onsdag, juli 25, 2007

The Illusionist (movie)

This is a total different movie than The Prestige. First of, while The Prestige is a story of rivalry, this is more some kind of romantic drama. Where The Prestige keeps tricking us and playing us, The Illusionist only plays one major magic trick on the viewer.

How the movie will end is rubbed into us in the beginning even more than in Smokin' Aces, but we can sort of forgive it since its a part of The Illusion ;)

The feel in The Illusionist is a lot more unreal than in the Prestige, while the truth might nevertheless be the quite opposite. Talking about being fouled?

The Illusionist is a classic story about one man (poor) being in love with a high class woman (rich) and because of this not being able to get her. It helps of course that this man is the best magician ever seen. This is basically the essence of the movie and is the same archetypical elements that one can find again all over in fairy tales and stories. Just like Cinderella for example.

What I wonder is: Isn’t the odds a bit too easy for this man since he is such a magician, or is the fact that he must devote most of his life into becoming the best, to get her, a too big sacrifice?

I really don’t know... But anyway - a good movie to watch - if you like romantic drama....

Smokin' Aces (movie)

This movie is built up after the, lets build up with all kind of bad guys and then let them meet and kick the shit out of each other.

So this is a brutal action movie with all kinds of bad ass criminals against each other trying to hit this mafia guy as well as FBI tries to protect him.

This gives us a really good shootout and one that can be enjoyed. Some scenes are also really well done. Excellent as entertainment.

Where the movie fails is:

1. It tells us too much about the ending early in the movie. While this is a common movie phenomenon and is meant to be a good thing, we don’t need it to be rubbed in - especially when it’s meant to be a surprise.

2. To make us feel identified enough with the FBI to understand why the Agent acts like he does in the end of the movie. In fact its a big question of the whole FBI tactic and why it is done in this way, and which other way it should have been executed in.

3. It does not tell us enough about the bad ass guys that survive.

"What's it all about?"

Garden State (movie)

This is some kind of twist between a nerd movie and a romantic comedy? It is actually a quite popular genre among nerds (guess why: movies where nerdy people actually get to be with such nice people like Natalie Portman. You know, you can play computer games, eat chips and watch Star Trek and still have a chance... Ha ha. )

The main character has been on drug so long he can not feel much and although the movie he more or less has very little emotions and facial expressions. There is somewhat some progress in this during this told tale.

The main character is home for his mother’s funeral and at the same time he gets time to meet up with the ghost of his childhood. He digs into the past. Why doesn’t he talk much with his father and why he has been on drugs for so long? At the same time he falls in love with this girl, which are quite strange herself. (Natalie is not only pretty but an excellent actress)

This movie is quite cute and the story unfolded it interesting.

But please cut out the crap in the end of the movie. Its like "The Wedding Singer" without the bells and whistles. It’s so pathetic it almost destroys the whole experience.

Transformers (movie)

I sometimes used to read the comic books when I was younger. I also played the game on C64. The movie recreates this very well. Its a teenage movie, with robots (or autobots) that can transform. The movie picks up the teenage theme right on spot and it works very well.

Although the movie got some shitty reviews, I think the movie is almost within the Transformers universe. It is not a realistic movie. So let’s play on action, fun and enjoy some crazy robot action for a while. Basically the movie does not take itself too seriously and that is what I like.

Bridge to Terabithia (movie)

This is somewhat the Disney version of Pan’s Labyrinth. Not that it the same story or anything, rather not, but they both mix reality and fantasy - in such a way I wonder. What are the fantasy elements about? Is it so that story writers have no idea about how to make a true fantasy anymore? Guessing on the popularity I think not. I think that when you are little real life is a little like this. The way a kid sees the reality is often a little between its own fantasy and the actual reality.

The real element in this movie switches between some classic school comedy/drama to the little problems the main boy has with his poor family. The fantasy side is the children self invented fantasy (?) land. The boy and the girl while to young to be romantic have something of a deeper friendship. Since this is a Disney product the style is much more polished for children and done very well to entertain an family audience.

Like in Pan’s Labyrinth however we meet the harder reality of life and we are introduced to death. While Pans labyrinth is generally more scary and tougher it has a happier way of portraying death and it all falls nice with the fantasy story.

The meeting with Death in this movie is short and brutal and changes the tune of the movie completely. It turns out to be quite a sad movie. This is quite unusual to see even in adult movies of this type (when he meet her or vise versa).

The boy also feels guilty about what is happening. Partly because he knows that if he had chosen otherwise it would have turned different. The father tries to comfort him out of these thoughts.

The boy star of this movie plays a little too lousy. Always the same look, almost no expression in his face. The girl on the other hand always plays plenty of expression, probably a little too much. Acting is still an important essence to create a good movie - but of course it can not always be easy with child-stars.

It reminds me a little of a episode of peanuts where one of the students get cancer and they explain that there is nobody’s fault. It just happens.

All in all I think both this and Pan are good movies. There are some nice touches for sure, although I am bit unsure what they actually try to say.

Smashing Pumpkins - Zeitgeist (music)

Some people will (again) argue that this is not the true Smashing Pumpkins, and they are right. For Smashing Pumpkins is the first 3 albums, plus the excellent "Pisces Iscariot" The rest turns out to get noisier and noisier turning into a mess that looses that really nice Smashing sound that I and several others have come to love.

With Swan, Billy Corgan sort of got a little back to music again, without actually totally succeeding. With Zeitgest it’s a bit the same. So fine is the line this time that when I hear each song I am not able to make up my mind whether what I hear is complete noise or if it is actually something like a good tune. This is frustrating because I want it to have the old Smashing sound, but it is not quite it.

Would it have been better with the original members? I am not sure. But I think Billy should put on Gish and Siamese Dream on repeat some 30 times or something next time - to go back in time - and make another timeless album.......

- p.o.

torsdag, juli 12, 2007

Rain and Summer

Summertime and rain in Norway belongs together. People are complaining as usual. Get a life. For all of you, learn to take either an early or late vacation so that you’ll be able to enjoy the good weather. Or simply enjoy the rain as I do.


Long time back I gave a quite bad review about Age of Wonders 2, this mostly because the first installment is such a neat and good game - but now I have recognized that I was a bit to rash on it so I gave it another try. The truth is that AoW2 is quite a good game, they have improved on the game since the first one, but they have also changed the game play a bit, trying to make it more unique, in a way it is and in other ways it seems more similar to HOMM this time around.

So it is worth playing around with but I still think the first one is better. It is more unique and the style is cleaner. I also tend to think the music is better in the first one and gfx is maybe not better, but serves its purpose better.

I am also playing Overlord, this new game is some kind of cross between Dungeon Keeper II and a arcade adventure. It also reminds me about the Nintendo game Pikmin. All of which are extremely addictive games. So the idea is great and the game oozes loads of Devil freshness. And is quite fun to play. The gfx is impressive and sound as well.

But then we get the problems. It is not quite Pikmin. It is some kind of arcade adventure which has to be played with active strategy. Come on. I have never liked strategy elements in Arcade Adventures. If I want to push stones and move levers Ill play a pure strategy or puzzle game, I don't need Laura Croft to do it. I need Laura Croft to jump around and kill enemies. So? Well in Overlord you can choose to kill beast yourself or use your minions, problem is, you tend to die to fast if you do it yourself, so you’ll end up using your minions all the time, and you know - the fun runs out quite fast - and it all becomes irritating.

And there it goes, I would wish that this game had become either Dungeon Keeper III or something with a stronger strategy element like Pikmin....

24 season 6 (TV series)

Many people thinks season 6 is the weakest yet. And why not? It is a series that has been going on for several season so how to keep it up? The truth is that this time they didn’t try to go for the shock and awe thing and went back on the 24 formula and said, if we can not make a new and grander threat - just lets make the old ones better.

In a way it is better, because it is more laid back, it doesn’t try to show us something new, but has a very tight with only one loose end (which I think will be solved eventually in the next season). The story does not have all that mumbo jumbo side stories that really just is irritating, but more important is that the dialogue and the events that happen are more realistic. Before in 24 there would often be the kind of situations that just where irritating stupid(or maybe I have just watched to few 24 episodes??).

As I was reading about season 6 on the net I came over people who complain about 24 for promoting certain bad behavior like torture among others. For me this has never been an issue as what happens on the screen is always fiction for me. But I know well that there are people who have problems distinguish the difference between fact and fiction and I acknowledge that the nature of 24 might at certain points "promote" certain unfavorable issues. But then again, so does plenty of other movies, TV shows as well as computer games. So I don’t think 24 oversteps here...

I enjoyed this season quite well, but it would be nice with something else than nuclear weapons and standard terrorists one time.....

Ocean 13 (movie)

This time they have not made the mistake of trying to make a sequel, but instead it is more like a stand alone 70's movie with the Ocean twist. This in turn leads to that the whole feel and play of the movie is kind of unique and reminds me in a good way about these classic heist movies. They have also not made the mistake to make time counts, and in the movie time does not work like in the real world, but we are talking about Ocean time - which fit anything that makes the movie cool and funny.

It is probably funnier this time around, not taking anything seriously and the few setbacks in the movie is just there for fun, to entangle the script more and get things the way the makers want it. Ocean 13 is like the bonus play where there seems to be no real challenge, just fun loving criminals.


I am reading 4 books simultaneously - this is mostly because none of them mange to capture my full attention and I am having a hard time finishing them. Why is it that so many writers pour out 500+ pages books that just cant be worth more than 150-200 pages? It is something I have been noticing a lot in movies lately, that there are produces plenty picture, sound and sometimes acting perfect movies, but with very little story; little meat on the bone - so that it becomes boring and I am wondering afterwards - what did I actually see? What is the point? This also applies to some of these books, very well written, a lot of time on details, but why is it that when I have read 150 pages, the story has barley started?

If a book is going to be more than 150 pages, it needs to be worth it. It needs to be breathtaking. Please how am I going to get the power to finish these long books?

Breach (movie)

This is a movie from the biggest spy breach in US history. The genre of this movie I have seen before, one young guy that is set to work "undercover" to get friendly and trusted by someone else in order to achieve the desired goal. However this movie is very different in the way that it doesn’t ask why - it even says in the end of the movie: There is no reason to ask why? - But you know what, I want to know why. I see a movie with a spy that is obviously a psychopath and no references to why it is so.

It is not a thriller, because all scenes that are meant to wake the thrilling sensation are all in avail. It is moreover some kind of drama film, and since we are presented to a super psychopath spy as well without knowing why, this movie is more about the cost of working for FBI and the willingness to pay that cost. This theme is however meant to be a side theme, like seen in many other movies.

Is it worth to see this movie? If you want to learn about the biggest spy in US history: no. If you like to see a drama movie: yes, maybe.

Die Hard 4 (movie)

I was quite afraid that the special effects would have destroyed this movie. This fear was strengthened by the stories I have heard from other people that saw it.

But I had a pleasant surprise. While the forth Die Hard movie is about hacking and also features some special effects it is done with honor to the Die Hard concept, which was built up during the 3 previous movies. A skyscraper, a plane, New York and now hackers: one cop standing alone against some bad guys, becoming 2 (buddy movie) in the third installment and continuing to be a buddy movie this time around.

The concept of raw action, one liners, and fun to break down all the bad guys.

It is true that the main bad guys is not as bad as any Gruber's but then again his dominions are, and these are they guys John McClane fights most of the time - so its good. The main bad guy is however young and probably appealing to a younger audience.

You will get some awesome but a bit overrated action scenes at times, but its all done with such honor to the Die Hard concept that we will forgive it most of the time.

It brings back pieces from all three previous movies, at the same time it updates the series to a modern standard and introduces us to some breath taking action.

This is an excellent movie and one of the best from Bruce in a while.

Pan's Labyrinth (movie)

This is for sure no children movie, so then what is it? Is it a family movie? For older children maybe? I am not quite sure. While it does have an element of fairy tales and a small girl, the main elements of the story is a lot more brutal and has something to do with Franco's Spain.

This movie is one of those that has received excellent critics so I guess I should just go along. It is true that the movie is somewhat enjoyable, but when you take it apart it is hard for me to get what is the target audience for this movie. Is it trying to tell small kids about the cruelty of the grown-ups? Or is it trying to tell grown ups about the wonderful world of small children.

Truth is, the fairy tale elements are not really much, the labyrinth is overrated.

I think the movie is mainly about the innocence of youth, and about this child who is in the age where innocence and vivid imagination is about to break and she is about to enter the world of the grown ups. In the adult world there are cruel things going on, but also heroes fighting for the good. The little girl is put on several tests but chooses the good before falling into evil.

And I guess this is something that hits people really well and it is why the movie receives such excellent reviews.

Min misunnelige frisør (movie)

In the beginning I thought this movie was a thriller. This is because the hairdresser seems to be a psychopath. But it turns out to be only skin(or hair)deep and the movie is actually a romantic comedy.

So either the movie some kind of misses that message until later in the movie or I its just me who couldn’t get it. While I can not say that this movie is an A class movie, it does have some truly funny moments - and might be worth to watch on a Sunday afternoon.