Sometime this weekend, I will see a terrible movie. 
2009.06.25 19:15 - Entertainment, Movies, Internet Stupidity
So, Transformers 2 is in theatres. Truth is, once you get past the spectacle, I found the previous one alternate boring, vapid, and crude (often two or more at the same time), and the paid critics are generally suggesting that this one will be just like that, only more so. Perhaps the theater will have a bar.

In the meantime, this mostly means that the Transformers fora are busily churning on an argument that can be summarized thusly:

Party A: Michael Bay has directed a bad film, and should feel bad.

As generally sympathetic as I am to the idea that markets offer a good approximation of real value, I think it should be obvious that this is nonsense on stilts. It only gets more stupid when both parties get wound up. Party A suggests that Party B is a mouth-breathing moron with no taste to speak of, Party B suggests that Party A doesn't want Party B to have nice things and is also a pretentious jerk, a bore, and, additionally, nobody likes Party A and why doesn't he shut his stupid mouth.

Now, both sides might be right about those things, and I wouldn't be surprised if the film's review score had been a little higher if someone else's name had been credited as director. None of that really addresses the question of the film's quality, though.
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Light is green, trap is clean. 
2009.06.16 23:51 - Entertainment, Movies, Microcode, Meatspace Stupidity
Might just be me, but does anyone else think the male Rookie character in the new Ghostbusters game looks like Colin Hill? Anyone? Bueller?
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Movie Review: Sky Crawlers 
2009.06.16 11:11 - Entertainment, Movies
I am coming to the conclusion that I have deeply ambivalent feelings about the merits of Mamoru Oshii as a director. Like a lot of other dorks, I really like Ghost in the Shell, and I also really enjoyed what I've seen of Patlabor (for my money, though, the first Patlabor film and the TV series are more enjoyable than either later movie in the series). On the other hand, I didn't care for Ghost in the Shell: Innoncence, and found Jin-Roh interesting but ponderously paced.

Sky Crawlers is very much like Jin-Roh, in that the setting and concept are interesting, but the film itself is too ambiguous to deliver on these elements in a satisfactory manner. On top of that, the main characters are basically adolescent, which leads to some squicky moments. The ending offers no resolution to the questions raised in the film, nor are there very many answers to be found. There are some questions being asked about identity and humanity, but only the latter seems to be dealt with in a convincing or persuasive manner.

The animation is generally fantastic, but the rendered CG doesn't mesh well with the more conventionally animated elements, the realism of the CG-rendered planes and environments doesn't blend well with the stylized drawn characters. (It doesn't blend badly or clash, exactly, but it never quite seems like the pilots should be flying vehicles with such detailed shading or lacking outlines.) This might be intentional, but I wouldn't swear to it.

Ultimately, I think this is Oshii doing his art thing, and that just isn't something that appeals to me, at all. I can't recommend it, but the prevalence of those $1 DVD rental kiosks would argue for checking it out on the cheap if it sounds interesting.
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Terminator: Salvation 
2009.05.28 16:46 - Guns, Magpul Masada/Bushmaster ACR, Entertainment, Movies, Internet Stupidity, Meatspace Stupidity
2.5 out 4.

Terminator: Salvation is okay. It doesn't manage to be as interesting as the first of the Terminator films, nor as much fun as the second. (The third, I have not seen--consensus seems to view that as a wise decision.)

The lighting was murky, the acting was serviceable, and the characters mostly not as sympathetic as intended. I liked Marcus Wright, but I was ready for the film to be over by the time the credits rolled. Lots of callouts to previous films in the series.

In the end, one is left with the distinct feeling that nothing genuinely significant just happened: the only character that was really developed in the film was also removed from the stage.

Recommendation: since most of the people reading this probably have home A/V setups that can give a mid-range theater a good run for its money, I'd recommend waiting for the inevitable Blu-Ray/DVD release. At least you won't have to wonder if the slimy mess you stepped in on the way out of the aisle was somebody's melted Slurpee ... or a puddle of Astroglide.

If you're just looking for an excuse to see a science-fiction film in the theater, however, have you seen Star Trek, yet? I'm not sure it makes much more sense, realism-wise, but it's a heck of a lot more fun. Of course, Pixar's latest is also out this week.

Gun dorkiness follows:
To be honest, I spent a good chunk of my time trying to see the Magpul Masada that was hiding behind Barnes in about 60% of the shots he was in. Didn't see it: between the constant shadows and the distracting chatter from the row behind me, I managed to miss the one shot it was visible. It's plenty visible on the Internet, of course.

As an ancillary matter, the weapons seem to have been chosen primarily on the basis of coolness. Hence the Deagle, all the HKs, all the 5.56...
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On Star Trek 
2009.05.12 13:30 - Entertainment, Movies
1. It's good. I'm not sure it's high cinema, and it's got some flaws, but, as Star Trek films go, it's very good.
2. Apparently, Starfleet is very, very pretty in the alternate future.
3. Also, suffering a huge personnel crisis.
4. Could've done with less Nimoy, actually. Dunno if it was Nimoy's acting, or just lines he had to work with, but I thought that was the weakest part of film.
5. On a related point, the plot is kinda stupid around the edges. The rest of the movie's too much fun to care, though.
6. Poor, poor Olson. If only he knew.
7. It may just be having wound up in the center of the very front row, but I am absolutely over shaky cam and close-ups so close you can count people's pores in high-definition.
8. I need an origami sword (origamigatana?). The day I can carry a three-foot long razor in my pocket is a good day. Science needs to get on that one right away.

Several of the performances were fine, but the role in this film was kinda small. Hard to cram that much pre-existing characterization into the space alotted. It's really to their credit that they didn't try.

And I wish to note that, though I have a more-than-passing familiarity with the Trek franchise, I'm not a Trekkie, Trekker, or whatever by pretty fair stretch.
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