Tag Archive: movie

Saturday was pretty drab and gray, so I decided to go to a movie that had just come out that I wanted to see – The Pirates! Band of Misfits. (You can watch the trailer here.)

I’m a fan of stop-motion animation as well as pirates, so I was hoping for a good movie. I was not disappointed.  The movie follows the adventures of a group of pirates (in case the title wasn’t a big enough hint) led by the Pirate Captain. All of the pirate crew are nameless; there’s the Albino Pirate, the Pirate with Gout, the Surprisingly Curvaceous Pirate (who is a woman wearing a beard that looks like a bathmat) and so on. The only competent pirate is the first mate, who can translate the Pirate Captain’s orders such as “Fire those long things that go bang!” into something that makes sense. The entire crew is just thrilled about being pirates, even if they do happen to be the worse pirates on the sea.

A merry band of scurvy dogs. (And one "parrot")

The Pirate Captain desperately wants to win the Pirate of the Year award, despite being the laughingstocks of all the pirates. They go out plundering and meet with a series of failures culminating in an attack on the Beagle, complete with Charles Darwin.

Who, as a bonus, is voiced by David Tennant.

Darwin correctly identifies Polly as a dodo and not the “big-boned parrot” the crew believe her to be and tries to buy her from them. The Pirate Captain initially refuses, but changes his mind when Darwin tells them that the discovery of a live dodo would mean “wealth beyond imagination” but fails to explain that the wealth is not of the shiny sort. Hilarity ensues.

The story is pretty good for a kid’s movie, there are enough things that will entertain an adult but a kid probably wouldn’t catch. I wouldn’t mind seeing it again, which is how I judge movies.


Along with about a million other people, many who looked like they were in the same theater as I was, I went to see The Hunger Games.

Ooh, flamey.

Those who are fans of the book will be happy to learn that it stays fairly faithful to the source material and the plot is pretty much the same. There are a few minor tweaks; the pacing is much faster, the training period before the Games is shortened as are the Games themselves, and the history of the mockingjay pin is changed. The most notable changes I saw were Peeta’s injury, (which is much more severe in the book) the absence of the gift of bread from Rue’s district, a shortening of the “prim and pamper” segments, and the lack of Katniss’ brush with severe dehydration. I didn’t miss the “primp and pamper” too much, but the other parts were some of the best parts of the book.

Overall the movie was in many ways better than the book, in my opinion it even works well as a stand-alone movie for people unfamiliar with the book. The scenery was beautiful, but I’m slightly biased as much of the filming occurred in my home state of North Carolina.

Strange Legacy

I finally got around to watching Tron  and  Tron:Legacy the other day. I know the original movie is fairly old (it came out the same year I was born) but I had never really gotten around to seeing it.

Enter the wonder of Netflix! I popped both movies into my queue and promptly forgot about them for a few months. (I have a very long queue.) They arrived after a while and I sat down and watched them back-to-back. To get the whole “Tron experience” as it were.

Sad to say, I wasn’t terribly impressed.

First – the original.

For a thirty year old movie, the effects were very good. Not what you are used to these days, but impressive for the time period. The story was not the greatest. The biggest sticking point for me was the games. The Master Control Program, in its quest for world domination, decided to behave like a Roman dictator and make the captive programs perform for the amusement of … Who? The MCP? The users playing the games? I just didn’t think it was clearly explained why these captured programs were being forced to do this. The MCP was trying to absorb as many programs as possible, destroying a few thousand in an arcade game just seems counter-productive.

And while I am by no means the most computer-literate person in the world, I didn’t think programs worked that way. If, say, an actuarial program suddenly vanished then someone would notice. The very pissed off insurance salesman would contact whatever the equivalent of the IT department was back then and get someone to either find out where the program went, or reinstall it from a back-up disk. And why, exactly, were arcade games wired into the mainframe computer of a computer software development company? This was back in the Eighties, before everything from coffeemakers to cars were Wi-Fi accessible and Bluetooth compatible. Each one of those games would have had to have a hard-wired modem and a phone connection and there were dozens of games in Flynn’s arcade alone. You would think the arcade owner would notice all the extra equipment and phone lines that all of that would have required.

And now – the sequel.

Story-wise there was an improvement. After stewing for thirty years I would hope so. There was still no explanation as to why the programs were still being forced to play games, but I’ve already covered that. The effects were top-notch, the lightcycle race was spectacular. Much better than the original, but thirty years will do that to technology.

Speaking of technology -there’s Clu.

I remember there was some sort of fuss back when the movie first came out, that Jeff Bridges was actually going to play a younger version of himself.

For those out there who are curious, here’s a photo from Wikipedia with Old Jeff and Digital jeff staring at each other.

Kinda creepy

It’s very close to the way Jeff Bridges used to look, but Clu’s face looks too smooth, the jaw is too square, and the forehead looks odd. Like a plastic action figure. The range of expression was not what a real face would be able to perform, but it was supposed to be the face of a computer program. I’m still impressed that Disney got it as close as they did. According to the IMDB, he had to wear a helmet fitted with four cameras to capture his facial movements. That seems like it would be a bit awkward. (Another fun fact – the lightsuits were actually practical effects. Each one was fitted with luminescent wires and a battery (that lasted twelve minutes at the time), the wiring was so fragile the actors couldn’t sit down in them but had to lean against boards when they took a break. They were also stifling hot and air conditioning tubes had to be trained on each actor to cool them off between takes. You too can own a sweltering rubber lightsuit – only $60000. Batteries and air conditioner not included.)

As a long-time animation freak, I’m all about the voice. Jeff Bridges has a very distinct voice that has gotten deeper, richer, and raspier as he has aged. I don’t know if there was some post-production audio tweaking or if Bridges’ simply pitched his voice higher while performing Clu’s voice, but since every so often some of Old Jeff crept in to Digital Jeff’s voice I think it was probably the latter. It’s most noticeable during Clu’s speech to his army; at one point in particular his voice drops noticeably in pitch and tone. It could have been a stylistic choice though.

If it is in fact pure Jeff Bridges, then I’m glad – Jeff Bridges’ voice is one of the best things in the world. Sure, he’s the same age as GhostDad, but that voice …



On Sunday I went to see the new Green Lantern movie.

I had seen the commercials and I’m familiar with the comics, so I did want to see it but I’m not a huge fan of Ryan Reynolds.

I dig the uniform.

In most of his movies, Ryan Reynolds seems to play the same annoying guy, with the notable exceptions of The Proposal, which was enjoyable, and Buried, which blew my freak’n mind. (If you’ve never seen Buried, you should. It was absolutely fantastic. Made me weep like a child.) So I was apprehensive about the movie, but I still wanted to see it.

I’m so glad I did.

While it follows the predictable formula for a superhero movie; guy gets powers, guy uses powers, guy doesn’t want powers, guy decides to use powers, guy saves the day and gets the love interest, but it was enjoyable nonetheless.

The effects were spectacular, the story was not terrific, but decent for an origin movie.

There was foreshadowing a-plenty, so if you pay attention and don’t constantly tweet about how hot Ryan Reynolds’ ass looks like the girl next to me did, you should be able to figure out the ending long before it arrives.

All in all it was an enjoyable way to spend part of an afternoon. Oh, and if you want to know what happened to the yellow ring, stay through the end of the credits to see.

Behold the Knight

It is no surprise to anyone that I loves me some cartoons, but I’ve never really been a fan of anime. My first love is Western animation; I watched a little Sailor Moon in high school, but that was about the extent of my exposure. I have since watched a few, but nothing really grabbed my attention; for someone accustomed to the twenty-odd minute chunks of action-packed stories, sitting through an hour of tedious dubbed dialogue followed by five minutes of stunning acrobatics left me dizzy.

And then 2008 rolled around and Batman: Gotham Knight was released.

Oh, my.

It is very similar to the Batman: the Animated Series that I grew up with and still like to watch and caress and whisper sweet nothings to. (Don’t judge me!), but it is also radically different.

Set outside the canon of the DCAU, it is an animated feature broken down into six distinct segments. While each segment weaves into a coherent story, one borrowing from another, the styles are very, very different, and for good reason. In what I would call an innovative and risky move, each segment is directed by a different director and animated by a different anime studio. The only constants are the voice actors (most notably Kevin Conroy (squeee!), who returns as the Caped Crusader) and certain story elements.

And it works.

Damn, does it work.

Best of all – multiple Batmen.

Pictured: Batman

Also Batman

Actual Batman

Yet more Batman.

I count nine Batmen, each one different. The first segment alone, told in reverse from the viewpoint of three kids, each with their own version of Batman (and the real one shows up, of course) has four.

It is not for kids; Gotham Knight is only the second animated Batman movie to receive a PG-13 rating, mostly for blood and violence (this is  Batman) and it is quite bloody but I did not find it overly so.

The overall story is meant to bridge the gap between  Batman Begins  and The Dark Knight and does a very good job. Both movies are referenced, but if you haven’t seen them yet you can still enjoy this film. I quite enjoyed it, but I’m a touch biased.


Last night I watched Resident Evil, something I have never seen before, right before bed. I know better than that, but I was curious as to what the big deal was with the whole series and I had some time left on my Farmville farm, so I figured “What the hell.”

Such a big mistake.

It’s not that it was scary, I found the makeup and effects to be a bit pedestrian, but it was the inherent flaws in the story that left me pondering in the darkness. And before I get some snippy cinefreak jumping all over me about suspension of disbelief and all that filmtastic junk, let me just say; I don’t care. I love movies and I’m willing to accept a degree of impractical psuedo-science, but this was just too much. It was a bad movie.

Case in point – the T-virus. This is the thing that makes everything else happen. It’s because of the virus’ release that the place is put on lockdown and so forth and so on. As the Red Queen helpfully exposits, the virus works on the idea that the body keeps going after death, that nails and hair continue to grow.

This is an old wives’ tale; the body doesn’t continue to function after death. That’s why you’re dead – you stopped functioning.

In my misguided efforts to try to rationalize the thought processes behind this, all I could come up – it’s for organ harvesting purposes.

Not everyone has an access panel in their tummy.

That kinda makes sense, in the sense that if the body is kept alive through this mojo-magic science, then it would be easier to harvest the organs when you needed them.

But… the organs would be filled with a virulent disease that would turn the recipient into a brainless, ravening monster.

Clearly this wasn’t a well thought out plan. Unless there is an untapped market for corpse-hair and corpse-fingernails that I’m  not aware of.

A good zombie plague could do wonders for the weave industry

This seems counterintuitive, since the Umbrella Corp has stasis devices that could keep their corpsesicles fresh and freezer-burn free for years. The tongue-creature was in such a stasis unit and seemed quite sprightly.

Speaking of the tongue-creature, the Red Queen states that it is the result of the T-virus being injected directly into living tissue. Rain was chock-full of living tissue when she was bitten numerous times. These bites would have injected the virus into her living tissue, and yet it takes two thirds of the movie for her to go zombie. And yet Disposable Male Romantic Interest #2 is only scratched by the tongue-creature and within minutes starts mutating.

I don’t think the writers of Resident Evil have ever heard of science.

And even though there were several scenes of these “monsters” feeding, the bodies were surprisingly intact. This could be because the zombies, while ravenous, lacked the muscle control to bite and swallow their food, or it was simply a dumb-ass movie.

I started thinking, as I so often do, that there seems to be a lot of zombies in the media lately. Zombies and vampires.

This is not a vampire. This is an insult to your brain.

There’s probably some deep psychological reason for this, perhaps tapping into the fear of dead bodies nearly everyone has, or the use of blood-drinking to simulate sexual congress. I’m sure there are many scholarly works on the phenomenon out there. This being the Internet, there’s probably a site devoted to vampire/zombie slashfic, but I ain’t gonna look for it.


It kind of sad that with all the advances in effects and CGI that there are so many bad monster movies being made. I love monster movies, but I haven’t seen a really good new one in years. (I’m not including Hostel or Saw, those are slasher flicks.) I added some of the later Resident Evil movies to my Netflix queue, but I might remove them. I just wasn’t impressed.