Sunday, October 29, 2006

The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (Action 2006)

Let's just start off by saying that I really wasn't expecting much out of this movie. The first and second ones were all about fast cars encased in terrible stories, so one can only assume that this 3rd installment would directly follow suit. Boy did it.

My first rant will be about the story itself because it really was that bad. Some kid gets in trouble in the US and will probably go to jail, but instead his mom ships him over to Japan to live with his Navy father. Wouldn't he still have a record when he went back to the US and have a warrant out for his arrest and such? The storyline played it out to be a perfect, crimeless plan, but I think otherwise. I guess they needed some way to get the main character, Lucas Black, over to Japan, but I still think it's a shitty reason.

My second rant involves how this individual got into a public school over there. I'm not familiar with the whole military brat lifestyle so I dunno if they go to school with other local students or stay on base, but this fool went from attending a regular American HS one second, and the next second he hops onto a plane and is enrolled in this local Japanese HS. The dude can barely speak English correctly, and now he's in a country that he can't even mumble anything? How is he seriously supposed to learn anything when he can't speak a whiff of the language. Obviously, education was not very important to the overall plot, but really people...

My next complaint relates to how the main character gets into the underground Tokyo racing scene. On his very first day of school he's sitting there munching on his lunch and here comes Lil' Bow Wow, ready to hook him up with the great social world of Japan. No...this is what would've happened in real life. His non-Japanese-speaking-ass would be standing in the hallway getting looked at funny, having shit mumbled to him, and having people take random pictures of him for months on end. There would be nobody who spoke English, he would learn nothing in school, and he would just sit there staring out the window talking to himself in his mind.

The next thing that pissed me off was that a ton of scenes showed hot girls just sitting around bored as they were part of some entourage or dancing around randomly wherever the main character went. I like slutty-looking girls as much as the next guy, but it was just so damn fake! Like seriously he would just wander someplace and there would be hella fine hotties scantily clad just shaking their shit during all hours of the day...WTF. Don't these girls have jobs? I don't think you can be a full time ho and still look that good. You still have to do regular people things like buy toilet paper, toothpaste, Windex, or maybe even a carrot. People can't be in party mode 24/7. Even the Playboy bunnies need time to recharge!

Next, they treated all the fancy cars like candy bars. One of the Japanese dudes just gives the main character an Evo (Mitsubishi Evolution i.e. 37K badass rally sport car, and that price certainly doesn't include all of the performance upgrades). Even if some of the characters did have some affiliation with the Yakuza, they would certainly not be so willing to just give an expensive car to some cocky white kid who thinks he can drive. Super much so that it actually hurt the logic portion of my brain.

Giving the movie a small grain of credit, the race scenes were hot, like Burnout 3 hot. Everything car-related was very fancy, fast, and neat. Also, the main chica Nathalie Kelley had this Australian accent and was totally worth lusting over.

So yeah, the movie was an average Fast and the Furious type of movie, but man did the story blow major ass.
Rating - C

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Dark Messiah of Might and Magic (1st Person Action RPG PC Game 2006)

So I've been playing this game constantly since it got released on Wednesday and I finally conquered it last night. Yay for me, not that it's any sort of real accomplishment, but it's interesting how satisfying and how much of a stress reliever it is to kick an orc off of a cliff.

To start, the storyline of the game is super transparent. I knew the whole story, including the end, after playing it for only about an hour, so there was not much in guessing as to who your character was or what you were supposed to do. They obviously didn't invest in a very good writer, not like Bioware does.

The game play was different because it had the Valve engine going on, so it totally felt like a FPS with a good physics engine and all, but instead of guns and grenades, you had swords and spells. Being able to power up your hits and decapitate mobs was entertaining, but it didn't take a lot of skill to fight in this game at all. It had the same equation of block/kick/power up/swing/block, rinse and repeat. Because of the simplicity of the combat, it felt much different from Oblivion even though they both had swords in a first-person mode.

The sound and music was nothing out of the ordinary, but it was certainly not one of those games that totally immersed you into a playable world.

The creators did try to make one of the characters very witty, just like in HL2, through the use of female voice acting, but it seemed a little too forced and was catered directly towards the lonely 12-17 year old computer gamer demographic.

One thing that I absolutely hated was that there were a ton of bugs in the game such as random crashes, random falling through the world, having a shield with negative durability so it could not be removed from the backpack because it shouldn't have even existed in the first place, being stuck in walls, power-up combo movies not working, etc. Also, the loading time was excruciatingly long, even for a souped up machine. It took forever and a day just for one section of the level to load, and there were usually around 4-5 different sections per level. I'm sure the first patch will fix a bunch of these problems but seriously, to release a game in this condition is just plain irresponsible.

So that pretty much sums it up. I won't give it a rating because all games are in the eye of the beholder. I was expecting something short and fun, and that's what I got. A lot of the annoying bugs were easily overlooked because I knew I would be selling it in a few days anyways. It's worth a look if you like this genre, but it's not anything that you need to make room for on your shelf.
Rating - High

Thursday, October 26, 2006

The Break-Up (Comedy 2006)

Eh, well this movie did make me laugh on numerous occasions, but it really was the same old shit underneath it all. This is probably what happened prior to the creation of this film: the writers and their friends all sat around a table making a list of clever come back lines, pictured Vince Vaughn doing them, and then wrote a whole story around that list. They also probably interviewed each other about past relationship fights that they had either heard of or had been involved in, and integrated those scenarios into the plot. There was nothing original about this Hollywood creation nor was there anything that made it stand out in the least. It was so cookie-cutter that I kept on thinking of the movie Hitch for some reason. Who knows, maybe some of the scenes were shot on the same street?

Anyway, there's not much to say about the actors because their jobs weren't that hard. All they had to do was say lines and make their face contort to fit the mood of the scene. There was only one memorable line in this movie that had me rolling for a few solid minutes, but was it worth sitting through this whole film? Nope. So even though it didn't suck, it was still very plain Jane, so save your money and find something else.
Rating - C

Sunday, October 22, 2006

The Prestige (Drama 2006)

Holy shit! I haven't seen such an absorbing film since The Sixth Sense. This one, without a doubt, has taken the lead and will most likely retain that status for a very long time. The movie was so well done, that it truly does put to shame a lot of films that have come out in recent years.

The plot was definitely this one's greatest attribute. The story was so intricate, as it kept on going through a ton of twists and turns, so much so, that the audience became absolutely memorized and just held on through the ride. Props go out to the two writers. Considering that they were associated with both Memento and Batman Begins, it just further solidifies their positions in the industry as great writers, at least from my vantage point. The acting was on par with what one would expect from a great film, but it was totally the plot and character development that drove this one home.

As you might've been able to tell from the previews, this movie was about obsession and competition and how both are a dangerous combination when the status of being the best is one's goal. Sacrifice is needed to attain this, and the movie first foreshadows and then illustrates what people are truly capable of in order to reach that end. I really don't want to spoil anything for you, so I'll just stop here; but yeah, this was one hella good movie. I don't think anyone can be disappointed with this film, and if someone is, you can label them as a poser who just wants to be different.
Rating - A+

Saturday, October 21, 2006

The Ground Truth (Documentary 2006)

This documentary was a fairly interesting one. It interviewed various soldiers who fought over in Iraq and Afghanistan and have come back either physically injured or mentally injured. It was intriguing to listen to all of these peeps' stories, and to see their take on the war and on the scars that were left by it.

One thing that this film focused on was post traumatic stress syndrome and how nutty a thing it actually is. Listening to how the military broke them down to prepare them mentally for war, and how there doesn't seem to be an actual way to reconfigure them back into society, was pretty rough to hear. It was like they all knew how they mentally were before, knew that they got brainfucked, and knew that they were inherently different now. I believe the movie Jarhead addressed this phenomena, but it's more powerful to hear it from actual people.

Sadly though, like most politically-driven documentaries, this movie only concentrated on one side of the story. Although I do believe everyone is telling the truth concerning their versions of their experience, it does open up a few questions such as 1) How come there's not a lot of news concerning PSTS if thousands of soldiers rotate in and out of regular life? 2) I personally know of a few people who went over there, and they all seemed fine to me when they got back. But then again, I did not probe too deeply into their psyche nor am I a psychologist so maybe I'm talking out of my ass here, but it's just a thought.

Most of us already know that the government and the military are a bunch of bastards that take advantage of average soldiers or average taxpayers; so I'm not backin' them, but it would've been more enlightening to hear multiple sides of the issue.
Rating - B

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Click (Comedy 2006)

Well this movie was an unexpected diamond in the ruff. One would think that a comedy staring Adam Sandler would be just another offshoot of any of his previous movies, but this one actually had a deeper theme ingrained into its plot. Even though the story was simple enough, the manner in which the movie was put together was surprisingly impressive, especially at the end, when it combined music integration with environmental setting to turn the last sequence of climactic scenes into something that would have been expected from a full blown drama. I've never seen that done in a comedy, so that was a nice change.

One of the highlights of this film was Kate Beckingsale, as it showed her age through various fast-forwards in time. Makeup artists have been doing this for years in both film and television, but the difference with Kate's makeup was that she continued to look like a hottie even though her character did indeed look like a female in her late 50s . All I can say is that if this film's representation of her aging holds any accuracy for what is to come, then "Wow..."

Although the movie was not meant to be a drama, the plot had enough base for it to be tweaked into one. It would have been interesting to see how the writers could have capitalized on the fact that the story had a more serious and realistic undertone to it. It might've even been a frontrunner for something greater, if the idea would have been molded with different clay, or so to speak.

One funny observation with futuristic scenes within movies is that they always try to make things look super sci-fi, with shiny outfits and holograms and the like, but sadly I highly doubt we will be anywhere close to that shit in 30 sum years. At least they didn't try to put in flying cars.

For some reason the only word that comes to mind is "enlightening", but that might just be a personal take on the film and is probably not a global opinion. I liked it though; and for something that was barely marketed, who would have guessed?
Rating - B

Sunday, October 15, 2006

The Departed (Drama 2006)

Considering that this movie is a remake of a 2002 HK flick, Infernal Affairs, it tends to be a little harder to rate because the story is exactly the same as the original. The Asian version of this film was good, but nothing out of the ordinary.

A lot of reviews have been placing this movie as a contender for an Oscar, but I would have to disagree if they're referring to "best picture" or anything major like that. Instead, there may be some nominations for acting because that, I believe, was indeed top-notch. Four of the primary actors did exemplary jobs in handling the accents, attitudes, and execution of roles.

As most already know, this movie is a crime thriller where you have two moles on opposite sides of the law, scheming to undermine one another. It had an interesting plot, but most of the points came from the emotional depiction of working in a stressful, undercover situation. Both DiCaprio and Damon kicked ass in carrying this story forward.

Do I have any complaints? Yes, get a hotter chick. Vera Farmiga might think she's hot shit, but I sure as hell don't. She did get kinda undressed during one scene, but that doesn't excuse the fact that she was a very unconvincing MD, PhD.

There's nothing much else to say other than expressing that this final rating is totally geared towards the acting and nothing else. I somehow have a problem with separating an original story with that of a remade one, so I won't even try to find a way to factor that in. Let's just say it was a good movie and is definitely worth a watch.
Rating - A

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Educause Conference

So I was sent to Dallas to attend a conference for higher education institutions. I guess I should have expected it, but the whole thing was totally catered to CIO and director level peeps. Both vendors and other attendees didn't give a shit about you unless you were high ranking and were able to blow thousands of dollars on IT solutions. Whatever...I crawl under desks to verify that people have plugged in their computers; where does that place me in the whole scheme of things? Very Low.

The town of Dallas is large and spread out; it reminds me a lot of PHX except less hot. People are as standoffish as ever, but they have this annoying Texan accent to go with their inhospitable attitude. I did hear, for the first time in my life, an Asian chick with a heavy Texan accent. My God was that weird, almost as odd as an Asian Brit in the UK with an English accent. These Dallas folk sure knew how to cook BBQ beef brisket though...damn good meat.

I'm very glad to be home. US Airlines is the worst piece of shit that I've ever flown on. The seats are worse than bus benches on the side of the road, and their regional airplanes are about the size of a muffin. All you have to do is add water, form it to make it look like a Twinkie, and that's the fuselage for ya.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Just My Luck

So anyone want to guess what's wrong with this picture? Well I'd be happy to tell you: Freezers aren't supposed to have an ambient temperature of 55 degrees Fahrenheit. Oh yeah, you know refrigerator died today. I came home to a melted bag of ice that used to be in the freezer, but had now melted through 25 years of plastic and metal to produce a large-ass puddle of muck on my kitchen floor. So yes, my steak for the week is now ruined. I guess I have an excuse to eat out all week, but still, what a waste.

So began my quest to find a replacement, on a night that was already allocated as a screw off evening. One can only guess my demeanor at this point.

I decided to go to Home Depot since its the closest place to me. Who goes shopping on a Monday evening for refrigerators? A goddamned group of frat fucks with one hooker sorority bitch, that's who. Yeah, they got there before me and had commandeered the only worker who was assigned to that section. Yeah, one thing I noticed with Home Depot is that they have absolutely no sense of cross training. I attacked every worker that came along, but all of them said the same thing, "Oh, sorry, that's not my section". Motherfuckers... Anyway, after Miss worker bee got back 20 minutes later, she ended up telling me that they were out of stock of what I wanted: Great, so off to the mall I went.

After arriving at Sears many minutes later, I rushed over to the appliance section to find myself in competition with an old couple heading towards the same area from the opposite direction. There was only one sales goober working the area, so he takes one look at me, one look at the couple, and guess which one he picks? Yeah, motherfucker... So while I'm standing there, next to the refrigerator that I'm 100% wanting to buy, a random sales lady, who looked like she was totally done for the night, ushered me over to the register and made the easiest commission sale ever. 7 minutes flat and I was done, walking past the goober that didn't choo-choo-choose me, purposely making eye contact while waving around my receipt overhead, reminding him one of the most important lessons of sales: Know your customer. Would a fine-looking 26 year old well dressed Asian gentleman walking very fast with a little piece of paper B-lining it for the refrigerators on a Monday evening be perhaps window shopping? Fuck No!!! He's there to get shit done, out of necessity, so that he can back to his movies and video games.

Anyway, now I have to wait 4 days till the peeps deliver my fridge, and in the mean time, I drink warm soda and water...great. And those fratties at Home Depot...I hope their dicks rot off.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

The Last Kiss (Drama 2006)

I personally thought this movie would get more attention just because nontraditional relationship flicks usually draw a pretty good crowd, but for one reason or another, this one is already on its way out of theatres.

This film followed around several characters who are all friends and each in a different phase of their life concerning relationships. One guy is married and miserable, one guy is still having uncommitted fun, one guy is in a good relationship and is about to have a kid, and the last guy is still not over an Ex that dumped him. A side story follows around the parents of Jacinda Barrett's character as they go through a large wave in their many decade long relationship.

I know what this movie was trying to do, and that was attempting to show how all relationships are super hard and that communication and honesty are hella important in all of them. It also tried to show how all people make decisions, many instinctual, and a lot of the times they turn out to be both foolish and selfish. The movie succeeded in placing these themes into the story, for I understood how each of the guys approached, confronted, and dealt with each of their problems; and I also understood how each of the girls reacted to the stimuli affecting their lives.

A few problems that cause this film to lose points was that some of the scenes were overacted because the characters were not appropriately developed. In a nutshell, the writers tried to cover too much territory with too little time. If they had focused their energy on fully showing how a few of the characters ended up in the situations they were in, it would've built a more stable foundation for the ensuing drama to be fully understood by the audience. But as you may have guessed, Zach Braff's character was primary, and although we learned a ton about him and his perspective, we were a little lost when looking into the lives of the other characters.

The situational comedy was very funny at times, and the overall movie was both entertaining and engaging, so at least I still think of this movie in a positive light. As previously stated, it could've been polished up a bit more, and that's just a pity that it wasn't. But yeah, Jacinda Barrett did a fantastic job in her climactic scene of the film. That single scene made the whole movie worth it because up until that point, the whole audience was held in suspense, waiting to see how she would react and open a can of whoop-ass to Zach Braff's character.

So how does this movie compare to Garden State? Well, it was different because both films had their own distinct purpose. Garden State was more about being lost and trying to find purpose in life, while this film was more about choice, and how peoples' choices can always affect others. Garden State was a good movie because it concentrated on one character and built that character from the ground up. That and Zach Braff was getting with Natalie Portman, which always wins a movie more points. Again, this film had a really good idea, but was too broad in its execution. If they would've just narrowed the story to cover three of the main relationships, it would have been great.
Rating - B