Tag Archives: War

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.

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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.

Rambo: First Blood, American movie (1982)

Yes people, my 80’s bingewatch is continuing. I don’t know what it is these days, but I seem to be living more in the past than in the present. Maybe I am actually experiencing a severe case of midlife crisis. Either that, or I am just getting old. For all you animelovers out there, and yes I am still one of them, rest assured there will be some animecontent coming out later this week. But for now, it’s time to revisit one of the greatest action heroes of all time: John Rambo. Portrayed by Sylvester Stallone, who I still consider to be one of best action stars to walk the face of this planet, Rambo is an icon and became a part of our culture. Just think of all the times his name has been mentioned in other movies or tv series. Together with Rocky, Rambo is just a terrific character that has captured the hearts and minds of action movielovers everywhere.

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The things you find in Christmas trees these days.

First Blood tells the story of the former Vietnam veteran John Rambo. At the beginning of the movie he is trying to get in touch with a former army buddy of his, with which he served in ‘Nam. He is shocked to find out his friend has died from cancer. Stricken with grief, Rambo sets out on foot not really caring where he ends up. Soon he arrives in a small town called Hope and comes across the local sheriff a man called Will Teasle. Now he really doesn’t take kindly to a stranger entering his quiet town, and firmly tells him to hit the road again. When John refuses, he is taken into custody even though he hasn’t done anything. But Will is about to find out that a war is going to take place in his small town. A war caused by a man named John Rambo. And when he is done, you can certainly count on one thing that will definitely be needed: a good supply of body bags….

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Such a stupid move to take him in. You can see he is wearing green right? Ever hear of the Hulk?

Now if you have actually never heard of this movie, seriously where have you been? Just kidding here of course. Rambo is one of the 80’s best action films and I honestly can’t count the number of times that I have seen this movie. We could all argue about the amount of macho type characters and testosterone this movie contains (and it certainly does contain that, no argument there), but at the heart is a story about prejudice. Here we have a man that has been a credit to his country, awarded with countless awards, and he gets accosted by the local sheriff just because of the way he looks. Also it teaches us what war can really do to a man or a woman. I have never been in a war, nor do I hope to ever be in one, but only if you experienced those horrors can you really imagine what it must be like. There is a gutwrenching scene at the end of the movie where John cries his eyes out telling his former commanding officer about what happened to him in Vietnam. And it really is hard to watch this iron warrior break up like that. War, seriously what is it good for?

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Easy Rider: the Next Generation.

 

The performances in this film are excellent. Stallone was born to play this part, a role he would reprise three times after this movie. Even though he does some horrible things in this film, you get where his anger is coming from, and you certainly feel sympathy for his character. And that is all because of the humanity that Stallone brings with him through his acting. Sheriff Will Teasle is played by the highly underrated actor Brian Dennehy. Will is a dispacable man, but in the end you do feel for him, as through his ignorance he gets way more than he ever imagined would happen to his town. It’s a terrific role and one that Brian pulls off incredibly well. And last but not least we have Colonel Trautman, Rambo’s commanding officer in Vietnam, played by the sadly departed actor Richard Crenna. Trautman acts as Rambo’s father figure, and pretty much the only man that Rambo has respect for. Crenna does a terrific job in portraying this commanding role, and you would almost believe that he was a real soldier.

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Man, seriously who drives like that?

The review would not be complete without mentioning the amazing score of Jerry Goldsmith. It adds another layer to what is already a terrific movie, and the theme for Rambo is one that will stick in your head for the remainder of the day, whenever you hear it. This movie is now 35 years old, and you would think it was made yesterday. With some fabulous action scenes, great and very memorable characters, and a story that does also make you think about the futility of some things, this is 80’s action moviemaking at it’s best. It will probably not please everyone, but if you are an action adrenaline junkie and have yet to watch this one, you will be in for a treat. And otherwise it’s a great movie to revisit and to relive the golden 80’s.

I give Rambo:First Blood a 9 out of 10 score.

 

The War for the Planet of the Apes, American movie (2017)

After reviewing Kong Skull Island earlier this week, I thought it would be fun to do another review that featured monkeys, or apes if you prefer. Honestly it is just a coincidence that these reviews are coming out in the same week, as I saw this film quite a while ago. It’s just one of those posts that for some reason I did not get around to earlier. In 1968 the original movie was first released starring Charlton Heston, and it is considered by many to be a science fiction cult classic. And of course it was inevitable that Hollywood at one point would remake this. The first attempt dates back to 2001, and was directed by Tim Burton. Starring Mark Wahlberg, it certainly wasn’t a bad film, but it also can’t be considered a very good one either. However in 2011 Rise of the Planet of the Apes was released. The first movie that would be the start of a new trilogy was a terrific film. It featured amazing special effects that for a change served in telling the story, instead of being the driving force of the movie.

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Hmm, I wonder who the human is in this picture. 

Three years later the sequel Dawn of the Planet of the Apes came out, and it was another amazing film. Again featuring ground breaking special effects, a heartwarming story, and plenty of action, it was a great follow up to the first movie. And now we have the War for the Planet of the Apes, which draws the trilogy to a close. In this third and final film, Caesar together with his family and the rest of his band of apes, tries to live peacefully in a secluded forest. This peace is shattered however when a ruthless human colonel attacks the camp of the apes. After suffering a terrible loss Caesar, together with a few of his most trusted friends, sets out on a path of revenge. In the middle of the quest they stumble across a young human girl who they eventually befriend and decide to bring along on their journey. Their path brings them ever closer to the colonel. Unbeknownst to them however this man has drawn his own plans, and they spell complete and utter doom for the remainder of the apes…..

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Kids these days like Teddy-apes more than Teddy-bears. 

Let me not keep you any further in suspense: War for the Planet of the Apes was a worthy end to a fantastic movie trilogy and then some. With a title that has the word war in it, you would expect a movie that has explosions, loads of action and other stuff like that in it. It’s all the more surprising however that this movie turned out very differently than I expected. This is not an action extravaganza, but more a very thoughtful drama set in a truly believable post apocalyptic science fiction world. We go along with Caesar and his friends on a journey that makes us question our own humanity at times. The apes were definitely possessed of more kindness, than the humans that were in this film. In fact, besides the young girl, there is not a single human character that you can relate to. Which is a good thing, because it’s the apes that you want to grow attached to in this movie. And they are brought to life in hyper realistic computer effects, that make the apes look completely real and lifelike.

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Haha, I am not worried you will miss me anyway. 

The main character Caesar is again played by Andy Serkis, who already did such amazing work playing as Gollum in the Lord of the Rings saga. Even though his face is completely hidden by computer effects, Caesar almost feels like a human, and that is mostly because of the amazing work of this actor. The colonel is played by veteran actor Woody Harrelson. His character is pretty much as far from being human as one can be, which is funny considering he is almost the only human being you get to see in this picture. At least as far as the bigger roles go that is. Harrelson creates a truly loathsome character, that you will grow to hate throughout this film. And that of course is a credit to the acting skills of Woody.

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Hey, come over here. Did you hear that joke about the monkey and the human? 

War for the Planet of the Apes is a movie that I label as a must see picture. I would even go so far as to call this closing installment the best part of the entire trilogy. Some people may at times feel the movie is moving along too slow. I was never bored for one second though. All the scenes that were in the film were created with a single purpose in mind: to make us truly feel for a group of apes and see them in the same light as normal human actors. And I would say the film certainly succeeded in that mission. The movie is a truly beautiful film to look at, with amazing special effects, and a heartbreaking but ultimately hopeful tale as well. I highly recommend this movie. Even if you don’t regularly like science fiction I think you might still enjoy watching this one. Only if you are expecting an action fest it might be wise to avoid this one, for this is most certainly not an action oriented film.

I give War for the Planet of the Apes a 9 out of 10 score.

Dunkirk, American/Uk/French/Dutch movie (2017)

When a new year is about to start, I always enjoy looking at the things that will be coming out in that year for television and the big screen. And every year there are a few movies that you are looking forward to even more than others. Last year I had the pleasure of seeing a five minute preview for the movie Dunkirk in the cinema. It was shown right before Star Wars Rogue One, and I dare say that it got my blood pumping more than Rogue One ever did. Made by my favorite director Christopher Nolan, it would be a departure from his usual films. Known for movies such as the Dark Knight trilogy and Inception, this would be his first outing in the war movie genre. Ever since that first taste of the film, Dunkirk became the movie that I really got excited for the most this year. I saw the film last night and it is with a heavy heart that I have to say I was definitely disappointed by it.

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Don’t worry, I am covering my face for the rest of the movie.

Dunkirk is based on a true story that took place at the beginning of World War II. A large group of allied soldiers become trapped on the beaches of Dunkirk. Cut off from their allies, and surrounded by German forces, the situation looks very grim for these troops. But then a call goes out and a fleet is assembled with the mission to try and evacuate as much of the trapped forces as they can. But it is not a fleet of navy vessels that is sent out, but instead a group of non combatants with fishing boats, pleasure crafts, and more vessels like those. But with German bombers flying overhead, it is an intensely dangerous job to attempt any kind of rescue. Much less by people who are not trained in war at all. Will the mission succeed, or is the insane plan doomed from the start?

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Yeah, no need to look up in the sky, it’s definitely going to rain today.

Dunkirk is a brilliant movie from a technical point of view. The story that unfolds is covered by three different major threads that are interwoven together. One deals with the battle on the ground, another with the fight at the sea, and the last one tells the story of the dogfights high up in the air. What this movie manages to do is create an intense atmosphere of true desperation. The audience is thrust right into the middle of the action, and right from the start you feel the horror and fear these people must have felt throughout these terrible events. The camerawork and sounds created for the film are amazing and at times totally breathtaking. Never before has the sound of bullets sounded more terrifying than what you hear in this movie. All the effects and action you see in this movie are real and it really shows. Not once during the film did I have a moment where I thought that things looked fake. It all looked very realistic and that was another thing this movie did right.

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I believe I can fly….

But for all it’s technical brilliance, there was one very important thing that this movie lacked, and that was the human element. All of the characters this movie focussed on might as well have been extras in this film. There was no background on them, no kind of emotional depth, absolutely nothing at all that could make you relate to them. And that for me made the movie a disappointment. When you look back in history to movies such as Saving Private Ryan or the more recent Hacksaw Ridge, you felt for the characters that you watched. They were real people, and because of that you cared what happened to them. In this film, not once did I feel like that. All of them are just pretty much faceless people that are needed to move the story forward, but that’s about it.

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Come on in, the water is great.

That’s why it is also very hard to talk about the performances in this movie. Tom Hardy, one of my favorite current actors plays a fighter pilot, that spents most of the film covered by a flightmask. It reminded me of his role as Bane in The Dark Knight Rises. But Bane was a very interesting character and even though the character he plays in this movie is truly a hero, it was just simply not an impressive role. The one person that at least managed to put a bit of depth in his character was actor Mark Rylance. Rylance plays the role of one of the men that heeds the call for the rescue attempt, and together with his son Peter and a teenage boy called George heads out to sea. Mark certainly played the most interesting character from the film, and he is also the one that at least gets a chance to act. The rest of the cast are simply forgettable, not because of their acting, but because they have almost no dialogue to speak off.

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Look! Up in the sky! It’s a bird, it’s a plane no it’s erm….never mind…

Dunkirk could have been an absolute masterpiece. If Nolan had spent more time focussing on creating characters that you could actually relate to, this film would really have been a classic. Instead we now have a warmovie that is cold but still incredibly tense and with a gripping atmosphere. It certainly wasn’t a waste of my movieticket, and I still enjoyed it enough to recommend the movie to you. It deserves to be seen in the cinema, as this movie was truly made for a big screen showing. Just don’t expect to be moved by this movie in the way the true classics of the past were able to do.

I give Dunkirk a 7 out of 10 score.

Transformers:the Last Knight, American movie (2017)

Well, if we are to believe mister Michael Bay, supposedly this is the last time he takes the plunge into the world of Transformers. I do say supposedly on purpose, because he has made this statement quite a few times already in the past. And we all know what happened with those words: they were covered up in a pretty large sum of money. Michael Bay has always been a director that has been receiving large amounts of very negative press, especially where the Transformers are considered. It has also divided the fan community as well, with some people absolutely hating the direction he has taken the beloved robots in disguise into. This fifth part of the franchise has certainly been pounded into the ground the most. Pretty much every single review, with maybe one or two exceptions, has completely destroyed this movie. As such, despite being a fan of the previous films, my expectations for this one were at their lowest. Let us see if this movie really deserves the amount of punishment it has been receiving. Roll out!

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Really fighting a giant robot with a wooden stick is the best idea you came up with?

This movie continues the story almost right from where part 4 ended. Optimus Prime has left Earth in search of his creators and hasn’t been heard from in quite a while. On Earth almost every single government has declared the Transformers as outcasts, and a special task force called the Transformer Reaction Force (TRF) has been established to destroy and kill them all. Cade Yeager together with Bumblebee try to save as many Transformers as they can, but it is an almost impossible task. During one of their rescue attempts, he comes into possession of a mysterious metallic talisman, that might hold the key to saving the Earth from an ancient threat. Together with an English lord who seems to know more about the object, and a beautiful female Oxford professor, Cade tries to stay alive while on the run from Decepticons who are also after the talisman. But amidst all the chaos there are indications that the homeworld of the Transformers is on it’s way to Earth, bringing doom for every single living being on the planet. But the greatest threat comes in a very unexpected way: namely in the form of a robot called Optimus Prime…..

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Yes Megatron, we know you are evil, you don’t have to look at us like that.

This is a typical Bay movie, and that means you know what you can expect from it. Mindless action, slowmotion shots, explosions and an almost non-existent story. Yep, this movie certainly has all of these elements in it. I’ve heard it said that because of this fans will use it as an argument to say that this is the reason for watching it any way. Well, I am a fan of Transformers, both the old cartoons and these new movies, but from an objective point of view I have to say this movie was one of the weakest installments from the franchise. That’s not to say that this film is as bad as everyone says it is, there is still enough in it to enjoy, but the engine certainly has run out of steam. For a movie that is supposed to feature robots kicking the crap out of each other, there is actually quite a lack of scenes like that in this film. Except for a gigantic battlescene near the end, we hardly see robots fighting each other, but instead it focusses on the human elements engaging the Transformers.

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This is a new form of American Football that will be introduced next year.

The special effects are still every bit as impressive, and you can certainly tell that is where most of the budget for the movie went. The Transformers themselves look awesome, especially a new robotic dragon form that makes it’s first appearance here. The humor for this movie was the thing that was ridiculed the most by everyone in reviews. Comedy is a very selective thing, and admittedly there were certainly quite a number of cringeworthy scenes in it. But, during those scenes, there were also a lot of people in the audience with me that did laugh out loud. Which means that it’s all a matter of perspective. What works for some people, might not work for others. I did have a few laughs as well, but the humor certainly wasn’t it’s strongest point. That honour still goes to the numerous special effects and action sequences.

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I am Optimus Prime….yes…we heard you the first 300 times. 

Lastly we ofcourse have the human factor, this time represented by Mark Wahlberg who reprises his role from part four, and none other than Sir Anthony Hopkins. Hopkins plays the role of the English Lord Edmund Burton, a role which suited him, and he seemed to be having a lot of fun while playing it. The female element this time comes in the form of the beautiful actress Laura Haddock, who plays the love interest for Mark Wahlberg’s character. Ofcourse as you know Bay always objectifies his women and this movie is no exception, although when compared to the previous films it wasn’t too bad I guess. Lastly we have the young actress Isabela Moner who plays the role of the kid Izabella who gets caught up in the war by accident. Her part, though small, was pretty interesting, and I wish she would have had a larger role in the film.

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Let’s shed a little light on the subject shall we? 

So, in the end we are left with a film that just feels like a washed up version of what has come before. There were certainly enough things in it that I did enjoy, like for instance a King Arthur angle that was pretty interesting, and the large scale battle at the end. But most of the scenes in between felt more like filler, and it almost seems like they just ran out of ideas of what to do. Combined with a pretty weak story, and action scenes that also weren’t as impressive as what came before, this was definitely the least interesting part of the franchise. Still, the heavy flack this movie has been receiving has blown things way out of proportion. This is still mindless fun, and certainly has enough entertainment value to make it worth a trip to the cinema. Just don’t expect to enjoy it as much as the previous ones. It will be interesting to see in what direction this franchise will go with a new director at the helm. Only time will tell I guess.

I give Transformers the Last Knight a 6 out of 10 score.

 

 

Lone Survivor, American Movie (2013)

Choices. In your life you will make quite a few of them. Most of these will be very small. For instance will I take the salad today, or am I going for the hamburger? But there are also choices that will have a lot more impact. A decision that you will look at from every angle in order to see what impact it might have on your life. If you are like me, hopefully those choices how ever hard they might be, will not involve life or death situations. Unfortunately though, there are also people in this world that come face to face with these kind of things on pretty much a daily basis. The movie Lone Survivor deals with the consequences of just such a life or death choice.

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Some people take Call of Duty just way too seriously.

Lone Survivor is based on a true story. A group of American soldiers is tasked with the capture or kill of the high profile Taliban leader Ahmed Shah. This man is responsible for the killing of a number of American soldiers, as well as local villagers that were aiding the American forces. A four man SEAL team including teamleader Michael Murphy is inserted in the region where Ahmed is supposed to reside. When the group is beginning to near their target, an old man and two children accidentally stumble across the soldiers. From this point on the SEALs are faced with a terrible choice: they either let them go and risk discovery, or kill them and make sure the mission can be accomplished. With the group divided on what to do, time is running out and with every second that passes they are in more danger. The ultimate decision lies with Michael, but whatever he finally chooses to do, it will be a choice that will haunt him for the rest of his life.

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The things you find in Christmas trees these days.

The strength of this film is definitely the story. Really, ask yourself the same question, what would you do when faced with a situation like this? Even if you make the choice that might be the morally correct one, it may end up costing you your life, and the lives of your team mates. It is a really terrible dilemma, and one that is presented in terrific way in this film. A movie like this could fall into the trap of becoming a commercial for the American warmachine, but it thankfully avoids doing that. It shows both sides of the conflict, without passing judgement on what is right or wrong. The fact that this movie is based on a true story, makes it only more powerful and realistic.

Lone Survivor
Sometimes you just want to take a break from it all.

The cast that was assembled for this movie does an awesome job. We have Mark Wahlberg, who plays the role of Marcus Luttrell, the soldier that feels the strongest about not killing the old man and children. Wahlberg is no stranger to action roles, and this movie certainly has plenty of action sequences, but he can also act. And that he certainly did in this movie, a role I found to be one of his best to date. Actor Ben Foster, who seems to have a different look for every movie he appears in, portrays the role of Matthew Axelson. Now Matthew has the exact opposite opinion of the situation, that Marcus has. This allows for a couple of great verbal exchanges between the two characters, and those serve as some of the best scenes from the movie. The two other team mates are played by Taylor Kitsch and Emile Hirsch, both of whom also do an excellent job. But it is both Wahlberg and Foster that really carry this movie.

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Okay…now you have made me mad: I’m calling Optimus Prime.

This review would not be complete without the mention of the incredible action sequences that are featured in this movie. There is a gunfight scene that I found to be one of the best that I have ever seen put to film. I kid you not. The stuntwork that is carried out in this movie often had me wondering how on Earth they managed to achieve it without people getting hurt or killed. It is really impressive, and only makes the movie even better than it already is. But it is ultimately the story that makes this film so good. When the endcredits finally roll, it will remain in your mind, and have you thinking about the morality of certain things. Lone Survivor is an excellent movie and one I highly recommend for actionlovers that also enjoy watching a well written storyline.

I give Lone Survivor a 9 out of 10 score.

 

Special Features Presents: In the valley of Elah, a collaboration post with Acacia Aurora!

About four weeks ago I was approached by Acacia Aurora, also known as Auri, to do a collaboration post. This is the first time I am doing something like this, so not only am I excited for it, but I am also honored to have been given this chance. Thank you Auri! For those of you that have yet to discover her wonderful blog, you can visit her here . The blog is filled with a lot of great posts about manga and anime, and also her great art. It is well worth the visit, and ofcourse once you are there you should definitely subscribe.

Now her idea for this collaboration was very cool. We have picked a movie, and I have watched the first part of the film, while Auri watches the second part. Based on what we have seen we try to predict what happens, and has happened in the first or second part of the film. And then ofcourse we get to see if we have been right about our predictions! The movie that we have chosen is the drama In the valley of Elah, a 2007 movie starring the fantastic Tommy Lee Jones and Charlize Theron. The film is 1 hour and 56 minutes long, so I have watched the first 58 minutes. Please note that what follows will be full of spoilers, so if you have not yet watched this movie, you have been warned!

In the valley of Elah, part 1

This movie is based on a true story. Tommy Lee Jones plays the retired military police officer Hank Deerfield. His son Mike, who is a soldier, is about to return from a tour of duty in Iraq. But then things begin to get weird. Hank gets a call from the military that his son has not returned, or at the very least has gone missing, and they are about to file him as having gone AWOL. That is the military term for Absent Without Official Leave. Hank does not believe Mike would go off just like that, and is determined to find him. He at first travels to the base where his son was stationed, but that really does not help him much. The only thing he did receive was his son’s cellphone which contains a few videos made by his son in Iraq. The videos are very damaged though, and he has to enlist the help of a specialist in order to decrypt them.

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That coffee must really be good for them to smile this much.

Hank next turns to the local police department. Once there he meets up with detective Emily Sanders, a role played by Charlize Theron. Unfortunately as Mike is in the military at first she does not want to help him, as the official procedure is to file a report with the military police. With Hank getting more desperate by the minute, things take a turn for the worse. A dismembered body has been found, heavily burned and mutilated. Soon the shocking confirmation comes that it is indeed Hank’s son. The body has been found on the terrain of the army, so technically it falls under the jurisdiction of the military. At least that is what is decided at first. The murder of Hank’s son appears to have been caused by a local drug cartel, and it seems that it looks like a drug deal that has gone bad.

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Don’t look at me as if I am an idiot.

Hank does not believe for one second that his son was into drugs, and insists to be taken to the crimescene where his son’s body was found. The military police does not want to offer any kind of help, but then help comes from an unexpected corner. Detective Sanders takes Hank to the crimescene, and once there they find out that the body was moved. This means that it now becomes a police matter again. Emily takes the case to her boss, who pulls some strings to get the jurisdiction back to them. Meanwhile Hank has received a few decrypted videos from his son’s cellphone. Looking through them it seems that Mike was involved in something horrible in Iraq, but exactly what has not yet become clear.

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I wonder what she is thinking about……

With the case now back in Emily’s hands, she tries to talk to to some witnesses, but is pretty much stonewalled by the military, saying that the matter is closed and they already have their statements. Hank and Emily finally begin to work together, and and are also getting some mutual respect for each other. Emily invites him over for dinner with her young son, and also to discuss their next move. After dinner Hank tries to read a bedtime story to Emily’s son…..and it is at this point that I hit the 58 minute mark!

My impressions

So far this movie has been incredibly entertaining. Tommy Lee Jones gives one of the best performances of his entire career as the desperate father who is determined to find out the truth. But Charlize also plays very well as the detective who is also despised by her colleagues. The atmosphere for this movie is very dark and gritty. I also love the way the story so far is having some really nice twists and turns, and really keeps you guessing what will happen next. I absolutely have to contain myself not to watch any further, but ofcourse I am not going to that. And now for the hard part!

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Erm, I really don’t wish to intrude, but I think you might need a bigger flashlight.

My predictions for part 2

The big question is ofcourse: was Mike murdered by a local drug cartel? My guess is no. I think that Mike has seen something in Iraq that he was not supposed to see, and that he was murdered because of that. I also believe that this might have been done by members of his own unit. The stonewalling of the military throughout the movie so far, is making it clear to me, that they want to cover something up. It might be that  an attack in Iraq has gone bad, and they murdered civilians or something like that. I also think that both Hank and Emily will get in over their heads, and their lives will be in danger. In the end though, the truth will be revealed, and his son’s reputation restored. Emily will also finally get the respect she deserves from her colleagues, because of solving the case. Hank, though full of grief, will be able to move on and find peace. Well…at least that is what I think will happen. Let’s see if I am correct, or completely wrong. Auri: over to you! You can find out what happens next by reading Auri’s post, which you can find here.

Anthropoid, Uk/Czech Republic movie (2016)

If there is one thing I like in movies, it is good acting. A movie can at times by mediocre, but still be raised to extraordinary heights by a great performance from an an actor or actress. And when the movie itself is great as well, you might get something really special. The warmovie Anthropoid came and went pretty quietly last year. I had seen the trailer for it, and it immediately caught my attention. Unfortunately I had missed this one in the theatres, but to my big surprise this week it appeared on Netflix. And I am glad it did, because this small movie is pretty amazing.

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Sometimes it’s just best to say nothing. 

Anthropoid is based on a true story. It takes place in the year 1941 where the country of Czechoslovakia is occupied by Nazi Germany. The entire country is held in a reign of terror mostly caused by Hitler’s third in command the murderous Reinhard Heydrich. It is during these troubled times that two agents, Jozef and Jan, are parachuted into their homeland. Quickly they go in search for the local resistance to help them with their mission: the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich. However with Germans around every corner, and people within their own ranks they might not be able to trust, their mission might be over without ever having a chance to succeed….

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Yep, he is the guy from that movie. 

If I could only name one reason for you to get you to see this film, it would be actor Cillian Murphy. He plays the role of Jozef, and for me it has been one of the best roles of his eentire career. The true desperation, but also the belief he has in his mission, are portrayed perfectly by him. At times it almost felt as if he wasn’t even acting any more. His co-star Jamie Dornan, who plays Jan should also not be dismissed though. Jan is somewhat weaker and more nervous than Jozef, and Jamie carried out this role perfectly. The film mainly focusses on these two men, and as such the rest of the supporting characters don’t have as much layers to them as Jozef and Jan.

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That guy on the right looks pretty bored.

The film starts as a bit of a slowburner, but even so, you can feel an underlying tension that keeps building up. The second half of the movie has some incredibly trilling scenes, that are at times truly nailbiting. Another thing that is worth mentioning is the cinematography. The film really looks amazing, and together with the amazing sets and costumes really convince you that you are right there in 1941. This is definitely not an easy movie to watch, especially near the end, where a couple of very gruesome scenes are shown. Honestly these scenes almost seem like they are from a different film, as they did not really fit the tone of the rest of the movie. That said though, this is a very good film, with incredible performances and a really compelling and thrilling story. If you like warmovies that are a little bit different, than I highly recommend this one.

I give Anthropoid a 9 out of 10 score.

Special Features Presents: Macross

When I was a young boy (and wow this makes me sound really old), my favorite cartoon and toy was Transformers. I just loved it. Robots that could transform into cars, planes, weapons: it was just a seriously awesome concept. But then I was introduced to a series called Robotech. And that series took the concept of transformable robots to a whole new level. I did not know at the time that Robotech was made up of three totally unrelated animeseries. These three shows were completely rewritten into a new storyline that tied it all together. Robotech will always be holding a special place in my heart, as it introduced me to the wonderful world of anime.

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Yes this ship is seriously awesome.

One of the most popular segments of Robotech was the Macross saga. Macross has always been regarded as one of the anime series that laid the groundwork for the Mecha anime genre. In this special features post I intend to give a bit of an overview of the entire saga so far, although I will only be focussing on the tv series and OVA’s. There have also been a few movies, but as this post will already be pretty long, I decided not to include those. Before I start I will begin by talking about a few things that have always been common to pretty much every new series of the franchise.

Macross: common themes

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A love triangle can be very hard indeed.

One of the coolest things in Macross are the transformable fighter planes known as the Valkyries. All of these planes can transform into a robot, but also a hybrid version of the robot/fighter, known as the Gerwalk. With every series released there were new versions of these planes that were introduced. Another common theme in every show was the love triangle. Yes, romance is definitely a factor in Macross, but luckily it is usually not romance of the sappy kind. Lastly music is also very important to the Macross franchise, and in every series to date there has been some kind of singer or band, that takes the fight to the enemy. So now that I have adressed the common themes let’s start for real with the overview.

The Super Dimension Fortress Macross (1982)

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Just in case you are wondering, that is planet Earth these ships are firing at.

The show that started it all, tells the story of a gigantic spaceship crashlanding on Earth. Ten years after the crash, humanity has rebuild the enormous ship, now known as the SDF-1. But then the original owners of the ship return, the gigantic beings known as the Zentradi. Their mission is to retrieve the ship at all cost, and thus begins the first intergalactic war. With a cast of great characters, truly amazing fight sequences, a terrific story, and some heroic deaths, this series is still very much worth the watch. This 36 episode series is definitely your starting point. Even though it is a very old anime, don’t let yourself be held off by that, as it is has withstood the test of time very well.

Super Dimensional Fortress Macross II: Lovers again (1992)

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Sometimes you just get bored by it all and fall asleep.

Ten years after the original series, this six episode show takes place 80 years after the events of the original anime. We are introduced to a new enemy called the Mardook, who seem to be invulnerable to mankinds most powerful attacks. A young reporter is thrust right in the middle of the new war that is about to begin, and may eventually hold the key to stopping the conflict. This series was highly anticipated, but eventually was not well received by the original Macross saga fans. I quite liked it myself, but it definitely is not as good as the show that started it all. In the end this series is now not considered to be part of the Macross timeline anymore.

Macross Plus (1994)

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Who put that helmet on my back….seriously…..

With Macross II being dismissed as a sequel, Macross Plus was henceforth recognised as the first official sequel to the original series. This 4 part anime tells the story of two testpilots that have a deep rivalry between them, and also happen to like the same girl. Meanwhile a powerful A.I. has some very bad intentions when it plans to take over the battlefortress Macross itself. This series was pretty cool. It featured some truly terrific fightsequences, and great animation. The opening tune composed by legend Yoko Kanno, I still consider to be one of the most beautiful scores for an anime series.

Macross 7 (1994)

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I get annoyed just by looking at that guy….

To date this is the only Macross series that I have not completely finished. With 49 episodes it is also the longest. It takes place on the colonyship Macross 7, that is exploring the galaxy, when it encounters the hostile alien force called Protodeviln. I have seen the first few episodes of this series many years ago when I was attending an Animecon. All I remember from it, is that I got seriously annoyed by the rockband Firebomber, that played a major role in this series. I can’t really say much about this series, but from what I have read about it, it is regarded by most fans of Macross as not one of the best installments.

Macross Zero (2002)

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If you only knew what this guy was looking at….

This series is a prequel to the original Macross saga. As I have recently done a review for this anime, I won’t say too much about this one, but instead I will provide a link to my review, which you can find here.

Macross Frontier (2008)

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This picture was just to cool not to include. 

This new 25 part anime series was made for the 25th anniversary of Macross, and it is truly awesome. The best way to describe this one is as a kind of reboot for the entire series, and you can pretty much watch it, without ever having seen any of the previous shows. A Frontier fleet comes under attack by a strange new enemy, and a group of young fighter pilots get caught up in the middle. It featured some of the best characters and music from the franchise, and it has truly become one my favorite Macross anime series to date.

Macross Delta (2015)

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Spice girls: the reboot. 

This is the final series that has been made so far. It was unfortunately not as good as Frontier, and this was mainly because the plot was at times hard to follow and it featured way too many characters. I have also done a review for this series, which you can find here.

Final thoughts.

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Can’t we all be friends? 

Macross is still one of my favorite anime franchises to date. While not every installment is good, there is always something included that makes it worth watching. One of the best things about it will always be the music, and the incredible fightsequences. Those are pretty much the trademarks of the entire franchise. If you like science fiction space opera, than I highly recommend these shows. I hope this post will serve as a handy reference for you, whenever you might feel a bit overwhelmed by the enormous amount of shows that are out there. Currently work has begun on a new series to coincide with the 35th anniversary of Macross. There has so far been very little news about it, except for the fact that it will be released in 2018.

So over to you! Have you ever watched Macross? If so did you enjoy it? Do you have any favorite series or characters? Let me know in the comments section below. As always thank you for reading, and see you at the next post!