Archive for July, 2011

Friday Funny: Boogity Boogity Boogity, Amen.

Another excellent autotuning job by the Gregory Brothers. Here they turn their talents on the most ridiculous pre-race prayer of all time. Boogity, boogity, boogity, Amen.

Wait, what?!


Harry Potter and the Recut Trailer!

Recut trailers are one of my favorite things that the Internets have brought us. You also know that I’m a fan of both the Harry Potter books and films. So what would happen if you took two of my favorite things and combined them? This little gem that explains what would have happened if Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince had been a zany teen comedy instead of a dark, brooding piece about splitting your soul into seven pieces. Enjoy.

Captain America: World Police!

This one is a tough one for me. Despite my lack of knowledge of the lore of Capt. America, I admit that I was a bit excited by what I’d seen in the previews and went into this week’s entry in the Movie Monday series with some anticipation. It was a solid origin story that had a bit of heart, a bit of humor, a bit of romance, and even a bit of tragedy to it. But did it live up to the expectations that I had going in? Read on and find out. But first…

The Trailers
Cowboys & Aliens – Comes out next week. Thank goodness… I’ve seen this trailer too many times. They have one advantage… They underestimate Daniel Craig. If that’s really true, they’re screwed!!
Abduction – Some guy from Twilight tries to be Jason Bourne. Yawn… Wait, what the heck are Alfred Molina and Sigourney Weaver doing in this movie? Oh well. Yawn.
Mission Impossible 4 – Same preview from a couple of weeks ago.
Adventures of Tintin – Directed by Spielberg. But I spent the whole trailer trying to figure out whether or not it was entirely CGI (the first shots didn’t look like it). It was. I wasn’t captivated.
The Amazing Spider-Man – Um, didn’t we do this about ten years ago? Ten years is long enough for a reboot? Oh well… I’ll probably see it. Maybe.
John Carter – What is this I don’t even… Teaser trailer. Made no sense to me whatsoever. Is it supposed to be hype?

The Movie
Before I get into the movie, I have to tell you that this was the worst moviegoing audience I’ve experienced in quite awhile. If you want to know my feelings on people who talk in movies, you can read a post I wrote a long time ago (aside: it seems I forgot to do any follow-ups with my moviegoing etiquette series. I shall have to think upon that.). Anyway, it was bad. I walk into the theater (the second largest at the cinema I attend for Movie Mondays) and am surprised that the theater has a decent number of people in it. Nowhere near packed or anything; just enough people that I didn’t have the row to myself. I pick a row and settle in for the pre-trailer entertainment. About five minutes later a couple enters, hikes up the stairs to my row, and ask me if the seats near me are taken. I politely tell them that the seats are free, thinking that the couple will take the seats two or three down from me. They don’t. They sit RIGHT NEXT TO ME. What’s worse – this is the work of the male half of the couple. Didn’t this guy ever learn the whole guys-never-sit-next-to-each-other-unless-there-are-no-seats rule? Good lord! The problem is, I’m trapped. I followed the aforementioned rule, so there wasn’t space for me to move over on my left. I suppose I could have relocated, but why should I give up my choice seat? It didn’t get better from there. The family behind me spent the first 45 minutes of the movie smacking and crunching on their snacks, loudly chatting to each other, and guffawing uncontrollably at the mildest humor. To top it off, there were no less than three toddlers in the theater, one of which babbled nonstop at the top of her lungs, completely unchecked by whatever guardian brought her to the movie. I expect this kind of audience at a weekend showing, but on a Monday? It was surreal.

Sorry, I just had to get that off my chest. Where was I? Oh yes…
The Movie
The movie’s setting is World War II, and as the introduction unfolds we’re introduced to our hero, a puny young man that is bound and determined to join the army in his father’s footsteps. The problem is that he’s tiny and has a laundry list of ailments that prevent him from being able to enlist. This catches the eye of the Einstein-esque Stanley Tucci, a German-born scientist helping the U.S. Army with its super-soldier program. Of course our hero would catch the scientist’s eye; I mean, nothing screams super-soldier like a 120 lb. athsmatic wimp, right? The movie’s exposition is a bit of a hot mess. We have some training scenes that show just how physcially unfit our hero really is, coupled with some run-of-the-mill basic training humor and a few genuine moments that draw us into the movie. We get to the transformation point where our hero is turned into Captain America, and suddenly the plot takes an unexpected – and unnecessary – turn for the boring. After a strange war bond tour, things finally pick up and the movie gets rolling quickly. I won’t spoil anything else that happens, but it follows a standard action scene/”emotional” scene formula throughout the rest of the film.

The action sequences were solid. The special effects were quite good, but the blending of future tech in a 1940s environment seemed a little bizarre. I didn’t flinch at laser rifles and mythical power sources, but the fact that everybody had surveillance video left me scratching my head. Then there was Captain America’s shield, a disc made of unobtanium (or the Marvel equivalent, anyway) that had mystical properties of its own. Lighter than steel and both bullet- and laser-proof, the shield also had amazing boomerang qualities as well, rebounding off of its target and sliding back onto the Captain’s arm as though it belonged there. Predictable and a little humorous, but I found myself enjoying it nonetheless. The best effects of the film, I felt, were in the first 30 minutes of the film where they borrowed a page from Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings to make the Captain appear small and weak compared to the other actors. It was a good effect that had me believing that Chris Evans was actually that small.

Despite its predictability, I found myself thinking that it was a good summer movie. In this case, though, good is the enemy of great. The whole time I felt like it had the potential to be a really great movie, but on most fronts it failed to achieve that greatness. It had potential for some really gut-wrenching emotion, and while it achieved some success with a touching moment or two, the movie largely leaves the potential untapped. I just never cared all that much for any of the characters; it’s a shame because they made me want to care but failed to bring it home emotionally. In retrospect, I’m really disappointed in that. There was potential for some real emotion, but the film took the shallow, summer blockbuster route instead of exploring the depth of emotion that it could have.

The Cast
Chris Evans did a fine job as the Captain, but it was the supporting cast that I enjoyed the most. Hayley Atwell is lovely in the female lead; her Peggy Carter is a strong female that feels a little bit before her time. Tommy Lee Jones is our cranky colonel and plays his role well enough. Hugo Weaving as a villain is refreshing to see again, and his turn as Red Skull is pretty good. Stanley Tucci’s performance was my favorite, though. His German scientist looking to make right his past wrongs is genuine and his caring for the pre-bulk Captain is believable. The rest of the supporting cast is standard summer blockbuster faire. We have our “band of brothers,” the Captain’s unit. They even got Buck Compton, who sported a thick mustache and… a bowler hat? That was a weird addition. The unit itself was a model of diversity: you had the rough-and-tumble Asian guy from Fresno, the Frenchman, the bowler-wearing Buck Compton (was he supposed to be Irish? He kinda looked it but I’m not sure), and the trilingual African American. It was classic summer blockbuster caricature; nice and diverse, and completely wrong for the 1940s.

I think caricature is a good way to sum up this one. It’s not quite so over-the-top as Transformers, and it’s good enough that you can see the potential the story contained. But wherever the choice between great & subtle versus good & caricature is presented, the movie always goes with the caricature. It’s still a good summer blockbuster and has wider range than Transformers. While I was left slightly disappointed, in the end I enjoyed myself and Captain America: The First Avenger has me looking forward to next summer’s full Avengers movie.

Old Spice Guy Throwdown!

Hello ladies. It’s shocking to me that I’ve never written or posted about one of my favorite ad campaigns in recent memory, the Old Spice Guy campaign that started as a couple of hilarious commercials and exploded into a social media frenzy when the Old Spice Guy started responding to people’s emails, tweets, and comments with videos on Youtube. It was great.

Recently, though, Fabio has apparently become the New Old Spice Guy. His commercials are, in my opinion, vastly inferior. I’ve been waiting for some sort of throwdown between Old Old Spice Guy and New Old Spice Guy. Well, today Fabio threw down the gauntlet. Check it:

The greatness, though, is that it hasn’t taken long for Old Old Spice Guy to respond to the challenge, and he’s done so in a manner only befitting The Man Your Man Could Smell Like. Apparently the duel will go down tomorrow at noon eastern, live at internet stadium. Check out his challenge accepted response:

It’s Mano a mano in el baño.

Movie Monday: Captain America

This week’s selection is the latest movie to hit #1 at the box office – Captain America: The First Avenger. While I never collected any comics with Captain America as a central figure, this film is one of the ones I’ve been looking forward to this summer. And that shield is universally recognizable. I’m looking forward to it, with one minor hitch in my plans. The non-3D showings of the movie are at 5:10 or 8:30. There’s no way I’m going to the 8:30 showing, and I’ll barely be leaving work at 5:10. None, I repeat none, of the theaters around me have the movie in standard 2D at a time that I can see the film. Do I see it in 3D, despite having railed against the technology last week? I’d be okay with seeing it in 3D if it had been shot in 3D; but alas, it’s one of those films that has been upconverted to 3D. Which means that it’ll suck. I don’t know what to do.

Friday Funny: Arrested Westeros

Today’s funny comes by way of my former law school roommate, Mr. Tuegel. If you’re a fan of Arrested Development and have seen the recent HBO series Game of Thrones, then you’ll enjoy this too. It’s Arrested Westeros – a site that mashes Game of Thrones images with quotes from Arrested Development with hilarious effect. While I haven’t seen the Game of Thrones series, I’m reading the books so I understand the context. At any rate, it’s incredibly funny and the images and quotes fit quite well. Enjoy!

I couldn’t resist, I have to post this one too.

Movie Monday: Harry Potter Part 7 Part 2 in 3D

That’s right. I saw the last Harry Potter film in 3D. I have comments about it. But first…

The Trailers
As an aside before I get to the trailers, tonight while I was walking into the theater I noticed one of those stand-up adverts for Final Destination 5. Wasn’t the last one called The Final Destination? How can there be a fifth movie if the fourth was THE final destination? Oh, just kidding, the previous four weren’t really the final destination. This is really the final destination. We promise, guys. Seriously, who’s giving these people money? Anyway, back to the trailers.

Lots of retreads this week. Some new, though.
Sherlock Holmes: A Game of ShadowsLane Pryce plays Professor Moriarty? Perfect.
Rise of the Planet of the Apes – Steadily moving past the title on this one.
Real Steel – A few more viewings of this trailer and I’m going to want to see this movie. Or I’m going to feel this way about Hugh Jackman.
Cowboys & Aliens – nothing new to add. Seriously people, can we get some new trailers, please?!
Dark Knight Rises – YES! YES YES YES YES Ye–Wait. That was it? 90 seconds with 70 of it being recycled clips? I don’t care. I’m stoked.
Hugo – A 3D fantastical children’s movie directed by Martin Scorsese? I’m sorry, did anyone see Goodfellas, Casino, The Departed, or Shutter Island? Is this the man you want directing your child’s next Christmas movie?

The Movie
I’m not going to talk too much about this one. It was spectacular. It followed the books closely, for the most part. There are some departures that seem completely unnecessary to me, but I’m not going to spoil the movie for anyone who hasn’t seen it. At least, I won’d do that yet. Maybe a couple of weeks down the line. Also, there were a couple of points where it felt like they were trying to stick to themes in the book that hadn’t really been fleshed out all that well in Part 1 or Part 2, but they wanted to appease the book purists like me. The problem is, those moments felt disjointed and were confusing to people who haven’t read the books. But again, I’m not going into it for now. I still thoroughly enjoyed the movie, and recommend it to anyone who’s on the fence about seeing it. All ZERO of you. But I digress. Tonight was my second viewing of the film; I saw it in 3D with the thought of discussing the 3D experience.

The Three Dimensional Experience
To cut to the chase, do not see this movie in 3D. It is a waste of money. You know how when you’re watching a 3D movie with the glasses on, you close one of your eyes and keep the other open, everything stays clear but in 2D? I did that a couple of times during the movie. Zero difference whatsoever. In only a couple of scenes did I even notice a depth of field to the film. Even Transformers 3 had more 3D effects than HP Part 7 Part 2 in 3D. The vast majority of the time, it was all 2D. There were no gimmicky effects, either. No curses flying out of the screen at you; no wands pointing out at the audience or anything else you might expect from a massive movie such as this. And when it was 3D, it had the same ghosting effect that all 3D movies seem to have.

After two 3D movies in a row, I can safely declare myself a part of the “3D is a gimmick to get more money out of a gullible public” camp. I tried to remain aloof. I wanted to reserve judgment, to give filmmakers the benefit of the doubt that they would find the potential in the technology and not just use it as a ploy to charge $15 or more for a single movie ticket. I just can’t do it anymore. Two massive pictures like Transformers 3 and Harry Potter Part 7 Part 2 in 3D deserve strong 3D treatment. I was blown away by Avatar in 3D; I thought it was amazing. Sure, it had some of the standard drawbacks, but I was able to overlook them because the rest of the 3D was so well done. I’d hoped for the same sort of experience with these movies. I’ve been sadly disappointed. I don’t know if it’s the cost or logistics of shooting in 3D or both, but for some reason they’re not shooting movies in 3D. Instead, it appears they’re going back during post-production and rendering the movie in 3D, which produces crappy results not worth watching. They do this and people still shell out extra cash to see films in 3D because it’s supposed to be that much cooler. And because people continue to shell out the cash, they keep making the movies this way. Enough from me, though. Unless I know that a movie was actually shot in 3D instead of rendered in post-processing, I won’t be seeing movies in 3D anymore.

Hopefully you won’t, either. Avoid the 3D. Especially on Harry Potter Part 7 Part 2 in 3D. It’s a ripoff.