NeonNero cam

Posts Tagged ‘movies’

Prometheus

03.07.2012 15:41

Last Sunday, I decided at the last minute to go to the local cinema and see Prometheus, the latest Alien franchise movie from the original director, Ridley Scott. I rarely make time to go to the cinema these days, but I figured I might as well try to catch this one.

Elisabeth Shaw and Charlie Holloway are two explorers who find a clue to the origin of humankind on Earth, and they manage to get financed a journey to a far corner of the universe where humans is said to have their origin. While exploring the caverns of a distant planet, to their horror, they discover that things are not quite what they seem.

Like I said, this is the latest in the somewhat successful Alien franchise, and although it’s not exactly a prequel (even if it originally was planned as one), it fits the story pretty well. We get to see what could very well be the beginning of the story, several human and xenomorph generations before the classic Alien movie from 1979 (“xenomorph” being an alternate name for the alien creature in this franchise).

The story makes sense in a way, but as someone who’s seen the first 4 movies in the franchise, I did sense some inconsistencies in the story during one of the larger presentations (which would give the audience major parts of the backstory and the reason for the mission this crew was on). I also sensed this about three-quarters into the movie, at one of the major turning points, where we see the blunt end of a raging fit (to avoid spoiling the movie, I won’t go further into that).

As far as the visual effects go, I’d say they did a very good job, although the biggest action sequence (which can also be seen in most of the trailers for this movie) gave me a sense of a stupid and unnecessary chase, as was pointed out on some comedy website (at the moment, I can’t remember which). I mean, if a wheel comes rolling aimlessly towards you, you may start running away from it. Wouldn’t it also be a good idea to avoid running in the same path as the wheel? But aside from that little annoyance, it simply looked amazing. I honestly couldn’t tell what was a visual effect, and what was done in-camera (even the things that looked too incredible to be real), and that tells me they’ve done their job well.

I can recommend Prometheus to all action and sci-fi buffs, even if you haven’t seen the original Alien movies from before.

Rating: ★★★★★★★★☆☆ 

The war on piracy continues

14.06.2012 13:35

Early last month, we were told that the DVD piracy warning was being updated. And not for the better, mind you. Now, consumers are still being called criminals, even before they’ve done anything wrong.

The new FBI anti-piracy warning

With such a warning, I still feel just as violated, and I still have to sit through DVD content I can’t skip past, making the wait even longer before I can actually start watching the film itself. Not only that, from what I understand, you will now have to sit through two warnings; one from the FBI, and one from the National Intellectual Property Center.

The new National Intellectual Property Center warning

Wonderful. Just wonderful.

I understand that piracy is a crime, but I don’t need to be reminded of it every time I want to watch a DVD that I bought through legal channels. I feel like these organizations are basically punishing consumers for doing the legal thing.

Here’s a thought, though:

The illegal version of watching a movie: Download from an pirated source, watch the film immediately.

The legal version of watching a movie: Go buy a DVD and put it in the DVD player, watch the FBI notice, watch the anti-piracy movie (they’ll probably have that, too), watch the previews (trailers for other movies and/or special features, such as a commercial for Blu-ray), get to the DVD menu (wait for it to settle on or show the menu items), hit “play movie”. If you’re lucky, the film starts at this point. If you’re unlucky, you have to sit through yet another warning about piracy and public screenings of the DVD.

I mean, what’s the point? Just let us watch the film, already! When movie pirates copy a DVD, they don’t copy these warnings, they only copy the film itself, without all the extra junk (although, they usually don’t include the special features and extra material that some of us want to see).

I’ve also seen warnings that include street vendors who sell pirated DVDs. I mean, the majority of the movie, music and software piracy “industry” happen online these days. The people who rip a DVD for downloading are usually people who are sick and tired of having their cash flow through an outdated corporate scheme.

Those in the industry claim that piracy is the direct cause of monetary losses, but in my opinion, that’s only half true. If you’re going to account for losses, do they also account for how much money they’re wasting on lawyers, lawsuits against individuals (grandmothers, single mothers, and such) and torrent sites, and various DRM schemes?

I’m not saying they shouldn’t fight piracy, but I’m criticizing their current methods of fightin it. I feel that they should rather fight piracy with awareness campaigns, where they focus on why the legal path is good, and showing why you should support the industry. Plain and simple, make people make good about themselves when they spend their money on a DVD, Blu-ray, CD, legal download, books, merchandise, etc. And on the side, they can keep on with lawsuits against those who make large profits from piracy.

Last time I saw one of the few well-made “anti-piracy” warnings out there, was when I bought and fired up my DVD for The Adjustment Bureau. I had originally downloaded this movie illegally, which I usually do when I’m uncertain about the movie’s quality (in terms of story, directing and acting, that is). After seeing it as a pirated download version, I thought it was so good, I got the real version (I had it on my wishlist, and if I hadn’t gotten it for Christmas, I would’ve bought it myself). I’ve ripped the warning from my DVD here and put it up here (unlisted on YouTube, in case you wanted to go searching for it), just so you can see what I mean:

Short, simple, and it made me feel good about myself for buying the DVD and supporting the people who are in this business. This is the type of anti-piracy warning I want to see. With this, I feel like I’m contributing to the good part of the business, and not feeling like I should expect a lawsuit whenever possible.

 

Side note: The anti-piracy warning video is probably copyrighted, and I’m assuming Universal Studios has something to do with it, given that they’re the publisher of the DVD I got this from. I copied it from there for illustration purposes; please don’t sue me. If you’re reading this, and own the copyright to this, please either grant me a non-exclusive license to use this, or point me to some existing version of it online, so I can link to or embed it from my blog. I’ll put up a proper copyright notice if you want me to.

Super 8

21.02.2012 15:19

Riley Griffiths and Joel Courtney in the scene of Paramount Pictures' Super 8.

Back in late December (which was when I watched this, and started writing this review article), I received J.J. Abrams’ latest project Super 8 on DVD, which revolves around a group of early teenage filmmaking friends who witness, and almost get killed by, a derailing train in the middle of making a zombie film in the year 1979. Unknown to them in the moment, they also catch the event and aftermath on Super 8 film with the still-rolling camera. After the derailment, air force troops immediately appear to clean up the mess, while mysterious events happen in this small town. When the film roll is developed a few days later, the filmmaking friends discover what was really on that train, and they also find out the reason the military so desperately wants to keep it a secret.

I wasn’t entirely sure what I’d get myself into, given J.J. Abrams’ recent history with what I consider as both good (Alias, Mission: Impossible III) and not-so-good projects (Lost, Star Trek), and his endless love with gratuitous lens flares (a feature of Abrams’ films that may or may not have been turned into some sort of drinking game). Then again, he has also paired up with legend Steven Spielberg as the producer on this project, which would hopefully bring the quality up a few notches. I don’t believe Spielberg would go for just any project out there – I’d think he would know “good” when he sees it (or fully trust those he enters into partnership with).

Thankfully, the story itself comes across as good, and we follow the group of filmmaking friends more than external shots, meaning that we see the action more or less from their point of view, rather than being told from a distance. You can really immerse yourself into this story.

Both the special and visual effects are in the place they’re supposed to, and are only where necessary. There are also a few things hidden in the background, and you won’t notice these until you’ve seen this film a few times (I was actually made aware of this in the behind-the-scenes featurettes on the DVD, and I went back into the film afterwards just to confirm those sightings).

I did feel that there were a few missing plot points, and slightly silly antics that didn’t quite fit in (although they were very few), plus the unnecessary lens flares (yes, you can’t escape them in this one, either), which prevent me from giving this film a full score.

But, as a whole, a great film. Absolutely recommended for the sci-fi buff.

Rating: ★★★★★★★★☆☆ 

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2

14.07.2011 01:32

DANIEL RADCLIFFE as Harry Potter in Warner Bros. Pictures' fantasy adventure HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS - PART 2, a Warner Bros. Pictures release. Photo by Jaap Buitendijk.

The story has finally come to its conclusion. And what a conclusion it is.

I went to see the latest – and last – of the Harry Potter movie series today, on its world premiere day, expecting a worthy end to a long running series. I haven’t read any of the books yet, so I was truly going into the theater blindfolded, not knowing exactly how things would turn out. I bought my ticket about a month ago, and spread across these weeks, I’ve re-watched the entire Harry Potter movie series from beginning to end; the first 6 on DVD from my collection, and the seventh (Deathly Hallows Part 1) was downloaded from a file-sharing site. I chose to download it (technically, that probably makes me a criminal) because, given their titles, I merely want to wait until the last one comes out on DVD to buy the last two together as some sort of box set or collection. And over the last week, I must’ve watched “Part 1″ of this pair about 2 or 3 times, just to be buried deep enough into the story and not miss a thing when the final one would be released. That, and it’s really a great movie.

Those who have read the books, probably already knows how the last film turns out in the end, and those who haven’t, are in for quite a treat as well. If I had to make a suggestion: Don’t watch Deathly Hallows Part 2 unless you’ve seen the previous 7 movies first. I’d say that’s a necessary prerequisite before watching this one, or you’ll miss out a great deal on the story.

The movie picks up more or less where we left off, and the last scene from the previous movie (showing Voldemort) does make an appearance at the very start of the movie (before the title is shown). We are then returned to the beach safe house seen at the end of the movie, starting with Harry at the grave of *mumblemumblemumble*, mourning his friend (I won’t name names to avoid spoiling the end of part 1 for those who haven’t seen it yet). The trio (Harry, Ron and Hermoine) begin their plans for continuing the quest of finding the remaining horcruxes to destroy Voldemort, starting off at a certain storage location (again, not naming names to avoid spoiling too much of the fun).

I can’t really say much more without spoiling too much of the whole story, which I think really says a lot about how much stuff that happens throughout the movie. I feel I can say this much, though: Yes, some people we’ve known in the movies for some time now will die, but they do so in such a manner (and are minor enough) that we can mourn the losses and move on, although the moment of finding out they died certainly was filled with sorrow.

The movie’s story seems to take place in less than a day (not counting the epilog at the end), and is quite well-paced and filled with action.

Aaaarrrgh! I want to say so much about the story, but feel that I have to restrain myself to avoid spoiling the details!

We have followed these youngsters from a very young age, throughout about 7 years at Hogwarts and beyond, and along the way, these have become, at least in spirit, our good friends. It feels a bit sad to part ways with these friends, but it’s also a relief that so many bad things also come to an end.

All in all, a perfect conclusion to a long story.

Rating: ★★★★★★★★★★ 

Pineapple Express

10.07.2011 08:05

Dale Denton (Seth Rogen, right) and Saul Silver (James Franco, left) are two lazy stoners running for their lives in Columbia Pictures' action-comedy Pineapple Express. (C) 2008 Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc.

Today, I managed to turn my attention to one of those movies I bought on DVD because they had some promise (based on what I’ve read and heard about it in advance), but never had a proper chance to actually watch it. According to a colleague of mine, I just had to see this one, and now was the time to do just that.

Considering the theme (somewhat revolved around marijuana smoking), I was a little hesitant to go through with the viewing. Personally, I’m all for people smoking pot, weed, or whatever you’d like to call it, as long as you don’t overdo and are fully aware of the consequences. As the Cracked.com humor website recently pointed out, marijuana activists (if you can call it that, considering the dulling effect it has) often use bad arguments for legalizing marijuana, and about half of them came into play in Pineapple Express (more or less, it’s the top three of those five). Basically, what can be learned from this movie, is that smoking pot may make your life more mellow when smoking it, but it also makes you throw all logic and common sense out the window, which is what these two guys (Dale and Saul, played by Seth Rogen and James Franco, respectively) appear to be doing.

Dale is a process server (ie. those who serve subpoenas to people on behalf of civil courts) who leads a pretty much successful life, using a wide range of creative disguises to fool his targets into acknowledging who they are and receive their subpoenas. He has a girlfriend who’s in high school, and he smokes pot every day (but hides this fact from his girlfriend). After getting a batch of new high-grade pot, with the exotic name “Pineapple Express”, from his dealer Saul, he goes on to serve his next subpoena to a guy named Ted Jones (Gary Cole), who he had found out might be Saul’s dealer, separated by a middle-man named Red (Danny McBride). While finishing up his current joint soon after arriving in front of Ted’s house, Dale becomes witness to a murder inside Ted’s house, assisted by a corrupt female cop, and all hell breaks loose. Dale throws away his joint and gets the hell out of there, ending up at Saul’s house again, telling his story. After finding out that Saul is the only one who has a “preview” of the exclusive Pineapple Express marijuana, the two of them decide to go on the run, since Ted is bound to trace back the source supplier of the joint Dale dropped outside of Ted’s place sooner rather than later. This erupts into a series of bad choices and decisions from the pair, as they jump from running away to finally fighting back.

As I said, during their trip, not a single choice they make is bound by either logic or common sense, and I feel myself cringe at those moments in the film. And to make matters worse, they even take their time to refill their bodies with weed smoke, again, without thinking about the consequences, or sometimes even the fact that they are being chased by people intent on killing them.

The movie does have its high moments (in more than one way), which does pull it back up on its feet, although whenever Dale’s girlfriend (and her family) is involved in the story during their chase (even on a minor level), it all becomes awkward, perhaps hilariously awkward for some people, but just plain awkward for me.

This is more a little above the middle of the road in my case, although those more involved in the pot culture (either directly or in spirit) may enjoy it more than me. I, however, don’t plan to watch it again unless it’s suggested by others (once was enough for me).

Rating: ★★★★★★☆☆☆☆ 

The Adjustment Bureau

08.07.2011 01:17

I got the chance to see The Adjustment Bureau today, starring Matt Damon and Emily Blunt, among others. And I have to say, I wasn’t dissapointed. I was previously a little bit hesitant about it being a good one, and in such situations, I download the movie from a file sharing site (I won’t name names, but you probably already know which one). But I can say, having watched it, I can say it has the quality worthy to be among the roughly thousand DVDs in my collection (meaning, I’m going to buy it on DVD in the next few months – I’ll probably wait until I get back from my vacation, though).

It starts out nicely; Matt Damon is David Norris, a United States congressman running for the Senate. Shortly after losing the election, while preparing for his losing speech, he runs into a woman named Elise (Emily Blunt), who he almost immediately gets a crush on. After running into her again on the bus ride to his job at a law firm, he finds himself chased by some men in suits and hats on several occasions, who seem to have some weird influence on the world, and one of their objectives is to prevent David from seeing Elise again, for unknown reasons (at first; the real reason is revealed later in the film).

This is quite a good “being-chased” action thriller, with certain religious overtones hidden behind it. But in contrast with the Left Behind series of books and films, The Adjustment Bureau tones this aspect down quite a few notches. I consider myself an agnostic, and I don’t like religion being thrust down my throat, as I felt with Left Behind (I bought the first movie of the series, more or less by accident, and without knowing what it was about – and I was severely disappointed and disgusted at the way a certain religious belief was being crammed down on me). Thankfully, this was not the case with this movie. The few religious overtones were introduced gradually, and, as I said, was being toned way down to a level that allows you to believe whatever the hell you want to believe. My personal belief is still intact, and I was left with a good feeling at the end of the movie.

The movie also set “if you have enough influence, you can nudge someone in the direction you want them to” kind of mood in the “Grand Scheme of Things” (or, as the movie called it, “The Plan”), yet people are still free to make their own choices, even if it’s on an unconscious level.

All in all, a good movie.

Rating: ★★★★★★★★☆☆ 

Summer is here, and so is Monday

20.06.2011 20:09

Yes, summer is here, hot weather, ice cream (outside!!), brighter days, the whole shebang. Such things make my spirit lighter, even though “hot” around here means sun with anything above 13° Celsius (around 55° Fahrenheit), or above 15° C (59° F) without the sun. The picture above is of me enjoying the sun, composited over a panoramic view over Brosundet (the sound between the two main city islands in Ålesund), both taken on my way to work today.

Then again, although I don’t usually experience such things, today was also what could be called a “typical” Monday. About 10 minutes before I was due in a teleconference meeting (over the Internet – via WebEx), my laptop started to slow down on me. Every browser window or new program I wanted to run/open took at least a few minutes just to show some activity. This meant that I was also unable to connect to the meeting and participate. When I finally got to a point where I could connect, the meeting was already over. Shucks, indeed. Thankfully, I was able to get a second meeting, with a summary of the first, about 45 minutes later. This gave me enough time to reboot my laptop completely, just to root out any programs running in the background that was causing this slowdown.

Even if the client contact and I have such a good tone that we could brush it off in the end, such breakdowns in technology do darken my originally bright day.

On a brighter note, I was able to secure myself one ticket to see the sneak preview of the latest Harry Potter movie on July 13, just three days before I leave for USA. I just wanted to get it out of the way before I go, and in the time leading up to the movie premiere, I’ll be watching all 7 of the previous movies, 6 of them on DVD. I admit, I’ve downloaded “part 1″ of this two-parter illegally, rather than getting it on DVD, but that’s because I want to buy these two parts as a complete set, and not separately. I assume these last two in the series will be sold together as a boxed item once the last one is ready for release on DVD and Blu-ray.

IN THREE DEEEEEEE!!!!

14.06.2011 01:45

Over the last week, I’ve watched the first three “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies, just to catch up on the storyline, and on Sunday, I finally got around to watch Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, the fourth installment in the story of Captain Jack Sparrow, based on the Disney ride of the same name. And since the early showing was the 3D version, I decided to go for it. I’ve heard so much hype about movies in 3D, and having tried it briefly on my visit to Disney World and Universal Studios two years ago (although only for 5-10 minutes at a time), I thought I’d give it a whirl.

To be honest, it didn’t impress me much. Sure, some segments had some “cheap 3D tricks”, such as pointing a sword in your face, and sitting in a small rowboat (making you feel like you’re sitting right across from the person). The beginning, with the 3D version of the Disney logo, and looking across the ocean in darkness, were quite impressive, but as the movie progressed, I got the feeling that I might as well could be watching the “regular” 2D version. And with the Norwegian tradition of subtitling everything in Norwegian when another language is spoken, it broke the illusion at a few points in the movie. Granted, the subtitles were “floating” in front of the movie (and was more or less unreadable when I removed my 3D glasses, just to double-check), but when a person was supposed to be closer to us in distance, at a eyeball’s measure being “in front” of where the subtitles were positioned, the illusion broke as soon as that person moved sideways to where the subtitles were. Also, the fact that the movie screen is a limited rectangle did its job of ruining the 3D illusion at some points.

The movie itself was pretty good, though. It did keep in canon with the rest of the movies, even though I missed seeing both Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightly from the previous movies, even if their characters’ stories are more or less done at this point. Only a few small cameo appearances would’ve been enough to satisfy me, though, just as some reassurance that their characters were still around.

In any case, I’ll be looking forward to parts 5 and 6, which are coming out in 2013 and 2014 (if the rough release dates listed on IMDb can be trusted).

Music and movie piracy

29.01.2010 16:35

Earlier this week, it became clear that RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) wants to settle in the lawsuit against Jammie Thomas for $25,000. This is after the judge in that lawsuit had decreased the original $2 million “fine” (actually closer to $1.92) to $54,000 only a few days before. Not surprisingly, Thomas declined because they wanted her to accept it “without me knowing what I’m agreeing to”.

I would agree with Thomas here. I’d fight the ridiculously high demand to my very last breath. Not because I don’t want to pay for the music I have, but because I disagree with the methods these trade organizations (RIAA, IFPI, BSA and MPAA being the major offenders here) are using to battle content piracy (“content” being music, films, software and whatnot — I’m counting games under the “software” umbrella here, btw).

I admit, I download music, films and TV shows illegally on a semi-regular basis. But, I buy a lot of it legally as well.

Once the most recent episode of Heroes or CSI (just to mention a few) hit the pirate networks after being aired in the U.S. a few hours earlier, I download it (or, at the very least, later that same week, depending on when I remember to check in). I don’t want to wait until the one of the local TV networks decide to air it, mainly because they are constantly one or two seasons behind the U.S. broadcasts. And some of those TV shows are even available on the pirate networks in both standard definition and HD. For the sake of simplicity (and storage space), though, I usually go for the standard definition ones. That’s not to say I’m not willing to pay for it. Heck, I’d gladly pay a monthly subscription fee if I could get all of my favorite TV shows legally, and the second they are available from the respective production companies. The only services I’ve heard/read that do this, are only available to customers inside the U.S., which is a shame to me, as a customer in Norway. Sure, I can use a proxy service to mask my IP address as if I was in the U.S., but why go through all that trouble, when I can get the same episode from a pirate network for “free” – and keep the episode afterwards?

I’ve pirated a few movies as well. Whenever I’m very uncertain about whether the movie is worth the DVD price and/or shelf space, I usually download it from a pirate network first. If the movie was bad or disappointing, I’d leave it at that. If the movie was great or absolutely worth my money, I later go out and buy it on DVD. The latter has happened to me on several occasions; Chicken Little, Cloverfield, Jumper (the latter two being surprisingly underrated), just to mention a few.

I’ve also bought (or gotten as a present from my wishlist) Heroes (season 1 and 2), CSI (seasons 1 through 7) and Stargate SG-1 (all 10 seasons and the two movies following the series) on DVD as a result of downloading these illegally first.

The same goes for my music collection. I have roughly 30-40 music CDs (maybe even up to 50, I don’t have the exact count), but close to 60-70 GB of music on MP3 (roughly 13-14,000 songs), all of various quality (128-320 kbps). I don’t add to my collection as frequently as I did before, but I still get new music, roughly a half of a CD album’s worth once or twice a month. Some I get from pirate websites, of the AllofMP3 type, some I get from genuine online music stores (DRM-free).

The current count of DVD units (TV series seasons and movies) at the time of this post was close to 940, all purchased or gifted 100% legally, so in a way, I consider myself a good customer of the movie and TV industry. Yet, when I pop a DVD into my DVD player, I feel intruded upon whenever the usual video regarding piracy comes up (the one with “You wouldn’t steal a car…” etc). I can’t skip it (“next” or “menu” on my DVD remote), even though I’ve literally seen it thousands of times before. I feel like I’m being stamped as a criminal even though I’ve bought the movie myself. Besides, those who pirate this DVD is not likely to include that short video when they distribute it anyway. It has no purpose.

The only positive anti-piracy campaign I’ve seen, was a pamphlet included inside the cover of one of the DVDs I bought from Play.com (UK-based, which means region 2 encoded DVDs, suitable for all of Europe – for you Americans, they also have an American division for those region 1 DVDs). I don’t remember the exact words on this pamphlet, but it basically said that by buying this film legally, I support the creators and producers of the film, and encourage them to make more. Now, that’s the type of spirit I want to see.

No matter what these trade organizations do, they won’t be able to shut down piracy completely. If you shut down services like The Pirate Bay, a few weeks up to a month later, a new website just like it will pop up (either from the same creators or from some other part of the world) and become the most popular piracy website instead.

And yes, there are people who have the ideal of “everything should be free”, even if that applies to software, music, movies, TV shows or other performing arts.

I’m not saying they should just give up, I’m saying they need to reconsider their current business and earning model. They count each instance of illegally copying a song or movie file as a lost sale due to piracy. Trouble is, what if that person who illegally downloaded wasn’t going to buy that song or movie if he/she could afford it? What if that person wasn’t willing to spend money on something he/she had never heard of or seen before, or on something that has gotten very mixed reviews? A file is just a file, much like a piece of paper.

They treat each of these “lost sales” as a physical copy, even though they are not. Comparing movie piracy (through downloads) to the theft of a car is like comparing Apple and Orange. It just doesn’t work that way. Movie piracy is more like borrowing a book at the local library, scanning every page of that book into your computer, and then returning the book afterwards. Those scans are then given away to anyone who asks for it. The original physical copy is still intact as ever, but did the publishing company and/or author actually lose sales over it?

When portraying their current and potential customers as potential criminals (as they do with the today’s continuing campaigns), they are only going to deter the most skittish of pirates, while the piracy bigwigs won’t even flinch by these campaigns. Instead, they should rather promote the positive effects of paying for movies, music and software — like helping artists, producers, designers (and all others involved in the production process) to continue their work and make more.

Second, instead of fighting sites like AllofMP3 and The Pirate Bay with lawsuits and sanctions, they should rather look into why they are popular and see the business opportunities in the distribution and pricing models (of the type used in AllofMP3) used.

Also, when I’ve tried to watch a certain music video or try to access certain types of music/video content (non-porn, for those who try to insinuate something), I’ve been countered with the message that my country is not allowed to see that content. There are no real country borders on the Internet, and the rights owners should realize this by now. When there are things I want to access, but can’t do it legally only because of where I live (considering the content itself is not against any laws or regulations in my country), I’m more likely to obtain the same content illegally.

Also of note: first of all, the fines and outcomes of those close-to-frivolous lawsuits (by my standards) are not going to the actual artists whose rights have been stepped on. They more or less line the pockets of the executives and the executive branch of the industry. The artists and composers down the line are not compensated, as I’ve understood it.

Second, take a look at some of the targets of these lawsuits and/or fining campaigns (the latter being offering the target to settle the case for a single fine rather than going to court); single mothers, young students, grandmothers, children, computer novices and even dead people. This seems more like hunting for humpback whales with a BB gun and a butterfly net (terrible analogy, I know, but I’m just trying to project an image of futility here — btw, the bigwig pirates would be the “humpback whales” in this particular analogy).

There, I just had to get it off my chest.

War of the Worlds

29.06.2005 00:00

This is an archived article from my now-defunct NeonReviews website. Any qualities and/or information provided about the reviewed item must be seen in context of when it was originally published.

Distributor: Paramount Pictures / DreamWorks SKG
Genre: Action / Adventure / Drama / Science-Fiction / Thriller
Availability: Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk
Related links: Official website
Additional information: Internet Movie Database (IMDb) entry

We start off with a monologue from Morgan Freeman (yes, I thought I heard a familar voice) about life on Earth, after which we’re introduced to Tom Cruise as Ray Ferrier, a crane operator at the docks. Not only that, he’s the best crane operator at the docks (this is Tom Cruise we’re talking about, remember?). He’s divorced and the movie begins with him having a couple of days with his two kids, Rachel (about 10-ish) and Robbie (late teens), presumably a weekend. On the morning of the second day, stuff starts to happen. An electrical storm knocks out all electrical stuff on various locations around the world, and the war is on! The huge war machines come up from the ground (and these have been down there for a very long time, even before the human race were done evolving, something which is annoyingly pointed out several times throughout the movie), and start zapping people and buildings. How will the human race survive?

To be blunt, I spent some time clutched to the cinema seat at several moments, but these were not much than just that. Exiting moments, based on the fact of what the aliens’ weapons are capable of. Aside from those moments, the rest of the movie just barely hopped along the tracks. A few fun spots, but not particulary funny. Frankly, Spielberg could’ve done better than this.

According to the trivia section on IMDb, the time from the beginning of filming this movie to the release date was about 7 months (compared to a couple of years with higher quality movies), something that is apparent in the general quality. The visual effects were top notch, there’s nothing to say about them; I had a hard time figuring out how the heck they did all that stuff, and what was real and what was not real (“real” in the sense of not being computer generated).

Also, I have to say that the last 15-ish minutes before the final credits were a disappointment. During this last section I went “Hmm.. Huh. Right.”, which isn’t a good thing. A lot of my final score goes down because of this.

Knowing some of the story of the original “War of the Worlds”, I was more disappointed with the storyline of this one. I just have a feeling that Spielberg and Cruise were after a quick Academy Award (for actor performance and for special effects) and a quick load of cash as well as just having something to pass the time in-between other, larger projects. Sorry, guys. When I hear the names Steven Spielberg and Tom Cruise, I expect something better than this.

 

Story interest: ★★★★☆☆ 

Plot development: ★★★☆☆☆ 

Characters: ★★★★☆☆ 

Credibility: ★★★★☆☆ 

Visual effects: ★★★★★★ 

 

Overall: ★★★☆☆☆