Reviews

8 ReviewsOrdered By: Date
4/10
Worse than the first.
27 April 2006
The first movie was an uninspiring crime movie dressed as tuning/racing movie. This is much worse.

The movie is broken, period. It's badly written, badly scripted and totally uninteresting. Latter half of the movie is practically a yawn-fest, and you only wish to see the end credits as soon as possible. There's not enough racing stuff to fill a commercial break and absolutely no tuning stuff. The end chase is like a remake of the end of the Blues Brothers, and I'm not kidding.

On the positive side, they now say "nitrous" and the opening race involves a bit of cornering.
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5/10
Rather weak crime movie with superficial street racing elements
27 April 2006
In an ironic sense, this movie is like much of the car tuning business these days. That is, cheap and fake, like the plastic hood pin replicas you attach on the hood with foam tape.

This movie has plenty of things to make a car enthusiast cringe; the way which this movie bunches car tuning, street racing and organized crime tightly together isn't exactly the most pleasing approach. The stuff about double-clutching, failing to use proper terms and very loose involvement on events in a race gives an impression the writer gained all his knowledge about race driving out of a five-point bulletin list on how to drive a Nascar racer. Finally, the movie practically drops out of street racing premise after 1/4th way through.

The street racing theme is only a facade to a substandard crime movie. It's soon obvious the movie is more about blasting away with guns than racing on the streets. Making a distinct good guy - bad guy -scenario and thus having the police to sanction the main character's actions, the movie did not have to deal with the legal and moral issues of street racing or the dangers involved. Pure street racing as such would probably have been too difficult a subject to the writer and too controversial for the producers, so they put guns, explosions, hi-jackers and an oriental gangster mob into the movie, none of which really belongs (well, except perhaps the gangster bunch, but they were made OTT, big time).

The race scenes aren't that well made either; they're about driving a straight line and when to hit the nitrous (or Nnnaaawwwzzz as it's called in the movie) for victory. It's not about who's the best driver, it's about who has the most $$$'s under the hood. There's not enough car stuff to keep enthusiasts interested, the plot pretty much sucks rocks through a garden hose and the bulk of the movie is generic crime movie material. The latter half of the movie is almost completely disconnected from the first, the two elements (racing and crime) support each other in a truly superficial way, and the dialog is awkward.
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Initial D (2005)
8/10
Fun, unpretentious street racing movie.
6 April 2006
This movie is a live-action adaptation of a manga/anime series of the same name. The story is abridged synthesis of the first two seasons of the anime, with details from the fourth(third?) mixed in. Compared to the original work, much of the characters' personalities, relationships and motives have been altered, some in the ways that are hard to agree with, too. Many of the characters have been dropped or diminished. Judging the movie as independent entity, it's not a great deal, but some of the modifications make the story a bit confusing. Casting itself is rather good. Characters have strong resemblance to their drawn counterparts, apart from the main character and her girlfriend. To even things a bit, their characters are best preserved in the screenplay.

What I like in the movie best is it's honesty. The movie does not try to justify the illegal street racing theme with some far-fetched undercover cop/family honor/extortion -subplot, it's only about young men driving fast on downhill. Though the most spectacular stunts are CGI, the races are pleasant to watch, by no means small reason being the relatively calm pace of editing. Drivers' actions while cornering, the toe-heel braking, down shifting and steering, are usually shown in single shot, instead of several split-second extreme closeups. What I also liked was the fact the races are about who was the best driver, not about who has the most outrageous sticker or flashiest accessories on the car.

The movie has been criticized for lack of plot. I don't think it is so. The plot is subdued, not overly dramatized story of a regular kid who learns about downhill racing scene in his home town. The biggest problem with the script is the inclusion of 2nd and 3rd Stage. The plot makes all too abrupt change of direction halfway through the movie because of this. The movie finale is a synthesis of 1st season and rewritten 2nd season finales, it's awkward and not very successful. I can't help thinking the movie could have been better if the writers had made the scope a little less wide and only included the 1st season.

Even so, the movie is rather enjoyable. You don't need to vegetate through the movie to enjoy it, or have a die-hard passion for the subject.
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TRON (1982)
8/10
Grievously underrated cult movie.
11 October 2005
Tron was made in 1981-1982, at the time when home computing was in it's infancy. The greatest home computers at the time were Commodore 64, Atari XL series and Apple 2 computers, all which were quite expensive. Computers were the new uncharted land, and there Tron established it's realm of fantasy.

Tron is sci-fi only superficially. It's roots are deep in the fantasy, translated into a modern-day high-tech world. The creators knew they weren't doing an essay on how computers worked. In today's computer-savvy world the story might appear as anthropomorphic naivety, but the pseudo-realistic hacker movies of the '80s (and the '90s) have fared much worse.

Computer time was very expensive in the early '80s, and the software wasn't too advanced. The brilliant idea was to use the CGI to depict the immaterial world inside the computer, instead of trying to mimic the real world, which really wasn't feasible until some 10 years later. At the completion of the film, the technology used for Tron was cutting edge, and the CGI was the best seen so far. Today, the graphics are outdated, but in their role, depicting the world inside a computer, they are perfectly sufficient.

I believe Tron is not for everyone's liking, but as a modern age fantasy, it's a great movie.
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8/10
The worthwhile Police Academy movie
6 October 2005
Warning: Spoilers
The first of Police Academy movies is somewhat underrated, undoubtedly by the dreadful sequels.

Agreed, the humor is low-brow slapstick, but the action is good and the jokes are fun. The film recognizes it's essence, a take on classic military comedies; the two cronies get a crew cut, and are told afterward they're not in the army. The stereotypical characters aren't too creatively thought out, but Guttenberg plays his character Mahoney well.

If you aren't totally fed up with the horrid sequels (Mission to Moscow is about as fun as getting your brains dug out with a spoon), this movie is great entertainment in right circumstances, like having fun with friends and beer.

The 8 out of 10 includes a small underdog bonus.
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Equilibrium (2002)
1/10
Valium-flavored Orwell-Bradbury-Huxley milkshake
5 October 2005
This movie excels at what the bad guys in it fail: to kill all emotion.

Though the premise is a cut and paste job of 1984, Fahrenheit 451 and the Brave new world, the viewer never needs to analyze the philosophy of the other side as it it's fallacy is emphasized from the very beginning with the pretentious prologue and throughout the movie; the central issues of the lifted stories are replaced by an alien, dis-believable and very artificial ideal of a nation controlled by an involuntary prescribed psyche drug Prozium, and later comes to conclusion that the idea is just as terrible as it sounds. The book '1984' (from which the movie directly lifts several central elements and scenes) deconstructed socialism, which was a widely accepted ideal in the post-war Europe of 1949, as another path to totalitarianism not unlike fascism (Orwell himself was a disillusioned socialist.)

Then there is the central character who can manage everything thrown at him, without ever resorting to anything but the (rather silly) Gun-kata.

I don't go chewing on the Tetragrammaton wheel, it was unintentionally Nazi swastika like. The irony between the name and the appearance of the symbol is delicious, I must give that much. Oh, and "Tetragrammaton" means "Four letter word". I like that.

The casting, on the other hand, was very good. Sean Bean's character was great, and you had to like Bale's performance too.

Unfortunately, the ending was another disappointment. Instead of gripping and emotionally stirring, the movie opted for meaningless Hollywood template solution.

Perhaps the movie was a satire of psyche drugs getting more and more commonplace and of the double standards of the ruling class (the "Father's" office was full of artwork and there were statues in the Tetragrammaton HQ), but as such it was quite ineffective.

I disliked the movie, not because the story was bad, but because the story lacked emotional attachment, the most interesting character was killed in the first 30 minutes, and frankly, '1984' with guns makes a terrible mix. I gave it 4/10 for some visual pleasure.
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8/10
Brilliantly done independent sci-fi movie
23 August 2005
I just returned from the first tour screening. The place was a small club at the heart of Turku, and built for bands to perform rather than a movie theater, but the mood was great. The crew introduced themselves, and were greeted with the traditional contained cheering.

The movie started with elegant new title design and theme music, quality not one bit shy of a true professional movie. The movie was technically extremely well dome throughout the picture, not just on some money shots with garbage filler as often is the case with such films. Effects are top-notch, and post-processing is as good as DV can ever offer.

Sound mix was good. Sometimes the dialogue got a bit muffled, but the rest of the soundtrack just boomed with POWER! You'll want a good audio set with this one.

The story starts out a bit awkward as was expected, given that the heroes were stranded on the 21st century earth in the last movie. Things smooth out quickly, and the plot gets underway. The story takes twists from absurd to serious and back to absurd, but the plot stays coherent.

The humor is all new, with lots of stuff mixed together. There are the usual low-brow jokes and Adam Sandler acts, then there is Buster Keaton / Harold Lloyd -esque slapstick and rather clever pokes at the various sci-fi franchises, as well as sci-fi in general. There is even a good measure of political satire thrown in. As a whole, the movie is more a black comedy.

The pacing of the movie is really well done. There is no tarrying around, and the interest keeps on. There's no too much happening at the same time either. The balance is well kept.

Acting was the most varied issue. There were few professional actors, even one superstar by local measure (Kari Väänänen), and their performance truly stood out. Quite some of the not-so-professional performances were quite enjoyable. There were no really terrible scenes, at worst the acting was OK.

As many long-awaited movies have got over-hyped and then fallen flat, I had suppressed some of the hopes, but this movie really lives up to (and exceeds) any expectation I've had. The plot is NOT what you'd find in such a movie made in Hollywood; the humor is quite dark at times and silly at others, and the satire stings in every direction. If there was an 'european art movie' with Stuff! Blowing! Up! it would probably look like this movie.

I give it a ****½/*****
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The Rift (1990)
2/10
It really is bad
29 April 2005
It's difficult to find anything worth of praise with this movie. It's not the worst picture ever made, but that's not saying a whole lot. The plot is quite incoherent and unbelievable; it seems that the producers wanted to make a space movie, but decided to make it underwater to cash in at the success of The Abyss. In some scenes it seems as if the story indeed was set to outer space initially; the sub has a landing gear, the technicians are worried of a rip in a rubber diving suit at the depths of several kilometers, where the pressure would crush the diver and the suit like an empty beer can.

The movie starts out okay, with planning of a recovery of a lost naval sub. After that the movie takes a plunge along with the Siren 2.

Effects are so-so. The navigational screens are all done on Commodore 64 (remember, this is 1990, not 1983), the sub is controlled like no other sub ever; instead of control consoles, the officers have keyboards with which they enter long number sequences to control various functions of the ship. The interior of the ship isn't too convincing either.

The final scenes leap from awkward to absurd. Welcome to the fifties, you can check your suspension of disbelief at the door.

I fail to see enjoyment factor here. The movie is neither good nor hilariously bad MST3k-style (until you get to the final scene), it's like eating a slightly bad apple.
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