Shaun of the Dead

Release Year: 2004
Starring: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Kate Ashfield, Lucy Davis, Dylan Moran, Penelope Wilton, Bill Nighy, Jessica Stevenson, Peter Serafinowicz
Directed by: Edgar Wright
Written by: Edgar Wright & Simon Pegg
IMDB: 8.0 (94,280 votes)
RT: 91% (170 reviews)
Metacritic: 76 (34 reviews)

This is an example of people that got too busy with their problems that they didn’t realize that the world around them has been “zombiefied”. Shaun’s life has been a rather sorry one. Trouble with his girlfriend, a rather boring work along with lack of respect given by his co-workers. He’s also trying to come into terms with his step dad. So preoccupied with these problems that when London streets went bonkers, he and his friend Ed just failed to notice that. Only sometime nearly in the middle of the film they finally realized that the zombies had roamed the streets.

Shaun of the Dead is essentially a comedy, set in an zombiefied England, and spiced with some dramatic dialogues, especially between Shaun and his mom, and also with his step dad. Unfortunately, due to the nature of the presentation, I found them less dramatic but more funny. Although it’s a zombie flick, it’s not scary at all. Anyone trying to categorize this movie into horror surely got the have his/her sanity checked.

The storyline may not be great, but it was entertaining. The cast was also great, had me laughed frequently and that considering I’m not an easy person to laugh at comedy flicks, I consider it a great one. Acting was good for a comedy, and the way the movie was presented was also great. It reminded me to Hot Fuzz.

Personally, I believe Shaun of the Dead is better than Hot Fuzz. Yeah, they are comparable because the lead actors are the same, and the writers are also the same, even the director. Overall, I’d give it an 8.5.


Favorite 7

Well, I'm a bit surprised that Linz put my blog on the list of her 7 most favorite blogs. I actually think that I'm not a good writer. Sometimes there are urges to rewrite the entire blog that I've wrote because I think the writing sucks. But, lo and behold! I've been listed by Linz!

So, I guess it's my turn now to list my 7 favorites. Actually, they are here on my sidebar, but here they are:

1. Linz McC's Completely Pointless Blog, being the first person to comment on Movie Junkie and despite we haven't met at all, I think from her writing she's a great person. She writes reviews on TV series, big-screen movies, and books. I like her writing style, very enjoyable.
2. Movie Cafe, delivers previews and reviews as well as other information around movies. That surely a lot of things to do for Jaccstev. Covering also Asian movies, this blog really has something to be considered unique. Hey, the guy's also a fellow Indonesian! (but that's surely not the basis for making the blog as favorite).
3. At The Movies with Farzan has a unique structure in reviews presentation and this is the strength. To be honest, I'm surprised to find someone who watch the quality of the picture so thoroughly. Very organized and enjoyable to read, the blog covers past and current movies. I think the guy likes Futurama, though.
4. Screen Savour is another unique movie review blog. Covering oldies, T.S. writes in a great style. Paying attention to the details and surely a wide knowledge about this movie world and its history, this site really amazes me. Well, what makes me wonder is surely how he could get access on those oldies. Some are even from 1920s! I mean, I for once only watched a few oldies like Casablanca, Ben-Hur, Psycho, and Citizen Kane. But hey, they're great movies!
5. Sarcastic Movie Reviews by rtheygood takes the reviewing style to the other extreme. Mostly humorous and entertaining, it sometimes reminds me that not that all the movies that I've watched and reviews are 'that good'. Of course, I've savagely put a very low rating for a few movies, too. The difference was that I didn't write it in a humorous style.
6. Blogger Buster is not about movies at all, but it is my favorite site. Amanda's site has been a great help to me in learning how to make my blog better. Because it specializes on Blogger platform, I feel that it's a must for me. Great work, Amanda!
7. Daily Galaxy is also a non-movie related blog, but due to my interests in life, the universe, and everything, this blog is giving me a lot of information about scientific developments. Administered by Josh Hill and Luke McKinney, it is great blog with great design and content!

So there you have them, folks. If you have the chance, perhaps you would list up your own 7 favorite blogs?

Toshiie to Matsu

Karasawa Toshiaki
Matsushima Nanako
Kagawa Teruyuki
Sakai Noriko
Yamaguchi Yuichiro
Amami Yuki
Matsudaira Ken
Sorimachi Takashi
Takenouchi Yutaka

Screenwriter: Takeyama You
Directors: Suzuki Kei, Inoue Go, Sato Mineyo, Iseda Masaya, Kobayashi Takeshi, Motoki Kazuhiro, Tamura Fumitaka, Kajihara Tojo, Tsuchiya Katsuhiro
Music: Watanabe Toshiyuki
Broadcast between January 6th 2002 to December 15th 2002

The 41st of NHK Taiga drama series, Toshiie to Matsu was set during the Sengoku Jidai (Warring States Era). It followed the life of Maeda Toshiie and his devoted wife, Matsu. The series covered a wide range of topics, from love, family values, loyalty, politics, and honor. The couple’s life intersected with the era when Oda Nobunaga, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, and the early years of Tokugawa Ieyasu’s rule over Japan.

The story began in 1550 just before Toshiie met Matsu, and then it proceeded to him being employed by Oda Nobunaga. Nobunaga’s victory over Imagawa Yoshimoto in 1560 changed the course of Japan into Nobunaga’s favor. Toshiie then met and befriended Kinoshita Tokichiro who would later be known as Toyotomi Hideyoshi. Matsu, on the other hand, forged an eternal bond with O-Ne (Hideyoshi’s wife) and Haru (Sassa Narimasa’s wife). After his father’s death, Toshiie’s brother Toshihisa became the head of Maeda family, but later was forced by Nobunaga to be replaced by Toshiie.

Years passed, but Toshiie’s advancement has been very slow compared to his two other friends Hideyoshi and Narimasa. Only in 1575 Toshiie was finally made daimyo by Nobunaga. Meanwhile, Nobunaga’s power rose dramatically, but as we all know it, in a most upsetting event in history (at least that’s what I think), Akechi Mitsuhide betrayed Nobunaga, and this triggered the rise of Hideyoshi.

After a series of unfortunate events involving former Nobunaga’s vassals, Hideyoshi finally rule Japan. This, however, came at the price that Toshiie must see the fall of his friends like Shibata Katsuie and Sassa Narimasa. Tokugawa Ieyasu, in the meantime, remained waiting the chance to rise to power.

The series ended just after Hideyoshi’s death in 1598. By then, Maeda clan had became one powerful clan in Japan. Their only rival was only Tokugawa clan. After Toshiie’s death, Tokugawa Ieyasu seized his long-awaited opportunity and became shogun. Matsu died much, much later in 1614. Until the end, Matsu’s role in preserving the Maeda clan had been a remarkable one. If accurately portrayed by the series, I believe she was the most powerful woman that Japan ever had (but this is just my opinion).

From every angle, Toshiie and Matsu excelled by a wide margin against other Taiga dramas that I’ve ever seen, also against other TV series that I’ve ever seen. The story was great, successfully mixing history and drama with some political issues thrown in. Acting was also brilliant. So many emotionally touching scenes made this a powerful series. The details in production was also remarkable, making me felt like watching the real events. I also have the original soundtrack which, I believe, was also beautifully composed. Although I never take into account the music, Toshiie to Matsu’s music made those emotional scenes more powerful.

Casting was also great. Matsushima Nanako was exceptionally perfect in her portrayal of Matsu. Also, I like this series’ portrayal of Oda Nobunaga than the one at King of Zipangu. Sorimachi Takashi, in this series portrayed Nobunaga as a mix of harsh, decisive, yet charismatic character. Toyotomi Hideyoshi’s portrayal by Kagawa Teruyuki was also better in Toshiie to Matsu. Essentially, the overall cast was impressive.

Just like other Taiga drama series, at the end of each episode we are shown some historical places in Japan tied to the respective episode. Definitely a great way to promote tourism, I must say. I am mostly impressed by how Japan really preserving these historical sites.

Finally, I believe for all its worth, Toshiie to Matsu deserved a perfect 10.0. I’m not biased here, because it wasn’t the only Taiga drama that I’ve seen. Right now, I’m still watching other series like Atsu-Hime, Fuurin Kazan, Hojo Tokimune, and Yoshitsune, but at a glance, Toshiie to Matsu was better than the others.

Generation Kill

Lee Tergesen – Evan Wright
Alexander Skarsgård – Sgt. Brad ‘Iceman’ Colbert
James Ransone – Cpl. Josh Ray Person
Billy Lush – Lance Cpl. Harold James Trombley
Stark Sands – 1st Lt. Nathaniel Fick
Jon Huertas – Sgt. Antonio Espera
Jonah Lotan – Hosp. Corpsman Second Class Robert Timothy ‘Doc’ Bryan
Wilson Bethel – Cpl. Evan Stafford
Pawel Szajda – Cpl. Walt Hasser
Marc Menchaca – Gunnery Sgt. Mike ‘Gunny’ Wynn
Rey Valentin – Cpl. Gabriel Garza
Kellan Lutz – Cpl. Jason Lilley
Mike Figueroa – Sgt. Leandro Batista
Josh Barrett – Sgt. Larry Shawn Patrick
Sgt. Rudy Reyes – Sgt. Rudy Reyes
Rich McDonald – Cpl. Anthony Jacks
Eric Ladin – Cpl. James Chaffin
Chance Kelly – Lt. Col. Stephen ‘Godfather’ Ferrando
Brian Patrick Wade – Cpt. Craig ‘Encino Man’ Schwetje
Eric Nenninger – Cpt. Dave ‘Captain America’ McGraw
Neal Jones – Sgt. Major John Sixta
Michael Kelly – Cpt. Bryan Patterson
David Barrera – Gunnery Sgt. Ray ‘Casey Kasem’ Griego
Benjamin Busch – Major Todd Eckloff
Owain Yeoman – Sgt. Eric Kocher
J. Salome Martinez – Cpl. Jeffrey Carazales
Nabil Elouahabi – Meesh
Robert John Burke – Major General James Mattis

Directed by Susanna White, Simon Cellan Jones, and Patrick Norris
Written by David Simon, Ed Burns, Evan Wright
Premiered on July 13th 2008

Based on the book Generation Kill by Evan Wright, this series drew my attention after I read some opinions about it on the internet. So, I’d say to myself, well let’s give it a shot then. Like another HBO’s production Band of Brothers, the series offered a huge cast, but this time, a shorter storyline.

There are seven episodes in the series. It started at the early stage of US invasion in Iraq of which later named Operation Iraqi Freedom and ended when Evan Wright ended his tour with the First Recon Battalion.

Most of the issues portrayed in the series were about how things went off track, how the soldiers somewhat questioning their very presence and roles in the war. For example, Brad Colbert was dismayed with the fact that the missions accomplished were not utilizing his abilities fully. Sgt. Espera, for example, believed that the war went towards the wrong way after witnessing civilians blown up by artillery fire. And then there were those internal strifes between officers, and also the incompetence of some officers that either endangering the troops or treating prisoners unfairly.

There were only several shootouts in the series, and until the end, it was more like a war drama rather than an action-packed war movie. Overall, however, the acting was great. I felt like seeing a documentary. The story was based on a book by Evan Wright, so this one cannot be complained if you think this series lacked the action.

Still, compared to Band of Brothers, this one is still way below it. In BOB, I saw a clear character transformation from the rookie soldiers in training to a veteran soldiers at the end of WWII. Despite GK and BOB were both well acted, BOB has a significant edge over GK. Then again, for an adaptation of a book, Generation Kill is still a good movie to watch, but if you wish to see lots of action and shootings, you’d better skip this one.

For being a good movie, I’d give it an 8.0. It’s a pity that we’re still far from seeing the war to end.

By the way, with some talks about the making of Captain America movie, I think Alexander Skarsgård could be a perfect choice for portraying the Captain. What do you think, folks?

* source: Wikipedia

Hot Fuzz

Release Year: 2007
Starring: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Jim Broadbent, Timothy Dalton, Paddy Considine, Edward Woodward, Billie Whitelaw
Directed by: Edgar Wright
Written by: Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright
IMDB: 8.0 (94,482 votes)
RT: 90% (184 reviews)
Metacritic: 81 (37 reviews)

This is a movie that I’ve been waiting for! What if a police officer (not policeman, said Nicholas Angel) got so good in his/her job and kicking ass to every bad ass available in the neighborhood? Well, it seems that such thing was actually a bad idea. Nicholas Angel could be said a super cop. So good that he made the entire police department looked so bad. His superiors then transferred him to a small town in the country. Sandford, a supposedly quiet country town was not acually a peaceful, crime-free town after all. When a series of deaths occurred, Nicholas could not help to investigate deeper into it.

Hot Fuzz is definitely not a realistic movie. When you see the movie, you’ll know well what I mean by that. Yet, despite that, the movie was fun to watch, and the directing was also interesting enough. It reminds me to Guy Ritchie’s Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch. Altough inferior to those two movies, Hot Fuzz was still a good film to watch, visually.

Acting was enjoyable. I’ve got no complaints from this front. Simon Pegg facial expression suited his character perfectly and although there were plenty of comical moments here, they were enjoyable. There were some drama inside, but I believe those moments would be immediately overruled by the less serious moments. Speaking of the action scenes, you won’t find them until the last third of the movie. It was quick and yet effective. As a consequence, the audience may think that the movie is a slow starter. Well, I guess that is the weakness of it, apart from the out-of-reality plot.

I’ve waited for quite some time for watching Hot Fuzz, and I’ve attached a great expectation on it. In the end, I felt a bit disappointed, because I was hoping for more action scenes, and for a more realistic plot. Still, watching it from the beginning made me understand that in the end it was just a ridiculous cop movie with less shootout, more absurdity, but somehow entertaining to watch.

Final score: 7.5.

Where In The World Is Osama Bin Laden?

Release Year: 2008
Starring: Morgan Spurlock
Directed by: Morgan Spurlock
Written by: Jeremy Chilnick & Morgan Spurlock
IMDB: 6.7 (1,345 votes)
RT: 36% (87 reviews)
Metacritic: 45 (28 reviews)

I thought this movie was somewhat an Indiana Jones’ spoof, but obviously my guess was miles wide. It was actually a documentary. The movie told the journey of Morgan Spurlock to track the notorious Osama Bin Laden. He travelled to Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Egypt and Israel, to ask around about OBL and about what the people think about US presence and policy in the Middle East.

If you wonder why would Morgan did that, well he felt that he wanted to make the world a safe place, safe from terrorism, and that it would be a great place for his newly born child, and to achieve this, OBL must be tracked and captured.

Well, the rest of the story was already reflected off screen. The US presence in the Middle East was not welcomed (even by the Israelis), but the people didn’t seem to like OBL too. According to some people interviewed here, OBL brought a bad name to Islam. I merely quoting the people interviewed here, guys, so if you disagree, go protest those people, not me. Also, there were lots of promises made by the UN and the US to the Afghanistan people, such as rebuilding the infrastructures destroyed by the military actions there, but such promises were evidently yet to be delivered years later. Destroyed infrastructures remain destroyed, education remain minimal, the people remain poor, and the longer this to be settled with, the greater the people’s resentment towards the US and the UN.

It was a good effort to show the world the reality of the conflicts in the Middle East. The opinions of the people, their conditions, and hopefully, after watching this, efforts would be made to restore the peace and prosperity of the people. I wonder if Michael Moore would do a similar documentary like this one…

Overall, it was rather entertaining and at the same time, informational. More documentaries should be made to open the eyes of the world. For such noble objective, I give Morgan Spurlock a 7.0.

Nancy Drew

Release Year: 2007
Starring: Emma Roberts, Josh Flitter, Max Thieriot, Rachel Leigh Cook, Tate Donovan, Marshall Bell, Danielle Monet, and Kelly Vitz.
Directed by: Andrew Fleming
Written by: Andrew Fleming & Tiffany Paulsen
IMDB: 5.9 (4,493 votes)
RT: 49% (131 reviews)
Metacritic: 53 (31 reviews)

Not much to be said about Nancy Drew. It’s a story about a somewhat super teenage sleuth Nancy Drew, who moved from River Heights to the big city of Los Angeles where she would find a new mystery to solve. A sleuth with tremendous luck and a great intelligence, Nancy Drew obviously able to solve the case and made everyone happy, except the criminals, obviously.

Like most other films that I’ve watched, I didn’t expect much from this movie because I believe it was just another teen flick. Apparently, I was correct. Overall the plot was just mediocre. I never read any books about Nancy Drew before, but for this movie, I think it could use a lot more serious elements. The absence of those kind of element made this movie more like a sorry comedy. There are always a room to be dark for a crime movie even if its lead character was as jolly as Nancy. In the end, this movie was too light to watch. I was saying that it should be darker, but it doesn’t have to be as dark as the Dark Knight.

On the acting front, there was nothing special about the performance of the cast. Emma Roberts was a rather suitable for the role. She had that adorable yet smart look, and that what could have given her the role of Nancy Drew. I had a thought once, what if Ellen Page was chosen to play the role? That would’ve been great because she had that smart look. But then I dismissed that thought after I think that an adorable face was what needed by the actress. Obviously, Ellen doesn’t have that.

Anyway, there were some slapstick moments here, but in the end, this movie was unable to entertain me. I hope though, the next Nancy’s adventure should be worked on more seriously. Give it a darker atmosphere. Don’t worry about the audience, they could swallow the Dark Knight, they should be able to digest a lighter version of the Dark Knight.

Final score: 4.0.


Release Year: 2008
Starring: Val Kilmer, Stephen Dorff, Harold Perrineau, Samuel Shepard Rogers, Marisol Nichols
Directed by: Ric Roman Waugh
Written by: Ric Roman Waugh
IMDB: 7.9 (7,851 votes)
RT: 59% (17 reviews)
Metacritic: 58 (10 reviews)

Felon tells the story of Wade Porter, who got put behind bars because he unintentionally killed a burglar who broke into his house. Unable to pay for bail, he got no choice but to be put in the prison for 3 years. Inside the prison, he was later joined by a mass murderer John Smith (as if there were no other names for this character!). The two eventually became close and in the end must work together to put up a fight against the chief warden (Lt. Jackson) who used to beat up and torture the prisoners.

The story of this movie is rather similar to the Shawshank Redemption, but with quality way below by huge margin. At the very beginning of the movie when Wade was convicted, I’ve already felt that this movie was forcing its way to put Wade in the prison, whatever it takes. I couldn’t believe that self-defense would be easily transformed into involuntary murder charge. The trial was also rushed, adding the obvious effort to progress the plot despite that trials for such case could be longer than that. Another thing was about Wade being put in the prison, he was actually able to avoid that had he got a million dollars to pay the bail. Well, he could’ve tried to find loans somewhere. Him being put into a maximum security prison was also somewhat exaggerated. I thought maximum security prisons are for the most dangerous criminals only, so what on earth a sorry bloke who just put up a self-defense and being unable to pay the bail, be put into such prison? In essense, the plot was evidently trying to push everything through even if it would trample logic. Another annoying thing was about Wade’s wife. The fact that Laura asked to be explained about things that Wade did in the prison was somewhat ridiculous. I believe anyone would know how things like in the prison, not to mention maximum security prison. Why would even she got upset when Wade didn’t answer that. Did she want to Wade to explain things for hours during the very short visiting hour? That was just ridiculous. She seemed to be intended to be an empathic character, so she should have acted like one. The ending was somewhat predictable, like other prison stories. I won’t disclose it here. You just have to watch it yourself, but one thing for sure, the building block of the plot was shaky from the very beginning, and that was the weakness of this movie.

Acting was just so so. I would no expect too much acting quality from this kind of movie. Despite its nature, the movie didn’t actually offer a lot of action. No shootouts, but there were some muscle actions. Overall, it was a rather timid action movie. Val Kilmer’s acting was somewhat limited by his character, so nothing so special about him here (I still think his play as Doc Holliday was the best that I’ve ever seen). The rest of the cast were also delivering just an average performance.

Overall, I didn’t really able to enjoy this movie due to its shaky plot and a so-so acting. It seemed to be trying to blend drama and action together, but with bigger portion on the drama side. Despite that there was a chance to focus on the John Smith’s story, it opted to focus on the Wade Porter’s. I think John’s story was a lot more interesting and should have been the main storyline. It would give Val to conjure up some great performance which in turn could help this movie a lot. Well, the fact was that that never happened. So, for the score, I give it a 3.0.