Posted by: da_nibbler | May 15, 2015

Review: ‘Mad Max – Fury Road’

Fury RoadBy this time last year I already had a few contenders on my Top Ten list. 2015 seemed to be taking its time… until I saw ‘Fury Road’. There was no doubt that ‘Fury Road’ would be a highlight of the year, a big contender for Best Film of 2015 in my book. It immediately went on my list and should be on yours as well.

Broken humanity is fighting for everyday necessities in an apocalyptic setting where crazy cults rule with maniacal power and a few shining beacons are trying to make a difference. ‘Fury Road’ sets its tone right from the start with a lonely man overlooking a seemingly endless death valley. The only other sign of life is a lonesome lizard, immediately squashed by the man’s boot the lizard finds his end between the man’s teeth within seconds. Not enough time to finish chewing before we are in the middle of our first chase sequence. Better strap yourselves in. There is not much room to breathe once this film gets going. What a lovely day!

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Posted by: da_nibbler | May 12, 2015

Review: ‘Big Game’

A 13 year old wannabe hunter and a non-action-hero Potus make for an entertaining couple in a ridiculous ride through the Finnish countryside.

The story is by the book as are the characters, for the most part. You have the hero, the villain. The usual suspects do what usual suspects do and deliver nicely.

The real surprise for me was Samuel L Jackson, taking a back seat to Onni Tommila’s wannabe hunter character. The real hero here is 13 year old Oskari, who can’t just sit idly by while the President of the United States is in trouble in his backyard. Read More…

Posted by: da_nibbler | April 2, 2015

Review: ‘Insurgent’

Remember ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’? That absolutely entertaining, action laden, funny and quotable first ‘Indiana Jones’ film that sparked a successful franchise?! Of course you do. We have all seen it numerous times and never shy away from watching it again and again. Its entire story can be boiled down to a bunch of people chasing after a box with everyone wanting to be the first to open it. Doesn’t sound like much but it works. Not so for ‘Insurgent’ which, at its core, is about the same plot device: find an elusive box and open it. What could have been a journey of discovery and exploration is turned into a by the numbers, stitched together film that relies too much on coincidences to move its plot forward.

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Before Boyhood was properly released the film was already buzzing with critical acclaim. To say I was excited to see it would be an understatement. It was at the top of my list of films I just HAD to see. When I eventually did I was underwhelmed, disappointed even. The film seemed to have hit a nerve with everyone but me. What bothered me most about it was that i could not put my finger on WHY. After a second viewing, which improved my opinion of the film, I decided to write it all down:

I had no emotional connection to the lead at all. That is not unusual for me, but not being able to connect to ANY of the characters in the film struck me as odd. The entire experience felt superficial, nothing had depth. We see the mom getting together with yet another man. A few scenes later it is a few years later – not that anyone would know if not for the lead’s different hair style – and we find the mom beaten, which sparks another move. Yet all we see the characters do in reaction to what happened is having them sit at a table, the mom crying, daughter staring on and the boy playing Wii Sports. Next scene, nothing further said about it or have any impact on the film or their lives. That about sums up the film for me; stuff happens, yet no one but the mom seems to care. Read More…

An old man, an elephant, explosions and a suitcase full of cash. How does this all fit together to make one of the most entertaining films out this year? I won’t spoil it for you so you will have to see for yourself but trust me, it is absolutely worth it!

A 100-year-old man flees from his retirement home and takes us on a ludicrous journey, sharing memories of his extraordinary life and giving us a new perspective on well known historic events. All this just by climbing out the window and disappearing.

The opening sets the tone for the film as we witness Allan Karlsson finding his cat has been mauled. Being a grieving owner Allan takes immediate revenge by blowing the guilty fox skyhigh with dynamite. Welcome to this Swedish indie. Read More…

Posted by: da_nibbler | June 4, 2014

Review: Edge of Tomorrow

“Live. Die. Repeat.”
The film’s tagline is straight to the point yet ominous enough. All you really need to know is mankind is fighting a global war against aliens trying to exterminate us. Something happens to Tom Cruise’s coward character Cage and he turns into a soldier version of Bill Murray in Groundhog Day. Oh, and Emily Blunt is in it as the love child of Lara Croft and Sarah Connor, kicking major ass (including Cruise’s). Buckle up and get ready for one helluva ride. Did I mention Emily Blunt’s muscles?

Tom Cruise does a good job playing coward turns involuntary hero Cage. I was pleasantly surprised how far he went making his character not just unlikeable but borderline despicable. A selfish coward who, by chance, is bestowed a great opportunity to end the war. If he can stomach being killed, I mean trained, by Emily Blunt. Live. Die. Repeatedly. That is the heart of the film and makes the entire roller coaster so much fun to watch. Blunt plays a famous war hero, the only hero in this war the humans are losing. Her and Cruise play polar opposites which is what makes the action and especially the comedic elements work so well. Have I mentioned Blunt’s amazingly toned body? Read More…

Posted by: da_nibbler | May 24, 2014

Review: X-Men – Days of Future Past

The X-Men are fighting a vicious battle for survival against the Sentinels. A losing battle . The terminator-like Sentinels adapt to every power used on them, decimating our heroes. Their only hope is Kitty Pride and her ability to send a person’s mind into the past to change the outcome of a pivotal moment in history. And then the fun begins.

Brian Singer is back. Who better to try and bring together the old and new cast of the X-Men franchise than the man originally at the helm. He elegantly weaves everyone into this film’s story with a handy time travel plot, linking the bleak future with the hopeful present. The film doesn’t take up time with exposition, instead rushing into the middle of the action right from the start. The rollercoaster takes us from one well composed scene to the next. The diligence with which every scene has been put together – from the dialogue and the framing to the editing and humorous delivery by the actors – it all flows so well that a slight slowdown after the halfway point catches you by surprise. Not for long as the next breathtaking set piece, performance or action sequence is just around the corner. Read More…

Posted by: da_nibbler | April 9, 2014

Review: ‘Noah’

The story of Noah’s Ark. We all know it, but let me give you a quick refresher just in case. Man has turned wicked after the whole Adam and Eve meet the snake and apple thing. The world is pillaged and the creator is not pleased. He wants a do-over and decides a worldwide cleanse with torrents of water from the heavens and the earth is the best way. Some of his creation he considers worth saving so he instructs ‘Noah’ to build an ark to safeguard a male and a female of each species for a new beginning before flooding his playground. Advantage to the sea folk. Should have been a fish.

This is where the commonground between film and book ends. Aronofsky gives this well known tale an ecological message presenting us with a post apocalyptic world, barren and toxic. Nature versus man and his industrialism is a big theme througout the film. He made changes to the story to fit his vision and add some conflict for entertainment puposes. One of the most important and story-impacting changes was having Noah’s sons be without wives, one of the three sons but a child. The main drive of the character part of the story is Ham, the middle son, who is desperate to have a family of his own if he is to survive the creator’s wrath. This is where Watson’s character comes into play as the love interest for his older brother Sham, planting the seeds for much of the conflict later. Read More…

Posted by: da_nibbler | March 29, 2014

Review: ‘Captain America – The Winter Soldier’

Having had the first ten minutes spoiled by the ‘300 – Rise of an Empire’ screening and their ‘Captain America’ preview watching the beginning was, uhm, interesting. I knew the introduction almost line by line, not that there is much dialogue, and yet I couldn’t help but chuckle at the quibs between Rogers and Wilson again. Shortly followed by the first of many action sequences the quibs don’t stop there with Black Widow and Captain America debating potential dates for the latter, among other things. Some might find it forced as this comedy / action turnover goes on throughout the entire film. I found it rather entertaining.

Our superheroes aren’t the only ones getting in on the action. Nick Fury gets to show off the amazingness that is his car (I want one) and other side characters are allowed more than mere cameos. The fast paced action can make it a bit tough to follow all the stuff going on onscreen at times, but that is also half the fun. While there is lots of action this film is more of a political suspense thriller with hidden agendas coming out of the wood work all over the place. While most of the plot points are fairly obvious there are enough twists and turns to keep you entertained. The film doesn’t have a dull moment, weaving nicely between action and character moments and keeping a solid pace. Read More…

Posted by: da_nibbler | March 22, 2014

Review: ‘A Long Way Down’

A Long Way DownLondon. New Year’s Eve. The top of a high-rise. Great view. But that’s not why Martin Sharp is here. Or why he brought the ladder currently bridging a pit of barbwire to the very edge of the tower. Topper’s Tower that is. Martin is having a party of one, saying goodbye to the past year. Before he can take his last step into the void he is interrupted by likeminded Maureen, inquiring if he’s “going to be long”. Foulmouthed Jess would like to borrow the ladder once he’s done and JJ wonders if anyone ordered pizza cos, you guessed it, he’s a pizza delivery guy. As four is a crowd and with the moment gone everyone abandons their plans and instead forms a pact to abstain from killing themselves until Valentine’s Day.

And so an unlikely new family is formed and a narrative born. The “Topper House Four” turn into a media sensation, which takes its toll on this already dysfunctional family. Nothing like a holiday to take the edge off, create more drama and bring everything out in the open. All the while Valentine’s Day is creeping closer and closer. Read More…

Posted by: da_nibbler | March 19, 2014

Review: ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’

Grand Budapest HotelI have been trying “to get” the brilliance that is Wes Anderson and his films for years, to no avail. Seems to go straight over my head. I found it impossible to connect with any of his characters or garner much entertainment out of his stories. And believe me, I have tried. The closest I ever got was with ‘The Life Aquatic’, which I accredit solely to Bill Murray’s performance. And then ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’ was released. The trailer gave every indication this will be like all the others. Quirky. Bizarre. Unique. Anderson. And utterly beyond me. All of that is true. Except, for the very first time, the latter.

From start to finish I was “gespannt wie ein Flitzebogen” as Ralph Fiennes’ character puts it, I couldn’t wait to see what they come up with next. The only thing able to wipe the constant smirk off my face were laugh out loud moments, of which there were many. Yes, this film is funny. Read More…

Posted by: da_nibbler | March 8, 2014

Review: ‘300 – Rise of an Empire’

300 Rise of an Empire posterI hear if before I get a chance to catch a glimpse. ‘War Pigs’ is playing. It immediately catches my attention and brings a smile to my face. I look and there it is –  the 30 second commercial for ‘300 – Rise of an Empire’. I say the words as Eva Green utters them, “Today we will dance across the backs of dead Greeks”. “WAAAR!” gives me goosebumps. Needless to say I was very excited to finally see this film. The predecessor is one of my all time favourites, watched countless times, setting the bar high for this sequel. Too high perhaps.

We’re back in Greece with the Persians knocking violently at the door. While the infamous 300 Spartans are having fun with the Persian Army we now get to hang with Themistocles of Athens, trying to keep the Persian Navy at bay. The Atheneans look like Spartans with their half naked bodies and bulging muscles – okay, maybe a little less bulgy –  yet they do things rather differently. Like the politicians not allowing Leonidas to “officially” go up against Xerxes and his army in the original, the Atheneans don’t want all out war unless it’s all of Greece fighting. Until someone or something unites all of Greece Themistocles needs to keep the Persians at bay just as Leonidas is doing or has done (we’ve already seen that). Unfortunately the witty banter that lightened the mood between the battle scenes for the Spartans falls flat among the Atheneans. Not sure if the muscle bulginess of the former would have helped the latter as they lack any kind of charisma and are rather bland. Where Butler’s Leonidas was a charming rascal with the depth and stature of a heroic leader Stapleton’s Themistocles falls short, being too serious and boring. Read More…

Posted by: da_nibbler | February 4, 2010

Motion Controls

Before I ever experienced Motion Controls I already had mixed feelings about them. Now that I HAVE experienced them on the Wii on dozens of games these feelings are still the same.

My initial reaction to seeing gameplay vids of the Wii was concern whether they could really pull off the motion controls to a gamer’s satisfaction. Basically the MC (=motion controls) has to be as accurate and fast as pushing a button on a gamepad. I had my doubts as to whether this could be achieved and unfortunately I was right.

Pointing the Wiimote at the screen is in my opinion not really part of the MC, as the IR sensor reads where you point and that’s it. It’s nothing else than a pointer. But even that supposedly simple design comes with its flaws. The actual MC is where the real letdown or should I say reality-check comes in. Read More…

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