Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

Energia’s army of geeks review films, games, books and other stuff.

Timo’s Top 10 films of 2009!

December 25th, 2009 by Timo Vuorensola


Star Trek and District 9 were surprisingly similar films in many ways. At first, they felt like a bite out of a fresh apple, but slowly they started to taste mealier, ditching head first into a pool of cliches and unanswered expectations. Visually, both were outstanding – at first. District 9 ran out of money somewhere around the midpoint, and JJ Abram’s visions of running around on powerplants and blinding the audience with lens flares became too apparent by the end.

And finally, both had quite amazing marketing campaings: Star Trek was sold to me as a teen gay drama in space, and District 9 as a harsh commentary on prejudicament and western immigration politics. Unfortunately, neither of the films eventually responded to things that made me interested. But they were both definitively remarkable films, and deserve to be mentioned.


Whine, whine, boo-hoo it was boring, the story was crappy, the world was shitty and nothing happened in it. Wrong. It was a great film, the atmosphere was amazing, the story was maybe the strangest and wildest of the whole year and the cast was excellent. Metropia was not flawless, but a brave, ambitious and exactly what the world of animation needs – completely different from Pixar/Dreamworks dominating the market nowadays. I think we’ll see loads of groundbreaking films from the director Tarik Saleh in the future. So quit whining and respect the film!

Here’s Essi‘s review of Metropia.

9. UP!

Pixar never fails. I love everything they’ve done so far, even Cars, and Up! didn’t let me down. The first 20 minutes of the film is easilly the best and most moving 20 minutes in 2009 – hell, maybe in 2000′s. Unfortunately, as the film takes the absurd Pixarian twist, surprisingly enough the story doesn’t live up to the expectations (which is strange, since usually it’s exactly the absurdity that makes their films so excellent). Nevertheless, Up! is a lovely story and Edward Asner delivers one of the best lead performances of the year as the old man Carl Fredricksen. And as a viewer, I feel like somebody respects my time, unlike with most of Dreamwork’s pieces of shit they keep on spitting on the big screen every year.

(BTW. Ever wondered what’s the main difference between Pixar and Dreamworks? Well, here’s quite a good explanation.)


Stop-motion 3D animation is here to stay, and Coraline is a living proof that you don’t need a CGI-rendered animation when you have a visionary director working on a story that’s based on a book by one of the greatest modern storytellers. Those being, of course, Neil Gaiman and Henry Selick, in reverse order. Coraline is fun, atmospheric, brave, experimental, beautiful and dark and creepy enough! It’s a humble courtesy for the animaton lovers.


The film looks like one of those creepy airbrush-painted dolphin posters that were quite popular in among the most tasteless of us back in early 90′s. The story may not be the most original one – hell, you know exactly what’s going to happen from the very first minutes, and if not, make sure to watch a trailer, it’ll spoil the rest for you. But still, it’s a honest work of love from the grown-up nerd James Cameron, and if you’re able to leave behind the cynicism that’s probably fueling your lost fight against mediocrity, the film is quite damn enjoyable. Most importantly, it’s a film that will last quite long, and spawn heaps of sequels, TV-serieses, cool merchandising – and create a massive fanbase around it. You should enjoy it while you still can – it’s either theaters now, or never on your home telly. The 3D environment is such a big element of the whole film that watching it in 2D is almost like watching bad quality internet porn instead of… Well, the real thing.

Here’s Essi’s review of Avatar.


The overlord Hayao Miyazaki is back, and takes a dive into the story of the Little Mermaid, giving it a surreal and fantastic twist, and delivering another masterpiece into a long line of masterpieces from the Ghibli Studios. Ponyo felt completely different from any other animation this year – honest and loving in a way only Miyazaki can do. His style is unique, and we sure should hope he stays in good enough shape to make at least few more, because as much as there’s nobody to step in for mr. David Lynch once his time is up, also Miyazaki is unique in this way.


“So, you want to make a monochromatic animation about mental illnesses, and you want an all-star cast to it? Yeah, good luck with the funding…” Mary and Max was one of the biggest and most positive surprises – no, out-of-the-blues – this year. It’s a really touching, intelligent and extremely well-written animation about a life-long friendship between a girl in Australia and a man in New York. The story follows the letter exchange between these two, and builds up two perfectly believeable lives with all of the stranger-than-fiction odds and quirks life brings to you.


To be honest, I was a bit bored with Quentin Tarantino before watching Inglourious Basterds. I mean ever since Jackie Brown, his films haven’t been that impressive, and I started to feel like he had “found his slot” in the industry and descended from this once so promising young director into another retro freak repeating the same joke film after film. But I was wrong. Inglourious Basterds proved that there’s quite a lot of gunpowder still running through his veins, and he’s brave enough to do a film that’s basically long dialogues following each other, seasoned with hefty dozes of sudden violence. And there’s never enough of alternate history movies out there.

Here’s Essi’s review of Inglourious Basterds.

We got so excited about the film that we even did our own version of the trailer – sort of :) Enjoy “Iroun Sky Basterds”!


Semi-hard science fiction with slow pacing, great music, awesome performance and close relations to my next film, Iron Sky, when it comes to Moon as an environment, and Helium-3 as a new target for pure humane greed. Moon is the directioral debute for Duncan Jones who, with this film, catapulted himself among the most interesting directors of the next century. It was recently announced that he will direct the feature film adaptation of Escape from the Deep: The Epic Story of a Legendary Submarine and Her Courageous Crew by Alex Kershaw. Jones also revealed that he will be doing “another science fiction film, called Mute, which takes place in a future Berlin. It’s a Blade Runner-inspired piece, a little love letter to that film.” And he will also direct Summit Entertainment project Source Code, a Science-Fiction thriller from Vendome Pictures, which will be produced by Mark Gordon. Actor Jake Gyllenhaal is in negotiations to play a major role in the film. So there you go, quite interesting films – and Duncan Jones is also a very active Twitterer.


The Coen Brothers are able to “tilt my camera”, so to speak, so that suddenly everything around me feels a bit stranger and makes a little bit less sense, making life a little bit more exciting experience. A Serious Man was definitively one of those films – but it’s also a film you can do with two conditions: you need to be Jewish, and you need to have an Oscar to prove you know what you’re doing. Otherwise, you’d end up lynched.


We’ve been raving about Dead Snow enough for one one year already, and to be honest, I’m not even sure if the film’s actual official release year is 2009 (that’s what IMDB claims, though, but I saw it in 2008 already) but who the hell cares? I just can’t get enough of the Norwegian Nazi Zombies, and Tommy Wirkola‘s excellent timing in both comedy and horror genres is stellar. He’s among the few directors I’m following very closely, and I’m very interested to see how his next film, Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters, turns out!

Here’s my review of Dead Snow.

Everyone – have a merry christmas time and remember not to go outside after dark – who knows what’s lurking there!

Ps! I challenge other Energidiots to do their own lists, too!

(Via ZombieRoom)

VOD – Voyage of Despair

November 9th, 2009 by Timo Vuorensola

(This post was originally published on Zombie Room. This is the second part of the Zombie Room’s look into the world of Video-On-Demand. You can read the first part here.)



CDON.Com is a web store that operates in the Nordic countries. It’s owned by Modern Times Group, a company that created the Metro Newspaper, and specializes in entertainment – music, movies and consumer electronics.

The site has tucked the Video-On-Demand -service in the lower parts and shadier corners of the huge site, that’s hoping to serve every customer’s needs. Once you realize where it is, the basic functionality is quite simple. The site looks as clear as a web supermarket can – which means loads of ads blinking everywhere, and very little useful information anywhere.



CDON.Com has a variety of films categorized under top lists, most viewed and by genre. Scanning the site we very quickly noticed that their Finnish language is horrible. Finding a film to watch is equally painful: from their mediocre selection of few hundred film – that’s basically a smaller (and much worse quality) selection than any video rental joint – we ended up picking Choke, a crappy drama based on Chuck Palahniuk‘s quite awesome text.

In general, webstores do have a problem with shelf space – in any store you register at least on some level hundreds and hundreds of products, but on webstore you either have to have something in mind already, or you are relying on what other people are watching – unless they have a very advanced search and recommendation system.

CDON hasn’t made the film search too easy: apart from first ~20 films in every category, they just offer a plain list of titles, and even the mouseover that reveals a small picture of the cover works very randomly.

Some kind of a film suggestion system would be preferrable, but with a selection of few hundred titles, making it useful is impossible.


Once you have something in mind, it’s relatively easy to pay and play. Registration isn’t necessary, and it takes about 10 minutes until the film is on. Payment options are either Visa or Mastercard – so eveyone with no credit cards; sorry, no service to you, sub-humans.

The prices are the best of the whole test – from 0,95€ to 3,95€, which is acceptable (I think 2 bucks a stream is what I’m willing to pay – in a perfect world), and they even have a “free film of the month”. After the purchase, you can either download the film or stream it. However, they’ve added some stupid download manager which, of course, destroys your digital copy after 24 hours.


Quality is fuzzy DV, and there’s no subtitles. But the film starts right after you’ve paid it, and the player works perfectly.


A service which offers the lowest prices, but stumbles with quite a bad selection of aging semi-blockbusters for general audience.

Zombie Room review: 2,5/5

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Movie-TV is the Internet-end of a small, Helsinki-based DVD-outlet called Keskus-Video, located at Eerikinkatu. The shop is a wonderful place, a small, labyrinth-like maze filled from wall to wall with DVDs – and the prices are very much right. It’s one of the places I avoid unless I have loads of money, since I end up spending a 50-100€ every time I just step on Eerikinkatu. Luckily, we live in Hakaniemi…


Hats off to the developers of Movie-TV – they’ve boldly entered into a market that’s very soon going to be dominated by big-ass players, and only very few of the smaller ones will survive. I’m not sure what’s the business idea behind Movie-TV, but what I can gather from the site is that it’s basically a very comprehensive DVD shelf of a real movie nerd commune – it doesn’t have that many titles, but among them are some quite fascinating pearls: a wide collection of Haneke, loads of action films from the 80′s, nice amount of horror, and even kids’ animations and anime. Instead of trying to push aging, two-year-old semi-blockbusters, it’s selling me good films.

Technically, the site isn’t flawless – the design is a bit clunky and usability is lacking certain amount of intuition.



At first, the site throws on my face a random collection of DVD covers. Too small to be of any use, but at least I get an idea of quite a colourful selection. The films are categorized under top lists and genres. We decided look scan around for a while, and ended up on I Heart Huckabees (no idea why, and I still regret the decision).


Let’s start with the bad news – the pricing is absolutely mindless. They ask 6€/streaming, and there’s no possiblity for download – excuse me, what the hell? It took a while for us to convince that we’re willing to pay, but – reminding us of the test we were working on – we gave up and paid… But, really: please, think about it – what are you doing? You should be competing with Pirate Bay and Mininova, not with Sokos and Stockmann.

But then came the nice surprises: instead of the credit card requirements, you can decide to pay either with a card, directly from bank account, or even with an SMS or a phonecall. No registration is required, so they won’t be spamming me for the rest of my lifed just because I wanted to see a film.


Once you’ve selected the film, it takes only 5 minutes before it’s is rolling – and there’s a possibility to choose whatever quality you like – even HD, if available. The film plays nicely and the quality is good – even subtitles are available.


A small but devoted service with an interesting selection of ridiculously overpriced films.

Zombie Room Review: 3/5

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Red-themed Film2home -service is owned by Bonver Videodata, a company that claims to be the single biggest home entertainment distributor in the Nordic countries. The service is available in Finland, Norway, Sweden and Denmark.


Film2home is devoted to films and TV-serieses, and they begin serving you with two major disappointments: first, you need to use Internet Explorer for the service to work, and second – they have a whopping library of “almost 1000 films”. Now having 1000 films in your home shelf is quite a lot, but you’ve picked them yourself. For a service trying to serve thousands of customers on daily basis, 1000 titles is just not enough.

The site looks nice enough and it has big, clear and clickable buttons everywhere for the ease of use.



The selection is limited, yet they’ve been able to drag some quite fresh films there, too. Well, fresh considering their DVD release schedule in Finland… The service is putting a lot of effort in offering enough interesting information about the titles, so you don’t have to go digging for IMDb – they even have a user rating system, which reminded me of how completely inexistent the social dimension in mostly all of the VOD services is.

The films have been categorised in quite an intuitive way – in addition to genres and top-lists, the titles can be searched by the name of actor and theme etc. This is important, and it’s completely unacceptable that services out there don’t put enough effort into good and clear categorizing and search methods – the only reason for that is that mostly they are lazy and don’t give a shit about the user experience.


There are films you can only “rent”, and films you can “buy”, too – that means, of course, downloading. But basically, that’s what it does anyway, it’s just a minor difference in the tech on how it’s executed – but the pricing is just ridiculous. They expect me to pay 15-20 € for a digital download – it’s really one of the worst deals… I pay considerably less on mostly any DVD, and I get best quality, a physical copy, all the extras and so on…

Again, these services should be competing against Pirate Bay, not Stockmann.

Price range for download is around 4 euroes, you get something a bit cheaper and there’s even a free film for members (this month it’s Mission Impossible…). Payment methods include Visa and Mastercard.


Now here comes the shit. First, we needed to change from Firefox to Internet Explorer, go through the painful setup process of a Microsoft products, before nd finally we were able to start viewing. Oh, no – we of course needed install Adobe Flash Player. That’s OK, only problem is that it refused to install – the reason was, eventually, because we were using 64bit Explorer, not the regular one. I almost gave up trying to figure this out, since there was no error messages or anything, it just didn’t work. It took almost 15 minutes from the moment we decided we wanted to see In the Electric Mist, before it was actually running.

Don’t know is this somehow Flash Player -related problem, or something to do with the service – but we weren’t able to pause the film without having to stop and start over again from the beginning (Buffering… attempting to reconnect… buffering… … …). Doesn’t sound a biggie, but remember that “pause” is the greatest feature of home cinema compared to theaters…


A nice-looking service built on nearly unusable tech, with quite a small selection of films.

Zombie Room Review: 2/5

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Filmnet is a VOD service that operates in Finland, Sweden, Norway and Denmark. It’s “powered by Canal+”, which should promise plenty of interesting content available.

Well, not so much. They have exactly 133 titles in the library, which is basically not even a library – we have over 400 DVDs in our shelves. But there’s one we, the Zombies, like very much: they have Dead Snow!


The site looks nice and sleazy in its glossy black suit, almost like an aging playboy in a bit shady nightclub, serving Mickeys for the girls.



The films are categorized clearly under normal genre categories, and as a nice plus, they have a “recently watched” films in the front page – almost like RedTube!

But here’s an interesting question – during the last 5 days I’ve visited there, the recently watched films –box’s content hasn’t changed a bit. Makes you wonder if it’s either broken, or they have no users.

The site has striking resemblances in general look and feel to the free porn sites on the net – and they even have a 18+ section which has almost as many films as the non-porn site has!


Payment options are limited, and the system gives a strange errors, trying obviously to hint the user to use Internet Explorer. The price for the films is expensive – 4,25€/film, regardless of how old the film you are watching. You also need to register in order to be able to pay, which is kinda stupid.


But the nice thing is that the service is quite straightforward, and it took us only 4 minutes until the film was up and running. The quality is OK, the connection works quite well – only kinda embarrassing thing we noticed was that their subtitles didn’t support the Nordic characters – the “䔑s and “ö”‘s.


A service that’s clear, fast to use and straightforward, but looks more like a porn site, has terribly bad selection of films (ok, they have Dead Snow, which is a big plus) and the pricing and the subtitles suck ass.

Zombie Room review: 1,5/5

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My expectations for SFAnytime weren’t too high to start with, given the experiences of Jarmo Puskala from Energia. SFAnytime has been for quite a long time the biggest VOD-site in Finland, and they’ve been promoting heavily. And at the same time, it has been criticized the most.


SFAnytime looks neat and clean, and you get very quickly a good idea on what the service is about. The impression of a professional VOD service crumbles quite fast though, when an unexplainable error message halts the process, and you are required to register – after which the service just crashes immediately.



The film catalogue is nice – not specifically new, but has some good films in it. We decided to pick Steve McQueen’s debut film Hunger, which turned out to be an excellent choise.


Trying to pay for the film was, again, very cumbersome. The process begins with a strange DRM notice, after which you need to re-register. Visa and Mastercard are accepted as payment methods, and right after the payment, it comes apparent that Explorer is required as a browser. The price is 4€ – again, quite expensive, especially given the overall quality of the purchase process.


The service gets stuck into “acquiring media usage rights” –message, and we’re able to continue watching after we had changed the browser. At this point, I’m almost willing to give up, but force myself to continue. The quality of the download needs to be chosen from a very complicated and badly advised menu. It takes total of 10 minutes to get the film rolling. Luckily, Hunger is the best film we’ve watched during the test, so my pain is alleviated.


A service that has been around for quite some time, and just fails to fix its basic problems, but it still remains to be the first place to go because they’ve managed to establish themselves in Finland as the definitive VOD service, thanks to big promotion and marketing.

Zombie Room Review: 1,5/5

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We had already almost given up hope for a decent service by the time we finished watching the film from SFAnytime, but then our friend Eric Vogel tipped us about The Auteurs, a fresh VOD service we had never heard of.


The Auteurs is a VOD service unlike anything we had encountered ever before. Right from the beginning, it’s apparent that this is something different: the website looks much more like a social network site than a VOD service, it’s clear, simple and focuses more on content than shiny skin – and it makes me feel like it’s made by people who actually have a respect for great films.

The experience starts with a beautifully simple Facebook Connect login. After that, you end up into a site that promotes loads of great films in very informative and detailed way, with big pictures and clear links.

The site makes watching films online a social experience, where you share your reviews, your wishlist and films you watch with other people – and it’s very tightly connected with Facebook and Twitter. You can create your own profile, they have a forum for discussions, and everything you do and see is easilly shareable.



Unlike most of the other services, The Auteurs has really done a great job in presenting, suggesting and categorising films. And what films they have! No bullshit, only good films by great filmmakers. Masters of cinema like Kubrick, Lynch, Fellini and Svankmajer populate the amazingly international and high-quality film listings.

The problem is that most of the films they have on the site are not available for viewing, at least not now. The site makes it clear that it’s still in Beta, so most of the issues are acceptable – they are working on it, and doing a great job. But you can very easilly just sort the films available for viewing in your area, and although the catalog is not huge yet, you get an impression that somebody has really been working on it.

And the categorization of films is highly advanced – the site has wonderful lists like Festivals, where they’ve listed all of the films in competition on every major festival, beginning from early 30′s.

Each title is described in great detail, and you can view what others have thought of it. For us, unlike in other services, it was a problem to decide which film to watch out of the great selection, and we settled down eventually with Primer.


The first real issue is the price. At least that’s what I thought first, but then I realized that hell, it’s really not the price I’m paying, but the experience and the extra I get with it. Each feature film costs 5€, and short films 2€ – there’s even some free films available. And even better, you have a possibility for a monthly subscription – with 18€/month you get an unlimited access to the ever-growing selection of the site’s films, and with 10€ you get to watch 4 films/month.

This is almost too good to be true.


And as I suspected, it is too good. With the following comments, please be aware that the site is still in beta, so there are problems and beta users need to bear with it. And I’m also not sure why watching the film sucked, and if it has anything to do with the site itself, but it did. And we tested it out with two different computers.

The film twitches a bit. It’s an amazingly annoying feature, and I’m not 100% sure if it’s a problem with every film (we, obviously, tested out just one), but watching Primer was really painful. Bad quality can be forgiven – and the quality at Auteurs is very good – but skipping and twitching can’t. The film was nearly unwatchable, and I felt very bad about it, even more since the site was tuned exactly the way I want a VOD site to be, and they’ve even say: “P.S.—By the way, we’ve worked hard on the quality of the streaming and we are very proud of it… just wanted to let you know…”

I don’t know what was wrong with it, but it sucked big time.

EDIT: As Eric wrote in comments: “Sad to hear about stuttering/streaming problems with The Auteurs. I’ve watched two films there with none of these issues.”

Another big, annoying minus for the viewing experience was the forced subtitles – in Swedish. Watching Primer, which is quite a mindfuck of a film in itself, that’s twitching every now and then, and subtitled in Swedish was well… not very pleasant. Not worth 5€.

Having said that, the great thing is that viewing is possible with every operating system and every browser out there, and it’s really fast and easy – took us about 3 minutes to get the film rolling, fastest of the whole test.


A great service and social network that’s suffering from some beta problems, but still manages to rise above all the others. Give it another 6 months, and this thing is going to become the definitive VOD service for film geeks, serving films that won’t be available even on Torrent sites.

Zombie Room Review: 3,5/5 (Note: still in Beta!)

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That’s it for now. Check back at Zombie Room for parts one and two, and my attempt at hoe the Ideal VOD Service should be done.

Star Trek (2009)

April 29th, 2009 by Jarmo Puskala

The new Enterprise

I just came back from a pre-screening for JJ Abrams‘s Star Trek. The following review will try and be as spoiler free as possible.

You should know – and you probably should guess it from the site you’re on, I’m a Star Trek fan. I used to be a huge fan and could pretty much list all TNG episodes by name in high school. These days I’ve grown older, spent seven years working on this Star Trek parody, and to the horror of my 12-year-old self, became more or less bored of the later shows starting from Voyager. I’d think eventually even my younger self would understand this, if not because the mediocrity of Enterprise, but with the last film in the series, Star Trek: Nemesis being a piece of radioactive fecal matter that should be hurled into the sun. So now you know from what point I judge this film.

So, how about the film? Simply put, it’s good. If you don’t really care for Star Trek it’s going to be as good as any scifi actioner and definitely worth a try.

Abrams does a great job with the characters, actually he does a far better job at re-creating the original characters of Kirk, Spock and McCoy than I expected. Most of all Zachary Quinto’s Spock. He’s been described as having been born to play Spock and yes, he really is that good. Karl Urban as McCoy tries hard to steal every scene he is in, but ends up being kind of underused. The weakest link here is Kirk. The three main characters work together, but left on his own Kirk is a bit bland.

The rest of the crew are pretty underused, Chekov is kind of annoying, Sulu is just like in the original and Uhura has been re-invented as a woman I think everyone always imagined her being – given that all she really did was answer the telephone. The exception here is Simon Pegg as Scotty who goes on and does steal every scene he is in. Then again I couldn’t bring myself to say a bad word about the man unless he punched me in the face and pissed in both of my shoes.

If Finland had any more Trekkers I’d be burned at the stake for saying this, but in many points this re-invented crew of the Enterprise were far more interesting characters than the 60′s originals. In reality though it’s not that big of a suprise if you compare the writing in 60′s tv series to the writing we see these days – it’s not that writers have gotten better, but the industry has changed.

Star Trek teaser.

The next thing to notice are the visuals. Let’s get this one out of the way first: The lens flares are ridiculous. They actually kind of work at times, but then they can also be annoying at times. The effects are great, there’s no way around it. And they really manage to avoid the sterile cgi look most of the time. However the designs are where it all gets a bit mixed, really.

There are many things in this movie that look just like what I’d do. There is the drydock scene seen in the trailer. People who only see Star Wreck after seeing this film will think we just did a cheap ripoff of it. It’s actually rather strange experience that scene, since it’s almost perfect in the way that it’s just what I’d do. Then there are the engineering decks of the ships that once again seem to channel what I was kind of thinking Star Wreck should have had – however we never had the resources to show any engineering decks. But then there is the bridge that is… strange. It’s unique allright, but it’s a bit hard to take seriously with it’s decorative walls and bling bling levers. The dissonance continues with the clothes that go from okay to looking like disposable raincoats.

At this point I’m starting to realise that this is not a very traditional film review. Instead I feel more like going trough a raw cut of Star Wreck. Please excuse me, since seven years and all that… However I’m not the only one who will review the film like this. Us Star Trek fans tend to feel a bit possessive of the franchise.

But back to the film. So the characters are great, visuals are good and the film is very entertaining. However one thing that’s lacking is the story. I wouldn’t call it bad, but it’s both a bit complicated and rather empty. It won’t bore you and if you get confused you most likely won’t care. There is a lot of humor, even so much that sometimes the film feels like a comedy, but there is not much in the way of other feelings. It’s a lighthearted romp trough space. It’s all fine if you consider this is a beginning of a series. As a singular film I would like to have some more meat to sink my teeth into. Another thing I was a bit disappointed of (and I know this is something that will divide opinions like a lightsaber) is that in the end this film wasn’t as much of a clean reboot as I hoped. And certainly not as clean of a reboot I would have done.

Overall I liked the film. Not only did I like to watch it, but I liked it even on the level of agreeing with most of the choices Abrams and co. did. And while it wasn’t a cinematic masterpiece that just leaves me wanting to see the series go on. Origin stories are the hardest and if Star Trek can deliver The Dark Knight to this film’s Batman Begins I will be not only a happy trekkie, but a happy film geek.

Watchmen Review

March 7th, 2009 by Essi

I just got back from seeing Watchmen, and here are some of my thoughts on the film (this entry contains some spoilers). Obviously, I have been eagerly anticipating this movie for a long time now and it is definitely one of the movie spectacles of 2009. That being said, I have also been afraid to see it. It´s not because I was afraid if the comic book would or would not translate to the silver screen (because that would’ve been impossible anyway), it´s because Watchmen is directed by Zack “300″ Snyder (I still can´t figure out if 300 was the manliest or the gayest movie ever made). Now after seeing Watchmen he became even a bigger mystery to me; is he a genius or is he just the tackiest and tasteless director ever..?

The Comedian

First of all it is good to keep in mind that Watchmen is not your typical superhero movie (or graphic novel for that matter). It is definitely not a movie you bring your kids to and enjoy with the whole family. It has horror movie -like violence (lots of it), explicit sex, male full frontals all through the movie, and of course the really dark undertones of the story and the characters. There is not even that much heroism in it.

The story takes place in a time when almost all the once celebrated masked heroes are either retired or dead. And the ones that are still left are more or less inactive. They have real human problems and the world is a twisted place, where nuclear holocaust could happen any second. The story jumps back and forth quite a bit, which isn’t typical for this genre. But the real problem with Watchmen seems to be that it is quite uneven at times. It has ridiculous looking costumes, weird songs, explicit sex, über violence and the story is very dark and serious. All this of course came together in the comic book perfectly, but I wish the movie would have been updated to this day a little bit. Not much, but enough so that you can actually take it seriously.


The thing that actually bothered me the most, and also the thing I can´t seem to get out of my head was Dr. Manhattan´s big blue penis. Yes penis. Big and blue. And also his ass, now that I think about it. Well, I don´t have anything against these body parts per se, but it did give the movie experience a little bit of a weird vibe. I just kept on thinking about the guy who was assigned to do the 3D-modeling on Billy Crudups (huge) cock. Anyway my point is that this distracts from the story itself. Yeah yeah, it´s like that in the comic book, and yeah it brings more depth to the character who has lost almost all contact to being human, but so what? There is no reason to see that much of anything blue…

The other thing was the soundtrack. It felt really out of place and even odd at times. But once again I can´t decide if it was actually totally awesome or a big fat fail. In any case I don´t think you can justify 99 luftballons under any circumstances, I don´t care who you are. But it was like that with almost everything, almost everything was a little off. Although I have to hand it to Snyder, it was definitely a unique and one of a kind film experience, and that´s always a good thing!

There were also tons of pretty awesome things in the movie. Of course the story is absolutely brilliant, as were the casting choices. One of my favorite things in the movie was Jackie Earle Haley as Rorschach (a sociopath with principals). He was charismatic with and without the mask! Also top marks on the cinematography and production design (which was – of course – expected from Snyder). The movie did look good, I especially liked the wide range of colors that was used in the sets and costumes, lighting etc. That part of the film for me worked perfectly, so visually it was definitely a 5 star movie.


So what is the final verdict? I´m going to give 4/5 stars, because I did enjoy the experience and it definitely had a new and fresh approach to the genre (with the occasional moments of cinematic eye candy). In fact, storywise this is my favorite super hero movie to date.

ps. In case you need some protection from Dr. Manhattan :)

(Via ZombieRoom)