X-Men: Days of Future Past

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When it comes to superheroes, or even just Marvel in general, X-men was never one of my favorites. I thought they were cool, but the franchise never pulled me in as a kid quite the same way that Spider-man or Batman did. The X-men films have also been a mixed bag for me as well. I thought the original trilogy was alright, but not stellar,and I wasn’t a fan of “X-men origins: Wolverine”, (but I’ve heard that even X-men fans don’t like that one as much). On the other hand, I adored 2011’s “First Class” and really enjoyed 2013’s “Wolverine”. When I heard that “Days of Future Past” was going to serve as a direct sequel to First Class, while also tying into the original films, I got pretty excited. Now that I’ve finally seen it, does this movie provide First Class entertainment, or is it the Franchise’s Last Stand?…..I’m sorry…that was a terrible pun…please don’t stop reading yet….

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As far as Marvel films go, I have to give the X-men series credit for always trying something new. When was the last time you ever saw a superhero movie that was was also a time travel adventure? It’s a great setup, and I can’t believe it hasn’t been done yet. One of the things I also like about the X-men movies is it’s not simply a story of good vs evil, but rather a story about prejudice. The running theme in all of these movies seems to be that humanity doesn’t know how to react to the mutants existence, and while some people treat them well, others choose to fear and shun them. I feel that this movie, along with “First Class”, handles this premise with the most sophistication the franchise has ever had. Something I found surprising about Days of Future Past, especially considering how dark last year’s Wolverine movie was, is just how funny it was. There are times when the movie almost comes off as a complete comedy, but always finds that perfect balancing act between lighthearted shenanigans and heartfelt drama, as well as some thrilling action scenes here and there. It’s simply a well told and meaningful story.

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The film’s cast is Fantastic. Whether it’s the characters from the classic trilogy, the younger leads from First Class, or even some new characters, nearly every character is fascinating and fun to watch. Hugh Jackman returns in his seventh appearance as Wolverine and as always he does a phenomenal job. Mystique and Professor X are both major characters in this and provides the film with a lot of heart as well as some terrific humour. Magneto remains an intriguing and sympathetic villain. The two stand-out characters for me are Quicksilver and Beast. Beast was always my favourite X-men character and as expected he gets some real standout moments in the movie. And Quicksilver, while not getting enough screentime, stands as one of the movies most memorable characters thanks to a ridiculously funny “prison break” scene and a cool mutant power. there are countless other X-men in the film, but they sadly either don’t get as much screen time or don’t leave as memorable of an impression. Dr Bolivar, the man behind the robot’s known as Sentinels and the film’s primary villain, is also very effective as a jerk who just won’t let the mutants catch a break. Overall, the characters in this movie are fantastic. As well as, unsurprisingly, one of the movie’s highlights.

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The action is also great. Right from the opening Sentinel attack in the future, the movie has some really great set pieces and stand out sequences (this i also strengthened by an effective if soundtrack). One of my favorite’s is the scene involving Wolveriene, the young Beast, Quicksilver and the young Professor X trying to free Magneto from his imprisonment Quicksilver in particular shines in this energetic and comedic action sequence. The film’s final battle, without giving anything away, is very intense and surprisingly emotional. Magneto gives a frightening speech at the end that really sums up his character well, and makes you sympathies with him while also fearing him. The Sentinels themselves are great villains. they are some of the most threatening and creepy robots ever put to film, and the fact that there is an entire army of them brings to mind the troublesome Battle Droid armies from Star Wars, except scarier. If your looking for some fun action, then X-men definitely delivers.

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X-men Days of Future Past is one of the strongest entries in the franchise, and it is sure to be one of the most thoughtful and fun superhero films of the year. If your an X-men fan, I’m sure you’ve already seen it or plan to. If your not, I suggest watching a few of the other films first, specifically the classic trilogy and First Class. I personally consider both “First Class” and “Days of Future Past” as not only the best the franchise has to offer, but also some of the best superhero films ever made. Highly recommended!

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Top five favourite episodes of Friendship Is Magic: Season 4

 

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Another season of MLP has come and gone. While it’s definitely not my favourite season (that honour still goes to Season 2), the fourth season did provide us with some very good episodes. What set this season apart from the rest was that it was all one story arc, revolving around finding the keys to a mysterious chest. It was practically a treasure hunt. So with that said, which epodes stood out the most for me? Here’s my picks for the top five best episodes of season 4!

 5: Testing, Testing, 1, 2, 3

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Easily one of the most relatable episodes for me. The plot is fairly simple (stop laughing you bronies.) Rainbow Dash has to study for a test but has a hard time paying attention when her friends try to teach her. This could’ve been just a goofy episode but instead takes a surprisingly touching and emotional turn towards the end. Easily one of season 4’s best.

4: Pinkie Apple Pie

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One of the first scenes we saw of Season 4 was the song “Apples to the Core” and many fans instantly fell in love with it. The episode itself also held up well, and stands out to me as one of the most enjoyable of the season, thanks to some great humour, charming animation, and a great message about the importance of family.

3: Princess Twilight Sparkle

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Talk about a great premiere. Season 4 started right off the bat with one of the most ambitious and dark episodes to date. As a reintroduction to the characters and Equestria, the premiere works well, and it handles Twilight’s new princess status quite nicely (Even though I do think that Equestria Girls covered that aspect already) But Once the Everfree Forest begins to invade, Discord returns, and The flashbacks come into play, the episode REALLY gets rolling. the animation has been greatly improve since the last season (Which is saying something) thanks to some great shading and updated character models. Season 4 started with a bang.

2: Trade Ya

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This episode was just pure fun. It features Great interactions between the characters, it’s consistently hilarious (the humour itself has a very jeff Smith, the author of the graphic novel series “Bone”, quality to it), and there’s SO much going on in the background that it warrants multiple viewings. There’s about three story lines going on in this episode, but my favourite by far is Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash trying to obtain a rare Daring Do novel. Not much else I can say about this one, other then it’s one of the season’s funniest entries.

Honourable mention: Pinkie Pride

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Fans had speculated for years whether or not Weird Al was going to make an appearance on the show. Several interviews seemed to hint at such an idea becoming reality, but after three seasons, it was starting to feel like those were just rumours. But in season 4, Weird Al did indeed make a terrific appearance in the form of Cheese Sandwich. Like magical Mystery Cure, Pinkie Pride is a musical episode, and we are treated to some of the season’s best songs such as “Super duper party pony” and “Pinkie’s Lament”. All in all, a fun episode.

1: Twilight’s Kingdom

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 Just as Season 4 began with a bang, it also ended with one. If you’ve read my review for this special then you probably could’ve guessed that this was going to be my top pick. It just got so much right. The villain was great, The main characters were great, the story was grand and epic in scale, The songs were great, the animation was great  and Discord’s character development was phenomenal. All these reasons and more are why I consider Twilight’s Kingdom to be my favourite episode of the season. Here’s to a great season 5!!!

(Short review) Godzilla: The IMAX Experience

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On May 22nd, I went to my very first Imax theatre. I had been planning on visiting one for quite some time, but the closest one was still two hours away, and it was also fairly expensive. I just so happened to be in Toronto  yesterday however, and had a chance to see my favourite film of the year thus far “Godzilla” as my very first Imax movie.

In short, It blew me away. The 3-D was spectacular. It wasn’t the kind that I was used to seeing in our local theatre where the image is a little dark, this was bright and sharp. The seats were very comfortable, and the screen was absolutely massive. There was even a countdown before the film started to get the audience even more hyped. The countdown can be seen here. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sNk0CA0o8zA

As for the film itself, I liked it even better on my second viewing. If you live near an Imax, then i highly recommend you see “Godzilla, the Imax experience”. I’m going to try and make it an annual tradition to see at least ONE Imax movie per year from here on out. Great experience!!

Godzilla

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Anyone who knows me well knows that I am a longtime/hardcore/loyal/excitable/whatever you want to call it Godzilla fan (And even that may be an understatement). I’ve seen all 28 of his previous films (29 if you count the 1998 american remake) and the giant monster has always held a special place in my heart. In 2004, Toho (The studio that produces all the Godzilla films) released the film“Godzilla Final Wars” for Godzilla’s 50th anniversary, and announced that this would be the last Godzilla film for at least ten years. Exactly ten years later, Gareth Edwards, the visionary director behind the 2010 film “Monsters”, brings us the latest film in the long running franchise, Simply known as “Godzilla”.

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The characters are a mixed bag. The promotional material is a little misleading, as most of the trailers and promos seem to emphasize that Bryan Cranston is playing the lead role, but his character (Joe Brody) is terribly underused, and that’s a shame, as he gives a knockout performance, and truly shines as one of the films more interesting and emotional characters. The REAL main character, Joe’s son Ford, Isn’t quite as compelling as his father, but is serviceable enough as the absurdly lucky protagonist. His wife Ellie fairs better, and really gives the film the extra emotion it needs. Ken Watanabe Plays Dr Serizawa. A character that shares his name with one of the protagonists from the original Gojira, but that’s where the similarities end. his character is fairly interesting, but much of his dialogue consists of exposition and little else. No one else in the cast stuck me as memorable, and that was a little disappointing.

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The BEST characters of Godzilla are unsurprisingly, the monsters themselves. Godzilla in particular is truly a sight to behold. Despite his limited screentime, This new Godzilla is intelligent, brutal, majestic and absolutely terrifying. His role for much of the film consists of him being an Anti-hero (At least up until the end, when his TRUE role in the film is exposed) and he behaves in a very animalistic way, while still having lots of personality, without going overboard. I for one approve if this new American Godzilla, and consider it a huge step above the previous american attempt. The two opposing monsters of the film are known as “Muto’s”, and Like Godzilla, they are handled really well. Serving as the slightly sympathetic antagonists, these creatures resemble the Cloverfeild Monster, The monsters from Gareth Edwards’s previous film, “monsters” and Ridley Scott’s alien, while also sporting some classic Godzilla foe trademarks, such as the power of flight (Which brought to mind Mothra and Rodan) and the large hooks for hands (Which seemed like a nod to the classic Kaiju, Gigan) The film’s climax involves Godzilla and the two Muto’s fighting in an abandoned San Francisco, and without giving anything away, the final fight is worth the piece of admission alone.

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The film’s story is fairly standard for a Godzilla feature. It’s not a direct retelling of any previous Godzilla story, but there are a few plot points and narrative devices that harken back to the classic toho films of the 60’s and 70’s. (There are even times when the story feels a little bit like an adaptation of the Hanna Barbara Godzilla cartoon, but fear not. There’s no Godzooky in sight.) It’s not that the story is bad necessarily , it’s just nothing new. The film’s pacing is a little slow, but what makes it work is that the suspense just keeps building and building, leaving you wanting more, and paying off in the most satisfying way possible towards the end. Additionally, the film’s cinematography is just Beautiful, with some breathtaking visuals that feel frameable. This is a gorgeous looking movie. The score by Alexander Desplat is one of my favourite aspects of the movie. It feels fresh and new, while also feeling very reminiscent of the classic scores by Akira Ifukube. If your hoping for a movie that truly challenges you and completely changes your opinion or preconceived notions about the Godzilla franchise, then your probably not going to find it here. But what you will find instead is a fun and intense ride that leaves you wanting more, yet still satisfied.

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Godzilla 2014 Is not the best Godzilla movie ever made like many fans were hoping it would be. There are numerous flaws, such as too much exposition dialogue and a fairly standard story that prevent it from reaching the hights as some of the big G’s finer efforts. But despite that, this is still a thrilling, enjoyable and occasionally awe-spiring movie that will delight Godzilla fans and entertain newcomers. If you are a Godzilla fan, then you MUST see this film on the big screen. And if your not, I still think it’s worth the price of admission. I’ve been following this particular film since 2010, and I feel satisfied with the way it finally turned out. If I had to give this a rating as a critic, I would give it a 7 or 8 out of 10. But as a Godzilla fan, and as someone who is young at heart, I give it a highly enthusiastic 13 out of 10.

Twilight’s Kingdom

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My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic is one of my favourite shows because it has everything that I love; Beautiful animation, loveable and memorable characters, entertaining adventures, timeless morals and a fantastic soundtrack.The ambitious fourth season of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic finally wraps itself up this weekend with the two-parter season finale, “Twilight’s Kingdom.” There was alot of hype for the season finale, yet I knew very little about the story itself. For the first time, I avoided many of the clips and early reviews, and finally watched the episode for myself. Did it live up to the hype? let’s see.

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One of the most endearing things about this show is the characters. Here, they expectedly stay true to who they have always been, while also facing some unique challenges of their own. There was a lot of controversy in the Brony community in February 2013 when Twilight officially became an alicorn Princess, but if this episode is any indication, it opens the door for so much character development. Twilight’s main struggle this time around is when and how she will play her part along side the already established rulers of Equestria, and it’s executed very well. The rest of the main cast remain loveable and distinct, and while they don’t have as much screen time as the previous two-parters, their roles still leave a heavy impact on the story itself. The only one who gets the short end of the stick is twilight’s assistant Spike, which is a little disappointing, since he is my personal favourite character. The three established princesses (Celestia, Luna and Cadance) are also given a lot more to do then usual, and their presence here is a welcome addition.

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The two most interesting characters however, are the villains. The main antagonist Tirek is one of the best villains the show has ever had. aside from his frightening design, he’s intelligent, threatening, and even humorous at times. (many scenes between him and Discord are quite funny) He is not without his flaws however. His plan isn’t made very clear (for example, If you want to rule Equestria, why are you destroying it?) and his character isn’t given as much development as the others, but his presence, personality and intriguing backstory make up for it, and he stands as one of the episodes most memorable characters. The Best character of the entire episode is Discord, the spirit of Chaos. He is given a role that if very similar to Loki from the Marvel films, as he plays the not always reliable ally that ultimately teams up with Tirek to destroy Equestria. His character gets the most development, and every time he’s on screen it’s impossible to look away. he’s just so irresistibly entertaining, and it’s clear that John de lance is having a blast with this role. Discord provides much of the story’s humour, as well as the heart. One scene towards the end between him and his pony friend Fluttershy is particularly heartbreaking.

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As expected, the animation is terrific. The folks at DHX have truly outdone themselves when it comes to this two parter, as all of the characters move smoothly and are full of personality. The songs are also well done. The opening song, “You’ll play your part” in particular is a real showstopper, providing us with a very Lion King-Esc number coupled with some of the most beautiful animation the show has to offer. Everything from the shading, to the character animation, to even the environments is highly impressive, and shows just what a long way the show itself has come. The episode’s final battle between Tirek and Twilight is the most effective action sequence the series has ever produced. It’s fast, relentless and, for lack of a better word, epic. I really don’t have any complaints when it comes to the animation, and upon more viewings, It only gets more impressive. One thing that I noticed had been greatly improved is the pacing, as nothing about it feels rushed, despite the disappointingly short running time, clocking in at just under 45 minutes

MLP_425_05Twilight’s Kingdom is one of the strongest episodes this franchise has to offer. It’s emotional, exciting, and hilarious all at once. The animation has never been better, the characters are all loveable and there are too many memorable moments to count. much like the recent Marvel film “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” The story told is a big game-changer, and without giving away spoilers, the show’s status quo has definitely been shaken up. The episode gets released on DVD sometime in July, and if you are a fan of the show, you owe it to yourself to see it at least once (Although if you are a fan, I’m sure you’ve seen it already.) And if your not a fan, I still say give it a watch. You’ll find yourself an enjoyable piece of animation that’s just twenty minutes short of being a great feature film. Season 4 has ended on the highest note it possibly can, and it looks like the show has a very bright future.

 

The Amazing Spider-Man 2

ASM2_DOM_IMAX_REAL3D_1SHEET-610x903 Spider-man is undoubtedly my favourite Superhero. Both Spider-Man and his villains have always felt very relatable because they come across as real people with real strengths and flaws. That being said, Reviewing The Amazing Spider-man 2 is difficult. It really is. There is so much that goes on in this film that I feel like I’m writing one review for three different movies. In some ways it’s better then it’s predecessor while in other ways it falls a little short, and in some ways it’s one of the best of the franchise while in other ways it could have been handled better…..ok…let’s do this.   Peter_Parker_and_Gwen_Stacy One of the film’s strongest, AND weakest points is the characters. Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone return as Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy and the two of them remain one of the most likeable and interesting couples I’ve seen in any movie. The two share a great chemistry and the scenes between them are where a lot of the heart of the film comes into play. Andrew is also a phenomenal Spider-man, managing to be comical and true to the character. There are many characters introduced in this film, and nearly all of them are great, but deserve more screen time. Max Dillon/Electro is by far the strongest villain in the movie. Like many of Spider-man’s foes, he’s portrayed as a sympathetic character, and it’s hard not to feel sorry for him, even when he’s annihilating Times Square. The only drawback is that there is so much going on in the film, that Electro disappears for quite a while during the movie’s second act, and when he reappears, it feels like an entirely different movie has been resurfaced. Andrew Garfield;Dane DeHaan Harry Osborn/The Green Goblin is also an interesting and rather complex character, but again,he is sadly not given enough screen time. It’s established that him and Peter Parker are close friends, and I did get that impression clearly, but it would have been nice to have seen a flashback of them as kids, or even a few extra moments of them bonding as best buds. Aleksei Sytsevich/The Rhino is in the movie as well, and out of all the villains, he gets the least amount of screen-time. Having said that, the scenes he does appear in do leave an impact, specifically near the ending. There are also many other characters (as well as a few fun cameos for the hardcore Spidey fans out there) that unfortunately get sidelined, such as aunt May, who’s wonderful in the scenes that she’s in, but is underused.   Fireman_Spider-Man As you can probably tell, the film’s biggest problem is that the amount of characters that seem to be fighting for screen time. Thankfully, what we DO get from the characters is greatness across the board. Everyone gives a great performance and everyone seems to be having a blast playing these characters. The story, while feeling a little unfocused at times, is paced very well, and the film never feels like it’s just dragging on. The best way to describe the films story without giving away spoilers is “ambitious”. A lot of risks are taken that for the most part pay off, and the film’s at it’s finest in the last half-hour. It’s intense, heartbreaking, and uplifting all at once. Many of the subjects the film tackles are heavy, but it’s not a dark movie. It’s tone is fairly similar to the Avengers, which balances out the light-hearted comedy alongside the action nicely. zuA7Njv Speaking of action, The action sequences in the film are breathtaking. From the Battle at Times Square, to the fight at the clock tower, they are all full of energy and for the first time since Avatar, I can fully recommend that you go see this movie in 3D. The 3D is surprisingly handled very well, and adds a lot more depth to the film’s visual look. Any scene that features Spider-man swinging through the city feels like your on a ride, and it is truly awesome. Hans Zimmer does the score (the same composer for Man of Steel, The Lion King and several other epic films) And while I did really enjoy the score for the first film, Zimmer manages to showcase some very memorable tracks, most notably Electro’s theme. Jamie-Foxx-as-Electro-faces-Spider-Man-in-The-Amazing-Spider-Man-2 The Amazing Spider-man 2 is certainly going to be a divisive movie. I can understand where a lot of the criticisms are coming from, the plot can be a bit of a mess at times, and the characters could have gotten more screen time, but in the end, the highly enjoyed the movie for it’s creativity, it’s amazing sense of humour, it’s spectacular action and it’s tremendous heart. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is my favourite comic book movie of the year so far, and i highly recommend you go see it for yourself, and come up with your own conclusions. It is a good day to be a Spider-Man fan.