Archive for July, 2007

“Censorship is like forbidding a man from eating a steak because a child can’t chew it.” -Mark Twain

Posted in Rant on July 31, 2007 by Brandon

It always pisses me off when idiotic conservatives (yes, I know I’m a conservative, but I don’t consider myself idiotic), or liberals, for that matter, try pawn off all the troubles and issues of society on something like movies, TV, and now, video games. This is nothing new. Video games have been blamed for society’s ills for a long time, particularly the youth of America, who somehow get their hands on titles like Halo or Metal Gear Solid or Grand Theft Auto and go on to kill people on a rampage. “Experts” sort through these kids’ past and history like a file, looking for something to blame, and they find it. This particular kid happened to play 30 hours of Halo a week, so that must be the cause of him murdering 17 people. Perfect. Now, I’m not saying this many hours of Halo (or any video game) is healthy. What I am saying is that all of society’s problems can’t be pinned on a video game title.

The reason kids go astray is because of the irresponsible God-awful parents that they happen to be stuck with. These parents let their ten-year olds sit in front of the tube ten hours a day, letting them slice and dice the limbs off zombies and rape and kill prostitutes in a video game, letting the TV do the babysitting, and then five years later when the kid kills half his high school in a bloody rampage they wail and complain and bitch and go, “Oooh where did our boy go wrong?” I’ll tell you where he went wrong – YOU, idiots. And these are exactly the kind of parents who will then, not look at their parenting, but at the kinds of video games their child played, and proceed to make the video games into a scapegoat, blaming everything that went wrong with their kid not on a lack of love and proper parental care, but on the fact that he decapitated one too many aliens.

And then the government, always eager for someone to blame that isn’t them, takes the politically correct route. Oh, of course it can’t be the parent’s fault! It can’t be anybody’s fault! It has to be an inanimate object’s fault! A video game! Perfect! The murder of those fifteen people on a college campus can’t possible be caused by anything else than that he played too much Halo! Never mind that several of his friends play twice as much Halo as he does and practically worship Grand Theft Auto as a video game. That kind of info isn’t important. Never mind that he was raised by a single alcoholic dad who was either working or drunk his entire childhood. Nope, it’s gotta be the video games. Or books. Or hardcore rock music.

Sometimes people are just idiots, and it disgusts me. One thing I hate about America is that people refuse to take responsibility for their actions. It’s never someone’s fault. It’s always the next person, and then the next, and the next, and the next. It never ends, because we’re all arrogant pricks who think nothing can possibly be our fault.

We’re assholes, basically. Conservative Christians do the same thing – they take Jesus’s commandment to be in the world but not of it a commandment that everything in the world is to be blamed for our woes so we should just live in a cave. Idiots.

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The Simpsons Movie (6/10)

Posted in Movie Reviews on July 31, 2007 by Brandon

All right, here’s the break I promised y’all from my chronicling my old reviews. I saw the Simpsons movie last Friday, and finally wrote a review. Enjoy!

The Simpsons Movie (6/10)

The Simpsons has become part of our culture like none other. They have been around for nearly 20 years, and are still going strong, with end of the series not even a speck on the horizon. It was inevitable that they come out with a movie sooner or later, and for the most part, The Simpsons Movie is worth the wait. It is rife with the self-aware irony, witty satire, scathing parody, and hilarious comedy that the TV show has become known for. In fact, it is so much like the TV show that, if you weren’t sitting in a darkened room surrounded by hundreds of people, you could be fooled into thinking it was a three-parter episode. In a film where hilarity is a given, something more must be asked of it, and, unfortunately, the Simpsons fails to stretch itself in any way, being content, for the most part, to stick with its tried an true formula.

Rather than attempt to explain the paper thin plot, I’ll just summarize the basic idea for you. Springfield’s lake is dangerously over-polluted, so the city puts a ban on dumping any further garbage into the lake. Homer, of course, screws everything up because of his mis-directed love for a young pig, and thus the US government forces all of Springfield to live under a giant indestructible dome, causing the town to riot against the cause of everything (Homer, once again), forcing the Simpson family to escape the indestructible dome and flee to Alaska to start anew. Meanwhile, Bart must deal with a realization that Homer is unsatisfactory as a Dad, Lisa finds the perfect guy for her, and the ever-enduring Marge has to question whether she really wants to endure any longer.

With 400 episodes under their belt and counting, one thing the Simpsons have to be respected for is their longevity. No other TV series (aside from the Tonight Show, which doesn’t even really count) has managed to stay alive this long, while still maintaining a healthily hilarious pulse. Though it doesn’t carry as much clout as it once did, each new TV episode that comes out manages to be satirical, witty, and downright hilarious. The Simpsons movie is all of these things, lampooning religion, environmentalism, the government, and a sizable helping of other subjects too (most notable a spot-on cameo of a very notable star.) The movie is just plain hilarious – no question. There weren’t two minutes during this film where I wasn’t practically busting a gut laughing. But one also has to take into account that with 400 episodes down the drain, there aren’t many plot-lines left to do. I’m not a huge fan of the TV show – I respect it and appreciate its witty comedy and satire, but I’m not a regular watcher, so I can’t speak to whether or not this plot has been done before, but one very clear thing that I did notice was that if everything superfluous were stripped away, the movie would be about the length of a 44-minute Simpsons special.

Take Homer’s love for the pig – the thing which causes him to bring ruin to the entire town. Though it does give us the line that is already becoming a classic – “Spider-Pig, Spider-Pig, does whatever a Spider-Pig does…Can he swing – from a web? No he can’t, he’s a pig…” this whole thing is basically a plot device – once the pig has served his purpose we really don’t see him anymore. Lisa’s new crush is basically just adding on a little romantic subplot that doesn’t affect the outcome of the film at all, and Bart’s questioning his father’s love is merely for the sake of adding screentime. If enough work had been put into the plot, all these things could have worked together towards a resolution – but as it is the only strong thread that runs the length of the movie is Homer. Marge questioning her devotion to Homer comes in a close second, and it’s good to see some real conflict in these characters we love, but it’s not enough to save the paper thin plot. Another disappointment is that none of the extra characters have any strong involvement – we see cameos from Moe and the gang, but that’s all they are. Ironically the strongest character in the movie (aside from Homer) is a government official whom I don’t believe has been in the TV series at all.

All this criticism being leveled against it, though, I would still give it a positive recommendation. It’s a disappointment if you’re looking for something beyond the series fare, but if you’re just looking for a solid comedy, look no further. One of the reasons it’s disappointing is because of the sheer comedic brilliance that we’ve seen these writers capable of. If they can write comedy like that, don’t you think they could have at least come up with a plot that doesn’t artifically extend itself with four or five superfluous storylines? Apparently not. Eh. Maybe they’ll do better with the next movie. Because whether the series continues or not, you can bet this is not the last of our favorite yellow family’s visit to the silver screen.

“All right, now where’s the guy who slept with my daughter?” -Peter Griffin (Family Guy)

Posted in Uncategorized on July 30, 2007 by Brandon

Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!!!! No no no no no no!!! Of all the freakin people in the world to replace Conan in 2009, it had to be JIMMY FREAKIN FALLON??? Scroll down a bit to read the brief news story. Anyways, dang it. I was really hoping for Jon Stewart or Stephen Colbert, but I guess their satire is too smart to be in public TV. Well, I guess I should be grateful that Carson Daly isn’t taking Conan’s place. At least NBC’s not that stupid.

But hey, maybe I should give Jimmy Fallon the benefit of the doubt. After all, maybe he was just horrible in improv. Although, knowing him, he’ll probably spend the first three or four seasons giggling and looking at the camera man and making consistently unfunny jokes about how he’s replaced Conan

Odds are, though, that no one will even be watching him once Conan rises to take Leno’s place. We’ll all have a reason to watch The Tonight Show again. Jay’s time is up.

Come on, Cuaron!!!

Posted in Movie Buzz on July 28, 2007 by Brandon

Behold! The trailer for the new Beowulf film doth appear at last! It looks like it has potential to be very crappy – I have a feeling the movie will follow along the lines of I,Robot and resemble the tale solely in name. I’ll probably go see it just because I’m an English major. Unfortunately, as well, it also looks like it could be another Pathfinder. Blech.

And yesterday night I went to see the new Simpsons movie, the review of which I’ll write later, but I saw three cool trailers, the most interesting of which was Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium. My eyes lit up at the magical wonder that played across the screen. I hadn’t felt such wonder and magic emanate from a trailer since…I don’t know when. I’m normally not a huge Natalie Portman fan, but I could tell in the trailer that she was effusively ebullient with energy and having an incredible amount of fun in the role. I wanted to bounce onto my feet and cheer. And Dustin Hoffman seemed perfectly eccentric enough in his role as Mr. Magorium. I’m REALLY crossing my fingers that this movie gives what it’s promising in the trailer – because it’s incredibly rare when a movie embraces the wonder and enchantment on childhood so beautifully.

The other two trailers were The Dark Knight and Horton Hears a Who. I couldn’t find a clip for The Dark Knight, unfortunately, so that will have to wait. It wasn’t really much anyway, just flashing lights, and Christian Bale, Michael Caine, and Heath Ledger talking over it. At the end a Joker card flashed in front of the screen. Everybody was screamingly cheering. Finally, the Horton trailer had me unsure. On the one hand, it does finally pair the legendary Jim Carrey and the exceptionally talented Steve Carell, but on the other, it’s based on a short Dr. Seuss novel, and let’s face it, Dr. Seuss movies haven’t held up very well. Let’s not forget the disastrous Cat in the Hat. We’ll see. I probably won’t go see it in theaters, but I still want it to be good.

And now to address that juicy bit of Cuaron news I posted earlier today. Here’s the link again if you want. So yeah. I said to someone the other day that I was sad that Yates, the disastrous director of Order of the Phoenix, was set to direct the sixth novel. I said that, although it was probably dumb to hope for, it would make my day if Cuaron, easily the best of the four directors who have worked on the Potter series, came back and directed The Deathly Hallows. After having read the triumphant final chapter, and realizing how incredibly dark it is, I can’t think of a more perfect director. Please, Cuaron, come back. PLEASE!!!!

Juicy News

Posted in Movie Buzz on July 27, 2007 by Brandon

Please please please please please please please please please please please please PLEASE let this bit of HP rumor come true!!!!!! If Alfonso Cuaron came back to direct Deathly Hallows, I would be the happiest Potter fan in the world.

GAH!! I’ll post more later, but I can barely contain my excitement.

“I know Kung-Fu.” Neo (The Matrix)

Posted in Uncategorized on July 26, 2007 by Brandon

A site that as compiled the top 20 shootouts of all time. The Matrix’s lobby scene is number four on the list, which is a respectable standing, I think. I haven’t seen the three above it, or many of the three below it either, actually.

Oh, and hey, cool discovery – the same site also compiled a top 10 movie fights of all time. Unfortunately, no Matrix films made it, which, I think, is a travesty. The two best scenes in the entire trilogy have got to be the 100 Agent Smith scene and the Neo Vs. Morpheus scene. There’s just so much about the Agent Smith scene that is amazing and mind-blowing – you never have any doubt who’s going to win (Neo) but the sheer coolness of all his moves is unparalleled before or since in any film, hands down.

Number four is Spidey vs. Doc Ock in Spider-Man 2, and I’ll have to agree with him there. That was a fantastic fight scene in virtually every way imaginable. And much to my delight, a scene from Legend of the Drunken Master made the list, all the way up at number two, wow.

This list makes me wanna see Mortal Kombat.

Hmm, wow, the fight from the Phantom Menace is all the way up at number one? I think I would argue that the fight scene at the end of Episode III, with Anakin and Obi-Wan, was better. The music was climactic and visceral, and the amazing rush we all felt when we finally saw these two titans go head to head in a battle of teacher vs. student is unparalleled, even by the Obi-Wan/Qui-Gonn/Maul fight. I mean, sure, that was the fight where we finally got to see what Jedi were truly capable of, but the fight between Anakin and Obi-Wan was the ultimate climax, the moment that we’ve all been waiting for. I did learn something from this blog, though – I didn’t realize Darth Maul had such a specific fighting style – apparently he was super focused on Qui-Gonn, merely batting away Obi-Wan like an annoying fly. I’ll have to watch for that next time I watch the movie. But yeah, I maintain that Anakin vs. Obi-Wan was so much better. I’d almost say Yoda vs. Dooku would top my list, but I felt that it was too short and didn’t contain enough visceral moments.

I think Spidey Vs. Doc Ock deserved to be over Drunken Master, though.

Here’s a link to someone who does not appreciate the economy of magic in Harry Potter. To summarize, she basically says that the magic in Harry Potter isn’t believable, because it is not consistent and it does not have any specific rules. I would have to disagree. There’s a school that wizards go to – why else would they go except to learn magic? She also states as an issue that producing a corporeal Patronus, is, at first, a very difficult thing to do for Harry, but that Rowling just switches it around when it’s convenient for her, as Dumbledore’s Army is able to produce Patronuses when in meetings. However, the key difference between them is that the DA is a happy place, and for the most part, the students there are very happy – that is why they are able to produce them. You can bet your ass that not one of them would succeed if they were to face up against a dementor – THAT is what makes Harry so amazing. Has this person even read the books? And what about the random flashes of magic that go unexplained in Lord of the Rings, when Gandalf sends a huge bolt of power somewhere, or the hand of the most powerful Dark Wizard (Sauron) in Middle-Earth is sliced off with a friggin pocket knife. The world of Tolkien is filled with things like this (yeah, yeah, I know all about back history that he wrote and blah de blah de blah, but I’m not going to slog through the terribly written Silmarilion just so I can bet a better understanding of LOTR) , and he also demonstrates a remarkable inability to kill his characters. I’ve read articles that accuse Rowling of chickening out in the Deathly Hallows, in terms of who she has killed, but eight of the original nine fellowship characters all live. How is that any different?

She also goes into great depth about all the ramifications of Wizarding school, questioning why wizards have to go to school, blah blah. Well, for one, they go to school so as not to be tempted by Dark Magic – just as much as it is an area for instruction, it is also one for learning how to do Good Magic, and the difference between the two. She also complains about how character withhold information from each other for the mere purpose of extending the book, arguing that if the characters would just talk to each other, everything would be resolved by page ten. Of course, this would be a valid criticism, if not for the fact that Harry and his friends are all teenagers, with all the problems and ramifications implied therein, and just because we as adults have forgotten what it’s like to be a teenager, doesn’t mean Rowling has. The world of high school (and, in the HP novels, Hogwarts), is such a melting pot of hormones, relationships, crushes, school, tempers, growing pains, and the whole nine yards, that OF COURSE people aren’t going to act in a sensible way. And when you’re a young kid who’s had the burden of the entire wizarding world placed squarely on your shoulders, it simply throws yet another rock into the machine. I mean, come on, people, this isn’t a business office where productivity needs to be maximized and everyone is working towards a common goal. There are treacherous loyalties, divided and severed friendships, secrets, lies, and videotape. (Not the last one.) How could anyone presume to blame the Harry Potter books for artificially extending themselves (except for book 5) when everything about the interactions of the people in the book make sense? I’m flabbergasted by people who presume to know everything about literature and thus criticize where no criticism is earned.

Some of the criticisms that are levied against Harry Potter are legit. One that is is the Harry jealousy that Ron is always feeling, but which never comes to a head. But Rowling has never claimed to write a masterpiece of literature. This is her first novel, she deserves credit for the wonderful job she did. I have no doubt she’ll go on to become an even greater writer. I think this series is merely warranting undeserved criticism because because some sour grapes are resentful of the resounding success it has achieved. Yes, it has its flaws, but what book doesn’t? You can bet that if Tolkien were alive today and he released Lord of the Rings just as many criticisms would be leveled against it, all the way from it being long winded to it being painful to read, to the over extended ending, to the over abundance of characters, the incredibly meticulous (and thus sometimes boring to read) world. Everybody’s a critic, I don’t understand why some things can’t just be enjoyed. Sure, level your criticism against Harry Potter. But don’t whine about it. Don’t bitch and complain and go “wah wah wah wah it’s not a perfect novel it’s not Lewis or Tolkien wah wah wah.” Just because it does not reach the grand heights of Tolkien does not mean that it is crap, and I don’t appreciate how so many people tend to label it as such. You want crap, go read Eragon, and leave Harry Potter alone. He’s sitting in 10.2 million copies sold on opening day, I think he’ll be fine. I still maintain that it’s no accident that this series has been such a success. Kids and adults worldwide love reading Harry for a reason – and it’s not because it’s badly written. It’s because it’s good.

On another note, check out this mind-blowing Blade Runner DVD set. I’ve been waiting awhile so I could get Blade Runner on DVD, but this??? Holy crap. And Close Encounters gets yet another homage.

Keep ‘Em Coming

Posted in Movie Buzz on July 26, 2007 by Brandon

Well the good news keeps on flowin’ in. I found out recently that the Wachowski Brothers, of Matrix, Bound, and V for Vendetta fame, are in the process of writing and directing their next project, Speed Racer. I’m excited, though I am worried – apparently they’re trying to make it a family affair – not exactly in line with the Wachowskis’ R-rated track record. I’m worried that the restraints will make it an awful movie, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed.