Saturday, August 30, 2008

Breach (movie)

This is the true story of FBI agent and tratior-spy, Robert Hansen. The plot: internal affairs hires a secretary/clerk for Hansen who spys on him, looks through his stuff and tries to find incriminating evidence against him... umm.. what else... oh, nope, that was everything.

Here's the problem: it was based on a true story. Now, that fact alone was enough to peak my interest enough to watch the movie all the way through. As you know, something that is real or plausible tweaks my reality nerve. But it wasn't enough.

The fact that it was based on a true story, I believe, was in itself its own demise. The reason is because in real life (apparently), NOTHING HAPPENED! While interesting to some extent... it was in fact BORING.

I hate to say this, but, other than the very end (which you can probably guess easily), I've already told you the WHOLE MOVIE.

My Rating: 1/5 (I didn't hate the movie, but then again I don't hate many movies at all)
My Recommendation: Skip it. It's slow, depressing and not worth your time.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Live Free or Die Hard (Movie)

John McClane is my hero. No I didn't say John McCain. But I digress...

I just saw Live Free or Die Hard (finally) and all I have to say is WOW! This honestly has to be the best shoot 'em up blow 'em up action movie I've ever seen. I think it was better than Eraser in that category if only for the modern aspect of the visual effects.

John McClane, played by Bruce Willis, is the best action hero ever. He tops James Bond, Ethan Hunt, and Rambo, and here's why: the guy just walks around and does some seriously AWESOME stuff all in the name of nonchalant luck. Rambo and the Governator had attitude and seriously big guns and you could tell they weightlifted 23 hours a day. James Bond, Ethan Hunt and Jason Bourne are highly trained special ops spies. But John McClane is a city cop. He has no skills but always seems to come out the winner. And let me tell you: it ain't boring to watch how he does it.

This is by far (in my opinion) the best of the Die Hard films. It had funny moments in which I laughed out loud (which hardly every happens with me). There was a great scene in which the Keanu Reeves character convinced the OnStar person to start the car for him. If you've seen the film, you know what I mean. You know, the kid was a bit cliche but I have to admit that I found him funny and entertaining. Good job, kid.

There were also some amazing moments of action, too many to name, but one that comes to mind is when McClane drives an SUV into an elevator shaft and proceeds to make it out alive. And of course there's this one here (pictured) in which he drives a police car into a helecopter. Awesome.

And of course, as in every action movie, there were a few unrealistic, yeah-right moments, like when McClane drives up a crumbling freeway bridge, gets demolished by a jet and then just jumps out unharmed.

The movie was about computer hackers and in my opinion it was all done very well. It was not without flaws--even I found a few things that were inconsistant. For example they took all the power down on the whole east coast but I saw a stop-light working in the background. My brother would be able to more accurately tell you how plausible and accurate the computer hacking stuff was portrayed.

If you like action movies, if you like explosions or Bourne Identiy/James Bond style action, sweet moves and amazing feats of incredible and highly unlikely strength and skill... you will LOVE this movie.

My Rating: 5/5 (No question)
My Recommendation: SEE IT. BUY IT.

Monday, August 18, 2008

24 - Season 1 (TV Show)

This show came out one school semester before I went off to BYU. I watched the first 6 episodes or so and loved it. My brother and I would talk about the show throughout the week, speculating and waiting for the next episode. I then went off to college and never saw an episode of 24 again. I've always wanted to see the show.

So now I've finally done it. I just finished watching season 1. It was an amazing show from start to finish. It wasn't perfect but it was well worth my time and I can't wait to start season 2.

What was good:
  • The acting. Everything was believable. No one seemed amateur. Sutherland was awesome, and so was the Allstate Insurance guy that played Senator Palmer.
  • The story. There's actually a "con" with "the story" as well (see below) but it was a "pro" as well. The story was VERY in depth and naturally as a writer I thought about the writing process as I watched. It was very hard for me to conceive of how the writers of the show could put together such an intricate and twisting plot line. Well done guys.
  • Intensity. I love Lost and Heroes because they keep you on the edge of your seat and the story continues from episode to episode as if it were one long movie. 24 fit that same bill. I knew the good guys would win but there was no telling how right up to the last few minutes.
What was bad:
  • The filming. I loved the split screen affect they did, showing a number of things going on at one time, but I kid you not, twice I saw a camerman in plain view off to the side of the screen. One time I had to pause and just stare at it because it was so perposterous. Unbelievable. Fire the guy in the editing room!
  • WARNING. THIS "CON" HAS A SPOILER: Moles. There were a couple of people in the CTU (Counter Terrorist Unit) that were moles (working for the bad guys). But the one they revealed at the very end was SO STUPID. There was NO WAY this person was a mole. I can point out a dozen things she did earlier in the show that are perfectly against her end goal if she were a bad guy. There were many times that she went out of her way, on her own, by herself, to help Jack. But if she really wanted him dead, then why did she do those things? It was more than silly. It was perposterous!
  • The Story. It was interesting to see everything happen in real time because you couldn't argue with the fact that a lot of stuff could really happen in 24 hours; you were watching it happen. Still... there was just TOO much stuff that happened in 24 hours. When you sit back and look at everything that happened, it's... just... insane and highly inprobable. On the otherhand, it made for awesome entertainment value.
  • The commercials. This was a mistake right up there with the cameramen off screen. The show takes place in real time. This means that when you go to a commercial your TV will tell you that the time is 8:43:23 and when you come back from commercial it's 8:47:11. Okay so 4 minutes have passed while we were away at commercial. Then why is Jack still closing the same car door he was closing before we went to commercial? Why is the bad guy still loading the cartridge into the same gun? Why is Nina still hanging up the phone after a disturbing phone call? You get my point. While they tried to make a realtime show, including commercial time, they didn't do it correctly. I'm hoping this is a problem they fixed in future years of the show.
So there it is. 24 Season 1 has finally made my list. If you like Lost or Heroes, I HIGHLY recommend this show. Netflix it. Buy it. Rent it. There are even websites online where you can watch it for free.

My Rating: 5/5 (even though I pointed out a bunch of flaws, that was only for the sake of the review. The show was amazing and easily deserving of a 5).
My Recommendation: See above: Netflix it. Buy it. Rent it. SEE IT!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Next (movie)

Anybody that knows my taste in fiction knows that I love science fiction, and that, more specifically, I like the element of time travel.

Next is the story of a man (Nicolas Cage) that can see 2 minutes into his own future. This means he knows exactly where each punch will be thrown in a fight, he knows exactly where bullets will hit him if he walks toward someone firing at him, and he knows if he's going to win at black jack.

It's a very interesting premise and it was portrayed satisfactorily.

The direction and vision were executed well. I had a great time watching Nick Cage view all the possible outcomes of the near future. Especially toward the end they did a great job showing how this all worked.

The acting? Fairly good. The only complaint I would have about this is that Nicolas Cage is a great actor but he only plays one part. Have you ever seen him in a movie? Then you've seen him in this one too. He makes great movies but his performance gets old after the first 124 movies you've seen him in.

The only complaint I have is that the cgi needed a bit of work in the major avalanche scene. There was a lot of apparent green/blue screen work and some sub-par visual FX added in the mix. See the movie and you'll see what I mean. The avalanche looked more like a video game rendition. But if you can look past that, the rest was well done.

It was an action flick but I wouldn't say it was action packed. It was somewhat intense but not edge-of-your-chair intense. The plot was good, but not all that thick.

On another note, the major dilema in the movie was that a bunch of terrorists were going to nuke Los Angeles, but there was never a mention of their motive. WHY did they want to blow up the city? It was all just kind of overlooked.

My Rating: 3.8/5 (even though it's a 3, it's a high 3, almost a 4)
My Recommendation: Rent it (definitely see it but not worth the buy unless you're a fanatic about buying every DVD you watch)

The Andromeda Strain (Movie - 1971)

This is a classic sci-fi movie that takes itself very seriously. Based on the best-selling novel by Michael Crichton, this movie was very popular in its day and has also been more recently remade (review coming soon on the remake).

I found the plot interesting even if unoriginal. Then again, it very well may have been original in its day. Have you ever seen Outbreak? This is like an old 70s version of that movie.

It was interesting to see "super advanced" computers whose graphics looked like the Atari.

The acting was nothing to applaud. Every single character (and I mean every character) seemed to be angry and yelling the entire movie. Not very good direction--I'm sure the actors themselves were capable of much more.

The believability was high. Everything, even if a very serious, angry, and non-smiling, was portrayed in a very real-world way.

As I mentioned before, the plot left a bit to be desired. It was paper thin: an alien bacteria enters the atmosphere via a down satellite. It mutates, travels by air, and kills you in seconds. The main characters must figure out how to stop it. That's pretty much the whole movie. That said, I did actually find the movie quite unpredictable. It was shot in a way that you weren't sure if the good guys would actually win. It felt like an long episode of the old Outer Limits in which anything is possible.

Thin plot, not-so-great acting, poor direction, but unpredictable and believable.

My Rating: 2/5
My Recommendation: Skip it (unless you are totally into the classic sci-fi thing, in which case you might as well see it for its nostalgic factor)

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

TMNT (movie)

As a kid I loved the Ninja Turtles. Who didn't? I had the action figures and I would spend time in class drawing them instead of doing my English or Math assignments. I even loved the three feature movies that were made. Especially part 2. I can't remember what it was about, but I remember really liking part 2.

Naturally I was excited to see this movie when I heard about it. Unfortunately, I was quite disappointed.

My biggest complaint was the graphics. They were terrible. It was cgi instead of cartoon, which, in my opinion, brings with it a certain level of expectation. Instead of Final Fantasy cgi, or even Toy Story cgi, the result was more like the opening cinamatics to a video game. You know what I mean, you pop Halo into your xBox or install Age of Empires III on your computer and when you run the program, they play a bit of the story line in cgi movie format (click here for the Age of Empires III opening cinematic example). Well TMNT was like watching a HUGE LONG opening video game cinematic sequence.

It was tough to get past that. The entire movie it was hard to concentrate on the story when all i could see was sloppy cgi work.

The story was shallow. Let me put it this way: Here's the premise: The turtles are older, and no longer a team. They've all gone off to do their own things. Bad monsters start terrorizing NYC.

There, now YOU tell me how the rest of the movie will play out. See what I mean? You can probably accurately tell me exactly what happens for the next hour and a half.

It was, however, slightly entertaining only because I loved the turtles so much as a kid. I really didn't like Raphael's new bad attidude and I felt that his sudden change of heart at the end (oops, did I give that away? Oh, no, you would have predicted it easily in the first 10 minutes of the movie) was too quick, simple, and without premise. It was unrealistic to say the least.

I didn't hate the movie. It was fun to watch in spite of it being basically terrible in every way. If I give a movie a 1/5, to me that says I hate it. So for that reason alone:

My Rating: 2/5
My Recommendation: Skip it

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Across the Universe (Movie)

I grew up loving the Beatles. I practically worshiped them through high school. I not only had all their albums and memorized all of their songs, but I would go to the library, check out books on the Beatles, read them, and memorize them.

When Across the Universe came out, I had to see it.

It is one of my favorite movies of all time. You'll find it in my sidebar on the list of my favorite movies. You'll also find some of the songs from the movie soundtrack in my playlist in the sidebar (the music was so amazing I just had to get the soundtrack to this movie after I saw it -- more on this later)

The story is of the 60s. The war, drugs, the lifestyle, love, music. Coupled with this is a unique way of doing a quasi-musical movie. All the Beatles songs are sung by the main characters rather than just played as background music as in all other movies.

The voices of these actors are amazing. Megan and I watch American Idol religiously but the talent in this movie surpasses American Idol 10-fold.

Aside from the imense talent and extreme entertainment value, the movie is visually amazing. The director has an eye for original scenes and creative exposition. It starts off normal like you'd expect in any movie, but as the plot thickens, so does the visual aspect of the film. You'll just have to see it to see what I mean.

My brother claims that he didn't like it because it felt like they were cramming Beatles songs into the movie just for the sake of cramming them in and that they didn't add to the movie or even belong. While perfectly entitled to that opinion (and I'm sure there are others that will agree with him), I have now seen the movie three times and I am going to have to mostly disagree. You'll notice I said "mostly." I do admit that there is occasionally a scene in which a song is sung and it is a bit overboard and doesn't add to the movie. Still, the vocals and visual aspect is enough to make me overlook that.

This is an amazing movie all around. The acting is perfect. Very believable perforamces by every actor. If I had one complaint it's that the middle portion of the movie (the drug phase) lasts a bit too long. At first, it was very cool to watch how the director would choose to show a drugged-out world using music, colors, singing, etc. It was cool for the first song, okay for the second, over-done for the fouth, and downright annoying for the fourth. Still, a minor setback for an amazing film.

My Rating: 5/5
My Recommendation: Buy it. It's amazing.

Fool's Gold (Movie)

I got talked into watching this movie by Megan and her family on the promise that it was not a chick flick. They were right. In spite of the movie posters and the trailers that advertise this movie it was not, after all, a chick flick.

It was, however, incredibly cheesy and over the top.

The story itself was well thought out, even if a quite generic treasure hunting movie. Have you ever seen Romancing the Stone? I watched that move about 100 times as a kid. This movie was less chick-flicky but had a similar feel to Romancing the Stone... with a lot more modern cheese involved.

For example, the daughter of the billionaire yacht owner was over-the-top ditsy and while they made fun of her dumbness in the movie, I still could not believe that someone in real life would be that stupid.

There was also the bad guy: BigBunny--a gangsta rapper that owned an island in the tropics where this movie takes place. It was absurd. He and his henchmen seemed to be right out of a Home Alone movie and it was painful to watch.

And (must I keep going?) there was a Russian sidekick diver guy that kept showing up in the movie. He too was over-the-top dumb, but even more than that, he had NO ROLE in this movie. I am NOT exaggerating when I say that every single one of his lines and scenes could have been cut from the movie and NOTHING would have felt missing or out of place.

The only redemming quality of this film was the beauty with which it was shot. The surrounding scenery was supurb and the colors used throughout were breathtaking. I'm sure a lot of post-production color correction was involved, but the result was visualy pleasing.

This movie could have been much better done. Make the bad guys more realistic, take the cheese completely out of the movie, get the main characters to take things a bit more seriously, and you've got yourself a quality movie (even if the plot was generic and predictable).

Oh, and p.s., the title of the movie has NOTHING to do with the movie. I'm serious. Nothing.

My Rating: 2/5 (1 point for a visually pleasing film and 1 point for somewhat of an entertainment value)
My Recommendation: Skip it.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Hancock (movie)

This movie was full of poor special FX, little to no character development, a lack of motives for anything, cheesy sequences, and too much information packed into a short movie, not to mention it wasn't the deepest plot in the whole world.

I loved every minute of it.

From my comments above you can see that I won't pretend that it was a perfect movie. It had a great deal of flaws but I have two things to say: Will Smith, and Superhero. I love both of these things and this movie brought them together.

The special FX were poor only in thy flying sequences. Apparantly it is difficult to make it look like a man can actually fly. the other FX were actually quite good--especially the downtown fight scene with lighting and tornadoes happening. It was great.

There was a lack of character development and character motive and this was my biggest complaint. Characters just seemed to appear out of nowhere and we were supposed to care about them but there was no time given to developing these characters enough to accomplish that. Here's an example: Hancock bad. He mean. "hey Hancock, you should be good instead." Okay, I try that too now." There you go, I just gave away the first 15 minutes of the movie.

Last but not least, I felt the movie went too fast. Things were just happening left and right. Scenes changed and characters moved on to different ideas and events before you could digest the event that just occurred. The filming and direction seemed too clipped and edited and I would have liked a bit more time spent on each event.

Now that that's out of the way: the movie was great. While it was not Smith's best performance, i would say that it is a nice addition to his portfolio. When compared his other movies such as Legend of Baggar Vance, I am Legend, the Pursuit of Happiness, i Robot, etc etc.... it rounds out his amazing acting ability. Just take a look at his movie list and you'll realize what a stud the Fresh Prince really is.

I loved seeing Hancock do all the things that we all wished Superman could do on the big screen. You know, things like mess with the bad guys, or stop a train by simply smashing into it. That was pretty cool. Not to mention that Hancock seemed immensely more powerful than Superman.

The story line wasn't terribly deep, but it wasn't the kiddie pool either. The guy's got amnesia and you slowly learn about his past. It was a good enough story to keep the interest going.

I must also admit that I found the movie unpredictable. Every turn of events was something that I could not have seen coming.

Over all I'd say great stuff. If you like Will Smith, see it. If you like superheroes, it's a must-see. If you're a movie critic with acute criticism and no taste for rubbish or sub-par literary works... then skip it.

My Rating: 4/5 (maybe 3.7/5 but the extra 0.3 points are for superheroes being cool)
My Recommendation: See it. Rent it. If you're a superhero fan or a Will Smith fan, buy it.

Monday, August 04, 2008

The Day The Earth Stood Still (Movie - 1951)

I've always wanted to see this movie because it's a classic sci-fi. When I went to see The Dark Knight I saw a preview for a remake of this movie so I thought it was time I finally see the original.

It was entertaining, but if I am to be honest, it was mostly only entertaining because it was a classic. Given what technology they had back in 51, the "special FX" were pretty good (if you call it that). But the story itself was quite thin. Basically a guy comes from another planet to warn Earth and.... oh wait, THAT'S THE WHOLE MOVIE!

The novelty factor was high; the nostalgic factor was high; the story? It left a bit to be desired. I am definitely more excited about the new upcoming version. Click here to see the preview of the new movie.

My Rating: 2/5
My Recommendation: If you're into the nostalgic, black and white movie, classic sci-fi thing, it's a must see. Otherwise, while it was entertaining, I'd say skip it.