DVDs for May 19, 2014

pompeii

Pompeii

Attention everybody: buy this movie. My brother worked on it. No, his name’s not in the credits. He was just filling in. Behind the camera. But buy it anyway. What? You want to know about the movie? It’s actually pretty good. Kit Harrington plays a pouty Celt not unlike Jon Snow who is taken to Pompeii as a gladiator, falls in love with the mayor’s daughter, and tries to get revenge on the guy who killed his family. Oh, and a mountain explodes. Spectacularly. In very expensive CGI. Check out my review for more.

Buy Pompeii on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

right kind of wrong

The Right Kind of Wrong

While you’ve got your credit card out, you should buy this movie too. Because a) it’s Canadian and b) it’s actually fun to watch and not depressing at all. Jason from True Blood plays a failed writer who decides to break up Aunt Jenna from The Vampire Diaries and her douchey husband on account of he saw her kick a football one time. It’s both romantic and comedic and the scenery is nice too. Check out my review for more.

Buy The Right Kind of Wrong on DVD.

vampire academy

Vampire Academy

If you watched Twilight and wished there was a teen vampire movie that was less dumb and stalkery, let me introduce you to Vampire Academy. Our hero is a sarcastic, ass-kicking, hard-partying teenage vampire bodyguard who unravels a conspiracy involving secret superpowers and princess-napping. It’s about as far away from Twilight as you can get without becoming Underworld, and the book is good too. Check it out.

Buy Vampire Academy on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

monuments men

The Monuments Men

If you watched Saving Private Ryan and wished there were more art critics puttering around in crumbly basements looking for old paintings, then Monuments Men is for you. While their work was important and deserves recognition, you’ll probably get more out of the book version. The movie tries to be glib and serious at the same time by melding wisecracking characters with the serious subject of trying to rescue cultures the Nazis tried to wipe out, but the film failed to resonate with people.

Buy Monuments Men on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

Blood of Alexander Book Review

I’ll be stuck in the woods all weekend, so there will be no Godzilla review this Sunday. I did receive an equally implausible free book through Goodreads recently. As a consolation prize, I shall share my impressions with you. It’s an action/adventure novel called Blood of Alexander, recently released by Forge Books.

blood of alexander cover

A globetrotting antiques expert working for a secret organization must save the word from a weaponized artifact in the hands of an evil villain.

I requested Blood of Alexander because I’m a fan of archeology thrillers such as Dan Brown’s Angels and Demons and Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child’s Relic. However, I’m sorry to report that I gave up on The Blood of Alexander about a third of the way through.

The Blood of Alexander ticks all the boxes on the action-thriller genre list. A terrorist plans to use a relic to destroy the world. The only one who can stop him is the main character, a man with more skills and knowledge than the Encyclopedia Britannica. Scarcely a dozen pages go by without a gunfight, and the the chapters all seem to end with cliffhangers. This is exactly what many genre fans are looking for, so that’s great.

However, the book never managed to engage me. The awkward writing prevented me from losing myself in the story. It sacrificed flow in the name of glib irreverence and it made me want to put the book down as soon as I started reading. The story seemed to be built on a very shaky foundation and the characters’ actions were dictated by the needs of the plot rather than what was logical or realistic.

The characters were constantly either fighting or escaping. I like action-oriented thrillers as much as archeological ones (I’m a huge fan of Jack Reacher and Alex Rider) but the battles in The Blood of Alexander seemed to be stalling the plot rather than advancing it. I stopped reading a third of the way through the book, and at that point the characters had only collected one clue. There was still no sign of anything related to Alexander the Great.

I also wasn’t a fan of the main character, Jonathan Blake. Jonathan’s tragic back story and his first person perspective were (I believe) meant to help readers empathize, but I couldn’t connect with him. It seemed like Jonathan was trying to be Indiana Jones and James Bond at the same time, but in my opinion, you can’t be both a scruffy rogue who’s constantly in over his head AND a suave operator who can garotte a henchman with a spool of dental floss.

I would tentatively recommend this book to action-thriller fans who like Hollywood-style high-concept plots and jack-of-all-trades heroes (think Clive Cussler or Ted Bell), but even then you should read the first few pages before you commit to the book.

Given that I wasn’t interested in finishing, I give Blood of Alexander a rating of:

category 0

This review brought to you by:
Indiana Bond and the Temple of Explosions

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

Trailer Reviews for May 16, 2014

GODZILLA



I don’t normally get excited for big dumb giant thing movies, but this one looks pretty good. I like how the trailers hold back on the Godzilla reveal to make it clear that it’s a movie with actual characters and story, not just a two hour CGI rampage. There’s a trailer focused on Aaron Taylor-Johnson’s character that’s even better than this one, but I can’t find it. Anyway, I wish I could go this weekend but I’m camping with my Girl Guides.

MILLION DOLLAR ARM



Dang, I wanted to see this movie too! Oh well. I’m just glad they didn’t decide to make me miss the opening weekend of X-Men: Days of Future Past. I don’t like baseball but I do like sports movies, I guess because they’re less about sports than they are about relationships and overcoming obstacles to become the best version of yourself. The idea of Jon Hamm becoming a ‘big brother’ to a bunch of Indian cricket players nobody thinks will succeed sucks me right in.

THE IMMIGRANT



Hmm. It looked nice, but I’m not sure I got much from this trailer. I get that Marion Cotillard is an immigrant, her sister’s in quarantine (consumption?) and that Joaquin Phoenix probably takes advantage of her while Jeremy Renner loves her, but why is it so quiet? Also, I get worried when I see reviews quoted that describe the movie as like a ‘dream’ or a ‘delusion.’ Dreams and delusions make no sense, and I can’t abide by nonsensical movies.

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

DVDs for May 13, 2014

her

Her

The idea behind this movie is great. A lonely man (Joaquin Phoenix) buys the latest technology gimmick (an AI operating system that designs its own personality to suit you) and ends up falling in love with it. The movie explores their relationship as well as its societal implications and just how different a computer-based life form would be from us. Unfortunately, when this great idea was executed, it turned into an awkward, boring film. If you don’t mind that sort of thing, check it out.

Buy Her on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

i frankenstein

I, Frankenstein

Even though it’s terrible, I was actually planning to see this in theaters. Unfortunately (fortunately?) I was thwarted by a broken projector. If you read Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and thought: who cares about morality, ethics, science, and the nature of life? Frankenstein’s monster would be way more interesting if he was involved in a giant war between magical ugly things, then this movie is for you. This movie does for classic literature what Legion did for Christian mythology (i.e. made it stupid). Skip it.

Buy I, Frankenstein on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

that awkward moment

That Awkward Moment

This movie is sort of a romantic comedy told from the guys’ perspective – three guys (a womanizer, a nerd, and a married guy) all become single at the same time and decide to make a pact to stay that way – except that all three end up romantically involved with women. It differs from traditional romantic comedies in that it’s got a lot more dick jokes and the characters all act like overgrown frat boys. Some people will find it okay, but most will be put off by the fact that the women could do a lot better than these three.

Buy That Awkward Moment on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

stalingrad

Stalingrad

This is a big-budget Russian film about a vicious urban hellhole of a battle between the Soviets and the Germans in World War II. It looks pretty good, especially for a non-Hollywood movie, and aims for a Band of Brothers feel, with the narrative following a handful of soldiers protecting a local girl. They even give some non-evil screentime to the Germans. Unfortunately, some of the heroism borders on silliness, it doesn’t always make sense, and it glosses over some of the ways Soviet leadership was not awesome to its soldiers. Give it a try though if you liked Enemy at the Gates.

Buy Stalingrad on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

Neighbors Review

poster from the Universal Pictures film Neighbors

My choices this week were as follows: 3 movies I’ve already seen, 2 religion movies, 1 documentary for little kids, and 3 movies that looked even worse than this one. My hands were tied, in other words. If I hadn’t promised to see more bad movies this year, I would have stayed home. But I did promise, so I went to the frat boy movie.

A pair of former partiers who now have jobs and a baby decide to run the new frat house out of their nice quiet neighborhood.

I didn’t expect much from Neighbors (Bad Neighbours in Britain) but I got even less than I expected. I got awkwardness instead of comedy, a mess instead of a plot, and an entire cast of thoroughly unlikeable characters. I think I just saw my first really solid contender for Worst Movie of 2014.

Read More

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

Trailer Reviews for May 9, 2014

BAD NEIGHBORS



Also called Neighbors depending on where you look. I’m not sure about this movie. I like Zac Efron (even though his character in this movie looks like a massive douchebag) and Rose Byrne, but not Seth Rogan. And the trailer made me cringe. Several times. But I think my alternatives this week are worse.

LEGENDS OF OZ: DOROTHY’S RETURN



Is it just me, or does this look like it should have been straight-to-DVD? I mean, it’s got famous voice actors, but it’s just one of those sequels that phones in a rehashed version of an existing franchise, like all those Tinkerbell movies. I mean, what is Toto supposed to be, a dog or a barking cat?

MOMS’ NIGHT OUT



Wow, look. April Kepner from Grey’s Anatomy married Samwise Gamgee/that kid from The Goonies? Those would be some adorable babies. It looks like this movie is trying to be both funny and inspiring but I didn’t feel either watching this trailer. It’s just rehashing that old ‘Dad’s are too dumb to live’ cliché and peppering it with green-band versions of search comedy jokes (I.e. The Hangover, Harold and Kumar Christmas).

LOCKE



Ugh. Looks like a gimmicky vanity project. No thanks.

UNDER THE SKIN



Um, what? This trailer makes no sense. I have to assume the film doesn’t, either.

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

DVDs for May 6, 2014

veronica mars

Veronica Mars

Otherwise known as “The Kickstarter Movie.” In a move reminiscent of Firefly, fans of the Nancy-Drew-esque high school murder mystery show Veronica Mars got together and handed series creator Rob Thomas (not the one from Matchbox 20) enough money to make a movie. They got an extra-long mystery featuring grown up Veronica investigating a case that catches her up with all the people she used to know as a teen. This is pretty much a fans-only movie, so try the TV show first.

Buy Veronica Mars on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

art of the steal

The Art of the Steal

There’s an art to making heist movies that aren’t just the same old cliches trotted out all over again, and this movie doesn’t have it. Stop me if you’ve heard this before: a reformed thief bands together with his former colleagues to pull off one more heist before they retire, but divisions among the group screw up the plan. The only real difference is that the lead character played by Kurt Russell is (for some reason) an Evel Knievel knockoff. If you mass-consume heist movies, you’ll probably get to it eventually.

Buy The Art of the Steal on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

burn

Burn

I was first introduced to Detroit’s arson problem through Charlie LeDuff’s book Detroit: An American Autopsy. Overworked, underpaid firefighters in run down equipment risk their lives to fight huge numbers of arson fires in abandoned houses before they burn the handful of remaining people out of their homes (Detroit is where arsonists go on vacation). It’s hard hitting stuff, even more so in documentary form. They got some pretty amazing footage, so definitely check it out (especially you, fellow Chicago Fire fans).

Buy Burn on DVD.

generation war

Generation War

In North America, we call our World War II soldiers “The Greatest Generation.” We make endless movies about how they heroically put down those dastardly Nazis, but what if you’re German? What do you call the ’40s generation then? I always preferred the war movies/books that contained at least a single three dimensional Axis character rather than a hoard of cardboard psychopaths, so this miniseries, which follows five young Germans in different wartime roles, seemed like exactly what I’ve been looking for all this time. This is something we should all watch.

Buy Generation War on DVD or on Blu-Ray.

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

Amazing Spider-Man 2 Review

poster from the Sony Pictures film Amazing Spider-man 2

Spider-man and I have a weird relationship. I’ve read some of the comics, watched the cartoon, and I even own two of the movies. I think Spider-man is cool… as long as he doesn’t open his mouth. When he starts wisecracking I mostly just want to slap him. This latest incarnation is the mouthiest of all, but I keep going to see the movies anyway.


Spider-man struggles with his girlfriend’s decision to move away and his old friend’s need for his blood as a new electricity-based supervillain threatens the city.

There’s so much going on in Amazing Spider-man 2 (not all of it necessarily relevant) that it’s hard to boil it down to a coherent logline. Despite the logjam of subplots it all seems to work together somehow, so in the end the movie is about as good as a Spider-man movie could be.

Read More

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

Sniper’s Honor Review

It’s Random Friday again and I’m still trying to clear my backlog of free Goodreads First Reads books, so today we’ll be talking about Sniper’s Honor, a military/historical thriller by Stephen Hunter. It’s releasing this month from Simon and Schuster.

snipers honor cover

A retired sniper and a newspaper reporter attract deadly notice when they start digging into the history of a female sniper who disappeared from the Ukraine in the closing days of World War II.

I requested Sniper’s Honor because I loved one of Hunter’s other thrillers. When it opened with a quote from The Terminator, I knew we would get along like a house on fire.

I love Sniper’s Honor for a lot of reasons. It’s part World War II novel, part modern-day thriller. The plotting is tight and the prose is clever. The two timelines trade the narrative back and forth as each set of characters discovers clues and encounters setbacks, ensuring that there’s no good place to stop reading. Everything clicks together perfectly, but even though I usually figure thrillers out in a few chapters, I had no idea how Sniper’s Honor was going to end until all the pieces fell into place.

The World War II timeline doesn’t just re-hash the same old American/British victories. It delves into the action on the often ignored Eastern Front, touching on the battles we’ve heard of (Stalingrad, Kursk, the siege of Leningrad) but focusing on the forgotten partisans who fought SS death squads and battle-hardened paratroopers in the remote Ukrainian mountains. The hero of the story is not only a sniper but a female Russian sniper, which I was thrilled about, even if her beauty is the only reason anyone’s interested in her.

I also love that Sniper’s Honor doesn’t fall into the propaganda-movie trap of ‘all Allies good, all Axis bad,’ as there are heroes and villains on both sides. There’s a fair amount of graphic violence, but it didn’t bother me. Violence is necessary to convey the horror and confusion of war and when some of the truly monstrous characters meet their ends, I would even call it satisfying.

In the ‘present day’ timeline, the heroes are a reporter who has grandchildren, a retired sniper with a bad hip, and (in an interlude) a desk jockey who spends all day crunching numbers. None of the three are typical action heroes, which is why it’s such a pleasure to see them stick it to the cocky young guns in the intelligence and organized crime communities who are trying to keep their dark secrets buried.

My only real complaint is that prose was a little technical for me at times. I’m not a firearms expert, and with so many weapons being identified by number-letter combinations, I needed to have Google images near at hand in order to visualize the action. During the wrap-up, I was also a bit confused about what happened to a few of the bit players, but the neat bow tied around the principals more than made up for it.

I would recommend Sniper’s Honor to any history or thriller buff who’s tired of the same old thing (extra points if you’re both). I award it the coveted rating of:

category 5

Before you go, here’s your Sniper’s Honor-related cartoon:
girl sniper meme

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

Trailers for May 2, 2014

THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2



Spider-Man has never been one of my favorite superheros. Most of the time I feel like angsty teenage Peter Parker and his smarmy alter ego need a good hard smack upside the head. And I really don’t feel like they needed to remake all these movies again as a 3D special effects bonanza just so Sony doesn’t have to give the rights back to Marvel. However, even if I didn’t have a blog to write, I’d still be going to this movie, since my friend is a huge (and I mean HUGE) Spider-man nerd, and the Wolf Pack rolls together, yo.

JOE



While I like the idea of an ex-con rescuing a boy’s family from an abusive dad, this movie doesn’t grab me. Maybe it’s just because I don’t like Nicholas Cage, but I would want a story like that to be more uplifting and less mired in revenge and violence.

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)
Page 6 of 84« First...«45678»102030...Last »

SUBSCRIBE TO ZE EMAILS

Subscribe to Ze Feeds

Archives

Ads by Google

Links by Google