Saturday, August 31, 2013

Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy Casting News!

Marvel has released some big casting news for Guardians of the Galaxy! Vin Diesel has been cast as Groot and Bradley Cooper has been cast as Rocket Raccoon. Groot is basically a super strong and intelligent Ent (aka talking tree) that is from another planet. Despite his intelligence, Groot typically can only say one phase, "I am Groot!," due to the wooden nature of his vocal cords. Considering Vin Diesel's gravely voice, he is perfect for the role, although why cast a big star for a limited role. It has been reported for a while that Diesel has been talking to Marvel for various roles, and he has said that the original intention of the meeting was for Vin to play a main character in a Phase 3 Marvel film. While I think he is a solid actor, there is no reason to cast someone like him in any main roles, because he is way too high profile and does not fit any character that is currently in development or any character that comes to mind. Although Vin has not been officially signed on for the film, it is mostly a done deal for the role of Groot.
The rumor that Bradley Cooper will voice Rocket Raccoon in Guardians of the Galaxy are unfortunately true. While Cooper is certainly a good actor, he, too, is too high profile for just a voice and motion capture role. Rocket Raccoon should have a cockney or Australian accent, and I hope that Cooper will somehow pull it off because Rocket Raccoon is an awesome and hilarious character, despite the absurdity of the character. If you have seen Cooper in a role that required him to have a British accent or something similar, please let me know in the comments. Below are a few clips from the Ultimate Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 video game, which features Rocket Raccoon as I would want the character to be portrayed, with the same accent. What are your thoughts on the casting choices? Please comment below and check back tomorrow for Avengers 2 casting news.
Diesel and Groot
Cooper and Rocket Raccoon
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Friday, August 30, 2013

Podcast #3: Inception, Batman Vs Superman, Top 5 TV Shows and More.

Here is the third episode of my podcast where Jordan and I talk about Inception sequel possibilities, the upcoming Batman Vs. Superman film, the Mass Effect video game trilogy and end the podcast with our Top 5 television shows. As always, click on the annotations in the video to listen to the topic of your choice. Please comment with your thoughts on these topics as well as some of your favorite TV shows. 
Thank Jordan for being on the podcast and be sure to check out his blog RATH'S REVIEWS and his Facebook Fan Page. Here is Jordan's Inception Review and his Man of Steel review, which are referenced in the podcast. As before, Jordan's monthly guest post preview will be posted in the near future.
Please check back tomorrow for the weekend movie news and Sunday for my upcoming schedule.
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Thursday, August 29, 2013

Mass Effect Review.

Thoughts: Mass Effect is a science fiction video game franchise and one of the best sci-fi stories ever told. While it may seem like a bold claim, the Mass Effect trilogy is my favorite video game series and one of best experiences I have ever had with a work of fiction. Also it is available on PC if you do not own a gaming console. Since most readers are not gamers, I will explain how the Mass Effect games work. Think of it a "choose your own adventure" book combined with a movie, because you, the player, get to choose how the story progresses according to your actions. Most of the choices are done through the dialogue choices of your character, who you create. The main character, Commander (insert name) Shepard, is customizable, meaning that you decide the gender, class, and overall look of the character. Tomorrow in the next episode of the podcast, Jordan and I will further discuss the Mass Effect series.
One of the many things that make Mass Effect truly great are the characters, specifically your crew on the Normandy (your ship). You get to interact with the characters almost as if they are real people and some characters are "romance-able," meaning you cam form a romantic relationship with another member of your crew, which will carry on into the next game and alter the experience. For example, there is point where you can only save one of crew members and the other must die, and whichever character you choose to save will be in the next two games and you will never see the other character again. While half of the game is making dialogue choices, the other half is the combat, which is fun because you can upgrade your character to fit your gaming preference. For those more interested in the story than the combat, you can lower the difficulty to an easier mode, which I recommend for those new to RPGs (Role-playing-games).

Platforms: PC, Xbox 360, PS3,
Release Date: November 20, 2007
ESRB rating: M

The Good: Best video game story ever, Film quality voice cast, Unique dialogue system, Loveable characters, Well executed romance options, Tough choices, Long lasting appeal, Your decisions matter, Original sci-fi universe, Unforgettable experience, Tons of side quests, Replay value, Many choices, Great villain, Superb soundtrack, Decisions effect the sequels,

The Bad: Dated game play,

Warning: Mass Effect is rated "M" for mature content including mild profanity, violence, brief and optional sexual content. Basically, it is equivalent to a PG-13 movie.

Plot: 10/10- Mass Effect is the first chapter in one of the best fictional experiences ever created. Because the player has the decision to direct your character's actions, it offers an experience that no other form of media can offer. The characters are well developed, providing you explore their backstories and talk to them, which is optional. While the romance in the later games are better developed, Mass Effect 1 serves as a good starting point and the choices you make in that respect are important to what happens in the next game.

Gameplay: 8.1/10- Gameplay is the only slightly weak aspect of Mass Effect because the vehicle missions are somewhat awkward to control, unless you have are playing the PC version, which is said to  be much better. The third-person-shooter controls can be slightly odd because of the RPG elements blended with the shooting aspect. However, combining both the RPG turn-based type game and the shooting part created something entirely unique that requires both strategy and fast react time.

Graphics: 8.9/10- For a game that is six years old, the graphics holdup surprisingly well. The character models still look very realistic, even by today's standards, particularly the default Shepard. The atmosphere and design for the alien species are stunning and original, one of the best and most unique science fiction universes to date.

Voice Acting: 10/10- Until Mass Effect's sequels, this had the best voice acting in a game period. There are so many dialogue options; it is mind boggling! Both male and female Shepard are voiced in full and so are all of the characters, even aliens; they have a ton of well acted dialogue. Liz Sroka gives a standout performance as the always loveable Tali'Zorah. Also Seth Green, creator of Robot Chicken, is absolutely hilarious as the pilot of the Normandy, Joker. There is not a weak performance among the cast and they get even better as the series continues.

Sound Design/Score: 9.9/10- Jack Wall's score perfectly compliments the game. Many of the themes are memorable, particularly the "Love" and "Spectre" themes.

Humor: 7.8/10- Although Mass Effect is far from a comedy game, there is a good amount of humor, mostly from the pilot Joker, voiced by Seth Green.

Lasting Appeal: 10/10- On my first play through I spent roughly 30+ hours and about 17+ hours on my second time through. It will surely be a game that I will play through again and again trying all the different possibilities.

Overall: 9.8/10- Despite Mass Effect's age, the game is an absolute must play for science fiction fans or RPG fans.

Closing comments: Even non-gamers should consider playing Mass Effect because few forms of media gives you such a unique and complete experience.

Recommended for: Sci-Fi fans, RPG fans,

Click here to buy the entire trilogy on Xbox, PS3, or PC for only $30-$40 dollars!

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Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Life of Pi Review.

Thoughts: Despite Life of Pi's critical acclaim, I was still skeptical because the trailer was unimpressive and I was expecting an entirely different type of film. To my surprise, Life of Pi was a fun, adventure fantasy film, and one of the better films I have seen from 2012. For those, like myself, that have not read the book, the trailer kind of looks ridiculous and did not make me want to see the film, however I gave it a shot and enjoyed the movie quite a bit.

Directed by: Ang Lee
Genre: Adventure, Fantasy,
Release Date: November 21, 2012
Running Time: 127 minutes
MMPA rating: PG

The Good: Stunning visuals, Surprisingly humorous, Fun adventure, Realistic computer generated animals,

The Bad: Slow start,

Plot Summary: The first 30 minutes is a standard biography of how Pi's childhood up until when he is stranded on a boat with a tiger named Richard Parker. Watch the new see what happens next.

Plot: 8.1/10- The film is narrated at some points by Pi being asked about his experience by an author and at a few points it cuts back to him telling the story and that narrative was actually used effective to progress the story, unlike another recent film that shall not be named. Even though it was probably in the book, some of the first 30 minutes felt a little unnecessary to the main plot. There is a part that is between five to ten minutes that could have been cut. However those scenes mostly served a propose, but I still felt as if it could have been streamlined to have better pacing. After that beginning, the film turned into a surprisingly fun adventure and the pacing problem was fixed. I expected the movie to focus on his spiritual journey and I was pleasantly surprised that it was more about the actual journey than anything else, although Pi's character did progress well.
*Minor Spoiler* The film takes a shockingly dark turn near the end, which can be off putting to some viewers, however I was mostly indifference about it. *End Spoiler*

Action: 5.2/10- There is a spectacular ship sinking scene, which is done very well and some of the animals fought each other briefly. It is more of a high seas survival movie than an action film.

Acting: 7.2/10- Suraj Sharma, as sixteen year old Pi, receives the most screen of the different actors who played throughout his life, and he does a great job in his role, even if he did not have a lot of dialogue. The other actors were all good, but the tiger, Richard Parker, is the real star of the film.

Special effects: 9.5/10- While many of the effects are obviously computer generated, it is actually works due to the stylized nature of the film. The visuals are the best part of the movie and, from I have read, the 3D was spectacular. Despite the overall visuals being well made, the tiger and other animals are the best element of the special effects. For the most part, the tiger was believable, except when it was wet, which made it look obviously computer generated.

Soundtrack: 7.7/10- Mychael Danna's score compliments well and sets the tone that film tries to achieve.

Comedy: 7.8/10- After the opening joke about Pi's full name, which was very funny, most of the humor comes from the situational humor about Pi trying to cohabitate with the tiger.

Would I Watch This Again: Probably, although it will be a long time before I am interested enough to watch it again.

Overall: 7.9/10- Overall, Life of Pi surprised me. It was a fun adventure movie that managed to balance the spectacular visuals with the story, which is rare for "Eye Candy" films such of this.

Closing comments: While not quite as profound as some may say, Life of Pi is a fun adventure with a unique story and stunning visuals.

Recommended for: Fantasy fans, Adventure fans,

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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Top 10 Favorite Actors Part 1: 10-6

Actors, possibly the most important aspect of any film, without them would there even be films? For this countdown I will be listing my Top 10 favorite actors. This is not a list of "best" actors, although none of these actors would be considered bad, it is a list of the actors that I enjoy watching the most. Remember, this is a list of my all-time favorite actors, not just the ones that are still acting, nearly half the actors on the list are either retired or dead, and the other half are currently acting. Also there are some that are among my favorites, but I have not seen them in enough movies to make this list like Chris Evans or Alan Tudyk. While many viewers are often negatively influenced by an actor's off-screen actives, what an actor does off the screen is of little interest to me. Typically, I avoid knowing about what an actor has done off-screen as to not influence my opinion of his acting ability. However, there are a few actors that have positively influenced my opinion them, mostly from interviews, kindness to fans, and general likeability off the screen. For each actor, I will say something him and why he is one of my favorite actors followed by list a few of his best movies/TV shows and best roles not in any particular order.
Honorable Mention: Tom Hiddleston
I have said many times that Hiddleston kills it as Loki. However, I have only seen him in the Avengers, Thor, and War Horse, therefore he is an honorable mention due to the lack of films I have seen in, certainly not lack of skill. Alec Guinness would be another honorable mention, he is one of my favorite actors. 

At Number 10: Samuel L. Jackson
Samuel L. Jackson makes any movie he is in infinitely more awesome and BA, that is one of the fundamental laws of the universe. While I have mostly seen him in supporting roles, that is no reason not to include him on the list because he is such a crazy and cool actor. Although most of performances are not Oscar worthy by any means, he is consistently one of the best parts of any film. For this number ten spot it was a real toss up between Morgan Freeman and Sam L. Both have epic voices and screen presence, and make movies better in general. Even though Freeman might be the better actor, Sam L. takes it for his sheer monkey fighting awesomeness (reference to video below).
Best Movies: The Avengers, Iron Man 2, Star Wars: Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, The Other Guys, The Incredibles, Die Hard 3, Jurassic Park,
Best Roles: Nick Fury, Mace Windu,

Censorship makes everything funnier.

At Number 9: Nathan Fillion
Nathan Fillion is the only actor on this list that I have seen mostly on television and just in a couple of movies, but that makes no less fun to watch. After becoming a Browncoat (Firefly fan) earlier this year, Fillion quickly became one of my favorite actors. Just like the other cast members of Firefly, I am always looking for great movies that Fillion is in because he is a fun actor to watch. His sarcastic wit and dialogue delivery are always perfect and hilarious as Captain Mal in Firefly, and he is hilariously cheesy as Captain Hammer in Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog. Basically, anything that Joss Whedon works on with Fillion is pure gold. Please Whedon, cast him in something Marvel related!
Best Movies/TV Shows: Firefly, Serenity, Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog,
Best Roles: Malcolm Reynolds, Captain Hammer,

At Number 8: Cary Grant

Cary Grant is an all too often forgotten actor by most of today's modern audience. Despite playing very similar character in all his films, I never get tried of Grant's humor and witty remarks. Grant's work with legendary director Alfred Hitchcock has produced some of his best films, particularly the revolutionary North By Northwest. Interesting fact: if it where not for his age, Grant would have played James Bond and he probably would have done very well in the role.
Best Movies: North By Northwest, Charade, To Catch a Thief, The Philadelphia Story, Notorious, Gunga Din,
Best Role: Roger Thornhill

At Number 7: John Wayne
John Wayne, the Duke, one of the most famous actors in the history of filmmaking. Everyone has at least heard of Wayne and most have seen a few of his films; he is an American icon. While his acting prowess is not always the best, particularly in his early films, he always plays the best cowboys and has starred in many of the greatest western films ever made. Wayne's strongest performances were in Rio Bravo, The Searchers, and his Oscar Winning role of Roster Cogburn in the original True Grit.
Best Movies: True Grit, The Searchers, Roster Cogburn, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, Hondo,
Best Role: Roster Cogburn

At Number 6: Humphrey Bogart
Humphrey Bogart is considered by many to be one of the best actors of all-time, and it is a title that he is most certainly deserving of. I have yet to see a Bogart film that I would consider bad, or even below average. While I am not the biggest fan of his most famous film, Casablanca, his other films like the Treasure of the Sierra Madre, The Big Sleep, and the Maltese Falcon are the three best films of the 40s and his other films are among the best of the era. His performance in The Treasure of the Sierra Madre was particularly amazing, one of the best performances I have ever seen.
Best Movies: The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, The Big Sleep, The Maltese Falcon, The African Queen, To Have and Have Not, The Caine Mutiny, Casablanca, Key Largo, The Left Hand of God
Best Role: Dobbs, Sam Spade, Philip Marlowe
Please check back soon for the next part of my countdown. Are any of these among your favorite actors? Who are your favorite actors? Please comment below.

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Monday, August 26, 2013

Podcast #2: Top 8 Harry Potter Films, Star Wars, and More.

Here is my second podcast featuring Shena Tokala/Maegen as the guest. Today I will be discussing Star Wars, Doctor Who, Marvel, Firefly, and ending the podcast with our Top 8 Harry Potter films. As before, there will be links on the video for you to click on so that you listen to what you are interested in and just skip the things that you might not be interested in. Near the end there are Harry Potter spoilers, however the rest of the podcast is spoiler-free. Also sorry for the low quality video, there was a glitch and it uploaded in 240p, but the audio sounds fine.
Check out Maegen's blog:
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Sunday, August 25, 2013

Upcoming Posts and Funny Pictures.

It is time for a quick update on what is to come on J and J Productions as well as some funny pictures. Episode 2 of the Podcast will be up tomorrow and I have completed my Top 10 Actors list, which will also be up later this week. Below is the complete posting schedule with some funny pictures. 
Monday: Podcast #2: Doctor Who, Star Wars, Top 8 Harry Potter Films, and More
Tuesday: Top 10 Actors: 10-6: Part 1
Wednesday: Life of Pi Review
Thursday: Mass Effect Review
Friday: Podcast #3: Inception, Batman/Superman, and Top 5 TV Shows
Unfortunately, that is the painful truth.

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Divergent Teaser Trailer.

Divergent is a upcoming film based on the a recent young adult novel, and it has been compared to other similar books such as a Hunger Games. This 13 second teaser has to be one of the shortest teasers trailer I have ever seen, if my friends had not already told me the general idea behind the movie, I would have no idea what the heck is going on. However, from what I have heard, the movie could turn out to be fairly good, and I am certainly intrigued enough to watch it at some point. What are your thoughts? Please comment below and check out my other post today.
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Saturday, August 24, 2013

New Batman is Ben Affleck?

Ben Affleck is officially cast as Batman in the upcoming sequel to Man of Steel, presumably named "Batman Vs. Superman." Well, this is surprising news, maybe he will end up directing Justice League movie after all, but more on that later. While many Nolanites and Batman fans are outraged, I am not entirely sure what to think. My reaction was almost literally what Captain Reynolds thought when he saw River in the first episode (video below). From what everyone has said, Ben Affleck has become a good actor and an excellent director since the disappointing Daredevil film. Yes, Ben Affleck has already played a comic book character, a Marvel one to be specific, and what I find funny is how Daredevil is the closest thing to Batman in the Marvel universe, except Daredevil is a much darker character in the comics and one of the best. About the Daredevil film, it was not very good; it basically got just about everything wrong with the character, however the movie itself is arguably average, and the director's cut is said to be a lot better. Also Disney-Marvel actually owns the rights to Daredevil now after Fox lost them. Back to Affleck as Batman, I am mostly indifferent about the choice. I have yet to see any of the movies he has directed, although I plan to watch some of them at some point. It was rumored a while back that Affleck might direct the Justice League movie, and considering that he often acts in the films that he directs that is not an entirely outlandish idea. While Zack Sndyer is the most likely candidate at this point, Affleck might be a better pick considering he directed the Oscar winning Argo, although his action direction is still in question. So, what do you think of this casting choice? Please comment below.

My initial reaction.
Affleck playing both Batman and Daredevil: let the memes and jokes begin!

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Friday, August 23, 2013

Non Trekkie's Thoughts on Star Trek: Into Darkness: Guest Post

Today Jamie is back again to review Star Trek: Into Darkness, which will be coming out on DVD in a few weeks.
It's Jamie again. I'm here to share a few thoughts on Star Trek: Into Darkness. 

I want to get a few things out of the way before I begin though, in making it clear I'm not an expert in Star Trek by any means. I'm not a Trekkie. My parents loved the show, but I have yet to be bitten by the bug. I couldn't stand watching one of the older episodes; 2009 Star Trek and this film is all I've seen in regards to the fandom. I want to make it clear to all Trekkies who will read this post that I'm not an expert on the characters and their personalities, on any of the previous films and their plots. I would really appreciate it if y'all just held with me. I hope my view of the film without certain 'lens' will be interesting to read. :) And yes, the thing that got me to even want to give movie a second glance was Benedict Cumberbatch. And that's not bad!

You can also try to convince me why I should watch Star Trek in the comments but I'm going to tell you right now; I'm not interested. So go ahead and give me your reasons why the fandom is worth joining.

This will be spoiler free and on the shorter side.
I like this movie better then it's sibling, the 2009 Star Trek. The films is a good combination of action, adventure and humor. The story's plot is well done and strings you along perfectly with suspense. The characters and their interaction together are priceless and hilarious. Although Spock is probably my favorite character, Scotty really stood out to me with his sharp wit and the role he plays throughout the plot (which I can't get into without giving out spoilers). The movie is a heck of a good ride with a perfect ending.

The highlight to me was Benedict Cumberbatch. I've seen him many roles and he never disappoints. He did a good job playing his character (who's name I'm withholding for spoiler reasons). He portrayed viciousness, coldness, great loss and formidable strength. He almost made me pity him at one point. The reveal of the character's real name is also one of the big shockers, at least if you are familiar with the Star Trek universe. Since I'm not versed in Trek knowledge, I had to find out later what the big deal was about. However, I think to Treckies the reveal is good one. :)
A I mentioned above, the character I liked best from this film was Spock; simply for his conflict of being half Vulcan half human; in fact the whole underlying message that I picked up and liked at the end of the film. I can't got into details of what triggers Spock to unleash human emotion ('cause of spoilers) but I wanted to speak briefly on it because it's what drew me to the character. As human beings, we have a problem that is called frequently on the internet as 'feels'. We suffer and have emotions that range a variety of reactions and outcomes. This can hurt us very much and yet at the same time it is a great blessing to us. 
Spock, although being half human, always seems to try to smother the emotions he feels, certainly preferring to be use on his Vulcan side. To do and think only the logical thing. And yet, what I liked the most at the end of the film, was the simple fact that because Spock felt and acted on certain human emotions, he was able to carry out a very hard but heroic task. 
What I found encouraging from this was that even though we can get really hurt sometimes, often times that very hurt can help push us to grow or conquer problems that is in our way. If we never felt things, we would never see the need to personally grow. While Spock is and always will be...well, Spock, his actions in Into Darkness encouraged me in the importance of understanding and acting the healthy feelings that always happen to me, instead of shutting them down and becoming a robot myself. If that was how I was suppose to be, I would have been born part Vulcan. ;)
I want to conclude by saying the film was great and I enjoyed it even though I'm not a Trekkie. Considering I don't know how it compares to the original characters, I'd love to hear your thoughts coming from a Trekkie's point of view! :) Live long and prosper.

Thanks to James for letting me guest post the last month and may the Force be with him through college! :)


Thursday, August 22, 2013

Star Wars Ep. 7 December Release Date?

While not official, reports are suggesting that Star Wars Episode 7 might be released in December of 2015!? Considering that the other Star Wars films where released in May and that they where the pinnacle of Summer Blockbusters, one would assume that Star Wars Episode 7 would be released in the summer. However, considering that Disney's second biggest upcoming film, Avengers: Age of Ultron, will be releasing in May and the next Pirates of the Caribbean at a later time that summer, it is probably a smart choice for Disney to not compete with their other films that summer. Basically, Episode 7 will be replacing the Hobbit for the biggest movie of the winter movie season. 
On a side note, it is certainly early to make that call now, but I believe that Star Wars has a good chance of being the highest grossing movie of all-time. Despite the Star Wars prequels disappointing a considerable portion of audiences, Star Wars still has the largest fan base of any franchise and it is the most popular franchise of all-time. Almost everyone has seen the original Star Wars films or have at least heard about them, and I predict that almost everyone will go see the film, particularly if the film is as high quality as I hope it will be. Even if it is not the highest grossing film in terms of money, it will at least sell the most tickets compared to films like Avatar, that had ridiculous ticket prices. What are your thoughts on the December release date? Do you think it will be the highest grossing film of all-time? Please comment below.
Also please check back tomorrow for Jamie's guest review of Star Trek: Into Darkness.
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Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Oz the Great and Powerful Review.

You voted for it, so here is my review for Oz the Great and Powerful.

Thoughts: Oz the Great and Powerful, the prequel to the classic, the Wizard of Oz. Sam Raimi brings the world of Oz to the big screen again, but does the movie succeed? Well, in some ways yes, most others no. Oz the Great and Powerful is a great mixed bag, some scenes are excellent and then other scenes just do not work at all. After the first 50 minutes I was invested in the characters, particularly the little CGIed China Girl, and James Franco as Oz was surprisingly great, and shockingly the CGI monkey was not annoying. Usually comedic CGI characters detract from a film and end up being annoying, but Zach Braff was one of the best parts. However, basically all of the main characters other than the three mentioned earlier where poorly developed and the actors who played were subpar, particularly Mila Kunis. There was a sizable portion of the film that felt as if it was not going anywhere. At one point the two best characters, China Girl and Finley the monkey, where not in the movie for a while and even though it mostly made sense in terms of the narrative, their presence was noticeably lacking.
The first 20 minutes of film were in black and white, 4x3 aspect ratio, similar to the original Wizard of Oz. It worked well, and made the reveal of Oz much more impressive, plus I always enjoy classic film making.
Something that almost everyone loved about the film was that the 3D was said to be spectacular, one of the best 3D films, however the transfer to 2D did not go so well. Many of the effects early in the film looked cheap in 2D.
At the time of watching this film, I had not seen the original Wizard of Oz, however I had seen the Tin Man miniseries and I knew the basic plot. I have since watched the film and the review for the original Oz will be coming soon.

Directed by: Sam Raimi
Genre: Fantasy, Adventure, Family
Release Date: March 8, 2013
Running Time: 130 minutes
MMPA rating: PG

The Good: James Franco was great, Two very likeable CGI characters, Some good humor in the first half, Unique visual style, One unexpected plot twist, Everything about the China Girl, Excellent soundtrack, Occasionally humorous,

The Bad: Weak performances by the witches, Predictable at times, Lacks tonal cohesion, Falls apart later during the middle, Unnecessarily drawn out parts, Underused characters,

Plot: The following plot summary is copied from
In 1905 Kansas, Oscar "Oz" Diggs works as a small-time magician in a traveling circus. As a storm approaches, the circus strongman learns Oscar has flirted with his wife and goes to attack him. Oscar escapes in a hot air balloon, but is sucked into a tornado that takes him to the Land of Oz. There the witch Theodora believes him to be a wizard prophesied to overthrow the Wicked Witch who killed the King of Oz. En route to the Emerald City, Oscar flirts with Theodora, who falls in love with him, wishing to be his queen when she rules Oz. They encounter the flying monkey Finley, who pledges a life debt to Oscar when he saves Finley from a lion.
Watch the movie to see what happens next.

Plot: 6.2/10- Except for one plot twist, Oz the Great and Powerful's plot was predictable and simple, never ended up being something special. However, three characters in particular, where excellent and I was able to become invested in a few characters, which made the simple story much more enjoyable. Normally I am allergic to "cuteness" but I will admit, the China Girl was mighty dang cute and gave movie an emotional core.

Action: 5.0/10- Oz the Great and Powerful is not an action, as it is a fun family fantasy adventure, however there was one entertaining magical fight in the film.

Acting: 6.0/10- The acting is mostly a mixed bag. James Franco was excellent, he played the jerk aspect well and became more likeable as the film continued. Joey Kind and Zach Braff as the two computer generated characters where top notch, even if the effects for their characters was not the best. At first I was wondering why everyone hated Mila Kunis' performance because she was actually pretty good, later in the movie however, she was kind of awful. She was sorely miscast in her role. Rachel Weisz and Michelle Williams gave mediocre performances that felt forced and very acted. The other actors were average at best.

Special effects: 7.9/10- The effects where kind of mixed bag. It probably look fantastic in 3D, but many of the effects could have been so much better. The CGI monkey character was alright, but a little too cartoonish, although that did not detract from the film. The other computer generated character, the China Girl, was done well, even if it was not the most impressive CGI I have seen. Although the visual style is a little jarring at first, because it looked like it was all filmed on a set, it started to grow on me and turned out pretty good overall.

Soundtrack: 8.5/10- Danny Elfman brings a perfect whimsical flare and brings the great world of Oz to life. The soundtrack may be the best aspect of the film.

Comedy: 7.2/10- During the first half of the film, there was a quite a bit of well placed humor, however the second half was lacking it.

Would I Watch This Again: Only when re-watching all of the Oz movies years from now would I consider revisiting it.

Overall: 6.3/10- Oz the Great and Powerful might not live of to the "great" in the name, it is nevertheless a fun and entertaining family adventure, despite its predictability.

Closing comments: I am a little torn about the film, some parts were great and others not so much, as a whole however, it had potential that it never reached.

Recommended for: Fantasy fans, Oz fans,

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Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Prestige Review.

Thoughts: Before Christopher Nolan made The Dark Knight and Inception he made another mind bending film named The Prestige, aka, one of the most underrated and forgotten films ever made. The movie is about two competing magicians who are trying to have the better "Teleporting Man" trick and these guys, played by Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman, are also trying to get revenge for personal reasons, which are explained in the film. The Prestige is one of the those movies that you keep you thinking and talking about long after the film ends. Because of this, there will be complete spoiler section at the bottom; however the rest of the review will be spoiler free.

Directed by: Christopher Nolan
Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Mind bender, Period drama,
Release Date: October 20, 2006
Running Time: 130 minutes
MMPA rating: PG-13

The Good: Shocking plot twists, Excellent performances, Great characters, Uniquely structured plot, Complex plot, Thought provoking, Satisfying ending, Ensemble cast, Intriguing mystery, Original, Suspenseful, Superb cinematography (Oscar nominated),

The Bad:

Plot: The following plot summary is copied from
A magician performs an illusion for a young girl explaining that each trick has three parts; the pledge, where the audience is presented with an ordinary object; the turn, where the object is turned into something extraordinary; and the prestige, where the object is brought back.
Magician Alfred Borden (Bale) is sentenced to death for the murder of rival Robert Angier (Jackman) by drowning him in a water tank during one of Angier's performances. Both began their careers as shills for "Milton the Magician" with ingénieur John Cutter (Caine) and Angier's wife Julia (Perabo) as his assistant. The pair observe an elderly Asian magician who is able to make a large fishbowl appear seemingly from nothing. Borden realizes that the man's frailty is in fact the act and comments that true magic requires sacrifice.
Watch the movie to see what happens next.

Plot: 9.6/10- Nolan creates a unique, nonlinear narrative structure in The Prestige, switching between three different timelines in the story. At first the narrative can be difficult to follow and a little confusing, however it becomes easier to follow as the film progresses. The characters are well written and are given due motive for their actions. What makes the film great however is that the mystery is brilliantly crafted and all the plot twists. While the twist is positively fantastic, it is the point where viewers will either love or hate the film. The twist may not be the best or most shocking twist ever, it is certainly up there.

Action: N/A-

Acting: 9.6/10- Christopher Nolan sure knows how to bring together an excellent cast and The Prestige is no exception. The Prestige's ensemble is fantastic, with top notch and sometimes Oscar worthy performances across the board. Jackman gives his best performance outside of the X-Men franchise and while Bale is occasionally difficult to understand, his performance was very good. Bale's character actually felt like a real human character unlike some of his past roles. As always, Michael Caine brings great gravitas in his usual mentor role. The lovely Scarlett Johansson, gives another amazing performance, albeit in a more minor role. The other cast members are excellent without a single weak performance.

Special effects: N/A-

Soundtrack: 7.7/10- Although it was not the most memorable, it services the film well and adds to the intrigue.

Comedy: N/A-

Would I Watch This Again: Unlike many mysteries, the film has a re-watch-ability since you want to catch all of the clues to the mystery.

Overall: 9.4/10- Overall The Prestige is an amazing film, perfectly structured and well acted with one of the best mysteries ever put to film.

Closing comments: Not everyone will enjoy the film, but it is one that you need to see and decide for yourself.

Recommended for: Nolan fans, Mystery fans, Christian fans, Hugh Jackson fans, Period drama fans, Suspense fans, Mind bender fans,

*Spoiler Discussion*
OK, the ending was absolutely amazing! While it was surprisingly straight forward and not ambiguous like Inception's ending, it made sense for the most part. Not even for a second had I thought Bernard was being played by Christian Bale, the disguise completely fooled me. As for Tesla's sci-fi/magic cloning machine: I liked the idea. Even though it kind of broke the rules of the established world, I actually enjoyed the sci-fi turn at the end. I can see some people really hating it for the twist, which is why the film is not for everyone. My only problem with the film is that, the characters Robert Angier and "The Great Danton" were both played by Hugh Jackman. I know Danton was an actor, but no one except for an identical twin can look that similar to a person. It was not a huge problem and did not effect the score, but it was definitely worth noting.
*End Spoilers*

What are your thoughts on the film? If you have seen it, please discuss spoilers in the comment, if not do you plan to watch the film?

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Monday, August 19, 2013

Podcast #1: Star Wars, Marvel, Top 5 Sherlock Episodes and More!

The J and J Productions 1809 podcast is officially up and running! Below is the podcast, and while it is a YouTube video, it is just audio. You may have to turn up the volume some because there was a small technical error that lowered the volume of my voice. Without further ado, here is the podcast, please enjoy.
For this podcast Jamie and I talk about Star Wars, Iron Man 3 spoilers, Thor: the Dark World, Agenst of SHIELD, and rank our Top 5 Sherlock favorite episodes. Please remember that this is my first podcast that I have recorded, therefore I am nervous and did not do all that great in it. Hopefully you can understand what I am saying, next time the volume of my voice should be higher. For your convenience I have added annotations to make it easier to listen to the things you want to know about. Also there are spoilers for Iron Man 3, however I give ample warning and have added something for you to click on if you want to skip the spoilers. For our Top 5 Sherlock episodes we had no prior knowledge of each other's list so we could have genuine reactions to each other's picks. What did you think of the podcast? Please let me know in the comments so that I can decide whether I should continue the podcast or not. Most likely this time next week or later this week, the next episode of the podcast will air.
Check out Jamie's blogs:
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Sunday, August 18, 2013

Podcast Coming Tomorrow!

J and J Productions is going to have a podcast! Tomorrow I will premiere the first episode of the podcast. For each podcast, I will have a guest and we will discuss various topics we both enjoy, usually movie and television related. Also for each podcast, we will each make a Top 5 list about a specific topic whether it would be favorite movies in a genre, or Top 5 episodes of a TV series. For tomorrow podcast, Jamie and I will talk about our Top 5 favorite BBC Sherlock episodes and our thoughts on Star Wars, and the Avengers. Most likely, the podcast will be uploaded on YouTube and I will have a post for it tomorrow. Also I have two more podcasts in the works, one will most likely be posted Friday and the other sometime next week. As of now, I am unsure if I want to continue the podcast after three episodes, however that will depend on how popular it is due to how difficult it is to make compared to written posts.
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More Loki Scenes Being Filmed and Comic-Con Awesomeness.

Official reports say that more scene with Tom Hiddleston are being filmed for Thor: The Dark World. Typically, filming after principle photography is not a good sign for the film, however I believe we can make an exception for more Loki. Many are speculating that the recent fan outburst from Hiddleston's appearance at Comic-Con may have influenced the reshoots, although that has not been confirmed.
Even though everyone has already seen it, I had to post Loki's appearance at Comic-Con because it is one of the coolest things ever. Also this video captures the action much clearer than most other videos. 

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