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Blazing Minds (81 KP) rated Shock and Awe (2017) in Movies

Nov 1, 2021 (Updated Nov 3, 2021)  
Shock and Awe (2017)
Shock and Awe (2017)
2017 | Biography, Drama, History
With Shock and Awe on DVD and Digital HD today, we checked out the movie over the weekend, the new movie starring Woody Harrelson, Rob Reiner, James Marsden, Jessica Biel and Tommy Lee Jones is based around the time that the term ‘Weapons of Mass Destruction‘ was very much on the lips of many in 2003.

With America on the very edge of a horrific war with Iraq, Shock and Awe is the true story of how the very phrase was twisted with shocking effect.
  
X-Men (2000)
X-Men (2000)
2000 | Action, Sci-Fi
X-Men: first cast
Xmen follows Logan, a violent mutant without a past, eventually being forced back on the road he meets Rogue, a mutant with an unknown power that accidentally killed her boyfriend.
Attacked on the road and rescued by storm & Cyclops, the two quickly (for the plots sake) meet the X-Men, and after 50 no's and a yes, Wolverine reluctantly agrees to be an X-Men.
But with heroes come villains including, Magneto, toad, Sabretooth & mystique (because the studio couldn't afford more characters then either?)


A good movie at the time, which still holds up quite well today, decent graphics, acceptable action scenes and an easy to follow plot with some cheesy jokes.

Starring Patrick Stewart, Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry, Anna Paquin, Ian Mckellen, Famke Janssen, Rebecca Romijn, James Marsden, Ray Park & Tyler Mane.
  
The Box (2009)
The Box (2009)
2009 | Horror, Mystery, Sci-Fi
4
6.9 (11 Ratings)
Movie Rating
Norma Lewis (Cameron Diaz) and her husband, Arthur Lewis (James Marsden), are having a bad day. She just found out her educational scholarship will be ending and he is not going to become an astronaut even when he fits the bill. It is on this particularly challenging day that a mysterious box arrives on their doorstep. The package contains a button which when pressed is worth a million dollar payout but also will kill a random person unknown to the button pusher. Should they push the button and what happens if they do?

Based on the short story Button, Button by Richard Mathason, “The Box” stays true to Mathason’s one of a kind style. It is an interesting premise, and would make an interesting television episode, but falters as a full-length film.
“The Box” gives almost nothing to viewers, running so far off the original ‘push the button, don’t push the button’ issue as to baffle audiences. The more time goes on the more ridiculous the plot becomes and as a viewer you begin to wonder if the movie will ever end.

Furthering the joylessness of “the Box” is the overabundant use of 1970s décor and objects. Not at all subtle, the film’s need to beat you over the head with the time period is distracting from the plot of this already shaky film. Far to blatant to be unnoticeable, you leave the film not entirely sure what has happened but very sure it happened in the 1970s.

This is not to say that the film doesn’t offer some satisfaction, but the work put into stretching this short story into a full-length feature film leaves many lingering questions for the viewer.

So if you really enjoy a yellowish tint to your film going experience or overly blatant references to the 1970s you should definitely go see “The Box” but if you lack these offbeat qualities I suggest quickly reading the short story.
  
Sonic the Hedgehog (2020)
Sonic the Hedgehog (2020)
2020 | Action, Adventure, Animation
Not as bad as expected
Sonic the Hedgehog is a legend, a gaming institution, and adapting him for the big screen was always going to be a tall order. This was proved when the trailer for this 2020 release first dropped in 2019 - the original appearance of Sonic faced such outcry and derision that studio Paramount did the unexpected and completely overhauled Sonic's looks. The result in the final film released in February of this year is a character that looks very much like the Sonic we know and love, but in a storyline and film that is sadly rather lacking.

Sonic the Hedgehog was directed by Jeff Fowler and stars James Marsden and Jim Carrey as the humans, with Ben Schwartz voicing the animated Sonic. The plot unfortunately is the entirely predictable buddy story you'd expect when a CGI character gets thrown into the real world - Sonic befriends a human, experiences all the fun earth has to offer before being hunted by an evil villain, and at the end everyone learns the value of friendship. So far, so generic and for me this was the biggest disappointment about this entire film. The script, the plot, the animation, it was all just so average.

Having seen the surprisingly good Detective Pikachu the previous year, which managed to seamlessly blend the real world with animated characters in a better than average story, I'd hoped Sonic would follow in the same vein but I'm sad to say it didn't. Yes Sonic looks a million times better than he did initially (the teeth in the original version are the stuff of nightmares), but he still looks too animated and cartoonish for the real world. The Pokémon in Warner Bros' film looked real, but Sonic just looks out of place. He isn't helped with Ben Schwartz's rather unconvincing voice which feels ill-fitting too, personally I think they should've done a Pikachu and Ryan Reynolds and gone with a completely outlandish OTT voice. It's a shame as the rest of the scenery and action based CGI are actually quite good, although the slow motion scenes have been done before and so much better (X-Men: Days of Future Past).

To be fair, despite a sometimes dodgy script, the human cast do at least do their best. James Marsden has surprisingly good chemistry with an animated hedgehog, although it's Jim Carrey as Dr Robotnik that steals the show. Whilst his Robotnik isn't quite the rounded Eggman of the games, Carrey's performance is wonderfully wacky, sinister and completely over the top, and is responsible for virtually all of the laughs here. He's having an absolute whale of a time and this really draws us in as viewers and makes us have fun too. He's the Carrey we know from the 90s, his performance so akin to those of Ace Ventura and The Mask that you can't help but love the exaggerated show he gives here.

Paramount has also done a good job of including some nostalgic nods to the games, from the gold rings in the opening Paramount logo to Sonic's red sneakers. Even the final battle between Sonic and Robotnik had me squealing with joy at how much it reminded me of the actions you undertake to defeat the boss battles. There are some aspects of the games that are missing, most noticeably the Badniks (Robotnik's creature like robots) and Sonic's friends, who have sadly been left for a blatant sequel baiting end credits scene for a sequel we may never see. I also found Robotnik's machines and vehicles to be a little too technologically advanced and was disappointed not to see some that were more reminiscent of the wacky contraptions from the games.

This adaptation of Sonic the Hedgehog isn't the best, and to be frank it could have been done so much better. That said, it still held my attention for its 100min run time and could never be called dull, even if it was a little too puerile to be anything better than average.
  
Sonic the Hedgehog (2020)
Sonic the Hedgehog (2020)
2020 | Action, Adventure, Animation
I'm pretty sure everyone will be going into Sonic the Hedgehog expecting the worse. I definitely did, but by the end, I found myself grinning from ear to ear.

When Sonic accidentally creates a coast wide blackout, he finds himself the subject of a government manhunt, lead by the criminally insane Dr. Robotnik, and employs the help of Montana Sheriff Tom Wachowski, to help him escape Earth.
The film serves as an introduction to Sonic, shying away (although not completely) from the wider game universe, and concentrating on the titular character, and the human characters he meets along the way.
The relationship formed between Sonic and Tom (James Marsden) is sweet, and pretty convincing.
The dialogue between the two is full of quips and jokes, and honestly, a fair few of them don't land too well. Combine this with the odd fart joke, and I had to remind myself that this is a film aimed at kids (who were all laughing, so mission accomplished), and there's just enough funny to buy into their friendship. Thank goodness then for Jim Carrey. I have a deep rooted live for Jim Carrey, growing up with films such as Ace Ventura and The Mask, and it's absolutely joyous to see him having a blast playing Robotnik. He's genuinely menacing, and pretty damn funny throughout, perfect casting when it comes to capturing the not-to-serious attitude of the games.

The plot is ok, there's not a huge amount going on, and it seems fairly throw away, but the characters and visuals are enough to carry the film to a satisfying degree.
Sonic looks great, a far cry from what we saw in the original trailer, and the cartoony look of him, and Robitnik's machines work suprisingly well with the real world setting.

Sonic the Hedgehog is a genuinely good time, don't take it too seriously, and I'm sure you'll have a blast too. With the passable Rampage, and the great Detective Pikachu, could it be that Hollywood is slowly starting to crack video game movies?? Let's hope so!
  
Sonic the Hedgehog (2020)
Sonic the Hedgehog (2020)
2020 | Action, Adventure, Animation
It’s been a very long time since I played the Sonic the Hedgehog video games on my brothers SEGA Megadrive. I was, and always have been, a Nintendo guy, so since then my only experience of Sonic has been when he joins forces with Mario and Co for Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games. I do have good memories of his solo outings though, and he is clearly an enduring and popular character, ideally suited for a CGI/live action movie.

When we first meet Sonic, he’s a young hedgehog on his home world, zipping about the place without a care in the world and being mentored by an owl called Longclaw. Before we get a chance to learn anything about Longclaw and the world that he and Sonic inhabit, some bad guy echidnas show up, looking to get their hands on Sonic and his speedy powers. Longclaw gives Sonic a bag of rings that can be used to open a portal to another world, and after opening one for him to escape through, tells him to use one whenever he is in danger of being captured.

Cut to Green Hills, Montana where we meet local sheriff Tom Wachowski (James Marsden) and his wife Maddie (Tika Sumpter). Tom has been accepted, pending background checks, into the San Francisco police department, and he and Maddie are currently in the process of looking at houses there. We also learn that a now grown up Sonic has found his way into our world and has been living in hiding in Green Hills for some time now. The local crazy old man, Crazy Carl, claims to have seen a ‘blue devil’ on a number of occasions, but otherwise Sonic has managed to stay hidden. He’s even got himself a little underground man cave, and has become quite attached to Tom and Maddie, observing and following their every day lives from afar.

When Sonic manages to cause a city-wide power outage one evening, he draws the attention of the government, who bring in mad scientist Dr Robotnik (Jim Carrey) to investigate. When the gold rings that Sonic needs to transport to another world are mislaid, and as Robotnik and his team close in on him, Sonic makes himself known to an unsuspecting Tom and asks for his help. The movie then becomes a road trip, with them both on the run, evading Dr Robotnik and searching for the gold rings.

The CGI representation of Sonic had been something of a hot talking point, ever since the release of the first trailer sparked a huge online backlash. Looking more human, with smaller eyes, and longer limbs, the reaction of horror by anyone vaguely familiar with the character was enough to make director Jeff Fowler stand up and take notice, and the release date of the movie was pushed back to allow for some serious rework by the VFX team. Thankfully, when the new trailer was released, it was to a much more positive reaction, and rightfully so - Sonic was now much more aligned to his video game persona and on the receiving end of some pretty decent marketing material and promotion to back it all up. Ben Schwartz provides the voice for Sonic, giving him a wonderful childlike quality - in awe of the world around him, funny and confident in his abilities, but never really coming across as an annoying brat.

Jim Carrey brings to Robotnik the kind of madcap comedy that he we haven’t seen from him in a long time and is a delight in every scene he features. James Marsden is no stranger to appearing alongside CGI characters in children’s movies, and does his part well once again. Outside of that, the rest of the cast don’t get much to work with and kind of just fade into the background.

Overall, Sonic the Hedgehog is a fairly enjoyable movie, but it’s also instantly forgettable. It’s been a couple of days since I saw it and, apart from a couple of fun action scenes along the way, and the climactic showdown, I really don’t remember very much about it. If you’ve seen the wonderful scenes in the X-Men movies where QuickSilver zips around, interacting with characters and scenery as though time has stood still, then there are a few scenes just like that for you to enjoy. It’s a much better movie than I was expecting to see, but ultimately I think it could have been a hello a lot worse if they’d stuck to their guns with the original character design.
  
Sonic the Hedgehog (2020)
Sonic the Hedgehog (2020)
2020 | Action, Adventure, Animation
Growing up I wasn't a Sonic gamer but even I was majorly sceptical when they released the first trailer, that wasn't a look that worked for me.

Sonic is an excitable little fellow and he can't help but zip around his planet constantly against orders, when his speedy secret is uncovered he's sent to Earth and told to find a safe place to hide. He eventually finds a town to settle in and makes himself at home in the woods away from the people, but it's lonely watching the locals without being able to make friends with them.

When Sonic accidentally exposes his existence he enlists the help of the local sheriff so he might have a chance of evading a government scientist sent to track him down.

Simply said, this is an enjoyable film and it certainly went down well with the kids in the audience... but I'm not sure it would hold up to repeated viewings.

For all the moments I enjoyed there were moments that made my eyes roll. You remember in X-Men where Quicksilver runs fast and moves everything around in an action sequence? Well, you'll be wondering if Sonic happened to watch that one movie night. Sure it's cute, but I don't think it's cute enough to see it more than once in the same film.

Despite that, the effects themselves aren't bad, there are a few moments where real life and animation look a little off together but on the whole it works.

Sonic is an adorable hyperactive kid and he manages to experience a lot of things in the space of the film, they play out well and not at all like he's been stalking an entire town for years.

James Marsden plays Sheriff Tom. Watching him in any film after X-Men is extremely strange to me, and none of the roles seem quite right, potentially I just don't appreciate his comedic value. Tom's character is and a little average, it wasn't bad but at no point did I make a note about something that stood out.

And so to Jim Carrey... I enjoy Carrey as an actor but I'd like to seem him in more things that weren't "90s him". Every scene with Robotnik is classic Carrey, the character is that crazed scientist stereotype but it just never seemed to let up. It feels like they just brought him in to do what everyone expects him to do, and for a while I was okay with that... until that one point. As Robotnik searches for Sonic he waits for some analysis from the computer and he puts on his playlist. Then, for an inexplicably long time, he dances for absolutely no reason. It's not funny, it's just completely irrelevant and excessive. Rather than a subtle bit of nostalgia for the adults and some funny physical comedy for the kids every scene was taken just that step too far and turned into an awkward slapstick moment.

The story isn't bad, but perhaps it would have been slightly more interesting if Sonic had to rescue Tom from Robotnik or something similar. The middle of the film could have had some sort of purpose instead of a road trip... which, no matter how you look at it, was not necessary and could have been replaced with a minute of footage of Sonic running.

But... as I said at the beginning, this IS enjoyable, but once you start thinking about things it starts to unravel.

Originally posted on: https://emmaatthemovies.blogspot.com/2020/03/sonic-hedgehog-movie-review.html
  
Superman Returns (2006)
Superman Returns (2006)
2006 | Action, Drama, Sci-Fi
It has been nearly twenty years since Superman graced the silver screen. This fact is outstanding when you consider that numerous attempts to revive the franchise and two successful television series have occurred in the nearly two decades since 1987’s “Superman IV: The Quest for Peace”.

Amidst much speculation and rumors of a soaring budget that is reported to be over $250 Million, Superman Returns has arrived.

Under the direction of Bryan Singer, who successfully launched the first two films in the “X-Men” series, Brandon Routh dons the tights and capes of the late Christopher Reeve, as the man of steel and his mild mannered alter ego Clark Kent.

As the films opens, it is explained that Superman has been gone five years as he has traveled to what astronomers believe are the remains of his home planet Krypton which was destroyed when he was an infant.

Soon after his return, Clark visits his adopted mother in his hometown of Smallville before returning to Metropolis and his job at the Daily Planet. His happy homecoming is short-lived when Clark realizes that his beloved Lois Lane (Kate Bosworth) is now a single mom with a fiancée named Richard (James Marsden).

As if this is not enough, Superman is shortly thereafter called into action to save Lois and the passengers of a plane and space shuttle encounter a deadly situation when a press conference goes awry.

In a spectacle of action and visual brilliance Superman not only saves the day, but makes a highly visible and triumphant return that signals to the world that he is back.

As happy as the majority of the world is to have their champion back, Lois is very conflicted about his return. She believes he abandoned humanity and left her without even saying goodbye. Such is the extent of Lois’s anger toward Superman; she has written a story entitled “Why the World Doesn’t Need Superman” for which she was awarded a Pulitzer Prize.

As upset as Lois is about the return of Superman, there is one individual who is seething mad over his return and that is Lex Luthor (Kevin Spacey) who plans to use his recently acquired wealth to hatch his latest plot and end the threat of Superman once and for all.

Lex plans to use the crystals and knowledge he has pilfered from Superman’s arctic Fortress of Solitude to craft a new landmass, where he will rule supreme. The fact that billions of innocents will be killed in the process is of no consequence to the power mad Luthor, setting the stage for several high tech action sequences and daring adventures as Superman sets out to save the day.

Despite numerous concerns I had over the film, I am happy to say that the series is in great hands, and the combination of Spacey, Bosworth, Routh, and Singer have not only produced the best film of Summer 2006, but have paved the way for what looks to be a series of films that, while true to the source materials, is not afraid to push the envelope to modernize Superman.

Routh was solid, not only looked the part perfectly, but handled the dual roles of Clark and Superman with and easygoing charm and manner that is highly effective. His ability to portray Superman as a being with deep emotions as well as power is key to the film as the audience is given a chance to see more than just the man with the muscles. Bosworth is also to be commended for her portrayal of a strong and capable Lois who is anything but the stock damsel in distress. The chemistry between Routh and Bosworth is good which is vital, as this is much more than effects and action.

The humanity and compassion that drives the film is an unexpected bonus. Despite the amazing action sequences, this is a story with deep emotional and psychological themes that are rarely seen in films of this nature.

If I had to find fault in the film, it would be that Spacey was not allowed to really let Lex be truly evil. Sure he talks a good fight, and in a few sequences is not above getting his hands dirty. But, for a film as grand as this, the diabolic plot Luthor is trying to hatch just does not seem diabolic enough.

One could also say that at a running time of nearly two hours and forty minutes that perhaps 20 minutes or so could have been trimmed towards the end to help the pacing of the final segments of the film.

That being said, the impressive mix of action, humor, romance, and cast gives Superman Returns a highly winning formula.
  
The Box (2009)
The Box (2009)
2009 | Horror, Mystery, Sci-Fi
6
6.9 (11 Ratings)
Movie Rating
Norma (Cameron Diaz) and Arthur Lewis (James Marsden) don't seem to be any different than any other hardworking family in the late 1970s on the surface, but things aren't always what they seem. After a freak accident at the doctor's office when she was 18, Norma suffers from a disfigurement on her foot and has a noticeable limp. A student humiliates her in front of her class while she's teaching and Norma is under the impression that would be the worst part of her day until she's informed that the discount faculty had been getting on tuition would be cut next semester. Meanwhile, Arthur works for NASA and had been counting on being recruited as an astronaut since he aced every test, but is rejected for failing the psychological exam. Already living paycheck to paycheck, Norma and Lewis wonder how they'll support their son Walter and themselves until an opportunity presents itself in the form of a box. Arlington Steward (Frank Langella), a man who's missing half of his face, shows up at the Lewis' home and makes them an offer that could solve all of their financial situations at the expense of somebody else with the simple push of a button. But the consequences that unfold for Norma and Arthur ar far greater than what they bargained for.

Richard Kelly is capable of making pretty fantastic films. Donnie Darko is still his crowning achievement. People seem to either love the film or think it's highly overrated, but with repeat viewings over the years it's become a favorite and has a cult like status. Southland Tales showed promise, but just felt like the second half of an already established franchise. That turned out to be true when the three graphic novels were published and were recommended to be read before seeing the film. I admire the fact that they took a different approach to the filmwatching experience, but since I didn't hear about the reading material until after I saw the film it seemed like a lost cause. Possibly too much to be bothered with. So Kelly offers his take on a Twilight Zone episode with The Box and the result leaves the viewer with mixed reactions.

The film seems to drag a bit in the first half hour as it introduces us to the Lewis family. The Box is dropped off on their doorstep, but then we're offered a glimpse into the daily lives of Norma and Arthur Lewis; mostly what their careers and daily struggles are like. Once Mr. Steward shows up and explains what The Box does is when the film begins to gain momentum. From that point until around the time Arthur gets knee deep into his investigation is when The Box is at its peak. There's at least one twist in there that's actually pretty satisfying, but it's unfortunate that the film can't keep that up for its entire duration. From then on, it just seems like the film adds more and more weird plot twists and ridiculous explanations. You'll want the film to have ended 20 minutes prior by the time Mr. Steward makes his second offer to the Lewis family.

The dialogue seemed to fluctuate between sounding natural and sounding forced throughout the film. The film takes place in 1976 and it's established rather well, for the most part. At times, it felt like some of the dialect from today slipped through the cracks and made it into a film that took place over 30 years ago. The acting wasn't entirely satisfying either. Was Cameron Diaz's accent noticeable in the trailer for the film? It didn't really click until around the five minute mark of the actual film and seemed to kind of come and go depending on how much dialogue Diaz actually had in a particular scene. Frank Langella was the most enjoyable, but if he wasn't missing half of his face or being so mysterious then his character would probably be kind of dull since he doesn't actually show any range of emotion in the film. The CG also seemed to look a bit low budget during the three gateways scene, which is odd since the pool scene was pulled off incredibly well. With all of these superbly CG animated films coming out as of late like Disney Pixar's Up, Disney's A Christmas Carol, and even next year's Toy Story 3, if CG of a lower quality is contained in a film after that it becomes extremely evident in comparison.

Richard Kelly's The Box puts a modern day spin on a classic story and while it isn't entirely satisfying, it does have its high points. As the puzzle the film is wrapped in unravels, its first few reveals are interesting, but it was like they tried to cram in as many twists and turns as possible as the film went on. While Kelly has at least one great film under his belt, it seems like he still hasn't found a specific stride to being a great director. That doesn't mean he's not capable of doing so and he certainly has his trademarks that seem to bleed through in his films (usually something relating to another gateway or dimension), but that he hasn't been able to channel a similar formula to what made Donnie Darko his standout film. That, in itself, is disappointing.