Since I wrote before about the new Star Trek, I thought I’d post this new video. Right now, this thing has become all the rage on YouTube and many, many people have posted about it on their blogs.

I believe that the message here is simple…give us geeks enough time and footage to screw around with, and eventually we’ll give you something truly hilarious.

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50ftwoman

In celebration of Thanksgiving, I decided that I would leave my readers with a turkey. Gobble gobble!

 Attack of the 50 ft. Woman has maintained a reputation and a cult following for being a particularly ridiculous movie. Make no mistake, this movie truly is silly. The 1950’s were pretty much a golden age for science fiction movies, especially ones that featured some kind of monster. In fact, during this time the giant monster trend was in full swing. Godzilla came out in 1956, and before that were several other classic massive monster hits. Most movies from this era had a theme going on that reflected a real world fear held by society. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (also 1956) embodied the fear of communism coming to the United States. Godzilla was a representation of the terror of nuclear warfare. Attack of the 50 ft. Woman symbolizes…the threat of powerful, liberated women. Of course, you can only find such silly things in America.

Attack of the 50 ft. Woman is about a millionaire woman (Allison Hayes) married to a cheating scoundrel (William Hudson) who desperately wants to murder her so he can get at her money and run off with a slutty blonde. He sees an oppurtunity to get rid of her when she shows signs of insanity and drunkeness. She claims she encountered a giant and his space vessel. No one believes her, although the police play along out of a weird sense of respect. Best not to upset the highest paying taxpayer. After some time, contact with the alien has exposed her to some strange form of radiation, which causes her to grow. At this point, she decides she has had enough of being taken for a fool. The story is about as short and sweet as it sounds. The entire movie is barely over an hour in length.

While the premise is pretty hokey, the plot and its delivery are actually much better than you might think. During the 50’s, these monster movies weren’t exactly intended to be A list masterpieces. The acting and writing in this one are pretty good, comparatively speaking. Many of the characters are not purely good or evil. Some are, but it isn’t as overdone in many modern monster movies. The only man with a heart of gold is the butler, and he makes a pretty inept kight in shining armor.

That being said, there are plot holes so large an oversized Allison Hayes could fit through them. No bystanders ever see the giant alien, even when it moves in populated areas. The sheriff in town hates wasting taxpayer money, but he still lets his sidekick dink around when he should be on duty. Hayes wears the most desirable diamond in the world around her neck, even though anyone could snatch it off her neck. These might seem like trivial gripes, but when you put them altogether they are very noticable. Of course, its things like that that make this a B movie.

50’s monster movies might be notorious for poorly concieved monsters and plastic and rubber costumes, but the effects in this movie are pretty bad-even for the time. This was released just one year after the Amazing Collosal Man. The visual effects in that film were pretty good at the time, and created an acceptable image of a rampaging giant. The supposed giants in Attack of the 50 ft. Woman look more like large ghosts. They are almost transparent. While todays special effects surpass the technology of the 50’s by leaps and bounds, there really is no reason for me to be able to see through someone that is supposed to be a massive powerhouse.

Make no mistake, this movie is most definitely a turkey. It was always pretty much meant to be. However, it is a turkey that at least tries to be serious with at least some success. The characters have some personality to them.  While this movie is something to laugh at with a friend, it still at least has a semblance of quality. In the end, I suppose this as being a turkey…with some extra flavor to it.

5.0 out of 10

Well, Watchmen’s competition released its new exciting trailer attached with the Bond flick this month. This is the latest big production by producer/director J.J. Abrams, creator of Cloverfield (2008) and the television series Fringe and Lost. He has had a very successful career in science fiction programs, despite most of his material being somewhat experimental. Most of his work invovles a strange slant on a traditional sci-fi archetype. For example, Cloverfield is like a giant monster movie, but through BlairwitchoVison.

Well, the unusual quirk Star Trek  is that it is a prequel. Apparently, Star Trek is following the same path as Star Wars. The dynamic style gives the Star Trek universe a visual quality the low budget series could not achieve. This film is fairly distinct from its predecessors.

However, unlike Star Wars, this installment of Gene Roddenberry’s classic franchise maintains at least some of the original designs from the 1960’s television series. The ships and outfits are exactly like the uniforms Spock and Captain Kirk wore in the original series. The ships have a modern twist to them, and the Vulcan civilization seems to be heavily influenced by Peter Jackson’s interpretation of the elves in Lord of the Rings. Clearly, Abrams and company are trying to bring the innovation and beauty of the 21st century epic film genre to one of the oldest franchises in television history. From the trailer, it looks like they have the visuals down. Luckily, even the young actors are acceptable as youthful incarnations of Spock and Kirk.

My fear is that Star Trek will invovle so many starship battles that it will look like Star Wars with Star Trek ships. Granted, the filmmakers have finally figured out that by tilting the camera they can make the battles more intense, and clearly there was a huge budget for special effects. I just hope it won’t be excessive.

My hope is that this film will breathe new life into Gene Roddenberry’s outdated creation, and show us why so many people still keep up these silly conventions.  As someone who never got into the Trekkie stuff, I’ve always felt that there was just too much to digest. There are literally decades of characters and plots. Star Trek never seemed to cater to anyone other than the hardcore crowd. Some time ago, that trend changed. They started doing a spinoff prequel series, and now there is a prequel movie that will reach a wider audience, and it features the original characters.  

I would suggest anyone remotely interested in the franchise check out this movie. If you are going to test the waters, start from the beginning and you might as well see it on a really big screen.

“Quantum Solace” (2008)

November 24, 2008

Something was certainly shaken, but I'm not talking about the martinis.

 

I remember the time when I, like many others, eagerly awaited the opening of Casino Royale. Not only was there a new Bond to carry on the 007 legacy, but the entire franchise was moving in a new, more realistic direction. It was very successful, too. It may have been a change of pace, but it brought a great deal of seriousness to the James Bond characters while retaining the intense action sequences. While the new Bond was alien to us, it was clear that in time he would grow into the smirking British spy we have all come to know and love.

Quantum of Solace (2008) was supposed to be the bridge between Bond the heart broken and Bond the badass.  I excitedly awaited this movie just as I did when Casino Royale came out, even though I saw it a week after its initial release. Unfortunately, the twenty-second entry in the 007 franchise was not what I thought it would be.

The plot is pretty similar to the classic Bond movies. MI-6 finds out that the villians are part of a huge global secret organization, and they don’t know much about them other than the organization is evil. Bond is constantly chastized for being too reckless (and rightly so), but nonetheless goes in to check things out.  If anything, he is still eager to get revenge for the murder of Vespa, his lover from Casino Royale. Of course, he picks up one or two other chicks along the way, one of them being another spy. Throughout the movie M is constantly panicing from her little safe haven, falling easily for the villians’ misinformation. After confronting a series of loathsome baddies, Bond is able to find out more about the organization and comes closer to finding Vespa’s killer. The extra element of revenge gives the plot a little more dimension, especially since Bond is still a bit young and inexperienced.

While the storyline might be normal for a Bond flick, the cinematography and editing are very different from the traditional 007 movies. This is particularly true for the action sequences. Director Marc Forster and his production team went with the dirty, intense cinetographic style as the Bourne franchise. Although this look might be getting popular with action films, it usually doesn’t work, and Quantum of Solace features several chase scenes that can be more disorienting than entertaining. Many shots throughout the film are so quick and sloppy that it hurts the film more than helps, which is sad because some of the visuals are truly creative and interesting. Most people would rather see a Bond film for the action and excitement, and unfortunately they are going to be disappointed. The action itself is often lame and nonsensical, even for a Bond movie. We’ve seen far better boat chases in many other Bond flicks, all of them with proper composition. Sure, these movies often are cheesy and over the top, but why is a villian taking refuge in a hotel with exploding walls, and why the Hell is it in the middle of a desert?

Once again, Daniel Craig pulls off the intense and convincing performance we saw in Casino Royale. Pyshically, he is also the most impressive actor to ever play Bond. Craig performs many of his own stunts. Towards the end, he injured his hand during a fight scene. You don’t get many actors that are that hardcore.

However, the things the spy does in this film are very erratic, even for a reckless 007. He acts more like a murderous thug than a spy. Everytime he encounters a suspicious character he instinctively kills them, without bothering to investigate. he a special agent, or an assasin? He was never this inept at spywork, even when he started out in Casino Royale. I’m guessing that these rampages are the result of Bond’s thirst for revenge, but he seems awfully cool and detacted for that to be the case. The concept might be there, but the execution is off. Meanwhile, M is on the other end of the spectrum, and never seems to calm down. Bond’s CIA friend, felix, simply drinks himself silly. My, what a cheery little group of people! For once I’m starting to miss the charming campiness of Thunderball (1965).

Yet, this flick isn’t all doom and gloom. While Bond might be a little crazy, he still manages to seduce beautiful women and pull off an amusing pun every once in a while. Everyone’s favorite swanky Brit undergoes a great deal of character growth, and eventually evovles into the womanizing do-gooder we recognize, but up until then he is an entirely different creature. The film was always supposed to be dark, but there is so much anxiety built up in this film that it becomes too dark and nihilistic. The negativity is obvious, but the character development is not.

5.0 out of 10

“Watchmen” Preview

November 22, 2008

watchmen1

Well, I posted my preview of the Spirit and it seems like few people were actually looking forward to it. I am skeptical of it myself. However, it was only shortly after I posted about that particular film that I discovered the anti-Spirit. In May of next year, Watchmen will show up on the big screen.

Watchmenis obviously based on the graphic novel with the same name, and there seems that most people that are familiar with the comic book medium know about Watchmen. For the ones that are not, this collection is basically about what happens when superheroes exist in the real world, and whether they would be a boon or a curse on society. However, it is much more complex than that isn’t it? The story also takes place over several decades leading to the year 1985, the year prior to the novel’s release. There is a great deal that has to do with the doomsday clock and the threat of nuclear holocaust-a threat that superheroes are essentially powerless to face. This, and each characters’ personal issues and neuroses cause them to behave more like imperfect beings, sometimes even as criminals. This wasn’t typical for comicbooks at the time, and still isn’t today, although Marvel Comics is going that direction, especially after Moon Knight’s reemergence and the “Civil War” they went through.

The project of filming this graphic novel isn’t a new idea. In fact, its been on the table for forever. Many big names has been attached to it-including Joaquin Phoenix, John Cusack, Daniel Craig, and Terry Gilliam. None of them are involved with this shoot. Gilliam reportedly even declared the thing unfilmable. Then, a new up and coming director signed on-Zack Snyder, director of Dawn of the Dead  (2004) and 300 (2006). While this particular filmmaker may not have much experience, what he has done is amazing. Let’s not forget that  300was a comic-book movie, and darn good one at that.  The cast he has is full of relatively unknowns and lesser knowns, but there is quite a bit to suggest that they are very capable of pulling this off. There is even an Oscar nominee among them. Like 300, Watchmen will look as much like the graphic novel as possible, even in terms of color and lighting. Exact images from the book are replicated here.

However, the expectations for such a movie are incredibly high. Don’t get me wrong, I think that Zack Snyder and his crew can pull this off brilliantly.There is a lot of promise here.  Alan Moore has expressed his excitement for the movie, and Kevin Smith has also seen an early screening and was very impressed with it. It might be difficult to create the cinematic equivalent of the “most celebrated graphic novel of all time”, though.

Whatever the case may be, it surely will be better than the Spirit.     Be sure to vote on my poll, please.

Special Note: This trailer is the first of three. The latest can be found at: http://watchmenmovie.warnerbros.com/

“Toys” (1992)

November 17, 2008

Robin Williams and his tiny mechanical friends.

Robin Williams and his tiny mechanical friends.

 

Now here is a movie time forgot, isn’t it?

Toys (1992) seems to have fallen into obscurity after it’s brief success on VHS. After having seen it, I can certainly understand why. This unusual Robin Williams movie is both spectacular and puerile at the same time. It excels heavily in terms of art direction and sheer visual novelty. From what I understand, it was even nominated for an Oscar for the set design.  At the same time, the plot is predictable and cheesy.

The Zevo family maintains a monumental toy factory far, far away from the rest of civilization. An innocent dreamland, you might say. The paternal figure in the family, Kenneth Zevo, is dying and needs to name a successor as the head of the company. The obvious choice is his son Leslie (Robin Williams), but Leslie is young and inexperienced. Instead, he names his brother, General Leland Zevo (Michael Gambon), his heir. While the general is a complete stranger to the toy business, he is much older and presumably wiser than Leslie. Not surprisingly, Kenneth dies soon after.

The general immediately decides to start producing war toys, which is unheard of in Zevo Toys. To avoid industrial espionage, he brings in his son Captain Patrick Zevo (LL Cool J), and has him maintain strict security.  Leslie and his sister Alsatia (Joan Cusack) realize something is wrong. Over time, the general goes crazy and decides to convert the toy factory into a military weapons factory, with the idea that toy armies would be more efficient than regular ones. Obviously, Leslie and his entourage of toy factory employees must intervene and save the companies delightful innocence.

The overall plot of the film is a little childish and predictable. Every once and awhile there will be a worthy gag or joke to spice things up a little, but more often than not the jokes do little more than reveal the juvenile character of the factory employees. It is somehow appropiate that they are childlike, and it does give the film an unusual charm. However, the kiddy humor is excessive. The story is shoddy, and it isn’t the core concept at all. The problem is poor execution.  They explain Gambon’s accent despite the fact that he is supposed to be an American, and the gag is even pretty funny. However, the relationship between Gambon and LL Cool J is very unconvincing. You’d think this was a children’s film, but then there is a creepy sex scene and a little innuendo. So what target audience is this movie intended for? The world may never know.

Some of the things that the film says about toys are interesting though, because some of it came true. At one point, the general brings in kids as test players for video games like first person shooters and flight simulators, and these types of games are popular now. Many games involve the over the top violence that desensitizes the youngsters in the general’s war rooms. At the time of the movie’s release, there certainly was already huge a shift to action figures like GI Joe’s.

While the plot is lackluster, the visual aesthetic is marvelous. The toy world is brilliantly conceived, and the look of this film is truly memorable. The inventive and animated environments are striking, as are the more unusual of Williams’ gadgets, such as a noisy jacket. My one of my favorite scenes is one where where Kenneth’s widow is adjusting a large, paper doll house, and the camera reveals that she herself is sheltered a life sized version of the same house. The effect on screen is interesting. It is the visual inventiveness in which this movies soul really lies.

While this is the most light-hearted, carefree film I have reviewed thus far, I believe it is also the weakest. Artistic beauty of this level is always welcome, but it is much more appreciable when the story is more refined. However, if you are in the mood for something peppy and not very demanding, this might be worth a gander.

5. 8

Strange Behavior in Slackers

November 11, 2008

A few weeks ago, I created a video for a contest. The winner would have his, her, or their work shown on a local television channel. I was supposed to work on it with a fellow I never met before hand, along with another girl. Unfortunately, we could not reach an agreement on how to proceed with the video, and so we went our seperate ways on individual projects.

On my own, I did much better than I expected. My script was ready, my ideas were fairly sound, and despite the many obstacles of malfunctioning equipment, I completed the task and submitted my work to the contest. I was quite proud of it, as it was my first time entering a contest like this on my own. I didn’t win, but I was one of the better entries.

However, before I submitted my script, the same guy that I split away from came back and tried to claim credit. He had nothing, he was simply trying to put his name to my work. After I cleared up the matter, he did it again. Calls me up before I’, supposed to pitch the thing and says “let’s practice OUR pitch”. Then he says while we’re at it, he wants me to do some camera work for him. Offers to pay me $1.50.

Obviously, I put an end to whatever the Hell it was he was trying to do. I’m not sure why I suddenly feel the need to write about this, but all this time I have learned that if you want to get invovled in film or television you have to be able to establish relationships. Is ripping someone off creating contacts? Surely not. This kid says he wants to be a director. Yet, he puts forth little effort.

I wish that was the end of it, but now there is another slacker to deal with on another project. Luckily, there is a great guy that balances out the workload anyway.

Why is it that we continually find ourselves in the company of people that try to steal other people’s credit and work? I don’t understand how they manage to get by.