Thursday, July 31, 2014

Guardians of the Galaxy begins... comics

I haven't spoiled myself on Guardians of the Galaxy movie. I have read the comics that inspired the movie and seen few trailers. So you can consider this spoiler free what comes to the movie. I will how ever spoil two comic stories, Annihilation and Annihilation: Conquest. I won't go deeper into Guardians of the Galaxy comics. Based on trailers, movie is inspired by Star-lord part of Annihilation: Conquest and I haven't got past first few issues of Guardians of the Galaxy comics. There was earlier Guardians of the Galaxy comic, but movie is based on comic, which was kickstarted with Annihilation and Annihilation: Conquest.

Annihilation was event that changed Marvel's cosmic universe.  Annihilation wave attacks our universe destroying planet, races and fractions. Story was told in main comic and several spin-off comics. I won't be going the whole story here, just what Guardians of the Galaxy and couple other characters did during Annihilation.  Drax the Destroyer was just released from prison, when Annihilation wave hit planet he was on. Drax survives the first attack and joins forces with Nova, who also survives the attack. They help refugees to escape and later joined United Front against Annihilation wave.

Ronan the Accuser is not member of Guardians of the Galaxy, but he is in movie and he was one of the main characters in Annihilation. In movie he could be either good guy or bad guy depending how he fits the story. In Annihilation he is accused of betraying his race the Kree.  He has escaped and hunts witness, who told about his betrayal in court. He is no longer supreme judge of Kree empire, but he still judges and executed based on Kree law. That doesn't always work and he causes at least one city-wide war. Ronan makes quick decisions without thinking  of consequences. This will cause problems for him and everyone around him. Ronan finds witness inside Gamora's sisterhood. Gamora has went to solitude and build sisterhood around her. We find, whole planet is under mind control of alien who makes everyone more aggressive and fight against each other.

Then Annihilation wave hits the planet. Ronan hears, who framed him. Ronan and Gamora join forces and escape the planet. Ronan finds, the house that framed him, did that because they wanted to make deal with Annihilation wave. Ronan would never have accepted that. Ronan destroys the house which eventually makes him leader of Kree empire. Somewhere along the line Ronan and Gamora joined United Front. In Annihilation Star-lord is using his real name Peter Quill. He made one mistake, that hunts him as Star-lord and don't want to be called that any more. He has only small role in United Front during Annihilation.

Drax hears his arch-enemy Thanos is with Annihilation wave and has kidnapped his daughter. When United Front need to leave planet, Drax stays behind to give them time and to infiltrate Annihilation wave. He kills his way to Thanos and kills him. Problem is, Thanos seemed to be only one capable of stopping Annihilation Wave. That wasn't the case and United Front can stop Annihilation wave. Annihilation has a short appearance of Nebula, who is also in movie. She is member of Gamora's sisterhood, but we don't learn much about her.

Because Annihilation was so popular, it got sequel Annihilation: Conquest. It is pretty similar to Annihilation. There is one main comic with several spin-off comics. Again we have almost unstoppable enemy and characters are almost same. This time story isn't as universe shattering since Annihilation left universe in ruins. This story start to put Guardians of the Galaxy members together. Cybernetic species Phalanx attack Kree home world during rebuild. They create force field  around Kree space. No one can enter or leave. Inside force field they destroy opposition and brainwash others to join them. Peter Quill is blamed for letting the attack to happen. Gamora and Drax are brainwashed and they fight for Phalanx together. Ronan the Accuser is also brainwashed.

Kree resistance captures Peter Quill. They make him to become Star-lord again and led small group of convicts in Kree home world. Their goal was to investigate what Phalanx are planning and sabotage those plans. This group can be caller pre-Guardians of the Galaxy. It was led by Star-lord and had Groot and Rocket the Raccoon along with other non-cosmic powered characters. Annihilation: Conquest is bad for Ronin. He has to question himself time and time again. During Annihilation he made stupid choices, but choices didn't bit him back like in Conquest; Annihilation. Finally Phalanx is beaten. Star-lord want to react before third similar event happens. He is joined by Groot, Gamora, Adam Warlock, Quasar, Drax the Destroyer and Rocket the Raccoon.  Quasar and Adam Warlock have cosmic powers, which made name Guardians of the Galaxy make sense. However, I think it was good choice to left cosmic powered characters out from the movie.

Adam Warlock is embodiment of everything wrong with cosmic powered characters. He can practically do anything story requires. He also almost always knows everything. Other characters just hang around him, because he seems to be key to solve problems. Adam Warlock is the reason, why I haven't got past first few issues of Guardians of the Galaxy. Groups dynamic is strange. Usually members have different kind of powers. Guardians of the Galaxy seem to have two of each kind of characters and then there is walking tree Groot. Gamora and Drax the Destroyer have almost similar powers. Drax can fight endlessly with his knifes. Gamora is female version of him, who like to hide and attack from shadows unlike Drax who like to fight face to face. Both can kill armies with their knifes. Star-lord and Rocket the Raccoon are gun crazy master tacticians. One is man and other raccoon. Adam Warlock and Quasar also had similar power. Groot was one and only walking tree.

Annihilation was good. It changed Marvel's cosmic universe, which meant anything could happen to any character and place. It was story of desperate fight against superior enemy. Annihilation: Conquest suffer the fact that it was made because Annihilation was popular. It doesn't change things as much as Annihilation did and it felt like copy of Annihilation. Annihilation is good reading, if you are interested about Marvel movies. It has Thanos, who will be main villain at some point. Many earlier movies have been build up for Infinity Gauntlet story and in that story Thanos is main villain. Adam Warlock is also important character in that story, but I hope he is not in movies.


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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

My photos on Flickr

I created Flickr account about month ago. I have over 200 photos there. You can find my photostream from Feel free to follow me there too.


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Monday, July 28, 2014

Superman: Unbound (2013)

SPOILER WARNING!!! This post spoils movie Superman: Unbound (2013).

Another DC animated movie. These movies take one story from comics and make animated version of it. This time it is Superman: Brainiac. Problem with this approach is, you don't know what the premise of story is. When you read stories in comics, you have previous issues and story continues from them. In these movies, it take some time to figure out what is characters relationship status at this point. Comic collections have same problem, but there is more to read and you get what you need to know from that. Movies are little over hour and there is no time to explain relationships of characters.

Given the problem I mentioned above, it is strange how much these movies spend time at beginning on fight scene, that is not related to main story. Ok, it usually shows all superheroes fighting, but it takes time from the main story. To be honest in this movie it was good, that beginning too some time from ending. Ending started to get bit repetitive. Movie could have been better, if it spent less time with Superman and more time with Brainiac.

I have said few time I don't like Superman as character. What happens around him is more interesting. My favorite Superman story is first twelve issues of Irredeemable. It tells story of Superman like superhero turning into supervillain. It could have been elseworlds Superman story, but DC didn't want to do that. These twelve issues study superheroes like I want Superman to be studied. Another good one is Superman: Red Son, where Superman landed and grew on Soviet Union. In this movie, only interesting Superman related moment is, when one man wonder, if Superman has left them so they can learn to survive without his help. That told how presence of Superman has made citizens of Metropolitan dependent of him. But that part of Superman is rarely explored in Superman stories.

Superman would be interesting character is storied took that route. Clean cut boy scout is boring. Good for this movie, it has interesting villain. This was first time I really liked Brainiac. I am sure I have read comics with him, but I don't remember anything from those stories. Movies have one thing comics doesn't have. Voice. They have also moving pictures, but this time voice made the difference. Voice made character intimidating and alien. Brainiac is alien robot, who collects information by collecting cities and studying them. He keeps miniaturized cities in his ship. He probes universe with robots. When robot finds interesting planet, it send signal to Brainiac and Brainiac comes to planet to collect city.

When you have good, almost unstoppable villain, you need good ending. Not like this had. It is Babylon 5 level disappointment. First Superman can't do anything to Brainiac and then when movie needs to end... To be honest ending made some sense, but I could easily argue why it didn't. It is almost carbon copy of ending of The War of the Worlds. In that movie ending was bit disappointing, but it made sense. Now that I think this more carefully, main story is quite close to The War of the Worlds. No wonder I liked that part of the movie.


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Sunday, July 27, 2014

Tour de France 2014

I think I have to write this post since Tour wasn't what I told in stage 5 post. This felt like cleanest Tour in long time. I am not sure what has happened. President of UCI has changed since last Tour. Old president was blamed to be part of doping problem and new wanted to make cycling cleaner. I am not sure is that the real cause or have Armstrong's problems made riders thinking about doping usage. If I had to bet, I would be cynical and say doping tests can show something new and riders can't use their normal "diet". It that is the case, something new will eventually come up and we get back to regular doping filled racing.

So, what makes me say this was cleanest Tour in long time? We didn't have dominating teams and riders had bad days more than usually. Normally there are one or two teams that dominate the race on mountains. Those teams keep the speed up until only couple riders from other teams can follow. Then team captain attacks and drops everyone else.  Many of these teams have later been found to systematic doping program. This year no team could control the race like in previous years. If team captains had helpers on fine climb, they were from different team each climb. Captains were alone during last ten kilometers and they had to fight for themselves. And they did it. Attacks came from further from the finish line than before. It was more entertaining racing than before. I still think fifth stage was most entertaining, but mountain stages were more entertaining than before. I like to see more of this kind of racing. Every day was different and you never could guess who will have bad day.

Everyone except  Nibali had bad days. After Contador crashed, Nibali didn't have any problems and he didn't have to push himself to limit. He could keep his pace and that was enough to make time on others. I think Nibali could have won even with Froome and Contador in the race. I didn't like how Froome's and Contador's camps questioned Nibali's victory. Riders themselves didn't do that. It was someone else from their camp. You have to remember that Nibali was over two and half minutes ahead of Contador, when Contador crashed and we never got to see Froome on cobbles, where Nibali made most of the time difference. We didn't get to see Froome or Contador to have bad day on mountains. When you speculate on crashed rider's changes, you never count how they could have bad days.

Winner was clear after first mountain stages, but that didn't make race boring. Fight for second and third places was tight until the last time trial. Every stage had something dramatic. If Froome and Contador didn't crash, we wouldn't have seen this fight. That fight would have been for fourth place and other teams would have made their moves. It is hard to say which would have been better, what we got or fight between Nibali, Contador and Froome. If we see that fight next year and someone other than Nibali wins, it doesn't mean that same guy would have won this year. Route suited Nibali this year with cobbles and only one time trial. Next year it could be two long time trials, which suit more Froome and Contador.

Over all it was better Tour than I expected. I have watched other races this year. This was first one during which I felt like watching cleaner cycling. Now that I start to think it, other races make more sense now, when you assume them to be cleaner too. We have seen something unusual on earlier races too.


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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox (2013)

SPOILER WARNING!!! This post spoils movie Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox (2013)

Another Justice League animation movie, but totally different than previous one. Animation is different. Tone is different and Justice League has different members. I don't know, how much connection this should have with Justice League: Doom. This is more Flash movie than Justice League movie. Flash is main character and he is only one who is familiar version of character. Other characters are different than normal.

Flash wakes up without his power and finds out world has changed. First his dead mother is now alive. All familiar superheroes are different versions of themselves. Aquaman and Wonder Woman are at war against each other. This war is about to destroy the Earth. Flash goes to Batman to ask his help. In this world Batman is not Bruce Wayne. He is Thomas Wayne, who became Batman after his son Bruce Wayne was killed. This Batman uses guns and kills people. Batman and Flash manage to give Flash's powers back. But he is not as fast as before. He can't travel in time like he could do before. I didn't know he could do that. In Doom he could run through solid object. In this he can't. That would have made things easier for him few times. Makes me wonder, what he can actually do. It seems to be different in both movies.

In this world Superman was captured after he landed. He has been locked underground and he never got superpowers. Flash and Batman team up with Cyborg. Cyborg works for government. He finds where Superman is held. They go to free him. During following fight Superman gains superpowers and loses control of his heat vision. He kills solders they fight against and freaks out after he realizes what he has done. Then he just flies away. Flash, Batman and Cyborg decide to go to stop Aquaman and Wonder Woman. On their way Batman shows Flash video, where they see Eobard Thawne. Thawne is Flash's nemesis. He has same powers as Flash. They think he is behind all this.

Movie is dark and violent. If this was live action movie, it would be rated R or something similar. But because this is animation, it is suited for kids. We see decapitations, Wonder Woman killing children and Batman shooting guy to head and see Batman through hole in guy's forehead. This movie happens in alternative time line. That gives movie permission to do more extreme things with characters. Normal world characters wouldn't be able to do anything like this. This movie reminds me of Superman: Red Son and Frank Miller's Dark Knight Returns. Like those comics, this makes Superheroes dangerous to regular humans. World doesn't see them as friends, but weapons to use or weapons, which can destroy you.

DC usually doesn't explore this part of superheroes. Marvel does that all the time. But when DC chooses this way, they go all the way. I liked this movie because of tone, story and different versions of heroes. Only complain I have is Flash's powers and things related to powers. It is like they made things up as they went. I don't want to spoil the twist or the ending. But I have to say both include continuity errors, which make you ask, why he now needs this, when he didn't need it before.

Over all movie is worth watching. It is dark and violent. Because this happens in alternative time line, anything can happen to any character. That is refreshing in superhero stories. I didn't like animation style at first, but when I saw where this went, it suited the story and tone. Alternative time line was interesting. I would like to see more of it. Batman was interesting as was alternative version of Harley Quinn. It was hinted, that Bruce Wayne's mother was Joker. Bruce Wayne's father as Batman and mother as Joker would make interesting story in right hands.

After writing this post I found this movie is based on comic story Flashpoint and story has few spin-offs including Batman story. I will be checking main story and at least Batman story later. At the moment I have enough other comics to read. I haven't forgotten what I promised about Guardians of the Galaxy. It will come next week. On Thursday, day before the movie comes to cinema.


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Monday, July 21, 2014

Justice League: Doom (2012)

SPOILER WARNING!!! This post spoils movie Justice League: Doom (2012).

Sometimes movies make you wonder, why scripts are not checked before movies are done. Justice League: Doom is one of those movies. Or is it that this looks good on paper and you realize, how bad it is after seeing the product? This movie is loosely based on comic story JLA: Tower of Babel. So it would be possible to see how this looked on paper. I haven't read to the comics, so I can't comment on that.

Batman has mad plans to stop every member of Justice League if they become evil. Vandal Savage steals plans and recruits Justice League's enemies to kill Justice League. Every member has his or her own enemy to do the killing. Plans to kill Martian Manhunter and Superman made sense. Martian Manhunter was poisoned and Superman shot with kryptonite bullet. Other plans didn't make any sense, if goal was to kill the person.

Bane attacked Batman. He knocked Batman unconscious. Instead of killing Batman, he buried Batman alive. Cheetah scratches Wonder Woman's arm during battle and get nanomachines into Wonder Woman's bloodstream. Namomachines make Wonder Woman see everyone as Cheetah. Cheetah leaves Wonder Woman to burn herself out fighting against everyone. If goal was to kill Wonder Woman, why not make nanomachines do something else to Wonder Woman's brains than change what she sees? Like shutting down her brains or destroy something important.

Mirror Master's trap attached bomb to Flash's arm. Bomb explodes, if Flash slows down. Flash had to run, if he wanted to live. Why not make time bomb or use nanomachines like with Wonder Woman? Green Lantern was framed to think he is not worth of Green Lantern's powers and he drops the ring. Remember, this was Batman's plan to stop Green Lantern if he became evil. Would Green Lantern thought about worthiness, when he is evil? Star Sapphire leaves Green Lantern after Green Lantern has dropped the ring. Not killing like she was paid to do.

See any pattern? Villains don't kill heroes, they leave them to die, but don't wait until heroes are dead. I know, they can't kill members of Justice League in animation movie, but this was lazy and stupid. Of course heroes will survive, when villains leave and heroes can work together. This movie lacked working together. Heroes work together only when they save each others and when they save the world from solar flare. When they fight against League of Doom, each pick their own enemy and fight him or her like in their own comics. No co-operation or changing enemies there.

Vandal Savage's plan was to destroy half of earth by shooting solar flares from sun. His base would have been in destroyed are, but it would have survived. What would have been the point of having base in destroyed area, when all other survivors lived another side of the planet? He wanted to rule people, not be as far as possible from them. Luckily Justice League managed to make Earth and everything on it incorporeal for moment. Solar flare just went through Earth and everything on it. I am not a scientist, but I think that would cause a lot of problems.

In the end Justice League discuss, can they let Batman be part of the group. Batman says he shouldn't be part of the group, if others can't see why he had to have those plans. He and Superman have discussion after Justice League made its decision. but decision is never told. Discussion hints, Batman stays, but it is not sure, if only Superman approved Batman's actions or did everyone approve. But does it matter in the end, because two biggest names in Justice League and Justice League doesn't feel same, if one of them is missing?


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Thursday, July 17, 2014

Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (1993)

SPOILER WARNING!!! This post spoils movie Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (1993).

This has been on my list of movies to watch for a long time. I have heard from many places this is one of the best Batman movie. Among best live action movies. Problem was I couldn't find it anywhere when I remembered it. Now it became available. So I had to check it.

Phantasm, new lethal vigilante, comes to Gotham City. Batman is mistaken for Phantasm and police start serious hunt for Batman. At same time Bruce Wayne's old love, Andrea Beaumont, comes back. This gives Batman flashbacks of time before he became Batman and when he was with Andrea. Bruce Wayne has promised his dead parents he will fight crime. He is not yet Batman, but fights criminals during night. When he meets Andrea, he has to choose between happiness with her or keeping his promise and continue his vigilantism. After internal struggle, he chooses happiness. That lasts one day, which he and Andrea are engaged. Next day Andrea and his father leaves to Europe.

After that Bruce Wayne found Batman character and rest is history. Then we get back to modern time, where Batman tries to solve, who Phantasm is and what Andrea is doing in Gotham. The Story is darker than I expected. Ending is also something you don't expect, if you think animations are for kids. This is one of the best Batman movies among Tim Burton's and Christoper Nolan's movies. It has same tone and no Robin. Best Batman movies seem to not have Robin. As soon as you add Robin, tone of the movies change.

Watching this movie I realized how often people learn who Batman is. In every live action movie, except Batman the Movie and Batman and Robin, Batman's love interest finds out who Batman is. Before this it didn't bother me. Bruce Wayne has new woman every month. If every other of them knew Batman's identity, how long Batman's identity could remain hidden. This is different from Spider-man, who stays with one woman longer. In Daredevil: Born again comic, Daredevil's former lover sells his identity for drugs. After that criminal boss Kingpin attack Daredevil's civil persona and destroys his civil persona's life. Something similar could happen to Batman, when he reveals his identity to so many women. This problem was biggest in Burton's and Schumacher's  movies, where almost every girlfriend of the week learned batman's true identity.

Another thing I didn't like was addition of Joker. The story didn't need him. He was included to Batman's origin story once again. I liked Dark Knight, because it had Joker, but it didn't add him to Batman's origin story. I like Joker, but he shouldn't be everywhere. This story didn't need Joker. It would have been better only with Batman, Phantasm and regular criminals.

What I really liked was Future World theme park. In flashback it was futuristic theme park, showing how Bruce Wayne's future seemed bright. On current time it is abandoned decayed place like Bruce Wayne's current future. In the end it is completely destroyed like Bruce Wayne's hopes for happy future. Bruce Wayne had change for happy future and he chose it, but world decided otherwise. Did I tell you this movie have very uplifting look on world and happy story?

Those two things above are not big problems. This is one of best Batman stories. Much better than I expected from animation. I liked Phantasm character. It was good enough for Batman's regular rogue gallery. But character's motivations wouldn't work as regular villain and that would change the character to something else.


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Monday, July 14, 2014

Tour de France 2014: Stage 5

I was about to start new blog for this post. Then I realized, I could put it here. I am not going to post more sport related posts, unless I really have point to make, which suits the context of this blog. Tour de France is sporting spectacle you can watch on tv. So with little fetching, this could be here. I am not going to discuss one stage of Tour de France. This is more about, what is generally wrong in current stage races.

Races can be divided into two categories. One day races and stage races. One day races run usually every year on same route with minor adjustments. One day races have their own characteristics and are more technical and tactical. They use smaller roads and riders can race like there is no tomorrow. Oldest and largest one day races are called classics. Stage races are run during several stages and days. Route changes every year and stages are less technical and tactical than one day races. Riders have to save their energy for later stages and route's main function is take race from one place to another. There may or may not be things, that make racing harder. For general classification, there are mountain and time trial stages.

Over last decade stage races have became really boring. There are four main reasons for this. First became after Festina scandal at 1998. Since that mountain stages have became easier. By easier I mean stages don't have as many back to back mountains. There are often flat roads between mountains. Currently it is rare to have any point attacking before last mountain. There is too much flat before last mountain. Strong teams can catch breakaway before the last mountain. Where we get to second reason. Lance Armstrong and his US Postal team introduced current stage race tactics. Best riders have second best riders as their team mates keeping high pace on mountain stages. This really started when Roberto Heras came to US Postal for season 2001. At the time he was third best climber on race after Lance Armstrong and Jan Ullrich. Mountain stages were US Postal keeping the pace high until there were only Armstrong, Ullrich and Heras.

Since that, richest teams have adopted that tactic. Best teams are so strong no individual rider can escape before last mountain. Last mountains are usually gone so fast, nobody can attack. Riders just drop from the group. To make races more interesting organizers have added more and harder mountain top finishes. This kind of tactics and number of mountain top finishes make riders wait for last mountain top finish to make their move, if they can make it. On earlier mountain top finishes, they wait as long as they can before they try anything. Fourth reason is more climber friendly time trials. Time trials don't give as time to good time trialists as they used. Climbers have less reason to attack on mountains, because they don't have to make time on time trialists.

Decade ago Tour de France had five stages for climbers and over 100 km of time trialling on flat terrain. This year there are seven or eight stages for climbers depending how you want to count tenth stage. There is only one time trial and it is suited for climbers. Climbers don't have to think about taking time on time trialists, since they don't lose on time trials as much as they did when time trials were flat.

All this has made largest stage races waiting game, where you wait something to happen. Classics are totally different. There anything could happen during last 50 kilometer. Most interesting classic is Paris-Roubaix, which characteristic is cobblestones. It has over 50 kilometers of cobblestones, which make race dangerous gamble and very tactical race, where everyone has to be alert all the time and even best riders have to ride for themselves. Usually best riders can ride behind team mates. There are Paris-Roubaix specialists, who love the race. Others want to stay as far away from it as possible.

Fifth stage of this year's Tour de France was mini Paris-Roubaix stage. It was raced over some of crucial cobblestones of the classic. It only had 13 kilometers of cobblestones and it was 100 kilometers shorter. What made stage more epic was rain. Rain makes riding on cobblestones harder. There was only about dozen guys, who normally would race on cobblestones. This made the stage more interesting than any other stage during last decade. Last 50 kilometers were all out racing. Best riders had to ride and tactics were straight from classics. They raced like there was no tomorrow. Race leader Vincenzo Nibali  rode like classic specialist and made two minutes or something like that on almost every serious overall classification contender. Stage will be remembered years to come. It showed what classics really are.

Those, who are against cobblestones in stage races, tell defending champion Chris Froome crashed twice and had to leave the race. It has to be said, that Froome crashed before cobblestones and had crashed on fourth stages too. He was only one, who didn't finish the stage. Three riders didn't finish sixth stage, which didn't have cobblestones. I don't think cobblestones were the reason of Froome's crashes this time. Last time on cobbles Fränk Schleck fell on cobblestones and broke his collarbone. That time cobblestones took big name from race.

The question is, should big stage races like Tour de France have cobblestones or other classic like stages. Currently it seems to be only way to have real racing in stage race. Rarely we have seen best riders riding against each other for last 50 kilometers. Normally it is less than 5 kilometers. But is there any point to make riders race on dangerous specialist conditions, when 5% of riders in race are specialists. Other 95% are specialists of different kind of terrains. I am for cobblestones in stage races, but I can see point, why there shouldn't be cobblestones. But is the problem, that big tours are currently designed for pure climbers than all-rounders like they were decade ago. Cobblestones are worst for climbers, who are light and who don't usually ride against the wind by themselves. All-rounders doesn't have as much problems on them. Okay, they are still dangerous, but other stages have taken more riders than cobblestone stage this year.

Because I don't blame cobblestones for Froome's exit, I say this year they made race better. The stage was exiting and it opened the race in a way other riders have to attack on mountains. They can't wait like they normally do.


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Thursday, July 10, 2014

Evil Dead (2013)

SPOILER WARNING!!! This post spoils movie Evil Dead (2013).

It is quite rare, that remake is worth making, if original is classic. Usually you make fans of original movie angry. This movie is one of those rare cases. This movie is good as its own. It may have to much iconic things from original series like cutting arms off and chain saws. I don't remember, how much humor original movie had. Third movie was horror comedy. This doesn't have any humor in it, which was good choice. It made clear, this doesn't try to remake what what original movie series was. It felt like own movie.

Well, as its own movie as collection of clichés can be.  Movie doesn't have anything we haven't seen before. There is just more of everything and it is done better. Story is basic horror story. Five young adults come to cabin in the woods. Their goal is to help their friend Mia get rid of her drug addiction. Friends find strange book from basement. One of the friends start to read the book and says the magic words, which wakes up evil spirit.  Mia sees evil spirit, but others think she has withdrawal symptoms. She escapes the cabin, but evil spirit stops her and possesses her.  Friends get possessed one by one and nobody knows what s actually happening.

What follows is feast of blood and practical effects. Movie shows, why practical effects are still superior to cgi. Level of violence and blood is something you rarely see. This is one of those new movies, which doesn't try to get PG-13 rating. but chooses to tone movie for older audience. Movie's rating caused controversy. It was quite bloody and violent for R-rating. I am not sure did I see cut version or unrated version. It was more bloody and violent movie that we are used to. It was because effects were so realistic. It never felt like violence and blood was there for sake of violence and blood. All of it was needed to tell the story and make movie more effective.

If you want to see one genre movie to see what genre is all about, this is good choice. It is pure genre movie. It is better done than average genre movie. It is many ways like Cabin in the Woods. This is ultimate genre movie, when Cabin in the Woods uses genre cliches to tell story and have quite a twist. Both movies understand and respect the genre. If you want to see another good genre movie Cabin in the Woods.  I am not horror movie fan, but lately there have been few movies I have liked a lot. I have to add Drag me to Hell to that list and there are at least one other potential movie to that list. But that will be another time and another post.


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Monday, July 7, 2014

Skyfall (2012)

SPOILER WARNING!!! This post spoils movie Skyfall (2012).

Skyfall is twenty-third Bond movie. Bond movies are not good movies by cinematic values, but always entertaining, if you don't think too much. Movies have form they follow. You get action scenes in certain interval and jet set life style in between. You don't remember plots after watching the movie, but you were entertained during the movie. That was until this movie, which decided to be anti-Bond Bond movie. Movie knows Bond movie formula, but stays away from that as much as it can. It has to include some Bond movie stuff, which makes movie even worse.

Movie doesn't know what it wants to be. Main story tells story of old agent, who world has passed by. Then it tries to be Bond movie too. Main story would be good, if this wasn't Bond movie. Bond got shot by another agent during mission and mission fails. Bad guys get list of undercover agents and start to publish videos of undercover agents. Everybody thinks Bond is dead. Bond survived and became alcoholic and pill addict. He didn't take lightly the fact that another agent shot him, when he was fighting the bad guy. When MI6's headquarters is attacked, Bond returns. Bond is unfit for active duty, but M sends him to mission anyway. Main villain is M's earlier favorite agent, who M sold to Chinese to get six other agents. Now he wants to get M and has made complicated plan to get her.

Only Bond and M return from older movies. Q is now young nerd, because young nerds are cool at moment.  He doesn't give any cool toys to Bond. Only cool toy we see is Aston Martin from Bond movie decades ago. M's right hand man is copy of Agent Coulson from Marvel movies. Villain is taken to transparent prison like Magneto in X-men movies or Loki in Avengers movie. Movie tries too much to be current and show us what it thinks we want to see. Almost all jet set life is gone. Action scenes are toned down. Last battle is closer to old westerns than what we expect from Bond movies.

Villain is interesting for moment. He and Bond were in similar situation, where M had betrayed both. M told another agent to shoot, when she wasn't sure, if agent would hit Bond or bad guy. Then villain's obsession for M takes hold and his plans start to work with supernatural precision. And we see him as little as possible. Character is good for main story, but not for Bond movie. If movie was one and half hour-long and without Bond movie stuff, villain could have been memorable. Now he had to have control all over the world, because this is Bond movie. For the main story he needed to be bitter old man, more down to earth villain without superior planning and programming skills.

Everything in this movie tries to remind us, time has passed Bond and Bond movie by. Action scenes are toned down and made more realistic. Jet set moment in casino made jet set life style look cold and pretty only on outside. Almost every Bond thing was toned down. No fancy gadgets. Aston Martin was most uplifting moment, because it reminded us what Bond movies were. They were fun. This is not fun. It is cold, dark, good-looking movie. This story and tone doesn't suit Bond movie. This would have been good one and half hour movie, if it wasn't Bond movie. Now it is almost one hour too long and most of it is there because this is Bond movie.

This is a strange movie in series. It doesn't continue Quantum of Solace storyline. It is anti-bond movie, but in the end it set the stage for regular Bond movies. Bond was old and unfit for field at beginning of this movie. From halfway point on he was regular superhuman James Bond. Movie replaced everyone except Daniel Craig. This could be new beginning. That would make more sense, if Daniel Craig wouldn't return in next movie. Interesting to see where they go from here. Not interested enough to go to see it in theater, but when it comes to streaming services like I did with this one.

One more thing. I think that shower was far from sexy, when you consider dialog before shower scene. Didn't anyone realize, what it would look like to anyone, who paid attention to movie?


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Thursday, July 3, 2014

Radar Men from the Moon (1952)

SPOILER WARNING!!! This post spoils movie  Radar Men from the Moon (1952).

I don't know what to call this. Wikipedia calls it movie series. I think movies should be longer that 13 minutes and 20 seconds. Each episode has opening and ending credits. Every episode has mandatory fighting scene and first eleven episode end with cliffhanger. So each "movie" has very deep story. In many ways this reminds me of 60's Batman tv series. One episode lasts half of the Batman episode and instead of two episode for story, it has twelve episodes for story. Everything else feels like 50's Batman.

Main character is Commando Cody. He is some kind of superhero with his rocket backpack. He is rich guy, who seems to spend his spare time fighting evil like Batman and Iron Man. He has sidekick, who also has rocket backpack. He also has rocket, which can go to moon. Evil in this series are Moon Men, who plan attack on Earth. One Moon Man is on Earth and he has two henchmen. Other Moon Men are on moon making their plans and giving instructions to Earth. Henchmen always try to kill Commando Cody.

Mandatory fighting scenes often look like Batman fights. Heroes have fist fights and in the end bad guys can escape and nothing changes. Fights are there to have action scene in episode. Some time they use guns. Same thing with these fights. There are two gun fights at same place, that looks exactly same. Cliffhangers are like bad guys shooting good guys and in next episode we see bad guys missed and whole thing is forgotten in few second. Batman at least had Anti-Death Spray of something like that. Here bad guys just miss or heroes easily dodges the danger.

When I searched more info about this series, I found out, character is called Commando Cody. While watching the series, I thought  it was Commander Cody. Commander Cody makes more sense. Cody steals police car at one point and is released after he tells who he is. Could regular commando do something like that? Everything he does is closer to commander than commando.

Radar Men from the Moon is currently on public domain, so you could watch it free. You can find links from Wikipedia. There is also band called Radar Men from the Moon, which is worth checking too. I like the band and had to check this series after I found it. I like the band more, but this is quite entertaining too.


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