Thursday, December 29, 2011

80s Music Video of the Week: Hungry Eyes

Maybe this will actually be a weekly thing. Anyway... I just wanted to listen to this song again:

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

G.I. Joe: Retaliation

The first half of this trailer is crap, but the second half is amazing:

Monday, December 26, 2011

Shame

I don't normally see movies like this. When it comes to movies, I'm sort of like a hot shot producer at a movie studio: I like easy to understand films that sound entertaining and can be summed up in a single sentence story pitch:

"It's like Die Hard, but in an old folks home."

"It's about a retired Chicago firefighter who's forced back into action because there's a fire devastating the South Side and only he can put it out."

"A guy goes blind, which is ironic because up to that point, he's always loved being able to see stuff."

You know what I mean. Shame is nothing like that. Shame can't be summed up in a single sentence, and probably not even in a single blog post. It's a slow-paced, thoughtful, maddeningly-vague art house film that doesn't have anything remotely resembling a traditional story structure or central story arc. So it wasn't really my kind of film, and I can't even say that I liked it, but I certainly respected it and won't say that I didn't like it either.

Shame is about... I dunno. Let's just say it stars Michael Fassbender as some rich, successful New York yuppie who's also living a secret life as a raging sex addict, and hilarity ensues. Just kidding about that last part. This isn't a very funny movie, nor is anything that happens the least bit fun or all that entertaining, but it is interesting and it was never boring. The movie basically consists of Fassbender going to his nondescript job, then going home (or to a hotel, to a bar, or just some alley) and having lots of sex. All things considered, he didn't show much shame, nor did this film really do much to make sex addiction look all that bad. All the women with whom he engaged in sexual intercourse were gorgeous, and everybody seemed to be having a pretty good time. Then again, this is a movie about a sex addict who looks like movie star Michael Fassbender. If they made a movie about a sex addict who looked like -- say -- me, there would be a heck of a lot less sex, and the movie would've gotten a G rating instead of an NC-17.

Michael Fassbender is a very wonderful actor however. I liked him in both Inglorious Basterds and that recent X-Men movie, even though neither film was all that good. He's just one of those actors who's always interesting and fun to watch, even if he's just sitting in a subway or jogging in a ten minute tracking shot that went on so long it seemed like it would be interminable. He really held this movie together, and I can't imagine it would've been the least bit watchable -- let alone actually kind of good -- with a lesser actor. Oh, and you see him naked too, so check it out if that's what you're into. And if that is what you're into, I think you'll be impressed. That's all I'll say about that.

The rest of the cast is pretty good too, even though this is definitely the Michael Fassbender show. His sister is played by the very cute and charming Carey Mulligan, and his boss (and only friend?) is played by that guy from 24 who got his hand chopped off by Jack Bauer because he was handcuffed to a bomb (Spoiler!!!). Then there were all the chicks Fassbender banged, all of whom were very lovely, very charming, and got very naked, if you're into that sort of thing.

Of course, I haven't said much about the plot or story because there really isn't much to say. This is one of those movies where nothing happens, and it just kind of starts and then stops randomly. Sometimes stuff happens, but mostly it's just people standing around or talking. But somehow... it kind of works. As I said, I was never bored, even if I was never really entertained either. Director Steve McQueen is definitely talented, and he has a sure hand with the camera and kept things moving and interesting, even though nothing was actually happening. If this guy ever makes that Firefighter movie I pitched, I bet it would be awesome. But Shame was just... a movie. If any of this sounds interesting, check it out. If it doesn't, fair enough.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Boy Who Didn't Like This Movie

Before I sat down in the theater last night to watch this movie, I knew only two things about The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo: The title, and that for the past two years or so I haven't been able to go anywhere without seeing somebody reading one of the novels. I saw the trailer once when it first come out months ago, and thought it was pretty neat but incomprehensible, but I'm a big fan of Daniel Craig (even since before he was James Bond!) and my friend wanted to see it, so I figured I'd check it out. After all, all those millions of people who read the books and saw the original Swedish films couldn't be wrong, right?

Wrong. Turns out, this movie was horrible.

I don't mean to say The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo was a bad movie, since the story was interesting and well plotted, the cast was exceptional, the cinematography was gorgeous, the score was wonderful, and the entire production undoubtedly turned out exactly as the filmmakers intended. All I'm saying is that those filmmakers intended to make a horrible film, that I'm assuming was based upon a horrible book. I haven't read the book so I can't really speak to whether or not it was as horrible as this film, but I'll never know since I'll never read it. I'll also never see this film again, and I'm hoping that after I finish this review I'll never even have to think about it again.

This was ostensibly a mystery story, although any fan of the genre will have figured out the major twists and revelations almost immediately upon learning what the actual mystery is. I won't spoil anything, but it was very predictable, albeit interesting and well done. I described it as "ostensibly a mystery story," since it took a long time for that plot to get going, spending way too much time setting the mood and personality of the titular girl with the dragon tattoo, who I will charitably refer to as an anti-hero. If I decided not to be charitable, I would simply say she was one of the most reprehensible, unlikable, and downright awful characters I've ever seen presented as a heroine in a major motion picture. This woman was a sociopath who should've been locked up in an institution, not presented as some kind of hero.

The rest of the characters didn't fair much better, since everybody seemed to be rude to everybody else, except for the people with whom they were having sex, but sometimes also both. Daniel Craig, our other hero, is shown to be a not that nice guy too, since he cheated on his wife, then goes ahead and cheats on his mistress too. Daniel Craig, at least, is a wonderful, charming actor who has the talent and ability to create a likeable, interesting character out of this mess of a story. (But I never managed to figure out why he was the only person in this movie who didn't speak in a Swedish accent, but whatever.) I have no idea what Rooney Mara was doing, but I didn't like it. She spent the entire movie looking and acting like a ghoul. She didn't act so much as just stand there sucking energy out of the room.

Then there was the the rape scene, and all that other nonsense that director David Fincher loves to put into his films. This was a film for the people who saw his earlier film Se7en and came away from it thinking, "You know, there wasn't enough rape..." I don't think I'm spoiling anything by saying this movie contains one of the most brutal and off-putting rape scenes in movie history, but I also don't care since I wish somebody had spoiled it for me. Here's the thing: I don't need to watch people getting raped and I don't want to watch people raped. This kind of crime certainly has a place in both literary and cinematic fiction, but this scene was so graphic and so disturbing, and yet served no real purpose that I could understand. I think there was a brutal rape scene just for the sake of having a rape scene, and then for the sake of having a scene where the girl basically rapes the man who raped her. None of this came into play again, nor did it ever tie in with the main story or serve any logical purpose within the context of the film. It was just horrible, and it took a film that would've just been kind of boring and bland and made me hate it.

I think maybe these rape scenes were in the film (and make no mistake: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo raped and tortured that man, making her just as villainous and disgusting as he was) were to create the illusion of a world where everybody is a sexual predator and where everybody is capable of horrible things. Or maybe director David Fincher and author Stieg Larsson are just creepy, weird perverts.

The mystery elements of the story were a lot better, at least the parts following Daniel Craig as he attempts to research and solve a murder from 40 years in the past. One the Girl shows up as his research assistant, it gets kind of dumb and loses focus, since her computer hacking and research skills border on the supernatural. This is one of those movies where there is nothing a hacker isn't able to do or find out just by typing a couple keystrokes on her macbook. She even manages to hack into a steal account and password numbers from a few dozen Swiss bank accounts, which raises the question of why she even has a job in the first place. Oh, and then the slow-paced, dialogue-driven mystery story culminates in a ridiculously over the top motorcycle chase scene.

Except that didn't actually "culminate" anything, since the film went on for another half hour or so even after the mystery was solved and any interest any audience member could've possibly had in the film vanished. Seriously, did anybody who saw this film not think it could've ended twenty minutes sooner?

But don't take my word for it, since everybody who read the books and saw the original films loved them all. I didn't think it was a bad film, I just kind of hated it. I found it incredibly disturbing, but it never earned the right or proved to me that it served any purpose at all. I didn't like the characters and I found the entire world-view presented to be so nihilistic and depressing and cold that it bored on the ridiculous. In other words, it's your typical David Fincher film.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Trailer

I suppose I should've waited to do my trailer round-up, since the Hobbit trailer was released online just a few hours later. Anyway, here it is, and it looks good!

I had a lot of problems with Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy of films, since I'm a huge fan of the novels and he took too many liberties and made too many unnecessary changes that really hurt the overall story and gutted the heart of some of the characters, but this one looks very cool. Also, the original Hobbit novel is more lighthearted and fun than the Lord of the Rings books, so it should be more in line with Jackson's somewhat whimsical film style.

Anyway, I'll see it:

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

More Movie Trailers

Bored on my day off, so let's watch some more movie trailers:

The Expendables 2
Two words: Hell yes!

Ok, two more words: Chuck Norris!

Ok, two more words: Jean Claude Van Da... wait, how many words is that? Anyway, I'm excited for this one.

Jack the Giant Killer
Hmmmmmm...


Does this look awful or kind of good? I can't tell, but I'm leaning toward awful. I mean, a big budget action extravaganza based on Jack and the Beanstalk? I guess if that sounds good to you, this won't disappoint. I'll probably rent it. Maybe.


Prometheus
Wait a minute! This isn't a trailer! This is more like a trailer for a trailer. Anyway, it looks pretty neat, even though Ridley Scott is pretty hit or miss for me, but his films are always interesting anyway. I think maybe I remember reading about how this film started out as a prequel to Alien, but then he changed it up and made it self-contained. Or am I thinking of a different movie? Anyway, I'm interested. I hope there's an actual trailer that comes out soon!

Wrath of the Titans
This might actually be the best trailer I've ever seen. I'm sure the movie is going to be really stupid, but boy is that a cool trailer. I'll definitely see this one, not only because it looks pretty awesome but also because I saw the first one in the theater so I have no reason to skip this one, since they look to be pretty much the same movie. This one looks like it has more monsters in it though.

Casa de me Padre
I have no idea what this is supposed to be, but I'm pretty sure I'm not interested.

Tim and Eric's Billion Dollar Movie
From the blurb on the website:

"An all new feature film from the twisted minds of cult comedy heroes Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim."

I've never heard of these people, and judging from this trailer, I'm going to take "cult comedy heroes" to mean, "a couple of guys who aren't funny."

No interest in this one at all, but good luck to them, whoever they are.

Rock of Ages
I'm sure some people will think this looks like fun. I'm not one of those people.


Min in Black 3
Seems like too much time has passed for this to be the least bit relevant or welcome... but it looks like fun to me. I'll rent it for sure.

Titanic: 3-D
Why not? I can't wait to see that nude scene in 3-D!

Mirror Mirror
This looks obnoxious and nowhere near as cool as the that other film based on Snow White.

Loosies
Peter Facinelli is my boy, and this does look kind of entertaining, but come on! Loosies? That's the worst title I've ever heard. I'll rent it. Maybe.

The Dark Knight Rises
I'm pretty sure I'm the only person on the planet who hated both Batman Begins and its sequel, so I'm probably the only person on the planet who isn't excited to see this third (and final?) entry in Christopher Nolan's Batman series of films. This trailer didn't change my mind, since it looks just as pretentious, boring, and downright un-Batman-like as the previous two films. I'm gonna sit this one out.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Top 40 Guilty Pleasure Songs From the 90s

This took forever to put together and edit and finish, and I honestly have no idea why I even went to the trouble. I just had the idea one afternoon, and I couldn't rest until I finished it. Too bad my passion and dedication is limited to creating dumb Youtube videos and not, say, a cure for cancer, but such is my gift... such is my curse.

Anyway, if you like 90s music, check it out. If you don't, why are we friends?



(Oh... and SPOILER WARNING!! The Youtube thumbnail gave away that I ranked Mr Lover Man by Shabba Ranks at #22.)

Monday, December 12, 2011

Quick Reviews

I am currently without internet until later next week (I'm switching my service from one company to another, and due to some poor planning on my part along with some incorrect info given to me by my previous company, I have week-long window with no service), so I'm just going to quickly post some comments on what I've done or watched lately as long as I'm at a coffee shop using wi-fi:

The Mechanic
I remember when the trailer for this came out and I thought it looked interesting, but then I never heard about it again and I forgot this movie existed. Then I saw it in my Netflix recommendations (probably because I give every Jason Statham movie five stars), and figured I'd check it out. Long story short... this movie is awesome and has quickly made me realized that when Statham makes a movie, I just need to go see it in the theater no questions asked.

This is an action-packed thriller about a hitman (Statham) who attempts to train the son of one of his victims, played by Ben Foster and Donald Sutherland respectively. But as action-packed as it is, it's pretty slow-paced and thoughtful for a Jason Statham movie. He never shoves a shotgun up some guy's ass or has intercourse with his girlfriend in the middle of the track during a horse race. I don't know if this will make sense, but The Mechanic is kind of a real movie that didn't seem written for Jason Statham, and Robert DeNiro or any other good actor could've been cast. Lucky for us, of course, that it stars Statham, since he's awesome. Oh, and so is his co-star Ben Foster, an actor I've always liked but never took for much of an action star. Would you believe me if I told you that the absolute best fight scene in this movie was Foster's and not Statham's? You'll know it when you see it.

I don't want to say too much about it since the story is full of interested twists and turns, but I will say that it's fantastic, entertaining, and a lot of fun. Check it out.

Super 8
This one probably deserves a longer, full review, if only because it was a huge summer hit and so beloved by critics and audience members alike. Well... I wasn't one of them. I just thought it was ok.

Look, I don't want to spoil anybody's fun by saying I didn't like this movie, since it was slick, clever, and well intentioned, but I also thought it was kind of pointless and boring. As an homage to the early 80s films directed and produced by Steven Spielberg, it works great, but all things considered, I'd rather just rewatch E.T. or The Goonies than some movie that's trying desperately to be like E.T. or The Goonies. I grew up on the movies Super 8 tried to emulate, so I respected what it was doing and did feel a certain kind of nostalgia, but ultimately it just made me want to rewatch the original films that first used these concepts, and to better effect and in more satisfying ways.

And, to be sure, the above paragraph was be being nice and open-minded. If somebody else wanted to comment that Super 8 was less of an homage of Spielberg's films and more of an out-right rip-off, you'd get no argument from me.

But forgetting all that, you might wonder how the movie stands on its own. And, as I said, it's ok. The cast is great, the acting is first-rate (especially by all the kids), and the special effects are about as good as you'll ever seen, but there was no real story or plot to speak of. It was two hours of build up to a five minute finale that felt flat and boring. Toward the end I stop caring about any of these characters and just wanted it to be over already.

But don't take my word for it, since a lot of people loved it. 

Damages
I'm not going to say much about this series, since I'm currently in the middle of season 2 and would rather review it after I've finished the entire run that's available on DVD since I have a lot to say about it, but it's so good I had to give it a mention all the same.

Damages, ostensibly a legal thriller starring Glen Close as a lawyer who specializes in class-action lawsuits against giant corporations, is one of the best TV shows I've seen in a long time. Just... go watch it. You'll be glad you did.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Goldfinger

I have been a life-long James Bond fan since before I can even remember, but I'm a little ashamed to admit that I've only recently read my first James Bond novel. I have tried reading the original stories by Ian Fleming over the years, but for whatever reason I was never able to get into them, maybe because they were a little too dry and cold while the movies were over the top and exciting. I finally decided to give the series of books and stories another try because I'm planning a big James Bond movie review marathon at some point in the future and wanted to immerse myself as much as possible in the entire mythology, both cinematic and literary. I wanted to start with Casino Royale and work my way through the series chronologically, but I found a copy of Goldfinger for a dollar at my local used book store, so I started there.

And boy was this book awful.

Of course, Goldfinger is probably the best James Bond film ever made -- which makes it one of my picks for all time best movie ever -- so it had a lot to live up to since my expectations were so high. But then again, isn't the original book always better? Well, not in this case. I quickly discovered early on that Goldfinger might have been the best adaptation from page to screen in the history of film. Fleming may very well be a wonderful writer whose work I won't judge until I've read more, but it was clear that he had an idea for a wonderful villain and an overall concept but lacked any idea of what to do with these things in any real, satisfying way. Frankly, this novel is just a mess.

To begin with, it's so full of plot contrivances, coincidences, and simply unbelievable ideas. This novel opens with Bond accidentally running into some former acquaintance who asks to help him figure out how Goldfinger is cheating at their regular game of bridge, and then, after doing so, Bond is asked by M (his superior at British Intelligence) to look into Goldfinger's smuggling operation. Come on! The film fixes this ridiculous coincidence by having Bond assigned to Goldfinger first, and then using the fixed bridge game as their first introduction. Throughout, the novel is filled with these kinds of plot contrivances and logical oversights that the film smooths out and fixes with just minor changes.

Here's another example: Remember that iconic scene in the film where James Bond is bound to a table and about to be split in two with a giant laser, and he only manages to free himself by outsmarting Goldfinger with a bluff about Operation Grand Slam? Well, in the novel the scene is almost identical, but it doesn't end with Bond saving himself, but with Goldfinger simply deciding not to kill him at all, because he never intended to in the first place. In fact, almost every scene in this novel where Bond almost dies, he is repeatedly saved by another character or some other insane plot device that has you wondering why this stooge is out main character at all. 

And even forgetting the bad plotting and poor writing, but this novel is also incredibly dated, racist, and sexist. I don't want to judge a date novel by current sociological standards, but I find it hard to believe that even in the 50s and 60s people wouldn't have taken issue with how Fleming talks about women, lesbians, and Koreans. Both Goldfinger (or villain) and Bond (our hero) discuss at great lengths how Koreans are a degenerate, evil race of ruthless savages. At one point, Goldfinger rewards his Korean manservant Odd Job by letting him eat his pet cat. I was also surprised to learn than in this novel, Pussy Galore is a lesbian. Well... sort of. It becomes clear that neither Bond the character nor Fleming the writer actually believe that lesbians actually exist, because she ends up having sex with James Bond at the end anyway. She gives some nonsensical explanation that she always thought she didn't like men, but it was just that she had never met one until James Bond came along. Ugh.

I can only assume that by the time this novel was published, Fleming had become so popular and powerful a force in the publishing industry that he no longer allowed for any kind of editorial oversight. I honestly can't imagine any other way such a bad book could get published with some many problems that would've been easy to change. Skip the novel and watch the movie, since the bad book was somehow turned into a wonderful film.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Conan the Barbarian

Boy, nobody liked this one.

I'm a huge fan of Conan (the original stories by Robert E. Howard as well as the films from the 80s and the Marvel comics), so I was looking forward to it, but I never got around to seeing it in the theater. I was just too busy, I tried to see it with my friend Darryl and our schedules never lined up during this film's release, and, frankly, the overly negative reviews took away some of the shine. After all, that Conan TV series was bad enough, and I didn't need to sit though a feature length film that was just as bad or worse. As I said, everybody hated this movie, from the critics to the commenters on the IMDB immediately after it was released.

Here's the thing: If you saw this movie in theater after watching the trailer and didn't end up liking, you're just a friggin' idiot. This movie was basically a feature length version of the theatrical trailer. If you enjoyed the trailer enough to see the movie, there was no reason why you wouldn't like the movie itself. In fact, there was no reason why you shouldn't even like this movie better than the trailer, since it had way more gore and boobs and other stuff you can't put in the trailer. Granted, saying a movie feels like a feature length trailer isn't necessarily a good thing, but it's not all together a bad thing either, especially not when you're talking about a movie like Conan the Barbarian.

Long story short: This movie was awesome, and all those people who said it sucked can go eat my shorts.

I'm not going to say this was a masterpiece or recommend it for everybody, but if you are the kind of person who'd be interested in seeing a movie based on Conan, this was a pretty good one. The special effects and sets were outstanding, the action set pieces were a lot of fun, the cast was pretty cool, and there was lots of gore and ridiculously over the top sequences. It was also a pretty good Conan movie, looking at it as an adaptation of the stories by Robert E. Howard, of which I am a big fan. The character was pretty well represented, and they made him smart and well spoken as well as strong and fierce as he is in the stories, and the setting and universe seemed pretty much perfectly captured. The story was a bit weak and hard to follow but it was never boring or so confusing it became a chore to watch.

Was it as good as the 1982 version starring Arnold Schwarzenegger? Probably not, but it's maybe more faithful to the original stories if that means anything. John Milius is a better director than Marcus Nispel (whoever that is?), so the '82 film had a bit more depth, was more thoughtful, and seemed to have an actual story with a real character arc for the titular character. This 2011 version doesn't have any depth and the main character arc is tacked on and confusing, but it does have better special effects, a story that is more epic in scope and scale, and a vision of the Hyborean world that was just awesome. Also, Jason Momoa is probably a better actor and more handsome than Arnold was, but he lacks the star quality. The original Conan film turned Arnold into the biggest star in the world, but I don't think the same will happen to this new guy, even though he was perfectly decent as Conan.

So... check it out if you've been wondering if it's good. Well, maybe I shouldn't say good, since that word carries a lot of weight and can be so subjective. I should just say... check it out if you've been wanting to watch a movie where Conan slices up lots of bad guys and monsters and witches. Why did I even write this whole reviews when I should've just said that?

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Movie Trailers

Got nothing to do this morning, so let's watch some movie trailers:

21 Jump Street
For real? Honestly, I never understood the popularity of this show even back in the day. Why did teenagers tune in every week to watch a show about narcs? Is there anything teenagers hate more than a narc? Anyway, having said that, it's still odd that they are doing another conedy remake of a show from the 80s that was originally played straight. And Channing Tatum is really our lead in a big action comedy movie? That guy sucks! Having said all that... I'll watch it, when it comes to TBS. I laughed.

Star Wars: Episode 1 - The Phantom Menace 3D
I know I should be ashamed to admit this, but I'll see it. I bet it'll look cool. (But don't tell anybody I said that.)

The Hunger Games
I'm marginally aware of the fact that there are some books or something called The Hunger Games, but that's all I know. Anyway, this trailer looks neat, the cast is cool, and that Jennifer Lawrence sure is pretty. This trailer makes it look like Logan's Run meets that Ray Liotta movie No Escape, which actually sounds pretty cool now that I think about it.


Underworld Awakening
They're still making these? How many have they made by now? 4? 5? I ask because I don't know, since I only saw the first one and thought it was pretty lame. But god bless 'em for their perseverance. I'm not interested, but maybe somebody will be...

Safe House
Number 25 in a serious of films starring Denzel Washington opposite some young, handsome white guy. Anyway, they're all good, and this one looks like fun. I'll rent it.

Red Tails
Is this the prequel to Soul Plane? Was that racist? Anyway, I'm sorry I started off with that joke because this actually looks like a pretty good movie with an interesting, important story. But I'll go see it just for all the WWII era planes.

Snow White and the Huntsman
When I first clicked on this link, I had the same thought you did: Boy, this looks awful. But it actually looks pretty awesome. I don't know how I feel about the profoundly mediocre Kristen Stewart playing Snow White, but everything else about it looks pretty cool. I'm in.

Sleeping Beauty
Uh... is this child pornography? What the heck is this?

My Week With Marilyn
I'll admit that I have zero interest in seeing a biopic about Marilyn Monroe, but if you are interested, this looks like a pretty good one. Michelle Williams sure looks and sounds exactly like her, and the rest of that cast looks awesome. Maybe I'll rent it someday.

Chronicle
Is this an actual movie or just an experiment in special effects? Either way... it looks pretty neat. This is probably one of those movies where just watching the trailer is good enough.

Journey 2: The Mysterious Island
Um...

Now, I never saw Journey to the Center of the Earth, but I'm pretty sure it was a Brenden Frasier movie, so why does this one have The Rock? Also... Journey 2? We're all of a sudden on a first name basis with Journey to the Center of the Earth? And this is supposed to be an adaptation of The Mysterious Island by Jules Verne? Sight unseen, I'm going to go ahead and call this the most unfaithful adaptation of all time. But it might be worth seeing (or, at least, the trailer is) because Vanessa Hudgens is gorgeous and she spends the entire time walking around in a tank top and shorts.

Shame
I have nothing to say about this movie other than this: Who the hell is Steve McQueen and shouldn't he change his name? This is not "a Steven McQueen film." Bullet is a Steve McQueen film. The Great Escape is a Steve McQueen film. Who the hell is this guy?

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy
They're remaking this too?! At least it's not a comedy starring Channing Tatum. Actually, this looks pretty awesome. I'll see it.

Monday, November 28, 2011

The Greatest Captain American Hero

For fun I mashed up some scenes from the recent Captain America movie to the theme song to The Greatest American Hero, composed by Mike Post and Stephen Geyer and performed by Joey Scarbury.

Why? Because somebody had to:

Saturday, November 26, 2011

That's a Blow Out!

Here's a cute video of one of my nephews helping my sister change my niece's diaper:

Thursday, November 24, 2011

McRib

Thanksgiving morning seems as good a time to write this review as any other morning:

Anyway, I got a McDonald's McRib a week or so ago, and it was ok. According to the people who write content for websites like Yahoo! and magazines like Entertainment Weekly, the McRib is something of a cultural icon that is either beloved or despised by all of those who had it cross their paths. In reality, or at least from what I've noticed, most people are only marginally aware of its existence, and nobody I talked to had ever tried one, nor did most show any interest in trying one, or even talking to me about one, for that matter.

"That sounds gross," most people would say after I broached the topic. "Also... who are you why are you talking to me?"

And, of course, it does sound gross. It's a pork patty molded into the shape of a small rack of ribs, placed on a bun, and the smothered with barbeque sauce, onions, and pickles. Actually, that doesn't sound gross at all, but I can understand why some people might have that reaction. To be clear: there are people in this world who hate McDonald's, and I am not one of them. McDonald's is fast and cheap and easy, but I honestly go there because I legitimately like the flavor of their food. I have lived in Europe and wined and dined at some of the finest restaurants in the world over the course of my life, but I still love the taste of a Big Mac. My ideal breakfast is a sausage Egg McMuffin. When I get McNuggets, I always ask for extra packets of BBQ sauce because I actually like their sauce and put it on everything.


Anyway, I told you all that so I could tell you this: I wanted to try the McRib only partly out of morbid curiousity, but also because I genuinely like McDonald's and thought it sounded kine of tasty.

And it was. It was definitely kind of tasty.

When I first ordered the combo at the drive through menu board, the woman told me that it would be $4.25 or whatever the price was, then asked if I would like a second McRib for only a dollar. Wow! I was literally speechless for about half a minute as I processed this information. That's a hell of a deal, but I turned it down for two reasons: I've never even tried the sandwich before, so why would I get two of something that might be awful? And, secondly, I just didn't want to be the kind of person who ordered and ate two McRibs in one sitting. One McRib, fries, and a coke was enough for any man, so I politely turned down the offer, but I am mentioning it here in case somebody does want two McRib's, or just wants to go get one along with a friend who's actually willing to try one as well.


When I opened the box, it looked like a crime scene from CSI: Burgertown. There was sauce every where, and not just in the box, but all over the insides of the bag. And in case I'm not being clear, that's a good thing. If I get a barbeque sandwich, I don't want it to be easy to eat or clean at all. I expect a mess, and I hope it to be somewhat frightening and kind of nauseating to behold. Every review or report I've heard about the McRib talks about how it's molded into the shape of ribs, but it's not, or at least mine wasn't. It just looked like a slightly longer, more oblong burger patty. It tasted just like a McDonald's burger too, albeit one smothered with sauce, pickles, and onions. That's not a bad thing, although I was expecting... pork. It turned out just to be the same kind of weird, indeterminate meat that they use for all of their products. And, again, that's not a complaint.

So... the McRib. It was kind of tasty, but I don't ever need to eat it again.

Friday, November 18, 2011

(Robots) Wouldn't Want to be Like You: A Video Tribute to the Greatest Robots of All Time

Here's a video tribute I put together in honor of my favorite robots, androids, cyborgs, and artificial humans from film and TV, and of the Alan Parsons Project album I Robot.

Why? Why not?

Friday, November 11, 2011

Quick Game Reviews

I've played a few different Xbox 360 games over the past month or so. Here are my quick thoughts:

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3.
I literally just got back from returning this to the Redbox machine. It was so good, I seriously thought about keeping it for a second night and paying another $2.00, but that would just be crazy. Who am I, Bill Gates?! Anyway, this was a fun first person shooter that I enjoyed a lot. The graphics are amazing, the action was intense, and the entire production seemed pretty epic and extravagant. It's a good game.

I didn't understand the plot, however, since apparently it's the third part of some kind of trilogy. I haven't played any Call of Duty games since the first one came out way back when on the PC, so I didn't realize there was an on-going storyline. I tried to follow along during the cut scenes at first, but as I progressed I skipped them and went straight into the action. I didn't miss anything. Even if I knew who these characters were and what was going on, I'd probably skip the cut scenes anyway because they weren't that great. And, come on, I've only got a day. I just want to shoot some bad guys!

In the shooting bad guys department, this game sure delivers about as good as anything I've ever played. If you like FPS, check it out. It's first rate.

Alan Wake
This was a good game to play during the month of October. It's a horror game about a writer who has to deal with writer's block... and ghosts! Or something. This was a truly exceptional game that stands out as one of the best looking and most creative games I've ever played, but after I finished it, I doubt I'll ever play it again any time soon.

This might be the best looking game I've ever seen, or at least one of the most shockingly beautiful and the most moody. The graphics are just stunningly well realized and the locations, atmosphere, and effects create a sense of tension and horror that never lets up. Gameplay wise, it's a lot of fun, although it does tend to drag on a bit since there's really only one or two kinds of enemies from start to finish. The locations change and the story progresses, but the enemies stay the same as does the one method of taking them down: Shining them with a flashlight and then shooting them with a gun. The combat in this game is actually a lot of fun, it just needed more variety.

As for the story, it was gripping and well written and a lot of fun to watch progress, even though I didn't really understand what it was about or what actually happened in the game. It was clear that the game's writers really, really love Stephen King, but Alan Wake's story never really matched the quality of his novels. But, again, it was pretty good as far as videogame stories go.

Anyway... it's a short, fairly repetitive game that is definitely worth checking out for the fun gameplay, entertaining story, and the incredibly beautiful and moody visuals.

Borderlands
Now here's a fun game.

If you love first person shooters but the latest Call of Duty sounds too intense, check out this one, since it's a more laid back shooter that has a pretty good mixture of action, quests, and role playing elements. But, then again, the action may be lacking for shooter junkies and the quests and leveling system may be too light for diehard RPG fans, but I liked it. The entire production isn't up there with Modern Warfare, but the cell shaded style of graphics are quite cool and the amount of weapons you can choose from borders on the ridiculous. And the control just feels... right, which is the only way to describe a good first person shooter.

The game is a bit repetitive, however, with too many quests that feel too similar, and enemies that are just more powerful versions of enemies I already fought already. The Alpha Skag may be bigger and tougher than Skag Whelps, but from a gaming perspective, they're the same thing. One just takes a few more bullets to kill. Also, enemies respawn at a maddeningly annoying rate and the save system isn't the best. As an adult, I like games that let me save anywhere, at any time, if only because I don't have that much time to devote to videogames anymore so if I need to end my session during the middle of a quest, I don't want to have to start all the way over at the beginning every time.

But... this game is a lot of fun. If you find it cheap (and since it came out a year or so ago, that shouldn't be hard), check it out.

Goldeneye 007: Reloaded
Here's another game I rented at the Redbox, and it's another good one.

I actually didn't even know this game existed before I saw it in the Redbox machine, but I figured... how bad could it be? I knew they had remade the classic Goldeneye 007 for the Wii a little while ago to good reviews, but I didn't know it was being released on 360 and PS3 as well. Anyway, this game is awesome. It's really a remake of Goldeneye in name alone, since other than a few similar locations and plot points both game shared from the original game, it's a very different -- and better -- experience. This game doesn't even have Pierce Brosnan, since one of the updates included replacing him with the current Bond actor Daniel Craig.

Well, maybe I shouldn't have said this was a "better experience" than the original game back on the N64, since that was a product of its time and was exceptional when it first came out, but this one is exceptional right now. If you liked that game, you'll like this one, since it has a similar premise, but ups the action, translates the graphics to HD, and has some of the best control of any FPS I've ever played.

Long story short, this game is great, and I'll probably even buy it one of these days, since I'm a huge fan of shooters and of James Bond. Check it out.

Dead Rising 
I'm not sure if this was a launch title or not, but if it didn't come out the same day as the Xbox 360, it definitely came out pretty soon after. I picked up a used copy the other day for five dollars, and it wasn't worth it. This game sucks.

Dead Rising had a great concept: rip off Dawn of the Dead's basic zombies-in-a-shopping-mall plot and turn it into a videogame, but the execution was so weak that the game is nearly unplayable. Running around the mall and killing zombies with just about every item you can pick up is great fun, but the story is way too convoluted and full of cut scenes and menus you have to follow or read through seemingly every few minutes, horrible escort missions that are nearly impossibly because the friendly AI is so poorly done, and awful controls that you'll be fighting more often than the zombie hordes that are trying to kill you.

Seriously, the controls in this game felt stiff and the button layout was awkward and designed in the worst way possible. And don't even get me started on the horrible control for the shooting sections or having to switch to a camera in order to take photographs every few minutes. And here's another game with a terrible save function that seemed designed by people who intentionally want to waste my time.

I've heard that the sequel corrects a lot of these gripes and problems, but I'll never know unless I find that for four bucks, because five was way to much to shell out on a game this bad and unfun.

And that's that.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Happy Birthday, Robert Patrick!

Robert Patrick is cooler than you'll ever be, and I can say that pretty confidentially even though I don't know who you are because Robert Patrick is cooler than 99% of the population. Let's put it this way: If you are one of the rare people who is somehow cooler than Robert Patrick, you have better things to do than read this blog. But if you are, thanks!

Anyway, today marks Robert Patrick's 53rd year as one of the coolest and most bad ass actors ever.

Patrick got his start as a thug in Die Hard 2, then went on to great fame and fortune as the T-1000 in Terminator 2: Judgment Day. The T-1000 is best known for the pioneering use of CG to convey its liquid metal form, but it was Patrick's performance that gave it depth, personality, and its iconic status. From there, he went on to have a long and varied career, full of both hits and misses, but he is always good and always worth watching. I even liked him on the X-Files, where he did a great job in the thankless role of replacing David Duchovny.

Happy birthday, Robert!

Green Lantern

I don't have a whole lot to say about this one, other than that it didn't suck, but it wasn't very good either. It was kind of the cinematic equivalent of the bread basket you get at a nice restaurant. There's nothing really to complain about, but it's really just there to tide you over until some real food is served. But as a film taken on its own -- not to mention as an adaptation of one of the best comic book characters ever -- it fell flat and left me feeling pretty hungry for the main course that never actually came. Did I stretch that analogy too thin?

Green Lantern has always been one of my favorite super heroes, even though the name has been used by many characters with different personalities over the decades. This film centers around Hal Jordan, who wasn't the first Green Lantern, but he has always been the best, the most popular, and the most enduring. However, Ryan Reynolds played him as just another irreverent generic Hollywood superhero who cracks jokes more than he fights evil or rights wrongs, so the character's name really doesn't matter. This is going to sound geeky so I apologize to anybody who isn't a fan of the comics, but this film was like an adaptation of Guy Gardner's Green Lantern than they just named Hal Jordan. Translation: He was too funny and irreverent when he should've been heroic and stoic.

But I guess funny and irreverent made the Iron Man series a bundle of money, so that's what every comic book adaptation is going to be like. Well, it wasn't faithful to the original comics when they turned Iron Man into a comedian, and it was even less so when they did the same to Green Lantern. But at least Ryan Reynolds is a very charming, gifted actor who has excellent comic timing. I didn't appreciate how they made the character so funny, but at least he was funny.

Much better was the supporting cast. I'm not sure why Tim Robbins was in this movie, but he's always good and he was fun to watch here, even though his character served no actual purpose or added anything to the overall story. Blake Lively was good as Carol Ferris, who goes on to become Star Sapphire, at least in the comics, not here. She is mainly here to set up the character as the obligatory love interest, and has little do to beyond looking beautiful, but she sure pulled that off better than almost any woman I've ever seen before. Who is this actress and how come I've never seen her before? Peter Sarsgaard has a lot of fun as the villain Hector Hammond, but it was an odd interpretation of the character, and an odd choice to have as one of the main adversaries in the film.

Best of all was Mark Strong, who was brilliant and perfectly cast as Sinestro. He looked like he flew right out of the comics, and gave the best and most engaging performance in the film. He stole every scene he was in, which were far too infrequent. Unfortunately he didn't have enough to do, since it was clear they were just setting him up to be the main villain in the sequel. Yeah, good luck with that.

As a straight up space opera, it had a lot of potential, since the film really shined during all the scenes where the characters were not on Earth. Visually it looked amazing, with exceptional special effects and really good representations of the planet Oa and the various alien Green Lantern Corps members like Abin Sur, Kilowog, and Tomar-Re. Heck, the fact that they even had these characters in the film at all is cool, but having them be done well was awesome. I even liked the look of the costume, even if the design was weird and it looked like skin.

Parallax was a let down, however. The character was given no depth, no real motivation, and looked like a muppet. As villains go, this was one of the worst and most unengaging I've seen in a long time, and the final battle between him (it?) and Green Lantern was pathetic.

But then, it was hard to have a satisfying finale since the entire film felt so flaccid and stale. It had no real character development beyond starting with a guy who makes jokes and says he's irresponsible, to ending with a guy who makes jokes and says he's now responsible. And where was the action? I think Green Lantern used his ring maybe three times, and almost never too good effect. I want to see Green Lantern punching lots of stuff, not flying into space and fighting a CG muppet.

Anyway, Green Lantern. It's worth checking out for some of the visuals, the performance by Mark Strong, and to look at Blake Lively. But if you want a great comic book adaptation, go rent Thor instead.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Celebrity Reality Show Pitches

Monk'd: Aged, over the hill actors become the victims of over the top practical jokes by Tony Shalhoub.

Sorbo The Greek: Kevin Sorbo has to go back to college and rush a different fraternity each week.

The Funky Brunch: Every week, the former backing band for Mark Walberg have to cater a meal for an event on a Sunday morning between 10:00 am and 2:00pm. Guy Fieri hosts.

Deck the Halls: Contestants compete to see who gets a chance to punch either Arsenio Hall, Rich Hall, or Daryl Hall. Guy Fieri hosts.

Get Rich or Die Trying: Contestants enter into a Running Man style bounty hunt where they have to chase after and track down celebrity impersonator Rich Little. Rapper 50 Cents hosts.

MC Hammer: A famous hip hop performer has to go into the inner city and do repairs on a different home each week. Starring either MC Lyte, Young MC, or, if he's available, MC Hammer.

Wuhl He or Won't He? Real people on the street are asked to come up with crazy dares for host Robert Wuhl. 

Naughty or Nies: Out of control teens are sent to boot camp where they are forced to do Pilates with reality star and personal trainer Eric Nies.

Monty's Python: Basically a revamp of Let's Make a Deal, only behind one of the doors is a new kitchen set, while behind the other is a deadly python. Monty Hall hosts.

Alda King's Men: Concept to be determined. Alan Alda hosts.

Next of Ken: Competition to see what up and coming actor will take the lead role in the remake of tv series Wiseguy. Ken Wahl hosts.

Prinze and the Popper: Actor Freddie Prinze Jr. is forced to share a studio apartment with Blues Traveler front-man John Popper.

Lama's Llamas: Renegade star Lorenzo Lamas becomes the guardian of a herd of lamas who move into his West Hollywood loft.

Howe Are You? A camera crew moves in with the family of former NHL All Star Gordie Howe and captures their crazy Canadian antics.

The Real Real World: Former camera and sound operators from MTV's the Real World are forced to live together in a loft in Akron, Ohio.

Let Me See That Kong: Join R&B star Sisqo as he travels throughout Hong Kong. Theme song to be written by Weird Al Yankovick and performed by Sisqo.

Canadian Idol: Aspiring singers from Canada have to perform for a panel of three judges: Geddy Lee, Bryan Adams, and somebody from The Guess Who. Dan Aykroyd hosts.

The Utley Duckling: Beauty pageant where contests compete to see if they are as handsome as Philadelphia Phillies second baseman Chase Utley. Mike Schmidt hosts.

Oh Clapton, my Clapton: A camera crew follows along rock legend Eric Clapton as he takes a class on Walt Whitman's poetry at the San Bernadino Community College.

From the Mailbag

Mugato writes:
How long did it take you to do one of these videos? From planning to upload.
Good question, Mugato. I never really paid attention or tracked the time I spent, but each video, depending upon the length, took somewhere between a couple hours to four or five, and that's just the time I spent sitting in front of my computer. Getting the footage (from various sources, none of which will I mention here), importing it into iMovie, and then uploading to Youtube all took a long time, but I was able to do most of that stuff while I did something else. Uploading the videos to Youtube probably took the most time, so I would usually do that at night before I going to bed.

From start to finish, the process was long but fun... usually. After watching the movie, of course, I would sit down and write the scripts, which usually took about ten to twenty minutes. This was the easy part. Then I recorded all the audio and imported it into iTunes (which automatically imports into iMovie). At first I used GarageBand, but I didn't really care for it and found it to be not very user friendly, so I switched over to Audacity.

After that I went ahead and edited the movie, choosing clips that seemed to match when with whatever i was saying on the audio tracking, trying to punctuate certain points by featuring short scenes from the movie. This is the fun part, and the annoying part. It's fun because editing is challenging and sort of like putting together a puzzle, and when you put together the elements in the right way, it can be very rewarding to rewatch. However, it's also tedious, and you have no idea how long a few seconds of film really is until you start cutting together movies piece by piece.

For example, a sentence as simple and short as "Day of the Dead was directed by George A. Romero," might take up only about four seconds, but that's four seconds I have to fill with footage. That's longer than it seems, especially since I have to scan through a feature length film in order to find the perfect four seconds. Sometimes I pull it off, sometimes I don't. That's why some of these videos are better than others, even from moment to moment.

So the Dead Snow video probably took me about two hours or so to put together from start to finish, and that was one of the shortest one. The Resident Evil review, which was around ten minutes and spanned all four films, took me close to an entire day, but I kept getting annoyed so I took a lot of breaks.

And sometimes I got lazy. For example, a lot of the footage from the Serpent and the Rainbow review was taken from a trailer I downloaded from Youtube. I mixed in some footage, but it's mostly just the trailer cut up because I was too lazy or busy (or, in the case of that movie, just unengaged) to do it all myself. I think I did that with a few others, but I can't remember which ones.

I use iMovie to edit these films. I use Audacity to record the dialogue. I used the website Cooltext to create the logo. Oh, and I meant to mention this in my recap, but the "theme song" is taken from the opening of the film White Zombie. I just thought it would fit.

I hope that answered your question, Mugato. Thanks for watching and for reading!

And if anybody wants to learn more about Mugato and his crazy antics, check out his great blog.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Blockbuster Online

Hey... have you heard of this thing called Netflix? I think they've been in the news recently or something.

I've been a Netflix subscriber for years, and never had any complaints about my service, until they upped the prices a few months ago. I wasn't happy about that, but I understood it, and even at double the price, it's still a good deal considering how ridiculously cheap it was for years until this recent price hike. Then they made online streaming an additional price, which was annoying. I opted to keep the discs and ditch the streaming since my internet isn't very reliable or fast and the selection of movies on disc just blows away the instant streaming options. Everything the instant people can watch, I can get on disc, but everything I can get on disc they can't get on instant. Then they announced they were going to split off into two different websites, one for instant streaming and another for discs, so I figured this was a good time to look at my other options. They have since recanted on the move to split to two different websites, but by then I had already started my month long free trial of Blockbuster Online.

Long story short... I'm not leaving Netflix anytime soon... at least, not for Blockbuster Online. It totally sucks.

In order to understand why I'm staying with Netflix over Blockbuster, let me walk you through my month-long trial by comparing and contrasting the two services:

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Zombiethon: Recap


I'll be honest: I'm glad that's over.

Creating and poster a new video review every day for a month was more work than I thought it was going to be, and going in I knew it was going to be a challenge. But it was also fun, and I'm glad I managed to do it because it felt like some kind of true accomplishment. I was originally just going to do a random assortment of reviews based on whatever I felt like watching that day, or whatever random Zombie film I happened to find or rent. But at some point, it turned into an historical journey through the development of the zombie film genre. I'm glad it turned out that way, since it gave me a chance to look at the entire genre as a whole and talk about how it developed, but it wasn't my original intention. Had I known I was going to do a Zombie film history class, I might've chosen the films a bit better, adding in some others and maybe nixing some that I did. But all in all, I thought it was a pretty decent list. I probably didn't need to do Zombies of Mora Tau, however. Nobody cared about that one.

And I ever going to do something like this again? Probably not, but who knows? I actually already have another idea for a long term video review project... and it's a good one. However, I dunno if I'll repeat this format any time soon. Posting a video each day for a month was a strain on both my mental health and my social life. Also, I think it was a strain on my viewers as well. A new video each day -- some of which were pretty long -- is a lot to ask of people. But... we'll see. 

Anyway, just for fun, here are some useless statistics and observations:

Monday, October 31, 2011

Zombiethon Day 31: The Walking Dead (Season One)

Due to some copyright issues, I had to remove this video from Youtube. I think my clips from the show fall under fair use, and since I was recommending the show I'm not sure why AMC cared, but copyright is copyright and if my video was in violation I want to comply.

Maybe I'll reedit it and put it up again, or maybe not. You all saw it already, right?

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Zombiethon Day 30: Zombieland

I can't believe it took this long to get a zombie movie starring Woody Harrelson, but it was worth the wait:

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Zombiethon Day 29: Dead Snow

My review of the 2008 Norwegian film about Nazi Zombies: Dead Snow:

Friday, October 28, 2011

Zombiethon Day 28: Zombie Strippers

Here's my review of Zombie Strippers, the 2008 film starring Jenna Jameson. Um... viewer discretion is probably advised:

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Zombiethon Day 27: Diary of the Dead / Survival of the Dead Review

My combined review of George A Romero's Diary of the Dead and Survival of the Dead, two not all together great movies:

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Zombiethon Day 25: Planet Terror

My review of the first part of the Grindhouse Double Feature, Robert Rodriguez's Planet Terror:

Monday, October 24, 2011

Zombiethon Day 24: Land of the Dead

Here's my review of the fourth film in George A. Romero's series of Dead films:

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Friday, October 21, 2011

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Zombiethon Day 20: Resident Evil (Film Series)

This was a tough one. I reviewed all four films and discussed the games as well, so it's a bit longer than I wanted it to be, but not as long as I feared it would be:

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Zombiethon Day 19: Bio Zombie

My review of the 1998 Hong Kong zombie horror comedy Bio Zombie. I didn't love this one:

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Zombiethon Day 18: Cemetery Man

Here's my review of the 1994 Italian cult classic, Cemetery Man.

Oh, and in case you've been watching these reviews since the beginning, yes... I've had a cold for the past few days. That's why I sound even more nasally than I do already.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Zombiethon Day 17: Weekend at Bernie's 2

Get ready for the most terrifying zombie film of all: Weekend At Bernie's 2!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Zombiethon Day 16: Braindead

And now for something completely different: Peter Jackson's 1992 cult horror comedy Braindead (aka Dead Alive). This is a weird one:

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Zombiethon Day 15: Pet Sematary

This is a zombie movie, right? Anyway, it's an awesome horror film based on the awesome novel by Stephen King:

Friday, October 14, 2011

Zombiethon Day 14: The Serpent and the Rainbow

I've had a pretty epic run of five of my all time favorite zombie movies, but now it's time to take a breather and switch gears for something a little different, Wes Craven's 1988 Horror classic, The Serpent and the Rainbow. This isn't one of my favorites, but it's definitely deserving of a mention.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Zombiethon Day 12: Day of the Dead

George Romero's third and, in my opinion, best Dead film, 1985's Day of the Dead:

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Zombiethon Day 11: Zombi 2

Now we're getting to the real deal: Lucio Fulci's 1979 cult classic, the insanely awesome and insanely stupid Zombi 2:

Monday, October 10, 2011

Zombiethon Day 10: Dawn of the Dead

Zombiethon continues with George Romero's zombie epic, 1978's Dawn of the Dead:

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Zombiethon Day 9: Night of the Living Dead

We finally get to the all time horror classic, 1968's Night of the Living Dead. This is the movie that defined the genre and changed the world of film. I promise you these movies are going to be a lot more exciting from this point on:

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Friday, October 7, 2011

Zombiethon Day 7: The Last Man on Earth Review

Yeah, I'm getting bored of these too, but I promise that as we hit the 60s, these films get a lot more exciting. Here we have the Vincent Price classic from 1964: The Last Man on Earth.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Zombiethon Day Six: Plan 9 From Outer Space

Zombiethon continues with one of the greatest movies ever made: Plan 9 From Outer Space:

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

In Memoriam: Steve Jobs (1955-2011)


My personal opinion of Steve Jobs doesn't matter. All I need to say is that I learned about his death while checking the news on my iPod Touch, and I'm writing this blog entry on my MacBook Pro. Even if I didn't have an Apple laptop, chances are good I wouldn't have any laptop at all if not for Jobs and what he (along with Woz and Bill Gates and Paul Allen and all the others) brought to the computer industry -- not to mention the music industry and the entertainment industry and the film industry, and the industry of industry itself.

I'm sad he's gone, and I'll miss him, not only because he was a visionary whose genius brought me countless hours of fun, but because he was so charming, even when you hated him.

Zombiethon Day Five: Zombies of Mora Tau

Zombiethon enters the 1950s with the near classic Zombies of Mora Tau:

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Zombiethon Day Four: Voodoo Man

My Zombiethon continues with the 1944 Bela Lugosi epic Voodoo Man:

Monday, October 3, 2011

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Zombiethon Day Two: Revolt of the Zombies

My zombiethon continues with the 1936 sequel to White Zombie, Revolt of the Zombies:

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Zombiethon Day One: White Zombie


My month long Zombiethon starts with the first zombie film ever, White Zombie:

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Zombiethon


Coming soon: The Blessed are the Geeks's Zombiethon, where I'll be attempting to post a video review of a different zombie movie every day during the month of October.

Why? I love zombie movies and have seen about a million of them and figure I should use this knowledge for something productive and hopefully entertaining. Also, it'll be an interesting challenge to see if I can pull it off. I've already started working on this endeavor and I'm hoping I'll pull it off, but don't get too critical of me if I miss a day or two here and there, but I'm hoping to at least get something up each day, even if it's something just a few seconds long.

I don't have a real schedule planned, but I know what I'm posting on day one and on day 31, but everything else is up in the air, but I'm going to try to do a mix of things I've seen already and some that are new to me. I'll also be posting anything in a series in chronological order to make things easier to follow along.

Anyway, I'm mostly posting this for anybody who's interested and wants to follow along, and also so I'll be committed and locked into it so I can't bail out.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Bridesmaids


Boy, people loved this movie. Maybe after the first fifteen minutes it got really, really funny, but I'll never know because that's as far as I got. I just couldn't last another minute because Kristen Wiig's character (or, at least, her performance) was just about the most annoying thing I've ever seen in any movie, and I've seen everything Chris Tucker has ever done. And to be clear, I like Kristen Wiig. I think she is a very talented, very funny, and very beautiful woman, but boy was she completely, thoroughly awful in this movie. Or, at least, in the first fifteen minutes anyway, since that's all I watched, but that was long enough.

But don't let my opinion stop you, since everybody else seemed to think it was hilarious. As far as these things go, everybody also loved the Hangover as well and I didn't make it through that one either.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

X-Men: First Class

X-Men: First Class is an exceptionally well made film that has almost nothing to do with the X-Men.

I suppose that's not entirely accurate. It has nothing to do with the X-Men comic books (which have been around for almost 50 years and spanned literally thousands of issues), and is mostly just based on the X-Men series of of films (which have been around for about ten years and spanned three films), so that explains why the mythology and history presented is mostly a jumbled mess that will have people who have only seen the films feeling confused and people who have grown up on the comics feeling annoyed. However, as an origin story taken on its own, it's a cracking good film.

I'd be surprised if the writers of this film even read any of the original comics books before crafting their screenplay, since every detail and character idea is taken from the earlier films, which is fine since those films were already pretty far removed from the comics. So what we have here is a film intended to be a prequel to a series of films that were very loosely based on a series of comics. That's why we have a Charles Xavier who is British even though he's American in the comics, and a Moira MacTaggert who's American even though she's Scottish in the comics. At least Xavier's personality, powers, and back story come through mostly unchanged, while most of the other characters are just given a name and appearance from the comics and turned into something... else, almost as though they are mutated forms from their original comic book counterparts. So Moria MacTaggert, a Scottish geneticist who meets and falls in love with Xavier because they are both studying human mutations while at Oxford is now an American CIA agent. And the rest of the characters are similarly changed, as is the entire makeup of the "First Class" itself, since the actual lineup from the original comics have all been used already in the earlier films, so it wouldn't make sense to have Cyclops, Jean Grey, et all living back in the 60s.

So as an X-Men film, it falls flat and borders on being something insulting, considering how much is changed, dismissed, and flat out rewritten for these films. But as an action movie, it's absolutely stunning. Matthew Vaughn is an excellent director and some of the set pieces in this movie are brilliantly filmed, even if none of them really add up to a cohesive whole that makes much sense or is all that satisfying on any real emotionally or intellectual level. The scene where a young Magneto kills a bunch of aged Nazis in a bar in Argentina, for example, was one of the most well done and entertaining scenes I've watched in a long time.

The cast is also pretty exceptional, with James McAvoy out-Xaviering Patrick Stewart, who is a brilliant actor who completely phoned in his performances in the earlier films. Michael Fassbender was awesome as Magneto, giving just as much gravitas as Ian McKellen, but actually seeming like more of a real threat since he didn't look like an arthritic senior citizen. Kevin Bacon stole the entire film, however, as one of the best villains I've ever seen in any comic book movie. No, this was not the Sebastian Shaw from the comics, but Bacon was so good I didn't care. The rest of the cast was played by a bunch of gorgeous, sexy women who mostly walked around in their underwear, so they were also very good and very memorable. This did seem like a bit of a step down for Jennifer Lawrence after her Oscar-nominated performance in Winter's Bone, but boy is she talented and very, very beautiful.

So... X-Men: First Class. Check it out, but don't go in expecting anything all that amazing or showing any real fidelity to the comics or even the previous films. When the plot gets confusing and has you feeling lost, don't make the mistake of thinking it's all explained in the comics, since none of this is from the comics and it's just because the script isn't that great or well thought out. But boy is it a lot of fun.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Bring it on Home to Me: A Tribute to Sam Cooke (Video)



Sam Cooke is my all time favorite singer, and Bring it on Home to Me is maybe his best song, or, at least, maybe his most widely covered. I had the idea the other day to string together some of the best covers into one ultimate version, as a tribute to one of the most talented singers the world has ever known. I don't own the rights to this song or any of these versions, I just wanted to do a tribute to a singer that I love a lot, and judging by the talent I put together in this video, lots of other people do too.

I'm actually pretty proud of this video. I've made a lot of videos, but this was the most fun and hopefully the one that will be the most popular. Anyway, check it out and let me know what you think:


Monday, September 12, 2011

In Memoriam: Andy Whitfield (1974-2011)


Sad news. Andy Whitfield, star of the hit series Spartacus, passed away today after losing his two year battle with Lymphoma.

Read more about his life and struggle here, and then go honor his memory by watching Spartacus, because it was a great series and he was brilliant in it. He seemed like a cool guy and he will be missed.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Video Clip of the Week - The Best is Yet to Come

Here is one of my all time favorite songs in one of my all time favorite scenes from one of my all time favorite TV shows:

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Oscar Buzz


So according to this article, Eddie Murphy is set to host next year's Oscar's. I haven't watched the Oscar's in years, nor do I think I've even seen the last few best picture winners, but I'll probably tune in to see Eddie Murphy. He's a funny guy, and it'll be nice to see him doing comedy again, even if it's the watered down, luke warm kind you find at the Oscar's.

Still... the guy was as funny as anybody on the planet, and I'd check out the ceremony if only to see if he's actually still funny.

Monday, September 5, 2011

The Monkees Head Review (Video)

I've always wanted to see the film Head, the first (and last!) motion picture to feature the Monkees, and I finally managed to find a copy a week or so ago. Here is my video review of one of the weirdest movies in film history:

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Last Man on the Moon

Everybody knows who Neil Armstrong is, since he is rightly renowned worldwide and for all time as the first man to set foot on the Moon. Infinitely less well known is Gene Cernan, who, as of September 1st, 2011, is still the last man to stand on the surface of the Moon. Not as impressive as being the first? I suppose. And if (when?) we ever do go back to the moon, he'll no longer be notable as the last and his name will become even less well known as he joins the ranks as such other forgotten astronauts as David Scott, Alan Bean, and Harrison Schmitt (among others) as just some guy who walked on the moon.

But you know what? How many times have you walked on the damn moon? I didn't think so.

First, last, second, or even tenth person to walk on the moon is still one more time than any of us will be able to do it, so no matter the order, that's damn cool. In fact, there is literally nothing more cool in the world than walking on another one. And Gene Cernan was the guy who did it most recently, so I think that makes him a strong contender for coolest guy worldwide.

But forget about the order or even whether or not he walked on the moon at all, since The Last Man on the Moon, the autobiography of Astronaut Eugene, is about life as an astronaut in general. I can't say if this is the best book I've ever read on life as an astronaut since I've read several that have been very good, but this one certainly is one of the most exciting, heartfelt, and well written. Cernan gives an overview of his entire life, paying particular attention to what it was like to go through the astronaut selection process, train to be a pilot for Gemini and Apollo, his horrific space walk in 1966, and his eventual voyage to the moon in 1972.

The events in this book, and the exploits Cernan went through (both as an astronaut and as a man trying to raise a family) are exciting, entertaining stuff, and the book is wonderfully written, either because of Cernan's talents or because of the help of Don Davis. We have heard Cernan's words spoken on the moon and in various other missions as an astronaut, so we know he was an eloquent man with a gift for words, but the book so so polished and so well put together, I'm sure a lot of credit goes to his collaborator, although how much nobody could ever say for certain.

Anyway, it's a good book that's worth reading if you want to learn more about life as an astronaut, or what it felt like to walk on the moon and then come home to the realization you'd never go back there again. Check it out.

Eugene Cernan: The Last Man on the Moon

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Saxondale

I recently watched the entire 13 episode run of Saxondale, a BBC sitcom starring Steve Coogan as the titular character. Tommy Saxondale is a middle aged, over the hill ex-roadie who now owns a pest control business but still attempts to live the rock and roll life style, but in reality he's just a dick with an anger management problem. Anyway, I don't have too much to say about this show, other than that it's absolutely hilarious and it's available for instant viewing on Netflix so if you can get online, you have no reason not to watch it. Steve Coogan's performance has to be seen to be believed, and I don't understand why this show hasn't gotten more acclaim or attention over on this side of the Atlantic.

Just watch it. You'll laugh, I guarantee it.

Here are a couple clips"



Monday, August 22, 2011

Dumb Video

Not sure why I did this. I don't expect anybody else to find it funny, but it made me laugh:

Enjoy Every Sandwich: The Songs of Warren Zevon

Warren Zevon is one of the greatest singer/songwriters our country has ever produced, but I never picked up this tribute album because, frankly, the greatest tribute you can pay to a singer is to listen and relisten to his old stuff, not listen to covers by a bunch of singers who probably won't do the originals much justice. I'm not saying tribute albums shouldn't exist, however, since many are very good and give the singer's friends and fans a chance to honor his or her memory one last time, but still... how often are covers ever better than the originals?

However, I am a big Warren Zevon fan, so when I was house sitting for my sister a few weekends ago and saw this CD on her kitchen table, I borrowed it. As a tribute album, it's not bad and contains a few really great covers, but all in all, it was as I expected: It just made me want to go back and listen to my Warren Zevon CDs.

The title is taken from his final TV appearance, an interview with David Letterman. After Letterman asked him if his recent diagnosis with terminal cancer taught him anything about life that he didn't know before, he replied "just that you should enjoy every sandwich." Watch that episode of David Letterman before you listen to this DC, since it's one of the greatest moments in TV history (for real). Anyway, here are my thoughts on this CD's song list:


1. "Searching For a Heart" by Don Henley
I like this one. It feels more bluesy than the original, with a slower pace, more guitar and drums, and a vocal performance by Henley that is somehow even more raspy than Zevon's. This is a pretty song.

2. "Werewolves of London" by Adam Sandler
Odd choice, but not all together a bad one. Anyway, it's not as bad as you'd think, nor is it played as a joke. It's just Adam Sandler singing it straight. As I said, odd choice, since he's not a very good singer, but he's not too bad either. I'm not sure if he just sings or if he plays any of the music, but the arrangement is quite good. This is ok, but considering how awesome the original was, this tribute should've been covered by an actual musician. Skip it.

3. "Reconsider Me" by Steve Earle and Reckless Kelly
I don't know much about Steve Earle other than that he played Walton on the Wire. About Reckless Kelly I know nothing, not even if he or she is an actual person. Anyway, this cover is pretty good, if a little boring. I like it ok, and it's worth checking out.

4. "Poor Poor Pitiful Me" by Jackson Browne and Bonnie Raitt
This cover is every bit as good as it sounds, even if it doesn't top the original. Jackson Browne and Bonnie Raitt are both brilliant and this is as good a song as Zevon ever wrote, so this is one of the best covers on the album.

5. "My Ride's Here" by Bruce Springsteen
Bruce Springsteen doing Warren Zevon should be a homerun... and it is, for the most part, but as good as this is, I still can't help but wish Springsteen had taken on a song with a bit more oomph. My Ride's Here is a good song, but I dunno. I want to here the Boss doing I Was in the House When the House Burned Down, I'll Sleep When I'm Dead, or something else with that same intensity or excitement. But I shouldn't complain since this is a very good, very powerful cover that opens with a nice intro where Bruce talks about his good friend Warren Zevon.

6. "Lawyers, Guns, and Money," by The Wallflowers
Awesome song, awful cover. If you love the Wallflowers, you might like this one. If, like most people, you think they kind of suck, well... Skip it.

7. "Studebaker" by Jordan Zevon
This one is phenomenal, and might be my pick for the best of the lot. Jordan Zevon is the son of Warren Zevon, and while his voice is very similar, it's different enough to let him stand on his own. This track is taken from his pretty good album Insides Out. How does it compare to the original? Who knows, since the original track was never actually released so I haven't heard it. Maybe that's why this one sounds so good to me.

8. "The Wind" by Billy Bob Thornton
Another cover of an unreleased track. This one isn't as good as Studebaker, but it's ok. As a singer, Billy Bob Thornton is a great actor, but he does ok. It's jut a bit flat and uninspired. But it's a pretty song and Thornton sings it ok. But I wouldn't blame you for skipping it.

9. "Splendid Isolation" by Pete Yorn
This one is pretty awesome. Yorn is one of the few singers on this album that doesn't sound as though they are doing a Warren Zevon impression. He's just singing a song that sound like a Pete Yorn song, and it's the better for it. This is a good one.

10. "Mutineer" by Bob Dylan
If you like Warren Zevon, chances are good you like Bob Dylan too, so this is a pretty good combo that results in a pretty good cover. However... I like the original a lot more.

11. "Monkey Wash, Donkey Rinse" by David Lindley and Ry Cooder
This is a fun, bouncy song by two well respected but not very well known musicians. Ry Cooder is a great blues guitarist while David Lindley is best known as a session musician who has worked with Warren Zevon and just about every other major rock star. I like this one.

12. "Don't Let Us Get Sick," by Jill Sobule
This is very pretty and very boring. This is one of the best and most touching songs I've ever heard, but Sobule's voice doesn't have the same melancholy intensity of Warren Zevon, so it doesn't really work for me. Listen to the original instead.

13. "Ain't That Pretty At All," by the Pixies
If you like the Pixies, you'll like this. I don't, however, so I don't. This isn't my favorite Zevon song, and the Pixies didn't do much with it.

14. "Keep Me in Your Heart" by Jorge Calderon and Jennifer Warnes
This is a very good cover that falls short of the original if only because nothing could ever come close. "Keep Me in Your Heart" is one of the last songs written and recorded by Zevon before he died, but written after he knew he was going to die. The original is one of the most haunting and beautiful songs you'll ever hear, but this cover does a great job. It's such a wonderful song that it would nearly impossible to have it not be touching.

15. "Keep Me in Your Heart" (String Only) by Van Dyke Parks
This is as advertised: A string arrangement of "Keep Me in Your Heart." It's pretty and probably a nice way to end the album, but I'll probably skip it.

So... there you go. All things considered, this is a very good tribute to Warren Zevon. But still... before you buy this, buy some CDs by Warren Zevon himself. But if you are already a fan, this is a nice tribute to the man's career. I liked it.