Avengers: Age of Ultron Review

Avengers 2

The Marvel’s cinematic Tent-pole sequel stars Elizabeth Olsen, Samuel L Jackson, Jeremy Renner, Mark Ruffalo, Robert Downey Jr, Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, and Aaron Taylor-Johnson as the Avengers!

Reeling out of its predecessor, the 2012 box-office smash, Marvel’s The Avengers, Marvel’s The Avengers: Age of Ultron picks up the pace and has already set records of its own. But does box-office hit mean Nerd approved?

Plot:Avengers AAvengers AAvengers A

Having an entire Universe of movies with years or production, different directors, several actors, and over a half a century of source material to pull from is not easy to choose who and what goes when and where. This plot while standing OK on its own, it did not segue from Captain America: Winter Soldier, Thor: Dark World, or Iron Man 3 (which in IM3‘s case may not be a bad thing) and the ending does not really set up Captain America: Civil War, Ant-Man, Black Panther, nor Thor: Ragnarök

He is just angry he got cut from Avengers: Age Of Ultron

He is just angry he got cut from Avengers: Age Of Ultron

While I personally hated Tom Hiddleston‘s Loki being a villain in both Thor and The Avengers as he is very much just a Thor villain, having him introduced and set up in Thor did make his addition in Avengers much more integrated. Ultron is one of if not the best Avengers villain but he was not developed as a villain in the cinematic universe until this movie which also included 3 other new characters, so balancing 4 character introductions and a brand new plot did not kill the movie but made the pace a bit slow and the plot a bit jumbled.

It hard to get into specifics without spoilers but do not expect the level of tiered plot development from either Captain America: Winter Soldier or even the first Avengers.

Characters: Avengers AAvengers AAvengers A

The star studded cast has only increased since 2012 picking up Elizabeth Olsen as Scarlet Witch, Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Quicksilver, James Spader as the voice of Ultron and Paul Bettany as The Vision.

In Avengers they were able to balance the characters, the action, and still make it feel like an ensemble cast all working together but this one does not. The balance boat is tipped as this approaches Hobbit level too many heroes to keep up with and feel that Joss Whedon‘s patented “someone will die” tactic is needed just to thin the cast enough to keep up with the action and plot.

Four new characters all in one movie! Is that good or bad?

Four new characters all in one movie! Is that good or bad?

The lack of character development is the biggest hit here with the overloaded cast. Thor who has had 2 separate movies with character development, had the most development in this movie. Hawkeye also had some great but very out of the blue development which if developed in Avengers 1 would have been much better. With out giving spoiler level detail, very little is given to the new characters Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, The Vision, and even Ultron which all seemed to have a cardboard level flatness.

Visuals: Avengers AAvengers AAvengers AAvengers A

The days of Smallville‘s hoodies as costumes seems to be a thing of the past as this movie has more superhero costumes than any other major motion picture. Captain America’s and Hawkeye’s outfit redesigns were definite improvements but the real star here is The Vision. His origin and creation lends a bit to his design but the combination of textures, mechanics, and organic components brings the comic character to life. unlike The Vision, the organic face and creepy teeth of Ultron clashed against his mechanics and this was the only real  hit here. Other than these items, the changes and additions were not particularly note worthy. .

Overall EAO gives Marvel’s The Avengers: Age of Ultron 3.5 Avengers towers out of 5. It seemed like a small piece of Marvel Universe which seems to be building toward the real next Avengers chapter in Captain America: Civil War next summer.

A war is coming, whose side are you on?

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Marvel’s Daredevil on Netflix Review

Daredevil Top image

Netflix brings the Marvel Cinematic Universe to the Streets. New York City has never looked Redder.

Review By Skylar Stone. Scores by Skylar and Javin Stone

Disney’s Marvel buyout has had a long list of effects for the Marvel franchise, most surprisingly has been the Netflix connection which will result in 5 different 13 episode series. First in this series was Marvel Studios‘ reboot of New York’s blind brawler Daredevil.

The original Daredevil live action adaption was not taken well. Ben Affleck has only built up his movie profile since then but back in 2003 he was not a powerful superhero and the movie’s plot line did not help. Netflix and Marvel Studio’s new take on the Marvel Cinematic Universe reinvents not only the american devil but also the scope of the MCU.

daredevil_benaffleck

Fox’s first attempt at Marvel’s Man Without Fear starring Ben Affleck. There is a reason there was not a Daredevil 2.

This review is based only on the first 6 episodes of the mini-series and warning the series is rated TV-MA.

Plot:DD logoDD logoDD logo

In the series so far, very little has been given to as why Matt Murdock’s hooded alter-ego is crime fighting but he does it well. The Netflix series takes notes from serious cable drama shows like Sons of Anarchy and Boardwalk Empire. Dark, gritty, and personal stories about struggle intertwine to create a compelling story but is still confusing. It seems odd to say but not much is needed in the way of back-story because so much happens in the episode to push the story organically through out the whole episode and the series still has time to complete the story.

Daredevil-8

Good thing he cant see how long the fall is, because if he could he would not be standing that close.

Unlike Agents of SHIELD, the series doesn’t rely on the MCU to make the plot relevant or important. I would like that Daredevil show a bit more of the MCU since it seems at this point to purposely avoid it to make Daredevil seem more out of place. Not a huge hit but definite room for improvement in a new vehicle for the Marvel Universe.

Characters:DD logoDD logohalf DD logo

Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox) is played in a way reminiscent to the Bruce Wayne/ Batman style, in which Batman is the true persona. Matt Murdock is used to further “Daredevil”, or as the series has called up to this point “Man in the Black Mask”, often to a painful end for Matt. Foggy Nelson (Elden Henson) is actually a very welcomed lighter character in the dark gritty New York filled with corrupt cops, dead bystanders, and gangs. This where the praise ends.

Kingpin

Vincent D’Onofrio is an impressive, imposing figure and great actor but is he a crime “Kingpin”?

Wilson Fisk or as any Marvel comic fan is aware “Kingpin”, is the hardest character to swallow. He is secretive, bumbling, and troubled while still being terrifying which I think is what they wanted and for that Vincent D’Onofrio was a perfect choice, except that he is a Super Mob Boss. A mob boss with enough power to own police, politicians, and the majority of the movers and shakers; can not also be small enough to be a background figure with crazy quirks. I know I am biased to the 90’s Spider-Man animated series portrayal of the white suited business giant which I feel was better portrayed by Michael Clarke Duncan in the 2003 film and out of the hated film seemingly withstood critics.

The other characters like Deborah Ann Woll‘s Karen Page and Vondie Curtis-Hall‘s Ben Urich seem to be Ok characters if in a show like Mad Men or a movie like State of Play, but stand out in Marvel Cinematic Universe. They seem added to add depth to the overall plot but just create more for the audience to wait through to get to the “Daredevil” plot.

Visuals:DD logoDD logoDD logoDD logo

Gritty is a mild description of this series given that the ABC shows Agents of SHIELD and Marvel’s Agent Carter look like Yo Gabba Gabba in comparison. While “Daredevil” has frequently been a dark series in the marvel comic universe, this seems almost too dark to be in the same space as Robert Downey Jr.‘s “Iron Man”.

Full black suit against a black sky. Any darker and it would become a radio play!

Full black suit against a black sky. Any darker and it would become a radio play!

Visually the series benefits from two aspects, the fighting and camera. Martial arts and fighting scenes have been changed with the improved choreography in movies like Captain America: The Winter Soldier and John Wick. This series is well aware of that is uses lots of martial arts scenes to show the skill of the fights and to keep the action level at max. Since Matt is blind the focus of the camera is sometimes not on the action but instead plays with the audio or range of vision and this works to show a more artsy impression to mindless action scenes.

Overall while the story is not fleshed out, some characters are a miss, and its a bit too dark Marvel’s Daredevil on Netflix breaks the mold and is doing it well. EAO gives Marvel’s Daredevil  3 and ½ horns out of 5.

Black is the new Red.

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Puppets to Pixels With Rickey Boyd

Rickey Boyd FB promoWe got the chance to host Creative Director of Magnetic Dreams, Rickey Boyd, as a guest speaker this past St. Patrick’s Day.

Ricky doing what he does best; being a puppeteer!

Ricky doing what he does best; being a puppeteer!

Rickey Boyd is the currently the creative director of the middle Tennessee an animation company based in Nashville, TN animation studio Magnetic Dreams. During the late 1980s and 1990s, Boyd worked extensively with the Jim Henson Company famous for creating the Muppets. His work during this period included hit TV shows such as The Dinosaurs and Jim Henson Hour as well as movies including Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990), Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze, and Muppets From Space.

At Magnetic Dreams he has continued working with Jim Henson’s Muppets and more often with Sesame Street’s Elmo and Cookie Monster as both a puppeteer and animation director. Boyd’s involvement does not end there: he is creative director for the studio’s multiple projects.

A collection of puppets and stop motion models used by Ricky in his line of work.

A collection of puppets and stop motion models used by Ricky.

His presentation started with a brief overview of how puppeteers and animation have intermingled through the years on TV and in movies. He also showed off some of his storyboarding prowess, showing each step of the animation process. From inter laying multiple videos to directing puppeteers Ricky showed how he and his studio can really bring a show together! But, the presentation really picked up steam when the puppets started coming out. And the best part of it all was that I got to puppeteer as well!

Ricky and I lip-syncing our puppets to "Happy" by Pharrell Williams

Ricky and I lip-syncing our puppets to “Happy” by Pharrell Williams

It was difficult working with Ricky trying to get my puppet to do what my mind was thinking, but eventually I think I got the hang of it. Although I was no match for Ricky’s emotion. It was a extremely fun experience I can say I was a part of and would definitely do again given the opportunity.

We want to thank Ricky Boyd and his family for coming out and providing a entertaining presentation and we would love to have him out again!

The Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses Master Quest Review

Article by Javin Stone

Ever since we saw the Distant Worlds concert last April we have been dying to see another concert at the Schermerhorn Center. When we learned that The Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses Master Quest was not only going to be at the Schermerhorn but was first on the tour we immediately started to get tickets.

The Schermerhorn Symphony Center

The Schermerhorn Symphony Center

Going in we were once again welcomed by the beautiful interior and exterior of the Schermerhorn center. This time we were a bit more prepared and dressed up for the occasion.

Skylar as psudeo-Link

Skylar as psudeo-Link

The integration of video and live music was much different than that used by the Distant Worlds tour. The music was timed out so that the video matched up as close as possible with the ebb and flow of the music. It was very interesting to see the monitor used by the conductor having the video that was playing for the audience as well as the measure number and other helpful tools. While I wished Song of Storm had made an appearance, the music choices were still recognizable and just as good.

No Zelda shirts? Make one with bleach!

No Zelda shirts? Make one with bleach!

It was difficult to take your eyes off of the screen playing all of the classic scenes of the Zelda franchise and even some new scenes from the upcoming Majora’s Mask 3D remake. The trivia before and during the intermission of the show was a very nice touch to keep the audience entertained.

The Intermission screen looks so good.

The Intermission screen looks so good.

All in all, this was a very different show than the Distant Worlds tour despite their similarity. But, this show was extremely entertaining and fun to watch, listen, and experience. We very much look forward to our next trip to the Schermerhorn Center!

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Marvel’s Agent Carter Review

Hayley Atwell returns as Marvel's Agent Carter!

Hayley Atwell returns as Marvel’s Agent Carter!

Plot:strategic-scientific-reserve-whitestrategic-scientific-reserve-whitestrategic-scientific-reserve-whitestrategic-scientific-reserve-white

Even though the premiere was 2 separate episodes we are basing our review on the full two hours. This mini-series fits extremely well within the Marvel cinematic universe by not only having the same actors and using footage from both the One-shot and Captain America: The First Avenger but the quality of writing seems to far surpass Agents of S.H.E.I.L.D. From the serious themes and to the period attitudes the plot seemed that of a cable series. While implosion devices, vocal surgery, and steampunk emails are a bit hard to swallow the plot was as cheezy as it could have been. It clearly was its own story not relying on only previous conceived ideas from the movies but included enough to make it relevant.

Characters:strategic-scientific-reserve-whitestrategic-scientific-reserve-whitestrategic-scientific-reserve-white

Hayley Atwell’s Agent Peggy Carter has not only been previously established but has already been in 3 different points in her career so her character development was not really a point of contention and she does well to embellish her already full character. The welcomed addition was the straight-man to Carter’s take-no-prisoner personality which was in the form of Edwin Jarvis played by James D’Arcy in this series (Paul Bettany‘s robotic voice commanded AI’s namesake in the Iron Man/Avengers movie franchise). A major problem with the characters in this series so far has been almost everyone else, the villains seemed a bit like cheezy 60s comic book lackeys with a crime drama makeover and worse still were the almost faceless SSR agents that seemed included only to add sexism and to complicate Carter’s spy work.

Visuals:strategic-scientific-reserve-whitestrategic-scientific-reserve-whitestrategic-scientific-reserve-whitestrategic-scientific-reserve-white

The addition of the Captain America radio play and the constant jazz overtone definitely made it seem like late 40s America. Sets in the series were reminiscent to the those in Captain America: The First Avenger but did not do much to expand other than adding some steampunk level spy gear. Not much here other than a clear bigger budget than Agents of S.H.E.I.L.D.

Overall EAO gives ABC’s Agent Carter Mini-series gets 4 SSR shields out of 5. Rather you are a fan of Comic Books, Marvel Cinematic Universe, Spy TV Shows, or even just period pieces this Mini-series is a must see.

Marvel’s Agent Carter airs on ABC at 8pm CST on Tuesdays.

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The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies Review

Huge Banner, click to see full image.

Join Bilbo, Thorin’s Company of dwarves, Legolas, Gandalf, and Bard as they face a Dragon, orcs, goblins, trolls, and everything else Middle Earth can throw at them One Last Time! Starring Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage, Orlando Bloom, Sir Ian McKellan, and Luke Evans, and many more. Huge Banner, click to see full image.

Review By Skylar Stone. Scores by Skylar and Javin Stone

Plot:Unico_AnelloUnico_AnelloUnico_AnelloUnico_Anello

Biggest detriment to the score here is that this is third movie that starts off with how the second one should have ended. It does not even backtrack like the previous film as this is literally the next part after The Desolation of Smaug. No time is lost between the two films making it hard to see with knowing at least how the previous film went. Other than this issue the movie does progress in an organic manner and much the like the previous movies tries to balance all of the main characters, which as you can tell from the poster is a large cast. The movie ends wrapping up The Hobbit Trilogy and sets up the Lord of the Rings, which is exactly how you want a franchise to end.

Characters:Unico_AnelloUnico_AnelloUnico_Anello

So many dwarves, so little time for development. Only a few of the Dwarves feel like main cast members and this movie does not do much to change that. Given that this movie takes place 60 years before The Lord of Rings trilogy it has given a chance for some of the characters like Saruman (Christopher Lee still casting spells at 92!), Elrond (Hugo Weaving), Galadriel (Cate Blanchett), and even Gandalf (Sir Ian McKellan) to show off their skills. This is a highlight for this movie as the endless warfare in the majority of the movie is rather underdeveloped as it does not show anything not previously in The Hobbit or Lord of the Rings. The role of the Necromancer introduced in The Desolation of Smaug does not really develop much in this movie making the role a bit odd given how his involvement is resolved. Bard (Luke Evans) and Bilbo (Martin Freeman) are probably the only characters in this movie that felt like a improvement from the previous film giving them both their due and cements their impact on the Universe.

Visuals:Unico_AnelloUnico_AnelloUnico_Anello1/2

The first “Visual” I saw for this movie was in the music video for Billy Boyd’s “Last Goodbye“, since I had already planed on seeing the movie I did not watch many trailers until they aired on TV after Thanksgiving. This music video kind of framed how I saw the movie; reverent and bittersweet. From the snow covered battlefields to the ruins and empty halls both in Erebor and in Bag End, solidified that victory and adventure against the odds come at price. This symbolism provides a lot for movie goers that have made the journey with the Dwarves or Hobbits to show that this is the end of one trilogy and the beginning of another. New Zealand once again provides the perfect backdrop for a world lost in the past of endless forests, massive battlefields, and rolling hillsides filled with wonder and magic. I personally had some issues with the differences in the look of the Trolls (and Wargs but that was obvious in An Unexpected Journey), I wrote off the 3 in the first movie as they were Mountain Trolls but in this movie they have slave Trolls just like in Lord of the Rings and they barely look the same. I know it sounds a bit nit-picky but for a film franchise that pioneered Motion/Performance Capture and special effects, this seemed like an easy thing to keep consistent.

Overall, we give The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies 3 and 1/2 Rings out of 5.

Since I saw The Fellowship of the Ring 13 years ago, I have been mesmerized by the Medieval, fueling interest in Renaissance Festivals and even Dungeons and Dragons so to see the end of that franchise is sad for me as I know that Peter Jackson‘s New Zealand based Middle Earth will never again light up my imagination as I have now see everything there is to offer from it.

Regardless If you have journeyed with just Martin Freeman‘s Bilbo or started back with Elijah Wood‘s Frodo, be sure to finish this epic saga by watching this movie as it is definitely the end.

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Mystery Skulls Animated- Ghost

Music videos, animated or otherwise, are not a new concept but it is a refreshing site to see how this one came to be. Its not a song from a popular band, but the band is growing. It doesn’t have advertising, it didn’t air over an official TV or online channel nor does it even have many credits but the professional manner in which it is made it is astounding.

Ben Mangum has been making animations online for years with a meager following. Often his videos are comedy based, like a comment on a piece of media or a pun. He is obviously a dedicated fan that enjoys making animations, something that is required when doing something like this as a hobby. Going though his YouTube channel you can see his shift of interest going towards music based videos, yet they still keep the funny atmosphere he has had in previous videos, some even with direct references. It wasn’t until the video “The Turntable Turnabout” (Which you can see below) that his style that would eventually make “Ghost” came though.

The video is a romp through electronic music using Phoenix Wright characters, with some My Little Pony and Daft Punk thrown in as well. “The Turntable Turnabout” was eventually seen by the song’s band and that band, Mystery Skulls, liked the video so much Ben was commissioned to make a new, totally original video.

According to Ben, The “Ghost” video took longer than he wanted to make it, but the work paid off because within on week of it’s debut it had close to a million views. It is a perfect meld of many different fandoms that come together to make an original and extremely interesting story.Yes, a story! The music along with the animation actually tells a story without actually saying it outright.

But this video really shines when you look at the animation. It is amazingly professional despite having a crew of less than 10 work on it. From the color choices to the character designs, I cannot think of a better way for any of it to be done. The references to other media, such as scene motifs and animation style, are subtle enough that is make it seem like homage rather than stealing. This proves that this is a fan’s work, showing that they can extrapolate the media past what is at face value.

But dont take my word for it if you have not seen it already. The best way I can say anything about this video is to just watch it.

WARNING: The Song Below Contains 1 Use of Extreme Profanity at 1:54-1:55

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DC’s Fall TV Takeover

Scores by EAO, Article by Javin Stone

Marvel may have the theaters in their pockets, but DC is trying to take the living room by storm. This review is over the premiere episodes of each of the three new shows being put out by DC this Fall season.

Gotham

FOX Monday 9/8c

Plot

★★1/2

The weakest part of the show. Lots of room for improvement and it has gotten better in more recent episodes, but from the premiere alone it is a weak start.

Characters

★★★

The show may sell itself as a Bruce Wayne/Batman-less Gotham that is seething with corruption which is true. What is does not sell is the much more interesting aspect of seeing Bruce slowly killing is childhood innocence and becoming the brooding Dark Knight we all know and love. These scenes are usually brief and concise but could make the show worth it in the long run.

Visuals

★★1/2

Marginally average in the modern age of TV. Nothing spectacular, besides the occasional mix of 1940’s atmosphere with modern devices. Nothing clicks in terms of the overall impression besides “gritty”.

Gotham Cast

The main cast of Gotham with Ben McKenzie as Gordon and Donal Logue as Bullock in the lead.

Overall

Fox’s take on the iconic city of Gotham before the rise of Batman definitely has room to improve, but could pan out to be a interesting show so be sure to keep an eye on it. The premiere is a bit weak but it does pick up and hopefully will continue the trend. EAO gives Gotham’s premiere 2 1/2 detectives out of 5.

 

The Flash

CW Tuesday 8/7c

Plot

★★★★

Coming from the high of the first two seasons of Arrow, the Flash was doing better than most of this season’s premieres before it even aired. The hype did not hinder the plot as it is not afraid to show superpowers or full body suits; something most shows get heckled off TV for doing.

Characters

★★★★

Again, a pretty solid display from Barry and the gang. In classic comic book fashion, some characters can be a bit bland or static, but the overlap to Arrow gives a larger chance to flesh out characters as well as the universe they live in. The potential for improvement as both shows continue is massive.

Visuals

★★★★

Yes, the Flash is probably the most likely of superheroes to have a legitimate reason to need a special suit, but the way it looks is where it stands above the rest. It isn’t cheesy, it looks better than velvet, and is accurate. A difficult trifecta for produces to wrap their heads around. Not to mention the visual difference of filming between Arrow and the Flash makes it feel different enough for it’s brighter world view, but still connected.

Grant Gustin as the Flash.

Grant Gustin decked out in costume as the Flash.

Overall

The Flash is an easy and obvious favorite in the DC shows coming out this season. The only thing to worry is if they can keep the winning streak rolling. EAO gives the Flash’s premiere 4 lighting bolts out of 5.

 

Constantine

NBC Friday 10/9c

Plot

★★★

Overwhelmingly solid, yet a bit rough on the edges. If you’ve seen the first couple of seasons of Supernatural, then you have a good idea of how Constantine is going to play out. Not to say the plot episode and monster-of-the-week episodes pace of Supernatural is a bad way to do things, but it lacks the originality to push the score up higher.

Characters

★★★★

An excellent display of an antihero practicing good the only way he knows how. The biggest downside is the character made to experience the world along with the viewers. She is flat and dull, but hopefully (no spoilers) it can improve.

Visuals

★★★★

Matt Ryan is John Constantine. No question, one of the best casted character in all of the comic book movies and TV shows. In contrast to Supernatural, the glyphs and symbols used in Constantine are much cleaner and precise. It may be a bit less practical, but as a designer it is pleasing to look at.

Matt Ryan as John Constantine

Matt Ryan as John Constantine in what could be a comic book cover.

Overall

A very promising show showcasing the paranormal side of the DC universe. We can only hope that Ryan reprises his role in the Justice League Dark movie (supposedly) in the works. EAO gives Constantine’s premiere 4 cigarettes out of 5.

 

The takeaway from this is enjoy the DC limelight while you can. Marvel may dominate three times a year, but DC will be in you living room more than three times every week.

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2014 Summer Blockbusters: Rent, Buy, or Skip

Another summer brings another slew of supposed “Blockbusters”. Which ones made the cut? Which ones fell short?

Votes by EAO, reviews by Skylar Stone

Amazing Spider-Man 2: Skip

At least the suit looked good. (Picture from facebook.com/theamazingspiderman)

At least the suit looked good. (Picture from facebook.com/theamazingspiderman)

Marc Webb returns to the director chair for the second outing of Sony’s Rebooted web-slinger. While some of the first film set Andrew Garfield as the awkward teen turned hero with a smart mouth, much of this film convolutes his backstory and loses much of his character development. Emma Stone‘s Gwen Stacy has a focus in the film which is more than any of the villains have. Jaime Foxx, Dane DeHaan, and Paul Giamatti make up the villain roster any which of one could have been the focus but sadly this sequel fails from the same issue that many faulted Sam Rami’s Spider-Man 3. If less time was spent on Gwen Stacy and setting up the Sinister Six spin-off supposedly in the work, the screenwriters may have crawled their way to the rent mark but sadly Amazing Spider-Man 2 is squashed at Skip.

Godzilla (2014): Skip

Better than the '98 Godzilla (Picture from impawards.com)

Better than the ’98 Godzilla (Picture from impawards.com)

The King of Monsters returns…or does he? America’s second attempt at the Japanese icon, had about 20 minutes of screen time for the title character but yet had time to introduce Ken Watanabe as Godzilla expert Dr. Serizawa, and Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Bryan Cranston, Elizabeth Olsen as the Brody family. This misappropriation and imbalance of the film harkens to the Cloverfield model of monster making. While the film did win over new fans and finally washed out some of the bad taste from 1998 Godzilla, it fell buildings short of matching the atomic thunder that the Toho creature has had for decades. Awkwardly jumpcut away to Battle LA if you want military/alien action or to Pacific Rim if you want Kaiju carnage because Gareth Edwards‘ 2014 Godzilla is a definite Godzilla happydance Skip.

X-Men:Days of Future Past: Buy

The combined cast!

The combined cast! (Picture from entertainmentwallpaper.com)

After being dumped by DC for Superman Returns,  Bryan Singer returns to first big screen Superhero team the X-Men. The X-Men cinematic continuity was seemingly mangled beyond recognition, with differing spin-offs First Class, Origins: Wolverine, and The Wolverine creating their own universes. Despite this Singer signed on to try to make the Fox franchise jump onto the Avengers method of interconnection. First step was to include a combined cast and introduces newcomers Peter Dinklage as Dr. Trask, Evan Peters as the Fox version of Quicksilver, as well as Comic Book favorites Bishop, Blink, Hotspot and Warpath played by Omar Sy, Bingbing Fan, Adan Canto, and Booboo Stewart respectively. This step tries to weave a “true” continuity and still create a unique story based off a landmark run from the comic. Much like Captain America: Winter Soldier,the film uses the comic basis to engage fans and shape the universe into a hopefully long lasting future. X-Men: Days of Future Past has passed our test, and as such is a buy. We look forward to X-Men: Apocalypse in 2016!

Transformers: Age of Extinction: Rent

Trans4mers (Picture from superherohype.com

Trans4mers (Picture from superherohype.com)

Optimus Prime returns to save the Earth from another Micheal Bay explosion plot but brings in more the 80s cartoon feel then any of the other films previous. Yes I know its the 4th in a series that was weak to begin with but hear me out. The 1986 Transformers animated movie established a story that spread the universe over, showed the death of a main character, and even cursed! This dark gritty nature against the bright toy-ad that was the TV series was shocking, and now is found in any blockbuster movie. The first Transformer movie saw far too much exposition with Shia LaBouf‘s and Megan Fox‘s characters in a fashion that fits with summer movies but this film created a very different atmosphere. The removal of LaBouf and Fox does a lot to the focus to the true stars of the franchise Optimus Prime and the Autobots. The film deals with the consequences of the previous movies and in the wake introduces much more serious characters Harold Attinger played by Kelsey Grammer, Hound voiced by John Goodman, Drift voiced by Ken Watanabe, and Crosshairs voiced by John DiMaggio. The Grammer character seems to be the character that John Turturro‘s Agent Simmons was parodying  while the latter three make a edgy mecenary like autobot team that has now become the standard in the aftermath of the 3rd film. All of these characters are confronted by the addition of the new villianous Transformer Lockdown voiced by Mark Ryan which is neither Autobot nor Decepticon but is more of a space pirate complete with a giant interstellar ship and crew. Overall this movie still suffers from the Bay-ism and summer Blockbuster fever but it is far better than Revenege for the Fallen or Dark of the Moon. We say Roll on Out to your local Redbox or online rental since this is worth a Rent.

Hercules: Rent

Beard, Muscles and somewhat godly (picture from imdb.com

Beard, Muscles and somewhat godly (picture from imdb.com)

Not to be confused with the January release The Legend of Hercules, this film brings the muscle bound Grecian superhero to life using the well cast Dawyne “The Rock” Johnson. Joined by Ian McShane‘s Amphiaraus, Aksel Hennie‘s Tydaus, Ingrid Bolsø Berdal‘s Atalanta, and Rufus Sewell‘s Autolycus; Hercules wanders as a member of a sword for hire group given his demi-god status and troubled past. The plot is sorted and would have worked better if not using the moniker of the famous hero but still holds together as an okay premise.  In the end, The Rock out lifts, out sells, and out beards the puny Kellan Lutz for the Herculean title. Put “Renting Hercules” as one of your 12 heroic tasks.

Guardians of the Galaxy: Buy

Space Pirates ahoy!  (Poster from Forbes.com)

Space Pirates ahoy! (Poster from Forbes.com)

Marvel continues its Cinematic domination with the craziest comic fueled space opera Marvel had to offer and managed to not only to build buzz but delivered. James Gunn‘s love for space, and the 80s is well documented in the film and is a welcome breather from the modern reboots and alien on earth craze. Chris Pratt excels as Star-Lord aka Earth-man Peter Quill, framed by crazed space alien mercenaries Zoe Saladana as Gamora, Dave Bautista as Drax the Destroyer, Rocket Raccoon voiced by Bradley Cooper and the now viral monosyllabic Groot voiced by Vin Diesel. While the film tapped into a source long believed to be too crazy for movie-goers, the movie never once tied into the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe. Before you complain, yes Thor:Dark World had Benicino Del Toro‘s the Collector and yes The Avengers had Thanos but nothing in this film connecting outward to those, or even mentioned those. In fact this movie uses a brand new version of Thanos complete with Josh Brolin‘s voice and its after credit scene only comically included a character thought gone from the Marvel cinematic universe instead of prepping us for Avengers: Age of Ultron next Summer. This combined with the one dimensional nature of some of the secondary characters makes it one of the weakest movies in the new Marvel collective in terms of plot driven impact. According to our group however the Guardians of the Galaxy need your help to continue there quest for cash, women, and oh yeah justice as they have voted that it is a Buy.

DragonBall Z: Battle of Gods: Buy

Finally a DBZ battle on the Big Screen! (Picture from dbzmovie.com)

Finally a DBZ battle on the Big Screen! (Picture from dbzmovie.com)

Never once in the heyday of the 90s Anime fever caused by Pokemon did the super successful DragonBall series ever make it on the big screen, that is until now. This past summer the Toonami tentpole DragonBall Z had an American theatrical release with its latest full-length movie Battle of Gods. Now this is a different animal than the rest of the movies in this list as it was actually produced back in 2012 and even released in Japan in 2013 but was lost in distribution limbo until about May of this year. The film creates Beerus, the god of destruction, voiced by Jason Douglas and Weis voiced by Ian Sinclair. These characters are some of the most powerful, if  not the most powerful characters ever in the history of the series and they show it off. While the movie combined elements of DragonBall Z’s action driven nature the movie felt more like the light-hearted DragonBall series.This movie did not have the impact of the more noted DragonBall Z movies such as Broly: the Legendary Super Sayian so  the Buy vote in this case is in favor in enjoy-ability and to hopefully further the franchise in America.  Do not take this too harshly as the movie is great, it is just not the best DBZ movie.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles(2014): Rent

Cowabunga! (Picture from imdb.com)

Cowabunga! (Picture from imdb.com)

Micheal Bay takes the helm of another noted 80s franchise with his trip down the NYC sewers. Initial reactions to the CG lizards were not unwarranted as the new visible nostril/lip combo is creepy no matter the art style. Once you can look past this though the story really is not too bad, granted it is not a well executed as it could have been better. The balance of seriousness and teenage humor from Alan Ritchson, Noel Fisher, Jeremy Howard, and Johnny Knoxville playing the iconic color coded turtles Raphael, Michelangelo, Donetello, and Leonardo respectively is spot on with the color comic series. Use your Ninja skills to find it on RedBox, Tohoru Masamune‘s Shredder alone is worth the rental cost and maybe you can fast forward through the Megan Fox and Will Arnett portions, we sadly could not.

There it is, our rundown to guide you through the RedBox list, Netflix que, or the Blu-ray racks in the near future. Did we get something wrong, miss a movie, or did you take our advice? Tell us at eao.cumberland@gmail.com

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The Legend of Korra: Book 3 Review

korra-book-3-change

Korra returns to deal with keeping the spirit world open and faces off a whole new threat, The Red Lotus.

With the amazing response from Legend of Korra Book 1: Air producers not only funded Book 2 but Book 3 and 4 as well. Honestly I think that the network saw this as an immense pressure and forced the Korra production team to complete Book 2 as fast as possible. The production team spoke quite openly about working on Books 2, 3, & 4 simultaneously and I think as a way to insure a better ending for the series than Book 2, because Book 2 saw a dip in quality and as a result a massive drop in ratings.

This plus some Mexican leaks caused Nick to scrap all of their promotional plans for Book 3 and released it extremely early with only one week notice for fans to tune in. The short notice was the first in a domino effect that lead to the 13 episode season completing online only 8 weeks after premiering. While it was clearly a better season, I fear that this network Snafu will hurt the Book 4 release.

Plot: Korra chibiKorra chibiKorra chibiKorra chibi

Book 3 opens with the fallout of keeping the spirit world open, this thematic connective nature was something that Book 2 never tried. Sadly this evolved only to the introduction of the new airbenders and the Red Lotus, which take over the series. With all of that aside the new threat and the new nation bring in a lot of the amazing writing that put Book 1 and the original series Avatar:the Last Airbender on the map.

One of the darkest seasons of not only the Korra series but of any western animation, lets just say there are more on-screen deaths in just this season than in the all of the original series or of the combined total of the previous Two Books!

Beards, Tattoos and the voice of Black Flag's Lead singer Henry Rollins No wonder they are more brutal!

Beards, Tattoos, and voice of Black Flag’s lead singer Henry Rollins, no wonder they are more brutal!

Characters: Korra chibiKorra chibiKorra chibi

Henry Rollins joins the voice cast as Zaheer the leader of the terrorist group, Red Lotus, bent on capturing the avatar. While his motives even after the season completes are still a bit grey, he is still one of the most powerful foes in the history of the Avatar universe. Peter Giles, Grey DeLisle, and Kristy Wu round out the voice cast as Ghazan, Ming-Hua, and P’Li which make up the muscle of the Red Lotus. These crazy characters are wildly dedicated to their cause and are some of the strongest benders ever faced, one even sports a brand new type of bending. This adversity creates some great character development for Team Avatar and for newcomer Suyin, the sister of fan favorite Lin Beifong. The new airbenders also add some levity and prove that this series will have a great impact in the Avatar universe. Most of all, I really wish more was revealed about the terrorists’ background and motivation which is why the category falls short of an otherwise great season.

Visuals:

Studio Mir, who also works on the Boondocks, takes the lead seat for animation and the action packed season shows that it’s a great partnership. Designs on par with any anime, and more martial arts references than any western animation truly blurs the lines between East and West. The action animation really has its ‘A’ game during the final bout in the finale. This category must be witnessed to really grasp its full effect.

So watch the trailer below!

Overall EAO gives The Legend of Korra Book 3: Change 4 new airbenders out of 5.

Watch the entire series for free on nick.com and stay tuned for Book 4 in October!

 

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