Monday, June 23, 2014

My Top 10 Favorite Epic Movie Battles



I can’t even count how many lists I’ve posted regarding my favorite varieties of action scenes. This includes car chases, climaxes, one on one duels and shoot outs but now I’m really going to dig it, now it’s time to count down my favorite epic battles scenes from movies. Just to clarify, I’m not including battles from movies that are based on real and historical events. This list will only feature fictional battles you’d see in Fantasy, Sci-Fi and Adventure movies. Also, I’m not including battles from TV shows, even though there are lots of cool ones featured in “Game of Thrones”, “Battlestar Galactica”, “Deep Space 9” and even “Star Wars: The Clone Wars”. So, in the words of Leonidas from “300”, “Ready your breakfast and eat hearty, for tonight we dine in Hell”.  




#10 Battle of Alcatraz – “X-Men 3: The Last Stand



Kicking of my list is one of the biggest action scenes to be featured in a comic book movie. One of the main highlights of the X-Men comics was seeing this huge team of hero’s going into battle against various foes, all using their own unique talents and abilities. While this battle isn’t a perfect recreation of that, it still packs a huge kick, with lots of mutant powers on display, flaming cars thrown through the air, and the Golden Gate Bridge used to transport an army of evil mutants. All in all, this whole climax an awesome spectacle that earns a spot on my count down.  




#9 Battle of the Klendathu outpost – “Starship Troopers



In an “Alamo” like setting, a small band of troopers defend their outpost from a much larger army of giant killer bugs. With an insanely high death count and lots of gore, this is perhaps the nastiest battle ever featured in a Sci-Fi movie. But it also has a thrilling amount of suspense as troops armed with gun turrets battle swarms of killer insects, including some that even fly through the air. Not much else to say about this one, it’s just a classy Sci-Fi battle between man and monsters.   




#8 Showdown in the Hatay canyon – “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade



When a band of Nazi’s plan to obtain the sacred Holy Grail from it resting place, Indiana Jones goes on the offensive. This builds to a thrilling tank battle in the Hatay canyon which honestly stands as one of my favorite action scenes of all time. Tanks have always been awesome, and it’s nothing short of epic to see Indiana Jones go head to head with a super Nazi tank like this. While this battle isn’t as huge as the others on my list, it’s still an exciting, edge over your seat action scene, complete with desert raiders, ink pins proving to be mightier then the sword, vehicles getting destroyed left and right, and some awesome hand to hand combat scenes, especially when Indiana fights the Nazi Colonel on a moving tank that’s about to roll over a cliff.




#7 Zion’s Last Stand – “The Matrix Revolutions



While this film is often regarded as a disappointment, it’s not without its memorable action scenes and the battle of Zion is definitely awesome in its own right. Featuring robots armed with machine guns, a lone ship battling swarms of killer sentinels, and lots of destruction, this is a rather tense battle as the humans seem out matched, out gunned and completely out of luck. There’s just a very ominous feel that the humans are about to be wiped out completely, which makes the action all the more thrilling and the striking visuals only add to the size and scope of this awesome confrontation.   




#6 Battle of Helm’s Deep – “The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers



There’s lots of cool battle from “The Lord of the Rings” movies to choose from, but for me, the best action scene by far is the battle of Helms Deep. Unlike all the other wars featured in “Lord of the Rings” this didn’t take place in a big open filed, instead it was a defensive battle in a castle stronghold, followed by a siege lasting all night until dawn. It’s thrilling for its size and constant tension that it could lead to a massacre. The hero’s are also vastly outnumbered, which makes the situation all the more intense and the victory at the end all the more satisfying and triumphant.




#5 Battle of Hoth – “Star Wars V: The Empire Strikes Back



Well, I can’t have a proper list of greatest movie battles without this one, can I. This is a rare case in which the most epic battle of the movie is in the first half hour as opposed to the climax, and it’s even more rare for featuring the villains triumph over the heroes. Of cores, the big show stealers are the giant empyreal walkers. Without a doubt, these are the coolest battle vehicles I’ve ever seen in a motion picture, and the effects for them still hold up today. The music is sensational, the cinematography is great, I honestly don’t need to say anything else, you’ve all seen this, and you know how awesome it is. This is the classic Sci-Fi movie battle that helped make “The Empire Strikes Back” an awesome sequel and a triumph over the original.    




#4 Battle of Beruna – “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe



I know most people prefer battles from “The Lord of the Rings” movies, but the Narnia movies have a certain magical touch that make their fantasy battles all the more sensational. The best Narnia battle by far is the Battle of Beruna from the first film, in which four young children lead an army of mythical creatures into battle against the menacing White Witch and her legion of monsters. Everything in this climax is brought up on a very grand and epic  scale, with sweeping camera shots, and an especially epic quire. It’s also a very colorful, daylight battle, with an awesome variety of mystical creatures, memorable visuals and some high stake action to boot. Personally, I’ve never seen another fantasy battle as breath taking as this.




#3 The Battle of New York – “The Avengers



When an army of armed to the teeth aliens attacks earth, there’s an army comprised of just six people who stand in their way. This was a dream come true, seeing a small team of popular superheroes be earth’s last line of defense against an immense threat. With a brilliant variety of action ranging from flying around on hover crafts, to rescuing innocent civilians caught in the cross fire, to the hero’s working together as a strategic team, to some laugh out loud funny moments, this battle ranks high on my list and is arguably the best action scene ever featured in a super hero movie.    

    


#2 Battle of Endor – “Star Wars VI: Return of the Jedi



“IT’S A TRAP!”, I love that line. For all the high-tech visuals and spectacles that come out every year, this classic battle from this classic sequel will always stand as one of my favorite action scenes in film history. This was the first time multiple battles took place in one big climax, from the exciting battle in the Endor forest, to the thrilling battle in space against the empyreal fleet, and of cores the legendary final confrontation between Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader. There’s simply no shortage of excitement on screen, several locations featured simultaneously and the effects for the time are still just as impressive today. Just look at all the battle ships and imperial walkers featured in this, it’s awesome.   



Before I reveal my number one pick, here are my honorable mentions...

Final battle for Narnia - “The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian
Battle of Hogwarts – “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2
Battle of Genosha – “Star Wars 2: Attack of the Clones
Nazi Raid – “Bedknobs and Broomsticks
Borg Invade Sector 001 – “Star Trek: First Contact
Ape war – “Planet of the Apes” (2001)




#1 The Battle for Pandora – “Avatar



Wow, now this was as epic as cinematic battles get, while the story and anti war message from the film are familiar and obvious, it doesn’t change the fact that this movie is a sheer spectacle to behold. With a massive scope, 3D effects used well, tense human drama, and an honest sense of dread that any character can die at any time, “Avatar” is a complete thrill, and the final battle to defend the planet is the stuff of legend. When soldieries armed with battle robots and advanced helicopters declare war against the aliens of the planet, they retaliate by launching a massive Arial attack with winged creatures and ground assaults with mighty land creatures. The location of the floating mountains and the intensity of the whole situation brings everything to life on a grand scale, and to date, no other fictional battle from a movie has blown my mind quiet like this one.   

Well, wars all fun until someone gets hurt, next time I'll take a more serious approach and list my favorite movie battles based on historical events. Until then, I hope you enjoyed my list and be sure to check out some of my other epic top 10 lists.    




                                                                   The End

Saturday, June 14, 2014

How to Train your Dragon 2 (First Impressions) (Movie Review)


      Back in 1995 I was introduced to the animated motion picture “Toy Story”, and I absolutely loved it, even to this day I consider it to be one of my favorite movies. Then the sequel came out in 1999, and I was actually very hesitant at first, thinking it could never live up to the brilliance of the first film. Low and behold, “Toy Story 2” was just as good, if not better then the first film. That was an unforgettable experience which taught me to put a little more faith in movie sequels. Well, once again I had the exact same experience. The 2010 motion picture “How to Train your Dragon” surpassed my small expectations and stands as one of my favorite animated movies of all time, right up there with the “Toy Story” movies. Once again, I doubted that a sequel could possibly match the first film, but surprise, surprise, “How to Train your Dragon 2” not only lives up to the first, in many ways it’s even better.

       Instead of repeating the first movie’s plot again, it continues the story further, like a good sequel should. The characters are stronger than before, the relationships are deeper than before, the drama is played up a lot more and the story is a lot more complicated than before. Five years have past sense the events of the first movie, the dragon riders are now older, more mature and dragons live amongst Vikings in peace. But a new enemy is plotting to invade with an army of dragons that he controls. Now it’s up to our young hero’s to stop him but along the way, our lead hero named Hiccup has an unexpected reunion with his mother who was presumed to be dead. The story obviously gets a lot deeper than this but I’m not going to spoil anything else. Let’s just say from that point on there’s lots of excitement, lots of emotional moments, lots of really dark moments but there’s also just enough comedy and joyful moments to help balance everything out.


         The cinematography and especially the animation look fantastic, I mean, wow, this is an awesome looking movie. Both the battle scenes and the flight scenes are riveting spectacles, as you’d expect. However, the thing I really love about this movie is how the characters have grown and matured from the first film. Hiccups relation with his pet dragon Toothless is so much stronger and more interesting, as is his relationship with his father, his girl friend and his mother. Every emotion in this movie feels genuine and whenever something directly effects the characters joyfully or tragically, you just feel the impact it leaves on them. To sum things up, it’s everything you’d want to see in a good sequel, it’s more emotional, it’s more exciting and it progresses both the story and characters to excellent new heights. I give “How to Train your Dragon 2” 5 stars out of 5.           

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

My Top 10 Fantasy movies that you shouldn’t miss





When it comes to fantasy movies, immediately the first thing to come to mind are popular titles like “The Wizard of Oz”, “The Chronicles of Narnia”, “Alice in Wonderland”, “The Lord of the Rings” and “Harry Potter”. These are all great, but there are so many other terrific fantasy movies that aren’t given nearly as much attention. They fall by the waist side and are often ignored by the general public. Well, if you love fantasy movies, then you shouldn’t miss this list because I’m counting down ten less appreciated fantasy flicks that shouldn’t be missed.



#10 Legend (1985)

 

A fairy tale about Unicorns, trolls, dwarfs, elf’s, sprits, a princess under a spell and a monstrous villain played by Tim Curry, what’s not to like. Actually, the movie has problems ranging from an aimless plot, to mediocre characters but the whole reason it makes my list is because of Ridley Scotts directing skills. This is the guy who did movies like “Gladiator” and “Alien” and he knows how to bring an environment to life. Weather the story takes place in a dark, elaborate castle or a colorful, magical forest, every location has this enchanting, dream-like atmosphere that submerses the viewer into this magical realm, better than most other fantasy films. It’s certainly isn’t a movie for everyone but fantasy lovers will have to give it a viewing.  









#9 The Princess Bride (1987)

 

While this movie is regarded as a cult classic, it still isn’t a house hold name like “The Wizard of Oz”. “The Princess Bride” takes an age old damsel in distress story and makes it a smarter, more refreshing experience. It’s all about two lovers that confront several obstacles in a fantasy setting, and more then anything, I just love the simplicity of the whole experience. It’s just a sheer delight from start to finish, with lots of comedy, swashbuckling action, romance, a magical Kingdome full of awesome creatures and memorable characters.












#8 Stardust (2007)  


Here’s yet another romantic journey set in a magical Kingdome but it’s very faithful to the spirit of an enchanting fantasy adventure that’s very healthy for the young of heart to experience.  The film walks a fine line between original and generic, but with just enough off-kilter humor, whimsical charms and multiple tones to make it appealing for a wider audience. Of cores the biggest ace up this movies sleeve is the cast, most especially Michelle Pfiffer who plays one of the most memorable witch's in film history. 














#7 (It's a Tie!) The Dark Cristal (1982)   and  Labyrinth (1986)  





7 (a) The Dark Cristal (1982)     


If you thought that Jim Henson’s only specialty was bringing the Muppets to life, he also had a talent for creating dark, imaginative, mystical realms with all kinds of elaborate sets and technical wizardry. “The Dark Cristal” is one of his most unique movies, taking a far darker and more intense tone then his lovable Muppet characters. While the story is generic and the narrative is very messy, the film is still a visual splendor, full of creative designs and some awesome puppets that represent an unfortunate dying art in film today. 












7 (b) Labyrinth (1986)


Jim Henson would also combine his talents with George Lucas (the creator of Star Wars) to create a twisted fantasy flick with some of the most elaborate practical effects and animatronics you’ll ever see. His 1986 picture titled "Labyrinth" is another one that shouldn't be glossed over. When an infant baby is held prisoner at the center of a goblin city, it’s up to an older sister played by Jennifer Connelly to embark on a quest to save him. There may not be much more to the story then that but it’s undeniably an imaginative, visual experience that features one of the most memorable fantasy worlds of all time and has a strong atmosphere to boot.   






  

#6 Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole (2010) 


Imagine an epic medieval spectacle with an engaging story, menacing villains, intense battles, deep character conflicts and a surprisingly dark tone, then imagine all that ... just with Owls as your main characters. I’m sure that sounds very silly but this movie is actually more epic then most live action adventure flicks that come out now days. The film is just rich with atmosphere, breathtaking visuals, a captivating musical score and some truly impressive action scenes. It’s just a very unique experience that plays with your expectations and is worth checking out.  










   
#5 The Neverending Story (1984)

 

This is perhaps one of the darkest fantasy movies to show your child, however it’s the films ambitious and adult tone that make it so good. The premise goes like this, the real world is losing its sense of imagination and as a result a fantasy world called Fantasia is slowly dying. Now the survival of this world depends on an imaginative young boy who loves fairytales and literature. It may sound silly, but it’s all conveyed very effectively, with some legitimate drama, subtle thought provoking themes, an awesome soundtrack, imaginative creatures and one of the most captivating magical worlds you’ll ever be transported to. 








#4 Willow (1988)


Director Ron Howard and executive producer George Lucas deliver a fast passed, sword and sorcery adventure film from the 80’s, and personally one of my favorites. Famous midget actor Warwick Davis plays a dwarf who’s on a quest to protect an infant princess from an evil witch. On his journey, he teams up with a swords men played by Val Kilmer, in perhaps his most energetic performance ever. Along the way they encounter all kinds of mystical creatures including dragons, fairies, goblins and all that good stuff. The film also combines elements from other classics like “Snow White”, “The Ten Commandments” and of course “Star Wars”, but with its own personal touch. If you love fantasy flicks, this is one you really shouldn't miss. It’s got high production values, very impressive special effects for the time, a fast pace and charismatic performances.






#3 Tales from Earthsea (2006)

             

From Studio GHIBLI, the same talented creators of Anime classics like “Spirited Away” and “Kiki’s Delivery Service”, comes the 2006 Anime picture “Tales from Earthsea”, which is based on the book series of the same name. When a young prince named Arren murders his father, he soon realizes that he must battle the dark side of his very soul, because he truly loved his father and apparently had no control over his own actions. Prince Arren teams up with a mysterious Archmage who vows to help our hero concur his demons before he can concur his enemies and along the journey they encounter Dragons, an evil wizard and a young woman with a burned face … yet she’s actually more beautiful than any stereotypical princess. This is the kind of fantasy movie that Hollywood needs to make more of because it doesn’t focus on big battles or over blown spectacles. This movie is all about these interesting characters, and this mystical world that’s just dripping with atmosphere. The music only adds to the cob wonder that the setting creates, the animation is sensational, and there’s this subtle laid back tone that allows you to be fully submersed in this world. It has the buildup and high stakes of a fantasy epic, but it also has deep topics on the importance of life and just makes the film feel like something special.  

                
#2 Return to Oz (1985)            





We all know and love “The Wizard of Oz” right, it’s a cinematic gem that no family should be without. There’s been several spin off movies over the years and while none of them are on par with the original, some are still really good in their own way. “Return to Oz” is arguably the best spin off film and one of the most under-appreciated sequels ever. It’s a dark and twisted film with some scary imagery, but the dark elements are nicely balanced out thanks to a cast of wonderful new characters and the new lead girl who plays Dorothy is wonderful. There’s also a lot of creativity in this film and some fascinating stop motion animation. With so many puppets, impressive effects and giant sets, the film can easily win anyone over on just a technical level. But it’s not just visually impressive, there’s still a lot of charm to the movie, some very lovable characters and there’s even a lot of heart in this movie. It’s certainly not as good as the original but it’s a great fantasy adventure all on its own.




#1 Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)




Usually when watching a fairytale, we’re submersed into completely magical worlds, but “Pan’s Labyrinth” is perhaps the most unique fantasy movie I’ve ever seen, telling a story that has just as much to do with the real world as it does with the fantasy world. It’s an absolutely spellbinding tale of a girl who has to face the sheer horrors of both fantasy and reality, which culminates into one of the most beautiful movies I’ve ever experienced. It’s a story of self sacrifice, finding hope in the darkest of times and it’s easily one of the greatest fairytale movies I’ve ever seen.      


                                                                








                                       The End