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The Thirteenth Floor (1999)
Calm, honest, thought provoking
For some time I have been hearing people refer to to The 13th Floor, mostly when comparing to other movies of the genre like The Matrix. I finally got around to view it myself, and I was positively surprised. After seeing Matrix I and II, its hard to imagine a film that can be on par. The 13th Floor is it. Not in action, stunts or CG, but by presenting an old, yet interesting idea in wonderful pictures and a genre between sci-fi and mystery. The main protagonists "calmness and integrity" contrasts with the absurd situation the characters are in. Camera, lighting and the "textures" are excellent and the sound track perfectly completes the unique atmosphere.
The Black Hole (1979)
The Black Hole Revisited
Many years have passed since I saw that movie in my youth. In all those years some of the visuals of it reappeared in my mind. I remembered the creepy feelings when the lights of the Cygnus turned on, that big red brute appeared on the stage, and the terrible secret of the Cygnus' crew was revealed, all of this greatly enhanced by a sound track that easily beats the old Star Wars movies. Maximilian Schell as Dr. Hans Reinhard definitely had the most rewarding role as the mad genius and captain of the ghost ship. Yes, I remember discussing the ridiculous scientific plot holes AFTER leaving the theater, but thats not something you notice when you feel like being in that huge ship yourself while watching the movie on the big screen.
Now that I dug up this gem again, I expected to be disappointed like with many other sci-fi movies from that era. I was happy that it didn't happen. Sure, the effects are a bit outdated these days, but most of the visuals and the music score are still stunning and invoked the old feelings.
If you like atmospheric and creepy sci-fi like 2001 you might want to see this one, too.
Z's dead - No way!
Z is a worker ant in a big ant colony. Z is also the working class hero in this drama about war, peace, treachery and love. This movie impressed me a lot. When the film starts, we see the inside of Ant Metropolis, the inspiration from Lang's "Metropolis" is obvious. Thousands of ants show us a typical ant hive with a strict class structure and little individual freedom. This colony with its "Mega" construction projects is much more believable than the bunch of ants shown in "A bug's life". The mood of "Antz" is a dark one, as most of the story happens underground in the caves of the hive and death always possible. There are some light moments, and truly great ideas well animated, and these are all the more enjoyable. I can only recommend it and rate it 2 IMDB points above "A bug's life".
A Bug's Life (1998)
I agree this is a nice, funny, enjoyable movie. It has a lot of good ideas, beautifully rendered scenery and cuddly characters. However, it lacks the depth of the competition, "Antz" which I watched right before "A Bug's Life". Do you know "Maya the Bee"? This movie is a bit like this TV series, about all sorts of insects living together and having fun. The story is OK, bug not great - Ants are bullied by a gang of grasshoppers, but with enough courage they can fight them off by their sheer numbers. A bunch of circus bugs is needed to make the ants realize this. No one really gets scared by the movie, the well animated bugs look all cute, including the "bad guys". The movie is in the best tradition of Disney movies, good quality but very predictable. Pixar did a great job nevertheless.
Cube 2: Hypercube (2002)
Art, but no Soul
Hypercube is a piece of Art. We see white background and stylish people crawling around, before and over that background. The love scene is an example of well-crafted choreography. This is nice to watch, but there is no claustrophobia, no sense of danger. Where the characters in CUBE are very aware of the danger from the traps, the characters in Hypercube stumble around without much care, only hysterically crying when they face one of the rather easily avoidable traps. Together with the in comparison to CUBE illogical physics, bad special effects and the rather weak beginning and ending, it leaves a sense of disappointment at the end. Some movies are best left without a sequel, Hypercube is one of the many examples, technically a good work, but nothing of the suspense from CUBE left.
The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
Incredibly intense prison movie
What is so special about this movie? Thats what I asked myself when I saw it as one of the few IMDB top-rated movies I didn't know yet. Now I know why it deserves to be there. It is the best prison movie ever made. Most prison movies try to accuse the prison system by showing an increasing level of violence and spectacular escapes. Shawshank Redemption is somewhat different. The main actor is portrayed from the view of a second person and most of the time we see what this person sees. Shawshank prison is not a monastery, and while there are some violent scenes, most of the violence we only learn by the narrative of the second person. The time saved from depicting violence is spent showing the feelings of the inmates. Beyond the perfect technical work in producing this movie, the plot slowly builds up to incredible moments of courage and purity. I guess this is what essentially makes the movie so great, without being pathetic the movie makes us wonder about our own motives and decisions. Very thought provoking.