for making me weep little man tears
Unlike other reviews, this one won’t be a two parter, there will be nothing after the break, there will be no break. The story is this: a man and a woman love each other, but they also fight a lot, until he gets a brain tumor and dies, and somehow through a myriad different ways he has arranged for his widow to receive letters he has written, about one a month, each as a step in a plan to make sure she continues her life now that he’s gone.
This is the first perfect 13 out of 13 I’ve given and its because I really do feel that this movie is that extraordinary. It is funny, and loving, and heart warming, and it hurts. Everyone in the movie gives an outstanding performance and for something that I thought would be another throwaway chick flick my wife would drag me to, I am simply floored at how it managed to move me.
The only drawback to this film is that now if I go first, my wife will expect her series of letters… better get to work then.
And wife, if you read this… P.S. I love you.
for Excitingly Questionable Accuracy and Fun
Much like the first movie, they take a bunch of historical facts, throw in a bunch of historical sounding fiction, make a few conspiratorial leaps and run with it. If you liked the first one, you’ll love the second one. More after the break. Oh, and spoilers too.
Continue reading National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets
for Zombie Awesomeness and Silly Scream At The Screen Cheese
Being a zombie fanatic, when I saw the ad for Flight of the Living Dead I knew I had to see it. Snakes on a Plane had been kind of a let down. Sure, there had been snakes on the plane but the ending was just… crap. And frankly, being trapped at 30,000 feet with the undead has long been a scenario I’ve wanted to see play out on the screen.
The movie delivered. Living dead on a plane. It was even moderately believable. Moderately. Okay, I’m stretching it because I love zombie movies so much. Mildly? Look, there are reasons it only gets that 9 out of 13. But it was fun. Worth seeing.
More after the break.
Continue reading Flight of the Living Dead
for Depiction of Isolation, and One Awesome Dog
For the short version of this review, let me just say that if you are a superfan of Richard Matheson’s book of the same name, and you’ve been itching to see it faithfully recreated on the screen… keep waiting. This movie is not the book. In some ways I was disappointed at that, but overall it didn’t matter. I absolutely loved this movie. The only reason I can’t in good conscience give it a 13 out of 13 is that I think they went a tad overboard with the monsters in this one, they are just on the bad side of unrealistic when it comes to CGI. When the monsters are on the screen, my brain screams “CGI!”. They just don’t blend in. Outside of that though, its a great film. Go see it.
More (and spoilers) after the break.
Continue reading I Am Legend
for Steampunk Style and the Best Use of Polar Bears in a movie, ever!
All in all, I was not horribly impressed with The Golden Compass. After all the hoopla and hoohaa, I really expected something more subversive than this, you know, since the Christians are telling people to avoid its atheist message. Frankly, its no more subversive than any other fantasy film, and really the only problem I could imagine a Christian having with it is that it isn’t Narnia, a movie that positively drips with Christian themes.
More after the break.
Continue reading The Golden Compass
for Comedic Teenage Pregnancy, Cool Parents and Silly Songs.
Juno is about a sixteen year old girl who gets pregnant and what she does after that, and I wrote out this very long and in depth review for Juno, and then my Internet connection went down while I was trying to submit it, and for the first time in forever I didn’t select and copy my text before submitting. Well, you’ll get a truncated version after the break. The super short version is that you should go see this movie. Its fun and funny.
Continue reading Juno
I decided that I wanted to start rating things. When I review movies or games or TV shows or the lives of people I meet or customer service or my own stupidity, I want to have one of those goofy scales so that something can be a “9 on the ProbablyNot scale”. But I can’t just arbitrarily slap one on.
Or more to the point, I needed to make sure my scale was absolutely arbitrary.
First off comes the symbol. There are the overused stars and thumbs or even lawn chairs. I wanted mine to be confusing, so I looked long and hard for a symbol to properly represent the site but also to completely misrepresent the scale itself. Eventually, I settled on the wide spread “not” symbol, as seen on road signs and warning labels everywhere.
With the symbol decided, I next needed a range. Typically these ranges go to 3, 4, 5 or 10. Each of these makes logical sense, so as with my symbol, I needed to make sure my range made no sense at all. Being that my name is Jason and thanks to a particular slasher movie franchise it will forever be associated with the number 13, and I happen to like the number 13, I am going to go with 13. Oddly enough, this actually will help reduce some confusion, especially when it comes to reviewing video games. Most game reviewers use a scale from 1 to 10, and since 70% is passing is most educational establishments, people (insane people) have come to expect that a 7 out of 10 means that it is just barely passing, and anything from a 6.9999999999 down to 1 is failure. Stupid, yes, but also completely understandable to magazines looking to sell issues and to get exclusive previews of new games. So many game sites and magazines actually rate games from 7 to 10, with lower scores being reserved for items that are complete and utter crap. Back to my scale, confusion will be lessened because a “middle of the road” score on a 13 point scale is 7. So game makers can feel good in getting a 70% on my scale, as long as they realize that I give out grades up to 130% for awesomeness.
But a straight linear scale would be too easy, so two elements are added.
First, on my 13 point scale, 7 will indeed be an “average score”. What a 7 means is that whatever I am reviewing was not a complete waste of time. If I am reviewing a movie and give it a 7, that means that after two hours I felt like I’d just spent two hours, but not wasted two hours. Enjoyable, but nothing to get excited about. Being on the low end of the scale is not always a bad thing. While 7 will be middle of the road, the “worst” score to get will be a 3. A 3 means that this thing is godawful bad, and had no redeeming qualities. To score a 2 or a 1 on the scale, your product must be so horrifically bad that it actually turns a corner and becomes something I will actually share my pain with others about. The kind of shitty movie or game that I insist other people must experience to truely understand the depths of the miserable quality contained therein.
Secondly, even with a confusing symbol and an unusual scale, the review score still isn’t odd enough for me. So I’m going to also steal an idea from the ESRB (the people who rate video games for content) and the MPAA (the Motion Picture Arbitrary Assessment, or something like that) and include verbiage for why the score is what it is, but make sure those words are vague enough or strangely worded so that no matter the rating you might still want to see the thing I’m reviewing just so you can get it.
As an example, recently I saw the movie The Mist, which I might have given, had this system existed at the time:
for Creepiness, Social Commentary, Religious Fanaticism and Clever use of Dog Food.
All reviews will be presented with the rating first followed by a more in depth write up. In depth write ups will likely contain spoilers.
Keeping up with a rating system can be a chore, so we’ll see how long I stick with it. I might get bored and give it up, or not… who knows…
One day, long ago, I picked a random book off my older brother’s shelf and started to read. The book happened to be Skeleton Crew, a collection of short stories and novellas by Stephen King. There were a number of cool stories in it, but the one that stuck the most was The Mist.
Later, when the family would go and purchase our first PC, a Leading Edge 8088 with 512K RAM and a 20MB hard drive (yeah, Megabyte, not Gigabyte), we would also pick up a handful of games. The Black Cauldron was one, and Stephen King’s The Mist was another. The game differed from the book a little, but that was okay, it needed to because as good as the book was, it wouldn’t make for much of a game. It was a text adventure, and that means I spent hours and hours trying to figure out the right combination of going North, East, South, West, every direction in between, picking things up and using them, in order to not get killed.
But I always wanted them to do a movie… and now they have. Frank Darabont, the man who did The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile, took a crack at it, and I have to say, I’m very satisfied with the result.
This movie perfectly captures the mood of the book of people trapped in a country grocery store surrounded by a think mist. There are monsters in the mist, and inside the store isn’t going to be safe forever. The tense building of the religious cult as people take sides on what just might be the end of humanity is well portrayed.
Like the old text adventure, the movie strayed from the book, which in this case it didn’t have to do, but where it did it worked. Especially the end… the end of the book haunted me, and part of me hoped to see the same ending because I felt it was so good, but the movie has a new ending, but its haunting just the same.
Overall, two thumbs up from me. Worth the money to see in the theater.
Last night, despite still being ill (more on that later), I went to a screening of the new movie Beowulf.
The story of Beowulf has been done so many times that I figure everyone knows it by now, so I’m not going to review that part. It is what it is, and its still pretty good.
This movie version is a computer animated tale. It uses the same motion capture system that brought us The Polar Express three years ago. I had the same problem with this film that I have had with every single computer animated movie in the past as they’ve approached realism: eyes and mouth. Two things that computer animation hasn’t gotten quite right yet, that eyes are not steady (people tend to flick their eyes around even if they don’t realize they are doing it) and that mouth movement actually affects the entire face (when a person yells, the jaw opens and it pulls the skin of the entire face, affecting the nose and eyes as well).
Now here comes the compliment… Beowulf is the first computer animated movie to make me forget that the eyes and mouth are wrong. Going in to the film, I did not know it was a digital 3D movie. The animation by itself would have been amazing, but rendered in 3D and popping off the screen it was breathtakingly phenomenal. Astounding.
Because of this, I highly recommend going to see this movie at the theater. The big screen and the digital 3D absolutely makes this film be exactly what Beowulf should be.
I actually saw Resident Evil: Extinction weekend before last, but I figured I’d dig out my thoughts on it for a Zombie Wednesday post. There are going to be spoilers. You have been warned.
I loved the first Resident Evil film. I’ve never played any of the games, so I went into it with just the expectation of a zombie movie, and it delivered. The only mild disappointment I might have had with it was the open ending and the not-quite-zombie monsters at the tail of the film. The second movie was more of the same, until they introduced the boss mob. That was silly. But hey, it didn’t totally suck.
The third movie, well, I was hoping for the end of a trilogy. It even seemed like it was going that direction. The world is infected by the T-Virus, dried up. If people stay in one place too long, the zombies will find them, so they stay on the move, driving around the desert in a caravan. Meanwhile, Umbrella is still around and is actually searching for a cure, sort of, and they happen to be in the desert too. Alice is still running around trying to save the people she can, and Umbrella needs Alice to manufacture the cure.
There are some really cool scenes of the caravan and of Alice as they move through this dead world. Stuff happens, people die, things go wrong… the usual. But then the movie takes a left turn. See, there is this scientist who has been using clones of Alice in place of Alice, and its not working out well. So he decides to go after Alice, but only after he creates some super zombies to fight her. The doctor ends up getting bit by a super zombie, and instead of turning into a zombie or even a super zombie he turns into a boss mob with tentacles and other weird shit (I’m told it is Tyrant from the game). Its lame. And then Alice wins, and she tells all the other hidden Umbrella labs that she’s coming to get them, her and her army… of Alice clones.
There are rumors and allegations going around that they are working on a Resident Evil 4, and as much as I now dread it, I hate movies with giant gaping open endings. Leave a couple loose ends untied? Sure. But the end of this movie was just too much. They need an RE4, if for no other reason than to put an ending stamp on it.