30 May 2010

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (film)


This movie, if you’re somehow unaware, is based on a video game. A long-running series of games actually, most of them with the same title. There was one game with the same subtitle too, although I haven’t played that one so I can’t do a lot of comparison in this post. Anyway, since it is based on a video game, then the general expectation is that it will be a pile of horse-dung, as that’s been the precedent so far.

The story is basically about a Persian street-rat who becomes a prince and gets the girl using magic things (sound familiar?) to save the world. Jake Gyllenhaal plays prince Dastan, the highly acrobatic protagonist with the kind eyes, alongside Gemma Arterton as the princess and the legendary Sir Ben Kingsley (aka Gandhi) as Dastan’s adoptive uncle. Dastan’s two brothers of actual kingly descent become his enemies through some familiar Disney betrayal and he goes all fugitive-like and falls for the crazy-hot Gemma. The MacGuffin of course is the Dagger (of Time?) which allows the user to turn back time for a little bit and correct a crucial mistake. Apparently differing from the game, this dagger can only be used if you have enough sand in the hilt, which runs out rather quickly and is really hard to replace. Thusly it isn’t used much in the movie, but looks pretty awesome when it is. There’s a bigger thing related to the Dagger but that’s kind of important to the conclusion so I’ll leave it alone.

The trailers made this movie look like a lot of fun with a few dopey bits, and for once I think they did a good job of describing it well. It is a lot of fun. The action is really entertaining, Gemma is one hot piece of woman, the dialog is often funny (particularly one guy who is obsessed with avoiding taxes), and the characters as a whole are not all that unlikable. There are definitely dopey bits. The betrayal was a bit obvious and shouldn’t have made Dastan a fugitive so quickly. Dastan’s character seems a bit too awkward around Gemma than a Persian prince should be, and of course there doesn’t seem to be a single middle-eastern actor in the bunch, all of whom speak with English accents. I can overlook all that though since I honestly enjoyed the movie as a whole. There were times where I though I just wanted it to end, but eventually I just got very drawn into it and let it take its time.

I’d say go see it, but don’t expect anything revelatory. It’s just a pretty solid video game movie.

24 May 2010



I first heard of Lost while getting my hair cut. The woman cutting my hair described it as a very gripping show, but since she was a woman I didn’t give it much thought (I'm a bit on the dumb side sometimes). Then later in college I started seeing short TV spots with Dominic Monaghan (Charlie) featured, which prompted me to make Hobbit jokes. Still later one of my roommates was watching an episode of Season 2 (maybe the premier), and after some scoffing I decided to give it a shot. Not long after the episode ended I got my hands on the first season and burned through it. I became one of the show’s infamous proselytizers.

Now, four to five years later, the show is over. It was a far different beast from that excellent first season, but not at all in any negative way. Starting as a seemingly simple castaway drama/character study, it became a nerd’s dream of supernatural weirdness and mysterious hooks; the audience never really knew what was happening. It became a hugely discussed thing. Everyone had a theory, others several, and most of them were wrong most of the time. I think the writers had a lot of fun watching what the viewers came up with and doing the opposite.

Although I didn’t love all of the characters, the majority were well-written and wonderfully acted. The female cast was of course a joy to look at throughout the series; Evangeline Lilly is seriously good at wearing shirts. The guys ran the gamut of character types, from Jack’s bloated sense of responsibility to Sayid’s dark broody badassery, from Hurley’s constant comedic relief to Faraday’s awkward genius. Some were only around for a while, but for the most part they burned brightly. Benjamin Linus was only supposed to be around for a few episodes (I might be off on the exact timeframe) but Michael Emerson’s performance was so great they expanded his character to remain for the whole series.

There were some missteps, mainly in Season 3, where there was a fair amount of filler and unfortunately necessary character drops, but Season 4 picked up strongly after that. For the most part every episode was highly anticipated. I will miss this show (until I get the massive blu-ray set and spend the next few years trying to watch it all again).

Most people at this point are discussing the finale a lot. I don’t really have a lot to say about it; it wasn’t that mind-blowing, but it was nicely executed and very character-focused. There probably weren’t many better ways to end a show with so many possible paths. There was a definite sense of closure without spending too much time on every line of questions that cropped up throughout the six seasons of madness; my memory for TV show events seems to be not that great, so I don’t even recall the majority of the loose ends. I think it’s good that they left some of the mystery intact.

So, now that it’s over, my Tuesday nights probably won’t be quite as exciting, but that’s okay. There will be other great shows. Lost will always be one of the best.

18 May 2010



It’s going to be hard to write this without using lots of nasty words, but I’ll try.

I’m not sure exactly why I watched the whole season. It must be some kind of self-hate. It started out boring went downhill from there; the characters are flat, the story is uninteresting, the visuals are 4th-rate, and they made Morena Baccarin look ugly. It’s like they took notes on Heroes, except they ignored the first season.

The show is about some nazi-lizard race from space that want to take over Earth covertly for some reason. They do this by donning artificial human skin, hair and other visible thingies, and acting like humans in all sorts of places. Then once they’re sufficiently entwined in human politics and whatnot the mother-ships swoop in and act all benevolent-like. This of course would work great because humans are idiots. Oddly though, some of the aliens on Earth have absorbed human emotions (aliens can’t have those normally, they’re aliens!) and therefore must rebel against their mother race by being idiots like humans. Thankfully the normal aliens are kinda stupid too.

So then we have a human resistance that teams up with the alien converts and decide the best way to combat political invasion covering up a few murders here and there is to not try to expose them at all, but instead use use half-wit military/guerilla tactics to make themselves look like terrorists. Good job!

I never saw the original series but I bet it’s miles better than this junk. Not even one Lost and two Firefly alumni could save it. Even a pair of cylons showed up once and failed. Even with the boring characters though, I think the part that made me hate it the most was the absolutely dismal CGI. Every single scene in the V spacecraft was blisteringly obvious. The compositing was always blurry as a censored Japanese film, the shadows were all wrong, and the movement/perspective just brought it all together like a dang puppet show. I think the reason it’s getting renewed is because they spent a whopping $20 on virtual sets.

I must be spoiled by sci-fi shows like Battlestar Galactica, Firefly, and even Stargate SG-1. The latter two had humor going for them, which was partly what made them enjoyable. BSG was just excellent through and through while keeping the humor mostly low; V had basically none at all and not much else. It tried to be a serious series. For that to happen I have to care about the outcome. I just hope it all stops.

I think this “review” is about as coherent as the show. I can’t be bothered to write quality for something this bad, I just wanted to say it sucked. So there you go.

09 May 2010

Iron Man 2

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Iron Man (the first movie) was all about Iron Man and being totally awesome. Its successor is about Iron Man and a bunch of other super-sexy people, including the wonderfully presented Scarlett Johansson, whose name is often difficult to spell correctly. One might think that this visual feast might take over the film and turn it into a Transformers-esque mess; this isn’t the case.

I’ve heard quite a few people talk about how the movie is a sprawling, hard-to-follow mess with too much going on. However, they always go on to say that they enjoyed it anyway. Personally, I didn’t think it was that hard to follow, and it was nowhere near the atrocity of Spiderman III. There were a lot of characters. Downey’s acting and his vocal interplay with several of the supporting characters was just brilliant, and god dangit Scarlett is good at looking good, even if her actual acting wasn’t anything to get all that excited about. Mickey Rourke did a better job at playing a Russian dude than I expected. Sam Rockwell did a great job playing the dick, and got quite a few laughs out of me.

The main thing that made this movie great was the comedy. Unlike the other great comic-book movie of our time, The Dark Knight, the Iron Man movies are actually comical, and it works. Really well. When I wasn’t grinning ear-to-ear at the awesomely executed actions scenes, I was laughing hysterically at the many jokes, be they nerdy, double entendre, or just plain silly. This is how you do a funny superhero movie, not Batman & Robin.

Altogether I agree that it isn’t as good as its predecessor. It is, however, really good, and better than the first one in a lot of places. I suppose it could have shined a little brighter if the scope of the story had been lessened a little. I don’t think it hurt the film as much as other people are saying though. I do think the omission of AC/DC would have been a good idea. Stick to Sabbath.

Also, this is one of those movies where you need to stay through the credits. Especially all you NERDS.