Feb 232012

Director:  Jonathan Liebsman

Rating:  PG-13

Running Time: 1hr 56 m

Release Date: 3/11/11

Genre:  Science Fiction

Cast:  SSgt. Michael Nantz (Aaron Eckhart),USMC 2ndLt. William Martinez (Ramon Rodriguez), USMC Cpl. Lee “Cowboy” (Imlay Will Rothhaar),USMC Cpl. Jason “Cocheez” Lockett (Cory Hardrict) ,USMC LCpl. Peter J. “Irish” Kerns (Jim Parrack) ,USMC Cpl. Nick C. “Stavs” Stavrou (Gino Anthony Pesi) ,USAF TSgt. Elena Santos (Michelle Rodriguez)

When a freak meteor storm turns into a full blown alien invasion,  retiring SSgt. Michael Nantz (Aaron Eckhart) must  help a newly placed officer, 2nd Lt. William Martinez (Ramon Rodriguez) fight the aliens with the marines of  1st Platoon. They must protect civilians and find a way to defeat the Alien menace.  Along the way they pick up new tactics and get the help of some National Guardsmen and USAF TSgt. Elena Santos (Michelle Rodriguez).

The film does a good job at showing the chaos and total destruction an alien invasion would bring upon a densely populated city like LA.  It had great special effects showing the unique alien artillery and the first time people see the aliens coming out of the ocean. I also really liked the way that 2ndLt, Martinez looses his cool at one point and the veteran SSgt. Nantz must bring him back to reality and focus on keeping his men alive.

The way that the alien aircraft flew is also really unique.  They were non-aerodynamic heavy objects that were constantly almost falling, but a thruster would fire to counteract gravity’s pull and the all of the thrusters firing sounded like a high performance race car’s engine. It made the invaders seem like they weren’t so far ahead of us technologically after all.  I wonder if they writers wanted to show how the US military would handle and enemy that was as advanced over them as the US is over other places they have fought recently.  When confronted with more advanced technology, the Marines had to take a less straight forward stance and relied more on things like hiding and even  a suicide bomber.

At times the film was like a video game and the characterization was not very strong.  I had a hard time telling individual Marine’s apart. That might have to do with the uniforms and military speech, but usually I don’t have this problem with other military oriented films.

I had a few nit-picky issues with the film.  At one point there was a four legged mortar/missile  robot, and it seemed a bit pointless.  The thing took so long to fire and was so random with the things it shot at.  I don’t think it would have lasted long in real live, but I guess it looked pretty cool when it fired.  In so many movies with Aliens, the aliens take a basic humanoid shape with a head, 2 arms, and 2 legs and to me it just seems that the chances of this would not be very likely if they developed on an alien planet.  Even though the aliens have some sort of strange non humanoid biology, like a mashed up squid, they still are pretty much humanoid when they are wearing their battle gear.  That doesn’t make much sense to me.  There is also a scene where the Marines are riding in a huge bus and it takes forever for them to get attacked even though they are the only thing driving around for miles and they were just previously surrounded by aliens.  I just don’t find that plausible.

“Battle: Los Angeles” is an ok film with a few memorable scenes, but there were some problems with the portrayal of the aliens and there was very little memorable dialogue.  I would recommend this film if you don’t have anything better to watch and don’t have any 1st person shooters to play.


Frank’s Ratings


Characters 2
Story 3
Special Effects 4
Would Watch Again? 2
Average 2.75
Feb 212012

Author: Suzanne Collins

Pages: 374

Publisher:  Scholastic Inc

Release Date: 9/14/2008

Genre: Science Fiction, Dystopian Future, Teen


Katniss Everdeen-  16 years old and  lives in District 12 in a future North America, Panem. She helps her family and community to survive harsh times by hunting in forbidden areas using her skill with the bow.

Peeta Mellark- 16  years old, and more well of than others in District 12 because his parents are bakers.  He is an artist and is skilled at decorating cakes.

Gale Hawthorne-18 years old is another District 12 hunter and he and Katniss have undefined feelings for each other.

Haymitch Abernathy- Former District 12 champion of the Hunger Games.  He becomes a mentor to Katniss and Peeta despite him being a very large fan of drinking large quantities of alcohol.

Prim Everdeen- Katniss’ younger sister.

Rue- 12 year old girl and tribute from District 11, and she reminds Katniss of Prim.

Cato, Clove and Thresh- Trained from a young age to compete in the Hunger Games.  They are ruthless and band together to have a great advantage over less organized competitors.

Synopsis: In the semi-distant future all that remains of North America is Panem, consisting of the Capitol, and 12 areas called Districts.  The Capitol has a very high technology but forces the other districts to live in poverty and sacrifice the resources they produce so the citizens of the Capitol can stay fat and happy.  Each district must even sacrifice two of their children to fight to the death against children from the other districts in a gladiatorial battle called The Hunger Games.  Katniss Everdeen lives in the coal producing district, District 12,  with her mother and sister, Prim.  She learned basic folk healing skills from her mother and hunting skills from her father before he died.  She is able to provide extra food for her family by hunting game outside of the barrier fence and sells or trades extra food with the community.

When the yearly lottery is held to pick the 74th Hunger Game competitors for District 12, sadly Katniss’ sister, Prim, is picked to compete.  Unselfishly, Katniss takes Prim’s place.  Along with Peeta ,the baker’s son  and Haymitch, the town drunk and winner of a previous Hunger Game, are sent to the Capitol to prepare for battle.  Haymitch is designated at their mentor.  The cruel Capitol states that their can only be one winner, so Katniss and Peeta must fight to the death even though Peeta has convinced the public that he and Katniss are in love.

Since the story has some twists and turns, I will not go any further and spoil the ending, but suffice to say, Katniss must use all of her skills and intelligence to try to win the game and at the same time retain her humanity.

Pro: I really didn’t know much about this series when I picked it up earlier this year, but I had heard that it was similar to the novel Battle Royale. That intrigued me since I liked the idea of gladiatorial battles for survival in novels but the fact that it was for younger audiences made me wary.  The Hunger Games ended up being a pleasant surprise for me.

  • I like some of the future technology like some of the genetically altered birds and some of the things later in the novel.
  • The relationship between Katniss and Prim is very touching and believable.
  • I really liked the audition scene where Katniss really shows her abilities and her spunk.

 Con: There wasn’t much lacking in the novel considering that it is written for a younger audience, the language isn’t very complex and the themes are kept at a simple level.  I am left with some general questions though;

  • I really never got a good grasp of the size of Panem.  At times it seems small, but others pretty large.  I know that it is the remnants of the whole United States and some of Canada, but it seems like District 12 only has one town even thought it supplies all of the coal for Panem.
  • I would also like to know more about the history of the games and if the rules were always very strictly followed or if they could be changed depending on public sentiment.

Conclusion: I read this book very quickly and then went out and bought the two sequels because I enjoyed it so much and needed to find out how it ends!  I almost wish I had known ahead of time and bought all of the books together in a pack, but then I would have had to wait longer.  I highly recommend it and also am looking forward to what they do with it in as a film in 2012.

Frank’s Ratings


Characters 3
Plot 3
Imagery 3
Read Again? 4
Average 3.25
Feb 172012

Director:  Corey Yuen

Rating:  PG-13

Running Time: 1hr 27 minutes

Release Date: 9/7/2006

Genre:  Action Adventure, Video Game, Martial Arts, Fighting

Cast:  : Tina Armstrong (Jaime Pressly), Christie Allen (Holly Valance), Kasumi (Devon Aoki), Ayane (Natassia Malthe) and Helena Douglas (Sarah Carter).

Synopsis: The movie,  DOA: Dead or Alive  is based on the best selling video game of the same name.  The plot is similar to other movies based on fighting games, like Mortal Kombat or Tekken.  The best fighters from around the world are picked to go to a remote location to fight to see who is the top fighter, but his movie is slightly different because the protagonists are all very good looking women.  So instead of only having slow motion shots of people punching and kicking, there are many slow motion shots of scantily clad ladies playing volleyball and sunning themselves on yachts.

Review: I wasn’t expecting much when I started watching DOA, but the story flowed smoothly and  there were some entertaining fight scenes.  One of the best fight’s takes place in the beginning during the introduction of Christie (Holly Vance).   She is suspected diamond theif and the police have tracked her to a Hong Kong hotel room and as she is coming out of the shower, they barge into the room and a huge fight ensues.  I’m pretty sure the director used a liberal amount of  CGI to prevent the censers from giving the movie higher than a PG-13 rating.

Since I have been accused of having nerd-like tendencies in the past, it was nice to see that the computer nerd character, Weatherby fall in love with the good looking fighter, Helena (Sarah Carter). and that he was really weak compared to her.   The movie also passes the Bechdel test in that; there are at least two named female characters, who talk to each other about something other than a man,but it probably doesn’t meet the spirit of that test.

Rarely does the movie make the viewer forget that it is just a typical video game fight with the same cliche characters but with female leads, but it was still entertaining and seemed to surpass movies like Mortal Kombat in that it has better special effects and doesn’t stray as far away from the games plotline.  In the end it is a light hearted movie with good looking women and men fighting each other, what could be better?





Frank’s Ratings


Characters 2
Story 2
Special Effects 4
Would Watch Again? 4
Average  3