Friday, December 28, 2007
Monday, December 24, 2007
Thursday, December 20, 2007
Monday, December 17, 2007
" Un peu l'histoire ancien: One evening an old drunk guy (whose teeth seemed to be made of wood) sat at Ray Flynn's and claimed, oratorically and with much gesticulation, that Mr. Bethmann was watching the film "Tugboat Annie" with Mr. Sulkow, and therby arrived at the band's name. He (old dude) was, admittedly, shit-faced, but his story has been discounted by nary a soul."
Now, for any true old school Buffalo folks out there that story should raise an eye brow. Is it some sort of weird cosmic coincidence that my all time favourite band was named in my all time favourite bar? I don't.
Sunday, December 16, 2007
Friday, December 7, 2007
Video Game of The Year - This was an easy one. Valve Software's Team Fortress 2 is the easy choice in this category. It is just hands down the most fun I have ever had with a first person shooter. I honestly don't think I've played anything else this year that has had the same WoW factor for me.
Favourite Independant Comic - This one is a no brainer. Paul Dini's Madame Mirage may only be 3 issues into it's run, but i think it is one of the most entertaining books I have read in quite some time. Set in a future where using super powers is illegal resulting in the good guys ether quiting or going to jail and the villains going "legit" this comic focuses on a shape changing assassin with looks and combat skills that are to die for who sets out on a quest to bring down the former villains and make them pay in blood for their crimes. Paul Dini's writing is top drawer as always. The book also features wonderful art by Kenneth Rocafort. Oh, and Madame Mirage is absolutely SMOKING!
Well that's a run down of a few of my favourite things from the last year.
Thursday, December 6, 2007
Well, it is December in Chicago, so that of course means that it's cold as all get out here. We've been getting a fair amount of snow recently which is really only serving to annoy me. It is pretty when it is falling at least. Life has been picking up a bit for me recently. This week i began rehearsals for the remount of "The Book of Liz". This time around I'm getting to try my hand at being a Stage Manager. So far things are going well, and I actually think that the show will be stronger this time around. Some cast changes will result in a strong show being even stronger. The thing that I am the most excited about is getting to work in the new Chemically Imbalanced Comedy Theatre. It's a great little space. A nice 50 seat theatre that has just been freshly renovated. I must admit that I don't know how well I am going to do as a Stage Manager. It seams to require paying attention to a lot of things. (A skill that I sometimes am not in great supply of.) Things look pretty good for the show to be a success. Apparently tickets that were released to one online ticket broker have already sold out through the month on January. I can't believe how successful this weird little show appears to be. It is really refreshing to know that someone actually is interested in seeing a show I am involved in.
I will say, that in spite of how much I dislike the cold, December is one of my most favourite times of the year. Thanksgiving kicks off the holiday season and work slows to a crawl. Which is great for blogging. Soon I get to go back to the B-Lo for Christmas and I really can't wait. It's been a bit to long since I've seen my family so the days can't pass fast enough. This Friday we are having a bowling party for work which should be LEGENDARY!
On other fronts, my video game time recently is still being dominated by Team Fortress 2. I really havn't found a compeling reason to put it down yet. It easily is my game of the year. I've started to branch out into a few other classes besides Medic. Recently I've been trying to play as the Spy a lot. It's a very interesting change of playing style. You certainly need to rely more on being sneaky. On the DS I also recently picked up one of the Pheonix Wright games. It's a pretty funny game, but I feel stupid, because I am so stuck on one part and I can't figure out how to get past it. I thus far have resisted the urge to look on line for cheats. I feel like I ought to be smart enough to figure out what to do on my own.
Well, I think I am going to go now. Perhaps I'll work on a new "Where's Donny."
Tuesday, December 4, 2007
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Sunday, November 25, 2007
Friday, November 23, 2007
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Monday, November 19, 2007
Friday, November 16, 2007
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
Now if only DC would follow suit. Gabby...perhaps you could mention this to Dan and Paul the next time you get a moment with them!
Sorry for your loss Kanye.
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
Sorry to anyone who has had the unfortunate pleasure of being in my presence recently. I've been feeling very disconnected from everything. No reason I can think of. It happens sometimes. I guess.
Ive been waiting for a guide to come and take me by the hand,
Could these sensations make me feel the pleasures of a normal man?
These sensations barely interest me for another day,
Ive got the spirit, lose the feeling, take the shock away.
Its getting faster, moving faster now, its getting out of hand,
On the tenth floor, down the back stairs, its a no mans land,
Lights are flashing, cars are crashing, getting frequent now,
Ive got the spirit, lose the feeling, let it out somehow.
What means to you, what means to me, and we will meet again,
Im watching you, Im watching her, Ill take no pity from you friends,
Who is right, who can tell, and who gives a damn right now,
Until the spirit new sensation takes hold, then you know,
Until the spirit new sensation takes hold, then you know,
Until the spirit new sensation takes hold, then you know,
Ive got the spirit, but lose the feeling,
Ive got the spirit, but lose the feeling,
Feeling, feeling, feeling, feeling, feeling, feeling, feeling.
-Disorder - Joy Division
Thursday, November 8, 2007
One of the things that I am very intrigued about with this game is the fact that it is capable of generating the note sequences for any song that you throw at it. The fact that Harmonix has developed a program capable of doing this is really exciting. Especially when you consider that we are beginning to see the release of these types of games on the PC. The idea that someone out there in Mod world might be able to make something that will give me the ability to rock out to my entire iTunes library is amazing!
Wednesday, November 7, 2007
I went to Charleston SC for my friends Rachel & Mike's wedding. It was an epic adventure for me and "The Gent." 15 hours there. 15 hours back. Easily one of the best road trips I have ever been on. It was great to get out and see the landscape of our beautiful country. Especially since the mountains of Tennessee and North Carolina were in the midst of their autumn colour changes. Beautiful reds, oranges and yellows running up and down the mountains as far as the eye can see. Accompanied by Maxine our trusty GPS device we navigated our way down from the chill of Chicago to the bright warm sun and 70+ degree weather of Charleston. The city of Charleston was amazing. Such a wonderful old historic town, with cobblestone streets that were lit by gas light in the evenings. Wandering around the historic district led us to discover houses and grave yards that had been in existence since the late 1700's. Every church had a small grave yard it seamed.
In our two days there me and "The Gent" had a chance to explore much of Charleston and even made some friends with a few "Good Olde Boys" from Charleston named Lawrence, Tommy and Max (aka Otis) and the beautiful Maxine. (Sadly no photographic evidence of this encounter.) We rode in "Big Foot" a pickup truck owned by Lawrence. This truck was FREAKING HUGE! We even got invited to got hunting at one of their plantations. Expect the "Good Olde Boys" to make a visit to the windy city. (Might be a good time to take some out of town vacation. These boys are pretty freaking crazy.)
Rachel's wedding was perfect. She looked gorgeous. Michael looked handsome. They looked absolutely happy. The wedding took place at a beautiful old mansion in the heart of the historic district called the William Aiken House. The weather was perfect. Me and the gent managed to make a few friends that evening as well. Pretty much everyone we meet was so nice. However, our closest bond was with Lori and Collin. A couple that we were seated with at the rehearsal dinner. Collin was in the bridal party and sort of looks like Jack Black. Lori was one of the coolest gals I've meet in awhile.
- Can you drive past Spartanburg South Carolina and not yell "THIS IS SPARTANBURG!"?
- Apparently The Joker is not the criminal genius we've been led to believe, or Batman really is slacking off.
- We attended a Southern wedding and heard the phrase "I wish we weren't related."
- The Gent has powers. This is not news.
- I could see myself living in Charleston.
- It's called "The War of Northern Aggression"
- "The main difference between Us Chicagoans and you boys from Charleston is that you kill the deer. We just eat it." - The Gent
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Thursday, October 25, 2007
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
- The Orange Box - Easily the best deal going in video gaming at the moment. For a little over 50 bucks you get 5 complete games in one! This package from Valve software contains: Half-Life 2, Half-Life 2: Episode 1, Half-Life 2: Episode 2, Portal and Team Fortress 2. While you can get this package for Xbox360 I would recommend the PC version. The only draw back to the PC version is actually a strength. Installing and playing the game on PC requires the use of Steam. Steam is Valve's online software distribution platform. (Think Xbox Live) Unlike X-Box Live it is free to join and maintain an account. Steam authenticates your games for copy protection purposes, but also allows you to manage friends, download demos and even purchase full games. Purchased games are tied to your account, so if you have multiple PC's (like say you are getting a laptop for work wink...wink) all you need to do is install the steam client on that PC to and it will download all of your games to that system without the need for software disks to install. The biggest draw back to Steam is that I think it requires you to have an active internet connection to play games through it. However, I think certain games can be played off line. One other feature that makes The Orange Box such a great value is that Steam supports a great many user created mods for the Half-life series. Allowing you to play original games such as Goldeneye: Source (a free multi player version of the N64 Classic) or DBSource another mod based on the Dragon Ball Z universe. With the amount of mods that are sure to be released in the future this could almost be the only game you ever need to buy again. I would go into more detail about the individual parts of the actual Orange Box, but I think I have written enough previously about the stellar Team Fortress 2.
- BioShock - Yep, it's out on Xbox360, but if you want to see this game running as pretty as it can be you should play it on PC. I run it under Direct x 9, and it is astounding. I am curious to see what this game is going to look like with DX10 hardware.
- Supreme Commander - I am not much for real time strategy games, but this one is supposed to be pretty awesome. Another DX10 game, the crazy thing about this game is apparently the level of depth that you can use to control the game. Battles can contain hundreds of unit per side. This game allows you to scale your view of the battle out to almost a global perspective, and the battles can become so huge that the game has built in support for dual monitors.
- Spore - A game slated for release next year being developed by Will Wright. (The genius behind just about anything with the word SIM in it's title.) This game looks like it will be the ultimate "God" game. You basically create an organism and guide it through it's evolution from a single cell organism to a creature to a society and then to a space faring civilization. The amazingly compelling thing about this game is that players will be able to make their races available to download by other players. As you download other players races of creatures they will populate the universe that you explore with your space traveling race. Allowing you to interact with the creations of players from all over the world. The possibilities of this game cause the mind to boggle.
- Crysis - If there is one game that the editors of PC Gamer magazine all seam to be going crazy waiting for this would be the one. This is one of the first games that will truly show off what DX10 can do. Apparently even DX9 demo versions being shown at trade shows have been mind blowing displaying totally destructive jungle environments and a fantastic enemy AI.
- Microsoft Flight Simulator X - Perhaps the first DX10 game released. It sounds pretty cool. I have never been into flight simulators, but the fact that this game features accurately mapped photo realistic maps of THE ENTIRE WORLD it is certainly tempting. Yes, you can fly a plane from the Buffalo Airport to Toronto is real time. How bad a$$ is that?
Monday, October 22, 2007
- Once again, "In Mark's Head" was not recognized for it's outstanding contributions toward raising awareness of important stuff. Some how I will survive. Somehow.... Gordie Howe... Krakow...Kung Pao...I'll stop now.
- Milk Cow...
- So there were some great football games on yesterday. The Bears beat the Eagles with a last second drive at the end of a pretty darn boring game. I am happy that the Bears won. The season was starting to look like it could veer down the path of depressing. A loss yesterday certainly would have made for a long season. The Bears certainly are not out of the woods by any stretch of the imagination. They have yet to show me that they are as good of a team as they think they are. Until they can start to play on offense with the full potential of their players, and the Bears do have talented players especially in the receiving spots and not rely on Devin Hester returning kicks to be the sole source of their offense I will remain skeptical. Which is always a healthy attitude for a Chicago sports fan to have anyway.
- I am still not awake. It's 9:46.
- I went over to my buddy Leo's place to watch football yesterday. He has an awesome TV. However, can someone please answer me this? Why was I not able to watch the last 2 minutes of the Houston / Tennessee game? This was easily the most exciting game of the weekend. It was decided by on sides kicks and a last second field goal that set the record for the most field goals by a kicker in an NFL game. However, instead of being able to watch the drama of this game unfold live I was forced to watch the conclusion through highlights and piss poor horrid commentary from the ABC studio crew. (Or whatever network it was.) The talking heads in studio kept talking about some rule that was preventing them from showing the game. What kind of BS rule is this? Who would make up a rule that would not allow you to show the end on an exciting game? It was embarrassing, and certainly did not benefit ether party. The NFL suffered fans not being able to see the conclusion of an exciting game and a record setting performance. The network suffered through what might have been the most painful 15 minutes of sports television broadcasting EVER! The talking heads that have been assembled for the networks post game round table tried their best to provide a play by play recap of the action in the final moments of this game, but really only served to illustrate that play by play broadcasting is in fact a skill that none of these men possessed. What ever this stupid rule was that prevented them from showing the end of the game is a REALLY FREAKING STUPID RULE!
- So I had the audition for the competitive Team Fortress 2 clan this past Saturday. Sadly, I did not make the cut for the actual clan. At least the team I was assigned to managed to win the tournament in sudden death by eliminating all the opposing players with mere seconds remaining on the clock. I am not surprised that i was not selected. To help my team out I elected to play as a defensive engineer as opposed to the medic class which is my strongest class. I stunk it up in this role. All I can do is keep practicing and hope for a better shot when the audition for the remaining 6 spots on the clan come around in 2 weeks.
Saturday, October 20, 2007
Friday, October 19, 2007
Thursday, October 18, 2007
I still don't think I would want to own a Wii. If I did want a Wii, Metroid would certainly be the game to get me in the door though. Sorry, I just don't like the controls. I think this has more to do with the fact that i have decided to become very set in my ways video game wise. (I sometimes think the Play Station controller has too many buttons on it.)
So Goose, I am sorry for blasting your beloved Wii. I do think I would take you Mouse & Keyboard vs. Wii Mote though.
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
Why does it take so FRACKING long to transfer 5.8 GB to a portable drive? Seriously. If I had kids they would be in college by the time this finishes.
So I am going to be auditioning for a Team Fortress 2 competative team this weekend. I am sort of geeked by this. A little nervous too, seeing as how I know that there are much better players out there then me. However, I am currently the #3 ranked Medic on the team's website, so hopefully that bodes well for me. Wish me luck!
Monday, October 15, 2007
Tuesday, October 9, 2007
Monday, October 8, 2007
Thursday, October 4, 2007
Wednesday, October 3, 2007
Monday, October 1, 2007
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Monday, September 24, 2007
Thursday, September 20, 2007
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
Up until Batman Begins if you wanted to find a decent representation of your favourite DC super heroes in a medium outside the pages of the comics you turned to animation. Superman/Doomsday the most recent release from the Warner Brother's Animation Studios certainly continues the excellent trend started by such shows as the Batman Animated Series, Batman Beyond, Justice League Unlimited and many other DCU projects. This full length feature is more inspired by the events of the epic Death/Reign of Superman story arcs then a straight adaptation of the original story as it appeared in the comics. This refashioned tale works to combine two very long stories into a nice tight 2 hour package. However, do not think that the tale suffers due to this condensation. In many ways it makes for a far more focused and compelling tale. I especially enjoy the changes made to the second half of the film which deals with Superman's return after his apparent defeat at the hands of Doomsday. I even feel as if they explain how Superman returned from the dead in a some what more believable fashion even though it bares quite similar to the comics in that regard. I wont talk too much about the story as I'd like you all to see it
for yourself with no spoliers. However, I can say what is done very right about this movie. The battle between Superman and Doomsday is amazing. This is as brutal and ferocious as the comics depict and a PG-13 rating will allow. Doomsday is down right terrifying. Just as he should be. I also enjoyed the way that the Superman, Clark and Lois's relationship is handled. Finally, the animated version of Lex Luthor shines as one of the most evil incarnations of the bald headed xenophobe in existence. If you are a fan of the Man of Steel (Garvey and Alex) you must at least see this, if not add it to your collection immediately. All in all a great movie. I highly recommend it!
Saturday, September 15, 2007
I saw this program called Microsoft Live mentioned on a software site, and thought that I would give it a whirl for blogging. It's pretty cool so far.So is it wrong to go to an Aquarium and then eat sushi afterwards? I hope not. Sushi is so good.
Monday, September 10, 2007
Saturday, September 8, 2007
Friday, September 7, 2007
So rumours have been circulating on the Tugboat Annie MySpace page of a possible reunion show! Jay Celeste says he's interested. If this happens I will be in Buffalo for it. Try and stop me. Seriously, if you don't know this band check them out. They have a great selection of tracks streaming from the MySpace page. (I also have a fairly complete digital discography. Ask nicely and maybe I'll be your friend.) This band is one of my all time favourite bands. If not my favourite. Certainly the best band out of Buffalo in the mid to late 90's. (Sorry to both the Goo's and Ani.) The MySpace page isn't maintained by the band, but mad props to the guy who does. He sent me an mp3 of my favourite Tugboat song (and the biggest hole in my collection) "9more". There is plenty of live stuff and demos to download through the site as well! Check them out to see what it was like back when Emo was not a dirty word!
- Christmas is just around the corner....
- I haven't written about this much yet, but I have been working on a new play. We are currently in our second weekend and so far we have sold out every performance! The show is called "The Book of Liz" written by David and Amy Sedaris. This is my first show with a new troupe and I have really enjoyed working with them so far. I designed the lighting and sound plots for the show. I am pretty happy with how things turned out and am glad that the production has been well received. I hope that the company allows me to work with them again.
- This may shock some loyal readers to hear, but I have actually just finished reading a real book. (And am working on a second.) Granted they are real books about comic books but hey. It's a start. The one I just finished is Comic Book Nation: The Transformation of Youth Culture in America by Bradford W. Wright. I really enjoyed it a lot, and actually learned a bit. It brought to my attention a lot of characters and stories that I had never been exposed to and now am dieing to read. If anyone can tell me where to find any reprints of the sci-fi comics published by EC Comics in the 50's I would certainly appreciate it. They sound interesting.
- Also this past weekend I picked up a new first person shooter for my PC called BioShock. This game is pretty darn awesome. One of the best looking video games that I have ever seen. It is also "don't play at night" scary. The sound design is especially well done and really draws you into the game quite nicely. The enemies walk around ranting and raving to themselves before they see you and are just so scary. I am not too far into the game but I look to put some QT in with it this weekend. I love this game because there are enemies in the game that really give you a sense of accomplishment when you bring them down. The first time I bagged a Big Daddy might be one of my proudest video game moments ever. What an intense fight. I'll keep folks posted as I progress through the game.
- Final note of the post. I had the chance to see the new Rob Zombie "Halloween" remake this past weekend. I'll say this. It wasn't great, but wasn't the disaster I thought it was going to be. Just sort of average. I certainly enjoyed it more then Rob Zombie's other two movies. However, I can honestly say that if it wasn't a remake of a movie that I hold very near and dear to my heart I probably would not have even thought about going to see it. This certainly is not the movie that I love. It is it's own beats to be certain. A rewritten screen play courtesy of Mr. Zombie basically gives us a movie in two halves. The first half focusses more upon a young Michael Myers and tries to shed some light on what made him into the monster that he is. The second half of the movie focuses upon the tale we are more familiar with from the John Carpenter film as Michael stalks and kills his way through Haddonfield Il, on Halloween night. The problem with this new story structure is that even though we might get a better idea of why Michael has gone off the deep end. (He was the product of a very abusive home) It really does not explain why Michael takes the course of action he does in the second half of the film as he stalks Laurie Strode who is revealed to be his sister. (Apparently this piece of information comes to light in the sequel to the 1978 original.) Sadly, another disappointment however expected it was is that under Mr. Zombie's direction the story has lost all of the subtle touchs that made the first film so frightening. Mr. Zombie as well as his Michael for that matter ratchet up the violence and gore ten fold in this new film. More people die in the first half hour of this film then in the entire John Carpenter film, and boy is it bloody. I think I will at some point write a longer critique and comparison of the two films. I just wanted to get some of my initial thoughts out there.
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
Every fiber of my being wants the new "Halloween" movie which is slated for release in the near future to be good. I think it is well established territory that John Carpenter's original film is one of my all time favourites. I just know this movie is going to suck, and that makes me sad. Just check out the poster. Ehhh...
Sunday, August 26, 2007
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
Friday, August 17, 2007
Thursday, August 16, 2007
Monday, August 13, 2007
Thursday, August 9, 2007
So I am now a world record holder. This Tuesday, I joined 1377 other guitar players in Chicago's Wells Park for the "World's Largest Music Lesson" which was sponsored by the Old Town School Of Music. It is not official in the Guinness Book yet, but we obliterated the current record of 539 Swiss harmonica players that night, and had a great time doing it. Take that Jimi Hendrix!
Saturday, August 4, 2007
- A) What would make him black enough? - Remember folks this guy is applying for the job of LEADER OF THE FREE WORLD! Are you expecting that if we have a black president that all state dinners be catered by KFC and serve water melon for desert?
- B) If you are not going to vote for him because he's not "black enough" (and assuming that you are a Democrat) who would you vote for instead? - I hear that John Edwards has mad street cred.
If anyone out there wants to take a stab at answering my questions and explaining this nonsense to me I am all ears.
Friday, August 3, 2007
Sunday, July 29, 2007
Thursday, July 26, 2007
Thursday, July 5, 2007
So it being summer there are plenty of fun movies coming out and I have been making more of an effort to see them. So far I've seen 2 of the big blockbusters so far. One REALLY GOOD! One that just left me feeling...ehhhh.
Well...let's start with the bad. One movie that I had been really looking forward to this summer was Michael Bay's Transformers. Sadly, folks I must say that I was rather under whelmed. Very under whelmed. i have been a bit worried that I am forming these opinions of mine from an extremely fan boy perspective. I can't lie, I have been a huge fan of the 80's cartoon Transformers since they first appeared. I find it difficult to to detach myself from that mindset. This movie clearly was not the transformers that I had been hoping for. However, I think that the reasons why I found the movie lacking as a Transformers movie also directly relate to why it was just not a very good movie.
Now hearing me say that I am a huge Transformers fan, I can imagine that you think my first criticism might be with the way that the Transformers looked. You would be right. However, my displeasure doesn't stem from the fact that the robots in this film do not resemble the versions I am more familiar with. The idea of updating the character designs actually sat OK with me when I first saw pictures of the new robots. I am not opposed to the reimaging of classic stories to a newer visual aesthetic. I always feel that movies should be viewed as a separate continuity from the comics or cartoons that it may be based upon, providing that under the varnish of a new design the characters and story maintains the elements that attracted us to the characters in the first place. (With that reasoning I totally love the X-Men movies even though they tend to not follow the story arcs of the comics exactly.) In this respect, I think is the movies biggest failing. With the exception of Optimus Prime the updated character designs are rather uninspiring. They feel as if they could have been taken from any random Japanese anime. I will certainly not knock Industrial Light and Magic's ability to create fantastic looking images on screen. The new robots look and move really well. (Although I felt on occasion during fight scenes that the robots did not seam to be carrying the weight that you would expect.) The problem, is that Transformers has always been about the personalities of the individual Transformers. The newer designs all look and feel very similar, and make telling the robots apart extremely difficult. Often times during the final battle sequence I had no idea which was the Autobot (the good guy) and which was the Decepticon (the bad guy). Trying to figure out which individual characters were actually fighting was darn near impossible. It's hard to root for the good guy, when you're not sure who he is. Combine these similar character designs with the fact that little attempt to define the personalities of the various Transformers (especially for the Decepticons) and you end up with a lot of computer generated metal that is impossible to relate to.
The fact that little attempt is made to create actual characters out of the Transformers has the added effect of making us realize how annoying the human characters are in this movie. Our main human protagonist Sam Witwicky is portrayed by Shia LaBeouf. (I can't help but wonder if every time he gets cast in a movie he realizes that the producers really wished that they could have cast Elija Wood instead.) As a hero Sam leaves a lot to be desired. His sole motivation at the start of the movie is to a) get a car then b) get a girl. Typical high school stuff I guess. The only problem is that Sam seams to be the only one who isn't aware of the fact that he's a real dork. We know he's a dork, because employs an acting style that can only be described as talking really really fast in a nervous and scatter brained fashion. As if he is hoping that if he talks fast enough eventually something witty will come out of his mouth. (He very rarely gets that lucky.) As a rule, the dialogue that the human actors are given is pretty laughable. Sadly, as a rule in this film, this is the status quo. Some fairly competent actors are given ridiculous dialogue and situations to try and make sense of. It was often times painful to watch some fairly decent actors (Anthony Anderson , Jon Voight , John Turturro and Josh Duhamel) struggle through their dialogue. The brightest part of the human cast for me was Megan Fox who portrays Sam's love interest Mikaela Banes. That may be because she may have been given the fewest ridiculous lines to say. Sam's parents are also pretty entertaining (Kevin Dunn and Julie White) but appear very briefly in the film. Basically, what you are left with here is a movie that focuses on human characters not really worth caring about and giant robots that should be actual characters but are not.
My last major gripe with the film is the treatment of the Decepticon leader Megatron. Megatron might be the most evil robot in the universe. We would never know this from the movie, but the character developed in the cartoons is a cold blooded killing machine who will take any advantage no matter how under handed to get a leg up on the Autobots. If you expect to see any sort of character out of Megatron forget it. He doesn't even appear until the final 45 minutes of the movie when he is awoken from a cryogenic sleep just in time to brawl with Optimus Prime. He maybe has 10 lines of dialogue the entire film. We know Megatron is evil because Optimus Prime tells us that he is. It would have been much cooler to actually see him being evil. Sadly, the Decepticons are pretty absent from the movie as a whole until the final battle when they show up to destroy a city. We never see them interacting with one another. It's almost pointless to mention which secondary Autobots and Decepticons appear in this film, as they can just as easily be called "Good Robot #1" and you wont miss a beat.
Transformers is not without it's good points. There are some funny moments in the film courtesy of Bumblebee. (The only robot to display anything close to a personality.) I also found that there was a good number of inside jokes that were clearly aimed at the fan boys in the audience. Bumblebee takes out some aggression on a yellow VW bug (in the cartoon Bumblebee's car form is a yellow VW Bug. He's a camaro in this movie.) and before their final battle Optimus Prime and Megatron speak lines of dialogue directly from the 1986 Transformers: The Movie. We even get to hear the classic transformation sound effect from the cartoon series the first time we actually witness a transformation take place. (Why it disappears for the rest of the movie I certainly don't know.) Actually, this opening scene is one of the highlights of the film. Here we get to watch as a Decepticon disguised as a helicopter destroys an entire military base. The other part of the movie that really got my fan boy heart pumping was the first appearance and transformation of Optimus Prime. I wont lie. I cheered!
So in conclusion, Transformers might pass as some very light and mildly entertaining pop corn fare. If you are looking for something that will remind you of the characters and drama that is more true to the spirit of Transformers, and also features far better characterizations you should certainly take a look at the 1986 cartoon film. You wont find what you are looking for here. However, the movie is not without some merit but at the end of the day unsatisfying as a Transformers experience.
So obviously, Transformers was the movie i didn't like. What about the one I did? Well, let me say that Bruce Willis's return to the character of John McClane in this summer's Live Free or Die Hard more then met my expectations and in fact far surpassed them. Being a huge fan of the Die Hard series (We watch the original every year on Christmas Eve) I say with no hesitation that this most recent installment is the best one in the series since the 1988 original. The set up is basically the same as before. A well organized terrorist kicks off a plot to take over the world or steal money or something, and NY police officer John McClane just happens to get caught in the middle as the only one apparently able to stop this mad man's plans. This time around we get treated to a villain portrayed by Timothy Olyphant. An actor who has found his way on to my list of actors I am always happy to see show up in a film. Olyphant's Thomas Gabriel is a computer security expert who decides to illustrate first hand to the US government exactly how correct his assessment of the weakness of our national computer security is by systematically disabling the computer systems we depend on to run our modern society one at a time, causing wide spread panic and chaos. A plan that just like in the first film is actually a front for larceny on a grand scale. This new high tech world is a place where John McClane certainly is out of place. Great effort is made to emphasize the point that McClane is an analogue anachronism to our current modern digital age. Lucky for McClane he is joined in his adventures by Matt Farrell (played by Justin Long) a college age computer hacker who unknowingly helps the terrorists and then becomes their target after they try to cover their tracks. Casting Justin Long in the role is perfect, as he is most commonly know to people as the "Mac" from Apple's "PC vs. Mac" add campaign. They make a good team and certainly an interesting couple, as you can see that both characters have a difficult time relating to each others world view. All this tech stuff clearly goes right over McClane's head and Matt is very happy to leave the bad guy punching and explosion making to McClane.
When you go to see a Die Hard movie, one thing that you expect is that stuff is going to blow up nice and good. This movie certainly does not disapoint in that category. The stunts and action sequences are all excellently put together. The use of practical old school stunt work instead of CGI effects only helps their believability. It is a wonderful change of pace to the standard CGI fare that has become the norm for action films these days. The reliance on practical stunts versus CGI glitz even plays directly into the themes of the film surrounding the modern digital age vs McClane's extremely old school world. Another way that the movie shines is that the stunts are often times very novel and creative as McClane uses everything at his disposal to dispose of his enemies in very creative ways. A chase scene involving a helicopter is worth the price of admission by itself.
This movie also excels due to it's cast. Not only is John aided by his new friend Matt, but he also gets a hand from a another computer hacker named Warlock (played by Kevin Smith) who works out of his "command center" in his mother's basement. We also get reacquainted with little Lucy McClane, who has certainly grown up quite a bit since we last saw her in the 1988 original. Lucy is played well by Mary Elizabeth Winstead, and shows us before the end of the film that in the McClane household the apple doesn't fall too far from the tree when it comes to fighting the bad guys. Showing us that just like her mom she is more then just a pretty hostage.
So in conclusion, if you want to see something fun this summer with lots of big explosions both of these movies will satisfy that requirement. However, if you want to see stuff blown up right by characters that you can actually relate to see Live Free or Die Hard. You wont be disappointed.
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
Friday, May 11, 2007
Thursday, May 10, 2007
Tuesday, May 8, 2007
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
An update on the Mark Beers being funny project. So I will sadly no longer be hosting the open mic night. I guess Joey-V must have sobered up a bit since he asked me. However, I will be doing my time. Just imagine 5 minutes of me on stage with a microphone. It's going to be legendary! Or it's going to suck. Guess we'll all find out soon huh?
Monday, April 16, 2007
- The new PC is working quite well. I play a good 4 or 5 hours of WoW on Sunday. I must say, after my first few days with Vista I am quite impressed. This OS has very nice aesthetics. I think secretly every PC owner and user has been looking at Mac's for a few years and wished their computers looked that cool. With Vista I feel like Microsoft has finally given me that OS. The Aero interface is very nice looking. I love the see through windows. It is a system hog. with 2 GB of ram even idling the system was using 33% of my physical memory.
- Saw the moive "24 Hour Party People" last night. If you love the late 70's early 80's Manchester New Wave music scene (which I do) you will enjoy this mockumentary. It is informative, but at the same point funny as hell.