Monday, December 31, 2018

Strange Days (1995)

There is a reason why you should collect movies in physical format. Some movies just disappear if you don't have physical copy of them. Strange Days is one of those movies. I have searched for HD version every now and then without success. I am able to do this review because I own movie on dvd. Movie is science fiction movie set to far future of last days of 1999. That is probably reason I haven't found HD release.

On new year's eve on 2018 you wonder why they wanted to date the movie so badly. I guess they wanted to use Y2K fears on marketing. But the story didn't need to be set on new year's eve on 1999. There aren't many mentions of going to year 2000. This could have been on any day when society is on brink of collapsing and something happens which could put it over the brink.

Science fiction concept is device which let you record what you see and feel and play that back later. You could change that to small video cameras we have today or everyone carrying mobile phone with camera and the main story wouldn't have changed that much. Technology being rare and illegal part would have changed and everything related to it but main story wouldn't have changed that much.

I don't want to get too much into story. It is film noir or cyberpunk mystery with some good twists. You want to experience it unspoiled as possible. Movie tells everything you need to know about world. It is quite close to ours. Only one technology is different and that is only part of the story.

Strange Days is good movie but it lacks something to be memorable. It is probably the ending which give closure to arcs didn't need closure. Sometimes you need to leave something open. Main problem is the last shot of protagonist. It didn't need to happen. Movie implicated it could happen in future. It didn't need to show it. If you watch the movie you know what I am talking about.

Movie is dated mostly by music but some may not find science fiction movie set to end of 1999 that interesting almost twenty years later. When you watch the movie you should for get what year is now. It is not masterpiece. Just good science fiction movie.

Back to beginning. I checked if there was blu ray release. I found there was 20 year anniversary release few years ago. So there is HD version of the movie somewhere.

Monday, December 24, 2018

Batman Returns (1992) - Christmas 2018

People have movies they watch every Christmas. It could be traditional Christmas movie or movie happening during Christmas time. Die Hard is popular example of latter. I have wanted to start similar tradition but haven't figures out the movie before this Christmas. Silent Night Deadly Night was one candidate but it is not so good I could watch it every year. Then I remembered second entry on my favorite movie list happens during Christmas. I am not sure if I will review it every Christmas. This Christmas I do.

I have already reviewed this movie once. This time I go how I felt watching it during Christmas 2018.

I have seen this movie more times than any other movie but watching it 2018 gives undertones it didn't have previous times. I wonder who Max Shreck is based on. Can't think of anyone who is constantly in news these days. With Brexit and everything else going on political angle shows in different light. It is strange how well this tells what is going on 2018 even when it was made 1992. I wonder how it feels next year.

I wondered how well movie have endured social change of last few years. I was scared if this had something similar than that one scene in Blade Runner which feel very different today. I don't think there is. Selina Kyle is treated badly and told to be silent but that was by villains. I think movie was quite progressive by 1992's standards. It is not perfect but there weren't anything which makes you feel terrible to like the movie today.

Reason why I can watch this several times back to back is romance between Batman and Catwoman. This time scene where they find out their secret identities felt bit different. Catwoman felt too insane in that scene. She is bit crazy but not that crazy in other scenes. I can relate to how two awkward introverts try to reach each other. It is shame we didn't get conclusion to their story because this was Tim Burton's last Batman movie.

People have made Batman kill counts for DCEU Batman.I don't remember anyone complaining Batman killing people in Batman Returns. It is mentioned when someone complains Batman killing in DCEU but not complained. Maybe it didn't feel like killing in gothic fairy tale setting.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Doctor Who: Series 11 (2018)

I decided to do Doctor Who: Series 11 review as video. I won't go to video reviews. I will do them every now and then. Next week's review will be written review. First female Doctor caused lot of talk when she was announced. I don't remember she being talked about as much after first episode. I decided to wait until season was over to say my opinion.

Monday, December 17, 2018

Serial Experiments Lain - Second viewing

This is second take on Serial Experiments Lain. You can find first from here. If you follow me on social media or you might have seen this video already. I though I could share it here too. There will be other video later this week discussing latest season of Doctor Who.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Geostorm (2017)

After knowing reviews I expected Geostorm to be really bad. Well it is not all bad. If you let all stupidity to pass ending is quite exiting. It is not much but it is at least something. There isn't much more good to say. Well it supports international collaboration. That is other good thing but there aren't more good things to say.

Geostorm tells about weather controlling system which is used for destruction by someone. Whole system is insanely powerful for weather controlling system. It might be realistic to have weather controlling system but not one like this movie. It is there to make this disaster movie. There were times when I wished this was hard science fiction but soon I was reminded this is stupid action movie. Detective parts are divided by unrealistic action or special effects shots. There was interesting story below this mess if they toned it down and picked other parts of the story.

Last half hour felt better than anything before because it made mess what was before make more sense. There is scene where daughter is scared that his father won't survive trip to space station. It didn't make any sense at that point. Scene was there so father could promise he will come back. This promise comes important when father is in self-destructing space station. But when father made the promise characters didn't have any indication he would end up in danger. He was going there to fix malfunctions.

Most of story arcs were written same way. They made little sense until you saw what happened later. Other problem is everyone breaking rules all the time. They might resist for a show but end up doing what is needed to move the story forward. And the story isn't important. It is there to make this by the numbers disaster movie. One you forget after seeing it.

Monday, December 3, 2018

Leningrad Cowboys Go America (1989) / Leningrad Cowboys Meet Moses (1994)

I haven't reviewed many Finnish movies here. I don't watch that many Finnish movies and most I watch are not meant for foreign markets. Leningrad Cowboys movies are available outside Finland so it makes some sense to write about them here. I had not seen movies for ages but then someone posted something about Leningrad Cowboys to Facebook group. I told there the first movie was Finnish version of Spinal Tap. I had to check if I was correct.

I am not 100% which one was first the band or the movie. Wikipedia say band was founded 1987 and first movie was 1989. Maybe band was extension of Finnish rock band Sleepy Sleepers and band's master minds sold idea of the movie to movie's director Aki Kaurismäki. Leningrad Cowboys perform one Sleepy Sleepers song in first movie. It is the one they play in biker bar which is not Born to be Wild.

Leningrad Cowboys Go America is road movie about bad Siberian band trying to find fame in America. It is what Spinal Tap would have been if it was art movie about soviet band touring in America. Touring might be wrong term. They go there to play shows and play in different places when they go to their first real gig. Band is naive and innocent. They have cunning manager driving them forward. Movie is quite straight forward story of small band in foreign country.

There was five years between movies. In real world Leningrad Cowboys' band members changed. It started as Sleepy Sleepers extension but became more of a all star band. This is why some band members died in movie's world between movies. New members introduced in sequel were new members of real life Leningrad Cowboys.

First movie was straight forward road movie about small rock band. There wasn't too much symbolism. Leningrad Cowboys Meet Moses is full of symbolism and references. You need to know the references to get what movie tries to say. At least I think so. I didn't know the references. To me parts of the movie were weird scenes happening one after another.

Leningrad Cowboys Meet Moses begins five years after first movie. Band had became successful in Mexico but ruined their lives with tequila. Their old manager has seen vision and started to call himself Moses. He sends surviving band members back home. On their way they meet new band members. In first movie band had unified look. In second movie there is Mexican section and new band members. Both dress differently to each others and first movie's band's look.

Leningrad Cowboys Go America is good movie which charming band. Leningrad Cowboys Meet Moses loses some of the charm. Song selection plays big part. Second movie doesn't have same hopeful feeling first has. In first movie they have hope things change for better. In second they are oppressed by religious leader. Band just accepts their fate and gets back home.

Monday, November 26, 2018

The Night Comes for Us (2018)

The Night Comes for Us is freaking awesome if you are in for violent Asian action movie. Not so much if you don't like that sort of stuff. It has about one hour and twenty minutes of action in two hour running time. There is big quality difference between drama parts and action parts. I almost gave up on movie before action really started.

Drama parts' problem is there isn't enough soundtrack to cover whole movie. Movie looks good but it doesn't work when there is no sound. Sometimes silence can be effective. But it is not if used as extensively as in this movie. Some say sounds make more than half of the movie. If you want proof watch The Night Comes for Us. You just feel something is missing and then realize there is no sound.

Story starts when Triad's killer can't kill a little girl. It goes pretty much where you expect it to go. It has interesting characters when they start to fight.  They are not as interesting before the fighting starts. Drama is there to make us feel for the characters and set the tone. Action scenes are where the movie shines. It is not one guy doing action scenes. There are several characters getting long action scenes. All the action is in two forty minutes almost non stop action sequences. It makes contrast between action and drama more obvious.

The Night Comes for Us don't get to level of really good movie. There are two reasons why. First is problem with soundtrack. Second is the last fight scene. Action scenes are master class in action scene story telling. You stay engaged for forty minutes of almost non stop action because action scenes tell the story. But last fight scene is not on level of previous action scenes. It drops story telling almost completely. Action scene before it was movie's best one. It made last look worse.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Jin Roh: The Wolf Brigade (1999)

When I reviewed Ilrang: The Wolf Brigade I expected original anime being better version of the story. It was but difference wasn't so clear as in something like Ghost in the Shell where anime is obviously the better one. With Ghost in the Shell live action didn't ruin experience of anime version if you watched live action first. In these movies it did little bit. Both movies has same story with almost the same beats. If you have change watch Jin Roh before watching Ilrang. Jin Roh is better version and it is better to get twists in that than in Ilrang. You can watch Ilrang afterwards if you want another take of the same story.

I don't want to get too deep into story because it would be spoiling. Movie happens in alternative post second world war Japan where special forces with full helmets and heavy weapons fight against terrorists. Movie goes bit different direction after beginning but anything more would be spoiling.

Jin Roh is better version of the story but Ilrang does some things better. Jin Roh is basic version when Ilrang goes deeper. Sometimes it improves the story. Most times it doesn't. Neither is the perfect version. I might have liked Jin Roh more if I had not seen Ilrang first. Ilrang showed where story could have gone. Jin Roh didn't go there. It had different point of view and story was more contained. In Ilrang little red riding hood felt unnecessary. In Jin Roh it was integral part of the story.

Before the ending I wasn't sure which one I liked more. But after ending I knew Jin Roh was better one. Only big difference between movies was the ending. Premise was different but that didn't matter after story really started. Before the ending it was more of matter of taste. Jin Roh was little bit better but ending made it much better. I wonder why they changed it for Ilrang because this was how the story should have ended.

Jin Roh is among better anime. Not among the best. Movie has protagonist problem. Protagonist should have had internal struggle but many times he acts like reprogrammed robot. That is part of the story but it doesn't work as well as it should. Jin Roh has more of the internal struggle than Ilrang but I wanted more.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Illang: The Wolf Brigade (2018)

Live action versions of Anime movies or series haven't been too successful. Illang: The Wolf Brigade is based on Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade. I haven't seen Jin-Roh so I can't compare this to it. That is the reason if I don't give proper hate to this live action version. Jin-Roh went to my watch list after seeing live action version. So it can't be all bad.

My biggest problem is the premise and about first half hour. I had to take a break after it and come back later.Premise it South Korea and North Korea are planning uniting into one Korea. Much like Germany did. Movie happens in South Korea where some people doesn't want unite with North Korea. They shout it will break families. I am not expert in Korean situation but I thought division of Korea broke the families and united Korea would look much more like South Korea than North Korea. I am not getting deeper into that. It was there to explain why there was special force with inhuman look.

After first half hour we can forget the premise and concentrate on the story. There were moments when I thought giving up but because this wasn't Hollywood movie and I wasn't sure where the story was going I continued. It was worth it. Problem at the beginning is I wasn't sure what is going on. Movie follows some characters and then moves to other characters without giving reason why it does it. It gives reason but stating it is spoiler. Move from one characters to others was bit confusing at first but made more sense when story went on and we got to real main characters.

Movie doesn't stop jumping from one character's point of view to another character's point of view after introducing main characters. It is even used as storytelling device later. Idea was clever but execution wasn't on bar with the idea. Characters are the problem. Characters are either blank slates or introduced as evil. Story tells there are no really good people. People are forced into roles by society and can't be really good because of the world they live in. Or they embrace their role by being evil.

Change of point of view doesn't have impact it should when you jump to evil guys point of view. If he wasn't painted as evil the change would have made it interesting when you didn't know which side you should root for. That was what they wanted but they showed the other guy and his side was evil earlier.

Story needed characters with internal struggles. There is one character with internal struggle but her role is to be the character who shows people can't make real choices in this world. Other characters needed internal struggles to make them more interesting. One other start to have internal struggle at the end but that struggle should have been there from the beginning. Story is build on that internal struggle which doesn't start until the end. They wanted to show the character as emotionless killing machine rather than character with internal struggle.

Illang: The Wolf Brigade is slow movie which doesn't explain too much. You have to figure out what is going on. First half hour is confusing if you don't know anything about the movie before watching it. Story is really good but there was potential to be better. I can understand if Jin-Roh fans doesn't like this movie. Jin-Roh is probably the better version of the story. This version isn't bad. It just lacks character development to be really good and it made mistake of making one side looking evil when it should have shown both sides operating in gray area.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Life (2017)

It took me second try to watch Life (2017). It is one of those science fiction horror movies which doesn't have much to offer. Most people have probably already forgotten it. I saw what it was during first fifteen minutes when I tried to watch it first time. I forced myself to watch it this time. It has good actors but they are not given much. Now I have seen it and can tell why it may not be worth of your time.

Life is story of space station crew who study martian life form. Life form reanimates and start to kill the crew. That is pretty much the movie. Sounds lot like Alien. Alien had good characters and story arcs besides alien killing crew. This doesn't have either. There is no drama. No tension between characters. Character doesn't have different view points. Nothing. It is just alien killing the crew and crew trying to survive.

Worst thing is movie tries to be hard science fiction but it forgets how scientists would work in this kind of situation and basics of living in space. No crew member would open quarantine door when alien life form has escaped. There wouldn't be flamethrowers eating oxygen. Space is cold. There is no need for water based cooling system in spacesuits. These mistakes or what you want to call them took me of the movie.

This might work if you are science fiction horror fan. There were couple good scares. Addition to those there were few cool looking scenes with good camera work. But there wasn't much more to offer. You can safely skip this movie unless you really need to see horror movie where alien kills people in space station. Even in that case there are better options.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

The Old Ones Awake

Here is little lovecraftian horror video for your Halloween enjoyment. It was inspirited by two Cthulhu tracts and stories of H.P. Lovecraft. Original plan was not to follow Cthulhu tracts' template where one person is telling other about the old ones to someone who doesn't believe them but I couldn't make dialog work without doing it.

If you want to know more about this video check my making of blog post at my other blog.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Blade Runner: Theatrical Cut (1982)

I don't remember when I watched Theatrical Cut last time. When Director's Cut was released theatrical cut became obsolete. Blade Runner is one of those movies studio's meddling ruined. Or at least that is what they say. I have already reviewed The Final Cut so I concentrate on what is different from other versions. Director's Cut and The Final Cut were pretty similar with couple restored scenes and redone effects in The Final Cut.

Studio made changes director Ridley Scott didn't want to do. They got their way but later they let him made two revised versions. This let us see what was changed from Ridley Scott's original vision. Most of the movie is the same. Major differences are the ending and Harrison Ford's voice over. Minor changes include little bit differently cut scenes and louder background voices. Do those changes ruin the movie. No. But they make the movie worse.

Changes were made to make movie easier to follow for common person. Other cuts work better because they flow better without distractions. It is not because I am more familiar with Director's and Final cuts. It is because Harrison Ford's voice over and louder background voices break the rhythm and feel of the movie. Voice over feels half done. It is missing from scenes which needs it to keep the rhythm. At the beginning almost all silent moments are filled with voice over. Then it stops for the most time only to be there to explain some scenes.

To make voice over work there should have been more of it. But voice over wasn't that good. It explained things which didn't need explaining. Other cuts let you find your own meanings. Voice over tells you how you should feel about what is happening on screen. Problem with voice over was it really didn't bring anything. It was afterthought when someone felt movie would be too hard for common people. I wouldn't had problem with voice over if it was supposed to be there from the beginning and had same thought put into it as the rest of the movie.

The ending has same problems as voice over. It is called happy ending. Other versions end with elevator doors closing. It leaves open what happens next. It hints they managed to escape. Theatrical cut shows them escaping and voice over tells they managed to escape. Doesn't ruin the movie but makes it worse.

The Final Cut is the version to see. Theatrical Cut is more of a curiosity. It doesn't have the unicorn scene. If you have problems with that scene you should watch Theatrical Cut. Voice over wasn't good enough to make this alternative version to see. If it was better we probably wouldn't have got Director's and Final Cuts. I could see voice over work completely rewritten and with much more of it. But as it is The Final Cut is the version to see.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Batman: Gotham By Gaslight (2018)

Batman: Gotham By Gaslight is Batman re-imagination set to 19th century Gotham. Steam punk Batman sounded good but we didn't get one. There is steam punk imaginary but it is inconsistent. Batman has motorbike when there is nothing even remotely like that around except a zeppelin which is as much out of place in world where people move with horse carriages. I wouldn't talk about this if the story was engaging.

Batman is trying to find Jack the Ripper who is killing women in streets of Gotham. This is not origin story but Batman is not well known yet. Some think he is the killer. Movie relies heavily on you knowing the original characters and wanting to see different versions of them. Characters are not who they are in regular Batman but versions they could have come if they lived in different era. This could have been strength but there is one big problem.

This should be detective story but there is very little investigation. Batman literally stumbles into Jack the Ripper's room when he is there for totally other reason. This came out of the blue. All hints given pointed to wrong direction. Maybe if I watch this again knowing who the killer is I might see hints given during the movie but I won't be seeing it again.

This should have been clever detective story. But it is not clever nor detective story. There is a scene where old woman shouts to Bruce Wayne in front of police he will be hanged if he doesn't pay her. Police doesn't react to this at the time but you can see how this could be important in the story later. Story telling was this subtle. Everything else was thrown at us like this but detective story was two or three scenes showing microscope and having references to Sherlock Holmes without giving any real hint who the killer was. Batman found it out by mistake.

Batman fought Jack the Ripper three time. Jack didn't have any problems dominating Batman. But for some strange reason Jack wanted to run from Batman and Batman fight Jack. This wasn't used as story element or character development. Batman just wanted to catch Jack. He didn't plan fight or trying to gain advantage. He just got lucky last time.

There was lot of potential but only memorable things were few visuals. They had some good ideas but something doesn't work. Movie doesn't find correct tone. Sometimes it feels they wanted to show too many 19th century versions of Batman characters. For example everything with Hugo Strange could have been cut off. Movie is about 80 minutes long but it feels much longer because story doesn't go forward. There are just lot of scenes which doesn't lead to anything. If they do it is much later when you have forgotten the scenes.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Lara Croft: Tomb Raider - The Cradle of Life (2003)

Lara Croft: Tomb Raider - The Cradle of Life has terrible name. The movie isn't much better. These movies doesn't have to be smart to be enjoyable but too much stupidity will hurt the movie. They tell in first fifteen minutes or something the cradle of life is in Africa. Later in movie it is surprise to characters it is in Africa. To same characters who knew earlier it is in Africa.

Whole movie is characters stupidity moving the story forward. Lara rather takes photos of orb in secret laboratory where she caused fire alarm than take the orb and escape. She end up doing that but only after bad guys catch her and she leaves them hint how to find her friends. Bad guy isn't any smarter. His plan is to open Pandora's box and let diseases to kill millions. Then he wants to save best and brightest. Politicians and corporate leaders. Corporate leaders at least have to have some merit but as we have seen lately being politician is no indication of being best or brightest. I wonder who would do all the work when only survivors are those whose skills are negotiation, delegation and looking reliable. That could be good premise for dystopian science fiction movie.

Movie had many good action scenes. I wondered why I didn't remember them being in the movie. When I saw the sets I remembered how good the scenes where. Then I saw the ending which made me want to forget the movie. Cradle of life set was terrible. It was hard to follow what is happening when characters could walk on walls and everywhere. There was too much bad cgi everywhere. First movie didn't have problems with special effect. This does but it wasn't the worst thing.

I am going to spoil the ending to tell why it is so bad. Worst thing was they tried to have dramatic ending with Lara and King Leonidas. They had something going on but during the movie Lara only used him to find cradle of life. She was going to kill him earlier because he wasn't fast enough. She told him she could kill him when she left him. In the end we are supposed to wonder if she can kill him to save millions. She was prepared to kill him for much less earlier. There wasn't a scene where they got back together. There was one which started like one but it was one where she left him telling she could kill him. We knew she would do it. She didn't want to do it but she didn't have choice.

If they wanted this ending Lara and King Leonidas should have got back together. Then it would have been what they tried to have. They should have also changed Pandora's box to something which give user power. Then bad guy could have had better motive. Trying to kill almost everyone is not a good motive unless you explain it like they did in Infinity War. Here the plan was to let disease to kill almost everyone and sell cure to little group of people. It is as bad plan as Umbrella Corporation's plans in latest Resident Evil movie. Maybe we should accept that plan because bad guy hated all life. Poison Ivy at least had some reason to kill all humans in Batman Forever.

You might have guessed I didn't like the movie. That is not completely correct. I liked those few good action scenes. It is the ending which was so frustrating I keep forgetting what was good.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Venom (2018)

I am honest. Only reason I saw Venom in theater was because I had expiring tickets and there wasn't anything more interesting running or coming before tickets expired. I expected this to be big mess. But I enjoyed it. It is bit of  a mess but it is enjoyable mess. Movie got bad reviews but box office looks like we will get sequel.

I don't understand why this gets so bad reviews. Movie is hilarious. Maybe you hate it if you expected something serious like DCEU or MCU. This is closer to Deadpool. You can't call this good movie. There are gaping plot holes and some of the story was left on cutting room floor. Movie feels like 80's and 90's superhero movies on steroids. Writing is either lazy or ingenious. I wish it was ingenious because then sequel can be as good. Or at least that they understand why we like the movie.

Venom is movie where punchline of a joke is protagonist eats people's heads. That punchline was used couple times. Movie has PG-13 rating but it is not a problem. I didn't need the gore. Not showing the gore keeps head eating jokes funny. People say Venom is The Room (2003) of superhero movies. I disagree. The Room was meant to be serious drama. Venom was never meant to be serious. Some of the funniest moments were probably unintentional but it was meant to be funny movie. Nobody can say fancy restaurant scene wasn't meant to be comedy.

It has been a while since I read Venom related comics. Venom is probably not too faithful to source material. I don't remember comic Venom being this funny. Funny Venom works in lower budget superhero movie. If you like bad movies and dark humor Venom is movie for you. It is not a bad movie but to fully enjoy it you need to enjoy bad movies. It has some bad parts but it isn't problem unless you only want to see flawless movies. It is highly entertaining movie if you watch it with right mindset.

Monday, October 8, 2018

Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001)

After watching Tomb Raider (2018) I wanted to check Angelina Jolie's Tomb Raider movies. At least first of them has been my guilty pleasure. I didn't remember much of them. After watching first one I realized everything I remembered was from first movie. Except King Leonidas who I think is in second one. I mean Gerard Butler the actor. Not the character King Leonidas.

This movie has James Bond which I had totally forgotten because Daniel Craig puts very little effort in his character. He almost sleepwalks the whole movie. Angelina Jolie puts too much effort. She doesn't feel like real person. She tries too much to be cool. I didn't saw this before I saw Alicia Vikander's Lara Croft. It was hard to watch set up part because it reminded how much better Alicia Vikander was in the role. It doesn't help both movies tell same story of Lara letting go her father.

Movie becomes more enjoyable when they find the clock and main story can begin. Shoot out at mansion is bit too much over the top and soundtrack doesn't help. I rarely notice bad soundtrack but this time it doesn't have intensity in needed. It tries to be cool but isn't edgy enough. I can see what they wanted but they didn't dare to go far enough. It is not just mansion shoot out. It is whole soundtrack.

First temple still looks amazing. It has lot of CGI but it still looks good. It is better than new Tomb Raider's tomb which had couple obvious CGI effects. This one made almost twenty years ago was more realistic looking even with walking stone statues. Second temple wasn't far behind. Tomb raiding was more entertaining in this where they didn't try to be too realistic. Music and Angelina Jolie's performance were aged worse than special effects. I didn't expect that.

Lara Croft: Tomb Raider is enjoyable stupid action movie after they leave the mansion. It doesn't work as well when it tries to be more than action movie with nice sets. In mansion shoot out it doesn't work when it tries to be just that but when they get out of mansion it is different story.

Monday, October 1, 2018

Tomb Raider (2018)

Does it tell something about the movie if I almost forgot I saw it? I did like Tomb Raider but next day almost forgot I saw it. It is pretty much what you expect from Tomb Raider movie. It is action movie with female lead and raiding tombs. Alicia Vikander is good in her role. Action looks realistic. It is darker than Angelina Jolie's movies because it is based on new rebooted games.

It is hard to write anything about this movie. I was going to complain about one scene which felt little bit like Anakin turning to dark side scene. When I watched it again it made more sense. Movie tells Lara Croft's origin story. There is one scene where Lara decides to become Lara we know. Before that she has mainly escaped but after that she becomes killing machine. It was like something clicked in Lara's head and she was different person. It was weird because later similar change from not caring about myth to taking it seriously was handled much better.

There were couple bad shots and characters made few stupid choices to have epic scenes. Other than that it is competent and entertaining movie. It is forgettable because it has similar story as all the other genre movies. It is more realistic and grittier than other movies in genre. Movie ends with sequel bait. Sequel bait didn't look too promising but I want to see more of Alicia Vikander's Lara Croft.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Independence Day: Resurgence (2016)

Independence Day (1996) was big deal when it was released and some people still defend it. It was one of Roland Emmerich's disaster movies where most important things are destruction and barely escaping the destruction all the time. I have seen it couple times but remember almost nothing of it. Independence Day: Resurgence is sequel it.

I start from positive. I liked how Earth had turned into futuristic science fiction world. It made sense since twenty years have passed since first movie. Second positive thing was lot of visual effects artists got work. They spent lot of money on special effect but there was too much of them. Screen was full of everything in special effect shots. It was too chaotic. They couldn't have been able to fly with that much of everything flying in the air.

Action scenes weren't exciting because they were too much over the top. There weren't any stakes. I think only seven people with dialog died. All of them were set to die. This is so based in formulas you know what happen to each character almost as soon as you seen them. Only thing I didn't expect was friendly alien. Well before the movie I didn't expect there to be friendly alien. It was easy to guess it was friendly when Jeff Goldblum suggested they don't shoot it.

I had hard time watching this because it has so little to offer. Everything was so much by the numbers. No interesting ideas. Just lot of cgi and action. It would be easy to say characters didn't have any personality because there was one character whose personality was she was Chinese pilot. She got to hang with three new main characters because movies like this make lot of money in China. Those main characters didn't have much more personality.

Thor's brother was most developed new character. He was reckless but really good pilot who had almost killed Will Smith's son. He has problems with authorities. Will Smith's son was angry to Thor's brother. Thor's brother's buddy was looking for girlfriend and liked Chinese pilot. When I add Thor's brother's girlfriend is first movie's president's daughter I have said everything I can say about four new main characters without saying what they do in the movie. You can pretty much guess where these characters go based on what I just said.

There are no conflicts between characters after aliens show up. Only conflicts are between Thor's brother and Will Smith's son, Thor's brother and his Chinese boss and Jeff Goldblum and politicians but these conflict cease to exist when aliens come. Conflict between Jeff Goldblum and politicians is solved by Thor's brother stealing a ship and getting Jeff Goldblum to investigate wreckage of shot down alien ship. Thor's brother doesn't get any consequences of this.

Heroes can do what ever they like without anyone stopping them. African Warlord can go anywhere he likes because he was with Jeff Goldblum. People who are clearly controlled by aliens are trusted with important tasks in beating aliens. Brent Spinner has been in coma for two decades and write alien language to walls after he wakes when aliens show up. We should let him study friendly alien ship.

Independence Day: Resurgence is big mess. Emphasis on word big. Everything is big. Action scenes are big with lot of stuff flying everywhere. Cast is big. Too big to give individual characters personalities or interesting character arcs. Budget was so big they didn't dare to take changes. Movie is full of events which should give audience reaction. There is little to make you think. Everything is there to get reaction out of you.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Beyond Skyline (2017)

I will spoil Skyline (2010) and Beyond Skyline (2017) more than I usually spoil movies I review. If you want to see them unspoiled you should watch them before reading this.

Skyline was zombie movie where zombies where replaced by aliens until the sequel bait ending. It had all characters dying or getting captured by alien and aliens winning all over the world. Then movie goes inside alien ship where we see male and female lead alive. Male lead's brains are put to alien body but he didn't become mindless slave like others. He fight other aliens and save female lead. Movie ends them still being inside alien ship. I liked movie before alien ship part. It didn't feel like it should have been in the movie.

Beyond Skyline shows why it was in the movie. It was main part of this movie's story arc. Movie starts showing group of other people during events of Skyline. Survivors end up in same space ship as first movie's male and female lead. Then aliens leave. David Zayas' plan was correct in first movie. If they stayed hidden they would have survived. Beyond Skyline goes down when they enter space ship. Just like in Skyline except this time it happens on first third of the movie.

Beyond Skyline doesn't bring much what wasn't introduced in Skyline. Beyond Skyline explains what we saw in Skyline. That is the problem. Aliens worked better as mysterious unstoppable force. Beyond Skyline explains them as ancient astronauts who created mankind. I am always lost when movie does this. Ancient aliens and intelligent design takes away science fiction credibility in my eyes. Beyond Skyline uses both of them.

Aliens created us to be harvested every two thousand years or something like that. That explains why aliens light make humans zombie like and why human brains fit to alien bodies. Problem is that aliens don't act like we are harvested every two thousand years. They try to catch everyone. It would create evolutionary bottle necks around the world when almost everyone is gone from different areas. There might not be anyone to be harvested next time. Before you say mankind have survived things like plagues, you have to realize plagues haven't killed over 95% of population like aliens do in Skyline movies.

It is interesting premise is based on intelligent design but evolution is main plot point. Mankind has evolved so that some of us can keep our personality when our brains are put into alien body. Skyline's male lead was one of those people. One character in this movie is another. Skyline's male and female leads' daughter is kind of chose one of this movie series. Yes, she was established in first movie even though it wasn't used much there. Daughter's blood can free human brains in alien bodies from slavery. If first movie is more like zombie movie this one was action movie where they escape aliens with daughter.

Beyond Skyline being action movie causes problems. It means characters can kill aliens easier than in first movie. Characters can do this because aliens forget to use their light several times when it would have been best option. Humans even go out doors to fight against aliens who can fly and harvest people from air using zombifying lights. Lucky for our heroes aliens didn't use light and fought hand to hand using human sized aliens. They used earlier much bigger aliens. Aliens aren't similar threat here. They are obstacles to overcome.

I am disappointed. Skyline made me care about boring and unlikable characters. Beyond Skyline starts with interesting characters and turn them into hero mode. If there is conflict between characters it is solved in next scene never to be returned. Conflict may not have any build up. It is brought up in scene and solved in next. I expected this to be better version of Skyline but got movie where worst of Skyline was boosted. To underline they don't know what they were doing movie ends with bloopers. They ended serious movie, where aliens harvested most of the human race, with bloopers. I guess both movies had to end disappointing way.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Skyline (2010)

When I said Extinction (2018) was practically Skyline with interesting twist I didn't remember much about Skyline. I thought I had reviewed it. I only remembered there was sequel bait at the end but didn't remember what it was. I was going to watch the ending before watching sequel Beyond Skyline since both were available for streaming. But because I had not reviewed it yet I decided to watch it and review it.

Skyline is zombie movie where zombies are replaced by alien attack. Zombie movies are not about zombies. They are about people trying to survive zombie apocalypse. The point is apocalypse. It doesn't have to be zombies. Alien attack will do fine. When I saw this first time I didn't realize how many beats Skyline took from Zombie movies. Aliens hypnotize humans to be easy prey. This could danger other people but hypnotized people don't attack other humans. That and ending are almost all the differences to zombie movies.

I won't spoil the ending. It is sort of sequel bait but not really. It should have been left to cutting room floor. It was tonally different from the rest of the movie and made no sense. Movie started bad but won me over when it took more beats from zombie movies. But this ending which came out of nowhere ruined the movie. It made me forgot how good the movie was just moments before.

Extinction and Skyline are about people surviving alien attack but there is one more thing in common. Both have one character which is on screen when movie is good and is away when it is not that good. In Skyline the character is David Zayas' character. His character doesn't get any build up but he is more interesting than any of the main characters we have followed from the beginning. Like he was only one knowing what kind of movie he was in or only one who could make script work.

Monday, September 3, 2018

Extinction (2018)

I am starting to feel Netflix pays people in social media for promotion of their movies. I have seen several movies get praise they don't quite deserve. Movies aren't bad but not worth the praise they get. Extinction is one of those movies. It is also one of Netflix movies which would have worked better as episode of anthology series.

I don't get into more spoilers than the trailer but if you haven't seen the trailer and want to watch this movie unspoiled I suggest you do it before reading further.

Extinction is pretty much Skyline (2010) with interesting twist. It is movie about how normal people would survive alien attack. Most of them wouldn't. This takes first hour of one and half hour movie. First twenty minutes are about man seeing visions of alien attack and introducing his family. Next forty minutes are said family trying to survive alien attack. Then there is a twist which makes this good science fiction movie for twenty minutes. Last fifteen minutes are credits and getting back to surviving alien attack.

I am not sure if that twenty minutes is worth watching one and half hour movie. It is weird everything good happens inside twenty minutes. Even weirder that it is almost the same time we see one character's face. Movie is good only when this one character shows his face. It is not because actor is so good. It is because everything interesting is revealed after the character showed his face and before he leaves the movie. Fact that they could tell everything interesting in twenty minutes tells this should have been under an hour episode of anthology series.

If you want to optimize your time usage and see that twenty minutes of good science fiction you can watch the trailer and start the movie from forty seven minutes. It is up to you if you want to stop around hour and twenty minutes mark. Talking about trailer. I think it revealed bit too much. It revealed alien attack was real. It ruined first twenty minutes little when you knew aliens would attack. Trailers have to show the movie but in this case visions would have been enough.

Extinction had good idea but they made wrong movie. If not the wrong movie time was allocated wrongly. Too much time was given to alien attack because there was actually more than just regular alien attack. Movie has more bad than good but bad is not really that bad and when it is good it is good.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Ant-Man and The Wasp (2018)

First Ant-Man movie was ok entry to Marvel Cinematic universe. Nothing special but enjoyable to watch. I would like to say Ant-Man and the Wasp continues where the first movie ends but that is not the case. Comic books have events which mess individual heroes stories. Something happens outside comic book's continuity and heroes are in different position than in previous issue of said comic book. This is problem if you liked where the story was going to in said comic book. In Marvel Cinematic Universe Avengers and Captain America movies are the events which mess individual character's movies' continuity. Ant-Man and the Wasp continues after events of Captain America: Civil War instead of interesting premise first Ant-Man left us with.

Interesting premise was Scott and Hope finding each other and probably working together in future. That was thrown into trash in Civil War where Scott was caught. That also made Hope and Hank Pym fugitives. Hank and Hope hated Scott but they had to work together because Scott had link to Hank's wife and Hope's mother, the original Wasp. Part of the story was Scott and Hope finding each other again. Then in end credit scene this was taken away because of another event, Infinity War. What happens in next Avengers movie might change Ant-Man's story again and we have two movies which tell partly the same story ending almost the same. And third movie will start somewhere else than where first two ended.

If we forget we might not have to care what this movie did to Ant-Man's story the movie is ok like the first one. It is more of the first movie. Enjoyable but nothing special. Lot of clever special effects but you forget what happened at which part of the movie because all action scenes are practically same scenes. Good guys try to get object important for the story while running away from the bad guys. Story itself is there to make movie to move from one scene to another. There is nothing annoying. It is just product of well functioning movie making factory. It is enjoyable while it lasts but you don't remember much about it after it is over.

Monday, August 20, 2018

Godzilla 2: City on the Edge of Battle (2018)

Godzilla 2: City on the Edge of Battle is second movie in anime Godzilla trilogy. First was Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters. This continues where Planet of Monsters ended. Humans did beat one version of Godzilla only to find out there is even bigger version of it. In first movie everything interesting happened in space when humans were not sure if they want to come back to Earth. Earth part was mostly fighting against Godzilla.

City on the Edge of Battle has similar structure. This time they start on Earth but there are similar discussions of what they should do until they figure out the way to beat Godzilla. However this time the fight against Godzilla is the interesting part. Mainly because there are character arcs and engaging conflict between characters. Different races didn't have much effect of what happened in first movie. Here different world views between races create conflict which was missing from first movie.

It is like someone told them what was missing from first movie and they fixed it for second movie. There are parts where dialog makes little sense but there is conflict between world views which makes some sense. Movie doesn't work on its own. You have to watch the first movie to know what is going on. There is lot of build up for next movie or movies and movie ends with cliffhanger.

I complained animation style in first movie. This probably has same problem but it didn't bother this time because story was more engaging. Characters are not as one dimensional this time. Movie don't try to rely too much on Godzilla. It is more like what the first movie's first half was. Next movie could pretty much go to any direction. I liked where this went but next one could go to different direction.

After two movies trilogy have had some good ideas but neither movie has been really good. Both have elements I wish they gave more time. I am still waiting for this to get really good. Second movie was improvement so there is still hope.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Fast & Furious 8 (2017)

After watching Fast & Furious 8 I wasn't sure what to write about it. Movie series is at point where they have got the formula and put out new movies every now and then. It had problems but I mostly enjoyed it. After watching several Vin Diesel movies during one weekend I was in correct mood for this. XXX: The Return of Xander Cage brought that franchise closer to later Fast & Furious movies.

Then I realized what the message was. Fast & Furious 8 should have subtitle In Group Bias The Movie. I don't think movie was meant to be this clever. They told more about their world view than they meant to. It is not just one thing where this happens. It is during the whole movie and with main two characters. Group bias means we don't judge people in our group as hard as people who are not in our group. You can see this everywhere and it is big problem.

Dom is blackmailed to turn against his family. He gets Rock to be caught be police and go to jail. He steals Russian nuclear launch codes. He goes to steal Russian nuclear submarine with nuclear missiles. When he gets back to correct side at the end everything is forgiven. One character makes joke about the situation. You could say this is normal action movie stuff where heroes have different standards than others. But same thing happens to one other character too.

Jason Statham was villain of Fast & Furious 7. He killed at least one of Dom's group and destroyed their house. The movie is not available on my streaming services so I can't check everything he did in that movie. In this movie he joins "the good guys" and everything is forgiven. Again once someone joins the group everything is forgiven. This gives good picture of some people's world view. They are willing to forgive monsters and blame the victims as long as the monster is part of their own group.

Embracing in group bias wasn't the only questionable message. There literally is a female character whose role is to give birth to Dom's son and then die so she won't be problem to Dom's and Letty's relationship. In this movie heroes actions have no consequences. She hasn't even given first name to the son because she thinks Dom should do that as a father. She didn't even want to get between Dom and Letty. She would rather have been single mother. Another reason to kill her of because those are evil to people who wrote this movie.

But wait there is more. Mr Nobody and Rock instructs Little Nobody how world works. Their third rule is there are no rules. You can do anything without consequences because you are saving the world or something like that. Good to add that with all the other questionable messages. Fast & Furious 8 tells lot about some people's world views in 2017. For that reason we shouldn't forget this movie.

Monday, August 6, 2018

XXX: The Return of Xander Cage (2017)

I remember liking XXX. XXX: The Next Level was ok if I remember correctly but I didn't want to see XXX: The Return of Xander Cage in theater. It came at time when I didn't go to theater that often and it got bad reviews. Now that I have seen it I am glad I didn't spent any money on it but I am also glad to see it.

First half feels like they wanted to kill the franchise. There is pointless cameo from Neymar Jr and Samuel L. Jackson. It kicks the movie but it was so bad. It referenced Samuel L. Jackson's MCU role as Nick Fury. Then there is nice action scene with Donnie Yen before Xander Cage was introduced really awfully. It doesn't get any better when he acts like jackass and every woman fells for him. I really felt bad for Donnie Yen at this point. He was doing good job when others felt like they didn't want to take this seriously.

But then something happens when Xander and Donnie Yen meets first time. If this was shot in order Donnie Yen's work ethics improved other's work. Movie had first big twist that point. It had introduced all important characters and was at its second last location. Before that it was more dialog driven. After that is became fun action movie. There are many reasons why movie started to work after that point onward.

XXX: The Return of Xander Cage is fun stupid action movie during last half. It is full of fan service. I remember first two to be more serious ones. This one is more about interesting characters kicking ass. Ending has same family feeling later Fast and Furious movies have. I kind of want to see more of this if it has Donnie Yen and Tony Jaa. Others had hard time keeping up with them in action scenes and Donnie Yen had interesting character. It is shame first half was so awful when they wanted to look so cool with looking like old folks trying to act like teens.

Monday, July 30, 2018

Tau (2018)

I appreciate Netflix's effort on original science fiction. Tau is their latest original science fiction movie. It got moderate praise in social media. It was compared to Ex Machina. This has mad scientist, they are in his house and there is AI but other than that this isn't like Ex Machina. This felt more like The Human Centipede. I haven't seen those movies and never will but I have seen few reviews and know more about them than I want to know. It reminded me what I think Human Centipede movies are.

Mad scientist has captured three people for scientific experiments. He keeps them locked in his basement. Movie is them trying to escape mad scientist's house and AI which controls the house. It is more about horror than science fiction. At least about first half hour. Then AI takes bigger role. Movie feels longer than it is. It is because there is almost nothing to tell.

After first twenty minutes or something like that movie sets to what it will be until the end. There isn't much new information after that point or major changes in characters. In Ex Machina there were mind games and you didn't what was going to happen. Here you knew mad scientist will kill test subjects after tests if they can't escape before that. It is just waiting for how and if they will escape.

I was surprised to find out Ed Skrein who played mad scientist was Francis from Deadpool. I checked what else he had done and Deadpool was one of his previous movies. He is good actor but his character was written to be too one dimensional or it was direction. I think he did what was asked from him.

Tau is one of those movies with interesting premise but which doesn't quite deliver. It went too much into horror territory for my liking. It gets better by the end but first half is quite drag. Ed Skrein is best part but movie gets more interesting when AI is in bigger role. This would have been really good hour long episode in anthology series. Over one and half hours needed more depth than what we got.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Chronicles of Riddick: Dark Fury (2004)

Riddick's universe is one of my favorite fictional universes. I enjoy innovative worlds it has and Riddick's character. I have already reviewed all live action movies. What was missing was animated short movie Dark Fury and games. As far as I know games are not available anywhere legally so only Dark Fury is left to review until next live action movie.

Dark Fury is bridge between Pitch Black which introduced Riddick and Chronicles of Riddick. It starts soon after ending of Pitch Black on ship with survivors of Pitch Black. Bounty hunter ship catches them and it end up pretty much how you would expect.

Half hour short movie can't pack too much of a story. It doesn't attempt to be anything else than giving us little more of Riddick and reference first two movies. I am not sure if this was released before Chronicles of Riddick or after. Both were released same year. It made me want to rewatch live action Riddick movies. It works in what it tries to achieve.

Dark Fury has many things I like in Riddick movies. It has cast from live action movies representing their roles. Everyone sounds correct which make it feel like Riddick movie. Action scenes are visually interesting and attitude is there. Animation is all over the place but most of the time it is not annoying. But only most of the time. Animation is only part which I didn't like that much. It looks lot like Aeon Flux. Sometimes it goes overboard with the style. Those were the times it got annoying.

If you are Riddick fan Dark Fury is for you. If not you can skip this. There isn't much which we have not seen in live action movies and there is barely a story.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Lucifer - Season 1 (2016)

Nowadays network cancelling a show doesn't always mean end of the show. Lucifer is one of those shows which were picked up by someone else after cancellation. Same has happened to The Expanse and Brooklyn 99. Maybe some other shows too. This usually involves active fan base wanting to save their favorite show. Too bad this wasn't trend when Ascension and Firefly were cancelled. I decided to check what the fuzz was all about.

Lucifer tells about Lucifer who has come to Los Angeles to run night club. He starts to help police because he finds his powers doesn't work with one detective named Chloe. Another angel Amenadiet wants Lucifer to go back to hell. Lucifer's guardian demon Mazikeen doesn't approve Lucifer being so interested about Chloe. Other human characters are Chloe's ex-husband Dan and Lucifer's therapist.

Lucifer doesn't try to be too realistic but it doesn't go to comedy territory. It reminds lot about Joss Whedon's Angel in good and J.J. Abrams' works in bad. I don't want to diss Abrams all the time but this reminded me about his shows. Show was interesting when I watched it. When it was building up. Then things build up to be important weren't that important because that were easiest way to return things back to normal. Without going into spoilers there were two story arcs build to be important which writers decided not to matter because that was easiest way return everything almost as they were.

Amenadiet was introduces as one dimensional antagonist. He got bit more interesting later. Mazikeen had some sort of start of character arc. Lucifer's story arcs was learning to be more like human. Mazikeen started similar arc during later half of the season. I liked Lucifer, Amenadiet and Mazikeen being in human world part most. Mostly because Chloe's and other human's story arc was ruined in season finale. Therapist was only interesting human character in the end. I write this few days after watching the series and I have hard time writing anything about Chloe who was female lead. She had daughter, ex-husband and open case which was solved. I don't remember anything else. Why Lucifer's powers didn't work on her wasn't explained. They just didn't work on her and that was it. Maybe they get back to it on later seasons.

This was police procedural which meant murder mysteries on each episodes. I liked there being twists build around someone being gay or vegan without making big deal about being vegan or gay. What I didn't like was them realizing who the killer was out of the blue. It was often character who was cleared for some reason and then they found new evidence or someone said something which connected the dots. All twists weren't bad. I just remember bad twist better.

I don't know what to think about Lucifer. I watched all 13 episodes in one sitting but season finale left me disappointed. Part of me wants to continue to second season. Part of me doesn't. Season finale and first episode of second season had that effect. If you expected something to matter after first season first episode of second season took that away.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Watching Green Lantern (2011) after reading source material

I wrote long Green Lantern (2011) review about four and half years ago. Ryan Reynolds keeps this movie in our minds by joking about it in Deadpool movies. Maybe he wants us to check movie where his wife is acting with him. I had forgotten my review. I wanted to check the movie again to see if was as bad as its reputation. Since the review I have read some Green Lantern comics and am more familiar with the source material. I guess that is enough for second take on this movie.

This time I wasn't as confused with what was going on. I could pick references to source material like Amanda Waller from Suicide Squad being in the movie. I think this was supposed to launch DC cinematic universe. Maybe they planned to have Suicide Squad movie that time too. Knowing the source material didn't make movie better. It made me see problems in other places.

Parallax is the biggest problem. It should have been left into future movies. Movie starts and ends with it but Hector's story arc didn't need Parallax. Hector was main villain of the movie. His infection could have come from something else and very little of his story arc would have changed. Ending would have been changed to be about Hector instead of Parallax. Every Parallax scene took us away from main story. CGI looked quite awful but that wasn't the problem. Problem was the character being too powerful for the movie where Hal was learning his powers and character being too much of generic evil force.

Movie should have concentrated on Hal and Hector story arc. Hector was much better developed character than Parallax. Whole movie should have been about it those two. I liked Green Lantern Corp part but it took movie away from main story arcs. Sinestro and rest of the Corp were best part now when I knew the source material but it took the movie away from the main story arcs just like Parallax. Maybe they should have bring Sinestro to Earth to train Hal there and leave rest of the Corp and Parallax to sequel. Then leave Sinestro with yellow ring to third movie.

Movie wouldn't have been great with Parallax and Green Lantern Corp taken away. Hal's introduction wasn't that good either. He was too loose cannon before he got his act together as Green Lantern. Movie was set to be bad when you add movie started with introduction of Parallax. It took me a while to get interested. I was interested when it was about Hector and Hal on earth. It wasn't perfect but it would have been something like first X-Men movie without Parallax and Green Lantern Corp.

Green Lantern isn't as bad as its reputation. I enjoyed it at times. There was ok movie but like with DCEU movies it tried to have too much in one movie. They should have picked Green Lantern Corp or Hector story arc. Green Lantern Corp was better one when I knew the source material but maybe that would have been too much for those who didn't know the character. But then again Guardians of the Galaxy was popular introducing more obscure heroes and MCU's cosmic side. I would have liked to see teased sequel with Yellow Lantern Sinestro. They got Sinestro and Green Lantern Corp well. Having whole movie with them would have been interesting. Sinestro is one of my top two DC villains. Another one is Brainiac.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Anon (2018)

Anon is one of those movies where premise is better than the movie. It has interesting science fiction concept but it is content to be futuristic detective story without studying the science fiction concept. People's brains are like computers connected to internet. Everything is saved to files. People can send these files to each others. Files are used by justice system to define what really happened. This is how it starts. Later we learn brains can be hacked like computers.

This whole thing is treated like augmented reality. Only one guy sees ability to hack other people's brains as problem because it destroys the system which operates on everything to be transparent. If files can be hacked how you can trust anything any more? How everything being transparent and people sending their memory files to each others is affecting the society is studied very little. It would have huge impact on society and how people live in it.

Anon reminds me lot of Basic Instinct. It is detective movie at its core. It is detective movie where characters have invisible augmented reality helmets. Murder mystery and premise are best movie has to offer. Don't know if it is world building or bad writing but characters are really dull. Maybe recording everything and everything being transparent makes you tone down your personality. Even if that was the case there should still be reason why characters did what they did or characters to learn something.

Main character didn't change at all. Mystery was solved but everyone continued to be what they were before. They just knew to what extent brain hacking was possible but it didn't change them anyway. Privacy was one of the themes but movie comments very little about it or living without it. Main character lives without privacy. Anon character had it but both spent their time similarly alone in empty apartments. That was more than we got from other characters. There weren't any characters building the world. Characters were there to perform a function. Maybe society without any privacy turns people into that but it doesn't make movie more interesting if everyone is there only to perform a function without having any personality.

I thought this would be one of the best science fiction movie during first fifteen minutes. Premise was so interesting. There are clever ideas later but they were too few and far between. Biggest problem is there is almost no world building after the premise is set. It was like this is the world and now we got to detective story happening in this world. Second biggest problem is they don't give reasons for characters. Main character does something he really shouldn't at one point and it goes as you expect. At other point he knows something he shouldn't know at all and there is one twist where there is no build up before the twist.

Should you watch this? Maybe if you like the premise. Anon is not bad movie. It just isn't as good as it could have been.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Westworld - Season 2 (2018)

Westworld was supposed to be new Game of Thrones for HBO. I haven't seen any other reviews. So I don't know what others thought about this season after season finale. I wouldn't be too surprised if this was it. I won't be waiting for third season. Series seem to be trying to do same as X-Files spin-off Millennium by reinventing the series for each season. For Millennium it worked for two seasons. Third season was only average without almost anything which made first two seasons good first place. Spoilers from this point onward.

I wrote two posts about first eight episodes. You can find them here and here. I didn't have high hopes for last two episodes. Ninth episode had moments but over all it didn't have impact it should have had based on all things happened. This was problem of jumping from one time to another. Teddy's death would have had some effect if it wasn't given few episodes before. We just didn't know how it happened. Scene would have been one of the best scenes of the series if we didn't know the outcome going in.

William shooting human guards and her daughter would have had more impact if episode had given us time to react to it. Impact was also lessened by end credit scene which told it wasn't real William and real daughter. The end credit scene missed completely what made James Delos episode so good. It used same dialog without understanding why same dialog worked first time. It made no sense for daughter to say it has taken so much time when she looked same as earlier. In James Delos episode William had aged during episode. It made sense when aged William said that.

Maeve was ruined in season finale. She had lost her powers except when she needed to save her daughter. It made no sense why she couldn't control hosts. She didn't even try until her daughter was in trouble. Maeve will probably come back to next season. At least it was teased. So much for any stakes at all.

Dolores' and Bernard's story arcs had so many twists and time jumping I didn't care at all in the end. Both died and came back. It didn't help conclusion was bigger disappointment and more stupid I could have ever expected. Those dead hosts in the water walked to rift only they could see and they consciousness was saved online which save their soul or something.

Host's death didn't mean anything in first season. It made sense from story's point of view. It was changed when hosts started to kill humans during first season's finale. There weren't humans repairing them. Whole season tried to make us care hosts' deaths and then told we shouldn't have cared when story required it.

Third season could be interesting now when few hosts are among humans and they can make more. Everyone dying ending ruined Millennium. Westworld didn't have two good seasons before everyone dying ending. There will be third season but after this mess I wouldn't expect too much from it. They took their time making this season but I feel if I watch the season again now when I know what happened the time line wouldn't make any sense. They concentrated too much on building mysteries and jumping in time. There were couple times where jumping in time made sense but most of the time it ruined big twists ahead of time. It is shame this season was such a mess because there were good ideas when they didn't try to be too clever.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Sex Machina: A XXX Parody (2016)

Ex Machina is one of the best science fiction movies lately. It wasn't too popular but it still has "erotic" parody. Rather faithful to source material. This review concentrates on story part of the movie. I fast forwarded other scenes with double speed. If those had anything important to story I might have missed them. I have to complain about the mixing. I had to watch major reveal scene twice because soundtrack was too loud and character who told what is going on talked too softly. Like they didn't expect someone would watch the movie for the story.

Sex Machina takes many story beats from Ex Machina. It spoils Ex Machina if you watch it first. I recommend watching Ex Machina first if you plan to watch both. I will spoil Ex Machina from this point onward. Watch Ex Machina before reading further. I will spoil Sex Machina too but you probably wouldn't watch it for the story.

Movie tells story of Caleb who wins trip to robot factory. In Ex Machina Caleb was invited to be there to test latest AI robot Ava. Ava was most sophisticated robot in facility. In this Ava seems to be least sophisticated. She wears suit which gives her low budget look of Ex Machina's Ava. It is later revealed Ava is actually hybrid robot which I think is build around living human. This makes the suit really weird from the story's point of view. There was similar male robot which didn't have the suit. Other robots passed as humans. Ava seemed to be least sophisticated of the robots.

In both movies there was another human character Nathan who owned the facility. Well I am not sure if Nathan was human in this one. He seemed to be robot in one point but that wasn't used in any way and other characters didn't react to it. Ex Machina revolves around mind games between Nathan, Caleb and Ava. Those are only characters talking after dialog with pilot at the beginning. In this all characters talk and play mind games against Nathan and Caleb.

In Ex Machina Caleb was there to test Ava. In this he is there to become hybrid robot. There is no clear point why Nathan have him as a guest and show him the facility. Why just not drug him when he got there? If he was there to test robots it wasn't brought up. He surely tested them.

Sex Machina had some effort put into story telling. For example there is dinner scene where we don't know women in scene are actually robots. We are hinted about it by showing men's plates are empty while women's plates are still full. There were few similar subtle hints of what is going on.

Movie has Ex Machina's ending. Robots trick Caleb to release them but leave him locked inside one room. Instead of Ava leaving alone she takes other robot with her. I was surprised they had to balls to end movie like this. It turned out they didn't have balls to do that. Male robot saves Caleb from the room. Something snaps inside his head. He deactivates male robot who has been nothing but good to him. He stays in facility with two remaining functioning robots like he became Caleb he hated earlier. Did this had some kind of message? Like man will live in harem with robots if he could do it.

Ex Machina hinted Nathan used the robots for sex. For obvious reason this movie does much more than hinting. Sex Machina was surprisingly good for cheap parody rip-off. Actors weren't selected for their acting skills but other than two of them were passable. However those two were part of the big reveal scene. You could spend thinking deeper meaning of couple lines if you want to overthink movie which wasn't made for the story or the message.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Orbita 9 / Orbiter 9 (2017)

Orbita 9 has huge twist about 20 minutes in. I don't want to spoil it. It changes what movie is. So it is hard to talk about the movie without spoiling the twist but I try to do it. I wanted to like Orbita 9. In the end I liked it but there were moments when I wasn't sure if watching it was worth it. First 20 minutes didn't promise much. It takes about hour before movie gets really interesting. Then the ending is little let down but not enough to ruin the movie.

Orbita 9 is hard science fiction movie with story I have seen couple times before. Trailer spoils the twist at 20 minutes. I recommend not watching it. Twist is not so huge if you have seen this story before but it still has some impact when it is revealed. Story steals or borrows lot from other science fiction movies and series. Some of which I want to see continuation.

Story would have suited better as episode of anthology series. 90 minutes felt too long. Half of that would have worked better. Some scenes felt extended beyond what was needed to make a point. If this had to be 90 minutes it needed more world building and maybe secondary plot. Now it only has the main story and too little world building. As it is Orbita 9 is little above average science fiction movie with not too much we haven't seen before.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Solo (2018)

I am late to the party. Story of my life. I didn't want to see this in theater but I promised colleague to watch this. It took longer than I expected but I did see it in theater. This is what you get when you know Star Wars fans. She liked this. I haven't heard her telling what she thinks about Deadpool 2. I guess this doesn't work both ways.

Star Wars fandom is so heated that I feel I have to point out why I didn't want to see in theater. I thought movie wouldn't have anything interesting to give after I saw the trailer. I liked The Last Jedi even after second viewing. I wasn't boycotting. I just didn't find Solo interesting. I thought it would be showing us what we learned in original trilogy. And I was right. It didn't have much to offer. Seeing the heroes doing the thing wasn't enough.

To be honest same story could have been told better if done edgier. Solo suffers from fact it was made for kids. It feels too much like product made by movie making factory. It is almost definition of mediocre. More I think about it the script was actually good but execution made it mediocre. I will go into spoilers to explain why I think this is.

Emilia Clarke was miscast as Qi'ra. She is Han's love interesting. She wants to leave Corellia with Han. Han manages to get out but gangsters take her back. She is saved by Dryden Vos. She was in somewhat abusive relationship with him living among ruthless gangsters. She felt she couldn't leave him because that would make other gangsters to hunt her. Then she meets her love Han who wants her to escape with him. She is in conflict of what she should do. Should she go with Han and be on the run all the time or play the game with gangster and survive as long as possible.

That is interesting character arc. I got that from what characters said and did. I didn't get that from Emilia Clarke's acting. She walked through scenes smiling and looking cute. Her character had rough life but she didn't show it. She said it. Qi'ra's character arc was only real character arc of the movie. It was mediocre because actress couldn't deliver. I wish I had seen the conflict before we saw it from her actions in the end. There were scenes which tried to bring this up but they didn't work due acting.

This is real shame because Solo was meant to launch Qi'ra movies or at least her bigger story arc in future Star Wars movies. She was only one who was set to have future adventures. Han and Chewie went to take job from Jabba the Hut which they had screwed at the beginning of New Hope. Lando went back to gambling. Qi'ra was only one who was set to go to next movie.

Emilia Clarke isn't only problem. Same acting problem and lack of emotion is elsewhere too. There is almost no impact when group members die. Rio and Beckett's wife Val died during train robbery. Both died during long action scene without any stopping for brief moment to let those deaths have any impact. After action scene Beckett acts like they had just failed a job. Not like his wife and his friend had just died. Their deaths didn't have any impact on any character. Beckett cares more about failed job. This is problem of direction not the script.

L3's death didn't have impact because of completely different reason. Lando's reaction to L3's death is so over the top it is more funny than sad. Was that meant to say something when robot's death got bigger reaction than Rio's and Val's deaths? L3's death also happened during long action scene and there was no reaction to it after action scene was over.

This was part of a bigger problem. This is a prequel. We know who will make it to original trilogy. We don't worry if they make it. We know they make it. We could worry about characters who are not in original trilogy but movie almost tells not to. Rio was Beckett's pilot. We knew he would have to die to make room for Han. L3 was also a pilot. It made Han leave pilot's chair. It had to die to make room for Han to do legendary Kessel run. What should we care about when some characters are set to survive, some events are set to happen and we are almost told not to care about others?

Qi'ra was only one with character arc. This means Han starts as Han we know and doesn't change during to movie. Closest thing to character arc is Han fails one trick at the beginning and manages to do it later. Han is there to do the things mentioned in original trilogy. Lando is there to show Han and Lando had history like mentioned in Empire Strikes Back. Script offered possibility turn Han from good guy to one who doesn't care about anyone else but it wasn't used or this had same acting problem as Qi'ra. Han is the same from start to end. His character arc happens in original trilogy.

Some people seem to hate L3. I liked it. It was comic relief and worked as such. Some say Lando was best character. He was ok except in couple scenes one being L3's death scene. Beckett was best character mainly because of Woody Harrelson's performance. I would have liked him to react death of his wife a little.

Solo is pretty much what you can expect from trailer and knowing they will show what was told in original trilogy. Script went to darker places than I expected but execution didn't go there. I complained lot here. Movie had few good moments but mostly it is as average as movie can be.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Westworld season 2 episodes 7 and 8

I wrote my thoughts of first five episodes earlier. I ranted about sixth episode in Twitter. I felt like writing about it but not enough to write post about it. It was mostly how what I wrote about first five episodes was going to worse direction. After watching seventh and eighth episode I felt like writing another post. It was weird plainly filler episode was way better than story wise important episode.

Seventh episode showed how there are no stakes in the series. I was shocked when they killed William and Maeve. They would have died from those bullets if they weren't important characters. But because they are they won't die until their story arcs are concluded. They will survive anything until there is big reveal for their story arcs. This killed all tension from their story arcs. It is just waiting for the mysteries to be solved.

Episode showed problem with all the time jumping Westworld does. There was no tension in scene with Dolores and Charlotte. We knew Charlotte would survive without any harm because we had seen her in future without any injuries. So why should we care what happens to Charlotte if we know nothing will happen to her?

Bernard being exposed have same problem. It happens in future. We don't know what happens to him. But because we know series won't kill any one with main story arc we know he will survive somehow until the season finale at least. It is just waiting to get to season finale. Even Anthony Hopkins couldn't save the episode. Ford controlling Bernard could lead to something but it was weird for Ford telling he gave free will to hosts and then taking it away. Talk about hosts recording guests for fidelity sounded nonsense.

Eighth episode was actually good one. It was clearly filler before last two episodes but it showed what Westworld could be. It didn't have too much jumping. There wasn't anything new to main story arcs or concepts series has introduced. It was interesting to see how things have happened from perspective of someone displayed as mindless savage in previous episodes. We have seen hosts waking up before. This time it was without jumping and other distractions. Not building mysteries. Just a story which stood on its own.

I will watch last two episodes back to back. I can't think of anything which would make this season as good as first one. I doubt last two episodes will give anything as good as eighth did. It will be more of what seventh episode had.

Monday, June 11, 2018

One Punch Man (2015)

Back to good anime. You have probably heard about One Punch Man even if you are not into anime if you have spent any time on internet. He is one of those anime heroes who has become main stream meme material. Saitama is so powerful superhero he can win anyone with just one punch. This might sound like premise of boring power fantasy. However One Punch Man doesn't try to build anything on if Saitama will win or not. We know he will win. Question if others can make it until Saitama comes to save the day.

Saitama wants challenging opponent. He is growing frustrated when no monster or group of villains give him any challenge. Other superheroes have to give their all to stop villains. People think Saitama is cheating because everything is too easy for him. One Punch Man is parody of superheroes and monster of the week shows. It has bizarre cast of heroes and villains. Each villain seem to be more dangerous than other. Some villains are few times size of skyscrapers.

One Punch Man is good because of relatable characters. Genos is powerful cyborg who seem to be only one who knows how powerful Saitama is. He wants to show he can make it even without Saitama. Mumen Rider regular person playing superhero. His only power seem to be his inspirational talks and never give up attitude. We don't fear if Saitama will survive. We fear if Genos and Mumen Rider will survive.

You might need to have some knowledge of superhero or monster of the week genres to fully enjoy One Punch Man. Anyone watching anime probably have enough of that.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

I watched The Last Jedi again

Toxic Star Wars fans seem to be news worthy these days. The Last Jedi has got more hate than other movies before it. Solo is not performing in box office as well as you could expect from Star Wars movie. After hearing so much critique I decided to watch The Last Jedi again. I did change opinion a little but I don't see it same way as haters and really don't get some of the critique. I think haters belong to three different groups. I get to my current opinion later but first what I think has caused all the hate.

First group is people who don't like diversity of new Star Wars. Some seem to confuse all critique coming from this group. If you want to see big budget movies you have to get used to diversity. Studios want their money and they know white males are not only ones with money. It doesn't matter how some fans complain about diversity. Big budget movies will have diversity to attract bigger audiences. I don't see diversity as a problem. It could be done wrong but in that case movie probably does have many other flaws too.

Second group is Star Wars Expanded Universe fans. EU contains books, comics, games and other media released after first movies. Fans got their Star Wars fix from EU when there was only three movies (+ Holiday Special and Ewok movies) and continued to get their fix when more movies were released. Disney declared EU material non-cannon because they didn't want to be restrained by EU stories. Fans of EU didn't take it too well. The Last Jedi's Luke Skywalker is different Luke Skywalker than EU Luke Skywalker. This group's hate seem to culminate to Luke Skywalker but there are other changes from EU that they don't like. Bit like their holy text were discredited. I think Disney didn't know what they did when they made EU non-cannon.

Third group is fans who want their Star Wars movies to be fun action movies without any serious themes. I am not sure if you can say they hate The Last Jedi. Their voices get mixed with two other groups.

I don't have problems with diversity and don't have Star Wars EU baggage. I can see The Last Jedi as what it is. I still think it is fourth best Star Wars movie. I haven't seen Solo yet but I don't think Solo will be better. The Last Jedi has few problems. It follows Empire Strikes Back too closely. Everything Poe and Hux does at the beginning should have been rewritten. Characters improve later but beginning sets wrong tone. Rose's reasons saving Finn and causing First Order to destroy the door made sense only if she had read the script and knew Luke Skywalker would walk through the hole in the door to buy heroes time to escape.

Whole casino planet could have been dropped. They could have gone to First Order's ship without going to casino planet. They could have added all that social commentary without going to casino planet. Movie should have ended soon after Snoke's ship was destroyed. Ending at the planet felt more connected to rest of the story second time, but emotional high point is still when Snoke's ship was destroyed. I liked Mark Hamill's work more this time. I liked Rose first time more than this time. Maybe because I knew what she does at the end and was more critical of what she did during rest of the movie.

I like how The Last Jedi does things differently. Rey's parents weren't important. Luke had his doubts of Jedi order and wasn't this guy who could do nothing wrong. Rey's and Kylo Ren's connection was interesting. Killing Snoke like he was killed was probably best thing they could do with the character. He didn't feel like a guy who would become supreme leader. Maybe he was so powerful he didn't need to care how others like him. He acted like guy who get others hate him.

I enjoyed The Last Jedi. It took Star Wars to new places. I don't mean planes or anything like that. It made story more interesting. All the hate it got make me fear what is coming in future. Will the movies continue revolve around original trilogy and be copies of original movies. I hope they do something like Knights of the Old Republic games did and do something which has nothing to do with Skywalkers or original trilogy but still being Star Wars.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Violence Jack (1986, 1988 and 1990)

Violence Jack is three one hour anime movies. I learned about it from one anime reviewer's joke about how horrible it was. It made me interested about it. I had to check it when I found it. After seeing all movies I have to say the joke is better than the movies. It made them look much better than the movies actually are.

Violence Jack is about three meters tall human shaped concentration of violence. He wanders around Japan after comet has made it post apocalyptic wasteland. All movies follow Mad Max 2 formula. Violence Jack meets regular people who are harassed by bad guys. Then he joins regular people to fight the bad guys. Movies are based on Manga which was released before Mad Max 2 but movies feel they were heavily influenced by Mad Max 2.

Best way to describe Violence Jack is boring exploitation Mad Max anime. There is something interesting beneath. Probably from manga. But movies are just post apocalyptic exploitation. Evil Town, which happened underground where people were separated into three factions, had most to offer. But it was ruined by having characters so one dimensional they were copies of each others.

One movie has scene where bad guys shoot Violence Jack with automatic weapons for almost a minute and boss gets bored because Jack doesn't fall down. It is that kind of anime. There is nothing in stake. Jack is immortal force of nature. There is nothing intellectual about it. First bad guys are doing evil things. Then Jack comes to kill then and he has to fight the boss at the end.

I don't know how cut version I saw. It didn't have anything worse than live action exploitation movies. Movies doesn't have anything memorable. Setting was interesting but characters needed more dimensions and Violence Jack needed to be force of nature who couldn't be reasoned with or someone who could actually get hurt. One guy threw knife at Jack's eye and Jack acted like nothing happened. He didn't kill the guy because script had other "more impactful" death for the character.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Deadpool - movies with warm and uplifting message

I watched first Deadpool again and realized how Deadpool movies have good relatable messages. Something most superhero movies doesn't have. In first movie it is you can find love even if you are ugly. In second it is you can change and people are not is beyond saving. In first one boy meets girl. Boy gets cancer. Boy get cured but loses his good looks but that doesn't stop girl from loving him. In second boy loses girl and his will to live. He finds reason to live by trying to save abused boy. There are lot of reasons why movies are rated-R but at the core this is what the stories and messages are.

I started to think can I do the same for other superhero movies. Most other movies have message we can stop guy who want to destroy world / turn world into his/her world if we work together. Some times it is hero can stop and rest is the same. You can find this "message" from Man of Steel, first two Avengers movies, Justice League, Suicide Squad, Thor: Dark World, both Guardians of the Galaxy movies, Wonder Woman, X-Men: Apocalypse and so on. To be honest Guardians of the Galaxy movies had more messages than this but I included them because the story follows so closely other superhero movies.

It was interesting to see Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice didn't have villain wanting to destroy the world or turning it into his or her world. Still its main message was we need to work together to destroy the monster. I had Thor: Ragnarök on the list for short while. But I took it away because you can argue Hela didn't want to turn world into her world.

I am not saying working together with other people to achieve something is bad message. It shouldn't be only message superhero movies have. If you take villain wanting to destroy the world you can add Ant-Man and Deadpool movies. But Deadpool movies have other messages too. So does Ant-Man. Doctor Strange doesn't have it but it has villain wanting to turn the world into his world.

This is one reason why I am so tired with superhero movies. Infinity War was good and different. Latter might be because it was first part of the story. Second part could make it the same as other superhero movies. Some of the movie I listed earlier had other messages too but they are so similar in main parts.

It is weird Deadpool movies have warmer and more uplifting messages than other movies which are intended for younger audiences.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Cowboy Bebop (1998)

Next lesson in my anime studies is Cowboy Bebop. You have probably seen I have gone through anime classics lately. Cowboy Bebop is one of the biggest. Is it really that good? Yes and no. More no than yes. Cowboy Bebop is very uneven series. Good episodes are really good. Others are quite boring. Some episodes are somewhere in between. I heard you should start from episode five because that is where it gets really good. I tell you a secret. Fifth episode is first really good episode. Series doesn't get better after that. You just see what it can be when it really works. I will get back to this later.

Cowboy Bebop tells story of bounty hunters living in space ship Cowboy Bebop. It starts with two bounty hunters Spike and Jet. Spike is former crime syndicate member. Jet former police. Later they are joined by Faye, woman running huge debts and crazy hacker girl Edward. They hunt bounties in our solar system where Earth has become wasteland and other planets and moons are inhabited.

Cowboy Bebop gets its style from westerns, film noir and 60's movies. All this is set into science fiction setting. There is not too much world building. They just happen to be in science fiction world. Style is more important than building worlds or studying science fiction themes. Darker episodes work better than humorous and action oriented episodes. Action works better in darker episodes. Episodes which end with one or two shots are more intense than episodes where they shoot rapid fire.

Edward was only character I didn't like. Faye had potential to be more. She is woman hanging with Spike and Jet until she finds something better. She was wasted too often to be someone trying to get others' money and not to pay for anything. Good thing was she didn't have forced romance with other crew members. Jet and Spike were laid back bros. All their backstory and story arc episodes were among good episodes. I don't count Feng Shui episode Jet's backstory episode even though it had characters from Jet's history.

I think you should watch Cowboy Bebop even though there are more bad episodes than good episodes. You probably don't need to watch every episode. Episodes  5, 6, 10, 12, 13, 16, 20, 23, 24, 25 and 26 are good episodes. With those episodes you miss Faye's introduction (episodes 3 and 4), Faye's backstory (episodes 15 and 18) and Edwards introduction (episode 9). You get good Cowboy Bebop experience with these 16 episodes. You get 11 good episodes and 5 episodes required for backstory and not missing anything important. Other 10 episodes are more or less fillers. You can watch them if you want to see every episode.

Almost half of the good episodes are among last seven episodes. This is why you are left remembering Cowboy Bebop is really good. Last episodes are really good but to get there there are more not so good episodes. If Cowboy Bebop had only 16 episodes I mentioned before it would be one of my favorite anime. Now it is close to those.