Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Review Suicide Kings (1997)

genre: crime, thriller

This title had been around for a while at the rental shop back in the day when I still went to rental shops. I ignored it because I hadn't heard about it. Since it was a small rental video store I was running out of titles for me to watch so I rented it and watched it and was a bit ashamed that I didn't rent it earlier. This was before I ever heard of Internet Movie Data Base. Back then you had to rely on TV programs or reviews in papers where little movies barely got the attention they deserved. So I Anyway this movie really surprised me. I expected this to be an average crime movie. But it is more than that. It is a very exciting thriller with a lot of twists and a surprise ending. All the actors perform well. Of course they are no match for Christopher Walken since he steals every scene he is in. The plot seems simple at first, but soon you will realize that matters are much more complex than initially presented. There are several comedic scenes since "the kidnappers" are not very experienced and even get tips from Christopher Walken how to do better. Even when kidnapped he is such a gentleman. It is a real mystery to me why this film is so underrated. With an incredible fast pace, excellent acting, several twists and turns offering thrills, comedy and more you should think it would get more press and praise. Trust me on this. It's a title you won't regret watching. 

Monday, November 17, 2014

Review Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)

genre: action, adventure, comic book, super hero, science fiction,

The first time I viewed this I was completely taken away by this marvelous piece of movie. The second time I still was. Captain America: The Winter Soldier shows how a blockbuster should be.
It delivers highly on action and thrills mixed up with good drama and comic relief. Plus an intriguing tale that may seem simple but actually is a social commentary without it seeming like preaching. Captain America who stands for freedom and righteousness is even more likable in this feature and Chris Evans has really grown in his character. I never would have believed that the man who portrayed The Human Torch once not really that convincingly was such a powerhouse actor. Since The Fantastic Four franchise he has take on several different role like in The Iceman and Snowpiercer where you almost don't recognize him. Apart from the make up he actually became the characters he was portraying. But as Captain America he is undoubtedly the best. It's hard to pull of an icon of that magnitude but he manages to do exactly that. When is on the screen he inspires and you are willing to let him lead you in battle. The story in itself is quite surprising as it tries to add suspense in a way you would not expect to be in a feel good Super hero movie. I already was aware of the deeper story lines from the Marvel comics and it is very nice to see they want to show more of those. It's also nice how the tv show Agents of Shield ties into this story. Some of the later episodes take place at the same time. Which if you think about shows how great the scale of this story actually is. A lot of stories from The Marvel comic universe crossed over where each comic book character focused on one different aspect from the event. It is something that to me is simply epic no matter how flawed. Naturally I could say more but I think this is one you should watch and let it surprise you. Without a doubt this is one of the best in the Marvel franchise. A classic roller coaster ride!

Review Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

genre: action, adventure, comic book, super hero

Captain America: The First Avenger shows us the making of Captain America. And I think the way they did it was exceptionally done. You see a scrawny looking Chris Evans as Steve Rogers who shows us what a soldier should be about and then gets transformed into the big Marvel Icon we love. I liked it that they showed us enough of Steve Rogers before he became Captain America. How much he tried to get enrolled but keeps getting denied for obvious reasons. He is an underdog that has courage, persistence and heart. How can you not root for him? With him we go on this journey and for me it was a blast from start to finish. Maybe this film wasn't the epic people hoped for but since this one is focused on getting acquainted with icon Captain America it's good nonetheless. We all know by now that the sequel outdid this first one when it comes to spectacle and storytelling. But I this film does a pretty good job to establish the Cap of who he was in World War 2 and who he becomes in this day and age. It is rare to see a character grow on screen. And while it might not be that prominent it is hardly subtle. I think this Marvel film unjustly gets underrated. It does exactly what a good super hero film should do. I like it when you can cheer for a super hero. 

Also read review Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Learning Dutch

Ladies and Gentlemen,

A long time ago I always wondered how many people truly were interested in such a minor language as Dutch. It is one of the most illogical languages to tackle. Besides not many people outside of The Netherlands, Belgium and ex colonies where they speak it. However I was wrong. There are quite a few people who are interested. Now I am fully aware there are plenty of videos out there that dig into this matter. But from what I have seen those are either rushed, unstructured and not really that much fun. I will attempt to make learning Dutch as much fun as possible. And will try to incorporate some structure to my lessons as well. If for some reason I won't be able to I will at least make sure everything is clear to understand. 

Happy Learning everyone!

And here the first two lessons I have made so far. More are coming up. But if you have suggestions or questions concerning Dutch. Then feel free to ask. I will be happy to oblige (for free). (Beertje our mascot will aid you with learning to make it a more pleasurable experience).

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Review Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 1 (2013 - )

genre; action, adventure, comic book adaptation

When news reached me about Agents of Shield I was excited but also at the same time a little skeptical. Because how was it going to work without superheroes or well known Marvel characters featuring in the show? Or were they going to surprise us with a cameo here and there. Or were they just going to ignore certain events and focus on conventional stuff. Well, let me tell you what they did and what I think of the show. (I do assume you have watched The Avengers otherwise you might want to avoid reading this review because it might contain minor spoilers).

The pilot was adequate but not as impressive and actually a bit off putting. So I kept it on hold for a bit. Then I gave it a second chance and stuck with it. The first 6 or 7 episodes might not be that special or spectacular. But they do set up the dynamics between the team members which makes you care for them. And after these episodes more depth is given to some of the characters. Especially to Phil Coulson. As you may know he died in The Avengers (2012). And with him returning naturally you will be wondering how he got back. At first it looked like this was going to be one of those mysteries that would be stretched out and eventually would drag a little. Surprisingly though they managed to keep it interesting. In large part because of Clark Gregg. He is very charismatic and likable. And with him you want to know what he has went through. They way they handled this is almost brilliant. Because they also tied this mystery to other ones in the main arc. The story telling becomes better over time. Like I said it takes about 6 or seven episodes for it to gain momentum. But when it does, it never lets up. So what about the superheroes? They are talked about but they aren't featured. Some of the Marvel characters from the Marvel franchise do make an appearance in one form or another. When they do, it's epic. To make up for the lack of our beloved super heroes Agents of Shield does have to deal with all kinds of meta humans. And it is interesting to see how the agents who don't have super powers deal with it. The action and adventure is quite exciting throughout. But what really is good about this show it manages to make you feel at the end of the episode. One episode it makes you feel good and another you are terrified of the events that just have occurred. Putting you on the edge of the seat and compelling to make you watch the next episode. That really surprised me. It's rare that a show which seemed generic at first progresses in a way that it becomes thrilling and compelling. Agents of Shield is also filled with references to events and characters in the Marvel Universe (comic books and the movies).  Which makes it a feast for fans who love that kind of a thing. So if you were like me having doubts about this show then rest assured. It maybe takes a few episodes to get better but it does improve a lot and how. To give you an idea. I binge watched season 1 in 1 day and a half. This is with doing stuff in between. (hey life does go on!) Overall this is my kind of show. After having seen the first three episodes of season 2 this has only confirmed it. 
Go watch it!

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Review Dark Shadows (2012)

genre: fantasy, comedy

Dark Shadows showed real promise in the beginning. It caught my interest and reassured me of my fear of this not being good. Then soon after it was worse than I dreaded. Dark Shadows has no energy to it. No soul. It has a bit of comedy and weirdness to give you a chuckle. Especially Johnny Depp plays Barnabas with a flair or could we call it overacting. I like him in most of his movies but now I just did not like him at all. To get matters worse, there is almost no plot to speak off. There are some nice scenes but not enough of them for me to forgive for the boredom this movie puts me through. I could care less about any of the characters. So what is there actually to enjoy? I tell you, nothing. The few action scenes do catch your eye when you see them but right after you forget all about them. The whole film is like that. Everything is so damn forgettable and not that enjoyable. Except the opening scene. That one was brilliant. Could it be Tim Burton was awake and proactive when directing this scene and for the remainder could not be bothered and let some trained monkeys take over. If they did I think they would do a much better job. So I doubt it. More likely a pretentious film student thought he had what it takes and convinced Tim Burton to let him take the reigns. And Tim Burton gladly did this so he could work on his next project  whatever that may be. Tim, my dear fellow. Maybe it is time you picked another actor and different kind of project if only to offer some variety. Seems like there is some fatigue plaguing your work. Or step up your game, man! And make gems like Edward Scissorhands, Big Fish or Beetlejuice. This film is beneath you.

Review Stonehearst Asylum aka Eliza Graves (2014)

genre: mystery, thriller

When I read the premise and saw the story was inspired by a short tale written by Edgar Allen Poe it looked like this was going to be a Gothic horror. And the first twenty minutes do have that ambiance and feel to it which I liked very much. But very soon a reveal comes that does away with any of that. Instead it goes into a different direction that in itself is intriguing but not as much as I hoped it would be. It then becomes some sort of statement which is commendable. Only for me quite disappointing. Now I did enjoy Stonehearst Asylum. Most of the main cast make it worth your while. But they are let down by the lack of real suspense and dread. And it puzzles me why they did not make use of the setting and location more. As a drama it fails since not enough depth is given to the characters. Only at pivotal moments that shines through. (I just did some research on the short story The system of Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether, And it seems it is meant to be a dark comedy.) Stonehearst Asylum also fails as a dark comedy since it takes itself far too seriously. This film was advertised as a thriller and when it fails to deliver on any kind of suspense it is hard for me to get all excited about this one. Like I said the cast is what makes it worth your while but if you are depending to be thrilled you should make good on it. And this does not happen. So while this was not a bad movie, it is a poor thriller. Keep that in mind!