Half-Blood Prince line experience and movie review

July 15, 2009
Nice MySpace image, Potter.

Nice MySpace image, Potter.

Before the review, a bit on my pre-midnight experience : It was fomping insane.

My party arrived at 8:00 hoping to catch Bruno before Potter and there was already a line! And not just 3 or 4 freaks, but about 100 people! For a movie four hours away! The local news channel was also there recording and interviewing peopl.Well, Brunowas also sold out and, not wanting to wait in line, we tried another theatre. When that one was sold out too, we decided to get a pack of cards and sit with the Potter nuts.

Because, I guess, we’re kind of Potter nuts ourselves.

When we got back, maybe 8:55, with playing cards and Wendy’s hamburgers in hand, the line had spiralled around the theatre! On quick count, about 400 people were ahead of us. The sad, scary and pathetic part about this was when we finally got moving we were actually in the first third of the line!

It went on as far as the eye could see.

Crappy image, but the line continued back to those lights and beyond.

Crappy image, but the line continued back to those lights and beyond.

So we just played multiple games of Crazy 8’s Countdown and a number of 21 hands (for imaginary money). It also seemed that everyone driving by had to be douchebag enough to honk their horns incessantly and scream unintelligible sounds. One highlight was when I spotted a person walking towards the line with a sweatshirt that read “RAPE”. Who the hell wears a shirt like that? Upon closer inspection, it actually read “BAPE”. Still, it was hilarious.

Weird was the lack of people who dressed up. I mean, this was a midnight showing for diehard fans and I counted maybe a dozen people who bothered to dress up in English schoolchildren attire + robe. One person had a shower curtain. I expected a much higher turnout and at least one Dumbledore, given this particular Potter story. A lot of people were power reading the novel, though.

Probably to better nitpick with.

But eventually the insanity ceased and we all started moving into the theater at around 11:30. What wasn’t funny was the mad dash for seats everyone made. It was like the end of the world. We snagged relatively comfortable seats nearer the front and in centre. The concession lines were a sight, though. They all spiralled to the side, like the Milky Way’s arms. It was balletic how the lines were.

Anyways, was the movie worth the hoopla?

The Good:

  • Music. This is almost a default because the Harry Potter series has always had excellent orchestral scores and this was no different. It wasn’t quite the John Williams score of the first three, but any rendition of the theme is aces in my books.
  • Much darker. I’m glad I weathered the midnight lines because I was watching with fellow adults who could handle it, but even then the scene at the cavern with the Inferni was motherfucking stupidly scary. I can’t even imagine younger children watching that scene. I also love how brutal Draco’s stomp to Harry’s face is.
  • Better acting. The longer break paid off because everyone, especially Emma Watson, was a lot better here than in previous Potter films. I can’t really find a sore thumb amongst the bunch minus Radcliffe, but that’s more because Harry’s always been the least interesting character than it has to do with his acting abilities.
  • Final confrontation. I thought they did a great job redoing the climatic scene atop the tower. The book was a bit wonky, what with the cloaks involvement and a petrifying spell. Here it was a lot more natural and heartbreaking (I can attest to this because the three girls to my right all sobbed).
  • GREAT film making. The film is a sight to behold. It almost seemed that the world was changing because of the growing darkness, with sunlight now coming at a premium. It sets a really forbidding tone that could be downright depressing at times. But everything just looks so great, and most importantly, convincing. Everything seemed real, which is a long way from Harry fighting the troll in the second movie.

The Bad:

  • Cut a LOT from the books. I know, a movie is a movie, and a book is a book. BUT, there were still a lot of things that I thought could’ve made the movie and made it better. Things like Dumbledore’s funeral (uh, spoiler?) was washed over completely and Snape’s subplot of trying to get the potion back was dropped completely. All the hints of Snape being the Prince were gone so the payoff at the end wasn’t earned.
  • The non-plot elements. I have to admit the movie lost me every time it dragged on and on and on with the relationship bits. I understand they were a necessary evil, but I can’t help but think things could’ve been expedited somewhat.

The Ugly:

  • Inferni. Damn those things are freaky.
  • Poor dining hall. Fuck you Bellatrix.

Verdict: This is easily the best Potter film since the third. It’s got great character drama, the best visual effects the series has ever seen and a compelling story. I’ll admit I didn’t much like the last two movies due to their pacing and weaker stories, but this movie has me amped about The Deathly Hallows. I still don’t understand the need for two movies (seeing that the book has an extended section of them camping in the woods that I want cut) but I’ll still be right there to watch them.


Worth your attention: Fringe

May 13, 2009
Like the X-Files, only less aliens

Like the X-Files, only less aliens

Now that the first season is over and done with, how did Fox’s attempt at a contemporary X-Files fare? Better than I expected. Coming from the men behind the new (and in my opinion, best) Star Trek movie, Fringe shares more than a passing similarity to Fox’s previous sci-fi procedural.

There’s the FBI and there’s wild and crazy shit happening. What separates Fringe of Files, though, is its underlying serialized nature. Sure, X-Files had the whole Mulder’s sister being abducted story but it meandered over nine seasons and never really resolved. Here you can tell Abrams, Orci and Kurtzman have a very specific idea they want to hit and these seemingly random ‘cases of the week’ all add up to something bigger, and even crazier than Abrams other batshit crazy series, Lost. If you haven’t seen the ending, or the show, yet I’ll be getting into spoilers…..now.

Fringe has a dense mythology. Not too shabby for what started off as a monster of the week type of fare. In fact, I almost stopped watching early on because it didn’t seem to be leading anywhere. Just random shit happening every week and the heroes come in a solve the case. Pretty much a sci-fi CSI and nothing more.

But then at around episode nine or ten, you realize that almost everything that’s happened mattered! You realize these strange events are being set up by a shady organization preparing to battle some sort of extra-dimensional war. That children had been doped with drugs to become soldiers in this war. That the grotesqueries happening in the Boston region was all a giant power grab by a disgruntled scientist.

Once the show revealed its hand, I was pretty much hooked. It helps that the show also has one of the better casts on TV. Anna Torv as Special Agent (are all FBI agents special?) Dunham is convincing, though she did have a slow start. It’s nice watching Torv grow into the role. Joshua Jackson is surprisingly fun to watch as Peter Bishop. Snarky, nihilistic and sarcastic. He just might erase his constant tag as “that guy from Dawson’s Creek” yet! Most notable, though, is John Noble as the crazy, forgetful and in a weird way adorable Walter Bishop. Some may find his constant non-sequiturs and irrelevant comments off putting, but I ate it up. He brings a lightness to every scene without being cheesy.

While the best new show on TV, it’s not without its flaws. For one, it seems almost every case is solved with Walter remembering some obscure past experiment he had tinkered with. Takes away investigative ingenuity when you have a walking deus ex machina. There’s also some very questionable plot points. The fact that Leonard Nimoy’s William Bell is currently inhabiting an entirely different dimension is a relatively tough pill to swallow. Even the X-Files didn’t get this crazy. Not even Lost’s time travelling is this crazy. I’m not quite sure if this is a good crazy or a jumping the shark crazy yet.

Still, it’s a great show, and seeing that Fox has already greenlit a full second season new viewers can go in knowing the story will be continuing, while those who were around since the beginning like me feel fulfilled and can eagerly anticipate the fall.

Star Trek, where no man has, etc.

May 10, 2009
You'll be seeing this lot again in the future

You'll be seeing this lot again in the future

Spoiler warning. Many, many spoilers.

JJ Abrams did something many thought impossible – an absolute reboot of  a fan loved franchise, kept in continuity (more on this later), and surpassing most everyone’s expectations. Long review short, this is the best summer movie I’ve seen since Dark Knight, and in its own peculiar way, it’s just as good. If not better.

The Good

  • The main cast. They are near perfect. Chris Pine shows he’s got the leading man gene ingrained into him. He’s wildly charismatic, hilarious and can kick some ass when need be. He doesn’t do a Shatner impersonation, which may irk some die hards, but he gives so much more. Quinto is just as good as Spock, always on the brink with his emotions. Plus, you get to see him kick even more ass than Kirk! I can’t imagine anyone else playing these two young characters. Karl Urban is admirable in a largely thankless role as Bones, Yelchin is terrific with the “wictor, wictor” type of stereotypical Russian accent, Cho plays a fine Sulu with a couple of moments to shine, and Pegg is his usual terrific self as Scotty. Zoe Saldana is probably the weakest element, less because of her acting and more because the movie has Uhura be little more than Spock’s worried woman.
  • Continuity. Probably the biggest thing I was worried about, but Abrams sidesteps this issue by having a storyline that perfectly explains the differences. Having this be essentially an alternate universe to the main Star Trek realm, it allows Abrams to pretty much do anything he wants. It allows
  • Shit happens. Speaking of doing anything he wants…he destroys Vulcan! It was inconceivable that he would actually do something this drastic, but he went and, as Spock says, made the Vulcan people an “endangered species.” Not only that, he doesn’t pussy out and have a time travelling reset button waiting at the end of the movie. Six billion Vulcans are dead and that’s permanent in this new continuity.
  • The film making. This is a very, very pretty movie to look at and hear. Yes, the overabundance of shining lights and streaks can annoy people but I thought it lent the entire enterprise (pun most definitely warranted) a distinct look and feel. The music is also commendable, with sweeping orchestral pieces and quieter melodic tones. A few scenes were definitely reminiscent of Lost, what with the soundless slow motion and tear wrenching music in the back, but I love Lost so I love those scenes here.
  • The Warp jump and teleporter. I love how the new jump to warp speed is a little reminiscent of Battlestar’s jump, with the added gunshot like sound. The teleporters are also pretty cool, with swirling lines of light while still keeping the classic sound.
  • Beastie Boys is classic music. I like how Beastie Boys’ Sabotage is still around in a couple hundred years as the futures classic music.

The Bad

  • Not enough Nemoy! I love the guy and what little part he does have in this movie, it wasn’t enough. He brought the gravitas in spades and I’ll never tire of his voice. I didn’t expect a leading role, but I did expect more than about 10 minutes of screen time.
  • Eric Bana. I like Bana, but here he was indistinguishable from any other third rate, screaming villain in any given sci-fi movie or TV episode. Yes, he has a decent motivation behind why he’s imploding Vulcan, but you can only yell and look menacing for so long before we wonder – is that it? Is that the full extent of your complexity?
  • Ice planet monsters. I’m not sure if this was some kind of throwback, but I don’t remember ever watching a Star Trek episode where people were being chased by giant monsters. I don’t mind the notion, but it was pretty badly don here. The one blemish on an otherwise great show of CGI.

The Ugly

  • “I’m James Tiberius Kirk.” Who the fuck says their full name when someone asks you who you are? I hated this line in the initial teaser, and I thought I got over it but when it happened I hated it even more!

Observe and Report / Monsters Versus Aliens Review

April 13, 2009
He will fucking murder you.

He will fucking murder you.

I managed enough time on Friday to catch a couple of flicks and I gotta say, I regret taking my little brothers and sister to the first one.

Observe and Report

Observe and Report, a Seth Rogen Joint, was not what I expected it to be. Hilarious and over the top? Sure, like any other R-rated comedy I feel comfortable taking my impressionable siblings to. But there is something dark brewing under the surface of this movie. An extreme mean streak that’s sure to divide the people who watch it. This is the definition of a black comedy. There is almost no joy to be had in this movie – only a spiral of depression, misery and seriously fucked up shit.

Ronnie, Seth Rogen’s mall cop, is no Paul Blart. Ronnie is a bipolar wreck of a human being. He is rude, mean, and more than a touch psychotic. Ronnie is Travis Bickle-lite. He is exactly the person you do not want to know, let alone hang out with, unlike any other character Rogen has ever played. He is just uncomfortable to watch, and at times a bit nerve wracking.

And yet, by the end (and what an ending it is – I implore you to try to not blurt out a shocked, awkward laugh) of it all, I was thoroughly satisfied. I laughed, which is all I ask from a comedy, but I was also given something entirely unsuspected as well. I have to give the movie props for having the balls (pun intended) to not hold back at all.

Monster Bash!

Monster Bash!

Monsters Vs. Aliens

The second movie we went to was definitely more kid appropriate. We also agreed it was a lot worse. I love 3D movies, but only when they’re unobstructive like Bolt and Coraline. Here, it’s in your face ALL THE FUCKING TIME. It gets annoying and nauseating after awhile.

What of the movie itself? It redefines ‘ho-hum kiddy fare’ (The previous definition read ‘Charlotte’s Web AKA The Movie Before the Dakota Fanning Rape Movie’). I figured the premise was fool proof – monsters fighting aliens in glorious 3D done B-movie style. It kept the B-movie pedigree, but it under delivered everywhere else. Beside the aforementioned over-use of 3D, the story itself is weak and the characters aren’t exactly memorable. Reese Witherspoon’s Suzie is the central focus, but Suzie isn’t exactly compelling. The monsters fare better, but beside’s Rogen’s BOB none were compelling.

But hey, there are worse ways to waste a family outing. There’s always the Hannah Montana movie (which had a line up an hour before the first showing and the brats screamed when they were allowed in) or the Dakota Fanning Rape Movie. If anything, it’s completely harmless.

I recommend you take the children to Observe and Report, and have them learn a real life lesson – stay on your bipolar meds.

Resident Evil 5: You Son of a Bitch

April 1, 2009
I really hope the other 103 names aren't released. Poor Alex.

I really hope the other 103 names aren't released. Poor Alex.

Ah, Resident Evil. How you and I have done the Danse Macabre over the years. I’ve tried to love you, and at times my adolescent mind tricked its lust and hormone fueled dementia into almost believing there’s something there. It was the first M-rated game I had ever seen, and it was infatuation at first sight.

No, you continue to be just out of my heart’s grasp.

But here you are again, knocking on my door with a new boob job and a big giant nostalgia bat, ready to beat your way back into my life. Whatever, not like there are any other game’s to play in March. Come on in, let’s get this booty call over with.

Read the rest of this entry »

Inaugural Movie Review: Phoebe in Wonderland

April 1, 2009
The most adorable tourette's kid you'll ever meet. The others are all douchebags.

The most adorable tourette's kid you'll ever meet. The others are all douchebags.

Yes, first review. And it’s…this. Well, it was the last movie I saw so I guess it’ll have to do.

Now, if any of you have seen the previews for this thing it pretty much looks like any other kiddy crap currently out in the wild yonder of anguished parents and over indulgent children. It has an adorable kid who doesn’t follow the rules, supportive parents, whimsical fantasy, whacky hijinks, etc.

What the trailer didn’t show you is that Elle Fanning’s Phoebe is fucked up.

Read the rest of this entry »