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All reviews - Movies (157) - TV Shows (2) - Books (4) - Games (30)

"Alien: Covenant" (2017)

Posted : 1 year, 1 month ago on 4 June 2017 03:15 (A review of Alien: Covenant)

FIRST IMPRESSIONS


The crew of a colony ship, bound for a remote planet, discover an uncharted paradise with a threat beyond their imagination, and must attempt a harrowing escape.

Prometheus was a movie that I liked at first, but now, looking back, I still think it's visually stunning but I can't get past what complete morons the characters are. This sequel, while not devoid of stupid decisions on the characters' part, doesn't take their brainlessness to nearly the same extreme. But this one has its own problem: the characters have little to no personality at all. As a result, you don't care about any of them – they really are just there to be alien fodder – which drains the film of any real excitement.

Once again, the androids are the most interesting characters. I'd say you don't necessarily need to watch Prometheus to get into this one, because the opening scene tells you all you need to know about David and explains his actions later on.

But I think the worst scene by far is the nighttime fight scene in the field. I really thought Ridley Scott was above the shaky cam and sloppy editing bullshit that we see so often today!

And the ending… if you don't see it coming from a mile away, then you're clearly not even trying!

On the whole, though, I'd still say I liked it just a tad better than Prometheus. Both films are equally middle-of-the-road, but I'll take bland over insultingly stupid any day.


My rating: 55%



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"Ghost in the Shell" (2017)

Posted : 1 year, 1 month ago on 4 June 2017 03:12 (A review of Ghost in the Shell)

FIRST IMPRESSIONS


In the near future, Major is the first of her kind: a human saved from a terrible crash, who is cyber-enhanced to be a perfect soldier devoted to stopping the world's most dangerous criminals.

Let me preface this by saying I haven't read the Ghost in the Shell manga – I've only seen the classic 1995 movie – so I came at this movie from a different perspective than a hardcore fan might: I was simply comparing one movie to another. As a remake, it gave me a somewhat different story, yes, but it came across to me as an extremely derivative one. A cyborg getting flashes of memory from their past life and trying to figure out their identity? Now, where have I heard that before? Yeah, you get my drift: the plot is literally just RoboCop! Any similarities to Ghost in the Shell are purely superficial references, like the invisible street fight, the underwater scene and the climactic tank battle. (Speaking of which, that scene seems surprisingly so much smaller and less grandiose than the animated version.)

Even the villain is a letdown: gone is the fascinating Puppet Master, to be replaced by just another victim of the corrupt system.

I liked the original film, but it didn't wow me like it did so many other people. But even so, I found this movie to be an insult to its predecessor. It's dull, uninspired, and apparently owes more to RoboCop than it does to Ghost in the Shell.


My rating: 40%



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"Moby Dick" (Herman Melville)

Posted : 1 year, 3 months ago on 29 March 2017 11:27 (A review of Moby Dick (Usborne Classics Retold))

FIRST IMPRESSIONS


You all know the story: sailor Ishmael tells the story of the obsessive quest of Ahab, captain of the whaler the Pequod, for revenge on Moby Dick, the white whale that once crippled him.

I'm sure this goes without saying, but this is considered one of the all-time great literary classics. However, I confess, I'm not talking about the original text here, but a retelling from Usborne. I tried to read the original, but I'm afraid the old-fashioned writing style was incomprehensible to me; I'm not a scholar by any means.

So I don't know how much of the text the new writer, Henry Brook, kept intact, but he certainly conveyed the build-up to the voyage, the enormity of the ocean, the sense of isolation, the passage of time and, most importantly, Ahab's ever-growing obsession.

Some lines can be taken as great life lessons, like how no one should be too proud to obey a few orders because, "All of us are slaves to our stomachs, aren't we?"

Many people have noted the book's Shakespearean influences, and I'm no different. In particular, the idea of Ahab thinking he's invincible because of the apparently nonsensical prophecies is right out of Macbeth.

All in all, this Usborne Classics Retold version is the ideal way to experience the story for a casual reader like me. It's not perfect, but I can now see what made Moby Dick so influential, and it's still an engaging read.


My rating: 80%



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"Ghost in the Shell" (1995)

Posted : 1 year, 3 months ago on 28 March 2017 08:27 (A review of Ghost in the Shell)

FIRST IMPRESSIONS


Major Motoko Kusanagi, a cyborg policewoman, and her partner Batou hunt a mysterious and powerful hacker known as the Puppet Master.

This movie, often considered one of the greatest anime films of all time, has been on my watchlist for a while now, and the new American remake gave me the perfect excuse to bump it up the list. :)

Much like Get Out (which I just reviewed), this is another one that I felt, while still fun to watch, was far more interesting for its themes and topics for conversation. In fact, I watched Chris Stuckmann's review after seeing the movie, and his insights and analyses are just superb, bringing up stuff I would never have even thought of.

As a casual viewer, my impression is that the narrative is solid, and of course the animation is consistently outstanding, but the sequence before the unidentified female cyborg shows up serves no apparent purpose and just grinds the movie to a complete halt.

One thing that threw me off was that it ended far sooner than I expected. It turned out the DVD cover had given a much longer run time than the film actually has: 125 minutes instead of 83.

In conclusion, I enjoyed this movie, but I don't quite think I'm ready to consider it one of my favourite animated films, at least not yet.


My rating: 80%



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"The Wolverine" (2013)

Posted : 1 year, 3 months ago on 28 March 2017 08:21 (A review of The Wolverine)

FIRST IMPRESSIONS


When Wolverine is summoned to Japan by an old acquaintance, he is embroiled in a conflict that forces him to confront his own demons.

I thought I should watch at least one of the other Wolverine movies before Logan, and X-Men Origins: Wolverine has such a bad reputation that I didn't even think twice about choosing this one.

If you're just expecting an action movie, a string of cheap thrills, that's pretty much all you'll get. The narrative doesn't really do anything compelling with Logan's character aside from raising the stakes by taking away his healing ability, leaving him much more vulnerable.

Personally, I was far more interested in figuring out where this movie fits in the X-Men film series timeline. Well, the Jean Grey hallucinations answered that pretty early on: it takes place after X-Men 3. There's also a teaser at the end that finally bridges the gap between the original trilogy and Days of Future Past.

Overall, I'd say it's the definition of good but not great. It's a lot of fun, but not much more.


My rating: 75%



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"Power Rangers" (2017)

Posted : 1 year, 3 months ago on 28 March 2017 08:16 (A review of Power Rangers)

FIRST IMPRESSIONS


A group of high school kids get infused with unique superpowers and harness their abilities in order to save the world.

First, let me answer the most obvious question. I did not grow up with Power Rangers. I was the right age for it when it came out, but I was just never interested. But the few reviews I saw for this movie, oddly enough, recommended it more to non-fans than to fans. I can see where they're coming from.

By far the film's biggest strength is the characters. It really takes its time to set them up, flesh them out and make them genuinely likable.

And, while it's refreshing to see a blockbuster that's driven by characters rather than action, the visual aesthetic lets it down for me. The bulk of the film looks dark and monochromatic, and the camerawork is pretty shaky, so it's not very appealing to look at.

Then, in the third act, when they finally become the Power Rangers and the action kicks in, it's every inch the CGI shitfest I surmised from the trailer. I've said this before and I'll say it again: I am so tired of effects that are supposed to be live action looking like video game graphics – and PS2 graphics, at that!

So I commend this movie for successfully taking a very silly franchise seriously, but it still falls into many of the same traps I complain about with movies these days. For me, the end result is just okay.


My rating: 60%



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"Life" (2017)

Posted : 1 year, 3 months ago on 28 March 2017 08:13 (A review of Life)

FIRST IMPRESSIONS


A team of scientists aboard the International Space Station discover a rapidly evolving life form in the soil samples from Mars, which now threatens the crew and all life on Earth.

This movie, I'd say, is just generally competent. The script is well written and keeps the tension going, but the characters aren't really interesting enough to separate it from the myriad of sci-fi horror out there. Though I do like how none of them are overtly stupid; whenever someone does the wrong thing, it's merely out of ignorance. Also, thinking about how much time they must spend in each other's company, how close they must become, makes it easy to feel their heartbreak when one of them dies – let alone two within the space of half an hour!

There's nothing cartoonish about the violence; it feels very grounded and grisly.

So I spent most of the movie admiring the craft but hardly on the edge of my seat. …And then the ending happened! I'm not going to say exactly what happens, but I have to say, it came across like a cruel, sick joke! That was a "fuck you" ending! However, I don't think it detracts from the enjoyability of the film as a whole.

Overall, it's good, but nothing special.


My rating: 70%



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"Get Out" (2017)

Posted : 1 year, 3 months ago on 28 March 2017 08:09 (A review of Get Out (2017))

FIRST IMPRESSIONS


Chris, a young African-American man, visits his Caucasian girlfriend Rose's mysterious family estate.

Wow, it is insane how much praise this movie's getting! It currently stands at 99% on Rotten Tomatoes, and it's in the IMDb Top 250! And that seems to be because of how cleverly it makes its point on a very touchy subject.

I may not be the best qualified to discuss the issue of racism, but I love how astutely this movie asks why it's still a thing. Everyone, including Chris himself, draws attention to the fact that he's black, but at the same time is kind of nonchalant about it.

It plays out like a mystery story: you know something's wrong with this family and their servants, and you're not even sure you want to know what.

It even stands above many horror thrillers on the market today in terms of craft, for one simple reason: it doesn't rely on jump scares. In fact, I only recall jumping out of my skin once.

The one thing holding it back for me is that, even though Chris's interactions with the family are supposed to be awkward, that still doesn't make them any more bearable.

But aside from that, I can't deny how well written it is, I didn't see the big revelation coming, and I'd happily see this movie again.


My rating: 75%



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"Kong: Skull Island" (2017)

Posted : 1 year, 3 months ago on 28 March 2017 08:01 (A review of Kong: Skull Island)

FIRST IMPRESSIONS


A team of scientists and soldiers explore an uncharted island in the Pacific, venturing into the domain of the mighty Kong, and must fight to escape a primal Eden.

We have a surprising winner for the title of my favourite movie of the year so far! :) I know it's weird to say that about a giant monster movie, but let me explain. A monster flick is all I expected going in, but I underestimated just how well this particular one would do its job. It absolutely succeeds in making Kong and the other monsters seem gigantic; the camera work captures their size and weight perfectly. The result is that the movie truly thrilling, and it never stops being entertaining, not even for a second. There wasn't one second of this movie where I was bored or begging it to move on.

The human characters are nothing to write home about, but I don't care. They fill their roles just fine, and I like how none of their actions are blatantly stupid.

For as much as I rag on Michael Bay movies and other similar blockbusters, this should prove that I don't automatically hate them all; I'm just as prone to mindless entertainment as the next guy, as long as it's done correctly. I think this is a damn near perfect example of that.

I'd even say it's better than Peter Jackson's King Kong, which I consider to be one of the best remakes ever.


My rating: 85%



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"Logan" (2017)

Posted : 1 year, 3 months ago on 28 March 2017 07:58 (A review of Logan)

FIRST IMPRESSIONS


In 2029, a weary Logan cares for an ailing Professor X somewhere on the Mexican border. But his attempts to hide from the world and his legacy are upended when a young mutant named Laura arrives, pursued by dark forces.

Hugh Jackman has announced that this will be the last time he plays the character that helped shape his career, and man did he save the best for last! :)

Everybody's talking about how bloody it is… and they're not kidding! This is the first Wolverine movie to not hold back at all on the violence and gore you'd expect Wolverine to partake in! But there's so much more to it than that.

This is probably the most poignant story to ever involve Wolverine, showing him at the end of his rope and finding one last purpose in life, all building up to a wonderfully bittersweet ending. Not to mention, it's genuinely heartbreaking to see the great Professor X suffering from dementia.

There's very little in the way of over-the-top comic book visuals here; it sacrifices fantastical extravagance for raw emotion. It's basically a road trip movie, a dark, grounded, minimalistic drama.

In fact, I'm going to make a bold claim here. This could well be Marvel's The Dark Knight! :)

The performances are all excellent, particularly newcomer Dafne Keen as Laura.

In short, it's the perfect swan song for my favourite X-Men member, and easily one of the best instalments in the entire X-Men franchise.


My rating: 85%



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