Jun 092011

Transformers 2 posterThe sequel to Transformers was a perfect lost opportunity. The original was a quintessential summer movie: action, nostalgy, babe and explosions.

But “Revenge of the Fallen” fails to engage, and ends up just causing embarrassment in the audience.

The script is no good, full of humongous plot holes and illogical even on a blockbuster-based-on-toys- scale.

But there’s plenty of explosions.

And the worst stereotyped characters in a long while.

But most of all I mourn the lost opportunity – the budget of this movie could have been put to so much better use.

The forthcoming third installment ought not to be able to be any worse, but that is to be confirmed when Dark of the Moon launches in three weeks time.

Jun 082011

Flåklypa Grand Prix PosterOne of the most memorable movies from my childhood is Flåklypa Grand Prix, a norwegian stop-motion animation from mid-seventies.

The movie provides an insider’s view into the lofty worlds of invention and racing. The protagonist, an inventor with appropriately funky assistants, is not short on trouble during the race for the prize. The attention to detail in the car models and environments is meticulous, and the camera techniques employed bring out the scenery and action without being artificial.

I saw the movie back in 1976 and was impressed. Very impressed. Impressed enough to beg my parents for the very first piece of movie merchandise. I’m sure the book on the movie is still at my parents’ house, waiting to be discovered.

I had completely forgotten about the movie in the intervening decades, but a chance conversation with a couple of norwegians during my stay in Utah brought forward a lot of good memories.

The movie surfaced again, without warning, a couple of years later – Multicyde’s music video for Not for the Dough is essentially a well-distilled version of the film.

I’m still looking for a dvd (or bluray) of the movie – hopefully with a lot of extras about its creation and reception (it’s been seen by more norwegians than there are inhabitants in our northern neighbour).

There’s no trailer for the movie available, so here’s the video from Multicyde instead.

Jun 062011

Indiana JonesMy all time favourite movie character is Indiana Jones.

From the very first adventure-packed moments of the Raiders of Lost Ark it was clear that no-one would have a boring time with Dr. Henry Jones. Spielberg’s movie had it all: nazis, lost treasure, a hunt for said lost treasure, treachery, snakes, danger and a climax of biblical proportions.

And it all seemed to go well for a while. The second movie, Temple of Doom, was nowhere near the quality of the first, it was nonetheless a nice pulp action film. The third, Last Crusade increased the level of humor and brought in Sean Connery as Dr. Jones Senior – against all expectations the third installment was a gloriously good movie.

But after the escapade in Petra the franchise wilted almost instantly. The two LucasFilm adventure games kept appetites whetted, but the promosed fourth film seemed to take forever and a day to arrive.

But it finally did. 2008 saw the debut of Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull whose biggest merit is that it was nowhere near as bad as it could easily have been. Despite the graceless plot marred by gimmicky scenes and lost opportunities, it was still decent entertainment.

Jun 062011

The recently published WWF report on Madagascar is a testament to the biodiversity of the island.

In a decade there have been more than 600 new species discovered (including no less than 41 mammals), but the island habitat is seriously threatened by development. The forests disappear at an alarming rate, probably dooming hundreds of other animals and plants to become extinct before they are described.

Thus, it is time for two resolutions – one easy, the other less so:

  • Madagascar needs to be visited, and visited properly, so that the jungles and critters get more than a tired once over in the Tananarive zoo.
  • I so need to pick up BBC Earth’s new series on the island on disc soonest.

(And yeah, the report itself is referred to in scores of pages, but is a bit hard to locate. The Norwegian instance of the organization provides the most easily accessed copy).

Jun 062011

Fight Club posterDavid Fincher’s Fight Club jolted me like lightning. Hadn’t heard pretty much anything of it beforehand, and thus the subject and the twists were all new when they blew up on the screen.

Domestic terrorism, civil disobedience, male alienation, IKEA catalogs, identities fraying beyond breaking point, persistent insomnia, need to belong – it’s all here in the Chuck Palahniuk’s story turned into a definitive moving picture of the era.

The acting is fabulous across the board. Edward Norton has one of his finest hours of the protagonist who ends up in too deep, all too soon. Brad Pitt epitomizes the bad boy with his Tyler Durden – a chaotic motormouth that’s good only in limited doses. Helena Bonham Carter fills out the triplet as a deeply damaged woman who remains an unknown up to the end.

Jun 052011

Trafic posterThe first film I saw in a movie theatre was Jacques Tati’s Trafic, a road comedy of sorts. Tati’s alter ego, Monsieur Hulot, ends up in multiple kinds of trouble while transporting his revolutionary vehicle to a car show.

The date is somewhere in 1975-76 (I fainltly recall my sister accompanying the full family trip).

The venue was Sininen Kuu, a movie theatre long gone from Helsinki (these days it serves as a gym).

A quick search didn’t reveal a trailer for the movie, so here’s one of the more popular scenes from it.