Saturday, August 15, 2009
Two people find a portal to another universe, and mysterious events ensue. Please note that this was just made for fun, improvised out of boredom, and shot/edited in about 5 hours total (which accounts for all the plotholes– where did Mark come from? Why didn’t other metal things not go through the portal?). I mainly did this just to learn a bit more about Premiere before I leave my other computer home, as well as try out using Garage Band for scoring. Enjoy!
Starring Mark Federman and Jake Lefler
Directed, Edited, and Sound Effects by Alex Federman
Credit music from Troll 2, a hilarious 80's movie: http://www.hulu.com/troll-2
All other sound effects and music from Garage Band.
JAM Productions 2009
There probably won't be any more episodes, but you never know!!
Sunday, May 24, 2009
Terminator: Salvation: Rating: 6.5/10
I would rate this better than Wolverine, though...I hadn’t really figured out my scale then.
Star Trek is a great example of how to relaunch/reboot a franchise. Terminator: Salvation is not. After just having rewatched Terminator 2, the new entry pales in comparison. It is slightly better than T3, though. There were many good ideas, but just as many missed opportunities or things that were handled poorly.
Much of this lies with the script. The plot is pounded into our brains so many times, and it gets really repetitive. John Connor is a bad-ass. This is not the future his mother warned him about. Terminators are powerful and evil. All of these things could be shown through the action, but no, we just have "Those are mototerminators, there’s no way to beat them" and "You can’t stop them" "I have to try" and "I’m a bad person" "you deserve a second chance" (paraphrased from memory, but not far off). Also, people do things, but they really don’t have any effect. Set pieces just exist to be set pieces ("Oh, that looks cool!!!").
By the way, I just want to rant about the title sequence for a second. Feel free to read ahead if you think this is spoilers. After the company logos, and the "A McG Film" type credits over a strange cgi background (doesn’t make much sense until later), we get something similar to the original Terminator main credits. But nowhere close. This kind of takes its inspiration from all the other movies that have credits over close-ups of iconic images (the original Batman, for example). BUT, the Terminator logo is not really that iconic or important to the franchise, and the way they did it just looks out of place. And nowhere to be found is the theme music, rather a forgettable summary of ideas by Danny Elfman (WTF??). Then our third credit sequence plays over a scene introducing Marcus Wright. Besides the dialogue being ridiculously cheesy, the titles take up almost as much room as the actors. It’s just big text in white and red that is
almost as big as the character’s heads. So you end up reading "Music by Danny Elfman" instead of concentrating on what is going on in the scene. It’s just a pointless, stupid way to do opening credits, and you have to sit through it three times. RANT OVER.
Another big flaw of the movie is its characters. About half of them don’t do anything important at all and could be removed completely without changing the plot (little kid, Resistance generals, John Connor’s wife, Connor’s second in command Barnes, a female pilot who is sort of a love interest). Even Kyle Reese doesn’t have to be in it, as he is just an excuse to give the other characters something to do (and he’s one of the central people in the Terminator mythology). I don’t see why Kate Brewster had to be pregnant (she was an awesome character in T3 and was supposed to be a general in the future-war...is it so they can have a new protagonist for the sequels after these sequels??). Marcus Wright, the semi-main character, is well played, but there is nothing that makes the audience even remotely care about who he is or what happens to him. The actors aren’t terrible, it’s just they don’t have much to do and are really undeveloped.
This makes the rest of the movie drop significantly in quality, making the special effects look bad, even though they’re not. I mean, everything looks cool, but when you don’t care whether characters will survive or not, then the effects are just meaningless explosions. You are brought out of the moment because you are watching ACTORS being attacked by ROBOTS THAT AREN’T THERE. There was one scene where Connor was shooting at a Terminator, and I could almost envision the director saying "There’s a Terminator coming toward you, just shoot at it and we’ll add it in later." For a film dedicated to Stan Winston, who did the original practical Terminator effects in the other movies, this seems almost like an insult.
Many reviewers have been saying that Christian Bale did a bad job, but I actually think he was one of the stronger parts of the movie. Despite having oversimplified dialogue and a bad script, Bale handles all the physical action while still showing emotion. In case you’re wondering, the Batman voice isn’t really present at all. I can see how the character changed from a young, naive
boy to handling the responsibility of saving the human race, and Bale shows how Connor is both afraid of the future and ready to lead. For example, there’s one moment early on where Connor sees some information in a Skynet computer, and then realizes that this event will start the chain of events and time travel in the other movies. Anton Yelchin does a good job playing Kyle Reese, but he doesn’t really do that much in the end.
As for the other elements of the movie...I already commented on how forgettable the music was. The set design and stunts are really cool, and the ideas behind the ending fight sequence were solid and had some good, but foreseeable twists. I kept getting annoyed at how nobody was ever dirty, despite being in a war in a future full of rust and decay (you could tell they were actors). There were good action sequences, though many were revealed in the trailers. The ending was pretty stupid, though...you’ll see what I mean.
I think the director/screenwriters were trying to emulate the original movies while still creating a plot of their own, but the new story isn’t that great and the nods to previous installments are obvious and feel like they were stolen and sewn into a different movie. However, they ignored most of what made the franchise what it is: ordinary people being confronted by monsters, time travel (with all its confusion), examination of relationships under terrible circumstances, the question of free will (there is no fate but what we make). Here’s to hoping that if a sequel is made, it can improve on this movie. If you want good Terminator, see Terminator: the Sarah Connor Chronicles (the first season is out on DVD).
Friday, May 15, 2009
Well, I saw it again, so I think I should re-evaluate what I wrote before. First of all, the soundtrack was awesome (I got it and just listening to it is really exciting and epic, maybe better than the movie itself). Second, the movie was a lot better the first time, maybe because of the audience I saw it with (I never really considered that this would make much of a difference). Because when I saw it the first time everyone knew more than me, I felt like certain things were more special, and when I looked them up on Wikipedia, and recognized them now, they weren’t as funny/layered. Third, I noticed a lot of things the actors did that were really subtle (can’t pinpoint anything exactly, but they were there). I said in my first review that I thought Chekov was sort of annoying, with the accent, but I was too caught up in just hearing the accent that I totally didn’t notice he pronounced V’s as W’s ("We are headed toward planet Wulcan"). It was hilarious. Finally, I didn’t really like the sequence on the ice planet in my first review, but it was much better on the rewatch, because I wasn’t sure when it was going to happen. It still didn’t fit in with the rest of the movie very well, though. So, I’ll keep review coming, hopefully better than this one. I’m kind of split about Angels and Demons right now, but I’ll try to see it. BTW, Leonard Nimoy is awesome.
LIVE LONG AND PROSPER!!! \\ // /
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
Saturday, May 2, 2009
Star Trek Pre-Watch Thoughts: SEEING THIS ON SATURDAY!! I've never really seen Star Trek (tv or movies) before, but I have a general idea what it's about...I guess I'm more of a Star Wars person. HOWEVER, I will watch anything that J.J. Abrams does, because I really like LOST and Fringe. Also, the special effects and cast look really good. And Michael Giacchino, who is brilliant, is doing the score.
Star Trek: Rating 9.5 out of 10
This is the first movie that I have seen in an advance screening, and it was a perfect way to start the summer. The Majestic didn’t open until ten, but my brother and I got there at 7:30-ish. Everyone else there seemed just as excited as we were, and I had a nice conversation about some other movies. When the lights finally went down, I was really hoping this movie would be good, and it totally beat my expectations.
I didn’t know much about Star Trek in the first place, having just watched only one episode the day before ("The City on the Edge of Tomorrow", which was pretty interesting) and looked at Wikipedia. Needless to say, I didn’t feel lost at all. Despite the time travel and references to the original series, everything was clear and well-planned out. J.J. Abrams did an excellent job of directing and incorporating both the new and old ideas, and the script was funny (I don’t think there were any lame jokes), intense, and emotional while keeping the action going. All of the main characters had full arcs (especially Kirk and Spock), and you can see how everyone worked strongly as a team.
The reason all this works is because of the excellent acting. I thought originally that this would be a weak point in the movie, that people wouldn’t accept a new cast, but the new cast ARE the same characters. They’re all instantly likable just because they are iconic figures, except for maybe Chekov and Sulu, who I don’t know much about. Chris Pine captured Kirk’s playful manner and strong leadership skills exactly, and Zachary Quinto was completely engulfed in Spock’s inner struggle between his two heritages. I didn’t really like Quinto on Heroes from what I’ve seen, but he was awesome here. The relationship between Kirk and Spock progressed very naturally and you can see how they become friends. Providing perfect comedy relief are Karl Urban as Bones McCoy (he looks and acts almost exactly like the guy in the original series) and the always hilarious Simon Pegg as Scotty. Leonard Nimoy was really good too, and he and Quinto were very similar. Uhura did a good job, but didn’t really have much to do the whole movie. Chekov and Sulu kind of got on my nerves a bit, but at least Sulu has awesome swordfighting skills (seriously, swordfighting in a sci-fi movie? Oh wait...lightsabers). Anton Yelchin, who plays Chekov, is supposed to be playing Kyle Reese in Terminator, and I hope he’s more likable in that. I think it was good that they didn’t cast incredibly famous people, because that would have been kind of distracting (the only person I felt that with was Simon Pegg).
Michael Giacchino’s score was fine, featuring some elements of the original series music. I didn’t think it was as strong as his Lost score or the music he did for Ratatouille and the Incredibles, but it did have some recognizable motifs that provided a backdrop for the action. One of the cool things was how the music changed when characters were in space rather than in a fight. The cinematography was very unique in that it used a lot of different lens flares and lighting effects (it made the action seem a lot more realistic). The special effects were also very good (the usual neat spaceships, explosions, and lasers), but I think the explosions could have been better and the teleportation effect was kind of corny. I guess if you want to see explosions, go see Transformers (they are doing a very good job marketing that, by the way...the trailers look really cool). However, the opening sequence was very awesome, and the effects and music make it very emotional. It was cool how they seamlessly incorporated CGI into making many different locations, but also used functional sets. You actually feel like you’re in space looking at different planets.
So what didn’t I like? Well, as I said before, some of the minor characters aren’t developed that much. There is a sequence on a snow planet with some monsters that feels more like Star Wars than Star Trek. It was kind of pointless. Spock’s relationship with Uhura seemed to come out of nowhere and was not developed too much. Nero, the film’s villain, didn’t do much for most of the movie, usually commanding other people, and when he does fight, the sequence is kind of short. It’s actually kind of hard to come up with any more.It’s been said that the second movie is already in production. If so, there are four things that I think they should do:
- No more Time Travel- It was an interesting plot device, but if they keep using it people will get tired of it and things can be too easily explained.
More powerful enemies- I thought Nero was a good enemy in that the audience was somewhat sympathetic to him, but they really drove in the point that what he was doing he did for revenge. The next bad guy should be really truly evil, and maybe be from a group of evil aliens (that way, they don’t have to save the epic war for the third movie). The third movie could deal with some kind of cosmic power. I’m sure there’s lots of stuff from the show they can draw on.
- Minor Characters developed more- I guess they weren’t as likable because we don’t know that much about them. If Kirk starts to grow into his role as Captain, I’d like to see him be more of the leader and the other characters change more also.
- It shouldn’t take place on Earth or Vulcan. This movie had a lot of scenes on these planets. Writers, go far away from this solar system. The Enterprise is supposed to be exploring far away universes, not exclusively dealing with threats to this one.
I don’t want to poke at too many flaws, because this movie was very solid and probably the best movie I’ve seen in the past couple of months. Good writing, acting, directing, effects, basically just good overall. I’ll probably see it again, and I recommend it to everybody!!
Wolverine Pre-Watch thoughts: I started watching this online, which kind of goes against my principles (I don't really like watching movies online, TV shows are ok), but I'm not a huge X_Men/Marvel fan. The workprint version is kind of cool in that you can see how they did some of the fx, but I don't think it's that good so far (I'm about half an hour in). I guess I'll do a Marvel vs. DC note soon, i've been thinking about it (DC wins, by the way).
Wolverine: Rating 6.5 out of 10
I didn’t think it was as terrible as many people have been saying. The directing and acting were very well done, but my main problem was with the plot. The dialogue and major plot points come off as very cliched (he asks for dog tags with the name "Wolverine" on them...I thought he was given that name by Weapon X), and most of the movie was already featured in the trailers. Wolverine himself is not that relatable, because we don’t know too much about him. It’s like the writer asks us to have sympathy with him just because he’s Wolverine and he’s a hero (a storyline with his wife drives his internal conflict, but it’s not very effective because we only know her for about two short scenes). SPOILER: There’s one part where Wolverine leaves a special team because he thinks what they do is immoral, but only a bit later he decides to take revenge (Spoiler End). Also, Stryker is a terrible villain and the way they dealt with him in the end was really stupid. The final resolution was very well done, except with a bit too much of Deus Ex Machina.
The special effects really aren’t that great (I know I was watching the unfinished version, but a lot looked mostly done) (the first chase scene was boring, and the other fight scenes are too short). It was interesting to see the fight choreography though, how Wolverine and Sabertooth fight like animals and how the mutants use their powers. One issue I had was with the bad guys. If Wolverine is supposed to be so powerful, they would have to be really powerful also, but they continually seem to let him get away.
I guess a lot of people went into this movie thinking it would be like Watchmen (the plot is somewhat reminiscent, one hero visits others) or The Dark Knight, a deconstruction of superheroes on a grand scale. It actually plays like a bit better than average summer popcorn movie, and there are so many opportunities that they could have tied in important themes or incredible moments, but missed. For example, the whole opening credits sequence with Wolverine fighting in many wars could be expanded, because it was actually really interesting.
The other thing people seem to be complaining about was the use of the other X-Men as basically cameos. Seeing as I really haven’t read that many X-Men comic books, I don’t really know how bad they messed anyone up, but it was pretty annoying how characters just showed up and left. I mean, Charlie (Dominic Monaghan) only had about 10 minutes total screen time, and I feel really sorry for Kevin Durand. Gambit was incredibly cool, though, and I didn’t like him that much in the comics. Also, I expected Wolverine to be a lot darker and to make a lot of sarcastic quips. Jackman’s Wolverine was mostly serious the whole time, which I wasn’t really used to. Overall, I think this movie is a conglomeration of good ideas, bad choices and execution, too many Fox-mandated ideas, and not really being in touch with what the audience wanted to see . But mostly bad choices.