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Joker (2019)
Mr. Phoenix really delivered
26 January 2020
Warning: Spoilers
I am very very impressed by the acting of Joaquin Phoenix in this movie. He really put a LOT into this, to the point where I was mesmerized by his portrayal of a guy with severe mental issues.

This origin story of the Joker, kinda based on "The Killing Joke" tells a story without chases through chemical plants, without huge battles or even the Batman.

It shows us how a guy who is having severe mental health issues gets beaten up by life over and over until he cracks and turns into something else. Even people who don't care about DC- or Marvel-superhero/villain movies might enjoy this, because if this wasn't about the Joker, this could be a fascinating case study of someone being pushed to the brink and snapping.

Mr. Phoenix' portrayal of the Joker is fascinating. There is one scene in particular, where he trying to get information about his mothers past, talking to someone reading her file, where he does this little thing with his facial expression and his voice that made me go "OK... I believe this guy. He is insane". I haven't often see an actor go this far and be that convincing, to the point where it was almost scary.

Now, for the elephant in the room - the comparisons. Just like in the comics, in the chronology of the Batman-comics, there have been several different jokers.

Think of the old TV show, where Joker was campy, silly, over the top, and it fit. Jack Nicholson in the 1989 movie showed us the classic origin story and was a mix of the silly Joker and the violent, cruel one.

Heath Ledger was the mysterious one, the absolutely unpredictable, murderous clown. He didnt really give you his story, and it was perfect that way.

Now, we have Phoenix, who shows us a different origin and is incredibly convincing.

Who is best? Ledger? Phoenix? Nicholson? It doesn't matter. They ALL are the Joker. Just like the comic villain went through different origins and different levels of silliness, cruelty and insanity, all these big screen Jokers, those actors show us different facets. They all fit the movie they are in, fit the period they appear in.

And maybe, if we could embrace that instead of trying to compare or rank who is "the best Joker", we could enjoy all of them and the different Joker-faces they have given us.

There are some flaws in here. There is a bit of a "Shutter Island" type reveal in here. Sometimes, it seems as if the messages the story is trying to convey are signaled way too obviously, not subtle at all. Sometimes, Phoenix seems to exaggerate a bit, but then again... maybe that fits as well, or maybe it's a side effect of an actor absolutely immersing himself into the character he is portraying.

And I found it hard to sit through the part where a certain relationship between young Bruce Wayne and the Joker is hinted at, going "Why? Why do this? Don't tell us that this is what happened". Fortunately, that part of the story takes a turn, and I am glad it did. It was hard to sit through that part before the turn though.

Bottom line: Phoenix put a lot into this role. Sometimes over the top, this, to me, is very impressive method-acting. He had me pretty much convinced that yes, this guy is insane, unpredictable, explosive, out of control. I was mesmerized by those scenes, and will surely remember them for a long time. Even though there are some flaws, this is an amazing movie. Even if this wasnt about the JOKER, it would be an impressive portrayal of a guy with problems being pushed to turn into a killer.

Give it a chance, don't worry about who is the "better" Joker (why not enjoy them all), and just let them tell you this story.
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Dracula (2020– )
There is good stuff in this one, but...
19 January 2020
Warning: Spoilers
...then it went the same way "Sherlock" did... very quickly!

OK, I gotta admit, I prolly just shouldn't have had such high expectations. When I saw that Moffat and Gatiss were involved, I was almost excited and thought "I need to check this out". After all, I loved the first 2 seasons of "Sherlock" and I know Gatiss is a big fan of classic horror. Check out the documentary series about classic horror movies that he hosted, it's available on YouTube.

And then, well, the first episode was quite cool. I was hooked to the screen right on. The first episode is partially based on the original story but takes quite a few liberties with it. And some of those ideas were pretty bold and made for an interesting show.

The guy playing Dracula is quite fascinating. Yes, his look is based more on the Bela Lugosi-sleazy earl-type cliche, not on the original story, but ok. The fx were interesting...apparently, they used stop motion. I figured this was a little tribute to classic horror movies, even though it looks weird in a modern show.

I enjoyed that first episode and wondered where they'd take it. Then, the second one I thought was even better... a mix between horror, an Agatha Christie-type scenario, some "The Thing", with quite some funny dialogues.

BUT THEN - within just a few scenes, this show went the same way Sherlock did, but in fast forward. Moving the story from the past to the present, with secret science units, soldiers, a James Bond-villain-worthy base/prison... it was like a slap to the face.

It looked just as unrealistic, overblown, far-fetched and removed from the first episodes as later episodes of Sherlock did. Why? Does Moffat run out of ideas, as in "OK, here is where we get to the secret base, the huge plot, the Bond-type stuff?" Or did he think doing so in Sherlock was so incredible that he had to do it again here?

That third episode felt totally unlike the first two. It was boring, predictable and just felt... stretched out. I caught myself looking at the clock, wishing they'd finally get to the end.

The first two episodes have some great ideas, some very fun dialogues, a weird sense of humor, an interesting villain. No.3 felt like someone else took over with some fan-fiction or like they ran out of ideas or something.

I feel quite disappointed to see yet another show moving from a good (or in the case of Sherlock, wonderful) start to something incredibly boring.
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Logan (2017)
Not bad, yet pretty flawed
31 March 2017
Warning: Spoilers
At first it may seem like a perfect match - a Wolverine-movie rated R/16. After all, Wolverines iconic claws are rather violent weapons, and he is a rather hot-tempered, brutal fighter. Even in the comics, him using those claws has resulted in some more and more bloody results in recent years, so it makes sense to have him in an R-rated movie.

The movie is set in 2029, and while there are hints, we are not sure exactly what happened to the other X-men. The world does not look as dark, sinister or dystopian as we might expect , but then again, its obvious that mutants are pretty much gone, and Logan and Xavier have aged.

The movie looks great, and IMO, both Jackman and Stewart put in a very heartfelt performance... I guess because for both of them, it's their swan-song in the Marvel-movie franchise after many years of being part of it.

X-23, the other protagonist, works great. The actor portraying her does a great job, and some of the action-scenes involving her look impressive. YMMV, as some may be bothered by the scenes of a young girl brutally obliberating others.

The ending is quite touching, and is a great send-off for Logan. Sure, it would have been nice to have an equally nice ending for the other X-men, yet, after all, this is a movie mostly about Logan, his attitude/outlook on life and his relationship to Xavier.

Now, unfortunately, this movie has quite a few flaws.

  • The plot is INCREDIBLY CLICHÉ! We have seen this SO many times. Gruff hero is introduced, appears to be aimless/hopeless. New protagonist enters, usually looking for help. The gruff hero is unwilling to help at first, then is either forced to or changes his mind for some other reason. The bad guys appear, usually they are borderline sadists, enjoying their job way too much, so the viewer wants them to fail and hopefully get punished/killed. The heroes escape, seem to find a peaceful spot. The villains return with more/better weapons, the heroes get hurt, lose one member of their team, have to flee. Eventually, it looks as if all hope is lost, until they turn the situation around.

This is incredibly cliché, yet this is what happens. Logan is asked to help X-23, is unwilling to do so, yet is forced to eventually. The bad guys are right out of the "cliche book of movie villains, 1986-edition". Sadistic, smirking, arrogant, enjoying their mission way too much. There also is the brainless, almost unbeatable henchman, plus the cold-hearted, grim leader who has to have his little speech at some point, wasting too much time so the hero has time to prepare a counter-attack or at least get in a good punchline.

So the plot and the villains are very VERY clichéd. Now add quite a few plot holes. - Logan doesn't seem to care much about killing people. The threatening (and arrogant, yawn) villain is knocked out, Logan asks his buddy (who is allergic to daylight, and this is during the day in the desert) to put him into a car and kill him somewhere else. He could have done this himself, and even though he wants the guy killed, he doesn't kill him while he is knocked out to make sure he doesn't wake up in time. So at this point, you know what cliché is up next. Of COURSE the villain wakes up just before the sidekick manages to kill him and captures said sidekick. 1964 called and wants its plot-twist back.

  • Logan and X-24 fight each other, and due to their adamantium- augmentations, they can't kill each other so easily. Yet, X-24 manages to rather easily impale Logan on a branch...

  • The whole thing about Logans healing factor faltering and, as a doctor hints at, something poisoning him isn't explained well enough IMO. So the whole time, one is left wondering what happened to his amazing healing factor.

  • After Laura/X-23 easily beat up a ton of "mutant hunters" earlier in the movie, when those guys start to hunt the children on the way to the border, she is apparently unable to easily take those guys out... even though she had some other capable young mutants with her now. However, a few minutes later, she takes on the much stronger X- 24 and even holds her own against him for some time.

There is more, but that is not the point. Even with plot holes like that, a movie like this can work quite well. The problem, to me, is the insanely unimaginative plot itself... the "been there, done that 8000 times" type of plot we have seen so often, mixed with clichéd villains. Sure, its a superhero movie, yet there have been several better and more creative plot lines and antagonists in the Marvel movie franchise, so this is rather disappointing.

So, to sum it up: + R-rating fits Logan and his powers/approach well + Some rather great and apparently heart-felt acting by Stewart and Jackman. + X-23 is done well and actually works, and who knows, the character might get developed more. + Nice send-off for a popular superhero + Not too much unnecessary reliance on CGI/blue screen, it's rather easy to follow the fights instead of them being a total, confusing mess.

  • Horribly clichéd plot, going by a movie blueprint that appears to be from the 80s at best. - Horribly clichéd villains, so very boring and predictable. - While it's nice to leave some things to the imagination or not explain every tiny bit of backstory, several things IMO weren't explained enough.

6/10 unfortunately, and those are mainly for the acting of Jackman, Stewart and Keen, and for the ending.
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Ghostbusters (2016)
12 July 2016
You have heard all the...buzz about this movie. Abysmal reactions, much hated trailer, and harsh responses by the studio. Pretty much saying that everyone who hates this movie is misogynist is a great defense for themselves. That way, they can blame all those stupid people and won't have to ask themselves whether they maybe simply messed up, big time.

It's not about the female cast! It's the fact that this remake was unnecessary. And I can imagine guys sitting at a meeting going "Guys, we need a summer movie for 2016. Any ideas?" "Yeah! Remember Ghostbusters? 30 years ago, that one was a smash hit, and people still love it" "Cool. So there is our idea" "Uhmmm, should we maybe try something new inste..." "Shut up, dude, we are up to something. So what do we do with GB?" "Uhmmm... well, let's replace the cast with all females. That will be enough of a change so that people will accept this simple remake" "Genius, man! Something else?" "Yeah, well, the people loved the mixture of a bit of scariness with some humor by these former SNL guys..." "Cool. But let's add more jokes. Funny stuff, you know? Slapstick and such! FUnny hats! B*tch-slapping someone! Neurotic big city humor!" "Awesome. Now that we have the plot, let's get going".

The point is - it's not about the Ghostbusters suddenly all being female. They could have replaced them with aliens, kids, cats, wrestlers or iguanas. None of that would have been a cool idea, or a refreshing change, or a justification to simply remake a film people loved, but make it worse.

It saddens me how Hollywood is so out of ideas that they either make too many unnecessary remakes or too many sequels (which feel tired and out of ideas eventually).

This movie is not funny. Those jokes might work in SNL, but feel cliché, old, unfunny and embarrassing in a triple A-budget movie. The jokes are predictable, and totally ancient. The characters are tired clichés. The CGI is nothing special. There are plot-holes so big, the Marshmallow man could walk through them without touching the edges. The final battle and the...tactic is embarrassing. I mean, they call fans misogynistic but the big battle is the four ladies shooting the baddie in the crotch? Seriously? Who fought this was FUNNY?

Remakes are hard. You need to have a good reason, a "hookline", other than "let's squeeze more money out of an idea a guy had 30 years ago". Why not let the original movie stand for itself? Why not leave it alone, instead of staining it's legacy with a jerkish, unfunny, badly directed, badly written, bursting at the seams with cliché embarrassing remake, even giving it the same name?

Yeah, the guys at the studio can keep defending themselves everyone calling everyone who dislikes it misogynists. That way, they don't have to look at the silly, half-cooked mess they created and ask themselves whether this just wasn't a bad idea from the start, and was badly executed.

This is just sad.
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Warcraft (2016)
Not as bad as I thought, yet still...
18 June 2016
Warning: Spoilers
Before I even get started: Yes, I have played the games. I actually did play all WC-games, starting in the mid 90s, and have been playing WOW on and off ever since 2005.

So, with that said, I was a bit worried about the movie when I saw the trailers, as a lot of the stuff looked very artificial and even cheap. Don't get me wrong, the CGI is pretty damn good, and you can see how much motion capture etc. has advanced.

However, it falls apart for me whenever one of the really good-looking orcs (as in: great CGI) are in the same scene as humans. Once that happens, it starts to look very artificial. Actually, the riding-wolves the orcs use look artificial in EVERY scenery, regardless of who else is in the frame. It's not their size, it's that they look really bad.

Also, some of the makeup looked pretty bad too. When I first saw the elves, I was rather amused, even though we only got a quick look at them, as their ears looked totally cheesy and artificial, especially the color. It looked like bad cos-play ears.

Well, of course, it's hard to pull it off, so let's get to the other parts: - The acting. I didn't enjoy the acting. There was almost no vibe at all between the actors. Some overacting happened (Wide-open stare of Lothar, who totally looks on the edge all the time. Yes, he tragically lost his son, but it was tiring).

  • The plot/setting. Yes, they have a lot of story to set up, as they apparently really want to make sequels. However, what was the goal here? Was this supposed to get new fans for the franchise, introduce people who have never played the games to the world of Azeroth? Why then have such a convoluted plot and such a huge cast, with so many things (Medivh being possessed etc) being unexplained. I can't even imagine how confusing some of this must have been for people who don't know any WC-story.

Was this supposed to be fan-service? Why then change so many things, have so many inconsistencies? I don't doubt that some of the changes to the lore might have been an attempt to create a better story. However, if you want to satisfy fans... they do NOTICE when you change things too much. Why is Dalaran flying? This didn't happen until much later. Why does Stormwind look like it did after it was rebuilt after the orcs actually razed it?

So much of it seemed forced... the Murloc-sound might make some people smile, but it was like "OK, let's just throw everything in there, all these innuendos and clues! Oh, and let's plaster the Kirin Tor icon EVERYWHERE"

  • The dialogue was... ridiculous

  • The love-scene/love-story. Gee, yeah, The Hobbit showed me that it apparently is totally and absolutely impossible to make a movie without a love-story thrown in. Regardless of what happens, someone has to fall in love with someone, no matter how forced or silly it looks. So the little love-story here feels much too forced, develops much too quickly (well, at least that part is over quickly) and just is not needed. It's like they went through the checklist and went "OK, love-story, done!"

  • The music... what happened? I did actually listen to the score by itself as well, because it does not stand out at all in the movie, I hardly noticed there was music there, it was that bland... and not only does it sound rushed, with way too many repetitions, it also sounds like a sample-library-MIDI-score from about the late 90s. I have heard B-movies with a better-sounding and better-produced score.

  • The armor. Yeah, I know, WOW is well_known for ridiculous armor, its like a big inside jokes. Gigantic shoulderpieces etc. However, that's not the point here. The armor here looks ridiculous, like plastic with a tiny bit of gloss on it. It looks cheap. I heard some guys from WETA were involved here and I imagine that going like this: "Hey guys, so you make a fantasy movie? So OK, here is how you make armor, this is how you make it look a bit worn-in, here is to make it look like something smithed by hand and having been used" Reply: "Oh cool. Yeah. We don't have the time/patience/workforce/money for this, so let's make some casts, pour plastic into those, done". I was almost reminded of the props in movies like Flash Gordon seeing some of the plate armor in here.

  • The movie takes itself much too seriously. We all know that WC and WOW always had some silliness to it, that's part of it. And the slapstick-like little bits with Lothar and Khadgar were not like that. The only FUN scene was the hyper-aggressive gryphon in the end, when that went to work on the orcs in the background while Lothar again was over-acting in the foreground.

  • I didn't care at all about what happened to these people. Everything was so rushed, so crammed, so it was hard to feel anything when someone died.

I know that the "this movie has no warmth/no heart" is criticized as something critics use when they have nothing else bad to say or whatever. However, I have played these games and still love them, I have spent so much time in Azeroth, have read and experienced these stories. And to me, this movie feels dull, bland, cold, overstuffed, badly paced, badly written, badly scored, rushed and undecided whom it wants to be for. It's not quite as bad as I thought when I saw the trailers, but a 4/10 isn't exactly awesome, and it gets those points because you can tell they actually tried to do well...but IMO failed.
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Not as good as I thought it'd be
15 May 2016
Warning: Spoilers
To start off: I am a big fan of Marvel comics, and enjoy most of their movies too. I also loved the Civil War comic event, which, to me, was probably the best crossover in comics.

I was excited about a movie based on it, but walked out of the theater rather... disappointed. Why?

  • Of course it wasn't possible to translate the whole story-line into a movie. There are hundreds and thousands of heroes involved in the comic version, and it's such a huge amount of comics in the event. However, the main-thing, the actual Superhero Registration Act, the law that divides the heroes plays almost no role at all in the movies. It comes up, gets explained, some sign, some don't, and then it's all about battles and that story-line with Zemo. That Act has potential... it does make sense, but at the same time, it is understandable why some heroes refuse to sign it. This isn't covered here.

  • Pacing and story. This feels like zapping between two different movies.Even though it's long, they tried to cram too much in here.

  • The battles were OK, but nothing as epic or fun as the final battle in Avengers. The airport fight... well, it was like a playground. No one was hurt here?

  • Too much focus on Winter Soldier, whom I don't find a terribly interesting hero. Are they setting up a death for Cap for WS to take over, like he did in the comics?

  • Plot-holes

  • Music is entirely forgettable

  • An uninteresting and cliché opponent

  • Yeah right, that German police mission in Bucharest was SO realistic. As if /sarcasm

  • The color palette of the movie felt cold, gray, dull and depressing. Was this on purpose? Why not let the story cause emotions, instead of paining everything in a dull gray? Why telegraph what we are supposed to feel?

  • The new Spide-Man was fun, but what are those stripes on the costume? Also, at the same time, I was bored quickly of him. Thanks to Marvel for the THIRD Spider-Man in 15 years. It gets dull and repetitive and its hard to care when it's ANOTHER. NEW.Spider-Man. Also, Spidey has a big role in CW, but here, it just feels odd that he is asked to help.

  • Now, one revolutionary thing Marvel did back in the day was to have these crossovers, heroes appearing in other comics, to make the world feel cohesive. However, does EVERY SINGLE EVENT, EVERY ITEM have to be connected to another movie or character? The whole thing about the death of Iron Mans parents was just..unnecessary. I mean, what's next? Was every parent of a hero killed by some other hero or villain now?

  • The helicopter scene. Evans himself called it biceps porn. It's silly, and had me laughing as it was so obvious. And how does he first hold the helicopter when not holding anything? Magnet shoes? Glue? It doesn't matter how strong Cap is! If he is not fixed to the roof somehow, just stands on it, only his weight matters and the helicopter could have taken off. He couldn't have applied force by dragging his feet! I have no problem suspending disbelief in a superhero-movie, but this was just silly

The good parts:

  • Ant-Man. Much needed comic relief delivered by him. Loved his movie, love him here.

  • Black Panther is pretty neat. The change with the Vibranium armor adds more credibility, because it's always the question how well such a character can stand against some totally overpowered heroes. BP looks cool, and has some nice scenes.

  • Scarlet Witch is doing OK. She mainly has 3 facial expressions, but she does the best she can with the script she was given.

  • Some fun battle scenes for all chars

  • Martin Short was nice.

Verdict: Too many cuts and changes of scenery, not enough focus on the actual Registration Act, too dull-looking, too many coincidences. This could have been amazing, but ends up merely OK,sadly
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Good for a laugh
22 February 2016
Warning: Spoilers
So much fake, so ridiculous. Putting one of the "experts" in front of a few (fake?) Nasa suits does not increase her credibility. I had to switch it off when they showed supposedly real footage of some vehicle or being siphoning "plasma from the sun". Based on how big the sun is, that...thing..., based on the picture we see, would have to be several hundred or thousand kilometers big. This is like the wet dream of some conspiracy theory bloggers. It might be fun if you do some drinking games, based on the usual terms they use, the "experts" ("paranormal investigator"), all the cliché "secrets" mentioned. Terrible, and I wonder why it's even on Netflix, it's something you usually only find on Youtube
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Jessica Jones (2015–2019)
15 February 2016
Warning: Spoilers
I really enjoyed "Daredevil", but wasn't sure what to expect from Jessica Jones, considering she is a rather minor character in the Marvel Universe. After a couple of episodes, here are my impressions:

The acting is OK. I know the way Ms. Ritter portrays JJ fits the back story, but at the same time, I eventually found myself rolling my eyes, as sometimes, it just is too much. YEAH, I GET IT... you are bitter, burnt out, sarcastic, disillusioned. No need to express it with every single facial expression, all the time. Even though her mood fits the character and its stories, eventually she starts to look like Bellas even grumpier sister.

  • Some of the action scenes are pretty...cheap. In Ep. 3, there is a fight against a cop, and it looks quite crappy, very 70s-style. Closeup on JJ, her moving as if hitting something, cut, show a policeman flying through a door and hitting a shelf. Then JJ watches the policeman get up slowly, while trying to wake up a girl that was knocked out by repeatedly saying her name. VERY 70s and rather amusing instead of suspenseful. In the same episode, she walks through a building and is "surprise-attacked" several times by inhabitants. Always predictable, no suspense at all ("Yeah, I am sure the guy with the knife will now kill the main character of this series in episode 3 of season 1"). After the second fight (I think? Felt like the 15th...), she says "Man, I hope there are not more people living here...". And I thought "Yeah, I hope so too, because that would mean several more non-exciting and fake-looking fights".

  • Yeah, we get it, JJ and Luke Cage are starting a relationship. Do we need constant reminders by way of sex-scenes? I'm by no means prude, but here it seemed just unnecessary to throw in so many of them,whether they involve Jessica or anyone else, and eventually it feels as if they are just there to make the show appear to be edgier, or like "Look, we are so cool by throwing all this in there, this is realism, you see?"

It is an interesting experiment to take a rather lesser-known character and come up with a crime-show with a tiny bit of superhero-stuff instead of, say, a show that has a popular hero in costume for 90% of the time, and the way DD was set up, it worked well (to me, one of the best superhero-shows I have ever seen). For a while, even the "big mystery in her past" thing is interesting, but eventually, I lost interest, because things became dull quickly, and I didn't much care for the overly bitter and depressed main character. Big kudos to Netflix for doing these shows, I really like that, and DD was great, but this one didn't grab me, or at least not for long
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"I will finish what you started..."
29 December 2015
Warning: Spoilers
...that might just have been what Abrams could have said to George Lucas, because man, Abrams did do a lot of things right, and compared to Lucas' prequels, this movie is SO much better. I listened to a pod cast where the host said "This was So good, now I can finally just FORGET those dang prequels, as this movie makes up for how bad they were".

Before I write anything else: I am sure some people will dismiss my rating as being influenced/tarnished by nostalgia, as a lot of people seem to think whenever someone gives this a high rating. However, I do think a 1/10 rating is JUST as tarnished, as I don't think a movie like that deserves such an abysmally bad rating, and it might be based on way too high expectations.

Abrams himself said that nothing could fulfill the hype/expectations that were built up prior to the release. To me, it came close, and here is why:

  • This movie has flaws, but at least, it has a HEART. Which is what the prequels were really missing. They felt cold, heartless, way too polished. This doesn't. Instead of a CGI-insanity with everything generated with a computer, they went and tried to make a lot of things look like they did in the first movies. And I think that certain look is something that people loved and still love about the originals.

  • Yes, the plot is VERY similar to Ep. 4. MAybe too similar. However, maybe that will help people to get into the new generation of cast members/characters. There are a LOT of plot-parts and scenes that mirror Ep. 4 and 5, with a young cast member/new character taking the role of an original member. It IS a new generation, and the old heroes mingle with the new characters.

Yes, there is a LOT of coincidence about how people meet. I wonder how those that complain about that would have explained all those characters meeting in some other universe? How could they have possibly crossed paths? Also... have any of the people actually SEEN the original SW-movies? They complain about coincidences in TFA, when the droids in ANH crash land on the very planet Luke is on, whose uncle happens to buy them from desert traders? Which starts the whole story that leads to Luke meeting and saving Leia and fighting Vader? All that was OK, but the coincidences here are not?

Yes, the movie requires a LOT ofsuspension of disbelief. Not only because it's a sci-fi movie with noises in space and light-sabers, but because it's basically a fairytale/space opera. I think if you try to just go with the story, you might just enjoy it, and now that they copied a lot of the Ep-4-plot, it's their turn - the characters are mostly in place, so let's see what they do with the story.

I was amazed... the battles looked great. I was worried it'd be the modern Bay-style... endless, unrelenting, way too long battles in which you couldn't even follow who was who. Not here. The fights and battles had just the right length. The saber-fights were less of the heartless, overly exaggerated and synchronized ballet-stuff we saw in the prequels... it was more like what you saw with Ben vs. Vader or Luke Vs. Vader, with a lot of enraged hacking and slashing, exhaustion, missed strikes. Which felt more in place.

The movie leaves us with a lot of questions which need to be answered in the next movies. However, don't dismiss things when there MIGHT be an explanation. The reason why Rey was able to hold her own against Kylo... I have a theory why that was, and why he was worried that she might "get stronger and stronger" within just a few hours, why he flipped out the second he figured out it was her helping BB8 escape and the dream-sequence she goes through seems to hint at just that theory.

We will see. All I know is: Compared to the prequels, where I was aghast and disappointed even when first watching them at the theater (no nostalgia there, believe me), I was stunned by many of the scenes. By the look of things. Even the humor. The 3d, IMO, wasn't necessary, because the movie did look great by itself.

Yes, I have been a fan of the movies since the age of 5, but none of the prequels had a similar effect... this movie had much more heart and a look that was similar to the originals. I loved it, even with the script flaws. Could anything have made everyone happy, could any movie have fulfilled the expectations? I doubt it, but this one, for me, did, ad that's all I care about...I had such a wonderful time at the theater, and I look forward to the next episodes. Now everything is in place, the characters are in, so let's watch what happens next....
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16 October 2015
Warning: Spoilers
I could leave it at that. Beautiful. However, I will of course add a bit more. I have read the novel that this is based on, and wasn't sure what to expect... would they "hollywood-ize" the story just to make it all fit, or to make it work. Of course, it would be VERY difficult to put everything Hugo put into his book into a single film... there were so many explanations, pondering, memories, descriptions, social criticism. However, the things they left out... they picked well. Was it really important to learn about Fantine's past, the love she lost in Paris? They left out the scene of her leaving her child with the innkeepers, but that was OK as well. They changed the plot, having Valjean and the policeman meet during Valjean's imprisonment, while in the book, they didn't meet until Valjean becomes a mayor.

All this doesn't even matter. What matters is - this movie is beautiful. The performances are. Yes, it WILL take time to get used to pretty much everything being sung. It might be tough to adjust to that. I don't even wanna THINK about this being on normal TV, with commercial breaks or anything. This is an amazing performance all the way through. The way it was made, with the actors singing on SET while performing, instead of having to lip sync... very bold, and it works.

I was very touched by many of the performances. I definitely am no fan of Anne Hathaway or Sasha Baron Cohen. Still, I loved what they did. Anne seemed to really FEEL the pain Fantine felt, the desperation, hopelessness, the feeling of being so wronged, her longing for her daughter. Both actors won me over with this. I will never enjoy the movies they are famous for, such as Princess Bride etc, but here, I simply have to admit they did an amazing job, and I was truly impressed.

Sasha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter added some comic relief, but it wasn't unnecessary, doesn't spoil things. It's not "lets ruin this serious story with some modern and silly humor". The scenes are a bit bizarre...it almost felt as if the whole bar-scene was co-directed by Tim Burton, and yet it works.

Hugh Jackman... I am saddened he didn't get an Academy Award for his performance. He went through a LOT for this, losing so much weight, trying to actually LOOK the part (like in prison or at the very end), his singing was great, his performance so emotional. There were several scenes, not only featuring Jackman, that had me in tears, and I was stunned by how much emotion and power most of the actors put into this.

There are some beautiful scenes and images... the prison-scene and Valjean's trip through the mountains. The barricades. The funeral parade.

Of course, the music is beautiful, all the way through.

This will surely not be for everyone. I did not know what to expect, but I was captivated all the way through, and am very very impressed. Any award they won for this, they deserved.
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Daredevil (2015–2018)
They got it right... this is great TV
3 May 2015
Warning: Spoilers
I have always liked Daredevil (the character) since childhood, and after the rather lackluster movie with Ben Affleck, I was worried how the TV show would turn out. And wow, did they get it right.

My gf and me watched this over the course of a week, with about an episode or 2 per night, and we were very much entertained.

The casting is great, whether it's the "good" guys, such as Matt, Foggy or Karen, to the excellent Kingpin, who is not portrayed as just some evil intelligent maniac, but a torn, sometimes very vulnerable, sometimes just evil and raging character. At some point during the first season, the script actually makes you think, as more of the human side of Fisk is revealed, while a darker, more manic side of Matt starts to show... it's definitely not just black and white here.

The script itself is VERY well written, throwing in quite a few surprising twists, and while watching, I was amused by how often I was wrong with my plot predictions. You know the deal - with many shows, you can at some point predict what happens, who dies etc. Not here, there was very little "phoned in" stuff happening.

My only two points of criticism: - Some of the dialogs are a bit too stretched out, but of course, you gotta remember that each episode has to have a certain length, so sometimes, there need to be compromises.

  • The show DOES feel more realistic, as promised by the makers. Then again, when you see Matt take SUCH a long time to take out guys, when you see them hit each other many many times (where you wonder whether anyone would still be standing after half of those hits), and when you see him being beaten down several times, at some point, it gets a tiny bit boring that he gets a beating from some unknown henchman. Yes, of course it becomes more satisfying once he finally dons his costume and fights the Kingpin on even ground, but when you think "how will he fit in with Captain America and the Defenders next year, or how well would THIS guy do side by side with the Avengers?"... well, he does seem to get stronger, but some of the fights in the first 7-9 episodes had me roll my eyes eventually.

There are some very tough scenes here, showing why the show got its rating (car doors...), but it's not just for the sake of violence, it helps to show just how some of those characters tick.

Verdict: This is definitely an awesome show, one of the most entertaining, surprising, well-acted ones I have seen within the last few years. This makes you forget the movie, and is finally the movie/series they should have done about Daredevil in the first place.

Eagerly awaiting the second season now, and I hope they won't drop the ball after an AWESOME first season. If you like Marvel or Daredevil, check this out, give it a chance... I wasn't sure what to expect, and watched a totally great show, and even the two slightly negative points I mentioned don't matter much compared to how great the show is.
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This is where things already began to go wrong
25 April 2015
Warning: Spoilers
The mere idea of turning a rather short book originally written for children into a, what, 9 hour trilogy, the addition of things like a very unlikely love-story, additional characters, characters from the successful first trilogy all basically say "We want to hit all the demographics".

The book originally was written for children. It's shorter and light-hearted than LOTR. And sure, the dwarfs seem to be perfect to make children giggle and sell menus at McDonald's.

Then again, the amount of heads being cut off, (to children) scary monsters and, in the final movie, two very cruel death-scenes which DEFINITELY are not OK for children make this seem weird.

Lets take the dwarfs. Peter Jackson is known for an often very juvenile humor. Silly sizes for weapons, scenes like Legolas skateboarding, the catapult-trolls in the third movie, the "disgustiness" of the goblin king. So juvenile. In the book, the dwarfs looked kinda similar. You could tell them apart, but they didn't look very different.

Here, PJ wanted more visual difference. And therefore, the dwarfs look like a total outlandish, odd group of freaks. One looks feminine. Two look like small humans. Thorin looks like a shrunken Aragorn. One has an ax stuck into his head. One looks like a character from the "Asterix" comics. One looks like he has a hairdo similar to that in the "Something About Mary" movie in stereo.

The new camera technique used for this might be technically impressive. I do think that the sharp focus, the specific look the FPS give do not fit a fantasy movie AT ALL. Its way TOO focused, too "high-res". It makes the CGI and trick shots even more unrealistic... Rivendell and other places look like in a video game, ca. 2007.

Most of all, this extra-sharpness makes the movie feel cold, sterile. And that fits, because this movie simply feels mostly empty and cold to me. Heartless.

One of the most ridiculous things is Azog. Now, even if Jackson kept referring to the appendices of LOTR (which have enough material to cover many movies, without the need to add badly-written ninja elf queens), when did he miss the part that Azog, one of the villains here, was killed years ago. His deeds started a war, and his death ended it. Why did he have to be included? He looks out of place. Visually too, because he looks like 100% CGI... a white orc with some scars that look like gills. Even worse, he is badly written. He is used to stretch out the movie with pointless skirmishes, 80s style: Group of villains hunt heroes, turn up suddenly, fight, heroes escape with the villains yelling after them.

Which leads me to Radagast. While certain viewers apparently enjoy references to bird poo, dope-smoking and sleds pulled by rabbits... we are talking about a char who is basically at the same level as Gandalf and Sauron. He, to me, was a tragic figure. He was more interested in animals and nature, and didn't get involved too much in the battles.

Radagast in the movie looks like he was kicked out of Hogwarts. This almost immortal being, incredibly old, supposedly wise, looks like a character from a silly Bill and Ted movie. Bird poo on his face, jerking around like a slobbering mad professor, only there for comic relief.

I mentioned this in the other review: I don't know what happened. Did Jackson simply lose all self-control? Did the success of the LOTR movies make him go "OK, I have some leverage now, so let's make these movies like I REALLY wanna do them"? Did he really think (or, gasp, consider it RESPECTFUL) to take the writing of a genre-defining author who worked on his book for several decades, constantly refining and polishing them, loving the characters and world he created, and retell them in a silly, juvenile and tasteless way? Does he think he knows better than Tolkien did, or that he could tell a story better? Does he think that the audience is so stupid he needs to add something for every demographic, from children to teens who want love-stories or pot-references, to Transformer-fans?

Does he think that, after LOTR and the Hobbit are among the most successful books ever, the audience would shy away from an adaption at least close to the original, without stretching it beyond the breaking point, adding toilet humor, "hur hur big weapon" humor, a totally stupid, pointless and horribly-written love-story? And with all this crap that was added, it was too hard to make the eagles speak? That was TOO FAR OUT? They could have explained why they didn't fly the travellers to Erebor directly. Many people who didn't read the book went "LOL why don't they just fly there all the way with the eagles?" Well, since Peter apparently thought it was too weird to have eagles speak (compared to a dwarf and elf having a love-story on the level of "The Blue Lagoon", stone transformers battling, orc-mounted catapults, elves defying ALL the laws of gravity many times, elves killing what felt like a bazillion orcs ninja-style), this isn't explained, and seen as a plot-hole.

Of the three movies, this is still the best, before PJ and his team completely lose all sense of taste and perspective in the second and third movie. I am actually glad for Mr. Tolkien that he isn't able to see this. Considering Mrs. Rowling was involved in the Potter-movies and made sure it stayed true to the story, being VERY strict, I think Tolkien would have started to sob had he seen PJs idea for a book he wrote as a labor of love. All the kudos PJ deserves for LOTR go down the toilet, as apparently, he really IS the film-maker his earliest movies suggest. Vain, childish, tasteless, disrespectful and a horrible writer.
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Pretty good, wish it had a different cast though
25 January 2015
Yes, we have to remember this is a movie from the early 80s. Also, the original stories, written for pulp magazines, weren't exactly deep, yet Conan and his stories still are beloved all around the world - for a reason. Howard was able to dream up a quite believable world, full of myths and secrets, a dangerous place to be in. And he dreamed up a character that was more than just a brute. He wasn't running around in a loincloth 24/7, and he used his brains just as much as he used his fists. He was cunning, ironic, funny, and definitely not a mere brute.

While this movie does a good job (considering its age and the era it was made in) at showing us a world quite similar to what is described in the stories.

However, what kills it for me is Schwarzenegger. While he physically surely is able to portray a barbarian, with a very muscular and well-toned body, his accent, the bland look on his face and the totally emotionless delivery of lines make Conan look like some grinning, stupid mountain of muscles, which does NOT do the stories justice at all.

I am sorry, I know Arnie polarizes a lot, and I guess there is a certain "trademark" thing he has with the accent etc, but he surely makes Conan look totally sad here.

As much as I think the recent remake (from 2011, I think?) was pretty much a failure regarding acting and plot, the Conan in that movie seemed to have at least a tiny bit of intelligence, slyness and wit.

This movie has its moments, and I wish they could do another remake with some of THIS movies atmosphere plus a less "hur hur I beat you to a pulp, puny little man" type main character, but an actor who is able to portray Conan better - as someone who was a powerful fighter, yet also a smart, cunning man.
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Could this even have lived up to the expectations? Did they even try?
27 December 2014
Warning: Spoilers
I guess I am in the same boat as many other reviewers. I watched ep. 4-6 when I was a child, and was totally enchanted by the magic that was Star Wars... how could I have not? I also read the novels based on the movies, and of course, I wondered about that fight between Obi-Wan and Anakin. I imagined it many many times.

Here now is the movie that is supposed to connect the prequels to the original movies. And it's odd... I didn't expect much. All those years, I had wondered what those scenes would look like, but watching ep. 1 and 2, I was worried that that pivotal ep. III would be a mess. And it was.

Anakin's turn to the dark side was so incredibly phoned in, it felt like a slap in the face. Yes, there is that scene in AOTC where he kills the Tusken, thereby courting the dark side. But instead of going from there, developing the seed planted there and in Anakin's past, here the tragedy, the whole inner conflict, gets buried in too many battle-scenes.

While his fear of losing Padme might be a contributing factor, just the dream of that shouldn't be enough to make him go from undecided to complete mass-murderer.

Lucas COULD have focused MUCH more on the inner conflict, the transition of Anakin. He didn't, it's just one of the plot lines here, in between a metric ton of overblown CGI battle scenes.

The acting, especially by Hayden Christian, was horrible. Yes, the acting in the original movies wasn't Shakespeare either, yet there was a tiny bit of warmth there. Hayden seems to blend right in with the "teenage hunk actors" so popular know, with the same bland and emotionless acting we have seen from the "Twilight"-cast. There is no sympathy at all with the tragedy of this young man falling from the most hopeful Jedi in a long time to a killing machine. None. And I have no idea whether it's just the bad acting, the horrible script and dialog or a combination of those things.

While the SW-universe is complicated sometimes, the amount of explaining and rectifying things that had to be done after this movie is mind-boggling. So many things didn't make sense or were never really explained. Mark how many reviewers are puzzled by the "coughing robot"... because its never explained to casual viewers that Grievous is no robot, and that he was hurt by Mace Windu, which is the reason for his breathing problems.

Why does Palpatine's appearance change so much? Is it the use of force-lightning or does the strain make a mask he wore fall away?

Why is the tech more advanced in these prequels? It later was explained that things like personal shielding, which is so overabundant in the prequels, is so costly and later isn't explained anymore.

The Jedis that get killed at the end.. one might wonder whether those were the only ones (5? 6?), or whether every Jedi really had a bunch of clone troopers next to them, so that they could be killed. It is explained nowhere that elsewhere, they were hunted and executed. It never is hinted at that there are Jedi left, which, in the years following the events in this movie, get hunted down by Vader and others (which is the reason he later is considered such an efficient Jedi-killer).

Apart from the focus on huge battles instead of the MUCH more important conflict inside of Anakin, the worst part probably is the death of Padme, who simply gives up the will to live. Which is not only a totally cheap way out, it also makes no sense, considering she just gave birth to two children... enough reason to live and fight on. A strong character reduced to a cliché "weak woman, Victorian style", simply dying of a broken heart (why not go the whole way and let her die of good old' tuberculosis, the classical killer in old operas and dramas?)

What strikes me the most is the lack of heart and warmth in here. Not warmth as in "in the story", as we all knew it would be a sad and dramatic turn of events. But cold as in... this is devoid of personality and any love by the people who made it. Gazillions of CGI-effects, "Twilight"-style unaffected acting esp. by Hayden C., phoned-in story developments, a lack of explanation, all flash with no heart at all.

It isn't enough to just put characters like Chewbacca (really? Of all the Wookiees, the one who later becomes a main char after being a smuggler's comrade, one of the military leader in this has to be Chewbacca? Why not just put them in there with a subtitle "For all the Chewie-fans, here he is for no particular reason so you can cheer"?) or C3PO etc. They can not possibly add the magic or heart of the original movies, no matter how much they tried.

This is a cold entry into the SW-universe, with a main actor who is disliked not for what his character does, but for the fact that he looks like Edwards even moodier and more sulky brother and displays acting-skills that easily get over-shadowed by a CGI-char (Yoda), with a focus on big battles instead of emotion, tragedy or inner turmoil. Even though the original movies were a space-opera, the development of Luke Skywalker throughout the movies has so much more depth and believability (cliche or not) than what happens with Anakin here.

Expectations were insanely high, and maybe nothing could have fulfilled them, yet it feels as if here, they never even tried. There is no love, no heart here, there is just too much CGI, too much bad acting, a lack of explanation and a lot of sadness for those that hoped for more.
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Don't miss out just because it's a cartoon!
26 December 2014
Warning: Spoilers
I guess the problem I had at first is not uncommon - I at first wasn't interested because the look of this cartoon-series plus some of the trailers I saw suggested to me that it was mainly for kids.

Well, it of course is aimed at children somehow, but I have to say that even as an adult, this is a very entertaining show. And I actually like this series much better than Ep. 1-3. That might not be hard to do, I know, but I was quite surprised about how much more likable the characters here are.

As others have said, the show starts off rather slowly, and if you don't watch a lot of cartoons anymore, it might take a bit to get used to it. However, the story lines get better and better. There are some "meh"-episodes in there (such as one feat. Jar Jar quite a lot in season 1), but a lot of them are very entertaining, and the story lines are very good as well.

The silliness (like the often-mentioned droid voices, or some goofy or slapstick-like jokes) are OK, and don't appear too often.

I found myself MUCH more interested in the stories here than I ever was with ep. 1-3, and I guess it's sad that the cartoon-Anakin is much more likable, three-dimensional (indeed!) and a better actor than Hayden in those movies.

If you totally can NOT get into the style, then don't force yourself, but I do believe that you will miss out on a lot of cool stories and action-scenes if you simply dismiss this as "a cartoon show for little children" or anything like that. It isn't.
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I have no idea what happened
13 December 2014
Warning: Spoilers
I should begin by saying that I am a big fan of Tolkiens work, and have read LOTR and The Hobbit (and his other books) many times. I did enjoy the first trilogy, and thought that the changes Jackson did to the story were sometimes understandable, sometimes acceptable. However, I have no idea what happened with this movie and the whole second trilogy.

I am terribly disappointed, and I have no idea whether the changes were necessary simply to milk as much money as possible out of the whole project (spreading out the story to get 3 long movies, even if that meant adding many new things), or whether Jackson actually thinks he knows better than Tolkien... knows better how to explain things, how to connect the Hobbit to LOTR, or how to make a compelling story.

And yes, an adaption doesn't HAVE to be close to the book. However, if you mess with the story, if you include things that contradict the whole story, and if you essentially kill off the charm and warmth and concept of the book the movie is based on, things get dangerous.

The Hobbit was a book written for children, and while there are scenes in the trilogy that will definitely be fun for children (the dwarfs offering a lot of those kinda scenes), the violence and amount of killing and cut off heads make me wonder how suitable the movie really is.

However, watching this movie, and having seen the previous ones, these questions came up in my mind:

  • Is it really FORBIDDEN to make a movie that Doesn't have a love-story involved? Isn't the Hobbit legendary enough, hasn't the book proved often enough it is a great story without a love-story included? Why did Jackson have to create Tauriel, the female ninja-elf and her love-story with a DWARF? Why did this have to be added? Would the film would have so much more terrible (hard to imagine) without a cliché and badly-written love-story that was added by Jackson and Walsh? - I sincerely think that, if the elvish race is capable of doing the things Tauriel and Legolas do in battle, not only could the small group of elven warriors Jackson added to the battle of Helms Deep in Two Towers have totally defeated the orcish army in less than 2 minutes... the history of Middle-Earth would be very difficult if they all could fight even remotely as well. Also, the fighting skills of Legolas in this movie are totally inconsistent to what he was able to do later on in LOTR. Considering that elves live incredibly long, the amount of time that passed between the Hobbit and Lotr is no explanation of why Legolas is a walking "ninja-god" in the Hobbit and much less superman-like in LOTR. - The incredible length of the scenes... it sincerely feels like the movie team was paid by the minutes of film they produced - The worms... I reckon they are based on a small comment by Bilbo, mentioning "were-worms" (a comment that has often riddled Tolkien-fans). Is this an attempt to somehow win over the fans of Tolkien-lore that feel insulted by Tauriel, the changes to the story, the goats, rabbits and deer-mounts, the fact that the WONDERFUL scene of Beorn appearing at the battle in the book and turning the tide, bringing relief and a change to the battle was kinda removed because the ninja-elves prove that Middle-Earth is located in the Matrix? - I really would feel bad for JRR Tolkien if he was able to watch these movies. He felt so much love for the world and characters he created, and put so much time, effort and feelings into his work. All this now was steamrolled over by the production team of this movie. After the rather respectful handling of LOTR, Jackson changed so much about the Hobbit that it feels totally disrespectful to the lifetime of work Tolkien put into his stories.

What went wrong? Did Jackson think that, in order to attract and convince all those that haven't read the books, he would need to turn a wonderful book, written for children with a lot of warmth and charm, into a medieval Transformers (regarding amount of CGI, length of fights, lack of realism, character depth and taste)?

Did he really think this was in any way a respectful adaption of the work of a man who invested DECADES into writing, refining and perfecting his stories? Who, instead of focusing on just hours of battle, managed to create a world full of lore, charm, and wonderful characters?

I have no idea what went wrong behind the scenes. Have no idea whether the movie studio said "Jackson, forget about what people love about the Hobbit. Turn it into three overlong movies for more profit, get us as many battles and skirmishes as you possibly can milk out of this, and just to make sure, add a love-story (we don't care how you do it), add a popular character from the previous trilogy so people will dig that. Oh yeah, the book was written for children, so make sure there is a song or two, bird poo on the nutty wizard who escaped from Hogwarts (Radagast), a dwarf with a pickax stuck in his skull, and funny bits that children love. But don't forget we want adults to watch it too, so please, add tons of action and cut-off heads, too... gotta hit all those demographics".

I know a lot of Tolkien-fans apparently love this movie and the trilogy. One review even said "...from a true fan". Please don't think this is the case in general. I have grown up reading Tolkiens work, and I am simply stunned by how bad, how tasteless and disrespectful this trilogy is.
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