Diary of a Network Geek

The trials and tribulations of a Certified Novell Engineer who's been stranded in Houston, Texas.


Review: The Bounty Hunter

Filed under: Fun,Movies,Personal,Review — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Dragon which is in the early morning or 8:18 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous


Originally uploaded by Network Geek

I saw The Bounty Hunter Friday last week.

I know, I’ve been bad about letting things go between updates here, even though I’ve mostly reduced things to just doing movie reviews. I’ve been busy.
In any case, I did get out to see The Bounty Hunter staring Jennifer Anniston and Gerard Butler. They star as a formerly married people. He was a cop and she was a cub reporter. Now, she’s a very successful reporter and he’s a bounty hunter. The funny thing is, while she was working on a story, she got a little tangled up with the courts for a minor altercation that got a little blown out of proportion. Well, now, she’s working on another story and, as she’s about to go into court, she gets a call from a source, so she misses her court date. Naturally, what that means is that her bail gets revoked and a bench warrant for her arrest. Can you guess who gets the job?

And you can pretty well guess where the comedy goes from there. Of course, it is funny. I mean, really, it is. But, it’s a romantic comedy, even though these two start off divorced. At first, the movie is about him chasing her and trying to bring her back to jail. But, her story quickly becomes a problem as the people she’s investigating try to kill her. And, mayhem ensues.

I don’t have time for my regular, in depth review this morning, but let me say that this movie was far funnier than I thought it would be. I mean, look at the actors playing the two leading characters. No, really, just go look at them. They’re simply beautiful to look at, both of them. I’m pretty sure that’s all we were meant to do, anyway, was look at them. But, it turns out, their on-screen dialog is pretty funny, too. Okay, perhaps not the most brilliant or subtle comedy, but, still, funny enough that for most of the film I was laughing out loud. The last third of the movie, though, they really step up the romance content and it kind of over-shadows the comedy. It’s still there, but, frankly, I think at this point we’re supposed to be more interested in them as pretty people than actual people.

Now, I’ll grant you, I had pretty low expectations for this film, but they were certainly all exceeded. It was a funny, comedy romp that was grown-up without being particularly blue.
Oh, and also, there was some action, so that Gerard Butler could show off his 300 physique. And, yes, for those of you who care, he does still pretty much have it. Damn him. Also, Jennifer Anniston was pretty damn hot, too.
The plot is nothing new, really, and the surprises were few, but the movie was fun enough, and the stars attractive enough, that it really didn’t matter much. And, let me hasten to point out, in spite of some weaknesses in the plot and action, and romance, I was still quite entertained. Though, yes, I do have to agree with other reviewers that the two stars lacked on-screen chemistry. At no point did I suspect they were banging each other off camera, and that’s okay. It doesn’t take anything away from the film, really. I doubt I’d have much chemistry with my ex-wife, even if I had to drag her back to jail, so a certain friction instead of chemistry in this movie actually kind of works.

So, in short, it’s not a bad film and if you’re in the mood for something light, fun, and not overly challenging mentally, in short, if you’re looking to be entertained, then this movie is a great choice for you. If you can’t stand one of these co-stars, you might want to wait until it hits DVD, but otherwise, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this film. I wouldn’t see it again in the theater, but I’d rent it again, just for fun.

And, now, with that, I have to sign off and head to the airport. Vacation has officially begun and I’m off to WonderCon in scenic San Francisco. I’ll try to do a couple of updates while I’m gone.
(Oh, and don’t get any ideas about coming to rob me. My vicious guard dog is still here and people will be checking on my house throughout the weekend.)


Review: Law Abiding Citizen

Filed under: Deep Thoughts,Movies,Review — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:43 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent


Originally uploaded by Network Geek

I saw Law Abiding Citizen Friday night.

This was a fantastic movie.
No, really, I think this may have been one of the best action movies I’ve ever seen.  I was actually surprised at several points in the movie, which, frankly, is unusual for me, especially when it comes to action-thrillers.  The movie stars Gerard Butler as a father who watches his wife raped and murdered in front of his face and hears his five or six-year-old daughter murdered, while he lies stunned, helpless and potentially bleeding to death.  Only, he survives and lives to see the Assistant District Attorney, played by Jamie Foxx, make a deal with the worst of the killers to plead to a lesser charge to testify against his partner, who gets the death penalty.  Obviously, Bulter’s character is less than pleased  about this deal and he vows revenge.

The movie flashes forward ten years, to the day of the execution.  What was supposed to be a painless, humane solution to a violent problem turns into a very violent solution, much to the surprise of the audience of witnesses which include the Assistant District Attorney team who put him there.
Then, while they’re still trying to figure out what happened and why, someone goes after the second killer, the one who made the deal and put the other killer on death row, even though he was, in fact, the more evil of the two men.  The vigilante turns out to be Butler’s character, who incapacitates the killer and dismembers him in the most gruesome ways imaginable, videoing the whole thing.
And that’s just the first thirty minutes or so of the movie.  Yeah.  That was kind of my reaction, too. Damn.

So, here’s the thing, if you can make it through the amazingly brutal, psychologically damaging first half-hour of this movie, the pay-offs are fantastic.  Explosions, high-level plotting and scheming, spies, remote-controled weaponized bomb disposal robots, you name it, it’s in this movie.
Butler’s character is a military genius, inventor, and engine of destruction who references Carl von Clausewitz, if you can wrap your head around that.  And, he’s in amazing physical condition, too.  He fights a war of brutally personal scope, announcing that he will take revenge for what he lost, who he lost, by destroying the system which allowed a deal to be made giving any kind of leniency to the killers of women and children.  He claims that he’s fighting “total war, like Clausewitz describes.  He’s unrelenting and you find yourself rooting for him, even though, at best, he’s the darkest of dark heroes.

And, of course, I’ll stop giving away the plot now, but trust me when I tell you; see this movie.
If you’re a fan of Gerard Butler or Jamie Foxx, they both play great parts in this movie.  Both play complicated, multi-layered characters with deep backgrounds and are finely detailed.  The scripting is good for everyone, but they have the best dialog between the two of them.
The cinematography is pretty impressive, too.  The close-up shots of a very intense Foxx and equally firey Butler fill the screen and capture your attention in a way that’s hard to describe.  It’s very well done and in a style unlike anything I recall seeing before.  The rest of the movie is just as visually stunning, each shot highlighting the action in that scene.  Brilliantly done.

I won’t tell you how it ends, or even if the ending is happy.  It is, I promise, satisfying.
And, I assure you, this is a movie well worth seeing.  Go.  Now.


Review: Inglourious Basterds and Gamer

Filed under: Deep Thoughts,Fun,Movies,Review — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Dog which is in the evening time or 9:31 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous


Originally uploaded by Network Geek

I saw a couple movies this weekend, and to ease your pain, I’m going to write one post that reviews them both.

I saw Tarantino’s latest, Inglourious Basterds, twice this weekend. First on Friday, and then again on Sunday morning. First of all, if you haven’t seen it yet, let me warn you to hit the bathroom first, because this is a long movie. Not only is it long, it’s fabulously detailed and filled with scenes and moments that you will absolutely not want to miss, so, trust me when I tell you, get to the theater with enough time to drain that bladder buddy!
Seriously, I’m actually not a huge Quentin Tarantino fan, but, no matter what else I may or may not like about his work, his cinematography is gorgeous. His grasp of visual, photographic art is simply astounding. And, this movie is no exception. There are scenes so well framed that I almost forgot to pay attention to the dialog. Seriously! And, that’s even allowing for the fact that Tarantino purposely made this film in the style of a spaghetti western, or a so-called macaroni combat movie of the same era. As soon as the titles started to roll up, I was put in mind of a B-grade copy of an old Lee Marvin WWII movie. Of course, it’s not exactly a secret that Tarantino loves movies from that time and, in fact, Inglourious Basterds might well contain everything that he loves about those movies and movies in general. That was one of the reasons I was so willing to see it twice, besides the company, just to try and catch all the dense iconography and try to figure out a few more of the allusions he makes to previous films and various cinematographic tropes.

The story is very loosely based on World War Two, in the sense that it’s the backdrop of the movie, but the events are entirely fictional. And, by fictional I mean so fantastical that they’re pretty much alternate history. There are two plot lines, that end up focused on the same event, the attempted assassination of the entire Nazi high command, including Hitler. The main group of potential assassins are, of course, the Bastards, a group of Jewish American soldiers sent into occupied France by the OSS to kill as many Nazis as they can, sowing fear, chaos and destruction as they go. The other potential assassin is a young Jewish woman who escapes a purge conducted by a Nazi nick-named the Jew Hunter. She ends up in Paris, the proprietor of a cinema who gets pestered by a smitten Nazi “war hero”.

As you might imagine of a Tarantino film, it’s incredibly bloody and violent. It’s also funny in parts, quite intentionally, too. And, in spite of it’s length, there’s not a dull moment. Every second, it seems, is filled with something either beautiful to see or some plot point to absorb. It really is a masterful demonstration of movie-making. Again, I’m not a huge fan of Tarantino’s work, but this really is something to see, no matter how you feel about him.
Notice, I haven’t gone into much detail on the plot, because, well, it’s pretty complicated for such a simple premise, but also, because you should see this movie. Really. It’s truly amazing, and I think you should definitely see it on the big screen. Do NOT wait for this to hit Netflix. See this one in the theater!

Now, as for Gamer
Well, I saw this at a $4 matinee, so I wasn’t disappointed. I don’t think I would have been as sanguine if I’d paid full price. This was, as you might have guessed from the previews and ads, an action film. The premise is simple; nano-devices that rewrite human brain cells allowing for a “user” to take control of another person and use them like a puppet. There are two environments where users, or gamers, can use their puppets; the Society and Slayers. The Society is like an updated, 3d version of Second Life, but, oddly cruder, too. Several years after the Bill Gates-like Ken Castle brings out Society, he ramps up the super popular Slayers. Slayers is a war game. A war game played with people. In this case, convicts who will be released if they survive thirty “events”, or combats. The story follows Kable, a puppet in Slayers, or an “i-con, as they call them. He’s been wrongly convicted of a crime, separated from his wife and child. They’re the reason he fights and survives.
What he doesn’t know, however, is that his wife has lost their child to a corrupt version of Child Protective Services and has been forced to take work as an “actress”, or puppet, in Society, where she’s subjected to all kinds of degradation to earn money.

Now, there are a lot of interesting themes in this movie, but, sadly, few of them get explored in any real depth. What’s worse is that instead of spending time developing the potentially rich background for commentary on invasive media, the morality of controlling another human being, the morality of using convicts for purposes that may be harmful to them as human beings, and so on, the moviemakers when for the cheap shot. I imagine they were going after an R rating, for sales purposes, but the frankly unimaginative “fantasy” sex and gross-out behavior in the game world, is just boring and wasted time. I’m no wild-man, but, honestly, even I can be more imaginative than they were in the “virtually anything goes” sex environment meant to shock and titillate. And, I’d imagine from what I’ve read about Second Life, those folks who participate in that “hobby” are more imaginative than most of what we saw in Gamer, too.

All that said, though, the action sequences were great and Gerard Butler did everything he could with the limited role he had. Certainly, not the best of his career so far.
So, unless you’re a huge sci-fi fan, I can’t recommend seeing this one at anything more expensive than a matinee. In fact, you’d be better off waiting to see it on DVD, if at all.

So, to sum up, as Buckaroo Banzai put it, “…yes on one and no on two. ” Enjoy your movies!

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