Tag Archives: Adventure

Tron Legacy, American movie (2010)

Remember the 80’s? I’ve mentioned it quite a few times in the past that I am a fan of that particular era. It is famous for bringing us some great cartoons, wonderful and very memorable movies, but it also saw the rise of a completely new form of entertainment: the video game. People back in those days went to the arcades to play classic games such as Pac Man, Space Invaders and Centipede to name but a few examples. In the year 1982 Disney made a film that focussed on computergames in a way that had not yet been done before. Featuring groundbreaking special effects the name of that movie was Tron. It became a moderate succes back in those days, but it is now recognised by many as being lightyears ahead of it’s time and has gained the status of cult classic. Almost 30 years later a sequel was made to the original film. It was anticipated by a lot of people but unfortunately it did not become as succesful as many had hoped. Welcome everybody to part 3 of Countdown to the Last Jedi.

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Now tell me, was I lying about the visual aspects of this film?

In Tron Legacy we are introduced to the son of Kevin Flynn, a young boy called Sam. In the year 1989 his father disappeared without a trace just after he was promoted to CEO of the computer systems corporation Encom International. Ever since his disappearance, now over twenty years ago, nobody has heard anything from him. Sam has grown up, but has little to no interest in his father’s company, despite being the primary shareholder. He does like to play a prank on the board of directors every year. Kevin’s closest and oldest friend Alan Bradley one day checks in with Sam, but not without a reason. It seems that Alan has recieved a pager message that originated from Kevin’s old, but now sealed video arcade. At first Sam is very skeptical, but eventually he decides to investigate it anyway. Arriving at the arcade, he discovers a hidden basement, where he inadvertently gets transported to The Grid. This virtual reality world was created by his father, and it seems that something very sinister has been brewing there. A rogue and corrupt program called Clu and that closely resembles his father, has taken control of everything. But Clu has bigger plans than the virtual world….plans that threaten the real world and every living thing in it. Sam becomes the reluctant hero that has to save the world. But stranded in an unfamiliair place, will he be up to this task?

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Were you just talking about me?

Tron Legacy can be only by described as a visual masterpiece. It is a feast for your eyes in many ways. The virtual world of The Grid is created in an absolutely breathtaking way. The buildings, the vehicles, the world, all of them are simply put works of art. It is one of the most beautiful fantasy worlds that I have ever seen created for a movie. I unfortunately missed the opportunity to see this one on the big screen, something that I regret to this day. But not only the visual aspect of this film is worth mentioning. It is also the film’s soundtrack, created by Daft Punk that brings this movie to life. Heavy synthesizer sounds combined with some orchestral score create a truly unique sound, and one that fits this movie perfectly. I highly recommend listening to this one with a headset on, as it will give you the best experience. But for all it’s visual might and powerful sounds, this movie is not without it’s faults unfortunately.

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I want one of these bikes for Christmas.

One of the least interesting aspects of the film are it’s characters. Sam, played by Garett Hedlund is a rather boring guy. He tends to overact in certain scenes and just doesn’t really convince you as the hero. Olivia Wilde, in the role of Quorra is one of the key characters of the movie. An apprentice created by Sam’s father, Olivia’s role is decent, but ultimately also underused. Most of the film she spents her time fighting along Sam, but has just too few lines to really make an impact as a character. Luckily the film is saved by the solid performance of Jeff Bridges, who reprises his role as Kevin, but also plays a younger version of himself as the evil Clu. Now the younger version of Bridges is created mostly through the heavy usage of CGI effects, and is not really done in the best way I’m sorry to say. Still it get’s the job done, and both roles by Bridges are without a doubt the best parts of the movie. It was also fun to see Bruce Boxleitner, who played Tron in the original movie, return for a small cameo performance.

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Ahh…to be young again, well…sort of. 

And then there is the storyline. At times it is quite hard to follow, and there are a few parts of it that just don’t always add up. But honestly the same can be said of the original film. Tron Legacy is one of those movies that will not be appreciated by everyone. Even though it boasts some astonishing special effects and an incredible music score, it’s the story that will not sit well with most people. I for one though, really enjoyed the film. Yes it definitely has it’s flaws, I’m not going to deny that, but there was enough in the movie that made it a solid science fiction adventure. I’m going to leave you with a clip that showcases one of the best scenes from the film: the light cycle sequence. Worthy of mention is also the song by Daft Punk that accompanies this scene and that makes the it even more powerful. Next up for the countdown to the Last Jedi feature is Serenity. I hope you all enjoyed reading this post. End of line.

I give Tron Legacy a 8 out of 10 score.

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Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, American movie (1982)

When it comes to science fiction franchises there are what you could call two major players. One is a series of movies that take place in a galaxy far, far away. Otherwise known as Star Wars, these science fiction movies are based on pure fantasy and have little or nothing to do with reality. The other player takes voyages across the galaxy to boldly go where no man has gone before. Now consisting of six television series and thirteen movies the science fiction phenomena Star Trek is known by pretty much everyone in the world. Where Star Wars as mentioned is pure fantasy, Star Trek has always tried to take a more realistic approach and predicts a positive future for all mankind. The fun thing is that Star Trek fans usually don’t like Star Wars and vice versa. There a lot of hilarious sketches on YouTube where the two camps take pot shots at each other. However, I love science fiction in general, and have always loved both franchises. So that’s why today I’m continuing the Countdown to the Last Jedi with what by many is considered the best Star trek movie to date, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.

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Khaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaannnnnnnnnnnnnnnn!!!!!!!!!!

The Federation starship USS Reliant is on a mission to find a suitable planet for a topsecret project called Genesis. If succesful the so called Genesis Device will be able to turn a lifeless planet into a fertile one, ready to be colonised. Arriving at a possible  planet that might qualify for the project, the Reliant’s captain, a man called Clark Terrel together with Commander Pavel Checkov beam down to the surface. To their astonishment they find what seems to be an abandoned cargo ship. Upon entering the wreck, Checkov sees a name that makes him stop dead in his tracks: Botany Bay. It brings back memories of his time aboard the starship Enterprise fifteen years earlier. The Botany Bay was the name of the ship that was commanded by the infamous Khan Noonien Sing, a genetically engineered tyrant. The Enterprise under the command of captain Kirk was barely able to defeat this criminal mastermind. In the end though, Kirk won, and marooned Khan together with his crew on the surface of the planet Ceti Alpha V. Checkov screams at Terrel that they must leave immediately. But just when they are about to, they get surrounded by a group of unknown assailants. When their leader reveals himself, Chekov is shocked to find out it is Khan. Still alive, and out for revenge against the man that took everything from him: Kirk. The captain of the Enterprise will soon find out that revenge is a dish best served cold…..

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She may be old, but she is still a terrific ship to look at.

After 25 years this movie is still just as awesome as when it was first released. There is so much cool stuff in this film, that it’s almost impossible to mention everything. I’m going to make an effort anyway. For one thing it’s the original crew that will always hold a special place in my heart. No matter what you say about William Shatner, I think nobody can deny how truly terrific his role as Kirk was. And in this film I think he did the best job out of all the movies and tv episodes. In the beginning of the film we see a Kirk that is feeling old and finds himself bereft of energy. Having accepted a promotion might have possibly been the worst decision of his career. It is only when he returns to the Enterprise, and is forced to take command, that he comes alive again. This change is remarkable and portrayed perfectly by Shatner. But it’s also the enormous rollercoaster of emotions that the captain goes through in this film, that makes it so fascinating. Laughter, anger but also sadness because of the death of a major character and close friend of Kirk, will absolutely strike a chord in you, I guarantee you that.

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Look! We are on television!

But Kirk is ofcourse nothing without his two close friends Spock and Bones. It’s the comedic banter between the three that always puts a smile on my face. There are so many great moments with them in this film, both heartbreaking but also very funny ones that will have you bursting out with laughter. But let us not forget there is also the villain Khan, played by Ricardo Montalban. Perhaps the best, but certainly the most interesting enemy that Kirk has ever faced. The natural charisma, and pure evil wickedness of this character are a joy to behold. As much as you grow to hate him, you also don’t want him to die, which is always the sign of a great bad guy. On a fun side note, we also see a very young Kirstie Alley play the role of Spock’s protege, Saavik. It’s always funny to see someone play a completely different character than what they are used to. She pulls it off very nicely though, and Saavik plays a pretty important role in the unfolding of the plot.

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Yep, that really is Kirstie Alley. Erm, just to make sure, she is the Vulcan on the left.

And what a great plot it is. Sure it is your basic revenge story, you will get no argument from me there. But it also contains so many layers and great lines, that it’s so much more. Above all it is a story about friendship. The needs of the many, outweigh the needs of the few, or the one. That line really bears great weight in this film especially near the admittedly very heartbreaking end. Another recurring theme is the fact that you are only as old as you feel. Always continue doing what you love to do, for as long as you can. Before you know it, time will be up. This being a 25 year old movie, one might argue that the special effects do not hold up so well. But even those I think are still very good. All in all what we have here is a remarkable and solid science fiction adventure that can be enjoyed by everyone. You don’t even have to be very familiair with the franchise in general to watch this movie. I have been wracking my brain to find something negative about this film, but I really can’t find it. I’m going to leave you with the trailer from those days. Coming up next for this countdown feature will be Tron Legacy. Thank you for reading as always!

I give Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan a 10 out of 10 score.

Thor:Ragnarok, American movie (2017)

Well, I could of course start this review with saying how Marvel is on a roll, the enormous amount of movies they are releasing, blah blah blah….been there, done that. There have been enough discussions on those subjects, and quite frankly I am not going to be lured into them again. Erm…I guess I just did that anyway. Sorry. Let’s talk about Thor though. The God of Thunder was introduced to the Marvel Cinematic Universe in 2011. Played by actor Chris Hemsworth, Thor for me personally was always a bit of a dull character. They tried to give him some funny lines, added a touch of humour in his movies, but ultimately he was just way too serious most of the time. That’s not to say that I did not enjoy his films, or in any way want to say that Hemsworth’s performance isn’t good, but so far he has been one of my least favorite Marvel characters. And now we have the third movie. With the subtitle Ragnarok, which in Norse mythology signals the end of the world, will this third film change my opinion of this guy? The answer to this question might come as a surprise….

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Seriously lady, get a haircut. Look at Thor, he did right?

Where has Thor been for the past two years? Well, let’s just say he has been out in the universe searching for some Infinity Stones, and finally ended up as a prisoner of a rather nasty demon called Surtur. Eventually Thor escapes and finds his way back to Asgard. Not a moment too soon it seems, as his brother Loki is up to his old tricks again, impersonating his father Odin and ruling over Asgard in his stead. But it seems Loki is the least of Thor’s problems. Unbeknownst to both brothers, Odin had a firstborn daughter called Hela. She is better known as the Goddess of Death though, and she is about to emerge from the prison she has been kept in for a very long time. Hellbent on revenge, the people of Asgard are about to face their greatest challenge yet. It would seem that Thor is greatly outmatched this time, and he will have to rely on some very unusual allies to take on Hela. One of them is his untrustworthy brother, but the other one is an Avenger that has been out of the game for quite a while. A lean, green and very mean fighting machine also known as The Hulk….

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And now for the weather report….rain with a slight chance of lightning.

I have never taken any drugs in my life, nor do I plan on doing that anytime soon thank you very much. But I could imagine that a few of the scenes in this film would certainly feel a bit like you have just been on one of the best psychedelic trips ever. Because really, there is so much weirdness in this film, that you have to wonder what kind of drugs they have been taking. And just in case that you might take this the wrong way, that is actually a good thing. This movie has a completely different tone than the previous two Thor movies. The serious settings of those are instead replaced by a fun filled extravaganza filled with all manner of colourful and bright scenes, humour and just well…fun. We have a Thor that really seems almost like a completely different character. He is cracking jokes like there is no tomorrow, and for the most part, they work as well. It obviously also takes a bit getting used to that, as you don’t expect that from him.

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Yes, we get to see Thor smiling in this film…it still needs a bit of work though.

This new movie introduces a couple of new characters. Let’s start with the villain first, because hey that’s always cool. Hela is played by actress Cate Blanchett, and she manages to create one of the best adversaries in the Marvel universe to date. It’s clear that Cate was having a blast playing this character. Blanchett is evil, seductive, and utterly convincing in her role as the Goddess of Death. Some of the best scenes in the movie were the ones with her and Thor. But the side of good also get’s a woman on their side in the form of a former Valkyrie. She is played by actress Tessa Thompson and is an absolute delight. It’s wonderful to see a lighthearted but at the same time tough as nails woman joining the established group, and she fits in perfectly. Lastly we have Jeff Goldblum, that portrays a rather dubious and shady Grandmaster who is in charge of the planet Thor eventually ends up on. Goldblum plays a very different role than what we are used to from him, and his character is deliciously evil but just in a very fun way.

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This is what therapy sessions for superheroes look like.

The movie has even more new characters than the ones I just described, but I don’t want to spoil everything here. And obviously I do not have to say how awesome Tom Hiddleston is as Loki, because you all already know that. The movie contains a ton of action, as you would expect and most of these scenes are pretty awesome. One of the highlights has got to be the gladiator fight between Thor and The Hulk. To say more about it would be a disservice, but suffice it to say it’s an incredibly fun scene. I have been using the word fun quite a number of times now in this review, and that is pretty much the one word that I would use to describe this movie: fun! Sure, one could argue that the movie is again pretty long, and could have used a bit of trimming. I could also say that not every joke works, and it’s also a pretty radical change that takes a bit to get used to if you prepared yourself for a movie more along the lines of the other two installments. At the end of the day though Thor Ragnarok is a great addition to the Marvel films, and one that definitely deserves a trip to the cinema.

I give Thor: Ragnarok a 8 out of 10 score.

Call of Heroes, Chinese movie (2016)

I think that pretty much everyone has heard the name Bruce Lee at some point in their lives. Considered by many to be the greatest martial artist that has ever lived, he has made a couple of legendary Hong Kong actionmovies. As many of you know I am a huge Asian movie buff, but I discovered the Asian martial arts genre pretty late. And it wasn’t actually Bruce Lee that introduced me to it, but an equally famous actor, namely Jackie Chan. I have seen many of the old Jackie Chan flicks, and enjoyed them an awful lot. Police Story, Armour of God, Drunken Master, are just a couple of examples of his movies that I really liked. When you really love something though, you try to find out more about it, and eventually I discovered there were a lot of other gems in this volatile genre. These days martial arts movies are made in almost every country, not only Asia. But for some reason I just think the best of these type of films are still coming out of China. That’s not to say that all of these movies are good though.

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Some people have just watched Indiana Jones a bit too much. 

Call of Heroes takes place in the past, right after the dissolution of the Qing Dynasty. The land is being torn apart by a bunch of military governates that are trying to seize power. The ruthless Marshal Cho, who is a son of one of these military governors, travels across the country killing people indiscriminately. At one point he ends up in the village of Pucheng where he kills three people, one of them a young boy. Soon after he is arrested by Colonel Yeung, who is the leader of the town militia, and sentenced to death. As can be expected, his father doesn’t really take kindly to this, and orders him to be released. If they fail to comply, the town will be destroyed. As the town is not capable of defending themselves against the might of an army, tensions are beginning to run high. The pressure on Yeung increases as the citizens of the town are afraid for their lives, and want nothing more than to have Marshal Cho released. But then a mysterious stranger enters the town. This man could be the turning point of everything, but his intentions are unclear. Has he arrived to offer his help, or has he come for something more sinister? Meanwhile, the clock keeps ticking and the time for Pucheng is running out……

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If not for the fight scenes, this image almost sums up my thoughts for this movie. 

Call of Heroes is one of those movies that really doesn’t know what it wants to be. At the start of the movie, you think it’s a comedy (albeit a very bad one, with seriously cringeworthy humor). Then all of a sudden it switches gears and turns into a Western. Or at least something that tries to be a Western. And then we all of a sudden get a very brutal action movie. And I do mean brutal. Because when Marshall Cho begins to kill, the deaths he causes are quite horrific and unexpected. I don’t mind it when a movie blends together different genres, in fact if done right it usually makes for an interesting watch. Here though the execution is done very poorly and as an audience you are just unprepared to take some of the scenes seriously. Especially since a minute ago you supposedly had to laugh at a few of the slapstick jokes that were fired at you.

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Noooo….I just bought that furniture!

And then there is the acting. Marshal Cho is played by Louis Koo. Now I have seen him in a few relatively minor roles before, but he clearly is out of his league here. His overacting in trying to make Cho a menacing character just doesn’t work. His maniacal laughing gets on your nerves every time he does it, and instead of fearing him, you just end up thinking of him as a very annoying and quite frankly comical character. Marshal Yeung was one of the few characters that I really liked. Played by Sean Lau, he had a very calm and charismatic way of acting that made Yeung a character that you could really establish a connection with. Eddie Peng completes the triangle of main characters, by playing the role of the mysterious stranger. In the beginning of the movie his slapstick antics failed to impress, but his role did improve over the course of the film, and turned into something better. Veteran martial artist Wu Ying also has a small but decent role in the movie, and gets to showcase his talents in some great scenes.

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Mortal Kombaaaaaattttttt!!!!!!!

And that brings us to a positive note that I can say about this movie, and that is the fight sequences. The fight choreagraphy is handled by the legendary Sammo Hung and for people who have some knowledge of the Hong Kong action movie genre this name should be very familiair. Sammo has certainly managed to produce a couple of terrific martial arts sequences, that at least managed to make make the movie not a total loss. Unfortunately though that is not enough for saving this movie from being a pretty disappointing watch. With the struggle this film has in trying to decide what it wants to be, as well as some truly over the top performances, it just isn’t a movie that I can recommend. The only reason that I did not grade the movie lower, was the fact that the martial arts on display, especially in two high caliber sequences, was pretty awesome. If you are a fan of Hong Kong action cinema you might want to give this one a go. Casual moviegoers though, had best avoid this one.

I give Call of Heroes a 5 out of 10 score.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens, American movie (2015)

Earlier this week a trailer was released for a very small movie that is coming out in december. You have probably never heard of this film, but why not, let me just throw it out there in case you have: Star Wars: The Last Jedi. See? Told you that this is a pretty much unknown movie. Okay, all kidding aside: how awesome was that trailer! I will go into that a little bit more in depth below, but after I had seen it, it put me into the mood to rewatch Episode VII again, The Force Awakens. This film was responsible for relighting the fire that is Star Wars, not that it had ever gone out completely. With expectations going through the roof weeks before it’s release, one of the things that everyone was looking forward to, was the appearance of the original cast. Yes, classic characters like Han and Leia were back again, and fans at times broke out in tears at watching the trailers. (Not me of course, I am a man and I never cry….blinks back tears). But was the Force Awakens a good film, or merely a rehash of old things?

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The first one who says my lightsaber looks like crap, is going to get it….

The Force Awakens takes place 30 years after the Return of the Jedi. The Empire has been defeated, but instead of peace returning to the galaxy, a new threat has emerged. The First Order has risen from the ashes of what the Empire left behind, and is threatening to snuff out the last peaces of light that are remaining. The Resistance is desperately trying to find Luke Skywalker who nobody has seen for decades, but who they think might turn the tide of war. They have send one of their best pilots, Poe Dameron, to track down a lead for information as to where Luke might be hiding. But the First Order has tracked Poe down, and one of their most sinister agents, Kylo Ren, succeeds in capturing him. All hope now lies with Poe’s droid BB-8, in which he has hidden the clue to finding the Jedi Master. While on the run BB-8 soon encounters a young scavenger girl that goes by the name of Rey. She reluctantly agrees to help the droid, and together with a former stormtrooper they set out on the mission to find the Resistance. But the First Order is hot on their heals and this time this new hope for the galaxy, might be lost…..

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Yeah, I know I look pretty good for an old nerfherder. 

The Force Awakens has been hated and loved in equal measures. The hate mostly came from people that said the movie was just a rewrite of the first original Star Wars movie. And I guess they do have a point. Just as in the first film, we have something hidden in a droid that becomes the focal point of the story. We have a Death Star like superweapon in the form of Star Killer Base, and of course we have an untrained person that is cast in the unlikely role of hero. So yes, there is certainly truth in that claim. But to dismiss it just based on that is pretty unfair. For there are also a lot of things that this movie did that were just plain awesome. The return of the old characters for instance. The first time you see Han Solo together with Chewie is just a goosebump inducing moment. And ofcourse that moment returns when you see Leia again, reunited with her scruffy looking love interest.

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I really can’t believe that you are not a CGI effect.

But the new characters are also not to be excluded. Kylo Ren is one of, if not, the most interesting villain from the entire saga. He is not just a Darth Vader wannabe, a fact that is only enforced when he removes his helmet. Here we have a person that is conflicted throughout the entire movie. And that conflict comes to the fore in that scene, which I am not going to spoil, but for anyone who has seen the movie it should be pretty clear to which scene I am referring. And then there are Rey, the scavenger girl, and Finn the former stormtrooper. Both great characters in their own way. It is still completely unclear who Rey’s parents are, despite all the theories floating around on the web. It is exactly this fact that defines her character though. The unknown, the fact that she really as of yet has no clue to who she truly is. But she tries her utmost to become the hero though. Finn is the true antihero however. Right from the start he stands up to the injustice that surrounds him, and he almost pays the ultimate price for that. I could probably write another 1000 words for how much I enjoyed this film, but I am not going to do that. My final verdict for the film will follow soon enough, but let’s talk a bit about the new trailer.

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I just had to include a picture that features the fastest hunt of junk in the galaxy. 

The Last Jedi trailer

Unless you have been captured by a Wampa this week, you must have seen the new trailer pop up somewhere on the web. Or a better word for it, is first trailer, as we had so far only seen a teaser for the new movie. And it was worth the wait. One thing this new trailer has been doing is messing with out heads. There are so many things going on that may or may not be true, that it almost makes your mind explode. Is Rey joining forces with Kylo? I myself doubt it. I believe, as a lot of people have said, that the scenes have been purposely blended together to make it look as if they are one scene. Or….it is real, and we are really in for a hell of a ride. One thing we can be sure of is that this film is going to be very hard on the forces of light. It all looks very spectacular, and I for one can’t wait for december. What are your thoughts on the new trailer? Let me know in the comments section below. And of course, just because I am a nice guy, I have included it below for your viewing pleasure.

The Verdict

But of course with the excitement building for Episode VIII let us not forget the movie that restarted this adventure in a galaxy far, far away. Yes, the film certainly may have lacked a bit of originality, you will not hear any argument from me for that. But this was a Star Wars film in every sense of the word, and a pretty damn good one at that. The terrific characters, the special effects that were mostly practical, and of course the return of the old favorites all made it a great adventure to be enjoyed by everyone. I for one loved it, and it truly made me feel like a kid again (although that feeling is pretty much a part of me anyway). So see this one again before the new one hits the theatres in december. To close with a Star Wars phrase: it is your destiny……

I give Star Wars: The Force Awakens a 9 out of 10 score.

The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, the Unbeliever : a fantasy novel by Stephen Donaldson (1977)

Every year on my birthday a group of my closest friends gather together in secret to come up with a birthday present for me. And that is quite a difficult feat, mind you, as my hobbies and the things I like are quite large. As such, it becomes harder every year to find something that I don’t already own. (But to my defense I have the same problem in deciding what to give them in return). Usually it takes them quite a while to come up with an idea, but this year apparently was the first time that it was quite easy. On that fateful day in March I received a huge box that contained a large number of books. I was at a loss for words as it truly was a wonderful gift, but I was even more surprised in finding out that it was a series of novels that I had never heard about. Today I finished the first of those novels, a huge 1154 page omnibus edition that contained the first three books of an epic fantasy series. This review is written for my friends who gave me this wonderful present, but for one in particular who shall remain nameless, because I know she doesn’t like stuff like this. But she was the one who came up with this idea, and I can’t thank her enough, for this book was truly wonderful from start to finish. And then again: you know who you are anyway!

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The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever is an epic fantasy series, that features one of the most unusual heroes that you will ever meet. In fact I can’t think of a single book character that I have ever hated more in my life than Thomas Covenant. But in the end you want to see him win the day too, which only contributes to the amazing skills of the writer. Thomas Covenant has been diagnosed with leprosy. His wife, unable to deal with this, has filed for divorce and has left him, together with their young son. The town he lives in despises him, and wants nothing to do with him. In fact they pretty much stop at nothing to get him to leave. Because of this Thomas has grown into an incredibly bitter man, that has no love for anyone. One day he gets hit by a car and falls unconscious. And it is then that strange things are beginning to happen.

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When Covenant wakes up he finds himself in an unfamiliair world, simply called “The Land”. He finds out that he has been summoned there by a creature that has been manipulated by an evil being called Lord Foul. Lord Foul’s evil threatens to destroy The Land, but Thomas might just have the power to stop him. And that power seems to be contained within the most unlikely place one could think of: the wedding ring on his finger which he could not make himself to stop wearing even after his divorce. Thomas, however doesn’t believe that all of this is real, and instead thinks it is something conjured up by his mind to let him deal with his leprosy. With the evil gaining power every single day, the plight of the good people of The Land becomes ever more desperate. But as long as Thomas remains an Unbeliever, Lord Foul has won the war without even having to strike a single blow….

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This omnibus Edition contains the novels Lord Foul’s Bane, The Illearth War and The Power That Preserves. As I mentioned above, I truly hated Thomas Covenant. You would think that with everything I told you about him, one would give the guy a break. But trust me when I say that you will grow to hate him as well. This man is pretty much unfriendly to everyone he meets, no matter how they treat him. He even ends up raping an innocent girl at some point, which was a truly loathsome act. But still, as the story progresses his character grows on you, and you really want him to pull through anyway, no matter what he has done. Stephen Donaldson has put together a very rich fantasy world, filled with a huge cast of characters and places. And I do mean huge as at the back of the novel there is a 8 page glossary of names for all the characters, items, and places that the novel contains.

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That was also the only negative point I could come up with. The sheer number of names and terms used in the book was so big, that I did find myself flicking to the back of the novel at times to look up who a certain character was. But besides that, this book is an incredible read from start to finish. It’s a pageturner that is hard to put down, and truly has that classic quality of  “Just one more chapter before I turn off the lights” (which usually means that you end up reading more than one chapter). The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant is a must read for people who like Lord of the Rings or Game of Thrones. It’s rich mythology, terrific characters, and epic storyline will hold you spellbound all the way to the end. Even though I will now take a break in order to return to a science fiction universe, I can’t wait to get back to The Land, and continue with the epic adventures of Thomas. Even though I still hate that guy…..

I give The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant a 9 out of 10 score.

Castlevania, American (Animated) tv series (2017)

Some of you that have been following my blog for a while, know that in the distant past I used to be a very fanatical gamer. I played computergames pretty much non stop, and I did so with a lot of enthusiasm. All of that changed after a particularly nasty session of online Call of Duty. I will spare you the details, but let us just say that it involved a lot of cursing and broken controllers. Not one of my finest moments. After that night, I just stopped gaming altogether and went back to older hobbies including boardgames. The world of computergames is still a part of me however, and even though I haven’t played in ages, I still enjoy reading news and watching videos about new games that will hit the shelves. There are certain gameseries that are legendary and very well known by most people. A few examples are Doom, Resident Evil, Super Mario Brothers and Castlevania. Interestingly enough, for this last named series a four part animated show was released a few months back on Netflix.

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I think you might have something in your eye. Let me help you. 

The story of this animated series starts off in the year 1455 in Wallachia. A young woman doctor called Lisa is searching for the infamous Vlad Dracula Tepes, in order to enlist his help in acquiring scientific knowledge. Eventually the two meet up, and Dracula is pleasantly surprised by her great courage. He agrees to help her, and in turn Lisa tries to make him reconnect with his human self. Eventually they fall in love and are married. Twenty years later though, disaster strikes and Lisa is burned at the stake for witchcraft by an insane bishop of the holy church. Dracula is ofcourse furious and heartbroken, and he warns the people of Wallachia that they have exactly one year to make their peace. After that he will wipe out every single human being by his own hands. Dracula begins raising an army of terrible creatures to carry out his revenge. The only hope for the human race seems to lie in the hands of Trevor Belmont. He is the last remaining member of the disgraced noble Belmont family, who were experts in fighting monsters. However Trevor will first have to find back his faith in himself and decide if humanity is even worth saving…..

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Your hair smells lovely. What kind of shampoo are you using? 

I have always found the story of Dracula incredibly fascinating. Throughout the years there have been numerous adaptations of this classic tale in the form of movies and even tv series. The Castlevania gameseries has been around for quite a while and is very popular. I can’t say that I am very familiar with, having played only two or three installments of it, but I do know that it’s a gameseries with a pretty rich history. This animated show was a pleasant surprise. It drew me in right from the openingscene and did not let up for one second. The animation style is very good, but it’s also very graphic. This is certainly a series intended for a mature audience, as there are some incredibly gory scenes in it, especially in the first episode. The show is full of action and these scenes are brought to life by the animation in a great way, which certainly adds to the overall appeal of this series.

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Watch out you might get a whiplash from this…..get it? 

Another thing that is worth mentioning is the voice acting which is really topnotch. Richard Armitage brings to life the character of Trevor Belmont, and he seems to have a lot of fun in doing so. Trevor is a sometimes pretty sarcastic character, and some of the comedy relief in the show, that was a welcome reprieve from the pretty dark story, was provided by him. But the rest of the voice acting cast also did a fine job and included the likes of James Callis and Tony Amendola. These last two names should be familiar to most science fiction fans. Callis is of course best known for his role as doctor Gaius Baltar from the new Battlestar Galactica series, and Tony appeared in Stargate Sg-1 as master Bra’tac. It’s always important in animated series to have voices that act as if you are watching a live action tv show, and the cast for Castlevania certainly managed to accomplish that.

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Hi, I would like to make a purchase. 

The downside to Castlevania is that it’s only four episodes. This almost feels like you are watching a pilot and that it serves as the set up for the story that is yet to come. Luckily I can out your minds at ease and tell you that the series will indeed continue with 8 more episodes. Which in my opinion is very good news. I really enjoyed this first taste of what might develop into a pretty good animated show, if it continues along this path. If you like horror and vampire stories, or if you are a fan of the video game series, I highly recommend that you check this series out. It doesn’t take up a lot of time, as it is only four episodes of around 22 minutes each, but it’s time that is very well spent. I’m really looking forward to what the second season will bring, and I think it can only become even better than this first appetizer.

I give Castlevania a 8 out of 10 score.

Kong Skull Island, American movie (2017)

There are some Hollywood creations that have simply become icons in their own way. Never mind having never seen the movie it appeared in, everyone seems to know about it anyway. One of those icons is the legendary ape King Kong. It made it’s first onscreen appearance in the 1933 movie with the same name, and it has since then become the stuff of legend. One of it’s most famous scenes was King Kong being on top of the Empire State building and getting shot at by airplanes. Moviemaking certainly has come a long way since then, and when you look at that scene now it may look dated in terms of special effects. But it definitely still is every bit as powerful as when it was first shown to the public. These days we get a lot of movies that have terrific special effects, but fall short when it comes to showcasing any kind of emotions or story. That does not mean that a movie like that can’t be entertaining though.

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There was a sale on fresh tentacles, he just could not resist.

Kong Skull Island starts in the year 1944 when two fighter pilots, one American and one Japanese, parachute onto a mysterious island, after having lost both of their planes to each other. While continuing the fight on the ground, they are interrupted when a gigantic and monstrous ape appears. In the year 1973, 29 years later, we meet up with a US government agent called Bill Randa. He is trying to get approval to get an expedition formed to visit the island known as Skull Island. Eventually his superiors give in, and Bill hires skilled tracker James Conrad to help with the undertaking. Accompanied by a group of soldiers led by the tough Lieutenant Colonel Preston Packard and a female photojournalist named Mason Weaver, the expedition takes off for the island. But once they arrive there, they are about to discover that mankind may not be on top of the food chain anymore. If they manage to survive the wrath of the King of Monsters that is…..

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Where is Thor when you need him?

This movie is a part of the Legendary film company’s attempt to create a new cinematic universe, with this film being the second offering. (The 2014 version of Godzilla was the first) And quite honestly I had a monster, pun intended, of a good time with this film. What it lacked in story it certainly made up for in entertainment value. Yes people, this is a special effects driven movie, I am not even going to deny that fact, but boy was it a lot of fun. The creatures infesting the island the group lands on are gloriously designed and the absolute highlight of the film. Kong of course will get to fight a few of them, and it is these scenes that impress the most. You can’t help but get a big grin on your face when the creatures start bashing each other’s skulls in. It never gets gory at any point, but it provides some solid fight scenes all realised through computer, and the effects are truly convincing to say the least.

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Smile, you are on Candid Camera.

The cast that was assembled for this film is quite impressive. John Goodman plays the role of Bill Randa, and it is a more serious role that you usually see him play. He is an actor that I always think is pretty underrated, and he did yet another fine job in this movie. Tom Hiddleston who most people probably know from playing the evil yet incredibly fun role of Loki in Thor, plays the character of James Conrad in this movie. His natural charisma makes him instantly likeable and the role of Conrad is certainly one that suits him. And then ofcourse we have Samuel L. Jackson as Lt. Col. Preston Packard. I always like Jackson’s performances, and the best way to describe his character is a new version of Captain Ahab from Moby Dick. He will stop at absolutely nothing to kill Kong, no matter what the cost might be. Even though the human factor in this film was minimal, all actors in this played very well and certainly contributed enough to the movie to make it a worthwhile experience.

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I love the smell of ape in the morning.

As I said in the beginning, this is a special effects driven movie, and that’s why the story isn’t really worth mentioning. It does get the job done though, and there is enough tension, occasional humor, and excitement that makes this movie a solid piece of entertainment. The after credits scene hints at the next installment for Legendary’s monsterverse, and I do honestly have to say that I am excited for it. There are pretty much no really bad things in this film that I can think off that are worth mentioning. It’s just two hours of mindless monsterbashing fun, and only if you don’t really like these sort of films will you be disappointed by it. So put on some popcorn, crank up the volume of your television and go sit down in your favorite chair to watch the King of Monsters back in action. Hail to the King, baby.

I give Kong Skull Island a 8 out of 10 score.

Back to the Future: the Ultimate visual history, a Back to Future book (2015)

In 1985 moviegoing audiences were introduced to one of the best time travelling movies ever made, Back to the Future. The film starring Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd became a huge succes and is one of those classic 80’s movies that pretty much everyone remembers seeing. Eventually a second and third part were released, both also highly succesful movies. I myself regard the Back to the Future movie trilogy as one of the best movie trilogies ever made. It just simply works. The story is great, the characters are pretty much unforgettable, and it contains a ton of sequences that are absolutely amazing to watch. While it is very unlikely that a sequel to these films will ever be made, the franchise still lives on in the hearts of movie lovers all around the world. The year 2015 was not only an important year in the movie itself, but also marked it’s 30th anniversary. A perfect moment to release the book that I am about to review.

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The Back to the Future Ultimate Visual History is a book, that chronicles all the aspects involved in making all three movies from the trilogy. It is divided into four main chapters. The first three focus mainly on everything that was needed in order to bring the three movies to the big screen. The final (shorter) chapter, deals with the Universal Studios theme park attraction Back to the Future: the Ride, as well as the short lived Back to the Future animated series. The first three chapters were definitely the most interesting. These contain a wealth of information about the three films, including interviews with the cast and crew, as well as a lot of background stories. How many of you for instance knew that the role of Marty Mcfly was originally played by actor Eric Stoltz? And that he was fired after nearly six weeks of shooting film. Or how much of a pain in the ass actor Crispin Glover, who played the role of Marty’s dad, was on set. It are stories like these, and much, much more that make this book such a joy to read.

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But ofcourse it’s not called “the Ultimate Visual History” for nothing. The book comes with a wealth of behind the scenes photographs, production designs, movie posters and other things that make the book a treat for your eyes as well. Also included are a couple of replicas from things that were featured in the film. For instance the photograph from the first movie, that had Marty’s brother and sister slowly fading from the picture. As much fun as these features are, they are also the book’s weakest point. Usually in books like these, the reader is able to remove these things in order to take a closer look at them. Here though, they are glued to the pages of the book, and as such they can’t be taken out without causing damage. Ofcourse I did not remove them, but despite that, because some of them are quite large you do run the risk of causing damage eventually, especially if you want to flip through it’s pages.

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But this is a minor issue in what is otherwise a great book. The book is well written and thankfully does not bore you to death with a lot of technical details like which camera techniques were used or stuff like that. The thing I also enjoyed about it were the numerous interviews with the original cast, and also the forewords written by Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd. It is always very cool if you manage to get the actors themselves involved in a project like this as well. All in all I highly recommend this book. Especially if you are a fan of these movies, it provides an interesting background companion to what was involved in the making of these classic films. So all I can say is, let’s go back ….to the future….

I give Back to the Future: the Ultimate Visual History a 9 out of 10 score.

Star Trek Beyond, American movie (2016)

Space: the final frontier. I think pretty much everyone that loves science fiction, must have heard these words at least once. In 1966 Gene Roddenberry created a science fiction television series called Star Trek. Strangely enough when it first aired it got cancelled after 3 seasons. A few years later the series got very popular after reruns on several different television stations. And the rest is history. Star Trek became a world wide phenomenon, spawning several television series, movies and novels. One of the things that made it unique was the fact that it presented a very positive view of the future, in which humanity had finally managed to better itself. In 2009 a new Star Trek movie was made by J.J.Abrams, who most people know as one of the minds behind the tv series Lost, and ofcourse the director of Star Wars: the Force Awakens. It was kind of a reboot for the entire Star Trek universe, and even though the movie became a huge succes, a lot of Star Trek fans did not like it all. Last year the third installment of this new version of Star trek was released, to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the franchise.

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Idris Elba’s skin rash had taken a turn for the worse.

In Star Trek Beyond, we meet captain Kirk at a time in his life, where he finds his job to be a bit tedious. He has kind of lost faith in his own capabilities, and is thinking of going for an admiral’s position, just to quit flying a starship. When his ship the Enterprise, visits the Federation’s newest starbase called Yorktown, a distress signal is picked up from an unknown ship. The person who sent the the signal introduces herself as Kalara, and claims her ship and her crew are stranded on a nearby planet. Soon Kirk and crew are sent out on the rescue mission. But all is not as it seems, and the Enterprise gets attacked by a swarm of powerful ships led by the villainous Krall.  Krall is searching for an ancient artifact that will bring death to the existing universe. The crew of the Enterprise are going to face their toughest mission yet, and one they might not all get out alive from….

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Why is she in my chair?

For those of you that have been following my blog for a while now, you pretty much know that I love science fiction in almost every form. As such I am not one of those people that only loves Star Trek, or only loves Star Wars for instance. As long as it is done well, I can pretty much eat science fiction movies for breakfast. That said, ever since J.J. Abrams has reimagined Star Trek, the movies have deviated from Roddenberry’s original vision for it. This third film carries the name Star Trek, but it is simply put not Star Trek anymore. It is a summer blockbuster action movie, that has entertaining moments, and some cool special effects. But sadly it does not feel like Star Trek, and that really is a shame I think.

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I really want to go home now…

 

All the actors from the new movies have returned to reprise their roles. They all do an admirable job, most notably Karl Urban, who plays doctor McCoy. Out of all the new actors that now play the parts of these legendary characters, he has always come the closest to the original role. The villain Krall is played by actor Idris Elba, who is completely unrecognisable in make up. Elba plays the part well, but Krall is just not a very interesting villain, and lacks depth. The relatively unknown actress Sofia Boutella plays the most interesting new character, the warrior woman Jaylah. Her martial arts skills are very impressive, but she also has a natural charisma that really makes you care for her character.

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Just wait until I show you to my parents, they are going to love you. 

This movie is directed by Justin Lin, who has also directed a lot of the Fast and Furious movies. The story in this movie takes a bit of a backseat, and instead we get treated to a action movie with explosions, chases, and pretty much everything that you would expect in movies like that. It certainly manages to entertain at times, but all in all I found this movie just not as good as the two previous ones. As mentioned it just doesn’t feel like a Star Trek movie anymore, and I guess that is my biggest complaint for this one. I understand that they want to make Star Trek appeal to a bigger audience, but it has now kind of lost the spirit that made Star Trek always so much fun to watch. What we are left with is a bit of hollow shell, that really isn’t a bad movie, but is simply not deserving the name Star Trek. I think Gene Roddenberry, might roll over in his grave if he knew what has become of his creation.

I give Star Trek Beyond a 7 out of 10 score.