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Top 20 Most Anticipated Movies of 2010

January 1st, 2010 by Essi

Top 20 Most Anticipated Movies of 2010_2

It’s once again time for my annual report of what I think are the coolest and most exhilarating movies of the upcoming year. I started this tradition one year ago to date, when I didn’t even have my own blog yet. That particular entry was also my very first official blog entry ever. So a big thanks to my friends over at Beyond the Iron Sky for releasing my first blog. I have re-released the 2009 edition here in Zombie room and you can read it here.

One of the best parts of being a total movie nerd is the feeling of anticipation for a new movie. Some movies you even wait for years. Some times you get let down big time like with Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, but some times your wait is rewarded with movies like Avatar and The Lord of the Rings. Last year there were 15 movies that made my list, but since I’m all about making things bigger and better, I decided to add a few titles to the list. So with no further ado, here’s a list of my most anticipated movies of 2010.

The American is the second feature film from director Anton Corbijn. His debut was the superb black and white Control which was a profile of Ian Curtis, the singer of Joy Division whose personal, professional, and romantic troubles led him to commit suicide at the age of 23. Corbijn is most known for his work as a photographer and the work he has done with music videos, but after Control he left no doubt of his abilities as film director. The American is a story of an assassin that hides out in Italy for one last assignment and it stars George Clooney.

I know not all of you are going to agree with this particular choice, but I’m just one of those people who like director M. Night Shyamalan, even his not-so-good work. He manages to keep interested. I do have to admit that The Last Airbender looks a bit weird and I’m some what worried how it’s going to turn out, but I’m still willing to give it a change and go see it non the less. The story follows the adventures of Aang, a young successor to a long line of Avatars, who must put his childhood ways aside and stop the Fire Nation from enslaving the Water, Earth and Air nations. And you know that it’s a true M. Night Shyamalan film, because even the trailer has a twist.

MAM2010_18_The_Book_of_Eli

The Book of Eli is on my list mostly for superficial reasons only. Reason number one is how absolutely beautiful the movie looks (or at least what I can imagine from the trailer and images I have seen), and reason number two is the quite impressive cast that includes the always charismatic Denzel Washington who plays Eli in the film and Gary Oldman. The movie is directed by the Hughes Brothers who are an interesting duo, but in no means a safe bet. There is a lot of potential for good things in this movie. The Book of Eli is a post-apocalyptic tale, in which a lone man fights his way across America in order to protect a sacred book that holds the secrets to saving humankind.

MAM2010_17_The_Expendables

My jaw dropped to the floor when I saw the cast list for The Expendables. In case you don’t know the movie has the manliest action cast ever, including Sylvester Stallone (who is also directing the flick), Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Mickey Rourke, Bruce Willis and even Arnold Schwarzenegger is credited. At this point I don’t even care that the movie is probably going to suck pretty bad, because with a cast like that even if they would just beat people up and say lame one-liners, it would be so cool! Too bad they didn’t get Steven Seagal and van Damme who both turned the role down. Big mistake.

Kick-Ass is an upcoming 2010 superhero film based on the comic book of the same name by Mark Millar. Kick-Ass is a story about Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson) who is an unnoticed high school student and comic book fan who one day decides to become a super-hero, even though he has no powers, training or meaningful reason to do so. I have to admit that it took me while to warm up to Kick-Ass, but as soon as I saw a red band clip of Nicolas Cage as Big Daddy shooting bullets to his daughter, I was sold immediately. I’ve added it here instead of the trailer, because the trailer didn’t work as well for me as this clip below. If I’m lucky the film will be filled with black humor and crazy characters, just like in the clip below.

Greenberg is movie directed by Noah Baumbach who is a very talented writer and has written some pretty good stuff in his career, including the amazing The Squid and the Whale and a couple of collaborations with Wes Andersson. Ben Stiller plays a New Yorker who moves to Los Angeles in order to figure out his life while he housesits for his brother, and he soon sparks with his brother’s assistant. Doesn’t sound like much, but I’m expecting a well written and heart warming story. I’m also interested seeing Stiller in what seems a bir more serious role.

The Tree of Life is the new movie from director Terrence Malick. Personally this is the only piece of information I need to want to see it. But in case you are not convinced so easily, I did some digging around. The very impressive cast includes Brad Pitt and Sean Penn, and the story centers around a family with three boys in the 1950s. The eldest son witnesses the loss of innocence. Also it is credited as a drama/fantasy/sci-fi. The Tree of Life is only the fifth feature film directed by Malick during his 40 year long career and still he is considered as one of the most respected and talented directors out there. At least by me. So when he actually does do a film, I will be lining up to see it as soon as possible.

I’m guessing Iron Man 2 doesn’t need much of an introduction. Or even reasoning why it’s on my list. I would imagine this movie is probably found on everybody’s most anticipated list. And why not. I can honestly say that I enjoyed the first part quite a lot, mostly because of Robert Downey Jr, but still. In the second part we get to also enjoy the awesome Mickey Rourke as Whiplash and Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow just to name drop a few movie stars. Nuff said!

Toy Story and Toy Story 2 are still some of Pixar’s best work and one of my personal favorites, and for that reason alone I’m exited to see the third edition. Also it is in 3D, which should give a little depth to the movie. It has been ten years since the second part was released and also time has passed in the story. Woody, Buzz, and the rest of their toy-box friends are dumped in a day-care center after their owner, Andy, departs for college. All of the original cast, including Tom Hanks as Woody and Tim Allen as Buzz Lightyear, have come on board for the last adventures of these beloved toys. Sounds pretty damn good to me.

The Rum Diary is an adaptation of a novel by the same name written by Hunter S. Thompson and it stars Johnny Depp. The last time when the two collaborated, it wasn’t only movie magic, but a classic was born. I’m of course referring to Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. In The Rum Diary Depp plays Paul Kemp who is a freelance journalist who finds himself at a critical turning point in his life while writing for a run-down newspaper in the Caribbean. Other cast members includes Giovanni Ribisi and Aaron Eckhart.

Machete is an upcoming action film from director Robert Rodriguez. It is probably the first of it’s kind because it is actually an expansion of a fake trailer Rodriguez directed for the 2007 film Grindhouse. It star Danny Trejo in his first lead role as the title character. The film also stars Jessica Alba, Lindsay Lohan, Rose McGowan, Robert DeNiro and even Don Johnson. Sounds good right? But you still haven’t heard the best part, which is that Steven Seagal will be in the movie!!! For me this is like telling that God himself has part in the film. So you can imagine my excitement of wanting to see it. Here’s the original trailer for Machete from Grindhouse.

Alice in Wonderland is director Tim Burton’s take on the classic tale by Lewis Carroll. In Burton’s story the 19-year-old Alice returns to the magical world from her childhood adventure, where she reunites with her old friends and learns of her true destiny: to end the Red Queen’s reign of terror. Burton’s number one actor, Johnny Depp, is of course cast as The Mad Hatter, Helena Bonham Carter is The Red Queen and Mia Wasikowska is Alice. The whole look of the film is very Burtonesque as always and I’m expecting a fantastical adventure story only he could do. I’m also really looking forward to Depp’s performance as well. At least the styling of The Mad Hatter seems to be spot on.

The Danish Girl is an upcoming film adaptation of the novel of the same name by David Ebershoff. It is based on the life of Lili Elbe, the first person to undergo sex reassignment surgery. The film stars Nicole Kidman who plays Lili and Gwyneth Paltrow who will be his (or hers) wife. Kidman is producing the project via her production company, Blossom Films. Let the right one in director Tomas Alfredson was set to direct the film, but apparently left the project for undisclosed reasons. It is a real shame if he is no longer involved. Kidman will be playing a man in the movie and maybe this will be her Moster moment as it was for Charlize Theron back in 2003 when she won an Oscar for Best Actress.

Somewhere is an upcoming comedy-drama directed by Sofia Coppola and starring Stephen Dorff and Elle Fanning. Dorff plays a hard-living Hollywood actor who re-examines his life after his 11-year-old daughter surprises him with a visit. In my eyes Sofia Coppola hasn’t done one bad movie in her career, in fact it’s quite the opposite. She has only done excellent films, much like her father, Francis Ford Coppola, before her. My expectation are very high, but I’m totally convinced that this is going to be another great movie from Coppola.

Green Zone is an upcoming thriller war film directed by Paul Greengrass. The film is based on the 2006 book Imperial Life in the Emerald City by journalist Rajiv Chandrasekaran which is based in Green Zone, Baghdad. It stars Matt Damon, Greg Kinnear, and Brendan Gleeson. Paul Greengrass is mostly remebered for great films like United 93 and the last two Bourne movies, The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatum, in which he also worked with Damon. I have high hopes for this one.

The Social Network is a story about the founders of the social-networking website, Facebook, and it is directed by David Fincher. The film was adapted from Ben Mezrich’s 2009 novel The Accidental Billionaires: The Founding Of Facebook, A Tale of Sex, Money, Genius, and Betrayal. And even if the subject might sound a little bit awkward to say the least, I have complete trust in Fincher, who is definitely one of my favorite directors. I would go see every single one of his films, no matter what. The cast includes (and I warn you, that now the movie gets even weirder) Justin Timberlake (I’m not making that up, trust me) and Jesse Eisenberg. It is definitely the most intriguing movie of the year.

Black Swan is a psychological thriller film directed by Darren Aronofsky and starring Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis and Vincent Cassel. Nina (Portman) and Lilly (Kunis) are rival ballet dancers in New York City, and Nina wins the lead in the ballet Swan Lake. Things fall apart around Nina, and she begins a downward spiral mentally. One of the reasons why I’m so attracted to this movie is that it very much reminds me of a movie I was developing myself some time ago. So Black Swan coming out is bitter sweet for me. But if some one was going to do it, I couldn’t think of a better director than Aronofsky. But the main reason of course is the visionary director himself, whose work in the past has been one of the most interesting and ground breaking of the past decade.

The Green Hornet is an upcoming superhero action film directed by Michel Gondry. It is an adaptation of the radio and television character of the same name. Seth Rogen will be The Green Hornet, Jay Chou is Kato and the amazing Christoph Waltz is Chudnofsky. I’m extremely eager to see Waltz in a different role from Inglourious Basterds. Gondry is the mastermind behind movies like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Be Kind Rewind. The participation of Michel Gondry feels almost too good to be true and we can most likely expect a very visual and original take on the whole superhero genre.

Here’s an example of how release dates change. Shutter Island was number two on my last years list as well, but as you can see it wasn’t released in 2009 as was originally planned. So it’s on my list again. Shutter Island is an upcoming horror thriller directed by Martin Scorsese and starring Leonardo DiCaprio. The film is based on the 2003 novel of the same name by Dennis Lehane. In 1954, two U.S. marshals investigate the disappearance of a patient from a hospital for the criminally insane on an island in Massachusetts. They run into trouble when they are deceived by the hospital’s chief administrator, a hurricane hits and an inmate riot traps them on the island. There is more than enough proof to go around that Martin Scorsese together with Leonardo DiCaprio works beautifully, with no exceptions. So I have a hard time believing this would be their first miss.

I’ve had Inception on this list for a long time now, but as time went on it has slowly but surely made it’s way closer and closer to the top. Inception is a contemporary science fiction action thriller set within the architecture of the mind, stars Leonardo DiCaprio, and is written, produced and directed by Cristopher Nolan. For me this movie seems like Nolan wanted to take a break from Batman and do something completely different before returning back to portraying Bruce Wayne. Sure it’s not official yet that Nolan would direct the third Batman movie, but we can almost surely assume it. I have been very exited about this movie for a while now, but it climbed at least 5 places up because of this beyond perfect teaser trailer (also after it there’s the new trailer that was released on Christmas, so I will include that as well). After you see the trailer, I’m pretty sure you will share my enthusiasm towards this film. It is simply mind blowing.

And here’s the new trailer:

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Movies that didn´t make the list (but are still very interesting or at least worth mentioning), in alphabetical order:

The A Team, directed by Joe Carnahan

Clash of the Titans, directed by Louis Leterrier

Down and Dirty Pictures, directed by Kenneth Bowser

The Fighter, directed by David O. Russell

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I, directed by David Yates

Hisss, directed by Jennifer Chambers Lynch

Inside Man 2, directed by Spike Lee

Jonah Hex, directed by Jimmy Hayward

Kommandør Treholt & ninjatroppen, directed by Thomas Cappelen Malling

A Nightmare on Elm Street, directed by Samuel Bayer

Red Sonja, directed by Douglas Aarniokoski

Robin Hood, directed by Ridley Scott

Salt, directed by Phillip Noyce

Tron Legacy, directed by Joseph Kosinski

Wall Street 2: Money Never Sleeps, directed by Oliver Stone

You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger, directed by Woody Allen

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And then we have Hot Tub Time Machine

Well there you have it. That was my list, but what about yours? Do you think something is missing from these films? Is there something that doesn’t deserve to be there? Drop a comment below and share your views!

Ps. I’m already working on the list for 2011 and oh man it’s gonna be good! Can’t wait to share that with you too.

(Via ZombieRoomTop 20 Most Anticipated Movies of 2010)

Timo’s Top 10 films of 2009!

December 25th, 2009 by Timo Vuorensola

SPECIAL MENTION: STAR TREK & DISTRICT 9

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.





10. METROPIA

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.)

8. CORALINE

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.


7. AVATAR

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.

6. PONYO

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.

5. MARY AND MAX

“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.

4. INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS

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”!

3. MOON

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.

2. A SERIOUS MAN

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.


1. DEAD SNOW

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)

Star Wreck released in the US today!

November 10th, 2009 by Jarmo Puskala

The US version of Star Wreck has been released today. See the US trailer above and their website at starwreckmovie.com.

You can buy the DVD from Amazon, or rent it from Netflix.

So how does it feel?

Timo directing lt. Swagger back in the days of ancient Rome.

Timo directing lt. Swagger back in the days of ancient Rome.

Honestly, back in 2005 we would have laughed at the idea of the film being released in the US. The whole idea of a Finnish film being sold there seemed far-fetched. But times change, Star Wreck isn’t even the only Finnish film released this month! The origins-of-Santa-Claus-film Christmas Story came out couple of days ago. Also low-budget horror Skeleton Crew from our friends from Ylöjärvi came out last month.

It seems that after Star Wreck and Jade Warrior the whole film industry has loosened their tie and opened couple of buttons from the well-starched shirt. And suddenly this more relaxed Finnish film has made sone new friends. And the best is yet to come, there are interesting projects going on, including a film adaptation of 80′s cult superhero comic Peräsmies that will absolutely destroy Hancock.

We Finns tend to compare ourselves to our neighboring countries, expecially Sweden that has always been more popular in foreign countries. And going down that road,w ell we still have a long way to go before Finland produces a game changing film like Let the Right One In. But it’s good to remember that before letting the right one in the best known Swedish vampire film was Frostbitten that was bit of a mess, even though it included a nazi vampire scientist.

Let’s hope that four years from now things have changed for the better once again.

Edit: Turns out November has seen a real Finnish invasion of the land of the free. Another DVD released yesterday was L.A Without a Map, from Finnish director Mika Kaurismäki who almost always casts Kari Väänänen – L.A Without a Map being one of the few exeptions. But Väänänen plays the Russian president in Star Wreck and Iisakki in Christmas Story.
Edit2: Turns out AJ Annila‘s awesome horror film Sauna was also released just last month.

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.)

cdonlogo

THE WEBSITE

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.

cdonsite

FINDING A FILM

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.

PAYING FOR THE FILM

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.

WATCHING THE FILM

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

SUMMARY

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

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…

THE WEBSITE

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.

movietvsite

FINDING A FILM

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).

PAYING FOR THE FILM

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.

WATCHING THE 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.

SUMMARY

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

Zombie Room Review: 3/5

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film2home

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.

THE WEBSITE

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.

film2homesite

FINDING A FILM

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.

PAYING FOR THE FILM

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.

WATCHING THE FILM

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…

SUMMARY

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

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 WEBSITE

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.

filmnetsite

FINDING THE FILM

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!

PAYING FOR THE FILM

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.

WATCHING THE FILM

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.

SUMMARY

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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sfanytime

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.

THE WEBSITE

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.

sfanytimesite

FINDING THE FILM

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.

PAYING FOR THE FILM

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.

WATCHING THE FILM

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.

SUMMARY

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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theauteurs

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 WEBSITE

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.

auteurssite

FINDING THE FILM

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.

PAYING FOR THE FILM

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.

WATCHING THE FILM

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.

SUMMARY

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.