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If you like 90s B movies (or FMV games), you'll love it
In Ripper and Johnny Mnemonic FMV games, you got to scratch your cyberpunk bone. Here, you get to uncover a paranoia-filled supernatural mystery set in a museum that just opened its Mongolian exhibition, with Genghis Khan's items being its central piece, and maybe even save the world.
If Ripper is akin to a blockbuster production, this game is closer to a TV production, but that 90s B movie quality is very much present here as well (with some fine tuning, it'd even work as a better Twilight Zone or Tales from the Crypt episode). There's cheese, overacting, underacting, awesome museum set designs, ambitious (if predictable) storyline with a very fun and out-there premise that even Chuck Norris would found amusing and let's not forget the obligatory quirky, comic and supernatural moments that add flair to the menu.
Now, truth be told, it is more entertaining to watch a playthrough of this game (not unlike watching a movie) than actually playing it, mainly because you can get stuck due to not knowing what to do next. It's no Myst, but it can get annoying. Puzzles are rare and mostly very easy (and fun) with a couple of clunky complex-ones thrown in just to mess with you.
Having said that, the story makes this game one of the more memorable FMV games and it's definitely worth checking out, so go buy it, play it or just google it and watch a silent playthrough, but don't miss it!
Extralarge: Black Magic (1992)
P.I. Extralarge vs. the Voodoo cult
They don't call it Voodoo in the show, but that's what it is. Anyway, it's a pretty standard episode for the series with some very unusual elements (the only episode featuring supernatural) and a lot of obvious yet convoluted plot twists. Spencer is as relaxed and as slick as ever. Dumas gets a little annoying with his "jokes" and quirks after a while, but does prove useful. Pacing is fine and the mystery is not that bad, but the plot takes too much unnecessary turns to get to a standard conclusion. Actors are fine if a bit lethargic. The actor who plays the preacher steals every scene his in, though. Atmosphere is not bad and there are occasional stylistic use of light and shadows and simple but effective special effects (like fire that won't die out). There are only few very short action scenes, mostly featuring fistfights or XXL shooting a bad guy. The final scenes are a bit campy, but this is a TV show, after all. Housekeeper Maria and the police inspector have small roles in this episode. The sound, for some reason, isn't that good, but it could be a copy's fault. There are some rare light comedy moments. If the show went all the way with the horror elements this could have been the best episode by far. As it is, it's still a must for the fans of the show, and a decent introduction for those who are interested to see what Bud had been doing since he left westerns and buddy movies.
No Logo (2003)
OK introduction to problems with international corporations and global trade...
Now that's a sexy summary... :)
If you wanted to know what's the deal with all the complaints about corporations and with the way they create global economy, this is a good place to get your basics. Famous author Naomi Klein introduces the audience to various seductive ways corporations use to sell their products and various unseductive ways they use to produce their goods as cheaply as possible. Even if you already know all this, you'll still probably learn something new during the 40 minutes of this interview.
This documentary is not perfect, though. Some of her complaints are not really relevant and the solutions she's suggesting seem like an afterthought (as if she put all of her effort solely in explaining the way the business works and problems it creates). Having said that, this explanation is excellent, understandable to a common man and the best part of the documentary.
If you want a quick course in big business economy, this film and Michael Moore's excellent documentary Roger & Me (1989), where he shows an example of the damage to (his) local economy that a corporation can leave once it exports its factories (and jobs) out of US, will do the job nicely.
Black Magic Woman (1991)
Warning: This is not a skinflick! More like a lesser Tales from the Crypt episode
If you're expecting this to be an erotic triller, then the movie poster did it's job - it mislead you.
This is unfortunately a cheap sub-par horror (with slight slasher elements) that looks like a TV film or, at best, a Tale from the Crypt episode.
There are three (laughable) sex scenes in the movie, and all within the first 20 or so minutes. Two of them feature Apollonia, but she is nude as much as Lindsay Lohan in Machete - hardly for a second and even then you can't see anything. The focus of the movie is on Hamill's attempt to stop the deadly spell, not on sex. Lethal Weapon 2 was more softcore than this. Apollonia's casting was a marketing stunt. Even if you just want to see her acting, she's in this for about 15 minutes and most of that time she isn't doing very much.
The plot twist at the end is hinted at throughout the whole film, characters are awful, and acting is good for a few laughs (and this is not a comedy).
All in all, unless you want to see Mark hamming it up, or what a reject screenplay for Tales from the Crypt probably looks like, you can peacefully skip this.
Kurt blir grusom (2008)
Fun if you don't take it too seriously
The author Erlend Loe's stories about Kurt the forklift operator make some of the most successful novels for children and adults alike in recent Norwegian literature. Naturally this led to a CGI animated adaptation of two of his stories combined in one less than hour and a half long film.
Kurt is a man with short temper, nostalgia for "the good old days" and a quirky family (wife is a successful architect, older son is a snob, younger one is intellectually far beyond his boyhood and daughter is a metalhead). Their traits as well as the world around them that's just a bit off, make for some very involving adventures. This time Kurt feels unappreciated by his neighbors, wife and family. When a very successful snobbish doctor moves in next door, Kurt snaps and decides to outdo him in the game of success even if that means running for the mayor's office or becoming a doctor.
Although it does have a lot of social commentary jabs, this is first and foremost a story about family and what really means to be successful. If you can view it in that light you will enjoy it. However, certain "little things" (like the sailor character) might insult some. Considering the books did the same thing, guess you could say it's just being true to the source material.
If you want to see a family film (not for the youngest, though) or just want to see an interesting although goofy and slightly racy adventure try it out. It could have been better (it does tend to be a bit hectic occasionally) but it's a good first try.
If you like the books definitely see for yourself how this adaptation turned out and if you don't like Kurt's stories this film won't change your opinion.
If you've never heard about Kurt, it's not a problem. You don't have to know anything about the books to be able to follow or enjoy this first Kurt's big screen adventure.
Miimu iro iro yume no tabi (1983)
A True 80ies Edutainment Anime Classic
One of the best edutainment products on the market, this anime gem has all the trade marks of the 80ies, from the (fine) quality of hand-drawn animation to the vision of the future with robots, cybernetic environment and virtual games as part of the culture. The story in the show is simple. Couple of kids get a special computer, which upon receiving an entry, releases a "ghost in the shell" in the form of a little female pink genie (acordingly named Ginnie in the English dub). Ginnie has the power to take the kids in the virtual reality of the past so they can see with their own eyes how penicillin was discovered, or what was Benjamin Franklin like (we're talking G rating here, so no worries).
The show's main goal was to entertain kids with the futuristic setting and yet teach them a few facts about history and it's greatest names. This is probably one of only a couple of shows that actually succeeds triumphantly in this ambitious goal. Kids will love it, and adults will have fun as well, if only for the wonderful imagination that was used in these sequences.
If you like anime, edutainment or simply want your kids to have fun and learn at the same time do try to dig this up. There's also a very good English dub for those who like that kind of translation. The show later grew a subplot with futuristic robots which was probably an attempt to keep the viewers with something new. This was the weaker part of the series, but the first part was highly enjoyable...
Below Sea Level (2008)
Great as a film, not so great as a documentary, in either case don't miss it
The biggest strength of this film is that it's about people. No politics, no comments, no analysis. Just people, their lives and their will to move on despite the fact that there is no "on". That might be it's biggest flaw as well...
Californian desert is a place where the "lost", left with nothing but a vehicle and some stuff, come to try to find peace in seclusion and not succumb to tragedy that had destroyed their "normal" lives, or they come simply because they have nowhere else to go. They stay there as long as they want, and no one harasses them for no one lives there and the place is too big to be crowded anyway. People with similar life problems (death of a loved one, jail time, homelessness) slowly make contacts with their neighbor in pain and soon a small unsteady community starts off. There is no electricity, running water, or police, so they find alternate ways for providing things they need. It's almost a post apocalyptic vision of Mad Max (without the violence or gangs) and the fact that these are real people makes the whole thing look even more surreal. The people of this community, whom director chooses to follow through the years, are truly interesting and often sympathetic characters with incredibly quotable dialogs (for a non written film).
This is the main problem with this documentary. It looks like a Jim Jarmusch movie. Documentary is not suppose to look like a movie, because that destroys the impression that what you see is real, and turns compassion into fun. That's not to say that documentaries should be dull, on the contrary. What I mean is that you sometimes have to show the crew of the film. You have to show their impact (which is bound to exist) on the subject of your documenting. You have to show real realism (in which you exist there as well) or this can turn into a Big Brother show with homeless people.
People, who are here because they want absolute privacy and seclusion, completely ignore the camera (the object opposite of privacy) almost the whole time. This often happens when a documentary film crew spends enough time with their subjects. They get used to it. The director was visiting them for five years, but you at least have to show the first couple of times when the people had a problem with his taping. Otherwise it looks ludicrous when people who left civilization (after it gave up on them) to find seclusion, allow to be recorded naked or while telling their life stories that they never told anyone or while having fights and mental breakdowns.
The film is not dull. You want to hear these folks, you want to know what happened to them and how they ended up here. You want for them to make it in the end. Again we see the problem with this movie. You're not suppose to cheer for them (they are not movie characters). You're suppose to be motivated to actually help them somehow. The movie does not clearly point out how completely broken the social system is when it's so easy for anyone to wind up lost in the world, with nothing but a car in which to live out their years of slow and silent demise while hoping for a miracle. There's no message from the director. Viewer can take the movie as he or she wants: A fun but heavy movie about interesting homeless or condemnation of the failure of the system which hadn't, in any way, helped these real live people, whom you might easily join if your life takes a few wrong turns.
There is one final problem with the documentary aspect of this film. I'm sure this wasn't the director's intention, but without some message it seems like director had used these people's stories to make a film, then used the film to make himself a carrier and then completely forgot these people and their plights that made this film possible.
In any case do watch this movie. It is without a doubt one of the best films (not just documentaries) of the year, and it will not leave you without an impression. This film should be seen also because it is truly about people and a battle to keep some dignity even when there is nothing else you can really do with your life. These people are as real as they come, and their plights should be known.
A Fork in the Tale (1997)
Just for nostalgics and fast-clicking fans
This is not a good game. It's not a good FMV experience either. However 10 years after it was made, the clips have a strong nostalgic feel to it (in a "90ies cable fantasy show/movie" sense) and the "save everywhere" option makes things much much less frustrating.
Rob was probably chosen because of his SNL gig, although he was relatively unknown when this was made. The authors just couldn't afford any star power. That being said, the production value is pretty decent (again, in a Beastmaster 2 sense) and actors, although campy do their job satisfyingly. Except Rob... He was let to ad-lib as much as possible, and he really isn't good at that. In most clips you'll have the option to let him comment and most of the time it won't be funny and you'll get the feeling that this option exists only for you to do something while the sometimes long clips run. Guess you could call this a part of the ADD syndrome. The whole game is made exclusively out of clips. There are no animated backgrounds, inventory, dialog trees (to a small degree, like the Dragon's Lair games but without the crazy difficulty). You click on the given options/icons on the screen (bubbles with words) and go to the next live action clip. It works, but it will not replace the P&C adventures, that's for sure. In the combat sequences you click on a pulsating spot on the screen. The spots and bubbles disappear pretty fast. This game won't let you think what to do for more than 3 to 5 seconds except in a rare resting places (usually near the end of a chapter), however you can freeze the game when ever you want, and unfreezing (just like saving) will repeat the last clip so you can try again. There are several difficulties and stages (as well as branching paths) in solving the puzzles. The easiest, yet most difficult to understand is the "slide the line" puzzle in which you have to click on the screen and draw an invisible line, while the clarity of the picture behind it shows you if you're drawing in the right directions. The only really difficult (read annoying) puzzle is "the blinking white light stones" puzzle during a dance ceremony (everything else won't give you more than a minute or two of trouble once you know what you're doing).
The game has four endings (2 bad, 1 bad for the girl and 1 good) which you choose through your actions or inactions in the last 10 minutes) and runs on 5 discs (it's not really a bother since when you finish a disc, you'll be done with it). A lot of puzzles repeat themselves as well as some locations. The game has small amount of violence, some skimpiness (no nudity) and one marijuana reference. Cutscenes (FMV clips) can not be skipped. The story is kinda convoluted and doesn't try to round up. It will explain the main plot-points near the end and that's it (this will be just enough to give you a sense of completion). Most of the game consists of following, helping or searching for the girl that you got shot for and dealing with different characters that stand or support you on your way.
The game's publisher Any River Entertainment fell through after this game came out (it was the last chance for the salvation of the company) but not just because of this.
Although A Fork in the Tale deserves most of the flak it got, a decade later it is a fun experience with a heavy nostalgic feel about it. Also for a fantasy story game it's not half bad (mainly because of the crazy wizards/mags and other interesting characters). Wheter or not the game would have been better with more time and money and less Rob is questionable.
Either way, if you don't mind the lack of fully explained/constructed story (but just enough) and you can take on a clicking fest, do try it. It will run on most todays PCs and systems.
The Punisher (2004)
So bad, it deserves it's own parody
There is so much wrong with this dumbed-down adaptation of the Punisher book. Why is Castle responsible for the death of the son? Why do they investigate him even if he is dead? They have a hunch? Why Castle never goes after the snitch? Why the most unintentionally funny and random mass murder scene of his whole family clan is the only sequence that was actually thought-through (except the Russian sailor fight)? Is there any police anywhere? Why stunt cast Roy Scheider for 2 minutes and two lines? Why use a slow instrumental music during the action scenes and metal songs during the slow ending sequence? Is the black man that saves Castle and that we never get to see before or after, a surgeon and a chiropractor , cause Castle had a lot of damage? Does Castle have pain receptors or does he just become sleepy when his suffering (is he Chuck Norris)? Why send squad of goons on the island, when they can just snipe them or blow them up (like Castle does). What;s with all the "you'll blocking the sun" posing (especially on the bridge in the end)? How did he get all of his father's weapons through two customs? Where did he get the flat, the car and the workshop? Why add comic relief characters (unless to suck up to a larger audience)? Castle says he gets upset when his tire gets flat, and he has no name for the state he's in now. Well, in this state he drinks one bottle of whiskey (this helps with aiming for sure), looks sleepy and poses all the time. Twilight version of tough and in-pain? Why waste Laura Harring AND Will Patton to play cardboard cutouts. Why add a gayness of a character as a plot point (if he wasn't gay you'd get the same thing)? Is that suppose to be edgy in a movie about psychopaths killing each other? Why all the mind-games? So Punisher works through intrigue and not violence? Why no one follows the wife from The mob? A mob bosses' wife just drives around as a sitting duck alone? The love triangle setup is like Othello or something. The pasting of the movie is dreadful. Lundgren was somewhat sympathetic, you really wanted to see the over the top villains from War Zone, punished, but here everyone and everything is completely blend and dull (except the comic relief and the Russian). Stamos falls for Castle. Why? Because he got everyone around him killed? Because he is unstable? Because he poses? That's it. When they hide Castle from Patton's goons, why the big guy and the piercing guy stay? Why don't lie where the Punisher is? Why don't the goons kill them, they're witness! Why do they leave one! goon, after Castle just took out a whole Russian Goliath? Why do they leave? If they know where Castle is, why don't they bring their whole army? In the end, Saint runs from the burning building instead of going back to save his other son? He forgot about that one or he wasn't his favorite? He kills the whole Castle clan, because of his wife, but dumps her in a second with just a parking ticket and an earing as evidence of cheating. What's the satisfaction of this for the Punisher, when he is told that the wife asked for the bloodbath. Saint will explain the missing mother to his son and the police how? Bottom line, there was no reason for this to even be a Punisher movie. If they just changed the name from Frank Castle to James Bond or triple X (Vin Diesel) you'd get the same thing... Ridiculous. The other two movies have problems but they aren't boring nor pretentious as this one. You wanna see a vigilante movie? Death Wish and even Sin City did more with it. Even the Exterminator did one or two things correct.
Moonlighting meets Nash Bridges in what looks like a pilot for a nonexistent show
This TV film starts out just fine. Your standard boozer ex-cop with a heart of gold gets hired by a "dame" for a little work. The case sounds remotely interesting (follow the husband of a rich client). Setting is great (Palm Springs, or at least Riverside County). Eliot is great (although repetitive after a while). Terry is wonderful (although she's not given enough to work with). Then Church shows up. His character is too giddy and doesn't really do anything for the movie except a bad comic relief in a film that already has a 50 puns/cracks/allusions per minute. The subplot about the fleeing Mexican starts to get much more interesting. Then we even get some action and a slow film starts to speed up. Now Barry is called in to help with the case. His character is good on paper (an ex-cop who's been ridden with guilt for accidentally shooting a boy while on duty, after which he was discharged). Problem is that he is way too overbearing for a movie that up to his scenes was pretty light. Good thing is that you do kinda start to care for him before the film is over. Now the story stops to give a little rom/com sultry situations for Sam and Terry. By this point the amount of jokes, catchphrases, innuendos and all kind of dialog effects is getting ridiculous. Sem apparently has a form of turrets, only he has to say a metaphor or a jokey comparison with every sentence. We also forget about the plot. However, this is still the last good part in this film. What follows is an implausible if not preposterous resolution of the husband's role in everything (all done just for Barry's character to have a "message" purpose). Next is the resolution of the Mexican's role which is not bad, but seems to be from a completely different movie (with it's extremely dark tone) and also suffers from a huge dialog exposition. Finally we go back to our detective characters who in the end had no real purpose (except Graves for a "message" reason) and are now more developed for an inch or two. I guess the series is set up. When does it start? Oh, it doesn't? There is no show? Of course not. Yet, the ending is almost like the end of some 90ies light cop show episode...
The on/off romance between Sam and Terry is not bad, but the story suffers for it. The dialog is sometimes plane stupid. Especially the last bits of it where Eliot's character tries to explain to Terry's what he had learned from all this (and explain to us indirectly, why the film has this title). Some charm, drama and even comedy are in this film, only they are allover the place, like in a kitchen sink method. Something hits the spot, and other misses it completely ("I've been eating raw lizards." "You have any lizards under your house?"). Character of the guy that confesses everything is also ridiculous and only there to be plot convenient.
Not much else to say. If you (really) like the actors see this (Garr did a great job here). Direction and writing don't surpass episodes of the series from the title of this comment but do get inferior occasionally. The story is not worth your time, and there's a red herring too many, with a very disappointing (and ridiculously ordinary) conclusion. Light mystery buddy film, with a few dark scenes, not much mystery and no buddies.