December 2018


Can´t wait for the 2019 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic – Boston Bruins vs Chicago Blackhawks on January 1th. Go Hawks!

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Love this version.

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In the middle of the southern Pacific Ocean, a thousand feet below the surface, what is believed to be an alien spacecraft is discovered after a ship laying transoceanic cable has its cable cut and the United States Navy investigates the cause. The thickness of coral growth on the spaceship suggests that it has been there for almost 300 years. A team made up of marine biologist Dr. Beth Halperin (Sharon Stone), mathematician Dr. Harry Adams (Samuel L. Jackson), astrophysicist Dr. Ted Fielding (Liev Schreiber), psychologist Dr. Norman Goodman (Dustin Hoffman), and U.S. Navy Capt. Harold Barnes (Peter Coyote) are tasked with investigating the spaceship. The team (along with two navy technicians, Fletcher and Edmunds) are housed in a state-of-the-art underwater living environment called the Habitat during their stay on the ocean floor. Upon entering the spaceship, the team makes several discoveries. The first is that the ship is not alien, and that it is in fact an American spaceship. They assume, due to the years of coral growth and advanced technology, that the craft is from the future. The last date in the ship’s log, 06/21/43, does not indicate the specific century. The last entry in the log details an “Unknown (Entry) Event”, which depicts the ship apparently falling into a black hole, resulting in its trip through time. The ship’s mission apparently involved gathering objects from around the galaxy to bring back to Earth. An item of particular interest is a large, perfect sphere in the cargo hold. It is suspended a few feet above the ground and has an impenetrable fluid surface which reflects its surroundings but not, for some undetermined reason, people. Harry concludes from the classification of the event which sent the ship back that the Habitat crew is fated to die: it would not have been an “unknown event” if they had lived to report about it, he reasons. Harry soon sneaks back to the spaceship, and finds a way to enter the Sphere. Soon after, a series of numeric-encoded messages begins to show up on the habitat’s computer screens, and Harry and Ted are able to decipher the messages and converse with what appears to be an alien (which calls itself “Jerry”), which has been trapped in the Sphere. They soon discover that “Jerry” can hear everything they are saying aboard the Habitat. Harry’s entry into the Sphere prevents the team from evacuating before the arrival of a powerful typhoon on the surface, forcing them to stay below for almost a week. A series of tragedies then befalls the crew: Fletcher is killed by aggressive jellyfish. Later, Edmunds’ corpse is found drifting near the station, her body completely pulverized by what turns out to be a giant squid, which returns to attack the station. In the chaos that ensues, Barnes is cut in half by a computer-operated door, and Ted is burned to death. Sea snakes attack Norman, though he is not injured. Jerry is suspected to be the cause of these incidents. Eventually, only Harry, Norman, and Beth remain. At this point, they realize that they have all entered the world of the perfect Sphere. The Sphere has given them the power to manifest their thoughts into reality. As such, all of the disasters that had been plaguing them are the result of manifestations of the worst parts of their own minds…

“Sphere” was a Box office bomb in 1998 when it came out, it grossed only $37 million at the North American box office, far below its $80 million production budget. And the critical consensus was that “Sphere features an A-level cast working with B-grade material, with a story seen previously in superior science-fiction films.” In one way that criticism really hits the nail on the head, but at the same time we get this pseudo-philosophical extra terrestrial story that still asks questions that lingers in limbo and stays there after the movie is over. Is it confusing? Is it intriguing? Can our fears become real via our thoughts? Yes, yes and who knows. Dustin Hoffman didn´t feel the movie was ready to be released when it was. There were many more issues that needed to be addressed but they didn’t have the time to cover them all. They had to deliver what they had for the release date, which he felt was an incomplete film. This is something I can agree with, pieces just seem to be missing and Levinson doesn´t tie it together. All involved (Stone, Hoffman, Schreiber, Jackson and Coyote) does their best to keep up the tension, but they need a material that works full on as well. That is not the case here. In the end we know less than we did in the beginning so it seems, not that everything needs to be explained, but this is just to lose in the plot. And in terms of environment and main story, we had already seen some similar movies like “The Abyss” (1989), “Leviathan” (1989) and “DeepStar Six” (1989) with various result. “Sphere” ends up in the middle somewhere. However, I do need to mention how extremely attractive Sharon Stone is in this one. She looks absolutely stunning in her short hair. What a beaut she is. (3 out of 5)

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MI6 agent James Bond (Pierce Brosnan) meets a Swiss banker to retrieve money for Sir Robert King, a British oil tycoon and friend of M (Judi Dench). Bond tells the banker that King was buying a report stolen from an MI6 agent who was killed for it, and wants to know who killed him. The banker threatens Bond, but Bond overpowers him. The banker is killed by his assistant before he can reveal the assassin’s name. Bond escapes with the money. Back in London, Sir Robert is killed by the booby-trapped money inside MI6. Bond gives chase to the assassin – the assistant again – on a boat on the Thames to the Millennium Dome, where the assassin attempts to escape via hot air balloon. Bond offers her protection, but she refuses. She detonates the balloon, killing herself. Bond traces the recovered money to Renard (Robert Carlyle), a KGB agent-turned-terrorist. Following an earlier attempt on his life by MI6, Renard was left with a bullet in his brain which is gradually destroying his senses, making him immune to pain. M assigns Bond to protect King’s daughter, Elektra (Sophie Marceau); Renard previously abducted and held her for ransom, and MI6 believes that he is targeting her a second time. Bond flies to Azerbaijan, where Elektra is overseeing the construction of an oil pipeline. During a tour of the pipeline’s proposed route in the mountains, Bond and Elektra are attacked by a hit squad in armed, paraglider-equipped snowmobiles. Afterwards Bond visits Valentin Zukovsky (Robbie Coltrane) at a casino to acquire information about Elektra’s attackers; he discovers that Elektra’s head of security, Davidov, is secretly in league with Renard. Bond kills Davidov and boards a plane bound for a Russian ICBM base in Kazakhstan. There, Bond, posing as a Russian nuclear scientist, meets American nuclear physicist Christmas Jones (Denise Richards) and enters the silo. Inside, Renard removes the GPS locator card and weapons-grade plutonium from a bomb. Before Bond can kill him, Jones blows his cover. Renard steals the bomb and flees, leaving everyone to die in the booby-trapped missile silo. Bond and Jones escape the exploding silo with the locator card. Back in Azerbaijan, Bond discloses to M that Elektra may not be as innocent as she seems, and hands her the locator card as proof of the theft: an alarm sounds, revealing that the stolen bomb from Kazakhstan is attached to an inspection rig heading towards the oil terminal. Bond and Jones enter the pipeline to deactivate the bomb, and Jones discovers that half of the plutonium is missing. They both jump clear of the rig and a large section of the pipe is destroyed. Bond and Jones are presumed killed. Back at the command centre, Elektra reveals that she killed her father as revenge for using her as bait for Renard. She abducts M, whom she resents for advising her father not to pay the ransom money. With M missing Bond must work quickly to prevent Renard from destroying parts of Europe…

“The World is not Enough” was Brosnan´s third Bond movie and this time around we get a slightly better Bond movie compared to “Tomorrow Never Dies”. The plot is a no brainer more or less, we´ve seen it before within the Bond universe, but with the new structure of having a Bond girl being the bad guy and as well meeting her maker via Bond. However, yet again we get a scattered bad guy set up, this time we have both Elektra and Renard and neither are that intriguing. I did enjoy the first hour of the film, almost giving me that old sort of old Bond vibe with a great boat chase on the Thames and as well a nice ski chase involving paraglider-equipped snowmobiles. Then everything becomes slightly out of focus and Brosnan ends up not fitting the tuxedo yet again (by now I can unfortunately confess to myself that I simply just don´t like Brosnan as Bond all that much). A lot of the action sequences in the latter part of the movie feels so random and not that exciting, almost like the script ran dry and they had to fill it up with something. Robert Carlyle is almost a shadow of his normal greatness, Sophie Marceau is not evil enough in my book and the lovely Denise Richards just don´t fit in at all as the scientist Christmas Jones. Richards was criticised as not being credible in the role. She was ranked as one of the worst Bond girls of all time by Entertainment Weekly in 2008, which is a bit harsh, but unfortunately she doesn´t work in the role. Eleanor Ringel Gillespie of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution disliked the film, calling it “dated and confused”. Negative criticism was focused on the execution of the plot, and the action scenes were considered excessive. Entertainment Weekly picked it as the worst Bond film of all time, saying it had a plot “so convoluted even Pierce Brosnan has admitted to being mystified”. Norman Wilner of MSN chose it as the third worst film, above A View to a Kill and Licence to Kill, while IGN chose it as the fifth worst. I have one more Brosnan Bond movie left to re-see, and then I can archive his Bond. (3 out of 5)

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