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Warcraft is surprisingly good
Considering the reviews Warcraft: The Beginning has received and the general consensus of thinking that video game based movie aren't very good, I was fully expecting to see some what of a cinematic pan cake. Surprisingly enough, Warcraft works pretty well. It's no LOTR mind you, but it is relatively entertaining, at places a bit cheesy, fantasy flick with pretty good special effects.

Warcraft is at its best when it revolves around the orcs. The humans are really the weak link of the whole thing, as very few of the actors chosen feel that they don't fit in a fantasy setting like this. A Finnish director Markku Pölönen said once, that some people have epoch faces and some do not. By that he meant, that certain people suit better on a movie set in the past (or in a fantasy world), where as some just look too modern. Most of the human actors here feel a bit too modern for the setting. Also the writing on the humans side feels more rushed.

But the orcs. Now they're fantastic. They're gigantic beast, with tusks and huge weapons in their hands, riding on over sized wolves (or wargs, I'm not really sure, as I'm not huge Warcraft guy). The orcs themselves aren't really evil at all, they're just misguided by the fell magic using Gul'Dan. In any case, the movie just seems to work better every time there's orcs on scree, be it Durotan, Garona or Gul'dan.

The pacing of the story is also a one big issue. It's easy to see, that there's a lot of story material been cut out from the movie and that really feels like it's hurting the overall experience. Some additional material might even make the humans feel more compelling as well, but now there's no real connection to them here, as the story keeps jumping quite a bit.

Anyhow, Warcraft really isn't even half as bad some sources have touted it as. It's relatively easy to follow for even a person like me, who played the original RTS game years ago and has only skimmed WOW briefly before getting bored with it. At times it did feel like it expected me to be more familiar with the franchise than I am, but in all it still is fun.

Jupiter Ascending

Almost a good movie
Jupiter Ascending is a frustrating movie, as it's almost a good movie. Not great, but good. It has some very lovely visuals and pictures in it and almost good piece of pulpy sci-fi plotting, but what it comes down to is, that it's also terribly boring mess, that doesn't seem to know what it wants to be: a twilight style romance, an adventure, socio-political commentary, Star Wars pastiche. It has elements from everything, including some whimsical things that remind of Terry Gilliam (with the man actually playing a role in said bit), but nothing really holds intact.

The biggest problems, alongside the acting done by most of the lead actors, not least by Redmayne with his croaking villain Balem, is the plot and the action. The plot revolves around universe scale industry where humans are harvested as resource for products that lengthen life. Earth is such a planet. Jupiter herself is some incarnation of a dead queen, who owned Earth. She can stop that from happening.

I mean, the plot by itself is simple. You'd think that would serve for a decent movie. But no. It's just so stuffed with things, that don't go any where and with characters you're supposed to care, but can't as you have very little idea who they are and why you should care.

When I think about it, the movie feels like it has a compressed plot from several other movies. This leads into situations where you feel like you something important was left out. Some one was left introduced and suddenly you see that someone and think why that someone is in focus for the rest of the story.

Also the action scenes are problematic: it's almost impossible to think the scenes were directed by same people who directed the Matrix. Almost all action scenes feel overdrawn, dull and predictable. Almost all scenes are built by the numbers style and nothing about them comes as a surprise. They flow forward in a predictable fashion and nothing really seems to be at stake, especially because there's one too many "close call for main heroes" type of bits.

So yeah. Jupiter Ascending is almost a good movie. It's just a damned shame the makers of it didn't really seem to know how to make it one.

Total Recall

Soulless exercise
I guess I should start by saying that I have nothing against remakes. Some of my favorite movies are remakes, like Cronenbergs Fly or Carpenter's The Thing. Those two movies show nicely, how you can make a remake of a movie, that didn't quite work, or at least I didn't think neither of the original movies worked, and improve upon the solid ideas the original has. Or if a movie is based on a book, like Lord of the Rings, you can always do a new adaptation, like Bakshi's version VS Jackson's.

Now, Verhoven's Total Recall is a great action sci-fi movie. I count it among the best Arnold Schwarzenegger has starred in as well as one of the best made in the 90's. It's just an overall solid movie with nothing wrong with it. But, as it's based on a book by Philip K. Dick and as such is quite a different from the source, I do understand why someone would want to remake it. I understand it the same way why someone would want to make a new version of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep that is closer to the book than the Scott masterpiece is. So why, I ask, did the makers of this new Total Recall opt to try and remake the Verhoven movie and not try to make a new adaptation of We Can Remember It For You Wholesale that would have been closer to the book?

Total Recall 2012, just like many other modern remakes, don't try to improve something that has previously existed. The makers don't try to remake movies that might have had interesting ideas in them, but fell flat. No. What the makers of remakes like Toral Recall 2012 try to do is to take an existing, well remembered title and make a cash grab product. They aren't interested in making a different take, they are more interested in following the previously placed guide lines. Sure, they might change things a bit, but overall this and Verhoven's Recall follow the same path.

I'd like to add, that Total Recall 2012 isn't utterly horrible movie. But at the same time it lacks a soul. It saddens me, that Hollywood churns out these kinds of remakes, as there's bad movies with interesting ideas in them out there that deserve to be remade.

Guardians of the Galaxy

Fun, stylish sci-fi adventure
Guardians of the Galaxy is without any doubt the best Marvel movie I've seen. One big reason for that is, that it doesn't feel like you'd need to be familiar with every other Marvel movie out there: GotX stands on its own feet. None of the other Marvel movies feel this much like stand alone movies.

When you think of it, GotX is a movie that is easy to watch even for a non-Marvel fan as a story about a boy who got abducted and became a space outlaw. Then he makes friends with a ragtag group of people and they end up saving the universe. It's fun, well made sci-fi flick, that doesn't take itself too seriously and doesn't care if you know Iron-Man, Hulk or Captain America. Those are names that mean nothing in the part of the galaxy this movie takes place.

What makes GotX also stand out is its relaxed atmosphere. Unlike many other sci-fi movies out there, it doesn't try to be unproportionally epic, it tries, and succeeds, to be a fun adventure, with characters you can root for. Sure, there's not that much character development with the bad guys, but you know they're bad and sometimes that's enough information.

Guardians of the Galaxy is one Marvel movie I'd recommend even for those people who aren't into Marvel movies. Out of their line up it definitely is easiest to watch.

The Martian

A tale of survivalist
I have an idea of why the Martian has been so successful at the box office. It's not because it's a remarkable movie, but because of the times we live in. See, the Martian is a success story. It's a story about a man who is placed against insurmountable challenges, which he beats. It's a story of how other people are doing their best to safe the man in trouble as well, going as far as showing how other nations, which might normally have cold relations, are willing to help each other in order to safe one of us in need. Simply put, the Martian makes it easier to feel good about humanity and the state of the world, while in the real life we life in a world where we are not threatened only by political unrest, but terrorism and continuously freezing relations of modern superpowers. What I want to say is, that the Martian stands out for its own benefit from among the movies that try to be more grim and bleak.

So let's tackle the basics. The Martian tells a story of how an astronaut Mark Watney (Matt Damon) is left stranded on Mars after a hasty evacuation the Mars team has to make due to a storm. Believing that Mark is dead the rest of the crew blasts off, only for Mark to wake up to find that he's now the only human in Mars, with very limited means of making a contact back to NASA or his crew mates. But with some scientific ingenuity he doesn't only manage to solve his food problems, but also establish a new contact to Earth. The Martian is not a complex story. It's a kind of a take on Robinson Crusoe, but with people knowing where they can contact him, while planning his rescue.

As the Martian is directed by Ridley Scott, it's also technically well made. The plot, while simple, works well under the steady direction of Scott and as usual his style looks very nice and the actors perform well. So all around it's just as steady of a movie you'd expect a director of Scott's caliber to do.

So that's the Martian. It's a feel good movie and that's pretty much it. It's probably not a contender in the category of future classics, but it is a nice movie none the less.

Thor: The Dark World

Flawed , yet reasonably fun
In theory Thor: The Dark World is a great movie. In this theory it's a great sci-fi epic about beings that look like viking gods. In practice though it is not a great movie as much as it is a deeply flawed movie with some very nice individual scenes in it.

The biggest problem T:tDW has is, that it is a Marvel movie and just like very other Marvel movie it does its best to make the viewers remember that they are in fact watching a Marvel movie. This leads into nudges and winks towards the other movies in Marvel's arsenal, which in this case make the movie feel a bit disjointed as it assumes that the viewer has already seen those. It also means that the characters don't really get that much flesh in their stories as the writing clearly seems to assume that someone else is going to flesh out the characters more in somewhere else. That's why the movie is filled with familiar faces whom a casual viewers might have very hard time identifying with, as they have no inkling who those many faces are and what is their significance.

TtDW is a fun movie none the less. It is more or less forgettable sequel to a relatively forgettable movie in the first place, but just like the first movie it is reasonably well done to fill its purpose of entertainment. Sadly though it could have been so much more, but in the end that wasn't in the cards.


Better than the 1998 movie and relatively enjoyable disaster movie
I've never been a huge Godzilla fan myself. Just like with the another big cinema monster, King Kong, I can see the appeal, but the "giant monster" genre has never really been my cup of tea. So in that extent I have no means to tell if this particular movie is a travesty towards the ol' nuclear lizard.

In this new Godzilla, the lizard king itself is an ancient monster from the more radiated past of the Earth. As the radiation has cooled down Godzilla and its kind went to the deep ocean or in deep slumber inside the Earth. Until the day humans found atomic power. The human meddling with the atom causes parasitic giant creatures to submerge from their slumber and soon the world is suffering in the claws of the monstrous destruction, which goes even further when the ancient enemy of the monsters, King Kong arrives to whoop some ass.

While, just like every other disaster movie, Godzilla is trying to bring a human element to the story in the form of a father Joe (Bryan Cranston) a son (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and his family and a monster researcher Dr. Serizawa (Ken Watanabe), that human element is just as obsolete it is in any other disaster movie. The main course of the movie is the destruction the monsters can cause, the mayhem and the spectacle of it. And boy, does this movie do the spectacle well.

But as the human element is pretty much stock material for a movie like this, I couldn't help but to feel in many places that this Godzilla movie is just way too long. It uses a lot of time in order to convince that we should care about the humans, but just like in almost every disaster movie before this it is pretty hard to care about stock caricatures.

As far disaster movies go, I've seen much worse. But at the same time I can't really say this Godzilla has sparked my interest to go to the Japanese Godzilla's either. But at least it's better than that utterly horrible 1998 movie with Matthew Broderick, so I guess that's something at least.


Badly aged action movie of an okay comics character
If you read comics in the 1990's a good change is that you were introduced to Spawn, a series that tried to be more darker end edgy than what DC and Marvel comics were offering at the time by having the villains and heroes that came from heaven and hell, being angels and demons. It was a comic, that for a while, made me stop reading DC and Marvel altogether.

Of course this new found glory of a different kind of heroes and villains was adopted on screen as well, thus an utterly mediocre and very, very poorly aged schlock of a movie called "Spawn", where everyone grunts and growls their lines and evil people are more evil than Dr. Evil from Austin Powers.

The best things about "Spawn" is the suit of Spawn, which is pretty source accurate and John Leguizamo as vile, disgusting and nasty demon clown clown. I'd love to add Martin Sheen as a good thing, but alas his character is so clichéd in all the evilness, that you can't look at him without laughing.

The plot of Spawn is pretty simple. Al Simmons (Michael Jai White) is an A6 agent, who takes care of bad people by killing them. He's double crossed and he goes to hell, in where he does a deal with a devil and gets back on Earth as Spawn. A revenge ensues, and perhaps even some forced character growth and annoying kids as side characters. Que end fight and half veiled promises/threats of sequels.

The movie itself isn't rocket science, but action movies really don't need to. What jumps out though is the very poorly aged CGI effects all around. I recall the movie looking less than stellar the year it came out, but today it looks like someone forgot to press a render button before some of the effects were cut in the movie. Also most of the action is pretty poorly shot and the end result is just not that entertaining.

As such Spawn could have been made to a good movie, but in the end this just wasn't it.

Donnie Darko

A movie for a generation
I think Donnie Darko is one of those generation movies. That is, it's a movie I would have loved had I seen it when I was 21 when the movie was originally released. I think then I would have given it either a 10 or 9, as I might be just among the generation it tries to speak to.

But I didn't see it when I was 21. I saw it when I was 34, 14 years after it was released, and the issues it handles, the social alienation, difficulty of human relations and adults who don't understand, don't feel as close to me as they did to me when I was closer to the years I had gotten out from the school.

DD is not a bad movie by any means. It is a bit gimmicky with its time travel plot, but it is an intriguing tale of a young man with psychological issues, trying to make sense of the world around him. The script is good and the actors all do great work. At the baseline, there's nothing really wrong with the movie, I just think I saw it the wrong time to fully appreciate it.

Captain America: The First Avenger

A bland part of MCU
Captain America was a movie I tried to like and that is always a bad sign. I didn't try to like it because I'm a Marvel fan, I tried to like it because among the relatively similar mass of Marvel movies it looked like it could be something different, being set during the WW2 and all. But in the end Captain America is just another movie in the cookie cutter style every other Marvel movie is. It has action, it has humor, it has heroes and it has villains. And in this formula it's also bland and unexciting despite all the big action scenes it has going on for it.

Those big action scenes might actually be a big part on why the movies does feel bland, at it really doesn't give out the feeling that there's something at stake during it. Sure, there's Red Skull trying to gain the godly powers, but it never really feels very menacing, as the plot itself feels very thin. Instead of more action, the movie could have used more character development, as now people, AKA the good guys, we should be rooting for to stay alive, don't feel that important, nor do the plans of the evil villain either.

I guess if you're a fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Captain America will work for you. But if you're not you might come into the same conclusion, that the movie is missing something integral.

Season of the Witch

Unbalanced, uneven mess of a movie
At times you see movies that have huge identity issues. Season of the Witch is one of those movies. The tone of the story is the biggest problem of the movie, as it's an odd mix of golden era Hollywood swashbuckling action and more grim horror story. Now, those two can coexist, but balancing them is a delicate act, which is something Season of the Witch doesn't manage very well. And that is a shame really, as the more grim supernatural parts of horror do work better than the more adventurous segments in the first part of the movie.

With a different script, and probably with a different leads, as Cage keeps hamming it up as he always does these days, just like Pearlman, the movie could have been better. It has some nice set pieces and at places the cinematography looks very nice and bleak. But the way it all is pieced together just feels like an unbalanced mess that does what you expect it to do: fall flat on the ground.

The clashing of the styles hits in from the start. It has witch hangings, which turn into b-horror clichés, where it goes to the holy land crusades, where Cage and Perlamn fight side by side cracking bad jokes, to a horrific realisation of the cruelties of war to a more grim setting of a sickness savaged land where the would be anti-heroes escort an accused witch to her judgement.

The identity issues are what break the movie. It doesn't know how to pick a style and stay in it, so it just flings stuff at the viewer and hopes that something sticks. This does lead into that nothing does really stick and what could have been entertaining movie just doesn't work.

Mad Max: Fury Road

Insanity like no other
I don't think I can come up with any original praises for Mad Mad: Fury Road. People have complimented it far better than I ever could, so my short review of the restart of the series that begun in the already distant late 1970's is, that I liked it more than I have liked any action movie in a long while. George Miller has managed to create a movie, that manages to grab you from the first minute and doesn't let you go until the end credits start to roll.

Now, for a bit different view. I saw the movie with my older brother, who said, that while he liked the movie, he also thought it wasn't as good as people have made it to be. As he put it, he was glad that he saw it, but he wasn't in a hurry to see it again.

What is undeniable though is the amount of insanity Miller has managed to bring to the screen. This time Mad Max, played by Tom Hardy, is more feral as a character than he was when Mel Gibso was playing him. Max is also not the only competent road warrior, as Furiosa (brillianty bad ass Charlize Theron) makes the life more than enough difficult for the villain Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne).

The world of Mad Max has gone even more insane in this new installment. Every scene is filled with oddity and madness. Immortan Joe rules with an iron fist, and water, but has also surrounded himself with his slowly mutating children and insane troops of drugs sniffing war boys. Furiosa steals something of his, the wives and breeding stock of Joe, and this starts the relentless, feverish chase across the desert sands. The plot is simple and people don't talk much. Thins are explained with few words that don't always even end up being sentences. But the looks and the expressions of the characters are more than telling. The main driver is the visual storytelling that movies can be at their best and in this Miller has managed to create a modern master piece.

Mad Max: Fury Road is an action movie, that shows modern action directors how action should be done. Action is clear and easy to follow, yet it makes you grab you hand rests. The settings, despite their wasteland bleakness, are stunning and instead of over use of CGI, most of the daring stunts have been done with practical effects.

I can't promise that MM:FR is a movie for everyone. No matter how much it has been praised doesn't automatically mean that it is a movie that everyone would like. But at the same time I do recommend to give it a try, as even if you don't end up loving it, you may end up liking it.


Nolan's ultimate trip.
In the future world is in a brink death. Slowly the arable land is turning into a dust bowl, ridden with plant killing diseases. Cooper (Matthew McConaughey), a former NASA test pilot is farming corn, just like everyone else. Peple are too busy to survive and everything else is forgotten. And then Coopers daughter Murph (Mackenzie Foy) convinces him that a "ghost" in her room is real and it is trying to communicate with them. This anomaly leads Cooper to a NASA project, which is aiming to explorer an another galaxy, which can be accessed via a wormhole.

In Interstellar Christopher Nolan tries, and at times succeeds, to take notes from Stanley Kubricks 2001: A Space Odyssey. Where Kubrick looked at themes of evolution of mankind, Nolan is trying to aim his scope on the survival of the species, and in some points the possible evolution as well. Though Interstellar is, albeit scientifically a bit top heavy, much easier movie to approach, as it has stronger human element in it than 2001 has.

I'm not proclaiming Interstellar to be a similar classic as Kubrick's masterpiece is. At times it comes close, but most of the time it resembles more of the sequel of 2001, 2010, which isn't a bad movie either, just not as strong as its predecessor. Interstellar is better movie than 2010 is though.

Nolan is handling grand themes in his movie. Grander and more abstract than he ever has. The themes themselves are at places so big, that they swallow the actors, making them to be just backdrops to the next of those concepts. But will this be the next ultimate trip only time will tell.

Real Steel

A feel good yarn.
I didn't think I'd like Real Steel. In fact when I popped it on, I was sure I'd be witching it off after 15 minutes. But in the end I was rooting for the little underdog robot fighter, despite there's not one original bone in the movie.

What it boils down is, that Real Steel is a feel good movie. It knows everything in it has been done before in sports movies and father/son bonding stories. But at the same time the movie manages to do those all so familiar plot twists and turns pretty well and with ease many other movies, that aren't about robot boxing and sons looking to bond with their estranged fathers, simply aren't able to do.

So, after doubtful start, I was, in the end, in a pretty good mood. Every plot element I had guessed before hand, but despite the ending that is riffing Rocky and pretty much every underdog sports movie, the movie had made a big smile on my face. It isn't a masterpiece, but it is a fun little movie, that aims to make you feel good, because in the end everyone learns a lesson and a sun peeks from behind the clouds.

Pacific Rim

Silly yet entertaining
Pacific Rim is kind of a silly movie. It's heavily influenced by Japanise monster anime, where huge robots beat the sense out of equally huge monsters. That is not a genre I am a huge fan of, as the ones I've seen tend to be a bit overly melodramatic and in that Pacific Rim also does dwell its own share. When all is said and done though, Pacific Rim does manage to be an entertaining, albeit very predictable movie about how underdogs finally manage to beat the odds and save the humanity.

The plot of the movie isn't anything spectacular, it's merely an excuse to show as many robot/monster battles possible. The characters are equally uninteresting archetypes with nothing interesting to offer and the only thing the movie works is, that the battles do look pretty damn good. Guillermo Del Toro directs with a steady hand and has made the action sequences both entertaining and easy to the eye.

Del Toro's direction saves quite a bit in the movie. If he'd be a poorer director, the movie would be borderline unwatchable, but he manages to keep the strings nicely in his hands. PR isn't a masterpiece of cinema by any means, but it works reasonably well for what it is: a movie about huge robots pummeling monsters.

Conan the Barbarian

Conan the Boring
The most remarkable thing about Conan The Barbarian is how boring movie it manages to be. It's full of action and adventure, yet it all is delivered in a fashion that really doesn't manage to grasp you in. This is mostly the fault of relatively poor script but as well as aimless direction of Nispel, who most of the time errs to think style is substance and thus nothing in the movie really manages stand out properly.

The old Conan The Barbarian, directed by Milius and starring Schwarzenegegr, wasn't the best adaptation in the literary sense, as it took many liberties with the character of Conan. But where it failed to be faithful to Robert E. Howard, it still managed to understand what he had written and how he saw the world. Nispel on the other hand doesn't seem to really grasp the savage world of Conan nor really the world view of Howard.

All in all, despite some very nice art direction, CtB is a soulless, directionless shell of a movie, that could have been good, but has been mangled by too many cooks.

Only standout actor in the movie is Jason Momoa, who does fill the shoes of Conan very well, better than Arnold Schwarzenegger ever did, but because of the circumstances, the first Conan movie, that John Milius directed, still remains the best take of the character.

The Avengers

The Avengers
I guess The Avengers was the movie many Marvel comics fans were expecting. Finally, after a series of solo movies, a group of the fan favourite heroes were united under the Avengers tag: Ironman, Hulk, Thor, Captain America, Black Widow and that guy with a bow.

The would be hero team bickers a bit in the beginning, as they are reluctantly put together to fight Loki, Thor's brother, who is again trying to take on the world. This time with a help of cube thingie called Tesseract, that opens a portal through which a some sort of biomechanoid warrior race runs through to do the actual conquering.

In order to get the full impact of the movie it would probably be the best to know a lot about the Marvel universe, either from the comics or from the movies, as the Avengers doesn't even pretend to be a movie friendly for new viewers. It's not muddled piece of fan service, but it is filled with things, that are left relatively obscure without prior knowledge of what has happened in the Marvel universe. The Avengers is fully watchable, even if you don't know that much about Marvel's world, but it does feel a bit hollow experience none the less. It just can't escape from its roots, which have been made during many other movies.

As said, The Avengers is not a bad movie. It's filled with great actors from Samuel L. Jackson to Robert Downy JR, almost all of which are familiar from the previous Marvel movies. Thay all do serviceable roles. They make the movie work, but none of them gets huge amounts of time as people, as the movie expects the viewers to be already familiar with them, be it Tony Starks arrogance or Bruce Banners life in shambles caused by his alter ego.

All in all, while the Avengeres is not a perfect movie, it is a nice start for a probably a lot more of them. But I doubt any of them will be aimed towards people who don't already know what they are watching.

Man of Steel

A Man of Steel
Low expectations. That's what I had when I started to watch Man Of Steel. The movie already had two things against it: I'm not a huge Superman fan, as I mostly find his boy scout character dull and Znyder isn't that strong of a director. So color me surprised, Man of Steel is, and I know this is a blasphemous thing to say, the best Superman movie I've seen.

In MoS Clark is just beginning to become the hero we know. The world finally finds out about Superman when Zod comes to Earth, looking for a codex containing the salvation of Krypton, the destroyed home plant of Clark, Zod and the small rag tag group of Kryptonian prisoners from a Phantom Zone.

There's a lot to like about MoS. First of the special effects look great. And secondly, there's a lot of good actors in the movie, who give out pretty nice performances considering how inherently silly the whole movie is despite all the muted colors and dramatic music by Zimmer. Yes, there's a lot about MoS which could have turned the whole movie into an unintentional camp fest, but it never does. Some how Znyder has managed to churn out a movie about modern gods with out making it look silly. Instead the movie is exhilarating.

For the first time in a long, long time, I believed in Superman. I rooted for him, despite I knew he is absurdly strong. A man of steel. A man, who is almost impossible to hurt, unless you hurt something he loves.

Dr. No

Enjoyable starting point to a long line of movies
Way back in the time great characters didn't need an introduction movie or a "begin" movie. See, in Dr. No, James Bond already is who he is: though, suave, wise cracking, ladies man, gambler and above all a secret agent extraordinaire.

If Dr. No would be done today we would meet a very different agent than what Sean Connery so nicely portrays in this first movie of a long lasting series. Instead of seasoned agent we'd probably see something like what Daniel Craig so finely did in Casino Royale, but portrayed by Connery. But that's not here nor there, as what we have in Dr. No is a spy thriller where a top agent James Bond has to save the world, kill the bad guy and get the girl.

The big question in Dr. No is has it really stood against the test of time? It is an old movie after all and surprisingly enough, it has, at least mostly. Of course there are scenes in it that are rather poor from todays point of view and many parts in it work mostly because age does bring a certain amount of charm to special effects, but as far action goes, Dr. No manages to hold its own. Granted, the action isn't as spectacular new movies can gear up, but what the movie looses in spectacle it wins back with the easy flow, great locations, decent script and good actors.

In the end Dr. No is an enjoyable spy thriller and a movie you can enjoy even if you aren't a Bond fan. It's not the greatest movie in the series, but it also is far from the worst ones.

Solomon Kane

Surprisingly good Howard adaptation
Solomon Kane is a cursed man. He's a man of violence who, after a devils reaper tries to take his soul, wows to give up his evil ways. But the world has different plans for him, as an evil sorcerer has taken Solomon's fathers castle as his own in order to conquer England. And so, after Solomon befriends a puritanical man whose daughter gets abducted, he has to grab the handle of a sword once again in order to stop evil.

The plot and the story of the movie doesn't serve any surprised, but for what it is, Solomon Kane is pretty well made movie, all in all. Great actors, like James Purefoy and Max Von Sydow give great performances in a movie which kind often end up being pure garbage. This time, how ever, the end result is something in between a good movie and pulpy silliness.

Of course, the pulp fiction daemons don't come as a surprise, as Solomon Kane is one of the better known, yet not as famous, characters created by the fevered mad man of a writer, Robert E. Howard. Kane, just like Conan, exists in a world where demons and monster are real. But in the end, in order to bring this kind of a world to a cinematic form, you'd need a bit bigger budget.

Solomon Kane is an okay movie in the end. A more than a bit predictable, but it is among the better Robert E. Howard adaptation out there. And it is far better than many other pulp fantasy movies out there.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

A clear step up from the first Hobbit.
Let's get the best news out of the way: As a movie Desolation of Smaug is much better movie than the Unexpected Jourrney was. It moves well, pacing is great, acting is mostly great, special effects, especially Smaug, look mostly stunning and the music and the set are great as ever.

And here's the but: it takes a lot of liberties with the story. A lot of the scenes in the movie have only bare bones resemblance with the book. This, however, isn't a surprise, as the first movie altered the narrative from the book quite a bit. So you either roll with it and are okay with the changes, or you cringe your teeth. I rolled with em', as the movie itself is good.

Just like the first movie, I saw this one in HFR as well. I must say, that during the first film of the series I had some issues with the quality, but now it looks like most of the small issues have been cleaned aside.

Like the Two Towers, Desolation of Smaug has no real ending. Afer all is said and done, the movie comes into sudden stop, where, I assume, the third, and the last, movie will continue straight on.

DoS is very entertaining, well crafted movie. It is a step up from the first movie and allows to expect good things from the last movie.

Sucker Punch

Visually interesting music video
Sucker Punch is a visually interesting, but structurally flawed music video masked as a motion picture. It has a very light story about a young girl who's been abused by her father and then sent to mental hospital by him so that he could hide his sins. And while the young girl is there, she escapes to wild fantasies, while planning her escape, that make the movie look like its content was collected from several different video games ranging from fantasy feudal Japan to anime inspired sci-fi.

And that's the problem with this movie. Znyder could have probably make Sucker Punch a better movie if he'd just had chosen a specific fantasy element to co-exist with the asylum reality, but now the movie is done in such a manner, that the fantasy elements feel too fragmented, despite many of them have bits in them that will most likely make you say "Well that's neat." In the end though, simply filling the movie with neat scenes rarely is enough to make the movie an actually good piece. You can't deny Znyders keen visual eye and while movies are a visual medium, visuals are not always enough.

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

A solid sequel to Sherlock Holmes
Sometimes it happens, that when directors and actors bring forth a new version of well known character they don't always have the guts to go all in, despite it might seem so from the eyes of the purists. This was the case with the first Holmes movie directed by Richie. Sherlock Holmes wasn't a bad movie, but it was somewhat constrained by the heritage of the titular character. The Game Of Shadows is an entirely different matter. In this movie Riche dares to amp up the character to his usual standards, as he already has familiarized himself with it.

Robert Downey's Holmes runs like in steroids. He's maniacal, funny, emotional and crazy, but utterly brilliant in his deductions. Jude Law is a perfect contrast for Downey and they share brilliant chemistry, which is so important for Holmes and Watson.

The Game Of Shadows is a well cast, railroad action adventure, that dares to take Holmes into another level. In this version Holmes is not as cold and emotionless as he often is portrayed, but more of a eccentric lunatic.

In TGOS Moriarty, played nicely by Jared Harris, takes aim to Watson, who is planning his honeymoon with his newly wedded wife Mary (Kelly Reilly). Holmes is on the heels of Moriarty, who is for some reason trying to kill gypsy fortuneteller Simza, Noomi Rapace. This all results into a chase running all over the Europe, while the audience is trying to figure who is the cat and who's the mouse in the game of two brilliant minds.

As it is TGOS an entertaining addition to the Holmes series. It's not a traditional portrayal, but then again, that is not even necessary. It's a refreshing portrayal of Holmes, that isn't afraid of being a bit silly from time to time.

The Dark Knight Rises

A good finale for Nolan Batman trilogy
I never saw the finale of Nolan's Batman trilogy in a theater. I was put off by the inclusion of Bane, who never has been my favorite character, so I, consciously or not, never saw it. I just couldn't muster the interest. And now I finally saw it I must admit that The Dark Knight Rises was much, much better movie than I expected it to be.

Nolan took a character I care very little about and managed to tie him into his trilogy. In this movie Bane is a follower of Ra's Al Ghul, who is trying to finish what Batman stopped Ra's doing in the first movie: destroy Gotham. This he plans to do with the help of power generator Bruce Wayne has financed.

The opening of tDKR is not as strong as the opening of the Dark Knight. As a movie tDKR is not as strong either, but it's not a bad movie, nor a bad way for Nolan to finish what he started with Batman Begins.

Just like in the two previous movie the cast in tDKR is very strong. The old faces, Caine, Oldman, Freeman and Bale do their respective roles with routine and at places Bale's growling starts to be borderline silly, but he still manages to pull his Batman to the end without turning him into a complete joke. Tom Hardy does good job as Bane and Anne Hathaway fills in nicely the tight suit of Catwoman. All in all the movie works well in most levels. There's some problematic dialog, that doesn't quite work, but after the movie kicks in the high gear that really ceases to be a problem.

But now, that Nolan has ended his supposedly more reality rooted Batman series I'd love to see Batman taken back in less serious world. The Batman comics are full of colorful villains, that couldn't be explored in Nolans world, but now that he's done, the time could be ripe to bring in the even more fantastical elements of Batman.


Coppola's fall from grace
From time to time old masters want to show what they can do, and sometime, if we are lucky, those masters can produce remarkable pieces of art. This is not the case with Twixt.

I don't claim any knowledge on what Coppola must have thought when he decided to do this movie. Maybe be he wanted to do something people would look and say "that's cool" or that "He really did something great here." What ever it was, I hope he achieved it in his own mind, but for me Twixt is just a movie that tries too much.

It tries to be scary, mysterious, psychedelic and artful, but it barely manages in any of this. It's just a mess of a movie, that seems to say "look how far from grace the master has fallen."

In other words, Twixt is rather disappointing experience. It's pretty difficult to believe, that Coppola has directed movies like Apocalypse Now or the Godfather after you've finished watching Twixt.

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