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Van Helsing - 6.0/10

I went to Van Helsing (VH) with little expectation, hoping to be pleasantly surprised. This was not to be the case. The movie, while featuring some above average fight sequences – which seemed to be crafted specifically for the post-movie video game industry – suffers from excessiveness. Too much CG, too much action (read, not enough character development), and way, way too many major monsters (aka boss characters). Normally, you wouldn’t care about hordes of mindless (and often faceless) zombies doing interior decorating in shades of gore, but VH doesn’t go that route. Instead, it chooses to load the movie with plenty of super-baddies, with the result that not one is developed properly (does the Wolfman regret his nocturnal activities? Does Dracula have any secret regrets about his lifestyle?) The only character chosen to exhibit any sort of character development is Frankenstein’s monster – and that’s too little, too late.

All in all, VH is a gothic representation of 2002’s “XXX”, except that Vin Diesel brought to the latter an Arnie-like implacable force of destruction. Hugh Jackman can’t compete with that. He needs space to fill out the character – look at the amazing work he’s done in the X-Men series of movies.

If I were you, I’d wait for the DVD on this one.

As an aside, I find it troubling that Hollywood’s creativity – in designing action/ adventure stars – to be atrophying. There seem to have been two major templates created in the last 5 years from which most of today’s characters are derived. The first, The Matrix, brought the long leather/vinyl overcoat that’s popular with *everyone* now. The second is Hugh Jackman’s own X-Men, which has given rise to the blades-popping-out-of-nowhere style of character. Please, please, will no one rid me of these meddlesome influences?


My favorite TV Show

Had a few minutes to spare, and I thought I'd plug my favorite (current) TV Show - Stargate SG-1.

Yup, it's sci-fi, and it runs on the Sci Fi Channel, every night, 6pm, and Mondays and Fridays are "marathons" - 4 episodes on both nights. It plays on one of the network channels on Sunday nights ... I think its UPN (?).

You know how many people claim alien visitor theories and conspiracies? Stuff about alien crop circles being navigation aids (which was then turned into the slightly cheesy, and thrilling "Signs"). Stuff about the Pyramids being built by aliens. Stuff about Atlanteans being aliens. Well anyway, SG1 took that and said, well, what if it were true? A movie was made in 1994, starring Kurt Russell ( ... and a TV Show ultimately spun off of that.

The background of the story is:

- The Stargate "network" consists of hundreds, possibly thousands, of Stargates - alien devices that open wormholes to each other. Think of the Star Trek Transporter spanning galaxies - kinda like that. A person "dials" a Stargate address to open the gate on the other side, steps through his gate, and a few seconds later is strolling on another planet.

- The Stargate was built by an alien species that seems to be extinct. It was "re-discovered" by the Goa'uld, who used it to invade planets. The Goa'uld are parasitic beings that inhabit host bodies, completely controlling the host. The host is granted regenerative powers and great speed and strength. The Goa'uld and host live for several hundred years, but are mortal nonetheless.

- The Goa'uld came to Earth, thousands of years ago, initally to Egypt (ultimately included China, and Scandinavia). There, they took on the personas of Egyptian gods - Ra, Isis, Anubis, etc., taking humans as hosts, and others as slaves. The slaves were transported through the Stargate to other planets. Ultimately, the slaves on Earth rebelled, and the Goa'uld fled. The Egyptians buried the Stargate (and its excavation marks the opening of the movie), making it impossible for the Goa'uld to access the gate ... hence, Earth's inhabitants were left in peace to slaughter each other for shiny stones or racial/religious purity.

- The Stargate program, initally run by the US Air Force (hey, its an American show. Who am I to argue?!), visit planets in order to acquire technology and/or allies. Their use of the Stargate alerted the Goa'uld, who've tried on many occaisions to invade Earth.

Why do I like it so much? Cos it's funny - Richard Dean Anderson (he also played McGyver in the 80's) heads the SG-1 team, and brings a lot of comic relief to what would otherwise be a lot of Trek-ish mumbo-jumbo (I always cringe when I listen to lines in TNG like "Maybe if I inverted the warp engine field coils, I might cause a garvimetric surge in the EPS conduit!"). its also intelligently written, never loses focus, constant action & adventure, etc. etc. etc.

For more info, I'd recommend as an encyclopedia for those who get confused while watching the show. :-) I've been to that website a lot!


Kill Bill Vol. 2 - 8/10

Kill Bill Vol. 2 (

Easily the best movie I've seen since Lord of The Rings: Return of the King. The only other memorable movie I've seen this year is Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (

Far more .... er, dignified - and that's an odd term when it comes to Tarantino - than Vol. 1. Kind of a flip-over from Vol. 1 ... this movie has more substance than style, IMO. Bill's monologue on comic book heroes and their alter-egos is brilliant ... very Pulp-Fiction-esque. One chapter (I think it was called The Cruel Tutelage of Pai Mei) is shot very well - the bleached and grainy look is reminiscient of the kung-fu movies of yore ... the ones that Star Plus used to air in its early days.

Nothing interesting in the new releases this weekend. I'm going out of town, and might not get a chance to see anything ... but I'm debating on watching The Punisher. It seems a little too wishy-washy (!) to me ... not comic-booky as Spiderman or The Hulk, but more of a general action movie. Will probably just wait for the DVD.


Moving into Blogger

If you find the timestamps close to each other, it's not cos I'm jobless ... well, maybe that too. I'm just cutting & pasting from another site.

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