The Final Destination

•January 31, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Just saw The Final Destination… I’m not going to drag this out: this entry was entirely unnecessary. I mean, yeah, these movies have no lasting value to begin with, but this one is such a by-the-numbers rehashing of the previous movies it’s ridiculous. I didn’t see it in 3D, but the scenes designed to be 3D were either lame or irrelevant (a cork popping off a wine bottle? seriously?). I give this one a D+. (I -did- like the opening credits.) Box Office Mojo reports that this one made a ton of money, so I guess we can expect The Finalest Destination in the future.

I personally thought a great concept for a sequel to these movies (specifically picking up after the second one) would be this: these pesky teens have so screwed up the tapestry of fate that a butterfly effect has occurred and now people all over the state/country/world are now dying/surviving out of order. Death is whipping up rube goldbergs all over the place to try and fix things, and no one feels safe. Teenage psychic sensitives all over have to band together to somehow right the problem, which may involve sacrificing their friends. But in 3D.

There you go, someone make it so I can give that one a D+.

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Trailer for The Losers

•January 31, 2010 • Leave a Comment

New trailer out for The Losers.

This trailer does not seem very tight to me. Maybe it appeals to folks looking for a big budget version of Burn Notice, but I don’t know who those people are. Yes I do, it’s all the people waiting for the A-Team.

Those of you familiar with the comic know it was a dark and gritty action thriller, tonally like a Bourne movie, except with a team instead of one guy. This doesn’t match that at all.

That said, the casting of Chris Evans is once again so spot on it’s uncanny. I am definitely a fan.

The latest singles on Power FM – Week of 1/25/10

•January 31, 2010 • Leave a Comment

A couple of cool new songs on KVRK, and one I’m a bit meh on.

Number One Gun – Forest
This is not really my favorite. There’s a solid melody there, but for some reason the lyrics make me scratch my head a bit. I’m not really familiar with Number One Gun’s work, but this one doesn’t resonate with me.

Demon Hunter – Collapse
This song is great! I like the melody, the lyrics are solid (even if there’s a lot of repetition), and it’s got the Demon Hunter edge that sets these guys apart. I only know Demon Hunter from the couple singles in rotation on Power FM, but this track makes me want to take a look at their earlier work, and definitely keep an eye out for their new album in March.

Maj – Hill Street Blues
I wasn’t sure about this one at first, but it’s totally grown on me and I love it. This is that melodic rock-hip-hop hybrid style that I like… I thought the sound of this one was familiar so I did some research, and sure enough, DJ Maj is TobyMac’s DJ. There are definitely similarities in style, and I’m a big TobyMac fan, so there you go. If his new album is like this, I’ll have to pick it up when it comes out.

G-Force

•January 31, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Saw it this afternoon, I have a couple thoughts on it:

* It wasn’t funny enough. I got a few chuckles, but overall it feels like they went for amusing characters over jokes. Darwin, for example, is a total straight man, and Tracy Jordan’s character was more subdued than I expect. (Usually Tracy Morgan’s characters are totally infantile, but his character here, Blaster, was competent and useful.)
* The CGI was pretty good.
* The action sequences were better than I expected.
* I liked the plot twist at the end… it was formulaic, but the way they sold it was well done.
* It didn’t go overboard with the lowbrow humor… I had expected more poop and fart jokes, but they kept it to a small handful.
* Performances were average, none of the live or voice actors stood out. (Bill Nighy was fun and over the top though, as usual).
* The whole plot point of the government shutting down the operation that produced SUPER INTELLIGENT TALKING ANIMALS had to be forgiven, as it was part of the setup… but later in the movie the government was putting a great deal of effort into rounding up the critters, after they’d shown a great deal of patriotism… why the hate? Maybe I missed something while I was playing WoW 😉
* I’d watch a sequel, but holy crap, 150m reported budget?? Worldwide box office was acceptable, the film will turn a moderate profit once dvd rentals and sales come in, but if it’s that expensive a sequel is a risky proposition.

If your kids dig it, I’d say it’s a pretty solid choice for the family library… it’s a good action adventure flick for them. For the rest of us, I’d give it something along the lines of a C to C+.

The Return of Cap

•January 30, 2010 • Leave a Comment

So, um, what the heck?

Once again (one must assume), editorial mandate muddled up what should have been a pretty epic story. It was inevitable that Captain America would be back from the dead. I mean, his movie is coming out in the next year or two, and Marvel knows how to capitalize on market synergies way better than DC (IMO). It was just a matter of how and when it was going to go down. With Ed Brubaker at the helm it should be a slam dunk, right?

No, it was pretty sloppy, and his return anemic. First of all, Steve’s return was resolved with a cheesy time travel gimmick (the gun that killed him was a time gun??) I can ignore the delay on the last issue of Reborn… Bryan Hitch probably just needed a good slapping. But it’s harder to ignore the silly showdown with the Skull in the issue which was totally anticlimactic. Cap’s not in his own title (he’s off “recovering”), but he’s in New Avengers (kicking butt and not recovering). He isn’t taking the shield back from Bucky, which is how it has to end up in the end because of the upcoming movie, so we know he’s gonna eventually… when a character resists what we know is inevitable, it’s frustrating… it feels like Cap’s being emo about this potential bad future he saw during his time looping.

Sadly, for all the fumbling of this event, I don’t care how it comes out. I’m just glad Steve Rogers is back (one of my favorite heroes), and I’m looking forward to the end of Osborn’s Dark Reign (it’s been fine, but it’s time to fall down go boom, Goblin) and the restoration of Cap, Iron Man and Thor back into the Marvel limelight.

Also, please kill Sharon Carter and let Cap hook up with someone cooler… I know they have history, but crap she’s annoying…

Terminator Salvation

•January 30, 2010 • Leave a Comment

I watched Terminator Salvation last week (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0438488/), expecting a train wreck. Geek reviews were generally negative, a co-worker who actually went to the premier said it was meh, and it clearly didn’t resonate with viewers based on domestic box office (though it will be somewhat profitable in the end, going by box office mojo’s numbers). Sam Worthington got negative marks for being wooden (which I assumed had to be true based on the trailers for Avatar), and of course Christian Bale and I are done professionally.

So we popped in the DVD and started watching it, digging the opening, but waiting for the inevitable letdown.

And waiting.
And waiting.

And eventually the movie was over and I went “huh, that wasn’t bad at all.” So I don’t understand the complaints, I guess. Really, what are we looking for in a Terminator movie?
* Tons of action, chases, gun fights, etc.
* John Connor vs the Machines
* John Connor working with a machine against Skynet
* Issues relating to time travel – (this was downplayed, but it was adderssed in dealing with Kyle Reese)
* Arnold – at least on the small screen, the scene played out pretty well
On top of that, we got:
* Insight into how the resistance survives
* Nice callbacks to the previous movie – the T-1, the continued existence of Kate Brewster
* New terminator designs – the bikes, the harvesters, a variety of exo-skeletons

All this stuff was in there, with great production values, solid pacing, and reasonable performances. So given all that, at least I understand why McG is thinking about sequels to this movie. I give it between a B and B+, leaning towards the higher end, with T3 being a slightly lesser movie. (Both of the Cameron Terminators get an A, but this is not saying anything interesting.)

For the naysayers though, I’ll call out a couple things did bother me about the story. They were pretty minor in the grand scheme of things, but made me scratch my head.

* One of the plans of the resistance involves taking out Skynet at the source. It is established in Terminator: Rise of the Machines that Skynet is a distributed neural net and can’t be taken out that way.

* The convenience of Marcus waking up the way he did, felt pretty lazy… I tend to be forgiving of the setup of a movie though, so I let it go.

SPOILER ALERT!
SPOILER ALERT!
SPOILER ALERT!
SPOILER ALERT!

It’s a mild one, but just in case, you have been warned.

SPOILER ALERT!
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SPOILER ALERT!
SPOILER ALERT!

* This one required me to do the writers’ work for them. At one point in the movie Skynet has an easy way to get rid of Kyle Reese, and doesn’t take it. One would think that getting rid of John’s father before he goes back in time would solve a lot of that friggin’ computer’s problems. Instead it waits long enough for Kyle to be rescued.

Here’s my explanation for this: other sources of Terminator fiction (comics, novels, even T3) show that there is a “temporal inertia” in place that keeps the humans from stopping Skynet and Judgement Day by sending things back in time, just like the machines can’t seem to kill John Connor. The date can be moved, the details can be wiggled, but the major stuff seems to be “fated” to happen. If Skynet kills Kyle Reese when he’s a kid, there’s a good chance John will send a different guy back in time to help his mom, and -that- guy would end up being his father, and nothing significant would change. Therefore it’s actually totally reasonable to use him as bait instead, to lure John into the trap and take them both out at the same time. Once you think of the computer weighing the probabilities, and the fact that it doesn’t even seem to have functional time travel tech at the time of the movie, it’s believable that it might make the decision it does.

Pandorum

•January 28, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Watched Pandorum last night (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1188729/), a sci-fi horror movie with a psychological thriller element to it.  Overall I enjoyed it… it had an interesting premise that kept me guessing, good set design and lighting, and the performances were enjoyable (I like Dennis Quaid). Going into it though, keep your expectations along the lines of lower budget entries in the genre, like Sunshine or Pitch Black… it’s definitely not Aliens. (If you’re curious, the gore level is average, a bunch of gratuitous f-bombs are thrown around, no sex or nudity.)

Speaking of Pitch Black and Aliens, in those movies the monsters were important to the premise, and were fairly well defined setting elements. Without the critters in Pitch Black, the trek to the shuttle isn’t a story… they define the rules: light good, dark bad. And they provide something to highlight the feral aspects of Riddick. And the aliens from Aliens, well, we’re all familiar with their unending, inexorable consumptive trek through the galaxy and the fool humans who think they can contain them.

In Pandorum, however, what’s interesting to me is that the monsters are for all intents and purposes a macguffin (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/MacGuffin) to pad the length of the film with action sequences. They show up when necessary to bar progress, or force the characters along, a living, writhing obstacle course. Their backstory is just a quick little blurb; admittedly I found it to be a mildly interesting concept, but you could have replaced them with killer robots, a crazy ship computer, a deadly fog, and the result for the characters would have been pretty much the same. This fundamental lack of relevance shows, too… the monster designs are very generic, and the action scenes are weak compared to the other portions of the movie. The core of the story is about the question of the survivors’ sanity, like a Ray Bradbury themed Twilight Zone episode; when it strays from the core the viewer can sense it.

Anyway, you’ve seen the pieces before in other movies, but they’re blended into an interesting enough salsa to rent once, if you happen to be in the mood for a creepy sci-fi flick.