Archive for Reviews

Movie Round-Up: September 10th, 2010

Resident Evil: AfterlifeResident Evil: Afterlife:

I loved the first film.  I liked the second one a lot.  The third one was fun, but I had some issues with it.  I’d make a comment about downward trends, but who would I be fooling?  No one.  Of course I’m going to go see this movie.  It’s zombies, it’s action, and it’s in 3D – and that’s all I need to know.  Now, the only question is who will I go see this with?

Playing for Keeps

Playing for Keeps by Mur LaffertyMur Lafferty crafts a world where superheroes must be licensed to practice, and are paid by the city through tax revenue.  A world where those with powers apply to the Academy and have their powers tested.  If you are deemed worthy, you get a name and a suit and get to fight crime.  If you are deemed weak, you get to try and live like a normal person and try to forget your aspirations of heroism.  This is the world of Playing for Keeps.

Keepsie Branson’s power is that she can “hold” (put it a sort of stasis) anyone who tries to take anything that belongs to her.  She runs a bar across the street from the Academy that is frequented by people rejected by the Academy.  She has a waitress who can lift and balance anything on a tray, a cook who always knows what people want to eat and can make it, and friends who can learning things about people by smelling them, heal people one inch at a time, have super strength in five minute bursts, fire streams of feces from his hands, and other “useless” powers.  They wind up getting caught in the middle between the heroes and the villains, and have to learn to make use of their powers to survive.

Overall, I was pretty happy with the book.  It’s short, and certainly not a time waster.  You could do worse.

Movie Round-Up: August 27th, 2010

The Last Avatar Takers: Special Exorcism EditionYou might notice a small addition to the movie round-up.  I will now Photoshop an amalgam of the movie posters to accompany the post each week.  Enjoy!

Takers:

You know, part of me watches this trailer and wants to make fun of it.  Another part of me thinks that the movie might actually be fun and even a bit thrilling.  When I’m split like this it often means I won’t go to the theater, but I do think I’ll seek this out on video.  One thing is for sure though, all of me agrees than Hayden Christensen’s hat looks downright silly.  What the hell were they thinking?

The Last Exercism:

I managed to see a screening of this film a couple weeks ago.  My opinion of it then, and it hasn’t changed, is that they put together a very nice movie.  It has tense moments, and the lack of a soundtrack adds to the feel of it… and then they completely blow it in the final scenes of the film.  I was so dissatisfied with how it ended that it actually made me wish I hadn’t enjoyed the earlier bits.  Completely not worth the $10 unless you really really really feel the need, but when it hits DVD it’s worth seeing at home.  Alone.  With the lights off.  Did you hear something?

Avatar: Special Edition:

It isn’t really fair to put this here. It’s not a new film, and the 9 extra minutes just makes me want to punch James Cameron in the face, because it’s like when they release a DVD, then later that same year they put out a Special Edition, and then the next year they put out a 2 disc Special Edition.  Screw you!  On the other hand, the only way to truly see this film is in 3D on the big screen, so another theatrical run makes sense.  I’ll probably end up seeing this again.  I am both a sad and happy panda.

Infected

InfectedI’m going to start the review of Scott Sigler’s Infected by simply saying that I enjoyed it.  I probably wouldn’t recommend it to anyone with a weak stomach as parts of the book are fairly graphic in detailing damage to the human body, but it is a good read.  The book follows two main threads.  The first thread is about a typical team of government folks tracking down the source of a possible virus that might be a terrorist weapon.  The second thread follows one of the people who is infected with what the government is trying to track down.

You might want to stop reading here as I’m about to go all spoilery.  Yep, spoilers from this point.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Perry Dawsey is the name of the infected man.  A former football player and survivor of a childhood of abuse at his father’s hands have made him a tough son of a bitch, which is how he manages to make it through so many of the things that happen to him… or rather, that he does to himself.  The virus is this book is actually an alien life form.  Microscopic seeds land on a person, and given the right mix of temperature and moisture and other conditions, they can dig in and start their work.  Dawsey gets covered in these spores, it is never said how, and eight of them manage to begin their work.  These spores are like machines, they read DNA and adapt and begin building the structures they need do their work.  Dawsey’s spores are on his forehead (though that one dies off early), his right shin, his left thigh, his chest (near the collar bone), his back (high, right over the spine), his ass cheek, his forearm and his testicle.  As the story progresses, and as the spores develop into rashes, then bizarre orange scaly skin, then to blue triangles beneath the surface that start talking to him as they awaken, Dawsey takes them out, one by one.  Tearing one out, then another, stabbing, burning and more.  All of which Sigler describes in fantastic detail.  Did I mention there was one on his balls?  Reading it was uncomfortable to say the least.  Unsettling.  And yet, the story drew me in as Dawsey persevered, almost thrived on survival.

The other half of the book, about the team trying to find and fight this new threat, is well written, but fairly standard for this type of book.  That isn’t to say it’s bad, it’s just… unsurprising.  The only real breath of fresh air here is that the tale lacks a fresh young recruit who shows up the older members.  And this is a good thing.  The story doesn’t need it.

In the end, I’m satisfied with the book and looking forward to reading the sequel in the future.

Movie Round-Up: August 20th, 2010

Lottery Ticket:

I’m sure someday I’ll watch this on DVD, but I won’t be spending $10 to see this in the theater.  No way, no how.

Nanny McPhee Returns:

I’m certain, like the first film, this will be good for families and kids.  I does look decent.  But I’ve got no desire to see it myself, especially since I haven’t seen the first one.

The Switch:

Looks funny.  I mean, a jilted friend who decides to deposit his own sperm instead of the carefully selected donor from the sperm bank, how could this not be funny?  Well, it could fall flat, but the preview looks decent.  I probably won’t see this in the theater, but I’ll surely watch it on DVD.

Vampires Suck:

These cheap, yet high grossing, parody films keep on rolling.  I wish I could invest in them.  I hate them.  Watching them makes my eyes and ears bleed, but I’d gladly make money off them if I could.  The only possible redeeming quality here is that they will be lampooning the Twilight movies, which themselves are almost as bad as these parody films.

Piranha 3D:

If I go to see a movie this weekend, this is the movie I’ll go see.  The cast is great.  It’s a remake of a monster movie that I love.  And it is likely to exploit the hell out of the 3D just like old 3D horror films, with stuff jabbing and exploding toward the audience.  Sadly, the wife has no desire to see this film, so it is up to me to find some friends to go see it while she’s at work or something.  Piranha 3D must be seen… in 3D.

Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter

Abraham Lincoln, Vampire HunterSeth Grahame-Smith exploded onto the scene last year (after having several other books published) with Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, a book I still haven’t read.  It was so successful that the “classic text mash-up” genre now practically has its own aisle at the bookstore.  Taking a slightly different approach in his next endeavor, Grahame-Smith wrote Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter.  Rather than taking an old text and playing with it, instead he’s taking history and filling in the gaps with his own crafted tale.

The story follows old Honest Abe from his childhood through his Presidency and weaves around it a tale of revenge and vampires and a country nearly brought to its knees.  I was skeptical as hell going in.  That same skepticism is what has kept me from reading Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.  A tale like this is either going to be a monumental waste of time, or a masterpiece.  Based on my reading of this book, I’m now more interested to go read P&P&Z.

I’m not a history buff, and I’m not familiar with the true story of Abraham Lincoln other than what they taught me in school.  But the tale told here steps in and out and around his life in such a fashion that it is so easy to believe that it just might be true.  It isn’t true, right?  Vampires don’t really exist… right?

Anyway, I would gladly recommend this book to just about anyone with the only caveat being that some of the early book can be slow, but sticking with it is totally and completely worth it.  I haven’t read a book that ended this well in a very long time.

Movie Round-Up: August 13th, 2010

Eat Pray Love:

A woman’s journey to self-discovery. I’m not going to be first in line to see this, but I haven’t been disappointed by many of Julia Roberts movies so I’ll be sure to catch this on Netflix when it is available.

The Expendables:

I had an opportunity to see a screening of this, but a conflict prevented me. Given the cast of action stars and what I’ve seen in the trailer this is going to be one hell of a ride. If I can find the time, I’ll be seeing this this wekend.

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World:

I did see a screening of this, and it was great fun. As a long time gamer myself I loved the references and imagery. Outside that however the movie is a typical boy chases girl type of film. So if the gamer angle doesn’t appeal, you might want to skip it. As for me, I might go see it again.

Movie Round-Up: August 6th, 2010

Step Up 3-D:

If you are inclined to see a movie about dancing, you could probably do worse than this.  I mean, all of them – to me – are kinda hokey, but if handled right the 3D could actually add a nice bit of depth to the action.  I wouldn’t spend $13 on it myself, but it might be worth it to others.

The Other Guys:

If not for Will Ferrell, I’d be guaranteed to see this movie this weekend.  The plot sounds good, and I like every other actor in the film.  Even Will Ferrell isn’t always bad – I loved him in Stranger Than Fiction – but from the preview it seems he’s playing this in the usual “look at me and be embarrassed by my actions” comedy.  Likely, this is due to Adam McKay, who is responsible for all of Will Ferrell’s worst work, in my opinion.  I’ll surely catch this on Netflix, and I’m sure this will be huge for Will’s usual fans, but I wouldn’t spend my $10 to see this one at the theater.

Movie Round-Up: July 30th, 2010

Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore:

Do I even have to say, “No”?  I shouldn’t have to, but I will.  No.

Charlie St. Cloud:

This movie isn’t getting good reviews.  The few good ones call it a sentimental tearjerker, so if you are into those sorts of films, perhaps you’ll enjoy it.  For me, I don’t mind the tearjerkers, but I’m not going to pay $10 for this.  Someday the wife and I will watch it on Netflix.

Dinner for Schmucks:

I don’t think I could do it.  If my boss told me to come to a dinner and bring an idiot for us to make fun of, I’d probably start looking for another job.  However, watching other people do it?  That’s comedy!  To be honest, I went in to the screening I saw of this movie expecting it to be stupid, but it managed to be funny, heartwarming and creepy.  At moments it was downright hilarious.  You could easily find worse ways to spend your hard earned money.

Movie Round-Up: July 23rd, 2010

Ramona and Beezus:

Based on the Beverly Cleary book Ramona Forever, obviously this is a family film.  From the trailer it looks to be fun and probably worth the trip to the theater with the kids.

Salt:

I really wanted to be able to come here and say you should run to the theater and see this movie.  I wanted to, but then I saw it.  Don’t get me wrong, it doesn’t suck.  It has some good action and the plot twists are kinda neat (if a tad predictable), but I’m over my “My god! Angelina is so beautiful! Lust lust lust!!” phase.  Sometimes she is a good actress, and sometimes she isn’t.  She just didn’t get me to care about her character one way or the other.  On top of that, I’m getting to the point where I don’t buy her as an action star.  It could be my aversion to ultra skinny women, but her lack of a substance, to me, hurts because I can’t really get behind her toting around big guns and simultaneously kicking the asses of a half dozen guys when I think the kick of the weapons would knock her down or that any one of those trained fighters she’s up against could overpower her.  Anyway, if you don’t mind that and you just want to go see an action movie, this one is worth seeing, though I suggest going to an earlier show to get a cheaper price.  If you don’t need to see the movie, skip it, and wait for the rental.