Archive for January, 2009

The All-American Heroes…

When I first heard about this movie I gave myself the benefit of the doubt and decided I would see this movie.  I like the cast, and Stephen Sommers is a capable director for this type of movie.  But, after seeing this trailer, I’m actually excited about it.

January 31, 2009 at 11:31 pm Leave a comment

‘Star Wars’ Horror Novel This Halloween

From starwars.com:

This Halloween, Star Wars publishing goes someplace very new and very scary, with the release of the first Star Wars horror novel, Deathtroopers, by Joe Schreiber. The text for the back cover is still to come, but this front cover art by Indika is so creepy, we just couldn’t wait to share it with you.

Haven’t read a Star Wars novel in years.  Will definitely give this one a shot!

January 31, 2009 at 6:23 pm Leave a comment

Review: “My Bloody Valentine 3D”

I don’t like slasher movies.  It’s not because I can’t handle the gore or violence.  It’s because I don’t find them scary.  And most of the time they’re stupid.  While I will watch one on occasion (I’ll definitely be seeing the remake of Friday the 13th), I generally tend to avoid them.  The only reason I was interested in My Bloody Valentine 3D is because of the 3D; the movie itself doesn’t interest me in the least.  So, the question is, does the 3D make this movie worth seeing?

No.

That being said, I will admit to having a reasonably good time with this movie.  The story is nonsensical, the ending is lame, and the acting is terrible.  But, that’s what you would expect from a typical slasher movie, right?  So what did I find entertaining?  The deaths.  In the first five minutes of the movie you get a hospital full of chopped up victims with their chest cavities cracked open and body parts laying about.  For fans of slasher films that relish in the ridiculous gore, this is right up your alley.

However, the 3D doesn’t really do anything to add to the experience.  In fact, it was rather annoying.  From what I can tell, the tech messes with the focus your eyes automatically have, forcing you to focus on the image in a way that they want, not how your eyes normally do it.  For the first 15 minutes or so, it was giving me a headache.

The 3D effects themselves are OK.  They’re mostly comprised of things being flung at the screen like pickaxes, blood, and body parts.  I never really got that sensation of wanting to duck or move out of the way or anything.

What I hate about movies like these are the stupid decisions the characters make.  For example, there’s a scene where two characters are being chased by the killer throughout a grocery store.  They barricade themselves in an office, with the only other way out is a window.  So they spend precious few minutes trying to get the window unlocked so they can slip out.  While one of them dies, the other one slaps a button on the wall that triggers the alarm.  My question is, “Why the hell didn’t they hit the damn button when they first got into the room?!”  It’s moments like this where I want to slap my hand to my forehead in annoyance.

In the end , this is a movie for genre fans only.  If you’re really interested in this whole new 3D technology, there will be more (and probably better) movies coming out soon.  It’s dumb fun when watched with the right people, but there aren’t any surprises here.

5/10

January 31, 2009 at 4:59 pm 1 comment

Review: “Slumdog Millionaire”

Talented director Danny Boyle proves he can work in almost any genre with the rags-to-riches tale Slumdog Millionaire, set in Mumbai, India.  The recent recipient of the Best Picture Golden Globe, along with Best Director, Slumdog Millionaire is the tale of Jamal, a young boy born into the slums of Mumbai.  Along with his older brother, Salim, and their friend Latika, they experience life at its most cruel, and also its most fulfilling.

The over-arching story of Slumdog Millionaire is that of Jamal competing in India’s version of Who Wants to be a Millionaire?, but is accused of cheating and forced to prove why he knows the answers to question more ‘fortunate’ people would not be able to answer.  Basically, his life experiences have given him knowledge about random facts that he is eventually is asked about on the show.

Trying to cover the plot of the entire film would get tedious, so suffice to say, it becomes a heartbreaking, and eventually uplifting, story of determination.  Jamal and the three main characters (his brother Salim and love interest Latika) are played by three different actors that cover a 10+ year period of their lives.  Each of the actors are well cast, as each character is distinct, but the actors carry over certain character traits from the previous actor.  For example, Salim has always been a bit of a bully and has harbored a slight amount of jealousy toward his younger brother.  This carries over through the years as each iteration of Salim becomes more and more hostile toward Jamal.

What is crucial to a film that plays like a biopic of someone’s life is pacing.  Danny Boyle, along with his team of editors and co-director Loveleen Tandan, are able to keep the story itself focused on the individual sequences, while making sure the audience doesn’t forget what part of the overall story is being discussed.  The cinematography is also great, highlighting the bright colors that are prevalent in Indian culture.  Also, the sweeping and epic wide shots of famous landmarks like the Taj Mahal (which was actually a set constructed for the film), contrast with the confined spaces of the country’s many slums.

Throughout most of the movie, I kept thinking to myself, “This movies is good, but is it Best picture good?”  Indeed, I was enjoying myself but was also underwhelmed.  Until the last act of the film.  I won’t give anything away, but it’s one of those moments where everything comes together and you find yourself rooting for our hero, whose odds are stacked heavily against him.

In the end, Slumdog Millionaire is another hit for the talented Danny Boyle.  The cast is great (especially the beautiful Frieda Pinto), and the writing is feels sincere with just enough wit.  I’ll be honest and say that it may not be the best picture of 2008, it certainly is one of them.  Heartfelt, inspiring, and occasionally very funny, this film will have you smiling at the end.

8.5/10

January 24, 2009 at 1:12 pm Leave a comment

The 1up Show Lives!!!

Just a couple short weeks ago, in the wake of the EGM closing/1UP staff layoffs, the 1upFM podcast was reborn into RebelFM.

The GeekBox also continues the tradition of excellent 1Up Network audio podcasts.  Starring Ryan Scott, Karen Chu, Andrew Fitch, Greg Ford, Ryan Higgins, and Ernie P.

Now, the 1UP Show, one of the internet’s best video podcast about video games, is alive and well in the form of Area5.tv!  Many of the old 1up Show crew is back (along with Dan “Shoe” Hsu), and in the same beloved format that we remember.

Subscribe to their YouTube channel and support all the former EGM/1Up  staff in these new endeavors.

LONG LIVE SUSHI-X!!

January 21, 2009 at 11:08 am Leave a comment

The Essays of “Battlestar Galactica”

Variety has a collection of essays regarding Battlestar Galactica, from different points of view, including a soldier, astronaut, and even comedy writer.

Check them out here.

January 18, 2009 at 3:46 pm Leave a comment

Review: “Defiance”

Hot on the heels of Valkyrie, director Edward Zwick gives us the little-known tale of Jewish refugees fighting to stay alive in the forests of World War II Poland, while the German military closes in around them.  But, it wasn’t just the Germans they were fighting; internal conflicts arose and moral questions plagued the group.

The center of this is Tuvia Bielski (Daniel Craig), the eldest of the Bielski Brothers and the leader of group of refugees (called the Bielksi Partisans).  He takes it upon himself to try and save as many Jewish lives as possible, even at the protest of his younger brother, Zus (Liev Schrieber).  Zus, being the realist, sees the refugees as extra mouths to feed with food they don’t have.  He wants to fight, and joins a local Soviet guerrilla force to deal some payback on the Germans.  Their youngest brother is Asael (Jamie Bell), who falls in love with one of the girls living in the forest with them.

What I found interesting was not how they survived for several years in the forest, but what happened while they were trying to survive.  Early on in the film, the elder Bielksi’s go out and kill German soldiers while trying to secure food for their growing village.  What they end up doing is going on revenge killings, taking out not just German soldiers, but locals who aid the Germans in the hunt for Jews.  This leads to some ethical questions as more and more of the villagers want revenge for their lives being destroyed.  They see the Bielksi’s are hypocrites as they are allowed to kill, but the villagers are not.  It’s these kinds of questions and problems that I find more interesting than watching them kill.

The film runs around 2 hrs and 15 mins, and I think it’s a tad too long.  My issue with Defiance is that Edward Zwick is trying to paint too broad a portrait with the story.  He covers everything, from familial in-fighting to questions of loyalty and treason.  Unfortunately, he doesn’t cover any of these particularly well.  Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the film, it’s just that it gets a little predictable.  Roger Ebert said it best in his review:

“The story of “Defiance” has all the makings of a deep emotional experience, but I found myself oddly detached.”

Basically, Zwick is very good at telling a Hollywood-ized version of such a compelling tale. For example, while I was watching it, I kept thinking to myself, “Ok, here’s the part where they question Tuvia’s leadership.  And now comes the part where he proves himself to them.  Oh, and here’s the part where he might have to risk someone he cares about.  And now it’s time for the inspirational speech.”  Defiance runs through the typical war movie conventions without breaking any new ground.

That being said, the principle actors (Craig, Schrieber, and Bell) are all very good, and the supporting cast is fine as well.  They play their roles with earnest and honesty, without having to resort to genre cliche’s (that becomes a script and directing problem).  When the action hits, it hits pretty hard as you really feel for these resistance fighters.  Watching them become outnumbered and then gunned down is quite sad.

Defiance is admirable for telling this kind of story and raising these types of moral questions.  Despite some detractors saying that Zwick and Co. left out some important tidbits (like the Naliboki Massacre), this is a film worth seeing for history buffs.  This is an excellent counterpart to Valkyrie, which focused on suspense; Defiance focuses on the humanity of people at war with themselves.

8/10

January 17, 2009 at 10:27 pm Leave a comment

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