Game Over

Game Over: A Documentary That Sucks I saw Game Over: Kasparov and the Machine last night, a documentary about the 1997 chess match between Garry Kasparov and IBM’s Deep Blue. Kasparov lost and then claimed IBM cheated. IBM’s behaviour was indeed suspicious. They had something like 30 grand masters as ‘consultants,’ but you have wonder if some of these guys were in a back room somewhere over-riding some of Deep Blue’s moves. It’s an intriguing subject for a documentary, but the approach to it is stupid. Instead of letting the facts stand on their own, a variety of techniques are used to dramatize the events. An inaudible voice-over narration where two guys whisper the whole time as if they’re watching a chess match. Interviews where the camera is constantly going in and out of focus, moving all over the place, or filming from behind an office plant (like a hidden camera?). Music that sounds like it was written for Darth Vader. After-the-fact slow-motion close-ups of Kasparov’s eyes. All of this is done so badly, it makes the subject laughable and distracts from the real drama of the events. Too bad. If they’d just done a straightforward documentary, it could have been good. (More research about chess would have helped too.) If you want to watch good movie about chess, check out Searching for Bobby Fischer instead.

Spider-Man Is Back

Spider-manMy wife and I saw Spider-man 2 a couple of days ago. The first one was neat, seeing how they brought the comic hero to the big screen using the latest special effects; but in the end, it bored me: I didn’t care about the plot except where it developed the main characters, and the enemy seemed too cartoony. Spider-man 2 is much better, though.

I was laughing within the first couple of minutes after the opening credits of Spider-man 2 ended. The acting seemed better, less contrived. The humor was subtle and personal, making you empathize with the characters. And the action sequences are astounding; I found myself exclaiming out loud at some scenes. It was a fun time at the theater, and I wouldn’t mind seeing it again.