06 November 2011

A Very Harold and Kumar Christmas Explosion 3D.

I could rant about the commercialization of Christmas, and how commercials seem to start the second after Halloween, but that’s not really important. It’s just weird to have a Christmas movie in the first week of November. Am I the only one who thinks it’s insane to essentially spend 1/6th of the year celebrating Christmas?

I went to a two dimensional showing despite the fact 3D is in the title. Whenever there’s a ‘3D’ moment, I am reminded of how terrible this whole 3D fad really is. Gratuitous 3D is the worst. There are scenes with stuff flying towards the camera, hitting the camera, and cracking it. Do people actually like that kind of stuff? Things that bring you out of a movie? They should have a 2D cut for the 2D version without tall the crap flying towards the screen.  “This (fake) 3D penis is really awesome. Just wish I saw it in 3D so it’s right up against my face. Thanks, James Cameron, you Avatard. “  
It’s been years since Harold and Kumar are roommates, and they’ve grown apart. That’s not unusual because statistically people lose half their friends every 6 years. Harold’s become a successful banker-man with a large house and a beautiful wife. Kumar’s been kicked out of the medical practice because he’s failed his drug test. He’s been living in squalor with his life focused on chasing the next marijuana high.

The day before Christmas, a magical package containing a magical joint is delivered to Kumar’s apartment addressed to Harold. When Kumar delivers it to Harold’s new address, the magical joint starts the magical adventure by burning down the Christmas tree, which was a gift from his wife’s violent Mexican cartel-ish dad. So the adventure begins with them trying to find and replace the McGuffin tree.

I guess I just had too high of an expectation for this film and franchise. I thought Go to White Castle was a genuinely good film. Escape from Guantanamo Bay was an alright film. It’s been a while since I’ve watched those movies. From what I could remember, they started off pretty reasonably, and were steady slides into more and more absurd situations. They culminate at an absolutely insane point where everything sort of flows together. 

3D is easily the worst of the trilogy. From the start, the relationship between Harold and Kumar were strained. They don’t really like each other anymore, and it gives off a weird vibe. By the end though, they learn to become BFFs and everything works out.  That’s kinda cool, I guess. This film starts with a pretty insane premise and never really attempts to bring it back to reality. In this movie, it is clear that all the characters in this world are larger-than-life. They have a car accident and a car is ruined. Of course they won’t call the police or their insurance company. They were mistaken as extras in a musical while hanging out at a back alley. Despite their protests, the lady was apparently able to get them in full costumes and into the rehearsal. Movie logic :/ 

 In the original, the world is shown to be fairly normal with unusual freaks that the two characters meet. Harold and Kumar are still grounded to reality.  In this movie, it is clear that all the characters in this world are larger-than-life and does things just to move to the next sketch. It feels less organic.
Don’t get me wrong, there are some genuinely funny scenes in the movie. They’re just too few and far in-between. The same baby joke is rehashed throughout the film. Two characters get locked in the same place for half the film. The best parts of the film are the short vignettes when we’re taken away from the characters.  I think the film would probably be better if the characters were high the entire time, that it wasn’t clear if everything is really happening as we see it. 

As is, A Very Harold and Kumar Christmas didn’t work for me. I had a terrible experience during and after the film. I would sit in silence as people around me were laughing. I understood the jokes, but they felt completely flat. Honestly, I think the combination of “THREE DEE” and “CHRISTMAS MOVIE” has turned me completely off to the film. 

I wish I hadn’t paid money to watch this. I’m sure all the funny bits would end up on youtube anyway. 3/10

16 October 2011

The Thing 2011 Review.

It's a good imitation of the 1982 John Carpenter film of the same name, but it isn't the real thing.

If you aren't familiar with what The Thing is, then you need to go and watch the 1982 version right the heck now. It's better than this movie.

Don't bother reading the rest of this.



Now that you've presumably watched the 1982 Thing, this prequel basically follows the same structure. You already know what happens in this film as it links directly to the 1982 Thing.

 2011 Thing tells the story of the Norwegian Camp. They discovered an alien spacecraft by following an ancient energy signal. They discovered a body encased in ice outside of the spacecraft so they fly in Kate, an American paleontologist who has experience with thawing creatures, to the Norwegian Base. Eventually, the Thing breaks free from the ice and starts killing or assimilating people.  Hilarious things ensue and people die.

One of the great aspects to Carpenter's version is that all of the creature shots are practical effects. As a result, the creature looks and feels real and the characters respond to it in a realistic manner. In Carpenter's version, the Thing is shown to be an intelligent creature. It only attacks when cornered, and prefers to assess the situation in order to sow distrust.

With the prequel, they've opted to use both CGI and practical effects. I found a couple of cgi shots which bordered on being completely unbelievable and absurd. It didn't feel possible or helpful or realistic for the creature to 'thing out' by splitting in half down the centre and to grow some teeth. Humans are shown to be ultra fragile in that one touch from the thing can cause skin merging and subdue the prey. It makes no sense for the thing to even need to transform out of humanoid shell.

Thanks to modern computer technology, the Thing is now able to move around thing out in gruesome detail. So we get scenes where a ridiculous monster trapezes down hallways knocking everything apart. I guess that's cool.  The creature in this film doesn't feel very smart. It feels like an unrealistic, dumb monster.


There's a lot of room for improvement for 2011 Thing. The characters in this film don't feel distinct in either their looks or their behavior. There are really only three or four characters that stood out. I think the main problem is that many of the characters have the same beard. Was this intended to throw off the trail of who ends up on the helicopter at the end? Like some kind of Beard-Plot-Shield? We know that at least two bearded men survive in the helicopter at the start of the 1982 Carpenter film. Most of the characters are merely thing-fodder. Contrast this with 1982 Thing where each character felt real and unique, despite how little screen time they got.

It feels to me like Kate was acting not smart for a lot of the film. Imagine you found living alien cells that imitate other cells under the microscope. What would you do in a facility full of scientists? Kate decides not to tell anyone. Remember, this was before the shower/helicopter scene so she didn't really have any reason to mistrust anybody. When she's telling everyone about the imitation the next day, the dialogue felt like it was ripped straight out of Kurt Russell's mouth. Same with her speech outside in the snow. I was seriously contemplating leaving the theatre when she says she has a test for the thing. If it turned out to be a fire-blood test, I would have left.

As the film progresses, the Norwegian camp looks more and more like the one we see in the 1982 film. We see why weird monster remains are where they are. We see holes get put in buildings, and axes in walls.


It's largely faithful to 1982 Thing and has dialogue which could be lifted directly from that film. No real big plot hole (Norwegians were shown to be using dynamite to uncover the alien ship in 1982!), and everything mostly fits. There's no sense of real paranoia, and they could have used the language barrier better. I think the tension would have been much better if certain lines were not subtitled. Thing 2011 is an entertaining film which adds interesting things to the franchise. It just won't be as well regarded as The Thing 1982.



Discussion (spoilers)

The 1982 movie didn't leave things very clear. We didn't know if either of the characters we see at the end was human or Thing. There's not really that kind of ambiguity to this film.

So when the Thing escaped from the ice-block, it inflected a dog, which was unseen for the rest of the film until the end credits. It can be used to infect explain any of the characters… including the woman character, and the helicopter doctor guy.  It brings up the question… why didn't the dog try and infect Lars during the night? Why didn't the dog thing the suicide scientist?

Why did the doctor guy thing out in the helicopter? There's not really any reason for it to Thing out at that time. It wasn't cornered. For all it knew, they were landing again because they forgot something… but it decided to thing out and cause the helicopter to crash.

There are two possible times for him to be assimilated… after the crash and inside the spaceship. If two humans could survive the crash, then the thing probably could have too. It could assimilate Carter if he's unconscious or something. The problem is that his black co-pilot was with him the entire time and he was human the entire movie (as demonstrated in the breakroom scene.) Would the thing infect one while leaving the other human? It seems like a really weird stratagem. This means that both were human when they attacked Lars and stole his flamethrower.

So he must have been turned while in the alien spaceship. As he's calling out for Kate, the thing tracked him down. So why wouldn't Carter-thing try and convert Kate right then and there in the spaceship. He had the weapons and she's not really suspecting anything. In a one-on-one encounter, it doesn't really make sense for the thing to not engage.

When he's pleading with her to not burn him, I thought it would have been interesting if Carter actually breaks out of character and speaks as the thing. Maybe throw lines like "I don't even care about your world. I just want to go home." Or something.

Now, what if Carter was human right at the end of the film? That he removed his earrings because it's god damn cold and the metal saps heat away. Or that he sometimes wears his earring on either side of his face. Other people say that they heard him scream like a thing as he's burning. I was paying attention to see if he things out with tentacles, which he never did. I think it would be poignant to see Kate burn the only other human due to mistrust.

28 September 2011

Terra Nova Review: Time Travelling Dinosaurs.

The show starts off with text on the screen sstating the premise of the show.


We are shown a futuristic apartment in a smog-filled city. It might have been Beijing or Shanghai or something. There’s a character walking inside the hallways wearing a futuristic air filter. Oh no. The air is so toxic that you can’t just breathe the air outside!
The first 5 minutes of the show just keeps hitting the viewer on the head about how terrible the future really will be. Consumerism and High-Tech gadgets are pretty much gone, except for the occasional super thin ID cards. The dad goes inside his apartment and shows his family the wonder of an orange. Apparently they’re so rare that it’s been years since some of them have seen one. The mom name-drops that respiratory diseases have risen recently, probably due to the poor air quality.
So, the police come in and say they have to search the house. In the future, one person can only have one offspring. They have three. The police finds the third child (named Zoe.) and the dad is put in jail.
For twelve more minutes, we see the dad try to solid snake his way out of prison and to the Stargate facility. In the end, he makes a mad dash towards the portal.

In the two years, the mom found a way to get the family into Terra Nova and travel into the past because she’s a doctor.  Even though she can have a good life, she doesn’t want her kids to stay in a dying world! The bad thing is that the dad(Jim) has to stay in prison, and Zoe can’t go.
The first sixteen minutes of the show has been entirely superfluous. Honestly, if they excised it, the pilot would probably be better. I don’t think they had enough budget, time, or imagination to create the world of 214X well enough. Everyone is living in squalor… in a dying world. They don’t outright say what caused the environmental collapse. I hope it isn’t just pollution or ‘global warming’. Anyway, there’s enough dialogue after the jump in time to describe the future. There’d be more mystery and would have probably been better.
Jurassic Park.
So the Terra Novan colony has existed for 7 years now. They quickly explain that this is an entirely new timeline so they can kill dinosaurs or whatever they want without causing any causality problems.
Characters make the comparison about the lush environment compared to the dark/gloomy/perpetually cloudy environment. I can understand things like “The air is so fresh!”, but things like “I’ve forgotten what the moon looks like”, or  “the sky is so blue I’ve never seen.” is bizarre. Are there no television programmers in the future about what the past is like? Minor complaint.
When the family and the rest of the expedition arrive at Terra Nova, the dad is assigned to agriculture duty.
The youngest daughter Zoe finds some brontosaurus which was right on the other side of the fence. Nice job keeping dinosaurs away, security. It was one of those Jurassic park moments, and I guess it was absolutely necessary. Doesn’t mean it makes sense in-universe.
The main conflict of this episode revolves around Josh (the son) hanging around female love interest (Sky) and engaging is some incredibly dumb shenanigans. They decide to go into a restricted zone to jump off a waterfall. They also decide to go make alcohol in an area with dangerous dinosaurs. On their way back to the camp, they were ambushed by dinosaurs. That’s such an unforeseeable plot twist!  Oh, Sky shows Josh some strange cave markings, and then makes him promise not to tell anyone about the cave markings. Yeah, like that won’t be a plot point in the future.
The other plot point involves the doctor wife healing a man who was supposed to be a thief. Turns out that the guy is a “Sixer”, which is a group of people from the sixth pilgrimage who have since left the main group and found their own colony. The thief breaks out of the hospital laughably easily, and then proceeds to try and assassinate Taylor, the leader of Terra Nova. Why nobody at the hospital decided to inform security (to warn Taylor or anyone), I don’t know. Probably just bad writing or something.
Jim stops the plot and becomes a new cop. They go for a ride outside the gate and spots the Sixers riding towards the camp. They’re here to exchange some ‘meteoric iron’ for  the prisoner and some supplies.

The Sixers have a hidden agenda and are led in part by Taylor’s son. Apparently Taylor’s son is the one making the cave markings which will be the key to controlling the future.
The retarded teenagers and the sixers storyline intersects when the sixers were murdered on their way back to the their camp. The teenagers find their vehicle and hides inside it when dinosaurs come. They are rescued by the end of the episode.

This show has excellent dialogue/interaction such as
“Hey I know you, you are Drake, right? It’s me, Sky.”
Right as they’re getting away from a dinosaur.

Two guards chilling at a tower.

Security perimeter is so poor that people can just crawl outside the gate. If jurassic park taught me anything, is that there are small killer velociraptor everywhere.

No guards at all. I guess that's why the little girl was able to feed the brontosaurus some leaves.

One guard on tower.

What I don’t like about the show, which probably won’t improve as it goes on, is that the military/security of Terra Nova is so absurdly terrible. We have areas where there are absolutely no guards while dinosaurs roam nearby. We have guards that don’t know to fire a weapon until ordered by the main characters. We have (farm) areas which are not within the perimeter of the colony. Terrible planning, guys.

Also, I refuse to believe that 130 years from now, humans won’t have weapons that would simply shred dinosaurs apart. Even in an environmentally collapsed Earth, you just know that hoards of money will be spent developing even more effective weapons of war.


It’s a pilot episode. It’s not very good at all. I have a feeling this show is going to be a lot like Falling Skies… except that Falling Skies doesn’t have as dense of characters as here. The teenager plot reminds me a lot of Tyler from V.
Is this show worth watching? I wouldn't say so. There's not really anything here that's done particularly well. There's better things to do with your time. Go watch Breaking Bad, or Fringe, or Supernatural. Go back and watch SGU or Alphas.

I am curious to see what kind of storyline they can do to sustain a full season.

25 August 2011

Conan 2011 Review

When I saw this movie today, the entire 200+ seat theatre was empty. At first I thought it was because of the 18A rating which would limit the audience, but just when the room began to darken and the trailers started to roll, a dad and his ten year old son came in. If the father thinks his son is mature enough to grasp all the complex situations in the film, all the power to him.
Now, the lack of an audience is not necessarily an indication about the quality of the film. The last film that was empty on the first opening week that I saw was Terry Gilliam’s The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus. It was a pretty good, but complex film.
I’m not a fan of the original Conan film. The only thing going for it was Arnold Swarzennegar’s portrayal of Conan. He was played as a dumb, simple, and generally good hearted guy.  Arnold also seems to struggle to read his lines, but it was clear that he was trying his hardest. His bad acting actually contributed positively to the movie. If someone like Arnold, with little to no talent, can be a movie star, then maybe I can achieve my goals too.
Conan 2011, starring Jason Momoa, is definitely a technically competent film which supposedly follows the original book/novella mythology closer. There’s no glaring flaws technically. The action scenes were actiony. The musical score was engaging. The computer graphics / set design / costumes were all good. Alas, there are some problems with the pacing and story... which isn’t necessarily caused by the writers/script supervisors. A lot of changes can happen from script to the screen which can come from a myriad of sources. There were supposedly a lot of rewrites during the filming process, and the film shows that.
The first third of the film is actually completely fine. It tells the story of Conan’s upbringing, and the events causing him to seek out the main baddie, Zym. Ron Perlman performed an adequate role as Conan’s dad.
The second part is about Conan as an adult. He’s been looking for Zym for the last twenty years unsuccessfully, until he happens to find one of Zym’s lieutenants at a bar. Hilarity ensues and bowels explode. Conan kills a bunch of guys for an hour or so. Oh, he accidentally rescues a white monk-lady who has pure blood. She’s also the only person that Zym needs to complete an evil ritual. Conan goes to a variety of different locations during the hour. I think the film could have use some “Indiana Jones”-style map transitions, or “Lawrence of Arabia”-style wide shots to really demonstrate the distances that Conan is covering. Conan’s journey doesn’t feel mythic. He just bounces from location to location changing sidekicks briefly. It would feel different to really show the passage of time.
In the final act, Zym acquires the monk-girl and is finally able to complete the mask which will give him ultimate power…the power to shout really loudly and to collapse his skull-shaped cave. Yeah, it was a bit anti-climactic considering Zym has been saying that it’ll make him a new god. Incredibly underwhelming. Oh, he dies like a punk in the end because he spends time gloating instead of killing Conan.
Conan’s entire life so far has been about getting revenge against Zym for murdering his whole tribe. When he finally kills Zym, the story just ends. He has about three lines of dialogue, none of which reflects what just happened. It’s like killing Zym was not a big deal at all. There’s no indication that he’s changed at all through the story. There’s no real character arc. There’s no growth. Arnold’s Conan goes through a gamut of change through the 1982 movie. He grows as a character and finds love. 2011 Conan remains the same.

Conan 2011’s weak final act really hurts the film. Is it really too much to ask for the villain to have laser eyes? It needed to be over-the-top to make the final battle compelling. He needed to complete a task that was truly heroic.
There’s some parts of the film I would like to rewatch. I would never go out of my way to watch it.

28 July 2011

Harry Potter 7b Review

I think the worst decision in the film franchise is splitting up Deathly Hallows into two parts. I understand that it's meant to give time for the audience to 'feel' the desperation, loneliness, and helplessness of the main trio.  What ended up happening is a bunch of close-up shots of the main characters delivering lines. Now, I don't think the acting is particularly bad. The problem is that all the characters, throughout the two movies, are extremely one-note. They're all just acting heroically defiant. The side characters are all heroically scared.

Part 1 was flawed because there was no real resolution. The movie just ended at a point that's not even really the climax. Some people excuse this because it is the first part of "Deathly Hallows", but that argument is bunk.  A movie should be able to be viewed in isolation.

Anyway, 7B is much better than the first part mostly because stuff actually seems to happen in this film.  Unfortunately, the stuff that happens fall under two categories.

1)      Harry/Gang pleads with somebody or something to inspire them to help.

Example: Gringott goblin, Dumbledore's brother, Ravenclaw ghost


2)      Harry is put on the right track by some coincidence/external force.

Example: Multiple horcrux visions… first leading him to the room, then more visions telling him exactly which object.  Voldemort fucking off immediately after touching Snape, allowing Harry to get Snape's memories.

Harry and gang coincidentally running away in the same alley as Dumbledore's brother in Hogsmead.

Through the entire series, Harry has been told what to do and where to go. He's had this expectation since birth due to his history with Voldemort. Dumbledore has manipulated Harry for years, giving him cryptic hints of what to do.  I don't think Harry's really made any important choice by himself. I would have loved to see Harry question his destiny at the end of the movie. He was prepared to sacrifice himself to save the world, but we never really saw him try to weasel out of it. Yeah, Harry Potter's just that good… but even Jesus had doubts about his crucifixion at Gethsemane.

Fun things:

I recall of couple of scenes where there was a clearly more important objective, but the trio decides to do some other stuff first like visiting the main hall and seeing the injured.

Where were the students running to/from after the hall scene? Harry was running to the Ravenclaw tower, and there were tons of kids running down it. In the previous scene, all the students were in the great hall!

I find it hilarious that wizards are battling/running entirely on foot. You have brooms. Probably a harder target to hit while in the air. They'd travel faster too.

After Snape jumps out of the window, but before the shield is put in place, there were establishing shots of dementers/ghosts/death eaters floating around the castle. Good job, guys. They didn't even try to help.

There was a deatheater who said something along the lines of "Maybe we should wait" to Voldemort regarding the attack on Hogwarts. That line was never explained at all and seems out of place. What would waiting to break down the shield possibly do? Voldemort should have killed him for being a dumbdumb.

I like that they never even bothered to explain what happened to Harry and why he didn't die in the Forbidden Forest. Oh? The elder wand refuses to kill him? Good thing it was dialed back enough to kill Voldemort's horcrux, but not enough to kill Harry.

Voldemort knows that the gang is destroying his horcruxes. He doesn't seem to really put any effort in protecting them with his guards. What he really should have done was send one of the objects into deep space. Good luck tracking that down, Harry.


After the movie ended, I asked a friend. "Did you like that?"

"I like that the series is over."

I am glad that the series is over. This movie is way more entertaining than Part 1, so there's that. It provides a conclusion with reasonable answers, but it is clear that certain things don't mesh correctly. (ie. Time-Turner from Book 3, kids teleporting everywhere, the whole disarming wands/new owner thing.) Pt2 is worth the time if you've already seen the other movies. Just sad that it didn't end on the best note.


20 June 2011

Green Lantern Review

Not extremely terrible, just horribly generic, formulaic.

If you are looking for just another superhero film, Green Lantern is great.


So, billions of years ago, there existed a group of intergalactic space cops called the Green Lantern Corp. Their powers come from a magical green ring which uses the power of "Will" to wish anything into existence. The power of "Will" directly contrasts the "Fear" which is yellow in colour. Billions of years ago, the galactic council rulers fought against the evil Fear-using Parallax Smoke Monster. Parallax was all about destroying worlds. When Parallax was defeated, he was imprisoned in an asteroid in the 'lost' sector. Well, six months ago a space ship crashed on the asteroid and accidentally released Parallax. Oops.

Well, Ryan Reynolds eventually gets one of these rings and the origin story continues.

I want to give special props to the bald scientist played by Peter Sarsgaard. He has the most interesting plot in the story… at least before he became horribly ugly. Something that didn't jive with me is the casting of his character's father. IMDB states that Peter is 40 while his movie dad is 52.

There's a bunch of plot weirdness in the film which can be overlooked if you don't attempt to think about it. That's pretty standard fare in genre films though. For example, Ryan Reynolds got teleported to a dock/beach and discovers an alien/ alien ship and calls his best friend to pick him up.  His best friend knows about the alien, a magical ring, and a lantern. In the next scene Ryan Reynolds is all alone in his house playing with the ring. Why would the best friend, being a scientist, not want to investigate the ring with Ryan Reynolds? Didn't make sense.

Another example is the prison of Parallax. So this guy can destroy whole worlds and actually wants to dominate and rule the entire universe. He was defeated… but not killed. I wouldn't want to have a threat like that alive, so there better be a reason for not killing it. Anway, the galactic council decided to put this galactic evil on a remote asteroid with security so lame that three dudes in space suits accidentally freed it by stepping on the surface of the asteroid. The deaths of billions are on you, immortal guardians of the universe. Oh, and I love the intro scene where the three aliens were calling for help in an alien language (subtitled), but when Parallax starts to escape, he was speaking English. I understand that the Green Lantern Rings have translator capabilities. That's cool. Why was Parallax speaking in English? They could have avoided the problem entirely if the three aliens were speaking English at the start too. Eh.


Green Lantern isn't bad. There are a couple of laughs in the film. There's some clunky dialogue. There's some neat visuals. In the end, it isn't as deep as 'The Dark Knight" nor as entertaining as "The Green Hornet". Just some mediocre superhero film.



12 June 2011

Super 8 Review.

Seems like JJ Abrams have been getting involved in a lot of movies and television shows recently. Alias. Lost. Fringe. Alcatraz (upcoming). He's also done a couple blockbuster movies. Mission: Impossible 3, Cloverfield, Star Trek.
One thing that Abrams brought from Star Trek: The Star Trek was the lens flare. Film makers in the past dread the lens flare. They believe that it brings the audience out of the film whenever a lens flare pops up in a shot. I'm convinced that Abrams intentionally put lens flares in the film. Super 8 ends on a lens flare. Ugh.

Super 8 is about a group of kids trying to make a movie amidst some chaos in the town. If you've seen the trailer then you can predict all of the major beats in the film. The story felt like an amalgamation of different genre films that ultimately didn't mesh into a satisfying resolution. Evil Government and Evil Military trying to do evil while the a Heroic Scientist (with the help of some kids) stops them. There's another layer of personal story beneath that about accepting loss. The moral is that life sometimes suck and that accidents happen so let the pain/resentment/guilt/necklace/whatever go. Let it go and move on with your life.

The teen actors in this film are good. They acted exactly how kids should act; They were annoying. The female lead (Elle Fanninng) was good but not spectacular.

Overall, Super 8 isn't a great film. The story was mediocre. The visual effects are about what a modern film should have. I don't think I've gained any valuable insight into humanity, or lost any brain cells by viewing this movie. It was entertaining while on but it's just an average movie without anything that's overwhelmingly positive or negative.

Super 8? More like Super 6/10

Spoiler Warning / Other Observations

I can't believe that the military (bad guys) are portrayed as such dum dums.
1) It took them four days to realize that an evacuation is probably a good idea. They knew that the monster was free the moment that the train was derailed. They should have evacuated the town the next day citing some sort of chemical spill.
2) Why would the military ship the Magic Metal back to the town in trucks? If they were intending to study the material, they probably shouldn't send it to the exact place of the monster. That just sounds like a bad idea.
3) How bad do you have to be to let a stoner and four kids get away from a refuge centre? Keep in mind that the Military knows that the Heroic Scientist had accomplices that was filming the night the train crashed. Also, let's assign only one (high ranking) guy to guard a military prisoner. Can't afford to get grunts to stand outside of the prison cell. Nope, that wouldn't make sense.

4) I liked that the monster magic metal bullshit only magnetized selective things. It didn't grab numerous other vehicles that still had people. It didn't suck in braces kid's braces. I saw tons of metal still lying around everywhere, but I guess that the magic metal ship only takes what the magic metal ship needs.

5) Hey guys, did you know that the movie is set in the past? Technology in the past used to be all huge and clunky! You didn't know that huh! Well, walkmans are the latest in technology. Stop.
The audience knows its the past. Please stop trying to spell everything out. I don't want a character to say that such and such is a Walkman and that it's the latest in technology... and that it plays cassettes. Just put it in the device in the scene. No need to explain it. Kids can figure it out.

03 June 2011

X-Men: First Class Review

It is easy to write about bad films. Great films are difficult to write about. Much easier to say that a film is bad because of plot hole X and logical fallacy Y. It's also a lot more fun to trash a movie.

This X-Men prequel is less about the First Class and more about the story of Charles and Erik. If you have had exposure to the franchise's history, then you know the basic storyline of the film.

Erik (Magneto) was raised/taken into a Fun Camp during World War 2. When the Nazis discovered his ability, they performed experiments on him. Erik believes that the rest of humanity will try to control, enslave, and exterminate mutant kind. Charles grew up in America (and miraculously retains an English accent) far away from the atrocities of man. He believes that mutants and humans can share the future and co-exist in harmony. Despite the ideological difference, Charles and Erik became Best Friends once they grew up while working on a mission for the CIA. After the mission, Magneto and Professor Xavier are put on opposite sides and sets up the status quo for future installments (hopefully).

The story is pretty hard to mess up and I'm glad that they didn't. The origins of Magneto is forever tied to the Holocaust just like Captain America with World War 2. It would have been disastrous to have changed anything.

I feel that the 'First Class' parts didn't really mesh well in the film as they didn't appear until the 60ish minute mark. This film is 130 minutes long and they had plenty of time to at least give the remaining characters a little depth. I'm sure comic enthusiasts would have gotten more out of those characters but I barely know any of them.

The only big criticism I have about First Class is all the constant 'winking' at the viewer with references. SPOILER ALERT. During the film Charles attaches some electrodes onto his skull to tap into Cerebral. "It works better if you are bald." "I'm not shaving my hair."  Charles becomes paralyzed from the waist down at the end of the film, and he's all like 'well at least I'm not bald'. Ugh. "We should give ourselves some cool man nicknames. I'm Mystique, what about you?" " Oh I'm like a Banshee because I can do this." wink "I cause a lot of Havok" wink wink "Hey you should have a cool name like Professor X and you should be called Magneto." wink wink "Even I've got to admit you're kind of a BEAST now."  Fuck you writers. We don't need you to throw in names like that. It didn't feel natural at all. The audience can figure out which characters are which if they really cared. I can't forget about the big one. "Oh we're still working along side the G-Men." "No you need to stay independent. You don't work for the G-Men. You're now an X-Men." Fuuuck.

There's also some really bad trope-y dialogue. Charles: "They were only following orders". Erik: "THE LAST TIME I HEARD THAT THEY KILLED SIX MILLION JEWS. NEVER AGAIN."

Anyway, this film doesn't really jive with the established film franchise, but that can be easily forgiven since the later films have been terrible. I understand that this is supposed to be the start of a new trilogy of films. I hope that the sequels don't falter like the last X-men trilogy.

X-Men: First Class won't win any awards in the writing department, but is well produced and well acted. Definitely solid entertainment.

09 May 2011

I want this back in Vancouver.

63.42Mbps down, 67.71 Mbps up.
This is the internet speed in the new apartment in Aflong aflong kong.

30 March 2011

Sucker Punch Review.

"There was a time when reading wasn't just for fags. And neither was writing. People wrote books and movies. Movies with stories, that made you care about whose ass it was and why it was farting. And I believe that time can come again." - Joe Bowers, Idiocracy.

I was genuinely excited for Sucker Punch when I heard that Zack Snyder, director for 300 and The Watchmen, was doing a triple (writing, producing, directing) for this film. Girl gets put in an insane asylum and has to escape before she gets lobotomized by her stepfather after her inheritance. It sounded like the perfect vehicle to tell a visually engaging story. Unfortunately the film does not deliver.

Sucker Punch was boring. That's the cardinal sin of movie making. I struggled to find why I wasn't engaged in the film. Hot looking chicks kicking ass in a beautifully rendered world. I really shouldn't have been bored. I came to the realization that I didn't care about any of the main characters. Sucker Punch is similar to the movie within Idiocracy. There's an ass on the screen that farts for 2 hours.

Spoilers ahead

The film starts in the 'real world' when Baby Doll's evil stepfather (presumably) murdered Baby Doll's mother for inheritance. Turns out the mom left everything to her two daughters. Angered, the stepfather decides to go and molest Baby Doll, but when Baby Doll fights back, he goes after the younger daughter. Baby Doll gets a gun and fires at the step-dad, but she misses and hits a light-bulb. The shrapnel from the light bulb apparently kills the younger sister. The stepfather puts her in an insane asylum and pays Blues, the orderly, to arrange for her to be lobotomized. This will happen in five days. The film then does a cool-guy montage and skips to day 5 when she is getting lobotomized. Wait a second. We are suddenly placed inside of a whore house where the mental patients are now suddenly whores. The Insane Asylum runned by Blues is now a Burlesque owned by Blues. In this second world, Baby Doll's virginity will be sold to the "High Roller" in five days. She intends to escape before that happens. She is joined by two sisters named Sweet Pea and Rocket, and two interchangeable characters named Amber and Blondie.

At every major plot point, Baby Doll goes into a third world that is filled with CGI. Once there, she and her team fights demonic statues, Nazis, dragons, and robots to fetch an item that will help them escape. Things go wrong for some of the characters so that in the end only two girls remain. Baby Doll chooses to sacrifice herself so the last girl can escape. That's why she gets lobotomized. At the end we see that events in the Burlesque world pretty much all happened. Blues, the main antagonist of the movie, gets what he deserves.

So, why didn't I care about half the scenes in this movie? Let's start with the third tier worlds. They are entirely formulaic. The characters are briefed by a 'Wise Man' who tells them what they need to do for the mission. They then do the mission. There's absolutely no jeopardy in these scenes because we see these girls do absolutely unrealistic moves. When the robot Nazi punched one of the girls, she was fine. When the girls fall from a plane 200 feet high, they were fine. Once it is clear that the characters won't get hurt at all and that they would (probably) obtain the object that they need, I lost all interest.

Another problem is that the third tier worlds are supposed to represent them doing something in the Burlesque world. For example, one girl is supposed to lift a lighter off of a fat guy. In the dream world, they're fighting dragons and hordes of monsters for magic stones that can create fire. It feels like there's such a huge disconnect between world two and world three that I couldn't care. What does it mean when the bridge fell in the dragon world? What do the monsters mean? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Five seconds in the burlesque world is stretched into 10-15 minutes in the cgi worlds.

"A while ago I had written a script for myself and there was a sequence in it that made me think, 'How can I make a film that can have action sequences in it that aren't limited by the physical realities that normal people are limited by, but still have the story make sense so it's not, and I don't mean to be mean, like a bulls--t thing like Ultraviolet or something like that... It's as crazy as anything else that I have ever done. It's a movie that nobody can get made with the ending that it has and the subject matter." - Zack Snyder

I think that's where the main problem lies. The plot was just a vehicle to have these action scenes and those scenes are in a reality where the characters can't really get hurt. Having the burlesque world just puts another barrier to my caring for the movie. I'm not even looking at what 'actually' happens. The real version to the story is similar to the burlesque but with minor differences. So if what I'm looking at isn't what actually happened, why would I care about the events in burlesque world? I don't. What does dancing mean in the burlesque world? Heck if I know. What happened in the real world when Blues shot/raped those girls? How can an orderly have that much power?

What's the solution? Merge the insane asylum with the burlesque world. They're similar enough that the story doesn't have to change much at all. Have Baby Doll take some 'medication' which causes her to imagine the world around her as a burlesque. Have characters/elements phase back and forth from their counterparts in the two world. It would have been interesting visually at least.

This film is bad. Easily one of the worst films I've seen this year. I'd rather re-watch The Last Airbender than see this again. The CGI fights are good, but becomes meaningless. It is like watching someone play a video-game with god mode turned on. Cool man you just killed all them monsters, congratulations on your hard work.

Possible Plot hole: Why didn't Baby Doll just tell the female psychiatrist that Blues was planning on forging her signature to lobotomize? Baby Doll was present when Blues and the stepfather were talking about it. That's why she was planning the escape. The least she could have done was raise the concern to the psychiatrist that she doesn't want to be lobotomized and maybe the psychiatrist can stop it. Can anyone explain?

3 out of 10

22 March 2011

Supernatural (Anime) Episode 1+2.

The Alter Ego

This series starts with a creepy man sharpening a knife. There’s a woman tied up in the background. The old man claims to be her husband ‘Zack’ and promptly stabs her thirteen times.

Next, we finally see Sam and Dean driving the Impala talking about the case. Apparently the murderer could be in two places at once, and there have been cases like this in the past two years. Doesn’t take much to realize that the old man is a shape shifter. (I much prefer skinwalker like in the original show.)

Anyway, Sam and Dean, and the hot female detective of the week visits the scene of the crime. The female accidentally cuts her finger on the door frame. (THIS IS IMPORTANT) The female establishes that she was a friend of the murdered wife from the start. The two brothers find a trail of blood leading to the sewers. Sam asks “How can he leave a trail of blood like this?” I want to know how the cops missed this.

The brothers head to the sewers to pursue Zack. They get ambushed by the shape shifter. Sam wakes up tied up and sees the shapeshifter Dean.  It isn’t the real Dean because the real Dean just received a shoulder injury. Through the power of exposition, FakeDean says that he resents Sam had a normal life while he had to hunt with Dad who leaves without a word. When FakeDean leaves announcing his plan to attack the hot female, real Dean wakes up. He frees himself and slings around on his injured shoulder as if it wasn’t injured. I guess that plot point wasn’t important huh. 

Real Dean goes to the female’s apartment. Turns out the shape shifter kidnapped her and took her form. Dean identifies this by the lack of a cut on her finger. She escapes. 

Sam and Dean drives on the road when suddenly Dean pulls a gun onto Sam while driving on a busy highway. “I know you’re not Sam. You think I don’t know my own brother?” Sam claims that Dean is the fake. They fight each other (while the car is still going) but Sam ultimately gets the gun.
At this point, we see realSam walk into a busy highway holding his gun towards the Impala. He fires and the car dramatically stops inches away from hitting realSam. fakeSam shape shifter is dead. The story effectively ends here.

I’m just aghast at the thought of Dean deciding to out fakeSam while driving on a busy road. That’s not even the worst crime. He decided to have a conversation while holding a gun to fakeSam’s face while driving. This is a level of stupid that I can’t handle. It wasn’t like Dean was trying to press for information. All he says is that he knows Sam is a fake and that he knows he’s a shapeshifter. You could be doing that while parked or inside the hotel. Instead he needlessly endangers the rest of the people on the road by pulling this stunt.

Why is RealSam on the highway miles away from the building anyway? How did he know that the Impala was coming when the road is completely packed? It doesn’t make sense. 

As a pilot, the Live Action version is much, much better. It was able to set up the story in terms of the Yellow-Eye Demon / backstory more coherently. Here, we get flashes of scenes that will probably be explained in future episodes. One of the strengths of Supernatural is the ability to explain the actions or motivations of the monsters in a realistic way. What was the shapeshifter’s plan? Torment women? He left the Female alive. What was his plan in the apartment when he was acting like her? At no point in the story am I able to see a rational plan from the shapeshifter. The original show had the benefit of using 42 minutes to tell the story so I guess it is only fair I view the next episode too.


There’s not much to say here. The episode is almost an exact remake of the episode Roadkill from Season 2, Episode 16. I just want to comment that Dean is a terrible driver. Once again he swerves and almost hits a target. At one point Sam says that the most important thing is to take Molly away from the forest. Sam and Dean then continue to explore the haunted house. Good going, Sam
In the original, there was an accident which occurred 15 years ago. Molly accidentally kills Greely with her car. She also died. Greely’s wife was so distraught that she commits suicide after burying Greely. It is a custom for folks to plant a tree with the dead. Similar thing happens in the anime except that there’s multiple photographs of (an adult) tree. Sam comments on one photo and that’s how they realize where the body is buried. But wait a minute, how can there be photos of an adult tree when it was planted fifteen years ago? That means that Mrs. Greely must have stuck around for years after her husband died. Her suicide must have been recent. Unfortunately, the appearance of Mrs. Greely’s ghost matches the ones before her husband died. This means that she killed herself soon after. What if she did survive for years? This wouldn’t make sense because for the last 14 years, she would have seen Molly run through the woods into her cabin asking for help. What’s going on here?

Another change in the story is that Mrs. Greely also haunts the road after her suicide. At one point she drags Molly into the river and tries to choke her out. Sam jumps into the river to try and save her while Dean disposes of the body. Why would Sam jump into the river to save a ghost from a ghost? When Mrs. Greely is destroyed, he showed concern over Molly telling her to breathe. I want to make it clear that Sam knows that she’s a ghost. Molly’s a ghost. She can’t die again. She doesn’t even breathe.
David (Molly’s husband) mentions in the anime that she was cremated. According to the lore, cremated bones can’t have ghosts. Ugh.

After the credits of the episode, Sam freaks out and we see a tease into the history of the characters.

Bottom Line.
I’m not impressed with the anime. While Jared Padalecki reprises the voice of Sam Winchester, Dean is portrayed by an other actor. I think having only half the cast actually makes it worse. I don’t want to be reminded that Dean isn’t actually Dean. :/ I feel like if they spent any time reviewing the show that they would realize the mistakes in lore or logic.