Monday, June 29, 2009

After having slammed We Are The Fallen, my journalistic integrity got the best of me and I decided to actually listen to their music. Turns out, I was completely right. You sound exactly like Evanescence. My wife agrees with me. Score one for the music critic. All those years of practice writing half a review based solely on the cover before listening to them for are finally paying off! Although, strictly speaking, no one is paying me anything for being right, or even for being wrong, so um, yeah. There's that. Also, I'm demoting this we're-not-a-knockoff knockoff band to feldgrau. I should have done all my reviews with colors...

At long last, and after many (one) requests, I finally got around to finishing off that Terminator review I promised Matt. It's been a while since I posted a review of anything, so I figured now might be a good time to do so. And to make up for lost time, here's a whole slew of them:

Terminator: Salvation
Preface: When T3 came out, Brian and I went to a midnight showing on opening night. We waited in line with 3 other people. At showtime, the theater was maybe 1/4 full. I was supremely dissapointed by the showing, but really liked the movie. It demonstrated the inevitability of J-Day and helped sew up that you can't really change the future. I felt like it was a good conclusion to the Arnold-era Terminator franchise.
Sidebar: If you could alter the future by changing the past, you'd never know that the past needed to be changed because you would have already done it. Time travel makes for some great movies, so long as you don't think too much about what's actually going on.
Review: I know Christian Bale got top billing and he was the pretty-boy star, but Sam Worthington absolutely crushed him in this film. He was the better actor and had the better role. He went through more of a character transformation (literally and figuratively) and I was really disappointed that he died at the end. Having watched the Sarah Conner Chronicles, I was a bit worried where the movie might be headed, but fortunately, it opted to neglect the TV show and stay truer to the history of the original trilogy (for example, there was no mention of Derek Reese). Some things I thought were extraneous: the little kid with the star hat, Bryce Dallas Howard, super-muscley CGI Arnold. I also thought they missed an opportunity to reconnect with some history by having a dog (instead of a landmine) identify Marcus Wright as a machine. On the whole, the story didn't advance much, except for barely telling the story of how John became the leader of the resistance, and giving some back story to why Skynet began using human tissue on top of metal for later terminators. In hindsight, the movie was somewhat slow for what was ultimately accomplished, but in the theater, I didn't feel that way at all. I left feeling energized (even at 1 am) and excited about the franchise again. I'm still not 100% sold on Christian Bale as John Connor. I know he's "so hot" or whatever, and he makes a great Bruce Wayne/Batman combo, but I dunno, I'm just not seeing him channel an older version of John. I feel like the writers put the pieces in for him (listening to his mother's tapes, hacking that bike, befriending a terminator), but he just failed to put them all together for me. Maybe my expectations are too high, and I don't know who else I would have cast instead, but he just wasn't John Connor for me. And if you're not going to have Sarah, you have to have John right. Despite Mr. Bale's failure (in my eyes), I still really enjoyed the film. I've heard complaints that not enough backstory was explained, but that's part of what I liked about it. It didn't treat me like a first-time Terminator viewer. It assumed I knew the basic story and got on with its business. If you went into this movie expecting a franchise recap, I can see why you'd be disappointed, but that would have made the movie uncomfortably long or awkward from working the information into all the necessary scenes. Highlander failed miserably at this, so I'm pleased Terminator avoided the minefield. I'd give the movie a solid B, bordering on a B+.

Star Trek
Who is this Chris Pine and why have I not heard of him before? He's like the spitting image of Kirk in the early years before Shattner got all pudgy. On the whole, the Star Trek movies have never failed to captivate me. Because they don't wind a coherent tale, I still can't put them above Star Wars or LOTR in my pantheon of epicly awesome nerd movies, but taken as a whole, it's a fantastic collection. This latest installment was a faithful rendition of the Trek franchise for a younger generation, and even for us long-time fans, it was really a treat to see the cast come together so well as the characters we know and love. I felt Spock was a little off, but given the plot of him struggling with his humanity, I didn't feel like it really hurt the movie. My only other complaint was that Bones perhaps said "damn it" a couple too many times. Okay okay, we got the reference, don't over do it! The Uhura/Spock relationship was probably unnecessary, but an interesting wrinkle. I loved Kirk hooking up with a green space alien chick, the appearance of Nimoy, and Chekov trying to give his voice identification. Kirk realizing his potential and confronting Spock to live up to Capt. Pike's challenge was perfect. Hell, I even liked Winona Ryder as Spock's mother because you never got a long enough good look at her under her hood to be sure that's who it was. Unlike Jennifer Morrison as Kirk's mother - that just seemed like they were trying to cram one more star into the movie for no reason at all. Only other complaint I had was the Romulan characters didn't look like the Romulans I'm familiar with, but if the Klingons could change completely and "don't talk about it," so can the Romulans I suppose. This was an amazing addition to the Trek franchise, and I give it a "live long and prosper" split-fingered greeting.

Meet The Robinsons
Just watched this on Saturday night. It was rather predictable, but entertaining nonetheless, and with a certified Disney Happy Ending and Disney Positive Message. I've decided my new favorite villain is Goob. He's the perfect level of incompetent, self-loathing, and hair-brained. Who else would think to steal a T-Rex in order to place a mind-control hat on him to capture a child? And Lewis/Cornelius didn't end up looking anything like Tom Selleck, but I love that he was voiced by Tom anyway. And anything Adam West touches has to be good, right? If I had kids, I'd let them watch this. And it was amusing to me, so it gets two thumbs up in my book.

Everyone's been raving about it for the last couple years. I finally had a chance to see why when we were in New York for my birthday. I said at the time that it was superb. Actually, I didn't, but that's besides the point. The Broadway production really was superb, and at the time, I really thought that my mom and Emily were just being picky about things that didn't match up in the stage production vs. the book. However, I now see why they were irritated. I'm halfway through the book, and I feel completely deceived by the musical. I realize I'm not done with the book yet, but I already know the ending is different (just not how it ends), and there's a ton of other things that don't even remotely match up. The characterization of some of the main characters is way off in the musical, some major plot elements are completely changed. They've invented relationships that didn't exist, overly simplified, and softened events that were meant to be harsh. If I hadn't just finished praising a Disney movie, I'd say the musical is a greatly Disnified version of the book. I dunno, the book is fantastic, and I'm tearing through it. I can't put the thing down! I just can't help but feel a little betrayed by the stage in this case. It's really less an adaptation of the novel than a loosely related story somewhat based on facts from a similarly titled work involving some of the same characters. I'd liken it to historical fiction. The musical is to the novel what Indiana Jones was to real-life archaeology. I give the musical a 8.5/10 (assuming no previous knowledge of the Wicked story). I give what I've read so far of the book a 92%. I give the franchise synergy two points of a star without the middle pentagon (which is less than half a star, for those keeping score at home).

We Are The Fallen
Speaking of reviewing things that I haven't finished yet, here's a review of something I haven't even heard yet. "We're not Evanescence 2.0, we swear!" We're just 3/4 of the backing band with a new lead singer who writes, sings, and dresses like Amy Lee. If you don't want to invite those comparisons, maybe you shouldn't have taken up with her old band and named your new band after their original debut record, played similar music, and kept a similar graphic style. I'm just saying. I give this a rating of gray-asparagus.

June 22 - June 28
It was a bad week at work, which would have been enough all by itself, but then there was the Red Line Metro accident last Monday that left 9 dead and many more injured and certainly will put a huge dent in DC's image for years to come. Then we were hit with the deaths of Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett, Michael Jackson, Billy Mays, and Fred Travalena. Terrible. And that's before we even get into what's going on in Iran and Honduras. Can we all collectively agree to roll back the clock a week and have a do-over? Can we erase a few tragedies? Or if they must occur to balance out the universe, can we at least space them out better? Straight up terrible.

Yes, I realized I used a different review method on every single review above. Yes, I know the three movies I reviewed all involved time travel. Sorry, as Popeye said, I am what I am. I like what I like. And while spinach is fine and dandy, outer space, time travel, magic, and technology are what really floats my boat. That and Oxyclean. So long Billy.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

I was updating my finance spreadsheet tonight, when The Lonely Island came up on my Nerdcore Hip-Hop station on Pandora. I'd forgotten how hilarious their Lazy Sunday song was and just had to go find it on YouTube. Sometimes I wish I could get into SNL again, but everytime I watch it, it ends up sucking pretty severely, so I'll just keep my happy memories of Operaman, Goatboy, Mr. Subliminal, and Spade in America thank you very much. In the mean time, I'll leave you with this: Jorma, one third of the troupe, also stars in the Gnarls Barkley video where he cuts his own heart out. Thank goodness so many cool, creative people are down with working together.

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  • I'm Rev. Adam
  • From Oakton, Virginia, United States
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