Prometheus: Sci-Fi Done Right

I saw the film Prometheus this past weekend, which is a Ridley Scott-directed prequel to the film Alien and I really liked  it.


Here’s what I liked specifically:

The Visuals 

The film just looks amazing.  Granted, I saw it in IMAX but it looked like it was made for the IMAX screen.  Just the first couple of a scenes when they are going over the landscape of Iceland/Greenland was incredible.   It was less of the tricks you see in big films and more of the awe you got from Avatar.  No matter if you liked the film or not, it was just so *lush* in its appearance.

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Marines vs. The Roman Army


This is a pretty great story.  A worker in Iowa was checking Reddit and saw that someone posted a question, 

Could I destroy the entire Roman Empire during the reign of Augustus if I traveled back in time with a modern U.S. Marine infantry battalion or MEU [Marine Expeditionary Unit]? 

He immediately posted a response and began it with a narrative of what that actual experience must be like.  His response got such a positive response that he wrote another, and then another.  The story he concocted was so awesome that he got signed by an agent and got a deal to turn it all into a Hollywood film.  

It’s a great story and even more interesting because it shows how modern-day publishing is changing.  I think Reddit and Digg are much more similar to future newspapers than the Washington Post or New York Times.  If we’re getting all our information on the internet, it makes sense for it to be an interactive medium we’re reading.  It also proves that “the masses” (i.e. some guy in Iowa) is just as capable of generating quality content as a journalist.  

Roger Ebert’s “Life Itself”

I recently finished Roger Ebert’s memoir, called “Life Itself.”  I really liked it.  I’ve always liked Ebert and his movie reviews.  He claims he writes every review with the thought of “be honest of what you saw and how you felt when you saw it.”  Somehow, in the process of doing so, his reviews were more than just a barometer of whether or not a film was good, but an interesting article itself. To this day, I always read the first and last paragraph of Ebert’s review before I see a film, and the rest of it after I see it.  He’s the only must-read critic that I know of.  

His book is a full reflection of his life. He covers everything – his childhood in Illinois, his job as a newspaperman, alcoholism, being a film critic, education, his romances, his relationships with actors and directors, and his views on religion and the greater cosmos.  Lots of thoughts are shared in a very frank and honest way, and it makes for an interesting read.  Ebert and I come from different generations but we share a passion for film and for pondering “the truth” and I appreciated leaning about how he’s developed his perspective as I could see a little bit of myself in him. 

I Really Like “Like Crazy”

I went a great man-date with Julian last week and saw “Like Crazy” which stars Felicty Jones and Anton Yelchin as two college students who fall in love.  It’s not a rom-com but rather a romance.  Here are some thoughts…

The film is a very realistic portrayal of 20’s romance.  Anyone who has ever been in a long distance relationship in their 20’s will relate to this film.  You feel high on the relationship one second and then it drags and disappears.

Great use and progression of cell phone technology. Finally we see the impact texting can have on a character.  It always bothers me that this doesn’t happen more in movies. Also, the technology was pretty accurate – from the clamshell to the iPhone, it was some very realistic mobile movie footage. Continue reading “I Really Like “Like Crazy””

Moneyball and Big Data

I just had an interesting breakfast with Tom Higley which i try to do once a month but ends up being about every other.  He sat down this morning and said, have you seen the movie “Moneyball” and then we got into a very interesting talk about what that film means in today’s world.  Here’s a few thoughts we had.

Aaron Sorkin can take any story and make it interesting.  He took a horrible book about Facebook (Accidental Millionaires) and wrote a fantastic and Oscar-winning script for The Social Network, and here he took a stats-filled non-fiction book about baseball and made an interesting movie.
The story of the Oakland A’s is not as simple as it was told.  They did not just find high on-base percentage players and ride that to a successful season.  No sir.  One thing that always beats good hitting is good pitching and there’s no mention of pitching in this entire movie. Why? Because it didn’t fit the narrative. Was their staff good? Hell, yes. The had a trio called “The Big Three” of Barry Zito, Tim Hudson and Mark Mulder.  Zito was their ace.  He went 23-5 and won the Cy Young award that year.   Mulder won 19 games, and Hudson led the league in shutouts.  That seems pretty relevant to me – you might want to mention it. Continue reading “Moneyball and Big Data”

Love the new animated GIF movement

If you haven’t noticed, there’s a new movement on the web to animate GIF, but to only animate them a little bit and to do it in a way to make them appear 3D.  I’m really loving it.  Take a look at the Steve Z image below and tell me you don’t like it.  I dare you. 


50/50 is the best movie of the year (so far)

Last weekend, I did a doubler at the local cineplex (with D, Jules and Abbie) of Moneyball and 50/50.  We were thinking Moneyball was going to be a our big “oh wow” movie but I was shocked when i left the theater totally floored by 50/50 instead.

50/50 is yet another cancer movie and i was expecting a tearjerker along the lines of Stepmom, A Sweet November, My Sister’s Keeper, or Life as a House.  These are good films but none of them would be tops of my end of the year list.

50/50 is different.  Unlike most films like this, it’s a comedy and its mix of earnetness and comedy makes it a special film.  The story of the real-life writer of the film who is a comedy writer is a great one to learn about, but even if you don’t know that, this is a film worth putting on your list. Continue reading “50/50 is the best movie of the year (so far)”

Next Three Days is a Throwback Suspense Film

Next Three Days is a new film with Russel Crowe and Elizabeth Banks. It’s also written and directed by Paul Haggis who won Oscars for Crash (writer/director) and Million Dollar Baby (writer).

I really liked this film. Imagine your wife is wrongly imprisoned and your life just falls apart. That’s what happens here. Russell Crowe can’t handle it and decides he’s going to bust his wife out. He doesn’t know how but he’s going to do it. The movie does a good job of showing how he plots the job as well as how he has to change psychologically. Mentally, he has to do things he never thought possible. The film is a good look at how how a man can change given the right motivation.

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The Film Unstoppable is Bad

Denzel makes a predictable train movie – again. Chris Pine seems like he’s on the train trying to think of the best story he can say about his wife that we’d find even remotely interesting. He does’t succeed.

Honestly, instead of seeing this film, you should just watch the SNL parody (below). It’s the same thing but funny. Movie 4 out of 10. Parody: 9 / 10.

Burlesque is not good but not bad either

I’ve seen a slew of movies over the past 2 weeks (read: 6). Instead of one monster post of all of them, i’ll do a short review of one each day.

Today’s movie Burlesque. This film has a really strong beginning. The scene where Christina Aguilera’s character earns a spot in the show was well done. We really care about her and then when starts singing, it really hits home. I was sitting there thinking that this might be a modern day A Chorus Line. But no, it’s not. Around 35 minutes in, Burlesque slips into a mediocre movie, and it doesn’t really tell us anything about any of the characters. We know where Aguilera comes from but not how she learned to sing or dance or got her motivation to be a performer. Similarly, the other characters couldn’t even be called 1-demensional. I would say maybe 1/2 demensional. We got no background on any of them – even the guy Aguilera falls in love with. Apparently she likes him because he works at the same place, he had a couch she could sleep on and is good looking. That’s about all we know of him and of her criteria.

As the movie continued, I was waiting for the True Hollywood Story death spiral that always occurs to a newly crowned star – see Ray, The Runaways, and Walk the Line for film examples. That doesn’t happen here. In fact, nothing happens. While it’s refreshing that Aguilera stays the same grounded person throughout the film, it’s also boring. Also, the Cher solo needed to be cut. She didn’t hold my attention at all. I know she’s had a #1 hit in every decade since the 50’s but this isn’t her song for this decade. It sucked

All that nastiness aside, this movie isn’t as bad as you think it could be. 6 out of 10.