MegaMan NT Warrior, Vol. 2: Log On! (2004) Runtime 88 min. 5 out of 5
Lan and his friends are back, this time getting ready for a huge NetNavi tournament. Of course, all kinds of things happen along the way as they prepare—MagicMan and NumberMan, just to name two—but it’s all good. MegaMan and his fellow cyber warriors are there to save the day! However, WWW has entered their own Navis into the tournament and it’ll be bad news for all if they win.
This volume picks up where the previous volume left off and now that all the character introductions are out of the way (see Vol. 1), you get to just sit back and watch them interact.
The chemistry between Lan, Yai and Dex is great. They all have their own attributes and rhythms that make them unique so they’re not two-dimensional like other cartoon characters out there.
MegaMan has proven to be a great hero—strong and quick-thinking. The villains harken back to the video game, each villain having a special power that MegaMan and the gang need to overcome.
This fan is looking forward to checking out Vol. 3.
Megaman: NT Warrior (Vol. 1) – Jack In! (2004) Runtime 88 min. 5 out of 5
The world is hooked up to the Net. Everyone uses it constantly, especially Lan Hikari and his friends. Using handheld computers called PETs, they jack in to the Net and have huge cyber battles with their NetNavis. Lan’s NetNavi is MegaMan. And when Lan receives special new software from his always-traveling father, the upgraded MegaMan reaches a whole new level of efficiency and power.
This first volume of the anime series details MegaMan’s origin and follows Lan and his friend along on several adventures.
This isn’t an exact translation of the video game or, from what I’ve heard, the manga (though my copies of the first three volumes are en route to me as I write this). But it is similar in that MegaMan is always fighting another “something-man,” the villain in the handheld PET simultaneously wreaking havoc in the real world.
The major characters—Lan, Dex and Yai—are witty and fun. The action is fast, exciting and speed-lined, making each episode an enjoyable viewing experience.
The Passion of the Christ (2004) Written by Benedict Fitzgerald and Mel Gibson Directed by Mel Gibson Runtime 127 min. 5 out of 5
The Man would make history. His life, death and resurrection would rock the world and challenge every man, woman and child for generations to come. His existence had been foretold since the beginning of Time. He would save the world from their sins. He would turn aside the wrath of Almighty God from all those who believed in His name and lived for Him.
His name is Jesus Christ. Today, He’s alive.
But the world killed Him when He came because it did not know Him.
Mel Gibson’s controversial film about the final 12 hours of the life of Jesus of Nazareth has been met with one of two responses: extreme love or extreme hate. I have yet to meet anyone who was 50/50 about the film.
This reviewer loved the film. I make it an annual event to watch it as a personal reminder of what Jesus Christ did for me nearly 2000 years ago.
Jim Caviezel’s portrayal of Jesus of Nazareth is one filled with love, serenity and, yes, passion. You can see the love of Jesus for all people in his eyes when he speaks. You can see the hurt when he is treated unjustly. If Jim Caviezel did so awesome a job portraying Jesus, one can only imagine the Lord’s expression when the events in this film actually happened a couple millennia ago.
Based on the Gospels and Roman and Jewish history, Mel Gibson has crafted a well-executed account on what Jesus Christ went through on our behalf.
Many complain the film is nothing but sheer gore. Yes, it is bloody, but if you look into Roman history and discovered what Roman scourging and crucifixion entailed, you’d find Gibson’s film is bang on. He also made the right choice to display what happened how it happened instead of just putting a few scratch marks on Jesus and a robe splashed with red paint like other films have done. By seeing Jesus murdered as He was, the audience feels the impact of that day long ago. It forces them to pause and reflect.
This film serves as a reminder for believers in Jesus and serves, hopefully, as a touching account of the ultimate sacrifice from the ultimate Love to those who don’t believe.
It would take a terribly cold heart to not be moved by this film.
Zoom (2006) Written by Adam Rifkin and David Berenbaum Directed by Peter Hewitt Runtime 93 min. 3 out of 5
Captain Zoom used to be a great superhero and leader of the government-sponsored superteam, Team Zenith. When the government tried to enhance his powers and those of his brother, Concussion, something went terribly wrong and Concussion turned evil and killed his teammates. Zoom stopped him and after the explosion, Concussion was presumed dead and Zoom lost his powers. Thirty years later, the government tries to resurrect Team Zenith using new kids with superpowers and recruits the retired Captain Zoom to train them. At the promise of a big paycheck, Zoom reluctantly agrees and when it’s revealed that the real reason behind the resurrection of the team is because the government discovered Concussion is still alive in another dimension and is plotting his return, Zoom takes it upon himself to make the team ready before his evil brother comes back and puts the planet in jeopardy.
This movie is based on the children’s book Amazing Adventures from Zoom’s Academy by Joe Lethcoe. It’s a lighthearted superhero comedy, which is kind of like X-Men but with kids and tailored to that audience. Which is totally fine because kids need superhero movies, too, and with the majority of mainstream superhero stuff geared toward adults, I’m glad flicks like this are made.
This flick is chock-full of big names and recognizable faces: Chevy Chase, Rip Torn, Courtney Cox, and, of course, Tim Allen in the lead. Speaking of whom, Tim Allen was pretty funny in this and if you liked him in Galaxy Quest, he’s pretty much playing the same character of someone who once had glory but has fizzled out. The thing, too, is aside from the funny bits, when it came time to be serious and/or reflective and sad, he nailed it as well and you genuinely felt bad for the guy.
Courtney Cox was the biggest dork in this movie, which was perfect because that was her character. And she played it straight, too, that is, there was no tongue-in-cheek here, but a beautiful nerd that made you love her and roll your eyes at her at the same time.
Chevy Chase—big fan. As the head scientist for Team Zenith, he’s just following orders, and with his trademark deadpan humor and wit, I can watch the guy all day.
The kids who made up Team Zenith: just fine. Cute. Funny with kid stuff. The little girl with the superstrength was adorable. The teenager stuff played by actors who were older in real life than their characters—such a Hollywood thing—I could do without, but I hate teenage angst garbage and wish we as a species could just skip those years as we go from kid to grownup. The superpowers displayed were definitely budget: superstrength, telekinetics, invisibility and clairvoyance, and a kid who can blow his body up like a balloon. Yet they worked those not-so-awe-inspiring abilities into the story and made them work for what they needed them to.
I will say that when Captain Zoom cranks up the superspeed later on, it’s pretty cool and makes me excited for a Flash movie if it ever happens.
Overall, Zoom is a decent flick, good for kids, and if you’re a superhero fan it’s worth checking out for the sake of a fun time. However, if you’re one of those people where everything has to be top notch, then you’ll be disappointed.
X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009) Written by David Benioff and Skip Woods Directed by Gavin Hood Runtime 107 min. 3 out of 5
Little James was born in the 1800s and was always sick. His family background . . . well, he didn’t have much of one, at least, one that cared. Except for his friend, Victor. One night, during a drunken upset with his later-to-be-found-out father, James learned he could produce bone claws from his hands and defended himself, killing his father.
That night, James and Victor were on the run, and promised to always stick together. The years go by and the two find a great outlet for their rage: war. Victor (Liev Schreiber) also has a special ability and he is more animal than man, with claws coming out of his fingers. The two are very similar and age very slowly. War after war goes by, and the two eventually end up working with a secret team run by William Stryker (Danny Huston). While on one mission, James—now calling himself Logan (Hugh Jackman)—feels Victor has gone too far in his attack on an innocent and walks out on the group.
Years later, the group’s been disbanded and Stryker comes to warn Logan that Victor is behind the recent string of deaths of its former members. The only way Logan will be strong enough to fight the always-stronger Victor is to undergo a special experiment of Stryker’s own design: graft the indestructible adamantium to his bones. Logan agrees.
But there’s something Stryker hasn’t told him about what’s been going on and when Logan finds out, he’s furious and wages an all-out one-man war against Stryker, Victor and anyone else who stands in his way.
On the action: cool fight scenes and neat concepts. However, it seemed to me Logan was a little too acrobatic and was able to survive way more and take way more pain than even a mutant with a healing ability could.
On the story: works for me, in that we knew Logan had a history going in. He was the star of the X-Men movies after all, and X2 especially focused on Logan’s origins as much as they were able to without detracting from the main story. I did like seeing what really went on and, more specifically, how Logan lost his memory. I was under the impression that he lost it because of the adamantium experiment and not after it. Doesn’t matter, but I did feel for the guy when the love of his life wasn’t all she was cracked up to be.
On Deadpool, because, you know, it has to be covered: the whole story involving the secret ops group Logan was a part of made for fun action. Deadpool’s origin, hey, why not? To be honest, I don’t know if they followed the comics or not because I’m more a DC guy than a Marvel one and don’t know too much about Deadpool other than he’s the “merc with a mouth.” His transformation from normal-looking Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds) to disfigured Wade—good stuff.
Was this a perfect movie? No, unfortunately. It felt too cartoony as opposed to carrying with it the realistic tone the other X-movies had, namely the first two.
Will I see the sequel? Absolutely. I’m a saga guy so I want to see what happens next.
Check this film out if you’re the superhero-movie-completist type like me.
X-Men: The Last Stand (2006) Written by Simon Kinberg and Zak Penn Directed by Brett Ratner Runtime 104 min. 3.5 out of 5
When a cure is developed to rid mutants of their unusual abilities, the mutant community is torn in two, with some more than happy to get rid of what they view as a curse, while others are vehemently against it. Outraged at this development, Magneto makes war on the humans for trying to rid the world of mutantkind and the X-Men stand in the gap to stop him.
This movie has a lot going on and seems to serve as an ending to the previous two movies, bringing to fruition a major confrontation between the X-Men and the Brotherhood. These two teams, while having skirmished in the other movies, never had an all-out battle and this flick shows that. It also brings to pass a version of the Dark Phoenix storyline with Jean Grey returning from the dead as the Phoenix and working for the bad guys.
From an action standpoint, this movie has tons of it and it’s really cool. Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) kicks butt as usual, while having the Juggernaut (Vinnie Jones) running around and smashing into things makes you cheer. Magneto (Sir Ian McKellen) ups the metal-controlling ante in this—I mean, lifting a bridge? Flipping semis? Awesome!—and even having Beast (Kelsey Grammer) beasting it up adds a level of excitement that makes this comic-book-come-to-life a thrill. And when Jean Grey lets loose and destroys her childhood home while a bunch of X-Men and Brotherhood folks are fighting inside it? That was some jaw-dropping stuff!
From a story standpoint, it kind of falters. In a general sense—the overall story, I mean—it’s fine as is. That is, the “what it’s about.” The delivery, however, seems to suffer from the same thing Spider-Man 3 did: too much going on and not enough time to tell it in. Had this third X-Men movie either been part one of two or even the first in a trilogy where the mutant cure is introduced, a war brews, there’s a big battle, some people die, etc. then that would’ve been fine. But it didn’t happen that way. I don’t know if that’s because of a change in hands of directors or what.
The other thing that I didn’t like—but could’ve worked had the story justified it/been expanded into another movie or two—was everyone dying. We lost some major people in this movie and for seemingly no good reason. I have no trouble with killing off major characters. It can definitely add to the story . . . when done right. In this flick, there didn’t seem any justification for it.
What’s amazing is thanks to the upcoming X-Men: Days of Future Past in 2014, depending on how that plays out, there’s a chance of undoing some of the stuff that fell short in this outing and bringing back some people from the dead. After all, isn’t that what time travel’s for?
In the meantime, yeah, if you want a fun superhero movie, I’d still recommend X-Men: The Last Stand.
X-Men: First Class (2011) Written by Ashley Edward Miller, Zack Stentz, Jane Goldman and Matthew Vaughn Directed by Matthew Vaughn Runtime 132 min. 4.5 out of 5
After writing a thesis on mutation, university student Charles Xavier is approached by the CIA for his expertise on the subject as they’ve been tracking the villain Sebastian Shaw, who keeps mutant company. Once convincing the CIA mutants exist, Charles begins to form a team of mutants to go up against Shaw before he can execute his plans to start a third World War.
Loaded with thrills, excitement, stunning SFX, fun cameos and a strong story, X-Men: First Class is an amazing prequel to the X-Men films that won’t leave you disappointed.
X-Men: First Class is one of my favorites. It was also a good chance to kind of give the X-franchise a boost after X-Men: The Last Stand. What was cool about First Class is it takes place in the same universe on the same timeline and is indeed a true prequel to the X-franchise we all know and love. Yes, there are some continuity flaws, but overall the whole thing flows. Besides, any other bumps that need ironing out can always be fixed with the upcoming X-Men: Days of Future Past as, well, time travel fixes everything.
The two main characters in this are Wolverine and . . . wait, kidding, it’s Professor X (James McAvoy) and Magneto (Michael Fassbender), and this story goes way back to when they first met and were even on the same team fighting for the same ideals. You got to see how that friendship was forged because their friends-yet-foes relationship was so prominent in the other movies that to make it the spotlight of this one was a smart move.
This is truly an origin tale as you got to see Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) in her humble beginnings, Professor X all the way back to when he was twelve; they recreated the Nazi camp beginning from X-Men for Magneto’s origin and then expanded on that—which kicked off the main plot of the movie in which Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon) wants to use the mutants under his command to kick off World War III—and also how Hank McCoy (Nicholas Hault) becomes all blue and furry as Beast.
Like the other X-flicks, this movie is amazing at being an ensemble film where each character is given care, the right amount of time in the spotlight, each having unique relationships with the others, and who-does-what-and-why is clearly explained. As a storyteller myself, I find this kind of writing fascinating because it’s easy to fall into the trap of just focusing on one or two people and that’s it, the rest of the supporting cast being way too supporting and not enough of their own people. I think the secret was the X-Men—whether good guy or bad—were approached from the angle of family, the idea that as mutants their mutation was their common bond and it was all for one and one for all regardless of personalities or even if people got along or not. There’s even a bond between the heroes and villains of this flick because of their mutation.
The SFX were out of sight. The flying sequences were thrilling, the teleportations were amazing, the nods to the other movies—complete with cameos so watch closely—totally added to the world-building of the X-universe. That and the attention to the source material—using the yellow costumes from the classic comics, for example—and the overall story make this an awesome X-Men movie.
Man, just writing this review makes me want to go watch it again.
X-Men (2000) Written by David Hayter Directed by Bryan Singer Runtime 104 min. 4 out of 5
A small percentage of the world’s population has natural mutations in their genetic code, each manifesting themselves differently. For many, it leads to special talents and abilities, but such capabilities come at a high cost: ostracization from society. Two factions have risen: one which believes that these “mutants” and the rest of humanity can live peacefully side-by-side, and another which believes a war is coming between mutant and humankind, one in which only one side will prevail.
Welcome to the world of the X-Men.
This flick is considered by many to be the beginning of the modern day superhero film era. Yes, we had Blade before this, but X-Men really cracked the door open in terms of taking a well-known comic property and bringing it to the big screen. Not only that, but there is some serious acting firepower in this movie, namely actors who don’t do garbage, so right there that says something. Sir Patrick Stewart as Professor X, Sir Ian McKellen as Magneto, Anna Paquin as Rogue—yeah, big deal stuff. Then you throw who was then an unknown into the role of Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) and you suddenly have a bunch of talented actors taking a serious stab at a story about mutants with superpowers.
Bryan Singer was known for The Usual Suspects before this flick, and with him at the helm, we got an X-flick that was serious, funny in the right parts, plausible and just plain cool.
They did right to take the most popular X-character—Wolverine—and tell the story primarily from his point-of-view. I mean, this role made Hugh Jackman’s career and it’s a role he’s gone back to six times, not including the upcoming X-Men: Days of Future Past due in 2014.
While the all-black leather costumes weren’t really my thing—I liked the more colorful ones from X-Men: First Class better, which were based off the classic comic book costumes—they brought a level of realism to the movie and prompted that joke later on when Wolverine complains about the uniforms and Cyclops says, “Well, what would you prefer? Yellow spandex?” At the same time, I’m also in the major minority of people who think that properly-armored and modernly-stylized colorful superhero costumes could work in a real world situation. There are guys going around in The Real Life Superhero Movement dressed as such and are helping police after all.
Anyway . . .
The trick with an ensemble movie is to give each character enough history and density to make them likeable and relatable from frame one. When you have only a couple hours to do that, you need to have a story that revolves around each of them so they could each have their moment in the sun long enough to get the audience involved with them. X-Men does this for the most part and it’s no easy feat.
Of course, there is the metaphor of the evils of racism throughout the movie, and how all people are equal regardless of who they are, what they can do and what they look like. This theme is strangely overt yet subtle at the same time. Kind of depends what frame of mind you’re in when watching it and your personal history and feelings on the topic.
This movie is an interesting, exciting, thoughtful and well-executed big screen adaptation of one of the biggest comic book franchises of all time. Did they nail it perfectly? No. Did they do a good job of taking the X-Men concept as a whole to the big screen? You betcha.
Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015) Written by Joss Whedon Directed by Joss Whedon Runtime 141 min. 5 out of 5
In an effort to protect the world from future alien attacks, Tony Stark uses the artificial intelligence inside the gem of Loki’s scepter to complete his Ultron program. It works but, unfortunately, the now-sentient Ultron AI has taken it upon itself to destroy the human race.
Time for the Avengers to assemble.
Recruiting the Maximoff twins, Ultron uses them to take on the Avengers while he attends to building a robot army. Soon the Avengers are taken out and must re-assemble if there is any hope they can stop Ultron before his plan of global destruction comes to pass.
With the fate of the planet hanging in the balance, can the Avengers stand against a seemingly unstoppable foe?
Sequels are tricky business, especially when creating a sequel to not only a quality film, but one that was a hit at the box office. Usually, sequels pale in comparison to their predecessors, but now and then—and more often than not in the superhero genre—the sequels outshine the original and Avengers: Age of Ultron did just that. As good as the first Avengers was, Age of Ultron is better.
I don’t want to give away any plot points to those who haven’t seen it yet, so these are more my thoughts instead of notions on specifics of the film.
One of my greatest fears for this movie was its giant cast. Not only did the standard Avengers team return—Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Black Widow, Hawkeye, Hulk, Nick Fury, Maria Hill—but it was greatly added to with the addition of War Machine, Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, Vision and, sorta, Falcon. All these characters could have quickly made the movie go the way of Spider-Man 3, but instead more or less equal screen time was given to the majority of the cast, with supporting roles coming in to do their job without making the film feel overly crowded.
On the acting front, the main Avengers team have really come into their own, the actors having now portrayed their characters a minimum of three times prior to this movie and it really shows through. There’s an air of comfort about who they’re playing and each one has made the character their own while also staying true to that character’s comic book roots. Even the humor in the movie was fitting and not once did it feel forced or cheesy or slapstick. Most of the humor was off-the-cuff comments, which made the team more human and relatable.
Ultron was a terrific bad guy. He was smart, dangerous, evil, but at the same time had a humanity to him that helped connect him with the audience. He wasn’t just some evil robot and that’s it. He was also a formidable foe for the Avengers and it did take the entire team to take him down.
The addition of Vision worked well and was a good progression of the Jarvis character. He had a specific purpose in this movie and fulfilled it to a T. I’m curious to see what role he plays either in the stand-alone Marvel movies or in the upcoming Avengers: Infinity War flicks.
On a fanboy note, there were some amazing iconic superhero action shots in this flick, the kind that makes you gush and squeal (yes, I’m that nerdy). There is one particular moment—you’ll know it when you see it—where I was just, like, “Wow, oh wow.” And the action on the whole was well done, with each character fighting according to their skillset.
Going to have go back for a second outing to the theatre on this one and, of course, will be adding it to my personal movie collection when it comes out.
X2: X-Men United (2003) Written by Michael Dougherty, Dan Harris and David Hayter Directed by Bryan Singer Runtime 133 min. 4.5 out of 5
The rumored war between mutants and humans begins to take shape after a mutant makes an attempt on the life of the President of the United States. Soon, the X-mansion is attacked by military forces led by a man with a hidden vendetta against them. While the X-Men band together to make a stand against those who would rather see them killed or controlled, many of them must also face the demons of their past for good or ill.
Meanwhile, Jean Grey’s powers are acting up and she’s losing control. The others take notice and try to help, but something else seems to be brewing deep within her.
I love this movie. It was my favorite superhero flick until Spider-Man 2 came out. This movie picked up pretty much where the first X-Men left off, and delivered in spades everything that made the first X-movie so good: solid story, amazing acting, high stakes (even higher in this one), and a respect for the source material. Throw Brian Cox as the main bad guy—William Stryker—into the mix and you got a recipe for a great movie.
Once again told from Wolverine’s (Hugh Jackman’s) perspective, X2 is the story about facing your past and not running from what you find there. We see this not only when looking into Wolverine’s life, but that of Stryker’s, Iceman’s, Rogue’s, and others. Like the first one, the theme of being-different-is-okay is prevalent, and comes more into play as the government exercises its power while it seeks to investigate what it doesn’t understand.
The hard part about reviewing an X-Men movie is that everyone does so well in their roles, you can spend a thousand words talking about each. Space doesn’t permit that here, but needless to say I can watch Sir Patrick Stewart’s father-figure and leader role as Professor X all day. Couple that with Sir Ian McKellen’s—Magneto’s—diehard devotion to ensuring mutants are ready for the inevitable confrontation with humans and you can see how these two characters are really two sides of the same coin with both wanting the same goal: peace for mutants. Of course, their means of achieving that goal are completely different from one another.
There’s a real sense of world-building in the X-Men universe, with each location and character fully developed, and as we visit them with each outing, it’s like coming home to old friends.
This movie is more intense than the first because, like I said, the stakes are higher and all those at Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters are in some real life-or-death danger.
I also appreciate how they showed that if certain people had these special mutant-enhanced abilities in real life how much of a danger they could be to themselves and to others. This is something not often seen in superhero flicks as the villains in here—even some of the heroes—seemed more misguided than simply evil for evil’s sake. And that’s the kind of world we live in, right? How often are those who do something wrong doing so out of misguided intentions? How many times do we do that ourselves?
I’m really glad they made this movie and made it so well that the franchise has kept going.