Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Movie Watch: Summer Round Up Part 1

The summer movie season is in full flow and there are some real blockbusters being released on a weekly basis. In this article I will briefly review the big films so far, along with some of the Blu Rays that I have watched recently.

Cinema releases

X-Men Origins: Wolverine
This was reasonably entertaining whilst I was in the cinema watching it, although shortly afterwards not much sticks in the mind. It is just a so-so comic adaptation, which lacks the impact of the old X-Men trilogy largely because it is a prequel centred around an already well established character. Ryan Reynolds as Deadpool was pretty cool, but Gambit didn't really add anything and on the whole it is a pretty forgettable film.
2 out of 5.

Star Trek
JJ Abrams has done a pretty good job at rebooting the franchise for the mainstream, but for me personally it lacked the spark of the original series and some of the actions of the new crew didn't really seem in character with their old incarnations. Maybe that's the point - I can't help but get the feeling that this film isn't really meant for Star Trek fans, but rather it's engineered to attract a whole new audience.
3 out of 5.

Coraline (in 3D)
The new 3D technology really does work well and it wasn't overdone which is a danger in this sort of film. The glasses did get a little bit uncomfortable after a while of wearing them though. As for the film itself it's a gorgeously designed dark fairy tale, and is quite slow paced at times. Don't got expecting a musical extravaganza in the style of The Nightmare Before Christmas or Corpse Bride, or something as funny as a Pixar release - it's just not that sort of film (as the few people who walked out of the showing I attended half way through must have discovered).
3.5 out of 5.

Night at the Museum 2
My new issue of Total Film arrived a day before I was due to see this, with a 2 out of 5 score, so I didn't really expect much from it. I have to say though this was a really entertaining family film, with plenty to keep both kids and adults happy. Amy Adams is as gorgeous as ever (her bum really does look quite splendid in her Amelia Earhart outfit. The film does remind of the original Bill & Ted film with its famous characters from history running around and general silliness, and that's never a bad thing.
3.5 out of 5

Blu Ray releases

I had heard that this was a good action thriller from various sources, and I had some Blockbuster rental vouchers to use up while I was on holiday, so I used one of this. To be honest though, I really wasn't "Taken" with it. It starts off great, the build up to Liam Neeson's daughter getting kidnapped is extremely tense - but once that's out of the way the action gets increasingly ludicrous and I started to lose interest towards the end.
1.5 out of 5

Hellboy 2: The Golden Army
Now this was absolutely fantastic - definitely the best film I've watched over the last few months. I didn't really expect it to be all that great either because I watched the first Hellboy earlier in the year and thought it was pretty average all round. The sequel though has absolutely amazing special effects, brilliantly designed creatures, a decent story and a very funny script. It is one of the best showcases for HD available - I loved it!

4.0 out of 5

City of Ember
Walden Media follow up the brilliant Bridge to Terabithia with another adaptation of a children's book. It's not quite at the same level as Terabithia because the story lacks the emotional impact of that film, but it is well worth a watch in its own right. Bill Murray puts in another solid performance, and there are cameos from Liz Smith (nana from The Royle Family) and Mackenzie Crook (Gareth from The Office).
3.5 out of 5

This film is incredibly long and slow paced but the fascinating subject matter nearly mitigates that. It takes place over several decades as Inspector David Toschi (Mark Ruffalo) and Paul Avery (Robert Downey Jr) attempt to reveal the true identity of the Zodiac serial killer. As time and other events take their toll on these two men however, it falls to cartoonist Robert Graysmith (Jake Gyllenhaal) to try and put the pieces together and solve the crime. If you like your films to have some closure you may end up disappointed by this one. There's a great range of special features on the disc including almost two hours of interviews with the survivors and investigators of the case, and a profile of the main suspect.
3 out of 5

Burn After Reading
I am a big fan of the Coen brothers and whilst the plot of their latest film ultimately doesn't really go anywhere, that's the whole point! Frances McDormand is Linda Litzke, a gym worker who is desperate to have cosmetic surgery done in a desperate attempt to hold on to her youth. When the cleaner stumbles across a CD with what appears to be sensitive government secrets on it, she and Chad (Brad Pitt) attempt to bribe ex CIA agent Osbourne Cox (John Malkovich). Events spiral out of control from there and the CIA superior (played by J.K. Simmons, aka Jonah Jameson in the Spiderman movies) looks on nonplussed "Report back to me when it... when it makes sense" he says to the agent keeping track of the case. A much lighter and more playful film than No Country for Old Men, but still laced with the Coen's trademark darkness throughout. Great fun!
3.5 out of 5

Be Kind Rewind
I loved Eternal Sunsine of the Spotless Mind - it's one of my favourite films of the last decade, so I couldn't wait to see how Michel Gondry would follow it up. However, even I found the concept of Be Kind Rewind a little hard to grasp. Mike (Mos Def) agrees to look after Elroy Flectcher's (Danny Glover) video store while his is out of town attending a meeting about his hero, Fats Waller. His friend Jerry (Jack Black), accidentally gets himself magnetised and ends up erasing all of the tapes in the store, and to cut a long story short they end up shooting their own version of the most iconic films ever made (including Ghostbusters). The scenes where they show the "sweded" movies are the best thing about this film. I'm not really a big fan of Jack Black, I find his personality overbearing, and while I feel the same way about Jim Carrey he managed to rein it in for Eternal Sunshine. Black however is his usually annoying self in this film and as a result I couldn't really get it into it now matter how much I tried.
2.0 out of 5.

Coming Soon... Part 2 - Angels & Demons, Terminator: Salvation, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Inglorious Basterds and more Blu Ray releases.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Wibblefish's Backloggery

Hi All, my holiday is now over (boo) and I'm about to start updating the blog again regularly (yay!). Over the next week or two I will be rebranding the "Top 100 Games of the Last Generation" feature as The Vault, as it is not really working for me in it's current format. Having to come up with 100 games puts me under quite a lot of pressure, and at the rate we've been going it would take an eternity to get there. This way I can add something to The Vault as and when I think of them or discover them.

I would like to highlight a very cool site that I stumbled on during my time off, The Backloggery. It is designed to let you enter you gaming collection, keep track of what you have beaten or completed 100%, tell others what you're playing at the moment, and can suggest a game from your collection to play with the Fortune Cookie feature. I have entered all of my games, which took just over week, and I have only beaten 24% of them! It has actually motivated me to try and finish the games I have partially played through and dig out older titles that have remained untouched. During my time off I have managed to complete Kingdom Hearts 2 (review soon) and have taken a character all the way to the level cap in Guild Wars: Factions. You can check out my backlog here, and I recommend setting one up yourself if you have a lot of games!