Iron Man 2

Went and saw it last night. I’d have to say that the Iron Man movies are probably my favorite super hero movies. The reason is pretty simple: The Iron Man movies glamorize being smart.

>>>> SPOILERS AHEAD! <<<<

Sure, Tony Stark has a seemingly infinite amount of money to support his crazy GUIs, UIs, and HUDs. But even without all the tech, he’s still able to create the arc reactor with simple tools in the first Iron Man. In Iron Man 2, this same glamorization is found through Whiplash, a physicist who creates his own arc reactor in his dingy workshop and does all sorts of computer hacking like cracking, phreaking, and reprogramming a fleet of robot drones, — we’ll just ignore the fact that he’s the bad guy. Though, not to be outdone, Tony Stark creates a lineac in his basement to create a brand new new element. All in all, Iron Man makes smart people look pretty damn cool.

Google TV

Meh, I’m definitely not the target audience for this. I regularly hook up my Blackbook to my TV, connect a wireless keyboard and mouse, and I’m good to go. Hulu, Netflix, YouTube, etc. are all at my fingertips. The intriguing part, though, is that some TVs are going to be built with Google TV. So essentially these TVs become internet devices without having to attach a computer. That’s a pretty neat idea, especially for the non-tech-savvy. The Google TV box, on the other hand, seems like it’s just going to be another cuboid to silently drain energy. Why buy another box when you could hook up a computer to your tv?

But then again, who knows. With Android outselling the iPhone, maybe the Google box won’t be some unremembered product like Apple TV.

Avatar

Went and saw this last night. During the car ride home, one of the first things that we commented on was that the bad guys in this movie are Republican. As I was falling asleep, I was trying to figure out what made Avatar such a great movie amidst the little things that bothered me.

Reader beware! Spoilers ahead!

The story was predictable. I don’t think there was a moment in the movie where the next step wasn’t obvious — I think the only part where I couldn’t see where the movie was going was when the military leader decided to “fight terror with terror” (Oh, hi, Republicans!). The big plot points get foreshadowed, like taming the Toruk or the final transfer between Jake and his avatar.

The CGI was extremely well done, but still looked like CGI. It’s funny, when I saw the first trailer of this movie, I shrugged it off because I thought that it looked too CGI and not real enough. And after seeing the movie, I feel like I wasn’t wrong — the movie had this disconnect between the human and the CGI. Take the moment when Jake (as a human) and Neytiri are united; it’s a well done blend of live action and CGI, but the disconnect was still prominent. The Na’vi were very well done, they were very expressive and well animated — but they just did not feel real. I’m not really sure what it would take to make it more real, but now I feel like I’m being overly critical. On a more positive note, all of the environments were gorgeous and lush and the animation was extremely smooth. All of the action was very easy to follow, too.

I skimmed the Wikipedia article on the movie, and saw that Cameron had used some of the designs from the Avatar video game for the movie itself, which is really cool, in my opinion. But at the same time, Linda made the comment that a lot of it looked like a video game, and I have to agree. I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing for both video games or movies, but there were a few “hm…” moments were I could totally see the scene as being in a video game. For example, the final battle against Jake and the military leader would totally be riddled with quick time events.

I really enjoyed the 3D in this movie too. At first, the effect is a little jarring; but once you figure out where to focus, everything just takes on this additional depth that makes all the environments seem that much more elaborate. My favorite scene was probably the opening scene in the VA where all of the patients are coming out of cryo-sleep in zero-gravity. My only complaint, however, is that by watching it in 3D you’re forced to focus where the director wants you to focus. There were many times throughout the movie where I wanted to look at something else, but couldn’t because of the 3D.

Writing this post, I realize that all of my complaints are very minor — I wouldn’t hesitate to give Avatar a 5/5. It’s a spectacular movie with a gripping (though predictable) story and amazing visuals.

Wachowski’s Ninja Assassin

Went and saw this the other night with the cousins. Overall, a good bloody action flick with only one major gripe — the shaky cam and bad lighting. The fight in Mika’s apartment started the travesty of shaky cam + bad lighting, but it made sense in this context, since she has only a flashlight to view the action. But for some reason, they continued the shaky cam / bad lighting well into the other action scenes that follow, only really stopping at the climax of the movie.

Otherwise, I really liked the movie. The story provided a good backdrop to all the action. The acting wasn’t amazing, but I never lost the immersion. And of course, the action was over the top bloody and, when I could see it, very well done. The Matrix-esque effects were used to good effect too, for the blood and weapon-swinging. The final battle was really fun, too.

Again, this was a decent action flick, and a good one to veg out to while digesting a big Thanksgiving meal.

4/5 on the Netflix scale (I really like it)

Donnie Darko

I’m not sure what I expected from this movie. But perhaps my expectations were too high.

Time travel. Donnie’s trapped in an alternate reality created the instant he should have died, crushed beneath a plane turbine. However, unlike “Back to the Future”, where time marches forward, this alternate reality where he lives is destined to collapse on itself. It’s not that they blatantly call it God’s plan that bothers me about the movie, it’s the imagery. Particularly, the water spears.

Oh, and by the way, Frank, the rabbit, is neither good nor bad; just as Gretchen is neither good nor bad. Both die in this alternate reality, yet are forces leading Donnie to that point where he can hop back in time, kill himself, and “end the world”, i.e. that alternate reality.

Though, one wonders, if Frank is this entity set forth to collapse the alternate reality, then why would he have lured Donnie away from his bed the night he should have died beneath the turbine? An answer comes about if we look to the beginning of the movie. Donnie wakes up in the middle of a road with his bike nearby. Without this whole alternate reality bullshit, he’s obviously a troubled kid, and the characters around him know that he sleepwalks (and apparently sleep-bikes). So then this alternate reality came about not because of Frank, but because of his instability. There was no choice made here where an obvious split happens. It’s just, one night, he sleep walks, sees Frank, and he should have died.

So in the end, I’ve probably thought about this movie far more than I intended to. I gave it 3/5 stars on Netflix ( I like it).