Archive for October, 2008

Review: Tropic Thunder

Saturday, October 25th, 2008

Ben Stiller is able to put together an action-comedy with more names on the bill than at first glance (himself, Robert Downey Jr. and Jack Black, but in fact includes Tom Cruise, Matthew McConaughey, Steve Coogan and some more cameos). It looks big budget, and the pacing is unregularly high and cut together with dialogue at true thunder-speed. It leaves no room to go into anything really deep, but at least it’s consistently funny (though never reaching levels where you roll on the floor). For a comedy, it’s thumbs up, but not fully two.7½.

Review: Max Payne

Monday, October 20th, 2008

It’s been a while since we had some new release opening the same week as in the States. Part of the rush is seeing it one day before the people in the US, of course, with the risk of no critical reviews warning you of something bad.
On the surface, you should’ve recognised this one too though, being a video game translation (usually never offering real depth). Lots of violence and Mark Wahlberg headlining got me over the line, but it turned out not to be really much.
It’s basically your average revenge story, set in the present, but still trying the film noir look and feel for no other reason than giving it style. But it leads to the expected style over substance cliche, as the story is slow, not much saying and slim to the bone.
The action are the usual slow-mo shots, with the Matrix copying here and there, and they’re far and apart too. The whole movie is on the verge of being boring, and for a movie marketed in the action genre, it means at least 4 nails in the coffin.6-.


Wednesday, October 8th, 2008

I thought it was a funny title, but as I typed that in, I did a domain name check, and see it was registered yesterday.
But seriously, who do I really blame ? The American with their dumb mortgages and money grubbing creditors putting them on the streets ? The Icelandic population ? The world economy ? The world wide stock market who decide their prices on a gut feeling and follow each other like sheep ?
Nopz, I blame my own government. I went searching for a safe place to park my money, and not see it diminish because of tax. To do that, you have to find the bank with highest interest rate, and that was for the time being IceSave. Not only that, why would the government let it open a Dutch subsidiary if it had the knowledge the bank was not up to par ?
If last week, anyone who would say putting my money on Starbucks stock (SBUX on Nasdaq) was safer than a savings account, I would’ve laughed so hard in his face my leather belt would pop and my Levi’s jeans would fall on the floor.
Now all I can do is suck up to a certain Wouter Bos and look at the Dutch Bank with puppy dog eyes. Can I have my money back now ?

Review: The Bank Job

Tuesday, October 7th, 2008

British caper based on a real heist back in the early Seventies. Of course it means Jason Statham has to headline, and his acting is as you’d expect.
The story starts up slowly, with more than a dozen of characters introduced (only becoming clear what their purpose is far into the story). While a few things seems to be stretched from the truth, they seem to be really based on facts indeed, but it still dampens a heightened state of thrill.
This is just a normal heist flick, with no ingenious plot twists or extra-ordinary features pulled off.7.

Review: New TV shows

Saturday, October 4th, 2008

The 2008-2009 season has opened again, and now we get to see the SAG strike after-math. And it doesn’t look pretty at all. Here are the new entries so far:

The Mentalist: CBS, home of the procedural crime shows, comes with another entry, mixing in a bit of all the other show (mixing flashy imagery, dark and light drama, and a serial killer for a continuous backstory), but most of all, looks like a complete rip-off of USA network’s Psych. While Psych is laughing your ass of funny, which dynamic characters to fill in stories, this one focuses on one character that really doesn’t seem to get off the ground. While looking at this used-to-be-fake-psych character from a drama viewpoint, it doesn’t stand out enough to really hit any wow-factor.

Fringe: Not to be missed becaused it’s headed by one of my most favorite producer around (JJ Abrams), it’s a blatant X-Files rip-off. From the opening sequence (hand print sign), to a recognisable theme, and to top it off, taking an X-Files producer in its crew (Darin Morgan) to top it off. It’s more episodic than one expects from Abrams, but since this show airs on Fox, it might be a logical choice for the target demographics. The look, feel, and atmosphere is still very X-Files like, including the running theme of believer vs. unbeliever, supernatural and faith vs. science, but still, I expect Abrams will pull it off to make something special of this show.

Gary Unmarried: If the last decade of comedies have proven anything, it’s that normal sitcoms just don’t cut it anymore. A single look at single-cam (My Name is Earl, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia), and you clearly see the era of Friends and Mad About You is really over. This one is no different. Sure, a few soft laughs are available, but overall, it’s too cliche, and not special enough. I won’t be touching any sitcoms soon, this genre is really dead.

Raising the Bar: TNT comes with a court-room drama, a genre I usually like. Here it lacks a lot, mostly a smart guy to push special court cases forward (say, someone like David E. Kelley, who does/did it from a drama standpoint (The Practice) or comedy standpoint (Ally McBeal, Boston Legal)). So here you have mostly predictable dull cases, and a whole group of not-so-interesting characters. The characters from both sides (prosecutors and public defenders) are supposedly a tight group of friends, a fertile ground for cliche conflicts. A noble effort to show every case from both standpoints (though the public defenders are naturally ALWAYS the protagonists), but creator/producer Steven Bochco doesn’t seem to be able to put something off the ground that’s worth mentioning.

Knight Rider 2008: NBC resurrects an old eighties properties, and updates it with *gasp* … HORRIBLE CGI ! In the times of the A-Team and Airwolf, the Knight Rider fared well alone on the cool factor, but in these times, it just doesn’t cut it anymore. Add some horrible characters (coupled with even worse actors), bad writing (and hence, badly directed and cut episodes), and you have a toe-curlingly bad series. Maybe fun to watch with a group of friends, purely for the purpose at poking fun, but besides that, it has no redeeming qualities.