Monday, June 30, 2008


PIXAR is just unbelievable.  Really.  What they've managed to do is simply unprecedented.  They've come out with 9 films so far.  All have been good movies (at the worst, and brilliant at the best).  All have been blockbusters (the original Toy Story has the smallest world wide gross).

This success gives PIXAR the ability to take a risk or two.  Last summer their film was about a rat who could cook and yet they managed to make it charming (although it and A Bug's Life are definitely my two least favorite PIXAR movies).  This summer they went even further and released a film about a robot, set 700 years in the future, and that goes for long amounts of time without dialogue.  Add to all of that the fact that it has a bit of an environmental (okay, a lot of an environmental) message and you have what could easily become a disaster.

Instead, PIXAR gives us easily their best effort since The Incredibles and Finding Nemo, and possibly one that's even better then those outstanding films.

Wall-E is, in fact, by far the best movie that I've seen so far this year, and probably the best film I've seen since Zodiac last year.  It is touching, funny, smart, beautiful to look at, and above all, real.  This could be the first time that an animated movie wins Best Picture, because Wall-E is certainly of that caliber.

If you haven't seen it yet, go immediately.  It doesn't matter if you have kids who want to see it or not (for the record, they'll love it just because of how cute Wall-E and EVE are), this is truly a movie for everyone, enjoyable on multiple different levels.

Sure it's a risk to make this type of film (at times channeling 2001, to the point where one robotic character, Auto, is no doubt intentionally patterned after HAL) but when done right (as PIXAR never fails to do) you have in your hands a masterpiece that is destined to become a classic.

Until Next Time, Do yourself a favor.  Go see this movie.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Movie Reviews and More

First off, let me say how saddened I am by the death of two of the best and brightest in the world of entertainment...

George Carlin and Stan Winston
They will both be greatly missed as pioneers in two of my favorite fields, comedy and sci-fi.

Last weekend was the opening of the new Hulk movie as well as the latest from M. Night.  Here are my reviews...


So much of an improvement over the last film (Ang Lee's Hulk in 2003) that it seems like two completely different characters inspired the films.

Perhaps in a way that is true, as the inspiration for the latest incarnation of the great big green guy seems to be almost as much the 80's television show as the comic book.

Sure, Ang Lee's version had a cameo by Lou Ferrigno, this version also had a cameo by Bill Bixby (despite the fact that he's dead) and a "cameo" by the television show's outstanding theme song.  Also, at one point, Bruce Banner uses the alias David B. (on the show, the character was named David Banner).

Sure, it isn't as good a film as Iron Man was, but since Iron Man is clearly the best comic book movie ever made, it seems unfair to compare Hulk too closely with it.  As a comic book movie, it's more then adequate, and it has a lot of Hulk Smashing, and isn't that what we wanted anyway?

Add to that the fact that the CG Hulk doesn't take away from the film the way that it did 5 years ago as realistic CG characters continue to get better and better.

Bottom line is any fan of the old television show will absolutely adore this film, and anyone who just likes to see "Hulk Smash" will be equally excited by it.


I knew going in that Marky Mark's character was a science teacher, so when the movie opened with some horrendously clunky dialogue and bad acting, I naturally thought that Marky Mark was showing some awful biology video or something (after all, we've all seen those videos).

As it continued, however, I had the sinking realization that it wasn't a bad science video, but was actually the beginning of the movie.  Not a good start.

It does get better, although the dialogue stays pretty clunky throughout (although still better then Titanic, I still get chills remembering the dialogue in that movie).  There are some genuinely creepy moments towards the end of the film, very reminiscent in many ways of the Hitchcock classic The Birds.  However it takes way too long to get to those moments and unlike The Birds (or the far superior and scarier The Strangers) it doesn't use the time it takes to get to the scares to really make you care about the characters.  (Again, probably because the dialogue is so unrealistic and the acting not very strong).

Another problem I had with the movie was the cameo by M. Night.  Just like Hitch, Night has been putting himself in each of his films, and the smart audience is conditioned to wonder about when and where he will show up.  Sure, I thought his cameo in this movie was extremely clever (by far his best cameo yet), but it really distracted from the film while you were continuously wondering where and when he would appear.  Hitchcock realized this problem and began putting his cameos very early in the film to get them out of the way and distract as little as possible.  If Shyamalan plans to continue this tradition, perhaps he should think about doing the same thing.

The best parts about The Happening both happened before the movie even began in the form of me getting carded trying to buy a ticket (seriously!  Dude, I'm 30!) and The X-Files: I Want To Believe trailer playing before the movie.  It got no better after that.

Until Next Time, I've been out of town and incommunicado for over a week (hence the lateness of these reviews) and therefore I want to rewatch the BSG mid-season finale one more time before I talk about it, but let me just say....   HOLY CRAP!  AMAZING!!  I totally didn't see that coming.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

BSG Sine Qua Non & The Hub

So, it's been two episodes since I last talked about what's happening on the greatest show on television, and I have a few thoughts based on the last two episodes that I would like to share before the mid-season finale airs on Friday.

1. Lee Adama = Barack Obama

Many people throughout the years have talked about the parallels between Laura Roslin and George W. Bush, and I agree with them.  Roslin was never actually elected President by the people, which correlates to the controversy regarding Bush's right to the White House, and Roslin making decisions based on what might be a misguided faith, which again could correlate to W. and his God that is a little Old Testament for my tastes.

Well, with the move bringing Lee to the big chair on Colonial One, there are some definite parallels to Barack Obama, primarily brought out by the conversation that Lee had with Romo Lampkin (of Firefly and a season one episode of X-Files), where Lampkin accuses Lee of relying on HOPE and not having any real solutions.  I thought for a moment that Lampkin might call Apollo a Hopemonger.  Alas, the writers were not that direct, but then that's why we love them.

2. Roslin's Visions during the Jumps

I found it interesting that the visions were attempting to re-humanize Roslin.  In the past she wasn't as ruthless as she has become, and while I didn't always agree with her decisions (and certainly with how she sometimes arrived at them) I felt that she was a good choice for President given how she was a voice for the common people while The Old Man was completely out of touch with the civilian fleet.

No longer is that the case.  Roslin and the elder Adama are both coming at things from the same place (more or less) and somehow, Adama is the more human of the two.  (This of course is an interesting way to look at things, since a major theme of the series is of course about discussing exactly what it means to "be human" as often, it is the Cylons that portray this the best.)

Roslin decided to save Baltar's life and admitted her love for Adama ("About time," he says, very Han Solo of him), but I feel like she still has more to learn.  I wonder if her visions are quite done.  As idiotic as Baltar sometimes is, I feel like he is doing a good job of spreading the word of the Cylon God, who in the beginning of the series was also very Old Testament, but through Baltar has been increasingly more familiar to many of the monotheists of today, I wouldn't be too surprised if at some point Roslin finds herself a convert despite herself.

3. Caprica 6 is Pregnant?!?!?

Tigh is a Cylon, Caprica 6 is a Cylon.  The two should not be able to procreate.  Of course it is always possible that one of the guards is actually responsible for the baby inside 6, but I doubt that very much.
Way back in the beginning of the show, we were told that the reason that Cylons couldn't procreate was because they couldn't comprehend love, they needed a human to help complete them.

We've seen that often Tigh sees Caprica 6 as Ellen (his deceased wife) who, as odd as their relationship often was, he loved very much.  I'm betting that it is his love for Ellen that has allowed him to impregnate Caprica 6.

4. The Cylons are mortal

This is big, and I can't wait to see the ramifications that it has.  Cylons now can no longer resurrect.  If they die in battle they are dead forever, just like the humans against whom they fight.

This is what will lead to a final and real pact of peace between the Cylons and Humans.

My theory is that ultimately they will work together to find Earth and populate it together long before our time.
Although I was thinking the other day, wouldn't it be something if only Nicky and Hera survive and all of humanity as we know it comes from the two half-Human/half-Cylons.

5. Previews for the mid-season finale

Well, it looks like the cat's out of the bag (metaphorically speaking, not meant to represent the 6th Sense cat of Romo Lampkin) and that in the next episode at least a couple of the Final Five will become known to the fleet.  I can't wait to see what that will mean, although I dread the cliff hanger that will force us to await the last half of the last season of the greatest show on television.

Until Next Time, at least the pilot for Caprica is being filmed, meaning that we will have a little more from the BSG Universe to look forward to.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

The Strangers

While I realize that I am biased, and some might use that to discredit my review, let me say that I am being completely unbiased when I say that The Strangers (written and directed by Crowley High Grad Bryan Bertino) is the best pure horror film in decades.  It is a true and full return to the suspenseful horror that used to keep me up at night when I was younger.  Unlike what many of the so-called "horror films" of today (I'm looking at you Saw and Hostel) much of the violence actually takes place off screen, and other then one exception, the blood and gore stuff is really pretty mild.

Being biased doesn't generally lead one to jump at the scary parts, and I guarantee that there are lots of genuinely scary moments in this film, and isn't that what a horror movie is supposed to do?  Scare us?  Not gross us out with body parts being cut off (sorry Ruins, this movie is much better, not to say I didn't think you were pretty good).

Another great thing about this film is that it takes the time to allow us to get to know the characters as well as make us anticipate that first scare making that much more surprising when it happens.  And getting to know the characters makes us a little more frightened for them.

This movie also does a pretty good job of having the main characters not act too stupid the way that most horror movie characters act.  The only exception is the introduction of a third character a little of midway through the film, and although you'll probably see his fate coming a mile away due to his stupidity, it doesn't lessen the impact of the scene.

If you feel like a good scare, (and you didn't already follow my advice and see the film last weekend) make it a point to go check out The Strangers.  You won't regret it.

Until Next Time, while I'm saddened that the film didn't beat out Sex and the City, I am extremely pleased with how well it did.  Help support a fellow Crowley High School Graduate.