Man of Steel (2013)

IMDB plot:

A young itinerant worker is forced to confront his secret extraterrestrial heritage when Earth is invaded by members of his race.

Spoilers. Pretty much.

So… yeah, another incarnation of the super boyscout guy. And, amazingly, they seem to have done it right — at least, in my opinion, but I’m not super “AMG! They destroyed the version in the comics” kind of person.

I mentioned this in my Twitter timeline, but I’ll repeat here: Man of Steel is a movie about the little things. Not that it talks about little things, but the little things make this a great movie.

For example: Jonathan Kent puts Clark in a hard position of showing his powers or staying hidden. His preference is to hide his powers so people won’t be afraid of him. But suddenly is Jonathan that needs Clark powers to be saved and what does it do? With a small gesture, he tells him “you shouldn’t show your powers, it’s ok”. It’s small, but it tells a lot. Even smaller is when you look directly at Kevin Costner’s face and see a little smile in his lips, like a father proud of his son, but with sadness in his eyes, like saying “I’m sad ’cause I’ll never see you go full power”.

It’s one of those defining moments for me. When an actor goes beyond lines and simple movements show everything. I said before, in “Marley & Me” that it was the best work for Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston, ’cause you can see the light fading in her eyes when Jenny realizes she lost her child and Owen losing his voice when John thinks Marley will not survive. All of this kind of “going beyond the lines in the script” happens here, over and over again.

Jonathan’s “stop” and “I’m proud of you son, and I’m sorry I’ll never see you grow up” face is one; Zod/Michael Shannon face when the hologram of Jor-El disappears, showing regret to have the image of his old friend disappear forever’ Jonathan (again) chocking when saying “You are my son” when Clark asks if they can keep pretending he’s his son; Clark/Kal-El/Henry Cavil face when he’s faced by a hooligan in a bar and have to control himself (three times, nonetheless); the way Faora falls on her knees seeing that she’s free ’cause her planet was destroyed… And that’s only acting, you still have how the music and the sound mix when Metropolis is being destroyed (the sound is part of the music and the music is part of the sound); the way the fire vision is shown and how the Kryptonians react to its use… And, in the very end, the way they put Christopher Reeves over Cavil face to pay an homage to the most well-known Superman.

This all show the incredible vision Zack Snyder had for the movie.

But surely small touches can’t make a movie. The way David Goyer and Christopher Nolan wrote the movie allowed Snyder to go into this. And the story is good and flows magnificently. You’d keep watching and then suddenly realize

A lot of people complained about the level of destruction. It seems to fit well here, since just now Clark is fully exploring his powers; he’s not the one that learnt how to hold his powers to protect everyone. In the animated series, there is one scene when Darkseid is about to destroy Metropolis and when Superman finally appears, he comes with lines like “What we have here is an unique opportunity. I can finally use my powers without any restrains.” I think Snyder tried to do something around those lines, although in reverse: He didn’t know restrain yet; and he wasn’t fighting some human with lots of money, he was fighting people with the same powers as his that would not stop till they kill everyone.

Music is a weird issue to me. I heard the music in the trailer and absolutely loved it, bought the whole album and found it absolutely boring. It follows a tendency these days of making a single theme for the movie and then twisting it to fit everything else. The hero theme is a slower version of the original theme, with a single violin; the villain theme is, again, the same theme, but with guitars, drums and lots of distortion.

Also, as I mentioned to a friend, surely the original Superman song, by John Williams, is way more “wristlable” than the Hans Zimmer version. On the other hand, Zimmer’s version have a lot more impact than Williams’ version.

But no matter how I feel about the soundtrack, it sits perfectly with the movie — although one can say they stretched a bit too far in the last scenes. The fact that could mix the music itself with the movie sounds makes it even more spectacular, making it “organic” to the general aural experience of the movie.

Acting is largely a hit. Cavil absolutely kills as Clark/Kal-El. Not only that, but he uses two different tones when talking: One is when Clark, the adopted son of two farmers in Kansas, is talking; the other, when Kal-El, the alien that wants to help everyone, talks. You can clearly see those two voices comparing the tone when he talks to his mom or Lois and when he talks to the military people (and I think Snyder will use this tone change as part of the disguise for Superman in the next movie).

Amy Adams is alright as Lois, although the script really fails with her (fall from a plane exactly when it blows up? Really?)

Costner, as I mentioned, has his moments. His acting is ok, like most of the movies, but there are a couple of scenes in which he absolutely kills.

Russel Crowe, Laurence Fishburne, Christopher Meloni… All seem to be still be doing the same characters over and over again. Seriously, pick Morpheus and put him as a newspaper editor and there you have Fishburne acting in this movie. Meloni is still doing the guy in uniform. And Crowe… well, Crowe still is the Gladiator, although he talks more than fight.

Diane Lane, on the other hand, seemed completely off the movie. She completely lacks the empathy needed for playing Clark’s mom in this movie. It’s weird seeing an actress like Lane doing such bad acting in a movie where Costner kills twice.

Although not as bad as Lane, Michael Shannon is also not that good as the evil Zod. But, then again, it’s hard to pinpoint if is his acting that’s somewhat bad or it’s simply the way Zod is. (Back to the story,) In Krypton, all people are engineered since conception to be something and Zod is engineered to be a military person — the though, in control, military type of person. So, let’s take that to the side and just mention that his lines like he burned his whole tongue with a hot potato are… bleh.

But really, I think Snyder/Nolan/Goyer did an amazing job in finally bringing Superman to a more realistic role, even if most the fights seemed like parts of a high quality video game. Now instead of being the invincible being, the guy that simply was born to save everyone, they put him with a teacher (his father) on how to be good, they put him in a training position… He finally have space to grow up instead of just appearing ready for everything.

Now You See Me

IMDB Plot:

An FBI agent and an Interpol detective track a team of illusionists who pull off bank heists during their performances and reward their audiences with the money.

I’ll try to tone down the spoilers, but I make absolutely no promises.

Let’s start with the disclaimers: I had an idea what this movie was about, but I wasn’t too hyped and didn’t catch anything about it. That alone may be the reason I enjoyed it so much.

Anyway, if you like comparisons, this is basically “Ocean’s Eleven” but with magicians instead of con artists. And I’m using “magicians” in a very lose sense. Sure, one guy is good with cards, but some things are way beyond magic and more in the zone of “CGI”. On the other hand, it gives a sense of “plausibility” to the most absurd things ’cause, hey, it’s magic.

Cast is a hit and miss. Woody Harrelson is still doing his “I’m kinda crazy, kinda sane, but totally sympathetic person” role, although this time he’s the guy who can hypnotize anyone (hey, it’s magic); Jesse Eisenberg is, once again, playing Zuckerberg, although less “distant” and talking faster. Isla Fisher and Dave Franco are… discount big stars. Isla is, basically, looking like Jennifer Lawrence, but louder; and Dave Franco, well, he looks like a discount James Franco — and I don’t know if it was because of that that his role in the movie is really small compared to the others. Mark Ruffalo… I won’t talk about Ruffalo ’cause I think the only role he did well so far was Avengers — and he absolutely doesn’t shine here till the last 20 minutes and only in the first 5 of those.

The big stupid thing in cast was using Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine and Mélaine Laurent. No, not because “oh my god, they suck!” but mostly because it was a complete waste of money.

Caine is deeply underutilized in the movie. Expecting him to deliver a role to make you cry like a little girl just saying “then I failed you and your father”? Nope, not gonna happen. I mean, seriously, they could replace Caine with some discount-old-actor-that-looks-good-in-a-suit and you can remove Caine completely.

Freeman is borderline useless. You can pick any other actor that is able to sound wise and you can replace him, but… yeah, how many actors do you know that can sound wise but just saying random lines of script?

My biggest deception with the cast is Laurent, though. She shines on the screen, she captures your eyes, she steals any scene and, still, she’s there just to provide a romantic counterpart to Ruffalo. Replace her with a guy that just keeps pushing Ruffalo’s skepticism and you’d need very little changes in the script.

But the script and the directing is what really shines in the movie. Really. Again, you have a bunch of magicians stealing things, but when you have a constant theme — and phrasing — of “deception”, you start to look at things in a different way, and you try to figure the plot but it keeps moving faster than you can imagine and after a while you start to ask yourself if the amount of “deception” being thrown around isn’t a deception in itself.

And then you have the final plot twist. Surely, by this time, you probably imagined every possible outcome, every possible twist… and still you’ll not be ready for the end. And even if you’re hinted during the scene, it still twists it further.

I really enjoyed my time this weekend watching this movie. I was laying on the couch while watching it and, to be honest, it’s been awhile since a movie made me get up and sit straight — specially in the end.

Senna (2010)

The usual IMDB Plot:

A documentary on Brazilian Formula One racing driver Ayrton Senna, who won the F1 world championship three times before his death at age 34.

The usual spoiler alert… Wait a freaking second, this is documentary! It’s like asking to not spoil the result of the World War II.

So I finally watched the documentary that, at some point, was said to be the “highest rated documentary on IMDB” (although today it doesn’t even appear in the first page). I reckon it didn’t catch much attention around, as most people are not Formula 1 fans and most people are not Brazilians in their mid twenties or older.

So, let me put this (and specially that last phrase) in context: It was the late 80s, early 90s and Brazil was still recovering from a military dictatorship. Inflation was growing like crazy and the feeling from the general population wasn’t so happy. So there was a great need for a circus (the bread part was a bit harder) and, at this time, this guy, who raced in one of the most expensive racing sports, was considered brilliant by experts and would say he was Brazilian any time he had the chance and displayed the Brazilian flag proudly on every victory and that gave the Brazilian people some hope.

(And people forgot the fact that he came from a very wealthy family — he was the 1%, or even the 0.1% at the time — but remember fondly his Foundation, created to help poor kids, which only existed after he became famous.)

The problem with this documentary is mostly the way it was edited, to give a more “drama!” vision of the events: You have the hero, the rival and the evil.

The hero is, obviously, Ayrton Senna. They show how the people loved him, how impressive his driving was, how he was a bon vivant…You know, the guy you want to be (or have a close friend). In no point, the documentary shows anything negative about him — and, honestly, I think the Brazilian press shielded things like that pretty nicely, as I can’t remember anything bad about him.

The rival is Alain Prost, who Senna had problems since the very beginning of his career. I remember that, recently, someone asked Prost his opinion about the movie and he said that it painted him as the bad guy and I totally agree with his commentary. There is this bad light put over his shoulders in the movie, his driving skills are mentioned hastily and without depth and there is absolutely no word about his personal life. But, again, a good drama needs an antagonist and Prost was used for this. Oh, not only that, but in the very end, when they talk about Senna’s death, Prost is shown helping carry the casket and with distraught face; the bad guy turned to be a good guy in the end. As I said, just so it feels like a real drama movie.

The evil is Jean-Marie Balestre, president of the FIA at the time Senna was racing. The movie goes great lengths to show that Balestre did everything in his power to grant Prost victories over Senna and would take any chance to block the Brazilian progress in the sport. The movie also cleverly does this 2 years after Balestre’s death, so he had to way, as Prost did, to give some words about it. I’ll give the chance of doubt to the filmmakers, as (maybe) Balestre was a total dick (as the movie portraits him) after all, but one has to ask if such thing was really necessary for a documentary.

In the end, it’s a good documentary to remember Senna (if you actually remember seeing him driving) or to get some insight from one of the most known personas in Formula 1. Otherwise, it’s just an average documentary with too much drama and little documentary.

The Avengers (2012)

Hey, look! I’m not dead. Check pulse. Yup, I’m sure, not dead.

As usual in movie reviews, here comes… THE IMDB PLOT!

Nick Fury of S.H.I.E.L.D. brings together a team of super humans to form The Avengers to help save the Earth from Loki and his army.

Spoilers? Spoilers. I mean, for sure this time, I need to spoil this. Also, beware if you’re a Whedon or Marvel fanboy.

Anyway, the easiest way to describe The Avengers is “it is an incredible good sequel, but a very lousy movie by itself.”

What do I mean by that? That the movie is only good because it is based on everything that Marvel did before. If it wasn’t for Iron Man, Iron Man 2, Thor, Captain American and the numerous remakes of Hulk, this movie would suck donkey balls.

Just to show this: If you saw the movie already, answer me this: Who is Hawkeye? No, “the guy who can shoot arrows without even looking at the target” is not the valid answer. Who is Hawkeye? We know that Iron Man/Tony Stark is super genius, incredible egocentric guy from the previous movies (and that he is dating Potts only due his guilt/she’s the only one that cares); we know that Captain America/Steve Rogers is the supreme-good-guy-Greg who is in all about do what’s right form the previous movie; we know Thor is the demigod that cares about Earth due his experience when he was stripped of his powers in the previous movie; we know Black Widow/Natasha Romanoff is the supreme spy and very good at hand-to-hand combat from the previous movies; we know Hulk/Bruce Banner is the super smart guy that can get angry or he turns into an incrontrollable beast from the previous movie. And what do we know about Hawkeye? That he was sitting in a crane on Thor in a very small scene and that’s it. There is absolutely no character development and those were traded with very small “in the previous episode” type of recons.

If someone who never saw Thor (the movie), for example, would that person understand why Thor (the character) cares about Earth? Probably not.

So yeah, it’s a sequel. No matter what anyone says, this is a movie for anyone that saw all the previous Marvel movies.

And for the science, I’m happy that Joss Whedon didn’t ruin this movie too much. Now hold your freaking Firefly[1] fanboyism and listen for a second: The problem with Whedon is that he’s a nerd. The same way I could bore you to dead discussing some intrinsic property of some programming language, he could probably do the same about comic books. It’s too much for anyone that only wants to learn a programming language or read a comic book. But, again, we both hold ourselves and the movie is saved, which a few exceptions in the screenplay — which is also partially credited to Whedon.

I won’t discuss acting of everyone ’cause, as I said, the characters are pretty much the same you saw before. We don’t need to talk how Scarlett Johansson makes a mysterious but well trained assassin/spy ’cause she’s just redoing the same thing she did in Iron Man 2; or how Robert Downey Jr does a good job being the playboy, narcissistic, super-smart guy ’cause he’s just replaying the same guy he did in two movies.

But we have Mark Ruffalo doing Hulk, a job that was done before by Andrew Norton and Eric Bana. I think he does a good job being the “I… must… control… myself… must… not… get… angry…” type of guy but his physique is a bit… off. The Banner/Hulk relationship is similar to Steve Rogers/Captain America, with the “return to previous state” clause: The thin, weak guy vs the bulging, strong guy. But Ruffalo is already a good-sized guy, which feels… out of place. Nothing that ruins the story, though.

Heck, compare the way Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno in the very old “The Incredible Hulk” series. Sure, both actors have different sizes and there was some camera tricks to enforce this difference, but it worked: The Hulk was huge and Bruce was tiny.

Even if he’s doing the same job he did in Thor, one must point the incredible work of Tom Hiddleston being Loki. I mean, really. What this guy did with the character is the same thing Brent Spinner did for Lieutenant Data in Star Trek: The Next Generation: There is no actor, only the character. The movie could pretty much put “Loki as himself” in the credits and it would still be accurate. A few maniacal laughs missing, but still pretty good character portrait.

I can’t really say anything about Jeremy Renner. I really like the guy, I usually enjoy the way he acts and the type of character he portraits but, again, we are stuck in the question: Who is Hawkeye?

Story wise, there are so many plot holes as created by the number of explosions in the movie. First and foremost, Who the fuck is Hawkeye? Maria Hill also don’t have any character development, but she’s always in the sidelines and never in the center of the screen. But Hawkeye? Oh, come on! And, most glaring, is the fact that Loki is captured because he did want access to the Hulk. Only that he never ever gets near him (Hulk gets near Loki, though, and that’s completely different). It’s never said why Loki wants to get the Hulk as the Hulk never contributes to his plan or against it — Loki doesn’t need Hulk gamma-saturated body parts and the Hulk doesn’t have the power to simply stop Loki, and one sees clearly that Loki doesn’t fear the Hulk later on. Wanna a plot this? Loki wants to use the power of the Stark Tower, but change that to the generator in Tony Stark chest and BLAM! Tony Stark is the monster! OH SHIT! Except that don’t. And if Bruce Banner is always angry and can sort-of control the Hulk, why he goes apeshit on Black Widow if one can clearly see that he’s pissed with S.H.I.E.L.D. — Nick Fury specially — in the discussion? Tony Stark gets annoyed with the idea of losing Coulson (told you, spoilers), walks away when Fury talks about it, gets angry with Cap when they talk about it and, still, nothing really changes. He doesn’t break. He doesn’t bulk up. He shows to be the most affected by Coulson dead and, still, he doesn’t give a fuck? The fuck! And goddammit Whedon, if you want to show semi naked, long legs girl, why the fuck Gwyneth Paltrow? Geebuz!

And then we have the combos. I mean, for anyone who played Marvel Ultimate Alliance — both games — know that this is a big thing: Heroes combine their powers for even stronger attacks! And you keep expecting those to happen, which twice in the movie, in one symmetrical distance between start and end and never used again. Cap, Thor and Iron Man find out an incredible powerful combination that can really destroy lots around them but, when cornered, they go by themselves instead of using this knowledge. Earth Mightiest Heroes, but not smartest, for sure.

The movie is good but only because it stands on the shoulders of its predecessors. Story-wise it’s full of cracks and, if it wasn’t for the previous titles, this would be on par with any Michael Bay movie — or even below them.

[1] And Andromeda was way superior than Firefly, ’cause they had Kevin Sorbo and the series was still kick ass.

Edit: Ok, two things I realized after I posted this:

  1. The implied relationship between Black Widow and Hawkeye is only there exactly because they gave zero fucks about his character development. It was added ’cause you already know Black Widow, you care about Black Widow and, thus, with said relationship, you now care about Hawkeye by proxy.
  2. Let’s take a step back and look at “Loki needs Hulk” thingy: Let’s say that the plan was really to blow up the Helicarrier. You can kinda make this by seeing that Banner picks the scepter and that the whole discussion was actually Loki manipulating everyone in the most perfect timing in history. And then nobody realizes it was actually some mind manipulation going on, including the two most brilliant minds in the Marvel universe?

You May Have Talent, But You’re Not an Underdog

There is yet another video floating around about a kid in some “Got Talent”-like show, telling his sad history and then singing in some ok fashion.

Now you must be asking yourself “What video is this?” and that’s the core of the point I’m trying to make: Every single “Got Talent” video that hits the web is about some kid, man or woman who had some hard time in their lives and then got a chance at the show. Sure, there is the eventual “person who sings/dances/talks incredible bad it’s too funny to pass away”, but the great majority is the underdog who finally got their chance.

So this kid from a middle class family, who managed to get some guitar/singing lessons from time to time, managed to have his time to practice and such, learnt the tricks of trade, created a band with some friends, practices every weekend… well, sorry for you, you don’t “Got Talent” ’cause you’re not an underdog.

Kinda reminds me of those “Reality TV” shows where people are invited and they have to do some crazy shit. I mean, what’s the reality when you have to stay standing for 12+ hours non-stop? Do you stay 12+ standing non-stop at your house, by any chance?

Who’s the best captain?

It’s been some time I’m trying to find the perfect timing for a Star Trek post and it seems the celebration of 45 years since the first episode makes it a perfect time for it.

Before I go, I think it’s better to tell you what are my expectations in the Star Trek universe. When Gene Ronddenberry created Star Trek, his plan was to make a series showing that, in the future, humanity would always solve things going the higher ground. The captain of the most important human ship, thus, most embody those qualities.

So, in order from worst to best:

Benjamin Sisko (Deep Space 9)

Deep Spacers forgive me, but Sisko was the worst captain the Federation could get, even if you compare him to Jellico. Maybe Sisko wasn’t a bad captain before he took the helm of Deep Space 9, but after the very first episode, he turned into the reluctant captain: He didn’t want to be the captain of Deep Space 9 and couldn’t get into terms with the loss of his wife — and he didn’t for the whole series.

Not only that, but he did slip every single thing for what the Federation stands for: He accepted, with no regret, about people doing wrong things under his nose (won’t spoil, but it involves Garak and the 19th episode of the 6th season) and used his position of “Emissary” to manipulate a whole system. His actions may had saved the station and brought peace to the region, but it was still wrong. For a series that tried to show the best of the human race, Sisko shown the worse.

Kathryn Janeway (Voyager)

Janeway wasn’t bad per se, she was in a very thought and dark situation — honestly, the darkest of all series: In the other side of the universe, with no hope of getting home in a lifetime… If that wasn’t dark enough, their ship was slowly falling apart, replicators falling and the biological memory slowly going out. Everyone mentions “Janeway slow decent into madness”, but I never noticed that. She does start lacking control of her ship due a fall into depression (in one episode, she isolates herself completely from the rest of the crew), which should probably be diagnosed before she was given the big chair.

Jonathan Archer (Enterprise)

Archer had a hard time in front of him: The Federation and all the prime directives didn’t exist yet and his Enterprise (the one without the NCC-1701 prefix) was the first big human warp ship. No rules, no role-model… Archer was fated to fail. But thing is, he didn’t.

In all the crazinest that happened, he had to deal with the fact that he was, at the same, responsible for exploring the universe, trying to make new alliances and the captain of the biggest space weapon Earth had. In one episode, knowing Earth would be under attack, he tried to reach Earth, but the dilithium crystal was completely drained. On the way, only with impulse engines, they find a merchant ship and ask if they are willing to trade their dilithium crystal for supplies, which the merchant says no. After exploring all the possible options, Archer decides, showing a complete regret on his decision, to steal the other ship dilithium crystal (leaving behind enough supplies for the merchant ship to complete its route, promising his crew that he’ll come back and help that ship once Earth is saved). That puts Archer way above the others, simply ’cause he sees and regrets doing what’s wrong.

James T. Kirk (The Original Series)

Kirk didn’t had a soul of a captain: deep down, Kirk was an adventurer. Being a captain only gave him the perfect tool to go into the greatest adventures a man could be part of. He also knew that he would have to play by the rules, so he does. The fact that he doesn’t like to lose is also the reason he follows such rules (’cause he knows he would lose his ship and had to give up his adventures). Also, following the rules made things hard, which only made the things more exciting.

Surely, he had the greatest crew ever: Bones and Spock played two sides of a conscience (the emotional side and the logical side) and Kirk played the judge of those two. But, deep down, Kirk knew the rules and had a conscience (even if it was only strong enough to hear Bones).

Jean-Luc Picard (The Next Generation)

For the Federation standards and rules, Picard was the perfect captain. He followed rules, he had conscience to do the greater good (even against the rules), he had absolute control of his ship and crew (without a strong hand, like Jellico) and, most importantly, he took the job of being a captain seriously. He did not take vacations ’cause he knew there was a job to be done and he was in the position to do so.

Contrary to Kirk, Picard didn’t need the “conscience personifications” walking around him to remind him of logic and morals: He had that in himself.

And, for being the “better human” Roddenberry expected in his series, and having a soul of a captain, Picard is the better captain.

Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

IMDB Plot:

After being deemed unfit for military service, Steve Rogers volunteers for a top secret research project that turns him into Captain America, a superhero dedicated to defending America’s ideals.

For anyone that knew me after my teen years, it may be hard to imagine that I could relate to the pre-Captain Steve Rogers: I was thin as a stick and I really wanted to have a nice body (although I never planed fighting for America). And I watched the “unanimated series” from the 60s cartoon — and that’s my only experience — and expectation — for this movie.

Now, before anything else, one thing I worried about was “Is this a movie for Americans?” In an interview, Chris Evans said that the movie could be renamed “Captain Nice Guy” and still work, but it’s kinda hard to believe he would say something that would ruin the box-office worldwide. But the real question is not if “Captain America is ‘America, FUCK YEAH!'” but if the movie is made for Americans — somewhat, bad memories of the first Spider-Man with those bad lines like “You mess with Spidey, you mess with New York” “You mess with one of us, you mess with us all” (completely ignoring the fact that the Green Goblin was also a New Yorker, herp derp) and Spider sitting in a pole with a huge American flag for no good reason (actually, I know why they put those things there, but still!). Anyway, no, the movie is not tailor made for Americans: The cast is diverse enough, as the Allies were in the World War II. Sure, Captain America leads the story, but you have the German scientist who made Cap a possibility, the British intelligence officer and the “Howling Commands” (which are never given a name in the movie) which have British and French army guys — and never ever in the movie is mentioned how “America will win this war”. So that line of “America ideal’s” on IMDB plot is, once again, pure bullshit: It’s more “the Allies ideal’s”.

The script is on par with the other super-hero movies from the Avengers series: Good, but not “Batman Begins” level. In a way, they finally started to use the big story arc they are building for Avengers, putting hits on the future of the series there and there. Fortunately, they still manage to add character building long enough so we care about Steve Rogers enough to now want him to die in the next movie. Sure, sure, there are plot holes, but they don’t mess with the general story — even if the Hydra agents seem to have taken shooting lessons with the Storm Troopers: “Hey, look, it’s the main character and the guy that it’s kicking everybody asses here! Let’s shoot two miles over his shoulder, that should stop him!”.

Acting is mostly good. I was surprised how Chris Evans managed to make a believable “nice guy” character. Hayley Atwell makes a good (mutual) love interest for Cap, although I couldn’t really listen to her British accent. Do I need to go and say anything about Tommy Lee Jones acting as a military officer? I don’t think so. The only downside is, weirdly as it seems, Hugo Weaving as the villain. I mean, we saw him being a maniacal, ruthless villain with a big ego who thinks he can take over the whole world — and that can be said about Red Skull too. But I guess he was so worried about not doing another Agent Smith that he toned Red Skull down a bit too much, to the point that it seems, deep down, he’s not sure he can take over the world — or that he really is better than any other human. Again, another Agent Smith would work for Red Skull, but I have this feeling Hugo toned things down to not be compared to his own character.

One thing to note about the movie is the end credits. I mean, the pre-“rolling text” credits, when they put the main people names before everyone else: The did a nice mix up of American pro-war posters that, although it’s American, they are also some piece of history. Also, there is, as usual, a post-“rolling text” “more story”, but it’s not that awesome. It’s just the teaser for The Avengers but you know how teasers are. In short, not really worth staying 10 more minutes in the theater just to watch it. Wait a few days and watch it in HD on YouTube.

Overall, Captain American is really entertaining and worth watching, as much as any Iron Man or Thor movie is worth watching.

Tron: Legacy (2010)

IMDB Plot:

A virtual-world worker looks to take down the Master Control Program.

Spoilers alert: There may be some minor spoilers. I’ll try hard to hold myself to only say things that you probably saw in the trailer but some stuff may spill into this review.

Let’s step back from that horrible, horrible description from IMDB and put it straight: 28 years after Kevin Flynn steps inside a mainframe and saw other programs as human beings, it’s Kevin’s son, Sam, to step in. You know that by the trailer.

So, let’s review this movie this way:

First, this is a sequel. How does it fit in the previous story? Disney said that, to understand “Tron: Legacy” you don’t need to know the story behind the original “Tron”. That’s kinda true, the story of this new movie is self-contained and the points you know to follow this story are given in the plot. Obviously, knowing the original movie actually helps, but, as Disney said, it’s not required.

Second, is it as groundbreaking as the original Tron? The answer is no. Let’s be honest: The original Tron had amazing 15 minutes of computer generated story and, today, we have whole movies made completely by computers (and Pixar makes a huge profit with them). And the background with bright blue/orange/red layout is everywhere, from our nightstand clocks to the display on our cars. But it doesn’t ruin the story that the original Tron universe is here and now, in the real universe; the virtual universe of Tron was expanded, improved over the original one with current day’s changes. Think about it as what J.J.Abrams did to the Star Trek universe.

Since we are talking about the story, let me say that I’ve been hearing Daft Punk soundtrack for the movie for about two weeks already and I couldn’t stop the goosebumps from “The Grid” music playing in the first minutes of the movie. And, to prove the point of real/updated world, they mixed it in a very nice way, right out of the bat.

Acting is pretty good, even for the virtual Jeff Bridges. The newcomer Garrett Hedlund, which I can’t remember seeing in any other movies (although he did some and I’m the first to admit that not seeing him is completely my fault) is also pretty good and saying Olivia Wilde is a good actress would be silly, as we know her from the two seasons of House.

Speaking of Olivia Wilde, it’s kinda weird seeing her play Quorra as a naive program compared to the strong Thirteen from House. On the other hand, her look in this movie and her sexy, sexy voice is really nice. And no, it’s a Disney movie, so no skin. Not from her, not from any other female cast. Which is kinda sad, when you think that Olivia Wilde and Beau Garret in the cast.

Also, I need to talk about Jeff Bridges acting, playing a young and an old version of himself (actually, the Flynn guy he played in the previous movie). There is a point on an actors career that he simply masters the art of acting (except for Gwyneth Paltrow). So he masterfully plays an angry version and a zen version of the old character without a flaw, including the use of slangs that someone would consider part of history which, actually, are, in the story.

The CGI is on par with the current movies. There is nothing to add about that and there is nothing so absurdly amazing that you haven’t seen in other movies. Yes, that includes the young Flynn played by the now old Jeff Bridges (which, again, you saw in the trailer). We saw what can be done in Avatar, so it was no surprise they could do that to living actors. And you wouldn’t expect something subpar from a company as big as Disney, would you?

On a side note about the CGI, I went to see the 3D version of it, on the cinema and, honestly, it’s not worth the extra buck for it. There are about a couple of places where the 3D pops up but, mostly, it’s just to point that actor 1 is in front of actor 2, which is completely unnecessary and not worth the headache. Also, if you get the 3D version and get the subtitles, I really hope they don’t do what they did here: The subtitles where in the same plane, in the same place, all the time, even when something behind them should be in the front. Headache galore.

Unfortunately, not everything is perfect in this movie (but, again, not everything was perfect in the original anyway). The kernel of the plot is weak, to say the least (so weak that I couldn’t figure out what was the problem — or the solution, in the cast — even after the movie ended). The lack of skin makes really a kiddie movie and doesn’t explore some more subtle things like what would happen in a relationship between a human and a program (and the original had only a program-on-a-program action). Daft Punk soundtrack is awesome but extremely overused and gets tiring right in the end of the movie. The big plot twist is not so big and you can figure it out waaaay before it is exposed. And a good easter-egg for after the credits isn’t shown.

Overall, it’s good movie and expands the original universe nicely, although with an “ok” script (not nice, not “WHOA”, just ok).

And, in the end, I couldn’t stop thinking “Man, that would be an awesome game…”

Kick-Ass (2010)

IMDB Plot:

Dave Lizewski is an unnoticed high school student and comic book fan who one day decides to become a super-hero, even though he has no powers, training or meaningful reason to do so.

My standard warning: there may be spoilers.

My non-standard warning: Before watching the movie, I read the comics. So I may spoil the movie and the comics.

For one thing, when I thought about this, I thought about Frank Miller, author of the “deconstructing heroes” comic “Watchmen” but alas, not the same person (and their lastnames are not even written the same way!)

But, in a way, “Kick-Ass” is also a “deconstructing heroes” comic/movie, in the sense of “what is a hero?” (while “Watchmen” is a “What makes a hero?”) So it goes hand-to-hand with Watchmen.

The plot was substantially changed from the comic to the movie (although the main plot is still there.) Some things for good, some for bad. For example, in the book, the relationship between Dave and his father is explored further, to point where you notice that he actually cares about him; in the movie, this is barely touched which makes Dave’s decision to help others somewhat strange. On the other hand, the douchery that Hit Girl and Big Daddy are in the comic are completely removed to the point that you actually care about them.

Aaron Johnson as Kick-Ass/Dave works. And that’s all I can say about it: Not a surprising acting, but also not bad. Chloe Moretz is weird, but what could you expect from a 13 year old girl that says “cunts”? Nicolas Cage is so and so, with some good moments and some “meh” moments. Mark Strong, playing the bad guy, really shines. I mean, really. Think Alan Rickman in “Die Hard” shinning. And Christopher Mintz-Plasse, as the bad guy’s son is… well, Christopher Mintz-Plasse: The guy never gets a chance to play anything else, always the small, puny kid that nobody cares.

Editing is strange, when compared with the comic: The linearity that the comic offers is completely broken here. Or maybe I felt it was broken because I knew the comic.

One thing that I was playing attention this time and that usually doesn’t happen is the soundtrack: Really, I usually don’t pay too much attention to it (unless the soundtrack is part of the movie — which is not the case here) but it really shines. It have the perfect combination of upbeat, seriousness and comic when appropriate.

All in all, I’d say: Stay away from the comic till you see the movie; then read the comic.

“Top Rated” Playlist

Here is my “Top Rated” playlist on my iPod. Just to give you some background: I sync my iPod play count with my iTunes and use AutoRate to rate the songs. You can’t see that in the latest version, but AutoRate uses play count, skip count, last time played and a decay to rate your songs (I haven’t checked the algorithm itself, even being an open source project.)

Anyway, the list:

  • 009 Sound System – Dreamscape Long Edit (Annex Trax, Vol I)
  • Alanis Morissette – Thank You (Alanis Morissete: The Collection)
  • Annie Lennox – Walking on Broken Glass (Diva)
  • Arena – Tears in the Rain (The Visitor)
  • Avanatsia – Lost in Space (Lost in Space Part 2 – Avantasia)
  • Avantasia – Farewell (The Metal Opera)
  • Avantasia – I Don’t Believe in Your Love (The Scarecrow)
  • Avantasia – Lost in Space (Lost in Space Part 1 – Avantasia)
  • Avantasia – Lost in Space (The Scarecrow)
  • Avantasia – Sign of the Cross (The Metal Opera)
  • Avantasia – The Looking Glass (The Metal Opera, Part II)
  • Avantasia – The Scarecrow (The Scarecrow)
  • Avantasia – The Story Ain’t Over (Lost in Space Part 1 – Avantasia)
  • Ayreon – Act III “Visual Echos” (The Final Experiment)
  • Ayreon – Computer Eyes (Actual Fantasy)
  • Ayreon – Connect the Dots (01011001)
  • Ayreon – Day Five: Voices (The Human Equation (disc 1))
  • Ayreon – Day One: Vigil (The Human Equation (disc 1))
  • Ayreon – Day Seven: Hope (The Human Equation (disc 1))
  • Ayreon – Temple of the Cat (Universaion Migration, Part I)
  • Ayreon – Tower of Hope (Into the Electric Castle (disc 2))
  • Ayreon vs Avantasia – Elected (Elected EP)
  • Carol Woods & Timoty T. Mitchel – Let It Be (Across the Universe)
  • CCP: Jon Hallur – Akat Montains
  • CCP: Jon Hallur – Retribution
  • Cohed & Cambria – Welcome Home (Good Apollo I’m Burning Star IV)
  • Conjure One – Dying Light feat. Joanna Stevens (Extraordinary Ways)
  • Conjure One – Sleep feat. Maire Claude D’Ubaldo (Conjure One)
  • Crowded House – Fall at Your Feet (Recurring Dream: The Very Best of Crowded House)
  • Cyndi Lauper – All Through the Night With Shaggy (The Body Acoustic)
  • Cyndi Lauper – Time After Time (She’s So Unusual)
  • Daft Punk – Burning / Too Long (Alive 2007 (Live))
  • Daft Punk – Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger (Discovery)
  • Daft Punk – Human / Together / One More Time (Alive 2007 (Live))
  • Daft Punk – Prime Time of Your Life / Brainwasher (Alive 2007 (Live))
  • Daft Punk – Television Rules the Nation / Crescendolls (Alive 2007 (Live))
  • Daft Punk – Too Long / Steam Machine (Alive 2007 (Live))
  • Daft Punk – Touch It / Technologic (Alive 2007 (Live))
  • Def Leppard – Animal (Hysteria)
  • Def Leppard – Go (Songs from the Sparkle Lounge)
  • Def Leppard – Heaven Is (Adrenalize)
  • Def Leppard – Promises (Promises)
  • Def Leppard – Stand Up [Kick Love Into Motion] (Adrenalize)
  • Def Leppard – Thorn To Shreds (X)
  • Def Leppard – Tomorrow (Song from the Sparkle Lounge)
  • Def Leppard – YOu’re So Beautiful (X)
  • Edguy – King of Fools (King of Fools)
  • Edguy – Matrix (Rocket Ride)
  • Edguy – Navigator (Hellfire Club)
  • Explosions in the Sky – Your Hand in Mine
  • Garry Schyman – Praan (Praan)
  • General Public – Tenderness (On the Charts: I.R.S. Records)
  • George Harrison – I got My Mind Set On Your (12 Arnold Grove)
  • Information Society – Ozar Midrashim (Don’t Be Afraid)
  • Information Society – Peave & Love, Inc (Peace and Love, Inc)
  • Information Society – Seek300 2.1 (Don’t Be Afraid)
  • Information Society – Synthesizer (Synthesizer)
  • Information Society – The Seeds of Pain (Synthesizer)
  • Information Society – To Be Free (Peace and Love, Inc)
  • Jim’s Big Ego – Cut Off Your Head (The’re Everywhere!)
  • Jim’s Big Ego – No Better Than You (The’re Everywhere!)
  • Jim’s Big Ego – The Ballad of Barry Allen (They’re Everywhere!)
  • LazyTown – You’re A Pirate
  • Men At Work – Down Under (The Best of Men at Work: Contraband)
  • Michael Schenker Group – Diggin’ Hard (Sltlife Reveries)
  • Midnight Oil – Beds are Burning (Diesel and Dust)
  • Monty Python – Comfy Chair (The Final Rip Off)
  • Monty Python – Constitutional Peasant (The Final Rip Off)
  • Monty Python – Election Special (The Final Rip Off)
  • Monty Python – I Bet You They Won’t Play This Song on the Radio (The Final Rip Off)
  • Monty Python – Interlude 2 (The Final Rip Off)
  • Monty Python – Interlude (The Final Rip Off)
  • Monty Python – I’ve Got Two Legs (Monty Python Sings)
  • Monty Python – Parrot [Oh, Not Again] (The Final Rip Off)
  • Monty Python – The Knights of the Round Table (Monty Python Sings)
  • Parn – Gradius Perfect Selection (OC Remix)
  • Phil Collins – In the Air Tonight (Phil Collins: Hits)
  • Pink Floyd – Coming Back to Life (The Division Bell)
  • Pink Floyd – Goodbye Cruel World (The Wall, disc, 1)
  • Pink Floyd – High Hopes (Pulse, disc 1)
  • Pink Floyd – Learning To Fly (Pulse, disc 1)
  • Pink Floyd – On The Run (Pulse, disc 2)
  • Pink Floyd – On The Turning Away (A Momentary Laps of Reason)
  • Rush – Afterimage (Grace Under Pressure)
  • Rush – Bravado (Roll the Bones)
  • Rush – Hope (Snakes & Arrows)
  • Rush – Limelight (Moving Pictures)
  • Rush – Resist (Test for Echo)
  • Rush – Roll the Bones (Roll the Bones)
  • Rush – Sweet Miracle (Vapor Trails)
  • Rush – Time Stand Still (Hold Your Fire)
  • Spock’s Beard – The Good Don’t Last [Radio Edit] (The Kindness of Strangers)
  • Tenacious D – Beelzeboss [The Final Showdown] (The Pick Of Destiny)
  • Tenacious D – Classico (The Pick Of Destiny)
  • Tenacious D – Destiny (The Pick Of Destiny)
  • Tenacious D – Kickapoo (The Pick Of Destiny)
  • Tenacious D – POD (The Pick Of Destiny)
  • The Galvatrons – When We Were Kids (When We Were Kids – EP)
  • TISM – Everyone Else Has Had More Sex Than Me (The White Album)
  • Yes – Amazing Grace (YesYears)
  • Yes – Arriving UFO (Tomato [Remastered – 2004])
  • Yes – I Would Have Waited Forever (Union)
  • Yes – Love Will Find a Way (YesYears)
  • Yes – Saving My Heart (Union)