Wednesday, September 02, 2015

'Monkey Kingdom' Impeccably Entertains and Educates About Toque Macaque Monkeys

Virtually everyone loves animal documentaries.  And the best kinds are those that not only inform the audiences, but also make them empathize with the subject animals.  This can be accomplished when names and personalities are given to the animals, and their behavior and the chronicles of their daily routines are interpreted through an enthralling narrative.

Disneynature – an independent film label under Walt Disney Studios that produces nature documentary films – has perfected making these through the years.  Monkey Kingdom, the label’s latest offering, could be their best yet.  Narrated by Tina Fey, the film focuses on a troop of toque macaque monkeys living in a (if I remember it correctly) Sri Lankan jungle.

The central protagonist of the story is Maya, who belongs to the lowest level of her troop’s social hierarchy.  The story follows her daily struggles for survival while enduring the disadvantages of being a low-born, and how she is able to eventually overcome all these hardships and make a bright future for herself and her son, Kip.

Monkey Kingdom is brilliant, charming film that effectively blends learning and entertainment.  It doesn’t have a dull second, not only because monkeys are innately comical creatures, but because the beautiful footage are expertly manipulated to create a genuinely endearing drama that could almost rival the best of Walt Disney’s most heartfelt animated features.  It’s easily one of my favorite movies of the year.

Top 10 TV Shows That Ran Before I Was Born

In my list for favorite finished live-action TV series, I limited the pool to those that had their run during my lifetime (1989-onwards), and mentioned that I would be making a separate list on live-action shows that ran – or started and had the majority of its run – prior my birth (1989) which I get to watch through reruns or digital binge-watching.  This is that list.

10.) MORK & MINDY (1978-1982)

“Na-nu Na-nu.”

This sitcom series, which surprisingly spun off from Happy Days, stars a young Robin Williams, before being the comedy superstar that he had become, as the titular Mork, an eccentric alien from the planet Ork.  Co-starring is Pam Damber as the titular Mindy, Mork’s human friend (and eventual wife) and in whose attic he is staying in.  The series focuses on Mork’s attempts to understand human behavior and culture with hilarious results.  I mostly found the show’s commentaries about human nature and the society of the time clever.

9.) TARZAN (1966-1968)

This series is a different and refreshing take on the Edgar Rice Burrough’s classic.  It portrays Tarzan (Ron Ely) as a character that has both brawns and brains.  The series follows the events after Tarzan had already returned to civilization, obtained education, got tired of civilized life, and returned once again to the jungle he grew up in.  Throughout the series, he fights poachers and other evil men that threaten the jungle or the local tribes with the use of not only his jungle strengths, but with his acquired intelligence as well.  For a long time, Ely’s take on the character was the definitive Tarzan in my consciousness (until I finally get to read the original Burrough stories).

8.) SPACE SHERIFF GAVAN (1982-1983)

Space Sheriff Gavan is the first of the Metal Hero Series, a tokusatsu franchise featuring cyborgs, android, or humans-in-metal-suits as protagonists.  Just like other tokusatsu franchises, Gavan is simply cheesy, predictable, and exists to sell toys.  But I’ve always been fond of tokusatsu shows (which includes Super Sentai shows) as a 90’s kid and they have a soft spot in my heart.  As far as I can remember, Gavan is the only such series I watched which had its original run prior my birth.

7.) HAPPY DAYS (1974-1984)

This sitcom is in this list because it had the legendary Fonzie.  It’s as simple as that.

Several TV series had spun-off from it (including the aforementioned Mork & Mindy).  It also invented the infamous “jumping the shark” trope – not really a good point for it, but it’s a piece of important TV history nonetheless.

6.) REMINGTON STEELE (1982-1987)

Remington Steele is the show that made Pierce Brosnan, who would get the role of James Bond later on, popular.  It has one of the most original premises in a TV series ever.  Laura Holt (played by Stephanie Zimbalist) is a licensed private detective.  However, because of clients’ prejudice against female PI’s, no one wants to hire her.   Holt then takes a radical solution by inventing a fictitious male superior named “Remington Steele” in order to get cases.  “Remington Steele” is supposed to be a mere figment, with no actual physical embodiment, but events in the pilot episode would lead a con man and thief (played by Brosnan) to assume the role (his real name was never revealed).

The show blends romantic comedy, detective procedural, and drama; and is intelligent, stylish, and funny.  If I will compare Remington Steele to a modern show – considering its wit and charm, and the entertaining bantering, clashing, romantic tension, and chemistry of its lead characters – that would be CastleRemington Steel was Castle before Castle happened.

5.) MACGYVER (1985-1992)

This action-adventure series features one of the most iconic TV protagonists ever, Angus MacGyver.  The show focuses on the adventures of the secret agent/scientist MacGyver as he saves the day with only his Swiss Army knife, duct tape, and intelligence to help him.  Its theme song is one of the most famous, endearing TV themes in history.

4.) BATMAN (1966-1968)

Even at the present time, this Adam West-starred Batman TV series is beloved by many despite its simplicity and ridiculousness.  It’s the epitome of campy but fun.  And it’s a nostalgic, refreshing reminder that Batman isn’t exclusively gritty and tortured, but was and can also be interpreted as delightfully cartoonish and cheery.

3.) THE GREEN HORNET (1966-1967)

The show follows crime-fighting crusade of masked vigilante Green Hornet (Van Williams) and his martial arts master sidekick, Kato (Bruce Lee).   It only lasted a single season, but its 26 episodes are gems.   I’ve always found The Green Hornet TV series more interesting than the Batman TV series, probably because it’s more down-to-earth and more mature in its premise and storytelling.  And because Bruce Lee’s Kato enthralled me much.

2.) BLACKADDER (1983-1989)

Many say that Monty Python productions are the greatest of British comedy, but I beg to differ.  I acknowledge that they’re hilarious, but I believe Blackadder is superior.

The Blackadder franchise is made up of four series (and some specials) – The Black Adder, Blackadder II, Blackadder the Third, and Blackadder Goes Forth – that ran from 1983 to 1989 with each series set in a different period in British history.  The recurring cast members, headlined by Rowan Atkinson and Tony Robinson (also starring British comedy icons Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie), portrayed characters in each series who are implied to be descendants of the characters they were portraying in the previous series.  And with each subsequent series, I found Blackadder getting more thoughtful, cleverer, and funnier (making Blackadder Goes Forth the best of the lot).

1.) THE TWILIGHT ZONE (1959-1964, 1985-1989)

My love for this show is very apparent in the title of this blog, which is heavily inspired by the name of the show. This is one of my most favorite, if not my favorite, TV productions ever.

The Twilight Zone is an excellent science fiction/fantasy/horror/psychological thriller/drama/suspense anthology series that originally ran in the 50’s and 60’s, and then had a revival in the 80’s (another revival series was also done in the 2000’s).  There’s a different story in each episode, and it usually has a mindblowing, macabre plot twist in the end.  It’s consistently and simultaneously eerie, gripping, thought-provoking, and stimulating, with every episode offering a unique, distinctive experience.

Monday, August 31, 2015

'Straight Outta Compton' Might Turn Out Being as Groundbreaking as N.W.A.

Straight Outta Compton is the surprise movie of the year.  No one was expecting it to be this much well received.  I also like it, but probably not as much as the general acclaim that it’s currently receiving.

This movie is a biographical film about N.W.A., the revolutionary hip hop group that originated from Compton, California.  It chronicles events from how Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, Eazy-E, MC Ren, and DJ Yella formed the group in the 80’s up to Eazy-E’s death in the 1995, covering the rise of N.W.A, their cultural impact, feuds, and personal struggles.  Of course, typical of biographical films, the story also makes liberties and has some fictional revisions added.

I enjoy some hip hop songs but I’m not particularly a fan of the genre.  I’m familiar with some hip hop history and culture, but I have to say that I’m not so knowledgeable about them.  I know who Ice Cube (because he has become an actor) and Dr. Dre (because Eminem, who I liked as a teenager, thinks highly of him) are, but I can’t remember having heard of Eazy-E and the others prior to this movie.  Thus, I find Straight Outta Compton a very fascinating and informative look on hip hop history and culture.  Most of the things that the movie presented are new to me.

But more than being a fascinating study, Straight Outta Compton really works well as a movie.  The production values are terrific, perfectly embodying where and when the movie is set on.  The writing and editing do well in keeping the narrative quality coherent and engaging despite the dense plot.  The direction is both energetic and polished, and the acting is topnotch.  Many say that the actors’ portrayals of the N.W.A. members are spot on, but I wouldn’t really know – except for O’Shea Jackson, Jr. as Ice Cube – since I don’t know most of them, but I believe this is true.  I also enjoyed seeing Aldis Hodge (he plays MC Ren) on screen again; I really liked the guy as Alec Hardison in Leverage.

The movie also touches upon some relevant themes and social issues, which is interesting.  There are some insights that I have to nod with, but I don’t really agree with much of the overall message of the movie – or N.W.A. for that matter.  The story is probably being manipulative in sending its message, but I understand where it’s coming from.

In the end, I don’t think Straight Outta Compton is the potential classic that many think it is.  But I could be wrong.  Time might find that it’s as groundbreaking to biopics as N.W.A. is to hip hop music.  Either way, it definitely has enough interesting things going for it to make it one of 2015’s most important, must-watch films.  

Strong Performances Help 'Southpaw' Overcome a Hackneyed Plot

Southpaw is a boxing drama starring Jake Gyllenhaal as Billy “The Great” Hope, the undefeated junior middleweight champion of the world.  With his loving wife (Rachel McAdams) by his side serving as his chief adviser, Billy enjoys a successful career, the love of his family, and a lavish lifestyle.  However, tragedy strikes when a brawl breaks out during a charity event and his wife is accidentally shot in the chaos.  Broken down, Billy begins to abuse alcohol and drugs, and his life spirals downwards as he loses his title, his money, his house, and – due to succumbing to a destructive lifestyle – the custody of his daughter (Oona Laurence) as well.  Hitting rock bottom, he finds an unlikely shot at redemption at the hands of gym owner Tick Willis (Forest Whitaker).  With Tick as his trainer, Billy begins his grueling journey back to the top.

Southpaw has an unoriginal plotline.  It’s a story that I've seen in different forms for countless times already.  And yet it’s not boring to watch this familiar story unfold again.  This can probably be attributed to the all-around riveting performances of the cast – especially from Jake Gyllenhaal, Forest Whitaker, and child actress Oona Laurence – who kept me absorbed on the narrative.  Gyllenhaal won’t get an Oscar for it, but his performance in this movie is another testament that he’s one of the most talented actors around today (seriously, he should had at least received an Oscar nomination for Nightcrawler).

In addition, the in-ring action is intense, gritty, and beautifully choreographed; the drama brings the feels and induces misty eyes; and the clichéd “riches to rags to riches” plot outline is actually executed in perfection.  Moreover, I’m sucker for well-done redemption stories, and Southpaw is a solid though unimaginative one.  So, yeah, despite the cheesy elements and narrative flaws, Southpaw has enough going for it to be considered an enjoyable and touching movie.

'Magic Mike XXL' Offers the Same Stuff from the First Movie

The thing I liked about the first Magic Mike movie is that it wasn’t just an excuse to have a feature-length show of male sexy dances that women can go gaga for (as how it was being promoted).  It has that aspect, of course, but it’s more than that.  It surprisingly has dramatic depth, an actual well-thought plot, and great performances from the cast.  I love how Rotten Tomatoes worded its evaluation of the movie: “[it allows] audiences to have their beefcake and eat it too.”  That perfectly sums it up.

This 2015 sequel, though not as smart, has the same merits as its predecessor.  It has the sensual sequences that will please the ladies, but it also has a strong story and a sincere message (for the record, I don’t subscribe to most of the philosophy that the movie is preaching, but there are interesting lessons worth considering if they are taken away by themselves) to tell.

Three years after “Magic” Mike (Channing Tatum) leaves the stripper lifestyle, he finds himself missing the excitement of performing and hanging out with his Kings of Tampa mates.  Thus, when the guys drop by and inform him that they intend to end their stripping careers in a high note by participating in an annual stripper convention in Myrtle Beach, Mike goes on leave from his furniture business and decides to reunite with the Kings of Tampa crew for one last blow-out performance.

So it’s basically a road trip movie… but with a lot of stripping and dancing involve.  It has a couple of absurd narrative elements and coincidences, but if you can get over the ridiculousness of the idea of a stripper convention – I don’t know if that’s an actual thing in real life – then all other things fall into place of making Magic Mike XXL hold up as an adequately thoughtful piece of entertainment.

Instead of ‘Minions’, It Would Have Been Infinitely Preferable to Have a ‘Despicable Me 3’

The immense popularity of the Minions from the Despicable Me movies led them to star in this spin-off movie.  The plot of Minions is basically a prequel – set years before they met and got employed by Gru.  The movie shows us the Minions’ passage through history as they seek to serve the baddest of the bad.  However, from a T-rex to Napoleon, they continuously fail in keeping a master.  The Minions, unable to accomplish the purpose of their existence, fall into depression.  In order to get the Minions out of their slump, a Minion named Kevin takes it upon himself to embark on a journey in search for the ultimate evil boss for his race to follow.  Bob and Stuart accompany Kevin, and the three of them eventually encounter the supervillainess Scarlet Overkill (voiced by Sandra Bullock – a phenomenal actress, but doesn’t have the energy and investment in voicing Scarlet), who they potentially see as the master mistress that will finally save the Minions.

The movie is hilarious.  That is a given, since we’re talking about the Minions after all – their slapstick contributed significantly on giving the fun and uproarious vibes of the Despicable Me movies.  The problem is the Minions are one-note characters that work best serving supporting roles in a thoughtful story centered on an actual developing character like Gru.  As supporting characters, the hilariousness that the Minions bring is at the right dosage and boosts the charm of a movie – just like in the Despicable Me movies.  On the other hand, a full length movie loaded with the Minions’ brainless, juvenile humor is just too much that it’s already borderline annoying.

Moreover, the Minions’ personality, though adorable, doesn’t have the facets that a thoughtful, heartfelt story can be anchored on.  Hence, Minions entertains, but is pretty stupid and shallow; it has no concrete moral or message; and the narrative is predictable – in fact, the trailers have already given away the first two-thirds of the plot.

Minions is a clear money-grab movie.  A big reason why it was made is to sell Minions merchandise.  And it succeeds at it.  For example, when McDonald’s had Minion toys in its Happy Meals, customers skyrocketed.  I witness this firsthand in the local McDonald’s chain.  I myself was compelled to get a couple of them for my toy collection.

Furthermore, Minions succeeds in making money as a movie itself.  It has grossed over a billion dollars and has become the third highest-grossing animated film of all time.  My fear is that due to its financial success, the producers will instead decide to make a Minions sequel instead of a Despicable Me 3, which I infinitely prefer.  I don’t want to hate the Minions as pop culture characters, but I feel that if more Minions movies are made, I would eventually grow to.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

‘San Andreas’ Is Solid in the Spectacle, Shaky in the Storyline

The premise of San Andreas is pretty simple: the shifting of the San Andreas Fault causes a massive, vicious earthquake across western USA, and Chief Ray Gaines (Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson), a search-and-rescue helicopter pilot for the Los Angeles Fire Department, has to fly amidst all the chaos and destruction to rescue his teenage daughter (unbelievably played by 29-year-old Alexandra Daddario) and estranged wife (Carla Gugino).

San Andreas has a good amount of action and excitement as a solid disaster movie.  But that’s all it is.  It doesn’t have much depth, originality, and surprise.  There’s some attempt to add a bit more drama unrelated to the disaster aspect, but the execution isn’t good enough to actually add something interesting.  The story is dumb and cheesy.

It’s also burdened with a couple of uninteresting or needless characters.  Good thing that Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson is headlining this, as he injects his magnetic personality into this movie.  So there’s at least one character – the Rock’s character, Ray Gaines – that I was able to easily root for (though I kind of hate that he has to abandon his duty as a LAFD rescuer so that he can go after his family); having him is somewhat enough to be kept invested on the narrative until the end.

San Andreas is not a great movie.  But nobody was expecting it to be one anyway.  It just needs to entertain as a standard popcorn flick.  And the spectacular visuals and the Rock – a charismatic, badass action hero – ensure that it does.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

LeBron Made Me Curious About 'Trainwreck', but It's John Cena That Surprised

Trainwreck is not the kind of movie I usually go see.  But I got intrigued of it because of LeBron James.  There were some praise being thrown regarding his performance, and it really got me curious.   I wanted to verify the hype.

The plot: after her reprobate father impressed on Amy Townsend (Amy Schumer) as a young girl that monogamy isn’t realistic, she lives her life as an adult boozing, partying, getting high, and sleeping around – unwilling to have a serious commitment.  However, an assignment from her editor sends Amy to interview and meet Aaron Conners (Bill Hader), a prolific doctor that treats the injuries of sports superstars.  Amy attempts to keep everything between them casual.  But as the two of them spend more time with each other, and grow liking each other more and more, Amy begins to consider if it’s time to leave her life of non-commitment behind and start cleaning up her act.

It’s a familiar rom-com premise.  But I actually found some freshness in it, too.  It does not have the smartest plot, but I found sprinkles of cleverness here and there, and the humor generally hits the mark.

I’ve never been a fan of Amy Schumer, but I was impressed of the fact that she wrote the script of this movie.  After watching Trainwreck, I’m still not a fan, but I gained some appreciation for her.

And as for what I thought of LeBron James, who plays himself in this movie and the best pal of Dr. Conners… well, he actually did a solid job – actually better than any of Shaq’s acting roles.  But he wasn’t really hilarious – “hilarious” was the emphatic adjective that some positive reactions were using to commend his performance – nor terrific to finally win me over to the idea that a Space Jam 2 starring him would be great.

John Cena, however, is the surprise.  I’m not a fan, but he is phenomenally hilarious in this movie.  Even counting the early days when he was still in his likable “Doctor of Thuganomics” persona, this guy has never been this funny and appealing.  Sure, the writing deserves a good amount of the credit of making Cena’s character hilarious, but his delivery also contributed considerably.

Like Ted 2, this movie has a good deal of cameos.  But unlike Ted 2, its cameos work well, and aren’t annoyingly gratuitous.  The scenes with Marv Albert and Amar’e Stoudemire are pretty funny.

Actually, come to think of it, Trainwreck’s ensemble – both cast members and cameos – generally did a fine job.  No one was terribly out of place in the movie.  And, worth noting that, once again, I had found Tilda Swinton unrecognizable and it surprised me that she was playing that character in the movie.

Trainwreck isn’t great, but I had fun with it.  It’s a solid rom-com movie that both lovers and haters of the genre will find entertaining and carrying a thoughtful message.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

'Inside Out' Rivals 'Toy Story' Movies As Pixar's Magnum Opus

If I will be writing now my list for best movies of the year, Inside Out will take the number one spot.  Of course, it is possible that I would still get to see a movie this year that I will deem better.  However, if I’m rating movies, I will give Inside Out a perfect score – an A+, or a 100%, or five stars out of five.  So it would take something so awesomely flawless to unseat Inside Out.  And looking at the movies left this year, I think Star Wars is the only potential contender.

Inside Out tells the story of 11-year-old Riley and the anthropomorphized emotions living in her head – Joy, Sadness, Fear, Disgust, and Anger.  Riley’s emotions do a fine job in keeping Riley’s life steady and happy… until Riley’s family moves from Minnesota to San Francisco.  With Riley struggling to adjust to her new life, it is up to Joy and the other emotions to guide her through this stressful, life-changing period.

It’s not the first time that a story used the concept of the human brain as a world or command center with personifications of emotions/neurons/cells/thoughts working inside it.  But Inside Out uses the concept in such a fresh, enjoyable, and vibrant manner that it has established itself as the best of such stories.  It presents some innocent but smart insights on human psychology, and succeeds in delightfully embodying some of its concepts in amusing fantasy models and metaphors.

Beautiful animation and a well-written, funny, and heartwarming story are things to be expected from a Pixar feature.   But Inside Out is truly special.  It is superior to most Pixar movies.  Up, Wall-E, and The Incredibles are all terrific timeless classics, but I really think Inside Out is better than them.  No other Pixar film since Toy Story 3 has the thoughtfulness, storytelling depth, and feels that Inside Out possesses.  The Toy Story movies are still my favorite Pixar films – these movies made much impact on me – but if somebody say that Inside Out is better, I won’t correct them.  Inside Out truly makes a strong case of being Pixar’s best.

Inside Out is brilliant and flawless.  The quality of this movie is comparable to the best of animated classics as it will effortlessly make its audiences laugh, cry, reflect, and feel warm and good inside.  And that makes the best kind of family entertainment.

Miscellaneous SPOILER-y musings:
  • I also did love Lava, the touching short that run before Inside Out.  Really did a fine job of prepping the audience’s emotions and attention for Inside Out.
  • An Inside Out short is coming later this year telling the story of Riley on her first date.  And I guess a full-length sequel is something eventual to happen.  Now, I’m curious what kind of storyline can surpass, or at least match, the perfectness of the first one.  Will it be better if Riley’s story continue after a significant time skip? In high school? Or even college? Will additional emotions be appearing in Riley’s later years?  (Though I doubt that, since it was seen that adults also have the same 5-emotion lineup as 11-year-old Riley.)  I really have no idea how Pixar can expand Inside Out further and offer something unique from the first one.  But I guess if anyone can do it, it’s those Pixar guys.  If it could be a sequel better than the original, then Inside Out could be the next Toy Story property.
  • A character, Bing Bong, Riley’s forgotten imaginary friend from her younger years, basically died in this movie.  A character death in a “G”-rated animated feature isn’t really something disturbing or impossible.  But I wasn’t expecting a character to die in this movie.  It was a shock, but the development added additional depth to the story.
  • Later, a bunch of “imaginary boyfriends” – who declared that they “would die for Riley” – actually sacrificed their lives.    Again, not really too disturbing.  But this is just an indication that Inside Out has some subtly dark elements.  And, again, it adds additional depth.
  • But the most interesting shocker was the implication that the whole ordeal had put Riley at risk of becoming a sociopath.  Exagerrated, but definitely improved the movie.
  • This made me want a more mature story taking place in the Inside Out world to be made.  In the ending credits, we get fascinating and funny glimpses of what’s going on in the minds of different kinds of people as well as a dog and a cat.  Now, what’s more interesting is to Inside Out the mind of a person with a mental disorder, like schizophrenia or multiple personality disorder.  Very intriguing, eh?

Friday, August 21, 2015

Part 1 of Live-Action Movie Dishonors ‘Attack on Titan’

Prior to watching this, I had already got warning from some sources that those who love the anime would likely hate this live-action movie.  This used to be a movie I was really excited of seeing; I was presuming that it was going to be, at the very least, as awesome as the essentially faithful Rurouni Kenshin live-action movies.  But because of the negative buzz, I already lowered my expectations so that the blow of disappointment will somewhat be softened.  Going into this movie, I felt I knew what I was going into.

But I found myself still taken aback by how different – and less – it is.  In an attempt to make itself fresh and distinctive from the anime, it took a lot of risky liberties.  In a way, I feel that I get where the producers are coming from, and appreciate a bit what was trying to be done.  By completely diverting from its source, surprising everyone – even the fans of the anime – became a possibility.

However, the Attack on Titan anime series is one of the greatest anime epics ever.  Everything about it is perfect (or close to perfection).  It knocked my socks off when I saw it for the first time, and it has been deeply venerated in my consciousness.  So I really find myself unable to see this live-action adaptation in a whole new perspective.  I can’t help but compare it to its source material, which is impeccable in my eyes.  Therefore, I’m generally underwhelmed and frustrated by almost all of the deviations, and, by this, was hindered of enjoying the movie as it is.

At some point while watching, I came to the conclusion that this live-action movie is an atrocity to the anime.  Not only does the live action not do justice to its source material, but it also gives the feeling that it has diluted and neutered the awesomeness found in the Attack on Titan anime.  All the unwelcomed departures from the source caused blandness and lack of depth in the storytelling; poor characterization and development of characters, leading to the difficulty of liking and rooting for them; and an overall sense of inferiority in quality.

Moreover, the live-action movie fails in being visually pleasing.  Compared to the exciting and gorgeous visuals of the anime, the live-action severely pales in comparison.  The visual effects, production value, and camera work only looked a step above a ScyFy made-for-TV movie production.  Most of the actions scenes are boring, and there is no beauty in its sets.

Waiting for the second season of the anime (delayed till next year), it’s much more rewarding to re-watch the first season for the nth time (I already did it twice, and I might do it one more time) than watching this live-action movie.  That said, I’m still on board for Part 2.  Hopefully, by that time, I would have got over my disappointment of not seeing a faithful adaptation and would have developed more tolerance for all its second-rate reinventions – or, more preferably, that the story would actually get better from its stubborn assertion to go as far from its anime source as it can (which I doubt).  Besides, the nerdy completist in me just requires seeing this through to the end. 

Miscellaneous SPOILER-Y musings:
  • The most exciting sequence in the movie – when Eren finally transformed into a Titan and started beating the crap out of other Titans – came around the last five minutes of the movie.  So, yeah, the movie was boring at most parts.
  • A human character judo threw a Titan.  I face palmed at the pure ridiculousness of the scene.
  • I was satisfied by the depiction of Titans in live-action by actors in costume and makeup.  I find a sense of enjoyment of seeing them being as hilarious as they are terrifying.  On the other hand, the CGI Colossal Titan was plain garbage.
  • The most badass Attack on Titan character, Levi, is not in this movie.  BUMMER!
  • My biggest peeve is the post-apocalyptic industrialized setting (yep, more than not having Levi).  I think the anime’s medieval-like world that has developed many years after the appearance of the Titans is more interesting.
  • I find the “death” of Mikasa twist nearly as unexpected as the anime’s brilliant “death” of Eren twist.  But at that point of Mikasa’s “death”, the narrative had already established how completely different the live-action movie is from the anime that the surprise did not bring as much dramatic impact as it should.  It would have been a welcome mindblowing surprise if that was the first deviation from the anime that the movie presented.
  • Mikasa was introduced as this girly, weak character that I had no problem when she was killed off at the start.  That’s not the Mikasa I know anyway.  Even when it was revealed that she didn’t really die, and she reappeared later on now having the familiar badass, cold personality associated with the character, she still isn’t exactly the Mikasa we love in the anime.  It would have been actually more interesting if she remained dead.
  • It’s hard to get invested on the annoying, inaccurately-portrayed, and poorly-written characters.  The Attack on Titan anime did a fine job of making you care for its characters that deaths really deliver emotional blows.  On the other hand, I was actually cheering the live-action Titans to devour the live-action characters most of the time.
  • I hate the SS Nazi uniform of the Military Police.
  • Is it just me or is there implication that the Titans are mutated humans that resulted from the mysterious nuclear/biological apocalyptic war of the past?  That’s actually legitimately intriguing, and the best thing that I can take from this awful movie.
  • Let me put this one last thing on a tall pile of disappointments: the awesomely stirring Attack on Titan theme, “Guren No Yumiya”, isn’t used in the movie.  It could have been a huge redeeming factor.  I was really hoping that it would be the music during its ending credits.
  • Seriously, when are we due to have another perfect live-action anime adaptation as Rurouni Kenshin?