Saturday, October 30, 2010

Halloween

Yeah, that's me in my (failed) attempt at the Six-String Samurai. And yes, that's a Rock Band guitar.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Rock Band 3

Got Rock Band 3 for my PS3 this afternoon, been playing it on and off between grocery shopping and failing to do homework (Keyboard mostly). I'm really not familiar enough with the technical aspects of video games as a medium to really do a full on review and I still have homework to do, so let me summarize my thoughts with a few quick points:

1) Keyboard works, both in regular and in pro. It'll take some getting used to, but I'm getting it. It's a lot easier than guitar was when I first started out on GH3.

2) Pro is the new Expert. I don't know about Guitar and Drum pro, but if they're anything like Keyboard, it should significantly increase the lasting power of the game.

3) The setlist is fucking INCREDIBLE. Bowie, Hendrix, Queen (Rhapsody even) Ozzy, Bob Marley, Freebird, Lennon, Joan Jet, Dio...other games used to have one or two of these guys, this one has all these guys and MORE. ANY rhythm game that wants to make a dent needs to look at how incredible this setlist is and go from there.

4) Future DLC is looking great. New Doors pack, second Hendrix pack are both good and Billy Joel upcoming looks great (pretty much all the best of Joel except We Didn't Start the Fire and Goodbye Saigon). All of this is overshadowed by the fact that Electric Ladyland is coming soon. Electric Ladyland, for those of you who don't know, is an EXCEPTIONAL Hendrix album, featuring both Voodoo Child AND All Along the Watchtower. Classic rock fans, if you need to take a moment on that, I'll understand.

5) All this Hendrix and Doors and Joel DLC feels like a return to form with RB DLC. Remember when it first came out when we got The Who and Boston and Black Sabbath. THAT level of DLC, instead of just a Coheed or Megadeath amongst the mediocrity. RB had a lot to make up for, for putting Lady Gaga and Miley Cyrus on it. When Electric Ladyland hits...all is forgiven.

6) Guitar Hero is FINISHED. Done. If there is any justice in the world, this is gonna be it, the final nail in the stagnating coffin of the once-great series of GH. I know, they got it started and they did have 2112 on GH6 but too little too late. Please let this be the end, let RB rein supreme as it was meant to.

7) This may in fact be the first RB game I could platinum (IE, get all the trophies for). Closest I could get before was Beatles, which will, for the foreseeable future, remain out of reach (100 percent drums on expert Helter Skelter...not happening)

8) I'm surprised by how clean the character animations and user interface is. All the interface problems from 1 and 2 have been solved, without any new ones (yet).

9) Mr. Harmonix, now that you have Keyboard on your game, I'd like to direct you to a band headed by a man named Bruce Springsteen, specifically the album Born to Run and the song Jungleland. Just sayin, might be time.

Aight, that's it for me.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Second Age Reviews Part 1: Return of the Living Dead

Return of the Living Dead is a wildly uneven, disconcertingly entertaining and ultimately serviceable 1985 zombie comedy. Yes you read that right, it's a comedy, so if you're looking for a serious zombie movie, you should skip this review and come back for the second part of the double feature. Technically imagined as an actual sequel to the original Night of the Living Dead, which may account for some of it's jarring tonal shifts, it is one part Airplane!, one (small) part Young Frankenstein, one part Dawn of the Dead and one part I-don't-know. It's quality level wavers wildly from scene to scene and while it's difficult to recommend it based on it's quality, (though I can recommend it based on how entertaining it is) it simply HAS to get a recommendation because, for good or ill there is nothing out there quite like it.

The plot is loosely concerned with a chemical made by some vaguely defined people, for some vaguely defined reasons, with some vaguely defined abilities, being stored for in a warehouse for some more vaguely defined reasons. If you think I'm abusing the word vaguely, well then give yourself a cookie, because the word vaguely defines a good portion of the plot. It gets sprayed on some guys and on a cadaver which turns into a zombie. The manager of the warehouse tries to burn it and it rains down on a graveyard, giving all it's inhabitants a bad case of zombie.

The first 3rd of the movie is easily the weakest part, feeling less like a spoof and more like a really bad sequel. More The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 than Airplane! if you follow. The characters are thinly sketched, everything hinges on coincidence and the plot is both barely there and stupidly complicated.

The switch from shitty sequel to spoof happens with an almost audible sound. In fact, it DOES happen with a sound. At one point, the Patient Zero Zombie (referred to in the credits as Tarman, for reasons that are apparent once you've seen it), has just killed a guy, muttering “Brains,” the whole time (yes, I'm serious). At this point he turns, wide eyed, to the rest of the group and says, I swear to God “More Brains.”

At this point the film ceases to take itself at all seriously, and careens back and forth between pathetic attempts at jump out scares and obvious and successful attempts to be funny. The uneven tone is the biggest problem with the film, making it so that I'm unsure whether I'm supposed to regard the zombies with fear or laughter. The fact that they talk, not just grunts or “Brains” but complete sentences and conversations, could make the movie uncomfortable, but the handling of it and the conversations they have prevents that.

Quick run through of the technical details (other than writing and scripting, which are wall-to-wall terrible, though no more so than a lot of mediocre comedies) makeup is the standout, along with some solid technical wizardry to keep everything nice and creepy looking. Cinematography is standard, lighting guy doesn't seem to know what he's doing, music is continuing the Deep Red problem of odd soundtrack choice. What confuses me most is the lack of gore in the kills. They can't have been aiming for anything but an R-rating, because we see tits like, 10 minutes in.

At the end of the day, I can't tell how well Return of the Living Dead accomplishes it's goals, because I honestly can't tell what it's goals are. I can say, again, that it is a flawed, uneven and highly unique film, aimed at a specific niche audience. If you enjoyed it's much more polished spiritual sibling Shaun of the Dead then I can definitely recommend you check this out. It would also serve, in a pinch, for a 1 AM Halloween part film, when you're all drunk and tired of Jason.

Elessar is a 20 year old Alaskan born cinephile and he will continue this...immediately.

Second Age Reviews Part 2: Day of the Dead

I have a movie geek confession to make: I don't care much for George Romero. Yes, yes he invented the zombie genre, but that shouldn't make him untouchable. His biggest problems, by and large, is that he takes himself far too seriously and gets too wrapped up in his own mythology. I think it's rather telling that his best film, in my estimation, is the original version of The Crazies, which is the one of his only ones which has nothing to do with his ______ of the Dead series. With all that in mind, we have Day of the Dead which is firmly stuck in his own mythology.

Anywho, some unspecified amount of time after the zombie apocalypse from Dawn, a group of scientists and military men are hanging around a government facility. The scientists are concerned with solving and fixing the zombie problem, which the military wants to deal with by force. Everyone's getting antsy, tensions are running high due to some deaths and screw ups and the scientists don't seem to be making any progress. Main character Sarah is concerned primarily with figuring out how to get rid of the zombies, while the much more interesting Logan is concerned primarily with taming them, believe it or not. Surprise interest comes from Logan's subject an increasingly sentient zombie named Bub. And yes, in case you're wondering I DID make the obvious joke about a scientist named Logan having a zombie named Bub (if you don't get it, you're not NEARLY geeky enough to be here).

There's probably an interesting story there, but too bad it doesn't amount to much. The first half of the film is almost entirely human based, the zombies never sharing the screen with them in groups of more than 2. Most of the plot is centered around one of the oldest cliches in the book, the cooped up, increasingly unstable military man, who orders everyone around like his personal slaves. Most of his soldiers are cliched cyphers as well, doing little to advance the plot or draw interest.

I guess all the problems with the plot is that much of the more interesting stuff remains unexplored. Logan's increasing insanity and use of dead military men in his experiments all gets rushed through in less than 2 minutes and Bub's increasing sentience is little more than an interesting B-Story that doesn't explore the concept very much (unlike the much, much, MUCH later entry Land of the Dead) and doesn't really intrude on the main story until the last few minutes, and then only superficially. This leaves the “WE'VE GOT CABIN FEVER” story to hold up the movie all on it's own, and it's really not strong enough to do that.

The lack of any real zombie menace hurts too. The zombie attacks hinges on a pair of random logic lapses by everyone involved and feels like more of an afterthought than part of the actual plot. Once we get there, the usual amount of gore breaks out, expertly done by Tom Savini (who won a Saturn Award for it) but the idiocy that cause it and the fact that you can tell, from the first 5 minutes, who'll live and who'll die (without exception) takes a lot of the teeth out of it, pardon the pun. It's pacing problems seem almost irrelevant by comparison, as the change from cabin fever conversation and the zombie attack hinges on one scene and you can tell just from that scene what's going to happen.

All of it's expertly shot and the set design and makeup are wall-to-wall excellent, but I can't help feeling that it doesn't add up to much of anything. As I said at the beginning, George Romero takes himself entirely too seriously for his own good, and the only really excellent “serious” zombie film I can think of off the top of my head was 28 Days Later, which isn't even technically a zombie film. The attempts to shove in more interesting ideas and characters into the margins make the film feel half-finished and awkward.

Overall, I feel the attempts to make it more unique weakened it. It wants so desperately to be both an intelligent and reasoned commentary on it's genre and the larger culture surrounding it AND a gory zombie movie that it never really gets to do either properly. Less unique zombie films have been rated higher simply because they get to be what they are. If you want to see a Romero film, see Dawn of the Dead, Land of the Dead, Night of the Living Dead or even just The Crazies long before you see this.

Next time on Second Age Reviews: Pink Floyd's The Wall

Elessar is a 20 year old Alaskan born cinephile and he wants to know what is UP with not-scary horror movies and really odd soundtrack choices?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Huh...oh yeah, I have a blog

So yeah. I emerged from my Fallout: New Vegas induced haze sometime this afternoon (I might have gone to class somewhere in there) to find that I have a movie tonight, the Halloween double feature (review up tomorrow morning). So, to apologize for going under for a couple days there, I thought I'd share with you my Fallout moment.

Fallout moments, for context, are the moment in an open world game when I see something, and suddenly the world comes alive for me. The first time this happened was in Fallout 3, when I arrived at Rivet City for the first time.

Anywho, my Fallout moment in New Vegas happened when I was wandering through the mountains Northwest of Goodsprings when I stopped and looked out East. I was, in game terms, dozens of miles away from the strip, and an actual walk there in real-time terms would take probably over an hour, not including stops. But I could still see, very clearly, the Lucky 38 Casino and all the lights of the strip.

And suddenly the world came alive for me.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Maintain Radio Silence

I got my copy of Fallout at 10 this morning and have now had a chance to try it out...
No calls.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Subject: The Attic

Dear Mr. Whedon
Having recently purchased Dollhouse Season 2, I have just this morning seen the episode entitled The Attic, and I would like to ask you a question:
How did you get AWAY with putting that shit on TV?

Love,
James

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Review: RED

RED is based on a graphic novel I've never read by some guy I've never heard of. The concept is based on aging versions of some fairly old action cliches, played by some fairly well established and extremely talented actors and based on that premise alone, it looked like it could be rather excellent.

The story is...pretty irrelevant. As you know, if you've seen a trailer, it stars Bruce Willis as Frank Moses as a former CIA Agent who is not adjusting well to retirement and is making up for it by um...well stalking a pension worker played by Mary-Louise Parker. He seems a little more relieved than scared when a bunch of high tech ninjas show up to shoot him. He kills them all and begins chasing the needlessly complex conspiracy that wants him and some of his friends dead.

A lot of the casting has the Ocean's 11 style of casting people essentially as themselves, with slight tweaking for the situation. This can be insufferable in the wrong plot (like say, Ocean's 12), but in the right movie (Ocean's 11, Ocean's 13) it can make a comedy funnier. Morgan Freeman is the wise old one, with a little bit of the smooth James Bon style operator. John Malkovich is the crazy one because when is he anything else? They're both good, as are Ernest Borgnine in an extended cameo and Brian Cox doing a nice heroic spin on his usual villainous role (remember he was Killearn in Rob Roy or more recently Stryker in X2?). But the unquestioning star of the show is Helen Mirren as a gracefully aging action girl, complete with calm psychosis and a competence with machine guns. Karl Urban takes the thankless role of a bad guy, in something of a spoof of his role in The Bourne Identity.

On that note, the action scenes are well staged and inventive, with enough unique set pieces to be memorable. The most notable is that bit we've all seen in the trailer where Bruce Willis steps out of the spinning car, but believe me, there are more. The writing is also solid enough, leading to some honestly earned laughs at the expense of the concept and characters.

All the actors are doing great jobs, boosted by the clear amount of fun they're all having getting to play action heroes (the last time John Malkovich got the play a CIA agent was in a dialogue based Coen Brother film). If the film has a problem, it's in the story. Not in the script, the dialogue is just fine and all the characters are well rounded and nicely balanced. But the story is needlessly complex, full of holes and pretty much just a staging device to keep the group of gracefully aging actors going from action scene to action scene.

As far as 2010 over-the-top action movies go, RED is not as good as say Machete but on balance, I'll call it recommended. It's enjoyable, moves at a good clip, frequently both exciting and funny and nicely inventive. I don't know how much we'll remember it come December but right now, I'd say go see it, unless you've yet to see The Social Network in which case, go see that instead.

Elessar is a 20 year old Alaskan born cinephile and he wonders how happy Karl Urban is to finally get a memorable role that isn't Eomer.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Based on real life sports movies to get better

So, as most intelligent people know, the real life sports movies genre hit a bit of a road block last year when The Blind Side was a box office bust, an oscar winner, and a piece of shit (not gonna defend that position, not the place).

This led to this year's Secretariat which I haven't seen and don't intend to, the trailer looks utterly bland. Thankfully The Social Network has been crushing it at the box office, which is enough to give me some hope for humanity. Anyway, I was looking forward to ignoring the "based on real life" sports movies for a fairly lengthy period, like I did after Friday Night Lights.

Then I was at Red tonight (review coming, probably early tomorrow morning) and I saw this:

The Fighter

So, two good actors, playing in an actually dramatic story, where there is conflict and some actual rising against adversity. Hey, it might be good. Hell it good be great (like we need another reason to look at Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale in the same movie).

Oh and just in time for his 70th, John Lennon has his own biopic which looks like it MIGHT be a really good music based biopic that doesn't feel like the ______ version of Ray. So, to quote a great man: Good News Everyone.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

A revelation

Yes, yes, yes, most of what I've been posting, aside from the reviews, has not been legit content. I'm working on something for that, check back tomorrow.

Anyway, during my viewing on the Owl movie, there was a trailer for the new Harry Potter movie. It was at the tail end of a series of some just plain awful looking things, so I didn't think too much about it.

But thinking about it later, there was something akin to a revelation to me, which might affect my enjoyment. For context, while they're not my favorite books in the world and I'm well aware that they're not the MOST original or best written, I do love the Harry Potter books to pieces and have read most of them to near-memorization.

Anywho, the revelation was thus: The final Harry Potter film looks like a forgettable, if thoroughly exciting, fantasy film based around modern day wizards with no connection to the books except a barebones outline and some character names.

If I look at it that way, it doesn't look so awful anymore. Maybe I could enjoy it, if not care too much about it (since I know I'll be seeing it). I'll go watch the 6th one, see if this revelation helps it any.

Not putting on those "it's unrelated" glasses for Narnia though.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Nathan as Nathan

It's actually amusing, for the last couple days,  I've been following a discussion on the Uncharted: Drake's Fortune movie on another person's blog: Moviebob's who's blog you should really read, even though I don't always agree with him. Anywho, this just broke (okay it broke around 2 hours ago, but what do you want, I was in the city)

Nathan Fillion wants to play Nathan Drake

So yeah, discussion of this movie just became essentially moot. Regardless of quality, 99 percent of the geek world will all line up behind this movie, because we love Nathan Fillion (see also: Bruce Campbell).

For my money, I like the Uncharted games. Uncharted 1 was alright, not great but enjoyable, which is why the INCREDIBLE quality of the second game (gameplay, story, writing, character depth) surprised me. It ended up being my second favorite game of 2009 (first is Assassin's Creed 2) which was a big shock, as I didn't expect it to rank, and I do love both Firefly and Nathan Fillion, who's been in a lot of solid stuff (Dr. Horrible, Castle, even a small but important role on Buffy). So yeah, I'll be keeping my eye on this project now.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Review: Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole

Hmm. Yes. So Legends of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole (I'm just gonna stick with Legend of the Guardians from now on) is a difficult film to collect one's thoughts on. Half of it is that, from a technical standpoint it's all quite good. The other half is a little more worrying in that it's been what, 3 hours since I've seen it and it's already fading from my memory. The second half will most likely be more telling in the long run.

So the film is concerned with a young owl named Soren (good money says I'm gonna get sick of typing these names by the end of this review) who, while learning to fly is kidnapped along with his brother and taken to a mountain where a fascist regime is creating soldiers out of their preferred type of owl and forcing the others to mine some jewel with some vaguely defined evil powers for an even more vaguely defined evil plan. Soren escapes the mines along with an elf owl named Gylfie (yep I'm sick of it) to go find this ancient order of Owl Warriors to help fight off the evil owls. Meanwhile a B-plot involving Soren's brother works very hard to rip off the B-plot from Hook.

So it's a fairly generic seek the Legendary people and learn from them fantasy movie with an even more generic my family member is going evil subplot, dressed up with owls. Okay, you could probably make a good movie out of that and for most of the first quarter, they almost do. The shot composition is really excellent, as is the CGI and character design (individual feathers show up like they would on a real owl) and someone clearly went to a lot of trouble researching the different looks of all the owl types present. The action scenes, particularly the early ones, work well and are exciting, which is impressive given that it's just a pair of owls going at it. All the voice actors are doing a good job and much of the scenery is gorgeous to look at.

Unfortunately all of that is perhaps half the movie and the other half is much less impressive starting with a weak screenplay and generic characters. All of the characters seem to have been picked from the generic line up of fantasy characters (small but tenacious guy? Check. 'Funny' guy? Check. Old and bitter former soldier? Check) and refuse to move beyond that. The dialogue is poorly written and unsubtle, even by kids movies standards and the plot is predictable and full of holes. By way of an example (technically a SPOILER, though it doesn't matter, but don't read if you don't want to) one of the major action bits of the 3rd act hinges on a forest near the bad guys fortress being on fire, but it's never explained WHY the forest is on fire which just strikes me as lazy, especially since I could think of at least 3, two sentence explanations.

This could all hold together to a point, but it hits a major stumbling block on the road to act 3, with a pair of reveals skipped over in favor of an obligatory training montage (with some truly terrible music choices). A pair of explanations get skipped over and much of the combat gets more silly the more owls there are, especially when we break out an owl wielding a pair of swords.

The movie has some other problems; a very poor soundtrack, some obvious lead ins to a sequel, the action is a little too pandering to the 3D aspect and director Mr. Snyder abuses the HELL out of speed-ramping (the bit where everything slows down when it's coolest and then starts up again) to the point where there's an entire sequence that seems to have been speed-ramped. If you're an adult going on your own, I'd advise you to skip it, and go see The Social Network or Machete if it's still playing. If you're a parent looking to take your kid, it's inoffensive and frequently exciting, so there are much worse things you could take them to. It's not bad, but it's forgettable, flawed and deeply uneven and certainly doesn't justify a sequel, much less a franchise. Oh well. See you next time.

Elessar is a 20 year old Alaskan born cinephile and he's wondering if anyone else noticed a tangential connection between this and an obscure kids book from the 90's called Silverwing.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

You say it's your birthday?

Today would have marked John Lenon's 70th Birthday. The Beatles are my second favorite artists of all time (second only to Bruce Springsteen) and Lenon is my favorite Beatle, bar none. He is also number one amongst my heroes who are not writers or filmmakers. I was not alive at the same time as him, but I still feel justified in saying this:

Happy Birthday John. We miss you.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Second Age Reviews: Evil Dead II

Evil Dead II is what we in the biz call a fascinating disaster. Here is a film born of 2 metaphorical creatures so completely at odds with each other that the movie spends almost it's entire length tripping over itself. It's idea is to mesh the jump out scares, tension building and gore of it's prequel, Evil Dead with the over the top comedic fantasy violence of it's eventual sequel, Army of Darkness. To watch these things try to come together to make a coherent whole is like watching a mid-air collision or the Hindenberg disaster, completely awestrikingly awful but you find yourself unable to look away.

I'm sorry if that first paragraph is overly negative, but for reasons that escape me, this film has a lot of die-hard fans (the first and third one's die-hard fans don't confuse me; hell I could be counted as one of them). So I thought I'd get the fact that I think it sucks out of the way early, so that people who like it could skip the review and the rather lengthy film analysis.

So anyway, this film comes to us courtesy of Sam Raimi, the talented director notably behind the Spider-Man series of films. Like many good-but-not-incredible directors, he usually does good work, but when screws up, he screws up HARD (looking at you Spider-Man 3). The story is essentially a retread of the narrative of Evil Dead which is an early warning sign as the narrative of Evil Dead was one of it's main weak points. Ash Willaims (played by our Lord God Bruce Campbell) and his girlfriend are going up to a deserted cabin in the woods for reasons that are never abundantly clear, especially since it is made clear that it doesn't belong to them. In rather short order (literally like 5 minutes) she is possessed by a thingamajig which turns her into a Super Zombie, hereinafter referred to as a Deadite. She attacks Ash who showing the only sign of clear thinking he ever has in the film, chops off her head, sharpish and then proceeds to bolt for the bridge which has curled into a hand. Then he gets possessed. Then the house gets possessed. And then it gets weird.

Oh and some other guys show up later, to turn into other Deadites and fill in some plot points, mostly relating to how the Deadites are showing up, due to the owner of the cabin reading from some book called the Necronomicron (or however you spell it, it's been a while since I read Lovecraft) with some vaguely defined evil powers.

First I'd let to get the good aspects of the film out of the way. Ummm...the makeup team is doing a really good job. So is the set design. Oh the lighting guy, great. And I suppose the soundtrack wasn't terrible, like some films I could name.

Alright, on to the bad, and the first bad thing that stands out is the acting. None of the actors are doing a particularly good job, a couple are doing an astonishingly bad job, but the one who stands out the most is Bruce Campbell. Look, I love Bruce as much as the next person, generally more. In my household I have a copy of: Army of Darkness, Bubba Ho-tep and My Name is Bruce. But in this case it's too much. Sam Raimi must been standing like behind the camera like Harold Zoid yelling “WILL YOU SHOW SOME EMOTION!” until Bruce got to these insanely over the top ACTING!!!! moments that would get you thrown off an Uwe Boll set.

The next thing that deservers careful consideration is how scary it is, because believe it or not it intends to be a horror film. 98 percent of the scares are telegraphed from literally a mile off, the few that aren't are so over the top or cheesey that it kills the scare, like when Ash shoots the wall to try and hit his dismembered hand (long story) and it starts to leak blood. Not bad, eh? Sure it's massive ripoff from that bit in The Amityville Horror but it worked there and it could work here. But the next instant the wall sprays blood at him like he'd hit a pipe, which completely throws you out of the moment. Not only that but the next instant the blood all rushes back in, looking like they'd simply run the film of the blood rushing out in reverse (come to think of it, they probably did). It's unnecessary, it's overindulgent and it kills the tension.

Oy. What else haven't I bitched about? And the script, oh the script. The story, in principle is just fine. Sure it's just a “something evil is outside trying to get in” story, but you can make a good movie out of that (in fact they did, it's called Evil Dead.) But the dialogue and characters kill it. Not only is the every piece of dialogue awkwardly written and poorly delivered, but no one gets to develop as a character or act in a way that a normal human would recognize.

This isn't helped by a cameraman drinking down to his third scotch and Nos, making wild swings and insane pans throughout and one of the worst continuity editors I've ever seen. Weapons and items disappear and reappear as is convenient, things end up in places that they couldn't possibly have gotten to and events happen for no reason, leaving everyone moving around at the whim of what will push the story forward.

Ugh. I'm sorry, I know this is an overly negative review and I want to stress, it can be a lot of fun to watch, as the poor story, over the top acting, cheesey effects and lackluster scares lead it to be unintentionally hilarious. It's important that you get a good group with you though. I certainly had one tonight. People were shouting stuff at the screen, laughing at the poor dialogue and awful scares, repeating running jokes and applauding at the famous lines and scenes. Everyone was in on it, to the point where during a tense scene I shouted out, top of my lungs, a line from Aliens and not one person told me to be quiet. If you can get that kind of group for a movie like this, one that understands ironic enjoyment and wants to get in on the joke, than a movie like this can be a blast. If you're watching it alone, for it's quality as a film, skip it.

Oh before I go, a quick note about next time. On the 21st, the movie I'm going to end up seeing is a special Halloween Double Feature. The first film is Return of the Living Dead, an obscure little zombie comedy from the 80's. The second? I have no idea and I don't wanna know beforehand. Half the fun of going to a mystery double feature is the surprise when you find out what the movie is. The main point, I guess, is that I'll be posting 2 reviews next time. See you then. Or saturday, for my Owl-movie review.


Next Time on Second Age Reviews: Return of the Living Dead and ???

Elessar is a 20 year old Alaskan born cinephile and he'd like to advise you to shop smart: Shop S-Mart.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Review: The Social Network

The Social Network is a textbook example of a movie that has been poorly, or at least misleadingly, marketed. So far it's been marketed, almost exclusively as a movie about Facebook, which will instantly turn a lot of people off it, myself included. What it should be marketed as, is a character driven movie, with a bit of legal drama included, where the central theme just happens to involve Facebook. Whether or not this makes the movie more or less attractive is up to you, but it does put an interesting spin on the movie. Next time guys, de-emphasize the Facebook aspect and emphasize the shit out of the “Directed by David Fincher” aspect.

Anywho, the plot is chiefly concerned with David Zuckerburg (played by Jesse Eisenberg) a character who closely resembles what would happen if the blind guy from Sneakers and Gregory House somehow had children. While drunk and miserable one night, he hacks open a group of dorm websites to create a “Rate their hotness” website which makes him instantly infamous across the campus. In short order, the idea has mushroomed into the website we know as Facebook. The entire film is told in flashback, as Zuckerberg is being sued, firstly by a pair of twins who believe he stole the idea from them and secondly by his best friend who believes Zuckerberg cut him out of the company.

Before I move on with the review, I'd like to give the special effects team a big kudos for the aforementioned twins effect. Most of the few other effects in the movie are pretty bad (most notably what appears to be some truly awful CGI snow) but the mix of body doubles, subtle CGI and some good old fashion twinning techniques, not mention a fantastic performance by Armie Hammer make the Twins easily the best movie-twins since...I can't remember when to be honest. It is notable, however, that this is ANOTHER thing that Lord of the Rings added to cinema, as their primary technique (IE, putting the actor's head on a body double's body) is something ripped almost directly from one of the many, many techniques Lord of the Rings used to simulate the size difference between the Hobbits and...everyone else.

Anyway. On to the movie. Since this is primarily a character driven movie, the writing and acting deserve the closest observation, which is good because they're the highlight of the movie. Most interesting is the character of Zuckerburg, who the movies gradually shifts in perspective from a plain too-smart-for-his-own-good anti-social asshole, to someone who very clearly picks up that society expects him to be an anti-social asshole and is trying desperately to live up to that expectation. Edwardo, the man who believes Zuckerburg screwed him out of his share of the company, does a great job as an eye level character for the audience. The twins, as mentioned, do a great job and, surprise surprise, Justin Timberlake does a disconcertingly good job as what amounts to the real villain of the movie (you'll see what I mean when you get there).

The writing and story are all good, dialogue mostly consisting of fast paced computer language and occasional jokes. The story is good and well paced, but I can't shake the feeling that telling it in flashback was something of a mistake; knowing as we do, from the get go that Edwardo and the twins are going to end up suing Zuckerburg pulls a big slice of suspense from the movie and reveals the end of Edwardo's fairly interesting character arc from the get go. It's not a big problem, but it does damage it mildly.

There are some larger problems that keep it from the heights attained by some other David Fincher films like Se7en or Zodiac. The first, and most notable, is that the non ambient soundtrack is ranges from poorly used to trite and predictable (Baby You're a Rich Man for a movie about the world's youngest billionaire? Really David?) Also, there are more than a few scenes that seem to suggest that they were going for an R-Rating and changed their minds halfway. A couple other problems are common for David Fincher movies: A lot of scenes feel superfluous or at least not strictly relevant and none of the minor characters get any development at all. It also becomes apparent that the film was initially going to be pushed into the Boogies Nights mold of recent biopics, which makes more than a couple scenes feel forced.

I can't honestly say The Social Network is a “best movie of the year” movie, but it is good, and it's certainly better than most other things in theaters now, so if you want to go to the movies, this is probably your best bet.

Or you could just go see the slasher flick based around chain letters.

Elessar is a 20 year old Alaskan born cinephile and in a fantastically metatextual moment Facebook went down for 10 minutes while he was writing this review.

Monday, October 4, 2010

...Okay

Zack Snyder Directing Next Superman

My first instinct is to facepalm, but Watchmen aside, he does solid work...mostly. I dunno, Superman is a very different cup of tea from 300 or Watchmen. I'll have some in-depth thoughts after seeing That-Owl-Movie. Expect a follow up commentary on the Superman project post-Owl movie.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGH!

So recently I elected to look up the idiotic new Planet of the Apes movie, currently entitled Rise of the Apes. This movie is already essentially dead to me, as they've elected to use CGI Apes as opposed to costumes. However, on the Wiki I found out that it's an origin story and well...

"James Franco is set to play a scientist working on a cure for Alzheimer's by testing on apes.[2]When test subject Caesar suddenly begins to rapidly evolve, the scientist takes him home to remove him from the cruel lab doctors."


I believe this sums up my feelings nicely:


You're looking for 4:52 through 5:45


Seriously, what the fuck guys?

An update for essentially no reason

People who stop by (and lord knows there aren't many of you) might notice that I don't have a lot updates, especially not in the form of reviews. The reason for this is simple enough: I don't go to the theater a lot. It's easier for me to wait for it to hit DVD, or use...other ways. And I only like reviewing off actual theater, hence why you've yet to see a Review of Get Low (Short version: It's great, Robert Duvall will get nominated for an oscar, he should win, see it). Well, if anyone is stopping by regularly, you're in luck, because I'm seeing no less than 3 movies this week. On tuesday I'm going to see The Social Network with a lady(not my first choice, but you know how it is), on thursday I have Evil Dead II and I'm probably treating my mother to that-Owl-movie (I'm not typing out the title).

If you're wondering why this warranted a post of it's own: It doesn't. I was just feeling guilty about the lack of content.