically.
Blood Vengeance…doesn’t do that.  I suppose Namco weren’t going to be much help to Digital Frontier here, as rarely do the games offer any clue as to exactly how advanced technologically the world of Tekken is compared to ours (sentient robots are commonplace, huge corporations run the world with private armies, but most known countries look the same, people still drive normal cars etc.).  That said, Namco COULD have taught them something about art design; one thing that’s not often appreciated about the stages in the games is that they have the right balance of colour and hyper-realism to blend with the crazy character roster – you never doubt that these people belong in these locations.  By comparison, none of the environments in Blood Vengeance have the same feeling; they’re not visually interesting enough, and even the ones that are somewhat ‘dynamic’ like the collapsing Kyoto Castle at the end are still too dull and bland to the eye to match the game-accurate characters.  Rarely does the film shake the notion that these virtual people are just standing on virtual sets, and that hurts things considerably; the fact that I can’t buy the world these people live in as genuinely existing is another barrier blocking me from giving a damn about their plight.

‘Dragonball’ star: ‘No one wants to make a movie that people will hate’

Michelle Castillo has a report on “Dragonball Revolution,” which, for right or wrong, may be the most-hated film of 2009 that hasn’t even been released yet.

Dragonball Evolution

Hell hath no fury like an angry fanboy. At least not when it comes to the box office.

“Dragonball Evolution” is set to hit U.S. theaters on April 10 but it’s already reaching legendary status as the 2009 film fans love to hate on, at least as far as the Internet is concerned. The makers of the live-action film hoped to tap into a built-in audience by adapting the hugely popular manga epic that had already spawned three anime series, 17 animated feature films and three television specials. Fans all over the world love “Dragon Ball” but, well, it’s a thin line between love and hate.

Across the web, fans have been bellowing their anger over the choices made by director James Wong (“The One,” “Final Destination“), who was to looking to streamline and mainstream the “Dragon Ball” mythology, which follows Goku, a monkey-tailed Japanese boy, while he trains in martial arts and searches for the seven Dragon Balls that are said to grant the wish of the beholder.

Fans are frothing on YouTube about the casting, missing characters, the fight scenes and even the hair styles. This is serious stuff to devotees who have followed the manga franchise since it began in 1984 and have shown their allegiance by buying up the tie-in card game, the assorted video games, the apparel and other merch. On IMDB, one fan seemed to think a holy crime had been committed: “I could go on for hours about what they did wrong … may God have mercy on their souls.”

One of the stars, Jaime Chung, who plays Chi Chi, in the film, is asking the fans to give the movie a chance by perhaps waiting until it reaches the screen before putting it in the same category as “Catwoman” or “Speed Racer,” two other Hollywood movies that took hand-drawn fanboy favorites and turned them into spectacular live-action bombs.

“I feel like all movies that adapt some sort of [material], whether it’s a book or a manga or a cartoon, into a film — you’re going to have to take creative liberty in order to change it so that it works for a motion picture,” Chung said.  “It’s never going to be the same, and you can’t satisfy everyone. What James Wong did was he adapted it in a way where it still stayed true to the ‘Dragon Ball’ series, with the essence of the characters,” said Chung, who is most famous for being one of the housemates in “The Real World: San Diego.”

At 20th Century Fox, the studio behind the “Dragonball” film, there must be some executives missing the old days when fans just waited for a movie to be released before deciding its fate. The studio leadership watched in horror in recent days as a stolen, near-finished copy of “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” became a torrid sensation on file-sharing sites. The FBI has stepped in but, like a man watching his gold coins scatter on a crowded street, the Fox team knows deep down that the damage is already done. (In a twist that will have execs groaning, fans claim that they downloaded illegal copies of “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” solely to punish Fox for its “Dragonball” folly.)

Dragonbal Evolution 2

This is a new era of relationships between fans and studios. Warner Bros. had a muggle revolt last year when it abruptly postponed the sixth “Harry Potter” film for no reason beyond pure profit-positioning; frustrated fans came after Warner chairman Alan Horn and pledged boycotts when the film reaches theaters this summer. Fan debate raged also this year with the Warner film “Watchmen,” the Holy Grail of serious comic-book films, but unlike the old days where a controversy might propel a film for weeks at theaters, this time the movie generated more Internet traffic than box-office receipts and second-week grosses plummeted 67%.

Chung, for one, has put full faith in Wong, who she believes has made some controversial changes in order to make the film a bit more mainstream to new viewers.

Among some of the major twists include setting the story to take place during Goku’s high school years, as well as casting a Caucasian actor in the role. Other facets that faced the chopping board were fan favorite characters such as Krillin, Tien, and Chaouzu, who were removed in order to make the mythology more manageable.

None of that compares to the change that has fans pulling their hair: What happened to Goku’s towering spikes? The hand-drawn Goku is instantly recognizable for his massive black spikes, which jut out from his head like he has an ebony agave plant growing from his head. Wong opted for a somewhat more mundane level of spikes for Justin Chatwin’s (“Taking Lives,” “War of the Worlds”) natural light-brown hair.

Dragonball Evolution 3

Chang, for one, said sometimes change is good: “I mean you can’t make it look ridiculous,” the actress said. “When you’re doing close-up shots, and he’s wearing a two- foot wig, it just looks ridiculous on film. It’s so different from something that’s from a cartoon to something that’s filming something on film. It’s a completely different world, and it was a huge challenge for James, and I feel like he really overcame.”

Chung also believes the cast was well chosen – despite the fact that they might not look like their traditional Japanese characters. The cast includes Asian superstar Chow Yun-Fat (“Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon“) and Emmy Rossum (“Phantom of the Opera“).

Chung said there are plenty of reasons for fans to give Wong’s movie a chance, whether it’s the high-intensity action scenes (shot with a Phantom HD camera for frame rapidity that slows combat for a closer view) or the care given to make sure each character got their own fighting style (Chung’s Chi Chi, for instance, uses taekwondo, allowing her to “look pretty on the outside, but fight like a dude”).

In an unconventional move, “Dragonball” was released  first in Asia (as early as March 12, 2008) and the film has done well despite bootleg copies hitting the market. The film passed the $22 million mark at the end of March, according to Box Office Mojo, and that without any screenings yet in South America,  North America or most of Europe.

The reviews by non-believers have also been more kind; Variety’s Russell Edwards wrote of the film: A popular Japanese manga series gets a pleasing if paint-by-numbers live-action makeover in “Dragonball Evolution,” which half-heartedly tries to keep the faith for its pubescent male fan base.”

Chung said “Dragonball” is just beginning its fight to win over fans.

“No one wants to make a movie that people will hate,” Chung said. “We really want people to enjoy the movie for what it really is and to come in with an open mind and to understand where James Wong was trying to come from. Regardless of whether or not the fans will agree with it, they will be entertained. It has so many great elements like a story of love and friendship, and it’s an adventure with loss and sacrifice and finding your inner strength and destiny. I don’t feel like there is a dull moment in this film.”

Where M. Night Shyamalan Went Wrong: The Last Airbender

Where M. Night Shyamalan Went Wrong: The Last Airbender image
After Earth, the new movie from director M. Night Shyamalan, arrives in theaters this weekend…but you wouldn’t know it’s one of his films by watching the trailer. The filmmaker’s name is almost completely absent from the trailers and advertisements, and all this week we here at Cinema Blend are trying to figure out where it all went wrong. Mack blames The Village. Sean cites The Happening , and Eric says Unbreakable is where Shyamalan’s cinema went off the rails. Today Kristy tells us why The Last Airbender was her last straw.

By 2010, when the tent pole adventure The Last Airbender was set to premiere, M. Night Shyamalan had become a director know for twists, for better or worse. Okay, mostly for worse. He seemed to have gotten tripped up in the audience’s perceived expectations and attempted again and again to pull the rug out from under us as he did with The Sixth Sense, but each time after offered diminishing returns. Still, I liked Unbreakable and Signs well enough. And I was willing to forget The Village, The Happening and Lady in the Lake or whatever it was called, because The Last Airbender was Shyamalan’s opportunity to reboot and forget the twists tropes. And he couldn’t have asked for a better jumping off point.
Based on a celebrated and cerebral animated series Avatar: The Last Airbender, this movie adaptation already had a fascinating world, fleshed out with a rich mythos, peopled with complex and funny characters, and prime for epic battles utilizing martial arts and elemental superpowers to pull from. All Shyamalan had to do was distill the show’s sensational first-season down to a 90-120 minute movie. He had all you could wish for in source material, and yet he failed on every single level.

First off, the film was roundly—and rightly—criticized for being confusing. A premise that the cartoon series set up in a brief intro, Shyamalan spun out again and again in breathy plodding dialogue that failed to get basic world details across to those unfamiliar with the source material, a major fail for any adaptation. What makes this doubly painful is that the show was praised for its witty and spirited dialogue, but Shyamalan clearly has a tin ear. There was a warning sign of this problem when the film’s first trailers largely avoided dialogue, and my worst fears were confirmed when the first deeply awkward lines tumbled out of the mouths of its lackluster child stars. They were another problem.

While the original show featured many people of color, Shyamalan inexplicably made his heroes all white. I tried to assume the best of his choice. Maybe it wasn’t pandering to Hollywood expectation/convention. Maybe these kids—who happen to be white—who were best for the role. But then I saw the film filled with performances that were infuriatingly wooden from kids who lacked any screen presence whatsoever, and I couldn’t give Shyamalan any credit on casting. He picked pretty white kids who couldn’t act to play his heroes, then cast people of color (like Slumdog Millionaire‘s Dev Patel and Aasif Mandvi) to play his villains. It not only made this adventure feel dated and backwards, but also felt like a slap in the face to the source material.

By the end of The Last Airbender I was totally perplexed. How—when he was setup with a world, mythos, characters, action setups, and dialogue—did Shyamalan still manage to wreck this movie? And so atrociously. Hell, he even had his actors mispronouncing characters’ names that had been said hundreds of times of the TV show!

It wasn’t that he wasn’t loyal to the plot of the source material. He was, but his execution lacked any style or spark that would make it worth watching. He stripped away all the color and energy the series had, and so presented something boring and baffling. The only thing spectacular here was the degree to which he failed. (No wonder it has an infamously low Rotten Tomatoes score of 6%!) It was at this point where I realized that Shyamalan wasn’t stunted as a filmmaker—repeating the same twisty patterns again and again—he was getting worse. When his name blared on the screen as the film’s writer, director, and producer in big obnoxious letters, it became terribly clear he had no idea.

‘Death Note’ Live-Action Movie Gets ‘You’re Next’ Director Adam Wingard

Warner Bros. has been working on a live-action film adaptation of the popular Japanese anime/manga Death Note for a few years now, but with little to show for it. Shane Black was once attached as writer/director, before he moved on to make other projects like the detective flick The Nice Guys (which arrives in 2016) – but now, the project has a proper horror filmmaker in place as director.

Death Note, for those unfamiliar, originated with the Japanese comic books series from the early 2000s (written by Tsunami Ohba and illustrated by Takeshi Obata), and tells the story of Light Yagami: a brilliant teenager who discovers a notebook that allows you to kill anyone by writing their name down in it (assuming you’ve seen their face, that is), and decides to use said notebook to cleanse the world of evil-doers.

THR is reporting that filmmaker Adam Wingard has signed on to direct a live-action Death Note movie for Warner Bros., sometime after he shoots his next project (titled The Woods) this summer.

The Woods is the latest horror film collaboration between Wingard and screenwriter Simon Barrett, who have made a name for themselves with the cult hit horror genre throwbacks You’re Next and The Guest (along with Wingard’s work on the horror anthologies V/H/S and The ABCs of Death). Last year, the pair were reported to have been attached to remake the Korean horror/thriller I Saw the Devil too, but there’s no mention of that project in THR‘s new report.

sharni vinson youre next movie director Death Note Live Action Movie Gets Youre Next Director Adam Wingard

Death Note blends a terse cat and mouse story – revolving around Light and the detective(s) who set out to stop his self-righteous murder spree – with supernatural elements and dark comedy. The latter is largely courtesy of Ryuk: a death god and owner of the titular notebook, which Ryuk allows Light to find and use (because Ryuk’s bored, essentially). The mix of bleak humor and crime genre tropes was what made the project read as being a decent fit for Black’s sensibilities; similarly, Death Note‘s (twisted) coming of age aspects were thought to have been what attracted director Gus Van Sant to the project, back when the filmmaker was rumored to be directing.

Wingard, however, is perhaps the most intriguing pick to direct Death Note of the three directors reported to date. He’s demonstrated a knack for handling the various tonal elements and qualities of the narrative – plus, he would bring a stronger horror flavor to the proceedings than perhaps Black or Van Sant might have. There’s also now a real chance that Barrett will revise the Death Note script, possibly drawing from the previous draft penned by Jeremy Slater (The Lazarus Effect).

Heck, who knows – maybe rising star Maika Monroe (who collaborated with Wingard on The Guest) will even be approached to play Misa, a key player in the story.

death note manga anime live action movie Death Note Live Action Movie Gets Youre Next Director Adam Wingard

THR reports that Death Note is being produced by frequent collaborators Dan Lin and Roy Lee (The Ring, The Grudge), along with Jason Hoffs (Edge of Tomorrow) and Masi Oka (a.k.a. Hiro from Heroes). Death Note will presumably be an American-ized take on the original property, as most of the producers involved are known for transporting Japanese pop culture over to Hollywood. It might be something like The Grudge, where the Japanese setting/culture remain in the story, but the protagonist is now an American. Best to wait for more information, before jumping to conclusions.

Death Note, as fans of the franchise are no doubt aware, has been adapted to live-action film in the past, but not with proper Hollywood studio production values before. It’s too early to determine if this WB-backed adaptation will please (or fail to please) the established Death Note fanbase while also winning over newcomers, but thus far the talent attached is certainly promising.

We’ll bring you more information on the Death Note movie when we have it.

‘Frozen’ Live Action Parody Starring Bella Thorne

‘Frozen’ Live Action Parody Starring Bella ThorneWill The DUFF be another teen classic that is as fondly remembered 30 years from now as The Breakfast Club is today? While it’s garnering great reviews, it’s difficult to see that far into the future. One thing is for certain, though. Stars Bella Thorne and Mae Whitman loved working together so much, and proved to have such great chemistry, that they have teamed up for a live-action adaptation of Disney’s hit animated musical Frozen. “Let It Go” as Bella Thorne and Mae Whitman struggle through production in a new behind-the-scenes look at this insane rendition of Frozen, courtesy of Funny Or Die. And then don’t miss the pair starring alongside Robbie Amell, Bianca A. Santos, Skyler Samuels, Nick Eversman, Allison Janney, Romany Malco & Ken Jeong as their new comedy opens today! In The DUFF, Bianca (Mae Whitman) is a content high school senior whose world is shattered when she learns the student body refers to her as ‘The DUFF’ (Designated Ugly Fat Friend) to her prettier, more popular friends. With her universe turned upside down, she ignoreswords of wisdom from her favorite teacher and enlists Wesley, a slick but charming jock, to help set her apart from the pack and erase her label forever. In doing so, she hopes to land her crush Toby, and find the confidence to overthrow the school’s ruthless label maker Madison (Bella Thorne) by reminding everyone that no matter what people look or act like, we are all someone’s DUFF…and that’s totally fine.

The First Parasyte Movie is an Insult to the Manga

I’ve said it before that the original Parasyte manga is one of my all-time favorites. Author Hitoshi Iwaaki’s masterpiece quite literally helped define me as a person and I am quite aware that I carry a lot of baggage when it comes to talking about it. While the trailers did little to persuade me that it would be good, I did my best to remain optimistic about the 2-part movie adaptation, hoping against hope that it would surprise me and wouldn’t be another case of live-action atrocity in motion.

In the end, I left the theater wanting my hour and 50 minutes back.

BAD – No Time for Character Development, Dr. Jones!

The First Parasyte Movie is an Insult to the Manga

The original story of Parasyte was 10 books long. The first movie attempts to cover roughly the first half, from the main character, Shinichi Izumi’s encounter with the parasites to the defeat of his first major rival, Hideo Shimada. Anyone familiar with the original story will know that that’s a substantial amount of plot events to fit into less than 2 hours of screen time.

The result is that much of the initial plot is very, VERY rushed. Things happen, and before you have time to really take it in and digest it, we’ve already moved on to the next. The movie is driven by its plot, mainly because the characters – and consequently, the audience – don’t have time to react and process their emotions. The result it a pulpy mess where you end up not really caring about any of the characters at all.

BAD – Creative License

The First Parasyte Movie is an Insult to the Manga

Obviously, as a film adaptation, certain things needed to be changed. However, while the changes may work for convenience’s sake, they rob the story of much of its core meaning.

For example, Shinichi’s father is absent from the movie. According to character dialogue, he died long ago, leaving Shinichi to be raised be his mother. While this saves the movie from having to deal with having to fit in another character and can be used as a plot point to strengthen the emotional ties between Shinichi and his mother, it creates a void in the plot that ends up creating other logistic problems. When certain events unfold, we’re left with a situation which makes little sense without a parental figure and that the movie hastily tries to gloss over.

BAD – Show and Tell

The First Parasyte Movie is an Insult to the Manga

“Show, don’t tell” is one of the basic rules of storytelling that the movie simply does not get. One of Shinichi’s most emotional character moments is when he recalls a time during his childhood when his mother saves him from being burned by hot oil, but is permanently burned on her right hand as a result. This is essentially what defines Shinichi’s relationship with his mother. Rather than take this event and show it to the viewer, the Parasyte movie instead steamrolls over it by having Shinichi verbally relay the story to Migi thereby removing any emotional investment with the characters’ history.

On the other side of the spectrum, at one point, Shinichi calls Migi the Devil. Rather than simply have Migi retort that he has already studied the Devil – as by this point in the movie we have already seen Migi pouring over books and surfing the internet and know him to be quite knowledgeable – the movie practically screeches to a halt to have Migi go over to the computer and literally do a web search for “the Devil” and read the Wikipedia page before making his response.

BAD – Deus ex Antenna

The First Parasyte Movie is an Insult to the Manga

One characteristic of the parasites is that they are able to sense each other’s presence. While this ability comes up multiple times throughout the movie, it is extremely inconsistent. How far away the parasites can detect each other pretty much depends on what the script calls for to where at points I was confused if the ability was universal or if they parasites could turn it on and off like a convenient switch.

There were other inconsistencies, but I can’t really go into detail without spoiling major plot points. Needless to say, they took me out of the movie at points where I should have been drawn in.

BAD – Missing Insides

The First Parasyte Movie is an Insult to the Manga

I have no idea why this movie was so scared of internal character monologues. I know it’s apparently a cop-out to use overdubbed dialogue to explain things in movies, but if you’re going to undertake such an impossible task as to make a film adaptation of Parasyte, well, you might as well cheat.

Multiple times during the movie, there were scenes where an event would unfold and a lone character would just stand there… And that would be it. I know it would probably be less realistic to have them randomly talking to themselves, but the stony silence certainly didn’t do anything to help explain anything. The only reason I could have known what any of the characters were thinking was because I already knew what they were thinking from having read the source material.

BAD – The First Half (MIXED – The Second Half)

The First Parasyte Movie is an Insult to the Manga

Thanks to the above 2 points, the first half of the movie is quite confusing for anyone who isn’t familiar with the source material and abysmal for anyone who is. That said, by the second half the movie began to warm up to me. After stumbling over its own feet in establishing the characters, the movie seemed to get the hang of things and towards the end, I think I actually felt a twinge of positive emotion – though it may just have been Stockholm Syndrome in effect.

By the end, with the dramatic climax, my emotional migraine had subsided. Yes, the movie is a hollowed-out shell of what it could have been, but casting that aside, the action was fun, the CG meshed with the world enough not to be too distracting, and I was able to relax a little. That said, I wouldn’t be in any hurry to go through the first half again just to get to the ending drama.


The First Parasyte Movie is an Insult to the Manga

Part 1 of the Parasyte movie is essentially “Parasyte for dummies.” If that. It’s the abridged, muted, and emotionally empty shell of what it could have been. The creative changes rob the story of its substance and while it may be cool to see bladed tentacle-headed creatures duke it out, it’s really not worth the mincemeat that is the plot. I cannot even suggest it to people who have never been exposed to the story and are curious. Parasyte is currently available as a manga, an anime, and a movie (and probably a novel). I can recommend the manga and anime.

The first Parasyte movie was released in Japanese theaters on November 27th. Part 2 is scheduled for release in Japan on April 25th. There is currently no word on a Western release.

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10 Best Duet Acting Scenes

If you love music and love stories, you should check out the 10 best duet acting scenes. While the movies not always romantic in nature, some of the strongest cinematic duets in history certainly are. Whether or not a duet that has a lot going on between the lines, these scenes capture the imagination and are a feast for the ears, too.

  1. “Grease”- “You’re the One That I Want” is the expression of passionate, young love in the movie “Grease.” It’s the love song that teenage couple Danny and Sandy (played to perfection by John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John) sing to one another after making themselves over to better fit into one another’s worlds. Travolta and Newton-John have such a strong chemistry that only enhances their loving performances in this scene.
  2. “Rent”- “Light My Candle” is a powerful duet from the film version of “Rent.” It’s sung by Rosario Dawson (who plays Mimi) and Adam Pascal (who plays Roger), and it is at an important part in the story. The poignant song will probably be one that sticks with you.
  3. “The Phantom of the Opera”- The Andrew Lloyd Webber play was expertly adapted to film in 2004. The mesmerizing duet by Christine and Raoul in “All I Ask of You” is well-directed, and the performances are strong. The ambiance throughout the film manages to capture what was originally written for the Broadway film.
  4. “Moulin Rouge”- “Come What May” is the love theme from “Moulin Rouge.” Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor give earnest, heartfelt, and memorable performances. The scene is both somber and sweet. The musical was celebrated for its creative use of already popular songs of various genres and its high energy. This scene grounds the film and clarifies the strong love story between the two leads.
  5. “Annie”- “I Don’t Need Anything But You” is an exuberant song of father-daughter love. It’s from the 1982 film version of the musical “Annie.” Annie and Daddy Warbucks celebrate that they have found each other and the innocent love they share in this fun tune. The performances of Aileen Quinn and Albert Finney make the song and dance scene unforgettable.
  6. “Meet Me in St. Louis”- Screen legends Judy Garland and Margaret O’Brien perform a winning duet with “Under the Bamboo Tree.” The duet performance is from the cinematic classic “Meet Me in St. Louis.” Margaret O’Brien plays the baby sister Tootie to Judy Garland’s Esther. This song is performed to guests at the party, and the two really do seem to be loving sisters, as Judy’s performance tenderly looks out for Margaret’s dancing.
  7. “Xanadu”- Gene Kelly and Olivia Newton-John create pure movie magic with “Whenever You’re Away From Me.” The duet scene is from “Xanadu.” It features their characters of Kira, a muse who has come to earth, and musician Danny tap dancing and singing together. Newton-John took tap dancing lessons to prepare for the scene, and the natural affinity and mutual respect between the characters is clear, as is the faraway love that Danny has lost.
  8. “Xanadu”-“0 Suddenly” is another strong duet from the movie “Xanadu.” The duet is unique, in that it features the vocals of Olivia Newton-John and Cliff Richard against the backdrop of a fantasy roller skating scene. While the movie is definitely 1980s fun to its core, the soundtrack has been a smash hit for decades.
  9. “Hairspray”-The reprise of “Big, Blonde, and Beautiful” is a duet scene performed by Michelle Pfeiffer and John Travolta. In the scene from the 2007 musical film version of “Hairspray,” Travolta is dressed as the female character of Edna. It’s an ultimately touching, yet fun, duet with strong acting and singing.
  10. “The Wilde Girls”- “You Loved Me Into It” is a duet between two characters, a mother and daughter, who have finally come to understand one another. Del Shores directs a winning duet scene between real-life mother and daughter, Olivia Newton-John and Chloe Lattanzi, in “The Wilde Girls.” Both Newton-John and Lattanzi show off their beautiful and very different vocal styles, and their mutual admiration is evident in the performances given in this tender scene.