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Snowpiercer (2013)
Good start, disappointing end.
19 December 2014
After a climate manipulation attempt gone terribly wrong, the whole world is caught in an extreme ice age. The last of humanity constantly travels around the world in a train, that provides them with the necessities for survival. The passengers on board are divided (roughly) into two classes: oppressors and oppressed. Naturally the oppressed, who reside under terrible conditions in the wagons at the end of the train, plan a revolt...

The premise of Snowpiercer borderlines implausibility, but fortunately it draws you in very quickly and makes you accept it for the greater part of the movie. The characters are like- and hate-able as necessary, which allows the viewer to get emotionally involved. The tension curve rises well from the beginning, but after about two thirds in, the movie begins to drag on. The pacing in the last third is way off. Too much time is spent on philosophizing about the train, which obviously serves as a metaphor for the supposed inevitabilities of societal structures. The finale remains unsatisfying as it doesn't answer a number of pressing questions.
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The most important episode of the show to date.
3 June 2014
An outstanding episode within an already outstanding series. Its topic is the greenhouse effect and humanities influence on the global climate. The episode describes clearly the evidence, the devastating consequences and the possible solutions to a problem that involves us all. Although disheartening at times, it drives its points home.

Since the shows beginnings, some people have claimed it was "political", "leftist", "liberal", "preachy" or "voicing only one side".

That is not what this show is or does. It's a scientific show. In other words it's not so much about opinions or beliefs, it's about facts. And if the facts are not compatible with your beliefs, it's time to question your beliefs, not the facts. Even if they are uncomfortable.
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Expect it to be different from the Lord of the Rings movies
20 December 2012
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is the first part of the movie adaption of J.R.R. Tolkiens "The Hobbit". It was written years before "The Lord of the Rings" and intended for a younger audience. Making it into a movie after "The Lord of the Rings", is a very difficult task. The Hobbit's tone is quite light hearted and it's literarily somewhat inferior to its sequel. Also, for consistency some changes to the story would have to be made. Thus I was a little skeptical before I saw it.

After seeing the first part now, I can say the result is very good so far. It's not a perfect movie, but far from bad. There are some problems with Tolkiens book and as far as the story was told, they were handled very well. It went by the book where it should have and went different ways where it was necessary.

One of the greatest weaknesses is probably Radagast. Most of the parts involving him were way too goofy for my taste. Another problem was the story telling rhythm. Some scenes felt jumpy, others felt stretched too thin.

Anyway: Prepare to see a more humorous and playful movie than the Lord of the Rings films. I'm definitely looking forward to the next parts.
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False advertising and humor lost in translation.
15 December 2012
I don't know what to make of this movie. The trailer promised lots of action and remembering some of Chow Yun Fats best movies, I had high hopes. But instead of tons of action, we get a movie about two men trying to outwit each other in a macabre duel of treachery:

A robber becomes an impostor, assuming the role of a towns new governor. He soon begins to oppose the towns true ruler, a crime lord in a game of deadly schemes. This could be very entertaining, if most of the humor wasn't lost in translation. The non verbal humor is basically slapstick and seems kind of outdated.

The acting was okay, the characters had some depth to them, especially the "robber". There were some CGI effects in the movie and they were terribly bad.

It's an uneven mixture that'll probably prove to be boring or confusing to most watchers.
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John Carter (2012)
Two dimensional characters taking themselves too seriously. Nice effects.
15 December 2012
John Carter is based on pulp stories by Edgar Rice Burroughs. Knowing this, I was kind of prepared for a campy story instead of a deep, rich plot. I was still somewhat disappointed.

The story can be summed up as a mix of Dances with Wolves (same plot as Avatar or Pocahuntas) on Mars and an old Sindbad movie: Former Soldier ends up in a strange world, meets its princess and must become the worlds savior. There's also an ecological message hidden somewhere in it (a part of the movie terribly uncared for). Throw in some strange creatures and some swashbuckling and you got "John Carter on Mars".

Pulp can be adapted into something pretty great, if the result doesn't take itself too seriously and gives us interesting, lovable characters. Unfortunately the lead actor has less charisma than a dry slice of bread. The dialogs are so cheesy at times, they rival some of George Lucas worst writings. The characters are nothing but cardboard cutouts... "noble, rebellious hero", "emancipated damsel in distress", "noble indigenous warrior", "evil indigenous warrior", ... it rarely gets any deeper than these descriptions. Even worse, there's little to no self-irony to counter any of that. I think these are the main reasons, why the movie bombed at the box office.

On the plus side: The movie features some spectacular effects, the Tharks are pretty well made, but that's not enough to make it stay with you.
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A solid mystery thriller for a younger audience!
25 October 2012
Victor is a clever young boy. His family recently moved into the old house of their uncle, but he still has to adapt to the strange new environment. His parents have to leave to attend a trade show while he stays behind with his older sisters.

Triggered by a disturbing encounter, Victor comes across a 40 year old mystery. A girl named Cäcilie died in the same house under unknown circumstances. She had a secret and Victor becomes obsessed with solving it. But following her pointers is hard, if not dangerous under the eyes of the houses other suspicious inhabitants...

To come to a fair judgment of this movie, you have to keep in mind, that it was made for a younger audience. It's only slightly creepy in comparison to mystery thrillers for grown ups, but there's enough tension and mystery to keep you well entertained from the start to the finale.

Luckily the tone is not goofy, a trap many children's movies fall into. In fact I have little complains at all.

The script is well thought out. There are only a few moments, especially those where Victor tries to explain his observations to adults, that could have been better. I think he should be smart enough to know, how unbelievable his findings are, and he has to back them up with evidence, before anybody will believe him.

The young lead actor is able to shoulder the entire movie, which is quite remarkable. I gotta say the entire cast does a great job.

The atmosphere is quite tense for the most time and is created with cool, sometimes stunning sets (behold that stairwell) and a score that captures the mood perfectly.

Very good, not only for kids!
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The Gamers (2002 Video)
Incredibly funny if you know what it is about...
19 July 2012
"The Gamers", a story about a hilarious fantasy role playing session, is the best no budget movie I've ever seen.

I assume, it's the best thing you can do with $0.00, a cheap camera and a bunch of really motivated friends. Don't expect good acting, good costumes or anything like a complex script. So why do I give this movie 8 out of 10 points? Because it's funny. Really, really funny. You probably have to be gamer yourself, to get most of the jokes, but when you do, they'll make you laugh. Hard! Even years later you'll smile, whenever anybody mentions them.

I highly recommend this movie to every gamer out there!
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An eastern morality play that stresses probabilities at times.
27 May 2012
If you want to understand Kill Zone, you need at least a small grasp of the eastern concept of karma. Basically it means, that bad things that somebody does, will sooner or later backfire at him. This is the central theme of this movie.

Kill Zone is a gritty police thriller about a bunch of cops aiming at taking down a crime lord. There are no real heroes in this, though. Every character sooner or later leaves the boundaries of moral behavior, and yes, there will be some kind of payback.

Unfortunately this also makes it hard to root for any of the characters, although they are not completely unlikeable and their motives are understandable. Another problem is, that to remain within it's theme, the story stresses probabilities at times.

If you want to watch this merely for the martial arts, be aware that the fight scenes only make up a small part of this movie. On the other hand they are excellently choreographed. The often mentioned, furious back alley knife vs. baton fight, might be one of the greatest martial arts scenes ever put on film.
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Atmospheric, but fails due to unorthodox storytelling.
27 May 2012
Texas Killing Fields is a dark crime story. It succeeds at creating a menacing atmosphere by well shot images. The main characters, two burned out cops are rather interesting, because their thoughts and intents are not thrown at us, but only hinted at. Unfortunately we learn too little about them. The images of the characters remain incomplete just as the main story itself.

The movies problems start with the unorthodox storytelling. A good storyteller picks the most interesting and most important moments out of a series of events and combines them to a coherent arc. Instead we are thrown into the middle of events and we are only sparsely given any background information. While it is interesting at the beginning, it becomes frustrating at the end, when you realize, that the answers you long for won't be given. We never learn the motivations behind the crimes for example.

Creating mystery by omissions isn't a bad idea in general, but it seems it was done here, because there are no interesting plot twists.

In all fairness it should be mentioned though, that the actors are doing a good job and that the whole thing isn't a mess. The biggest faults stem from the strange pacing and some important things, that remain untold. As a result there's no tension to what could be the most dramatic moments.
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Taken (I) (2008)
Goodbye reason, goodbye logic.
23 December 2011
Warning: Spoilers
I'd like to say this, before I start reviewing this movie: I love action movies, I really do. I have no problem with campy stories or heroes singlehandedly defeating masses of villains. Plot holes or violation of physical laws are acceptable to me, as long as I don't feel messed around with. So while I have no problem with Bourne or James Bond movies, Taken is an entirely different caliber...

Let us imagine you were an experienced ex secret agent specialized in anti-terrorism. You still got excellent contacts to other agents. Now imagine your daughter was kidnapped by brutal human traffickers in a foreign country...

... do you go alone without backup or do you alert some friends? Just in the case, you know, that you are killed and no one is left to save your daughter or something like that?

Now let's imagine you identified a suspect...

... do you ambush him in bright daylight and violently shove him into a public taxi and start to torture him in the backseat right in front of an international airport, or do you at least follow him for a while, so you might not draw not unwanted attention and easily gather more info about the suspect and his contacts?

Furthermore imagine you actually captured the last surviving bad guy, after you killed all of his buddies, which unfortunately makes his knowledge the only chance left to find your daughter...

... do you torture him with subcutaneous electrodes and 110 volts of alternating current (9 volts from a battery can kill you when the current is applied subcutaneous) coming right away from the power grid and risk to kill your only source of information?

... do you kill said bad guy right after the first answer he gives you without verifying its truth?

... would you repeat same procedure (killing of your only source of information before verification of his statements) ?

If you answered all questions above with yes, congrats you perfectly qualify for the CIAs anti terrorism branch.

This movie is completely based on an ignorant, close minded world view filled with exceptional examples of stupidity: Human traffickers go routinely after people right in front of the Paris airport. The classical super zoom image enhancement (which is about as believable as outrunning a nuclear explosion) is taken to a new level here: A roadside automate does what the CSI at least needs a computer lab for.

Taken tries hard to look "badass" and clever. But in truth it is so stupid it's offensive.
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Qi jian (2005)
Terribly boring, overlong and full of plot holes
18 December 2011
I like martial arts films. I really do. And often I forgive them their silly stories and lack of logic. But not this time. This wannabe epic fails at everything.

For some reason, probably lost in translation, the Chinese emperor wants to eliminate all martial artists and has put a bounty on all of them. Some kind of wild mercenary army using cheap prop mechanical weapons erases entire villages on its path claiming a bounty for each slain person. Obviously imperial officers are pretty dumb...

We soon learn about an endangered village which is in dire need of help. this part of the script is basically a rip off of Seven Samurai. Unfortunately the villagers personalities are so off-putting, that one doesn't care about them at all. They are just a bunch of hate filled, xenophobic idiots. I won't go into the confusing, paradox details here.

Somehow they learn about 7 sword wielding heroes and send for them for help. Said heroes reside on a cold, snow covered mountain top in actual holes in the rock. There is absolutely no clue what the heck they are doing up there all day.

Some troubles later the heroes join the villagers in their task to defend their homes. I don't really recall any good or entertaining martial arts scenes in the middle part of the movie.

Now the movie begins to drag on. Slowly. Very, very slowly. It tries to give every(!) character an elaborate, cliché ridden melodramatic background. It ties hard. Way too hard. Lengthy landscape shots dubbed with overly emotional music accompany these parts.

The only interesting character in the entire movie happens to be the main villain. He isn't nice or charismatic, but he makes up for it with insanity, which sadly is the only entertaining thing you will witness for about 120 minutes.

At the end there's finally a good fight scene. About 2 Minutes long. That's all. I had to endure 150 Minutes of terrible movie making getting there. Absolutely not worth the time.
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I Am Legend (2007)
Watch the alternate ending...
24 November 2011
At first I thought it was a pretty good movie. The story went forward very well. There were subtle hints hidden here and there that pointed towards an interesting ending. Unfortunately the ending did not live up to my expectations (or that of all other people I asked about it). Also all the hints here and there didn't make any sense any more.

A few months later, I had the chance to see the original ending, which was replaced after a negative test screening. It was exactly the ending the movie needed. I don't know what kind of people the audience of the test screening was made of, but it seems they were somehow intellectually challenged.

Thus, if you happen to get your hands on a DVD or Blueray which contains the original ending, skip the 'fixed' one when the showdown in the lab begins and switch to the better one. It will return a meaning to the movie.

I'll give the cinema version 6/10 and the original cut 8/10.
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The Mist (2007)
Natural selection at work? A movie about people doing stupid things.
20 November 2011
Frank Darabont revisits his favorite theme in this movie: A group of people is caught in a terrible situation, which results in human drama. While this worked well in his other works, he fails terribly this time.

The problem is not the setup, which is simple, but effective: A thick, mysterious fog shrouds an entire town and since some dangerous creatures lurk in it, people are forced to lock themselves inside. The movie shows us these events from the perspective of a group that is caught inside a big store. This could work pretty well, if it wasn't for the characters unbelievably silly actions. There are movies that have one or two "Why does he... why doesn't he..." moments. This one is entirely made up from those and it isn't even funny.

The most tragic events would have been perfectly avoidable, if they just had used their brains for a moment.

There was no way to identify with such dumb characters, no one to cheer on, nothing to laugh about, except for the script. I felt robbed.
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