The Entertainment Shack

Dec 19 '09

Avatar

Avatar

B

I just saw Avatar this evening at a 3D Imax, and I have to say it is a really good movie. The characters were very connectible, the story had an almost perfect and well-timed arc, some of the visuals were very stunning, and the movie got me going through a wide range of emotions.

I do have to disclaim that this is my first 3D movie (outside the ones at theme parks that do more gag 3D effects). I found it incredible how the 3D sucked you into a scene, and how much more real the actors became. I can definitely see this being the direction movies go in.

But was Avatar the best movie of all time? No. Far from it. The pro-environment anti-war message was a little too one-size-fits-all, and some characters outside the Pandora world were very underdeveloped. You can't compare it to classics like The Shawshank Redemption and Forrest Gump.

Was it the most visually stunning movie I've ever seen? No. Sunshine, 2001, Hero, Sin City, The 300, and The Matrix far exceed Avatar in beauty, just to name a few.

Was it the best human/CGI interaction I've seen? No. Arguably District 9 had more connect between the actors and computer generated alien creatures.

Was it the best 3D movie I've ever seen? Well, I don't have anything to compare it to, but I found the Alice and Wonderland trailer to be much more playful and the Hubble 3D trailer to be crisper and have much more depth.

And is this movie that revolutionary? I find it hard to put on the list with A Trip to the Moon, 2001, Jurassic Park and The Matrix.

But should you go see it? Yes. I'd even go as far to say that it's worth the $15, or whatever you end up paying for it. Just make sure you see it in 3D. I'm not sure if it would have held up without it.

listed in: movie, review |

 

Aug 18 '09

District 9

District 9

A

What an incredible movie! I was just blown away by the quality, in part because the trailer really sucked (did they do it on purpose?)

I don't think I've ever seen special effects (or costumes?) at this caliber before. The aliens were so real that you felt like this movie could actually happen (and yeah, if you want to get technical, it did)

This movie will keep you engaged the whole time, make you upset at humanity, and hopefully have you realize that everyone should be treated equally-- even aliens.

listed in: movie, review |

 

Jul 14 '09

Public Enemies

Public Enemies

F

Public Enemies. What a horrible movie. I don't even know where to start. Poor character development, bad writing, bad acting, slow editing. But none of that bothered me as much as the actual physical quality of the film. I'm pretty sure they filmed it on one of the new iPhones, or something. The sound echoed horribly, there was no depth in the shots, the quality was poor, the lighting was awful (are they in a football stadium or was that supposed to be the moon light?), and what was with all the shaking? Was the cinematographer having a seizure?

If you (heaven forbid) decide to go pay $10 to see the movie, I would hope the only reason is to see how many Wisconsin locations that they filmed at you can recognize.

listed in: movies, review, wisconsin | Comments (1)

 

Nov 14 '08

James Bond: Quantum of Solace

James Bond: Quantum of Solace

B

So, I might be the only one, but I thought the Quantum of Solace was much better than Casino Royale. Casino Royale was bit to slow for me, and Quantum of Solace really picked up the pace. It has all the car/boat/plane chases and ass-kicking we have all gotten to know and love, without the cheesiness or horrible special effects, of, say, Die Another Day. Plus the opening sequence and song was really sweet. James Bond's character may have not been as witty as Casino Royale, but his innovative use of objects for weapons and fancy espionage-ness makes up for it... plus I still got plenty of laughs. Definitely check it out. Let me know what you think.

listed in: james bond, movies, review | Comments (2)

 

Sep 13 '08

Burn after Reading

Burn after Reading

B

This is probably one of the funniest movies about absolutely nothing I have ever seen, and kept me laughing throughout the ending credits. The actors have a lot to contribute to this, and had a similar feel to the "Ocean's" movies... just a bunch of actors goofing off and having fun while they happen to be making a movie. Although that makes me unsure if it was the writing that was actually good, and if it would have worked with unfamiliar actors I haven't seen in other roles. Regardless, I'd see it again.

listed in: movies, review |

 

Aug 25 '08

The Dark Knight

The Dark Knight

A

Alright, so, I finally saw The Dark Knight. Yeah, I'm behind in life, give me a break.

I was skeptical. I thought it would be yet another bad action flick. I was never a fan of the other Batman movies, and I was afraid of getting let down like I did with Wall-E.

Was I ever wrong. It blew me away. At no time did I feel the dialogue or special effects were cheesy *cough* spider man 3 *cough* At no time did I ever feel bored or unengaged. It was a very solid movie all around.

Now, if I would have programmed my website to support half-stars, as far as an action flick goes, I would put it a tad underneath The Bourne Ultimatum. But it's up there.

listed in: movies, review |

 

Jun 28 '08

Wall-E

Wall-E

C

Wall-E was a good movie, don't get me wrong. But I had such high expectations that I was a bit disappointed. I liked the idea of the movie-- the loud-and-clear warning that if we don't change our habits, our world might end up like that in Wall-Es. Wall-E was funny, and the animation was 'pretty'. The movie started out great, but I became distracted by irrational actions by characters that hadn't been introduced enough yet, a physics engine going bad somewhere halfway through the movie, and the climax of the movie came and went faster than I could blink. Come on Pixar, you could have done better than that. And what was up with all the Apple product placement? Step away from the animators, Steve Jobs.

listed in: movies, review | Comments (1)

 

May 19 '08

Loose Cannons

B

Loose CannonsAre you still in Madison? Good. Go see this movie at The Orpheum playing through Thursday. Loose Cannons is a hilarious student-created feature film set right on the UW-Madison campus. It features Chuck Sypholis, part of the student-run "Campus Security" on his hunt for Spencer Huntley and his gang, the "Freshman 15" who stole the football team's playbook and plans to sell it to Minnesota. Filled with witty jokes, kung-fu, and gun fights, this movie is an enjoyment all around. Watch the Trailer at YouTube.

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Mar 25 '08

In Bruges

In Bruges

A

Refreshingly different, and really funny. It reminds me a little of Hot Fuzz, not because of the British accents, but because it starts off as a comedy and takes an unexpected 360. It was simply a really enjoyable to watch. And did I mention funny? A word of warning: this movie is not for the politically correct.

listed in: movies, review |

 

Mar 19 '08

Michael Clayton

Michael Clayton

C

Speaking of George Clooney, I realized I never wrote a review for this movie. I didn't really like it. It was in a Kill Bill-esque mixed-up-time format, which worked well for that action movie, but just makes an already complicated legal battle even more complcated. And for a thriller, it got very slow at points. Now that I've read the Wikipedia summary and understand what was going on, I almost want to watch it again, but fear I might fall asleep.

listed in: movies, review |

 

Feb 6 '08

There Will Be Blood

There Will Be Blood

B

I really enjoyed this movie. It's on the longer side at 2 1/2 hours... but I didn't notice. The movie sucks you in, and you get involved in this journey. And soon you're part of this journey, and forget that you're in a movie theater. How long has it been since you've seen a film like that? The actors were spectacular, and worked very well together. The story is unique, and takes some turns that you don't expect.

If you're in Madison-- you can still see this and the other 4 Oscar nominated films for 'Best Picture' at the Sundance Cinemas.

listed in: movies, review |

 

Jan 18 '08

Cloverfield

Cloverfield

C

Absolutely nauseating.

I obviously knew the style of the movie from the trailers... but I thought it would be more like "The Office", filmed with steady-cams but faked to look hand-held. Nope. They strapped a cheap consumer camera on somebody's head and had them run around like a crazy lunatic.

The first 15 minutes of character building almost seemed a waste, as 45 minutes in I wanted to see the characters die so the camera would stop moving.

I also was expecting the main part of the film to be "wrapped", like the plot line of the treasure hunters before and after "Titanic"... but Cloverfield is basically somebody sticking in a lost tape found in Central Park and hitting play. You will only find out what the characters find out, and nothing more.

Three stars for cinematic creativity and spectacular special and visual effects, but that's about it. If you haven't seen it yet, wait until it comes out on DVD and watch it on a small TV, otherwise you'll come walking out of the theater feeling sick.

listed in: movies, review | Comments (2)

 

Jan 16 '08

Juno

Juno

B

Just go see it. Minus a very awkward 5-minute segment, this was an excellent movie. I laughed so long at some of the one-liners, that others in the theater started laughing again. The cast worked really well together, and Ellen Page, who plays Juno, has quite the spunk. I also really enjoyed the music-- but the fact that you have to buy the entire album on both Amazon.com or iTunes to get the main songs, is really lame. Bad call Warner. No money from me.

listed in: movies, review |

 

Nov 26 '07

The Mist

The Mist

B

It's been an hour since I saw the movie and I'm still sitting and trying to take it all in, or "decompress" as my roommate said.

To start off: I went into this movie not having read the short story by Stephen King, so I had no idea what to expect, and I didn't go in with any expectations based on the book.

I really liked it. It went in directions I didn't expect: especially in the area of religion and human nature. It started out really... cheesy... in the area of special effects and shallow character development ... so don't get discouraged in the first 20 minutes.

Give it a chance. It gets a lot better. The characters begin to seem more real, and as you get tied in tighter with the story, the special effects become more real, and I eventually got sucked right in.

And the ending. Wow. Just wow. After talking to a friend of a friend that read that book, even if you did, you won't even see it coming.

listed in: movies, review |

 

Aug 10 '07

Sunshine

Sunshine

B

I recently saw Sunshine at the new Sundance Cinemas in Madison. First a little bit about Sundance: Claaaasssyy! I felt under-dressed in my typical khaki shorts and t-shirt. I went to a noon showing, but anything later I would have at least put on jeans and a button-down shirt. The tickets are a bit pricey, but the theater is amazing. You sink into the rocking seats, the air conditioning is at a perfect temperature, and the sound is outstanding. And the concession stand isn't... typical. Sure they have a section labeled "classic movie favorites", which include popcorn and soda, but you'd feel really... cheap... purchasing an item from that section. You can get muffins, sandwiches, and 20 types of coffee drinks from the concession stand as well. And you get to reserve your seats, like a theater theater. They advertised row "H" as perfect eye level... and ohhh where those seats absolutely perfect.

Anyway... the movie:

[More]

listed in: movies, review |

 

Aug 3 '07

The Bourne Ultimatum

The Bourne Ultimatum

A

Amazing, amazing movie. I was on the edge of my seat the entire time, in what you could describe as the most thrilling hour and a half chase scene. I was happy for the small 5-minute breaks throughout the movie so I could take a moment to breathe before the action started up again. This was definitely one of the fastest paced movies I've ever seen, and it never got dull as Jason Bourne went from location to location. It was really fun to watch Jason's cleverness, as he was always thinking 5 minutes ahead. It was moments like: He grabs two shirts from clothes lines on a roof top. Why? ... Ohhhh. Wouldn't have thought of that. The fight scene -- without any music -- was quite the gem, as you rarely get to hear just the sounds of the fight itself. And the ending: perfect. Absolutely perfect.

So go see it. And if you don't believe me, read what the New York Times and The Onion has to say. I'd see it again. I totally missed how he stole that police car. And so did the officer who was driving it.

listed in: movies, review |

 

Jul 10 '07

Transformers

Transformers

C

When I first saw the trailer for this, I laughed. So I had pretty low expectations going into this. It wasn't too bad. First off-- it was long (two and a half hours), so don't buy a large soda. The special effects were spectacular. They really were. But they were done by Industrial Light and Magic, so I didn't expect anything less (Hire me!). And I think the biggest problem I had was the acting between the transformers and the people were actually better then that between the actors themselves. Some of the dialog just didn't seem realistic, certainly involving the Defense Secretary and various government agencies... which was disappointing. Because those types of scenes are usually my favorite. (Like the fast-paced high-pressure scenes in ER or West Wing).

listed in: movies, review |

 

Jul 6 '07

Oceans 13

Oceans 13

B

Being a huge fan of the first two, I came into this with high expectations, and I think it did well. This movie seemed to breeze over execution of some of the stunts pulled, but on the other hand it gave of sense of "They're Oceans 13, they can do anything". But overall I enjoyed the pace, found the writing witty, liked the story line (back in Vegas!), the music rocked, and I even got caught in a couple plot twists. The only thing that's keeping me from giving it 5 stars is the extremely cheesy scene between Ellen and Matt. I understand this is a lighter movie, but it was seriously way out of place. The ending though, was fantastic. Made you feel really good inside.

listed in: movies, review |

 

Jul 3 '07

Shrek the Third

Shrek the Third

B

I saw this a couple weeks ago in theater, and finally found time to sit down and write a little bit about it. It was a really enjoyable movie. Finally. It fulfilled its role. It entertained me, made me laugh, made me cry (ok, not really), and I came out of it satisfied. Going into this, I barely remember the first two, but it didn't matter. They re-developed the characters enough for me to get involved with the film, and half way though I almost forgot it was animated. Would I see it again sometime soon? Probably not. But I enjoyed it while I saw it. Although, I had no idea Justin Timberlake and Larry King did a couple of the voices. Didn't notice that until the credits.

listed in: movies, review |

 

May 13 '07

Spider Man 3

Spider Man 3

F

They spent half a billion dollars on this movie. Most expensive movie ever made. That sucks, because the movie blew.

Bad special effects, bad character development (yeah, I know they were developed in the first two films, but you can't just pick up out of nowhere), horrible acting, horrible script. Bad bad bad bad bad.

listed in: movies, review | Comments (2)

 

Nov 29 '06

007: Casino Royale

007: Casino Royale

C

Satisfying movie. The time passed well except only a couple of slow spots, maybe because the action was too rushed. Bond didn't do as much 'espionage' as I would have liked, as the movie tended to go right into the action.

And where were the gadgets? Yeah, not in the book, but I like gadgets! Also, not so sure about the title sequence.

Regardless, Daniel does a great job playing a child-like full-of-himself James Bond, and Judi does even a better job playing a really pissed off boss. She's hilarious!

It's worth checking out.

listed in: movies, review | Comments (1)

 

Nov 11 '06

The Prestige

The Prestige

A

I went and saw "The Prestige" last night. I went never hearing about it before, not knowing what it was about, and having no idea who was in it. I loved it. It's a story of two magicians, who after a horrible incident of a trick gone wrong, go from co-workers to bitter rivals. Their only goal is to out-do each other, figure out each other's tricks, through whatever cheating, lying, and trickery possible. For the first time in a while, I saw a really good story that doesn't insult the audience. You have to pay really close attention though, or you won't know what is going on. But it shouldn't be too hard-- the plot is fast paced; without any downtime. I highly recommend this movie. I'd see it again.

listed in: movies, review |

 

Oct 26 '06

Getting Real by 37Signals

A

I just finished reading this short e-book by 37signals, the makers of Basecamp, a very popular project collaboration tool.

I feel if everybody read this book and followed the suggestions in it, software online would be significantly better.

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listed in: books, review |

 

Aug 18 '06

Snakes.  On a plane.

Snakes. On a plane.

B

Oh man. Great movie. After seeing the trailers for this movie I thought it would be a horrible flop, but I couldn't turn down the offer to go see it.

It has suspense, it has horror, and it has humor. Made me nervous, made me jump, made me laugh.

Make sure you see it while the theatres are full. The crowd went wild when Samuel Jackson "had it with these mother****ing snakes on this mother****ing plane!"

listed in: movies, review |

 

Jul 25 '06

Illinois by Sufjan Stevens

Illinois by Sufjan Stevens

A

The fact that I'm writing this review at all should indicate this CD is good. I rarely purchase CDs as the iTunes Radio stations and Pandora usually meet my needs.

The indie-pop style music is absolutely beautiful, with its several layers of instruments played mostly by Sufjan himself thanks to the wonders of technology today. The sharp contrasts of volume and instrumental complexity along with the deep and relatable lyrics in his song "Chicago" is what got me hooked on Sufjan. It's the first song of his I heard and I encourage you all to take a listen (then buy the album).

From his relatable and more serious lyrics about life and death like to his more up-beat and nonsense lyrics, there is something for everyone. This is a great CD to pop in when reading a book, taking a drive, or just relaxing on the porch. I'm going to purchase his "Michigan" album as well, and am looking forward to whatever state he sings about next.

listed in: music, review |

 

Jul 19 '06

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest

C

I'm not sure what to think about this movie. It has no beginning or end. Although I fully understand (and if you watch it, you must too) that this the middle of a trilogy. However, the movie *could* have ended at this one. The five minutes of teaser at the end leading up to the obvious sequel leave me confused as to why the characters want to continue on, at least the way they decide (it would seem as if there are more important things).

Plot aside, the movie itself is well done. The sword fights are amazing, especially the one on the water wheel. And the special effects are great... up to the last 15 minutes, where it is obvious they rushed to fulfill some sort of timeline. The quality drops significantly.

The movie could also be shorter. The second octopus scene doesn't end.

Maybe I'll have to see the third one to fully appreciate this one.

listed in: movies, review |

 

Jun 29 '06

An Inconvenient Truth

An Inconvenient Truth

B

As Stephen Colbert said, this is the best (and most expensive) "powerpoint presentation" I've ever seen. Al Gore's multimedia presentation, which is actually created in Apple Keynote, shows us the dangers of our gas guzzling cars and the serve impact that they have on the environment. With a little current administration bashing mixed in, this will probably be one of the most interesting lectures you have ever seen. Regardless of your stance on global warming or politics, you will find this to be an impressively well-put together presentation and that Al Gore is a wonderful public speaker.

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Jun 24 '06

The Code Book by Simon Singh

The Code Book by Simon Singh

A

From the history of hiding messages to the future of encryption using quantum physics, this book covers it all. For anyone interested in secret writing this is a must read. As the book steps though all the different ciphers and encryption methods, several examples are demonstrated in conjunction with real-life analogies making even quantum mechanics easy enough for a 12 year old to understand. The back of the book features coded messages so you can test your ability to decipher using the methods the book clearly demonstrates.

listed in: books, review |

 

Jun 21 '06

The Da Vinci Code (Movie)

The Da Vinci Code (Movie)

C

I saw the movie after I read the book-- and was significantly disappointed. A lot of the mystery and suspense was removed from the story as the movie skipped over or rushed through all the good parts of the book. The movie was a significantly dumbed down version of the book, and the only thing that saves this movie is the perfect ending shot.

listed in: movies, review |

 

Jun 20 '06

The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown

The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown

A

Practically everyone has already read this book, so by now you've heard of hundreds of opinions from everyone else. I'll have to concur with the majority-- it was a well-written book full of suspense, mystery, and history. It's definitely not the "best book in the world", but still a really good read. Pick it up if you haven't already.

listed in: books, review |

 

Jun 10 '06

The Kid by Dan Savage

The Kid by Dan Savage

A

This book by Dan Savage, the author of the famous "Savage Love" sex column, is a hilarious look at adopting a child as a gay couple. Dan and his boyfriend Terry decided to adopt using an option-adoption process, where the child knows their mother, and the mother plays a part in the child's life as they grow up. Their adoptive mother turns out to be a girl by the name of a Melissa... a "gutter punk"... homeless by choice. Dan Savage is not at all modest as he doesn't hold back anything while explaining every part of his voyage through the adoption process. It's not in the least sugar-coated, and an honest must-read autobiography.

listed in: books, review |

 

Jun 10 '06

Thank You for Smoking (Movie)

Thank You for Smoking (Movie)

B

Unfortunately I haven't read the book this movie is based after so I can't do any comparisons between the two. However, this was a funny satire on the tobacco industry, the movie industry, and the government in general. It was fast paced and never left you twiddling your thumbs. It could have been a lot longer though-- the movie ended before you knew it.

listed in: movies, review |

 

Jun 6 '06

Mission: Impossible III

Mission: Impossible III

A

I was incredibly impressed with Mission Impossible 3. Although in real life Tom Cruise has gone a little loopy, he's still a great actor. I was expecting a cliche action movie, but a significant portion of this movie was about the espionage. The lip-reading portion of the movie is quite impressive; you'll know what I'm talking about when you go watch the movie. They don't dumb down this movie for anyone. You have pay attention to keep track of all the plot twists and to figure out who the bad guy really is.

listed in: movies, review |