Movies

The Reward

If you’ve got ten minutes to spare, grab some popcorn, fullscreen this video, and watch “The Reward,” an absolutely stunning 2D animated short. Directed by Mikkel Mainz Ekljær and Kenneth Ladekjær in collaboration with Glenn August, Jonas Andreassen, Josefine Hannibal, Karen Bennetzen, Ole Christian Loken, Paolo Giandoso, and Tanja Nielsen, “The Reward” was a Bachelor Thesis project at The Animation Workshop in Denmark.

This making-of video is almost as fascinating as the film itself.

There’s more over at the website for the short. I hope the crew stuck together after graduating because I’d love to see much more from them.

Journey Beyond Steve Perry

I guess I’m kind of a Journey fan.  I don’t know their catalog or history as well as Metallica or KISS (don’t ask), but I like to walk into an 80’s arcade with “Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)” blasting on the speakers as much as the next user entering the grid.  I watched one of those VH1 Behind the Music documentaries on the band and their Steve Perry days and I gotta say, as much as Steve Perry shaped the sound of Journey that plays in most people’s heads, he came off as kind of a controlling dick.  It’s no small wonder that the band decided to go on without him.

The next part of the story begins with a YouTube clip.  Journey was looking for a new front man.  One of the band members clicked on a clip of some little dude singing a Journey cover in some little club and was completely blown away.  That little dude with a huge fucking voice was Arnel Pineda.  Journey had found their new front man.  Don’t Stop Believin’: Everyman’s Journey follows Arnel’s rise to fame.  It’s an amazing story and looks like an excellent documentary.

Of course, the lesson here is to always put your shitty little cover gigs on YouTube.  You never know who’s gonna click on that shit.

The Extended Iron Man 3 Superbowl Trailer

If you were too busy watching the Baltimore fight its way to victory against San Francisco to go to the facebooks and look up the extended Iron Man 3 trailer, here it is in all it’s sassy glory.  We get some new clips mixed in with things we’ve seen in previous trailers.  Nothing terribly revealing, but as I suspected, the more I see the new suit in action, the more I like it.  And I still think the Mandarin’s rings look like low budget, Cracker Jack toys.  Blech.

The Fate of the Justice League is in the Hand of the Man of Steel

The Man of Grey

The Man of Grey

According to this report in Variety, Warner Bros will be watching the Man of Steel box office numbers very closely.  If the reboot performs well, they’re all set to break out their OA Battery and greenlight a Justice League film.  If it performs badly, we’ll probably never get to see Wonder Woman on screen.

I don’t like the way Warner Bros is approaching this project.  It feels like a blatant cash grab.  Marvel planted the seeds for The Avengers across five movies, Iron Man, Iron Man 2, Incredible Hulk, Thor, and Captain America: The First Avenger.  Though each movie was a complete entity of its own, they all felt like they took place in the same universe.  Warner Bros hasn’t established any connection between any of their super hero films.  From the previews, I can believe that Man of Steel takes place in the same grey universe as Dark Knight.  But how does Fail Jorden (Ryan Reynolds) fit in?  The Green Lantern version of Coast City has way too many colors.

Filling out the rest of the Justice League lineup are Flash and Wonder Woman.  This means at least two origins will need to be told.  And honestly, since we don’t know what version of Bats or Green Lantern we’re getting, we might need refreshers on those two jabronis as well.  Two origins is kind of pushing it.  Four would be a fucking nightmare.

My biggest problem with all of this is the appalling lack of a proper live action Wonder Woman movie.  DC’s trinity is Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman.  So many Bat flicks.  So many Supes flicks.  Both have had reboots, refreshes, recasting, refuckeverything.  Wonder Woman, not so much.  We got Linda Carter and that aborted TV pilot and that’s it on the live action front.  There’s CW series in the works which sounds bloody awful.  But no movie!

This is a crime against nerdom.  We’ve had Ripley, Sarah Connor, Buffy, Leeloo Corban Dallas Mooltipass, Selene, Jane Smith, Nikita, but we can’t have the baddest badass woman of them all?  Bull. Shit.  In general, I’m dismayed at the lack of women in super hero flicks, but it’s an absolute travesty that we haven’t had a live action Wonder Woman film yet.  In the new damn millennium.  We get new Star Wars but no Wonder Woman? How does that shit make sense.

From: Variety

 

Stephen Chow Journeys to the West

Journey to the West is the most well-known Chinese legend.  It’s the story of a monk’s journey to bring the sutras back to China with the aid of Pig, Friar Sand, and the legendary Monkey King.

There’s a whole lot going on in this trailer.  And if you’re not familiar with the story, you can’t really tell what this thing is about.  But if you’re a Stephen Chow fan, you know you’re going to be in for a treat.  This looks like a lot of fun and I can’t wait to see it!

From Trek to Wars, JJ Abrams Owns the Stars

By now, you’ve heard that JJ Abrams will be directing Star Wars Episode VII.  The Hollywood Reporter announcement is as official as it gets.  There is some question on the release dates.  Disney wants Episode VII to hit theaters in 2015.  Abrams has not committed to that date which kind of shows how desperate they were to get him to direct.

Certainly, this is good news for fandom.  Abrams and crew have done wonders for the Star Trek film franchise revitalizing it in the best way possible.  They definitely have reverence for the source material but are more than willing to make big changes despite possible fan outcry.  All indications point to the next chapter in the Star Wars saga being quite good.

Still, there’s one thing that nags at the back of my fanboy mind.  What is this next trilogy going to be about?  For all intents a purposes, the Skywalker saga is over.  Episodes I, II, and III chronicle the fall of Anakin.  Episodes IV, V, and VI are really about his redemption.  As awful as the prequels are, they fit nicely into Anakin’s anti-hero journey.  How will these next three fit into that cycle?  Can the next three fit into that cycle?

Now, I haven’t followed any of the expanded universe stuff so I have no idea if there’s already an cannon episode VII, VIII, and IX.  It would make sense to me for the story to pick up with Han and Leia’s kids which could be kind of cool.  It might be interesting to see Luke, despite all of his best intentions, fall like his father did and become the villain for the next three with the Solo kids fighting against him.

Though I definitely think the franchise is in good hands, I won’t really get excited until I hear what the next three are going to be about.

Star Trek: Nemesis, the Strongest Argument for the JJ Abrams Reboot

It's so bad, even Shinzon can't stand to watch it.

It’s so bad, even Shinzon can’t stand to watch it.

Every now and then, I will click on a film that Netflix suggests because I need some noise in the background as I work on comics.  And so it was that last night, I clicked on the thumbnail for one Star Trek: Nemesis.  It turns out that the best way for me to stay awake from midnight until two is to nerd rage.

With Into Darkness on its way, I still hear rumblings from old school fans about how horribly sacrilegious the JJ Abrams version of Gene Roddenberry’s universe is.  To those people, go back and watch Nemesis and see if you like where the franchise was headed.

There will be tons of spoilers in this review because I don’t give a fuck.  And it’s been out for years so it’s already spoiled. Rotten to the core.

Shinzon

Rather than bother with a plot synopsis, I’ll just go through the things that I thought were stupid.

Portrayed by a young, fresh faced Tom Hardy, our main villain is Shinzon who also happens to be a clone of Picard.  This is actually a pretty interesting idea.  Shinzon was created as part of a Romulan plot to replace Picard and learn all the secrets of the Federation.  The plan was abandoned when a new government took over so Shinzon was discarded and sent to the Reman dilithium mines where he was meant to die.  That’s kind of cool.  Not only do we get an interesting commentary on government transitions, we get an entire new race that the Romulans have kept oppressed for years.

Within the first ten minutes of the film, Shinzon wipes out the entire Romulan Imperial Senate and becomes Praetor of Romulus.  I’d say that’s a pretty huge victory.  But like any stupid villain, it’s not enough.  He wants to destroy the Earth because plot.  I don’t really understand why Shinzon would give two shits about the Federation.  It was the Romulans who created him then abandoned him to die. I suppose if the Federation were gone, there’d be no Shinzon.  But the Remans would still be used as slave labor.  So other than plot, there’s no real reason for Shinzon to go after Earth.  He’s beaten the Romulans.  He has the power to bring Reman society out of the shadows now that he rules the Romulan Senate.  Surely that should be victory enough.

Mental rape.  Cause that hasn't happened to Troi ever.

Mental rape. Cause that hasn’t happened to Troi ever.

At some point, Shinzon mentally rapes Diana Troi while she’s having sex with Riker.  Apparently, Shinzon’s Viceroy has the ability to connect Shinzon’s mind to Troi so that he can get his rape on.  It’s a plot point that serves no purpose other than to give the Enterprise a method for finding Shinzon’s cloaked Scimitar later in the film.  No where else in the entire film does the Viceroy ever use his mental powers.  Which is fucking stupid.  If he can enter people’s minds, he can certainly enter Captain Picard’s and strip out all the intel they need to wipe out the Federation.  When rape is used to set up a deux ex machina save at the end of your flick, your movie is unforgivable.  It’s insulting and offensive and if tumblr was around when this came out, copies of the film print would have been burned.

"Hey, at least I don't sound like a wacky car salesman in this one."

“Hey, at least I don’t sound like a wacky car salesman in this one.”

At some point, we learn that Shinzon’s DNA was made to age rapidly so that he could catch up to Picard’s age quickly.  But since the plot was abandoned, Shinzon didn’t get the proper treatment.  So his cells are dying or aging or something I wasn’t paying attention to.  The only cure, a full blood transfusion from Picard.  There are at least five moments when Shinzon could have just pulled the trigger and gotten his blood on.  But instead, we’re treated to villainous plodding and speechafying allowing Picard to escape every fucking time.  I don’t understand how it takes him less than ten minutes to take over Romulus when he’s NOT EVEN IN THE FUCKING ROOM but he can’t just stick a straw in Picard throat and DRAIN HIS BLOOD.

B4

There’s a terrible subplot featuring another one of Doctor Noonian Soong’s robots, B4, who was seemingly created before Lore and Data.  Because plot.

On their way to the Romulus to meet with the new Praetor, who turns out to be Shinzon, the Enterprise comes across a positronic signal emanating from some random planet.  This leads in to one of the most ponderous action sequences to feature in any Star Trek film ever.

A. Fucking. Car. Chase.

Because when I think of futuristic space operas, I think car chase!

Because when I think of futuristic space operas, I think car chase!

This might work in Firefly where they spend a lot of time on planets on the outer rim of the Verse where settlers go to seek their fortunes.  But this entire movie takes place in space aboard starships.  The only reason for this scene is to put in a fucking car chase and it’s a pretty lame excuse for a car chase at that.

Maybe it was intended to show Picard’s wild side, that he’s a risk taker, that he has a lead foot.  But it feels forced and out of place.  And Warf is entirely too large for that rickety looking dune buggy.  The stupid thing looks outdated compared to every other piece of Feddy tech that we see in the film.

B4, certainly the lowest point in Brent Spiner's career.

Even Brent Spiner can’t help but sneer at this terrible sequel-bait of a character.

You can almost feel Brent Spiner’s eyes roll every time he walks off camera as B4.  Though he looks exactly like Data and has a similar internal structure, B4’s positronic brain is not as sophisticated as Data.  B4 is an overgrown toddler.  And of course, he’s a trap.  Thank god the crew figures that shit out quickly.  But it’s still fucking stupid.

B4 makes no sense as a spy.  Because the Viceroy has mental powers, Shinzon could have easily taken Starfleet intel from Picard’s brain meats.  There’s no reason for B4 unless your Viceroy never uses his mental powers unless it’s for rape.  Oh, you only use your powers for rape?  Shit.  Then I guess we need B4.

The real reason B4 is there is to set up a sequel.  Data sacrifices himself by jumping through space (ugh) and blowing up the Scimitar. God, when I saw this in the theater, the entire place erupted in scornful laughter at this scene. By this time, Data has already downloaded all of his memories to B4.  So it’s this whole Wrath of Khan, Search For Spock thing.  Spock sacrifices himself in Khan only to be reborn as a child in Search.  Data sacrifices himself at the end of Nemesis, but somehow lives on locked away in the memories of B4.  The parallels are groan worthy.  Thankfully, we never had to suffer through the sequel where we’d spend hours waiting for B4 to unlock Data.

The Scimitar

Okay, this thing is fucking badass.

Okay, this thing is fucking badass.

I will say one thing in this movie’s favor.  Shinzon’s flagship, the Scimitar, is awesome.  It’s the most powerful Bird of Prey we’ve seen in the Trek universe.  Its cloak is perfect.  It can fire torpedos and phasers while cloaked.  It has a doomsday weapon that can destroy worlds.  It’s an agile Deathstar.  And the only way the Enterprise beats it is because mental rape because plot and FUCK THIS STUPID MOVIE.

But it raises a few questions.  For one, if the Remans could build such a perfect weapon, why have they been oppressed for so long?  The Scimitar alone could decimate the Romulan fleet.  Why wait until now to unleash it?  And why haven’t they built anymore?  I could understand them not being able to build too many Thalaron radiation weapons, but surely they could build similar Birds of Prey.  If they could build something as massive and destructive as the Scimitar in secret, they could have built another one.  Or a smaller one.  Or something else.  There should be a fleet of Reman vessels obliterating the Federation.

The space fights are pretty awesome, but the time you see them, your brain is already oozing out of your nose for subjecting yourself to such a dumb, fucking movie.

THANK YOU JJ ABRAMS

Besides Patrick Stewart and Tom Hardy, the cast looks so incredibly bored throughout Nemesis.  Though they’re given some terribly stupid things to say, Patrick Stewart and Tom Hardy are quite excellent together.  They deserved a better film.  I really felt bad for Brent Spiner who had to spend half of his time acting like a mindless prat.  He deserved better.  Thank the Profets we never had to suffer through the sequel to this mess.

This is all a long way of saying thank you to JJ Abrams for breathing life back in to Star Trek.  So if your friends decry new Trek and proclaim that the old stuff was superior in every way, remind them about Nemesis. Truly, it was the enemy of the entire franchise.

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