Archive for October, 2007

Review: Dashboard Confessional – Shade of Poison Trees

Wednesday, October 31st, 2007

I had to crack down their last year’s album, after liking the two previous before that. But the trend is going in the worst direction possible… downwards. While I couldn’t call their last album really listenable, this one is absolutely dreadful. It’s a mix of their signature mellow to uptempo guitar play combined with his emo voice, but this time, it’s laden throughout with irritating, cloudy and depressive lead melodies, while some are more suitable for children songs. And that even includes the lyrics, “Fever dreams, can only hunt you, till the fever breaks. It can only hunt you till the fever breaks (repeat zillion times)”, sung in a very lullaby fashion. These songs are not just bad, they’re despicable.3.

US Box Office

Tuesday, October 30th, 2007

Another successful horror weekend, as Saw IV slashes the biggest slice of box office for itself. Third sequel tortures some $32.1 million together, only a few points weaker than last years Saw III.
Landing at number 2 is a Steve Carrell starring comedy Dan in Real Life, snickering in only $12.1 million. Dropping two spots at 3 is 30 Days of Night, as the dark days only gather $6.7 million (and a steep 58% drop). At 4, The Game Plan holds on for a fifth week, with $6.3 million and a favorable $77 million cume. Rounding out the top 5 is Tyler Perry’s Why Did I Get Married? with $5.7 million in its third week.

Review: Butterfly on a Wheel

Monday, October 29th, 2007

Your typical low budget vengeance thriller, with Pierce Brosnan as the bad guy, while Gerard Butler and Maria Bello play the oppressed couple. What should’ve been a tense thriller (as the trailer made it out to be), somehow lacks immediate or intense threat in the atmosphere.
For its budget, it’s quite okay though (strangely, only had a TV premiere in the States), and seeing it once isn’t that bad, even though I guessed all the plot twists in advance.7-.

Review: The Invasion

Friday, October 26th, 2007

Remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, now in a contemporary setting, but seemingly less scary. It’s basically your average predictable thriller, lacking depth of character or psychological impact. Even the scares aren’t that well executed. As a failed product in its first run, rewrites and reshoots didn’t really help it either. Creative editing seems to work, but overuse of it actually disturbs the flow. Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig do their best, and Jackson Bond proves himself as a cute talent on his first outing on the silver screen, but that alone can’t make this movie surpass the ordinary.7-.

Review: Michael Clayton

Thursday, October 25th, 2007

The trailer certainly sounded suspenseful. Using the titular character’s name (played by George Clooney) as the movie title means they’re not gonna play the modesty card, and heightens the expectations.
But, it’s all a bit overblown. Drama has to be found in the subtleties, usually some subtext in the dialogue, were you have to figure out the meaning and background history yourself. And even then, there’s no follow up, nothing really fleshes out characters. Suspense dies down due to slow pacing, and not so many story twist (at least, not the ones you haven’t predicted yourself). Also, many misplaced musical cues (always too early) cause the false feeling of suspense.
Still, Clooney does his dark moody character routine (yes, the same one he’s been doing for more than a decade), and figuring out his character is at least one way to spend the two long hours.6½.

Review: Pushing Daisies 101 – 104

Wednesday, October 24th, 2007

The fall TV season is already in full swing and there haven’t been many surprises on the horizon. Lotsa standard shows going around, offering nothing too special. So, _if_ you churn out something special, you’ll get noticed.
This year it’s Bryan Fuller again (Star Trek: Voyager, Wonderfalls, Dead Like Me), leaving a comfortable producer spot on hit show Heroes to go out and explore, instead of playing it safe and earning a big buck. A little bit of trust from Barry Sonnenfeld (Men in Black, Wild Wild West, Get Shorty) who exec. produces, and ABC, goes a long way, and a new show is born.
The synopsis is short and rules bound, which I won’t give away just yet. It creates storylines enough to make a series stand, but along with that, you’ll get great and funny story telling, and a bit of character development and relationship evolving finished it off. Watching this brightly colored world filled with exaggerated primary simple shapes gives you an other-wordly experience, while the content is still very much earth-bound. If you want to truly experience something new on your TV set, this is the show to go for this year.

Review: matchbox twenty – Exile on Mainstream

Sunday, October 21st, 2007

It’s been twelve years already, and while keeping a pretty low profile overall (no world fame with screaming fans running behind them), they have managed to score the most #1 hits in the adult contemporary hit lists of all times at the home front. And it’s not strange, there hasn’t been one band who has churned out album after album so different from each other, while still having that same instantly grabbing wow-factor kinda quality.
Now this is mostly a greatest hits album, but out of the 6 new songs, 4 already deserve that diamond encrusted life long monster hit – plaque, that one I only give to the most special songs. That’s because, once again, they go a new direction (this time a rocking uptempo big band style), but still make it their own. Amazing production value means musically it’s sound, and vocally is also a non-brainer. Their uniquely sharp and vividly imaginative lyrics suck you in to listen to songs over and over again (for instance “You’re bad mood just ties my hands, Turns my cartwheels into head stands”).
Grading only the new songs, with 66% hit rate (while good albums rarely go above 30%) means it’s definitely a 4 thumbs up.8½. (Full album. 10-)

Review: The Kingdom

Sunday, October 21st, 2007

Peter Berg has come a long way, since his sympathetic doctor character in Chicago Hope, where he also picked up the camera in his spare time. Now fully acclimated in Hollywood, and a few action flicks under his belt (and some more writing and producing credits), he’s ready to pair up with quality producer Michael Mann.
Result is a hard-hitting gritty action/drama with a current thematic war atmosphere that uses mostly simplistic plot devices, but is effective all the way. It lacks the character depth usually synonimous with Mann, but somehow, this movie is in a different category and doesn’t really need it. It’s entertaining all the way and suspense is pumped through the roof. A marvelous introspective end scene is just the topping on the icecream.8-.

Review: Pringles Gourmet

Sunday, October 21st, 2007

The Pringles R&D division is really burning their overdrive, churning out more and more series or Pringles. Latest is their Gourmet line-up. I’ve tasted several (see picture, 2 kinda import, one regular already in stores).

Pringles Gourmet

The reason why I can review them all in one go is because they’re all some kinda exotic far reaching flavor, that just doesn’t titilate the tastebuds like the regular flavors do. Some flavors are too sharp, some too soft, and some others just don’t have a full body. For the occasional hunger, it’s okay, but it’s definitely not like the ones in the addictive range of the regular series.6.

Review: Death Sentence

Thursday, October 18th, 2007

Thriller directed by James Wan, who churned out something deadly already this year (Dead Silence). Along with his previous cult hit, Saw, that was pure horror. Now comes a drama-like thriller actioner, starring Kevin Bacon. The first half is pretty solid, seems to have story and depth, but the second half is really over the top. Losing sight of the characters’ depth and just bloody gore. Direction style keeps it fresh though, with camera angles and movement keeping the thrill going on.
If you don’t take this movie too seriously (I even chuckled near the ending), this movie is just fine.7+.

Review: The Heartbreak Kid

Wednesday, October 17th, 2007

Most people remember the Farrelly Brothers from their movie There’s Something About Mary (already 9 years ago). This movie is in the same category, in both type of humor, pacing, and story unfolding (and of course, also stars Ben Stiller). Basically, it means you’ll probably like this movie just as much. There are some hilarious moments, but it’s still a bit predictable and sometimes the pacing lets down. Overall, it’s a great comedy, but not one of the best.7½.

Review: Bruce Springsteen – Magic

Tuesday, October 16th, 2007

Another album promoted as an E-Street Band collaboration, it’s a bit overshadowed by Bruce’s political stance (or just his disgust for Bush). Let me tell you, with lyrics like “This is radio nowhere, is there anybody”, and “And the girls in their summer clothes, In the cool of the evening light, The girls in their summer clothes, Pass me by alive out there?”, you have nothing to worry about. There are still those story telling types of songs, but it somehow never quite catches on (at least with me, never reaching the level of songs like “The River”). Furthermore, musically it’s pretty much what you expect (I probably couldn’t really distinguish a song from this album from a song of his previous album, The Rising). As an album, magically, it has no powers. It’s easy listening, but nothing really grabbing your attention.6.

Review: James Blunt – All The Lost Souls

Sunday, October 14th, 2007

2 Years down the road, but still only the one smash-hit song that’s imminently bound to this singer/songwriter is You’re Beautiful. And even though his voice combined with ultra-sweet songs swept me over and got me to award his first album with an 8- (slightly over-rated, now it seems), the party train just has to stop here. Reason is that I thought there was longevity in the album, time has proven it otherwise. Admittedly, they are still high quality, but somehow lose the fight due to being only sweet.
Like his previous album, you’ll have to do with just 10 songs. His first single is 1973, and signals this album will be about the same, sweet combined with his unique voice. You can’t really fault him on quality again, but I already know how this will unfold over a longer period (also lacking a break-out hit, unlike last time). So, for fans waiting for another album without too many changes, go for it. I’ll just pick the one or two songs from it, and will probably come across this album on the next “Play All” command in my WinAmp Media Library (not often).7.

Review: Shoot’Em Up

Sunday, October 14th, 2007

The title really leaves nothing up to imagination, but the gun-toting extravaganza on screen is quite inventive, and is mostly the heart of the movie. Story doesn’t seem to kick in till a bit later, but even if it was not really needed, it’s a nice addition. Mostly it’s stylish violence combined with a bit of humor. Quite a bulls-eye for a popcorn-happy flick.7½.

Review: Rush Hour 3

Saturday, October 6th, 2007

The third installment of asian martial arts inspired action movie starring Chris Tucker and Jackie Chan again, also with Brett Ratner behind the camera again. While story was never a strong point in this series, this movie is absolutely totally NOT about story. In fact, they had to hire a second script supervisor, telling the first one the discrepancies and continuity errors were there for a reason.
Mostly of course, to jumpt to the next action sequence, but it still boggles the mind why any script supervisor wouldn’t enter a catatonic psychosis with this script.
So then it’s all about the jokes and action ? Yupz, very much so. And in fact, I did laugh a few times, while Jackie does his usual acrobatics. If you can live on that alone, this is the movie for you. But from me, it get’s a just below average grade.7-.