Reviews written by registered user

Send an IMDb private message to this author or view their message board profile.

Page 1 of 4:[1] [2] [3] [4] [Next]
40 reviews in total 
Index | Alphabetical | Chronological | Useful

Prometheus (2012/I)
1 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
I liked the geologist, 1 August 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I don't have much to add to what the best-voted amateur critics have already been screaming about, only that it wasn't as bad as I was expecting. I went to a see it fortified against the underwhelming "sciency" bits, the bad character and plot writing, the ridiculous end of the "surgery" scene etc. If you grant that this movie is fantasy eye-candy, not sci-fi - because it seems anything interesting in that department comes from the left field, like Danny Boyle's "Sunshine" and Duncan Jones's "Moon" - it's possible to find something enjoyable besides the predictably great visuals. Looking at it from a certain social angle helps.

Everyone - yeah, really - is complaining how unlikable/unlikely the characters are. That's true, but it hasn't kept me from rooting for them, even if it was equally or more enjoyable to watch them get bumped off. Obviously these guys are interchangeable parts in a highly competitive, dehumanized corporate environment, with a genuine butt for a boss who openly wants the mission to fail, so she probably didn't pick the brightest spoons in the set to begin with. Nothing new here - take the 1980's anti-big corporation meme that Alien 1 made so fashionable and apply it to a set of scientologists (oops, the script calls them scientists) instead of a glorified flying warehouse crew. In space no-one hears you complain now, whether you're working class or intellectual snob. Is it any wonder these folks are so messed up? I hereby admit being one of the two persons who liked the geologist, he's sort of the anti-hero in this social nightmare by being so human, and such a dumb ass. Verily, there are no role models aka easily identifiable "character arc" clichés, which you can take as bad writing or meant deliberately. None of them is particularly interesting, but I felt like I knew or remembered these people from a bad dream involving my future career prospects. Many of us may feel we're surrounded by morons a lot of the time, but we still have to get along with them, so probably "Prometheus" is dual wish fulfillment for me, empathizing with the people you're stuck with and waiting to see them get surgically removed. I found all the "erratic" behavior totally convincing, that's how real people function.

Speaking of removal, what bothered me unexpectedly was the bad self-quotation - the "Ripley" log entry - at the end. Quoting yourself means you're really getting old. Hey, I'd almost forgotten Ridley Scott did the first Alien movie (irony intended). With all its flaws "Prometheus" has enough original ideas to stand for itself, a different (predictably female) heroine and thrust. Since it seems preordained we shall some day see part 2 of this story, I hope the Ripleygrams stay at a minimum or disappear altogether, like in a future "Director's Cut' that for once cuts what shouldn't be in there. Giger's alien emerging from between a superhuman caucasoid and a giant squid is enough of a tease to make me watch the Alien series again, one day.

Star Trek (2009)
0 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Something to take your kids to, 16 November 2009

... I assume, not having the personal experience. To be that grotesquely over-rated, a sizable part of the world's teens must have voted for it ;-) Pros: This is what a new Star Wars movies should have been like - a cool hero, a not-to-geeky cast, a slice of sex, humor and lots, lots of explosions! - without needless blood and gore. The story isn't too bad either, although not particularly brainy or emotionally challenging. This is a character-driven movie.

Cons: Well, for us ol'uns above thirty-five, the enjoyment lies in watching the kids have fun - there isn't really anyone or anything to identify with for boring grown-ups. I think I would have liked it - twenty years ago.

Hannibal (2001)
Full of symbolism like a dark dream, 11 August 2009

Yes, it's disgusting, and Jodie Foster isn't in it. But apart from that, this is a very good movie.

Obstacle n°1 that kept me from appreciating it the first time around is -- yes, Julianne Moore brings a classical beauty (sort of) and her own kind of moral strength to the 'Starling' role. This time it's supercooled woman, not snotty-nosed little girl against the beast. Of the two, the rookie was more likable. In the Lecter-Starling tapes that were re-recorded with Moore, she sounds super-self-controlled -- all reflections on that earlier, more vulnerable self are gone. Pity, because it could have reflected how Starling has changed, and added depth to her character. But hers is not the starring role, anyway -- Mason Verger and the city of Florence outshine, or rather out-darken everything else, including the famous Dr Lecter, M.D. I only would have wished this great villain a better death.

Where 'Silence of the Lambs' was unnerving, 'Hannibal' is really straining to the point of nausea. It's not a movie one can easily fall in love with, because it's de-romanticizing the idol Lecter and putting him in the same club as Jeffrey Dahmer. No wonder some people find it disappointing. But get away from Lecter-worship and the image of Jodie-who, forget Thomas Harris's novel, and you'll not be bored. You'll still need a strong stomach, though.

2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
The power of Black & White and the power of Orson Welles, 20 March 2009

This is the Orson Welles film that exudes the most raw power, maybe his most violent and gripping film. If you liked it, I'd recommend his "MacBeth" from 1948 — although it's not quite the same narrative style, it does reshape Shakespeare's play into something like "MacBeth the Barbarian".

"Touch of Evil" is visually stunning, but also full of social commentary. This was in the 1950's after all, with segregation mostly still in place — Rosa Parks had refused to give up her bus seat to a white person only three years ago. In those times, the US-Mexican border was widely perceived as the dividing line between civilization and Darwinian wilderness. Welles deliberately turned established ideology on its head when he cast Charlton Heston as the Mexican "hero" of law and order with a blonde American wife, whose American views ultimately get her into trouble — she feels she'll be much safer about anywhere in the US than in Mexico City, which turns out to be a fatal error of "common sense". If anything, Wells sets out to expose the reality behind every facade — that's why Mexican soothsayer Tanja (Marlene Dietrich) has the final, enigmatic line: "Who cares what is said about people, anyway?"

This is a film noir in the true sense — it is dark and shockingly explicit for its time. But the fault lines between world views and reality, generalizations and intuition run both ways — Welles is too good a storyteller to make a narrow-minded "good vs. evil" tale. Heston, our "good guy", merely serves as the stick that stirs up a wasp's nest. Welles' character, the bloated "monster" of a US border police chief, is undoubtedly evil, but he is also shown to be right in the end. The planting of evidence to nail a criminal that you can't get to otherwise is morally despicable, but it also "works", in this case it brings on pressure to extract a confession. Like all like-minded individuals have claimed, "It's a dirty job, but someone's got to do it", most recently in the form of the ticking time-bomb scenario, or "Wouldn't you torture a terrorist who threatens to blow up the world?"

To some, the prospect of being right where it counts outweigh the times you could be wrong. The question rather becomes, where to draw the line? Welles' police chief oversteps his own line when he teams up with criminals to abduct and maltreat Heston's wife, in order to frame the Mexican and undermine his credibility. But his actions are a direct result of the need to cover up his regular misdoings.

Others have already raved enough about the cinematography — it's certainly among the best Black & White films ever made. And it has suffered least from the degrading cuts and re-edits most of Welles' films were subjected to after "Citizen Kane".

To get a comprehensive overview of Welles' films, I recommend the documentary "Arena: The Films of Orson Welles", which features many movie bits and a long interview with the maestro.

1 out of 9 people found the following review useful:
Like "Rebecca" without Mrs Danvers, 20 March 2009

Knowing some of Orson Welles' other films, and what Welles himself said about "The Magnificent Ambersons" and how it was taken from his control and ruined beyond recognition, I can only heartily agree with his point of view.

This is one movie that starts out with a Welles setup and dies in a corny mess, something like Hitchcock's "Rebecca" with Mrs. Danvers taken out - Manderley ends up in flames, but just how it got so far must have been too distressing for a test audience.

All of Welles film have a strong narrative and ask interesting, often uncomfortable questions. If Welles ever made an apparently stupid, pointless movie, this is the one. Still, the first half is watchable for its props, like the quaint old automobiles. Just forget about the rest.

1 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
The real thing?, 9 February 2009

I watched this half-feature, half-docu-drama with mixed expectations. Why delve into the sordid past, unless you want to make a point about politics today?

In 1974, Richard Milhouse Nixon resigned the US presidency to avoid impeachment over his involvement in illegal wire-tapping and spying on his political opponents, namely the Watergate scandal. Déjà vu? The film doesn't omit the fact that he was pardoned fully by his successor, Gerald Ford, although the Watergate interviews make it pretty clear Nixon was guilty as hell.

Although he had been reelected by a landslide for a second term, to the liberal left "Tricky Dick" was one of the most hated figures in pre-Bush US politics, for his conduct of the Vietnam War, and his reputation of dishonesty. Having seen the real Watergate interviews, I can see why -- it's hard to find anything positive in an Ex-president who squirms and wriggles this shamelessly in his attempts to dodge a straight question. The real-life interviewee Nixon lacks any of the brooding fighting spirit of his movie counterpart. He can be adequately summed up as the "New Car Salesman of the Year", a homage Nixon earned in 1971. As this performance of this man was such an embarrassment, why resurrect and polish it for a movie? Does it bear any moral message, or is it an attempt to water down the impact of a president's "wrong-doing" by turning him into just another human being?

Judge for yourself. I found the real thing, the original interviews, a lot bolder and quite a bit more fascinating than this apparent look at the "Making of". Michael Sheen as Frost, the British interviewer, gives the impression of reenacting his "Tony Blair" role from "The Queen". Nixon, the main course of the banquet, rules the screen because Sheen doesn't have any weight to throw around. The script stays remarkably close to the wording of the real interview -- watch them side by side and decide which one is more dramatic. In this case, life wins out over fiction by a mile.

Moon 44 (1990)
13 out of 17 people found the following review useful:
Very watchable blue collar SF, 31 January 2009

If "Moon 44" deserves to be remembered, it's for authentic atmosphere. It breathes 80's style SF realism, a cross between "Aliens" and "Blade Runner" -- did they pilfer Deckard's living room interior for their company headquarters scenes, by the way? Look closely...

It was Roland Emmerich's first genre movie before "Independence Day", and the two share the same flaws. Yes, it is full of stereotypes and the end is cheesy, by "B-movie" standards, but it also has some good drama and an interesting mix of characters. The real letdown is Michael Paré as the pretty face/mercenary hero -- a little more depth to his bleak and boring character might have improved the ratings. The main assets of the film are its visuals, they make for a totally believable outer space "mining" colony. This is a rather low budget production, but you don't see it. With some refinement to the story, and a few long shots and explosions more, it might have come out really good. This is one of those films that make you wonder, what if.

4 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
Good-looking, but painful, 14 January 2009

Gaarrrrrrrrrrrrr... how many of you gave up this gem during the centaur boss battle :-?

I've never liked the feel of the controls since "Angel of Darkness" or "Legend" -- "Underworld" is only now beginning to change that. It took me a lot of remembering and a half-year of casual gaming to finish "Legend". I haven't finished "Anniversary" yet... although I was initially quite thrilled by it, way back when. This was a step back to classic Tombraidering, i.e. no-nonsense-"plundering World Heritage sites" and single-minded Lara, back when she/I didn't take time to think much 'bout Mommy or Daddy. Winston the old butler was enough social life for us.

Everything in the Folly(!) & the Coliseum still looks great, almost better than the original Tomb Raider -- almost, since Tomb Raider was cutting edge-graphics in '96, and it somehow still looks decent today (it can be run on XP, with a special installer). "Anniversary" has some promising parts that nearly match up to "Underworld" quality levels, especially when you run through half-lit places with vines touching your face. But on the whole, it's not really up to 2007 standards for the PC, and the levels -- or re-created levels -- are smaller than in 1996. The sightseeing objects still look good and sometimes great, and some new chasms and abysses that require complex jumps really evoke pure Tombraidering adrenaline; but what bogged me down eventually was the boss battles.

I don't know if console players can tell a difference between classic Tomb Raider and "Next-Gen" -- the old games required you to defeat "bosses" too, but on the PC this used to be ridiculously easy (since you can save anytime and anywhere, the challenge is to keep shooting and not accidentally blunder over any edges). "Legend" was challenging already, but relatively easy once I had figured out what to do. "Anniversary" is... well, tough.

I've only recently managed the Adrenaline dodge, and only after some vital tips. My Tombraidering instinct -- just keep shooting -- defeated me previously, it seems. And the game, just like in old times, has some issues with reaction time to keystrokes, or maybe it's my basal ganglia. The correct sequence is as follows:

- shoot until your enemy gets enraged (flashing red rage meter)

- stop shooting(!) and get ready to dodge

- once he/it charges you, (1) press direction key (left|right|back) and (2) press roll key, so Lara performs a rolling dodge

- after time slows down and the red target circles match, SHOOT -- once!

It still doesn't work all the time, often Lara doesn't roll, but ducks/slinks sideways -- very useful for hungry Tyrannosaurs --, and most of the smaller animal kingdom doesn't leave you the reaction time to set up a dodge anyway. But one thing you can be sure of -- do it as often as you're supposed to, and your fingers WILL hurt.

Anyone else out there who is having problems, I'd advise you to download a trainer or the "Tomb Raider Anniversary loader" -- the T-Rex battle is Checkpoint 16 -- and practice the A-dodge in God mode. That way, it actually is kind of fun.

What more is there to say? Due to similar issues (keystroke reaction time), the jumps required to reach some goodies mean much trial & error, because unlike in the old blocky universe it's impossible to position Lara accurately or to be certain what can be grabbed -- chances are, it can't be (if you mind death-defying jumps, you probably shouldn't play Tomb Raider). But this is due to the schizophrenia of the "next gen" approach -- more to see, less to do with it. To old-school Tomb Raiders, this is by far the most annoying aspect in "Legend", "Anniversary" or "Underworld", besides the stupid "checkpoint" system and the sometimes game-obstructing camera. (Let's conveniently forget the "Angel of Darkness" catastrophe...)

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
A work of art ... with predictable(?) flaws, 14 January 2009

As a die-hard fan of the Tomb Raider series I naturally had to have this game, the more so after reading the glowing reviews on Amazon. They turned out to be mostly true -- the game definitely is a feast for the eyes and lavishly rich in detail. Wherever you look, elaborate ruins, statues and vegetation abound. There are only 20 or so "levels" in six distinct areas to explore, but each one of them is spectacular. This is a satisfying reward for me (finally) getting a shader 3.0 video card. The game won't run on older hardware.

More good things first: Lara's interactive capabilities have further improved from her previous two adventures, her movements look more lifelike thanks to motion-capturing and scripted events, like pushing vegetation out of the way. More important is her extended repertoire of useful moves: She can now balance on horizontal poles as well as swing from them, stand on narrow ledges, climb alcoves by jumping from wall to wall and use her grappling hook more effectively (how about enabling her to use grappled objects as jump-off or -up points, once she's reached them?) So I'm happy to say the "next-gen" experience begins to approach something like the natural "feel" of the classic series, where YOU played the game -- Tomb Raider Next-Gen often feels more like the game is playing you! Thankfully there are no "Press this button now"-events, and no boss battles. The developers achieved their goal of re-invigorating the core qualities of Tomb Raider -- exploration and immersion. (But: If you're going to use new action keys, dear developers: Please include a comprehensive training level for newbies -- thank you! It greatly helps with the immersion when you don't have to look up the "throw away-key".)

For the most part, it simply looks & feels gorgeous. But the overwhelming richness in detail seems to have some inherent drawbacks -- the blocks of the world aren't obvious any longer, but they're still there. Just try to stray from the predestined path, and you'll know what I mean -- invisible walls everywhere; things & ledges Lara won't grab, low obstacles she can't jump over and even solid objects she'll fall through. There are some funny videos on Youtube -- but it's not really fun to encounter in a Tomb Raider game. This has been an issue since "Legend", but "Legend" and "Anniversary" combined don't have as much appetizing content as "Underworld", and the player stays hungry like the poor kid in front of the gourmet shop. Right now, all that detail is fake -- maybe we'll need next-but-one-gen computers to really use it? Good looks are a great device to keep players hooked, and I'm definitely saying: This game is a "must-see". But in terms of game-play the "next-gen" approach still has to match the classic series. And maybe it never will.

The story: It's quite good by Tomb Raider standards (meaning: the "meat" of the story is the most convoluted bundle of myths yet), but honestly it's the least I care about. I'm beyond my teen years, I'm used to skipping cut scenes... But in Next-Gen, they can't be elegantly avoided (and they're often great-looking respites from having to go through the motions :-(). To me, the classic Lara was never more than a cool placeholder for the player. Only when the series started to get old, the focus was shifted on Lara as a "personality". And I really, really, don't want to know her IQ or her cup size, but for the sake of the game I wish she'd get over that fixation about Mommy & Daddy for good. I kind of miss the humorous touch.

Some people have claimed the game is too short (true, it's the shortest of the Next-Gen games) and that it looks a bit rushed in terms of hidden objects and replay value -- I still haven't found all of them. But one more or less serious "bug" is the reload-checkpoint system that "forgets" where you moved objects before you died. I wish someone would take the time to make proper savegames possible again. On the other hand, I am getting used to the camera -- it's simply a matter of training. But -- Lara should be conveniently TRANSPARENT again when she blocks the camera! I have no idea why this still isn't implemented.

Conclusion: Go get it, even if it isn't perfect -- it's a great eye-opener. I'm already looking forward to the next one. Let's hope this quality and attention to detail can be sustained or even improved upon, and the Implementors find time & ways to make Lara's paths ever less linear.

0 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Gladiator meets (celtic) King Arthur, 5 January 2009

I'd give this movie 6 and a half stars, it's a very watchable tale in the vein of "Gladiator meets King Arthur". Completely dreamed up, of course, and promoting a typically skewed view of the ancient world, but serious fans of Ancient Rome (like myself) shouldn't expect a big budget spectacle to be more interested in real history than Indiana Jones. It takes the ambition of an Oliver Stone to break up the usual mold of the "heroic fantasy with modern political overtones" genre as defined by "300" and "Gladiator". Anyone interested in the facts can read up on Wikipedia. In short: Not much is known about the last Roman Emperor, Romulus Augustulus, besides that he was deposed and succeeded by the Germanic king Odoacer, as a child. Augustulus' father Orestes came from modern day-Yugoslavia, had served under Attila the Hun (now there's a story!) and usurped the Roman throne. In terms of old-fashioned "Romanness" and claim to divine descent from the likes of Julius Caesar, Romulus Augustulus is about as true as the Roman legions of that time. But his (short?) life must surely have been interesting, and his vainglorious name embodies all the hope and hubris of an empire long past its prime.

Other than historical names like Romulus, Orestes and Vortigern, the movie is entirely fictitious and in part attempts to rewrite the King Arthur Saga, complete with Ambrosinus/Merlin conjuring up fire out of thin air and a "romanesque" version of Excalibur. Whether little Romulus, given his family background, would have seen Celtic emblems and rituals as anything other than barbaric hocus-pocus would be an interesting question. The historic Lord Vortigern, who is also said to have invited the Saxon invasion by settling the first Germanic mercenaries in Britain, is cast as a villainous celtic priest who wants to steal the fabled sword of Caesar from Romulus.

Two things I did not like: The over-pretentious, occasionally boring music and the predictability. The main characters besides Romulus are action stereotypes - Not-Red-but-Black-haired Sonya falls in love with Die-Hard-Hero, and together they do what is right until destiny parts them, or not. Given that we know that little Romulus definitely didn't regain his lost throne, it's fairly hard for the story-writers to come up with a meaningful positive ending. So it's basically "and they lived happily ever after".

Two things I did like: The costumes, the action and the overall making - nothing special, but not bad either - and the attempt to make something out of a neglected part of Roman history, if fictitious and by stealing other people's ideas, i.e. the Arthur Legend.

Page 1 of 4:[1] [2] [3] [4] [Next]