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All reviews - Movies (65) - TV Shows (25) - Books (1) - Music (1)

Very Disappointing

Posted : 10 years, 6 months ago on 30 November 2009 02:30 (A review of Gamer)

In this massive multiplayer online role-playing game, a gamer's avatar is another human being and death is permanent.

The premise behind Gamer is an interesting one. In this future world, people can give up control of their bodies to someone else and this notion is at the same time seductive and horrific.
But Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor are more concerned with gory violence, titillation and being offensive than digging deeper into the themes of free will and dealing with society's "rejects".

Gerard Butler plays Kable, the star of the "Slayers" game, the only prisoner on death row who has survived 28 of these sessions. If he can finish 2 more games he will earn his freedom but Kable is more interested in getting revenge on the people who put him there.
Even though the script doesn't give Butler much to do but look intense, he still manages to make Kable sympathetic and honorable.
Michael C. Hall as the technological wunderkind who developed the game and it's tamer (relatively speaking) counterpart "Society" is predictably evil and nothing more.

Much of the action is intense and violent and prone to migraine-inducing shaky camera effects and quick cut editing to simulate a first-person shooter scenario.
All this action gets a bit too much - there's nothing for your eye to focus on to give you breathing room during all this intensity.

Don't get me started on how much women are objectified in Neveldine and Taylor's world - sending a female "avatar" to be raped is just not cool in any book.

Gamer becomes more interesting in the last 20 minutes with Kable seeking revenge. One scene before the climatic mano-a-mano fight which involves the song "I Got You Under My Skin" is the best thing about the movie.
This movie ultimately feels like 90 minute techno-metal music video dedicated to gratuitous violence.

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A popcorn flick to warm the autumn nights

Posted : 10 years, 6 months ago on 21 November 2009 01:34 (A review of 2012)

In 2009 scientists discover that record level of solar flare emissions will have a catastrophic effect on Earth in 2012 giving world leaders only a few years to do what is necessary to save the human race.

Whether you enjoyed or disliked The Day After Tomorrow, 2012 is hard to get through. The movie only picks up the pace about 30 - 45 minutes in and even then there are some moments (in the climax for example) where things just grind to a halt.

Some of the characters either have nothing to do or are so poorly developed that you don't care for them: Danny Glover as the US President is weak here and Amanda Peet and Thandie Newton seem to serve as window dressing. I thought that Chiwetel Ejiofor made the movie so much more bearable to watch.

The best thing about 2012 is the special effects and the action - stunning and realistic though without any gore.

Sadly, 2012 is only memorable for its special effects and nothing else.

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Decent Summer Flick

Posted : 11 years ago on 1 June 2009 06:39 (A review of Terminator Salvation)

Terminator Salvation takes place in 2018 where war between humans and machines is still raging, John Connor's place in the resistance movement is far from certain.

The film is gritty, action-packed and highly entertaining but it doesn't have the heart of the first Terminator and even T2: Judgement Day.

The landscape presented for this future is mind-blowing. Highways turned to deserts, barren cities with broken down buildings - totally a civilization turned to ruins. But at the same time there were some continuity problems - like how well-equipped the resistance are, or how a small band of survivors manage to have a pristine band-aid and but very little food.

The movie also walks a fine line between continuing a character's arc and ripping off iconic scenes. Yes, the famous lines are there but not all of them are successful.

The two characters with the most development are Marcus Wright and Kyle Reese. Sam Worthington as Marcus Wright is outstanding - he played his character's internal conflicts very well - and I found myself rooting for him more than John Connor.
Anton Yelchin's portrayal of Kyle Reese was also great. I could see how he could mature into the kind of man that Michael Biehn portrayed in the first Terminator.

Sadly, I didn't feel much for John Connor - yes he has the weight of the future on his shoulders and Bale plays that grim determination well but I wasn't emotionally invested in what happens to him. Which is a real pity.
The one character that should not have been there was Blair Williams, played by Moon Bloodgood. This woman just can't act. Every time she was screen I was rolling my eyes at whatever she was saying.

Terminator Salvation is a decent addition to the Terminator franchise but I wish it had more heart.

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Waaay Better Than Da Vinci Code

Posted : 11 years ago on 20 May 2009 02:12 (A review of Angels & Demons)

I was thoroughly disappointed with the Da Vinci Code that I wasn't sure if I wanted to see Angels & Demons. But see it I did and I actually had a good time.

The writers have made a wise move in setting Angels & Demons soon after the events of The Da Vinci Code. Here, Robert Langdon's expertise as a symbologist is needed to solve a series of murders and prevent a terrorist plot on the Vatican City. The changes made from book to screen make for a tighter, faster-paced movie except for Langdon's tendency to over-explain things which makes it drag at times.
I felt the first five minutes of the film could have done with just a touch of exposition because I was bit confused. However, once Langdon reaches Rome and race against the clock begins, I was riveted to the screen.

Rome is marvelous backdrop for the movie - the history and the natural beauty - were all wonderful. There was a sense of majesty in a lot of the shots that I liked.

Performance-wise, Tom Hanks was fine as Robert Langdon - maybe it's the new haircut. Ayelet Zurer as Vittoria Vetra while doing okay, didn't have much to sink her teeth into. But she made a good a foil for Tom Hanks whenever the two shared the screen. Stellan Skarsgรฅrd did a good job with the limited role he had while Ewan McGregor was outstanding as Camerlengo Patrick McKenna though at times his accent seemed to slip to his natural Scots.

Angels & Demons is a vast improvement over The Da Vinci Code but still suffers from expository tendencies which drags it down from time to time.

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Posted : 11 years ago on 12 May 2009 10:01 (A review of Star Trek)

JJ Abrams reboot is fantastic, bringing a freshness and lightness of step that has been missing from previous Star Trek movies. Even the overused time travel plotline works in this occasion because in rewriting Star Trek history as we know it, Abrams lets us explore a different Trek universe without being hemmed in by the dictates of canon. This was the problem that the tv show Enterprise experienced making for boring viewing.

This eleventh Star Trek is not boring at all. It's fast-paced and exciting with exciting action points and character development. We have fully-fleshed realizations of the TOS characters. Though Shatner plays Kirk best, Chris Pine did a remarkable job of capturing Kirk's arrogance and carefree spirit. I especially loved Karl Urban's portrayal of Dr. McCoy.
Zachary Quinto was excellent in capturing the simmering emotions beneath Spock's surface - a study of barely leashed anger and passion. All the other actors - Zoe Saldana, John Cho, Anton Yelchin and Simon Pegg - were also spot on in their performances.
Only poor Eric Bana didn't have to do as the evil Romulan, Nero. I didn't completely believe in his motivation for what he was doing - if the writers had fleshed that out a bit more, this movie would have gotten a 9 out of 10.

What was unexpected for me was the humor! Star Trek is really funny, a lot of humor are throwbacks to the old series and movies. My favorite one was the [Link removed - login to see] reference.

I had a great time watching Star Trek - I was on the edge of my seat at certain points, laughing out loud at others some great lines. I'll be watching this again.

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Watchable but disappointing on further reflection

Posted : 11 years, 1 month ago on 4 May 2009 10:48 (A review of X-Men Origins: Wolverine)

Performance-wise, I have no complaints - the actors all did a good job. I especially liked Liev Schrieber as Victor Creed (aka Sabretooth).

With a running time of less than two hours, Wolverine moves at a fast enough pace to keep you entertained but it's too short to be totally entertaining because of a number of glaring problems.

In my limited knowledge of the X-Men mythology I've always thought of Logan as the reluctant hero who prefers to be alone because of his violent nature and the terrible things he's done in the past. Sadly, this movie barely delves into the bad things that Logan has done. And for an origins story it's unforgivable that the writers skim over so much of his personal history.

Part of the reason is that character development takes a back seat because the movie tries to do too much with the time it has - there's Logan's relationship with Victor Creed, introduction of other mutants - Deadpool and Gambit amongst them, Logan's romance (totally unnecessary) as well as Stryker's machinations. With a tighter focus, Wolverine could have been a really good movie.

Though most unforgivable was the explanation of Wolverine's memory loss. The Deux Ex Machina was just lame.

The action was good and the camera movement not that shaky but there were some awful CGI - Wolverine testing out his Adamantium claws and the appearance of an important mutant at the end were both laughably bad.

You can have a good time watching Wolverine, but I doubt I'll be re-watching it anytime soon.

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Violent But Cheesy

Posted : 11 years, 3 months ago on 8 February 2009 03:47 (A review of Hard to Kill )

Police detective, Mason Storm's family is killed and he's left for dead by corrupt policeman because of evidence he has gathered against a potentially influential person. Seven years later he emerges from a coma to seek revenge.

Hard to Kill is cheesy, violent action with Steven Seagal being Steven Seagal. The martial arts sequences are good and particularly vicious but overall the movie lame. Kelly LeBrock is more a hindrance than a help. I don't know what it is about 80s synthesizer music, bad haircuts and men with padded shoulder suits that takes a movie down a couple of notches.

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Ratches Up The Suspense

Posted : 11 years, 3 months ago on 8 February 2009 03:45 (A review of The Negotiator)

When police negotiator, Danny Roman, is framed for murder and corruption, he decides to take matters into his own hands by taking hostages in an attempt to find the real dirty cops.

I haven't seen this film in ages and I was surprised by how good it is. My kudos to the writers, director and actors for taking a familiar plot and making it unique.

Kevin Spacey and Samuel L. Jackson turn in fantastic performances, while the supporting cast of J.T. Walsh, Ron Rifkin, Paul Giamatti and David Morse all lend a believability to the situation. Jackson especially walks the fine line between sypathetic innocent and possibly psychotic hostage taker.

I was on the edge of my seat, helping Danny Roman try to figure out who the bad apples on the police force were and the red herrings thrown out were believable that at one point I even thought that Kevin Spacey's character, Chris Sabian, was in on it!

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Posted : 11 years, 3 months ago on 8 February 2009 03:41 (A review of Australia)

I missed all the hype that Australia received in the run up to its release so I didn't have any expectations of what the movie would offer me. I was delighted to find a mix of western adventure with (melo)drama, tragedy, comedy and romance that Baz Luhrmann excels at. The first 30 minutes of camp and borderline absurdity reminded me of his first film, Strictly Ballroom (which I loved). My only wish is that he could have maintained this tone throughout the movie. At mid-point, Australia becomes more dramatic, okay melodramatic, morphing into a Pearl Harbor/Gone With The Wind romance. I don't know if it managed it quite as well as Gone With the Wind, but Australia is certainly much better than Pearl Harbor.

The movie's theme, a running theme in Baz Luhrmann's films, is one of being true to yourself - "A life lived in fear is a life half lived" and also looks at the traditions and mysticism that steeps aboriginal culture.

Aside from Hugh Jackman and Nicole Kidman, the principal character in this movie is the landscape. The cinematography is beautiful - the vistas are grand and colorful.

My main criticism of the movie is that it is too long - 3 hours. There are a number of places where it could have ended satisfactorily, the one and half hour mark comes to mind, but the movie wasn't boring.

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When Bridezillas attack!

Posted : 11 years, 4 months ago on 6 February 2009 12:57 (A review of Bride Wars)

If you check your brain at the door, perhaps even the parking lot, you can watch Bride Wars and have a decent time.
Sure it's fun watching the tricks that Liv and Emma play on one another but when you stop to consider it, what kind of a friendship do these two women really have when they are willing to trash it away for a wedding.

The characters are one dimensional - though Kate Hudson's character gets to stop being so perfect all time. However all the actors give their best given the circumstances so I can't fault their acting.

Also the story has no logic - once the women decide that their respective weddings are going to push through on the same day why do they insist on pulling tricks on one another?

I honestly don't know how a friendship can survive that kind of emotional pain so the convenient resolution and tacked on happy-ever-after ending falls into the realm of ridiculousness. Also the future love interest can be spotted a mile away.

I don't have that many expectations from a romantic comedy but Bride Wars really asks too much.

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