Thursday, August 28, 2014

What is wrong with Elysium(2013)

SPOILER WARNING!!! This post spoils movie Elysium (2013).

This will really spoil the movie. This is third time I will do two back to back posts of one movie. I didn't plan this. I just felt I had to go deeper.

Let's start with the thing that lost me, the factory. Factory was there to show exploitation of third world which happens in real world too. Problem with this factory is, it doesn't make any sense. It was like putting people to build cars by hand. At that time machines would have build the robots. Machines would have made robots faster and more accurate. There was no reason to put humans build robots. If there was, it wasn't explained. Any non-sense explanation would have helped. Like one phase in process would mess electronics and humans had to do that. And it was dangerous. Problem solved. Writing was too lazy in this part.

Factory didn't care about employees or employee safety. They had healing machines which didn't seem to require any resources. And they sent fatally wounded home to die. Like employees didn't have any skills any guy from street wouldn't have. These were sophisticated robots they building.

Max's encounter with robot police didn't make any sense either or he was total idiot. Robot police have been there before and he had to know they don't understand humor. After all he was building them. Max just invited robot police to attack him and injure him. Scene would have made sense, if robot police just arrived from somewhere and no-one know how they act.

Elysium was completely controlled by computer. Anyone, who configured computer and rebooted it, could change the whole society. Become ruler of Elysium or make everyone citizens of Elysium. And that could not be changed back because of lazy writing. Computer could not arrest any Elysium citizen. So any Elysium citizen could do anything they wanted and no-one would stop them. I can see how that could go wrong. Our heroes attacked Elysium and caused destruction. When they made everyone citizen of Elysium, they could walk away like nothing happened.

Computers made decision on their own to send healing machines to earth when everyone was made citizen of Elysium. That was just configuration change. Ships containing healing machines were already built. So Elysium just kept them for themselves never used them. Why they built them first place and why they kept them themselves when they had no need for them? That would have been interesting theme. Like surgically attached exoskeletons. Why more people didn't have them? There also versions you could wear like clothes and take away.

I have mentioned healing machines few times. In Elysium every house has healing machines that can cure death. You just laid in side machine and in few seconds machine cured everything. If Earth was over populated, with these machines, Elysium would be soon too. I didn't get what was deal with citizenship tattoos. Refugees had them when they went to Elysium and machines saw them as Elysium citizens. When everyone was citizen, healing machines knew who they were. What those tattoos actually did? Made machines see refugees as someone else?  That would be wise thing to do when you want to use machine that heals everything.

Movie had potential and good ideas. But it was wasted on lazy writing. Movie wanted to tell a story without realizing most things didn't make sense. It could have told same story in world which made more sense.


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Monday, August 25, 2014

Elysium (2013)

SPOILER WARNING!!! This post spoils movie Elysium (2013).

This could have been great movie, but it didn't understood its subject. Movie has some truth in it, but that is wasted in one-dimensional characters and not giving characters real motivations. It was like third world fantasy of how first world treats them badly.

First world lives in space station called Elysium. Everything is good there. Machines heal every illness and robots do all the work. Rest lives on overpopulated and polluted earth Earth with very limited health care. Robots control population and only work for people seems to be building robots or work at hospitals. Humans build robots in factory. That is one of the first automated works in world.

This movie really doesn't understand problems and consequences of automation. Unemployment is one problem. Movie doesn't give any hints to that way. There are scenes showing how human interaction with robots doesn't work. But that was more about bureaucracy that robots.

Nothing was explained why Elysium exploited Earth. People from Elysium just didn't like people from Earth. That was just fact. No explanations. Relationship between Elysium and Earth was not explained. This could have been movie, which showed relationships between first and third world from third world perspective. But it was too lazy for that.

Everything seem to revolve around healing machines, which didn't use any resources. Elysium just wanted to keep them themselves and give Earth useless drugs. It might look to third world that first world does the same. Reality however is more complicated. Problem is related to resources. If first world had similar healing machines, first world would share them. Movie doesn't understand problem of limited resources. That is one problem between first and third world, that causes the exploitation. Movie's solution for third world's problems is making everyone first world's citizen. It is not that easy in real world.

Characters were badly written. They were either extremely one-dimensional or they change from second to second. Spider was example of latter. Spider was gangster, who runs human trafficking league. One moment he is gangster, who do it for money and next time he is fighting for citizens of Earth. John Carlyle was example of former. He didn't like people and was ready to do anything for money. I didn't understand Delacourt's motivation. Character was so bad even Jodie Foster couldn't make her work. Her death scene was totally wasted. It could have made movie better, if she had understood something in that scene. But she just died.

Movie didn't explain why Elysium didn't give healing machines to Earth. In the end computers send them to Earth and nothing changed in Elysium. Those machines would have stopped string of refugees. But that wasn't only thing that didn't make sense.

I was disappointed. Premise was interesting. What we got was more or less waste of time. There was cool exoskeleton, which was surgically attached to main character. That didn't bring anything to movie. Character didn't change any way. Movie had ideas, but it wasted them. Movie's world has too many stupid things like factory, where humans build robots. Nothing in the factory made sense. I wanted to like this, but movie was too lazy and too stupid.


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Thursday, August 21, 2014

WWE Network review

WWE Network went global last week. I had to check it. I would have bought it six months ago, when it was launched in United States. Back then I thought it had limited launch to fix bugs before it went global. Well, I was kind of wrong. One reason could be, they had to go global before original schedule, since WWE Network didn't sell in United States as much as WWE expected.

WWE Network reminds me little of Eurosport Player, which I had couple years ago. Both services show roots of the companies. Eurosport Player was good if you wanted to watch Eurosport live. Problem became when you wanted to watch something afterwards. Service had on demand side, but it had almost nothing. If you wanted to watch something, you had to watch it live.

WWE has TV programs and dvds. So WWE Network is good dvd library with TV channel. It lacks many things you would expect from service like this. Other things doesn't work as they should. It is like they haven't thought someone would like to use service like I want to use.

Programs are put to different sections. Pay-per-views are in one. Raws, Smackdowns and other programs in one. WWE Network original content and WWE documentaries in one. Forth section has older WWE and non-WWE wrestling shows and specials. There is lot of content. Problem is to find what you want.

There is no timeline which has programs and pvps. Both are in their own sections. Then there are some specials in fourth section. You have to jump between three categories to watch everything in order it was aired. Everything is not there, but from 1993 to half way to 1995 and from 2012 up to month ago should be in WWE Network. Yes, WWE Network doesn't have last four RAWs or Smackdowns. PVPs are shown live and available after the event. This makes following WWE in WWE Network quite pointless. You see PVPs live or right after event, but you have to wait for a month or four weeks to see what happened before PVP.

Search returns something, but you can't say it works. It seem to give only fraction of results it should give. Only matches, no promos and only some of the matches. Usually matches are only WWE matches. There might be one WCW match if wrestler has been there too.  And results only include matches, where wrestler used name in search term. So if you search for Mick Foley, you only get his WWE matches, where he used name Mick Foley. No Mankind, Dude Love or Cactus Jack matches. Result descriptions aren't very informative. Sometimes they don't give enough information which match it was or when it was.

Addition to this there are many usability bugs. This service doesn't look like it has been live for six months. I don't know what this was like six months ago. It still has issues, which shouldn't gone through testing.

If big dvd library online is enough for you, you  probably are happy with this. If you watch PVPs and can see Raw and Smackdown elsewhere, you are more happy with this. I will watch pvps I have wanted to see and then decide will I keep it or will I have it for a month every now and then. I didn't take it with six months commitment. At the moment I feel like couple months could be enough and then check it again later.


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Monday, August 18, 2014

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)

SPOILER WARNING!!! This post spoils movie Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)

You know how Hollywood sometimes make two similar movies same year. There have been movies about volcanoes and asteroids and so on. This is a pair with The Final Cut (2004). The Final Cut told about world where every memory is recorded. This tells about world where people can destroy their memories over night. This is also movie I don't want to spoil too much. It is my one of favorite romantic movies along with Solaris(2002) and Batman Returns(1992).

Joel and Clementine were in relationship until Clementine decided to erase her memories of Joel. Joel doesn't know why Clementine doesn't remember him anymore and has a new boyfriend. Then he learns about operation, which erases memories of person one want to forget. Joel want to erase memories of Clementine after she did same for Joel. Most of the movie happens during Joel's memory wipe. During memory wipe he realizes, he still wants to remember Clementine and starts to fight against memory wipe. Around Joel we learn that things aren't as clear as they appeared first time.

Memory wipe is not well-known, but to those who know about it, it is as casual as hair cut. You might regret it later, but you don't think about it too much. Even to those, who do the operation, it is like installing software to computer. You do initial settings and then let software to install itself.

The Final Cut studied science fiction concept. Characters weren't as important. Characters were well written and interesting, but the concept was more important. This is all about characters. I like how characters have their flaws and feel like normal people. There are no cliché characters and every character has something interesting beneath when scratch the surface. Science fiction concept is there only to tell a story. As are special effects. This doesn't try to look like scifi movie. Most of it happens in Joel's head and is more dream like that scifi. Science fiction concept is studied only as far as the story requires it. Movie never goes to Philip K. Dick territory even though it shares similar concept as his stories. This movie stays as romantic movie.

I don't spoil the ending. I just say that last ten minutes or so are ingenious. You don't see that coming and after it comes, you don't know where the movie will go.

I have postponed this review for ages. This is a great movie. One of my favorites. But for some reason I don't want to watch it. I know I like it, but there is something. After The Final Cut I had to do this, because these movies are so similar.


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Thursday, August 14, 2014

The Final Cut (2004)

SPOILER WARNING!!! This post spoils movie The Final Cut (2004).

It is kind of sad that Robin Williams had to die before I found this movie. If he didn't die when this movie was available on streaming services, I would have missed it completely. Now it is one of my favorite movies. I don't say this because you have to say nice things about recently deceased. I say it because for a long time I saw a scifi movie where implications of future technology were carefully studied. There were many things I couldn't have thought myself, but when movie showed them to me they made perfectly sense. That is rare. There were so many subtle things I probably missed some of them. That means rewatching in future.

Usually scifi movies just try to look futuristic and add amazing action scenes. This didn't try to look futuristic. It put all the futuristic stuff into story, not to sets. Just like another scifi movie from 2004. The one that I will do next Monday.

I don't want to get too deep into story and concepts this time. I will do that when I revisit this movie in future. This is movie you have to see unspoiled. It has clever twists and I like it to make you realize how clever it is, by watching it without knowing too much about it. This would be short post if I stopped here. I try not to spoil too much.

Every twentieth person has implant which records every memory person has. Robin Williams is cutter, whose job is to create videos of deceased's memories for his or her funerals. He is the one, who does that for worst persons, whose memories other cutter don't want to touch.  He makes person look nice even if he was the worst person ever. This is current theme at the moment, when people learned about death of Robin Williams. I don't know the guy. He could be nicest person, worst person or anything in between. What I say next is not about Robin Williams but formula that follows after celebrity deaths.

When celebrity dies everybody want to tell how great the person was. He or she was always the greatest person ever lived. In Finland columnist caused controversy when she mentioned one recently died celebrity wasn't that nice person everyone made him out to be after his death. We knew his reputation, but after his death he became nicest person ever. Just like Michael Jackson. Remember Michael Jackson's reputation on last years of his life and how he became nicest person ever when he died. If these persons were nicest persons ever, why not tell that when they were alive, not after they died.

This is one theme in the movie. Should we make everyone look like nicest person ever after they die or should we tell what they really were? Robin Williams' character supports the first view. He does cutting for the living. Not the dead. He gives good memories of deceased loved ones. Maybe that is what the media does after celebrity deaths. But is it the right way. Or is it right for a one man to decide how deceased is remembered? Or who should decide how deceased is remembered? Movie brings these questions up but never gives answer to them. Movie spends more time showing implications of having people, whose every memory is recorded. Now after Snowden and European ruling of Google and right to be forgotten, this movie is more current than ever.

We are all sad that Robin Williams passed, but saddest thing about this movie is, this is only writing credit for writer and director Omar Naim. Will Omar Naim be one of those writer directors, who make one great movie and then disappear completely? Like Gerald McMorrow, who did Franlyn (2008) and then disappeared.


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Monday, August 11, 2014

Despicable Me 2 (2013)

SPOILER WARNING!!! This post spoils movie Despicable Me 2 (2013).

On paper Despicable Me was like my kind of movie. But I could watch it for ten or fifteen minutes. It just felt like complete waste of time and I hated how they wasted interesting premise. Back then I didn't have this blog. I was surprised when Minions started to appear everywhere before and after the release of the sequel. Minions are the best part of the movie. They deserve better movie. The second best part was cute kids. The two youngest ones. Everything else was average or overkill.

Movie expected me to know the first movie, which I didn't do. Gru had three daughters. Where they came from if he was so bad with women? Did he created them? If he had wife at any point, he would have got over school yard humiliation. One daughter tells how she doesn't have mother. It would have been nice to tell why she didn't have. Just few words somewhere.

Movie has too much distracting scenes, which paid off later in movie. When Dr Nefario leavse Gru, you can be sure he goes to work for main villain. When daughter asks Lucy if she is single, you can be sure Gru and Lucy will get together.  Even if you don't see these things miles away, they will be force fed to you. Gru tells Lucy how El Macho dies, that is how El Macho tries to kill Lucy in the end. Whole movie is full of these scenes. It doesn't focus on anything. It is just series of distracting scenes that pay off later.

Gru's oldest daughter falls in love with El Macho's son. This love story is full of clichés of how father doesn't want daughter to date boys. When Gru finds El Macho is the villain and leaves El Macho's party with his daughters, El Macho's son has broken Gru's daughter's heart. This made teen love story totally pointless. Why not have daughter not wanting to leave? You just wanted to give us teen love story clichés? Movie waste potential like this in many other things too. Wig shop owner was mix of several Bond villains. He was there only for moment. I would have like him to be old villain, who has left that life behind. He was just innocent. He could have been innocent former villain.

When ever movie starts to feel interesting, it gives us overkill or random distracting scene. After a while you stop caring. Main plot was interesting, as was what they started with wig shop owner. Concentrating on those and adding minions and daughter to them would have been interesting. Instead we got extra plots of Gru's dating life and teen romance and youngest daughter's mother poem. Minions had best moments like YMCA performance. It sounded like Haado Gei's version of the song. It would have been cool if they used Haado Gei's Japanese lyrics instead of  Japanese sounding nonsense. I don't know what Haado Gei sings in his version. That could have been too offensive for this kind of movie.

What annoys me the most is all the wasted potential. Gru, daughters and minions created working combination. Concentration and toning down would have made this great movie. All minion stuff would have worked with ten or so minions. It would have been more believable. El Macho would have worked as over the top macho, but we got that in steroids and volume turned to 20. Movie is not all bad. It just turn incredible ingredients into average movie.  Just made me wonder what the team of The Incredibles would have done with this.


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Thursday, August 7, 2014

Guardians of the Galaxy (2008-2010) and Thanos Imperative (2010)

SPOILER WARNING!!! This post spoils comics Guardians of the Galaxy (2008-2010) and Thanos Imperative (2010).

Guardians of the Galaxy was quite obscure comic when Marvel Studios decided to make movie about it. Different group with same name had 62 issues of own comic early 1990's and few appearances in other comics since 1969. Movie's version of the group had 25 issues between 2008 and 2010 plus role in Annihilation, Annihilation: Conquest and Thanos Imperative. Comic was cancelled some time before Marvel Studios decided to make the movie. Now there is new Guardians of the Galaxy comic which started 2013.

Last Thursday I told you about Annihilation and Annihilation: Conquest. Now it is time for Guardians of the Galaxy itself. Original line-up was Star-Lord, Adam Warlock, Quasar, Gamora, Drax the Destroyer, Rocket Raccoon and Groot. They operated from space station Knowhere. They were assisted by telepath Mantis. She was part of pre-Guardians in Annihilation: Conquest. Telepathic dog Cosmo is responsible for security of Knowhere. Knowhere is Babylon 5 kind of space station. Guardians of the Galaxy have their share of space station politics. Guardians of the Galaxy can transport to anywhere from Knowhere.

Universal Church of Truth are main villains of the story. First they start as neutral fraction, but as things go further they work for the end of the world. It is not sure, if they actually know what they are doing or are they causing end of the world because they thing it would mean something else. To be honest, villains motivations don't make much sense as doesn't their allies. First UCT doesn't like Adam Warlock. Then we learn he is their messiah. Then it was Adam Walock's evil side Magus who was their messiah. First Magus tries to take control of the universe. When Guardians stop his plans, he works for Cancerverse and  evil Captain Marvel. UCT doesn't react anyway when evil Captain Marvel kills Magus. This was their messiah and the y don't care. Make a lot sense. As much sense than UCT members destroying their planets and ships all the time.

Story begins Guardians trying to stop this universe to fall apart. Then others learn about Star-Lord's telepathic tricks to make members of the group to say yes to joining the group. This makes Drax, Quisar, Adam Warlock and Gamora to leave the group. Star-Lord disappears after this. Rocket Raccoon becomes leader of the group. Mantis become regular member. Bug from pre-Guardians joins the group as does Major Victory, member of future Guardians of the Galaxy. Later others come back. With Star-Lord group got Jack Flag and Moondragon joins with Martyr(former Quasar). Something related to modern day Guardians changes the future. This is where the comic has its best moments. Then begins War of Kings even.

Guardians take backseat at this event. Everything important happens outside Guardians' comics. Guardians were just connected to this. Guardian's own story was put on hold for this. Then we suddenly learn, super weapon was fired during War of Kings. Outside Guardians comics of course. Super weapon caused changes in the future. Adam Warlock manages to stop effects of super weapon spreading, but turn into evil Magus. Realm of Kings starts. Super weapon created the Fault, which is gateway to Cancer universe. For Guardians Realm of Kings meant fight against Magus and monsters from Cancerverse.

Guardians of the Galaxy comic ends with Realm of Kings. The story ends in mini series Thanos Imperative, which starts where Realm of Kings ends. In it UCT explodes the Fault open and Cancerverse invades our universe. As name implies events of this mini series revolves around Thanos. Yes, Drax killed him during Annihilation. He lives again because Adam Warlock put him in cocoon and UCT hatched the cocoon. Thanos Imperative was also end of another comic, Nova. Thanos Imperative let Nova and Star-Lord go in blaze of glory and make heroic sacrifice keeping Thanos out of our universe. Death of Star-Lord meant death of Guardians of the Galaxy, which was strange from story's point of view. Guardians continued after Star-Lord disappeared earlier and everyone, who died during Realm of Kings or Thanos Imperative, left the group when they learned Star-Lord's telepathic tricks. Why stop this time?

Comic had potential. Problem was, it tried to be too cosmic. Inclusion of Adam Warlock was reason for that. Things had to be end of universe level when Adam Warlock is included. Comic got better when he left the group. Comic followed him and he came back, but never returned to group. War of Kings began when comic started to work. It meant reading Guardians of the Galaxy wasn't enough. You had to read other comics too to know what was happening. Around that time members of the group started to die and came back to life. It was like dying didn't mean anything. Thanos Imperative was quite stupid. It had Thanos, but that didn't help since he wasn't same Thanos we have seen in classic Thanos stories.

If you liked the movie and like to read comics, you can probably should skip these and start from third volume, which started at 2013. I haven't read those yet, but group seems to be closer to one from the movie. Annihilation is worth reading. Annihilation: Conquest not as much. It has pre-guardians, but story is not as good as Annihilation. Guardians of the Galaxy volume two has its moments, but it will end in disappointment and there is no point where to jump off before comic gets worse.


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Monday, August 4, 2014

Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

SPOILER WARNING!!! This post spoils movie Guardians of the Galaxy (2014).

It will be interesting to see how well this movie does. It has everything what makes Marvel so good. Characters have flaws. There is humor. Movie doesn't take itself too seriously. There are sad moment, but over all movie is fun. We are discussing about destroying the planets, but this never goes to Man of Steel like disaster porn. I wouldn't call this best movie ever, but it is among best comic book movies. It didn't feel like I have to go to see it again tomorrow. I can wait for home release, which costs about as much as ticket to cinema. Tickets are too damn expensive. With cheaper tickets I would see this again at cinema. Maybe matinée during my summer vacation. If there is any.

Movie was about third infinity stone. We saw more Thanos than before. I wonder which group will go against Thanos in Infinity Gauntlet story. In this movie everyone knows who Thanos is. In Avengers we just briefly saw him and no-one knew him. In comics Thanos killed Drax's family. In this movie it was Ronan. At the end of the movie Drax set his target on Thanos. So I assume Guardians will meet Thanos at some point. Is it with Avengers? Infinity Gauntlet is hyped so much that it could be with both team and some others we haven't seen yet. To be honest I am not sure they can meet the expectations in Infinity Gauntlet. It already has four movie build up and there will be at least three more.

Movie didn't follow comic's origin story and characters are bit different from in comics. Star-Lord is thief, who betrayed his pirate buddies to get old orb. Pirate buddies put bounty on him. Rocket the Raccoon and Groot want that bounty. Nebula want to have the orb. She has buyer for the orb. All four end up fighting each other and get caught. In prison they meet Drax the Destroyer. Drax want to hang with others because it would lead him to Ronan. Others hang together to get the orb to Nebula's buyer. When they find what orb can do, they want to give orb to someone, who doesn't want to destroy the world with it. All this time they are hunted by Ronan and Star-Lord's pirate buddies. I liked how heroes were like real persons, not someones, who do good things to make good things and how even bad people could fight for good if it served their goals.

I was bit disappointed what they did to Ronan. He wasn't as interesting as in comics. Character was faithful to comics, but it could have been more like in comics. In comics he was driven by justice and love for his race. In movie he was driven by revenge. It would have been easy to make his motivation to be his twisted view of justice. Character didn't do anything he wouldn't have done in comics, but it could have been more. At times he felt like Thanos' assistant. Gamora was also bit disappointment. She wasn't such elite assassin as in comics and she was toned down otherwise too.

Drax wasn't killing machine he was in comics, but I liked what they did with his character. Here he was dump muscle, who doesn't understand a concept of metaphor. In comics he was better with tactics and smarter. This change made Drax and Gamora feel more different. And it made movie better when Drax had his comical moments. Comic's Drax was more serious. In comics Star-Lord was doing good to do good. Here he is more in it for money and women. Rocket and Groot were like in comics. Rocket's test animal past was brought more here, but otherwise he was like in comics. In comics group was intergalactic task force operating from their base Knowhere. In movie they are group of friends adventuring together and Knowhere is Collector base.

Michael Rooker was great as Star-Lord's former pirate buddy Yondu. He was in similar role than bounty hunters in Chronicles of Riddick, but unlike them he wasn't a joke. Nebula was in smaller role than I expected. I follow few Doctor Who  groups in Facebook. That may have give me expectation of larger role for Doctor Who Actress Karen Gillan. We will probably see more of her in upcoming movies thanks to Nebula's connections to Gamora and Thanos. Prison scene should have had tons of cameos. I only saw Lloyd Kaufman. Maybe because he is only one I have seen live. Marvel studio's post credit scenes often introduce something from upcoming movies. I hope that is not the case with this movie.

Upcoming Star Wars movies will be measured against this movie.  Movie had spirit of original Star Wars trilogy with visuals of prequel trilogy. It felt prequel trilogy should have been more like this. It remains to be seen to what heights Guardians of the Galaxy will rise. End credits promised more. I surely want more. I hope others want too. It is not perfect movie, just one of the best summer block busters I have seen. Unlike most cgi heavy movies, this had interesting story and characters.


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