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3/10
Definitely not for "old" AVGN fans..
6 September 2014
What can I say... the movie just isn't good.

Let me preface this with the fact that while I can never call myself a true AVGN "fan", I did follow the series from its roots. Like James, I also grew up in the 8-bit era so it was really great to see someone actually create a show which revolves around those ancient games. Also, back then, watching someone act angry at the video game was yet to get old.

So yeah.. good old days when the series was nice and simple. AVGN digs up an old game, demonstrates its flaws, chugs beer and gets more and more p*ssed off. The formula was simple, yet enjoyable. But bit by bit, the show was changing, James started adding more and more to it, characters, special effects, even story lines, and to me personally it never really clicked. While the earliest episodes strongly catered to the 20-30 somethings, folks that actually played the games the Nerd was talking about, and could relate, the later shows started more and more to revolve around swearing and bodily fluids rather than anger-fueled nostalgia for the old games. Finally the show become something that only younger teens can really enjoy ... and anyone older than that perhaps just watch secretly as a guilty pleasure.

And now we have the movie... which, being a continuation of above trend, has practically nothing in common with what the AVGN series was initially like.

First and foremost, the Nerd character in the movie could not be more different than the Nerd in the series. If you expected a movie about a lovable curmudgeon unwillingly getting involved in a crazy plot which made him increasingly p*ssed off - something which would be in line with the show and have actual comedic potential - look elsewhere. The movie version of AVGN is basically James Rolfe himself, a person famous within his niche, tame in spirit and filled with unbridled love for his fans. Yes, the Angry Video Game Nerd is completely missing from his own movie. In fact, the movie would maybe work better if the main character was simply James wearing his regular clothes. Or at least it would feel less jarring.

Then, it's the secondary characters. If you expected Justin, or Mike, or someone even remotely familiar to have a major role.. again, look elsewhere. Not only does the movie pull a horrible cliché of introducing a new character while pretending he has always been around, this fresh new AVGN's sidekick and best buddy Coop is little more than a Jar Jar Binks of the movie. He is naive, dumb, occasionally involved in unfunny slapstick and adds utterly nothing to the movie. As for the rest of the supporting cast.. less said, the better.

Third - the plot. It's needlessly ludicrous, convoluted and difficult to follow (if one is expected to follow it at all). I know James and Kevin wanted to be ambitious and overblown and everything, but you could probably still do that and have a coherent script. As such, the movie is all over the place and Nerd's motivation for everything he does is completely impenetrable. He loves his fans and doesn't want them to play bad games.. I guess. It's hard to tell, because the movie has huge troubles explaining what it is that the Nerd actually wants, or why he does anything he does (except because the script says so). Again - why couldn't the movie be about the Nerd just being.. well, himself? Couldn't he had reviewed E.T., accidentally uncovered something sinister and got involved in a crazy plot? Why couldn't the movie let him be actually angry and dismissive like he has been in the show since.. always? Oh, right. Because this is not AVGN movie.. this is a self-indulgent and misguided love letter from James to his fans. Bah.

Finally - the humor. It's just... not there. I know these things are subjective, but still.. While the old AVGN shows almost always made me laugh, especially the old ones. I didn't laugh once during this movie. Not. Once. Maybe a desperation chuckle or two, that's it. I don't know whether it's the writing, the timing, the direction.. but I just felt that almost every single joke felt flat, and sometimes I wasn't even sure if something was supposed to be funny. For example, there is one early scene when Coop out of the blue starts talking about stuff he believes in, and we suddenly start seeing a cartoon rendition of that. I still cannot understand whether that bit was just a horribly incompetent bit of exposition/foreshadowing, or whether this was supposed to be funny, but it definitely was one in a huge series of baffling moments which made me heavily question my decision to keep watching.

So all in all, I was rather heavily disappointed. I really didn't expect much, but I at least thought I would find the movie tolerable. Then again, maybe this movie is not for me. Maybe if I was 12-15 I would find it absolutely hilarious. So.. I guess take this review as an opinion of an old fart, and freely double or triple the stars if you are under 16 or so, since apparently you, not me, are now James' main target audience.

P.S. I still respect you James, and I admire how far you've gone with your silly little web series. I really really wanted to like this movie, and I wish I could have written a better review, if only as thanks for years of free entertainment.

P.P.S. If you want to see a "movie based on popular internet series" done right, I suggest you check out "Ashens and the Quest for the Game Child". At least it actually stars the main character from the web series. Oh, and it's free, which definitely doesn't hurt.
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Super 8 (2011)
Typical Abrams - intriguing setup, fun execution, disappointing payoff
25 August 2011
I went to see this movie honestly not knowing what is it about. I've played through the "trailer" which came with the Portal 2 computer game, so I knew that the movie is set in 80s and that includes a train accident. That's about it. Oh, and that Spielberg and Abrams have their hands in it somehow.

For the first hour or so I was enjoying myself immensely. Sure, the movie was flailing around seemingly not knowing whether it wants to be E.T., Goonies, Predator, Jurassic Park or all of the above, but who cares, it was fun. The setting was cool, the kids were interesting, the wooden father wasn't in too many scenes and action was, well, actiony.

Then Act 3 came along and the movie pulled a Lost (there, I said it). I don't want to spoil anything but... let's just say that it is pretty disappointing and leave it at that.

All in all, this movie feels like it had a chance of being really great but something somewhere down the line went horribly wrong. Dangling plot lines, forced resolutions, character arcs that turned out to be completely redundant and worst of all - out-of-place clichés that seem to come from nowhere and from some completely different movies. Ultimately, you should go see it for the great train accident scene, and if you have the strength of character - leave half an hour earlier and imagine a better resolution.

Sorta like what you should have done after the final episode of Lost Season 3.
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9/10
Great Croatian movie no one will see
3 January 2011
The best thing that can be said about this movie is that it is completely unlike anything filmed in Croatia so far. Croatian cinematography is almost without exception old-fashioned, clichéd and just plain awful. "Forest Creatures" (or "Šuma summarum" which is its original title) is something completely different. It's a horror/thriller/dark comedy/allegory in certain aspects very similar to typical slasher movies and in others a rather peculiar oddity. It's exciting, it's funny, it's full of surprises and it's probably one of the most politically and ethically incorrect movies you will ever see. The movie literally has no constraints, and often you will catch yourself thinking "come on... they will not go there, surely" only to see that they will not only go there, but go a few steps beyond, too.

The story? Well, it shares a few superficial similarities with "Severance" and "Southern Comfort" but then again the way the situation is dealt with is unlike anything seen in those movies. Anyway, staff of a marketing agency goes on a rafting/paintball team-building weekend... and things go somewhat wrong, to put it mildly (and avoid spoilers). The movie literally throws the viewer headfirst in the plot from the get-go - certain part of the story has already happened, relationships between characters are established (but will gradually be uncovered to the viewer) and the director is not above throwing a few brilliant red herrings on the way. A few times movie will fake that it will now from that point onward follow a more normal, conventional course - only to throw you another curve-ball from the left field. Do not expect the movie to follow established Hollywood rules, too, there are no taboos to be avoided or clichés to be followed here, literally no one is safe and everything is fair game.

Not all is great, though. It might be said that the movie really goes *too* far occasionally, and that it often reaches the realm of exaggerated absurdities. It also often seems to have one plot thread or one character too many. But if you decide not to take it seriously, odds are you will enjoy it, even if you are watching a subtitled version in which a certain portion of the humor will be lost in translation.

The problem is, however, that odds are you will NOT see this movie. Sadly, Croatian national television has pulled the funding when they realized what kind of movie this is, and the creators barely scraped up enough funds to finish the movie and create a measly amount of theater copies. There was no money for almost any marketing whatsoever, and the movie played so briefly in local theaters when the word-of-mouth started to spread it was already gone. There are no plans for a DVD version, too, also due to severe lack of funding, which means that this little gem of Croatian cinematography could conceivably be lost. Which is a terrible, terrible shame.

Anyway, if you are a fan of slasher movies, of dark comedies, enjoy daring politically incorrect humor or simply like to be shocked, try to find this movie any way you can. You will not be disappointed, or if not that, you will almost definitely not be bored. Just try not to take it too seriously.

9/10
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Daybreakers (2009)
5/10
This movie presents an allegoric view of.. BOO!
15 April 2010
Do you know what 'Screamers' are? No, I'm not talking about that weird 1995. movie, I'm talking about those movie clips or Powerpoint presentations that are supposedly showing you something peaceful and relaxing, but just as you start wondering why the hell did your friend forward this to you there's a sudden close-up of something positively disgusting accompanied by an obnoxiously loud sound effect, resulting in you crapping your pants.

Well, that's "Daybreakers" in a nutshell for you.

"Daybreakers" is supposed to be a movie about a society where vampires took over and humans are hunted and farmed for blood. What it is though, is a series of jumpscares. The movie literally starts with one, and helpfully provides another barely a minute after. And this keeps on throughout the entire movie - the director is so insistent on close-ups and loud soundtrack, not because it helps the story, but because he can easily sucker-punch you with another jumpscare. And this gets old. Really, really, old.

And you know what? It's irritating. I was actually quite interested in a story. And it's not a bad story (well, until the deus ex machina eventually starts clunking away) but anyway. But I've found it utterly impossible to immerse myself in it and suspend my disbelief with the director so persistently trying to BOO! me into believing the movie is better than it really is.

There's also gore. Now I don't mind gore, this is a vampire movie, after all and gore was to be expected. However in "Daybreakers" it's gratuitous as hell - some scenes simply relish into shoving your face in a recently dismembered part of human anatomy, and when vampires die, they will burst like huge water balloons filled with blood, painting the room and the camera in raspberry jelly. But only sometimes, and when it is required for shock value; other times they will simply evaporate in mid-air. Oh, and btw, vampires in this movie are pussified vampires the likes seen in Buffy - if you wave a wooden pencil in a close proximity of their heart, they will die instantly. Even if they are "soldier weapons" and their uniform should at least have some sort of chest padding at least in the heart area. You must wonder how they enslaved humanity, after all.

Now perhaps you do not see where I'm going with this. Scares? Blood? It's a vampire movie, after all! Well, sure, if this were a campy horror movie I would be enjoying my socks off. But the movie goes to great lengths trying to be all gritty, realistic and serious, at times even deep, yet he also relishes in cheap scares and gratuitous gore. It just doesn't work.

Oh, I could find more faults if I wanted. The characters are rather two dimensional and there is really no development at all - except for the main guy's brother, who is probably the most interesting character in the movie. The rest of them are either obvious protagonists or antagonists, with a usual exception of bit parts who could swing either way, depending what the script needs. And, as I said, when deus ex machina arises it's REALLY hard to suspend your desbelief (although the irony it infuses the plot with is mildly enjoyable, I must admit).

I am sure that this could have been a very good movie, had other people been at the helm. As I said, this "inverted" story where being vampire is the norm seems rather interesting, and I've found certain parts of the movie quite enjoyable. But overall, I've found it unpleasant, a bit frustrating and while not being a bad movie per se, not being something I would easily recommend either.

5/10
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Dead Space: Downfall (2008 Video)
4/10
Only for hardcore fans of the video game
14 April 2010
First of all, let me just say that I'm a big fan of Dead Space, the video game. It's a game that offered nothing new, especially not plot-wise (being basically a rehash of Aliens, Thing, Event Horizon and every zombie movie out there), but tied everything it recycled in a neat package which was surprisingly enjoyable to play through.

"Dead Space: Downfall" is sort of a prequel to the game (the game itself starts right after this animated movie ends). As such, it is debatable who should be the target audience for it - folks who played through the game, loved it and want more, folks who are about to play the game and want some sort of plot primer, or people not interested in the game at all but rather at this animated feature as a standalone?

I can say right away that if you belong to the last group, you WILL be disappointed. What you will get out of "DS: Downfall" is a gory cartoon with average animation, weak characters and derivative yet confusing plot. Oh, and F-bombs galore. As I said, you will be far better off if you opt to rewatch Alien trilogy, Thing, Event Horizon or any good zombie flick out there.

If you are about to play the game, than I guess "DS:Downfall" will give you a good idea of what you can expect from the game itself. However, it will also ruin quite a few surprises which I personally think are far better experienced in the game. Ultimately, odds are you will also find "DS:Downfall" confusing, sub-par and not quite worth your time, too.

Finally, we come to fans of the game, people who enjoyed Dead Space so much that they crave more of the good stuff. Will "DS:Downfall" provide? Well, yes and no. First of all, if you finished the game, you have already pieced together the story told in "Downfall". So no surprises there. Furthermore, this feature is far less scary and atmospheric than the game itself - the necromorphs look way more benign in animated form, and the charm and immersiveness are completely absent. You might get a kick of seeing characters and locations you know from the game, although odds are this will be disappointing, too - in "Downfall", every Tom, Dick and Harry wears a jacket with the "spinal HP meter", and none of the weapons from the game appear in the movie (except that I guess the "light sword" the soldiers use is perhaps Downfall's rendition of the Ripper). There's a scene where one of the character dies and you see a close up of the "spinal meter" lowering itself from blue, yellow to finally red, where I guess fans of the game should be gleefully nudging themselves enjoying how this is "right out of the game", but the truth is that this scene is such an obvious fan-service and in itself completely ludicrous and devoid of impact you will most probably simply laugh or smirk. Not to mention that it's a scene already seen in the game, where it played out a little bit differently and a lot more realistically.

Bottom line, you may skip this and not miss much. Even if you are extremely interested in "Dead space lore", this movie will simply re-tell everything you already know. As such, it is really only for the true, hardcore fans, who really cannot live knowing that there is more "Dead Space" stuff out there and they haven't experienced it yet.

4/10, since I *am* a big fan, otherwise - freely lower the score 1 or 2 points further
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Alice in Wonderland (I) (2010)
4/10
Mr. Burton... what happened?
11 March 2010
When I first read Burton is doing his own version of Alice in Wonderland, I thought that this is a match made in heaven. Insanity of Tim Burton coupled with inherent insanity of Alice's story meant that things just couldn't go wrong..especially since it was a given that Depp and Bonham-Carter must be in it, too.

Well, something did go wrong. And it's a little bit hard to simply point out what.

I might just as well start with the story. I never thought I would say something like this about a Burton movie but it was too.. well, normal. I always thought that one of the biggest virtues of "Alice in Wonderland" was how it subtly yet efficiently tapped into one's primal fear of not being able to trust his/her own senses and of losing one's mind. Once Alice drops down into the rabbit hole she gets dislodged from reality, things stop making sense, there's nothing to hold on to, no referential point to start from, no friends by her side to have for comfort and aid. Nearly everything that happens to the (original) Alice feels random and disjointed, every situation is weird and almost every character is inconsistent - sometimes they are friendly, sometimes hostile, sometimes indifferent, but almost always utterly insane. Alice's story is wonderful, yet profoundly disturbing.

Burton's Alice in comparison is rather tame. For some reason he opted for a different, grown-up Alice, who essentially revisits Wonderland not to come to terms with growing up, but rather rebel against an arranged marriage and norms being forced upon her. And this is where most of the problems lie. What we have here is a weird mesh-up of the old, familiar Alice story and the oh-so-cliché prophetical-hero-saves-the-land-from-evil plot we have seen so many times already. The sense of discovery is gone, but what's worse that sense of disorientation and overall insanity is almost completely subdued. Characters Alice meets are pretty well known by everyone, but this time around they are almost without exception friendly and helpful, some even getting very obviously romantically interested in Alice. She herself is mostly neither scared nor surprised, almost throughout the entire movie she blatantly accepts everything around her simply by repeating that it's all a dream. I don't know if it's a matter of bad casting, bad directing, or was done completely on purpose to further reinforce the fact that this Alice is now much more mature and down-to-earth, but if Alice essentially does not care about strange things around her, why should we?

There's very little Burton has to offer in his version of Alice. Nothing new or Burtonesque or even very interesting happens; it's like reading the very same, familiar story but with some other artist doing the illustrations.

Things are somewhat saved by excellent performances of Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham-Carter. Depp's version of Mad Hatter is joy to behold to people who like to pay attention to tiny details; his accent shifts constantly, and so does his personality, and some of these shifts are often rather subtle. But even though watching someone who knows how to act doing what he does best is pretty enjoyable, this Mad Hatter still isn't, well, Mad Hatter. The character of Mad Hatter should above all be... mad. Insane. Unpredictable. This one is at best mildly eccentric, but also noble and rather lovable. In fact, this could be said for almost every character in Burton's Alice - they are not insane, they just act a bit strangely, and not by much. And they all have a good heart. I know this is a Disney movie and everything, but come on - even in the cartoon the characters were very true to those from the original book, why are they now so consistently friendly and loyal to Alice? Where's the fun in that?

Bonham-Carter's Red Queen is spot-on, on the other hand. It's hard not to have flashes of Miranda Richardson's Queen Elizabeth from Black Adder (the character which was, after all, based on the Red Queen, and let's not forget Miranda later actually played the Red Queen in Hallmark's version of Alice, and she played it rather close to her earlier role), but still, Helen's Red Queen is a rather welcome comic relief. Her interpretation of "Off with his/her head!" never gets old, and what should be an irritating and whiny character somehow ends up being a fresh sight in an otherwise rather pedestrian movie.

White Queen - played by Anne Hathaway - is a bit hammy and over-the-top, which I guess was the point, but it failed to work on many levels. She does get some funny moments though.

I must mention the all 3D thing, too. It simply does not work. In Avatar it was great, but it wasn't merely because of better technology; it was also the fact that Avatar is a bright, colorful movie, and since 3D essentially darkens the screen somewhat, the experience is not diminished. Burton's Alice is often dark and gloomy (we are talking about Burton, after all), and when you put on your 3D glasses the movie simply becomes too dark, like you are watching it with sunglasses on. It really puts a dent on your viewing pleasure.

So - "Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland 3D". In my opinion, at best this is a mildly enjoyable movie which will be somewhat appreciated by fans of Depp/Burton/Carter, at worst it's a boringish, pedestrian and rather underwhelming experience. Bottom line, it just isn't Alice. Tim Burton somehow missed the point, and let's hope that what he has in store for us will surpass this entry by far.

4/10
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The Wolfman (2010)
4/10
Underwhelming, unengaging and pedestrian
25 February 2010
First of all a disclaimer - I admit I have not seen the original Wolfman from the 40s. So if the point of this modern version was to stick to the original as much as possible even though the story, characters, pace etc. are so obviously ill-suited for the 21st century, then I guess the movie succeeds.

Otherwise, it fails on all these accounts.

Seriously, I cannot remember the last time I was so bored in the theater. What makes it painful is that Hopkins and Del Toro are two of my favorite actors, and probably the hook that got me to see the movie in the first place.

From the very first scene you know how the movie will play out. There are no surprises, no big reveals, no unexpected twists; this movie simply goes through the motions and what's worse feels forced and stilted. The overall experience is like listening to a story told by someone who would really rather be doing something else. Every werewolf/Gothic horror movie cliché is present. The characters are wooden and unrelatable, the plot is unengaging, the pacing is all over the place, the scary scenes aren't scary, the romance is laughable. Hopkins, Del Toro and the rest of the cast are so obviously phoning it in; you can't single out a bad performance, but it's obvious none of the actors were particularly motivated to pull out their acting chops and give their best.

However, the sad thing is that the movie is still very much outside of the "so bad it's good" category. There are no obvious flaws or plot holes you might point your finger at and laugh, and it is really hard to eloquently express why it feels so unsatisfying. After seeing it I didn't feel angry or cheated, it simply failed to engage me in any kind of palpable way. It's simply a mildly boring and instantly forgettable experience.

Personally, I say skip it. You aren't really losing much, or anything for that matter. Even if you are a Hopkins/Del Toro fan.
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Spartacus (2010–2013)
Theatrical acting, breasts, and buckets of CGI blood
16 February 2010
I had high expectations for this. Having seen the pilot, I honestly do not know what to think.

Based on the previews, I knew I have to expect something more in veins of "300" than something resembling a realistic historical movie. However, this being a series and all, I hoped that the stylistic approach and reliance on nudity and gore will be complemented with a good story and interesting characters.

What I got was a prolonged computer game cutscene, although sadly I was never asked to grab my controller and do some fighting on my own. Throughout the whole episode I was served with endless slow motion, more then obvious green screen sets and buckets of CGI blood. EXTREMELY fake-looking CGI blood, the one that looks sparkly and completely wrong shade of red, gushes all over the place yet evaporates in mid-air. After the eighth time my TV screen was bathed in red pixels, I gave up on taking the series seriously. After the twenty-first time, I was exhausted. This is neither stylized nor cool - it just serves to make suspending disbelief an utterly impossible feat to accomplish.

Interspersed between the rather silly yet endless fight scenes is some resemblance of the plot and quite a lot of breasts (with occasional gift of full frontal nudity, female persuasion). Breasts are nice, but I have Internet for that. Plot is the beginning of the Spartacus story, already seen in, well, "Spartacus", or even in "Gladiator" in some fashion. Only this time it is accompanied with rather theatrical acting, not really bad per se, but also reimbursing the computer game cutscene feeling.

All in all, this is Spartacus for the XBox generation, the only problem being that the age group that would enjoy it the most is the one not permitted to see it because of its rating. On the other hand, kids have already seen that stuff in modern computer games, done better and in interactive fashion for that matter.

However, I am not the one who will dismiss a series based on a bad pilot. I wasn't (too) bored with it and I guess I have at least some interest in seeing what happens next. But if it continues in the same fashion (and keeps insisting with not giving me a chance to actually control Spartacus with my gamepad), I guess I could live my life quite happily without ever seeing the ultimate fate of this particular iteration of Spartacus.
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5/10
We still need to wait for a truly magical Pratchett movie
5 February 2010
One thing I don't understand. Pratchett wrote quite a lot of Discworld novels, and some of them are simply begging to be put on the big screen. Most of the "Watch" novels for example. "Small Gods" as another. However, when Pratchett actually gets on the big (ok, small) screen, they seem to make the worst choices possible. First it was the "Hogfather", which is probably one of the most esoteric and confusing Discworld novels out there. Now they take the very first Discworld novels which - while perhaps being the funniest in the series - do not really present what Pratchett's work is all about. These early two novels are basically Terry taking a jab at (but also making homage) to a fantasy genre in general. Well, perhaps the entire Discworld series is like that, but in "Color of Magic" and "The light fantastic" this parody takes the front seat while a coherent story and characters sit in the back. And this works well in written form, but as a cinematic narrative it simply fails; clever jokes get cut, simplified and/or drowned in the overall chaos, the plot has to move quickly so it is nearly impossible to absorb everything that happens (let alone enjoy it) and overall it represents a rather frustrating experience, both for the Pratchett fans as well as the general audience.

The first thing that bothered me is the casting. Sean Austin is a fine Twoflower, even though I think it perhaps should have been cast by a more exotic-looking actor. David Jason, sadly, is a complete miss as Rincewind. This particularly bothers me since David is probably my favorite British actor; however he is just too likable to pull of a Rincewind. Someone like Rowan Atkinson channeling his Black Adder persona (but with less malice and much more cowardice) would be perfect. The thing is, you need to take pleasure in Rincewind constantly being put from one peril to the next; David's Rincewind is like a kooky old grandpa that you feel bad for when he gets thrown from a cliff, threatened or trampled on. And whenever he does something Rincewind-y (like taking off with Twoflower's gold), it actually feels out of character.

The rest of the cast is hit-or-miss. Death is horribly puppet-like - I endured him in Hogfather but here the rubber skull should really have been lees pronounced. Vetinari is on par (even though in those early Discworld novels he most probably wasn't the "Patrician", but that's fan service for you). Tim Curry overplays Trymon to the extreme, but I guess this is due to the bad direction - many characters seem to be overacting their bits probably to infuse a sense of lightness and silliness. Just check out the faces leader of the Krull makes while doing his speech; inexcusable.

However the biggest culprit is the plot. It is just too hectic, too chaotic and doesn't let the characters to develop or even establish themselves. This perhaps has a lot to with with (un)necessary exposition given by both the narrator and the characters - the plot hardly gets a chance to move along before the next bit of exposition has to get its turn.

It's not all bad however. There are some superb actors involved in this, the sets and effect look fantastic (especially for a TV movie). And even though I said Jason makes a bad Rincewind, it still is a joy to watch this fine actor doing his schtick. And it IS Pratchett, after all.

So I guess that bottom line I can give this a passing grade, but it's still a deeply disappointing venture. I hope they do "Guards! Guards!" next, and I hope they do it good.
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High Lane (2009)
2/10
Unwatchable dreck
28 December 2009
Warning: Spoilers
When I heard about some french horror situated in Croatia, I was overjoyed. Beautiful Croatian scenery combined with exciting climbing scenes coupled with a classic slasher plot line.. perfect movie for the Sunday night.

Boy, was I wrong.

First of all, yes, I knew beforehand that the movie was an utter ripoff of Descent/Wrong Turn. However I like both of those movies and am not necessarily against ripping off if it is done well - after all, it's hard to film a slasher flick and be original. Unfortunately, Vertige does it anything BUT well.

Right off the bat, we are introduced to the most unlikeable bunch of future cannon fodder you have ever seen. It doesn't help that they are as one-dimensional as possible - you have a "climber", "climber's girlfriend", a girl who is a "doctor", "doctor's hunky ex-boyfriend" and "doctor's current vertigo-ridden boyfriend". This is as far as the movie goes with characterizations. Oh, and I forgot, they are also utter morons with a survival instinct of a lobotomized dodo. It also doesn't help that the actors portraying those characters, are, well, let's say that they should perhaps try to find some other ventures in the future. Especially the vertigo guy who constantly mixes "being scared" expression with the "heavily constipated" one.

After realizing that, barring some miracle, I'm stuck with these folks for an hour and a half, I at least settled in the notion that I will be looking at some nice Risnjak scenery. Tough luck - whoever made this flick probably chose "Croatia" and "Risnjak" purely because they sound sorta exotic - the scenery doesn't look anything like Croatia's National Park of the same name - strike two.

But there's the plot, right? *Sigh*. Our gang decides to go via some "closed down" route with the "longest footbridge in Europe". By the way, Croatians have built this longest footbridge as a part of the route that goes absolutely nowhere. This is a plot point.

Once they cross the footbridge, it falls apart despite being clearly shown as made from shiny new parts and having at least five redundant safety wires. Well, that's Croatians for you, not only do they build Europe's longest footbridges to nowhere, they also create bridge support points out of legos and spit.

This is the first half of the movie, with the thrills mostly having to do with the oh-so-irritating vertigo guy hyperventilating and falling over ledges (remember, legos and spit). The second half introduces some insane Croat called Anton Zukarech (which sounds as Croatian as "John Wayne", but I digress). This guy starts killing the poor French idiots, because, uh, well, just because. And it's hard NOT to root for him because our hikers do all but tattoo "cut here" lines on their necks and bicker about who gets to bite the dust first.

The rest of the movie is mostly listening to groans and screams, watching our heroes acting like idiots some more for the plot to plod forward, witnessing painfully obvious continuity mistakes (trivia fact: in Croatia it takes ten minutes to go from midnight to high noon) and God is this movie ever going to end.. Anton, man, what's taking you so long?

After the last scene (groan), cue the final insult - the director chose to inform us that there are "3270 unexplained disappearances in the Balkans". I don't even have to check for the fact that this talentless hack pulled this number out of his ass, mostly because "Balkans" is probably the hardest geographical region to define and would hardly be used in any statistics. I guess he didn't want to anger the Croats too much and blatantly fabricate some statistical data about imaginary disappearances in Croatia itself. Too late, he already angered not just Croats but everyone else duped into seeing this dreck.

I have utterly disliked this movie. There are no scares, no thrills, there is some gore if you are into that sort of thing, but most of the time the movie is nearly unwatchable. The protagonists are paper-thin characters who are so unbelievably irritating you are actively rooting for Anton to put them out of their misery, which cannot happen soon enough. Seriously, seeing this movie through in one sitting is an exercise in masochism.

I give it a 2/10, mostly because it's short and some of the scenery is nice (although it's not Croatia but French Alps). But you are SO better off watching Descent or Wrong Turn instead. Or any other American slasher B-movie for that matter.

P.S. In the last five years, 1,457 French doctors had random flashbacks that have had nothing to do with anything whatsoever.
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Pandorum (2009)
2/10
A champion in blatant rip-offs per second
17 December 2009
If you watched the first trailer for Pandorum, and only that trailer, you might be fooled into thinking that it's a movie about a crew of a colonization starship going insane under the influence of deep space psychosis. You might also be fooled into thinking that if you chose to watch this movie, you would be in for quite an interesting experience. A scary psychological sci-fi horror/thriller.. yum.

What the trailer fails to show is that, once you decide to shell out money to watch the actual movie, you will be mostly watching said crew run away from monsters that sound like a Predator, move like Silent Hill monsters, climb walls like Aliens, look like predators from Descent only wearing armor from Quake's Stroggs, and altogether participate in the plot straight out of Event Horizon. Even the one single surprise the movie uses as its highlight is straight out stolen from a Futurama episode, although it was more probably stolen from a movie Futurama was spoofing. Rip-offs are so abundant it's not even funny. Not a single scene or plot point is original, it's like a study of how many movies can you steal stuff from and get away with it. And it would perhaps be forgivable if the movie was actually good, however Pandorum succeeds to be significantly worse than any movie it ripped off, making it a complete waste of time and money.

This is a bad, bad movie. It tanked on the box office, and rightfully so. You might enjoy it if you have never seen any SF or Horror flick ever filmed. Also, film connoisseurs could get some mileage by trying to make a list of every movie Pandorum is ripping off. Otherwise, avoid at all costs. Don't say I didn't warn you.
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3/10
Watch the first 9 episodes, then imagine your own ending
19 November 2009
I wanted to love this series, I seriously did. The cast is strong, the story is gripping and it's easy to get addicted to this gory little murder mystery.

Unfortunately somewhere around the tenth episode the series takes a sudden,huge and rather surprising turn for the worse. I will not reveal anything to avoid any spoilers but if you are still early into this show - prepare to be heavily disappointed. I'm not talking merely about the oh-so-unsatisfactory resolution; it's simply the fact that the way the characters act and how the story progresses is nothing like what you've seen up to that point, and it all becomes rather silly. If the first three quarters of the mini series are reminiscent of a gory Agatha Christie, the last quarter is Wes Craven in the midst of a dry spell.

Too bad. So much potential, so little payoff.
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The Number 23 (2007)
3/10
They could have just as well named it "number 29", or "cheese"...
22 December 2008
One would make you believe that this game is about a man obsessed with a number. And sure, it's an interesting subject - can a person become so obsessed by something marginal as a simple number that he completely loses touch with reality and becomes hopelessly delusional and paranoid?

Well, perhaps someone will make a movie about that sometime. This one unfortunately doesn't have anything to do with the above, never mind what the trailers (or even the movie itself) would like you to believe. I would like to say that this number is just a MacGuffin, but it isn't even that. It's pointless. A gimmick. A hook for unsuspecting audience.

Well what IS the movie about? A dog-catcher (Carrey) who becomes obsessed with a cheesy noir crime book because he feels it somehow reflects his own life. There. Sure, the character in the book - detective Fingerling (sigh) - is (for some reason) obsessed with number 23, and Carrey himself becomes obsessed and starts seeing the number everywhere.. but it's just padding, and totally irrelevant to the story. In fact, you can cut out all the 23 references and have the main character(s) obsess about cheese or something and you'll have the exactly same story. It is painfully obvious that all the "23" stuff was written in waay after the story was already finished, rejected and sent for "rewrites".

Which would be OK.. I guess.. if the movie wasn't dull, dull, dull. Half of the movie is narrated, for chrissakes. You aren't watching the movie, you are listening to Jim Carrey narrating the movie. About a quarter-in Carrey starts reading the book, and from then until the horribly cliché ending we are forced to watch "real-life" scenes from dog-catcher's life (where nothing happens) interspersed with narrated artsy film noir-ish "book" scenes which will either leave you snickering or just plain depressed. It's like a poor man's "Sin City" with all the violence cut out, narrated by Carrey and shown in slow-motion. Ugh.

This is a simple case of a C-movie script somehow being filmed with an A-movie cast.. probably because of the "number 23" hook which I guess sounded intriguing enough on paper to warrant the premium Hollywood treatment. However, since - as I said already - the movie is about number 23 as much as it is about cheese production in Switzerland, one cannot feel anything but cheated.

I give "Fingerling - the movie" 3 out of 10, because I guess it didn't insult my intelligence as much as "Forsaken" did or made me downright suicidal like "Battlefield Earth" did and the bottom of the scale must be reserved for abominations like those. But fear not, this is still a pretty lousy flick.
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Hancock (2008)
5/10
Well, the first half was good...
10 July 2008
  • Look, I have an idea. Let's make a Superman flick, but instead of everybody liking this Superman-like character, everyone could, like, hate him.


  • Hmm.. interesting. But why would they hate him? Is he a villain or something?


  • No, no. He is..well.. a jerk. He still catches bad guys and stuff, but he, like, insults people, creates a lot of collateral damage.. you know. A jerk.


  • I like it, I like it. He's like a superhero dr. House or something, right?


  • Right. Only less witty and more bitter. We can also make him a drunk.


  • Well... I dunno if it would fly. Perhaps if we could get Will Smith to do the role. People dig Will Smith.


  • I'm with you there. Will Smith, flying around, insulting people.. man, this will be great!


  • Right. But we have to go with it somewhere, we can't just let him do superhero stuff while being a jerk, this would get old pretty fast. How about he somehow gets involved with a PR specialist, who will, like, try to improve his public image?


  • Great idea! And wait..wait.. what if we get that Michael Bluth guy from Arrested Development to play, umm... Michael Bluth the PR guy?


-Terrific! We're seriously up to something. Let's write!

(scrib scrib scrib... hours pass..)

  • Congrats, we have a hit! Let's celebrate!


  • I'll get the champagne!


  • Umm hold on just a minute...


  • What?


  • I just realized.. this script is only good for about 45 minutes of the movie! Hour tops!


  • Oh no! What can we do? Can we pad it a little?


  • No! It's unpaddable! I even added a female lead as Michael Bluth's wife, it still only added about 5 minutes of the movie. Nope, sorry. This is a dud.


  • Oh come on...


  • Look, look..perhaps we can think of something. Think, think...how do we further the story along, put in, like, some kind of a twist...


  • They are all dead or something?


  • No, no.. how about..


(scrib scrib.. hours pass)

  • Hmmm... I don't think this will work. No chance.


  • Why?


  • Just look at it! It's stupid, insultingly illogical, and the ending.. it's horrible. Look, I've greenlighted Jaws 4, so I know what I'm talking about.


  • But, but.. Will Smith.. Bluth guy.. maybe we can get Charlize for the wife...


  • I know! But this stuff... it.. just does not make any sense! The second half is nothing like the first half. It kills the movie!


  • Yeah, perhaps we should just rewrite the whole thing..but..know what?


  • What?


  • Remember "I am legend"? With Will Smith?


  • Yeees....


  • That one also had a great first half, right?


  • Yes. The first half was good.


  • And the second half royally sucked, right?


  • Riiight...


  • And it still was a success, right?


  • I see.. what you're saying is that a Will Smith flick can have a great first half, idiotic second half and still come out a winner?


  • Exactly!


  • Well it IS kind of late and I'm kinda tired.. What gives, let's do it. Although it *does* sound kinda hancock to me. Btw, how do we call this thing?
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I Am Legend (2007)
4/10
Could they have made it even more cliché?
19 January 2008
The answer is no, no they couldn't.

Hollywood once again churns out a same old "zombie" flick, only this time you don't see a group of survivors vs the undead, you see one sole survivor, Will Smith. And his dog. Oh, and the zombies aren't really zombies, they are ex-humans infected with some sort of good virus turned very very bad. Or, to be more precise, they are actually CGI creatures resembling albino extras from Beowulf who do a pretty good velociraptor imitation.

Will Smith is somehow immune. Also, he isn't really your average Joe, he is some sort of ex-army microbiology genius. Handy, that. He desperately wants to find a cure for this virus, which is all nice and humane but ultimately doesn't make a lot of sense, since at one point it's said that 90% of the world population is already wiped out, and only 9% turned infected - and to be frank, the infected ones seem to enjoy being infected quite a bit.

After the - admittedly - nice setup, with all the scenes of decaying New York, grass growing through the pavement and herds of deer running through streets (with Smith hunting them in a flashy red sports car) the movie starts piling up one cliché after another. Let me give you an example - early on, Smith says into the camera that "canine are immune to the airborne virus but are susceptible to infection via direct contact". Note to director - foreshadowing is supposed to at least try to be subtle.

So, soon after we learn about the messy situation the world got himself into and get to meet poor old Will Smith who puts mannequins all over town and is slowly but surely beginning to lose his marbles, the movie switches gears and starts rehashing good old scary-creatures-jump-out-of-darkness shtick. Halway through the movie the plot seems to take a clever and interesting turn, but sadly the story all but ignores this bit and settles back to the routine.

I will not say anything more to avoid spoilers, but suffice to say that you can freely leave the theater after Shrek shows up. Because, hey, you already know how things will end - you've seen it at least a thousand times before.

4/10, but only because Will Smith does a pretty good performance. Oh, and the dog is cute, too.
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2/10
Awful, awful, awful
24 December 2007
What's the point of trying to figure out a whodunit movie if the movie doesn't play fair, not just by withholding crucial information, but by contradicting and faking almost every scene throughout, jerking the audience around just because, well, it can?

This movie calls itself a "psychological thriller" but the only psychological thing about it is the sheer underestimation of audience's intelligence, and pretty much all the thrills are fake. Take the infamous "frozen picture" scene for example: somehow an incriminating picture gets "frozen" on Hale Berry's computer screen while "supposed antagonist no 1" Bruce Willis approaches her. She tries in vein to turn off the power supply with her foot for about a minute, and I guess we should all be at the edge of our seat, biting nails, pulling hair and whatnot. Now, even if we forget the fact that every monitor usually has a rather convenient on/off button, the scene doesn't even make sense after we learn, well, whatever is the thing we learn afterwards. And you can apply similar logic to almost every scene right until the ending credits.

And the ending, oh boy, the ending. I wasn't this disappointed (or insulted) by a movie's resolution since "The Forgotten". And hell, even aliens or "it was all a dream" would be easier the swallow than this utter stupidity.

The whole story is just an overlong setup for a bad punchline. And the joke, I'm sad to say, is on us.
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5/10
Confusing mess, but you do get some more Jack Sparrow
30 May 2007
I remember seeing Star Wars for the first time as a 6-year old kid. I didn't get much of a plot, or anything for that matter, but I found all that swooshing and space battles and laser sword-fighting quite amusing. I did get a sense that the black helmet dude was sort of a bad guy, and all that handsome people the good ones, but that was more or less it.

So I gotta hand one thing to Pirates 3 - they really made me feel like that kid again. I was sitting in the movie theater, enjoying all that fancy sword fights, chases, explosions, storms and whatnot and 95% of the time I absolutely had no idea what the heck was going on.

Let's face it - Pirates 3 is a confusing mess. In fact, Pirates Trilogy is a confusing mess. The first movie was great as a standalone, but further down the road the plot became twisted, mangled, doubled over and tied to a triple Gordian knot. I suppose not even the script writers know what they want to say - every character seems to have his own motivations not even known to them completely, everybody double-crosses everybody, mystical objects, rules and characters get suddenly introduced, expanded and more often then not totally contradicted... as I said, in one word - mess.

Pirates trilogy could really work great as a party game - watch all the movies, divide in teams and every team should try to explain the storyline and fill out all the whos and whats and whys. Fun for the whole family.

Did I enjoy Pirates 3? Sure I was. Johnny Depp as Jack Sparrow is always a joy to behold and Geoffrey Rush as Barbossa is probably the most swashbuckly arrr-talkingly pirate character ever put on screen. Bill Nighy squeezes out the most out of his quite one-dimensional character. The special effects are great and the piratey theme is spot on. Soundtrack is also proverbially good. There are quite a few jokes that do work. The movie passes by quickly, despite it's almost three hour duration.

But I cannot help but wonder whether the same characters could have been used in much more down-to-earth situations, in some less extravagant and more understandable plots where they could develop more naturally instead of using them just as convenient placeholders for whatever the relentless plot requires next.

Pirates could have been a great serial, but it seriously failed the expectations. Good casting is the only thing now that saves it from being downright tiresome. I'm not saying you should not watch this, you definitely should, it is essentially good old Hollywood popcorn cinema - just don't expect too much, and leave your brain at home. Savvy?
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Spider-Man 3 (2007)
6/10
Rushed and half-baked
9 May 2007
This is what happens when you want to cram a bit too much of a plot in too little time.

Spiderman 3 tries to get it all. A love triangle, a family drama, a dark alter-ego story and not one, not two, but THREE major villains. And all that in just over two hours.

Does it work? Well, yes and no. More no then yes, actually.

For me the whole movie seems rushed. Everything happens as quickly as possible to make room for some more things to happen. Relationships between characters change and re-change every five minutes, good guys go bad, bad guys go good... it's basically all a big mess. The action scenes are good, but I must say that by this time I am a bit dumbed down to spectacular CGI action sequences. Gone are the days when one minute of T-Rex roaring into camera made my day - now I want a good story to go with my jumping, exploding, punching and swinging stuff.

Peter Parker got it worst this time around. One minute he's happy, then depressed, then a bit too full of himself, angry, then cocky, then back to sad again... it's all bit irritating, really. Mary Jane is stripped down to a clichéd "girlfriend who feels neglected" character. The Green goblin story basically repeats itself. Sandman is neither here or there - this guy needs psychoteraphy, not superhero clashes. (Note to Sandman: make up your mind already!) And Venom is just tacked on - the black suit story should really have carried on to the next installment instead of getting a ham-fisted treatment.

Is the movie bad? Well, not entirely, you still get your proverbially entertaining Spidey action sequences, and some of the effects are really good. But it all seems.. lacking somehow. One of the true reasons Spiderman was so well accepted as a character was his human side, but the characters in this movie are not human in any aspect, and I'm not really talking about their superhero mutations. They are victims of a relentless plot, which throws them, twists them and turns and leaves them gasping for air. It's hard to sympathize with protagonists who aren't really sure themselves if they are heroes, villains or just plain confused.

And that's it. Just my 2 cents.
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Invasion (2005–2006)
9/10
Slow start and lousy schedule kill the show quite nicely
25 January 2007
Invasion. What a strange bird it is.

The first few episodes were abysmal. The pilot seemed like a B-movie drama flick about two dysfunctional families in a hurricane (not shown on screen), with some silly dreamy special effects about a bunch of lights falling into the water. Two episodes after, even though the show's name was "Invasion", there was no indication we will see any sign of any invading at all. Just those two same families, and some extremely subtle hints that something was off.

At that point I was halfway to give up on the show, and the only thing that kept me by the screen was that the show was airing at the perfect time (sunday evening) when I usually had absolutely nothing to do, and all the other channels had nothing better.

Then somewhere around the 9th episode, things suddenly got rolling. The plot was thickening, there was less fiddling around, some questions were answered (and quite satisfactorily too!) and they even managed to put in some real suspense. Fast forward a few more episodes and I was hooked (I think the exact moment was when a certain character cut his own arm with a chainsaw :) ).

Anyway, my renewed interest got me doing a little research on the web about the show, and subsequently finding out it is getting canceled. To be more precise, it was already canceled quite some time ago, and there was no chance in hell it was coming back. Heh, I should have given up on it when I had a chance.

Who to blame? The show? The network? I think a little bit of both. Frankly, the series really wasn't that good when it started (in an inevitable comparison with Lost, which gripped you firmly from the start and didn't give a slightest intention to let you go easily). And when you do a serialized show, those few episodes is what REALLY matters. But if you lost your chance to attract some major viewers initially, and the network rewards you with lousy schedule, the show is doomed.

Too bad. It could have been good. No, scratch that, Invasion could have been GREAT. Anyway, now we'll never know.
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4/10
A children's movie for grownups. Sorta.
18 October 2006
We all know those movies.

You know the ones. Ugly duckling with huge glasses and pony tail ends up prom queen, boy's sick horse gets better against all odds and wins the race, young poor girl dreams of being an actress and finally joins the army to kill some alien bugs. As kids we all loved those, because everything turned out great in the end and all the wishes came true (except the alien bugs one, but we'll let that one slide).

"Devil wears Prada" wants to recapture the spirit of those movies and wraps it up in a nice little adult package. No, not "adult" like that. Adult as in "I know what/who Prada, Dolce&Gabbana and Hugo Boss are". As a matter of fact, a few "adult" things wouldn't hurt this movie, since even though there are gorgeous women aplenty, the sexiest scene involves a lacy bra which was probably considered raunchy and daring in late 1930s.

Anyway, getting back on subject. So this is basically a kid's flick. Does it work? For some people, yes. If you are a person who enjoys fashion, watching gorgeous people wearing pretty and expensive clothes and like your movies to be pure light entertainment choke full of good old clichés, man, you'll have a blast watching "Devil wears Prada".

For the more demanding audience, the movie will most likely serve as an equivalent of a coffee break - you enjoy it, there isn't really anything bad about the entire experience yet you couldn't call it a high point of your day nor will there be anything to remember about it in the next week. Or, more probably, in the next hour. You'd be more inclined to spend some serious dough on some designer stuff you don't really need, so beware.

In the end, this is just a children's movie wrapped up in the grown-up package, but the package is very transparent and the toy inside is the one we all played a little bit too much with. Lassie came home, Snow White woke up, Red Riding Hood didn't get eaten up by the Big Bad Wolf and our little Andy Sachs who dreamed of becoming a journalist... well, I wouldn't dream of spoiling this for you. Small hint, though: no alien bugs will be hurt in this movie.

4/10, mostly because I saw this too many times already
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4/10
Now you've done it, Shymalan
13 October 2006
Ever since 6th sense, I was a peculiar type of Shyamalan fan. The sense was terrific, one of the best movies I've seen. Unbreakable was, meh, enjoyable. The Signs were stupid, but there I was, defending it, because I liked the atmosphere and it's overall message was kind of nice. The Village, bashed by almost everyone, actually appealed to me. I defended it hither and tother whenever anybody attacked it as being silly and convoluted and disappointing.

But now Shyamalan, oh my.. now you've done it.

"Lady in Water" is kind of a fairy tale. I say "kind of" because even fairy tales have some bit of logic and consistency in them and they are usually about stuff you can agree with, like witches, dragons and whatnot. "Lady in Water" doesn't have any logic or consistency, and deals with stuff like watery beings which are not human but actually are, with wolves made out of grass and monkeys made out of branches and let's not forget the all-time crowd pleaser, mr. giant eagle. It makes up rules and situations and drawn-out explanations as to how this things relate to each other. The rules get changed every second minute or so, and some new stuff is added, but it's all OK since A)it is all explained buy an old Korean lady and B)it involves some exotic words like "Tatutik" and.... I dunno, like I'm gonna bother remembering some crappy made up words.

So anyway, there's this apartment complex, see, and a watery nymph or something must get out of the pool to serve as a muse for some writer (Shymalan himself) who will write The Most Important Book In The World, also known as "Cookbook". But some grassy wolves want to kill her. Or not, since there are some rules. But this actual one will, because he's a rogue grassy wolf and he doesn't care about the rules. He's the Dirty Harry amongst grassy wolves. But wait, things are not as simple as they seem. Apparently, this particular nymph is not just A nymph, but a special type of supernymph or something, and being a supernymph gets you nice little perks like being attacked by grassy wolves even when they shouldn't. Luckily there are branch monkey to sort things out, occasionally. These monkeys maybe exist, maybe not, because, you see, no one has ever seen them. Unlike grassy wolves and supernymphs, which pop up all the time and are pretty common stuff I guess.

Following all this? Hey, wake up!! Well then. Moving along. A stuttery janitor helps the muse by searching for the writer. But that's just level 1. For his next task he must find the Guild, Puzzle Man, Healer, Guardian and.. oh, come the *beep* on, does this make ANY sense to you? At all?

The movie is based on made-up story by Shyamalan who told it to his daughter. And it feels like a made-up story, the one you tell to your child, you make up things along the way, contradict yourself a few dozen times, forget what you were talking about and then put in a dragon or monkey or grassy wolf named Goopydagoogooflick to make up for it... yes, it's all nice and parently, but that just isn't cinematic material! Come on, Shymalan, what are you taking us for?

Why don't I give this movie the worst possible grade? Well, it's not ALL that bad. There are some interesting characters here and there. Acting is quite nice. A few jokes work. And some pretty rare suspense scenes are terrific. But all in all it's a major disappointment.

I'm not a Shyamalan fan anymore. I'm kinda embarrassed I ever was. This movie spits on every sentence I said in his defense. Shame on you Shyamalan. Stop making movies like this. Write a cookbook or something, instead.
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Miami Vice (2006)
8/10
Good down-to-earth action movie
8 September 2006
I'm reading all the bad comments here and I cannot believe these are about the same movie I watched yesterday. The only reason I see is that the majority of those are from mindless action-deprived teenagers who expected a video-game like run-and-gun action movie like MI2 or something. There's so many of those "too much talking", "dull and boring" and similar complaints. What's even more perplexing is that teenagers shouldn't be this movie's first choice of target audience - hey, it's "Miami Vice", people who enjoyed this TV show are now late 20's, early 30's, and they should enjoy a more down-to-earth approach.

That said, I must say I really enjoyed Miami Vice. Sure it has almost othing to do with the series, but as respectful as I am of the TV show, it was such an iconic 80's thing you really couldn't recreate it truthfully any more. Pastel suits, 5-minute synth-music interludes... it just wouldn't work.

So Mann did the best thing he could. He stripped "Vice" to the basics - two vice detectives trying to bust a drug-smuggling operation, some flashy cars and speedboats, good soundtrack. This is where all similarities stop. The rest is a gritty, down-to-earth movie with more talk then action. I find this a good thing. I don't need my main character jumping from two trains, five helicopters and a few buildings in the space of 15 minutes, then dusting off and saying a witty remark. I like movies that at least try to be realistic.

I can see the movie is not for everyone. Not enough action. Dangling sub-plots. Talk, talk, talk. Characterization. Confusing and hectic shoot-out scenes. No snapping remarks. No comic reliefs. Explosions and bullets actually kill people. Boy, you can find so much wrong with this movie.

Anyway, I enjoyed it. It was a nice break from the usual Hollywood crap-o-rama, it hit my nostalgic note a bit and it kept my attention with an actual plot, not a string of action-scenes tied together with flimsy story-line. My recommendations.

8/10
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6/10
Amusing, but weak
14 August 2006
Dead man's chest chooses a very risky road many sequels go for - take what worked in the original and move it up a notch. More is better, and yet more is even more better. Unfortunately, the action-packed plot-heavy movies don't leave enough room for the characters.

While I enjoyed the light adventurous atmosphere of "The curse", "Dead man's chest" with all it's frantic tempo felt like a big mess. Plot moves at relentless speed never pausing to take a breath, one action scene follows another but surprisingly instead of taking me into its grip and not letting go it resulted in boredom. Sure I laughed at some jokes and enjoyed the action here and there but mostly I felt like I'm watching a rushed imitation of something cool. The whole experience was like eating a re-heated gourmet meal - all the right ingredients are there yet it doesn't taste quite the same, and you want to enjoy it but find yourself in constant desire to spit out the chewy cold bits. OK, getting a bit carried away with food metaphors there, but you catch my drift.

Perhaps the thing I really didn't like is how "Pirates 2" more often misses then it hits the mark. Take the fruit ke-bob bit for example. Funny? Yes, but when Wile E. Coyote does it, for Johnny Depp it is quite embarrassing. Or how about the fact that the monster can sink a ship in a millisecond when only the extras are on board, yet conveniently takes a much more leisurely pace when our heroes happen to sail on it. Twice, for that matter. Or what the hell was with all that hatcheting and murdering? All the sword fights are basically bloodless yet prisoners freely get their throats cut and butchered up with axes? Am I the only one seeing something wrong with that picture? Or the small fact that the movie is not in any way self standing, but basically provides a convenient set-up for Pirates 3. Want to see how it turns out? Pay up, chum! They didn't even try to put up any kind of closure, you only have a weak twist (heavily advertised before the premiere so hardly a twist at all), a mid-scene cut and yay here go the credits. Cheap, cheap gimmick.

Anyway, I cannot say I didn't have fun with this flick, but remembering how overjoyed I was with the first one the sequel just left me with a "eh" feeling. Not bad, but hardly deserving it's current reputation.

6/10 - Disney, be thankful you got Depp, without him this would hardly be a 3-.
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Derailed (I) (2005)
6/10
Not bad, but too predictable
19 July 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Don't you just hate when you see the opening act of the movie and are pretty sure you know how it will play out? And don't you hate even more when it turns out you're right?

"Derailed" is much like that. Clive Owen plays a man trapped in a marriage where all romance faded into daily care of an almost terminally sick daughter. Anyway, he meets a stranger on a train (Anniston), falls for her and decides he's in the mood for a little affair. Things go horribly wrong when in the middle of hanky panky a french guy bursts in, beats the crap out of poor Owen and rapes Anniston. But the fun ain't over yet as it turns out, since the french guy starts to blackmail Owen for all the money he's got. Money he and his wife saved for some "new" cure that will 99% help his daughter.

The movie plays its cards well, but as I said, it's just a bit too predictable to be truly enjoyable. For instance, when the french guy kidnaps Anniston instead of a more logical choice of Owen's wife or child, wouldn't you find it a bit too convenient? Or how about the "accidental" stopping of the cab? Or even a dead give-away with Annistons opening speech? I don't know how the writer of the novel the movie is based on handled this, but the movie made sure to write in big letters "JENNIFER ANNISTON IS IN ON IT" from the very start.

But knowing that fact is not the only thing that bothered me. The other big thing is, of course, the fact that the money Owen loses is meant for his child's recovery. You simply know he is going to get it back, since no recent Hollywood movie could be THAT sadistic to let a sick child die. So what do we do? Why, we bring that good old deus ex machina and leave it whirling and clanking for the better part of the movie's final act. By the end you will be rolling your eyes in disbelief and longing for the good old days of the first half of the movie, where things were still a bit realistic and at least kind of surprising.

All in all, this is not a bad movie. Hey, perhaps you didn't see some stuff coming, so it might have worked even better for you. Me, I would have loved if the second half got heavily rewritten, and some REAL twists and surprises were included. Hey, I would have even settled for the ambiguous ending if the movie cut a minute or two before the final resolution. At least I would get some shock value out of it, instead of leaving the theater with good old moldy happy ending aftertaste.
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3/10
S.K., you have enough money, please stop them from making more movie adaptations
5 June 2006
I'm a Stephen King fan. Not a die-hard fan, I read his late works more out of respect than enjoyment, but I must admit he can weave a storyline when he wants to.

That's why I always cringe when I hear there is another King adaptation. It's always a very ugly experience for me. Not only am I barely standing watching it, I am also embarrassed that I actually liked the very story the usually atrocious movie is based on.

So here comes "Riding the bullet", the movie based on a story I rather enjoyed. I wasn't even expecting it, a friend brought it from a video store for the bunch of us to watch.

Need I continue? Again, since my friends know I have S.K. book collection and had read and liked the story, the experience was as close to embarrassment as walking in naked on grandma's 90th birthday. I found myself constantly explaining that "this was not in the book" and almost apologizing for how bad it was.

Why was it so bad? Where should I start? The main character in the book was a normal kid, a guy you can identify with. In the movie he is a death-obsessed freak who regularly talks with himself. But not the usual way, mind you, his other self makes a habit of walking up to him and disappearing in puff of smoke. Basically the whole introduction - which is, of course, "not in the book" - serves only to make him more dislikable. He likes to draw monsters and has hallucinations of shoddy Death creature with heavy-metal background music (oh, the movie is set in 1969 by the way, so good choice with the score, guys!). He whines and self-pities himself and is basically a jerk. But we're stuck with him for 2 hours, oh joy and happiness.

So, anyway, this moaning creep's mother gets sick and he goes on a trip to see her. On this trip a bunch of animals get roadkilled, he talks to himself and some other non-existing folks a lot and at some time David Arquette turns up and pretends he is scary. By the end, I was just waiting for the torture to be over. And it was a long wait.

I tried reading the story again yesterday. I couldn't. The whining freak permanently replaced the original guy. And boy, do I want to forget that face.

Thanks a lot guys. And please make more King adaptations, I can't wait.
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