Monthly Archives: August 2011
What would you do?
The potential to unleash the human brain in a simple, little pill.
Ecstasy without the stupidity you can swallow in one gulp that can change who you are, an enhanced version of what you are. This is what dreams are made of, the American Dream is made of. (The Japanese Dream is made of this as well, but that’s another discussion for another time.)
This movie is based on the book The Dark Fields by Alan Glynn, and it is now known as Limitless. This is book is available for Amazon and Kindle as well. However, this review is not of the book or e-book but rather of the movie.
Bradley Cooper, of the recent remake A-Team fame, stars as Edward “Eddie” Mora, an inspiring author but becomes much more. Abbie Cornish, of Sucker Punch fame, stars as Lindy, his girlfriend. Johnny Whitworth plays Vernon Gant, the brother of his ex-wife, Melissa Gant. Anna Friel stars as Melissa Gant. Robert De Niro stars as Carl Van Loon, a powerful and power-hungry businessman. Tomas Arana plays the Man in the Tan Coat. Richard Bekins stars as Hank Atwood, Carl Van Loon’s rival and the Man in the Tan Coat’s employer. Andrew Howard stars as Gannady, the Russian loan shark. Brian Anthony Wilson plays the Detective throughout this movie.
An unemployed writer, Eddie Mora, is dumped by his girlfriend, Lindy, due to his inability to complete a book. However, when he is introduced to NZT-48, a designer pharmaceutical designed to use 100 percent of the human brain instead of the usual 20 percent, Eddie Mora changes and grants him exceptional ability to calculate and manipulate the world around him. He is granted charisma that he never had. He is granted intelligence that he never had. And with both, he becomes a better man until he is found a suspect of murder of a super model. He is exploited by Carl Van Loon and chased by hit-men who want the stolen NZT soon after. Addiction of NZT and its price bears its ugly head to those who have taken it, and cataclysmic events fall upon each other until the end.
Limitless was a surprisingly captivating movie for the most part. The movie itself simulated the effects of NZT as some shots move extremely quickly. When Lindy took the drug eventually, the movie showed how she calculated her means of escape. This movie reminded me of Scott Pilgrim vs. the World in that the movie was specifically made for the modern public, the modern ADD-driven public. The drama is fast-moving as well — until the middle. When the discussion of the malignant effects of NZT, the movie went into neutral for a while and almost lost my interest.
This movie asks a lot of questions about addiction and the price of superior intellect and stardom. It was Requiem for a Dream minus the bleak outlook on life. This movie was deep without being grandiose about it.
Verdict (Out of 10)
This movie was a solid 9 for me. This movie would be perfect for a good philosophical discussion about society and its needs and wants. In this modern world where intelligence, charisma and speed (e.g., multi-tasking) are of the essence, this movie begs the questions as to the price of these valued personal assets — the physical and social price. Some college students, particularly Ivy League students, can relate to this as they take uppers and Red Bull to keep awake as they seek better grades than their peers. NZT would be much the same and perhaps be abused just as much.
This movie has convinced me to read the book Limitless as well. It leaves a significant impact on the viewer. It is that good.
Legend of the Fist: Return of Chen Zhen is one solid martial arts movie, part Batman, part Green Hornet, part martial arts movie and part historical movie (in the broadest sense) as well. This movie is the successor to the television series Fist of Fury, with Donnie Yen reprising the role played by Bruce Lee in the 1972 martial arts film Fist of Fury.
Donnie Yen is the main protagonist, Chen Zhen. Qi Shu stars as Kiki, Zhen’s girlfriend. Anthony Wong plays Liu Yutian, the owner of the Casablanca night club in Shanghai. Huang Bo stars as Huang Haolong, the police inspector. Shawn Yue stars as General Zheng, the northern warlord who Chen Zhen saves from assassins long ago. Huo Siyan stars as Weiwei, Zheng’s girlfriend. Ma Yue plays General Zhuo, Zheng’s rival, and Ma Su plays his wife. The main antagonist of the film is Japanese Colonel Chikaraishi Takeshi. His father was killed by Chen Zhen years ago.
Seven years after the apparent death of Chen Zhen, before the Second Sino-Japanese War, Chen joins a group of Chinese men to fight the Germans during the first World War. After the battle, Chen returns to Shanghai, China to find it occupied by the Japanese. Taking on a disguise, he battles the mafia, only to find them aligned with the Japanese. The Japanese are led by Colonel Chikaraishi Takeshi who doesn’t take kindly to the Chinese resistance, and he ultimately retaliates harshly. As the Japanese push the Chinese to the brink, Chen Zhen finally steps in to confront the Colonel in a final showdown.
Again, we find Donnie Yen in a familiar plot, fighting against the Japanese in China. He fought Miura in Ip Man, and now he’s fighting Chikaraishi Takeshi, another practitioner of the Japanese martial arts. But this time, Donnie Yen dons a costume and finally Bruce Lee’s uniform at the end.
Majority of the action sequences were quite good. The fight in the printing press room was great although quite fast. Donnie Yen showed elements of Wing Chun as he fought each that opposed him with the ability to adapt to the environment much like Jackie Chan.
The last fight scene was supposed to be the greatest, but it lacked the impact of Ip Man‘s final fight with Miura. The scene was too lengthy and tried to add too much. In other words, the scene was a bit over-saturated perhaps. Donnie Yen’s imitation of Bruce Lee in that scene was fantastic though, as he imitated Bruce Lee’s poses almost perfectly.
Verdict (Out of 10)
I won’t be quite as harsh as some of the other critics out there, as I quite enjoyed the film myself. It wasn’t traditional Donnie Yen territory as it leaned toward material of Jet Li. The martial arts scenes were entertaining although sometimes a bit much. Overall, it was an 8 out of 10 for me although this movie was not without its flaws.
It’s summer already, and video games have come alive during this long, hot and tumultuous summer. Whereas most people have gone vacationing on beaches, enjoying the bright sun, some gamers have chosen to stay inside to enjoy the guilty pleasure of video games. Here are 10 top games for the summer to enjoy – while the last bit of summer remains.
- Transformers: Dark of the Moon. Although this is a movie tie-in and prequel, this game is still pretty good nonetheless. The single-player campaign is a bit short, and the multi-player could use some work. However, it is a solid Transformers game and ignore the critics that wanted Transformers: War for Cybertron 2 instead.
- Catherine. The much-awaited Japanese game that’s slightly less difficult than the Japanese version of said game and coming to the shores to the United States. It has platforming, puzzle-solving, sexual innuendos and anime all wrapped into one. However, the platforming is a bit on the touchy side. It’s one of those games you either love or you hate…
- Alice: Madness Returns. This is the sequel to the original Alice. Although not ground-breaking, it is still a solid platforming and hack-and-slash. The storytelling is still par and solid single-player experience although missing a bit at the end.
- Trenched. A real-time tower defense and action-strategy hybrid with mechanized mobile trenches by Double Fine. Great animations, lots of explosions and sufficient strategy for those into these kind of games. I enjoy this game tremendously.
- Toy Soldiers: Cold War. This is the sequel to the original Toy Soldiers released last year. The original Toy Soldiers was a combination of tower defense and real-time strategy-action game and was received with positive reception. Toy Soldiers was a great game in my opinion, and this sequel should be no different. This game is part of XBox Live’s Summer of Arcade.
- Ms. Splosion Man. With improvement in graphics and same fluidity in controls, this sequel to the original Splosion Man in XBox Live Arcade is far more difficult. However, it is enjoyable as the first and just as addictive. It will aggravate you at times with the difficulty scale, but upon defeating the level, you will feel rewarded. The original Splosion Man was far easier than this game, if frustration gets to you early.
- Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet. Interesting blend of exploration and combat, a little UFO is taken to explore different lands in an artistic world. Although the game is extremely short, it is very good for entertainment. This game was much like Limbo or the Portal series in that there is little to no narrative as to what exactly is going on. This game is part of XBox Live’s Summer of Arcade.
- Deus Ex: Human Revolution. The much-anticipated game will debut in later this month. It will feature both first and third-person views in a shooter-role-playing-hybrid. The original Deus Ex spawned successors in Borderlands and other shooter-role-playing-hybrids today.
- From Dust. This game is from a god-like perspective to assist a nomadic tribe in a turbulent land. This game is part of XBox Live’s Summer of Arcade.
- Madden NFL 12. Although not groundbreaking as some of the other games listed above, this is among one of the most popular sports games. Again, it should rack handsome sales numbers, particularly since the NFL lockout has been over for the past few weeks.
With superhero action movies on the rise, like Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger, this movie is not one of them. It is based on the popular video game series Tekken, a strategic fast-paced fighting game. The video game series is popular both in the United States and Japan. This movie is better than the original Mortal Kombat movie, but both still have some degree of campiness to it. This movie much less so, and it does play favors for those who played Tekken before. This movie is not Academy Award-winning material, but it is surprisingly worth a watch.
Jon Foo stars as the main protagonist, Jin Kazama. Tamlyn Tomita plays as Jun Kazama, Jin’s mother. Mircea Monroe stars as Kara, Jin’s love interest in the slums, known as the Anvil.
Upon entering the formal Tekken tournament proper, Jin meets his allies and rivals. Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa stars as Heihachi Mishima, the head of the Tekken Corporation. Ian Anthony Dale stars as Kazuya Mishima, Heihachi’s son and one of the heirs to the Tekken Corporation. Luke Goss plays Steve Fox, one of Jin’s allies in the tournament. Kelly Overton plays Christie Montiero, Jin’s love interest in the Tekken tournament.
Cung Le stars as Marshall Law, Jin’s first rival. Darren Dewitt Henson plays Raven. Candice Hillebrand stars as Nina Williams, and Marian Zapico stars as Anna Williams, her sister. Gary Daniels plays Brian Fury, the half-cyborg kickboxer. Anton Kasabov stars as Sergei Dragunov, the former Spetsnaz officer. Lateef Crowder plays Eddy Gordo, the Copeira fighter. Roger Huerta stars as Miguel Rojo. Lastly, Gary Ray Stearns plays Yoshimitsu, the samurai swordsman.
The time is 2039, and after world wars have destroyed much of the world, corporations have taken over the run-down territories of which Tekken Corporation became the most dominant and cruelest. Jin Kazama witnesses the death of her mother by the Tekken Corporation, and after rummaging through her things, he finds out that she herself participated in the tournament. Seeking revenge for her untimely death, Jin defeats Marshall Law and finds a way inside the tournament. After defeating several of his rivals in the tournament, he seeks Heihachi Mishima’s head, but things don’t quite go as Jin thought it would. The tournament itself begins to unravel…
Unlike some other people, I didn’t think this movie was altogether horrible. True, it had campiness to it, much like Mortal Kombat. Compared to Mortal Kombat, this movie was slightly better as it paid tribute to the players of Tekken video game series. Most of the characters performed the signature moves of their respective video game counterparts. However, most of the martial arts sequences turned into mixed martial art fights instead. The martial arts sequences were remarkably entertaining generally.
Where it turned sour perhaps was that the movie does not follow the Tekken series storylines and all the characters spoke proper English, sometimes with a British accent. Kazuya Mishima was a bit disconcerting as he didn’t have the graveling voice in the video game series. In light of this, there was ample eye-candy in the movie, particularly Christie Monteiro. This movie was obviously catered to gamerboys rather than gamergirls who played Tekken, as some of the sequences featured revealing women dancing or otherwise.
Verdict (Out of 10)
Despite its flaws, it was a solid action movie. It is certainly better than some of the other video game-related movies to date in my frank opinion. I would rank this movie a 6 out of 10. This movie is no artistic masterpiece, but it is worth a $1 Redbox rental.
With the recent release of [REC] 2 on DVD and Blu-ray, it would come to pass that Quarantine 2: Terminal would come, sooner rather than later. This sequel to the original Quarantine started out fairly decently but once the zombies came, the movie unraveled and fell apart.
This cast was not particularly notable, but here’s the rundown on the main characters. Mercedes Masohn stars as Jenny, one of the airline stewardesses. Bre Blair plays the other stewardess, Paula. Josh Cooke stars as Henry, Jenny’s potential love interest. Ignacio Serrichio stars as Ed, the baggage handler at Las Vegas Airport. Noree Victoria stars as Shilah, the Army medic. Mattie Liptak stars as George, the teenager on his solo flight. George Back plays Ralph, the heavyset golf player. Captain Forrest is played by John Curran. His co-pilot Wilson is played Andrew Benator. The rest of the cast, for the most part, are secondary characters.
Paula and Jenny are on their way to LAX for their flight to Nashville. They escort young George onto the plane. As the film shows each of the passengers, Henry is the most notable, carrying hamsters on board the plane. One of these hamsters bite Ralph, and then that’s when the trouble begins. Ralph becomes infected and enraged that the airplane is forced to land at Las Vegas Airport. As slowly each passenger member becomes infected, Ed and the remaining survivors fight back against the zombie onslaught. Eventually, the survivors dwindle down from three to two and then one.
As much as the front of the case indicated it was “first class terror,” this movie was anything but. Most of these frights have already been done before and much better, like the remake of Dawn of the Dead. Additionally, there was really no empathy for the passengers, other than George and perhaps Jenny. With these claustrophobic environments, it could have been done much better in my honest opinion. The final sequence though had remarkable similarities to [REC] though as it was filmed with night-vision goggles, and it bore some creepiness to it.
Verdict (Out of 10)
Overall, it was a 5 out of 10. This horror movie actually made me yawn halfway through as I had no pressing empathy for most of the passengers. It was unlike Dawn of the Dead where each of the characters were fleshed out. If you intend on watching a recent zombie movie, I would recommend [REC] 2 over this movie. At least with [REC] 2, they built empathy for some of the characters.
With over-saturated film becoming the standard in action films since the popularity of 300, The Warrior’s Way is no different. However, the entire film isn’t saturated, just some parts of the film. It is a combination of a spaghetti western crossed with martial arts movie, with similarities to Kill Bill 2. However, despite its artistic sheen and artistic violence, the movie got lost in its own lore.
Jang Dong-run stars as Yang, the greatest warrior of the land. The Saddest Flute is played by Lung Ti. These two are the major players of the Sad Flutes clan.
In the Western town of Lode, Geoffrey Rush stars as Ron, the town drunk and master sniper. Kate Bosworth stars as Lynn, Yang’s love interest in this movie. Danny Huston stars as the Colonel, the major threat to the town of Lode. Tony Cox stars as Eight-Ball, essentially the mayor and the ringmaster of the dismantled circus townsfolk.
In 19th century Asia, Yang seeks out to become the greatest warrior of the land and ultimately defeats the Saddest Flute as comrades fall on each sides of this battle. However, he sees a baby girl of the opposite clan. Instead of killing her, Yang decides to rescue her. However, as a result, he is pursued by the Sad Flutes and the supposedly fallen Saddest Flute.
Yang finds a boat and heads west toward the town of Lode where he sought to find a friend, Smiley. However, Smiley died a three years ago, and through some convincing by Lynne, he takes over the laundry shop with her assistance. He meets Eight-Ball, Ron and the rest of the circus townsfolk. Eventually, Yang discovers that the Colonel brought despair onto the town years ago and still brings trouble to the town of Lode to date. Eventually, repercussions bring about even more repercussions, and the whole town explodes as a lengthy battle begins.
Although this movie has elements of Kill Bill 2 and other martial arts movies, combined with the over-saturated film, the story itself failed to draw me in. The characters were too campy for their own good. The only salvageable parts were the action sequences somewhat, particularly when he fought the clan of the Sad Flutes.
Verdict (Out of 1o)
This movie gets a 6 out of 10 for me. Although it was an artistic movie overall, without a compelling story and moving characters, the audience has very little vested in the movie, including myself.
With the advent of this fourth generation Roku, quite a few sites were singing praises. However, beneath the new smaller, sexier exterior lies some faulty electronics.
Roku 2 XS Device
The Roku 2 XS is about one-third the size of the original Roku and has an ethernet port, HDMI port, A/V port, microSD card slot (for expanding available channels) and a power cord slot. It consumes less than 2 Watts when streaming HD video. The footprint of the device is accommodating to all entertainment centers. The device is accommodating to all universal remotes via infrared. The device comes with free full edition of Angry Birds, the casual game on seemingly every motion-driven device from smartphones to tablets.
The remote control has a Bluetooth motion sensor like the Wii. It is easier to switch channels with the D-pad and has A and B buttons on the bottom of the remote for games. The remote also has a seven-second replay feature for streaming movies and television shows.
Although most sites have been singing praises for this new streaming player, this new device gave me problems. Although it took less than ten minutes to connect the device in its entirety from linking to Roku directly and my channels that include MLB TV, Netflix, Amazon Instant Video and NHL Gamecenter, soon afterwards, it had problems remaining connected to my wireless router no matter what. I kept on disconnecting and reconnecting the power supply to no avail. For a short time, I did play Angry Birds on the device, and it played fine, although it lacked the finesse compared to playing on the my Samsung Epic smartphone. Gradually, after the short fun with Angry Birds, the Roku soon failed to recognize my wireless router, despite it being less than 15 feet away. Compared to my original Roku, which only disconnected every four or five months, this new Roku had severe disconnection issues as it continuously kept on failing to recognize my router. Looking upon the Roku support forums and elsewhere, this is seemingly more commonplace than expected with this new generation of smaller Roku streaming players. Overall, this device has been a great disappointment. I expected a lot more out of this company to produce better products, and now, not so much.
My second unit arrived, believing that the first unit must have simply been a lemon perhaps. This second unit remained connected to my wireless router for a short time. Then the same problems resurfaced — it could not remain connected to the router no matter what. Unfortunately, I will be returning this unit as well and asking for the appropriate refund. That being said, it appears that the Roku 2 XS unit, as well as similar units in the series, have serious electronic problems that need to be resolved. Otherwise, new customers may become dismayed at a malfunctioning device. After contending with the second device for several rounds, I gave up and resorted to my older generation Roku player without the Bluetooth remote and Angry Birds. On the bright side, it remains connected…