Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

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

The Nazi Boom

March 6th, 2009 by Timo Vuorensola

The Nazi film is a genre that has been around ever since the end of 30′s, even before the Second World War, and is re-emerging every ten years in it’s full glory. During the last 12 months we’ve been treated with a heavy load of Nazi films coming from Europe and US, but the trend seems to be dying again, just as suddenly as it was started. This weekend, Zombie Room is focusing on Nazi flicks as a genre. First, we take a brief look at some of the 2008 and 2009 films with the Nazi topic.

VALKYRIE

Let’s start out with a spoiler: Stauffenberg doesn’t kill Hitler.

In Valkyrie, we have the funny little chap Tom Cruise as a Nazi, bouncing around like a pirate with his eyepatch and one arm, portraying Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg, the ”Good Nazi” who tried (and failed) to assassinate Hitler. Valkyrie is a very serious, big-budget, star-ridden, English-language Hollywood Nazi war film that paints the picture of von Stauffenberg as a real American hero who’s willing to sacrifice everything for the good sake. Which is, to kill Hitler and end the war before the Allies would. The story has been filmed at least four times before Valkyrie, and this one completely fails to bring anything new to the table, other than the biggest budget of von Stauffenberg-films so far.

THE BOY IN THE STRIPED PYJAMAS
A story of a friendship of two kids, produced by Disney. Doesn’t sound too exciting? What if the other one is the son of a Nazi officer who moves to the countryside with his family, and the other one is a Jew living in the nearby concentration camp? Adds an intriguing angle to it, doesn’t it? When the son of the officer starts to wonder the strange smell and the black smoke coming from the chimneys of the camp, the darker tones of the film start to creep in, and the end is really harsh stuff. The director Mark Herman succeeds in leading the audience to one, much more Disney-like direction, but suddenly turns the knobs up to eleven, dropping some serious jaws.

THE READER
The Reader is not a Nazi film by it’s looks, flashing only few Swastikas and no Nazi leather boots at all, but the story discusses the topic very extensively and with a nice angle to it. A young boy falls in love with an older woman in the post-war Germany, and later finds out the woman, played by Kate Winslet, had been a female officer in a concentration camp. The Reader’s biggest achievement doesn’t come from the story – which is good but doesn’t deliver in the end, but from the actors who do an amazing job, obviously led by the Oscar-winning role by Winslet as a MILF-like hot Hanna Schmitz, who’s falling slowly apart and fucking a young boy, played by David Kross, both physically and mentally. This one wasn’t half bad, and even had some hot sex scenes, which is something that’s lacking from almost every other Nazi film from last year, except…

DøD SNø (DEAD SNOW)
…where we have a sex scene in an outhouse, with a guy taking a dump in -20 degrees with a hot chick on top. Win.

For those who’ve been following Zombie Room, it’s not a big surprise that both of us, Essi and me, are huge Død Snø fans. We were treated with a private screening of the film last year in Os, Norway, where the producer showed up with a projector and played the film to a small, selected audience. I think I’ve never had so much fun in a film theater – we were constantly standing up, applauding, laughing out loud like maniacs and generally having fun like we would’ve had downed a 12-pack of beer.

Død Snø is about a group of teenagers coming on a winter holiday to an isolated cabin in the Norwegian mountains, and being suddenly attacked by a platoon of Nazi zombies. And that’s exactly what you get: a lot of gore, vile-looking Nazis zombies, bad jokes, motorsleds and a lot of great homage moments to old zombie classics. I’ve written a more comprehensive review of the film here, but to sum it up: one of the best films of 2008.

LES FEMMES DE L’OMBRE (FEMALE AGENTS)
Charlie’s Angels vs. The Nazis without hot chicks or the attitude, that’s what Female Agents is all about. Five French women commandos are being sent on a mission to save a British geologist from the hands of a Nazi officer who believes he’s linked to the preparations of the D-Day. Female Agents is a really tame action drama that smells like ”big, multi-national European production” for miles away – and it’s quite as sexy as EU. It’s not really pushing any front, even the Nazis are quite nice and polite, and although the bodycount is big, the film itself fails to build any interest to the stereotype characters. Boring. Only remarkable achievement here is the language – Female Agents mixes bravely French, German and English – the characters speak the language they are supposed to speak, which is not the case in any other film listed here, except – again – Død Snø :)

DEFIANCE
Russian James Bond killing Nazis in the forest. That’s all you need to know about Defiance – if that sounds good, then it’s propably a film you ought to see, but if you are looking for something more, then maybe go see The Reader. Defiance introduces a small group of Jews hiding in the Belarussian woods from the Nazis, lead by James Bond, who organize themselves as a partisan group and begin attacking the Nazis from their hideout. The group splits into two, where the brother of James Bond joins a red army partisan group where no women, kids or old people are allowed, and James Bond keeps up with his whiny-ass motley crew of no-fighters just trying to survive. The clash is inevitable, and guess who wins? The red army or James Bond?

Defiance is not a very good film, but it’s fun to watch if you happen to like war flicks. There’s definitively nothing new there, but some old tricks repeated/ripped in quite a nice fashion.

There’s also heaps of other Nazi films I haven’t yet seen, like Max Manus (Which, I hear, is very darn good), Miracle of St. Anna (Directed by Spike Lee!), Flammen & Citronen (with Mads Mikkelsen), and Die Welle (a film about a teacher who wants to teach his class how oppression & facism works by turning his class into a fanatic nazis, but things get out of hands… from the director of NaPolA!), but let’s not go deeper into them.

In the next entry tomorrow, we’ll start exploring the anatomy of a Nazi film, so stay tuned.

(Via Zombie Room.)

Review: Død Snø – Norwegian Nazi Zombies Attack!

November 10th, 2008 by Timo Vuorensola

While visiting in Os, Norway, I was honoured to be invited by the producer Kjetil Omberg to see the Norwegian Nazi Zombie flick Død Snø in a private screening. I’ve been following the film actively ever since I heard about it through Twitch because, well, it has Nazis, zombies and it’s from Scandinavia. Before we go further, do check out the teaser poster art. With artwork this cool and a concept this strong (and don’t forget the coolest tagline ever: Ein, Zwei, DIE!), what could go wrong?

The story unfolds with a very classical setting: a group of youngsters are heading for a cabin, with the intentions to drink, party and preferably have sex through the whole weekend. But, as we are talking about a Norwegian film, the events take place during wintertime, and the cabin is located high up in the mountains, in the middle of endless fields of snow.

What starts out as a fun in the snow and sun, snowball fights, fooling around with a motor sled and a Stiga, soon turns into a gory zombie onslaught as the kids find a box full of Nazi gold that definitively doesn’t belong to them.

The unique setting in the genre gives an unforgettable flavor to the easily one of the greatest zombie films that I’ve seen in ages. Director Tommy Wirkola breaks most of the deeply-rooted Zombie traditions with Norwegian rock and metal banging in the background – the Zombies run, think and even talk (well, just one word). Død Snø manages to do what many have tried and almost as many have failed while trying: it’s entertaining, scary as shit, agonizing, bloody, fun and kicks in like a 12-pack of beer. The story is well written, actors do an awesome job and director Wirkola’s comedy timing is excellent, as is his ability to build up the horror. He seems to know exactly how scary place an outhouse can be when it’s -20 degrees outside, in the middle of the night. Added with a Nazi zombie roaming outside, it’s definitively not a place you’d like to be with your pants around your ankles.

Död Snö is a wonderful piece of film that isn’t ashamed of it’s roots and language, and stands proudly as one of the great examples of Norther horror wave that’s going strong right now (with Sauna and Let the Right One In).

And here’s the trailer:


I haven’t enjoyed watching a film this much in a long time.

Tl;dr (Too Long; Didn’t Read): 5 / 5.

Energia arvostelee: Yön Ritari – The Dark Knight

July 23rd, 2008 by Jarmo Puskala

Batman: The Dark Knight

There are already plenty of review of The Dark Knight in english. So here’s some for the Finnish.

Ensimmäiset onnekkaat paskiaiset palasivat juuri The Dark Knightin pressinäytöksestä, joten laitetaan pojat näppiksen eteen kertomaan mitä mieltä olivat. Timolla on liput myöhäisempään näytökseen ja minä, no minä ajattelin feilata ja käydä katsomassa Batmanin vasta ensi viikolla… Mikä lon luultavasti suuremman luokan virhe.

Mikko

Let’s put a smile on that face!

Ja kerrankin tagline kykeni lunastamaan lupauksensa. Nämä viimeiset odotusviikot meidän Energian hypettävien (vaikka eivät sitä myönnäkään) fanipoikien seurassa väistämättä nostivat odotukset minultakin The Dark Knightin suhteen korkealle, mutta enpä olisi uskonut että kyseessä olisi lähestulkoon paras elokuva jonka olen 2000-luvun puolella katsonut. Paljon sanottu, mutta ei turhaan, on kerrassaan vaikea löytää huonoa sanottavaa elokuvasta. Rooleissa ylitse muiden loistava Heath olisi kyllä Oscarinsa ansainnut. Ei ole ihme että on meiningin yhteydessä tullut terveys- ja muitakin ongelmia – sen luokan uskottavuus esityksen hulluudesta paistoi.

Ja ammatillinen sana vielä. 3D-miehenä on sanottava että räikeästi silmään pilkottavat efekti-hässäkät loistavat poissaolollaan, niin laadukkaasti on tehosteet laadittu etten minä ainakaan enää erottanut mikä on aitoa ja mikä ei. Tarvitsee ottaa oppia.

H*lvetin hyvä elokuva, käykää katsomassa.

Pekka

Aivan Mahtavaa!

Ennakko-odotukseni tätä elokuvaa kohtaan olivat luokkaa erittäin suuret ja trailerit nähtyäni ne vain kasvoivat. Mitä sitä sitten kertoisi? Mieli tekisi vain huutaa kuinka käsittämättömän hyvä ja oivaltava mestariteos on kyseessä, mutta en viitsi kuitenkaan pukea Spoiler Guy t-paitaani päälle ja pilata odotustanne. Sen kuitenkin paljastan, että trailerit eivät kerro mitään elokuvasta. Eivät kertakaikkiaan mitään. Paljastan myös senkin että tällaista elokuvaa ei 2000-luvulla ole nähty. Elokuvan käsikirjoitukselliset ratkaisut tai oikeastaan psykopaattiset neronleimaukset ovat sellaisia joita ainakaan minä en uskonut nykypäivän Hollywood produktioissa näkeväni. Ainoastaan muutamaan kohtaukseen olisin halunnut hieman enemmän puhdasta hulluutta, mutta minä nyt olenkin parantumaton skitsofreenikko.

Menen ehdottomasti katsomaan elokuvan vielä uudestaan, sillä tällaista kamaa ei teatterissa kovinkaan usein pyöritetä.
Lisäksi Jokeri sai minut hymyilemään leveämmin kuin koskaan, katsokaa elokuva niin tiedätte miten.

Laku

Täydellinen.
Ehyt tarina, näyttävä visuaalinen maailma, loistavat roolisuoritukset ja kaiken kruunaa Heath Ledgerin käsittämättömän hyvä tulkinta jokerista, joka oli paras koskaan näkemäni, mukaan lukien niin sarjakuvat kuin Nicholssonin roolisuoritus Burtonin ensimmäisessä Batmanissa.

Perjantaina menen katsomaan tämän uudestaan.

Jarmo

Tein juuri kuten uhkasinkin ja näytös loppui juuri. Ei se elokuvana ole aivan niin loistava kuin yllä väitetään, mutta Jokeri on upea hahmo ja hyvää vauhtia matkalla elokuvahistoriaan. Kun kävelin ulos teatterista joku kanssakatsoja kommentoi, että “nyt ymmärrän miksi Heath Ledger tappoi itsensä”. Kyllä, se oli todellakin niin hyvä roolisuoritus.

Oikeastaan ylläoleva hehkutus Jokerista on osa sitä, miksi tämä ei ole ihan niin hyvä elokuva. Mikään leffan palasista ei ole huono, mutta ne eivät välttämättä sovi yhteen – jos Jokeri on itse täydellisyys, niin 90-luvun Bondeista revityt palaset eivät aivan istu samaan seuraan.

Kaikesta huolimatta ei tälle kehtaa vähempää antaa kuin neljä tähteä. Kysykää myöhemmin uudelleen, niin voin ehkä pudottaa puolikkaan pois.

Timo

Ei pudonnut Batman toivotulla tavalla. Olin aika innoissani, sillä olen tuskastellut parin ekan Batmanin jälkeen tulleiden kanssa että eikö aiheesta nyt saada revittyä sitä synkkyytä, rajuutta ja tylyyttä joka Batmaniin parhaimmillaan on päässäni assosioitunut, ja kaikki mitä olin kuullut Dark Knightistä vaikutti loistavalta! Vaan niinpä siinä sitten kävi, että synkeysnamiskoita ei vieläkään oltu lyöty tappiin, jossain siinä seiskan-kasin välillä pumpattiin koko leffa läpi… Tällä kertaa tarinaa oli paljon, ja kerrottavaa tuskastuttavan paljon – dialogipajatukseen turtui melko pian. Hahmot ampuivat jokainen kohdallani ohi, vaikka Jokerin/Ledgerin näyttelytyö olikin spektaakkelimaista, itse hahmoa ei mielestäni oltu kirjoitettu kovin kolmiulotteiseksi. Isoin puute mielestäni oli kuitenkin melko platku tyyli: leffa oli liu’ut-kymppiin-vedettyä-$100+M-supersankarimuusia, juuri sitä mikä ei ole itselleni ikinä uponnut pätkääkään. Jäin kaipaamaan uhkaavan fantastisia elementtejä ja spektaakkelimaista musiikkia.

Tähtiä kolme ja puoli, josta peräti PUOLITOISTA tulee Ledgerin roolityöstä!

Toivomuslista seuraavan Batmanin tuottajille (nimim. En Odota Että Tulee Toteutumaan):

- Tarina: Arkham Asylum – A Serious House On Serious Earth (tähän on peräti mahdollisuus, sillä ko. graafinen novelli on yksiä DC:n kovimpia hittejä)
- Production Designer: Dave McKean
- Ohjaaja: 1) David Lynch (juu ei toivoa…) tai 2) Tim Burton tai 3) Terry Gilliam
- Toteutus: Animaatio, Joka Näyttää Tältä:

SXSW’08, part 3: Films roundup

March 13th, 2008 by Timo Vuorensola

Lonely Rider - Timo in TexasUnlike in most film festivals I’ve visited, in SXSW I’ve actually had time and opportunity to visit and see some of the films they are showing here. Around the center of Austin there are several film theaters with films for the festivals, and to get in you need to line up about 30 minutes prior to the beginning of the film to get in with the pass.

What I really love about the theaters is that they act as a very discreet restaurants at the same time. Between each row of seats there are aisels where the waitresses can walk around, and you can order food and drinks during the shows. That’s really a thing I would love to see in Finland, and propably would boost up people visiting film theaters as well, as you can really build an experience around watching films.

Not Your Typical Bigfoot Movie

bigfoot.jpg

The first film I went to see was called NOT YOUR TYPICAL BIGFOOT MOVIE, a documentary on two guys who really strongly believe they are tracking bigfoot in the forests nearby. It’s a heartwarmingly saddish story on these two elderly gentlemen who have a very special relationship between each others, and who really see what they want to see – bigfoot in every pixel of crap-quality pictures they’ve been taking from the woods. The synopsis says:

NOT YOUR TYPICAL BIGFOOT MOVIE provides a look at the trials and triumphs of life Appalachian foot hills. Through the experiences of Dallas and Wayne, two amateur bigfoot researchers in southern Ohio, we see how the power of dreams can bring two men together in friendship, and provide hope and meaning that transcend the harsh realities of life in a dying steel town.

The film is slow-paced, with slow guitar music in the background, and floats through the lives of Dallas and Wayne slowly. It’s funny in a sad way, and at one point you start feeling bad laughing at these two men chasing their dreams, really believing and wanting to believe into something in the woods, that doesn’t exist. I think I might say I liked the film, but I have to admit that after spending 20+ hours in an airplane and airports, I dozed off few times, and didn’t get to see the big picture very well to actually rate the movie in any way. I blame the super-comfortable soft seats in the theater… This is not a film to see when jetlagged, the slow pace really get you.

Dance Of The Dead

dance.jpg

The next day we went to see the midnight show at Alamo theater called DANCE OF THE DEAD. It was a pretty risky shot, since we had to stop partying and go out to a film theater to see a zombie movie I had never heard of, but it turned out to be a good decision. Dance of the Dead is a story about a zombie infection that turns loose during a high school prom. In the best possible American way, of course, the ones who save the day are nerds, and a cute girl, while the high school athleths and staff get killed and turned into zombies. So in many ways, Dance of the Dead is nothing new. What I loved about the film was that the director was really able to pump enough adrenalin to every part of the film – actors did a good job, cinematography was excellent and even the makeup and special effects worked. Obviously, Dance of the Dead is not a big-budget zombie movie, but it pretty much succeeds in keeping up with enough production value and good-enough cast and script to make it stand out among most of the zombie flicks out there.

Woodpecker

woodpecker.jpg

WOODPECKER was a film that many people were talking a lot about in the festival, so I had my hopes up when entering the theater of seeing a really worthwhile film. Instead of trying to explain, I let the synopsis speak for itself:

Fanatical birdwatchers have descended upon a small town in the Arkansas bayou in hopes of finding the celebrated Ivory Billed Woodpecker. Declared extinct in the 1940’s, the bird has apparently been spotted by numerous experts. Enter amateur birder and poet Johnny Neander, who has convinced his taciturn sidekick that he will be the one to find the elusive woodpecker. The ensuing chaos divides the small town between believers and non-believers, rabid environmentalists and opportunistic entrepreneurs. Much like the bird itself, Woodpecker explores the intersection of fact and fiction, manipulating our notions of documentary and narrative techniques within a tragic comedy about hope, perception, and some very very strange birds.

From the first moments on this film reminded me of Not Your Typical Bigfoot Movie. It was shot in a document format, and had some real documentary elements on it, the camerawork was very simple, handheld and not very high quality, and the two main actors, Johnny and Wan, were improvising most of the lines. The story started to unfold a bit slowly, and it took me a while to understand why I should be interested in Ivory Billed Woodpeckers that should have been extinct for several centuries, but pretty soon I started to understand about the characters in the film, and see this more like a tragic comedy of people chasing their dreams. There’s that subject again… Americans seem to love people chasing their dreams.

At one point, there film was so great I wished for it to never end, watching the main character Johnny slowly losing his grip to the reality as problems started to pile up and the bird was nowhere to be found, but then the film was Kummelized, the joke was over-streched, and some unbelieveable elements were introduced, newsflashes and fake environmentalists and that sort of things, that took off the edge from the story of slowly drowning into insanity and alcoholism. Without knowing what parts of the story have actually happened and what have been scripted in I can’t judge on how strong the script actually was when compared to real events, but eventually I felt the film to be a bit too long, but overall a very good experience, that’s gonna win a lot of awards in smaller festivals around the world.

Heavy Metal In Baghdad

acrassicauda-underworld-cop.jpg

‘Till now, the last film I saw was called HEAVY METAL IN BAGHDAD, and so far it has been the greatest film I’ve seen here, and one of the best documentaries about war, and about heavy metal, I’ve seen ever. The story starts when a reporter for MTV went to Iraq to do a story on the only heavy metal band in Iraq, Acrassicauda (“Black Scorpio”). Later on, after USA invasion, they came back to see if the band is still alive, and filmed footage on their last show in Iraq, while car bombs were blasting around the city, AK-47 -fire banging endlessly and mortar explosions ringing al over. That is true heavy metal.

The documentary follows the guys of Acrassicauda and their struggle to survive in a total chaos, but it also describes very well on how the civil war in Iraq actually is. It’s rude to see the pictures of an middle-eastern city bathing in beautiful sunlight, cars passing by, people walking along, and in the background people talking about that if they stop here they will most definitively be killed.

For a person living in Iraq, Baghdad, the everyday life is really hard, since it’s totally impossible to know when a sniper kills you, a car bomb takes you out or your family out or whatever – but for a metalhead singing “americanized” music “for satan”, as local people think of that, it’s totally impossible. Wearing a Slipknot t-shirt can really get you killed. But the guys, one of them being a father of a young child, just keep on pushing. They’ve managed to organize 5 gigs in 6 years, and every time it has been a full house of Iraq metalheads pogoing around, but the death keeps on lurking outside.

One example of how just normal things can be hard in a country that’s in a total state of chaos is headbanging: it resembles the jewish praying in some ways (they keep on bowing their heads when praying), and people don’t dare to do that because if Iraq police would see that, they would put you in a prison for the rest of your life. Just for headbanging. And not to mention growing a long hair, that’s just totally out of the question.

As the director said in Q&A after the show, the bands in the west are getting it very easy. Yeah, it can be hard to organize a gig or two now and then, or find money to go to a studio, but it’s nothing compared to the fact that every day you go to your training joint, you have to carry openly a gun for not being killed.

You need to really check out the website of the film, there’s a lot of more information on Acrassicauda and a possibility to donate them to help them further, and be sure to check out their blog, it’s an interesting read. They managed to raise enough money through the Internet after Toronto film festival screening that they were able to travel to Syria, then Turkey, and they are right now in Istanbul, but are having a very hard time over there as well.

All in all, this film was a great piece of documentary, be sure to check it out when it’s available. Here’s the trailer:

Ok, that’s it for now. Today I’m heading again to the festival, although now the Film-part of SXSW is starting to be over, there are screenings still but no other programme, and everything is Music. I’m gonna go and see some bands, and spread the good word of Iron Sky!