Tag Archives: James Marsden

My Thoughts on: Sonic the Hedgehog (2020)

Sonic the Hedgehog occupies what might be a completely unique position in my mind. This is, as far back as I can remember, the first time I’ve ever gone to see a movie because I felt I owed it to the filmmakers to do so. Allow me to explain: remember when the original trailer for this film came out and we were all horrified by Sonic’s appearance? And then, to the shock of all, the studio withdrew the film and actually fixed it? That NEVER happens, and since the studio was so thoughtful as to actually listen to our wishes, I felt I had no choice but to repay them by going to see the film in theaters.

That turned out to be a great decision because Sonic the Hedgehog is a lot of fun! The story doesn’t take itself too seriously, and the comedy is actually pretty funny (that’s saying a lot from me because I’m very picky about the comedy I like). James Marsden made a great foil for Sonic, and aside from one or two awkward moments there really weren’t any moments I didn’t like.

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Aside from Sonic himself (more on that in a moment), my favorite part of this film has to be Jim Carrey. He was made for a movie like this and throws himself into the role of Dr. Robotnik with everything he has. Seriously, Carrey’s performance had me in stitches from the moment he arrived onscreen. If the clearly teased sequel happens, then I really hope we see more of Carrey’s Robotnik.

The other part of the film I really liked is Sonic. I was admittedly doubtful that the speedy hedgehog could ever be realized in a live-action movie, but after overhauling the design it works really well. Sonic looks just enough like his video game counterpart to satisfy longtime fans of the video games, while also looking like a living, breathing creature that found its way to Earth.

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And that leads me to one point that I do have a problem with: the story of how Sonic got to Earth. Now, I understand that the story needs an explanation of how we got to this point, but that prologue feels extremely rushed, with a lot of exposition crammed into what felt like five minutes or less. Perhaps a sequel will delve into this part of the story a bit more, because I have a lot of questions regarding how and why Sonic has his powers and the film didn’t really answer them (I should note I have never played any of the Sonic games). These aren’t the only pacing issues the story has, but it is the part that bothered me the most.

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And speaking of sequels, I am completely excited to see one after seeing the mid-credits scene. When that scene came on, that’s the first time in a long time that I’ve heard a there burst into applause and cheers. They could really be on to something here with a Sonic film franchise and I never thought I’d say this but I want to see what happens next!

Defying my worst fears, Sonic the Hedgehog is a cute movie that makes for a great time. While the story has a few pacing issues, Jim Carrey’s performance as Dr. Robotnik makes up for most of the issues, and the hints of what may come in a sequel leave me eager for more. If you go in with an open mind, you are definitely going to enjoy this movie.

Let me know what you think about Sonic the Hedgehog in the comments below and have a great day!

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My Thoughts on: Westworld Season 1 (2016)

As a lifelong fan of the science fiction genre (so much so that I made it my specialty in graduate school), I knew it would only be a matter of time before I watched this show. I was curious from the start to see what an adaptation of the 1973 Westworld film would look like and yet I hesitated a long time before finally starting the series. I think deep down I delayed because I was afraid I wouldn’t like the story, as it is very easy to do robot/A.I. run amuck badly. But it turns out I was worried over nothing: Westworld‘s first season is sheer brilliance.

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In ten episodes, we are introduced to the unbelievably lavish park that is Westworld, a place where the obscenely wealthy can come live out whatever fantasy they desire, from the innocent pleasures of living on a homestead to more depraved activities up to and including murder and rape. The human guests can act as they please since the robotic ‘hosts’ are incapable of harming them. In such an environment, many guests let loose with repressed fantasies of murder and sexual freedom (the series comments several times that most guests come to either “shoot or f*ck” whatever they want) in a way that can be very disturbing to watch (this show does not hold back on showing blood).

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The plot is divided between several arcs that follow different characters. The primary hosts we follow are Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood), her programmed lover Teddy (James Marsden), Maeve, a saloon madam (Thandie Newton) and recurring visits from Hector (Rodrigo Santoro) and his group of bandits. On the human side, in the park, we follow the mysterious Man in Black (Ed Harris) and a newcomer to the park named William (Jimmi Simpson), whose coming to the park with Logan (Ben Barnes), his future brother in law. Outside of the park, Dr. Robert Ford (Anthony Hopkins) is the director of the park and is assisted by Bernard (Jeffrey Wright). The show clearly takes place sometime in the future as the technology is far beyond anything that currently exists, but it’s not known how far in the future we are, as so far as I know, no year is ever given.

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It is clear from the first episode that there is something odd going on in the park, with the hosts in particular, but it takes almost the entire season before enough pieces come together to provide answers. That’s not a bad thing: half of the reason I love Westworld is because the fragmented plot arcs keep you guessing at the truth and eager to see the next piece of the puzzle (so to speak). And when the answers do begin to come, you start to question everything you’ve seen in the series. Not only that, there are some twists that lead you to wonder if anyone in this series is actually human. Like many films and tv series that explore the concept of A.I., the border between robots and humans becomes so thin that it is practically non-existent (unless one of the hosts has a glitch).

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Anthony Hopkins turns in a magnificent performance, a particularly favorite moment coming at the end of episode 7 “Trompe L’Oeil.” In that episode, Hopkins switches from affable to pure menace so effortlessly that I was glued to the screen for the entirety of the scene. The episode also features one of my favorite plot twists in the season, simply because there’s almost no hint that it’s coming.

If you like robots and science fiction, then I think you will enjoy Westworld season one. The plot is very well crafted and as I said before will keep you guessing almost until the end. I’m looking forward to watching season two.

Final thoughts:

-I ended up feeling sorry for the Man in Black by the end of the season. Even though he was warned multiple times that what he was searching for wasn’t meant for him, he persists anyway and is eventually disappointed.

-Teddy (James Marsden) has so many death scenes it’s almost ridiculous. To be fair though, he pulls it off beautifully each time.

-I can’t stand Logan (Ben Barnes) and I feel like he deserves everything he gets.

What do you think of the first season of Westworld? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below and have a great day!

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