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

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Watchmen: Tales of the Black Freighter Blu-Ray Review

I just finished watching Watchmen: Tales of the Black Freighter on blu-ray. If you are not a fan of Watchmen or aren't very familiar with the graphic novel, I would not recommend this to you. The Black Freighter is the comic book inside of Watchmen that parallels the events of the story. The other part of this disc is Under The Hood, which is set up like a news show about the old Watchmen heroes (the Minutemen) with the main focus being on Hollis Mason.
The Black Freighter piece is only about 20 minutes long. While I did enjoy it, it wasn't great. In my opinion the Tales of the Black Freighter works best in the graphic novel where they only give you small pieces at a time. As a stand-alone, it came off as a little pointless. I did like the voice acting from Gerard Butler though, and the animation is some of the best that I have seen recently.
Next is the Under the Hood feature, which is around 35 or 40 minutes. It features all of the actors from the Watchmen movie, and it offers some interesting background information for fans of the Watchmen Universe. It sticks closely to what is in the Under the Hood sections in the graphic novel, but it also adds the perspectives of other Minutemen. Overall, I found Under the Hood to be entertaining.
In terms of picture quality, this disc is nearly flawless. The Black Freighter looks amazing, and I wasn't able to spot any issues with the animation. Under the Hood has an intentionally grainy look because it is trying to depict a show from the 70's, so for what it is, it looks good. The sound quality is consistent throughout the disc, but nothing special.
Tales of the Black Freighter has a decent set of special features. First is "Story Within a Story: The Books of Watchmen" which explains how the two features connect to the world of Watchmen. Next is the first episode of the Watchmen Motion Comic. I loved this preview and will definitely go buy the Motion Comic because of it. Then there is a first look at the Green Lantern blu-ray, which is available now. The first look was disappointing in that it didn't actually show any clips from the movie, but it did a good job of explaining the background and origins of the Green Lantern universe. Some versions of The Black Freighter include a digital copy and a slipcover, but the newer versions do not
Overall, if you are a fan of the Watchmen Universe, you should find plenty to like about this disc. However, if you aren't familiar with Watchmen, I would recommend reading the graphic novel (or watching the Motion Comic) before you buy this disc. I am a huge Watchmen fan, and although I wasn't blown away by the disc, I am glad to have it in my collection.
Movie: 7/10
Picture Quality: 9/10
Audio Quality: 7/10
Special Features: 7/10
Overall: 7/10

Sunday, August 23, 2009

District 9 Review

I just saw District 9 this morning in the theater. Prior to this weekend when a friend asked if I would go see it with him, I didn't know anything about it except that it was about aliens and Peter Jackson was involved in it. I actually wanted to see Inglorious Basterds instead, but I just went along. I understand it was somewhat low-budget, so there wasn't a very good advertising campaign.

Having no expectations for it, I was completely blown away. District 9 is definitely in my top 5 movies of 2009 so far. I would easily recommend this movie to anybody.

I won't recap what the story is about (just look it up if you don't already know) and will go straight into what I thought about the movie. First, the atmosphere in District 9 is amazing. From the first few minutes of the beginning to then end, I was completely sucked into the world of D9. It is set in Johanesburg, South Africa in the future, and there is a slum where the aliens live called District 9. All the scenes in the alien slum give the movie a kind of post-apocalyptic feel with a worn-out, trashy, dry land similar to that of Terminator Salvation or the game Fallout 3. I loved the setting and atmosphere of the movie.

Also notable about the movie is the camerawork. It has a shaky camera similar to that of Quarantine, Cloverfield, or the last two Bourne movies. I have heard complaints that this style of shooting can make some people feel sick or dizzy, but I think it adds a lot to the movie. The shaky camera is very noticable, but not overdone. Overall, it helps make you feel like you are actually in the movie.

As for the plot itself, I can't go into much detail without spoiling parts of the movie, so I will try to be very general. The first 20 minutes start off a bit slow, but it really gets much better as it goes on. I was afraid to blink during the last 30 minutes! I found the character development to be quite interesting. When the main character is introduced, I had a very hard time liking him, but as he gets "infected" and teams up with a prawn, he becomes much more likeable. As for the pacing of the movie, there is just the right amount of action. From the trailer, I didn't think there would be much action at all, but I was wrong. The action sequences aren't overkill like a certain movie directed by a certain someone named Michael Bay. I also found the special effects to be excellent. The alien ship that floats over the city look incredibely realistic, and the aliens look amazing as well. Many people were disappointed with the ending, but I found it to be a satisying conclusion to a phenomenal movie.

District 9 is a movie that I also think will benefit from multiple viewings. When it is released on blu-ray, I will without a doubt buy it on day-one. This is a movie that I am actually really curious to watch with the director commentary track, which I have only done for a few movies.

Bottom Line: 8/10

First Post

This will be my first blog, and I am hoping to post a few times a week. I'm not sure where to start............ Some of my interests are movies, sports, games, and books. I would say movie watching/collecting has become my #1 hobby. I mostly collect blu-ray movies (it's addicting as hell), so I will try to post about each new movie I add to my collection, and ones I already have. Currently, I play football, but soccer is my favorite sport and I play during the Winter and Spring. I am a die-hard fan of the Italian National team as I am from Italy! I also love videogames, but recently I haven't had much time to play any games that much, but I will post about new games I get and what I think of them. Reading is another major hobby/interest of mine, so I might post an occasional review of a book I'm reading. I can't really think of anything else to say at the moment so I think I will end this post for now.......

I think the majority of my posting will focus on movies and my reviews of them (blu-ray & movies in theaters), so subscribe if you want to hear my opinions!