Tag Archives: movie

James Cameron's Avatar

I’m going to be straight with you.  It’s kind of like Ferngully mixed with Dances With Wolves and some political commentary that ended up being TOO SUBTLE.

When the phrase, “shock and awe” is uttered, I half expected the actors to pause and look at the camera with a sly nod and a wink.  Ultimately, I couldn’t decide which country they were talking about.  I thought maybe Japan, since there were giant robots in the movie.  Whichever one it is, it’s the one that apparently blows up indigenous peoples because they happen to live on some incredibly valuable natural resources.  Also, the stuff is called—and I kid you not—”Unobtanium.”

As in, they were unable to obtain a better name for it.

I guess other names such as, “Dependenceonforeignoilium,” or “Petroleumite” didn’t test well with the focus groups.  We also don’t even know what it’s used for.  All we are told is that it’s worth a lot of “cheddar.”  I mean, I don’t know if it’s a fuel source that the rest of the galaxy depends on or it’s just a metal that’s just expensive because it is fucking hard to get.

Very visually impressive, but the whole story depends so deeply on the “Mighty Whitey” trope that it’s hard to shake the feeling that you’ve seen it before.  In fact, if you’ve watched Dances With Wolves or The Last Samurai, you already know what happens to the main character in Avatar.

The only differences are the really impressive eye candy and the copious explosions.

That and the blue skinned alien love scene wherein I was starting to feel awkward when it went on for just a bit too long.

Interesting and fun to watch, I was most impressed with the wildlife in the movie.  You only get to see a few of the creatures integral to the plot, but throughout the movie you get to see various creatures running around.  The jungle of Pandora has a definite feel, it has presence.  When you watch the film and see how the fauna and the flora work together, you see that the folks behind Avatar have mapped out an entire alien ecosystem.

I’m glad that I watched the movie to see this aspect of its design.

That, and robots fighting, although that’s really only at the end of the film.

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Friday Night Frights: Dead Space, Part III

Dead Space as a social activity excels if your audience is into it.  I am going to discuss it here as an interactive movie, with the player as the cameraman and primary actor.  Imagine a movie (one like Event Horizon, Leviathan, or The Thing) where the camera actually responds to your input.

Compare the following scenarios.

Movie: While the main character is investigating a broken console, a shadow quickly flits down the hallway to the right, but the main character notice it.  Everyone yells, “What the hell was that on the right?!”  Character continues to repair broken console oblivious to their doom.

Dead Space:  While the main character is investigating a broken console, a shadow quickly flits down the hallway to the right, but the main character doesn’t notice it.  Everyone yells, “What the hell was that on the right?!”  This time, the camera turns and the actor actually investigates the hallway to the right.

The art in Dead Space plays no small part in the movie like experience. The USG Ishimura, while abandoned, is believable as a large spaceship equipped to house over a thousand people.  It has a work areas, living areas, engineering, and most importantly, a tram system and a zero G basketball court.  A shopping mall and even a virtual brothel are insinuated by advertisements that are strewn about the ship. There are trash cans and bathrooms.  Luggage is found near the flight deck but not near the mining facility.

In short, it’s a believable set.

Which is what makes it more unsettling for the audience when they find out that there doesn’t seem to be anyone on it.

If you look, really look at everything in Dead Space, the environment is telling you a story.  Literally.  The strange graffiti on the wall?  That’s all Unitology script that can be decoded because they created an alphabet for it.  Thomas Holt pointed that out to me and, I would have missed it because it was such detail.

I was avoiding Dead Space.  It came out in November of last year and I just was not sold on it.  I was done with the survival horror genre.  I had heard about it, and read favorable reviews, but then attributed those reviews to fans of Resident Evil.

Then, slowly, I was worn down by praise from people I knew and finally asked to borrow a copy from a friend.

I played three chapters on a Friday night, followed by a marathon session on Sunday because it was so compelling.  For the rest of the day on Sunday, I was accompanied by a friend of mine who was a fan of movies like Event Horizon.  She loved it not only because of the storyline, but because of the interaction and the feeling of immersion.

I’d like to see someone try, as a social experiment, playing Dead Space with an audience, a chapter a night say on a movie night.

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We have been duped

I ordered Japanese last night.

Not a big deal, but I ordered some grilled salmon, beef negimaki, some age tofu, gyoza, sukiyaki, and an order of tonkatsu.

I was splitting this with a friend while we watched Lust, Caution, via the Netflix instant queue on the xbox 360.

The food arrived earlier than expected, and I realized that we were missing the tonkatsu sauce. This realization of course, came after the delivery person had come and gone.

Tonkatsu isn’t tonkatsu without sauce.  However, it was already too late and I didn’t want to call the restaurant back for tonkatsu sauce, so we decided to make do with some barbecue sauce I had in the fridge.

It’s just as good.  In fact, I could hardly taste the difference.  I felt like I had been living a lie all these years.  All I needed was hot mustard and it would have been the same.

Oh, also, Lust, Caution has sex in it.  Just thought you should know.

Update:  I just want to talk about Lust, Caution some more.  It’s an espionage spy thriller set in Japanese occupied Shanghai.  It’s nearly three hours, but I didn’t mind, and it’s an Ang Lee film, so I’ll leave you with that.  It was somewhat controversial, and I understand that it took over 100 hours to film that ten minutes.

It is also not the “feel good movie of the year” but then I did tell you it was an Ang Lee film, so I feel you’ve been warned.

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Comic to movie

WANTED was a great book about supervillains that run the world and keep us in the dark about the real truth of our existence.

WANTED the movie on the other hand, appears to be about a secret society of assassins that run the world and keep us in the dark about the real truth of our existence.

At first glance, they seem similar, but the comic had a great edge to it that the trailer lacks.  In the comic, the main character is a villain.  There’s no greater good to his actions.  There’s a progression in his character reminiscent of Tyler Durden’s rise in Fight Club.

In the trailer, it just feels like another action movie.

We’ll see.

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I know, it's the Wachowskis

I haven’t really been excited about going to the movies lately.

By “lately,” I mean “last couple of years.”

And by “last couple of years,” I may actually mean, “a decade.”

Well, there was Serenity, but that was it.

That may change. The latest Speed Racer trailer has me pretty excited to watch the movie, for several reasons.

First is the look of the movie. It’s utilizing a lot of high quality CG which looks amazing in the trailer. The actors filmed primarily in front of a green screen, like 300, but the backgrounds and the overall “look” of the film already has me hooked. The fantastic racetracks, the cartoon look of the smoke, the speed lines, all of it point to visual direction that is updating and modernizing Speed Racer, while remaining true to the source. This could all change once the actual movie is released, but the trailer holds a bit of promise.

Second, the casting seems perfect. I remember watching the series on television, and just looking at the comparisons of the cast with the animated versions, I feel like they’re spot on. Christina Ricci as Trixie is genius. Emile Hirsch looks like Speed. John Goodman as Pops, Susan Sarandon as Mom are great choices. Even Matt Fox as Racer X. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that that monkey chimpanzee they got for Chim Chim is pretty close as well. I’m not saying that all primates look alike, but damn.

Third, I could watch Christina Ricci all day.

All in all, I would rate my excitement for the movie as, “cautiously optimistic.”

I’ve got a entirely different rating for Christina Ricci.