Pearl Harbor

Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941 – A day that shall live in infamy. The tagline of the movie instantly gives you a synopsis – a recreation of the Japanese attack on the Pacific Fleet of the United States of America, and act which drew the US into World War II ultimately leading to the downfall of the Third Reich and the unleashing of the dreadful new weapon of nuclear fire, seen for the first time on the planet as man came up with New and Improved ways of killing.

I was really looking forward to this movie; the director Michael Bay has put together a stack of some of my favourite movies (most noteworthy of which are The Rock and Armageddon). However, a few hours before I was to set out to see it, I was told by reliable commercial radio that it was nothing but an “epic love story”! This, of course, shocked me and greatly reduced my enthusiasm – it basically had the same effect as when I found out James Cameron was making the Titanic.

Despite my newfound misgivings about the movie, I tromped on in hoping for some good action scenes. After enduring the obligatory introduction bits of Ben Affleck winning the affection of Kate Beckinsale and establishing the plot-within-the-plot (hell, we knew what was going to happen at Pearl Harbor anyway), I settled down a bit.

The build-up to the attack is fairly well done; I’m not exactly an expert on the Pacific War so I can’t vouch for the authenticity of the way the events were dictated, but it was done in a nice dramatic style which built up to the inevitable bombing, strafing and all-round destroying of a significant segment of the US Naval Forces as they were caught quite literally sleeping in the face of the Japanese surprise attack. The Japanese are made out to look like quite the bandits (which I guess in reality they were) due to their naughty behaviour in pretending the peace talks were actually useful when in fact they were secretly planning their sudden strike on the US Forces. As an interesting historical aside, Hitler did this kind of thing all the time, so future world dominators might want to keep in mind that if you do this, history is quite definitely against you in the long run.

Acting and dialogue in the movie is all fairly stock-standard stuff; nothing that made me sit up and cheer or anything (though I had a strange compulsion by the end of the movie to buy an American flag and wave it around patriotically). The special effects are very good – the Pearl Harbor bombing scene is fantastic and must have accounted for a significant whack of the budget of the film.

Weighing in at around three hours, Pearl Harbor covers a lot of ground in that time. Obviously, it follows the Private Ryan-esque morals that War Sucks, and effectively carries across this message by showing many Amercians being mercilessly gunned down. The power of love is, as always, questioned and there are many trials and tribulations that are demonstrated through all the main characters in the other part of the plot which isn’t related at all to the whole bombing thing. Would the movie have been better without the love story attached to it? For me, I think it would have – for instance, it would have cut down the length of the movie and kept the focus on the event, rather than yet another love tragedy.

Something else that is worth mentioning is the fact that it was one of the few movies I can remember that really demonstrate the role that women played during World War II. The nurses involved in Pearl Harbor are given a significant focus and their efforts in helping the many wounded and dying are paid respect. It was good to see a somewhat more unisex perspective on war.

Overall: I enjoyed it. The fictional love story was actually pretty good and was fairly well integrated with the bombing (well, it demonstrated love in war, anyway) and wasn’t too unbearable. I left the movie feeling impressed by the whole thing, but pretty depressed – the result of a combination of the love story being miserable and the sheer fact that war is so stupid and so many people die needlessly. Definitely worth seeing on the big screen for some of the effects.

Moulin Rouge

I wasn’t really looking forward to seeing Moulin Rouge. Starring Ewan McGregor, Nicole Kidman, and John Leguizamo, Moulin Rouge promises it is about truth, beauty, freedom, and above all things – love. Now, my usual taste in movies would generally preclude me from going anywhere near this movie with a 10 foot pole (a musical about love!?), but I’d heard many good things about it along the grapevine and boldy ventured forth to see it.

The story is set in the seedy (but romantic) bohemian underground of Paris on or around the year 1900. Ewan’s character Christian is a young, idealistic dude from England who has come to Pairs for a variety of reasons (most of which are to do with love, and stuff, but also it appears to piss his father off). Fate, as it tends to, throws him into directly into the heart of the throbbing mass of the bohemian scene.

The Moulin Rouge itself is a nightclub (and bordello, perhaps?); a bustling visually extravagant establishment which offers a variety of entertainments to its customers. The jewel of the Moulin Rouge is Satine (Nicole Kidman), the stunningly beautiful lead dancer and singer.

As the result of mistaken identity, Christian and Satine end up meeting and interacting, and as you’ve guessed unless you’re incredibly stupid, emotional sparks begin to fly like woodchips being thrown into their air by a beaver on benzedrine. The love story plot is fairly traditionally in a Romeo / Juliet tragic sort of way, and thus fairly easily predictable if you’ve ever seen a movie before in your life, but the presentation is so good that you almost don’t even notice.

The focus of the movie is, of course, the music and singing. Both Nicole and Ewan (allegedly) sing their own parts, and the result is extremely impressive. If, like me, you expected really boring, overly operatic and theatrical music, you’ll be pleasantly surprised that most of the music is in fact based on contemporary tunes. Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit, for example, features in one of the scenes. The entire musical score is quite simply excellent and is enough of a feature to make the movie stand out all on its own.



The costumes, dancing, effects and scenery are all very well done as well; everything is very complementary to the story. The script is very well done and actually really funny – combined with several well placed singing scenes, you’ll get a very good chuckle out of several scenes in the movie. And, Nicole Kidman is incredibly good looking in the whole movie.

Overall: definitely worth checking out. Yes, I know it doesn’t have Bruce Willis in it, and there’s no explosions or any sort of serious gunplay, so its way out of my league, but despite this its a very entertaining romp both visually and musically. A very fun movie to watch, depsite the usual message that most tragedies have – no matter how well things seem to be working out, love sucks and will always end horribly.

Charlie's Angels

Heard good things about this one the entire time it was showing, but somehow managed to put it off until it came out on video. So, I was looking forward to it. Looking at the posters and other promo stuff, you know its got a few things going for it, namely three really good looking chicks.

Kicked it off and was pretty disappointed for the first 10 or 15 minutes; a collection of really bad sexual innuendo and just general childishness. However, things soon picked up when Bill Murray came in (just seeing him on-screen made it all worthwhile, he’s just funny without even doing anything, and when he does stuff, he’s hilarious!) and the movie started rolling.

Not ever having watched Charlie’s Angels ever before, or knowing anything about it other than the general concept of three chicks doing crimefighting stuff, I ended up sitting back soaking it up. The story was the usual action flick thing: bad guy has stolen something, someone wants it back, etc. In fact, I barely even remember. I remember the first fight scene, which was when I started to think the movie might not totally suck with the sound on, and after that it was pretty decent.

Essentially, it was pretty much a vessel to show off a couple of hot chicks doing ninja stuff. Starring Cameron Diaz, Lucy Liu and Drew Barrymore, there’s a good selection of hotties to watch. The fight scenes were pretty decent, with some nice Matrix style action. For some reason the fact that it is all sychronized hot girl action is pretty much the main attraction to this film. In fact, I don’t really remember anything else happening, except the usual bad guys losing.

See this if you just want a simple turn-off-brain action movie with good looking girls. Any further depth in a review of this movie would really waste your time, and mine.

Charlie’s Angels

Heard good things about this one the entire time it was showing, but somehow managed to put it off until it came out on video. So, I was looking forward to it. Looking at the posters and other promo stuff, you know its got a few things going for it, namely three really good looking chicks.

Kicked it off and was pretty disappointed for the first 10 or 15 minutes; a collection of really bad sexual innuendo and just general childishness. However, things soon picked up when Bill Murray came in (just seeing him on-screen made it all worthwhile, he’s just funny without even doing anything, and when he does stuff, he’s hilarious!) and the movie started rolling.

Not ever having watched Charlie’s Angels ever before, or knowing anything about it other than the general concept of three chicks doing crimefighting stuff, I ended up sitting back soaking it up. The story was the usual action flick thing: bad guy has stolen something, someone wants it back, etc. In fact, I barely even remember. I remember the first fight scene, which was when I started to think the movie might not totally suck with the sound on, and after that it was pretty decent.

Essentially, it was pretty much a vessel to show off a couple of hot chicks doing ninja stuff. Starring Cameron Diaz, Lucy Liu and Drew Barrymore, there’s a good selection of hotties to watch. The fight scenes were pretty decent, with some nice Matrix style action. For some reason the fact that it is all sychronized hot girl action is pretty much the main attraction to this film. In fact, I don’t really remember anything else happening, except the usual bad guys losing.

See this if you just want a simple turn-off-brain action movie with good looking girls. Any further depth in a review of this movie would really waste your time, and mine.

Joan of Arc

After Luc Besson’s awesome effort in the Fifth Element, one of my all-time favourite films, I was expecting a lot from Joan of Arc. In the US, as I just found out, it was titled The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc, and it stars Milla Jovovich as Joan, plus a few another noteworthies – Dustin Hoffman, Faye Dunaway and John Malkovich. However, after hearing negative rumours about it, my enthusiasm waned to the point where I saved it for a rainy day, or at least a day where I was bored. That day was yesterday.

In retrospect, it proved a poor relief for boredom. The movie is very lengthy, clocking in at around three hours – a long stretch for even a really awesome movie. Normally, I really enjoy longer movies, because I think it gives directors a much better chance to expand on the plot. Unfortunately, Joan of Arc’s plot wasn’t really expanded, merely stretched.

Milla did a great job as portraying a character who truly believed herself to be a messenger from God. The scenes and settings were pretty impressive – some nice bloody battle scenes. It was just long, and sort of boring. Being a true story, of course, you have a pretty good idea what is going to happen – you can sit there and hope that she’s going to take over all of France as much as you want, but you just know what’s going to happen.

People critical or suspicious of religion will probably take particular note of some of the more theological themes in the movie. The most important of these is, of course, judging Joan from the perspective that she acted solely to pursue an agenda of revenge against the British for the brutal murder of her sister, and then tried to justify her actions by deluding herself into thinking that she was bringing God’s will to Earth. Some people may see this as the entire point of the movie, but I am but a simple person that wanted to see the English get driven out of France and some awesome hack and slash action.

Recommended, if you have nothing better to see. You know how its going to end, though. I’m not exactly a student of European history for that period, so I can’t comment on the authenticity of the story (and quite simply I’m too lazy to research it because the movie just didn’t spark enough interest), and thus I can’t recommend the movie from a historical point of view. There’s no particularly awesome battle scenes, or great lines, but its not too bad.

The Mummy Returns

The sequel to one of my favourite movies of last year sort of snuck in under my early warning movie radar – I only heard about it a few weeks before it was due to come out. This is, of course, a good thing, because it means you’re not sitting there saying, “damn, I just wish this movie would come out already”.

So, at the first available opportunity, I bustled myself off to see The Mummy Returns, to catch Rick and Evelyn O’Connell (Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz), comic relief Evelyn’s brother played by John Hannah, and the awesome character Ardeth Bay, played by Oded Fehr. Judging from the title, it is not unreasonable to assume that this movie would also involve some Egyptian Mummy action – which it does.

The movie starts out on location in Egypt, which leads to some pretty cool looking scenery of the pyramids, and lots of sand. Probably helps keep the set costs down, because they can just drop sand over everything. We’re back several squillion years ago, following the exploits of the new character: the Scorpion King, played by It-Doesn’t-Matter-Who-You-Are The Rock (of WWF fame), who does a pretty good job of standing up, yelling loudly, and beating people up, which he is eminently qualified for. The Scorpion King is doing fairly normal early king stuff, wandering around trying to conquer people and generally laying the smack down. However, he is defeated, and sells his soul to the Egyptian god Anubis in return for a few meagre victories.

So his soul is gone, and there’s the usual prophecies that are setting the scene for his return. In the background though, we’ve got a bunch of crazies – people that want to resurrect Imhotep (who we will rememeber as the Billy Zane-looking dude who wreaked havoc in the first movie), so he can challenge the Scorpion King in order to steal his army and, of course, take over the world.

Egyptologist supreme Evelyn is of course mixed up right in the middle of this, and drags in O’Connell and their new son, which results in a few funny scenes, and a few good action scenes. Fortunately for them, Oded Fehr – the cool black robe wearing, sword slinging, tattooed face guardian of the desert. The son is tied up in the conflict, and ends up getting kidnapped, which gives our hero Rick a chance to seriously get involved and lay down the law to these silly old dessicated bodies that keep waking up from the dead and getting in his way.

From there, its a pretty amusing romp around; interspersed with the same sort of funny behaviour of all the characters that you would know from the first one. There’s some exceptionally predictable stuff that happens towards the end of the movie, but it doesn’t ruin it or anything.

Overall, a good fun action romp. My only complaint was a bit of CG at the end where they digitally created and animated The Rock, which made him look pretty cheap and cheesy. Aside from that, the rest of the CG was excellent. Great scenery and backdrops, well created buildings and scenes from ancient Egypt and some top battle scenes. Definitely something to kick back to, turn the brain off, and soak up the gunfire and fisticuffs.

15 Minutes

I got called up out of the blue on one Saturday night and asked at the last minute if I wanted to come along and catch the movie 15 Minutes. Being almost a fully fledged nerd, I wasn’t doing anything that couldn’t be interrupted, and I’m usually ready at a moments notice to do anything, so I jumped at the opportunity to get away from the computer for a few hours (even if it was simply replacing one screen for another).

I basically had no idea what this movie was about – in fact, I hadn’t heard of it at all. As I was walking out the door, I had a brief conversation with my brother about it, and he gave me a quick overview, which turned out to be mostly inaccurate anyway. So, for the first time I can remember, I was going to see a movie that I not only hadn’t seen the trailer for, but I knew more or less nothing about.

The effect this had, I think, turned out to be just as interesting as the movie itself. Not knowing what you’re about to watch in a cinema is a singularly interesting experience – you’ve got no idea where the plot is going, no foresight for particular scenes – nothing. A few days earlier, I had seen Tomcats, a childish comedy movie, for which I had seen a making-of special on Foxtel earlier. This special, of course, contained a lot of the funny scenes and jokes, which gave away not only heaps of the plot, but many of the scenes that would otherwise have been much funnier if I was watching them in the movie.

Anyway, I digress, but needless to say I will be exploring this whole new world I’ve discovered of seeing movies without knowing anything about them. Obviously, if you are interested in pursuing a similar philosophy, I recommend that you stop reading this post… now.

The movie stars Robert De Niro as ye olde hero cop, a tough old schooler that New York knows as a celebrity due to frequent appearances on one of the local COPS/news programs. Edward Burns acts as a gun-toting fire marshall, and we end up with these two guys trying to solve a double homicide. The audience, of course, already knows who is responsible, having seen it all happen at the start of the movie when the two bad guys are introduced – a duo comprised of a Czech, Emil, and a Russian, Oleg, who have come to the USA to try and retrieve their part of a bank heist.

Unfortunately, their old partner who they thought had all the cash has squandered it all, which leads to Emil going into a blind rage, brutally stabbing them to death, and then setting fire to their whole apartment. Oleg, in the meantime, is living out his dream of becoming a big-shot American film producer, and is merrily recording the event on his freshly stolen camcorder, loudly emblazoned with Sony logos. Enter cops, stage left.

What follows is the pursuit of the two perps around the city, the cops always one step behind. A bizarre scene unfolds as the criminals unleash a minor bloodbath, all captured on film by the soon-to-be-Spielberg Oleg. I could go futher into the details of the plot – which I found quite interesting – but I won’t, because you should go and see it.

Essentially though, the focus of the movie is, I thought, a fairly harsh criticism of the American press and legal system. The press get slammed because of its blatant sensationalism of violent crime and the fact that it adds another motive for crazy people to do crazy stuff – so they can get on TV and become famous. And then the legal system, because it makes it too easy for said people to escape with light sentences by claiming insanity.

Overall, I found it a pretty good movie; as mentioned it was an extremely refreshing way for me to see a movie, without knowing anything about it. Additionally, it was an interesting storyline, which was well executed by the actors, and one that brought up some important points about issues that cause a lot of strife all over the world.

Comments!

Thanks to cold, the Triumph ninja of uberness, I’ve figured out how to add in comment support to this site. It won’t work in the normal AusGamers forum manner in that its not going to be a forum – ie, you can’t start new threads. Basically, its limited to discussing posts that are already here. There’s plenty of other forums out there, and I don’t feel another will benefit anyone. Hopefully though we’ll get some interesting chats happening here. Please note that this will be closely moderated and is not intended for chatting – the QGL forum is the place to go for that slaw.

General Updates

A long time has passed since the last update – pretty slack, eh! A lot has happened since then; I’ve seen many things that deserve writing about; maybe I’ll get around to it, maybe I won’t. Probably the most important thing is that I have finished working at WebCentral and have moved onto AusGamers work full-time. This is due primarily to the takeover of the Wireplay services, Wireplay of course being Telstra’s gaming division. This promises to be fun, exciting, and a lot of hard work.

Something else that has occured since was CPL Pacific, the biggest and most expensive gaming event to happen on Australian shores. This was a pseudo-success, most gamers had a blast but there were a few issues that cropped up that caused some grief to some people. All a learning experience for LAN organisers of Australia though.

I’ve just made a few updates to the site; cleaned out a lot of extraneous pictures from my SF trip and uploaded a few other interesting tidbits around the place. More content will be forthcoming shortly!