Sunday, July 30, 2006

Syriana (Drama 2005)

Humm I don't really know what to say. Was it a good movie? Yes. Was it kinda everywhere with multiple plot lines? Yes. Was there a purpose? Well that's a tricky one to try to answer. The movie pretty much fed on every single stereotype that exists when people mention oil, Saudi Arabia royalty, CIA, Islam, government, money, and power. The writer pretty much built a plot abound the combination of all of these things, but didn't provide much of a purpose other than telling a story.

So yeah, it was well done but I don't think I learned or gained anything new from watching it. At least the film wasn't made to try to force the audience to "change" their views on anything. So if you like movies such as Clear and Present Danger or Spy Game, then you will probably like this one. It has a lot of talking, a lot of politics, and a tiny bit of action.
Rating - A

Friday, July 28, 2006

Lord of War (Drama 2005)

Pretty good movie. Not all that exciting, but still pretty good nonetheless. This film tried to do what The Constant Gardener fully did, but in a more subtle way, you know like bringing into the limelight a moral or ethical problem facing our society.

I think the director only sorta succeeded in conveying the overall message, but the reaction from an average audience still remains the same: "Oh, that sucks", but can most people actually do anything about any of these problems like big government, corrupt corporations, etc? Nope...not a damn thing. And if someone truly thinks that they can change the greater world around them, are they either delusional, lying, or just plain fucking stupid. From my tone it might seem like I'm a tad callous towards all of the bad things in the world that stare at us right in the face, but in reality I am just like most people who agree with the do-gooders and condemn the bad. The difference is that some of us know what is possible and what is not; and the things that are not, we deal with it and sweep it under the rug.

Anyway...this film was just another slice of meat in the deli sandwich of these types of movies, all of which came out around the same time. I'm going to be watching Syriana next, so that will add to the bulk of the sandwich, I bet my reaction will be very similar to the one I had with this. Everything else was mediocre...acting, special effects, story, character development were all blah.
Rating - B

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Ellie Parker (Comedy 2005)

Well lets start by saying Naomi Watts is damn hot. Yeah...very. This movie was different because it was filmed like it was low-budget, but that probably wasn't the case because it had two named actors playing in it. The camera follows around this chick as she tries to make it in Hollywood as an actor; and that's pretty much the whole story in a nutshell. It was not filmed like a documentary, but more like a third party "fly on the wall". It was weird because the audience was watching Naomi Watts, who is already a very talented actor, "try" to get gigs even though her auditions were badass and real-life-like, so I guess it would kinda be similar to watching a movie within a movie.

Again, the film was shot using some sort of cheap-ass camera that made everything look a lot more raw and realistic; a feature that won a ton of points with me. It made the town of LA and the career of "aspiring actor" look a lot more real-life, just like me buying some DV-Cam at Best Buy and filming one of my friends. Any aspiring actor should watch this movie because it totally kills any fanciful ideas of what "acting" or getting into the biz is all about. Although what the fuck do I know about acting or the entertainment industry? Nothing...but I do know how daily life is like...and this movie is exactly what I imagine as a believable, non-sugarcoated reality of this very difficult career path and industry.
Rating - A

Slingbox (Random Product)

Yeah so I'm not sure how many people have heard of this new invention, but I got wind of it and needed to try it out to see if it was all that and a bucket of cheese. The item is called a Slingbox and yeah it's a pretty cool gadget if you like watching TV. It works by hooking up to the coaxial cable or any DVR/Tivo equipment that you have in your house. It then connects up to your home network via an Ethernet cable.

The whole purpose of the item is for you to watch TV from any location that has a Internet connection. So if you are at work, in a coffee shop, or in Antarctica, you should be able to watch TV from a PDA (With a Windows-based OS) or a lappy that has the software client installed. From a technical standpoint (Software Client>Laptop>Ethernet/Wireless>Internet Connection>Hole Through Home Router>Slingbox>TV Signal). Pretty sick shit if you follow that. So if someone had HBO at their house and had this Slingbox hooked up, you could be watching TV using his/her connection instead of paying for your own. But of course these days, if you have broadband, you probably have basic cable by default.

I installed it at work and connected to my home router with no problems. It was pretty nutty. Setup and installation were the easiest I've ever toyed with. The software even updated the firmware for you...now that's service!

The primary marketing of this product is for world travelers or consultants who are never at home or want to watch US shows when they are in a different country. Unfortunately, I neither watch a lot of TV, nor am I away from my house for more than a few hours per day aside from work, so this item would not be of much use to me...but for other peeps, it could come in pretty handy. Amazon.com's price wanders around $150 and that is the cheapest I've seen.

Forgotten Realms: The Dark Elf Trilogy - Homeland (Book 1990)

For those who read fantasy novels (yeah I think I'm one of the rare few), this series was super old school, but I never felt compelled to dive into it back in the day. But, as fate would have it, I was looking for an escape and this book was sitting at the library callin' my name.

After breaking away from my video games for a few weeks, I finally finished it and I got to say that it didn't disappoint at all. Good, solid story with a nice, open-ended conclusion. When I get more time I'll have to get the other 2 books in the series and finish it up.
Rating - High

Chicken Experiment

So for those of you who actually know me, it should undoubtedly come as no surprise that chicken = a very bad time. I have not eaten a chicken-based meal in more than half a decade now, but last week I was wanting some...just like sometimes I fiend marshmallows, candy corn, Cinnabon, Doritos, Strawberry Quik, and other illegal foods.
And oh yes, I can safely say that chicken still tastes great.
But, as I could have written in my hypothesis statement, the results were as expected.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

A Scanner Darkly (Animation 2006)

What the fuck did I just waste my Saturday afternoon watching? Did someone really write this thinking that it was going to be filed under the "good movie" section of history? Motherfuck man...this film was one of those weirdo artsy flicks that was made by some pretentious prick who wears black-rimmed glasses and sips expensive drinks in a coffee shop all while wearing Converse kicks and claiming that he's an "individual".

I could barely follow what was going on in the movie because it had this odd plot with quirky dialogue that all seemed to be going nowhere. I wanted to leave after 30 minutes. Yeah, that's how bad it was. This movie reminded me a lot of Mirrormask, another craptacular creation from some other artsy fucker.

The movie had to do with drugs, which can be another reason associated with my aversion to it. But they did do a good job showing how drug users are fucking stupid and sit around talking about stupid things with no real purpose. It reminded me of numerous occasions when I had to sit in the same room with the same types of people. Pointless conversation and nonsensical arguments...that's what drugs equal.

Whatever...for an animation that had the same style as Waking Life, it was decent, but for a themed movie, I'd rather watch a plant grow. I came out of this movie with nothing other than a little flag that categorizes it under the same folder as The Postman, Battlefield Earth, and Half Baked.
Rating - F

Saturday, July 15, 2006

The Lake House (Romance 2006)

Leave it up to Hollywood to fuck up a great original and turn it into a mess that has absolutely no coherency. And by coherency I mean on-screen chemistry, flow, and a rational plot. Of course how rational is it for a mailbox to have magical powers to transfer items two years into the future/past, but that's just a technicality isn't it?

This movie was based on a Korean film that I reviewed a long while back called Il Mare. That one was a great movie that had good chemistry, appropriate music, and a story that made sense.

The Lake House sorta kept the theme of the original but merely added random shit details in everywhere, which made it more convoluted, plot-wise. The ending was fucking lame because it didn't make any sense from the time difference aspect. This sorta has to do with that whole butterfly effect, which the writers in this adaptation failed to take into consideration. The acting seemed pretty shitty too...I don't know what was up with these two peeps but Sandra Bullock looked constipated throughout the film and Keanu looked like he would rather be back in The Matrix.

Anyway, obviously I would not recommend anyone to see it unless they were doing it specifically to compare it to the original.
Rating - D

Star Wars: Republic Commando - Hard Contact (Book 2004)

Maybe it's because I don't read very often or because this was the first fiction book since Potter that I've read in a long time, but I have to say that it was pretty damn enjoyable. I stayed up till 2:41AM to finish it. The book was a solid sci-fi adventure story based in the Star Wars universe.

It went into more detail about the clone soldiers and it added a whole lot more to the overall Star Wars story. Episodes 1-6 concentrated on the core of the action, but small books like these add a lot to the background. If they made this book into a film, it would probably only be an O.K. flick. The writing was simple and direct, but I think more is needed to capture an audience.
Rating - Mid

Friday, July 14, 2006

White Water Rafting

So I went back home to Reno a few weeks back and my sister had the idea of going white water rafting. Of course I would have rather stayed at home but it was fun for some parts...the driving there and back was not one of them. Yeah the peeps who took pics wanted a ton of money for the real pics so I instead am taking the cheap route and nabbing them directly from their site. Sadly the water mark will remain, but oh well.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Love Letter (Foreign Japanese Romance 1995)

I know I've already reviewed this movie in the past, but I just rewatched it tonight to verify that it was indeed as good as the first time around. Needless to say I was not disappointed in the least. This has to be one of the greatest romantic movies ever...and if there was a specific category for a "subtle romance", this film would take the cake without question. Like always, the music is what carries this story along so well. The flawless acting on the part of the main character just added to the whole, as it sucks the viewer into the emotional aspect of the plot. Everyone should watch this movie at least once in their lifetime.
Rating - A+

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Otogi Zoshi - Legend of Magatama (Anime 2005)

This first DVD in a six-part anime series seems to be alright, although I don't think the story is layered enough to be a Wolf's Rain or Last Exile. The plot seems to be pretty simple; a chick from a noble samurai family must impersonate her dead brother in a mission to recover 5 magical stones. Lots of sword fights and random drama occurs, but no deep, interpersonal stuff so I suspect the rest of the series to be as superficial as this first DVD was. I probably won't pay to rent the rest of the series, but I wouldn't mind watching it if it were free.
Rating - C

Titan Quest (3rd Person RPG PC Game 2006)

So this held my attention for about a week or so. It looks and feels like Diablo II, but unfortunately even 5 years after the original badass game was released, THQ totally failed to add anything "new" to the formula they stole from Blizzard. This is just as lame as a company trying to make another generic version of Coke.

The game tried to differentiate itself by having a skill tree that lets you put skill points in several areas such as magic, archery, melee, defense, etc. So because of the different combinations that can be made, multiclassing was a big selling point for the game makers. This is, of course, different from that of Diablo II where you had to pick a class in the beginning of the game and then work up a specific tree from there. I think it was the developers' assumption that this skill distribution function would give the game some sort of added replay value. Wrong.

And why is that? Well, it's because this game was fucking boring. It got super repetitive around the second day, but I kept on playing in hopes of getting to a new area and maybe fighting some cooler enemies, but boy was I disappointed. What I discovered was that the programmers merely used the same mob AI and put different skins on them, so instead of having an elf-looking creature trying to attack you with a spear, you had a wolfman-looking mob doing the same thing...it was so lame. Apply that to everything...enemy archers, flying creatures, melee fighters, bosses...they all used the same tactics and all had the same movements. After a week I had gotten half-way through the whole game and had not seen more than 6 different types of enemy playstyles. WTF. And then to stir even more disappointment into the pot, there were zero new cutscenes other than the intro one...again...WTF. That is part of the RPG menu people! This company really needs to hire better writers and designers in order to be truly competitive. I'd be fucking embarrassed if I were part of this project.
Rating - Low

Round 2

So, after the sudden death of my original webpage combined with my cheap-ass sense of value, I'll try to put my postings here in hopes that this system will have enough space for pics as well as prevent any censorship from occurring.