Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Sonic the Hedgehog: The Movie

Sonic the Hedgehog: The Movie is a Japanese cartoon based off the Sonic series. This is unusual since most of the Sonic cartoons and comics were made by American studios. I'm reviewing the English dub by the way. So, that's why I am not crediting the Japanese actors and referring to Doctor Eggman as "Doctor Robotnik".
The plot is that the super-fast, blue hedgehog Sonic (Martin Burke) and the flying, two-tailed fox Tails (Lainie Fraiser) are assigned by the President (Edwin Neal) of the Land of the Sky to go into the Robotropolis, the capital of the Land of Darkness. Metal Robotnik (Edwin Neal) has kicked out Doctor Robotnik (Edwin Neal), the tyrannic ruler of the Land of Darkness, and is going to unintentionally cause the Robot Generator (a machine Doctor Robotnik uses to build robots and power his city) to explode. On the way, Knuckles (Bill Wise), a flying echidna (I know he glides in the games, but he clearly flies in this), joins them on their quest.
Let's look at the good aspects. They do a fair job with explaining the new elements they introduced. From what little know about the game, the movie is very accurate to the games. While the art isn't good, it isn't that bad. The actions scenes are good save for the last act.
Now, let's look at the bad aspects. Newcomers will be confused because the elements lifted from the games' story lines aren't explained very well (if at all). The last act of the film basically devolve into one overlong and boring fight scene. The president and his daughter, Sara (Sascha Biesi), are completely pointless. Sara comes off as really annoying. The movie tries to add comedic scenes, but fail at making you laugh. Dr. Robotnik, despite arguably being the main villain, doesn't come off as a real threat and a villain (Gary Dehan), introduced the last act, takes the spotlight away from him. While they do explain a lot of the new elements, there are somethings that aren't. For example, why does Robotnik remain in the Land of the Darkness when he can seemly easily just kill the president and take over the Land of the Sky? There are no background extras to the point that it seems like the Land of the Sky has only four or five people living there. The voice acts is terrible (although you get use to it).
I'm going to give two scores for this movie. For a fan, they will probably like this. As such, for a fan, it would get a 3 out of 5. However for a non-fan or newcomers, this movie gets a 2 out of 5.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

The Devil’s Carnival

The Devil’s Carnival is an experiment short musical created by Darren Lynn Bousman and various cast members from Repo! The Genetic Opera. The film tries to combine elements of horror, musicals and Aesop’s fables. Does it succeed? Let’s take a look.

The film follows the grieving John (Sean Patrick Flanery), the overly-trusting Tamara (Jessica Lowndes) and the thieving Ms. Merrywood (Briana Evigan). Each of whom are (supposedly) based on one of Aesop’s fables: Merrywood is based on The Dog and Its Reflection, John represents Grief and His Due and Tamara is based on The Scorpion and the Frog. They all die and are literally sent to Hell. This version of Hell is a run-down carnival, where the employees torture people in the shows while singing about it.

First, we will look at the pros. The makeup and effects are good and effective. The characters look like they way they should. The premise is creative and unique. The film creates a very dark atmosphere. 

Now, it’s time for the cons. When they are understandable, the lyrics are poorly written such as “666”, where they keep on rhyming the word “666” with itself, or “A Penny for a Tale”, where the person singing is demanding money despite singing about how horrible greed is. The only decent song is “In All My Dreams, I Drown”, which they put in the ending credits. The Aesop fable premise is weak since The Scorpion and the Frog isn’t an Aesop fable (it’s a variation of actual Aesop fable The Farmer and the Viper) and John has nothing to do with Grief and His Due. When it comes to Tamara’s subplot, if you know the fable, you’ll know what’s going to happen to Tamara. The film explains nothing about the premise (I only know it after seeing a review of it). For example, Paul Sorvino’s character is God, but you would just think he was just some inept toymaker based on what is in the film. Nothing is accomplished in the film aside from the Devil deciding to overthrow Heaven for no reason (which they hammered into the end). We know nothing about our protagonists aside from their one defining characteristic, which I listed. The film’s isn’t scary enough for horror fans or gory enough for gore fans, despite seemly trying to appeal to both.

In my opinion, The Devil’s Carnival is a failed experiment. While it has good effects, the writing is poor and the songs are terrible. I give it 3 out of 10. So, I recommend skipping it. 

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Jesus Christ Superstar

Here is a movie with a bizarre concept. It is an anachronistic reinterpretation of the events leading to the crucifixion of Jesus (Ted Neeley) told solely in song with little to no spoken dialogue. However, it's not from Jesus' perspective. It is told from Judas' (Carl Anderson).
Let's start with the positives. The lyrics are clever. Most of the songs are really good with "Heaven on Their Mind" being the best. The movie makes various villains such as Judas (who portrayed as a realistic that doesn't believe in Jesus' divinity) and Pontius Pilate sympathetic without vilifying Jesus. Also, we get to see a more uncertain side of Jesus. Despite what the concept sounds like, the film is not blasphemous. The film also focuses on the politics of situation.
Now, here are the negatives. There are two bad songs: "This Jesus Must Die" and "Herod's Song (Try It and See)". "This Jesus Must Die" is only bad because the High Court repeats "He is dangerous" while hitting on pipes over and over again. However, "Herod's Song (Try It and See)" is really bad. This mainly because Herod comes off as more as a whiny fan boy than a villain. Because the focus is changed to Judas, most of the apostles are not named or given any characterization (with the exception of John).
Overall, this is a very tightly written and clever reinterpretation of the Bible. It's flaws are not enough to drag down the films. I give it a 4 out of 5.