I've had the opportunity to see several good movies this month, and one excellent movie (that would be Panic Room). I've reviewed that. Among the others, I thought I would write reviews for some recent releases. Here they are!
- Panic Room (2002) - I knew this movie would be very good because it's directed by one of my favourite directors, David Fincher (who made Seven and the awesome Fight Club). And it surprised me by exceeding my very high expectations! Jodie Foster and Kristen Stewart play Meg and Sarah Altman, mother and daughter who buy a large house with a "Panic Room" (a safe room for protection from intruders) fortified with six inch thick steel doors, with all the latest high-tech surveillance equipment installed. And the very night they move in, their house is broken into by three men - Junior (Jared Leto), Burnham (Forest Whitaker) and Raoul (Dwight Yoakam) - who want something in the house. Meg and Sarah run to the Panic Room and lock themselves in... only to find out that the intruders want something from that very room! That bit of plot is almost all there is in this two hour thriller, but it's probably the most tense two hours I've ever sat through. The acting is uniformly first-rate, the music (by Howard Shore) adds tremendously to the atmosphere (the music was very much in the style of the score he did for Seven). The characters are all well written and you get to see a LOT more of Fincher's visual trickery (remember the refrigerator-blowing-up scene in Fight Club?). The camerawork is literally another character in this movie. Do I really need to say that I thoroughly enjoyed it (when I could catch my breath, that is)? There are several great dialogues in the script: the "GET TH F**K OUT OF MY HOUSE!!" bit was my favourite. And in the tradition of Seven and Fight Club, it has a terrific and very inventive opening credits sequence. Written by David Koepp. The movie gets a 10/10 from me, no doubts about that.
- The Time Machine (2002) - H.G. Wells's original story is here updated to feature-length by screenwriter John Logan and director Simon Wells (great grandson of H.G. Wells). Guy Pearce is perfectly suited to the role of Dr. Alexander Hartedgen, a scientist in 1896, who sees his fiancé shot dead in a robbery. He spends four years and invents a machine that can travel in time, and returns to the past to see if he can change it. But no matter how much he tries, he is unable to do so. He therefore decides that he must search for his answers in the future - and travels to 2030, and 2037, and later, by an accident, to the year 802,701 - where he finds that there are two different races populating Earth - the peaceful Eloi, who live above the ground, and the ape-like and savage Morlocks, who live underground. The movie also stars Samantha Mumba as one of the Eloi who helps Alexander in this strange world. I was pleasantly surprised by this movie, because it was actually better than I thought it would be. The visual effects are very good (the time travel sequence to 802,701 in particular), and I really liked the music by Klaus Badelt (again, the music in the time travel scenes in particular). The movie is more "inspired" by the H.G. Wells story than actually "based" on it. The movie does have it's share of logic lapses and unexplained elements though, but it's easy to overlook them. I definitely think this movie is worth watching.
- The Scorpion King (2002) - The Rock's character from The Mummy Returns gets a movie all to himself, directed by Chuck Russell, and written by Mummy writer Stephen Sommers. It is 3000 B.C., and Memnon (Stephen Brand) is a powerful king who has enslaved all the races of people in the desert, with a little help from a Sorceress, Cassandra - played by Kelly Hu. A few of the rebel tribes who still oppose his power have to put their trust in a warrior, Mathayus (The Rock) and his fellow assassins, who are hired to kill the Sorceress. But Mathayus is betrayed, his brother is killed - and so he kidnaps Cassandra and swears revenge on Memnon. The rest of the movie is about how Mathayus gets his revenge on Memnon, with help from Cassandra, a thief, and other tribes. Now you can probably make out from this description that the plot is basically put together from other similar stories... and the thin plot is all there is in this movie. But fortunately it's a very short movie (running just a little over 80 minutes), and a lot of fun too. The best thing about this movie in my opinion, is The Rock himself. I enjoyed his performance as Mathayus (he seems to be enjoying himself too) and it's especially surprising since I was never a fan of wrestling. There is lots of action, some visual effects thrown in here and there, and good helpings of humour. And there's a rock/metal soundtrack! Overall, I couldn't help liking this movie, and I would definitely recommend it, if you don't take it seriously. I don't know if it will stand repeated viewings though.
I finally made the time to update this site. Long overdue, isn't it? To all the people who came here expecting to see new updates, I'm sorry I took so long to do that. I'll try not to let it happen again. I seem to have got a lot of visitors in the intervening time though, I have crossed 7000 hits! So thanks, and here begins the long update which I should have not put off for so much time...
- Tue, Jun 18 - Installed the new version of the Doomsday Engine. I also started downloading a sneak preview of The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers in the form of a 20 MB video clip. The Matrix Website also has a teaser trailer for the next two Matrix movies - The Matrix: Reloaded and The Matrix: Revolutions which will be released in 2003. I downloaded the low res version of the trailer (a little more than 3 MB), and it's pretty cool. I also did a Doom related drawing which you can now find on Karthik's Doom Pages. I also started work on two Doom III-related wallpapers.
- Wed, Jun 19 - Went to the theatre to buy tickets for Panic Room. Finished the Doom III Wallpapers. They have been uploaded to Karthik's Doom Pages. Have a look at them, there is one called "Things are about to go Wrong" which I'm particularly proud of. I never made a wallpaper like that before.
- Thu, Jun 20 - Watched the episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer - Glory creates a snake demon to search for the "Key" (Dawn), and Buffy's mom gets diagnosed with a brain tumour. I think this was the last Buffy episode I watched, I got bored of the show several episodes back. I was pleasantly surprised to see the update at my teacher's site Kalpana's World that day, because there were belated Birthday wishes for me. Nagesh also signed my Guestbook. Also watched Alfred Hitchcock Presents.
- Fri/Sat, Jun 21/22 - I finished downloading the trailer of The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. And I also downloaded Vavoom. On 22nd, I got some comics - The Ultimate Spider-Man Issue #1, Batman: Detective Comics Issue #6, and the Official Comic Adaptation of the Spider-Man Movie. These are all priced at Rs. 10 (the movie comic was Rs. 20), and are published in India by Gotham Comics. You can see their site for the range of titles that they have. They publish DC Comics as well as Marvel Comics titles. That evening my father, brother and myself went to see Panic Room. It was a terrific movie.
- Sun/Mon/Tue/Wed, Jun 23/24/25/26 - Got several MP3s, "All Rise" and "Fly By" by Blue, "Smooth Criminal" by Alien Ant Farm, "The Call" by Backstreet Boys. Watched Star Trek The Next Generation: "Suspicions", in which Dr. Beverly Crusher investigates a possible conspiracy to undermine the work of a Pherengi scientist - who has invented multiphasic shielding. Then I also watched Kevin & Perry Go Large on STAR Movies. I didn't like it. On Monday I watched Sublet on Hallmark Channel. In this thriller, Stuart Dempsey (Danny Nucci) is mistaken for a dangerous assassin called the "Jaguar". Also starring Victoria Sanchez. Not a very good movie but entertaining enough. On Tuesday I started work on a resource WAD for my new Doom II level. I borrowed textures from Final Doom: The Plutonia Experiment and some from Doom I. I worked on this map a little on Wednesday. You can see an in-progress screenshot and a drawing of the map itself at Karthik's Doom Pages.
- Thu/Fri/Sat/Sun, Jun 27/28/29/30 - My mother had gone on a trip to Chennai on Friday so she didn't see Panic Room. Myself and my mother went to see it again on Thursday. I enjoyed it even more the second time. On Friday I updated my Doom site with the screenshot and the map layout, and also two new drawings, and the wallpapers I talked about earlier. I worked on my map again on Saturday. On Sunday, there was a mock CAT exam conducted by TIME. I wrote that, but they later announced that they had given us the wrong paper by mistake and we would have to write the test again the next day. In the afternoon I watched the World Cup Finals. And at night, I watched Star Trek The Next Generation: "Rightful Heir" in which Worf goes to a Klingon temple and encounters a Klingon who claims to be the centuries-old Kayless, the greatest Klingon warrior of all time.
- Mon/Tue/Wed/Thu/Fri/Sat/Sun, Jul 1/2/3/4/5/6/7 - My college reopened after two months of summer vacation. But I had to write the All India Mock CAT 1 (AIMCAT01) Test at TIME (at 6:15 AM!!!) so I didn't go to college that day. The test was really difficult, and I thought I could definitely have done better. But as I discovered later, my performance wasn't too bad. I went to college on 2nd (Tuesday). On 3rd, I watched the first half of Star Trek: Generations. On 5th, I watched Bedazzled on STAR Movies. Strange thing: they were supposed to show the 2000 version at 9:30 PM, but they accidentally showed the 1967 version for about 45 minutes, after which they abruptly started the proper movie. Anyway, I watched it and I thought it was a very enjoyable movie. Brendan Fraser and Elizabeth Hurley seemed to be having a lot of fun with their roles, and I liked the ending too. On 6th, Varun made some textures for my WAD... and really good ones too. Especially a terrific looking UAC door. When I complete and release the level, you will be able to see his work. On Sunday I attended a most excellent seminar on Test Taking Strategies at TIME. Also, I found out my AIMCAT01 score (43.67/150). My rank in the country was 235 (out of 3200) and my city rank was 74. I watched The Sign of Four on Hallmark. This movie version of Arthur Conan Doyle's story was scripted by Joe Wiesenfeld and directed by Rodney Gibbons.
- Wed/Thu/Fri/Sat/Sun, Jul 10/11/12/13/14 - I didn't go to college that day because I found out the previous day that I was supposed to give a seminar on Friday. And so I spent two and a half hours on the net in the morning, saving several pages on DVD (which is what I decided to speak on). In addition to that I downloaded several desktop themes (Dragonball Z, There's Something About Mary, Alien Commemoration, Buffy the Vampire Slayer). And my Doom site crossed 11,000 hits. On Thursday I made a PowerPoint Presentation for my seminar. By that time the talk wasn't just on DVD, but also covered other CD technologies. So I called it Optical Storage Technologies and DVD. I gave the seminar on Friday and I watched Cast Away on STAR Movies that night. That Sunday we had the All India Mock CAT 2 (AIMCAT02) at TIME. This test went better than the last one. That afternoon, my parents, my brother and myself went to see The Time Machine. This was a good movie (better than I expected actually) with very nice visual effects. I especially liked the music (by Klaus Badelt). I enjoyed the movie, although it wasn't totally logical always. After coming back home I read the H.G. Wells book (I have an abridged version), and watched The Godfather on STAR Movies.
- Tue/Wed/Thu/Fri, Jul 16/17/18/19 - Event Horizon on STAR Movies! I watched this movie again (probably for the 4th or 5th time), and I liked it! After that I watched Meet the Parents, which I thought was funny at times, but also, unfunny other times. Anyway I'd recommend you watch it if you have nothing better to watch. On Wednesday I made a small Calculator in Visual Basic. This time in college our subjects are - Java, Visual Programming (VB, VC++), Distributed Systems, Software Engineering, Advanced Computer Architecture and Neural Networks (paired with Digital Image and Speech Processing as an elective... I've picked Neural Networks). Practical classes are in Java and Visual Programming, and I'm liking Visual Basic more and more as I work with it! On Friday I stayed back in college for an IEEE Students Chapter session and got home late.
- Sat/Sun, Jul 20/21 - Happy Birthday Varun!! Yes, my brother is 15 years old as on July 20! I had a CAT class in the morning but after I got home I made a card for him. And I also started work on a Doom Game/Demo Launcher in VB. I've got several options working already, you can pick your favourite port's EXE through the launcher, pick your WADs to load, DEH files and skill level, and launch the game. I've got the other game settings like Fast Monsters, No Monsters, etc. also working. I've got to code the demo options, and other things like choosing a map, etc. In the morning class I took part in my very first proper Group Discussion session. The topic our group had to discuss was "Filmmakers are indulging in Cinematic Prostitution in the name of Folk Culture" - interesting stuff. The next group's topic was "Education System should be Privatised". I really like the CAT Coaching Classes at TIME... I never thought coaching classes would be this nice. All the faculty there are really professional and very nice people who are very good at what they do. On Sunday Varun, six of his friends and myself went to see The Scorpion King at Sangeet Theatre. I liked the movie, and I thought the best thing about it was The Rock in the lead role.
Well, that's about it for now. I'm also going to write some movie reviews on this page. STAR Movies as usual has a very interesting line up of movies for August - The Sixth Sense, The Blair Witch Project 2: Book of Shadows, etc. And movies I want to see (coming soon to theatres) are Minority Report, Men in Black II, Windtalkers and Ice Age. I wouldn't mind watching Scooby-Doo, but I heard it wasn't very good.
I will try to update more regularly from now on.
The problem with delaying updating my site for so long (as I have this time) is that I'll have to spend a lot of time in actually writing the update! Well, I have to start somewhere, so I'll start with short summaries of all the Star Trek: Voyager episodes I saw during the past month. You can read about them in more detail at the Star Trek Website.
There are 33 (count them) episode summaries (for 30 stories if you consider the two-part episodes as one) here!
- Jun 19 - Future's End Part I and II - Fantastic two-part episode where a 29th century Federation "Time Ship"'s captain says the U.S.S. Voyager's going to be the cause of an explosion that will result in the destruction of the entire solar system! A temporal rift causes Voyager and the time ship to go back in time - Voyager to 1996 and the time ship to 1967. The Voyager crew find that an industrialist, Starling, has the time ship in his possession - and plans to use it - which could lead to dangerous consequences. The Doctor gets his mobile emitter in Part II.
- Jun 20 - Warlord - Voyager rescues three aliens from a spaceship and one of them, a warlord, dies - but not before transferring his consciousness into Kes.
- Jun 21 - The Q and the Grey - A civil war has started in the Q continuum - and Q thinks mating with Captain Janeway might put an end to it! Brilliantly written episode.
- Jun 23 - Macrocosm - Captain Janeway and Neelix return to Voyager from a diplomatic mission only to find it infested with "macro viruses" - viruses that have emerged from the microscopic world into ours.
- Jun 24 - Fair Trade - Voyager stops at a trading outpost and Neelix meets his old friend Wixiban. The two of them get caught in some shady dealings that might endanger Neelix's position on the ship.
- Jun 24 - Alter Ego - Harry confesses to Tuvok that he has fallen in love with a holodeck character - but on investigation, Tuvok finds she may not be what she seems.
- Jun 26 - Coda - Captain Janeway is caught in a time loop - where she finds herself caught in several near-death and death experiences.
- Jun 27 - Blood Fever - Ensign Borik experiences the Vulcan mating urge that occurs every seven years - and transfers the "blood fever" to B'Elanna.
- Jun 27 - Unity - Chakotay's shuttle crashes on a planet near a Borg cube that has been disabled for several years - and finds a unique society on that planet - humanoids who were former Borg drones. Directed by Robert Duncan McNeill.
- Jun 28 - Darkling - The Doctor adds personality subroutines to his program (taken from several great figures in Earth's and alien history) without anticipating that they might interact in complex ways to produce a new "alternate personality" - an evil one.
- Jul 1 - Favorite Son - As Voyager nears an alien planet, Harry begins showing genetic mutations... could he actually be one of their race - and not a human as he thought he was all these years?
- Jul 1 - Before and After - A very strange set of events cause Kes to start travelling backwards in time - starting off just a short while before her death - and jumping to different points in her life. Very interesting episode that introduces the possibility of the "Year of Hell" - an attack by the Krenim race on Voyager in the future that might cause the ship to be destroyed.
- Jul 2 - Rise - Caught on a planet about to be bombarded with a huge meteor, Tuvok and Neelix must work with some of the inhabitants of that planet to get to safety on a magnetic lift that can get them far enough from the planet's surface to be transported on Voyager.
- Jul 2 - Real Life - The Doctor experiences the joys, sorrows and difficult times of family life through a holodeck simulation.
- Jul 3 - Distant Origin - An alien scientist believes his entire race may have originated on Earth! His government is not too happy about this and it might cause great danger to Voyager.
- Jul 4 - Worst Case Scenario - B'Elanna discovers a holodeck program which has Chakotay and the Maqui crew taking control of the ship - with the help of a holographic Seska. The simulation becomes very popular with the crew - but is it as safe as everyone thinks it is?
- Jul 6 - Displaced - Members of an alien species begin mysteriously appearing on Voyager while crewmembers keep disappearing - could this be a unique way of invasion?
- Jul 6/Jul 7 - Scorpion Part I and II - Season 3 of the show ends and Season 4 begins - in a truly great two part story that introduces a confrontation with the Borg, an even deadlier species, and the character of Seven of Nine. Voyager enters Borg space but finds that the Borg themselves are being defeated by Species 8472 - a very very powerful alien race which they cannot assimilate! Captain Janeway makes a deal with the devil - they help the Borg in return for safe passage through Borg Space. The holodeck version of Leonardo DaVinci is featured too.
- Jul 8 - The Gift - As Seven of Nine makes the transition from Borg to human, Kes finds herself transforming into a "higher" state as her telepathic and telekinetic powers rapidly increase.
- Jul 9 - Day of Honor - On the Klingon "Day of Honor", B'Elanna and Tom find themselves drifting in space after their shuttlecraft explodes.
- Jul 10 - Nemesis - A very unusual episode where Chakotay crashes on a planet and joins a group of soldiers caught in a war with the other race on the planet - their mortal enemies. There is a brilliant twist towards the end of the story. Thoughtful episode. Written by Kenneth Biller.
- Jul 12 - Revulsion - B'Elanna and the Doctor go on an away mission onto an alien spaceship - where all the crewmembers have died - leaving behind a seriously psychopathic hologram!
- Jul 13 - The Raven - Seven of Nine has strange visions of herself running from the Borg... all these visions also feature a raven. While the Voyager crew tries to find a meaning behind this they may be faced with greater problems when Seven's Borg implants begin reactivating.
- Jul 15 - Year of Hell Part I and II - A Krenim scientist on board a time ship - which exists outside our space-time - is using his technology to alter timelines - and Voyager gets trapped in Krenim space. The "Year of Hell" thus starts... will Voyager be destroyed by the Krenim's temporal weapons? Note: this was the episode where Voyager's Astrometrics Lab came online, and also the episode where Captain Janeway changed her hairstyle.
- Jul 17 - Random Thoughts - On an alien planet populated with telepaths, everyone has learned to contol their violent thoughts, and thus there is no crime. But a shocking incident involving the violent beating among the telepaths leads to B'Elanna being accused of causing it - because of her violent thoughts! I noticed a small bit of footage taken directly from Event Horizon spliced into this episode towards the end.
- Jul 17 - Concerning Flight - As Voyager passes near an alien planet, technology from the ship - including it's main computer processor - is stolen! It's up to Captain Janeway to recover it, with a little help frm none other than Leonardo DaVinci himself!
- Jul 18 - Mortal Coil - Neelix is killed and later revived with a little help from Borg technology. But his spiritual beliefs that he will meet his loved ones after death are shattered.
- Jul 20 - Waking Moments - Voyager's crew begins experiencing nightmares apparently caused by an alien race that "live" in the dream world.
- Jul 20 - Message in a Bottle - Voyager's Astrometrics Lab discovers an alien data transmission network (run by the Hirogen) that can transmit messages over light years of distance - and they use it to transport the Doctor onto the U.S.S. Prometheus, an experimental Starfleet Battleship 60,000 light years away. After four years of being lost in the Delta Quadrant, Voyager finally has a chance of letting Starfleet know where they are. But the Doctor finds the ship taken over by Romulans and it's up to him and the Prometheus' own EMH - an improved Emergency Medical Hologram - to save the day! The episode features lots of action and tense moments - but the dialogues between the two EMH's are alone worth watching it.
- Jul 21 - Hunters - Starfleet is using the Hirogen data transmission network to send letters and messages to the Voyager crew. Tuvok and Seven take a shuttle to try to get closer to a relay station, and they are captured by two Hirogen hunters.
Star Trek: Voyager was a brilliant TV show when I started watching it, and it only keeps getting better with each episode! This is one show that I truly enjoy watching, and I think the amount of creativity that goes into each episode is amazing.
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