300 (2006)

300Zack Snyder brings Frank Miller’s graphic novel “300” based on the Battle of Thermopylae onto the big screen. This movie is oozing with glistening manly chests (not one chest hair to be found) and (you may have guessed this much) 300 stout Spartan warriors from tip to toe clad in only the most necessary garments, wielding a hefty spear and shield.

Do not look for character development or historical accuracy here, if you want that go see the 1962 version “The 300 Spartans“. Here you get digitally enhanced muscles, lots and lots of slow-motion battle scenes tinted in Sepia, severing of heads and limbs in slow motion and some heterosexual activities.

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Rome Season 3 Cancelled

It’s been known for a while now, Rome, another superb HBO show has been cancelled and will end after only 2 seasons. Main reasons: lack of viewers and too expensive. [ source ]

Granted, Rome was originally intended as a mere miniseries but spawned into a full series after the network saw the quality of the scripts. Unfortunately for HBO and any other network, viewer numbers are everything, esp. when the cost for the entire first season is around 100 million U$. We cannot really blame HBO when the viewers rather prefer crap over intelligent, quality TV series. If more people would have watched shows like Rome, Deadwood, Firefly, Invasion they would not have been cancelled, easy as that. Networks need to make profit and have to provide what the majority wants to see and if the majority wants to see crap then they have to give them crap. Besides, what network are you looking for when you want to watch quality shows? HBO, right?

Rome will end on March 25th 2007.

Where Eagles Dare (1968)

where_eagles_dareAlistair MacLean’s “Where Eagles Dare” is summarized pretty well by its own tag line “They look like Nazis but … The Major is British … The Lieutenant is American … The Beautiful Frauleins are Allied Agents!” One may want to add that they also talk like American or British agents while the Germans have a silly accent but then again it was 1968 and having subtitled Germans would probably have been met with little acceptance. As a result this action adventure has only its escape plot going for it, the setting becomes secondary.

Major John Smith (Richard Burton) is sent to rescue an American general who is reportedly in possession of the plans for D-Day from a seemingly impregnable German fortress located high up in the Bavarian Alps. Lieutenant Morris Schaffer (Clint Eastwood) is assisting Smith in this Allied operation. As the men penetrate the fortress, facing an endless supply of German soldiers, it becomes apparent that some members of their own small Allied team may not be who they seem to be.

This is not a serious Second World War movie, neither in tone nor in accuracy, it is a bit of escape fiction that has a lot of bombs in stock for the viewer and never takes itself too seriously and you cannot help but laugh at some of the German officers and their moves on the “Frauleins” while Burton and Eastwood kick ass in their own fashion.

If rated as war movie “Where Eagles Dare” would fail miserably if watched as action movie it is ridiculously silly most of the time, still Burton and Eastwood carry this film the whole way through to the end and it is amusing to watch besides the scenery and the “Frauleins” are stunningly beautiful and sometimes treacherous.


Band of Brothers (2001)

Band of Brothers (2001)

Band of Brothers” is the best WWII TV series I have ever seen. This 10-part HBO miniseries running 600 minutes tells the story of Easy Company of the 101st Airborne Division, from their training to their landing in Normandy, their sacrifices, their courage, their fears, the hardship, and the cruelty of war. It is a story about a few good men who tried to do what they were trained to do. It forever changed them and their lives. They formed a bond deeper than any bond that is forged during peace. It is their story, and it is told with shocking detail and realism.

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Walt Disney Treasures: On The Front Lines (2004)

Walt Disney Treasures: On The Front LinesWalt Disney Treasures: On the Front Lines” stands out from the rest of the Walt Disney Treasure releases simply because of its historical context. It contains 32 shorts and a full-length feature film “Victory through Air Power” originally released between 1941 and 1945. This makes “On the Front Lines” the most anticipated release of the Treasures series, and rightly so. Shorts like “Education for Death” or “Der Fuehrer’s Face” have lost nothing of their potency, and putting them into context really shows you the power of the media machine. Most of the material was made for propaganda purposes, supporting the war effort at home and some are educational hence the entertainment factor may not always be given, but the historical context of these makes them fascinating for generations to come.

Read on for a brief synopsis of the most prominent shorts, or click here for the full DVD review over at eyecravedvd.com.

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Rome – Kalends of February

The final episode of the first season of “Rome” ends with the ides of march so poignantly titled “Kalends of February”.

“Thus ever for tyrants!” Cassius declares, raising Brutus’ hand in the air.

A powerful and dramatic season finale ending in anger, grief, murder, revenge and death and yet there also is forgiveness and redemption. How will it all unwind? We will have to wait until the start of season 2 in 2007 to find out. Production of the next 12 episodes begins in March 2006. Alternatively you can brush up on Roman history (44 B.C.) in order to find out what the next epic conflict will be about.

So much is for certain: Niobe will not come back. “Rome” is no Romero Zombie Zoo, so you can stop speculating! She is dead. Gone. Pushing up the daisies, joined the choir invisible. She is a late Niobe! R.I.P.

Kingdom of Heaven (2005)

kingdom_of_heavenFriends warned me not to watch this but I went ahead all the same and the “Kingdom of Heaven” hit me with all its sword swinging gore and naked man boob intermissions. Cut. Sorry, what was that? Come again? First, Orlando Bloom is miscast. Yes. Please wake up and smell the humus. Bloom is not a bad actor. OK, most people think he is, apart from the girls who like the afore mentioned man boobs. Anyhow, he is not the man who leads soldiers into their deaths (fake beard or not); they would just laugh and point at him. At least in “Troy” he got to play the pansy wearing a silly short skirt but Ridley Scott had to make a manly blacksmith out of this “Milchbrötchen” who inspires whole legions to give their lives for a mere idea of what Jerusalem is supposed to be? What is it worth? Nothing – and everything. There you have the best quote from the movie spoken by the only actor actually worth mentioning in this horrible “no story and all show” debacle.

Edward Norton as “King Baldwin” is good, as far as the script permits but it doesn’t help making him wear a mask all the time, crippling his performance. Liam Neeson has a short appearance in the beginning of the movie and makes the most of it. Good man. And Jeremy Irons has seen better days than this. “Who was he”, you ask? Well, “Tiberias” of course. What am I getting at? This is not a movie about characters or their development, it is solely about effects, about swords cutting heads off and arrows sticking out of skulls and we have better movies for that, thank you.

Ridley Scott announced that he wanted to put the story (his story, not what actually happened, don’t be so foolish as to think this has anything to do with accurately depicting actual historic events, it does not) back into “Kingdom of Heaven” and release a Director’s Cut so I suggest – if you really cannot withstand the urge to buy the DVD – to wait until he does, for the theatrical release does suck immensely.

Hotel Rwanda (2004)

Hotel Rwanda“An oasis in the desert”. That is what it’s called and that is what it was. 11 years ago a genocide happened and the world stood by and let it happen. Making a movie about it might heighten the awareness of the already educated but will it prevent anything? No. Let me quote Jack:

[after Paul thanks him for shooting footage of the genocide]
I think if people see this footage, they’ll say
“Oh, my God, that’s horrible”
and then they’ll go on eating their dinners.

This sums *us* up pretty much, sadly. Sidenote: Musically “Check the Meaning” by Richard Ashcroft springs to mind as it fits perfectly to that image (Human Conditions).

Hotel Rwanda is a good movie and it is also a disturbing one in as much as it shows and even shames me as to how little I actually knew and still know about recent history. It also angers me. Even now, the next day, I am still angry. These atrocities happen again and again and we stand by. What could we have done? Nothing? I can recommend watching this movie but be advised that it will probably upset you unless you are indifferent to genocide (you’d be surprised how many people do not know what it means or find the word cool…) and mutilations of little children by hate filled men with machetes that only cost 10 cents… well at least someone made money out of that…