Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Movie Review: Ocean's Twelve

Steven Soderbergh is without a doubt one of the best visual film-makers in Hollywood today. His vision was shared with the film Traffic in 2000, where every scene was done with such painstaking perfection and with such an impossible mix of blurriness and clarity, that it seemed impossible for the film to have cost so little. The Limey proved he could handle anger and violence with honor and respect, and Insomnia proved he could impress his inimicable style even as Executive Producer (not that Christopher Nolan needed much help, he directed Memento, for Christ's sake.)

Mr Soderbergh can also calm down a bit, relax, have a few drinks, and put out two of the most thoroughly enjoyable popcorn movies in the past decade, namely Ocean's Eleven, a remake of the 1960 Rat Pack classic, and Ocean's Twelve. Of course, being a Soderbergh movie, neither one is able to ever actually slow down for a second and take a look around... there's FAR too much wit and charisma packed into each scene to allow such a breather. I mean, when you take a two hour flick, and cram Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Matt Damon, Julia Roberts, Andy Garcia and Catherine Zeta-Jones, there's barely even room for sets and props.

Absolutely friggin hilarious were the "as themselves" performances of Topher Grace and Bruce Willis. Topher, apparently, trashed Rusty's (Brad Pitt) apartment in a drunken rage after getting dumped by some girl he just met. He was unkempt, unshaven, with long hair, and a strangely adult voice, and for those eight seconds, I was giggling uncontrollably. Bruce Willis was at his utter funniest as his normally gruff, deadpan self in what had to be one of the greatest heist sequences ever (considering the actually robbery doesn't even take place during the heist sequence).

The movie tries too hard with the wit, with the macho, with the bravado, with the self-confidence, with the over-the-top egos, and it STILL comes off as a well-rounded popcorn movie. Soderbergh, you've done it again. Now stop. Go back and do another Limey. We need it.

Rating: 9.1 out of 10.

Monday, January 03, 2005

Game Review: Master of Orion III

Master of Orion II is such an incredible space strategy game. The visual interface in Master of Orion II is very simple, intuitive, and yet very powerful, easily accessing all the information you need in a clear and colorful manner. There is a massive tech tree, and even overpowering force can be defeated with a cunning battle commander.

There are countless customizeable races to choose from, countless varieties of ship, ways to develop your planets, negotiate, extort, and exterminate.

In short, buy Master of Orion II.