Bigpond Movies Downloads – First Impressions

The other day, BigpondMovies (they have a mail-based DVD service as well, but I’m only interested in digital downloads) reached my personal tipping point for the amount of content I was actually interested in, so I thought I’d give it a shot. Ten bucks later, I had Kung Fu Hustle and xXx (the Vin Diesel movie – AFAIK, no porn on BigpondMovies yet!) queued for a download, and a day after that, I was ready to watch them.

Movies you rent are downloadable for a week, and have a one day viewing period applied to them. There’s also a selection of Television shows, which I haven’t yet tried; they seem to be around $3 per episode.

The quality of the movies seems roughly equivalent to a same-size DivX encoding; it’s definitely on the good side of watchable, but it’s not quite (good) DVD quality, at least for XXX, which I’m watching at the moment.

Bigpond supply a Media Manager application to download and watch movies, though the movies are in WMV format and so can be viewed by anything Windows Media (with DRM) compatible. It seemed to work quite well in Media Center, though it’s not directly integrated. More on that later…?

When downloading a movie, it seems to use regular HTTP, no torrents or meshes, just a nice, fat server. It took 2 hours to download a 1.5 hour movie on IInet DSL (not DSL2+), which seems fine to me. Bigpond suggest downloading overnight; either way seems fine.

I managed to delete one of the downloads before it was finished, and there wasn’t an obvious way through the UI or the site to “reclaim” the download; I emailed the help alias, and the next day, my download was restored, which was good.

Overall, I’m quite impressed with the download service so far. More when I work out how to do more cool things with it…

The Brothers Grimm Review

Just got back from seeing The Brothers Grimm.

We saw it Silver Screen at Macquarie Centre. It’s the first time I’ve been to a Silver Screen session, and bluntly, I’m not really impressed.

The screen and the seats are big, but the chairs aren’t recliners, they’re fixed-position. This ironically led to some convoluted ways of trying to get my legs comfortable when the seat in front was out of range (so nothing to lean them against). I quite like the regular chairs in the other cinemas, and the Gold Class recliners are also pretty good – this seemed to be a Worst Of Both Worlds setup. Still, she liked it.

Anyway, the movie wasn’t bad, but it’s not likely to win any awards either. For some reason, much of the acting seemed somehow ripped from a Swedish porn film, with some atrocious dubbing and lip sync that evem a Mentos ad would be ashamed of, particularly from Anjelika’s father.

Matt Damon does a really good job, though with the mix of accents in the film, he wins points just for consistency. Jonathan Pryce turns in a characteristically excellent performance as le petit French general. Peter Stormare is disappointing as the French ?but italian accented? rogue soldier, and seems to have gone a little bit overboard hamming it up; younger kids will probably love it. Monica Bellucci… well, you didn’t see enough of her. Heath Ledger was passable, but I can’t help thinking he might have been miscast.

Conceptually, it seemed a bit muddled – it didn’t really commit to any particular story of the Brothers Grimm, instead choosing to mash just a teeny, tiny bit of them all in, and suffering for it. There was some mild horror, but it was inconsistently applied – it could have easily been tweaked just a little and ended up a little scarier, but in some parts, it seems to get the Disney treatment.

It was visually very interesting, with a lot of detail packed into most of the scenes and some clever and watchable action sequences, but some of the CG was pretty obviously CG, and that was a jarring reminder that it wasn’t real. Pity. The high point was the original witching sequence, which was visually stunning and set the movie up well.

Anyway, as I said before, not bad, but probably won’t win any awards. Didn’t want to sue for my money back.

3 stars out of 5.

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Doom: The Movie. Reviewed.

I’ll save you the suspense (you’ll need to bring some of your own to the movie) – it’s not terrible! Neither is it particularly unmissable, but it’s at least an different twist on the game’s plot.

How does it stack up against other video game movies? Let’s look at Doom in comparison – I’ll rank ’em as I see ’em.

Doom
Final Fantasy
Mortal Kombat
Resident Evil
Street Fighter/Super Mario Bros (these just go below anything released)

It’s a tough call whether Doom was better than Final Fantasy. As I’m more invested in Doom from my recent relationship with Doom 3, I’ll give it the edge on this one. FF was an amazing technical achievement, but the characters were lifeless, which is something you’d have to give the Doom cast over them (at least at first).

So what happens in Doom? Well, Aliens, only with hellish creatures. I say hell-ish because there aren’t any fireballs here. That’s right: one fireball in the movie, and it’s not from an Imp.

Acting: As you’d expect for an action movie with The Rock in it. Karl Urban’s lips look funny. The rest of the cast do a reasonably passable job, and I actually found myself rooting for them (especially the creepy Opus Dei type), not that it did them much good.

Now I’d love to be able to come across as a sensitive new-age guy, or even a caring understanding nineties type, but for my hard-earned dosh, there were two standout stars in this movie: Rosamund Pike’s boobs. While her Yank accent was slightly unconvincing, they stole every scene they appeared in. And just when you thought they’d given the performance of their career, they’d kick it up a notch. Or a couple of notches. So to speak. This will be the movie for which they’ll be remembered most fondly.

The first person sequence near the end of the movie is just… weird.

So, to see it at the movies, or wait for the DVD release? Well, you won’t be missing anything on the smaller screen, and I wouldn’t be averse to owning it.

Overall: three stars out of five as a mindless action movie with some mildly interesting plot developments that you won’t see coming from the game. And that makes you want to hop back into Doom 3 for some righteous blasting.

Pinkjoint, Doom Movie, Doom

Serenity One Last Time

Saw Serenity for what’s probably going to be the last time at the movies tonight. While DVDs are cool and all, it’s a pity that movies don’t get trotted out at the cinemas again more often.

This time, there was a highly appreciative audience, and larger! (talk about peaking late… word is slow to get around these days). It’s a movie that actually improves on re-watches (apart from a couple of oddly-dodgily sequenced effects shots during the crash (and one during the first landing in a field) – hey Joss, let me check it before release next time, please. Thanks. Good man.)

They say that TV is the future, that people won’t go out to the movies any more. Well, until TV gets pumped into my optic nerve at an equivalent (or more immersive) size than the movies, it’s just not going to blow me away in the same way. Until technology catches the size and detail of a movie screen, the evil-price-gouging-at-the-candy-bar-movies can have my dollars.

I’m sadder than I should be to see Serenity fade away – everyone, and I mean everyone that I’ve suggested/harangued/bullied/kidnapped to go see it has really enjoyed it. Surprisingly much. It’s a pity it wasn’t somehow better marketed among non-geeks. I think its half-life on DVD will be pretty good, especially as Firefly’s DVD audience is still steadily growing. Let’s face it, Everyone Loves Firefly.

If you’ve been putting it off, it might be your last chance. Go see it. You won’t want to sue Joss for your life back.

Hot tip: Chicks dig Doctor Simon.

Transporter 2

I’ll try to explain it like this:

An Audi jumps from a marina, rolls in the air, catches just the right part on a hook suspended from a crane, and then lands, with sod-all damage to the car.

Obviously I’m not driving robust enough cars: I must go and buy an Audi.

There’s other 100% implausible stuff in there, and it’s all in good fun. Like, implausible as only the French can make it.

Three stars, plus a half for the French-looking chick in lingerie with the guns. Luc Besson, you’ve done it again.