Sunday, November 19, 2017

Justice League (2017): Review

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Going into Justice League I was trying not to expect too much, as I had heard that the reviews were mixed but was hoping that I would enjoy it because I liked Wonder Women (2017) and enjoyed Batman V Superman (2016).  I am happy to say that I did enjoy Justice League and I am looking forward to seeing it again over Thanksgiving weekend with my family. If you liked the previous DC universe movies you will enjoy this and I think it is one of the better ones.

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Justice League continues where Batman v Superman (2016) and Wonder Woman (2017) left off. Bruce Wayne/ Batman, played by Ben Affleck, is trying to find and recruit metahumans because he believes that an invasion is coming after the death of Superman/ Clark Kent, played by Henry Cavil.  He reunites with Diana Prince/ Wonder Woman, played by Gal Gadot, to try and bring together Aquaman/ Author Curry, played by Jason Momoa; The Flash/ Barry Allen, played by Ezra Miller; and Cybord/ Victor Stone, played by Ray Fisher, in order to fight Steppenwolf, voiced by Ciaran Hinds.. Also staring Amy Adams as Lois Lane; Jeremy Irons as Alfred; and Diane Lane as Martha Kent.

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Justice League felt like a transition/ set up movie, but it was done in the good way that is still a story on its own.  The bad guy Steppenwolf was secondary to getting the Justice League together and this left me not caring about him or feeling as if there was any real danger from him.  At times, he was really good at destroying or making what he want happen really quickly, while at others he took forever to do anything or monologued.  He wasn't the worst bad guy I have seen in comic book/ superhero movies but he could have been much better.  I miss bad guys who are scary, or really evil, or really anything that would be a true counterpoint for the good guys.  Because there was such a team of good guys and that getting the team together was the important part, he was just there but he really needed to be something truly catastrophic to need all these meta humans to get together.  The fact that any true backstory was not included for anyone added to not feeling the scope of him.  It was mentioned that he almost destroyed the earth way back when but as this was just exposition  it didn't really do much for the whole movie.  Also the fact that there are three mother boxes it felt too much like the Tesseract or Allspark.

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That being said, I did like the casting of this movie and enjoyed each main character on its own.  Henry Cavil as Superman is fine and he does a good enough job.  I am one who actually likes Ben Affleck as Batman and enjoyed how he plays this character as more grizzled. I liked that Batman is human compared to the others and you see him struggling or having to recovery.  Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman is just fantastic and she carries over the great job she has done in the previous movies.  I really enjoyed Ezra Miller as The Flash and how he plays this character, I do not watch the television show so I didn't have any strong feelings about him in this role and did like that he was a counterpoint to the more serious/ hardened way the others were played. I laughed the most at him and didn't think the humor he brought took away from the overall mood of the movie.  Jason Momoa is great as Aquaman and I really liked his I'm here but I kinda care but I kinda don't care way he was played and especially the sequence where he is talking to the team later on in the movie. I didn't get Cyborg as a character and didn't really care about his personal struggles, he seemed to be necessary only because of how he fit into the plot but I could have done without him completely. I would have like better chemistry between the characters but I think it was more about how quickly the movie moves from one thing to another (the movie only happens over a few days) then anything else, but that didn't prevent Momoa or Miller having good interactions with the others. They could have cut out some of the Superman family dealing with his death but as Superman is the point where the DC universe is centered I understand this decision.

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Justice League keeps the story going and I found myself focused throughout the entire thing. It doesn't have the problem of a too long drawn out end sequences that has been a problem in earlier DC movies and it didn't seem as long as it was as I was watching it.  It has a lot going on but it wasn't too much to be completely distracting. Looking back on the movie I enjoyed it but there wasn't anything that really stood out as unique or revolutionary but was just a fun and entertaining comic book, superhero movie.

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The CGI was obvious but I didn't find it that distracting. There were moments where there was CGI on CGI that I didn't like, specially with Superman, Cyborg, and Steppenwolf. Steppenwolf just looked like a video game and didn't seem to look like he fit in any of the sequences he was in.  They really need to work on Superman flying and him not looking so fake and the times where Cyborg wants completely shown was the parts where he looked really weird. I hated him when he was in the sweat suit, absolutely thought he look really bad.  A better costuming choice could have been made.  I did see this movie in 2D and am sure that if I saw it in 3D I would have a lot more to complain about the CGI.  I could tell that a lot of effort and production value was put into the CGI and making the film look the way it did.

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Justice League was enjoyable and I really liked it. I really, really liked that this felt like one movie with a consist tone and forward moving plot.  The one thing that the DC movies do for me more than other universe movies is that it makes me want to go home and rewatch all the movies that came before it and then go and see it again. Not because there are things happening that I am confused about or that there wasn't a good enough stand along set up (I think all movies even if part of a series or universe should stand alone) but because I remember that I enjoyed them and are excited about the characters again. 

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This movie is worth seeing if you like the other DC movies and I can see it as becoming one that I watch multiple times.

My Rating: 3

P.S. There are extra scenes and you need to wait until the end of the credits to see that final one.

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Also check out my review for Batman v Superman http://myreviewsbyjane.blogspot.com/2016/03/batman-v-superman-dawn-of-justice-2016.html
and
Wonder Woman http://myreviewsbyjane.blogspot.com/2017/06/womder-woman-2017-review.html

Friday, November 10, 2017

The Foreigner (2017): Review

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It was so nice to see a movie that made sense, engaged me from the very beginning, and gave insight into each characters motivation and how they connected to each other was consistent with the story that was being told. I really enjoyed this movie and Jackie Chan is still a major badass, I like that this movie was darker and more serious than the Jackie Chan movie I associate him with and it delivered the type of action movie that I really enjoy. It wasn't super complex or really gritty but the overall mood was consistent and really worked. It doesn't hurt that several of the action/ fighting movies that I have seen recently were not very good at all, but I would defiantly watch this movie again or keep watching it if it was on television.  It was a solid few hours that I spent at the movies.

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The Foreigner stars Jackie Chan as Quan Ngoc Minh, a Chinese immigrant and British citizen who now lives in London. His daughter and last remaining family members gets killed in a bombing and he because focused on finding the killers. It appears to be a new Authentic IRA group but who Minister Liam Hennessey, played by Pierce Brosnan, doesn't know about or doesn't sanction their violence toward innocent women and children. Hennesseys history with the IRA is brought up and how he acts as a go between the British government and Irish. Quan focuses on Hennessey and trying to get him to tell the names of the people who killed his daughter. Hennessey is trying to find out who in his ranks is involved while Quan is causing him problems.  Also staring: Ray Fearon as Commander Richard Bromley;  Orla Brady as Liam's wife Mary; Lia Williams as Katherine Davies; Rory Flack Byrn as Liam's nephew Sean Morrison; and Michael McElhatton as Jim Kavenagh.

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This movie made sense and kept me interested throughout the movie. The only bad thing about the story was seeing some third act scenes in the trailer so knowing that something would be coming later on in the film took away a little of the suspense. This however, did not diminish my enjoyment of the movie and liking how everything tied together. The story was pretty straight forward but how it weaved together information about Quan and Liam's past could have made it hard to follow or understand but it actually added to the story telling and was incorporated in a way that kept up the pacing. 

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Overall, I liked the mood of the movie and how it was shot. The main complaint I have is the use of shaky came in some of the sequences and the tight up way some of the fighter where shot. Jackie Chan is amazing and able to stand on his own and be completely bad ass throughout an entire choreographed fight sequences so there is no reason to do the Hollywood short cuts of fast editing cuts and close up shots. I would have liked to have seen the chorography shot a bit further away and in one shot as it is well know that Jackie Chan is capable of this being done. I could tell the sequences where most likely shot in longer bits so it wouldn't have been hard to just back up the camera and show Jackie Chan in his glory.  Just because he is older now doesn't mean he isn't still bad ass. 

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The casting was good and although there were a lot of supporting characters, because the focus was on Quan and Hennessy and it gave the information on how the other characters were connected to these two it worked. They were just there for set up or to frame these two main characters and the cast did a great job in their roles.  There were some things that were a bit obvious but the movie was still enjoyable.

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This was a good movie and I would definitely recommend it. It could have done a bit more for it being rated R as it didn't really seem bad enough to earn this rating so I wouldn't mind letting older teens see this movie.  Definitely a solid action movie.

My Rating: 3

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Saturday, November 4, 2017

Thor: Ragnarok (2017): Review

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*** review contains a few small spoilers, so be warned***
I am sorry to say that although Thor: Ragnarok was a shiny Marvel Cinematic University movie, it was just average and felt more like a transition movie in the universe than a true stand alone Thor movie. This is probably because of a lot of the characters I expect to see in Thor movies were not there and I really felt their absence. The movie didn't know what it was trying to be and combined three different types of movie into one.  This resulted in a movie that felt very disjointed and would jump in tone from one scene to another. For open disclosure, the Thor franchise is not my favorite of all the Marvel movies but I still have liked the previous two. I did like this movie but it will not be what I will first grab when I want to re-watch a Marvel movie and will just watch it if I am doing a marathon.

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Thor: Ragnarok starts by quickly bringing Thor, played by Chris Hemsworth and Loki, played by Tom Hiddleston, back together with Thor returning from a battle to hopefully prevent Ragnarok (the destruction of Asgard) and finds that Loki has been masquerading as their father Odin, played by Anthony Hopkins.  They go to find Odin before he dies and discover that they have an older sister Hela, played by Cate Blanchett, who is the Goddess of Death and who has been kept at bay by Odin but who will be released once he dies.  Once Hela is released, she seeks to destroy Thor and Asgard and plans to conquer all of the realms.  While Thor is trying to stop her, he gets stranded on the planet Sakaar, where he is forced by the Grandmaster, played by Jeff Goldblum, to battle against Hulk, played by Mark Ruffalo, for entertainment.  Here he meets and tries to get a former Valkyrie, played by Tesse Thompson, to help him escape and then battle Hela before she is able to destroy Asgard.

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As I mentioned above, Thor: Ragnarok felt like three different movies mushed together.  It seemed as if it was going for trying to change more into a Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) type movie, with wanting it to be humorous; having strong music/songs behind very stylized battle sequences, and having lots of alien races (this led to me feeling it was more of a transitional movie).  There was an attempt at having scenes be funny with the dialogue trying really hard to be funny. This overall didn't work for me because it was trying to make Thor both the funny man and the straight man at the same time. This doesn't work, a character needs to be one of the other.  The only character I thought was truly funny was Korg, voiced by Taika Waititi, he was by far one of the most enjoyable bits of the movie and the only one who had me laughing at his antics. Loki also had a few good moments., Thirdly there were times that were more serious and had great acting in them, this sub story line focused around Heimdall, played by Idris Elba.  When I see a movie I want it to have a consistent tone and feel thought it. There can be subtlety and differences but it just needs to fell like it all goes together or meshes well in how it is put together.

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I wouldn't mind the fact that it was several different types of movie in one if it didn't seem like all the movie was trying to do was set up for what is coming next.  It pulled lots of different things together just to get characters to be working together or over story points that need to happen.  Take Dr. Stange, played by Benedict Cumberbatch, the movie brings him in and has help Thor really quickly and then disappear. Yes I understand that it was basically a cameo but based on what was going on, why would Dr. Strange just let Thor handle the rest of what happened.  I mean Thor was still on Earth when the main stuff started happening.  Ugg, I just wish the movie stood better on its own and felt like its own story not a transitional movie beefed up to just accomplish a few plot points. And while it was doing this it made everything so complicated and convoluted. I feel like it could have been much shorter and accomplished what the movie did.  While this frustrates me, it doesn't take away from how independently I liked the different bits.  I especially liked Jeff Goldblum but what actually happened on Sakaar wasn't much in either plot points or character development.

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I feel like I have been complaining a lot so far but the movie was still good and a solid blockbuster.  The things that I do complain about doesn't mean that the movie was bad, I just don't think it got all the attention or effort it could have.  It felt very much phoned in for the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  This may be that it is very difficult for movie franchises, especially ones with lots of movies to make everyone special and work with the overall story arcs.  I know they can do them very well and I know that this movie will be hugely successful, I just expect more.  Especially as I really liked the other Marvel movies that have come out this year so well. When I think of Ragnarok against them, this movie just isn't as good.

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Although I missed the Thor characters from the previous two movies, I liked the cast.  Casting Cate Blanchett was good, but with her being such an amazing actress, it made it more obvious that the others are not her caliber.  Even with the silliness of the movie, she still showed herself to be a great actress. Idris Elba was good as well, even thought he was only in the movie a little bit. Chris Hemsworth continues to be very attractive, and the movie has another one of those scenes just put in to enjoy and objectify his body. 

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The CGI on CGI scenes were obvious and there was a few moments where I was distracted by it.  Usually CGI looks better when it is either in the foreground or background but not both.  I really, really enjoyed how the lighting was done with Thor and this was a nice development for Thor. The production value was high and a lot of time and effort was put into the CGI but I could tell there were moments where everything was computer generated. It is what is expected with Marvel.

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This is a movie that people already know if they want to see.  If you like Marvel, it is worth watching but don't expect it to be of the higher caliber.  It is going to feel more like Guardians of the Galaxy (2014), then Captain American: Winter Soldier (2014).  I just wish that they didn't try to put so much into each movie and make them so complicated.  I am a regular audience member and not a super fan with these movies so I miss the majority of the easter eggs and have to ask "who/what is that."  I don't want to have to have seen and remember all of the previous Marvel movies to figure out what is going on.  Yes, there needs to be easter eggs for these type of fans but it is hard to join into or watch these movies if you haven't seen or at least know what has happened before.

My Rating: 2

P.S.  Of course you need to stay for the entire credits if you want to see the extra scenes, this is  Marvel movie after all.

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Sunday, October 29, 2017

Suburbicon (2017): Review

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I have never been to a movie when immediately after the movie all of the people in the audience come together and connect by saying "what the hell did we just watch" and all feel that the movie made absolutely no sense and in the bad way.  Suburbicon was strange, in the boring bad way, not in the cool or funny way. I didn't realize it was suppose to be a comedy until one of my fellow audience members said that it was not the comedy that he was expecting it to be. Thinking about it I can see that it was going for being a dark comedy, but the comedy did not come through and the movie was bad and overall boring. If I wasn't trying to understand how everything came together, it would have been completely forgettable.

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Suburbicon is new Coen brother's movie and I really need to start paying attention to who is making the movies I am watching and not just deciding to go see them based on teaser trailers. I try to not watch too many trailers or final trailers as it annoys me to see third act clips which can spoil the storyline, but I may have chosen to see another one of the movies that I am interested in right now if I realized it was a Coen brothers movie. Anyway to the plot. Suburbicon is set in a sort of Stepford Wives world where this area is suppose to be wholesome and a great place to live. It starts by the town getting upset that the first African American family, the Mayers, has moved in and a sub story is the escalating hate that this family receives. It then focuses on Gardner Lodge's, played by Matt Damon, family. Gardner owes money to the mob and his wife Rose is killed.  His sister in law Margaret, played by Julianne Moore (she also plays Rose) has been helping out the family and takes over the role of mother to Gardner's son Nicky, played by Noah Jupe, and everyone has to deal with how the family is affected by everyone's actions and the situation they are now in. Although the movie is chronological it feels like it jumps around a lot and there is no real back story or lead in to the different characters, they are just there and you as an audience member have to figure out who they are and how they fit into what is going on.  Some characters are there and it feels like they will become part of what is going on and that the movie is hinting at something that will be tied together but then nope.

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Going into this movie I thought it would be more focused on Matt Damon's character, but it seems to equally focus on Gardner, Margaret, and Nicky, but slightly more on Nicky. It also jumps to the Mayers family and the hate they are experiencing in this neiborhood. Nicky has some interactions with Andy, played by Tony Espinosa, the Mayers' son as they are neighbors. It is really hard to describe what is happening because their isn't a main focus or a true story.  It feels like part of a story, without motivation, lead up, or resolution that leaves you feeling satisfied in any way. 

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There is no real development of any of the characters and the lack of any real plot or motivation of anyone really leads to a movie that doesn't really have anything going for it. I was bored throught the majority of the movie and was just waiting for somehtig to happen to draw me in. The only really enjoyable part was the insurance claims investigator, played by Oscar Isaac, and he was only in the movie for a few moments. This movie didn't really seem to know what it was going for but it was trying really hard to do something. I wish a specific person or a few people were focused on and that there was an emphasis on what was happening to or around the person and their motivations/ dealing with it. There were a few moments of this but since nothing seemed to connect with each other, the movie didn't deliver. If the shift was more of Nicky it would have been better, or given background into any of the main characters.  Hell, even focusing more on the mob guys would have worked.

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It seemed as if the main emphasis on this movie was style not substance. The actors are good and you can tell that they are giving it their all, so for me it seemed more like directorial choices and decisions the failed. There is a high production value in this movie and the town/ environment is rich in details and I could tell lots of effort and time was spent on it.  The cinematography and staging was good, and in the style of the Coen brother. I just wish their was more of a story to follow or a some sort of journey/ real resolution for any of the characters. As I said there were glypse of what could be and moments with some of the characters (Mitch, played by Gary Balarama, Nicky's uncle was also one of the more interesting characters). It might just be a type of movie that I don't connect with and I just don't understand the true target audience. If you enjoyed it, let me know what was good about it?

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Basically no reason to go see this movie, as it doesn't make sense and was very strange. Where this can be done in a fun and great way, this movie was pretty bland for what the set up is, and bored me.  I wouldn't even recommend watching it when it comes out on video. I would only reccomendd it to people who see and enjoy every Coen brothers movie.

My Rating: 1-

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Sunday, October 22, 2017

Geostorm (2017): Review

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I am pleasantly surprised to say that Geostorm was much better than I excepted it to be. That is not saying that it was good or anything exceptional but it was enjoyable and I wouldn't mind seeing it again. I can easily see myself gladly watching it should it come onto television in the future.

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Geostorm stars Gerald Butler as Jack Lawson, a brilliant person (I cant seen to remember specially what he was good at but know it at least included mechanics) who assisted and lead the development and operation of a world wide satellite net which counteracted extreme weather. If a tsunami or hurricane would destroy some part of the world the satellites would do their magic and prevent the cataclysmic weather event from causing damage or loss of life.  Due to his assholishness and insubordination Jack is removed from leadership of the satellite net, which is run from the international space station, by his brother Max, played by Jim Sturgess.  Three years later there are problems with the net and the satellites themselves are malfunctioning which looks like it might create a geostorm which would destroy the world. Jack is brought back in to find the glitch and discovers that it appears to be sabotage. Jack and Max have to figure out how to save the world while not knowing who is the saboteur working with them. Also staring: Abbie Cornish as Sarah Wilson, Max's girlfriend and secret service agent; Alexandra Maria Lara as Ute Fassbinder, the new leader of the satellite net; Andrew Garcia as President Palmer; Ed Harris as Secretary Leonard Dekkom; Zazie Beetz as Dana, Max's tech support; and Euginio Derbez as Al, Amr Waked as Ray, Robert Sheehen as Duncan, workers on the space station.

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First off there were several things that I found very distracting throughout the movie and just took me out of the experience. I don't know why the makers of this movie insisted on calling the net "Dutch Boy," yes, they give a reason for it in the film, but with this movie that is spouting other technical terms it was very weird hearing the term Dutch Boy over and over throughout the movie. I thought that this was just stupid and it could have been a much better name.  Also there were some weird hair styling choices, Max's haircut was bad and distracting. I don't get why someone just didn't style it better. He is suppose to be a man who is good at working the system and getting people to allow him to run the net but he has this really bad hair cut. He is an attractive man, it would have just been better if that extra hair by his collar was shorter. There were times where Ute's hair was up at some points and down at some points. I don't understand why the leader of the space station didn't have her hair consistent or in a style that consistently looked like she was maintaining regulations.  These points are not big, they were just distracting.

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I liked the cast and thought that all of the characters where well cast but there was no connection between the different characters. I don't think I have seen a movie where it didn't seem like people who have a strong history and relationships with each other just didn't have the chemistry come across on screen. On their own I really enjoyed most of the characters, I just wish that they would have played off of each other. Zazie Beetz and Eurginio Derbez were the best examples of doing a great job but having the responses of the others on screen with them were off and just as if they couldn't keep up with the great job these two were doing. I think the decisions on how to play Max were off, i don't think it was Jim Sturgess it seemed more like a directors choice. He just seemed really squirrely. As i stated above, he was suppose to be this government man who can put out fires and was given control of the satellite net. He just seemed really jittery and didn't have any polish that I would expect with a man who holds this type of position in the government.

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The plot was very simple and straight forward and there wasn't anything unique about what was happening, but it was a story that made sense and had a flow to it. I didn't go into watching this movie expecting it to be something that kept me on my toes or where I didn't know what was going to happen. I liked that it keeps it going and had a good pace and that there was a try at having a surprise, "oh no, I didn't see it being that person(s)." What was going on and the decisions each person made sense although there wasn't any development of the cast. People expecting something shocking or super exciting wouldn't like it, but if you are looking for just an entertaining stupid flick, they will enjoy it.

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There were several instances of shaky came and shots that were too close in, which is filmmaking that I do not like or want to see, but there were not too many of these. It was strange how at times, it seemed like the movie didn't care about killing lots and lots of people but then want you to care about select people for just a moment. It was hard to tell which characters I was suppose to care about being it situations where they might die or when i should just accept that this person is dying to further the plot and the characters i am suppose to connect with. Having lots of secondary characters made this more difficult as there wasn't much development or screen time spent with them.

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The CGI was inconsistent throughout the movies, at times I was quite impressed by it, while at others it was bad.  I wasn't really expecting it to be that good at all so I was pleasantly surprised. That was the theme of my experience with this movie, I wasn't expecting much, so it being able to pull out an adequate movie, I quite enjoyed it. I would watch it again, but it would never be my favorite. I preferred this movie to many I have seen and never desire to see again, but can understand how it is going to fade into obscurity because there is nothing special or outstanding out bit.  It was enjoyable to watch and got me to engage in the story and care about how it was going to come together so I cannot regret spending the time watching it.

My Rating: 2

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