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.

13 March 2011

Battle: Los Angeles Review.



The movie is focused on US Marine Staff Sargeant Gantz (played by the incredibly handsome Aaron Eckhart aka Harvey Dent). He's a veteran soldier who has commanded a few too many soldiers to their deaths from no-win situations. Gantz filed for retirement but he's been called for active duty because of the invasion. He's assigned to a unit with an officer that's fresh from the academy. (Commissioned officers are higher ranked than enlisted people.) The unit has been ordered to retrieve some civilians in an area which is about to be blown up. They have to race against the clock to rescue these people while fighting alien foot soldiers. Good people died from impossible situations and the fresh officer freezes up. Gantz gave a motivating speech to the officer. It doesn't matter if they are ordered to go left or to go right. They will follow orders as long as it is made. Gantz makes an addendum later in the film that there are no-win scenarios where left and right both lead to good men dying. The unit finds civilians and helps them escape while discovering that each alien force is commanded by a 'command centre'. If this Command Centre was destroyed, then all of their machines would stop functioning. Wow. more heroic sacrifices are made and in the end they win.

The Aliens in this film are unusual. They arrive on Earth via disguised meteor-spaceships crashing into the waters near major coastal cities. Los Angeles, Tokyo, and New York are just three out of twenty such ships. Immediately, ground soldiers pour out of these vessels and start murdering people. Oh yeah, they landed in water because that's their primary fuel source. Earth is one of the rare places in the universe where water is predominately in liquid form. I didn't think it would be too hard to melt some asteroids or to melt an ice planet. The aliens are able to survive in 'Earth temperatures' so unless frozen water makes powering their ships uneconomical, its just kinda weird to expend all of this alien-power (and potential casualties) for slightly warmer water.

Aliens have been tracking us for years according to behind-the-scenes material. They know what kind of technology we use and are able track us using our radios. They've abducted our people and know of our weak spots (anyplace where the flesh is soft). Here are some simple mistakes that future alien invaders should follow if they want to successfully invade Earth.

1) Make more than one robot/equipment that can function as a command centre. Let's call this a 'backup command centre'. You know, just in case your command centre gets blown up, or has a slight power outage. Redundancy is good.

2) Make it so your robots don't fall out of the sky without active commands being sent. Modern designs for robots that explore planetary bodies in our solar system has to work with something called a "Time Delay". Although radio signals travel as fast as the speed of light, the distances across space is so huge that it'll take about a second to travel from the Earth to the Moon. It can take tens of minutes to travel from Earth to Mars (depending on orbit). It is impossible for us to constantly control the mars rovers from Earth. Not with a 10 minute delay. By the time we receive the result of the commands we send, thirty minutes would have passed. Not easy to drive a car that way.  The robots are designed to be able to interpret the surrounding areas and make intelligent navigational decisions. So why is it that the 'drones' in this movie just fall down when the command ship is destroyed? It makes absolutely no sense. I can understand that they might go into an automatic shutdown mode, where they'll slowly land on the ground. It's like the alien drones are 100% controlled by the command ship 100% of the time. That's ugh.

3) Destroy all of the (major) military bases around the world. It isn't hard. Go on wikipedia and search for military bases. Launch nukes (or whatever cleaner equivalent the aliens might have) and you will take away 90% of the resistance.

4) Destroy the Earth's power grid. Unless they're going to tap into our power plants, this seems like a no-brainer to me. It would disrupt communication and make survival a bit tougher for humans. Oh yeah, getting rid of the power grid would have stopped the army from discovering your secret base. Good job Aliens.

5) Put more armor on your alien cannon. So during the film the aliens bring out a cannon the size of a ride-able lawnmower. Literally took two burst of machine gun fire to destroy it. The cannon also had to be (hover) pushed around. To be honest, the weapon didn't seem that much more destructive than their own laser/blaster weapons.

6) Use the magical boring machines to your advantage. They were able to bury a ten story tall command centre in the middle of the city without disrupting the ground near it. (The asphalt breaks near it when the machine became erect.) Why not use the same machine to tactfully move the only command centre away from the combat zone? Naw, let's have it crawl out of the ground so everyone can see it and it becomes more exposed to aircraft fire. IF YOU KEPT THE BUILDING UNDER THE GROUND (and made them think it was destroyed), THE US AIRFORCE WON'T TARGET IT SOME MORE. THEY WOULD THINK YOU HAD SOME SORT OF REDUNDANT BACKUP COMMAND CENTRE.

7) Defend your command centre better. If your entire operation hinges on keeping one structure intact, I think it might be important to make sure that the structure stays intact.  This means having enough troops to fight off any human intruders. It means having aircrafts that can kill five soldiers on the ground. I guess they did kill one soldier with the four dozen aliens that were sent. Good kill ratios.

So, what did I think of the movie? I don't dislike it. I feel like the aliens are designed to fail just so humans can face a technologically advance force and still win. I wouldn't have minded if humans lost in this film. Like any good military film, the soldiers are presented as heroes who would obey their DUTY to SAVE LIVES and SUPPORT FREEDOM. It gets a little heavy handed at times. I enjoyed it on a visual level. There's just too many tiny details that are dumb for me to really dig the movie. If I were to place a numerical score to the film, it would be around a 6/10

11 March 2011

Tsunami. We're all gonna die.

Well, maybe not me. Two things.
1) Vancouver Island is a pretty good shield.
2) Richmond will get sunk :(

We're just getting a tsunami advisory, which isn't supposed to be a big deal.