Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Movie-Source.com is now FilmJabber!

Like our move from Blogger to blog.filmjabber.com, Movie-Source.com, the site I founded in 1998 while still in high school, has become FilmJabber. The content remains, but there is a new design, improved usability and more features, with more to come over the course of 2008.

Check out our new movie review website. or learn more about the move.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

We have moved to http://blog.filmjabber.com/

I, Erik Samdahl, have finally decided to move from Blogger to a stand alone blog site. As of today, there will be no future posts to this blog. All new posts can be found at http://blog.filmjabber.com/

Recent blog posts you'll find on this new URL include:
Also, coming soon:
  • Results from our horror movie survey, including the winner of the six horror DVDs
  • Our most anticipated movies of the winter of 2007
  • Day Watch movie review
  • American Gangster movie review
So please, please, please update your bookmarks and RSS feeds (actually, if you use our Feedburner RSS feed then you don't need to change anything), and head on over to the new blog and let us know what you think!

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Is Wanted (2008) the next Matrix?

I just watched the movie trailer for Wanted, the new action movie starring Angelina Jolie, Morgan Freeman and James MacAvoy, and I must say it looks pretty impressive. Sure, it could end up being stupid, but it's certainly not hard to notice some similarities to The Matrix. The movie boasts some extraordinary action, some interesting visuals (while at first it doesn't seem sci-fi, there are some scenes near the end that suggest that there will be a sci-fi element to it) and a theme that isn't unlike The Matrix.

The movie is about a young man (MacAvoy) who is introduced to a world of assassins that are there to bring balance to the world - Neo? Morgan Freeman plays what looks like the leader of the good assassins - Morpheus? Angelina Jolie plays the fierce woman assassin - Trinity?

The special effects shown near the end, especially of a man smashing through glass and then flying across a skyline, also screams The Matrix.

If these similarities are intended, it's a risky path to take. There haven't been many good sci-fi action films like this in quite a while, but if you fail, the comparisons will be nasty.

View more information, the movie trailer and 20 images...

New Movie Updates for Sunday, November 4, 2007

I've added lots of movie photos, previews and reviews today. Here are the latest updates...

New Alien vs. Predator Movie Images

The first Alien vs. Predator sucked big time as it was one of the most laughable movies ever, but I must say I'm a little more intrigued by the sequel. It still won't be all that great, but at least Aliens vs. Predator Requiem is R-rated and looks to have quite a bit of gore, if the Internet trailer is any indication.

Here are some of the latest photos...

New Hitman Movie Images

Check out these new Hitman movie images that were just recently made available. You can view more Hitman photos at my other website.

Student Film Project: Coby's Day Out (2007)

As some of you may know, my little brother Nathan Samdahl is attending film school down at Chapman University in Orange, California. He and some of his friends have entered a short film into Apple's Insomnia Film Festival, and so I invite you to watch the movie, rate it (preferably "Excellent" regardless of what you think) and pass it onto your friends to do the same.

What is Coby's Day Out about? Strangely, it's about the adventures of a cell phone, but if you watch the movie (apparently Apple doesn't fully support Firefox as I can't figure out how to watch the movie in that browser) you'll see how it works...

Here's the link:


DVD Review: Twin Peaks Definitive Gold Box Edition

I'll come right out and say it: I haven't watched most of this DVD box set, as it is huge. The Twin Peaks Definitive Gold Box Edition includes all 29 episodes from the show plus two different versions of the feature-length pilot, the domestic (U.S.) version and the international version, which wraps things up a little more.

"Wraps things up a little more" is all relative when it comes to David Lynch, however, as the international version ends just the way you'd expect from Lynch: with a confusing ending that makes absolutely no sense. Unlike in the regular pilot, which essentially just ends with a cliffhanger, the international version introduces us to a couple men who aren't quite men and then jumps ahead 25 years to where star Kyle Maclachlan is found sitting in a room with Michael J. Anderson (the short person most recently seen in HBO's Carnivale), who talks backwards in a strange alien-like voice, and the murdered Laura Palmer. The ending is intriguing, of course, but I have no clue what it means. Like most Lynch productions, I have stopped even trying to understand.

Amazingly, this pilot is the first time I've ever watched Twin Peaks. Yes, the show was a bit before my time, but I have lived in Washington State, the place where the show was filmed, since I was five. In fact, I even ate in the Twin Peaks Diner just yesterday (called Twede's) and drove past the Salish Lodge that is shown quite frequently in the show. So, I'm quite happy that Paramount sent me this DVD box set so I finally have no excuse not to watch this show.

Based on the preview, I am in love. The production values are incredible, and aside from some early 90's hair and clothing, the show stands up beautifully. The film has been remastered for this DVD box set, and looks as sharp as ever. The acting and writing are incredible, equivalent to anything that Hollywood offers today. One of my favorite scenes in the pilot is the one where the teacher is informed of Laura's death and even with no words spoken, a couple of the students, realizing Laura is not in the classroom, instantly know what happened. The unspoken moments are as important as the dialogue-driven ones, and this scene is pitch perfect.

I haven't watched most of the features on the DVD because I try not to watch these things before completely watch the actual episodes (these often include spoilers). Aside from the entire series in one set, the DVDs include deleted scenes, interviews with the cast and creator David Lynch, an interactive map that reveals where the show's locations are connected, both fictionally and in real life, a featurette about cast members and Twin Peaks fans coming together to go to a festival, the Kyle MacLachlan episode from SNL and so on and so forth.

Basically, everything about Twin Peaks is included in one box. Fans of the show should not hesitate to purchase this DVD box set.

DVD Review: Chinatown Special Collector's Edition (1974)

Paramount Pictures is releasing Chinatown: Special Collector's Edition DVD on November 6, 2007, and we managed to get an advanced copy to examine. The DVD of this Roman Polanski classic includes the theatrical trailer and four featurettes:
  • Chinatown: The Beginnng and the End!
  • Chinatown: Style
  • Acting Chinatown
  • Chinatown: The Classic
As you can judge from the titles of those featurettes, they're all about Chinatown. While the amount of special features isn't anything to get excited about, the quality of the featurettes are quite good. They go in-depth to how Chinatown was conceived by screenwriter Robert Towne, who, as it turns out, was good friends with Nicholson. According to him, he was tired of seeing his friend struggling to make a living, so he wrote this movie with Nicholson in mind. Since the character Jake is sharp-tongued and sarcastic the entire movie, that's really not that surprising.

Some of the featurettes even include interviews with Nicholson himself, which was a bit surprising. I was expecting him to be "a bit too big" to do interviews for DVDs these days.

All that being said, this special collector's edition isn't worth buying, unless you don't own Chinatown at all.

Of course, Chinatown is a classic. You can read my full Chinatown movie review here.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

DVD Review: Pixar Short Films Collection (2007)

It's the greatest idea no one had ever thought of until now. You know those little Pixar shorts that play before movies, including For the Birds and Lifted? Now you can watch almost all of the Pixar shorts on a single DVD, thanks to the new Pixar Short Films Collection, available on Tuesday.

Pixar Short Films Collection contains the following short films:

  • The Adventures of Andrew and Wally B.
    This is one of Pixar's oldest movies, from when they were still a part of Lucasfilm. Good animation for the time, though the movie itself is nothing spectacular compared to some of the others on the list.
  • Luxo Jr.
    Is this the living lamp one that the Pixar logo is based on? If so, this is one of the better early ones and really doesn't show its age.
  • Red's Dream
    This is the worst out of the group. It's basically about a unicycle that dreams that ugly, creepy clown that's riding it gets displaced and for once, it, the unicycle, steals the show. There's nothing spectacular here in terms of animation or story.
  • Tin Toy
    This one is pretty imaginative and well animated, though it falls a bit flat at times. The baby that serves as "the monster" is quite creepy looking, and not necessarily intentionally.
  • Knick Knack
    One of the best of the shorts, this one is about a snowman inside a snow globe who desperately tries to break free to get to a seductive bikini doll only a few feet away. His efforts, as you might imagine, don't go too well.
  • Geri's Game
    This one is okay, if not a little creepy. Geri's Game is about an old man who plays chess with himself and gets quite clever in the process; of course, when you think about it, it's sad and suggests mental illness.
  • For The Birds
    Probably one of the best known animated short ever, this is the one where a big, stupid bird tries to hang out with a bunch of tiny, smarter (but meaner) birds, and the results are hilariously disastrous.
  • Mike's New Car
    A short based on Monsters, Inc. has the two leads from that feature length movie getting in trouble with Mike's new car. The hijinks are funny at first, but eventually you realize there's not much cleverness to the routine.
  • Boundin'
    Boundin' is a clever little skit with a rhyming narration about a sheep that learns to be happy even when all of his wool is removed each year. Ultimately, the short isn't that funny, but I give it props for imagination.
  • Jack-Jack Attack
    I'm not a huge fan of these short films based on actual movies, but this one is definitely quite entertaining. Jack-Jack Attack is basically a deleted scenes from The Incredibles, and shows us what happens to the babysitter who is watching young Jack-Jack, who suddenly begins to show his powers. I like how Pixar made this as if they pulled it right out of the movie (which is one of my favorite Pixar movies).
  • One Man Band
    Another funny short, this has a poor little girl torn between two competing street musicians who are vying to get her golden coin. The twist at the end is great.
  • Mater and The Ghostlight
    Cars was the worst Pixar movie ever, and is just a boring movie overall. This short film based on the Cars characters is just as dull, although had they stretched the story of this one into a full-length movie, Cars still would have been better.
  • Lifted
    Another Pixar classic, Lifted is about a teenage alien who is going through "driving school" with an alien instructor, only this driving school is actually a test to abduct a human being. Basically, the teenager isn't very good, and the result is the human being bounced all over the place.
The Pixar Short Films Collection is a great idea and I'm happy Disney finally decided to put these together. Some of the shorts are better than others, but if you've always wanted to see them all, it will certainly make a good rental.

Why do cartoons waste money on big names?

I haven't seen Bee Movie, but with the constant promotion from Jerry Seinfeld, I wonder about the animated genre in general: how come the studios focus so much on the big name actors included in the cast? With Bee Movie it's not too surprising that Seinfeld has pushed this picture so much; he's still in demand, and the movie would be absolutely nothing special without him. Bee Movie is almost guaranteed to be the number one film at the box office as a result.

Still, using a big name actor to drive audiences is just a remedy for a bigger issue. Of course the studios have to use the likes of Jerry Seinfeld, Will Smith and dozens of others, because without them, the movies would often be nothing. Again, I haven't seen Bee Movie, but it's not getting great reviews (not getting terrible reviews either), but I have seen a lot of other animated movies where the promotions for the big name actors have been huge.

Remember Shark's Tale? That one promoted the hell out of the people involved, from Will Smith to Robert De Niro. Madagascar: Ben Stiller, Chris Rock and so on and so forth. And why? Because they were making up for something else.

With exception to most of the Pixar movies and a few scatterings of other animated films from other companies, most cartoons (it's safe to call these CGI films cartoons now, right, since there really isn't any traditional animated fare these days?) aren't of a high enough quality to rely on look and story alone. Sure, Pixar has used some big names (Tom Hanks and Tim Allen come to mind), but have you noticed that since Toy Story, they really use the actors as promotional devices for their pictures? The previews are almost always focused on the story and the visuals, and rarely mention who the voice talent is. Often times, the voice talent is incredible, but not someone we would know or care about in general.

Then you look at Dreamworks and some other shops, and they almost always have some zany cartoon where they spend half the movie trailer promoting who is in the movie, as if it matters whether Will Smith or Robert De Niro are involved. I'd rather half a pitch-perfect voice talent than an actor whom we're never going to see be involved.

The point of this rant is that if these studios invested just a little less money in its actors and focused perhaps $300,000 more to obtain a quality writer, we'd have a lot more well done cartoons on our hands rather than a bunch of loud and splintered entertainment pieces. Sure, cartoons are meant to entertain children, but if done right, they can also please adults just as much, and it's amazing that studios still haven't completely figured out that it's all about the writing.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Hostel 2 is better than Hostel?

I hated Hostel with a passion. It's not that I didn't like the nude women or some of the gore, it's just that the whole movie was so ludicrous and stupid that I couldn't fully appreciate the "beauty" of the film. Some critics liked Hostel because it was a "smart satire of American culture" or what not, but I thought that was a load of B.S. Hostel was a cheesy horror movie trying to capitalize on the trend known as torture porn. Nothing more.

And in reality, the gore was a bit goofy at times (the eyeball hanging out of the girl's head looked extremely fake) and, more importantly, the plot was so bad it made most horror movies look like they had Award-winning stories.

So, Hostel: Part II (Hostel 2) is now out on DVD, and having watched it, I must say it's a lot better. That's not saying it's all that good, or that it's reason to make a third one, but the movie is a lot more coherent, features better, more believable characters and its gore is a lot more realistic. There are some pretty lame parts (the opening sequence and the final minute of the movie), but there are a few torture scenes that are quite elaborate and somewhat clever.

All in all, it wasn't too much of a struggle to watch Hostel 2, and that's saying a lot. You can read my full Hostel 2 movie review here.

Cage Boy with Banana Video

I filmed this a good ten years ago. I would try to describe it, but really, all I can say is it's a video of a cage boy with a banana. This is my first YouTube video ever, so please, feedback welcome, and, regardless of feedback, vote for it and pass it around to your friends! I want to see what the potential of YouTube can offer!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

DVD Review: Ratatouille (2007)

Ratatouille (2007), one of my 14 underrated movies of the year, is coming to DVD on November 6th. The movie was a bit of a box office disappointment in terms of Pixar standards, but is certainly going to be a hit on the small screen. It is an excellent movie and easily one of the best films of the year.

You can read my full Ratatouille movie review here.

The DVD is a bit of a disappointment, a precursor, I'm sure, to a two-disc special edition. The features are pretty slim, and somewhat misleading.

The only real highlight is Fine Food & Film, a featurette that looks at how the Pixar guys came about creating a movie about food. The featurette includes interviews with acclaimed chef Thomas Keller ("acclaimed" because it says so on the box), as well as the creators of the movie.

The animated short Your Friend The Rat is pretty lame; I tuned it out within a minute.

The deleted scenes are where I really have a problem. I absolutely hate DVDs that advertise deleted scenes, only when you try to watch them you realize they were deleted at the screenplay review stage. The deleted scenes here are not CGI, but instead rough hand drawn animations with voice overs. The commentary introducing each scene is slightly interesting, but a deleted scene shouldn't be a deleted scene until after it is "filmed" and then cut.

The DVD also includes the short film that ran before the film, titled Lifted, which is a pretty funny little animation about a teenage alien doing "driver's ed" by abducting a human.

Overall, the DVD looks like it was put together at the last moment and will not appeal to fans who really like DVD features. Oh, at least the DVD includes a $10 rebate if you also buy Ratatouille on Blu-Ray. Are you kidding me? Why would you buy the movie on two different formats?

19 Horror Movies to Watch This Halloween

From 1999 to present day (October 31, 2007), there haven't been that many stand out horror movies, but here's a list of some that either really good, good enough for horror or just plain gruesome. Looking to rent a horror movie for Halloween? Choose from the list below...
  1. Wolf Creek
    One of the best movies on this list, Wolf Creek is scary, gory, suspenseful and, worst of all, realistic. Based on a true story, this one will make you nervous to visit Australia. The film follows several young people as they fall victim to a psychopathic killer in the Outback.

  2. The Descent
    One of the best horror/monster movies ever, The Descent is about a group of women trapped a mile underground with a bunch of ferocious mutated creatures that like to eat flesh. Awesome film!

  3. A Tale of Two Sisters
    Hollywood is remaking this movie, unfortunately. The original, a Korean film I believe, is one of the best and scariest movies I have seen in a long time. Watch carefully, otherwise you'll be lost!

  4. Dawn of the Dead (2004)
    This is the film that rejuvenated the zombie genre for the modern age, and it definitely deserves the credit. Funny, exciting and gruesome all at the same time. The director went on to provide fans with 300.

  5. 28 Weeks Later
    This zombie film is actually very, very exciting, and a bit scary. While some people hated this film, it's actually better than its predecessor, 28 Days Later.

  6. Halloween (2007)
    This movie isn't out on DVD yet, but is a very respectable remake of the John Carpenter classic.

  7. Joy Ride
    Yes, it stars Paul Walker, but this is one of my favorite thrillers. It's non-stop action and features a crazy truck driver who stalks three innocent young people all over the place (and tears off one guy's jaw).

  8. Final Destination
    One of the more original horror movies of all time, the film is surprisingly exciting considering the killer is completely invisible. And if you like Ali Larter on "Heroes", check her out here.

  9. The Others
    This Nicole Kidman ghost story was a surprising box office and critical hit, and has a great twist ending. This one was creepy enough to feature a spoof in one of the Scary Movies, played by a fake Michael Jackson.

  10. The Ring/Ringu
    The American and Japanese versions are so similar that I list them both together. If you saw the American version first, like I did, you'll probably like The Ring better, but those who saw the Japanese one initially will think the opposite. Either way, they have a neat concept and scary results. Too bad they spawned a slew of crappy Japanese remakes - and The Ring Two.

  11. Signs
    This M. Night Shyalaman movie isn't as scary the second time around, but I remember being on the edge of my seat at theaters. This was the last movie where his twist ending was halfway decent.

  12. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003)
    Some people slam this film, but it features Jessica Biel looking super hot, tons of gore and an ultra creepy psychotic family. This was a great remake, yet doesn't take away from the original.

  13. Deep Blue Sea
    Sure, it's a cheesier version of Jaws, but this movie about genetically advanced sharks is surprisingly good. There are some scary moments, a few surprises (one big actor gets killed a lot earlier than expected) and... genetically advanced sharks!

  14. The Host
    This monster movie isn't very scary, but as far as monster movies go, it is one of the most well done flicks in years. It's funny and serious all at the same time.

  15. High Tension
    If you're looking for disturbing, look no further than this French film. The bad guy gives himself a blow job with a decapitated head at one point in the movie, and that's the soft part of the R-rating. Blood, blood and more blood is splattered on screen, and the movie even takes a very weird, controversial twist near the end.

  16. Jeepers Creepers
    Sure, it turns out that the killer is a flying creature from Hell, but up until that point, this hit horror film is amazingly suspenseful and disturbing. The sequel really, really sucked, though.

  17. The Hills Have Eyes (2006)
    This isn't a great film, and the original from Wes Craven is better overall, but this remake, from the director of High Tension no less, is one of the goriest, f**ked up movie ever. Nothing is sacred in this bloody picture.

  18. What Lies Beneath
    This Harrison Ford/Michelle Pfeiffer film wasn't perfect, but every time Pfeiffer would walk slowly into the bathroom, you knew a ghost was just waiting to grab her.

  19. The Blair Witch Project
    A classic in its own right, The Blair Witch Project put indie horror back on the map. If you watch it a second time it's just unbearably boring, but the first time was great. I actually watched this for a second time at Halloween with a bunch of people; it was definitely the lamest party I had ever hosted.