I've been losing track of how many comic book films there have been in the past 15 years, but the number is increasing exponentially, and seems like that will be the trend for many years to come, especially as Marvel unveils its Avengers and Infinity Wars films as it interweaves all of its films together to form a cohesive universe. Irregardless, there are a lot of them. Today I saw the 2nd film in the Avengers series: The Age of Ultron. It was entertaining to be sure, but I honestly didn't enjoy it as much as I did the first film. I will say that Joss Whedon is a really good director when it comes to dynamic action sequences, though he lacks the finesse of Spielberg and Lucas. I think there was more over the top action for purely just the sake of action unlike the first film, and it was just uninteresting. I enjoyed the additional characters of The Scarlet Witch, Quicksilver, and Ultron and wished that they could have fleshed these characters out more, as well as explored more of the Avengers than they actually did. Aside from Robert Downey Jr., the three aforementioned characters above were the best part of the entire film. Don't get me wrong, it was good and entertaining and all of that, but I think part of my struggle is that I am getting all 'comic booked out.' It's just becoming too much of the same exact thing every time; too predictable and thus boring. There were a few surprises along the way story and plot wise, but nothing too interesting or wowing. James Spader I'm sure only provided the voice for Ultron, but he was absolutely amazing and entrancing. That man is talented in so many ways. Even though they had small roles, I liked their characters immensely nonetheless; Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Quicksilver) and Elizabeth Olsen (The Scarlet Witch). The film would have been much better if they had delved deeper into those two characters. The remainder of the cast was great of course, and yes Robert Downey Jr. was the main attraction, especially with what how he interacted with the other characters. The screenplay was okay, but it could have used a little more guidance in regard to the story and the plot; the entire film just seemed like one major action extravaganza. Overall, it could have used with a little more depth. The score was apparently composed by Brian Tyler and Danny Elfman; not sure how they did that, but for two good composers I didn't really remember anything but the theme that was composed by Alan Silvestri for the first film. All in all I wasn't overly impressed with the film; but like I mentioned, it was entertaining and good, but nothing really great or amazing. Go see it and be entertained, but beyond that it really has no purpose, although I suppose geeks and comic book nerds will have spasms of joys galore, as well as plenty of revels.
My first introduction to Daredevil was in the 1990's animated Spider-Man television series when he and his alter ego Matt Murdock got Peter Parker out of a sticky situation. They did a very cool job with the character, and so later on when Ben Affleck had a go at it in a film version, I thought it would be great. Boy was I disappointed (along with nearly all film goers). I think that film deadened the Marvel comic book character for a long time, and then someone got the idea to breathe new life into the character except this time for a gritty Netflix television series rather than a major motion picture. I think they have the right idea. There are a lot of fantastic characters and stories out there (just not comic book characters and stories) that will never be necessarily well suited for a major motion picture, but rather a series. Game of Thrones is the best, shining modern day example of this philosophy; looks big budget, well written, and highly successful therefore making it the envy of many program content producers. Despite watching only one episode of the Netflix show Daredevil I have to say that I am very impressed thus far. The writing is quite good, the cinematography is also very striking making usage of shadows, light vs. dark, and a very grim inner city landscape thus far. Although I have not seen the characters fleshed out that far yet, I do have to say that my attention was pretty much captivated for nigh the entire time. Charlie Cox as the hero I think was a good choice. He provides levity, darkness, and seriousness to what comes across as a very dark character. Even though I have not yet seen the performance of Vincent D'Onofrio as Wilson Fisk, I can tell he will be amazing. The bad guys in this show do not mess around; pretty much said, you cross them, you die or suffer greatly. Well I cannot yet say whether or not I would recommend this show, I will say this; so far so good and I have heard a good critical response since it's release. So if you find yourself bored I think you should give it a try, although it is very dark and violent. Oh one thing that kind of bothered me were the fight scenes; the choreography was interesting and dynamic, but there was an awful lot of pounding and punching over and over again....which after a few minutes of it kind of got boring. I understand why they did that (at least I think I do), but still, it makes it less....well cool, but I suppose it does make it more realistic. I don't know; we'll see how it progresses. Enjoy your weekend everyone.
Batman vs. Superman trailer (not sure what to think.)
Star Wars: Battlefront game trailer (usually I don't put game trailers on here, but this looks pretty good.)
I just finished watching an amazing film The Imitation Game. The film is based off of a book about Alan Turing who was probably almost entirely responsible for breaking the enigma code that the Nazis used during World War II. It also portrays the many complicated aspects of his personal life as well such as coping with homosexuality around that time in Britain, and most likely having some mental health issues as well. Apparently he also may be responsible for creating the template for what became modern day computers. It is perhaps one of the best WWII era films that I have seen in a very long, long time. I don't know much about the real man, but Benedict Cumberbatch's performance was astounding! That man truly has superior talent when it comes for spot on acting. Not only him, but a tremendously talented cast was assembled for the film as well. Keira Knightley played for lack of a better term, Turing's beard of sorts although I am certain they cared very deeply for each other. Matthew Good was on of Turing's colleagues (Ozmandias from the Watchmen film), and he was of course spot on as well. Then there was Charles Dance and Mark Strong both of which can strengthen a film just by there mere presence being in it regardless of the size; both were quite amazing with their roles though. I think though that the biggest star of the film was the writing, the screenplay was beautiful and the dialog was so effortlessly spoken with such intricacy that you couldn't help but be captivated as people's mouths moved. Graham Moore wrote the screenplay which was adapted from the book written by Andrew Hodges. As a writer, I love words so much, and these two individuals created seemingly effortless works of art. The cinematography was also nicely done, although I wasn't that surprised by the lackluster score composed by Alexandre Desplat. Granted he did get an Oscar for The Grand Budapest Hotel, but this score was very...Salieri like (you won't get the reference unless you've seen the film Amadeus) which is to say that it all sounds rather like itself and is very simplistic sounding. John Williams would have been a good composer to tap, or Michael Giacchino. Oh well. Can't have everything unless you're James Cameron. It was a really amazing film and I definitely recommend it to people to watch regardless of who you are or what you believe. I was just looking at my school schedule when I realized that next week is the end of the second spring term, which means, I only have one round of classes remaining before I graduate! I have begun the job hunting process in earnest and soon I will begin the relocation bit as well. Such a great feeling to realize I am almost done. Hopefully I will be able to do more writing with my spare time. Well, everyone. Good night and good luck, oh and don't forget to watch the new Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailer; it's pretty sweet!
The Imitation Game trailer
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch interview
So it begins, my catching up on Oscar winning and nominated films. So tonight I finally sat down and watched the film Birdman. Now, I didn't have any thoughts or expectations going into the film other than my sister and brother in-law liked it. Now after watching the film I can state simply that it was boring. about 30 minutes into the movie I had thoughts about just stopping it, but I sat through the remaining hour and thirty minutes somehow. Now, the film was shot spectacularly and the performances were great, and even the writing wasn't too bad. The characters themselves so though were not endearing, the storyline was uninteresting, and there was just a lot of shouting, yelling, and raw anger. It doesn't take a lot of talent to scream and shout, just watch a Michael Bay film. I was honestly expecting more, the film did have some similarities though I noticed to Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle in regards to especially the shouting, yelling, and anger, but also the not so endearing characters and boring storyline (aside of Jennifer Lawrence of course though). I don't know why there is such a trend lately with Hollywood films; I think they're going through a phase that was similar in the 70's. Michael Keaton is very talented man and his portrayal of a psychotic, washed up actor was spot on, yet I couldn't really empathize with his character until the very end, and by that point it was too late. Edward Norton played a self absorbed fat head very well, but I couldn't stand his character whatsoever. Emma Stone, played the recovering drug addict with a gross attitude very effectively, although once again nothing there. Naomi Watts had a small role as Micheal Keaton's wife in the film, and she brought class and an anchor point to the film. Whereas Zach Galfianakis brought levity, and wit to the film (also a small role, which was a real shame). As I mentioned the film was shot very exquisitely; reminded me of Gosford Park and Pride & Prejudice. The film score was essentially obnoxious, and that is all I have to say about that. The lighting was actually quite spectacular, but that's about it. The premise I think is a wee bit ridiculous, but it could have worked. The whole Michael Keaton acting psychotic though just didn't work that well. Also, I wasn't certain if this was Hollywood political film blasting big budget films as opposed to films similar to Birdman, but that was kind of ridiculous as well. If you don't see this film you aren't missing anything. I could have done something far more enjoyable with my time, and kind of wish that I did after spending hours finishing up a statistical analysis of a survey that I create for my grad school class. I found out today that since I like House of Cards and Niccolo Machiavelli that I may enjoy reading Plutarch, according to my friend acquiring his MA while studying England. Just an interesting anecdote. I really feel like I should write something concerning international matters, but it's hard to do that without sounding too politically abrasive or antagonistic I suppose. Perhaps we can all reflect on an old Vulcan proverb, "Only Nixon could go to China."
Robot Chicken Disney Princesses (need some humor, granted inappropriate, but quite hysterical)
There are only 8 months remaining approximately of 2015, and then 2016 will come. I think that sounds rather intense when I sit and think about how fast these past 3 months have gone. I suppose March Madness will do that to do, and I am not referring to Basketball; mental health March Madness, and yes this happens at least all over the area I live in, I cannot speak for other geographic areas, but I am certain there are some similarities. The bright spot is that I only have 3 months of graduate school left, and I am putting the finishing touches on my Masters project for a presentation (which I am not looking forward to) so everything is beginning to come to a close. This also means that I will be beginning the process of trying to move back to San Diego, thank God. Even though the Midwest is beginning to warm up, I am kind of over it all. Oh, happy April Fool's Day! Not sure what the reason or history is behind it, but there was this one joke that I really want to try on someone one day. Fill a balloon with air, cover it with whipped cream, decorate it enough so that it passes for a cake, and then have someone cut into it; best effect would be if there was a large group of people around when it goes off. So I recently finished watching Da Vinci's Demon's season 2 and I do have to admit that it was still pretty good, and maybe even better than the first season, although their trek into the New World was less interesting than I would have preferred. Still, the characters grew stronger and better I think, and there were quite a few interesting surprises which were awesome! I'm not certain what Leonardo Da Vinci was like in real life, but I love the performance of Tom Riley; it is truly astounding. Dark, intense, humorous, thoughtful, flawed; just really well done. I can only say good things concerning the rest of the cast as well. It was shot beautifully, and written fairly well; the costumes are also quite divine, but they were of course done by Trisha Biggar (did Star Wars Prequels to name a few). If you like excellent adventure and drama, and also like history, then you will love this show. I wish I could say that I have been writing....but I would rather say that I have been surviving and thinking about writing more so than actually doing it. Time has turned out to be my biggest enemy currently; always could use more time. So if anyone knows how to make human clones please let me know. A part of me wants to tell people to not watch world news because it is so doggone depressing, but being educated and knowledgeable about world and domestic affairs and voting accordingly is how to fend off oppressive government most of the time. So please stay informed and consider what other people are going through throughout the world before you cast stones at glass houses. May the Force be with us all.
In the film Gravity there is a statement that nobody can hear you scream in space, which I am assuming is true even though I myself do not know for a fact, but what they presented sounded reasonable. It took me forever to watch this rather short film starring Sandra Bullock supported by George Clooney. Well, I think the best way to define it would be that it was very short, and in space. Honestly, I don't know if there is much to say about essentially a one woman show in space trying to get back home. Ms. Bullock provided an excellent performance that was quite believable and powerful, and Mr. Clooney was hilarious, serious, and in turn an excellent foil to Ms. Bullock's character. The plot of being stuck in space while completing an upgrade or to repair the Hubble telescope isn't necessarily anything new, and it reminded me a little bit of the 80's film Space Camp. There was suspense, which was nice and some really good drama; I have to say that the film's suspenseful turns were anything but predictable. The special visual effects were excellent; Alfonso Cuaron (director, writer, editor, etc.) did a fine job of putting the film together, and the sound editing was perhaps one of the finer technical parts of the film. Steven Price, who composed the music, didn't have a really memorable score; the music at the very end of the film sounded a wee bit like Hans Zimmer. The screenplay was well written, and the dialog was delivered beautifully thanks in turn to Ed Harris (mission control voice), Ms. Bullock, and Mr. Clooney. I might watch the film again possibly, so it has medium watchability. It's a good film, but if you don't watch it then you won't be missing anything super fantastic. Nobody may hear you scream in space, but on a rollercoaster ride everyone can hear you scream. This past weekend I visited Florida with my family and together we went to Sea World, which was cool. I did something I have never done in my entire life; I went on a rollercoaster ride called "The Kraken." All I have to say is wow! I have never done anything so death defying in my entire life. The way the ride began was us slowly going up and then there was a complete vertical drop as if I had stepped off a cliff and then....well, I closed my eyes for the duration of the rest of the ride. I don't know how or why people enjoy rollercoaster rides; it was one of the most terrifying things I have ever done in my entire life, yet at the same time after it happened I was kind of proud of myself for surviving it (as weird as that may sound).....though I don't think I would ever want to do that again.
Game of Thrones Season 5 latest trailer
Bates Motel interview with Freddie Highmore
Bates Motel season 3 trailer (looks even more disturbing than the last season)
The Kraken rollercoaster ride at Sea World (it was much more terrifying in person)
The end of this school term was very satisfying and successful, and I hope that trend continues until the very end. I took the day off of work to prepare for my miniature vacation to Florida, and while I was getting ready I took a few moments to finish watching the 3rd season of House of Cards. Well I think my title says it all, and I am not of course referring to President Underwood's house, but the show. I had a lot of hope and desire for this season of the show that it would really up the ante what with Francis being President and all, but for 13 episodes all I saw was all of the main characters that I loved so much get weaker, and weaker and more vulnerable and less fulfilling. Frank I thought would be titan to be reckoned with as President, but he comes off more ineffective and powerless than he ever was previously. Don't get me wrong, Kevin Spacey's performance was astounding that isn't the problem; the error lies in how the character was written for this season, which I didn't care for. The same goes for Robin Wright; Claire as well seems powerless, lost, and ineffective, and although she gave a remarkable performance as always, the character was not written well. As a matter of fact none of the characters were really written that well for this season now that I think about it; I guess the writers had an off season, even the season finale ending was lame, whereas the ending to the 2nd season was powerful. They spend a lot of time on superfluous characters in the 3rd season, on pointless storylines; it was just not plotted well. I suppose the writing that was there was good, but nothing near to what the first two seasons were like; the 1st season remains the best so far. I was deeply disappointed with the 3rd season, and they had better improve upon the 4th otherwise the show will most likely (in my opinion) tank. There were some good moments in the 3rd season, but nothing really stood out to me. The show was shot really well, and one cannot deny how real all of it feels or looks, so in that regard it remains a visual masterpiece still. There is a lot going on in the world, and even here in the United States; even something very tragic almost happened to one of my clients at my job. All of us struggle day after day and fiercely wrestle with ourselves and others. Hopefully despite all of the difficulties that we have to work through none of us lose sight of matters of importance, and that none of us lose our genuine humanity. Good luck and may the Force be with us all.
House of Cards
Ex Machina trailer (looks kind of blah unfortunately)
Well it is that time of year again when House of Cards premieres it's newest season, and I have been eagerly awaiting to see what they'll do with season 3. What I've seen so far hasn't really got me thrilled, so I'm, hoping the show picks up as the season continues. It's great to see Francis as President, but it's weird that he seems weakened by becoming President not more powerful and emboldened. I think it really took a lot out of the character, unless that is a tactic more akin to a cathartic moment in waiting. Any rate it still looks great, and the characters remain good, just seem a little more vulnerable and less prepared for crises than before. After this week, I only have two terms (two 7 week periods) of graduate school left! That is such a relief, and come next month I will be preparing to once again change locations to live my life, and this time the place I choose will become much more permanent. In the meanwhile I have to survive, which as of late has been proving difficult. Something small that I would like to quickly address is poor customer care; recently I was in the process of rebuilding my computer and was fortunate to have a friend assist me in this endeavor, as I am not quite that adept at the technical aspects of computers. The go to place was Newegg.com as a source for acquiring the necessary parts, however I was quite unfortunate to have received a defected hard drive and the wrong part. Both were sent back and needless to say, I had an extraordinarily difficult time with customer service to get all of this accomplished. Never before in my life have I experienced such incredibly poor customer service and treatment during the which my integrity and honesty were questioned; I was talked down to and given incompetent assistance from their representatives, and when I was finally able to speak with a supervisor (this of course all unfolding over a period of a month almost) he made it sound like he was doing me a favor by making certain that they sent me a new part, even though it was my fault that they lost it in their shipping department. I maintained my composure and thanked the man for his assistance, although I will never be shopping there again; I checked the Better Business Bureau and found that most of the complaints (and there were a lot) against Newegg.com were for poor customer service, and poor product satisfaction I believe. I don't know who designed their customer service departmental guidelines, but they did a very poor job of it; I cannot imagine wanting to shop at a place that treats their customers so poorly. So be advised when shopping there. I would not be able to finish this week's blog without mentioning the Oscars from this past Sunday. Usually I have a little more energy about the ceremony leading up to it, but this year I cared not, and now I know why. The Academy Awards show this year was mostly boring, very awkward, and not hosted very capably. Neil Patrick Harris apparently needs to stick to the Tony's, John Travolta should never present again, and Hollywood should stay away from overt activity in politics as it always seems to end in poor taste. Some highlights: Julie Andrews as divine, Lady Gaga was astounding and the most refreshing part of the Oscars, Star Wars will always reign supreme, and thank you Anna Kendrick for doing what we've all wanted to do which was throw a shoe at Jack Black and tell him to beat it. Hopefully next year will be much better (Billy Crystal or Ellen). One more day and it will be March of 2015; it's scary that as the older you get the faster time seems to go by.
House of Cards season 2 ending (President Underwood)
Rebels season 1 finale
Cinderella clip (this looks great; hopefully so will the film)
Welcome back and Happy Valentines day! As I get older and busier, time seems to be the one elusive element that is difficult to keep track of as well as find more of. It's hard to imagine (but thrilling at the same time) that is about 5 months I will graduate with my Masters degree, and hopefully moving on to bigger and better things with my life. I discovered that since I started graduate school that writing in addition to that and working full time would not be possible, and I have noticed that more profoundly within the last year where I have been doing very little writing. Hopefully once I am done with school that I will be able to find more time to write. So I've discovered the television show The Blacklist starring James Spader, who alone makes the show completely worth watching. If you've never seen Boston Legal with him, Candice Bergen, and William Shatner then I encourage you to do so if you have the access and time. The 2015 Academy Awards are coming up in a couple of weeks and I honestly don't have a clue much about the films being nominated. I am currently listening to one of the nominated original scores by Gary Yershon for Mr. Turner, and so far it seems to be the best choice out of the ones nominated: Hans Zimmer (Interstellar), Alexandre Desplat (The Imitation Game), Alexandre Desplat (The Grand Budapest Hotel), and Johann Johannsson (The Theory of Everything). Not a very good list as I have listened to parts of all of the scores and have found none of them really compelling unfortunately, and I was considering the entire year and I cannot recall really any good original scores, which is unusual. I have been working sporadically on a number of projects such as a musical (think a combination of Sweeney Todd, the Sound of Music, and Fiddler on the Roof), and developing a comic universe of sorts. I should really be working on my third book for my fantasy trilogy, but I think I really need to be focused and have a lot of extra time to be able to do that, and do it well. I am looking to start doing that in the fall of this year, if all goes as I have planned. Not sure how intimately all of you are familiar with what's going on in the world, but things aren't looking too good in all of the really hot spot locations like the Middle East, Ukraine, and Africa. Despite what President Obama and his administration tend to report, things aren't quite so rosy, although for the United States we seem to be doing pretty good, so in that regard I suppose he's correct, but as for the rest of the world as we abandon it....not so good. I have been watching this documentary on all of the presidents of the United States, and also about the nature of the office and the struggle the men have frequently had with Congress, especially in regards to the reach of presidential power, and the nature of the USA's role in the world. Let's just say that I am bigger fan of American activism within the world of both humanitarian and military support to nations in need and our allies. It's hard to do any of that effectively from the rear. On a side note, I don't understand how people live in frigid and arctic regions of the world year round for their entire lives like Siberia, Alaska, Canada, Sweden, Norway and Finland; as I write this currently from the US Midwest, it is so cold! Major props to those people who live in the uber frosty lands of the earth!
Game of Thrones Season 5 trailer
House of Cards Season 3 trailer
Crimson Peak trailer (directed by Guillermo del Toro; looks...interesting).
Well, welcome to 2015....19 days late. First and foremost happy birthday to my mother, a wonderful woman, and who helped me become the man I am today; may she have many more. I also am another year older as well. So much has been happening in the new year already. I have started school up again, which has been good thus far; intro to global business and working on my Masters project are the classes of the day, and I have put in my machinations to return to San Diego as well. I have started writing a musical, which promises to be quite amazing thus far in my development of it. Although I should be focusing on writing book 3 of my trilogy than working on another project, but what can I say. I go where my imagination leads me. So some fun things I've been watching lately are Penny Dreadful, very dark and disturbing take on English Victorian era fictional characters, and more recently I finished watching Netflix's Marco Polo, which has promised to become something very amazing. I don't know much about the history that occurs around 1262, and especially in the Far East, but Kublai Khan is a very fascinating individual along with Mongol and Chinese history being equally fascinating. The acting is superb, the characters compelling, and the writing was well written, but what really stood out to me was the cinematography; it was truly spectacular. Between House of Cards and Marco Polo Netflix really knows how shoot exquisite film. I would highly recommend the series to anyone, especially those who enjoy historical fiction. I also have to say that I am not necessarily a great fan of Chinese martial arts like Kung Fu per se, because a lot of the dramatizations tend to be whimsical, but in this show, they were very, very well done. I don't know how historically accurate it all is, especially their adaptation of Marco Polo, but the look and feel of it seems quite accurate based on my limited knowledge of the era. I also am working on developing a screenplay for a historical genre based film, and that is also going quite well. I have way too many irons in the fire, but I think that's how I like it; hot irons are nice, but I love fire. My current job and school make it difficult to do writing full time, but one day that is my hope. The world continues to spin out of control unfortunately, but I suppose we can all only save on fish that has washed up on the beach one at a time.
Well happy late Merry Christmas to everyone! The past few days have been relatively nice and relaxing, which has been an excellent diversion from the norm as of late. One of my family's Christmas traditions that I partake in yearly aside from watching Ernest Saves Christmas is when we go to the theatre on Christmas day to watch a film. This year we watched Into the Woods, which I was very excited about. After watching Sweeney Todd I decided to familiarize myself with Stephen Sondheim's other work, and thus I listened to Into the Woods although I didn't really care for it at first that much until I watched a performance of it on Netflix. After that I was sold, and as soon as I heard that they were making a film adaptation, I was looking forward to it very much so, even though Disney was behind it, which I thought was odd considering some of the dark subject matter at times, but I suppose it really does fit overall considering the fairy tale aspect. So needless to say, I enjoyed the film, and thought that it actually works perfectly more for the screen than the stage due to the fanciful nature of the story. Emily Blunt as the Baker's Wife was beyond perfect; she had an excellent singing voice, great acting of course, and fantastic chemistry with everyone she interacted with, especially with the Baker, James Corden, who delivered an equally great performance, although his voice wasn't quite as polished. Both were funny, excellent levels of drama, and were believable as their characters. Meryl Streep as the witch needs so description as how well she did; utter perfection as usual. Anna Kendrick as Cinderella was in my opinion perfect (although my sister disagreed); excellent singing, great acting with the character, it was lovely. Those cast members who played other roles such as Jack, Little Red Riding Hood, the Wolf (Johnny Depp), the Two Princes (Billy Magnussen and Chris Pine) Jack's Mother, Cinderella's stepmother, and Rapunzel all did an excellent job both singing and acting...although Chris Pine could have used more voice lessons, but it wasn't painful at least. The adaptation was fairly accurate and well done. Only some chorus pieces were left out and some story angles, but nothing major. Cinematography was stunning, the Wardrobe design by Colleen Atwood was of course equally stunning, Stephen Sondheim of course was a master composer and those who adapted it did quite well. Rob Marshall as the Director (Chicago) seems to be a master with musicals thus far, hopefully he continues the trend if he does anymore (here's hoping he does Wicked). I would encourage everyone to see the original Broadway performance starring Bernadette Peters (it's on Netflix I believe); they did a fantastic job paying an homage to the Broadway show throughout the film. It was a very enjoyable film, one I will definitely own and see many times, and I would encourage everyone to see it as well. Very humorous, interesting, exciting, and filled with some very interesting ideas and philosophies. Oh, and in other news; don't mock and ridicule a powerful man in charge of a powerful government with the largest standing army in the world unless you're prepared to face and ride the consequences through the end. End of story. Have an excellent weekend everyone!
After 13 years of Lord of the Rings it all (most likely at least) comes to a close with The Hobbit: The Battle of the 5 Armies. Well, it was much better than the 2nd film in the trilogy at least. Honestly though, there was something missing about the whole film. I enjoyed it, but it seemed like something was lacking from the narrative. First of all, visually it was stunning; Peter Jackson remains superior in his ability to film cinematography that is stunning, and create such a visual feast. Areas he seems to be improving upon are his action sequences; they're becoming much more dynamic and interesting, but he still does over the top things that come off a little ridiculous at times. This the 3rd Hobbit film came across to me as one very large, and expansive action sequence, much like the final Harry Potter film. All of the performances were excellent, though the ones that stood out of course were Martin Freeman as Bilbo and Richard Armitage as Thorin; they were of course the best characters to watch interact with others, and more importantly with each other, although Lee Pace as Thranduil was pretty awesome to watch (I really enjoyed his character). I could have done without Luke Evans as Bard and everyone else from Laketown; if all of them would have been eliminated from the film I would have loved it more (I thought it took away from the main narrative, and the people were just so boring, obnoxious and just not interesting). Cate Blanchet, Christopher Lee, and Hugo Weaving all had a nice part in the film, which was part of one my most favorite scenes (see preview below). The writing/screenplay was better this time around than opposed to the 2nd film, but still not as good as the first film, and the same goes for Howard Shore's score which was good, but the music from the 1st film in my mind was far more superior. There can be no complaints about the special effects which were amazing, but the 3-D could have been much better; not a lot of things popped out of the screen, there was mostly just depth to the scenes in general. As for accuracy to the book....it's been a while since I've read the book, so I'm not entirely certain, but it seems relatively accurate save for the liberties they took with some characters and the timeline. All in all, it was a very entertaining film and I think I would watch it again, possibly even own it, but was it amazing and breathtaking......no. I left the theatre thinking "eh, that was nice." It should be interesting to see what Peter Jackson does now with his time and energy. I would personally like to see him direct a historical epic and give Ridley Scott a run for his money, or the same idea but do science fiction. Winter begins today apparently, and there are only ten days left of 2014, and four days until Christmas. Have fun celebrating the rest of the year, until 2015 begins. And think about this, only 85 years more until 2100.
Documentary Overview on The Hobbit & Lord of the Rings
So thankfully after a very long and busy week I am finished with school for the 2014 year, and I only have three terms remaining for my masters program! It is such a relief to not have to worry about school while also working for the time being, and hopefully work begins to slow down as well. People have been extraordinarily mentally ill lately for some odd reason, I think it is because of the fluctuations in temperature, but my co-workers believe it is the holidays which are making the people a little more crazier than usual. It's hard to believe there are only approximately 15 days left of 2014; how time flies, regardless if it is pleasurable or not. So today I went to see the new film Exodus: Gods and Kings which is the new adaptation of the Moses story from the Hebrew historical book of Exodus. Several film adaptations of the account have been done, but none so famously as Charleston Heston in The Ten Commandments as the lead character Moses, and Yul Brenner as Ramses. This adaptation starred Christian Bale as Moses and Joel Edgerton as Ramses, both of which delivered excellent performances. Now according to what I heard about how Ridley Scott wanted to design the film, he wanted to take the miraculous out of equation and instead take a more rational approach. Like traditional Ridley Scott, he was able to capture the period perfectly, and have relatively good epic action, though I still think that Gladiator and Kingdom of Heaven are amongst his finest work. The cinematography was exquisite, the costume design sumptuous, and the music by Albert Iglesias was actually pretty good, and although I love choral music, I think that Latin should not have been utilized. I was even impressed by the usage of 3-D in the film; Mr. Scott used it very well, although still not to the degree that he could have. So Christian Bale as Moses, who would have ever thought, and I thought it was going to be a dreadful decision, but it actually worked fairly successfully; he gave Moses a more real look and feel rather than something overly Puritan and fantastic. The same thing goes for Joel Edgerton as Ramses, although so much of him was heavily westernized unfortunately, but that went for most of the film as well. The supporting cast like Ben Kingsley, John Turturro, and Sigourney Weaver did very well. My main complaints were rather academic. First of all, the film was heavenly westernized in terms of values, morals, perspectives, and cultural norms which was rather aggravating. This came in terms of the relationship between Moses and Ramses, Moses and his wife, Moses and his son, and the role of religion and spirituality during that era. Perhaps the screenwriters should have read Joseph Campbell's work on mythology. Another problem I had with the film were the historical inaccuracies regarding the account of Moses, particularly with what is in the book of Exodus. Lastly, how God was represented was kind of odd; He was manifested as a young boy and spoke with Moses as if the two were on the same level, and Moses showed no reverence towards Him. I forgot to mention the screenwriting which was okay, but not great and it could have been far better. What the film did was make the account of Moses much more realistic and something that you could relate humanly to; that he did very well. With the exception of a few moments, I enjoyed the film; the plagues were done well, although he skipped the fire and brimstone one. If you like epic films, or the historical genre of film as I do then you will like it. I tip my hat to Herr Director Scott, but I still wish he would make a film about the rise of Babylon.
So, yes this is about a week after the fact, but hey did you know that the teaser for Star Wars Episode VII was released? Well, it has and is slated for A 2015 December release for some odd reason; not sure why Disney wants to release it in the winter months (so much for people camping out and waiting in lines like they did for Episode 1). I'm going to over analyze the trailer just review highlights that peaked my interest. First of all, we have the dessert, followed by a stormtrooper, an R2 unit, someone on an ugly speeder, more stormtroopers, and X-wing fighter, and then we get to some dude walking through the woods and ignites a t-shaped red lightsaber, and then we have the Millennium Falcon and Tie Fighters. So, aside from the shape of the lightsaber, none of that other stuff was original; all of it essentially came from the original trilogy. That did not impress me. There was no scope or depth to the cinematographic shots in the trailer. And there was no hint to the storyline of the film whatsoever. Now granted, it was exciting and interesting, but I came away unimpressed; I am merely curious to see how J.J. Abrams is going to pull this off. Thank God John Williams is scoring the film, otherwise the film would have issues. As for all of the ridiculousness over the lightsaber, well educated Star Wars fans should know that specific lightsaber shape and form has its roots in ancient galactic history with the early Sith and Jedi, especially Sith Lords like Naga Sadow, Freedon Nadd, and Marka Ragnos....yes I know too much about this world. Well there you have it. In other news. I hope that everyone's Thanksgiving was lovely. I hosted and cooked for my family gathering this year and it was quite delicious. I made the pies, the turkey, bread, prepared the table and most of the other dishes; it was all awesome. The turkey was so juicy and tender; it was the best Turkey I've ever made. I actually ate too much food and slipped into a food coma for the rest of the day. I just began doing Tai Chi earlier this week, and have been trying to do it every night with good success thus far. I haven't gotten down a lot of moves yet, but the one I'm working on is "Parting the Wild Horse's Mane." The moves aren't too hard, but rather it's the fluidity and sequence of them that can be the challenging part. I definitely encourage people to try it; good for the mind and good for the body. Well there are essentially only 20 days left until Christmas. Tis the season. Have an excellent day everyone.
So this weekend went by too fast, although the good thing is I have a shortened week due to the Thanksgiving holiday; thank God for that one woman who really pushed one of our previous presidents to make it a national holiday. I feel like I was supposed to get more done than I did, but oh well, what can one do. So I should be writing more if I have free time, but I don't seem to have the energy and motivation, which really sucks. I decided once more that I need a clone, which can go to work for me while I write and chill; that would be perfect. Okay, so I am one of those people that enjoyed The Chronicles of Riddick, so I thought that I would like the follow up film Riddick, and although I didn't find it dreadful, it wasn't really that great either. I'm not really a big fan of the scenario of being trapped on one planet and trying to get off by outsmarting a bunch of mercenaries while wild animals are killing everyone. It was therefore kind of dull, and the ending was very anti-climactic. I like the character of Riddick, and I like the look and feel of the film, and some of the other characters were good, but honestly, it was all kind of blah like and a let down. Vin Diesel was excellent as Riddick of course, since he created that character I highly doubt anyone else could pull it off. The rest of the cast was fine, small, but fine. I'm not certain how Western Christianity and Hispanic culture figures into the Riddick universe, but it wormed its way into there somehow and came off as really....well...out of place and awkward. If you don't see it, then you won't miss anything; it was entertaining, although I was distracted with something else while I was watching it the majority of the time so that might not have helped much. I wouldn't encourage people to go and see the film, but at the same time if you like that kind of mind numbing action then you will love this film. So there's not a whole lot of good news in the world; either we're getting over the Ebola scare, or the news media just finds what's going on in Iraq and the Ukraine much more interesting, aside from the rancor of American politics. I don't know if any of you have ever reached that point when you've spoke, and spoke, and spoke, and spoke your mind and heart out for so long and nothing happens, it's a little disheartening. That's how I feel about the mess that has been unfolding in Syria for over 4 years and has now destabilized the entire region and threatens to undermine over a decade of hard earned American and Iraqi sweat and blood in Iraq. The unfortunate thing of it is I don't think it will ever get better; the window of opportunity for positive, effective change has slammed shut for good and European and American powers have poisoned the well of good will for at least a couple of generations of people over there. Such a shame. Still, we should keep those people in mind, and those that battle and fight against tyranny across the world in an effort to have the basics of freedom. I am very thankful for all of the freedoms I enjoy. Goodnight and good luck everyone.
So today I watched The Hunger Games: The Mockingjay Part 1, and I enjoyed watching it immensely. However, the two young...girls that I was sitting next to were less than enthused; the first words out of their mouths as soon as the credits began to role were "oh my god, what a f....ing disappointment. My whole day is ruined now. That was not supposed to be how they did it..." There was some additional ensuing conversation, but I ignored them. Needless to say my critique will not be that harsh by any means. I have only read the first book, which was good, and I have yet to read the other two, so my critique purely looks at the film, not at how well it was adapted to the screen. So I will start off by saying that I really enjoyed the film; it was well written, well acted, well cast, well shot, and well paced all for the type of film it was. Jennifer Lawrence is as always amazing and fantastic; more than ever she is depicted as tormented and deeply conflicted as war opens between the Capital and the Districts and she is thrust headlong into it all. She had some really powerful moments captured on film that brought tears to my eyes almost. Josh Hutcherson as Peeta had a small role in this part, but I believe it will be more sizable in part 2. Liam Hemsworth as Gale didn't really impress me as a character this film; very flat and blah like, and he was acting really....well...macho like for lack of a better term. Characters that had smaller roles, but did well were: Philip Seymour Hoffman as Plutarch, Julianna Moore as as the rebel President, Woody Harrelson as Haymitch, Elizabeth Banks as Effie Trinket, and of course Donald Sutherland as President Snow was awesome (he does such an excellent villain, and President Snow is such an amazing villain). The film kept good pace, and thus was edited well. I honestly don't recall much of James Newton Howard's score, so I think they should have gotten someone else to add more pomp into the film score. The cinematography was pretty good, as was the lighting. The screenplay was also well written, and the dialog wasn't ever ridiculous from what I could remember. Perhaps my biggest complaint was that although the film could essentially stand alone, it did feel like it was missing something and I'm wondering if it was a good idea to split the book into 2 films rather than just having a longer film. To each their own I suppose. I would recommend the film, I think it raises some valuable questions and ideas that people should consider, and it was very entertaining.
So after watching Christopher Nolan's Interstellar I have come to the conclusion that every good film director is allotted one or a few flops on his or her resume. Not that this film was a complete flop (financially), and perhaps I do need to see it again, but honestly I was bored almost out of my mind; if it had been any other director than Nolan, I might not have found the film interesting at all. These were the positives that stood out enough for me to remember: good writing (the screenplay), one really good cinematic shot of Saturn, excellent performances by the cast, and some really cool robotics. Other than that, I can't recall anything else that was impressive, stunning, or awe inducing. Mathew McConaughey as the main character was perfect and perhaps the best part of the entire film; he was likable, sympathetic, interesting, and compelling. Anne Hathaway was perfect as well; cautious, practical, and deeply wounded and emotional however once you get past the insulated facade. Jessica Chastain was another good choice (albeit she had a smaller role than did her justice), John Lithgow was another gem that seemed rather wasted on a diminished role as McConaughey's wary father in-law. Michael Caine was....well....Michael Caine; nothing interesting, different, or bad. Jonathan Nolan and Christopher Nolan did an excellent job with the screenplay, but the story was boring and not made to be as compelling as it could have been. The same goes for the characters; although the performances were great, and a fantastic cast was assembled, none of them were really fascinating enough that made you want to get to know them even more. I wasn't really impressed by Hans Zimmer's score for the film; it reminded me a lot of Watchmen, and a little like Inception, but not nearly as compelling (perhaps that has something to do with the content of the film). Perhaps most disappointing of all was the cinematography, lighting, set decoration and design; one descriptive word for all 3 "blah." There was nothing really grand in the shots really, the color scheme was bland and mostly back and grey, and the design for most of the onscreen tech was ugly, and not shaped well (with the exception of the robots which worked well, although quite strange at first). I would find the film interesting for a while, and then I would be bored for a long while, then something interesting would happen, and then I would get bored again. This describes my film experience in general, ending in a very confused state. I'm sure I will see it again when it comes out on DVD, but for now, I don't think that I'd miss anything. I wouldn't encourage people to see it, but if you have the time to burn then why not. Switching gears, it has become quite frigid in the Midwest; it's snowing and everything is white and frozen. Needless to say, I miss San Diego more than ever once again. I suppose that provides me with enough motivation to keep things going and get away from the frozen tundra. Things have slowed down, I think in part because of the weather change, so there is a silver lining of sorts to the dreadful change in temperature. Well, there it is. May the Force be with us all, oh and if you haven't seen it yet Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens is the title for the new film. Should get more interesting.