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Crunching the Numbers, A 4815162342 Review Thread

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It's time. What time you ask? Well...http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r2hHeU2ejBMIt's review time, by me. Don't request films for reviews, I don't do requests. I also won't be reviewing films that are copy&paste from CAYOM 1.0 (though they are obviously list eligible) since I've been there, done that already.Be ready.

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Wings of Icarus

The Return of the King, Animation King That Is

A long time ago, in a CAYOMverse far far way, there was an animation studio called Gemini, which was the dominant force in the animated film market for decades. With the disappearance of its mysterious leader, Gemini faded away, never to be heard from again, until now. Though it claims to be a form of Disney, we all know that Disney does not really exist, not in this place. This is Gemini, reborn. How do I know this? Because Disney animation doesn't make films like Wings of Icarus.

Wings of Icarus as you might expect is an animated take on the Icarus legend, throwing in its own version of the Theseus myth as well, albeit altering Theseus to be a Cretan soldier. Aside from that really silly deviation from Greek mythology, Wings of Icarus presents in many ways the classic recipe of a Gemini family animated film story. You got songs, you got balanced sets of romantic couples, you got adventure, and you got a bit of that special energy that makes the film go. The film also follows the classic Gemini casting formula of using a mix of career voice actors with known commodities and it works pretty darn well in this instance. If I had to quibble about something, it's that the final act drags abit with a very extended final adventure setpiece that changes like three locations over the course of the same climatic event. Other than that, this is as solid and entertaining a story as you'd find in most animated offerings and it's a surefire contender for the Best Animated Film award at the Oscars.

All in all, RySenkari, Master of Gemini, CAYOM Animation Royalty, is returned from the past, and this is what he has to say about his reappearance:


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The final act just seemed a bit like a rollercoaster that wouldn't stop but it worked well enough to not be a problem.

American Idols

Facing the Ugly Enemy Within, With a Side of Melodrama

American Idols is classified as a semi-filler by it's studio, but it's not that at all, so Silver Shark Entertainment is attempting to perform a sneak attack on the critics of this country. Did it succeed? I think it will. American Idols is a story about teenagers in a pisswater town in the far corner of Texas. This location is important, because it makes it easier to suspend disbelief at a later point in the story. Anyways, Jimmy and his family are new to the town and Jimmy earnestly (because Josh Hutcherson is nothing if not earnest-looking every single time he shows up somewhere) tries to find friends and fit in. He quickly becomes friends with Beast and Havok and falls in love with Rooney Mara, who shows an immediate attraction to Josh Hutcherson's earnestness. There's also a hip history teacher played by Jensen Ackles who shows all the warning signs of a teacher who will attempt to bang every single female student of his. And finally there is an African-American janitor. But that's the introductions to the important people, on to the discussion.

Ackles character, Heath Miller, is soon enough revealed to be a Neo-Nazi White Supremacist Racist and uses his natural charisma to sway students to his cause of Evil, first in a trickle, and then in a flood that soon seems to encompass the whole student body except for Beast and Havok. This is where you need to suspend disbelief, because it seems impossible that a school/town would allow a history teacher to turn an entire school into his version of the Hitler Youth, and that the entire student body would join in. What helps the audience swallow this is a couple things: First, Miller is established as the guy who all the girls want to sleep with, so he can bring them over. Once he does that, well you have guys joining in because that's where all the hot girls are. So Miller as a sexual predator makes it believeable in addition to his charisma. And second, this is a backwater town in rural Texas. Fair assumption or not, if something like this would happen, it would happen in a place like that.

Anyways, the film progresses into a darker and darker place with Jimmy so entranced by Miller's charisma and Rooney Mara putting out that he can't help but stay involved, but finally he gets some sage wisdom from the janitor, because all minority janitors possess wisdom that mere mortals lack and starts to break free of the group, which leads into a climatic showdown of philosophy and violence. It's a thrilling and engrossing film that requires you to buy a few out-there assumptions before you can get fully invested in the film. But once you do, prepare for a dark and overwhelming depiction of how easily impressionable teens can be twisted by someone they admire into something depraved.

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Trails of Tears

Misdirection, Paul Haggis Style

Trails of Tears is a loaded title, politically, historically, etc. It evokes lots of emotions, racial hatreds, suffering, etc. So naturally, I went in expecting a grim, depressing portrayal of thousands of Native Americans forced to leave their homes at gunpoint and driven through the cold, the rain, the snow, the disease, etc to Oklahoma. But that is not what we get at all. In fact, Native Americans play almost no role at all in the film except as a plot device. This is a film about Joe Farmer, Sheriff Dastardly, and possibly the first benevolent fictional character in over 70 years to have the first name of Adolf.

Trails of Tears begins with the shortest Kate Winslet screen role since like 1990 or something like that. I can't imagine the discussion for hiring her for a role where she looks happy, then looks terrified, runs around, and get shot, all within the first 5 minutes or so. Crazy-weird stunt casting there. Anyways, Kyle Chandler is solid as the earnest and down-to-earth Man of the Land who wants payback for his family's murder and justice and is driven to blame those gosh-darn Injuns. Daniel Craig is also solid as the local Sheriff, who just can't help but tip off to the audience that something's off with his character and he just can't wait to reveal it. Ryan Phillippe as Adolf is okay, he's just there really, and I can't buy him as the civil liberties-esque lawyer or the stone-cold Eastwood-in-training he becomes at the very end. Perhaps even more random than Kate Winslet's cameo is that President Jackson suddenly appears in the final act to personally lead the eviction of some local Indians and act all Dirty Harry with coercing some reluctant locals to assist at gunpoint. Now, aside from being waaaaaaaaaaaaaay inaccurate historically, it just felt so goofy and ham-handed and insubtle and melodramatic an- oh, wait, this is a Paul Haggis film after all, so that's to be expected. But yeah, in the end it turns out that the Sheriff is the villain who murdered George's family to pin it on the local Native Americans, because naturally the Sheriff is a racist prick who shot a man in Reno just to watch him die and all that jazz. It's a twist that really isn't needed and just makes the narrative and themes even more insubtle and ridiculous and blaaaaaaaaaah.

In summary, Trails of Tears, once you get past the misleading title, because this has little to do with the Trail of Tears, is about 65-70% smart frontier character drama and 30-35% insubtle melodramatic redonkulous Paul Haggis vomit.

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  • Community Manager

Historically accuracy wasn't what i was aiming for. Although I almost included Jackson's famous line to the Supreme Court in the film but decided against it.But, yeah I kinda struggled with Adolf's character.

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The Vast Dark Trilogy: Part One - The Serpent's Egg

An Announcement For a New Thriller Franchise, Whether You Like it or Not

Some titles hint at character elements. Some titles convey the main plot device of the film. Some titles try to convey a sense of the film's thematic material. And some titles just go balls to the wall in announcing their apparent self-importance. This film has that last category of titles, announcing to the world that a trilogy is coming, one with non-existant serpent eggs and a vast darkness of doom, whether the movie-going audience wants it or not. With such a bold, over-dramatic title, the film has to succeed in being good for it to not become the worst grasp of strategy since Anakin Skywalker forgot that High Ground = Automatic Win.

So, is the film good? Well, in short, yes, but it has issues. The film is broken into a bunch of chapters, some of which are only a couple scenes long. While some of these chapters are thrilling, provide thematic layers, and are excellent points in the story, breaking it up so much turns the film into feeling oddly disjointed or episodic at times. Likewise the casting in many aspects is pretty rock solid, but then it makes one or two poor decisions that resonate through the film (mainly Tobin Bell as a crusty, efficient FBI agent/mentor). The general story is pretty involving and appropriately dark, but then the film decides to engage at lightspeed once Sylar enters the film. There's no time for anymore meaningful character scenes or plot interaction, the film just goes BAM BAM BAM with the final key scenes. The rush would be fine if we got to see what the fuss was all about, but instead the film decides to not show us a pivotal occurrence near the very end, and then deliberately hides the identity of a killer in the final scene. I assume the film does this because it wants to hold on to the mystery for the rest of its self-proclaimed trilogy, but there's no guarantee there'll even be a second film. In this situation, the film holds onto too many cards while dealing out the rest at a speed that leaves less time to savor the experience.

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56 Days of Love

It's Got the Emotion and the Angle, But Does It Have the Depth?

Ang Lee came close to total Oscar glory in 2005 with Brokeback Mountain, and this year attempts to reclaim his place on the mountain with another tale of a gay relationship, only this one is framed through the use of a coming-of-age story. Henry Hopper, little known outside of a couple indie films, stars as Frank, a teenager on the brink of starting college who is undergoing internal emotional turmoil. He's friends with a pair of girls, played by actresses much older and stretching credibility that they could be people he'd regularly hang out with.Anyways, Entering the picture to ease Henry's existential crisis is Mark, played by Draco Malfoy. I won't say that Tom Felton is miscast as Mark, but I will say that he doesn't give the character all of the weight or energy that it needed.

Anyways, the film plays out in many ways like a traditional romance, only with an aytpical couple as the leads. Considering the title's wording, you know from the get-go that this romance isn't going to last and last it does not. Mark gets himself fairly easily convinced to dump Hopper's character and Hopper gets totally devastated. Since they'd only known each other for about 2 months I couldn't get fully sold on his becoming an emotional wreck but Hopper handles the event well enough.

What the film lacks is a true crisis, a place where the stakes of the relationship and Frank's personal identity is truly put to the test. We get a minor hint of something brewing with a scene between Frank and his dad midway through the film, but the plot point is never re-addressed. Therefore we get a film with a competently-handled romance, but no depth beyond Frank becoming blindly infatuated and Mark getting cold feet all of a sudden. This is a film that could have been a landmark, but instead plays it safe and by-the-numbers to avoid addressing any real issues or feelings.

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Silver Shark assured me this film was changed from CAYOM 1.0 and I will take his word for it.

Spellforce: The Order of Dawn

Night Gathers, and the Audience's Watch Begins

Spellforce is a film that tries to create the first epic fantasy franchise of this film universe. Does it succeed? Mostly I think it does. Spellforce is a film that starts with a prologue featuring two wizards throwing down with cryptic clues and hints scattered about before ending in a fall of doom that tries to outdo Gandalf vs. The Balrog in the Two Towers prologue. Anyways, we get introduced to a post-cataclysmic world with special guardians known as rune warriors who could fight for all time because of their specal powers allowing them to be brought back from death. Anyways, the film follows a rune warrior, Elyras as he is summoned and granted freedom, so he could stop a wizard of terrible power from wreaking more doom on the shattered world. Along the way he meets friends, allies, and a love interest, and confronts minions before finally encountering the Big Bad and learning some shocking truths about the past. The root foundation of the story isn't all that unique, but the details of the specific character and story events have a fair amount of depth and originality to them.

Stephen Moyer is a solid pick for Elyras, conveying a stoic and fierce determination to carry out his mission. Some of the casting works, such as Dominic West, who brings gusto and charisma to pretty much every acting role, and others seem a bit tired, such as using Peter O'Toole. While he's a great actor, he's also frail and ancient so in a somewhat strenuous fantasy adventure role the casting makes the character a bit too tried and slow-paced compared to the rest of events. I was a bit thrown by the fantasy film's climatic divergence into time-travel and I'm not clear on why a certain character had a sudden change of heart and some details weren't explained that well. Because of this, the final act sort of flops a little, turning what could have been a great fantasy epic into a good one with some fair flaws.

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I will say that the best decade was the 20s. A bunch of pretty great films combined with the max of participation

It's funny how that worked.0-10: People are figuring out what's working as the game establishes itself.10-20: The game gains in popularity as film plots get longer.20-30: Our "Roaring 20s": the game is at it's most popular with most of the best films30-40: The game loses some key players and the quality of films overall goes down. "The Great Depression" at least to some of the years.40-46: The game moves like a glacial as interest seems to be at an all-time low.Game ends suddenly, not by a natural death but due to BOM being closed.
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Hmm...tough. Bello was a strong late film of yours, Journey to the West was memorable from my first years there.

Starting off:

25. Fairylight

Why you should see it: If you're female: For the romance and strong female characters. If you're male: For the spurts of adventure and the good-looking actresses.

24. After Doomsday

Why you should see it: For a thrilling exploration of what happens to an interstellar society when their homeworld is suddenly obliterated by an unknown force.

23. Wolfenstein

Why you should see it: It's a Raiders-style WW2 paranormal adventure, but with Guy Ritchie flair and lots of gore.

22. The Horn

Why you should see it: Liam Neeson wrestles a lion to the death.

21. Trails of Tears

Why you should see it: It's a thoughtful and atmospheric rumination of racial hate and political oppression, albeit with some flaws.

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