Tag Archives: Predator

“ZOOTOPIA” Review (✫✫✫)

And don’t forget the Zoopocalypse.

Zootopia is a movie just about as good as a movie titled Zootopia can be. There’s animals, a cute bunny protagonist (although she doesn’t like to be called “cute”), an underdog story for her to go through, and a colorful city, of which the title derives its name from. Kids will love it, adults not as much. But Zootopia has enough uniqueness to distance itself from the rest of the competition, and make itself stand out in a long line of successful Disney movies.

The plot takes place in an alternate reality where animals have evolved from their primitive, savage states into civilized, anthropomorphic beings, allowing predators and prey to coexist peacefully in the same society. Judy Hopps (Ginnifer Goodwin), a young rabbit who’s wanted to be a police officer ever since she was a kid, dreams of going to Zootopia, the heart of this new co-existing world. But as she soon finds out, Zootopia is not the city of paradise and tolerance that she had hoped. She quickly discovers that the big guys overpower the little ones on almost every block and street, and considering she’s just a wee rabbit, she quickly gets slapped onto parking duty in her district.

Enter Nick Wilde (Jason Bateman), a sniveling fox that is so coy in his craft that he could give Gordon Gecko a run for his money. Wilde becomes a witness to a kidnapping that Hopps is suddenly thrown into investigating. As this unlikely duo burrows deeper and deeper into the investigation, they discover a secret that may impact the future of Zootopia forever.

A question I wondered while watching Zootopia: where are all the humans? The animals have been on the Earth long enough to evolve into a more civilized state. Where did they learn to be civilized from? Did the animals overthrow the human race in an epic revolution? Did the humans become extinct as the animals evolved? I thought of all of these possibilities while Hopps stared in awe at Zootopia, which may or may not have been built on top of piles of human corpses. Of course, these are probably thoughts only I would think of, and a mystery I’ll have to be content with being unsolved, just like with what happened to the humans in Cars.

How do you expect Zootopia to play out? Whatever you’re thinking, the answer is yes, it plays out like that. Like every other animal-loving animated movie out there, Zootopia is filled with cute, cuddly creatures and colors that will liven up a child’s day. Are the beats too familiar for those who are experienced moviegoers? Of course they are, but at least we can still have fun with it.

Let’s run through the cast of characters, shall we? The rabbit is excited, energetic, and optimistic? Check. The fox is sly, slick, and wickedly sarcastic? Check. The Cape Buffalo is big, blunt, and a to-the-point, no-nonsense bovine? Check. Most of the animals you think of will fit their stereotypes, with one notable exception: Benjamin Clawhauser (Nate Torrence), an obese cheetah who works as a police dispatcher and has an obvious obsession for donuts. See the irony here? The fastest animal alive, now being the fattest animal alive. There’s a self-awareness to his character that makes him fun to watch and laugh at. Watching him makes you wish there was as much self-awareness in the entire movie as there is with this one character.

Still though, there are elements to appreciate with this movie. There’s a good reason why kids will enjoy it: it’s because the animation is vivid, detailed, and colorful. Not much of a surprise, considering all of the colorful worlds we witness in Disney movies like Tangled, Frozen, and Wreck-It Ralph. But the other thing I like with this movie is the creativity of its premise, in how vast Zootopia itself is and how different cultures of animals interact with each other.

In the movie, there is a big divide between the animals that are natural predators and prey. Watching this conflict draw out reminded me of the Black Lives Matter movement in today’s world, and the sharp disagreements that sprout in between black communities and the police force. You might find it funny how an animated movie can demonstrate a message of equality, but it pulls it off with immediate relevance while not straying away from its family-friendly tones. There was one moment where an animal shouted at a leopard to “Go back to Africa.” The leopard replies in shock “I’m from Zootopia.” I sadly wondered how many Americans have to repeat a similar conversation on a daily basis.

In its whole scope, Zootopia is a fun movie that is even more fun for the kiddies. I enjoyed it, but I wish it could have escaped from some of its conventions, and even further explored some of the deep ideas that it was already exploring. I guess I’m thinking too much like an adult though and not enough like a kid. Adults already have FOX and CNN. The kids can have Zootopia.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

“THE LAST STAND” Review (✫✫)

Stuff blowin’ up real good in Redneck City. 

The Last Stand is an actioneer’s action movie, a film so overstuffed with explosions, gunshots, profanity and testosterone that it might have been more appropriate as a video game rather than a movie. I had a friend of mine describe the movie as being “The guyest guy guy movie you’re ever going to see”. That much is true. Whether its the best one, or even a good one, is up to you.

Sheriff Ray Owens (Arnold Schwarzeneggar) has been the sheriff of Summertown for many years now after having quit his profession of being a cop in Los Angeles.  Summertown is a quiet place, a small town where crimes range from the Mayor parking his car in a fire lane to deputies firing at slabs of meat during lunch time.  In a small, quiet town such as this, Ray finds little excitement in his day to day routines and he is perfectly fine with that.

But one day, he receives unwelcome news from the FBI: a nation-wide criminal named Gabriel Cortez (Eduardo Noriega) escaped from the FBI’s hands and is fast on his way to the Mexican border, where he will be out of the FBI’s reach.  The only thing blocking his path: Summertown, which also sits on the United States border to Mexico.  Owens now has to rise up to the challenge to defend his home.  To defend its citizens.  This is the last stand.

This is Arnold’s first lead role after his 10 year hiatus as California’s governor.  Before that hiatus, Arnold was a standout in a slew of memorable action roles, including (but not limited to) Predator, Total Recall, True Lies, Last Action Hero, and my personal favorite, The Terminator and its sequel.  All of those movies are memorable, exciting, suspenseful, and sport great blockbuster entertainment.

Now look at The Last Stand.  This movie cannot help but look shoddy compared to those titles because of its plot, its only inconsistently funny and exciting, and whats worse, it depends on the forumula of repetitive action.  Wonderful.  We certainly don’t get enough of those, now do we?

Let’s take a deeper look at Arnold real quick.  The man has had a great career.  Before going into office, he was asked to be in these tense, highly riveting action roles, and he was damn good in all of them.  Now, he’s been dilluted to just standing tall and read lines as everyone else turns to him asking what to do when a drug cartel is ready to tear through his town.  Guys, come on.  This is the 42nd governor of California, not Angus MacGyver.

The rest of the characters aren’t really that helpful or compelling.  Zach Gilford portrays Officer Jerry, a guy who wants to see more action than he does but then gets his nose broke by the recoil of a gun.  Luis Guzman plays as a chubby mexican officer, and he’s so stereotypical he might as well have been portrayed by Anthony Anderson.  Rodrigo Santoro and Jaimie Alexander share a forced romantic conflict in the middle of all the bullets and gunfire, and while they’re coincidentally dodging all of the bullets amist their kissing, all I could think to myself was “Hey kids!  Find a shower!”

The worst miscalculation, however, is in the film’s villains: Eduardo Noriega as Gabriel Cortez and Rodrigo Santoro as his goatee, ponytail lackey.   Noriega is worthless as the main villain, and is just stuck to driving a car recklessly for more than two-thirds of the movie until the last 20 minutes where the climax calls for a chase scene.  But even worse is his lackey, who seems completely lacking basic motivation of reasoning behind his actions.

Take a look at the only three things he does in the movie: kill a farmer, build a bridge over to Mexico, and strike a raid across Arnold’s town.  Explain to me A) Why he killed the farmer and clued the detectives into his plan, considering the construction of the bridge was nowhere near the farmland, B) How the bridge to Mexico only took around 24 hours to complete, C) Why waste resources building a bridge when he can just bring in a helicopter for the escape, and D) What is the relevance for attacking the town when it means nothing toward Cortez’s escape?  His actions seem senseless, almost like his decisions are delegated by the script just for the sake of action sequences and explosions.  Why must an action film like this seem so mindless, so pointless in its structure and so artificial in its writing?

The film’s most entertaining character is a man named Lewis Dinkam, portrayed by Jackass star Johnny Knoxville.  Highlight, embolden, and underline Jackass.  This guy is the opitimy of stupid, most of it portrayed humorously so.  This guy is an absolute psycho, shooting off pistols and machine guns named “Betty” and “Nazi Killer” with his pajamas on and tearing off electric polls by climbing them and chainsawing the electric wire.  Is he the smartest character in the bunch?  No, but he is the funniest, although I don’t understand why he’s wearing a woolly hat in the middle of the summer.

Ultimately, I’m at a loss with The Last Stand.  There’s no doubt entertainment value here, but it is severrely misguided, almost like a misfired Colt.  Half of the film is used to just set up its premise with predictable scripting and bad acting, while the other half is used for repetitive and monotonous action, gunshots, and F-bombs.

“But David”, one fellow viewer pointed to me, “That’s entertainment!  People need entertainment because real life sucks!”  This is true that people need entertainment, and The Last Stand will satisfy some viewers.  For others however, they will be left yearning for a better story, more original action, and a more worthwhile experience.  In the meantime, what you see is what you get: if its action you want, boy oh boy, it action what you’re going to get.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,