Friday, August 29, 2014

Movie Review: Dragon Age Dawn of the Seeker

Dragon Age Dawn of the Seeker
Voice actors: Colleen Clinkenbeard, J. Michael Tatum, Chuck Huber, R. Bruce Elliot, Christopher Sabat, John Swasey, Monica Rial, Brina Palencia, Pam Dougherty
Director: Fumihiko Sori
Bioware, Electronic Arts, FUNimation, T.O. Entertainment, USA, Japan, 2012.
In the land of Orlais the Templars and Seekers of the Chantry are fighting evil Blood Mages. Chantry is an religious order led by the Divine. They maintain peace and order, and also control the use of magic. Seekers of Truth are keeping teie eyes on Templars, since some Templars are corrupted. Seeker Cassandra and his mentor Byron save a girl Avexis from being converted by Blood Mages. Cassandra hates Mages because Blood Mages killed her family. Cassandra is a hothead and harsh on judgement so Byron instructs her to look with the eyes of her heart.
High Seeker Aldren with Cassandra
Blood Mage Fenric uses transformation spells
Army of Golems and Ogres
Byron suspects a conspiracy inside the Chantry but is killed by Blood Mages. Blood Mages capture Avexis again and Cassandra must go to rescue the girl. Cassandra almost kills Circle Mage Galyan (Circle Mages are loyal to the Chantry). Cassandra and Galyan are framed for killing Byron so they escape. They are being chased by Knight Commander. Meanwhile Frenic is using Avexis to control dragons. With the help of corrupted Templars he plans to attack the capitol of Orlais and kill the Divine. 
Cassandra and Galyan in trouble
Capitol of Orlais, Val Royeaux
The dragons get bigger and bigger in the last part of the movie
Action is quick and bloody, with Cassandra using sword and Galyan casting fireballs. Dragons and monsters get bigger in the end and there is some decent monster vs monster action. Cassandra can kill dragons and other giant monsters almost too easily (I would suppose they are much harder to kill in Dragon Age video games, but maybe Cassandra has very high experience level and an efficient special attack). Galyan brings some humour to otherwise serious story. 
Knight Commander is not a fan of Cassandra
Avexis is used by Blood Mages to control dragons
Personally I have played only a bit of Dragon Age Origins (there was once an major hardware failure and I had to acquire a new computer, so I lost game progress. Maybe I try Dragon Age again later). I believe the movie to be quite faithful to the game. Overall the movie is a decent video game tie-in, with somewhat standard fantasy story. The animation is cell-shaded CGI, which works nice for characters and creatures. Cassandra also appears in game Dragon Age II.

Rating: Good

Monday, August 25, 2014

Movie Review: Café

Starring: Jennifer Love Hewitt, Daniel Eric Gold, Jamie Kennedy, Michaela McManus, Madeline Carroll,
Alexa Vega, Hubbel Palmer
Director: Marc Erlbaum
Nationlight Productions, USA, 2010.
Musician Todd (Daniel Eric Gold) works in a café where cops, gangsters, lovers and social workers go for a break. He is secretly in love with his co-worker Claire (Jennifer Love Hewitt). Claire's boyfriend is a violent jerk.
Todd is an aspiring musician
jennifer love hewitt
Claire is a kind hearted barista
Police officer (Clayton Prince) is trying to help his drug addict cousin Tommy (Garrett Hendricks) stay out of trouble with Glenn (Jamie Kennedy) who is a drug dealer. There is also a writer (Richard Short) who observes people around him and writes about them.
Glenn is a ruthless dealer
Craig gets contacted by Elly
One day computer geek Craig (Hubbel Palmer) sees a girl Elly (Madeline Carroll) on his computer screen who says the his world is a simulation. Elly is testing if people can surpass their programming (by doing something to help other people). Elly can modify reality almost as much she likes, so she is kind of God (or a kid playing some highly sophisticated version of Sims).
Elly can manipulate (virtual) reality
Movie has also many other side stories. This indie film mixes romantic movie with social drama and philosophical science-fiction. Café is a likable movie with nice cast.

Rating: Good

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Movie Review: Kummeli V

Kummeli V
Starring: Timo Kahilainen, Heikki Silvennoinen, Heikki Vihinen, Heikki Hela, Kaisa Mattila, Ville Myllyrinne, Jussi Vatanen, Tom Pöysti
Director: Aleksi Mäkelä
Nummela Filmi, Porkkana Ryhmä, Finland, 2013.
Comedy-group Kummeli (Cairn in English) was very popular in Finland in 1990s and early 2000s with six seasons and spin off series. In the groups fifth movie they return to structure similar to first movie Kummeli Stories with four intertwined stories.

Kurt "Kurre" von Riikonen (Ville Myllyrinne) is making action movie Excalibur IV. Tomi Paatelainen (Heikki Hela) is stressed to design a poster for the movie. His wife Stina (Kaisa Mattila) wants their villa renovated so they hire Monkki Mähönen (Heikki Silvennoinen) who is Tomi's old bandmate. Monkki is crude, breaks everything and plays his drums all the time so he is getting on Stina's nerves. Monkki brings also the other band members (Timo Kahilainen and Heikki Vihinen).
Monkki Mähönen
Tomi and Stina have different opinions about hiring Monkki
The King of Riffs: Gerhard Rihmakallo
In the second story Jouni (Timo Kahilainen) and his twixter motorist gang gets humiliated at local shop. They decide to rob the shop Hollywood style.
Jouni and his gang
Jouni's ride
Bootcamp for burglars
In the third story reporter Erkki "Slop Bucket" Sysimetsä (Heikki Hela) gets fired because his out of date style. He remembers a story about organ repairman and superstud Arvo Hakala (Heikki Silvennoinen) in the wild 1960s.
Ladies man Arvo
Heikki Kinnunen as local priest
In the last story "Kurre" von Riikonen is trying to get funding for Excalibur IV. The team then goes to party and hunting trip. They get ambushed by local hillbillies led by patriarch Isaskar Toukka (Aake Kalliala).
Isaskar and the boys
Kurre finds a donkey
The film has many Finnish actors and comedians in supporting roles (Iina Kuustonen, Markku Toikka, Jukka Rasila, Heikki Kinnunen, Aake Kalliala and more). Movie has many references to popular films such as Mission Impossible, Gladiator, Deliverance and also Mäkeläs own movie Pahat Pojat (Bad Boys). Also a Dracula-like character is named Ivan Drago(!)
John Excalibur in his spaceship
Kummeli's humour has always been more based on weird characters and one-liners instead of direct jokes. However it's humour has the same limitations as Monty Python's, the jokes work better in sketch comedy TV-series format as in full-length movies. Some of the jokes are about Swedish-speaking population of Finland and gays but nothing to be taken seriously. All's well that ends well. The fans of Kummeli will definitely get more out of the movie than non-fans. On DVD extras Making of-section one of the original Kummeli-members Olli Keskinen appears as interviewer, which was a nice touch. As a side note the special effects of Excalibur movies were made by Troll Vfx, a company founded by Samuli Torssonen known for Star Wreck and Iron Sky movies. 

Rating: Average

Monday, August 18, 2014

Movie Review: Dinoshark

Starring: Eric Balfour, Iva Hasperger, Aarón Díaz, Roger Corman, Humberto Busto
Director: Kevin O'Neill
New Horizons Picture, Syfy, 2010, USA
A melting iceberg releases some primordial baby fish and later it develops into full grown Dinoshark. It eats an arctic researcher and his boat and then moves to coast of Mexico. Trace (Eric Balfour) returns to his childhood's neighbourhood in Puerto Vallerta when he gets a job as yacht captain. Carol (Iva Hasberger) is working there as a environmental scientist and water polo captain.
Trace, the cool captain
Multi-talented Carol
Dinoshark threatens to ruin the party
Dinoshark eats Trace's and Carol's common friend Rita, so Trace and Carol decide to destroy the culprit. They get some information from Dr. Reeves (Roger Corman) who is a researcher of ancient animals. Dr. Reeves' computer can calculate the image of Dinoshark from DNA and also find it's weak spot. That's some wonderful technology.
Dinoshark sure can jump
Roger Corman as Dr. Reeves
Trace's old opponent Calderon (Humberto Busto) is the captain of the harbour patrol. He believes that Trace is drug-smuggler and killer. Luckily the Dinoshark appears so Trace avoids being arrested. The authorities fail to kill Dinoshark so it's up to Trace and Carol to kill the beast.
Calderon is about to arrest Trace
You can't fish from helicopter
The movie follows the usual Jaws style plot. There is not much humour except for some unintentional and from some cheesy acting. The seriousness makes it more a regular sea monster film. The CGI effects vary from okay to bad, Dinoshark looks mostly okay. The end of the movie water scooter chase is kinda cool.

Rating: Average

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Movie Review: Mega Python vs. Gatoroid

Mega Python vs. Gatoroid
Starring: Debbie Gibson, Tiffany, A Martinez, Kathryn Joosten, Micky Dolenz
Director: Mary Lambert
The Asylum, Syfy, USA, 2011.

Dr. Nikki Riley (Debbie Gibson) and her animal rights activists steal pythons and release them into Florida swamps at Everglades. Ranger Terry O'Hara (Tiffany) is not granting alligator hunting permits this year because the number of gators is declining. One python is killed while eating a dog. Then the pythons start to kill alligators. Terry wants the hunters to kill the snakes. Dr. Riley and the environmentalists protest.
Angie and Terry
That's a big snake
DIego sees giant reptiles
Terry's fiancé Justin (Carey Van Dyke) goes with the hunters and snakes kill Justin. To get revenge Terry and her ranger friend Angie (Kathryn Joosten) give experimental anabolic steroids to alligators. What could go wrong? Well, What couldn't?
Gatoroid going for a snack
The snakes keep on getting bigger
Nikki has some evidence of doping giant alligators
Months later things have calmed down and Dr Diego Ortez (A Martinez) is studying the reptiles. He sees gigantic python killing a huge alligator. He suggest that Terry should cancel a fund raising event. Nikki's team is attacked by giant alligators and snakes eat some hunters. At the fund raising event Micky Dolenz (of 60s band Monkees) makes cameo appearance. Then the movie becomes a cat fight of Nikki vs Terry. 
Micky Dolenz at background
Epic cat fight
Gators and snakes have made truce
The gators and pythons crash the party. They have apparently made a truce and decided that it is easier to eat humans. Luckily it is USA so everyone has guns ready. Well, that doesn't work well so Nikki and Terry must co-operate to get rid of the monsters before they destroy the city. Then the movie gets epic! Python even eats a train!
Train in a a snake
Uneasy alliance
Asylum blimp!
The beasts are made using some horrible CGI. Some deaths are moderately gory but special effects are cheap and clumsy. The acting isn't quite as bad as usually in Asylum movies, especially the leading ladies do fine. The movie is entertaining with fun moments.

Debbie Gibson made also a catchy song "Snake Charmer" for the movie.

Also Tiffany made a southern rock style song "Serpentine"

Rating: Good (On the scale of bad monster movies)

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