Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box – I’ve finally finished up the second Professor Layton game. I liked the setting and feel of this game better than the first one. The animation for the cut-scenes are both increased in amount and in quality. I think there are a few cases of poor wording of the puzzles. It’s probably because I just finished the first game, but for the most part the puzzles felt easier than the first game. Also there are more hint coins in this game so there’s no worry on running out of ways to get hints if you need them. I did run into a problem assembling the camera as it apparently needs to be assembled in a particular order an not just with all the pieces in the right place as the instructions indicated. Also if you miss a certain puzzle you will not be able to complete the tea puzzles. Luckily after the game you can go back and complete anything you missed.
Wii Sports Resort – I mostly wanted this to try out the gyroscopic attachment to the Wii remote and it works as advertised. It does a great job of 1:1 motion between what you do and what happens on screen. I’ve only tried a few of the games so far but they are all well done. The frisbee game was challenging at first but soon enough I was throwing as I would a regular frisbee. I look forward to the other games and seeing what else will take advantage of this device.
Alice – I wasn’t that impressed with SyFy’s Tin Man take on The Wizard of Oz, but for some reason I thought Alice looked promising, and for the most part it delivered. Large unpopulated cities, while looking cool don’t really fit with how it should be, but everything else ended up being a fairly interesting take on the Wonderland stories. It makes me wonder how much it has in common with the upcoming Alice in Wonderland which also appears to take place in a future Wonderland, based on the trailer.
Black in America 2 – More great stories about the subject matter! I didn’t get to see the first Black in America, but I really liked Hispanic in America and this is right up there with it.
Another free preview weekend means I get a lot more movies to watch, good and bad. There’s a lot of bad this time so I’ll put the better ones first. I have to start writing these before I have so many piled up.
Herbie Hancock: Possibilities – This a documentary about the making of the Herbie Hancock album by the same name. It’s a collaboration with a number of artists and all of them are shown in their collaboration. I learned about several artists I’ll be looking into from this which is better than I was expecting going in.
Bottle Shock – I’m not sure how accurate the portrayal of the characters are but I think the events are probably about how they happened. The characters to make for a fun ride through the rise of Napa though. You dont have to be a wine afficionado to enjoy this movie.
Le Placard – A fine film! I don’t normally expect a straight up comedy to come from France, but this one really delivers.
Black Irish – It’s good, but I wasn’t expecting something this heavy. This movie is pretty heavy on the drama but not in a bad way and doesn’t go down the rode of the morose.
Sweet and Lowdown – Great mockumentary about a fictional guitar player. The music is good and the humor is played perfectly.
CJ7 – A mostly non-kung-fu Stephen Chow movie, but I still like it. File this mostly under heart-warming family film. I look forward to the sequel.
The Anniversary Party – A small group of actors getting together to make their own movie can often go wrong, but in this case it all came out right. I guess there’s nothing else to say other than I really got into the characters.
The Bachelor – It’s mostly pretty silly in the premise but the it starts to get fun when Brooke Shields’ character enters the scene. I’m glad it referenced Brewster’s Millions because that’s what I was thinking this was goign to be like early on. Seeing a couple hundred brides running around is pretty fun.
Blood: The Last Vampire – Live action anime! Apparently it isn’t as good as the original anime, but it was still entertaining enough. I probably wouldn’t seek it out, but if you like anime vampire/martial arts/demon movies you’ll probably find this entertaining.
A Wake in Providence – A second tier family reunion type movie. It’s entertaining but not as good as other examples of the genre.
Paul Blart: Mall Cop – I was skeptical that this was a movie worthy of how much money it made. The first 30 minutes weren’t that exciting, but then it turned into a fairly decent comedy version of Die Hard. Yeah it would be better to watch Die Hard, but this wasn’t that bad.
Fired Up! – This stated off with kind of a Ferris Bueller feel. The main characters could improvise a plan and get out of any situation. After the first 15 minutes the only thing left is what you see in the trailer. Their ability to hatch plans and execute them on the fly vanishes, killing the best thing this movie had going.
The International – Thriller and international banking don’t seem like they would go together and really it ends up more of a commentary about the far reaches of the banking system and why it is untouchable.
The Breed – This movie was a little confused. It tried to present a Brazil-like future, but that was completely unrelated to most of the movie both in content and in style. I like the idea behind the movie and it plays well except for about 10 minutes in the last third which seems to come out of nowhere. The movie gets back on track but there’s defeinitely a “what the hell is going on” section.
The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle – Bullwinkle and the narrator seemed fine, but Rocky seemed a little flat, despite being in 3D. I think the silliness stayed true to the cartoon including a heavy dose of meta-fiction. Overall I think it was a successful live-action version of the cartoon, but I don’t think the public wanted a live-action version of the cartoon. I enjoyed it though.
Bart Got a Room – Good prom flick and William H. Macy is funny as the dad. It made me think this is what would happen if John Hughes were to make a less-funny indie film.
Confessions of a Shopaholic – I give props to this movie for pointing out the difference between cost and value right up front. It also does a good job presenting people’s problems with credit cards. It’s all wrapped in an entertaining film, though I suspect the economic advice will not be applied by most people.
Step Brothers – I’m not really sure why this works, but it does. I think the only part that doesn’t work for me is the school yard bullies, but that’s a small enough part that it doesn’t really detract.
Sunshine Cleaning – I enjoyed it, but I don’t think I’d watch it again despite Alan Arkin being in it. I’ll watch him in anything.
Wrongfully Accused – It’s Airplane comedy and it’s pretty close to that original feel. I’ll credit that to the writer/director working with the Zucker/Abrahams team in the past. It’s pretty funny and I might consider it again if I were in the mood for a Fugitive parody.
The Rookie – Yay, I love baseball movies! It doesn’t seem like this story could actually happen, but yet it did. I think it has a little too much of a feel of destiny to it, but it’s still a good story.
Strictly Business – This falls in the average comedy range. It’s interesting watching it now though since the gangster as the dominant black character hadn’t yet emerged.
My Faraway Bride – It’s kind of a middle of the road cross-cultural romantic comedy. It probably would have been better had it not been based on how the writer met the lead actress. The fish out of water/rich-poor/you-us marriage conflict film has been done much better any number of times, but this is an entertaining enough way to pass time. Bonus points for being short.
Happy-Go-Lucky – For the first two thirds I think the main character has to be one of the most irritating characters I’ve seen in a movie. Thankfully events happen to tone it down and as a whole I think the movie ends up being pretty good. I’d rank it about the same level as other Mike Leigh movies.
Standard Time – I like song standards so I was pretty happy with this from that aspect alone. Andrew McCarthy makes any scene he is in better than it would have been otherwise. The ones without him aren’t bad, but his stand out. I have to give it credit for going through with a wedding scene unlike any other I can recall.
The New Guy – Not the fish out of water comedy I was expecting, but a rise of the little guy comedy instead. It’s fairly funny, but not consistently. I like the casting and it all sure beats a flaming marshmallow to your eye.
Bob the Butler – Tom Greene isn’t as obnoxious as he generally is in this movie which makes this an average entertaining movie. Not the kind you go out and try to see, but the kind where there’s nothing else on tv and this comes on and you feel like being lazy.
Stealing Harvard – A silly premise, which is fine, with a lackluster execution. The movie only really hits where it needs to be right before the end which is just enough to make it okay.
Lucky 13 – In some ways it’s similar to Bart Got a Room in that the main character gets advice from everyone before figuring out what they need to do to be happy, but it’s not nearly as good. I think the ending is appropriate though.
Sugar & Spice – A cheer leading version of The Usual Suspects. It seems like this should be an easy sell but it ends up being fairly forgettable. Maybe if it had gone more along the Point Break lines with multiple robberies that would help, or even more training. Instead it feels mostly like a discussion of heist movies.
Wet Hot American Summer – Could this be the least funny summer camp movie ever? It might be. By the end I don’t even think the actors cared anymore.
Beverly Hills Chihuahua - The worst movie of the bunch. Good thing I was able to work on code while this played or I might have gone insane. I do have a theory that this actually started out as a script for a rich white girl who gets stuck in Mexico, but that was too generic so they changed the story to be with dogs. Aside from the occasional dog references, and since the dogs talk, there is nothing preventing this from being made with an all human cast. Except then you wouldn’t get people to watch it because there are dogs in it.