Tag Archives: Alan Tudyk

I, Robot (2004) Review

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I, Robot

Time: 115 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1]
Cast:
Will Smith as Det. Del Spooner
Bridget Moynahan as Dr. Susan Calvin
Alan Tudyk as Sonny
Bruce Greenwood as Lawrence Robertson
James Cromwell as Dr. Alfred Lanning
Chi McBride as Lt. John Bergin
Director: Alex Proyas

Del Spooner (Will Smith) investigates the murder of Dr Alfred (James Cromwell), who works at US Robotics, with the help of a robopsychologist. He tries to deduce if a robot has violated the laws of robotics and killed him.

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I saw I, Robot a long time ago and I remembered liking it, but I didn’t remember it strongly. Having seen director Alex Proyas’s The Crow and Dark City (and unfortunately Gods of Egypt) since, I was interested in watching it again. While there are issues for sure and it could’ve been better, I enjoyed the movie for what it was.

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I, Robot is seemingly based off a sci-fi novel, I’m not familiar with it however so I’m treating it as its own movie. Whilst there are moments of interesting scientific musings about the nature of AI and consciousness, it doesn’t really go below the surface level. It could’ve been more, especially considering that it’s from the director of Dark City. It opens strongly with an interesting murder mystery which questions the evolution of technology but by the end is a rather familiar sci-fi action blockbuster. With all that being said, it’s pretty enjoyable taken solely as an action oriented Sci-Fi adventure. Overall, it was a semi-predictable but still moderately intriguing work of sci-fi that still kept my interest. It does take heavy influences from sci-fi films in the past, the robots desiring to become human aspect alone has been popular since Blade Runner. However, it at least has its own creative voice to the table in its worldbuilding on artificial intelligence. It questions the nature of free will, and the plot is a well thought out mystery. It’s not one of the most intelligently defined feature film on robotics (it’s no Ex Machina) but it works enough. There are some issues for sure. There’s a general amount of generic action tropes present, and some dumb dialogue scattered about. The story also does have its cliches and also have some pretty obvious twists. At the same time, it holds a certain charm to it, whether it be the sci-fi aspects, or the over the top 2000s action stuff. Additionally its paced pretty well and I was reasonably engaged throughout.

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The acting is mostly good from the cast. Will Smith is charismatic, energetic and layered in the lead role of a cop who’s prejudiced against robots. He’s close to playing the same hero character he usually plays, but he’s not just mugging to camera, he’s actually playing a fully defined character. Overall he made for an enjoyable protagonist. Alan Tudyk gives a very thoughtful performance as a robot named Sonny, who’s a key character in the story. Even though it’s a voice performance, Tudyk was the highlight performer. The rest of the supporting characters and actors are capable, if not exceptional. Bruce Greenwood is convincing in a villainous sort of role, and James Cromwell works as the murder victim at the centre of the mystery. If there’s a weak leak amongst the cast, it’s Bridget Moynahan in one of the main roles. Her performance is rather bland and forgettable, and robotic (no, there’s no twist where she’s a robot or anything), and the character wasn’t that interesting. Otherwise the rest of the acting was overall decent.

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Alex Proyas directs this, and while it’s not one of his best works, he does some good stuff here. The movie is high on his trademark visual flair and action. The production design was well done, much of the world that we see is just ‘typical futuristic sci-fi stuff’ but the style is good and well put together. The film is littered with dated early 2000s CGI that hasn’t aged gracefully, the CGI visuals for the multiple robots particularly don’t hold up as well now. Overall, I liked the visual atmosphere of the film though. Proyas knows his way around an action scene, and there are some entertaining action here. It does have some excessive early 2000s slow motion action and the hollow and dated effects do hold these scenes back from being as great as they could be. With that said, it didn’t affect my overall enjoyment of those moments hugely, I still had fun with them.

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I, Robot isn’t a particularly original film in the sci-fi genre, and it has plenty of problems from the CGI to the predictable and standard plot (especially in the last act). However there are some entertaining action, good performances from Will Smith and Alan Tudyk, and at the very least is a good enough action sci-fi movie which entertains. Don’t expect anything like Ex Machina, but if you’re looking for a fun sci-fi action flick, it’s worth a watch.

Raya and the Last Dragon (2021) Review

RAYA AND THE LAST DRAGON

Raya and The Last Dragon

Time: 107 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] Violence
Voice Cast:
Kelly Marie Tran as Raya
Awkwafina as Sisu
Izaac Wang as Boun
Gemma Chan as Namaari
Daniel Dae Kim as Chief Benja
Benedict Wong as Tong
Sandra Oh as Virana
Thalia Tran as Little Noi
Lucille Soong as Dang Hu
Alan Tudyk as Tuk Tuk
Director: Don Hall, Carlos López Estrada

Long ago, in the fantasy world of Kumandra, humans and dragons lived together in harmony. However, when sinister monsters known as the Druun threatened the land, the dragons sacrificed themselves to save humanity. Now, 500 years later, those same monsters have returned, and it’s up to a lone warrior (Kelly Marie Tran) to track down the last dragon and stop the Druun for good.

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I had heard about Raya and the Last Dragon for the past months, it’s the latest Disney animated movie and it looked pretty good from the trailers. I wasn’t really sure what to expect going in, but the movie actually turned out better than I expected it to be.

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Raya and the Last Dragon is an exhilarating and beautifully told fantasy adventure. The storylines and characters that inhabit this world were unique and interesting to watch (although I could’ve done without the baby and monkeys). The movie does move very fast, and I was quite invested in the story. There were some moments where the film could have slowed down a little, but on the whole the fast pace works to the film’s benefit. I liked the movie from the very start, but it really finds its footing when the main group of characters begin to get assembled. As Raya meets these new characters, she has to learn to trust them and pretty quickly, you can pick up that trust is the main moral and message of this story. With the addition of each new character, Raya learns a lot from her new friends and takes the first step in putting her trust in someone else. So thematically, the movie has plenty to offer. It does quite well in terms of world-building, and by the end I actually wanted a bit more from this world. One thing to note is that the movie doesn’t have musical numbers where characters suddenly burst into song, and while it’s to be expected from Disney animated movies, I actually like that they don’t have them here. It is a risk for them when they have such a wide target audience, but I’d say it pays off. Something that has been said about this movie which I will repeat myself as well is that the plot is very predictable and derivative, and structurally it may appear to be similar to other Disney animated movies like Moana or Tangled. The fetch quest, band-forming and lesson-learning genre has been done to death by now, but that didn’t make it any less investing for me. Despite its familiarity, it manages to keep it at least a little interesting throughout. Its humour doesn’t always land as well as it potentially could’ve, especially with how they implemented it in the movie and overall story. It’s not necessarily bad and it isn’t a dealbreaker, but truth be told, only some of the jokes really hit. There are some essential exposition dumps that could’ve been done slightly better, but it’s at the level of most modern day animated movies and again aren’t a dealbreaker.

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There’s a solid lineup of characters in this movie, and the voice cast are great playing them. Kelly Marie Tran is perfect as protagonist Raya, Awkwafina is a scene stealer as Sisu (the last dragon), and Gemma Chan is also a standout as the character of Namaar.

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Don Hall and Carlos Lopez Estrada directs Raya and the Last Dragon greatly. First of all, the animation is stunning, this is probably some of Disney’s best animation, absolutely stellar and gorgeous. There are a number of settings and places here that are immaculately presented here. Each location, character, object, or detail feels so profoundly gorgeous. What particularly stood out was the action, which was insanely good. The swordplay and hand to hand combat is sleek, and the combination of martial arts techniques were used so effectively. With this and the film’s incredible lighting, Raya and the Last Dragon makes for an awesome visual experience, and honestly it is worth watching the movie for that alone. Additionally, James Newton Howard’s score is powerful and enthralling, especially during the action sequences.

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Raya and the Last Dragon is a solid and very well-made animated movie. It has a familiar and somewhat predictable story but it’s entertaining and works for what it is, with some enjoyable characters. Additionally, the voice cast are great and it’s beautifully animated. Definitely worth watching.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016) Retrospective Review

Time: 134 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Felicity Jones as Jyn Erso
Diego Luna as Cassian Andor
Ben Mendelsohn as Orson Krennic
Donnie Yen as Chirrut Îmwe
Mads Mikkelsen as Galen Erso
Alan Tudyk as K-2SO
Riz Ahmed as Bodhi Rook
Jiang Wen as Baze Malbus
Forest Whitaker as Saw Gerrera
Director: Gareth Edwards

All looks lost for the Rebellion against the Empire as they learn of the existence of a new super weapon, the Death Star. Once a possible weakness in its construction is uncovered, the Rebel Alliance must set out on a desperate mission to steal the plans for the Death Star. The future of the entire galaxy now rests upon its success.

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I always liked Rogue One: A Star Wars Story ever since its release, it was the first spin off in the Star Wars series and it had me interested in what other spin off movies they could make in the future. I don’t love it as much as I did when I first saw it, and I don’t consider it to be among the best Star Wars movies by any means. I still think it’s quite good though, and has a lot of great parts to it.

Rogue One does very well to establish itself as being very different kind of Star Wars movie, with more of a war movie feel to it. However you still feel like you’re in the Star Wars universe. I’m aware that some people found the movie a little boring. I was interested in the movie all the way through, but I will say it’s not as riveting as it could’ve been for at least the first half or so. This war movie take on a Star Wars movie certainly provided some things that we aren’t used to seeing in the series, with grey areas and darker places that weren’t explored previously (like how the methods by the Rebels weren’t always ethical). There are some callbacks to the original Star Wars, and that makes sense given that it’s a direct prequel, and for the most part it’s actually done quite well. One of the best parts was how they used the plot point from the original Star Wars with the Death Star having a conveniently large enough hole for a single blast from a fighter to explode the entire station. Now there’s an official canon reason for that being the case, with Galen Erso specifically placing that deliberate flaw in the design.

What shines most of all in the movie is the third act. From what I can tell a lot of it was changed with some reshoots, I can’t say which version would’ve been better. However I did like the third act that we got. It’s large scale, entertaining and was really well handled. It was also fitting that all the main characters died on that suicide mission, we haven’t seen the protagonists actually get killed off for good in this series and it worked for the movie. Then there’s the stand out scene of the movie, with Darth Vader mastering a bunch of Rebels at the end as they desperately try to get the Death Star plans out. I’ve seen a lot of positive responses to it, and I’ve also seen some people who don’t really like it. I can see both sides, on one hand this is Vader at his most vicious and powerful, and this is one of his stand out scenes from the entire series. At the same time, I can see how this makes it feel like another main Star Wars movie instead of the ‘grounded’ war movie it was for the rest of the movie, even with the inclusion of a lightsabre alone. I liked it but I can see why people don’t.

The use of Darth Vader was fitting enough, and so was Tarkin. The Princess Leia cameo I guess was alright, and worked as it was directly leading into the events of the original Star Wars. However there are also some weird callback decisions that are just annoying more than anything else. If you remember back to a New Hope, there were two people who attack Luke, who was then saved by Obi Wan Kenobi. Well those two people happen to bump into Jyn Erso while she and Cassian and K-2SO happen to be on Jedha, it was such a bizarre cameo to have and I have no idea why they decided to include that. Also C-3PO and R2-D2 randomly appear at the Rebel base just before the climax, for no reason at all. I guess just to remind audiences that they’re around at the time.

There is a large cast of characters. While the actors generally do well, the characters are hit or miss, and they are generally underdeveloped unfortunately. Felicity Jones is quite good as Jyn Erso, the lead character in the story, and other actors with the likes of Diego Luna, Donnie Yen and Alan Tudyk also do well. Riz Ahmed and Jiang Wen don’t really get to do as much out of the main Rogue One cast. Mads Mikkelsen played a small but critical role as Jyn’s father, who created the Death Star. He did very well in his screentime. There’s also the addition of Grand Moff Tarkin, who was critical in the original Star Wars, so you can see why they wanted to place him in this movie. I liked his addition, you felt his presence yet he wasn’t overbearing or overused. The recreation of original actor’s Peter Cushing’s appearance however was rather mixed. Although the Cushing voice impression is great, the CGI goes from looking good to looking like a decent video game character, not terrible but in a live action movie with real actors definitely seeming off. Of the cast, the actor I liked the most was Ben Mendelsohn as the main antagonist of the film, Orson Krennic, the director of the Death Star. Although he was quite a different type of Star Wars villain, a big part of why he worked was Mendelsohn’s performance, he’s been playing a lot of antagonists recently but Krennic is definitely one of his best.

I thought that Gareth Edwards’ direction worked very well for the film. The war-movie feel worked so well and it all feels gritty and dirty throughout, as it should’ve. It’s also such a great looking movie, with some really great visuals and very well directed action sequences, the highlights of course being in the final act. I like the music by Michael Giaachino as well, it fit the movie very well, and even gets to shine at certain points. That new Imperial theme in particular is great, creating an alternate theme to one of the most iconic tracks of all time is intimidating for sure, but he managed to create a newer and separate theme which really worked for this film.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story still holds up pretty well a few years later. The direction by Gareth Edwards was great, the cast do quite well in their roles, and it was overall a unique and different entry that we hadn’t seen in the series before this point. It has its annoyances for sure, mostly some lack of characterisation, and parts of the plot could’ve been a little more interesting, but it’s still good on the whole.

Zootopia (2016) Review

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zootopia

Time: 108 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] Some scenes may scare very young children
Cast:
Ginnifer Goodwin as Officer Judy Hopps (voice)
Jason Bateman as Nicholas P. “Nick” Wilde (voice)
Idris Elba as Chief Bogo (voice)
Jenny Slate as Dawn Bellwether (voice)
Nate Torrence as Officer Benjamin Clawhauser (voice)
Bonnie Hunt as Bonnie Hopps (voice)
Don Lake as Stu Hopps (voice)
Tommy Chong as Yax (voice)
J.K. Simmons as Leodore Lionheart (voice)
Octavia Spencer as Mrs. Otterton (voice)
Alan Tudyk as Duke Weaselton (voice)
Shakira as Gazelle (voice)
Director: Byron Howard, Rich Moore

From the largest elephant to the smallest shrew, the city of Zootopia is a mammal metropolis where various animals live and thrive. When Judy Hopps (Ginnifer Goodwin) becomes the first rabbit to join the police force, she quickly learns how tough it is to enforce the law. Determined to prove herself, Judy jumps at the opportunity to solve a mysterious case. Unfortunately, that means working with Nick Wilde (Jason Bateman), a wily fox who makes her job even harder.

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Before seeing the movie, Zootopia didn’t interest me at all. It looked like a passable, ‘fun’ animated kids film, which could be poorly written or maybe even a little annoying. I don’t know, it never really looked that appealing to me. To my utter surprise, Zootopia was actually a really great movie. This film is quite smartly written and layered story, has memorable and likable characters, is very entertaining and has quite a lot of depth. Zootopia ended up being one of the most surprising movies of the entire year.

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This movie is very entertaining and hilarious, it’s fun to watch this movie and see this world which was created. Zootopia itself is very creative and unique, I’m impressed with how original it was, this is a super original movie, I’m surprised we haven’t gotten a movie like this sooner. But also, despite the trailers not showing it, Zootopia is actually quite a mature, deep and emotional movie. It almost feels like it was a film made for adults but with cute animals inserted into it. This film actually goes into some relevant issues such as racism, stereotypes and many others, and it’s all done in such a smart way. But it’s not ham fisted or forced, it’s subtle and it actually does have a purpose and benefited the movie immensely. This movie is so well written overall. If there’s any flaws with the movie, I guess the opening of the film has a whole lot of exposition just thrown at you all at once explaining the world, but that didn’t bother me a whole lot. Maybe it could’ve been done better but it was fine.

ZOOTOPIA – Pictured: Judy Hopps. ©2016 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

The characters were great and memorable and the voice actors were perfectly cast. The pair of the main two characters, Judy Hopps and Nick Wilde (voiced by Ginnifer Goodwin and Jason Bateman) were so great and fun to watch, they had excellent chemistry together. There were other memorable characters as well such as Idris Elba’s Chief of Police Buffalo character, which were relentlessly entertaining. I won’t say too much about other memorable characters, you’ll just have to see them for yourself.

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It isn’t really surprising at all that the animation and design of the characters and the world was really great and overall done well. As I said earlier, Zootopia is very creative and the looks and designs of the world and characters really reflect that as well. It’s very easy to get sucked into this unique world that has been created. The soundtrack by Michael Giacchino was also really good and fitted the movie well.

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Zootopia surprisingly turned out to be one of the best movies of the year. It’s entertaining and fun but is also smartly written and was a much deeper movie than I was ever expecting it to be. You should definitely check out Zootopia out when you can, even if it doesn’t look that good to you, at least give it a try. Trust me, the movie is a lot better than the trailers and the marketing made it out to be.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016) Review

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Time: 134 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast
Felicity Jones as Jyn Erso
Diego Luna as Cassian Andor
Ben Mendelsohn as Orson Krennic
Donnie Yen as Chirrut Îmwe
Mads Mikkelsen as Galen Erso
Alan Tudyk as K-2SO
Riz Ahmed as Bodhi Rook
Jiang Wen as Baze Malbus
Forest Whitaker as Saw Gerrera
Director: Gareth Edwards

In a time of conflict, a group of unlikely heroes band together on a mission to steal the plans to the Death Star, the Empire’s ultimate weapon of destruction. This key event in the Star Wars timeline brings together ordinary people who choose to do extraordinary things, and in doing so, become part of something greater than themselves.

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Rogue One was one of my most anticipated films of 2016. With a very talented cast, a really good director with Gareth Edwards (yes, I really like 2014’s Godzilla) this film looked like it was going to be amazing. Plus, it’s Star Wars, and I loved what Disney has done with The Force Awakens, so I was confident in how Rogue One would turn out. I have to say, Rogue One really surprised me. I loved the tone, the direction, the acting, the story, the connections to Episode 4, I loved everything about this movie. I knew I would love this movie, but I didn’t know that I would love it this much, it’s actually kind of a surprise.

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First of all, it needs to be said that this is a very different kind of Star Wars movie. Even the opening credits crawl in the previous Star Wars films is missing here. This film is noticeably more gritty and feels more real than the other Star Wars movies, many people die, the stakes are high, this is a very serious film. There are moral ambigiouties when it comes to certain aspects of the Star Wars universe and characters. For example, the Resistance aren’t perfectly clean and good, some morally ambiguous choices and decisions are made, a lot of it being through Diego Luna’s character Cassian Andor. This film also gave an insight into the inner workings of the Empire (through Ben Mendelsohn’s Director Krennic), which was also really interesting to watch. Rogue One was overall such a different Star Wars movie. Also without spoiling anything, this film links up to Episode 4 in more ways than you would think, there are so many references and Easter Eggs that Star Wars fans such as myself will love. However at the same time it does work as a standalone, it balances both aspects exceptionally And the third act…. the third act is quite simply perfect, I won’t give too much away but everything in the third act works for the movie and is just incredible. Even though this film is dark and gritty, it is still entertaining, the humour was well utilized and used appropriately, and the movie is still fun to watch, this movie is well balanced out. With flaws, I’d say maybe the pacing of the first act could’ve been done better, and I feel like some of the characters could’ve been a little more developed but the characters work very well, so it’s not a major issue for me. Everything else was excellent.

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Everyone does a great job in the movie. Felicity Jones is really good as the main lead, she was believable and was a likable protagonist for us to follow. Diego Luna was fantastic, he really conveyed an insight into the rebellion, definitely a strong point in the movie. Other actors of the cast include Donnie Yen, Riz Ahmed and Jiang Wen, all of them are great in their roles and really leave impressions. There were particularly 2 showstealers however, one of them was Alan Tudyk who played K-2SO, a former Imperial droid now on the side of the Revels. He was so entertaining to watch, he was hilarious and he stole every scene he was in, and from the sounds of things he’s already becoming a fan favourite (and rightfully so). The other showstealer was Ben Mendelsohn as the villainous and ambitious Director Krennic, who was in charge of creating the Death Star. Mendelsohn is such a talented actor, and he is fantastic in his role. There is also a third character who I want to add in this list but it might be a spoiler, so I won’t say who it is. But if you watch the movie, you’ll know who I’m talking about. Mads Mikkelsen and Forrest Whitaker are both incredible actors and although they aren’t in the movie a lot, they are great in their roles and the scenes they are in. They left very strong impressions on me, especially Mads Mikkelsen. Though I do think they should’ve been in a little more scenes. As for Darth Vader, there’s not a lot of him in this movie, so don’t go into this movie expecting Rebels vs Darth Vader. However he does make a very strong impression, particularly in one scene, which I have to say is one of the best Darth Vader scenes of all time. That’s all I’m going to say.

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Gareth Edward’s direction of the film is excellent. As to be expected, the special effects are fantastic, I didn’t have an issue at any point with them. The action is entertaining, well shot and directed and is incredibly riveting, especially in the third act. This movie really feels gritty and real, and much of it is due to the direction and also the production design. The locations were beautiful, and the scenes were shot beautifully. Also, I won’t spoil anything but let’s just say that a certain special effect was used in this movie that blew me away, it makes me wonder how this will be used in movies in the future. The soundtrack was a bit of a concern for me before watching the movie, as Michael Giacchino had 4 and a half weeks to compose the music after the original composer Alexandre Desplat dropped out. The soundtrack here is pretty good, not really memorable but it worked well for the film. It doesn’t try to imitate John Williams’s scores, instead it goes in its own direction, which I think was the best decision.

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Rogue One surpassed my expectations, and that’s saying a lot considering the fact that I had very high expectations for this movie. The characters were great, the acting was very impressive, the movie was entertaining overall and the story was very captivating and never let up. Aside from some more characterisation needed and that the first act’s pacing needing work, I don’t have many problems with this movie. However I do think that in some ways I think that if you’re a Star Wars fan you’ll love this more than people who aren’t such huge fans of the series, due to how much this film connects to episode 4. You won’t get the full experience unless you have seen the Star Wars movies before, however I think it still works as a standalone film. Now after seeing Rogue One, I can’t wait to see the Han Solo movie and I am looking forward to seeing more Star Wars Anthology films.