Dec 24 2009

Avatar

It’s been around 24 hours since I have seen Avatar.  I have let it percolate in my head and I have also had the chance to to hash out some of my thoughts with fellow geeks.  What follows will be spoiler heavy so if you haven’t seen it yet and don’t wish to know anything then stop reading.

First I’ll start with my gripes.

One of the biggest annoyances in the movie was the lack of any character development for the villains.  They were all just evil dudes who were bent on destruction no matter the cost.  In the case of Col. Quaritch he was just a Marine that was hell bent on kicking ass and killing whomever, or whatever, was in his way.  Understandable but he was like a person devoid of any human emotions who seemed to hate the Na’Vi for no apparent reason.  If he was the only person in the movie like that I would let it slide.  However, virtually all the Marines (except for two) in the movie were also one-dimensional characters devoid of any moral compass or any semblance of a human emotion.  I find it hard to believe that out of the thousands of people there 99.9% of them were completely on board with massacreing the aliens just because they wanted to get some unobtainium (stupid name btw).  Besides I don’t think there is a need for anymore stereotyping of Marines as crazy, evil whack-a-doos.  There was just too much black and white in the movie, and rarely were there any shades of grey–morally speaking.

Secondly, I get the whole allusions to slavery and the plight of the American Indians, but it was a bit much.  Actually it wasn’t even an allusion it was pretty much a straight up comparison to the westward expansion of the United States.  The unobtainium is gold, and the Marines are the evil frontiersman who murdered and pillaged their way across the west.  Now is not the time for a moral or historical debate about that time period.  What bugged me was the ham-fisted attempt to wed that time period with the modern one.  Throwing in phrases like “shock and awe” and “fight terror with terror” took me out of the movie momentarily.  I get it you’re against the Iraq War, slavery, and westward expansion.  Good to know, but unfortunately it was all shoe-horned into the story.  Plus there are other movies that have done a better job with those themes–namely Return of the Jedi.  The ending of both movies is basically the same.  The peace loving simple people defeat the technologically superior, but moralistically inferior people–except in Avatar there is the added element of a Deity that interjects and helps out.

Ok now you may think that with all that griping and complaining that I hated the movie, but if you thought that you’d be wrong.  Watching this movie I got the same feeling I got when I watched Jurassic Park, Star Wars, or Terminator 2.  This movie is a game-changer.  All the work that was done by ILM over the years in creating digital sets and characters was put to spectacular use in Avatar.  The interaction movie is virtually seamless in blending all the real with the digital.  Watching this movie totally blew my mind.  (And despite my gripes with the story, the story was actually pretty good.  There is a decent and simple plot line to follow, there’s a bit of a love story, and there are some moral themes that could have been powerful if I wasn’t beaten over the head with them.) The 3D was great because it wasn’t a gimmick.  The characters weren’t breaking the fourth wall trying to engage the audience.  There wasn’t an overabundance of spears, vehicles, or whatever coming directly at the camera.  Instead the 3D was used as a way to create a more immersive environment.  Pandora felt more real.  There was more depth to the world, and this helped to draw you in.  This is how these technologies were meant to be used.  I finish by restating what I’ve already said.  The movie is a game changer, and it must be seen in 3D.  This movie should become a blueprint for how 3D and CGI should be used to create new immersive worlds.  If it does and other directors keep improving it then there should be a lot of exciting movies in the future.  It’ll be amazing to see where this all leads too.  So if I was going to give this movie a grade I would say it’s a solid 95%, so go see it now.


Feb 16 2009

Mr. Magness’ Top TV Picks

Here is the last (for now) of Mr. Magness’ guest posts, with his best TV picks of the last year.  Since I watch more TV than I do movies I will also add in a couple of my top picks at the end.

1. The Presidential Debates/Election with the Daily Show Commentary

Just like back in 2000 and 2004 Daily Show seems to cover politics the best throughout every Presidential Election. This year Jon Stewart and “The Best F*#@ing News team” would just tear any candidate a new one with great insight and impressive wit. It is great to have people like Jon Stewart around to call bullshit on everyone and anyone in the public spotlight who make fools of themselves. As a government teacher it is nice after reading and watching news all day from CNN, the Post, and our local paper to watch the Daily Show and get more truth then the rest combined. I can’t wait for 2012.

http://www.thedailyshow.com/

2. Summer Heights High

If the election had not happened this year this show would have easily been my number one new show of the year. This show is shot like the Office in documentary style and tells the story of three people at an Australian High School, Summer Heights High. Chris Lilly plays all the main characters to perfection and is the creator of the show. The characters are Mr. G (director of performing arts), Jonah (Puck you, Miss) and Ja’mie (Hot AIDS nurse). I put this show as amazing as Arrested Development and The Office on rewatchablity and just pure genius. From the moment you meet the characters you don’t even realize they are all played by the same actor. Lilly has an amazing story line and I hope we will see a lot more of him in the upcoming years.

http://www.hbo.com/summerheightshigh/

3. How I Met Your Mother

It amazes how much I have fallen in love with this show over the course of three years. A couple years back Brooke’s brother Paul told us about this sitcom and how it was on before Two and a Half Men. Now I HATE/LOATHE Two and a Half Men and believed any show that is on near it would suck just as bad but this show has blossomed into one of the funniest and wittiest shows on TV today. I equate this to being a more modern FRIENDS type show with better story telling and better inside jokes. The story is based on a father telling his kids about the events leading up to how he met their mom but the show is much more then that. Also Peter Segal (Freaks and Geeks) and Neil Patrick Harris (Doogie Howser) are absolutely amazing and funny. Free episodes are after the link…

http://www.cbs.com/primetime/how_i_met_your_mother/

4. The Office & 30 Rock

These 2 shows are put together as one for a very good reason…This is the best hour of television on every week. These comedies keep getting better every year and now 30 Rock is getting the acclaim it deserves. Alec Baldwin and Tracy Morgan are so funny and Tina Fey has really come into her own as an actress on the show. But The Office is no slouch either when it comes to comedy brilliance. Steve Carell is still up their as one of the best around because of his performance as Michael Scott. I wish he would be able to win some more awards for his spot on impression of stupidity with heart. What makes both these shows great is that they always live up to the hype that surround them every single Thursday.

http://www.nbc.com/30_Rock/

http://www.nbc.com/The_Office/

(Because I am not a big fan of Alec Baldwin I refrained from watching 30 Rock so I have to thank Mr. Magness for enriching my life by almost forcing me to watch 30 Rock with his constant praise of the show.  So thanks, now it’s one of my favorite shows and I can’t believe I wasn’t watching it.  And I am starting to come around on Alec Baldwin.)

5. Lost

This show will always be in my top ten because it is the best drama on television every single year. If you have already tried to watch LOST and it wasn’t for you then there is not much I can say to convince other then YOU ARE MISSING THE BEST SHOW IN THE HISTORY OF TELEVISION.PERIOD. (then why isn’t #1 you ask..because they make me wait 7 months at a time for a new season)

http://abc.go.com/primetime/lost/index?pn=index

(I watched the first and part of the second season of this show and quit after I realized it was a pointless endeavor.  In my opinion JJ Abrams is the hackiest hack in hackdom.  I really hate his stuff and I refuse to watch anything that he is the creative force behind.  I have so many issues with him and his shows but recounting them would take too much time and is not the topic of this post.)

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Dec 19 2008

I Did It!!

A wise man once said “Marty, if you put your mind to it you can accomplish anything.” Those wise words were my guide today when I embarked on my latest Herculean effort: watching the Star Wars Holiday Special. I had always heard the stories about this epically terrible show, and I thought that I would never get the chance to see it. However, this afternoon when I woke up from my beer induced coma, I hopped on my computer to see what was new in the world. One of my stops was Lady VoIP’s newest blog entry, in which she talked about a virtual Christmas. One of the links she posted caught my eye as it was a site that had 101 Christmas videos. Like a lightning bolt to the brain I immediately thought that there was no way they could have that many videos and not have the Star Wars Holiday Special, and as it turned out #100 was my lucky number.

WTF???

I really couldn’t believe my luck there it was–the missing link. I had to see it and since it was snowing outside I decided that there was no time like the present. To be fair I knew it was supposed to be bad I just didn’t know how bad it was going to be. The first ten minutes of the show was so mind-numbingly excruciating that I had to stop watching and take a break. How bad was it? Ten minutes of watching an inside glimpse of the everyday occurrences of your typical Wookie family. While that was bad enough the make-up, special effects, and really every aspect of it was of the absolute worst quality. It also looked like they scavenged some of the terrible footage that went unused from A New Hope, and some clips looked like they were taken directly from the ANH and reused. On top of all this there was no talking for ten minutes, unless you can call RRRWWWWGGGRR RAAAAWRRR GRRRAAAWWWWRRGG talking. This was the first time I thought about giving up, but the wise words of George McFly helped me to continue on, and thank god I kept going otherwise I would have missed out on all of the greatness that was awaiting me.

WTF???

Where's The Zipper?

For the entirety of the show I was unable to watch more than fifteen minutes without taking some kind of break to keep my brain from leaking out of my ears. I can’t even put into words how much of an abomination this show is. Let me see if I can attempt to explain how terrible it was. First off the story is dreadful and I’m not even sure what the fuck the story is. It has something to do with Chewbacca going home, and with some talisman that we only see for about ten seconds, and then it becomes irrelevant. Nothing made sense throughout though because the structure and presentation was god-awful. It seems like in every scene they only did one take, and no matter how bad it was they kept it. It’s about now where you are probably asking “why the fuck did you keep watching then?” I will tell you why. You know how some movies are so bad that they transcend their badness and become good? Well that’s not this show at all; it is in an entirely different stratosphere. It is soo bad that it is hysterical. I laughed so freaking hard I drooled on myself. This hilarity comes with a price though–namely retardation. Seriously my brain still feels addled and it has been hours since I finished watching it.

Back Off Sukka!!

Back Off Sukka!!

One of the only redeeming factors of the whole thing was the cartoon that just abruptly shows up in the middle of the show, and like the show it doesn’t really make much sense but the significance of the cartoon is that it is the first appearance of Boba Fett. Despite the absurdity of this show somehow Boba Fett still retains a modicum of coolness. Another highly hilarious moment was when Chewbacca’s kid, Lumpy (seriously who the fuck thought of that name), starts crying. After watching that scene I couldn’t stop laughing for about ten minutes. Some of the most heinous parts of the show include their attempts to bring “celebrities” into the show via some weird TV like thing. I could have done without Bea Arthur, Jefferson Starshit, or that stupid stupid cooking show. Seriously my mind is still spinning from the incomprehensibility of the whole show. As bad as it was I feel like I accomplished something by sticking with it and watching the whole entire thing. It’s like some zen thing where you cleanse your mind by enduring trials and tribulations. That’s how I feel now, and also half-retarded but maybe that’s just part of the zen experience. So with all that being said go watch it–if you dare. If you can make it through the first ten minutes then you should be impressed with your mental resolve. It’s seriously a once in a lifetime experience. On a side note I want whatever drugs George Lucas was on when he agreed on the creation of this Frankenstein.

Update – 12:17

Liskid hooked up a more complete video over on Google video.

Check out Philippe for America’s take on it here.

(Thanks to starwarsholidayspecial.com for the pics.)


Sep 14 2008

The Schwartz Returns

Next week the new Spaceballs: The Animated Series will premiere on G4 TV.   And just to sweeten the pot both Mel Brooks and Daphne Zuniga will be returning to lend their voices.  It’s curious that Bill Pullman and Rick Moranis aren’t reprising their roles, seeing as they haven’t been busy for, oh, about 10 years.  Here’s a clip from the episode Spidermawg (half man, half dog, and half spider), now go set your DVR’s to record.


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Jul 26 2008

The Dark Knight

Why so serious?

So I finally got around to seeing The Dark Knight the other day, and I’m not going to bore you with another cookie-cutter review.  Besides this movie is all over the news, and it’s making money hand over fist, so you have to be living under a rock, under another rock, to not know that this movie is great.  What I do want to talk about is how solid this movie was from top to bottom, and some of the themes that were weaved in that really impressed me.  You can take any movie that has come out this year–whether a dramatic, action, or otherwise–and The Dark Knight will match up to any of them.

This has to be one of the top comic book movies that has ever been made, and I think what surprised me the most was how deep the movie ended up being.  Comics have always been fairly deep, and have always been a form of social commentary.  As of late this has been translated into the movies better.  From here on out I’m going to talk about some of the specifics of the movie so if you haven’t seen it then don’t make the jump.

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Jul 25 2008

The Truth Is Out There??

I hope you can see this, because I'm doing it as hard as I can.

Ok in honor of the X-Files coming out this week, I am going to post this story via AICN.  This is a conversation between Dr. Edgar Mitchell, a former Apollo 14 astronaut, and someone from Kerrang radio, in which Mitchell claims that aliens exist, and that the government has been covering it up for 60 years.  Cool stuff or maybe the ramblings of a Professor Farnsworthesque crazy scientist.  Who knows maybe walking on the moon for over 9hrs just completely makes a person insane, or maybe he has seen shit that we only think exists in the X-Files.  Story here, and more news coverage here, here, here, and here, if you’re interested.


Jul 24 2008

Spaced

So last night I couldn’t sleep, and I had just finished watching the X-Files.  I started flipping around looking for something good to watch when I stumbled onto an episode of Spaced on BBC-America.  Now let me preface what I am about to say by asking did you like Shaun of the Dead or Hot Fuzz?  If the answer was a yes (probably a resounding yes, because those two movies are money) then you really should check out Spaced.  So what is it?  Well it is a TV Show from the same team that did Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz.  It is obviously a British show, and it is hilarious.  (I’m not one of those people that believes that British TV is so much superior to American, because it isn’t.  I do like the British Office, but I also like the American one, and I think Jim and Dwight are way better in the American version.)  There are many reasons why Spaced is a great show; foremost amongst them is that Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg, Jessica Hynes, and Nick Frost have great chemistry on screen.  They are all also great writers who know the audience that they are writing for.  Unfortunately there are only two seasons totaling 14 episodes so it is a short lived series, but it packs a huge punch.  I have seen the series a few times myself, and all the episodes are jam-packed with tons of laugh out loud moments.  So do yourself a favor and check out the show on Netflix or just buy it.  It is well worth the money.  I found a few clips on YouTube so enjoy.

Episode 1 in full


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Paintball


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The Phantom Menace


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Star Wars Ending


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Jul 22 2008

Caprica Trailer

Over the past year I have started watching the Battlestar Galactica series on SciFi, because I kept hearing about what an outstanding show it was.  The first couple seasons of the show were utterly fantastic, and really delved into some serious issues in the way that good science fiction can.  The last few seasons even though they haven’t been as good, have been great, and are still better than most of the other options on TV.  With the series finale all done, even though it won’t air until 2009, work on the prequel series Caprica is in full force.  This trailer has whetted my appetite.  Although I didn’t have too high of hopes for this new show, my opinion is now starting to change, and I am looking forward to this.  Like BG it will start off with a two hour TV movie, and then the show will pick up from there.  According to Ronald D. Moore, Caprica, will explore many of the same issues that made BG such a good show:

“Well, we’re still going to be dealing with things that are similar, in that there are still going to be issues of terrorism and security and how society should protect itself or not protect itself,” Moore said. “You know, what is the line between civil liberties and protection of the homeland? We’re still going to be dealing with a lot of those things, because they’re going to be spiraling out of certain events that happen in the pilot. And, you know, but you’re also dealing with ethical responsibilities. You’re also dealing with things like, you know, what is a person? What does it mean to be a sentient being? Does that being have rights? What are you allowed to do to something that you’ve created out in a laboratory? … Does it have a soul?”

Like I said I am now officially looking forward to this new show, and if you haven’t seen BG, you should start Netflixin’ them.  They are well worth your time.  Until then check out the Caprica trailer.


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