Monday, March 31, 2008

Goya's Ghosts (Drama 2006)

I never even heard of this movie before I stumbled upon it a few days ago. Portman is in it, so I thought I would check it out.

This was a period piece surrounding the Spanish monarchy and the Inquisition. I guess Goya was a famous painter during this time. The story followed around this artist as he witnessed many horrors that people inflicted on one another, may that be the Catholic Church or Napoleon's conquering army. Portman's character was an unfortunate person who caught the attention of the Inquisition and suffered dearly for it. Javier Bardem's character was a sleazy man of the cloth, turned criminal, turned judge, and then turned back into a criminal. It pretty much showed the rise and fall of this guy two times over.

Artistically, the movie felt a lot like Girl with a Pearl Earring, even though the stories weren't similar at all. It was fair, but mainly if you're interested in the artist or history during this period of time.
Rating - C

Dracula by Bram Stoker (Book 1897)

This has to be the first "classic" book that I've managed to finish in my lifetime. It's funny how you don't really have to read in this day and age to get around in life.

Since I'm a big fan of the 1992 film with the same name, I wanted to see how the original book was written and how it compared with the movie. Unfortunately, I wasn't as impressed as I thought I would be. Since this novel was written in the late 19th century, people obviously talked differently back then. They used a lot of "God", "Bless", and "Him" nonsense that got very very annoying to read. Almost every paragraph had something to do with thanking God for doing blah blah. Whatever...I'm glad that regular, mainstream society is no longer heavily influenced by all that stuff.

The story was still pretty good when reading it from a book. A whole lot of extra detail was added, where the movie comparatively lacked. But one thing a book can't do is create ambiance, especially for a horror. There was never a creepy part or some moment where your nerves would tense up because something just might jump out of the darkness and gank you. This type of feeling is something that movies do very well with the use of sound and music.

Even with all of the additional details, I still like the movie better. This novel took a substantially longer time to read, as opposed to some random fantasy book. I'm glad I cleared it though; it's one extra book in the world that I can say that I've read.
Rating - Mid

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Juno (Drama 2007)

Now why did this movie get nominated for Best Picture? I didn’t see it as standing out from the rest of the pack. The movie was definitely different, but it wasn’t spectacular in any way.

If HS kiddies really talk like they do in this film, then I’m definitely out of the loop. The use of made-up words in this movie is astounding. It puts a whole different twist on modern slang, but I’m sure most of the words aren’t universal.

Ellen Page performed pretty well as the main actor, but that does it for the positive statements. The music was way too earthy and the fact that the characters in the film liked so many crappy, pre-80s bands was just too much to handle. It reminds me of an old roommate who enjoyed listening to bands that nobody else knew, just so she could say that she was an expressive, unique individual who didn’t follow the norm. Personally, I’ve never heard music from any indi band that was worth their beans.

Although I chuckled a few times, I wouldn’t consider it a comedy. As a drama, I would say it was only mediocre and was nothing special.
Rating - C

Enchanted (Family Adventure 2007)

This Disney movie got pretty decent ratings, so I thought I would give it a look. The film was an animated/real-life hybrid movie where some characters get transported to New York and are forced to wander around the city. From the acting point of view, Amy Adams and James Marsden never faltered with their characters, as they only showed naive personality traits that are very common to all Disney fantasy characters. It’s a silly concept, but they kept the act up pretty well.

The movie was definitely Disney, filled with people randomly breaking out into song and dance and also having a carefree, linear plot. Of course younger peeps would enjoy this a whole lot more than older ones.
Rating - C

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Domino (Action 2005)

On first glance, one would probably think that this movie was ass just because you have Keira Knightley, of all people, acting like some tough chick. From her stellar (not) performance in King Arthur, one could imagine how that type of character just isn’t the right fit for her.

I gotta say though, I was actually surprised at the quality of this film from the story aspect. It was a fun movie that had enough action and skin, equal to any entertaining film. Knightly still wasn’t believable, but the rest of the characters in the movie made it all work out.

Ian Ziering and Brian Austin Green made a special guest appearance mocking themselves, so that was pretty fun to watch. They must be pretty desperate for cash to sell out like that, just like Kevin Federline was with his burger flipping commercial.

This flick had a multiple-sided plot, which made it intricate and layered. The ending was grand, just like an action movie is supposed to be. Good entertainment value for a non-publicized sleeper.
Rating - B

Monday, March 24, 2008

The Mist (Thriller 2007)

I was actually really surprised, for this was an O.K. flick even though many of the characters were totally exaggerated. The movie was about a large group of people who take refuge in a small town supermarket after a mysterious mist comes down from the mountains following a huge storm and starts killing people.

I wouldn’t define this as a horror movie, but it certainly is one for the sociological books. Most Stephen King books that make it to the big screen or television are always a bit lacking. Yeah, I should know after my very short stint as an extra for Stephen King’s craptacular made for TV movie Desperation. Sadly I was cut and dropped on the editing room floor, but I still made my $125 for two days work.

Anyhoo, the acting and characters in this film were not normal in that their random subset of the population who would be in a grocery store behaved way too irrationally to be taken seriously. Thankfully, a few of the more annoying peeps were killed off fairly quickly. The rest of the film was all about how peeps become stupid and uncivilized when they are scared out of their wits and start losing their humanity.

The main antagonist in the movie was this zealous Bible thumper who just pissed me the fuck off every second she was on screen. I felt a ton of hate for the character...a ton. Luckily, the most gratifying head shot ever was received by her, so that made it all better.

The ending of the movie was tragic, but I still think the fateful decision was a bit premature. All of the mist creatures were straight out of Half-Life, as was the plotline relating to the military and other dimensions.

It was an enjoyable watch. I would've liked it if there was more military action, but we have to make due.
Rating - B

Living in China (March 24, 2008)

Well there’s something new to report from the teaching front: Plagiarism. What an interesting concept. I used to think that it was just an ass thing to try as a student; but as a teacher, when students turn in crap that is far beyond their level of education, it turns into a grave insult that I find quite unnerving. Five students turned in essays that were either directly from the Internet, verbatim, or excerpts from the class book. As expected, the school’s administration didn’t give a flying fuck and said just to give them zeros on the assignment.

Today, I had the first test in one of my classes and two students were caught blatantly cheating. Do they realize that I’m smarter than they are? If sitting in an awkward angle, placing your test far from your hands, and looking down at the floor while moving your mouth doesn’t give you away, I don’t know what will. I can’t wait until this class ends. I hate these students more than anyone could ever imagine. Below is what the future holds for this country.

On a lighter note, I went and visited a Military Museum in Beijing this last weekend. It’s funny to see a shit ton of propaganda mixed in with military history. Changing hearts and minds has never been easier. Unfortunately, the only armor they had there was a helmet. I’m sure everything else was burned or melted down during the turmoil in the early and mid 20th century. They did have some neat, captured Japanese swords though. They were pretty much the only well-designed weapons in the whole building.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Company of Heroes: Opposing Fronts (RTS PC Game 2007)

I'm sure that I mentioned more than once that the RTS genre has hit a lull in terms of originality and gameplay. Most of the time, all you have to do is tweak the strategy a little bit, and before you know it, you're playing the same game that you've been playing since the inception of the RTS. This game totally blew the lid on that whole chestnut.

A year or so ago, multiple people did mention to me how this game was new and actually very fun, but all I saw were screenshots of WWII crap all over again, so I ignored it: my mistake. For the last 2 weeks I have been having a jolly good time playing this game to death, so thus it deserves some very high accolades.

Story
The campaign story followed around US, German, and British forces during real-life missions that were actually fought. In terms of story, it gave the missions a bit more purpose; but as I'll get to in a little bit, you actually start caring about your units instead of not giving a fuck as you send a whole blob of infantry to their deaths.

Cinematics
The movies were very nice and artsy at times. Some scenes were old-school cinematics using regular computer models, while others were "moving art". I'm not sure if that is the right term, but I'm sure some of you have seen it before. It looks like a painting, but then various additional paintings are layered onto the original to make it seem like the screens are moving. I think that's a pretty neat way of showing the transition of time.

Gameplay
This is where this game shined and where it was uniquely different from all other RTS games. Usually in a game, if you have a vehicle go up against an infantry unit, 99% of the time the infantry unit will get its ass handed to it within seconds. I guess it's realistic, depending on the "world" you're playing in, but it's way too predictable. Because this game was set in WWII, it was hella realistic in terms of possibilities.

So for example, in real life if you had a squad of infantry consisting of 6 men, and they were going up against a tank, there IS a chance that the squad would be able to take out the tank, depending on the situation such as cover and weapons. If the squad had a bazooka and was in a location that had very good cover, they would actually stand a fighting chance in surviving. This game followed a realistic system of offense and defense, which is a much different model for a RTS. I totally dug this aspect of gameplay, as real strategy was actually taken advantage of instead of being blown aside, like most other RTS games.

Attacking a group of tanks from the rear can totally turned the tide if you're outnumbered or pounding an area with mortars can soften up an enemy enough to send in your ground troops. All of these little micromanagement techniques hella assisted in actually having fun again.

I guess some people might not enjoy the micromanagement associated with positioning, defense, and offense, but I think those attributes totally made this game stand out. It was flat out fun, and that's a hard thing to do and maintain these days.

Controls
All of the controls were the same for any game in this genre.

Graphics
Visuals were really good. Everything from a tank firing into a garrisoned building, to smoke billowing from a damaged APC, to the weather and rain effects were all very impressive and realistic.

Sound & Music
All the sounds were great. Tank shells, artillery, machine guns, snipers, and air support all had terrific supporting sounds. Unfortunately, the pirated Chinese version I had didn't have any music, so I can't comment on that.

Overall
Obviously I was very impressed with this game. Even though the WWII scenario should be axed, the idea behind this game and the engine that it was built on was great. If Relic wants to make more money, all they have to do is follow what Activision did with Call of Duty 4. Make a modern-day version of this game using modern weapons and units and they'd make a killing in sales.
Rating - High

Resurrecting the Champ (Drama 2007)

This film was one that slid under the radar a good number of months back. That's probably because it ended up being as impressive as the previews hinted at. Josh Hartnett and Samuel L. Jackson teamed up to tell a story of a newspaper reporter who needed a story to boost his career, while Samuel L.’s character was a homeless ex-boxer who was just trying to survive.

The story had a feel similar to that of Shattered Glass, but it wasn’t as good as that film. Samuel L. Jackson was a very believable homeless guy. Hartnett was O.K., but he didn’t really stick out as a good actor. Like usual, he was just another character going through the motions.

The film wasn’t very impressive, so it'll exist as an average flick in the eyes of this reviewer. It wasn't dramatic, inspirational, or depressing. You have to have some extreme in order to differentiate your film from all the others in the world. If you don't, nobody will remember it.
Rating - C

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Southland Tales (Drama 2006)

Who funds this shit? I mean there has to be some guy whose job is to read a script, think it will make some profit, and then approve the distribution of money to give to a director to start making a film. Richard Kelly is the asshole who’s responsible for this monstrosity. He probably got funding for this gig only because he wrote and directed Donnie Darko. I have to admit that movie was a bit odd, but interesting enough. Having that film being turned into a cult classic has placed this punk on a semi-heightened pedestal in the eyes of some, but this latest film was a complete joke.

I can’t even describe the story because it was all over the place and didn’t really have one. It had an all-star cast, but other than that, it was total vapor. So let’s run down what it was lacking: plot, writing, believable dialogue, believable characters, and plot again. How can you make a movie without a substantial story? I don’t understand how this director can sleep at night knowing that the culmination of his “artistic and cinematic talent” is manifested in only a single, accidental film. It’s just like having a one hit wonder; we can all guess how much pride can be exuded from that.

99% of the film seemed like a complete joke. Think Galaxy Quest if you want to follow where I’m going with this. I’m sure it was done purposely, but other than making a vain attempt at mocking American media or society, what the fuck was the movie about?

This was definitely one of those films that would’ve been promptly turned off if wasn’t going to write a review on it. It’s worthless in all ways, shapes, and forms.
Rating - F

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Tropa de Elite (Foreign Brazilian Action 2007)

This one is a Brazilian movie about an elite squad of peeps who work alongside cops; so in a nutshell, they’re the SWAT team of the country’s police force.

The movie was mostly an action flick with a little bit of story. It followed around this group of cops as they try to take down a drug dealer in a slum of a city. There haven’t been too many Brazilian movies that have made it to my DVD player, so it’s always nice to hear a different language being spoken. Brazilian Portuguese is an interesting mix of Spanish and something else I’m not familiar with.

The film itself was fair, but it was pretty average for a cop movie. It being Brazilian-made didn’t change a thing in terms of story, quality, or special effects.
Rating - C

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Virus Update

Ah ha! I am smarter than thou. I tried to DL an attachment via Gmail and boom, I get this as the link instead of a Zip file of my attachments. http://d.52hxsh.com/setup.exe

This bastard needs to burn. Too bad I don't have some wicked skills like they do in the movies...

Domain Name:52hxsh.com

Registrant:
hexie shehui
guangdong province,guangzhou City
520620

Administrative Contact:
hexeishehui
hexie shehui
guangdong province,guangzhou City
guangzhou Guangdong 520620
CN
tel: 208 657830
fax: 208 657830
hexieshehui@163.com

Technical Contact:
hexeishehui
hexie shehui
guangdong province,guangzhou City
guangzhou Guangdong 520620
CN
tel: 657830
fax: 657830
hexieshehui@163.com

Billing Contact:
hexeishehui
hexie shehui
guangdong province,guangzhou City
guangzhou Guangdong 520620
CN
tel: 657830
fax: 657830
hexieshehui@163.com

Registration Date: 2007-12-27
Update Date: 2007-12-27
Expiration Date: 2008-12-27

Primary DNS: ns2.xinnetdns.com 210.51.170.48
Secondary DNS: ns2.xinnet.cn 210.51.170.67

Registry Status: ok

Living in China (March 15, 2008)

I’m going to bitch for a while because that’s one of my greatest skills: an ability to complain endlessly. As I may have mentioned, a ton of the other teachers’ computers are down because a worm has been traversing our network and infecting everything. I have been asked to try to fix a few of the systems, but most of my regular tricks do not work. I have given up by saying that I don’t have the equipment needed to fix the systems, which is actually true. But yesterday, I too became a victim of this awful, puss-filled network we have here.

I’ll just give you some background on the worm and its functions. I believe the main big boy is called W32.Xorer or TR/Drop.Xorer.C, depending on what antivirus software you are using. After an executable is activated, your system is toast. All active antivirus guard programs and firewall programs are deactivated, a bunch of files are overwritten. Surprisingly, nothing is added to the regular “run” areas on HKLM or HKCU. Hijackthis can sometimes see a system32\dnsq.dll file, but it cannot find/remove it via the registry. The virus jacks up your explorer.exe and sometimes blacks out your screen. If you double-click any program, may that be a standalone executable, an installed program, or an installation package, it will auto-close or auto-cancel. Explorer.exe is also restarted immediately, so it looks like your application is still on the screen, but nothing is clickable because it’s only a shadow-image of a stuck program. In reality, your executable has already been closed because of a program lock-up or your memory has been maxed out.

The only thing you can really do is open up task manager, but if you arrange the processes by memory allocation, you’ll begin to notice that taskmgr.exe’s memory usage starts increasing exponentially. You can kill that process, but when you go back to start it up again, or any program within task manager’s run command screen, it will start eating up memory. You will sometimes notice that ping.exe gets magically executed, so I’m sure it’s trying to wreck more havoc on other systems on the network. So when you’re normally booted into the system, you can’t do shit because everything gets auto-closed. The kicker to this virus is that it causes safe-mode booting to blue screen on you. I’m not sure what files are missing or have been corrupted, but you can’t go in using that option. Without a boot CD or without a thingie to hook up your infected HDD to a working computer via USB/eSATA, you’re pretty much screwed. I was able to get a console up without it turning the program into a memory vampire, but there are very few programs that are truly useful when controlled via command prompt.

So what did I do? I whipped out my unattended, slipstreamed version of XP and reloaded windows without nuking the system. It essentially made another windows directory called windows.0 and created a secondary OS. Get this though; after the whole process was completed, and I logged in for the first time, the virus somehow got auto-executed so the secondary OS also became hosed. I installed XP again, but this time I tried to go into safe mode before I got to the normal login screen. I successfully got in after the second restart, so that’s essentially after you see the nice blue screen saying that the OS is reconfiguring itself. When in safe mode, I was able to scan the hell out of the system using the freeware of Avira AntiVir and the open source Clamwin. Avira’s software got everything, but Clamwin only found a few.

After booting back into a clean version of my profile and original OS, I discovered that the “guard” portion of AntiVir was hosed so that had to be reinstalled, the firewall I was using had to be reinstalled, and Windows Media Player had to be reinstalled. I deleted the windows.0 directory because it was no longer needed, but now I can’t get into safe mode anymore. Also, under folder options, the box to select “view hidden system files” has been removed so I can’t get to that. The OS still works and I was able to backup all of my data, but it still sucks. When I’m in the mood, I’ll probably end up doing a full nuke on it, but for now I’ll just deal mainly because I don’t want to sit there for ages as Windows Update grabs the billions of updates it needs after SP2.

All of this leads me to the original cause, so get this. We have to first go through a login server in order to get onto the network here. It’s very similar to wireless login screens at various airports around the US. Just after I got back in February, the main server started having integrated, spyware popups within the login screen itself. I knew it was not my machine because it only happened within browsers and I scanned the hell out of my system. I’m totally guessing that the server was used for stuff servers aren’t supposed to be used for, i.e. surfing. Obviously some incompetent IT guy who got the job because of his “connections”, activated the virus on the server, which thus started screwing up the whole network. Now the Internet, along with the login server goes down multiple times a day and even the school’s primary website also goes down all the time. I bet that memory-eating component of the virus is totally the cause.

Anyhoo, the way I got the virus in the first place was that I was using AVG Free as my primary, and I went to download a regular application file. It turns out that the file’s location was somehow redirected to the virus executable and I downloaded that from some mystery location instead of the real file that I had chosen to DL from downloads.com. It was called Setup.exe, which was normal enough, but it was a pretty small file which should’ve flagged me. Crappy AVG did not catch it and thus I got screwed. A portion of AntiVir’s guard program was down, but it did give me a warning, which I kinda accidently clicked “ignore” instead of “deny”. I’m totally to blame for the execution of the file, but for the DLing of it, hell no. I’ve never seen a redirection of this type before, but I guess there’s a first for everything, especially in China.

So to sum it up, 3 different viruses were detected after I managed to stabilize the situation. Any flash key you inserted into the system was automatically infected with 2 virus files, and many c:\ root files were jacked along with hella files within system32. I lost the logs of a chunk of ‘em, but what I have is:

System
C:\WINDOWS\system32\Com\netcfg.000: W32.Xorer-12 FOUND
C:\WINDOWS\system32\Com\netcfg.dll: W32.Xorer-12 FOUND
C:\WINDOWS\system32\Com\smss.exe: W32.Xorer-2 FOUND
C:\WINDOWS\system32\dnsq.dll: Win32.Xorer.Gen

Flash Key (Hidden files)
'G:\AUTORUN.INF 'TR/Harnig.WA [TR/Harnig.WA]'
'G:\pagefile.pif 'TR/Drop.Xorer.C [TR/Drop.Xorer.C]'

I hope the creator gets genital herpes.

Hitman (Action 2007)

If you’ve ever seen any of the XxX movies with either Vin Diesel or Ice Cube, then you’ll already understand where I’m going with this one. Hitman was very similar in terms of content, action, and girls. Brainless, of course, but still entertaining.

It took me a long time to figure it out, but the main character, Timothy Olyphant, was the primary bad guy in Live Free or Die Hard. He looks different with a shaved head. I never played the video game of Hitman, but I heard it was hella hard during a good number of missions. The movie had a lot of guns and killing, but surprisingly enough, it didn’t really suck as bad as some other video game/comic movies do. The main chick was of the Russian, short hair type; need I say more? She kinda looked like Sophie Marceau from some angles. Yeah what ever happened to her after her Braveheart stint?

This was a laid back film that had some nice gun battles and sword fighting scenes. It was all theatrical and totally exaggerated, but it was still fun to watch. There was also a sick Audi S5 with a pristine ass driven in the film. Too bad we couldn’t all afford one aye? For an action flick it delivered where it was supposed to.
Rating - C

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Cassandra's Dream (Crime 2007)

I haven’t seen many Woody Allen films, and after this, I don’t think I want to. This movie was a tragedy of sorts, but it was mainly a story of two brothers who always seemed to make the wrong decisions.

Colin Farrell’s character was a spineless, compulsive gambler and Ewan McGregor’s character was a fraud who was into “getting rich quick”. Because of their personality weaknesses, they ended up getting themselves into financial trouble, were offered a way out by committing murder, and then didn’t have the balls to deal with it afterwards.

I have a problem watching films where the people make hella stupid decisions because of their lack of self-control and/or logic. When every decision made is exactly opposite of what you would’ve done, you got to wonder what you’re really watching. This film goes in the pointless category because the story was stupid.
Rating - C

Sunday, March 09, 2008

In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale (Fantasy Adventure 2007)

This was very bad; like Dungeons and Dragons and D-War bad. After the first 6 minutes, I knew that the movie was going to royally suck, so that's the level of crapness we’re talking about here.

I can understand Leelee Sobieski, Burt Reynolds, and Ray Liotta not being able to find any work and having to accept this gig to pay the bills, but Jason Statham? The guy went from driving a badass Audi in Transporter 2 to being affiliated with this monstrosity of filmmaking. There had to be some blackmail going on because no amount of money could ever convince a good actor to black mark his career by accepting a part in this. Could you ever picture Denzel or Bruce Willis saying “yes” to this film? Hell no. They’re smarter than that, or at least their agents are. I'm also saddened to report that one of my favorites, Claire Forlani, also took the poisoned bait and is a minor character in this film.

This isn’t one of those movies that's crap because it wasted my time when it was supposed to be good. It's one of those movies that's a shining example of a bad movie that should have never been conceived. The director was responsible for BloodRayne. That should say something even though I’ve never seen the movie. All the reviews were horrendous though, so I trust IMDB for that.
Rating - F

Saturday, March 08, 2008

There Will Be Blood (Drama 2007)

Everyone has been raving about this film ever since its release, so I’ve been patiently waiting around for it to reach the shores of Asia. It finally hit the streets of Beijing this last weekend. Was it worth the wait? No it was not, but it wasn’t as bad as some of my other disappointments.

First off, I do have to say that Daniel Day-Lewis was a hella impressive actor in this film. He totally “became the character”, something that most actors constantly fail to achieve. I actually thought that Paul Dano wasn’t half bad as a supporting actor. I absolutely loathed his character, but that’s a good thing in the acting world.

So yes, besides the acting, I don’t see what the hype was all about. The movie didn’t seem all that good as a whole. The story had your everyday, ambitious primary character who cared more about money and power than anything else in the world, who ended up succeeding at all of his life goals, including revenge and getting the last word in. If anything, the film showed how bad people actually win in life. I’m not opposed to that type of an ending, but I’m still totally not seeing what other fans are all hollerin’ about.

But if the frosting I’m looking for is hidden in some lame symbolism crap, then no thanks. I’ll just make that crystal clear. Symbolism that isn’t obvious is not real symbolism. It’s just like abstract art. It isn’t artistic, heavily-skill-laden, or even respectable. It’s usually just a bunch of paint thrown on a canvas or a bunch of metal glued together. Poser artists are just as bad as poser filmwriters.

So while we’re on the topic of crappy things that people think are good, even though No Country for Old Men did win best picture, I’m still standing firm on my belief that it was a piece of shit. As for this one, it didn’t strike me as being a film of greater caliber. Sorry, the story, music, and cinematography matter as much as the acting.
Rating - C

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (Western Drama 2007)

Not since Gettysburg have I seen a film that was so putt putt slow that I actually fell asleep. This movie was all about getting a face shot, having an actor say something, and then leaving the camera on the actor without panning away or changing scenes. It’s just like waiting in line at some theme park when you’re forced to stare at the back of some fat dude’s head for hours on end.

Since 3:10 to Yuma was such a good watch, I thought this westernish movie with Brad Pitt in it might be something to take notice of. As it turns out, the movie had nothing positive worth mentioning. This one was all about Jesse James and how he was brought down by a guy named Robert Ford. Ford was essentially a nobody who was portrayed as being a person who was way too ambitious and envious for his own good. I guess history doesn’t shine a bright light on his memory either. I’m sure that would be one hell of an ego-crusher if he was still around today.

As for the story, there wasn’t much of one. The rhythm of the film was 100% jacked up by the director’s never-ending shots. I couldn’t really follow the plot half of the time because I would totally forget that characters even existed or forget what locations people were at. I found that the dialogue was usually as unimportant as the acting. Boo all around.

I didn’t like the movie because it was way too slow and the end was totally not worth the wait. Even though it wasn’t bad, in terms of a regular bad movie like Daredevil or something, it heavily lacked in the “pros” category. I can’t come up with one good thing to say.
Rating - D

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

30 Days of Night (Horror 2007)

This movie was interesting. Even with all the current technology at the disposal of directors, the guy in charge of this film wanted to make this movie feel just like a low-budget B-flick. The sounds were hella dated, as were most of the visuals. I totally thought it was made in the early 80s and that I had accidentally purchased an older version of a movie with the same name.

As most probably know, this movie is all about a gang of vampires that descend on a small town in Alaska that, because of its placement in the upper northern hemisphere, will have 30 days of night. The vamps attack and kill lots of peeps while Josh Hartnett, the sheriff of the town, tries to keep a small group of survivors alive. It had a very straightforward plot, but much to my disappointment, it didn’t go into the background of any of the vampires.

The movie was a simple horror flick that wasn’t scary or thrilling at all. This was mainly because the sound was so old. Hartnett performed decently, while the rest of the characters were only glorified extras. I thought everything as a whole was pretty much average. I was expecting a ton more out of a film made in 2007, but oh well.
Rating - C

Medal of Honor: Airborne (FPS PC Game 2007)

Yet again, the MOH series has released another FPS game. I doubt I'm the first to say that the whole WWII theme has been completely overdone and nobody wants to play it anymore. I would’ve never purchased this game back in the U.S., but I got it here for under a buck so why not?

Story
Any story for a themed FPS is pointless. You’re a soldier, you’re given a gun, and you’re sent out to kill Nazis.

Gameplay
The gameplay was very old school, which means it was outdated and it sucked. The Call of Duty series figured out a long time ago that having first aid kits strewn everywhere was lame and took away from the gameplay. In those games, you only die if you take a shit ton of damage within a short amount of time. This game went backwards, so I had a dumb life bar and had to pick up health kits wherever I went. The whole “airborne” part of the game was nothing spectacular. You parachuted in and could either land in green flare (safe) areas of you could go for the gold and probably get killed before you hit the ground.

Sound & Music
The music had a progressive war theme to it and the sound clips were all standard for a WWII game.

Overall
As you might’ve noticed, I didn’t care for this game all too much because it just wasn’t fun. I died so many times because I found myself with half a bar of life left and there wasn’t a health kit in sight. Also, I always had the feeling that I had played this game before because it was totally the same as all of the previous MOH games. Towards the end I didn't even want to play it, but I needed to beat it just to say I played through the whole campaign. Maybe its low sales will finally give EA a hint that they should just stop with WWII.
Rating - Low

Monday, March 03, 2008

Alvin and the Chipmunks (Comedy 2007)

As expected, this movie kinda sucked. It was totally meant to remind you of a lost childhood, when watching this was just another show on the Saturday morning rundown. I do have to say that the integration of CG and real, live actors has come a long way since Who Framed Roger Rabbit. The chipmunks did seem very real even though they were totally digital.

Since this was a children’s movie, the plot was very standard in terms of linearity and separating out the good and bad characters. I’m sure I would’ve rated this film higher if I was 10 again; but alas, I’ve become a grumpy, film-watching curmudgeon who has a whole different set of expectations.
Rating - D

Living in China (March 4, 2008)

I suppose I’ll enlighten you all with an update since I’ve been back for a few weeks now. Classes have started and they all suck relative to what I had last term. All of my classes are with freshman, and as I predicted, none of them give a shit. One class is this odd “play a CD lecture” class where I play a CD and the students are supposed to listen and write down notes. Their note-taking skills suck and they have a very hard time listening and comprehending anything the person on the CD says. I have this class with 2 different groups of students, so it’s a waste of my time because I have to go through the exact same lesson plan two times a week.

My other class is this horrific Grammar and Writing class where I have to try to teach students about English grammar. Little does the school know that I usually float between a 26-38th percentile in grammar/English whenever I take a standardized test. I know I'm right, but the book and tests never seem to agree with my opinion. I hate this class with all of my being and would rather take a 50% pay cut and not teach it if at all possible, which it is unfortunately not.

The picture below is of a fish I tried cooking. It was alive when I bought it at the store and then I saw the dude behind the counter gut it, so I assumed it would've been dead by the time it reached the pan; I was incorrect. I’m sure the fish’s brain was dead, but the body sure wasn’t. While I was taking it out of the plastic bag it came in, it totally wiggled around as if it was alive and scared the bejesus out of me. I had company over they were witness to my unmasculine yelp and quick dash away from the fish. I was essentially called a pussy for the rest of the evening. Yeah, I buy dead fish in the U.S. because it's almost always kept under sanitary conditions. Here, I am forced to buy a swimming fish because who knows how long the dead ones have been sitting over a light dash of ice.

The next picture is this cool hand dryer I discovered in the Beijing airport. It had a great design. You put your hands in the center of the two plastic parts and 2 hella fast, hot jets of air totally dries your hands almost instantly. Why didn’t people think of this before? Of course it was made by Mitsubishi. Go Japanese innovation!

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Margot at the Wedding (Drama 2007)

I might have to reevaluate what an F movie is because this one is totally one of ‘em. This whole film was shit. Every single character was crazy and/or bipolar. I’m still damming myself for watching the whole thing because it was such a crap movie that made no sense.

I guess I can give out props to Nicole Kidman because she did a good job acting like a nut. But you have to really think, who writes movies like this? The dialogue was so ludicrous and the story was oh so bad. I wanted to turn it off so many times, but I wanted to see if the whole movie was as crappy as the first 10 minutes; it was.
Rating - F

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Rambo (Action 2008)

Oh Rambo, life must be tough. I think Stallone is trying to clear out all of his legacy movies; first with Rocky Balboa, and now this. Maybe we’ll see another Judge Dredd in the near future?

This movie was pretty much the same as all of his other flicks, but with a ton more killing. I don’t think Rambo even did that much in this movie other than running around and manning a huge .50 caliber machine gun. There were so many head shots, dismemberments, and human explosions that I lost count. I am sure this had the most gun/mortar killing I’ve ever seen in any one movie.

The film had a pretty lame story and the characters were fairly uninteresting, especially because they were all church folk. But yeah, just like the AvP film I just reviewed, all of the killing made up for it. I enjoyed the hell out of this movie, but that’s because I’m a guy who likes guns and can appreciate things blowing up.
Rating - B

AVPR: Aliens vs Predator - Requiem (Action 2007)

Oh wow, talk about a bad movie. I don’t think I could’ve written a crappier script for this one.

The film was such a tease. In the beginning you got to see the Predator homeworld, got to see one, count’em one loser hop into a ship to kill some aliens, and then for the last hour or so you got to see all the human extras getting slaughtered like sheep. I mean why even have a story if you’re just going to kill off 99% of the actors in it.

Don’t people know that if you had a ton of aliens and a ton of predators going at it in some space war, even without any dialogue, it would still be cooler than making a half-assed attempt at a film with stupid humans? I mean they weren’t even space marines! Ripley would be ashamed…

This predator movie was shit, but the killing was hilarious. I don’t know how much fake blood they used in the filming of this, but I’m sure it was a lot. I couldn’t stop laughing each time a person got his/her ass handed to them. If you’re a person with a sense of humor then you’ll enjoy watching this, just for the killing parts, but if you’re looking for a plot, you’re digging in the wrong hole.
Rating - C