Monday, November 19, 2007

Einstein at the movies: Dragon Wars

I asked myself just now, "Self...what could possibly be better than deleting everything on my mp3 player so that I can refill it with all new (and some of the same) stuff? Huh? Tell me! Tell me now!"

"Well, me...that's an easy one. Dragon Wars."

"Hell yeah!"

That's right. Dragon Wars doesn't just get a 'Hell yeah!', it goes out and fucking earns it.

We should explain a few things. Wait? Did I say 'we'?

Are we using the pluralis majestatis again? No.

Am I talking about me and myself? No, not this time.

So, what's this 'we' shit then? That implies more than one. Who else is there?

And, Al, so long as you play nice, you're welcome to stay. So, Al, what is it worth knowing before seeing Dragon Wars?

That's right. It's always nice to know that you're paying attention.

Ok, so we have rivaling serpents.

What? You don't have a serpent!

That's great. Nobody cares.
Why do I keep bringing you back?

Do you have anything else to add?
I like Sweet too, but I don't see the relevance. You know what. I'm done with this. I expected more from you Al, you're a goddamn theoretical physicist, not 15 year old with a MySpace!

Dragon Wars might be one of the two best Korean monster movies I've seen this year. It's very different from The Host, just a very different tone to the whole thing. Where The Host had an environmental subplot, Dragon Wars does not. If The Host were the main course, Dragon Wars would be the dessert. It's lighter, but enjoyable in a much different way.

I highly recommend it. In fact, I'm not sure I can put it any better than "If you get the chance, see it. It's worth it." 9 old men faking a heart attack very poorly to explain to your kid that he's been chosen by the gods to turn a serpent into a dragon with absolutely no sexual overtones out of 10.

Monday, November 12, 2007

And David Caruso as the Tough Guy Electrician

There's video store a couple miles from here called Mammoth Video. It's been there for years but it now going out of business. It's tragic, in a way. For one thing, it was a Mammoth Video that hired me ten years ago (and closed it's own doors 8 years ago now). Not to mention that it's yet another video store shutting down. It seems to be the end of an era. Video stores just aren't what they used to be.

In the glory days of VHS, most movies cost $100 per tape when they were first released. It wasn't cost effective for a consumer to purchase the tapes. Video stores thrived. Then came DVD. DVDs were designed as a consumer product. They're affordable. The average guy can go to the store and buy whatever DVD he wants as a somewhat reasonable price. And, thus, the end of the video store era. They just aren't necessary anymore.

The upside to this is that as the stores close, they liquidate their inventory, allowing the likes of me to purchase movies like Session 9 at discounted rates.

I knew very little about the movie going into it. I'd heard that people liked it, but knew nothing about the plot or the setting. I wasn't sure if I was going to be watching a movie about a demon from hell or a movie about a guy going nuts and killing everyone. In fact, a case could actually be made that it was both of those things.

The problem with a movie like Session 9 is that it's very difficult to talk about without giving most of the movie away. So, to hell with it. Gorgon killed everyone. There you go. That's the movie. It's a six year old movie and if I've effectively ruined it for you, well, you had plenty of time to see it. Shame on you for not doing so sooner.

The question that the movie raises but opts out of answering is...well, the obvious one, "Why?" Why does Gordon descend into a mental state that allows him to kill, not only his coworkers, but also his wife and baby? Well, the movie DOES answer this, actually. Simon convinces him to. So, I suppose the real question is "Who is Simon?"

It all started with Mary Hobbes. Mary was a patient at Danvers State Hospital who suffered from a multiple personality disorder. Simon was the personality that killed Mary's brother and family. When asked why he did it, he explains it was because she let him. He tells the doctor interviewing Mary that "I live in the weak and the wounded."

"I live in the weak and the wounded." This can be taken to mean at least one of three things. 1) Simon is the personification of evil that lives in all of us, able to manifest himself in those not strong enough to suppress him. B) Simon is a demon, able to possess those who are not strong enough to fight him off. 3) Simon is a ghost. A remnant of the patient Mary Hobbes that was left behind when she died in the facility.

I have a hard time believing that it may be a demon, despite the Satanic Cult angle presented early in the film (Satanic Cults were a big fear in the Eighties for some reason. I remember it being all over shows like 20/20. No one is worried about them anymore though). There is a supernatural element presented in the movie, but it's never overtly shown. It's just sort of hinted at. So, let's assume that Simon is not a demon.

So, could it be that Simon is just a part of all of us, lurking in the darkness of our psyches waiting for the opportune moment? Let's assume not. If only because I don't like what that implies. It would mean that anyone is capable of these acts. And it raises too many other questions like "Why is Gordon the one who listens? Why not the other guys?"

That leaves us with the possibility that Simon is a ghost. That, I think, might be the most plausible explanation. Gordon is under so much stress from his failing business and new child that the ghost of Simon is able to whisper into his ear and convince him to do these evil things. Gordon is weak, the stress has made him so. As such, he is susceptible to the influence the the ethereal Simon is able to exert.

Obviously, the ghost theory is very similar to the demon theory. The difference is the way they go about their business. Demonic possession implies that Gordon had no control. He couldn't have stopped himself no matter how hard he tried. If Simon we a spirit, whispering ideas into Gordon's ear, however, it implies that to some extent that he could have said no. He was too weak though. He committed the crime and then hid it from himself. He couldn't have been capable of such an atrocity, no way! Nu uh! Not him!

See, I love movies like this. It's not just that I love a good, creepy ghost story. It's the kind of movie that you have to think about afterwards. Everything isn't laid out in front of you like a buffet. You have to really look and consider it and decide for yourself what was really happening. There is no right or wrong answer, there's only the answer you take from it. I just wish David Caruso would make eye contact with people like a normal human being.

8 lights turning off as you run down the hall trying desperately to outrun the darkness out of 10.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

There may not be a single movie that I'm looking forward to more next year...

What an awful laugh.

You know, you forget sometimes (Ok, *I* forget sometimes) just how great Tom Hanks was as a comedic actor. The guy was hilarious and brilliant, but he took that dramatic turn 15 years ago now and never really looked back. I can't really blame the guy for wanting to be taken seriously and win Oscars. I mean, doesn't any actor want to be recognized for his work? In the bottom of my heart though, I just wish he's return to the kind of movies he made back in the 80s. I miss that Tom Hanks.

(the video was posted earlier at The Rec Show. I couldn't stop laughing though.)

Friday, November 09, 2007

Again with the Katee Sackhoff posts...what the hell

Remember how good Battlestar Galactica used to be? You know, before the New Caprica storyline? Yeah. Season 3 was...well...mostly not very good. It started off really strong, but the problem was the aftermath. The escape from New Caprica might have been one of the most amazing battles I've ever seen in a science fiction series.

But then...then...there was the inevitable fallout. The trial. The revenge. The petty infighting. It just wasn't fun or incredibly interesting. It just dragged on and on. Then the end of Season 3 came and they revealed the last of the unknown Cylons. And I was floored. It gave me just a glimmer of hope for Season 4.

But first, lets go back to the middle of Season 2 with what is essentially a long episode called Razor. There are two distinct story lines here, one is Lee Adama's first mission as Captain of the Pegasus. The other is about Admiral Cain and what the Pegasus and her crew did immediately following the Cylon attack on the 12 colonies. The whole thing is tied together via the story of Lt. Kendra Shaw.

Shaw came aboard the Pegasus the day of the Cylon attack. She was there at every pivotal moment as well. The execution of the XO. The turn to piracy as they scavenge crew and parts from the civilian fleet. The discovery that Gina is a Cylon. Shaw was, not only there, but an active participant in each of these events.

Shaw also becomes Lee's XO when he takes command. She is the one who, ultimately, designs the attack on the Cylon Guardians. The what? The Guardians. And guess what they are...

Fuck yeah, dude. Old school Centurions. Oh hell yes. There's even a gold one! How fucking cool is that! (Notice, not a question.) They explain that they tried following a different evolutionary path than the humanoid Cylons. Anyways, it makes sense in the movie. I'm not going to try to explain it. In fact, I'm not going to try to explain anything! Hahahahahahahahahahaha!


Battlestar Galactica: Razor is...*ahem*...FRAKKING AWESOME. Seriously. It made me remember how much I love the series. And it makes me really excited for Season 4. I'm just thankful that they did this as a movie so that I have an excuse to talk about it here! 9 gold Centurians out of 10!

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Everyone should hire ME! Who cares if I'm qualified for the job?

Cinematical is hiring and, I have to admit, I briefly considered applying for a position. Not because I fancy myself a professional movie writer. Oh no. I'm not even sure that it's something that I'd want to do. I mean, I'd worry too much that I'd end up hating it. I considered it just to see if I could get some critical feedback on my writing. Maybe I'll change my mind and send something in anyways, we'll see.

Even if I did though, I wouldn't get the job. Why do I say that? Well, I don't meet a single one of the criteria of what they're looking for.

Our ideal candidate(s) will have some combination of the following qualities:

  • You live and will work out of the Los Angeles or New York City area.
  • You specialize in all things geek (superheroes, graphic novels, video games, etc).
  • You shoot, edit and host your own videos (film related or not) online.
  • You will be able to contribute 75 posts a month (roughly 2 to 4 posts per day).
Ok, so lets see how I stack up...

Live in NYC or LA? Nope. Nor do I have any DESIRE to. I like living in the Detroit area most of the time. Sure, it's a dead zone. The economy sucks and there's rarely anything incredibly interesting here. I mean, what is our claim to fame at this point? Kid Rock and Eminem? Woo-fucking-hoo. Still, it's home. And, I'm cool with that.

I don't specialize in much of ANYTHING. I watch bad movies and play Guitar Hero. And I'm not particularly good at Guitar Hero! I certainly don't consider my self a Guitar Hero specialist, so we can say I probably don't meet that requirement.

Shoot, edit host any of my own videos? Nope. I'm 0 for 3 now.

75 posts a month...hmm, lets see, how many posts did I make last month...7. Less than 10% of what they'd want. In fact, my most prolific month was my first, Jan 06 when I made 50 posts. In fact, I've only hit 30 twice since then. I'll be the first to admit that one of my biggest problems is a lack of consistency around here. I'm not exactly proud of that, but it is what it is. This is a hobby. I work on it when I can, and when I can't, I don't.

So, I'll never turn pro. I'm okay with that. I like that this is something to do in my spare know, when I have some. I like that it helps me (slowly) improve my writing.

Oh well, it just means that you're stuck with me (and the new store that I'll talk about SOMEDAY, but not today. Or tomorrow. Tomorrow it's all about BSG Razor!)

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

I wonder why he dropped 'The Dragon'...

Ok. Let's make this quick. The Last Sentinel is a sci-fi action movie set in the nearish future. The United States became a police state, policed by drones. Cybernetically enhanced...cops...or something. I guess they started as people. They're more robot than human.

Don "no longer The Dragon" Wilson plays Tallis, a genetically enhanced soldier. The last of his kind. The others were wiped out in battles with the drones.

Katee Sackoff plays Starbuck. Except, she's not actually Starbuck. This isn't Battlestar. No, she plays...Girl. She is never given a name.

The last character is Tallis' gun. Which can talk. But not in that Sledgehammer kind of way. No, more like Cortana from Halo. It offers guidance and is essentially an A.I.

It's a post-apocolypic future...humans have been hunted to near extinction by cybernetically enhanced drones...but at least they still have vitamin water...

The story is fairly generic. It's not bad. It's not great. It's just what it is. A little sci-fi. A little action. A little Katee Sackhoff side-boob. It's entertaining enough to watch on a Saturday afternoon when there's nothing else going on. Don't go out of your way for this one is what I'm saying, I guess. On the other hand, if it's on, and you can't find the remote, it's not terrible. Drink some beer first though if you really want to feel the full effect of this one. 6 bottles of vitamin water out of 10.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

"He is really good at staying alive, and trying to kill him and failing... just pisses him off."

I really dug The Bourne Identity and it's sequel The Bourne Supremacy. Part of it is that I dig spy movies. I mean, I want to see The Saint again. How many times have you heard that? How many people have you heard tell you that they wanted to see The Saint let alone AGAIN. I dig spy movies though. And I liked the Bourne movies. They were a great contrast to the James Bond stories. Bond was always a little jokier. A little cheesy even at times. But, that WAS Bond. It's what the stories were, and they were FUN.

Then, along came Jason Bourne. He wasn't a lot of fun. He was very real. He wasn't a big old cartoon. He was the anti-James Bond. So, what did Bond do? He changed. They made him more serious. So now, there isn't as much difference between the franchises. They're both very raw and serious.

This leads us to the question, how well does Bourne hold up in this, the new age of James Bond?

Fairly well. The Bourne Ultimatum, the third and final act of the story, amounts to one massive chase scene from London to Casablanca to New York. And while it gets a little tedious at times (hey, I can only watch a chase scene for so long before something else needs to happen) it is a fun action movie. People are constantly getting killed or stalked by CIA spooks or blowing things up, all the while Bourne is finally getting to the bottom of who he is.

As a viewer, throughout the trilogy, I felt like I was constantly in the dark about something. As though there were some tangible bit of info that I were missing. In the first movie, I chalked it up to the fact that since Bourne was in the dark, as viewers it was only natural that we should be too. That feeling continued through the second movie. This time though, while I constantly felt like I was missing something, it was much more difficult to attribute it to a story telling device. Maybe it was because it had been two years since seeing the second movie, but the pieces just didn't seem like they fit together. And, to be honest, the movie could have done a better job of catching the viewer up at the beginning.

8 Vespas blowin up because you thought the bomb was in the bag out of 10.

Monday, November 05, 2007


Haha! That's right, here it is, November 5 marking my glorious return to the ranks of the Film Club Coolies! Yes, I am once again counting myself amongst the ranks of the elite members of the Final Girl Film Club!

I can not sufficiently explain my lack of participation over the past few months. No, not without tales of kidnapping, debauchery and murder best left for stories told around a table full of men and women holding pints of beer in various states of full and emptiness, and lo, I could only reach the tip of the iceberg that is that tale before admitting that I was lying! The truth is that I am merely lazy!

So lazy in fact that I almost missed this one too! I know! It's unbelievable. If Stacie had not posted a reminder, I would have certainly forgotten. In fact, I had three other movies to write about for you, but instead have elected to put those off for the time being and concentrate on November's Film Club selection, Eyes of a Stranger (No. Not the Queensryche song. Though, that would have been pretty badass.).

Please, allow me to summarize...It's Miami, 1981 and there's a guy going around raping and killing ladies. He calls them on the telephone and then does his work. Meanwhile, also in Miami, there's a news reporter who is very...passionate about the case. She has a sister who, after being assaulted and nearly killed, is deaf and blind.

A man who's killin ladies, and two ladies...I don't see how their stories could possibly intersect. In fact, he'd probably have gotten away with it if not for those meddling kids! Wait, wrong story.

See the reporter is very...passionate because of what happened to her sister. And when she sees a man changing clothes in the parking lot of her apartment building, she becomes a tad bit suspicious. In fact, she becomes convinced that it's him. That this neighbor is the killer. No one is willing to believe her though. And by 'no one' I mean her boyfriend.

Suspicion is immediately placed upon the neighbor. You know what that means, right? It can't be him. It's too obvious. There must be some sort of twist or turn. That's where they trick you though! See! It IS him. Totally! And the movie makes no real effort to hide it. There's no misdirection. It's totally the neighbor dude! It's that simple. This is 1981. It's a simpler world. There's no redial. No *69. No caller id. And not all movies have to have a hundred little twists and red herrings.

There's no mystery. Yet, Eyes of a Stranger exudes suspense, it oozes from it's every pore. There's a buildup to each kill that has you on the edge of your seat. You know what's coming and who is doing it. But, it builds, builds...builds to it. It's the when. It's the how. That's the big unknown. I found myself getting nervous watching it more than once.

Tom Savini handled the makeup effects...which explains the couple little pumps of blood coming from the bullet hole at the end of the movie. It was a nice little detail to add in and is worth noting. The movie, overall, is pretty good. It's worth checking out if you're into suspenseful movies about serial killers, which, I'm usually not. I'll be honest. If not for the Film Club, I'll be honest, I never would have watched this. And that would have been my loss. 8 belts bought at the dollar store since the killer seems to leave them as a signature at each murder, except it's 1981 and there aren't any dollar stores you bastards out of 10.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

2 things that bother me about Jurassic Park 3

Both of them are in the beginning.

1) It's illegal to go near the island, so why put your phone number on the parachute?

2) What the hell happens to the boat that got wrecked in the fog?

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Quick Reviews of Bad Movies: This time it's musical

My friend had told me about a movie called Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter, I don't recall the context of it, but that's my story. I netflixed it, and last night, we tried to watch it.

I'm not a guy who turns off a movie without seeing it to the end very often. In fact, I can only think of two times that I've ever done it. But, holy hell batman, Jesus was wearing striped socks.

Fucking Canadians.