Friday, July 28, 2006

Nightwatch (Nochnoy Dozor)

I pulled this one off of the shelf at Movie Starz Video and was not dissapointed with the selection at all! When I first started the movie, something wasn't right. I knew this was a russian film, but it was obviously dubbed. Now, I hate watching dubbed movies. In fact, in most instances I simply refuse to watch a dubbed movie. People that prefer dubbed flicks are the same people that smother a perfectly good steak with A1 sauce. Ok, so once I figured out that the russian version with english subtitles was on the reverse side of the DVD, everthing was gravy. This is one of the more bizarre movies I've seen in recent years. The storyline isn't much different than a lot of vampire films out there: a centuries long battle between light and dark-side 'Others' (vampires, shapeshifters, etc) has been raging. There is a truce that has been going on for the last few centuries. It is prophesied that one will come along that will shift the balance, destroy the truce, and take out the other side. Whichever side the powerful 'Other' chooses (according to the prophesy), that side will be triumphant. The beauty of 'Nightwatch' is not in the story, but how it unfolds. The gore was superb- grotesque, believable and without a hint of cg (rare for horror these days). I was very impressed with one particular scene in which a shapeshifter transforms from an owl into a nubile young woman. It was brutal, raw, painful and uncomfortable to watch. The transformation was reminescent of the werewolf change-over from 'An American Werewolf in London', while utilizing modern-day effects. 'Nightwatch' tugs from several emotional angles including friendship, romance (between vampire and human), and paternal/maternal bonds, while putting on display the difficult choices that confront our conscience in the eternal battle between good and evil (light and dark). There is also a nice climactic plot twist. Excellent film- two paws way up!

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Kings Dominion


I just got back from a trip to King's Dominion with my aunt Sandra and two cousins (Erin and Maegan). We had a great time! Hypersonic was my favorite ride, even though it only lasted 3.5 seconds! Rather than describe the ride myself, I'll just do the 'ole copy and paste from Paramount's Kings Dominion website:

"HyperSonic XLC is the only compressed-air launch coaster in the United States. Unique acceleration, zero gravity airtime and free-fall sensations combine to make HyperSonic an incredible coaster experience. Pneumatic tires and specially designed shock absorbers provide an unbelievably smooth ride that must be experienced."

What the description doesn't say is that at least half of the people in each eight-person car comes off the ride looking nauseous and dazed. My other favorite ride was the 'Volcano'.



The Kings Dominion description of 'Volcano' is as follows:

"It's the only coaster in the world to shoot you straight out of a raging volcano! Suspended from a steel track, you'll fly in and out of the rumbling mountain at speeds over 70 mph, then rocket 155 feet out of the top of the crater into a series of heart stopping inversions before a final 80-foot plummet. This is one of the world's fastest suspended coasters!"

Good times! The highlight of the trip had nothing to do with the rides- it was watching Erin stuff pieces of cotton candy into Maegan's mouth while she was sleeping in the backseat (on the ride home). Sweet dreams Maegan!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

OJO: Cool as Ice

Monday, July 24, 2006

GURPS Quote of the Week

Captain Henriksen explains to Agent Duncan Jones in his posh British accent , "it would be frowned upon to be seen smoking marijuana while on duty". (Stashing the joint) Duncan Jones replies, "That's fine- I don't want to offend". Nodding to Rochi, he continues, "I'll just take a couple of those shots".

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Undead


Imagine Bruce Campbell with a beard and overalls in 'Pleasantville', taking on zombie's as part of an alien invasion- aussie style! That's what you get with the Spierig brother's 'Undead'. This movie is just plain cool. Now, before I get any nasty remarks concerning my comparison of Mungo Mckay to Bruce, let me just cover my tracks and point out that I use the comparison loosely. When 'Undead' opens, it feels a little goofy. The campy feel is lost, however, with the introduction of the zombies (which were the after-effects of a meteor shower, naturally). When Mungo Mckay's character (Marion) gets into the fray, this movie shifts into hyper-cool mode. Marion is perfectly fit for the alien/zombie invasion scenario for three reasons. 1: He's got his own weapons business (Marions World of Weapons). This comes in handy when legions of brain-eaters are knocking down your door. 2: He's a badass with his weapons. 3: He's a wellspring of witty one-liners. I can't say enough about how cool Mckay was in this movie. His character wreaks major havoc on zombie skull! There's enough intestinal spillage and brain splattering to make George Romero proud.


What I like most about 'Undead' was it's unorthodox approach to the zombie film. Zombie films have a small group of people from different demographics that band together to stay alive. That group of people finds a safe haven- lock and load, kick some ass, then realize they have to leave their fortress and relocate (usually under the guise of 'finding help'). You get close to the characters- then one by one they get infected with zombie juice and end up craving gray matter instead of pizza. Ok, that's the typical zombie flick; 'Undead' had that- but there was so much more. The comic relief was fun without bursting the horror core of the film. Where this movie seperated from the zombie mold was it's bizarre affiliation with an alien takeover. The alien aspect of the film was purposefully vague without feeling like a cop-out. The duel layer approach reminded me of 'From Dusk 'Till Dawn'. The first half of 'Undead' mimicked the stereotypical zombie storyline, albeit executed better than most of the other brain-eater flicks. The second half is where you begin to realize that you truly don't know what's going to happen. It's very rare that you can find a horror movie- especially a zombie movie- that doesn't spell out the ending thirty minutes into the action. 'Undead' meanders, then leaps away from the norm halfway through, and never looks back! I get excited when I see something different. So many producers and directors piggy-back previous successes with remakes and pseudo-remakes that it's nice to just see something totally off the wall strange. I had a really good time with this one! OJO gives it two paws way up!

Friday, July 21, 2006

This Is, Uh, Sort Of, Uh, A Blog

Newsflash: In order to be considered a worthy member of the 'art' elite, you must use the term "sort of" whenever describing your work. You must also preface every "sort of" with an "uh" or "umm" (this denotes your expertise in the field of expression). It also helps to attach "esque" at the end of the artist or paradigm to which your work is "sort of" related to. One may also interject "kind of", but only after a "sort of". To convey the ultimate impression of one's superior eye for art and the critical review of your own or someone else's work, a combination of the two should be used in the same sentence, but only if there is an "uh", or "umm" acting as a buffer between "sort of" and "kind of".


If this 'Newsflash' doesn't resonate with you, it's because you haven't subjected yourself to enough actor/director interviews, or listened to enough director commentaries. Seriously, take the OJO challenge- the next time you listen to an actor or director interview, or watch a DVD director commentary, and that actor or director can go an entire 10 minutes without using the terms previously mentioned then I'll give you double the money you just spent reading this post.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Frankenstein (Nispel, 2004)


I was inspired by 'Superman Returns' to see another movie with Goddess Parker Posey. I rented 'Frankenstein', despite having read several awful reviews of the film. I was pleasantly surprised. Victor Helios (Thomas Kretschmann) is a 200 year old mad scientist. He is the surgeon that the 'Frankenstein' myth is based upon. The story follows Helios' first creation, Deucalion (Vincent Perez), on his quest to destroy his creator. Detective Carson O'Connor (Parker Posey) and Detective Michael Sloane (Adam Goldberg) are investigating a serial killer who is cutting out various organs of his victims. Eventually, the detectives form a tentative partnership with Deucalion when it appears that Helios, or one of his creations, is behind the mysterious murders.


I thought the acting was superb, in fact, without Posey, Goldberg, and Michael Madsen's performance, this movie would have seemed cheap. It could have been a disaster, along the lines of a low-budget TV cousin of 'The Island of Dr. Moreau'. Nispel kept the plot tight and focused, allowing the actors to stay on course. This film could have meandered into global domination by Helios and his monsters- instead the story only suggested that Helios was capable of creating enough monsters to do this, and left it at that. That probably saved this film. I'm not suggesting that Frankenstein was great- but it maintains a fresh perspective on a popular horror legend, without trying to overshadow that legend. If you're a fan of horror this deserves a view, but don't expect it to blow you away.

GURPS Quote of the Week

TimeCorp Agent Eleana Harris rants hysterically, "No! I'm second in charge! We should relieve him of command! He's being irrational because he won't let you shoot me!"

and...

TimeCorp Agent Clint Bradshaw matter-of-factly states, "Fine. We'll try your group meditation, and if that doesn't work, we start settin' fires."

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Superman Returns


I saw 'Superman Returns' today with my little cousin. I don't really feel like doing a full review. Truthfully, I don't feel like I could give an encompassing review of the film because I never read the comics. When it comes to movie reviews involving comic adaptations the reviewer should know some background of the story. I didn't start reading comics until Vertigo's 'The Preacher' and 'Sandman', so supes is out of my realm. That being said, I had a really good time with this movie. Kevin Spacey was an outstanding villain! There was an amusing chemistry between Spacey and Posey's characters. Don't get me started on Parker Posey- she is one of only two actresses that I find absolutely-beyond-anything-I've-ever-seen-or-heard-of-gorgeous (the other being Fairuza Balk). Anyway, great movie, highly recommended.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Dune Prequels by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson

The Dune prequels consist of two trilogies- 'Prelude to Dune' and 'Legends of Dune'. The books in the 'Prelude to Dune' trilogy are 'House Atreides', 'House Harkonnen', and 'House Corrino'. The books in the 'Legends of Dune' trilogy are 'The Butlerian Jihad', 'Machine Crusades', and 'The Battle of Corrin'. I just got around to finishing the set of prequels by reading the last installment (Battle of Corrin). I consider the original 'Dune' canon by Frank Herbert (Dune, Dune: Messiah, Children of Dune, God Emperor of Dune, Heretics of Dune, and Chapterhouse Dune) to be the best science fiction books ever. The Dune prequels don't read like classics- they read more like depictions of chronological events. Herbert's 'Dune' incorporated elements of philosophy, religion, sociology, and the art-of-war with surreal grace and elegance. The prequels feel stale and flat compared to the original canon. I'm not faulting Brian Herbert and KJA, so much as lamenting the fact that the late Herbert Sr. could not have written the prequels and finished the series himself. Being an avid 'Dune' fan, I soaked up every page of the prequels despite the fact that I recognized early on that they did not evoke the same intimacy with the 'Dune' universe. It is a testament to the allure of the worlds Herbert Sr. created that reading just the outlines of any addition to his 'Dune' universe is more enjoyable than most other sci-fi books out there. That is really how I viewed the prequels- outlines. The prequels read more like outlines with filler than a finished product when compared to the 'Dune' canon. The main element of the prequels that I enjoyed was that BH and KJA were filling in the gaps to the original story. It now gives more meaning to the 'Dune' passages about the 'Dune' societies' abhorrence for computers i.e. 'thinking machines', or any likeness thereof. The prequels succeeded in feeding the addiction that many fans (myself included) have for the 'Dune' universe. Where they failed is in their lack of character development. The prequels don't evoke nearly enough empathy and emotion for the characters that the canon does. Of all of the prequels, the only characters that had a similar appeal to the 'Dune' characters were Serena Butler and Erasmus. I especially liked Erasmus. He is the 'Dune' equivolent to Star Trek's DATA- only diabolical, sinister, cruel, and downright evil. I liked some of the other characters, but didn't love them. Some of the characters I liked were 'Selim Wormrider', Vorian Atreides, and Norma Cenva. Unfortunately, BH and KJA just don't give these characters the flare they deserve. In conclusion- I liked the prequels, but when it comes to 'Dune', liking just isn't good enough. The standard is too high; BH and KJA didn't live up to the 'Dune' standards in the prequels, and I doubt they will in Dune 7 (Hunters of Dune, August 22, 2006). That being said, I love 'Dune' so much I'll still be at Barnes and Nobles bright and early August 22 to get my 'Dune' fix.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

The Hills Have Eyes (Remake)


Let me start by reiterating my loathing for Hollywood's obsession with remakes. I refuse to spend money on any more junk remakes, which is why I haven't seen this movie until tonight. My aunt had a burned copy of 'The Hills Have Eyes', and I thought I might as well get it over with and see it. It definately lived down to my expectations. There is nothing, and I mean absolutely nothing redeemable about this picture. The only thing worth seeing is the footage of atomic explosions during the opening credits. It's not that the acting or dialogue was bad, it's just that the poor actors had nothing to work with. The plot was scattered and lacked purpose. Wes Craven has only made three good movies in his entire career- Last House on the Left, A Nightmare on Elm Street, and The Hills Have Eyes. It's too bad that one of them has been marred because of it's affiliation with this poorly executed remake. The hills may have eyes, but I suggest using your eyes to watch anything other than this flick.

Monday, July 10, 2006

'ATTABOY OJO


The Texas Rangers contacted me recently about a possible tryout for one of their farm teams. They've been scouting 'ole OJO, and like his range and agility at the shortstop position. There are some minor concerns about his arm strength. After seeing the way he hits, and the speed at which he rounds the bags, they said the Ranger's organization would be crazy to pass him up. Within three years we could be looking at a strong back-up to Michael Young, as well as an infield utility 'man'. Attaboy OJO, that'a kid!

Trashcan Odorous Jr

Movies

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Muad'Dib Family Commentaries by Princess Irulan

Thus spoke St. Alia-of-the-knife:

The Reverend Mother must combine the seductive wiles of a courtesan with the untouchable majesty of a virgin goddess, holding these attributes in tension so long as the powers of her youth endure. For when youth and beauty have gone, she will find that the place-between, once occupied by tension, has become a wellspring of cunning and resourcefulness.


-from Dune by Frank Herbert

Friday, July 07, 2006

The Caves of Steel by Isaac Asimov

'The Caves of Steel' is the story of the unusual partnership between a New York plain clothes cop (Lije Baley) and a humanoid robot (R. Daneel Olivaw), or 'positronic cop'. Asimov's portrayal of futuristic human life is one of self-imposed imprisonment by humans within the caves of their highly structured super-cities. The backdrop of the story is that of a xenophobic city culture wherein the citizenry has abandoned all semblance of rural and suburban life for the efficiency of the city. Asimov broaches Malthusian theory to introduce the idea that past human generations have opted out of the crowded uncertainty of earth life to venture to other planets. The earth emigrants are referred to as 'spacers'. The spacers return to earth in an effort to inform them of a better life out in the cosmos, but they are dismissed by the majority of the city-dwellers (Earthmen) as arrogant foreigners. Spaceport is a city established to house the spacers. Spacers do not venture out of Spaceport because ever since their exit from earth they no longer have the necessary antibodies to ward off earth diseases. The story starts with the death of a prominent spacer within the city of Spaceport. Baley is charged with the case by his commissioner, with one catch- he has to take on a robot partner. Given Earthmen's distrust and hatred of robots, this makes for an interesting sub-plot. The story unfolds neatly, and maintains a steady pace. While the background is futuristic sci-fi, it settles nicely into the realm of mystery novel.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Evil Toons


There is no stopping the 'bad movie' spree that I'm on! You'll know I've hit rock bottom when I review Britney Spears' movie (Crossroads?). I'll make this quick and painless. The plot to 'Evil Toons' is irrelevant. The only thing that even makes this movie relevant is the never ending slew of topless babes. This movie is a 'Victoria Secret' slumber party with demon possession. End of review.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Slave Girls From Beyond Infinity


I'm officially on a B-movie kick! With so many movies out there that take themselves way too seriously, it's nice to just sit back and watch some old-fashioned B-budget skinema. This one starts out with two slave girls that escape from their prison cells, and board one of their captor's spaceships. Fortunately these spaceships are user friendly, and the bikini clothed slave-babes are quickly able to figure out the controls. Their new found freedom doesn't last long though, because they happen to crashland in the jungle of a planet ruled by Zen. Zen's forte is luring young ex-slavers in bikini's into his jungle palace, chaining them up, and turning them loose into the jungle to hunt for sport. This movie was so fast-paced that our young heroines never had the time to change out of their cloth bikini's. Of all the horrendous dialogue, my favorite exchange went something like this, "Oh, if only we had a knife". Her captive accomplice then pulls out a twelve inch switchblade and says, "you mean, something like this". "Perfect", she replies. Perfect indeed. This film also had bickering androids, laser crossbows, grotesque mutants, and did I mention skin? Fortunately I won't have to re-think my top ten sci-fi list after this one, but when I decide to put a top ten B-Movie skinema with bad dialogue list together- this will be number one.