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Movies This Year

Well…it’s a new year, and that means of course… new movies. If you’re anything like me, there’s nothing like a good movie to distract you from whatever’s going on in your life(or not going on)… at least for a few hours.

So, here’re a few flicks to look for this year(keep in mind, I wrote the list, so I’m a bit biased) Oh, and I do apologize if there are any spoilers hereabouts.(There likely are.)

A Fantastic Fear Of Everything: Directed by Crispian Mills and Chris Hopewell and Starring the constantly brilliant Simon Pegg(How To Lose Friends And Alienate People, Star Trek); this little gem is about a crime novelist, whose research into Victorian serial killers has turned him into an extremely paranoid man, in fear of being murdered.

Date and Switch: Directed by Chris, this movie is about two High School seniors: Michael and Matty that have been best friends since 3rd grade. Still virgins, they make a pact to help each other “get lucky” before their senior prom – their mission however takes an unexpected turn when one of them announces an unexpected secret.

Pompeii: Directed by Paul W.S. Anderson, this film stars Kit Harington(Game of Thrones, Silent Hill: Revelation3D) and is set in the year 79 A.D., Pompeii tells the epic story of Milo, a slave turned invincible gladiator who finds himself in a race against time to save his true love Cassia, the beautiful daughter of a wealthy merchant who has been unwillingly betrothed to a corrupt Roman Senator. As Mount Vesuvius begins to erupt in all its fury, Milo must fight his way out of the arena in order to save his love as crumbles all around him.

A Haunted House 2: Directed by Mike Tiddes and starring Marlon Wayans, this is the sequel to A Haunted House with Wayans as Malcolm who, after exorcising the demons of his ex, is starting fresh with his new girlfriend and her two children. After moving into their dream home, Malcolm is once more plagued by bizarre paranormal events.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier: Directed by Anthony & Joe Russo and starring Chris Evans, Samuel L. Jackson, and Scarlet Johansson; this film takes place after the events of The Avengers. Steve Rogers, aka Captain America, is trying to live a quiet life in Washington, D.C. while trying to adjust to things in the modern world, but when a S.H.I.E.L.D. colleague comes under attack, Captain America becomes enmeshed in a web of intrigue that threatens to put the world once again at risk. Joining forces with the Black Widow, Captain America struggles to expose the ever-widening conspiracy while fighting off professional assassins sent to silence him at every turn. When the full scope of the conspiracy plot is revealed, Captain America and the Black Widow must enlist the help of a new ally, the Falcon. However, they soon find themselves up against an unexpected and dangerous new enemy—the Winter Soldier.

Transcendence: Directed by Wally Pfister and starring Johnny Depp, this film stars Depp as Dr. Will Caster, the foremost researcher in the field of Artificial Intelligence, working to create a sentient machine that combines the collective intelligence of everything ever known with the full range of human emotions. His highly controversial experiments have made him famous, but they have also made him the prime target of anti-technology extremists who will stop him at all costs. In their attempt to destroy him however, they set into motion the culmination of their worst fears.

The Quiet Ones: Directed by John Pogue and starring Jared Harris( Sherlock Holmes: A game Of Shadows, Pompeii, and The Mortal Instruments: City Of Bones). The Quiet Ones Tells the story of an unorthodox professor (Jared Harris) who uses highly controversial methods, leading his best students off the grid to take part in a dangerous experiment: creating a poltergeist. Based on the theory that paranormal activity is caused by the negative energy humans sometimes put out, the rogue scientists perform a series of tests on a young patient, pushing her to the edge of sanity and starting something more frightening and terrifying than they could have possibly imagined.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2: Directed by Marc Webb(no pun intended) and starring Andrew Garfield(The Amazing Spider-Man, The Social Network), Emma Stone(The Amazing Spider-Man, The Help) and Jamie Foxx(White House Down, Django Unchained). After the events of The Amazing Spider-Man, life for Peter Parker is busy. Between taking care of the bad guys as Spider-Man and spending time with the girl he loves, things seem the same as ever, but things always have a way of changing; especially when you’re a superhero with a new villain emerging, an old friend returning, and you start finding clues about your mysterious past.

Godzilla: Directed by Gareth Edwards and starring Aaron Johnson(Kick-Ass and Kick-Ass 2) and Bryan Cranston(Argo, Breaking Bad, and Malcolm in the Middle). This film is the retelling/re-imagining of Godzilla’s origin in a more contemporary time.

X-Men: Days Of Future Past: Directed by Bryan Singer and starring Jennifer Lawrence(The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, The Hunger Games), James McAvoy(X-Men: First Class, Arthur Christmas), Patrick Stewart(X-Men – X-Men 3, The Elder Scrolls: Oblivion, Star Trek), Ian McKellen(The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, The Hobbit: Desolation Of Smaug, LOTR Trilogy, X-Men – X-Men 3), and Peter Dinklage(Game Of Thrones, Death at a Funeral). The film’s story is set partially in an alternate future where surviving mutants have been penned in concentration camps, giant robots called Sentinels patrol America, and the majority of the X-Men have been hunted down and killed.

Maleficent: Directed by Robert Stromberg and starring Angelina Jolie(Kung Fu Panda 2, Salt, Beowulf). This is the untold story of one of Disney’s most iconic, classic villains(Sleeping Beauty as told by Maleficent).A beautiful, pure-hearted young woman, Maleficent has an idyllic life growing up in a peaceable forest kingdom, until the day an invading army threatened the peace of the land. Rising to be the land’s fiercest protector, she ultimately suffers a ruthless betrayal—turning her pure heart to stone and setting into motion a revenge of classic proportions.

How To Train Your Dragon 2: Directed by Dean DeBlois and starring Jay Baruchel(The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, This Is The End, How To Train Your Dragon)and  Craig Ferguson(Brave, Winnie the Pooh, How To Train Your Dragon). The heroic dragon-riding Viking Hiccup and his faithful dragon Toothless must protect the peace — and save the future for men and dragons from a power-hungry enemy named Drago.

Transformers 4: Age of Extinction: Directed by Michael Bay and starring Mark Wahlberg(Ted, The Fighter, The Happening), Stanley Tucci(The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, The Hunger Games, Jack the Giant Slayer) and Kelsey Grammer(Monsters University, Toy Story 2,  X-Men 3).   As humanity picks up the pieces, following the conclusion of Transformers: Dark of the Moon, Autobots and Decepticons have all but vanished from the face of the planet. However, a group of powerful, ingenious businessman and scientists attempt to learn from past Transformer incursions and push the boundaries of technology beyond their ability to control – all while an ancient, powerful Transformer menace sets its sights on Earth. The epic adventure and battle between good and evil, freedom and enslavement ensues.

(A trailer for the film seems to be unavailable as of yet.)

There are of course more movies coming out this year, but take it upon yourself to go look for’m, and… happy movie watching.

The Princess that Never Was?

It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything, so here’s a short rant from yours truly about something seemingly random and geeky.:

 

A long, long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, there lived a princes… only… was she really a princess? As Star Wars has become Disney property, a good friend of mine brought it to my attention that princess Leia would be a Disney princess. That got me to thinking… would she be a Disney princess? Further more, was she even really a princess?

If I were to allow my friend to answer that question, he would say that Leia was in fact a princess. She was the adopted daughter of the king and queen of Alderaan, and her birth mother was the Queen of Naboo.  Now, that sounds like more than enough for her to be considered a princess; right? Wrong. In my opinion anyway.

 

 

Here’s the problem. She may have been the adopted daughter of royalty, but does that in of itself make her a royal? If I’m the king of France and I adopt a monkey into my family, does that monkey then become royalty? (not to equate princess Leia to a monkey.)No, it doesn’t.  And as to her being the biological child of the “Queen of Naboo”… well.. I may be ignorant of all of the political ways of Naboo, but the last time I checked.. being the daughter of a former queen doesn’t make you royalty when that queen in question was elected to the position. Elected, not born into or married into.. elected.

Even if I can manage to get past the whole elected queen thing, there’s the fact that when Leia was born, her mother had been dead/on her death bed at the time and there was a newly elected queen ruling Naboo. Heck, even before Padme was dead, Naboo had elected a new queen. Padme was a senator. So, in truth, Leia is the biological daughter of the senator of Naboo and the adopted daughter of the king and queen of Alderaan.

 

 

 

Now, if I can manage to look past even that, there’s the one tiny fact that Alderaan no longer exists. So, what’s princess Leia the princess of?  A large heap of space rock? I don’t think so. No kingdom, no power, title becomes meaningless. Princess Leia becomes commoner Leia.

 

 

So, to sum it all up… princess Leia is not a Disney princess. At best, I could say that she’s a Disney person of importance….within the Star Wars galaxy.

 

 

As an added bonus, here’s the a video about the Disney purchase of Star Wars:

A Few Films To Look Forward To…

Those who know me know that I tend to go to the movies a lot. One of my favorite things about going to the theatre; other than seeing the film I’d planned on seeing, is the previews. If not for the previews, there are a great many films I might have possibly missed out on. So, I have decided to take this time to provide you good folk out there who may have possibly missed out on some things coming soon and or not soo soon with a heads up if you will. Here are a few tidbits of news  about what’s to be expected on the big screen.

Enjoy the trailers:

 

The Cabin In The Woods – April 13th

Just upon hearing the name, I’m sure your imagination starts to conjure up the image of your typical slasher flick. Take a few nubile youths, put them in a cabin in the middle of the woods, add a wrong turn here, stupid thing said there, and mistake here, and throw in one slash-happy psycho with a larger than life knife, chainsaw, ax or what have you and there you have it. Right?  That would be the usual recipe for a movie with a title like ‘The Cabin In The Woods’, but with a tagline like “You think you know the story”… one can’t help but be somewhat dissuaded from thinking they know enough to brand this as just another cabin-slasher flick.

The Avengers – May 4th

Now, I’m sure just about anyone who’s seen a movie preview in the last while knows that there’s an Avengers movie coming out in the next few months, but in the event that you were unaware of this.. now you know. For anyone unfamiliar with Marvel Comics or The Avengers, this film has Thor, Cpt. America, Iron Man, the Hulk, Hawkeye, Black Widow and of course Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury as they are pitted against Loki (Thor’s adopted brother) and an enemy that I’m not all too sure about. It could be anyone from A.I.M. (Advanced Idea Mechanics) to Zodiac, though let’s face it.. it’s not likely to be Zodiac. It’d be more likely to be Hydra or even Ultron. Anyway, you may or may not have seen one of the latest previews for the coming film, but in case you haven’t seen the awesomeness that is this particular trailer, here it is for your viewing pleasure.

Spider-Man – July 3rd

I’m far from the biggest fan of Spidey, be it in comic book form, cartoon form, action figure form, or video game form, but I can’t help but have some interest in the character. Nerdy geek ends up being imbued with super-human abilities like agility, super strength, the ability to know danger’s near, and of course the web slinging and clinging to any surface he wants to (All which comes along with an upgrade from dweeb to pretty cute guy, it seems.), but they’ve gone and changed ol’ Spidey up it seems. He’s got a new face and a new suit. He even comes with a new villain. I won’t get my hopes up for this one, but I could be wrong and this film could blow every other Spider Man film clear out of the water.

In place of writing more and more about this movie, that movie, and the other, I’ve decided to show you good people the Super Bowl movie commercials. (Alright, I know it’s a cop-out and I’m fine with that.) If you’ve seen them, here they are again. If you’ve missed them.. Here they are for your viewing pleasure. (Excluding the Avengers trailer; as it’s already on here.)

The Hunger Games

G I Joe: Retaliation

John Carter (Extended Super Bowl movie trailer)

The Dictator

Act of Valor

Battleship

The Lorax

 

 

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Movie Review: Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace 3D

Moviegoers should prepare for a blast from the past as “Star Wars Episode I The Phantom Menace” opened not but a few hours ago here in Washington State. The May 22nd, 1999 release is back in theaters, and it’s in 3D; which should give fans more reason to check it out.

Lucasfilm’s Industrial Light & Magic  visual effects supervisor John Knoll says the new dimension makes the film more immersive. And he couldn’t be any more right, though this is coming from me as a fan of the overall Star Wars franchise.

“The extra dimension makes the audience feel like they are more present in the Star Wars universe. I wanted to make sure that we were not turning this into a gimmick. It’s something that should feel natural and not cause eye-strain or cheapen the product so I was not looking for places to poke stuff out of the camera. I went for naturalistic stereo as though the movie had actually been shot in stereo. I think the film looks better than it ever looked before,” he says in a press release.

“As someone who prefers watching movies without having to keep adjusting 3D glasses, I wasn’t too keen on 136 minutes in the theater. I also wasn’t too sure if the 3D would make that big a difference—as far as I could remember, there was a lot of talk in “Episode I.”

In George Lucas’ highly anticipated installment, Anakin Skywalker’s epic story begins when he is discovered on Tatooine, a desert planet where Jedi master Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi make an emergency landing. They just rescued Queen Amidala from Naboo, which has been blockaded by the Trade Federation army after Naboo opposed the Galactic Republic’s taxation on trade routes.

As the first of a three-part prequel to the well-loved original trilogy, “Episode I” was regarded with  mixed reactions when it came out 16 years after the last of  the original series. Some “Star Wars” fans were disappointed by the film, perhaps due to the overwhelming expectations based on the success of the original three. Movie review website Rotten Tomatoes gave it a 60 percent rating, saying that plot and character development is lacking. On the other hand, it says there’s plenty of eye candy to behold.

When I prepared to don my not soo comfortable 3D specs, I couldn’t help but wonder what all I could expect from 3D for this film. Many films seem to bombard the viewers with 3D, regardless of whether the scene calls for it or not. That was however not the case here. I was surprised with how subtle some of the 3D seemed. It wasn’t smack dab in my face, but I couldn’t help but feel like a part of the experience none the less. As I watched on in enjoyment, three scenes in particular caught my attention in regards to the addition of 3D(And I’m aware that I say 3D an aweful lot in this blog post.. mostly in this paragraph.) The first was the podracer scene with young Anakin Skywalker. I couldn’t have enjoyed watching that part more if it had been my first time seeing it. Despite the fact that I knew otherwise, I felt like his podracer could just leap off the screen and into the very theatre.

Another scene worth mentioning was the duel between Darth Maul, Obi-Wan-Kenobi, and Qui-Gon-Jin. As soon as the doors in the Naboo fighter hanger open to reveal Maul, I couldn’t help but be excited. Thankfully, that excitement was justified. Whether due to the 3D effects or just cleaning things up, there was a far crisper feel to the look of the three as they fought.

The last was the scene of the space battle. I’ve seen some awesome films in 3D before, but this is officially one of my favorite 3D scenes now. If you’ve seen Episode I before then you know that the space battle scene is pretty good. 3D simply makes it…better, for lack of a better word.

There are also a few other things throughout the movie which left me pleasantly surprised, such as cleaning up an image of my favorite Sith Lord, Darth Sidious so that if you look close enough, you can tell what the true identity of the Sith Lord is. There’s also the addition of a few other characters in the pod race scene who are not in the original theatrical version, but who I’m told were in the dvd versions of the film. Also, for all the Yoda fans out there, the little green man looks amazing in the film. At least one of my friends was happy to see the CGI Jedi Master in the place of his Muppet counterpart.

Of course I loved almost everything about the movie in of itself.. apart from the character of Jar Jar Binks. In all honesty, I kind of feel that he detracts from the film as a whole. This post isn’t about that though, it’s about the film’s transition into 3D. So, sticking with that theme, the only problem I could think of was Jar Jar’s 3D look. For that matter, the look of the Gungans as a whole could be scrutinized, but I’ll settle for Jar Jar. There are moments in the film where due to his actions and the special effects he looks like he’s made of rubber, and not in a great or even funny way. You may also notice that some of the masks for aliens such as the Neimoidians(Trade Federation) look a bit less than convincing

That said; if you’re a fan of Star Wars (including Episodes I-III) then I’d say this is something worth going to see. Especially seeing as from what I hear, Episodes II-VI will also be undergoing 3Dification.  You should however be prepared to shell out 15 dollars or so for the tickets of the currently released film. If you’re lucky, you’ll get the 3D glasses designed especially for Episode I as seen below(Anakin Skywalker pod racer style design.), but if not, you’ll be stuck with the standard specs as my friends and I disappointingly were.

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In the Name of Sanity…

In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale is a fantasy action film directed by Uwe Boll in 2006, apparently inspired by the Dungeon Siege video games.

Set in the fictional kingdom of Ehb, the story follows a man called Farmer (Jason Statham), an orphan who was adopted by a village…seemingly the only village in this fantasy land.  When Farmer’s wife, Solana (Claire Forlani), and his son leave to sell vegetables at the town of Stonebridge, his farm is attacked by creatures called Krug (If you don’t know what a Krug is.. think Uruk-hai from Lord of the rings, but far lamer looking and noticeably shorter/unimposing.).  With the help of his friend Norrick (Ron Perlman), he fights off the Krug and travels to Stonebridge. However, the Krug manage to kill his son and capture his wife. Accompanied by Norrick and Bastian (Will Sanderson), his brother-in-law, Farmer intends to find and rescue his wife.

The Krug are being controlled by the wizard Gallian (Ray Liotta) who is amassing an army to overthrow King Konreid (Burt Reynolds), with the assistance of the King’s nephew, Fallow (Matthew Lillard).

That’s basically the gist of the movie. This is what a budget of $60 million seems to get you in Hollywood.

This movie obviously boasts some well known actors, such as Ron Perlman (Hellboy), John Rhys-Davies (TV’s Sliders, Lord of the Rings), Burt Reynolds ( The Longest Yard, The Dukes of Hazard) and so on, so you would expect that this movie would be epic or at least nearly epic, right? Well you’d be mistaken; sadly mistaken.

From the beginning, this movie seems to have been pieced together out of weak plot and sad effects. If I didn’t know any better, I’d think this movie solely relied on the big names of its actors, not its script, effects, plot, and overall feel. I guess I don’t know any better because that’s just what I think. Don’t get me wrong though, this in no way is me badmouthing the actors in this film. Each and every one of them played their part perfectly, but even well trained and experienced actors can’t turn trash into gold. If that’s something you didn’t know before, take a look at “In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale” and you’ll find it out for yourself.

After watching the movie in its entirety, the only thing on my mind was how soo much money produced such a substandard film. I’ve seen movies with noticeably smaller budgets and less well-known actors in it that could run circles around this piece of fantasy garbage. There’ve even been Sci-Fi originals made by the Sci-fi(now Scy-fy) channel that were more enjoyable and well thought out than this film.

If this movie in of itself wasn’t bad enough…. there’s a sequel. That’s right.. a sequel. Now.. I’ve yet to see the sequel titled “In the Name of the King 2″(to the best of my knowledge that’s the title), but here’s what Wikipedia says about the film: “Uwe Boll has confirmed that the film will have a time travel story where Dolph Lundgren will play a former military officer who is attacked by ninjas and sent through a time vortex where he gets stuck in medieval times. Boll has also gone on to confirm that a dragon will be included in the film.” If the first movie wasn’t ludicrous  enough (and it was…. oh how it was.) then this must surely be more-so. I mean Ninjas, time vortexes, dragons, and Dolph Lundgren? How could this get any more ridiculous? Wait.. they could throw in trained bears that dance around whilst preforming acts of acrobatics on giant red rubber balls, but that’d be overdoing it just a bit, don’t you think?

Night of the Living Allegory

Cinema is littered with allegory, from movies as far back as Metropolis(1927) & its allegory of a fear of mob rule, fear of being overcome by technology  to current day, such as with The Chronicles of Narnia and their allegory of Jesus Christ of Nazareth as the lion Aslan. Allegory is everywhere, whether it’s meant to be there or not. Ever since the first zombie dug its way from out of the earth, zombies have been a widely used and popular symbol of our science run amok. You can look at a zombie film and see it as an allegory/symbol for out of control technology, as they are often brought into being by a spill of some highly toxic experimental chemical, re-animated through the means of some bio-engineered/man-made bio-weapon, or even though less often than other cases they are brought into being due to mans meddling in forces far beyond their understanding.

With Night of the Living Dead you have the possibility of all of these allegories, yet one that stands above them all is that of racism. The role of the lead character of the film (Ben) is played by Duane Jones, a black male; though the role does not call for a black male specifically. Ben is noticeably the sole non-white character in the film. Some saw this casting as significant, but George A. Romero says “he simply gave the best audition.”

Looking at the film, you can see the interaction and the distinction between the black and the white characters in the film.  Racism is defined as “The belief or doctrine that all members of each race possess inherent differences or abilities specific to that race that determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one’s own race  is superior and has the right to rule others.”

As noted by one Steven Russell, within the film Night of the Living Dead “despite the fact that Ben is the only member of the house that survives the night and in spite of his success against white zombies, he is killed quickly and cleanly by the living white, the zombie lynch mob, as he emerges into daylight.

As I stated at the beginning of this blog, there are zombie films where the dead are often brought into being by a spill of some highly toxic experimental chemical, re-animated through the means of some bio-engineered/man-made bio-weapon, or even though less often than other cases they are brought into being due to mans meddling in forces far beyond their understanding. Most of these cases easily show in the titles 28 Days Later & 28 Weeks Later where you have a zombie outbreak unleashed by means of monkeys who’ve been tested on using a “rage virus” which infects unsuspecting and slightly militant “animal rights activists” early in the film. These two titles(28 Days Later & 28 Weeks Later) also highlight how quickly man can go from reasonable and rational to irrational and just plain immoral.

Though lacking subtlety, in Zombies of Mass Destruction we see less the folly of man in his becoming overwhelmed with aftermath of his own machinations and a more racist, sexist, homophobic underbelly not of the undead, but of the people in the town who are plagued by the undead. The virus in this movie is described as a “terrorist” virus and being in a small town, one of its inhabitants believe the sole Middle Eastern girl in town to have had a hand in the virus attack. Here you see the racism brought to light by the zombie outbreak. It is not that the outbreak caused the racism, but that because of the outbreak we are allowed to more clearly see racism’s presence. You have sexist mayor who flouts the campaign of his female opposition, but more-so you have homophobia brought to light by the homophobic yet quite closetly gay preacher. In the film, before the outbreak takes place you have a cute gay couple who are coming to visit with the mother of the not soo openly gay half of said couple. The mothers reaction shows a lesser degree of homophobia than the aforementioned preacher. Through “re-education” he believes he can change someone from gay to g-d fearing straight. The themes of racism and homophobia lay strewn about the story this movie tells.

Regardless of the film title or director; zombie films have come with some lesson or parable that we as human beings should probably take to heart. Till that happens, there will always be a zombie movie pointing out the bigotry, violence, hate, racism, and just plain worse that humanity has to offer…while occasionally…possibly offering us a laugh or scream or two to lighten the tone or not focus soo heavily on the meat of the films.