Saturday, March 31, 2012

Wrath of the Titans-review

I am a big fan of the original “Clash of the Titans.”  That said, I found the 2010 remake to be unnecessary and lacking any of the heart that gave the original its charm. Two years later a sequel was made. This sequel has much better special effects, but the stilted dialogue and similar storyline bog down its overall potential.
“Wrath of the Titans” begins with Perseus, played again by Sam Worthington, fishing with his 10 year old son, Helius, from his now dead wife Io.  Since folks believe in the gods less and less the gods are loosing their powers and the monsters are escaping Taurtarus. Zeus gets captured by Hades and Ares. The two gods drain his power to revive Kronos, a massive lava being that sounds like Nemesis from the Resident Evil games. With the help of Queen Andromeda, this time played by Rosamund Pike, and his demigod cousin Agenor, Perseus has to save Zeus and gather pieces of a weapon to defeat Kronos. 

To this movie’s credit the effects are a lot better than its predecessor.  You can really tell what the hell is happening and for the most part it looks pretty cool.  There are a lot of unique looking creatures that make for some terrific action scenes. For the first time in a movie the Cyclops were created to be realistic and fierce. The magnitude of Kronos is “in your face” and displays a real sense of threat. More threat than the Krakken did in the first movie.

The story seemed very similar in structure to the first movie.  Basically, a huge creature is coming that threatens all mankind; Perseus and friends can stop it.  They go fight some outlandish creatures and get an item of amazing power and use it to stop said colossal creature.  Add a drop of warrior woman romance and some comic relief and you get a by-the-book “Titans” movie.  It’s the one trick pony.

The worst part of the story line is the motivation of Perseus.  He has no real reason to help Zeus, since the god clearly has all the love for him of a deadbeat dad.  In this story’s logic, just mentioning certain characters are related to you is enough to make you put yourself in life threatening peril.  You’d think that since he is playing the roll of concerned father now he’d put the job on one of the other demigods. “Let Hercules clash with this Titan, Pop!”

The acting is so-so.  Given that the script is pretty lackluster, they at least seem to be going through the motions.  I didn’t find myself really caring much though.  The romance subplot is shoehorned in with all the grace of an ice-pick.  I actually felt more chemistry between Andromeda and Agenor. Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes both reprise their roles of Zeus and Hades respectively.  They are fun to watch and they give the movie a certain level of class that Laurence Olivier and Maggie Smith gave to the original “Clash of the Titans.”

If you enjoyed the first movie you’ll love this one as it is a better movie than the modern “Clash of the Titans”.  The heart of the original doesn’t carry through into this movie. I feel like its missing a lot of the vitality and fun that could have easily been carried over from the original. Visually, it’s a good ride and if that is what you are going for you won’t be disappointed. However, if you demand some substance in your movie then it will leave you hanging. Judging by its merits alone, “Wrath of the Titans” gives the audience a spectacle that, at the very least, makes it worth a rental.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Silent Hill: Downpour-review

Before I played “Silent Hill: Downpour” I had only played the first of the Silent Hill games.  I enjoyed it a lot. The mood is haunting and the town shows your character a world that is so wracked by horrors that it consumes them in their own fears and despairs.  Downpour is the Eighth game in the series and at least made it an interesting story to add to the Silent Hill Saga.  

In this game you play as Murphy Pendleton, a convict who was arrested for stealing a police cruiser.  He and some other inmates are being transferred in a bus when the rain caused the bus to slide off the road.  From there, Murphy makes his way into Silent Hill.  The town is still very much deserted and haunted and Murphy must find any way he can out of town.

The game play is really good. There was not a lot of combat in the game which made the horror mood fairly high.  There are lots of times where it behooves you to just take flight form the rabble of monsters around you.  The puzzles are okay for the most part though some of them felt like big time fillers.  There are lots of areas to explore and lots of side quests to do.  I didn’t see a lot of motivation to do the side quests however, when the game can be beaten just as easily going straight through it for the most part.  

All in all it’s a fun game. This game is definitely a fine title to add to the survival horror genre. If you are a fan of the genre you’ll certainly like it.  Like the other Silent Hill games there are multiple endings based on the choices you made in the game.  It’s a chilling game that has a lot of great atmosphere and would be fun played in the dark.   Just try not to scream at the constant jump scares. 

Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Oregonian-review

What the hell did I just watch?  I usually wonder this when I sit through David Lynch’s standard fair, but this movie was too much.  I’ve seen art house movies with a much more cohesive storyline. The underdeveloped characters speak very little dialogue. Clearly the director/writer Calvin Reeder is a person that believes movies are controversial when they are weird for the sake of being weird.  I sat for a long time trying to ponder what the point of any of what I saw was and couldn’t come up with anything.  

A woman, played by Lindsay Pulsipher, leaves a farm and goes on a journey into the woods and is assaulted by jump cuts, flash backs, annoying sound effects, and some of the stupidest and creepiest characters you’ll meet outside of an comic store. Other than the main character, the movie also offers the following unique character assortment: 

·         A creepy old woman that stares, crazy eyed, at the camera until you want to get up and leave uncomfortably. 
·         A stupid basketball mascot that follows her around silently, doing inappropriate things from time to time. 
·         A man who makes omelets with gasoline and urinates blood.
·         Two ever-smiling girls in white. One of which can scream at super high level volumes.

These are just a few of the freak show oddities you come across in this movie.   As far as I can tell there are no reasons for any of them to be there. 

This movie is getting mixed reviews online.  Frankly, I don’t see how a person can watch this and love it.  This is really a movie where nothing happens.  To make matters worse it’s not even filmed well.  As if it’s bad enough that you are sitting through this self-indulgent tripe, you are watching it on 16mm film stock which looks like someone used it as toilet paper.   There are so many loud noises and jump cuts you’ll think you are about to have a seizure.

I get that it’s supposed to be a symbolic movie.  The problem is that the symbolism is lost in the abstract nature of the movie.  It becomes a confusing mess and that is not what most people want to see.  The whole movie feels ad-libbed and phony, making you wonder if you are dreaming or is the main character dead and in hell.  I have no answers.  I do know this though.  If you see “The Oregonian” you will feel like you just went on a bad trip with Hunter S. Thompson to visit the Manson Family at Spahn Ranch while being attended to by Dr. Timothy Leary. That is one trip a person usually can afford to miss out on.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Back to the Future: the Game-review

“Back to the Future: the Game” has been out for a while as a downloadable game in chapters.  I only recently found a copy of it in it’s entirely as one blu ray disc. The blue ray disc is not a bad deal considering how much space you’d have to allow downloading the entire game on your hard drive.  I honestly think that only the most die-hard Back to the Future fans will even remotely enjoy this game. 

The story is pretty good, as it was written by the folks who helped write the movies.  Six months have passed since the event of the last film and Doc Brown has been missing for all that time. Marty goes to an estate sale at his house and comes across the DeLorean.  The DeLorean takes him to Hill Valley 1931 where Doc Brown is in jail and Marty must interact with Gangsters, his Grandfather, and a teenage Doc Brown.  The story takes some unique twists and really feels like a sequel to the other movies.

The voice acting is fairly decent.  The guy they got to impersonate Michael J. Fox is spot on. Christopher Lloyd plays Doc Brown which is pretty awesome. Here is the strange part.  They couldn’t get any of the other side characters to reprise their roles.  The Biff Tannen guy sounds nothing like Biff.  What were Thomas Wilson, Lea Thompson, and Crispin Glover doing that they couldn’t do a voice over gig? 
The animation is really shoddy.  It looks like cartoon caricatures that were left unfinished or like action figurines.  The game play is some off the easiest I have ever seen.  It’s a point-and-click game and if a puzzle is ever TOO challenging you can hit a button and it TELLS YOU how to solve it.  To top it off, there is never a loose scenario.  You can’t die and there is no fail.  That is how this game took two days to cruise through for me.  It’s not a real brain buster and certainly isn’t a challenge.     

That is why I can really only recommend this game to a super fan of the franchise.  If you are a person who would just love to see how the story would continue beyond the third movie, then this will do the trick.  If you are looking for a good game, then look elsewhere.  I love these movies and it is was great to step into Hill Valley, hear a kicking Huey Lewis soundtrack, and remember what is was like when I could just “make like a tree and get out of here.”

Sunday, March 11, 2012

John Carter-review

“John Carter” is a strange movie.  At times the action is great and the scenes are lovely but on the other hand the story can be interminably slow at times. The aliens look cool.  The battle scenes are well done when the movie gets around to having them. All in all, there is not enough substance here to make this an epic film.

Ex-Confederate soldier John Carter, played by Taylor Kitsch, is escaping the Union military and Indians when he is teleported to Mars.  There he discovers that the change in gravity allows him to be very strong and jump incredible distances.  He attracts the attention of various aliens and is drawn into their battles.  Will he ever get home? Will he want to return home after he gets the attention of the Princess of Mars?

This movie had a mix of pleasant and unpleasant aspects. The art style and cinematography of the movie is really cool.  The mix of technology with sword and sorcery is really fantastic.  However, there is a lot of mundane dialogue that will make a person loose interest fast.  It seems like they should have given this more of a run though in the editing room to make sure all scenes are absolutely necessary. 

As a whole the movie is okay.  It’s not one I would really say is worth the ticket price though.  The themes of this story have been borrowed by so many sources over the years that much of it will seem very familiar.  I’d wait for a rental if you were curious about seeing this movie.  At the very least, it was a colorful take on a sci-fi classic that has been around for over a hundred years.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Silent House-review

“Silent House” is a remake of a horror movie from Uruguay.  What makes it unique is that most of it is shot in a single take.  In some cases the single shot filming is an advantage, in small cases it can get annoying.  The story itself is pretty good.  The ending allowed for a twist that made it fun for people who enjoy deductive reasoning.

Sarah, played by Elizabeth Olsen, is staying at a lakeside house with her Uncle and Father.  They are working on fixing the place up in order to sell it.  As Sarah is rummaging through childhood keepsakes, a loud noise is heard upstairs. We follow Sarah as she and her family is under assault by an unknown attacker.  Can she survive the deadly assailant?

Elizabeth Olsen does a good job played terrified.  This is a good quality to have since there are long periods of time with no dialogue and her running, and hiding, or even putting furniture against the door as if she were the Blues Brothers.   She plays it off well and you can really see the terror in her eyes.

The camera also helps with the single takes.  It lends a sense of claustrophobia and limits the amount of jump scares that can cheapen the movie.  However, when Elizabeth is running and the cameraman is following I would recommend putting the camera on a track. The camera shook like a bobble-head figure on a paint mixer that made the focus act bizarre at times.

All in all, “Silent House” is a creepy movie.  It shows skilled acting and a worthwhile story.  There are good moments of suspense and it looks really skillfully made.  Elizabeth Olsen seems to be the more talented of the Olsen sisters.  I hope we can see her spread her acting wings a bit more in the future. 

Sunday, March 4, 2012


“Gone” reminds me slightly of someone telling a version of the aristocrats joke.  The good part comes from the set up and the pay off is the weakness.  Amanda Seyfried does a good job and works well with what she was given.  On the other hand, the script is full of holes.  The red herrings are all over and the ending would have been so much better if it went in a different direction.

Jill Parrish, played by Amanda Seyfried, is a young woman in Portland Oregon who was kidnapped by a serial killer the year before.  The local cops couldn’t find a trace of the crime so they don’t believe she was ever kidnapped.  All ready this screams of B.S. to me. Thanks to the local Barney Fifes for not finding the remains of the other girls which the killer keeps out in the open, in the woods. I am pretty sure in multiple missing person cases like this, the F.B.I gets involved. 

Presently, a year after since Jill escaped from a hole in the woods, the villain has kidnapped her sister.  Jill now has to piece together what an inept police dept couldn’t in a year to find her sister. Meanwhile, she bumps into oddballs and strange characters who might be involved, but you just aren’t sure.  To top it off, this all might just be in her head.  Jill has had a history of mental illness.

The end is so-so at best.  It really should have gone in another direction, more towards the mental illness angle.  That would have been very clever and made the movie seem really innovative instead of sort of thrown together at the last minute for a conclusion.  Still, it’s an okay movie.  It's certainly worth a matinee viewing or a rental at the very least.