Thursday, December 31, 2015

Solomon Kane (2009)

Solomon Kane is based on Robert E. Howard's pulp magazine character. Robert E. Howard is creator of Conan the Barbarian. Solomon Kane is Puritan living late 16th century. Like in Conan magic, witches and demons are real. Solomon Kane has Christian themes when Conan had Crom who favored strength.

Solomon Kane is mercenary who has done evil during his career. Life and death doesn't mean anything to him until demon tries to claim his soul. Solomon Kane escapes to monastery to hide from demons. Monks let him stay for a while until darkness gets too thick and they send him back home. Solomon Kane has given up violence because it would damn his soul to hell.

It is not big surprise that world forces Solomon Kane back to way of the violence. Non-violence part slows the movie. You just wait it to end. This is dark action movie after all. There is another non-violent moment when Solomon Kane thinks he has lost his change to save his soul. Rather than fighting evil he let evil to crucify him. All this religious imagery and themes start to be too much at this point.

After Solomon Kane realizes he can still save his soul he starts to fight again. Why not trying to stay alive as long as possible if he knew he was going to hell. It is hard to relate to hero whose motives you don't understand. Hero's motives are not only things hard to understand. Same applies to other characters too. None of the characters have reasonable character arcs. It is hard to relate or care when you don't understand motives. When you think you understand characters do something unexpected.

I expected Solomon Kane to be cool dark gothic action movie. It is dark and violent but not cool. Solomon Kane whines too much about his lost soul, Movie is good example why you should not spend whole movie to tell origin story. Solomon Kane becomes interesting character only after he has won the villain. This was not only issue movie had. It didn't reward audience any way. It just threw new characters instead of developing existing characters or story arcs.

Solomon Kane was meant to be first part of trilogy. It was box office bomb which ended the trilogy after the first movie. Movie is bad but it had potential. Solomon Kane became less whiny at the end and might have worked better in sequels.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Top 5 movies of 2015

I think I can do this list this year since I have seen enough new movies. I didn't see all of them. Only ones I was interested in. I include movies which got Finnish premiere 2015. One movie on list got premiere elsewhere in 2014 but we got it 2015. So it is on this list. List doesn't have the movie everyone should love or the movie which made most money. I liked them both but I liked these more.

5 Fast & Furious 7

Fast & Furious 7 is not something fans of serious movies should like. It is not high art but is so much fun. I didn't expect to like this so much. The Rock, Vin Diesel and Jason Statham in same movie almost makes this like Expandable the Next Generation. Movie knows what it is. It doesn't try to be anything else. You can find my review here.

4 Kingsman: The Secret Service

Kingsman: The Secret Service has all the fun missing from Daniel Craig's Bond movies put into one movie. I almost missed this one. When reviews of other movies told to see this instead of the other movie I had to check this. I was in bandwagon when I walked out of the theater. Movie has one scene with bad CGI which drops this from higher place. You can find me review here.

3 The Imitation Game

The Imitation Game was Oscar bait. Like other Oscar baits it premiered in Finland close to Oscar ceremony to take full advantage of nominations. The Imitation Game is biopic of Alan Turing. He is best known for four things. His team broke the enigma code, he is considered as father of modern computing, he created Turing test and he was gay. The Imitation Game concentrates on first one. There is little bit of him being gay. Computing is almost ignored. Turing test was briefly explained. You can find my review here.

2 The Martian

The Martian is a movie I have waited for a long time. Big budget serious science fiction movie which gets science right. Ridley Scott finally made another great science fiction movie after Alien and Blade Runner. I hope this opens doors for another similar movies. Gravity and Interstellar teased as being scientifically accurate but this actually was. You can find my review here.

1 Ex Machina

If Ex Machina is not on your top movies of 2015 list you either have not seen it or don't like serious science fiction movies. Weird scientist brings bright young man to his underground laboratory to test his latest artificial intelligence. It is strange version of Turing test. Most of the movie we only see four actors and one of them don't even say anything. Great story, great script, great acting and great everything. I will make longer video of why this is so great next year. Meanwhile you can find my spoiler free review here.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Deadpool Trailer 2 review

I chose to include green band trailer. Ending was so good and red band didn't contain that much more. It few curse words and it showed little bit more violence. You can find it easily if you want to check it.

I hope they keep this tone through out the movie and didn't give everything in trailers. This is origin story movie. They could ruin this by spending too much on origin story. We want to see Deadpool not what he was before he became Deadpool.

If they can give us the movie trailers promise it is probably the best superhero movie of 2016. Even better than Captain America. I waited Suicide Squad until I learned it will be PG-13. For Batman V Superman I have no expectations. Doctor Strange will probably be good introduction movie but nothing more. I don't know what to expect from X-Men: Apocalypse. Trailers look like they will ruin Apocalypse but they can still save it.

Please don't ruin this. It looks almost too good to be true.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Doctor Who Series 9 Episodes 9-12 (2015)

I reviewed first eight episodes here. I really liked them. Last four were little bit let down.

Episode Sleep No More was just terrible. Even the Doctor said something didn't make sense. Episode felt like Doctor Who template episode without anything interesting. Nothing worked and nothing made sense but it looked Doctor Who episode. We have seen this so many time so much better done. Better name would have been Watch No More. Now that I think about it we were urged not to watch the episode at the beginning. We should have done that.

Last three episodes made season finale. Each episode had different style but it all made continuing story. Each episode was worse than one before. Main problem was that everything became larger in scale and importance. Search for Gallifrey ended when Doctor just appeared there at end of second last episode. For two seasons he did nothing to find it and then he was there. Whole 50th Anniversary episode teasing was for nothing.

For first eight episodes Clara was like normal companion. Tenth episode gave her character good exit point but Moffat needs to make everything larger than life. So everything was blown out of porpotion just to bring Clara back. Things like this are reasons why I don't like her. She came from Matt Smith's era where everything was grand and fantastic. I hope next companion is more down to earth like current doctor is.

Face the Raven was best episode of last four episodes. How ever it is not on level of first eight episodes. Episode had interesting idea. It gave Clara good exit. I even though we need these episodes to make dangerous situations count after seeing the episode. But it was nullified later episodes. Biggest problem was this was part of season finale which went weirder as it progressed.

Heaven Sent  had interesting idea but it was not enough for whole episode. When idea is revealed episode felt interesting for a moment and soon you are back waiting for it to end to see what happens next.

Hell Bent made Doctor Who cosplayers' life much easier by letting Doctor play much less rare guitar. Red Epiphone SG with Bigsby is much easier to get that one he played earlier. Other good things are harder to find. Main story was bringing Clara back and everything else was thrown there without giving much thought if it made any sense. This episode messed the continuity really bad.

I don't remember how many times Doctor have visited at the end of the Universe and each time it is different. I hoped it was like in episode Listen but it was not to be. He met another larger than life character from this season. Like audience can't remember what happened in earlier seasons. Latest season is always more important than earlier seasons and everything has to be bigger than before.

Even though last episodes dropped the ball whole season was positive. Season finale had few good ideas but I can't discuss about them without totally spoiling the episodes.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015)

I have to review this because nobody else has. This review is spoiler free. I will publish spoiler review video during January or February when I relaunch my video reviews.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens is biggest movie event of the year. It seems to be more event than movie. Star Wars: The Force Awakens doesn't take any changes. It adds as much nostalgia as possible, It is like original trilogy and some of the best Star Wars games mixed into one movie. If this is what you want you will enjoy the movie.

I wanted something more. Movie even has same shots original trilogy had. At times it hit our heads with references to original trilogy. Everything looked too much like original trilogy. Prequels didn't have anything like Han Solo. So in this one almost everything seems to be little like Han Solo. There is even joke how much like Han one of the new characters is.

My other issue was it didn't explain important concepts. I didn't understood balance between Empires successor First Order and The Resistance. One thing I wanted to know was what happened after Return of the Jedi. We are thrown into this world and nobody explains what has happened. I saw post of "10 things you need to know before watching The Force Awakens". I didn't read it because I wanted to avoid spoilers. I shouldn't have to read posts like that to understand what is happening. Movie should tell it. Avengers: Age of Ultron had same problem.

Overall movie was entertaining. It brought the fun back to Star Wars. It is not disaster like prequels. It is much more like original trilogy. Probably too much like original trilogy because it took too much from original trilogy. With correct audience this probably feel like great movie. There is enough fan service to keep devout fans happy. Like with other JJ Abrams' work it doesn't feel so good afterwards. But during the movie you are having fun.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Lockout (2012)

How much you can copy another movie with out going too far. There is no clear line but according court Lockout crossed that line. The court ordered makers of Lockout to pay 35 000 euros to John Carpenter and others involved making Escape from New York and Escape from L.A. You can tell premise of Lockout by changing names in premise of Escape from New York. I think biggest issue how ever was that Lockout told original idea came from Luc Besson when movie follows so closely Escape from New York.

Protagonist Snow is almost carbon copy of Snake Plissken. Snake was criminal, Snow is only framed to be criminal and he doesn't have eye patch. President's daughter (Escape from L.A.) is trapped inside maximum security prison run by inmates (Escape from New York), In Escape from New York president was trapped inside prison. Protagonist is sent to save trapped character. Snow is not given time limit but everything else reminds Escape movies.

Snow accepts the deal because a man who can prove his innocence is inside that prison he needs to go. Snow's story arc didn't need Escape movies' premise. He was going to the prison anyway and he would have been released during the riot. All the plagiarism wasn't necessary for protagonists story arc. With few little changes it could have been dropped off. It was laziness to keep copied story elements.

If we forget plagiarism there is little to say about the movie. There are four characters with any personality. Snow is Snake Plissken copy. President's daughter is cliche female character who doesn't like the hero at first but becomes his girl by the end. Inmates' boss is mastermind criminal and his brother is insane psychopath. Others have too little screen time to have any personality. At least they don't have any written.

Story have couple nice twists but over all it is quite forgettable and biggest twist has no build up at all. Lockout is average science fiction action movie. Best things are stolen from Escape movies. Original things go from passable to stupid. Passable story elements happen in prison. Outside prison story elements and effects don't work.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Star Trek Beyond trailer review

I hoped third rebooted Star Trek movie would return closer to original material. JJ Abrams is not directing it. He turned it into Star Wars. New director has Fast & Furious background. He seem to have turned Star Trek into Fast & Furious in space. I like Star Wars and Fast & Furious but everything doesn't have to be the same.

Original Star Trek relied on good stories and science fiction concepts. Stories were interesting even without any action scenes. Reboot turned Star Trek into generic action scifi movie with story elements and designs from Star Trek. It forgot science fiction concepts. Movies would have been better other than Star Trek.

If I have to guess this is some kind of variant of Star Trek Insurrection story. They lose transport capability but not completely since Kirk can do. Motorbike doesn't make any sense in Star Trek concept. But this Fast & Furious in space and Fast & Furious needs motored vehicles.

I might like this if it wasn't Star Trek. I don't understand why remake had turn Star Trek something totally different. Fun action scifi movie are ok. Star Trek franchise was rare case of serious science fiction. There is not enough of that. There is more than enough of cgi action on current movies.

Monday, December 14, 2015

X-Men: Apocalypse trailer review

I didn't have time to do review for this Monday. So you get my thoughts of X-Men: Apocalypse trailer instead. I though doing same for Batman v Superman trailer earlier but I didn't have much to say about it and everyone else seems to be commenting it. I know X-Men better than Superman.

First promo pictures of Apocalypse made people compare him to Ivan Ooze. I talked about it on Mighty Morphin Power Rangers review. This trailer hides Apocalypse's face to extent it feels like a joke. Studio don't want to see comparisons any more. I think they will continue since Apocalypse still feels too much like Ivan Ooze.

I don't like his voice. He doesn't sound ancient nor powerful. Xavier has to say how powerful he is because he doesn't sound or look like powerful. He is more menacing in X-Men cartoons. Everything else seem to be right but voice ruins the character. He still looks bit like Ivan Ooze but I can believe Apocalypse could look like that. Another actor would have worked better on role. They can still save this by putting effort on sound design.

Second problem is we have seen all this before. First three X-Men movies are not part of current X-Men continuity but it doesn't mean we have forgotten them. Same director is doing new continuity and his style reminds us of old continuity which did similar things. You can do reboots but then you need to change the look and feel. Now Fox is trying to reboot with same look and feel.

This could be bigger problem than anyone expects. This movie gives us new Storm, Cyclops and Jean Grey.Sets look like from first three movies but characters are different and have nothing to do with old characters. Director gives same look and feel than old movies had. This is sixth X-Men movie and it feels too much like first three. At least based on the trailer.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Doctor Who Series 9 Episodes 1-8 (2015)

Finland is couple weeks behind rest of the world with Doctor Who. That is why I didn't review every episode like I did last year. Rest of the world got season finale last weekend. I thought this is good point to give my thoughts of episodes I have seen this far. I have not seen all episodes aired in Finland yet. First eight is good point because they contain four two episode stories.

Peter Capaldi is becoming my favorite Doctor. During his first season they tried to figure out his character. That could be reason why Clara had so important role. This season they found good balance between fun and darkness. If we get at least couple more as good seasons with this Doctor he will become my number one.

Season started with Davros and Daleks. Steven Moffat seems to want us to remember somethings and forget others. This was obvious with first two episodes. Daleks' have lost all continuity during Moffat's era. You better take all Dalek episodes like individual stories without connectivity. As such these episodes work. Missy was fun. I like to see more of her in similar role.

Mind games between Davros and Doctor were interesting until childish ending. This could have been classic Doctor Who story but in the end they didn't have balls to end it like it should have ended. Even with childish ending I liked it because what happened before was so interesting and well acted.

Ghost underwater story was the clever story of this season. Every season seem to have at least one. This time is was about bootstrap paradox. Second episode had interesting breaking the fourth wall scene. Otherwise both episodes were good Doctor Who.

You can count next two episodes as one story or two individual stories. First one showed why Doctor gave eternal life to Maisie Williams' character. Second part showed what eternal life did to her. Second part was quite dark which I liked. There are rumors Maisie Williams will be new companion after Clara. I would like that because her character reminds me of Fourth Doctor's companion Leela. She was one of best companions.

Zygon invasion story was about terrorism, refugees and 50th anniversary episode. It brought back one of my favorite recurring character Osgood. Zygon invasion showed how good science fiction can help us understanding current events by offering different point of view.

I will get to last four episodes later. That time I discuss more about Clara.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Dracula Untold (2014)

After Marvel had success with their cinematic universe everyone wanted to have their own cinematic universes. Dracula Untold launches Universal Monsters Universe if they happen to make other movies. This would make interesting universe with I Frankenstein (2015) if I Frankenstein was part of Universal Monsters Universe which it is not. Neither is Victor Frankenstein (2015) which is currently on theaters.

Dracula Untold mixes stories of real person Vlad Tepes (Vlad the Impaler) and fictive character of Dracula. It shows Dracula as good person who is forced to do some evil things. He has utilitarian philosophy which made him do horrible things for greater good. This time Turkish sultan wants Dracula's and sons of Dracula's subjects for his army. This starts war between Dracula and Sultan.

Sultan's forces are much stronger than Dracula's. Dracula takes curse from old vampire. He gets vampire's powers and hunger for blood. If he don't drink blood for three days he will return to human. We are talking about Dracula, most famous vampire of all time. Only question is why and how he will drink blood.

If you expect nothing but dark, good looking gothic power fantasy you probably like Dracula Untold. Movie looks good but is boring before Dracula takes the curse. After taking the curse movie becomes power fantasy and works better. At least if you don't think too much how characters' actions make sense.

Dracula has three days to beat Sultan's forces if he wants to get back to human. He attacks Sultan's forces first night and spends rest of three days taking his people to safer castle which turned out not to be as safe as one they left behind. If he had limited time he should have used it attacking Sultan's force as much as he could. Not waiting to have the big battle at the end of his curse when he could lose his powers during the battle.

Movie is full of similar plot holes and stupid actions. If you can get past them you can enjoy the movie. Script had interesting idea of telling origin story of Dracula and mixing it with real historic person of same name but trying to portray Dracula as a good guy didn't work this time. He was made good guy for Universal Monsters Universe. Are we getting good Mummy and Frankenstein monster next?

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Jessica Jones (2015)

I am bit late to the party. I had idea of making video review but I am having break until I launch updated version of video reviews some time next year. I will get back to it when I have something to show. I watched the show almost one sitting. I had to pause to go to sleep during last episode but I watch it first thing when I woke up. How ever making review has taken some time.

Netflix has given best Marvel Cinematic Universe content this year. Daredevil was great earlier this year and Jessica Jones is even better. Ant-Man and Avengers were only ok movies. Netflix originals have more time to make connections and they are not as tightly connected to movies or other shows. They are also much darker than other Marvel Cinematic Universe content.

Jessica Jones is broken down alcoholic superhero. Villain with mind controlling powers broke her down and now he is back. I had my doubts of David Tennant playing the villain Kilgrave. He is my favorite Doctor and during his time in Doctor Who he didn't look like someone who could be villain. He made Kilgrave work, You felt sorry for Kilgrave at the times but you never confused him with good guy.

Kilgrave is in top three of Marvel Cinematic Universe's villains with Loki and Kingpin. These are only villains I can name and only ones which aren't one dimensional bad guys. Two of them from Netflix originals.

I didn't know anything about Jessica Jones when I started watching. After watching the show I learned about connections and characters. I think show worked better because I didn't know what to expect. There were interesting characters and twists which worked because I didn't know characters from comics.

If I need to complain something it is phasing. Show is pure gold during first ten episodes. After that it feels like they had to come up with something to fill all thirteen episodes. Killgrave story arc started from first episode. Starting it later would have kept it tighter. Ten episodes worked perfectly. First season made some ground work for second season and next Captain America movie. We saw one familiar face from Daredevil. Will we see Jessica Jones and Daredevil meeting next year?