Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Saw: the complete series.

Saw: the complete series. 
DVD and Blu ray 

Saw 1 is probably one of he most important physiological thrillers of all time. It's only problem? They made Saw 2. Saw 3 was the movie Saw 2 should have been. It started a formula that the next 4 followed which made the series stale. The formula: finish the cliffhanger from the last movie, run a new game, show a little back story, finish the game, then leave us with another cliffhanger. 

Jigsaw kidnaps people whom he sees as lost or people who don't appreciate life, drug addicts, liars, cheaters, etc., and puts a choice in front of them. For instance, someone who cuts themselves for fun being forced to go through a room of barb wire within an allotted time or being trapped forever. These games can be with just one person or whole groups and in the case of Saw 6 a whole office. 

Jigsaw himself dies in the 3rd movie but is kept alive through flashbacks. After he dies his vision is kept alive by his students who continue his "work" by instructions left before his death. They also throw in his ex-wife who appears to be just as crazy. 

Saw 4 was the last one that really stayed true to the original feel. The final 3 felt tacked on and rushed. Instead of people learning lesions they were just being killed without hope of escape. It seems that after the main people get killed then everyone else involved no matter how insignificant are killed in later movies. Look out if you charged Jigsaw a rewind fee from the video rental store in the late 80's. 

All in all, these are some pretty decent scary movies. Psychological thrillers are far more scary than slasher flicks. Until the last couple movies you never really see a lot of gore, you always saw the before or after effect. 

Saw 7 is supposed to be the last of the series. It too ends in a pretty big cliffhanger. The fate of the Saw series is up in the air, but it does continue in two video games which take place after the first and second movies. 

What happened after Saw 1, not to mention the fate of those involved, was stretched out over the entire series and was a nice note to end on.  

7 out of 10

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Star Trek: the movie.

Star Trek. 
DVD and Blu-Ray. 

It is no secret I like science fiction. Star Trek is based on a little known tv series from the 60's. I have never been that obsessed with Star Trek but I know many who are. I did watch the tv shows, and all the movies. I even read a couple books. But I prefer Star Wars much more. 

This movie takes place before the original tv series and movies but after the Enterprise series and the First Contact movie, which I am sure has made true fans very angry and confused. The original crew is recast with younger, fresher (and alive) actors, with the exception of old Spock. 

A major plot point brings the villains and an elderly Spock backwards in time. This causes an alternate reality which changes several major plot points from the rest of the series. People die and planets are destroyed that play major roles in the later series.

While I am not against series reboots I think they should respect the earlier material. I like the Dark Knight movie but hated that it negated the Batman movie series with Michael Keaton. I also cringe at the new reboots of Spiderman and Superman. Why can't movies continue the series? I liked the incredible Hulk movie with Edward Norton because maybe 30 seconds was about the origins and the rest on new stuff. The same can be said for Superman Returns. 

That being said I guess you can adapt the changes to fit the 1,000 some tv shows, movies, comics and books to fit the new timeline. Like maybe Spock's dad gets remarried to a human also named Amanda. 
Maybe they find a new planet and call it Vulcan. Maybe all the stuff Kirk said he did before he was captain happened while he was a cadet. 

This is a good space movie with a lot of action, fighting and humor. The best thing about it is the they made space big and scary again. Often times sci-fi movies aren't so much about the vastness and unexpectedness of space and more about just fighting. 

For being CGI the special effects were great. The scenery was familiar, but fresh. Learning the back stories of such beloved characters was very memorable. The opening battle was quick and devastating, setting a darker serious tone throughout the movie. 

The re-casting was alright, though it is hard to imagine such icons of the screen played by different people. The actor who played Spock was almost perfect. 

The movie was fun, fast paced and exciting. The deleted scenes were great and should have been left in.  It left me wanting more. 

This is key, the only way to save the entire series is if they do not remake any of the old shows or movies with the new cast, it would ruin 45 years of stories. 

On a side note I was at a store and saw a kid of about 12 get excited when he saw the original series of Star Trek on DVD.  He said "they made a tv show of that movie, awesome!"

9 of 10. 

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Goonies. 25th anniversary edition.

Goonies. 25th anniversary edition. 
DVD and Blu-Ray. 

It's hard to believe that 25 years have gone by since its theatrical stint.  A special edition with a board game and memorabilia was recently released. 

The Goonies is a very 80's movie. But it was done in a way that makes it not so obvious and watchable. Nothing is worse then a movie lost in time (see Wayne's World review).
The plot follows a group of kids who's families are about to lose their homes. They stumble upon a underground labyrinth with  
booby-trapped pirate treasure while being followed by the Tortelis crime family. 

This movie created the nickname Chunk and added the truffle shuffle to our vocabulary. I laugh everytime I watch Chunk declare all the things he's ever done bad in his life.It also marks the last time Cyndi Lauper had a steady paycheck. 

It is still fun to watch and continues to make me laugh all these years later. I also like how realistic the plot seems, living in Coos Bay when this movie came out I was constantly looking for pirate treasure. This movie remains a classic and is well worth buying on Blu-Ray. 

Goonies 2 is in the works and is scheduled to come out in 2 years. There was a big online outcry over the character of Sloth as the actor who played him died many years ago. There was even a petition to stop Goonies 2 with 2,000 names on it. 

8 of 10

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Lost: the complete series.

Lost: the complete series. 

I remember the excitement and build up of the series premiere of Lost. I also remember being very disappointed with it. From the get go it seemed like recycled sci-fi and cliff hangers from 60's tv shows. 
As the end of the series approached, out of boredom (and lack of cable) we started watching Lost from the beginning. At this time everyone was talking about Lost. My sister even had a blog about it. Curious what the big deal was I jumped in pushing aside my past opinions. 
WARNING: Spoilers Ahead!
Here's my summary of season 1-3: people crash, survive on a island. Weird stuff happens, most can be easily explained but no one tries. 
Summary of 4-5: New people are introduced, but die. Some leave the island, a lot die. A ton of time travel, then it never happened. 
Season 6: Everyone is dead. 
I know this will not be a popular opinion, but here's the deal, there is nothing in Lost that couldn't be summed up in a two hour movie. It is cheap recycled sci-fi and mythology. It tricks people into watching by leaving everything a question and answering with more questions. 
If you are really bored and have no cable this could be used to occupy some of your time. Don't get me wrong I was excited to watch season 6 and see if anything gets explained. The writers and producers did a good job
of weaving the stories together and not mashing the whole thing up. Just don't expect a whole lot. 

6 out of 10 

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Wayne's World

Wayne's World. 20 years later. 

When I was in junior high this movie was big. It spawned countless t-shirts, bad impersonations and a funnier sequel. It temporarily boosted the careers of Mike Myers and Dana Carvey and gave Queen a revival, adding to their fans. It also played a small role in reviving Rob Lowe's career.  To this day my Dad still says "party on Wayne, party on Garth" at random times. For a time Wayne's World was the only reason to watch SNL and the biggest stars appeared in the basement set. Everyone from Madonna to Tom Hanks got to be on screen with Wayne and Garth. 

But much like Austin Powers, years later Wayne and Garth got too much airtime and soon lost it's core audience out of boredom. 

There are some movies that can be watched again and again, like Animal House or Superman, and remain timeless. Goonies is an example of movie that screams 1980's, but they did it right and it can be watched at any time. Stuck in the early 90's, Wayne's World: the story of a local tv show that gets picked up by a major network, mixed with Wayne and Garths' search for love, is a movie lost to time. 

It's references are out-dated and the jokes have been overplayed or have been used more successfully by others. Wayne and Garth are based on stereotypes that no longer exists.  As much as it pains me to say, I can't make it very far into either movie before getting really bored. The past 20 years have not been kind to Wayne and Garth. 

3 of 10


Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed 2.

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed 2. 
Xbox 360

In the game The Force Unleashed we learn about Darth Vader's secret apprentice Starkiller and we get a glimpse into how twisted Darth Vader was. Starkiller was brain washed and tortured to become the perfect Sith only to turn on his master and start the rebellion.  We are also introduced to Lucusarts realistic reallife software.  Where glass functions like glass and metal like metal. Humans are built on a skeleton with muscles and skin built on top. 

When the second game was announced my first thought was "How, Starkiller is dead?" Force Unleashed 2 brings us to the time shortly after Starkiller's death. Vader has cloned his one time apprentice hoping to use him as a weapon to destroy the rebellion Starkiller created in the first game. As the story progresses, Starkiller remembers everything from his previous life but is unsure if he is a clone or real. He goes on a quest to reunite with the woman he loves only to find that Vader has her prisoner. 

The force powers in this game are on steroids. Starkiller has no limit to his abilities. Because he is not the same being from the first game he looks a little fresher and uses his powers differently. Mind control now makes an entire group of stormtroopers turn on their fellow troopers or makes then realize that they are on the wrong side and kill themselves. Another new addition is that Starkiller has two lightsabers and can sever the limbs from his enemies. 

The bad news, about halfway into this game it started screaming "to be continued." The game was way too short, about half the length of the first and didn't have nearly as much animation as the first. There is a separate story that can be unlocked after defeating the training challenges dealing with another Starkiller clone. It felt tacked on and not really important. 

There is a cut scene with Yoda that mirrors what happens to Luke years later on Dagaboh.  Also, the awesomeness of fighting Darth Vader in the middle of a lightning storm on Kamino was one of the greatest moments in Star Wars gaming history. You can really wail on him with unlimited force powers during that final battle. 

Unfortunately, at the release of this game all production on The Force Unleashed 3 stopped and the writers, producers and actors were let go. So the future doesn't look so bright. 

8 of 10.