Wednesday, July 13, 2011

PCP on DVD - 3 Comicbook Adaptations reviewed

Time for your next hit of PCP:  Pop Culture Panorama.  Due to circumstances beyond my control, I have developed about a 50 movie backlog of films to review, of films I’ve watched over the past couple months.  I’ve had enough time to watch the movies and jot down some observations, but not enough time until now to actually write the reviews.  So, I will be doing shorter than normal reviews of these films until I am caught back up, in convenient multi-packs of movies by genre.  Today I’m going to do reviews for 3 films that were previously done as graphic novels:  Scott Pilgrim vs. the World; Red; & Kick-Ass.

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World – 2010; PG-13.  112 minutes.  Starring Michael Cera, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Kieran Culkin, Chris Evans, Brandon Routh, & Jason Schwartzman.  My rating:  8 out of 10.

I absolutely loved this movie.  Pilgrim is filmed as though it is a hybrid of a live movie, cartoon, video game, and comic all in one.  It is definitely one of the most unique and individualized films I’ve ever seen, as not a lot of movies are made like this.  It’s a true visual delight, starting right away with the Universal logo and music done as if it’s an old 8-bit video game.  Michael Cera stars as the titular Scott Pilgrim, playing a variant on the same character that he always plays, the kinda nerdy whiny guy, but this time he can actually rock with a band.  The movie has some great shout-outs to the world of comics and video games, including appearances by 3 actors that have starred as a Marvel or DC character in their own film:  Chris Evans, Brandon Routh, & Thomas Jane; as well as the music from Zelda and numerous other videogame homages.  The script from writer/director Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz) is filled with one liners and gag jokes.  The performances from the cast are all solid and very entertaining, especially some of the evil exes that Pilgrim has to fight.  I haven’t read the source material so I’m not sure how much it deviates from the graphic novels, but it’s a pretty entertaining film.  I’ll have to check out the books sometime.  All in all, this is a very enjoyable movie.  If you grew up on video games and comics, you’ll get a kick out of this film.

Read the other 2 reviews after the jump

Red – 2010; PG-13.  111 minutes.  Starring Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman, John Malkovich, Helen Mirren, Mary-Louise Parker, & Karl Urban.  My rating:  8 out of 10.

I wanted to see this movie from the first trailer, simply for the fact that I thought it would be hilarious to see Helen Mirren playing an assassin.  I’m glad I was right, it is very entertaining watching Mirren play a cold blooded killer who in retirement acts like Martha Stewart.  A great moment is when she deadpans in a very sweet voice to Mary-Louise Parker’s character that she’ll kill her and bury her in the woods if Parker breaks Bruce Willis’ heart.  The look on Parker’s face at that delivery is just priceless.  The action scenes in the film are good, if nothing particularly new in an action movie.  There are some cool stunts though, including an RPG getting blown out of the air, and Willis leaping from a moving car, and any time Mirren is killing people.  The film does a good job of setting up the boredom in the lives of the main characters, especially the opener with Willis so bored in retirement that he keeps calling social security just to have someone to talk to.  The ensemble cast all deliver great performances in this film, and the script is funny and the pacing is solid.  There’s a reason this film got a surprise Golden Globe nomination for Best Picture – Comedy, as it’s actually pretty good and a lot of fun.  I’m already looking forward to the sequel.

Kick-Ass – 2010, R.  117 minutes.  Starring Aaron Johnson, Lyndsy Fonseca, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Nicolas Cage, Chloe Moretz, Mark Strong, & Clark Duke.  My rating:  9 out of 10.

Kick-Ass came from the comic of the same name by the great Mark Millar, one of my favorite comics writers.  He has a great sense of humor in his work, a deep biting sarcasm and cynicism that I find hilarious.  Unlike his other original comic, Wanted, the film version of Kick-Ass stays far closer to the source material this time around.  Wanted dropped 95% of the comic and completely reinvents a lot of the story, while Kick-Ass kept almost everything with only a couple minor changes to be more in line with Hollywood – most notably that the main character, played by Aaron Johnson, gets the girl played by Lyndsy Fonseca, when in the comic he gets rejected; also Nicolas Cage’s origin story is altered from the comic, but otherwise things are mostly true to the comic.  The premise of the movie is solid – what would happen if ordinary people stood up and started fighting crime wearing masks?  Some get killed or hurt badly for their troubles, and some kill a lot of bad guys, committing what is technically murder in the name of justice.  The movie itself is quite funny, with a number of laugh out loud moments.  The characters are all great and fun to watch, and are mostly well developed.  Chloe Moretz, as the young vigilante killing machine Hit-Girl, steals every scene she is in with her dirty mouth and deadly blades.  It’s actually quite disturbing to see such a little girl say such funny awful things, and that cognitive dissonance leads to some of the film’s funniest moments.  All in all, if you like comic books or superhero movies, this one is probably one of the best out there.  It is original, funny, entertaining, and it doesn’t take itself too seriously at all.  It’s a ton of fun, and I highly recommend it.

That’s all for today, thanks for stopping by!

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