adventure movie

Avatar (2009) – Movie Review

Avatar 2009Originally when it came out Avatar was 2 hours long, and for this review I watched the extended version that is almost 3 hours long. Another thing to bear in mind is that I never liked trailers for Avatar and I wasn’t excited for this movie, even though I liked it first time around. What bothers me the most about this movie is that it steals from World of Warcraft and Halo; which are both well-known video game properties; and that’s something I noticed just from the original trailer alone. This is something that bothers me a lot about Avatar, even if James Cameron says that he’s been developing Avatar since 91, and even if no one else noticed the similarities between all the properties mentioned. Anyway, that’s my beef with it even if no one else notices it and even if no one else agrees with. Now on to the movie review.

What I like about Avatar is the huge exploration premise of going into space and finding planets that can help humanity in one way or another; and that’s pretty much all I knew about the movie before seeing it first time around. And now watching the extended version, I was hoping for a better experience.

One of the first things you’ll notice are cliches, mainly portrayal of the future and few of the characters. However, Avatar does a pretty good job of adding cliches – even the few within dialogue – and mixing it with unknown possibilities that are about to transpire.

When it comes to the weakness of the plot, there’s more to the story that’s being told between the lines because Avatar is much deeper than it appears on the surface. Just think about it – humans are aliens in this movie. The future is bleak and it’s basically Independence Day in reverse. Yes, plot and characters are generic, but when you look beyond that, you’ll see the greed of humans which is fueled by the need to survive next to making a profit. You will also notice the struggle of the natives to survive under the oppression of the aliens, who are in this case humans. Cameron takes us to a completely different world where we learn the ways and the culture of the natives; and then we become one of them – or at the very least learn to identify with them because we can connect with them in different ways. When you combine that with amazing visual and sound effects – we get a great movie.

Despite my beef with Avatar, I can’t help but answer for myself the hard questions Cameron presents so well. Not only that, but what Cameron does is show us the darker side of humanity as well as its beautiful side and conflicts them in most raw way possible. It is the type of movie that will tug at your heartstrings and make you want to change the world as well as enjoy every second of the amazing trip we take. I give Avatar 7.5/10.

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Airborne (1993) – Movie Review

Airborne 1993Until a few months ago I didn’t know this was the movie I saw back in mid 90s under a “different” name. Since I live in Croatia, all the movie titles get translated, and they don’t always get translated literally. Anyway, if I remember correctly this was a VHS release only – at least in my town, and since skateboarding was becoming popular, and one of my friends was heavy into it, he told me about this movie, which I proceeded to rent and love, and saw a few times before 90s ended. So, when I heard Josh “The Wildman” Macuga talk about Airborne being one of his favorite movies, I proceeded to check it out, and upon seeing the poster I immediately remembered the movie itself. I couldn’t believe there was a person out there who had a high opinion about Airborne. So upon discovering this movie after so many years since last seeing it, I thought it would be great to give it another watch.

Even though this movie isn’t about skateboarding, it is a movie about extreme sports – mainly rollerblading. To be more accurate Airborne is a story about a kid who loves surfing, and upon his parents getting a new research job in Australia for 6 months, he is unable to go with them because of school, and is sent to live with his uncle Louie, aunt Irene, and cousin Wylie in…can you guess? Wait for it – Cincinnati. Yup, talk about a fish out of water. Just imagine a kid with a surf board standing in snowy airport in a city where everyone plays hockey. Look at it as an adventure, his parents said. It will be great they said. Well, that picture pretty much sums up the movie, but there’s more to a kid with a surfboard standing in a snowy airport than one would expect.

This movie has a great soundtrack and a story that still holds up 22 years later. It’s a great becoming of age movie that will take you back through high school, fight with a bully in the most unconventional way that I haven’t seen in a movie until I saw this movie (even back in 90s), and last but not least make you fall in love with a girl. One of the things that stood out to me was cousin Wylie who bonded really well with our hero, which actually goes the opposite of mainstream trends where a distant relative usually resents their newly-arrived family member for any reason you can imagine, and is a trend that still happens in movies today.

Shane McDermott didn’t do much in Hollywood after this movie, Seth Green who plays cousin Wylie did make a name for himself as did Jack Black who also appears. Brittney Powell, Chris Conrad and few others didn’t become A-list actors, but they still have an acting career.

Airborne may be somewhat formulaic, but it has great montages that will take your mind away from that and let you enjoy the music, while at the same time make you want to go outside and do something exciting. Overall, if you want to chill with your buddies or even girl, this is a great movie to play and enjoy. I give Airborne 7.5/10.

House of Flying Daggers (2004) – Movie Review

House of Flying Daggers 2004I’ve been waiting to see this movie for quite some time. The premise is interesting and is the one thing that would get anyone interested in a movie like this, especially when you consider it’s a Chinese movie in a Chinese language. So other than its Robin Hood-like antagonists, I had no idea what this movie was about. The movie synopsis pretty much revolves around an organization that steals from the rich and gives to the poor in ancient China. Organization is called House of Flying Daggers and they don’t like the government and are doing anything they can to bring them down. Their progress is slow, but things are looking up. Or are they?

I’m not a huge fan of Asian movies in general, but I can be easily convinced to watch them, unless we’re talking about Japanese movies which I tend to stay away from due to their slow pace that makes me fall asleep. What caught my attention in this movie is amount of detail put in sets, which are so huge and well-made that they make every scene an experience all its own, both indoor and outdoor environments. And the music that plays in the background during every scene only adds to that experience.

What I like the most about House of Flying Daggers is its fantasy/adventure/martial arts aspect of it that reminds me of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon – which shouldn’t be all that surprising considering the same actress is playing in both movies. The unique martial arts style that is beautifully choreographed and shows the entire action much like Jackie Chan’s movies do reminds me of my favorite childhood cartoon Dragon Ball Z that almost brings it to life in a unique way.

Having said all that, the movie also has a few twists in it as well as an answered question or a few, but I enjoyed this movie overall. Great action sequences, great love story, great drama. I give House of Flying Daggers a score of 8/10.

Jurassic Park 3 (2001) – Movie Review

Jurassic Park 3 (2001)Jurassic World is coming out today and that means we’re concluding our Jurassic Park trilogy viewing.
This third installment just like the one before it starts at Isla Sorna a.k.a. Site B. Who would have guessed, huh? For those of you who are new to Jurassic Park, that’s a small island not far from Costa Rica in which Jurassic Park is located. That’s not much of a spoiler though, so think of your movie trivia knowledge as boosted up a notch.

Sam Neill returns to reprise his role from the first movies, and Laura Dern also returns but only for few short minutes. Other than that it’s a completely new cast. Sadly, no Jeff Goldblum either. Of other return cast, there’s all the dinosaurs but in bigger numbers, and even more raptors. T-Rex is back too. Not sure if it’s the same one or not though. We also get to see first appearance of a 3D printer as far as I know. I could be wrong about that, so let me know if I’m wrong in the comments.
Of the new cast, most notable is William H. Macy, and few other well-known faces whose names we aren’t sure we’d recognize without the faces to match them to.

Jurassic Park 3 follows the same formula – an expedition goes to the island to see dinosaurs. Their ride gets blown. They have to call in for help. Few people get eaten. Expedition runs to check point to meet their ride while a pack of hungry dinosaurs are chasing them. Well, sort of. Jurassic Park 3 doesn’t follow the formula 100%, but rather 98% and I actually love that about it. The thing I like is that the Jurassic Park is explored a little bit more. We get to see rivers, packs of various types of dinosaurs in different environments. We also get to see dinosaur poo and the dinosaur who “guards” it. The movie also strays from formula in that this not just a regular expedition or even a safari like it was in first two movies. But I’ll leave that part for you to discover because that reason is almost worth the watch.
However, even with all of those things, the only things that makes this movie watchable are the same things that kept its predecessor watchable – amazing visual and sound effects, and John William’s awesome score.

In my opinion, when it comes to visual effects, the amount of dinosaurs and different types of dinosaurs we encounter on this trip is almost as much as all the types of dinosaurs in the first two movies combined. And at one moment Barney the dinosaur almost becomes the deadliest dinosaur in the movie. You gotta watch to see that though.

A part of me says that the journey to Jurassic Park should have ended here, but since it doesn’t, I look forward to going there one more time. I don’t have too many expectations for it simply because I want it to be an experience that is different from the past ones. And if you saw the trailers, I think we can all agree that dinosaurs that were in first three movies look better than the ones in the trailer for Jurassic World. But I’ll leave it to the movie to make me a fan though. I do think that Chris Pratt riding on a motorcycle with three raptors running alongside him is pretty awesome.

Having all that in mind, I give Jurassic Park 3 a score of 6/10. I do think it took the franchise a notch up from the second movie, but running away from dinosaurs doesn’t excite me all that much, and I don’t find joy in attempt of a studio scaring me into giving them money, if you know what I mean.