Planet Hulk, American (animated) Movie (2010)

The wealth of storylines Marvel comics has created, is almost infinite. A lot of the more popular ones, are finding their way to the big screen, in the form of blockbuster superhero movies. We all know how succesful these movies have become the past few years. But Marvel has also been releasing a lot of straight to dvd animated features. Some of these are just downright awful, and obviously an attempt to make a quick buck. However, luckily there are also a few of these that are a genuine surprise and Planet Hulk is one of those.

Adapted from the comic book of the same name, it tells the story of Hulks exile from planet Earth. As the heroes of Earth fear the destruction and chaos the green giant causes, they have put him on a spaceship on a direct course for a distant and uninhabited planet. The plan goes wrong however and Hulk crashlands on a planet under the rule of the evil Red King. Soon, our green friend gets captured and is forced to fight in an arena, for the entertainment of the population and the Red King. There, he meets a group of diverse characters who are trying to undermine the King, and win their freedom. Will Hulk choose their side, or is he truly the monster so many people think he is ?

I really enjoyed this animated film. The animation, though not amazing, works for this movie, and it features a couple of great arena fights, in which the emerald hero is doing what he does best: Smash! Another thing worth of note is the voice acting. None of the actors in this movie are well known, but they truly deliver some great performances. Having not read the comic, i can’t tell if this movie stays true to the source material. However storywise, especially for a movie such as this, it contained an entertaining script, and Hulk fans will definitely enjoy it.

All in all if you are a Marvel comic book fan, or like superhero movies in general, this is definitely worth checking out. It really is one of the better Marvel animated features out there, and serves up an hour and a half of mindless fun.

I give this movie an 8 out of 10 score.

Banshee Season 3, American tv series (2015)

Some things in life are just guilty pleasures. The American tv series Banshee is one of those. Yes, it contains a lot of sex and a lot of violence, but oh my, this is so incredibly good. For those of you that have never heard of the show let me tell you what this is all about. Banshee tells the story of criminal Lucas Hood, who has just been released from prison. Travelling to the small town of Banshee, he assumes the identity of a murdered sheriff. Lucas, with a band of colourful friends, continues his crime spree, right under the noses of the local police. However, eventually Lucas learns that some sins can’t be outrun, and his past catches up with him. Soon the town erupts  in violence…..

Now Banshee has always been a terrific show. It contains brutal violence, but because it is sometimes so incredibly over the top, it almost feels like you are watching a comic book. However season 3 takes things to an entirely different level. Following the events of season 2, Lucas Hood faces his most dangerous enemy yet. Right from the very first episode this season kicks off into high gear and doesn’t let go until the season finale. Every episode this season has been a thrill ride and it is hard to even name an event that stands out at all. However i am going to name one: and that is the fight in Episode 3 between Indian girl Nola Longshadow and the brutal enforcer Burton.

Now i have seen a lot of fights in a lot of different shows. But this one has to take first place in the rankings of alltime greatest fights ever made for television. Ofcourse i am not going to tell the outcome, but trust me when i say that this will leave you gasping for breath. As for the rest of the season, there are some truly shocking moments, and we also get to know a lot more about the past of some of the characters.

Performances in this season are absolutely top notch, and as always it is Job who is the one who provides the best one liners. To say that this is the best season of Banshee so far is putting it mildly. It outclasses the other already very impressive seasons by so many miles, it is almost as if the writers have been ignited with a high octane mixture of liquid nitrogen. Unfortunately i have only one more season to watch and then the series meets it’s end. I have no idea if season 4 will also be this impressive, it is almost hard to believe, but i am definitely looking forward to it all the same.

I give this season of Banshee a 10 out of 10 score.

Independence Day: Resurgence, American Movie (2016)

Yes, it is summer blockbuster time, and you know what to expect during that season. Usually a number of sequels, and movies containing lots of special effects, and almost no story. And that ofcourse is not always a bad thing, since movies like that are set out to entertain and thrill you, while you are eating your popcorn.

Twenty years ago director Roland Emmerich brought us Independence Day, a movie that became an instant hit with audiences all over the world. It’s combination of special effects, likeable characters and a lot of humour proved to be a very succesful formula. Now, this year, we get the sequel and the question is : is it every bit as good as the original, or maybe even better? Unfortunately the answer to that question is no.

The story of the movie takes place 20 years after the original. The world is completely at peace and mankind has developed new weapon systems with the Alien technology left behind. As the world prepares for a big celebration honouring the original heroes of the war, it is this exact moment that the Aliens return with an enormous ship to conquer the world and finish the mission they started 20 years ago. Mankind fights back valiantly, but it seems that despite their new weapons they are no match for the Aliens. It is time for the old heroes working together with a bunch of new ones, to try and turn the tide around…that is easier said than done though….

Independence Day: Resurgence starts big, with an impressive sequence of the Aliens arriving to take over the world. The special effects, using todays technology are ofcourse better than the original. The Aliens have undergone the biggest improvement, looking more fearsome and more evil than in the 1996 movie. Almost the entire old cast of actors returns for this movie, except for Will Smith. They are joined by a couple of new characters, and it is in this department that the movie falls short. The new cast of characters, spearheaded by actor Liam Hemsworth, just isn’t that interesting. And the humour that worked so well in the first movie is almost totally lacking in this one.

What we are left with is a movie that, although impressive at times, just does not have a heart. Ofcourse there are some very cool action sequences and special effects, but the human element is sadly absent. It is because of this that the movie truly falls short of the original. That being said, there is still enough to enjoy, and make a trip to the cinema worth your money, as long as you keep your expectations low.

I give this movie a 7 out of 10 score.

JeruZalem, Israelian movie (2015)

In the horrorfilm genre the found footage film is hugely popular. Ever since the Blair Witch Project, there have been numerous movies that have made their appearance in this subgenre. There are a lot of traits these movies have in common. Almost all of them are made for an extremely low budget and feature a shaky camera to simulate the fact that the lead character of the movie made the footage.

I myself quite like these movies, and have managed to see  a lot of them. Unfortunately, as with all movies, there are quite a few of them that just try to hop on the bandwagon so to speak, and are pretty horrible. JeruZalem doesn’t fall in this last category, but falls a little in between. It is not a bad movie, especially not for people who like movies such as these, but it isn’t great either.

JeruZalem does try to do some new things at least and that is refreshing. The main character, Sarah, wears a Google Glass so we see the world through her eyes, and that works really well. Because of the Google Glass we get a found footage movie that has pretty clear imagery, something that usually doesn’t happen because of the shaky cam so often used.

Sarah travels with her friend Rachel to Israel, in order to spend a vacation in Tel Aviv. On the plane travelling towards their destination, they meet up with young Indiana Jones wannabe Kevin, who eventually persuades them to travel to Jeruzalem with him. Once there, things soon start to spiral out of control. One night the army starts to attack unknown targets and the city is thrown in a state of panic. Sarah and Rachel are caught up in between, and it soon becomes clear that they have landed in the middle of a nightmare. Fiendish creatures have taken root in Jeruzalem, and the end times are near……

Now as i said this movie isn’t half bad. The setting in Jeruzalem itself is pretty unique and makes for some nice pictures. Some of the creatures are made pretty well and are downright scary. However for a horrormovie, there is little real horror or fright. Most of the movie we spent time running from the creatures and the constant screaming once they are going down into the tunnels under the city, truly begins to grate on your nerves.

In the end, what is left is best described as a low budget version of Cloverfield. If you like found footage films, this might be worth checking out, as there are definitely worse movies out there.

I give this movie a 6 out of 10 score.

I Swan, Chinese movie (2012)

I Swan tells the heartwarming story of Holly. Holly is a young girl who has lost her mother in a tragic car accident. After the death of her mother, she stops speaking altogether. Holly at first lives with her grandparents, because her father works at a nature reserve, far from civilisation. In the end though her father decides it is best to bring Holly with him, and to try to make her come alive again. At first everything stays the same, Holly continues to stay silent, and her father becomes desperate.

Then one day, things change. Holly stumbles across a swan who is wounded and trapped in netting laid out by poachers. She frees the swan, and eventually takes him home to recover. Naming him Snowflake, Holly begins to find the will to live again, because of taking care of the swan. She regains her voice, and is beginning to bond again with her father. However, the poachers aren’t far behind, and will stop at nothing to recover the swan…

I Swan is obviously intended for a young audience, but can be enjoyed by anyone who likes feelgood movies. One thing that definitely stands out in this movie is the beautifull cinematography. The nature reserve is captured in all it’s glory and accompanied by the wonderfull score by composer Xu Xiangrong, that alone is a reason to watch this movie. Another thing that impressed me was the animaltraining in this movie. I can’t imagine it being an easy feat to tame a swan, and to have it act besides a young girl.

Now as for the story, it is well written, but not full of surprises. Most of the things that happen in this movie, you can see coming from miles away. But one takes that for granted, as the performances in the movie are spot on, and it is truly hard not to like this movie. This is one of those movies that i think is best watched during Christmas time, where it will definitely warm your heart.

I give this movie a 7 out of 10 score.

The Pirates, Korean movie (2014)

To say that The Pirates is Korea’s answer to Pirates of the Caribbean, is to truly sell this film short. Yes there are Pirates in this movie, and yes there is also a lot of humor in this one, but that is where the similarities end. Above all, this is just one heck of a fun adventure movie, that has a great story and some fantastic over the top characters that you will fall in love with.

The Pirates takes place during the 14th century. The imperial seal of the Emperor has been stolen, or at least that is what is being told at first. In reality the seal has been swallowed up by a giant whale. The Emperor orders the seal to be recovered, whatever the cost. An enormous reward is being offered and because of that it also attracts the attention of a lot of gangs of thieves and pirates. The hunt for the whale is opened…but not without it’s consequences.

If there is one word with which to describe this movie, it is fun. I think almost the entire cast of this movie had an absolute blast while shooting this picture. Keyong-yeong Lee (who now seems to appear in nearly every Korean movie i see these days, since having seen the drama series D-day), plays a fantastic role as the evil pirate So-ma. But his two opponents, the beautifull but deadly Yeo-wol (played by Ye-Jin Son)and the rogue Jang Sa-Jung (played by Nam-Gil Kim) also are two absolutely terrific characters.

Another thing worth mentioning are the outstanding special effects. The ships used in the movie look truly realistic, but the star in this movie has to be the gigantic whale, which is brought to life by computer, but that is truly hard to tell. And then there is the humor, which absolutely works in this movie. There have been some Korean movies in which that was an element that was just truly cringeworthy, but here i really had some scenes that had me bursting out with laughter.

This movie was a very pleasant surprise and i absolutely enjoyed this movie from start to finish. If you love pirate or adventure movies in general, you can’t go wrong with this one.

I give this movie a 9 out of 10 score.

Odd Thomas, American Movie (2013)

Yesterday the movieworld was shocked by the death of yet another young and promising actor: Anton Yelchin. He was only 27 years of age. In his young life he had already starred in a number of big budget Hollywood Blockbusters, such as Terminator Salvation and the new J.J.Abrams Star Trek reboot movies. The newest Star Trek movie, Star trek:Beyond will be released next month, in which he will reprise his role as Chekov, sadly for the last time. But Anton did not only play roles in blockbusters,he also starred in several arthouse movies. He was widely praised and one just can’t help but wonder what kind of greatness he could have achieved, if he did not lose his life in such a bizarre accident. One thing is for sure, he will be sorely missed.

The movie i am about to review,Odd Thomas, in which Yelchin is playing the lead i strangely saw on saturday, one day before i received the news of his death. Odd Thomas is based on the novel by Dean Koontz. Having not read the novel i don’t know how faithfull this adaptation is, but what i do know is that i loved this movie from start to finish. Anton plays the role of Odd Thomas (yes his character truly has that name), a young man who at first glance just looks like any ordinary guy. Thomas has a secret however: he has the ability to talk to people who have been murdered and in this way he solves the most horrifying crimes. When one day a bunch of evil spirits enter his small town, it is the prelude and omen of something truly sinister that is about to go down. Can Odd solve the mystery before hundreds of people may lose their lives?

Odd Thomas is just one of those movies that puts a smile on your face right from the first scene. The movie has great humor, some truly terrific special effects, and enough action that there is not one dull moment throughout it’s 90 minute runtime. Anton is joined in this movie by veteran actor Willem Dafoe, who always puts down decent roles. It is Yelchins natural charisma, and great acting that truly is what makes this movie stand out from the usual crowd though. If you enjoy supernatural movies with action, and a small dose of comedy, than this one is well worth checking out. It has a solid story with enough twists in it to keep it interesting right up until the end credits.

I give this movie a 9 out of 10 score.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 2, American tv series (2014/2015)

Marvel is on a roll. Whether you like superhero movies or not, you can’t deny the massive succes these movies are in the cinema. Every movie Marvel brings out these days is a blockbuster, and brings in massive amounts of money. Because of this Marvel has room to experiment and brings out movies about lesser known heroes, like for instance Ant-man or Guardians of the Galaxy.

Now because of their succes, Marvel is trying the same on the small screen. And those shows,  though ofcourse on a lower budget than their bigscreen counterparts, are slowly finding their fans as well. The 2nd Season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. , was for me an even bigger enjoyment than the already fenomenal first season. The shows driving force is ofcourse Agent Coulson, or Son of Coul if you prefer. He has to be one of the most sympathetic characters ever created, and that has everything to do with the way he is played by briljant actor Clark Gregg. His team is this time joined by a whole bunch of new characters. All of them are great in their own way, but my favorites have to be Bobbi and Hunter. They just have an instant chemistry that immediately draws a smile to your face.

Now the story of season 2 pretty much picks up, right where season 1 left off. Skye is still looking for clues about where she came from, and ofcourse the fight against the evil organisation Hydra continues. Nearly every episode of this season is outstanding, and there are so many great moments that it is hard to pick a favorite one. If i have to pick a few, i would say the midseason cliffhanger is definitely one, but also the last two episodes of this season are absolutely fantastic. Just like in season 1 there are tie-ins to the rest of the Marvel cinematic universe, though this time they aren’t as big as in last season.

That really doesn’t matter though because this show doesn’t need those tie-ins. It is already a force to be reckoned with, and really doesn’t need any of that help. For those of you that have not yet discovered the magic of this fantastic piece of television: shame on you, and go watch season 1 as quick as you can 🙂 But if you have, than season 2 will leave you with a hunger for more. Luckily the show has been renewed for a fourth season, which will start later this year. And ofcourse there is season 3, on which i myself still have to start. Even if you’re not a Marvel superhero fan, you might want to give this show a try. Because at it’s heart this a show about characters and friendship, and that is what appeals to me so much in this show ( well that and of ofcourse the spectacular action 🙂 ) .

I give the 2nd season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. a 9 out of 10 score.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, American Movie (2014)

Ah, the cartoons of the 80’s. Who didn’t grow up with them? Some of my fondest memories of my childhood were the saturday mornings, where you put the tv on skychannel to watch your favorite cartoons. Shows like Transformers, He-man, M.A.S.K., all of those were just legendary and these days they just don’t make cartoons like that anymore.

Over the past few years Hollywood has released a lot of live-action movies based on those classics of the 80’s. One of the more succesfull franchises were ofcourse the Transformers movies by Michael Bay. In 2014 Bay produced the new live action version of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon. Honestly when i first saw the trailer of this one i thought very little of it. Never having been a big fan of the cartoon anyway (i was a Transformers man all the way), i skipped the movie in the cinema. Now with the release of the 2nd movie this year, i decided to give the first one a try.

The movie ofcourse begins with the origin story of the four legendary heroes, along with their master Splinter. Taking place in New York, the movie tells the tale of how the city is terrorised by the mysterious Foot Clan. One night reporter April O’Neill, out on her own to find more details about the terrorists, stumbles right in the middle of a fight on the docks. A shadowy figure fights off the Foot Clan by himself, and soon after April gets her first glimpse of the Turtles. O’Neill then gets caught up right in the middle of a war between the leader of the clan, Shredder, and the quirky heroes in a half shell. She will need all her wits to survive the conflict, but with the Turtles at her side, she has nothing to fear, right ?

I did not expect to enjoy this movie as much as i did. The special effects are just simply spectacular, and the way the four Turtles are animated is nothing short of fantastic. Even more impressive is the Foot Clan leader Shredder, who has a seriously wicked looking samurai like costume with a very cool weapons array. Megan fox place a nice role as April, and one of my favorite actors William Fichtner also does a more than decent job as Eric Sacks, a character from Aprils past with a big secret. The story of the movie is ofcourse almost non existent, but that is not the reason you watch movies like this in the first place. It is ofcourse for the action and the special effects, and on that department the movie definitely delivers. There is also a lot of humor in the movie, and the scene that springs to mind the most, was the rapsong in the elevator. Seriously funny.

All in all this movie was a pleasant surprise. I heard some complaints about the fact that this version was not staying faithfull to the original Turtles stories, but as i said, never having been a fan in the first place, maybe that is why i like this movie so much. I am definitely gonna try and see if i can watch part 2, Out of the Shadows, in the theatres.

I give this movie an 8 out of 10 score.

Pleasant Dreams, a cardgame for 1-2 players,by Aerjen Games (2014)

Everyone has those times on a day where you just have a couple of minutes to spare,but don’t exactly know how to spent them. An episode of your favorite tv show is just too long, and you just don’t have the time to set up a very eleborate boardgame, no matter how much you love those. Luckily there are games out there that are a lot of fun, require almost no set up time, and take under 10 minutes to complete. Pleasant Dreams is a cardgame that falls into that last category.

Components

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The first thing that you will notice on this game is the beautifully designed box. It looks almost like a small book, with a gold lock design on the side. It is very small and will fit right into any travel back. Inside the box you will find two small blue glass beads, and a stack of over 40 tarotsize cards. The rules of the game are also printed on 5 of these cards, so everything just fits perfectly together. Another thing that is definitely worth mentioning is the way these cards look. The artwork is just phenomenal. Some of the cards have truly scary designs and are just gorgeous to look at. You can see that just a lot of time was put into the design, and that for me is a plus.

Game overview

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The object of the game is to stay asleep during the night, and to avoid waking up screaming aloud because of nightmares. At the beginning of the game every player receives a card to represent your character and for keeping score on your state of wakefulness. In addition two other cards are dealt to each player with special powers that will help you deal with the dreamdeck. Now the dreamdeck contains cards that either raise or lower your wakefulness score. When this score reaches 5 or more points, you wake up screaming your lungs out, and have lost the game. Don’t worry, it doesn’t happen for real 🙂 .

Difficulty

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This game can be learned in under 3 minutes. Yes it really is that simple. The rules are pretty clearly written, and not difficult at all. As for winning this game that truly depends on luck. In each turn players decide on how much cards they want to draw from the dreamdeck, ranging from 1-5 cards. Each card either raises or lowers your wakefulness score. Then there are some cards that players can decide to either discard or flip over. This last action lowers your wakefulness score by 1 point, but also has the potential to add a card to the dreamdeck which severely hampers your chance to stay asleep and win the game.

The Verdict

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I really enjoyed this small game. It is one of those games that you just play when you have a little time to kill, and with games lasting no more than 10 minutes, this is perfect for moments like that. Now some people may argue that this game just all depends on luck and that there is little strategy to the game. I guess that is mostly true, but for me a game can be enjoyable to play even if it greatly depends on luck. As i said the game is truly beautifull to look at, and for that it scores points as well. I love games that can be complex, but there are also times i just want to play something that is relatively simple, and this game does certainly fulfill that purpose.

I give this game a 9 out of 10 score.