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A rundown of the biggest films to hit so far this summer…
            A great improvement on the first Captain America film in 2011. Brothers Anthony and Joe Russo have honed their craft shooting parody action scenes on NBC’s Community and Winter Solider greatly benefits from this. Possibly the first film in the Marvel extended universe to have any actual stakes, this will hold us over nicely until Guardians of the Galaxy/Ant-Man/Dr. Strange hit theaters in the coming years.

FilmFire review:
4.25/5 forms


            Another fun but non consequential romp from Marc Webb and Andrew Garfield. Ridiculous and cringe worthy coincidences litter this film all the way through but it doesn’t stop it from being very entertaining. A lot of universe building stuff à la Iron Man 2. Paul Giamatti is wasted in a sea of third act villains.

FilmFire review:
3.25/5 forms


            A total joy to watch. Intense slow burn through the beginning stages of the film until we get what we’ve been waiting for. Bryan Cranston shines but is the only relatable character in the movie. The lead actors are terribly written and given less than nothing to do, but it doesn’t stop the film from being wildy enjoyable. Insane ending climax that is brutally satisfying.

FilmFire review:
4/5 forms


            A return to form for Bryan Singer, his first time directing an X-Men film since 2003. Fast paced and much more enjoyable than any of the X-Men movies from the last decade, Days of Future Past is a a ton of fun to watch. It manages to successfully combine the old and young casts into one film without seeming bloated with characters, something Sony should learn to do with their rambling Spider-Man franchise. The interesting take on time travel mechanics makes it a joy to watch.

FilmFire review:
4.5/5 forms


            A complete butchering of the original fairy tale, there’s almost nothing of merit here besides Angelina Jolie chewing scenery. Completely takes the evil out of the witch and sanitizes all of the dark and broodiness from the original. She doesn’t even turn into the dragon. Maybe fun for families with little kids, but this is another case of Disney cashing in.

FilmFire review:
2/5 forms

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Although people who loved the book will find much to love here – it really is a good movie – the potential impact is too soft for the epic it aspires to be.
-Kevin A. Ranson, Movie Crypt

About as good a film as you can squeeze out of a morally complex source work given today’s studio environment.
-Mark Keizer , Alt Film Guide

“In the moment when I truly understand my enemy

Decades in the making, Orsen Scott Card’s “unfilmable” novel has finally hit cinemas. The first screen adaptation of Ender’s Game: Was it worth the wait? Read on to find out.

understand him well enough to defeat him

The cinematic version of Ender’s Game is, for good reason, much more streamlined and less meandering than the novel. The backbone and structure of the book are still in tact, essentially with quick cuts between the major scenes and set pieces in place of the smoother transitions the book uses. Understandably, this is about the best the filmmakers could have done considering the massive scale and stakes of the book. There is only so much that can fit in a 115 minute run time and unfortunately a lot of the books charm and whimsy is lost in translation.

then in that very moment I also love him.

As far as portraying the central storyline from the novel as cinematic as possible, the film does a pretty remarkable job. Battles at the Battle School are fully realized and well done. The effects look great across the board, particularly in a recurring all-cgi dream/game sequence that Ender has. The alien race from the book is hidden from view until the very end of the film, which works great. The creature design is unique and incredibly interesting to look at. One relatively minor flaw is the mundaneness of the set design. Battle School and Command School seem like nothing more than endless mazes of intersecting generic hallways and rooms that are shiny and metallic in nature. A little variety to these environments could have gone a long way.

One of the major flaws inherent of adapting a book of this scope to the screen is a loss of detail. This is especially evident in Ender’s Game. All the meat is there but most of the connective tissue is missing. There is virtually zero time for tension, buildup, character development or the exploration of many of the relationships Ender has in the novel. It feels like story beat after story beat, checking each major plot point off until the film is over. What ended up on the screen is very well done, it’s just missing a lot of the little things that made the book great.

And then, in that very moment when I love him…. I destroy him.”

Fans of the book will find a lot to like, but it’s not the same experience as reading it for the first time. Those who are unfamiliar with the source material may get confused at times due to the lack of quick nature of the films plotting and lack of explanatory dialogue. The way the ending of the film is written is jarring and somewhat off-putting, being much too tonally different from the scenes immediately prior. Thus, the film finishes on a somewhat sour note.

Ender’s Game is a valiant attempt at adopting the unfilmable novel and is much better than many anticipated. However, a lot of the idiosyncrasies and quirks of the book are left out and do the film no favors. It’s still a solid sci-fi film and worth checking out, who knows when we’ll see another Ender film?

FilmFire review:
3.75/5 forms


While it’s not the embarrassment to MGM’s cherished, bank-holiday classic that you might have feared, Oz The Great And Powerful is more flat and plodding than it is great or powerful.
-Stephen Carty, Flix Capacitor

The film has lots of computer-generated special effects but no magic.
-Philip French, The Guardian

So it’s been a while since we’ve had a review. You can blame that on the absolutely awful slate of movies that have come out in the first 2 months this year. Other than the latest Die Hard cash grab, Oz is the first notable film to hit theaters in 2013. It should start ramping back up to the spring/summer movie season pretty soon, though.

Now on to Oz: The Great and Powerful:
This is Sam Raimi’s return to big blockbuster filmmaking since the disaster that was Spider-Man 3. Hopefully this franchise has a better fate than that one, but judging on this entry I don’t have a lot of hope.

The very definition of a big budget Disney movie, Oz has a highly touted star cast, ubiquitous marketing and sky high expectations. Judging by it’s opening weekend take, it’s going to meet those expectations and more, but that does not make it a worthy successor to the original, or even a quality film.

Supposedly some kind of prequel to the 1939 classic (can you have a prequel to a dream?), Oz: The Great and Powerful attempts to explain the origin of the wizard himself: where he came from, how he got there, how he came to power, etc. Except it does this without any of the magic of the original.

This film has a lot of problems, many of which are rooted in it’s completely disjointed screenplay. It lacks any sort of momentum or pace until the third act. Dialogue is clunky and forced. Some events occur solely to advance the plot and make no sense in the context of what the character’s motivations are. I actually came away with more questions than answers about what was going on:

  • Why would the citizens of Oz be amazed by Thomas Edison’s electricity when everything is already powered by magic?
  • Is the kinetoscope really that impressive or scary when witches in bubbles and flying monkeys exist?
  • What’s the deal with the Zach Braff monkey, is he related to the evil baboon ones?
  • What’s with the apple turning witches green? Why do these witch sisters all hate each other?
  • Why do a few random characters from Kansas show up as characters in Oz?

The last one is particularly nagging. This makes sense in the original film, as Oz was Dorothy’s dream. Oz: The Great and Powerful isn’t a dream though, right?

Despite all the issues mentioned above, this movie is visually pretty incredible and probably merits a watch on its imagery alone. There is some outstanding cgi work done here along with some great creature effects and designs. The porcelain doll character was particularly well done. Also, fantastic work on the world design of Oz. This film is full of beautifully designed landscapes, scenery and setpieces. Extermely varied and colorful, if Oz has one thing going for it, it’s never dull to look at.

Overall, this film is not very good. It doesn’t hold a candle to the magic and charm of the original and often feels like it was just churned out within the studio system to make the most money possible. However, it is a visual feast and has some well executed 3D effects. If you like to watch pretty moving pictures, check it out. If not, skip it and watch the original.

FilmFire review:
2.5/5 forms


Welcome to FilmFire, our movie review blog.

We have a movie loving crew here, and a typical Monday morning involves discussions of our favorite current movies. One day someone joked that we should create a movie review blog and laughingly called it FilmFire. The name and the idea stuck.

So here’s our little piece of the Internet devoted to something a little more exciting than insurance.

We hope you enjoy.