Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Up In The Air Review

It's been way too long since the last time I posted anything, I have just been very busy recently. Anyways, on Marting Luther King Jr. Day I went to the theater and saw Up In The Air.
To begin, I will say that Up In The Air is now in my top 5 movies of 2009. If you haven't seen it, go see it ASAP! I don't think I really have anything bad to say about the movie.
The basic plot is that George Clooney's job is to go around the country and fire people. Because of his job, he is always on airplanes and rarely spends any time at home. He embraces this lifestyle because of a personal goal to reach 10,000,000 miles. However, a new employee at his company introduces the idea of firing people via webcams, which would eliminate the need to travel around the country. I won't say much else about the plot because I don't want to ruin anything, but the movie is much deeper than what I described.
Clooney's performance is what carries the film with his complex and likeable character. This is truly the best performance I have seen from Clooney. The rest of the cast is great too with strong performances from Vera Farmiga and Anna Kendrick. The actors have such great chemistry on-screen that makes all the interactions and dialogue feel real and believable.
It's hard to classify Up In The Air in just one genre. It's part comedy, part drama, and part romance. The elements from all these genres combined help create an excellent, complete film. The first and second acts are definitely more comedy, while the third act shifts to more of a drama. I thought it was a great blanace though, with more laugh out loud moments than I expected and more deep emotional scenes that I expected.
The timing of the movie couldn't be better. There are some important underlying messages about unemployment and enjoying life despite your financial situation. Now more than ever people are feeling the effects of the economic crisis, my family included, so the messages about unemployment will be relevant to most audiences.
I also enjoyed Up In The Air so much because of the setting. I myself spend a lot of time in airports and on airplanes, so it all felt familiar. If you don't travel much, you might not get as much out of it as I did, but it certainly is easier to relate to if you travel a lot.
I can't say enough good things about Up In The Air, you simply MUST SEE IT!
Bottom Line: 10/10

Saturday, October 24, 2009

New Purchases

Here's what I have bought these past few weeks. First is Guitar Hero Metallica for Xbox 360. I actually didn't buy this, I got it for free through a relative along with the Wii and PS3 versions of the game (which I sold on ebay). I already beat the guitar career on hard and am starting the expert career, and I think that so far it is my favorite of the Guitar Heros because I listen to a lot of metal music.

Next I got two PSP games. The first one, Hot Pixel, I bought at Fry's on clearance for $2.13. I haven't played it much, but It's just okay. It's similar to the Wario Ware games because it is made up of over 200 minigames that usually take less than 4 seconds to beat. The other PSP game I got was Gran Turismo on sale for $19.99. Considering it was only released a couple weeks ago at $39.99, this was a great price. So far I have played it for a little over an hour, and it is one of the better PSP games I have played. It has very realistic physics and over 800 cars. Gran Turismo is very different from other racing games like Midnight Club and Need For Speed in that it is very realistic and has a pretty high difficulty level. While there is no career mode, there is a long challenge mode and a single player race mode as well as multiplayer racing. Expect to replay some of the challenges multiple times, because even the first few are extremely difficult to master. By winning races and challenges you earn credits to buy new cars, but there is a limited selection of cars that you can choose from each day. This means that if one day you see a car you want but don't have enough money for it, you may not have the chance to buy it again for quite some time. Overall, I would highly recommend Gran Turismo to anybody who has a PSP and at least a small interest in racing games.

The first of three movies I got is Jackass: The Lost Tapes. Jackass is my favorite series of all time, and I own just about everything they have released. Of all the movies I own, my Jackass, Wild Boyz, and other dvds with Jackass crew members, have been viewed more than anything else. So, I was highly anticipating the release of The Lost Tapes and bought it as soon as it came out. Overall, it isn't as good as other Jackass releases, but it has more than enough moments that made me laugh out loud. All of the segments on this dvd were never on any of their other dvds, so if you are a fan of Jackass this is a must own. The only thing that really disappointed me was that there was no commentary track. I never listen to commentary tracks on any other dvds except for Jackass dvds because they are usually just as funny as the main feature.

The two Blu-Rays I got are Trick 'r Treat and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen Wal-Mart-exclusive IMAX version. Trick 'r Treat was a blind-buy for me, and it's probably the best blind-buy I have made all year. It is a horror anthology like Creepshow, but in the end the connections between all of the stories are revealed. There is such a great Halloween atmosphere throughout the whole movie that just captured my attention from start to finish. I enjoyed it so much while I was watching it that when it ended, it felt like I had just started watching it. I almost wanted to rewatch it as soon as it finished so I would have a new perspective on it since I knew all of the twists. The picture quality is great for a darker movie, and the audio is good as well. Next is Transformers ROTF. This movie has such a bad reputation, but I thought it would be alright since I loved the first one. I was wrong. The plot is almost nonexistent, which is okay for some action movie, but I was just not able to get into this movie. The action scenes were great, but Michael Bay decided he wanted to put in more comedy elements that did not seem to fit at all. There's a seen where Sam's mother eats a weed-brownie and gets high that was just awful and made me cringe. There's also a scene with John Turturro showing his bare-ass in a thong, which disturbed me. Michael Bay had Megan Fox in his cast, yet he chose to show Turturro in a thong instead of her??? ROTF was also way too long at 150 minutes and started to drag after the first hour and a half. Maybe if a re-cut version without all the terrible comedy attempts was released, it would be a better movie. The picture and sound quality on the Blu-Ray is reference though. Transormers ROTF is definately one of the best discs I own in terms of picture and audio, too bad it's not a very good movie. I got it at Wal-Mart for only $14.97 though when the sticker and ad said $19.99, so I'm pretty sure they made a mistake. I would recommend it as a Blu-Ray disc for its picture and audio alone, but not the actual movie.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Recent Purchases

I haven't posted for a few weeks because I have been ridiculously busy. These are most of my purchases from these last few weeks (there are probably 5 movies I got that I didn't put in the pictures). Sorry about the picture of the blu-rays, I can't get it to flip no matter what I try.
First I'll talk about the HD DVD's. I bought a lot of 7 new HD DVDs on ebay for $15.00 total. The other three movies not in the picture are Hot Rod, Transformers, and Face/Off (I already had Transformers & Face/Off). The only ones I watched so far are Hot Rod and Zodiac. Hot Rod was just okay with pretty bad picture quality. It seemed like it wanted to be Napoleon Dynamite. Zodiac, however, is amazing. I watched it last night and I was blown away. The movie is incredibly engaging, and the picture quality is in the top 5 best that I have seen on HD DVD. There are also a lot of interesting special features including documentarys on the real zodaic murders. I would highly recommend that you buy Zodiac on HD DVD or blu-ray.
The blu-rays I bought recently are Snow White, Death Race, Mad Men Season 2, and 10,000 B.C. Yesterday I watched Death Race, and while it wasn't as good as I expected it to be, I still enjoyed it. I don't think that I have ever seen so many explosions in one movie! It has good picture quality and excellent sound quality. The movie reminded me a lot of Gamer (which I reviewed in an earlier post). If you are a fan of Jason Statham or action movies, I would recommend checking it out. Yesterday I also bought the new release Snow White at Best Buy for $10 after a coupon and a price match. Based on the reviews I have read so far it should be an excellent disc. It has an insane amount of special features and comes with the DVD version of the movie as well. Snow White never was one of my favorite Disney movies, but it is hugely important in the history of animated movies, and there was no way I was going to pass it up at $10. I also got Mad Men season 2 in the mail yesterday from ebay. I still have to finish the last two episodes of the first season, but I can't wait to start season 2 of this great series. And finally, I got 10,000 B.C. for less than $8 from somebody on a forum. I saw the movie when it came out in theaters and thought it was okay, but I haven't watched the blu-ray yet.
In my next update I will try to show some of the other movies I bought that I didn't talk about here and the movies I plan on picking up next weekend.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Ultraviolet Blu-Ray Review

Ultraviolet received horrible reviews when it was released, but I chose to ignore them and buy it on blu-ray anyways because I thought it must have some good qualities. For the most part, I was wrong.

The main problem with Ultraviolet is the story and the way it is told. The plot just felt underdeveloped and it was very difficult to follow. The DVD version also had the unrated version of the film, but the blu-ray did not. If the blu-ray costs more and is using more advanced technology, why is it that only the DVD gets the unrated version??? I have heard that the unrated version is slightly better, but I have no desire to waste anymore time watching this movie a second time. The acting is also terrible by every actor involved, and it is full of cheesy dialogue.

As for the action is the movie, I was expecting a lot more. The majority of the movie is a bunch of fight scenes, but because of the PG-13 rating they are no where near as good as they could have been. If there were blood in the fight scenes, and the camera didn't move away right before every kill, Ultraviolet would have been a lot more watchable. Also, just about every fight scene is the same. Violet enters a room, she is rushed by dozens of identical enemies, she kills all of the enemies effortlessly, and repeat for 87 minutes.

The picture quality on the blu-ray is decent, but inconsistent. All of the colors pop, and the digital environments look good. However, every now and then there would be a shot that looked blurry, and almost out of focus. This is probably because of the digital enhancement, but it does stand out and I found it annoying. In a lot of parts it looks like a videogame, which is either a good or a bad thing depending on your tastes, but I didn't care for it. For a title that was released very early in the blu-ray format, it has a good enough transfer, but I wouldn't call it reference-material.

The sound is excellent. Ultraviolet will give your hometheater a workout with its constant gun shots and clashing swords. It has a PCM 5.1 (uncompressed) track that is impressive for when this movie was released, and it still sounds great today.
There are only a few special features, but I didn't watch any of them since I did not care for the movie. There is a making-of feature, a commentary track by Milla Jovovich, and a couple trailers.

Overall, Ultraviolet is a terrible movie, but it is a good blu-ray disc in terms of picture and audio quality. I wouldn't even recommend renting it as I found it to be a complete waste of time. If you must rent it though, you should probably check out the DVD version first since it has the unrated version, which the blu-ray does not.
Movie: 3/10
Picture Quality: 7/10
Audio Quality: 8/10
Special Features: 3/10
Overal: 4/10

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Inglourious Basterds Review

On Labor Day I went to go see Inglourious Basterds. What a great movie! I would have to say that it is probably the best movie I saw in the theater all summer. Tarantino has always been one of my favorite directors, so I had very high expectations going into the movie.
First of all, all of the characters are brilliant. The first one that comes to mind is Brad Pitt. Whenever he opened his mouth and said something in his southern accent I was laughing. There is a scene late in the movie where he has to pretend to be an Italian (or I-Talian as he would say) that made me laugh harder than I have laughed at the movies all year. My only complaint is that he wasn't in the movie enough!
The pacing of Inglourious Basterds is slower than any other Tarantino film I have seen. There is a scene in a bar where the characters are just talking for what seemed like over 20 minutes. This would be a problem if the dialogue wasn't so well-written. Also, the majority of the dialogue in the film is in French or German with English subtitles, which I found to be a nice touch since the story is set in Europe. I find it annoying when movies set in other countries with different languages still have characters that speak perfect English.
As with just about any Tarantino film, there is a fair amount of over-the-top, gory violence. There are a couple times where the camera zooms in and shows Nazis being scalped or having Swastikas slowly cut into their heads. The violence is not over-done in the movie though, it feels like it belongs.
Inglourious Basterds is my favorite movie of the summer so far, and I would highly recommend it to anyone. It is also certainly one of the best films Tarantino has done so far (although Reservoir Dogs is still my favorite) with a good balance of comedy, action, and drama.
Bottom Line: 9/10

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Weekend Purchases

Here's a picture of what I bought on Saturday. First I got the Gladiator blu-ray. I haven't watched it yet, but it is supposed to have poor picture quality. It comes with a really nice slip-cover and a second disc full of bonus features.I'll post my thoughts after I watch it.
Next I got Disney's Earth. I heard this movie used all of the same footage in the BBC series Planet Earth. I never saw the BBC series, so it was all new to me. I thought it was an okay movie. I didn't love it, but it is worth a watch for the amazing footage. However, the picture and sound quality on the blu-ray are reference quality. Also included is the dvd of the film, but no digital copy. I don't think I will be posting a full review for it since there isn't much more to say about it.
The last thing I bought is the PSP game Crush. I got it used at Disc Replay for only $3.99 (There was no way I was passing up that price!). This game got very good reviews when it came out, and I was always curious about it. I have only played it for about an hour, but it's and incredible game. It's basically a puzzle game played by changing the world from 2D and 3D to get around obstacles, and it also has a pretty good story told between levels. This is probably one of the most original games I have played on the PSP so far and I give it my highest recommendation, especially since it can be found in most places for under $10.

Gamer Review

I just got back from seeing Gamer, staring Gerard Butler. I have been waiting for this to come out ever since I saw the awesome trailer, so I had pretty high expectations.
The basic plot is that there is this new game called Slayer. The only thing is that instead of virtual avatars, users control real human beings (inmates on death-row). Once someone wins 30 straight rounds, they will be set free. When the movie starts, Kabel (Butler) has already won 27 rounds and is the only person to ever go this far. I can't go into much more detail without spoiling anything.
The first thing that comes to mind about this movie is the action, and there's lots of it! By the end of the movie, I think the body count was over 200. It was also directed by the same people as the Crank movies, so if you have seen Crank or Crank High Voltage you should have an idea of what to expect. The camera in this movie is very similar to that of Crank also; it never stays on one scene for more than 3 to 5 seconds.
I really liked the visuals of this movie. It reminded me a lot of a Zach Snyder movie. The world is depicted in very dull, gray colors that really contribute to a great atmosphere. However, the virtual world of Society (the other "game" that users play with real people) is filled with vibrant colors. This is a movie that should look greath when it is released on blu-ray.
The storyline isn't perfect, it's just an excuse for all the action and explosions. If you like action movies, this shouldn't bother you, but if you are expecting anything more than lots of death and explosions, this is not the movie for you. The acting is solid from almost everyone involved. If Gamer did not star Gerard Butler, I don't think that it would have worked nearly as well.
As a side note, one cool thing I noticed is that when the kid who was controlling Gerard Butler was in police custody, he was wearing a Crank shirt. It was a brief scene, so you had to have been paying attention to pick up on it.
There's not much else to say about this movie. You will either love it or hate it, and that depends on how much you like action movies.
Bottom Line: 7/10