Archive for June, 2005

Review: War of the Worlds

Thursday, June 30th, 2005

These are the movies where not reading any books at all comes in handy (I highly recommend it to y’all). First of all, it helps with many surprise effects, and in this case, the script is somewhat thin and one-tracked.
But leave it to Steven Spielberg to make the most out of it, and turn it into a fast paced, gritty drama/actioner, with awe inspiring special effects to support it. Both from a storytelling and from a technical standpoint, he’s your man. Again, this movie involves and requires shots that make the heads of the people at ILM spin in overdrive. They even do it in the most short-tracked time period a high SFX demanding movie has ever seen (some 7 months), and it still looks amazing.
The story plays out very much the same way as Independence Day, but with more tense setups and a more focused and hence more intimate setting (only 3 principal characters, Tom Cruise, Dakota Fanning and Justin Chatwin). The acting is good, though it’s hard to create a strong emotional bond with all the running and hiding going on.
All in all, even though the train ride is rough and wobbly, I’d say, hop on anyway.8.

How Messy is it at my Work Today ?

Wednesday, June 29th, 2005

Rate 1 (sucks) to 5 (cool). Only rate the latest pictures, otherwise I can’t keep track of the average.

Total: 757 out of 234 votes > Average is: 3.235

work pic

Searching Earth

Wednesday, June 29th, 2005

The people at Google keep themselves quite busy, and the latest project to enter the beta stage is Google Earth (download it here).
As you can see, it integrates your search with satellite images, making for some nifty effects as you zoom and tilt your way into your own local neighborhood.

This is where I live, for instance. That one house somewhere in the middle.

Features work better States-side, with more hits on restaurants and hotels, etc. Big cities will even have 3D buildings streaming to your desktop. Nifty++. Why don’t you try it yourself. (Oh, by the way, I think the satellite images and 3D info are somewhat up to date, as you won’t be able to locate the Twin Towers in New York, I already looked for you).

Review: Nestle Extreme Gold Miniatures

Monday, June 27th, 2005

As you can seen in my last ice cream review, I wasn’t too happy with the new Extreme Gold ice cream cone from Nestle, but now they have another version, Extreme Gold Miniatures. 12 Really tiny cones, with the same concept (the cone is solid chocolate), but with a whole taste overhaul. The ice cream itself is luckily either vanilla or chocolate (6 of both) and the taste is rich (replacing the milky substance in the big Straciatella version). It seems the chocolate outside seems richer too, and it looks like it melts faster (or that could be my imagination. And since it’s so small, it’s in your stomach before you know it anyway). Despite the small size, I can vouch for every little one, it will be a treat. Try it. Twelvice. You’ll like it.8½.

Review: The Comeback 101 – 104

Monday, June 27th, 2005

With this comeback (airing on HBO) Lisa Kudrow kills a bird with three or four stones. Technically it is her comeback on the small screen (after Friends), but she also had developer’s credits (writer/exec. producer), and the show itself is about an actress’ comeback from a sitcom, who alongside has a reality show filming this comeback. However, this semi-reality isn’t anything fresh. That thunder had already been stolen with Unscripted (also HBO) and in some degree Fat Actress (Showtime), all from this past TV season. Of course, anything can work if it’s really well written, but this series is not. Lingering too long on the same joke, and unimaginitive situations makes this one of the lower quality show ever to air on HBO. If it wasn’t TV’s low season, I’d drop it a long time ago.

Review: 7 Seconds

Sunday, June 26th, 2005

It’s been a while, but like gambling, you have to give it a try now and then. So for my first direct-to-dvd movie of this year, I thought I wouldn’t try anything too risky, and bet on Wesley Snipes. Still, the fact remains it is a direct-to-dvd for a reason (and hence mr. Snipes has to be careful not to follow in the same footsteps of Jean-Claude van Damme, Steven Seagal and the likes, as he picks more and more of these projects in between his blockbusters), and it becomes evident within moments after the start of the movie.
It’s a big cliche driven show cluttered with C actors with degrees in overacting. The director thinks he can make a difference with strange camera angles, but you can jot down the next line as an irrefutable fact. There no future for this guy beyond these type of movies (in fact, his next one is one starring the aforementioned Jean-Claude). Next, the low-budget feel is all over the place, and the editing is shoddy at best. There are absolutely no technical or creative highlights to be praised.
So that’s it, no more direct-to-dvd’s for me. There’s no reason to ever touch one again, but you have to keep hoping. So, talk to ya again next year.3½.

US Box Office

Sunday, June 26th, 2005

Batman might have begun last week, but it’s definitely Batman Continues at the box office. Flying in $26.8 million is enough for another sesh at number one, and a total of $121.7 million almost beats Mr. & Ms. Smith ($125.4 million, but with a one week longer run). At 2 is this week’s top opener, Bewitched, starring Nicole Kidman and Will Ferrell. With $20.2 million, it’s well within the expectations of this old sitcom remake.
Mr. & Ms. Smith are stuck at three, clinging on to $16.8 million. Number four is for kiddy movie, Herbie: Fully loaded, with $12.8 million in the Beetle’s back trunk. Rounding off the top 5 is zombie horror Land of the Dead, scaring up $10.2 million. Not smart opening a horror movie in such a crowded movie week, as Dawn of the Dead proved last year with an almost triple income (as has the overabundance of this genre proven in the past one or two years).

Review: Kinsey

Friday, June 24th, 2005

It’s probably a nice reflection of Dr. Alfred Charles Kinsey’s life, but for a movie, it doesn’t do much. At least, not as much as the reception of his then masterwork, Sexual Behaviour in the Human Male. The movie does give a little bif of insight here and there, and that gives a tiny bit of drama. But as a whole, it’s not that interesting. It’s only the good acting (Liam Neeson, Laura Linney and Peter Sarsgaard) that keep you from walking away.6½.

Review: Madagascar

Thursday, June 23rd, 2005

2 Shrek movies were enough to make the Dreamworks Animation department a grand success (well, there was also Shark Tale, but I kinda surpressed that from my memory), and push the company into a public one. And the first movie to come out and please the shareholders is Madagascar.
Anyone knows this would be a hard act to follow, and frankly, it shows.
There are quite a few wacky characters in this movie, but the design isn’t as strong. Also, with the lack of a strong story comes the fact that jokes aren’t as inventive and there are more pridictabililties. Cliches are another offspring of this fact.
While all this mentioned above is noticable, it doesn’t mean this movie isn’t good though. For instance, the voice acting is pretty solid. And there’s always room for a tiny smile along the way, and it’s probably easier to understand for the kids. As the following grade suggests, it’s definitely a one-time see-er.7+.


Monday, June 20th, 2005

I’m told I’m one of the better cooks this side of the galaxy, and it’s been proven time and again. This moth for instance, couldn’t resist the rich, one of a kind, pasta sauce I was preparing (actually, it’s so rich, I serve it without the pasta), and flew right into the hot pan without hesitation. Not a smart move. Besides being taught by parents that eating without utensils will get you killed, you also may never touch my food without written application (and a following signed approval).
Here’s the rude moth after several minutes of CPR (it couldn’t be helped, his heart just stopped). At least he died a wonderful death.

Review: Ben & Jerry’s Fossil Fuel

Sunday, June 19th, 2005

As always, funny names and long descriptions. Officially, it’s Sweet Cream Ice Cream with Chocolate Cookie Pieces, Fudge Dinosaurs and a Fudge Swirl. Unofficially, it’s just darn good. Then again, what would you expect from the most expensive ice cream one can buy from the deep freeze section.8+.

US Box Office

Sunday, June 19th, 2005

While the movie is spectacular, Batman Begins with respectable opening, earning $46.9 million in its first weekend. With such an opening, and no kids to help the box office blow up like Spider-Man did, it’s not clear yet if the $150 million budget will be earned back.
Second was Mr. & Mrs. Smith, dropping one place with $27.3 million, with the total almost crossing the $100 million mark. Firm third spot is for Madagascar, zoo-ing in another $11.1 million. Fourth was SWIII, with $9.7 million, which will cross the $350 million mark next week. Fifth place was for The Longest Yard, the comedy reels in $8 million.
Biggest disappointment this week, was counter-programmed (against darker less family oriented Batman) opener, comedy The Perfect Man. With only $5.5 million (7th place), it might be a sign of Hilary Duff’s fading stardom.

Review: Batman Begins

Saturday, June 18th, 2005

No one will contest Chris Nolan’s superb track record of only 2 movies (Memento and Insomnia). And that was enough to convince the WB that he was the man able to resurrect the Batman franchise. And how well he does it.
Everything seems to be brilliantly executed. A wonderful script, which is both an emotional journey and an actioner at the same time, is a nice start. It truly makes the title worth its name, as the main character develops throughout the movie. Multiple factors over time influence the way he was, is and becomes. Antagonists aren’t as detailed, but luckily aren’t the comical” freaks previously portrayed by Jim Carrey and *sigh* Arnold Schwarzenegger. Then we have the directorial skills, showing off the dark side, focusing both on character and tone. There’s no telling where his talent stops. Oh wait, I just saw it. Action, mostly the personal combat scenes, are quite fast paced short (as in, nanoseconds) cut sequences, making it a bit hard to follow. But the rest is done so nicely, he can be forgiven for those few scenes.
Then we have the ( surprise surprise) mostly British cast (must be thanks to the also Brit director), who all do their part well in their “guest” roles. Main kudos go to, of course, Christian Bale, though after The Machinist, this role is kind of a cakewalk. Also impressive is Katie Holmes, in what seems to be her first mature role, finally shredding her Dawson’s Creek image.
With 2 of my favorites behind the music (Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard), it’s strangely non thematic, lacking a definite signature. Though it still fulfills the dramatic hightening duties.
All this combines into a fresh appetite for a sequel, with hopefully most of the cast and crew intact.8½.

Review: Napoleon Dynamite

Saturday, June 18th, 2005

Last year’s low budget indie movie slowly grew into a surprise hit, earning a 100-fold of it’s budget after a price war at the Sundance Festival (from a $400.000 to a $44+ million gross). It’s actually a quite surprising result, considering the sheer simplicity of the movie, both technical and on the creative side.
In the one hand, you have a bunch of complete nerds, done in a minimalistic way (unlike, for instance, the Revenge of the Nerds series). In the other hand, you have the occasional uttering of “Gosh!” and “Idiots!”, immortalizing Jon Heder’s character (while it’s actually Jon Gries’ character that’s the most funny). The rest is just as simple, with no real story and characters to speak of.
Does it hold up as a movie ? Barely. Watching it with friends, laughing at the on-screen losers, might help it a lot. And maybe that’s why it’s become a hit (and a big winner at MTV’s 2005 Movie Awards). But I wouldn’t recommend you spending too much money on it (i.e. share the rental price with your friends).6½.

Review: James Blunt – Back to Bedlam

Thursday, June 16th, 2005

Fellow blogger Daxxon who moonlights as a commerce driven DJ and pulls double duty as a podcaster (i.e. he goes wherever the wind blows him to) never impressed me with his musical repertoire. But there has to be a first for everything. So with much restraint, I tried another one of his tips, this time not so commercial, and actually not one played over the airwaves yet.
Needless to say, the song (You’re Beautiful) made me wonder what more this raw white Brit version of Aaron Neville had to offer. With only 10 songs on the album, he has to make every single one count to make a lasting impression. With only one minor slip, so he does.
Musically, it’s not an eye opener. But that’s not noticable, as the singer/songwriter has other strong points to show for. His voice is most apparent, belting out the highly melodic tunes with soul and determination. Pair this voice with personal experience driven lyrics and you have yourself an excellent album for pure relaxation purposes.8-.