Public Enemies (2009), Michael Mann, C-

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Tuesday, June 30th, 2009

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Zzzzzzzzzz.

I really wanted this to be good.

Read my highly intelligent piece at UGO.com.

Bruno (2009), Larry Charles, B+

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Tuesday, June 30th, 2009

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No Borat, but still funny. And, at times, remarkably thought provoking.

Read my review at UGO.com. (I say one or two clever things!)

X-Men Age of Apocalypse – The Complete Epic Book 2

Jordan | Cram it in Your Ear | Sunday, June 28th, 2009

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Book 2 opens up with more depictions of the “cullings” of humans for Beast and Apocalypse’s genetic experiments.

Magneto, who somehow got hip to the fact that he exists in a parallel universe to a better one if Charles Xavier never died, sends his fractured X-Men off to achieve different goals. The most interesting include a bizarro Logan and Jean Grey as outside-the-law mutant dilettantes and Gambit and his band of merry X-Ternals zipping through time and space in the hunt for some mysterious gemstone or something. . . .I dunno, sometimes it is hard to devote your whole mind to these tales (who knew you could talk on the phone and read at the same time?) but the pictures usually look really cool.

Strange Wilderness (2008), Fred Wolf, C

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Sunday, June 28th, 2009

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There are one or two laughs to be found in this 87 minute clunker. And even though Steve Zahn is always great fun, I can’t in good conscience recommend this movie.

Australia (2008), Baz Luhrman, B-

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Sunday, June 28th, 2009

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The first hour is fun, flashy Baz Luhrman does a historical romance. Lots of cutting, overacting and flair.

The second hour is played straight – and still, for the most part, good.

The last forty-five minutes are, to put it bluntly, retarded.

Still, who doesn’t want to see Hugh Jackman on a horse?

Take Me Out To The Holosuite, DS9 7

Jordan | The Star Trek Project | Sunday, June 28th, 2009

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I defy anyone not to have fun watching this episode.

It’s fun to make fun of Vulcans once in a while.

Drone, VOY 5

Jordan | The Star Trek Project | Sunday, June 28th, 2009

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Seven of Nine’s outfit is so tight. Seriously. Sometimes I forget.

Anyway, this time some mishigoss in the transporter fuses some of her Borg nanoprobes with The Doctor’s 29th Century mobile emitter and BLAMMO – a super Borg drone of the future. He’s like a bionic Borg and, despite B’Elanna’s whining, is trained by Janeway and co. to be good.

So good, in fact, he must sacrifice himself. What a guy.

Also of note – he glows a little like he’s in Tron and he has the sickest codpiece in all of Trek.

Afterimage, DS9 7

Jordan | The Star Trek Project | Sunday, June 28th, 2009

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All said and done, they are integrating the character of Ezri Dax in well. Despite kinda negating what we know about Trill culture and their need to disassociate with the loved ones of their previous hosts (this is war after all. . . ) it works. (Although, now that the Symbiont is safely within Ezri, why not transplant to a trained host? Or would that kill Ezri? I think it might. Should probably check the BBS on that one.)

Anyway, I love me a nice Elim Garak episode, but I don’t like seeing him weak and with Daddy issues. His arc comes off a little forced in this one, I’m afraid. Though I do like his final collapse upon realizing that he is, indeed, a traitor to Cardassia despite wanting Cardassia to be strong.

Cube 2: Hypercube (2002), Andrzej Sekula, B-

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Wednesday, June 24th, 2009

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The movie Cube is good. It is a little disappointing because at times it hints that it might be great, but it never quite makes it.

Cube 2: Hypercube never taunts you in such a way. The overall presentation is much more ridiculous, the acting is worse (far worse) and the dialogue is atrocious.

However, some of the crazy-ass shit going on is REALLY nuts. I can’t claim to understand what a tesseract is, but I know they are awesome. And spatially located time shifting realities are just the type of topics that don’t get shown in movies enough.

And so, I say, for sheer insanity points alone, hats off to this poorly written and abysmally acted low budget piece of junk. It is also short enough to stay quite fun.

Futurama: Bender’s Game (2008), Dwayne Carey-Hill, B

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Wednesday, June 24th, 2009

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When I stumble upon an episode of Family Guy I laugh for a bit and then I get annoyed and restless and need to flip away. I’ve never experienced that with anything of Futurama‘s, but came a little bit close with this one. Too many poop jokes. And whereas totally bananas-type sci fi plots usually work in the show’s favor, this time it was just confusing.

So, for Futurama a bit of a low patch. But compared to everything else out there, still effing brilliant.

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009), Michael Bay, B-

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Wednesday, June 24th, 2009

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I’ll strap myself to a polygraph if you think I’m lying. Not more than ten minutes after the closing credits of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen ran, I was sucking back a McDonald’s Big Mac.

It was an apt act of parallel consumption. The Big Mac exploded pleasure sensors throughout my central nervous system as I loaded up on sodium and grease. As soon as I was done I was nauseous and filled with shame.

The fundamental truth is this: if you have a good sense of humor, smuggle in a flask of whiskey and can keep your voice down low enough so as not to disturb other guests whilst zinging, you will have a great night out at the movies.

Think of this film as like the first one multiplied by ten. Everything that was good about Transformers is better here (you can actually see most of the fighting!) and everything that was bad (the utter, relentless stupidity of its story) is worse.

Michael Bay’s cinema has the subtlety of repeated smacks dead in the face with a spiked iron cricket bat. If God forbid there is no explosion in the shot, there is T&A. If there is no T&A, there is absurd technobabble. If there is no technobabble, there is lewd race-based humor. While the script is a complete mess, the film does follow an intelligent design. There is no Hollywood director who knows how to take a budget larger than the GDP of most nations and turn it into furious, testosterone-driven scorched-earth piece of stupidity.

I’d summarize the plot if I could. It has something to do with a “cube shard” leftover from the props department of the first movie. The day before leaving for Princeton (a bigger party school than Arizona State, you’ll learn) young Shia LaBeouf discovers it in the hoodie from the last film’s climax. (“It still has the bloodstains!” will shut up any nit-picker who wonders why the shard didn’t come loose in the washing machine.) Anyway, the shard imprints a map in Sam’s mind, which you’d think would lead him to treasure or something, but as far as I can tell all it leads him to do is shout the awesome line from the trailer “Megatron wants what’s in my mind!”

If that’s what Megatron wants, poor Megan Fox, blazing with some killer lip gloss and bright white pants, just wants commitment. Will they have to save the world again to strengthen the bonds between them?

There is much absurd backstory and crammed-in explanation for what is going on and despite much of it being voiced by the thunderous Peter Cullen (surely the greatest non-James Earl Jones voice working today) it still gets annoying. Even John Turturro, standing up for the audience, demands some simple facts during one of these exposition breakdowns. And yet, despite all this, I still have no idea what Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is about. I think Cybertron is still out of Energon, if that helps. Sure, I could spend energy and try and get the plot straight in my head (or get upset that they drive from Jersey to New York via the Ben Franklin Bridge – which is in Philly), or I could also just watch the fireballs and the bosoms. This time, I choose the latter.

By the end of the picture, when I had seen Devestator’s wrecking ball testes and heard a RoboGod declaim “Merge the Matrix with his Spark! It is, and always has been, Your Destiny!” I was exhausted. My ears hurt, my eyes hurt and my stomach ached from laughter.

Laughter is a good thing.

Night and the City (1950), Jules Dassin, A

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Sunday, June 21st, 2009

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Absolutely fantastic. I’m embarrassed that I haven’t seen this movie before. Next to Thieves’ Highway, it may be Dassin’s best film. (His heist pictures are great, but these two are better.)

A nightmare of a story where a devilish but not altogether terrible man tries to make a score for himself and just can’t help but dig himself into a deeper hole. This is the type of movie you watch with knots in your stomach the whole time.

The look is outrageously beautiful, many of the shots are revolutionary for 1950 and there’s a wrestling scene in the middle that makes They Live look tame. Highly recommended.

Revelation Space – Alastair Reynolds

Jordan | Cram it in Your Ear | Sunday, June 21st, 2009

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I don’t know if I can fully express my relationship with this book.

Revelation Space took me about a month to read. At 600 pages, this is nowhere near the longest book I’ve read, nor is it even the most confusing. It is, however, the most jam packed with foreign and novel ideas I’ve ever come across. The only other thing I can compare it to in terms of “out there” concepts bandied about is truly surreal work like, say, Naked Lunch. But Revelation Space is first and foremost a space-faring adventure novel. And it succeeds in that regard as well as being a vehicle for “hard SF storytelling.”

Revelation Space was published in 2000 and Reynolds has published either a novel of collection of short stories every year since (many in the same Universe.) It could be this book was a fluke, or it could be that he is my new favorite author of genre fiction. We shall soon see. Or not so soon – his 2001 novel is a full 100 pages longer.

Oh, the story of Revelation Space? I could try to summarize, but I’d just sound like a maniac. It has to do with Fermi’s Paradox, post-corporeal existence, faster-than-light travel, artificially reconstituted and downloaded personalities and “sick machines.” And cyborg pirates, kinda.

The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993), Henry Selick, A-

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Sunday, June 21st, 2009

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I want to officially apologize to this movie. When I saw it in 1993, for whatever reason, I wasn’t impressed. Since then, as its popularity grew, I’ve been somewhat disdainful to it. I honestly can’t say why. I really enjoyed it this second go round. Not only is the central premise extraordinarily clever, it remains downright subversive all the way through to the end. The look is phenomenal and the songs are quite good – especially the lyrics. The character of “Oogie Boogie” may be a little racist, but who am I to make that call?

What’s this? What’s this?

Spartacus (1960), Stanley Kubrick, A

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Sunday, June 21st, 2009

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I’m Spartacus!

I can’t remember if Kerry hates this one or hates Ben Hur, but he’s crazy either way. They’re both fantastic. But a different kind of fantastic. Ben Hur is ridiculous whereas Spartacus is just flat-out good. The Ustinov/Laughton scenes are amazing, Olivier is never better and Kirk Douglas is made out of pure marble. While it is true that Kubrick took this as “just a gig” and Kirk was the real driving force behind everything, many of the sequences fit in with the Kubrick oeuvre quite nicely.

Will gladly watch this again with you if you have a spare afternoon.

Ghostbusters (1984), Ivan Reitman, A

Jordan | Jordan Hoffman's Movie Journal | Sunday, June 21st, 2009

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This movie really holds up. I even like Dan Aykroyd in it, that’s how good it is. Read this heartfelt piece for more.

X-Men Age of Apocalypse – The Complete Epic Book 1

Jordan | Cram it in Your Ear | Sunday, June 21st, 2009

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In the mid 1990s, the X-Men entered exposed their franchise to a whacked-out alternate Universe and told their writers to run wild. (Basically, Charles Xavier died young, Mangneto is a good guy in his stead, and a mutant named Apocalypse is killing all humans.) This dictionary-sized tome is one of four collections that gather the various runs, one-shots and origin stories from various X-related comics of the period.

Some bits are better than other bits. For a while there I thought I was going to totally absorb myself in this and really go nuts. . .but the interest, frankly, isn’t there. Too much of X-Men comics is just people flying around zapping one another. (And, as I’ve always said, there are too many X-Men with too many powers and they all have a real name, a code name and then a nickname for the code name. It is impossible to follow unless you are thirteen years old.)

Some of the art and technobabble is really terrific, though.

Night, VOY 5

Jordan | The Star Trek Project | Tuesday, June 9th, 2009

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Season 5 of Voyager starts out with a great premise. . . that kinda falls under the weight of these dunderheaded characters we just don’t like. Oh, couldn’t Chakotay just disappear?

I like the idea of a vast area of space with just a total void – and it driving the crew crazy. (Cause just being on a ship for 70 years is dandy.)

The discovered factions – and Janeway always doing the moral thing – is a bit of a drag, but, hey, that’s the show this is. No one is forcing me to watch it.

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