Blade Runner 2049

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What a terrible title, but don’t mind that, this is a great sequel to the original from 1982.

I was not waiting for a sequel. Blade Runner is a perfect movie, story is finished, it does not need more explanation or exploration.

Why is it perfect? Well, the story, the visuals, the music, the atmosphere, the pace, the visual effects and of course Rutger Hauer, who pulls it off to play both a villain (replicant) and a hero (human).

Also I admire the imagination and creativity which was required to make the movie. Especially in the pre-digital age where there was no copy-paste.

Making a sequel to a classic is an impossible thing to do; they almost never match the originality of the first one. I can only come up with a handful of examples where it worked: Aliens, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, 2010: The Year We Make Contact and The Dark Knight.

Blade Runner 2049 takes place 30 years after the first movie. Tyrell Corporation no longer exists. There was a shortage on food, for which the Wallace Corporation found a solution. They took over the replication technology and improved it; better memory implants so that there is a lower risk on rebellion.

From IMDB:

“Thirty years after the events of the first film, a new blade runner, LAPD Officer K (Ryan Gosling), unearths a long-buried secret that has the potential to plunge what's left of society into chaos. K's discovery leads him on a quest to find Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford), a former LAPD blade runner who has been missing for 30 years.“

As the original this new movie has lots of striking visuals, the typical shots of flying cars, landscapes and buildings with the big corporate logos. Whereas the original movie mostly occurs at night, the new one has lots of daytime scenes. I had to get used to that, I thought there was no daylight in Blade Runner…

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Also we get to see the surrounding areas of Los Angeles, the waste disposal sites and the farming plants.

Movie has lots of CGI, with some unique scenes. There is a hologram which ‘syncs’ with a real person and we get to see how the memory implants are designed. Very cool!

What I like the most about this new movie is the pacing; it is deliberately slow so that you have time to enjoy the scenery.

Ryan Gosling is excellent in his role, a lonely guy with restrained emotions, but as the story progresses, he starts to ‘explode’.

There is a very powerful scene which involves the relationship between Deckard and Rachael from the original movie. I think this is reference cinema, a perfect combination of directing, set, cinematography, acting and visual effects. This has to be one of the best acting scenes I have seen from Harrison Ford. Not Oscar worthy, but still…

That scene also involves some excellent character/actor CGI, this recently has been done in Star Wars: Rogue One; but here it is totally convincing.

And yes, she DOES have brown eyes, NOT green! Or am I wrong? Damn; now I have to watch the original again :-)

My only disappointment is the sound design and music. With respect to the original, I think this was actually the most challenging task to pull off.

The original movie is one of the few in the history of cinema where the sound is the most important actor. When you take out the music there is no movie, it becomes boring. Another movie where this applies is Alien.

The music from Vangelis is truly unique. For a large part thanks to the Yamaha CS-80 synthesizer, but also due to the classical/improvisational way of composing by Vangelis.

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Note that when you like the music from Blade Runner, watch the movie The Bounty and listen to his albums Antarctica and China, excellent stuff!

Rumor is that Denis Villeneuve’s regular composer Jóhann Jóhannsson was not up to the task; apparently he did a score but didn’t have the quality what Villeneuve wanted. Did he ditch the Yamaha CS-80? Interesting thought…

In the new movie Benjamin Wallfisch and Hans Zimmer used the same sounds but it nowhere matches the brilliance of the original one, sure it is bombastic and the sounds are effective, but for me it is not a unique score. I would have tried to create a totally new and unique sound palette, which is something what made Tron Legacy great. I would have only kept the ‘Tears in the Rain’ theme (listen below) which both movies use in the closing scene. This reflects the essence of both movies: the most human act by a replicant: self sacrifice.

Blade Runner 2049 also has a Dutch flavor. Sylvia Hoeks plays Luv, a replicant who does the dirty work for Wallace. She is probably the least human replicant in the Blade Runner universe, a good and chilling performance.

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This will probably be the best movie of the year for me. Where it will end up in my all time favorites list we will see…

In honor of the original movie, here some clips to remind you why the original is still better :-)

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

(Major Spoilers!)

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I felt like a kid again today, so it is still possible.

This is a real adventure again, without any Forced stuff in it.

No storm trooper with an identity crisis.

No son with mental issues because he has famous parents but wants to be like his grandfather.

No unheroic death because the actor wants it.

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We switch between a lot of planets, there is lots to see and to discover during repeated viewings.

Wish the movie was longer to spent more time on these planets.

There are a lot of cool space scenes, for example Star Destroyers crashing into each other and destroying a planet shield.

The story is simple, A prequel to episode IV: steal the building plans of the Death Star so that it can be destroyed.

As the story unfolds a crew is assembled. Some good, some bad, some weird, but they are all committed to the task.


I like the new android: K-2SO, the Data of Star Wars, but more cynical and lots of sarcasm. I guess his behavior is a bit more human already; Data would be jealous.

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I did not like the 2 CGI characters, I know it is important for the link with A New Hope, especially Princess Leia, but for me the CGI is still not convincing enough. Too static; too much Final Fantasy.

So yeah, it is again about a Death Star, but lets forget The Force Awakens, this is about the original Death Star.

It did feel strange to see Mads Mikkelsen in this movie, I guess I have seen too much Hannibal.

He plays Galen Erso, a scientist who plays a big role in the development of the Death Star, and he has an important daughter.

We learn more about the origins of the Death Star. We learn why it was so easy to blow up, with Stardust, interesting.

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For a Disney movie, this one is quite special, since it has no happy ending.

There are 2 big differences with the other Star Wars movies: there is no opening crawl and the music is not by John Williams.

Leaving out the intro text is a mistake, that should be part of each Star Wars movie.

Using a different composer actually works, the music sounds fresh and modern, although there should be more new unique themes.

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So how does this one rank? I have only seen it once, so it is hard to judge.

I just rewatched the original trilogy, for now I would put it behind Empire Strikes Back and A New Hope.

I think it is better than Return of the Jedi, there is too much The Muppet Show in that one.

Lets hope that Star Wars: Episode VIII will be at least as good as this one!

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Star Wars The Force Awakens

(Major Spoilers!)

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The kids in the theatre liked the movie. So sad, I am really not a kid anymore....

Story:

This did not impress me at all. It's A New Hope retelling: a droid is given a secret and crash lands on a desert planet. Also we have a Death Star again.

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New Characters:

I already have forgotten most of the names, hhmmm....

I liked Rey, a female Luke Skywalker (did they do a BSG on this one??), played by Daisy Ridley, good actress, best part of the movie.

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Finn, strange character: a Storm Trooper who does not want to be a Storm Trooper, I wonder how his psych test went during his training; I think he would not have passed it and been killed off already.

He is the comic relief character, did not like him, the actor - John Boyega - felt out of place; like he just came of the set from Attack the Block.

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Poe Dameron, played by Oscar Isaac, great actor (Ex Machina, Sucker Punch), not much character development, not enough screen time, is he the new Han Solo?

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Kylo Ren, the new Darth Vader, which has major emotional issues, the actor Adam Driver is good, but him being the son of Han Solo and Princess Leia turning to the Dark Side is too much soap for me. And I don't like his lightsaber, very impractical.

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BB-8: its a cute Robot, the child of C-3PO and R2-D2?? Great to see that it actually works, smart design, want to buy it, but too expensive and too small.

Recurring Characters:

Han Solo, old but still great. I am going to miss him in the next one!

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Princess Leia, actually she is a General now, not really played out very well by Carrie Fisher; I guess she really is too old, she just looks like a confused grandmother.

Luke Skywalker, is only at the end of the movie. But from the legacy actors, he looks the youngest, gives me New Hope for the next Star Wars.

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Style / Sets / Effects:

Locations and sets are great, you can clearly see that a lot of practical effects were used, which is good, they simply work better; more organic.

But for the important alien characters they used CGI, for example Maz Kanata, which reminds me of a female Yoda, is not convincing. Also Supreme Leader Snoke, we see him as a big hologram, doesn't look good...

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The battles are great, although we all have seen it before, nothing new. Actually the Millenium Falcon battle scenes were new, but I don't think it is able to fly so dynamic (but I am nitpicking here).

Music:

John William's music in this one is boring, its repetitive classical music, its pace is slower than the editing of the movie. They should have taken the risk by adding more electronic music to it.

This works better for me.

Conclusion:

I need to see it again. It was good fun, but not much originality and too easy. I would have changed the music. Get rid of Finn, Let Poe meet Rey. Introduce Luke Skywalker earlier and keep Han Solo for the next one.

Hopefully the upcoming sequel will take more risks, which can happen with director Rian Johnson who did Looper; but no time travel in Star Wars please :-)

Funny; I don't like the prequels, buy they are more original...

BTW Buy the Art book!

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The Machine

A Prequel to Blade Runner

This is a great movie, made with a small budget, it looks great but most important: it has a soul. It asks questions which are becoming more and more important as technology evolves; what is life...

We currently are able to make robots that move, act and look like humans.

So what is next ? Self-awareness ? An imitation of life ?

This movie asks some of these questions, like Blade Runner does. Other similarities are the Turing test and of course the music.

Here some pictures and quotes from the movie, go check it out!

Ohh, you may notice that the lead actor looks alot like Ridley Scott! Coincidence?

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"Mary saw a puppy in a window. She wanted it. What did Mary want?"

The Machine: "The window"

"Why?"

The Machine: "Windows look out onto the world. They are pretty and help you feel less alone."

"This is beautiful programming."

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"Machine. How can we win a war against China?"

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The Machine: "If I wasn't gentle, you would break."

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The Machine: "What makes my clever imitation of life any different from theirs?"

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Star Trek Into Darkness

Time for a new movie review, funny; this is about Star Trek again; my first one was also about Star Trek, the reboot, which I enjoyed a lot.

But this one, hmm, very mixed feelings about this one. The main problem is that I have seen all Star Trek series and movies, which in this case is a disadvantage (I am biased). The rumor during production of this movie was that they were using the Kahn character from the original series (Space Seed episode) and the Wrath of Kahn movie, sadly this is true...

The Star Trek reboot did a clever thing; they changed the timeline so that from that point on all events in the other movies (and series ?) could be ignored. So why would you then still borrow (uhhmm steal) such an important character from the original movie (probably the best villain in the Star Trek universe). For me that can only work if you can make the character better.

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I like the actor - Benedict Cumberbatch - who now plays Kahn (he is excellent in Sherlock), but his slim physique does not match the character. Even the name - Khan Noonien Singh - suggests a Persian or northern Indian caucasian and not somebody from Britain (although they have a lot of immigration…).
Most importantly you have to respect the original actor - Ricardo Montalbán – who was just perfect in this role (probably his best role).

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Next there is one important scene which was stolen from Wrath of Kahn, it’s when Spock dies. In Wrath of Kahn this was a very effective scene, beautifully written and passionately acted by Leonard Nimoy and William Shatner (yes Shatner can act!!). The movie ends with leaving the question whether Spock is really dead.

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J.J. Abrams (and the writers) thought it was a good idea to do the same, but reverse roles (let Kirk die). This scene did not work at all. First of all you already knew that Kirk could be revived by the super-blood from Kahn. Secondly letting Spock shout 'Kaaaaaahn!!' was totally out of place, Kahn had nothing to do with Kirks dead and furthermore although Spock is half human he would not do this (trekkies will agree) or has the timeline been altered to the Mirror Mirror episode.

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The only positive thing in this movie is the action (CGI); I especially liked the short Klingon battle. Hopefully we will see a lot more of this in a next movie.

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Movies should not be about having the nicest CGI - sure; it has an impact on the younger / gaming audience - but a movie should have heart, depth, cause and consequence and most importantly be honest, and this movie has none of that its all imitation and fake.

It is time that Hollywood stops remaking / rehashing / trashing / stealing old classic movies; respect them and leave them alone. Try to come up with something new; pay more attention to the story. Get rid of the copycat writers; get Harve Bennett back and get a director who truly loves Star Trek.

Thank you J.J. for the solid reboot, but you can now be part of your true love: the Star Wars universe.

Brainstorm (1983)

Finally this movie has been released on blu-ray. I own the DVD which is a Non-Anamorphic NTSC release, so the image quality is not very good.

Unfortunately the movie has not been remastered, so the colors are still flat, and it lacks detail (sharpness). But at least the HD resolution is an improvement.

This movie is one of my all time favorites, here is why:
* It's a story about recording and playing back the experiences (consciousness) of a person. It's told and shown very detailed and convincing, with 80's technology which now of course looks dated. You can see how technology has progressed in 30 years time.
* Although it relies on technical elements, the story also contains human aspects; dealing with the positive and negative parts of life, but most interesting it gives an insight in life after death.
* Like many other movies made in the 70's and 80's, the story is well written and performed by good actors. Let me put it in another way, this is not an action movie where the actors only have to fire a gun or kick ass. Instead they have to show emotions and interact (connect) with the other actors to make the story convincing.
* It is directed by Douglas Trumbull who did the special effects for 2001, Blade Runner and Close Encounters of the 3rd Kind. So you can expect some nice effects here also!
* Good music from James Horner

Prometheus

For sci-fi / horror fanatics, one of the most anticipated movie of the year. Also for me - I love Alien and Aliens - to know that Ridley Scott, who also created Blade Runner, is doing a new sci-fi movie linked to Alien is even more exciting than a follow-up to Tron.

Sadly Prometheus disappoints, its main problem is bad writing (by somebody who also wrote the series Lost, which started great and ended in total confusion).

I suggest you read the reviews on IMDB before you go watch the movie, I agree with most of the negative reviews.

Here’s a list of my issues why I think this movie sucked:
* Script is too ambitious; it asks too many questions, none of them are answered.
* There was no suspense at all, I was never scared.
* Cheap plot-tricks, like introducing the med-pod in the beginning, ‘this is an expensive medical device’, to later use it for the caesarean section.
* BTW, when you perform a medical procedure like that, I think you are not able to walk afterwards.
* It’s about a scientific mission, but the people are clearly not educated. Oh there is oxygen let’s take of our helmets… Shouldn’t you be checking for bacteria / viruses first??
* Even when it is a scientific mission, bring some weapons so that you are able to defend yourself, just in case…
* Why would you use a young actor with makeup to portray and old character, are all old actors dead??
* In the original Alien, time was spent to get to know the characters (the dinner scene after they have weakened up), not here; which means you don’t care about them. They are all presented as the usual stereo types, which only tells you who will die first.
* Characters only do stupid things.
* Boring soundtrack, remember the chilling soundtrack of Alien, by Jerry Goldsmith?
* Boring sound design, Alien and Blade Runner had these little sound effects which enhanced the mood.

The only good thing in this movie is the performance of Michael Fassbender as the android and some nice CGI.

This was just an average sci-fi movie; it doesn’t come close to the brilliance and simplicity of Alien.

Here some screenshots, to remember and honor the classic!

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Tron Legacy

I just can't get enough!

I already watched Tron Legacy 3 times in IMAX 3D Cinema (not alone, so I am not a complete nerd :-), paying a ridiculous high ticket price, but this is one of those movies that simply don't get dull...

I am not sure what stands out, is it the music, the action, is it Jeff Bridges, is it the tight suites, or is it because you think you are watching the original Tron but with better visual effects (no missing polylines, ha-ha!).

The first time I watched the movie, I was disappointed with the CGI (young) version of Jeff Bridges, I thought that the CGI wasn't convincing, the eyes, the teeth and the smile. But somehow after the 2nd and 3rd viewing I actually think they did a good (although impossible) job. Making somebody older is easier than making somebody younger; we all know the young Jeff Bridges, but not the old Brad Pitt.

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Real '82 Bridges vs. CGI Bridges

'It's Bio-Digital Jazz, Man'

Ah man, the dude, what a one liner! How do you explain the audience that something wonderful has happened (the ISO's), at first I also thought why didn't they explain this in more detail (major plot hole!). But just like in 2001 you need some metaphor to capture something you DON'T want to explain, but leave it to the audience, and trying to explain this would probably result in techno babble like in a Star Trek Next Generation episode.

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In real life, the computer nerds are all thinking about A.I., evolving software, this IS the future; as software becomes more complex, interconnected, something wonderful has to happen!

I like the moment where Quorra and Sam Flynn discuss classic literature, I like when Sam explains what watching a Sunrise feels like, I like when CLU looks at his reflection in the Apple.

I like the fact they did not decide to remake the original, but make a sequel, with various subtle references to the original movie (The 80's music in the Arcade, Dumont, Dillinger, 'Now that is a BIG door', 'End of Line, Man!')

'Am I still to create the perfect system?'

Critics say there is no story in this movie, I don't agree. The one liner above kind of summarizes a major part of the story. Kevin Flynn got too occupied in creating an alternate reality, without the flaws of the real world. I am a programmer myself; I create designs / architectures, but I know there is no perfect architecture, there will always be a flaw, and you should not waist your efforts to create the impossible but enjoy what you have created and learn from the flaws.

Kevin Flynn realizes he already created something 'perfect', his son, and then realizes he wasted a major part of his life. He even missed the opportunity to be the inventor of Wi-Fi!

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So, my conclusion, Tron Legacy is an excellent movie (action packed and beautifully looking and with a nice subtle story), I will not watch it again in cinema :-), but will now wait for the blu-ray release and watch it many times again. Until the 3rd Tron movie hits the Cinema, in which the storyline will probably revolve around the son of Ed Dillinger played by Giel Beelen (Dutch joke).

End of Line

Expendables

Nothing wrong with a simple old school action movie.

Stallone is really on a roll lately, first Rocky, then the ultra violent Rambo and now the Expendables.

This is just like a Jackie Chan movie, the story is not important; it's all about the action and the humor. This movie has raw action, lots of guns, knife throwing, body parts, big explosions and a nice (short) scene together with Bruce Willis and Arnie.

Can't wait for the sequel, maybe this time Jean Claude Van Damme does want to join...

Last Airbender

Pff, what a wasted opportunity.

This movie has an interesting story (based on a Nickelodeon cartoon) and the visual effects are very nice, but the script is very poor. Especially the dialog, there is a lot of redundant dialogue, explaining what you already see.

Also the movie feels rushed (they compressed 20 episodes in 1 movie), it feels like scenes are missing. Hopefully there will be a director's cut, which will have more scenes.

This movie is intended to be part of a trilogy, but I am not sure whether we will get to see the other parts, because up until know it hasn't made a lot of money. And should there be a sequel, it is probably better to hire another director, instead of M. Night Shyamalan, who appears to have lost his touch.

Salt

A spy movie with Angelina Jolie.

There's lots of action in this movie, but somehow it didn't work for me. A girl who looks like she weighs no more then 90 pounds, is not able to do what you see in this movie. Defeating big guys, jumping from buildings etc.

Also there is a plot twist which isn't hard to guess.

So a nice popcorn movie, but not something I will watch again.

Cargo (2009)

The first SF Movie from Switzerland.

This weekend I had the blu-ray for this movie in my hands; I read the back but could not decide whether or not to buy it. I decided to not buy it, since I already had a hand full of other blu-rays.

So, I went home and looked up the movie in IMDb. After reading the user reviews I had the feeling I made a mistake....

I downloaded (oops!) the movie (long live binsearch!) and watched the movie.

The film opens with a scene showing a women walking in a large green landscape. The scene zooms out and we see it is actually a billboard on a spaceship approaching the earth.

The camera then pans to a rotating space station and while zooming in we can see that this space station in fact contains a number of cities. This is the first time I see this in a movie, I have only read it in a Arthur C. Clarke book.

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Wow, we are only 2 minutes in and I already know this is going to be a great movie!

The story for this movie is not unique, but it is executed the same as for example in 2001 and Solaris (the original). Slow-paced, the action and thrills are sporadic and the focus is on story / characters. But I like this, this is true Science Fiction!

"Set in a future where earth can no longer support life most of it's inhabitants now live in massively overcrowded space stations. The only ray of light is Rhea, a paradise planet five light years from earth."

The budget for this movie was around 3 Million Euros, in Hollywood this is nothing (is spent on coffee and donuts alone...), but you can see the money is very well spent here. The sets and special effects are very convincing, you never have the feeling they needed to make concessions.

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Also I like the soundtrack and sound design very much, especially the opening scene is very impressive, similar to the opening of Blade Runner.

As said, the movie 'borrows' a lot from other movies like 2001, 2010 and Alien. Also a plot twist is related to another SF movie which I will not reveal here.
But still, in my opinion, this is a unique movie and very well executed.

The end result is that I have ordered the movie via Amazon, so that I can enjoy it again and again, with better audio and video.

(Hmm, this review is evidence that downloading a movie is not a bad thing, especially when it is not released in your own country...)

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Kick-Ass

(This review contains spoilers)





Another Superhero movie, well kind-of...

The main character, a nerd, is a wannabe superhero.

Living in a world of comics, he decides the world needs a real Superman and buys a wet-suit and starts to fight crime!

His first 'case' as Kick-Ass is a total failure; he wants to stop 2 guys from breaking into a car, but gets stabbed and while stumbling to get help, he gets hit by a car.

He wakes up in the hospital, every bone broken and his nerves not functioning properly anymore.

Hmm, not a good start. But inspired by his X-ray, which looks like the metal work inside Wolverine, he decides to continue...

He tries to stop 2 guys molesting another guy and since he does not feel anything anymore, he actually succeeds. Well, the other guys get physically tired of beating up Kick-Ass, they simply walk away escaping from the police.

This actually leads us to the introduction of 2 other characters, Big Daddy and Hit Girl.

Since his 'victory' was filmed outside a supermarket and placed on YouTube, becoming an instant hit, these 'real superheroes' want to help Kick-Ass.

This is where the film really kicks off.

Hit Girl is a 13-year old girl, who is trained by her Daddy.

We only see one training session; Big Daddy shoots her with real bullets, so that she learns how it feels to be shot (she of course wears a bulletproof vest).

It only takes a couple of scenes to 'believe' this girl can kick ass.

Kick-Ass is a hilarious movie, the humor is over the top. The action is refreshing, accompanied by a good soundtrack, and actually believable.

It's a cruel movie and I have read reviews of people who did not understand the movie.

Well if you do not want to believe that a 13-year old girl can kick ass, you shouldn't go see this movie.

I enjoyed it very much; it will probably be one of the highlights of this year.

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

Is this the ultimate Popcorn movie ?

No story, major plotholes. But this is all made up by non-stop action (150 minutes!) and hilarious jokes in between.

Oh yeah; in the universe of Michael Bay, there are no ugly women. Nothing wrong with that :-)

Only critisism I have is, that during the battles between the robots, you can't tell who's who. But of course in the end the 'good guys' are winning...

Terminator: Salvation

Lot's of action, but not a good Terminator movie.

It felt more like Saving Private Ryan and Transformers.

I really missed Arnold's one liners, this is a very dry movie.

What was a suprise to me is that John Connor (Christian Bale), is not the main character in this movie.

A major plot twist, which is already releaved at the beginning of the movie (why do this ?), involves Marcus Wright (rising star Sam Worthington), he is the one who carries this movie.

Maybe the movie will grow on me, but for now this one is the weakest in the series:
1. Terminator: Judgement Day
2. Terminator
3. Terminator: Rise of the Machines
4. Terminator: Salvation

Star Trek (2009)

Watched it on premiere day in the Cinema.

I liked it a lot, strange thing is that I did not miss William Shatner (his 'adhoc' way of talking) or any of the other original actors. Using young actors was a smart move, the age difference between the new (Chris Pine) and old Kirk is so large, it doesn't really make sense to compare the two.

Also the director (J.J. Abrams) didn't try to simply make a clone of the original characters. Only the role of Dr. Leonard 'Bones' McCoy, performed by Karl Urban is very similar and done very well!!

"Space is disease and danger wrapped in darkness and silence"

The action / special effects in the movie are inspired by Star Wars (the ship of Leonard Nimoy), Firefly and Battlestar Galactica, making it more dynamic and epic then in the previous Star Trek movies.

The movie contains a lot of humor (Scotty!), some of it is a bit over the top, but it doesn't feel forced.

Overall the balance between story, drama, action, comedy works very well.

My opionion is that this is the 2nd best Star Trek movie, next to Star Trek: First Contact.

I am probably going to watch it again in IMAX!