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The Perfection (2018)
Too sick and subtle as a brick
This movie steers into interesting territory covered in films like Black Swan, obsession with perfection, the disciplined, somber life of those dedicated to the classical arts, how crazy competition can be, the dark side of the American Dream and all that. But the film, while first serving up a high brow ambience through classical music and fancy upper class settings, ultimately just feels like a stack of cheap burgers with too much fat, on a stomach that was hoping for something a lot more nutritious.
It just keeps throwing one crazy (and rather lazy) twist at you after another with little conviction and makes less and less sense. First we get to see a lesbian fling. We don't really get to know the characters all that well and it doesn't take long before they just get it on, but OK. At this point the film is still fairly enjoyable because it can still go anywhere. Then there is the virus...a bit confusing, suddenly you think this is a virus film. Then a hand gets chopped off...and after that it just gets more and more sick at the expense of believability. It throws heavy subject matter at you, about a master-apprentice relationship with sexual abuse, but deals with it in such a tasteless and crude way that you can't really care. And the forgiveness granted here to a psychopathic girl that just ruined another girl's entire life is just laughable. Even if these girls want to stay in their abusive relationship, an eye for an eye to settle the score first would make more sense (or should I say hand for a hand). And the rape scene with the stump was just too much.
Really, this could have been a great film if it hadn't derailed into gory territory. Don't get me wrong, I like gore in certain films, but here it just didn't fit. It should have focused more on a psychologically abusive master-apprentice relationship rather than dive mindlessly some a run of the mill me-too perversion. It's just crappy and distasteful writing, as if a number of heavy, serious topics found itself in the wrong type of movie.
The ending has almost one redeeming quality: The Chromatics covering Petals...but it just doesn't fit into the film either!
Rôdosu-tô senki (1990)
Charming to the last!
Escapism at it's best, this is by far my favorite anime. It is different than others I've enjoyed because it's a little less serious or pretentious and a bit simpler but still somehow more touching because of it's unrelenting charm. The characters are irresistible, most notably the cute and often giggling High Elf Deedlit, as beautiful as she's skilled in mastering the elemental forces of nature. She is attracted to the young wannabe knight Parn who often crosses the line between bravery and foolishness and is rather oblivious to Deed's affections, which is good for some comic relief. Parn and Deedlit are what make the show, but the supporting characters are wonderful as well. Such as the Dwarf Ghim, in name not very different from Lord Of The Rings's Gimli, but he actually has a more interesting backstory. Woodchuck is your typical thieving scoundrel, Slayn a mysterious and wise wizard that is way cooler than Gandalf ever could be. Etoh is a noble cleric, a typical healer and a fine character as well but he doesn't get enough to do. A minor gripe because clearly the characters form a solid foundation and are what make a Lodoss great series.
The story was based on game sessions of the famous board game, Dungeons & Dragons. Don't worry, because writer Ryo Mizuno must have been a great Dungeon Master, the plot is thoroughly enjoyable and has anything you could want in a classical fantasy story: magic, a witch, Orcs, ancient Dragons, a Dark and a High Elf, you name it. The only character I missed in the party was an archer. There's a good balance between action and dialog.
The story can be confusing at times, out of order chronologically or raise the wrong expectations, because certain plot points get brushed over too quickly or just plain skipped. But mostly I would just feel for these characters, with their adventures and their flaws and I often couldn't wait to see what would happen next. Ultimately it's a story about the balance between light and darkness, the battle between good and evil, but this simplicity didn't bother me at all, it's just part of it's old fashioned charm.
The music is what truly makes the show magical: the soundtrack is sublime. It's mostly a wonderful classical score but at the beginning and end of each show there is some J-Pop which will grow on you as well.
The anime is beautifully drawn. Clearly there are the typical tricks to reduce animation work and the show could have been superior with a bigger budget. But with what little they had, they did extremely well. The colors and facial expressions are always spot on and the world of Lodoss and it's inhabitants is a joy to watch.
The English dub is very good. Personally I always prefer English dubs over the Japanese ones because I just can't stand it if the male and female voices are about 4 octaves apart from each other. But this anime is particularly known to have an above average English dub with pretty good voice work. It's worth it for Deedlit's giggling alone!
Occasionally a little bloody, this may not be suitable for all kids. But Lodoss is timeless fun, incredibly charming and a classic to watch again and again from time to time. I'd be hungry for many, many more episodes but unfortunately they don't make them like this anymore...
Stranger Things (2016)
Second season delivers again!
Great show where everything is done right: casting, music, writing and visuals. The most eye-catching performance in the first season is a superb Winona Ryder, the second season doesn't have any particular star but introduces some interesting newcomers. The show is chock full of flashbacks to the 80s and not just because it takes place in 1984 but often winks to sci fi classics from the 80s via movie posters, toys (of course, everybody has the Star Wars Kenner toys) dialog references, little TV fragments (The Thing) and what not.
The small town setting, which much attention to the personal woes of it's locals, is reminiscent of Stephen King but the focus on it's nerd kids screams Stephen Spielberg louder than E.T. could phone home. It's horror concept of the Upside Down parallel world and it's monsters is very H.P. Lovecraftian. And it's depiction of high school problems is very John Hughes.
This is where the criticism comes in: it's very derivative and constantly points out things from the 80s that you loved, or loved to hate, to get that sense of familiarity. For instance, the second season shows the Dragons Lair Arcade game infamous for it's excruciating difficulty and Terminator running in the theaters. You constantly get that tap on the shoulder: "hey, you liked that though back in the day, didn't you?" But if the answer is: hell yes you bet I did"", then there's no problem really.
While it would have never been made without the inspiration of many 80s sci fi and horror classics, Stranger Things has enough strength on it's own and has proved with it's second season there's more, much more where this came from. While the first season was too reminiscent of E.T., this second season went into new and interesting directions. Can't wait till the 3rd comes!
Disappointingly superficial and irrelevant
Mostly highlighting Jonathan's journey throughout the US visiting all sorts of from nerdy subcultures, it's clear that he's putting way too much content in the movie and as a consequence can only touch upon it very superficially. Many topics are only discussed for about half a minute and then he already moves on. His documentary is sadly exactly like the MTV consumer culture he despises and from which nerds try to escape.
On top of this, Jonathan displays a rather average, mediocre sense of humor and keeps nagging about his pet peeve, capitalism, without ever disclosing why he has such a problem with it and he never bothers to come up with a remotely interesting alternative.
It would have been better to make a series to give each but also to cut out some less relevant topics which have absolutely nothing to do with nerd or counter culture. You get some nice music choices and some nice nerd trivia but it's not enough to make it worth the watch.
Big Little Lies (2017)
Sharp, funny, highly entertaining motherly crises
This was an an excellent show, I don't normally watch this type of show (except Desperate Housewives back in the day) but with this type of wit I can't put it down. I kept watching the whole series within one weekend, it was very addictive. If you like to watch a well written satirical view on the lies underneath the seemingly picture perfect lives in Suburbia, like in American Beauty and Desperate Housewives, you just may like this.
It's not a pure comedy but there's plenty of hilarious dialog and situations. Some may feel women are being ridiculed and parodied too much, not portrayed realistically and yes the show exaggerates, but it wouldn't be so painfully funny if there wasn't at least some truth to the daily war zone these mothers create for each other (and then there's of course the marital problems as well).
The show is not too predictable and keeps you guessing who got killed in the end. It features accomplished Hollywood actresses that have all earned their stripes: Witherspoon, Kidman, Woodley. They don't let down here. The male actors are less known but equally excellent.
The way of filming and structuring is also fresh. HBO drama at it's finest.
Art School Confidential (2006)
Underrated satire of the art world
There's something that makes me keep coming back to this film, just like Ghost World. And I keep noticing new details. There's a lot of mature observations in it that are sometimes borderline misogynist but too realistic to be called cynical.
At it's worst, it spews cliché but at it's best it provides a red pill to put your feet on the ground while being funny, satirical, quick, quirky and spot on.
I disagree with the criticism that it unsuccessfully attempts to mix crude college humor with a murder mystery. The crude humor is there but not to make you laugh necessarily, but to reveal vacuousness and ulterior sex-driven motives in the art world. The murder mystery serves to ultimately bring a profound message on how the world works, how much being a great artist has to do with being successful and how real love and happiness can be just out of reach.
I also think Max Minghella is great with his brooding eyes. The hatred for his character is unjustified, he has a great talent for drawing, is ambitious and understandably despises the second-handers and freeloaders around him.
Nice little soundtrack, sparsely dosed, finishes it. Why aren't there more Clowes/Zwigoff movies?
Mediocre show. If you loved Dead Like Me, you will love this.
This is sort of an OK show. There are continuous attempts at quirky, sharp dialogues with a mediocre success rate. But the cast is good and at least it's trying to be something different.
Just like in Dead Like Me there's a sarcastic underachieving girl. In Dead Like Me she has to help people cope with their own death. In this show she gets assignments from little statues to cause small but important changes in the lives of people so that they accidentally improve it.
This formula gets really old from the second episode on. It usually involves people accidentally meeting the love of their life through a twist of fate, instantly falling in love. This takes away all the intelligence the show has at moments and kind of puts it in a routine, dull, though slightly less sugarcoated Amelie (that French film) mode, the main character trying to be a do-good-er.
There's also a tendency to put characters into awkward situations but it's equally cheap and formulaic.
I watched two episodes but already felt I knew how each episode was going to be. Disappointingy this show is not about real life (even Dead Like Me, as overrated as it was, seemed to do a better job at that) and ultimately it's as dull-minded and preaching as the average young adult drama series although it so desperately tries not to be. Every single person in the show has a soulmate somewhere that's always within reach and when that person is met, through a twist of fate, there's instant magic. I was hoping this would be a show that would ridicule that sort of cheap lie, the way a lot of Woody Allen films do, showing the randomness of life, but instead there seems to be a genuine belief in fortune cookie and tile wisdoms, the type of thing that you would find in the kitschy souvenir shop that the main character works in.
The Dark Knight (2008)
Nothing special: don't believe the hype!
TDK was a passable film, worth a single watch, nothing more. If you'd start to ask the Nolan fanboys what they really, really liked, you get answers like:
-Well, it was dark! -Heath Ledger was brilliant! -It was realistic! -It's a Christopher Nolan film!
In reality, in all of these aspects, the movie is a joke. It's an OK film in plenty of aspects, but in the departments it receives it's high praise it's completely undeserved.
TDK never gets truly dark. Batman never kills, he's never morally grey. Yes, The Joker is a real psycho. Woopty-doo.
Heath Ledger had a nice sound effect on his voice, created in the studio, makeup did the rest. It was not THAT special.
Many plot holes have already been pointed out, it's not a realistic film. But what's awful is that it pretends to be. Realism cannot be the primary goal for films about the fantastic, or it may get too boring.
Nolan has made far more interesting films and while he's a fan of the Bat, he's not cut out to make superhero films at all. His Gotham City looks bland, boring and devoid of personality. He's not much of a visual story teller, his talent lies in playing around with inventive concepts and plot twists.
He always casts the same people too, which is really boring and cowardly. Would be nice to see more new faces there's plenty of talent out there. Tim Burton makes the same mistake but at least he made a more colourful Gotham City.
Iron Man (2008)
Satisfying from start to finish!
One of the best superhero films, if not the best. After a second watch, I realized how good it was and how much better than so many others.
Good and quirky dialog, never a dull moment, well dosed action scenes with enough suspense and sense of danger. Great fun. The characters' motivations are always clear and believability never went below the expected minimum. Action scenes are very well filmed, efficient and never with the usual cheap fast cuts. The villain simply works because it's someone seemingly much more powerful, plus a treacherous man you just love to hate. And our protagonist has much-needed weaknesses: he's only human, and a bomb shrapnel close to his heart.
The film looks and sounds great overall. Every character, including Jarvis, adds value and has an important function for the story and the entire casting is just sublime, with Downey's star shining the brightest. He even manages to make you care about a selfish billionaire playboy before he transcends himself.
I can't put this film down. It still serves as a benchmark for all other Marvel productions that have come out since and none have achieved it's level, though some have come very close (Winter Soldier). But I guess there's truly nothing like a good origins story! After 8 years, this film is still as awesome as ever.
The Congress (2013)
Weird but underrated
This film gets an average score of 6,5 out of 10, it seems like a score you'd give to your average, passable flick with average (=little) imagination. I'd give it a 7,5 at least. I didn't know what to expect at all and was in for a surprisingly odd visual treat that looks mostly like an animated dream.
I'm not sure I want to re-watch this film again (I might get a headache), it was quite something to ingest. There's also a lot there to think about and not everything makes sense. Nor did it have to as the film chose to display a dream world mostly.
The transitions between animated and live action are horrible, non-existent even. Also, the motivations (why does Robin escape to the dream world in a fancy car) are not always clear, neither is it always clear what's going on.
Juggling with too many ideas, it's not consistently sticking to a core concept. I feel like I watched 2 movies. One like S1mone, but more serious. The other, more like an animated Being John Malkovich, less quirky but more poetic and equally self- referential (there's references to Robin Wright's actual acting career, she plays herself...).
I could live with all it's flaws, because it was quite an intriguing film. I still give it a high score because it's concepts interested me and I think you have to see it also as a work of art to behold, not necessarily to comprehend. It's so different from the usual film, even if you watch (partially) animated films. The animation is the highlight of the film.
I watched Planete Sauvage (trippy 1973 animation) a week ago and found this one equally stimulating for my brain as it feels expanded. Hadn't seen something like this since Paprika and this had more substance to boot even though it didn't focus and flesh it's ideas out enough. It was a bold attempt nonetheless.
La planète sauvage (1973)
And now for something completely different...
The animation has been compared a lot of Terry Gilliam's animations from Monty Python. But I found the visuals here more interesting and original rather than disturbing with what I mostly remember were bad and distasteful visual puns.
Not saying this film is on par with Gilliam's work as a film director. It's better than Tideland though...
The animations were made with a low budget and rather static but do what they're supposed to do with only one part that is too repetitive (with the cannons). Imaginative design makes up for sometimes crudely drawn characters. The drawing style has a certain old-fashioned quality to it at times, as if you're watching an illustrated children's bible (but with some boob hanging out here and there and some violence that could give some kids nightmares). Beware, it's an adult film.
You won't find another movie like this anywhere and I can recommend this trippy, laid back psychedelic experience. It's mind-expanding without the need for substance abuse!
This film was OK. Often slow and understated, it looked good and had some mystery to it because of the main character.
Unfortunately he gets less and less believable. He's not just a great driver but also an excellent stuntman. Oh and he's also a natural born mechanic. Oh and he can take out any random mafioso muscle with his bare hands and knows how to quickly grab any handgun or rifle they're carrying, as well as easily grab their knives out of their hands, even when just stabbed and heavily bleeding....
Refn's films had a reputation for dreaminess, don't look for realism in this picture. But I did emotionally connect with the neighbours of the protagonist like he did himself. Plus there's a nice atmosphere, nice synth soundtrack but it doesn't fit too well with the brutally violent crime story narrative.
After having watched part of Neon Demon I felt this film would hold my attention for longer and it did with some shock moments but it was rather those of the cheap kind and certainly not cinematic splendor.
But mostly the film does what it was probably intended to do, to keep you on the edge of your seat at least a little bit like a decent crime thriller, rather than all sorts of raving about the next cinematic masterpiece. If only it had more suspense, a lot of things just went way too easy for the protagonist as if he had been killing bad guys all his life.
The acting lifts it above average
Interesting commentary on the damage done by loose morals developed from the late 60s. From the selfishness of hippie moms to sex crazed men going to special resorts under the pretense of spiritual enlightenment, only to get laid. The sexual "liberation" of the late 60s only led to selfishness and loneliness.
Outstanding acting, particularly Bleibtreu and Potente did a great job.
Also, the film provides a guilty pleasure as you can take a peek into how things work at various sex parties, it seemed quite realistic.
While depressing at times the film can also be absolutely hilarious, at the same time. This can be accredited to Houellebecq who I've become more and more interested in.
That said the movie is flawed, it feels unbalanced and missing too much. I was already interested in reading the novel and I definitely felt there were too many things left out, for instance I never saw the apparent marriage of Bruno. The film is quite rushed and ends rather abruptly. The scientific part also clearly played a second violin and didn't make much sense, as the subject of cloning and making a new human was too superficially touched upon.
All in all a good way to spend 100 minutes if you are interested in a confronting view on the depressing inheritance the sexual revolution has left for us.
In the Company of Men (1997)
Grossly overrated, not shocking, controversial or emotionally engaging in any other way
I felt cheated when watching this film because the comments were so promising, it was sure not to leave me unmoved while in the end that was all it did...
The minimalist low budget style with very little music and only the 2 friends chattering filling up the entire movie made it a rather dull experience. This film is as interesting at times as listening to your colleague nagging about his pension or car insurance.
Yes it's a sick plan these 2 guys agree on. And while I do get their anger towards women I don't get how their "revenge" would work if done against somebody (seemingly, but not all that) innocent. But of course the film is by that point not showing the real game that is being played.
People should not treat the given plot line, random victim being chosen to be hurt by cynical men, as shocking or controversial...it's been done before and in more convincing ways. Watch Cruel Intentions or Dangerous Liaisons for viewing a more emotionally engaging manipulation story. Those films are not perfect but far more entertaining.
I read about this film when reading comments about a much better film, "Extension du domaine de la lutte", based on a Houellebecq novel. It had a lot more heart and soul than this waste of time, there is simply no value in this movie that can make me recommend it. No new insights, no deep feelings, nothing impressive. Don't believe the hype about this film.
Hitting where it hurts: bleak philosophy and dry black humor
Although very different, this is the type of film you may like if you appreciated Ghost World. The world is shown from an outsider's view who can't connect with people. It may not be on the same quality level and it has some freaky and disturbing shots at times but more often than not it hits right on the nail very firmly.
Some things depicted are grossly outdated even for a 1999 film like some of the clothing and the porn cinema. There are some brief pornographic images that could disturb some viewers. They didn't really bother me but seemed unnecessary although sex is an important topic of the film. It portrays life as a struggle that the main character refuses to waste his energy on. One is the masculine struggle for economical importance and dominance. The other is where the females have the power: sex. The gap between the haves and have-nots is much much bigger in the second department if you ask me (at least in western society) but there is an analogy between the two: they are both markets and humans have become products themselves in almost every way. It makes it hard to understand how people can stand life anymore. The main character is called "our hero" but the real hero is revealed in the end, struggling until the end, trying to make the best of it while the protagonist has given up on life.
Some things were disturbing, like when the protagonist recommends his colleague to kill a woman with a knife. It's not really convincing but explained as a way to gain power which is all what life seems to be about. Here, the characters become too much of a vehicle to carry ideas rather than real people. But mostly, the film is pretty real.
The female psychologist at the end also disturbed me, apparently she thought everybody who has no sex should either change that quickly or commit suicide, or at least has to stay absolutely miserable, as if nothing else matters in life than sex. If she applied her philosophy worldwide she'd be a mass murderer (for causing many suicides). Her beliefs might be more depressing than this film which is mostly funny in the first half and gets bleaker and sadder in the second, where tears get harder to suppress. The movie moved me in both ways and is good for that reason but also the sharp and keen insights on how the world worked...really I saw so many truths in this film, mostly the ones that were told by the main character. While he's clearly depressed his views are unfortunately too crystal clear and true for the film to be comfortable to watch. It hits you where it hurts which is exactly the intent of the writer Michel Houellebecq.
The main defect of the film is the reliance on voice overs. However the medium does add value by depicting precisely how things work in a discotheque for instance, or how things at work can be. There is also this dry humor at times that has to be timed, something that cannot be done in a book. Some typically French things also made me crack up, like waiting half a minute before nodding to the "garcon" that the wine is acceptable.
You will not relate to this movie if your (sex) life is fantastic and perfect and you don't understand depressed people or don't care about philosophy or psychology. Otherwise you have to see this movie!
There is a slight hint of optimism at the end as usual in Houellebecq's stories. It's just too bad I don't really love dancing!
Darker, action packed sequel that feels like a closer
This is not a disappointing sequel for me, I haven't read the books so I can judge the film on it's own. While the first movie needed to explain more things and spent a lot of time on what the Dauntless are about, this one shows some facets of other factions: Amity and (more interesting) Candor. Abnegation is virtually destroyed and Erudite is pretty much the enemy. I have always found this division between 5 factions what makes Divergent really interesting, besides the theme of not fitting in a system. Because those themes were already covered in the first part, most of the film shows either chasing, surrendering or attacking, but it does those things well. It's pretty much an action film and one that looks great.
Once more, the lead character, though a very good actress, is not very believable when she floors men twice her size in hand to hand combat. Cutting her hair short for a more boyish appearance (Tris looks very girlie and wide eyed) cannot change that. Fortunately she is not too much of a Mary-Sue and has to accept some losses and show vulnerability.
The movie clearly had a bigger budget and threw in a lot of neat special effects and spectacular sights. It was a pleasure to look at. I don't really care for fx that much but for a futuristic sci fi...design and visuals can be very important and they certainly didn't cut corners in that department.
The movie can be very dark, much more so than the first installment, and both innocents and antagonists get killed without mercy.
The ending of the film is however very positive, it feels almost like an end to the trilogy and it makes me curious what's next.
This film is getting bashed on a bit too much. It's not brilliant, but neither are the Hunger Games (which were hardly original, considering ). It's aimed at a teen audience. And yet, the political structure and the societal order are much more interesting in the Divergent series. I found this film entertaining from beginning to end and it had some nice twists in store.
Piled Higher and Deeper (2011)
Should be a TV show!
This is enjoyable for an audience a lot larger than just students. I have read the web comics for many years and think they have a universal appeal. This film is equally charming.
OK the film didn't really surprise me in some ways since I already knew all the jokes from the comics...but the production was far more professional and polished than I expected. The actors are all good, only one I thought could be casted better is Cecilia, not that she's bad but the actress looks and acts too much like a happy-go-lucky surfer girl, not as nerdy as the Cecilia from the comic books.
Tajel is a great choice as is Mike Slackenerny and Winston (the nameless student). Would love to see this become a TV show. Or at least see more of these 3 talented actors!
The film could be longer but does in a nutshell tell it all (life procrastinates in grad school) and it doesn't shove it's puns in your face...
Battlestar Galactica (2004)
Good show, not great but not as bad as I expected
This is a review after having seen season 1.
The good: the Gaius Baltar character and his inner struggle, the Adama father-son relationship, the political scheming. Overall the show does a very good job of emphasizing human conflicts and weaknesses, with a hint of mythology. There is also an intrigue that makes you curious about the Cylon's goal, it does not simply seem to be eradicating the human race because they get plenty of opportunity in the show. Right now it seems more like a Jihad, like they want absolute submission to their religion which justifies their holocaust of the human race. And the human Cylon clones seem to have a will of their own, they can fall in love for instance. This allows for a lot of complexity in the stories: the motives of the humanoid Cylons are never fully clear.
The bad: believability is too often sacrificed in favor of excitement. One example is where Starbuck crash lands on a cold planet and happens to find a Cylon Raider that she figures out how to fly back...another not too convincing detail is that the thing was not even vacuum sealed when she flew it back.
The ugly: mostly the visuals. I thought that only the last episode, showing the organic inside of a Cylon battle station looked interestingly Geigeresque. The set designs are not just deliberately messy, they're also just plain boring. The Galactica is designed to limit all systems to manual control, but far too few things look futuristic. Also, the space battles are not very exciting or colorful to look at. The visuals can be extremely varied, but often it's hit or miss. The most annoying scenes are the ones with an overdose of bright light, like they put some kind of filter over it.
I am glad, that after having bothered to give this show a second chance, it's better than I expected. But you need to focus on the things that the show is good at while ignoring the things that it's failing at.
Decent fantasy with unmotivated steampunk attributes
Princess Riese, sole survivor of a coup d'etat, has to regain the throne that was stolen from her by the current Empress. Meanwhile, there is a religious cult, the Sect, with an agenda of their own, and a small resistance group hoping to find Riese.
A good setup for a story and an enjoyable watch, though very short and unfortunately not bringing much of a conclusion.
Like others mentioned, there is no thought behind why things look steampunk. Why the goggles? Why the masks and why do Sect people wear machinery, what does it do? If this was explained more, the show would get an 8.
As low as the budget was, the show manages to look decent and the backgrounds of the empress's castle look particularly grand in some brief shots. The actors are good and do what they can with the sometimes stereotypical characters.
I would watch a second season to see things unfold. Shows like this would be much better with some more budget, longer runtimes and some good HBO-caliber writers, so they wouldn't have to waste their talents at soft porn garbage like Game Of Thrones.
Dragon Age: Redemption (2011)
How to put a Mary Sue fanfiction on film
This show is interesting for fans of the Dragon Age video games. Felicia Day's character Fallis is even featured in Downloadable Content of Dragon Age II: Mark of the Assassin. Her character is also a major problem in this show.
Sure, the show (and Felicia's cleavage) look pretty good, given the budget they worked with. Most of the actors are likable and better than expected. But the Tallis character does not work at all. She is supposed to be bad ass, but she's nothing but annoying. Partially a Mary Sue, a too good to be true character that outwits and overpowers her foes a tad too easily too many times, she also is selfish, arrogant and heartless. That is a real bitch of a main character to relate to.
The writing seems OK, but the point where I stopped watching was when she just throws a dagger into an innocent boy, just to let him prove his healing ability. What if he had bluffed a bit and had not been proficient and just wanted to help out? He'd be dead, thank you Tallis.
I appreciate what was attempted here, but it would have been good to let one of Bioware's people write the script. They let Felicia ruin this potential by allowing her to turn it into a Mary Sue, i.e. your typical average fan fiction. Not too dreadful, but too flawed to bear watching it all the way through.
Valkyrie Profile 2: Silmeria (2006)
Better than Final Fantasy X
Recently I bought a PS2, mostly to catch up on JRPG games I had never played, sticking to Xbox in the older days. I instantly bought Final Fantasy X for it but never really got hooked, so I looked further. When I saw this title in someone's list of favorite JRPG games for the PS2, I started checking out video's and reviews, and despite the sometimes less than enthusiastic comments on the game, I kept being drawn to it. Critics claimed that many characters did not have enough depth, that there was cringy voice acting and that the story was not always interesting.
But I love this game and I think it's much better than FFX. I've been playing it for at least 10 hours in total now and it's got everything I appreciate about JRPGs:
-music that grows on you;
-complex but fun battle system;
-over the top special attacks;
-breathtaking cut scenes;
-vulnerable, flawed non-macho characters;
-numerous ways to tweak and optimize your group and gear;
-slow pacing of the story where you don't have to pay attention to a hundred things at once like in some games, where you at once need to read text quickly AND listen to someone filling you in on your mission AND watch a quickly edited cut scene at the same time.
Another nice thing about the game is that it introduces platforming with puzzle elements, requiring smart usage of your "photons" and a good eye for the environment.
This is a hardcore RPG that requires you to study every aspect of the game in order to keep winning your battles and the gameplay is not one that is easy to master. Many battles are needed to climb the learning curve. I was warned that the rewards for all this hard work were not always substantial enough so it is definitely recommended to use a walkthrough with good pointers, but I am looking forward to this. Finally a game where you don't just go through the motions but must concentrate and make the smart decisions. There's still some button-mashing but it's definitely not a hack'n'slasher nor a horribly slow turnbased game.
Love it for everything it is, there is more than meets the eye
You have to like this film for what it is: an extremely audiovisual piece of storytelling where for a breathtaking world you've never seen before, at the cost of lacking in depth philosophy.
This is not Blade Runner: there is much less philosophy and atmospheric gloominess. Daft Punk's soundtrack is something the two Frenchmen should be proud of, but Vangelis they are not. But their 80s computer style does fit very well into the mold. Even the men themselves, always wearing robot helmets, do in a somewhat dorky cameo. Visuals and sound are very much in harmony.
Michael Sheen is absolutely fantastic, showcasing delightfully nutty digital versions of Ziggy Stardust and even Charlie Chaplin in only a couple of minutes. Olivia Wilde is absolute eye candy but her role in the film fortunately proves much more essential than that. Garret Hedlund does what he can in what I feel could have been explored better: the father-son relationship. Though fun to watch, this protagonist is a bit too much of the typical Yankee, daredevil macho. Jeff Bridges is good, but the digital, younger version of himself looks too fake, particularly his eyes.
This is a film that, while not amonst the greatest of all times, achieved a hell of a lot of goodness. There could have been more background, particularly about The Grid, what exactly it was for and how the ISO's would revolutionize (medical) science and religion. But I hope this will be left for the sequels. Eventually, this movie is not about much more than escaping from a world that the Flynns accidentally get trapped in. But I am glad to see this film ultimately did well, the worldwide box office being double the amount of the budget. There is much more to explore in Tron than light cycles and disc throwing and I hope they maximize this potential.
Despite how shallow some things may sound, don't write this off as just some gorgeous eye candy. Do watch this film more than once and you will appreciate the plentiful winks in dialog, acting as well as the creative visual transitions. While for the first watch, the ending is a surprising, weird sciency one to love.
Average and easy to forget
This is just your average run-of-the mill action film: nothing new or too exciting. For a film about spies there is actually very little espionage and intelligence going on. For a movie that doesn't take itself seriously it is also disappointing not having one really good laugh. Your average episode of Chuck has 10 times as much humor as this whole movie.
To make things worse, Mary-Louise Parker is extremely annoying. Willis and Freeman display nothing but routine. Malkovich is as painfully unfunny as the entire film.
Still, I liked some action parts as well as seeing Helen Mirren with various automatic rifles. And the film is slightly better than the extremely poor The Expendables. It would be very OK to skip this one.
Total Recall 2070 (1999)
Unique show about the future cannot rise above mediocrity
When I read this show was very much Philip K Dick inspired, using many of his ideas, rather than just a spin off, I knew I had to see it.
Total Recall 2070 shows a futuristic world dominated by multinational corporations, many of them operating on Mars as well. While crime has reduced spectacularly, there are still many problems in society. The show deals with a lot of cyberpunk topics: brain manipulation, androids, genetics, virtual reality, viruses etcetera. The CPB, a type of independent police force, often competing with other jurisdictions, has their hands full on it.
Visually the show is literally very dark with sparse lighting and often a foggy, rainy scenery whenever things take place outside. Clearly the show had a tight budget, often repeating the same cgi imagery transiting between scenes to show parts of the city, but it was very cleverly used. The backgrounds show us but a glimpse of a grim world that is rebuilding itself on technology, nature having been destroyed mostly.
Unfortunately the show is not addictive at all and there are some important elements missing to make it great: humor, a clear direction of storyline, well- motivated and consistent emotions. It too often feels as just another bland cop show, just set in the future, although it's really much deeper than your average police fare. Some characters, like David Hume's wife, or the female lab researcher,Olan Chang, are underdeveloped. But Hume and Farve, his android partner, are excellently casted. Hume is the cool, but emotional and aggressive agent, while Farve is the brilliant investigator, looking for his unknown origins.
The ambient synth music fits very well with the whole Blade Runner feel. It would be unfair to compare it all with what Vangelis and Ridley Scott did for atmosphere: for a TV show they've done a good job transferring the script to a very watchable programme.
Total Recall has occasional swearing and some sex but it is all functional, not just for the heck of it. Overall a very smart show with a lot of conspiracy, cover ups, tensions, but most importantly very relevant issues regarding humanity's fate in a world where technology can be one's friend or worst enemy, depending who is using it, who wants to have it, who owns it and who decides what is legal to do with it.
So, there's some good and some bad. I didn't mind the lower production values but compared to this show, writing has dramatically improved for so many shows these days and so has their addictiveness. I hope to see a nice new cyberpunk/futuristic show soon, right now Westworld is the best one to watch.
In particular avid Philip K Dick and sci fi fans should give this show a shot but you may get bored after an episode or 6.
Just to get the voting average down to an acceptable level, i.e. that will not lead to more and more Star Wars fans wanting to actually sit through this film...I feel should give this one a 1 out of 10.
This film is a waste of talent for the gorgeously cute Kristen Bell and a display of the lack thereof for the other cast as well as the writers. There are literally thousands of references to the best films ever made, but none of them really raise a laugh and at times it gets downright painful or distasteful.
The idea of the film is in itself good but executed poorly by people that seem to be aiming at an audience that would rank Porky's and American Pie among the finest films ever made, rather than at real Star Wars fans. So it is kind of an insult. Its just one cheap joke after another followed by dumb fights between Star Wars fans and Trekkies. In reality most fans like both Trek and Wars.
If you really want to watch a well-made fan film you should watch George Lucas in Love. It's 10 minutes short but also 10 times better than this garbage. I could not sit this one through but I've seen enough.