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Hang on, I think I just got into a Gatling gun duel…

A Brief Introduction to Genetics from David Murawsky on Vimeo.

The contract is sealed.

- Unknown source

I want one.

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Kitty! er...

Kitteh!

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This was just too adorable to not post.

HALO Drop

Friggin Christians…

The Saga Of Biorn from The Animation Workshop on Vimeo.

So I’ve been far too lax in posting as of late. I could throw a bunch of excuses up here, but long and short of it is, I’ve been very tired lately, mentally and physically.

I’ve been keeping a list of topics that I think deserve blogging so I figured I’d start chewing through them by doing some film micro-reviews.

Tron: Legacy
I’ve got the soundtrack to Tron: Legacy playing right now, and it is fantastic. Daft Punk did a phenomenal job of capturing the feel of the original while updating it and providing a truly immersing soundtrack.

The narrative of the film itself isn’t anything to write home about, but I enjoyed it quite a bit. Seeing Bruce Boxleitner and Jeff Bridges back in these geeky roles is a treat. Jeff seems to be channeling “The Dude” from The Big Lebowski, which is hilarious and awesome at the same time.

I watched the film for the second time yesterday on my home system and it was just as enjoyable as seeing it in the theater. As with all recent releases I’m going well out of my way to avoid the 3D fad. I find the forced focal points to be straining on the eyes, plus I seem to always end up with scratched glasses. Frankly, I just prefer seeing stuff in 2D.

The long and short of Tron: Legacy is this, if you like the original, you’ll probably enjoy Legacy. I had a lot of fun watching it and it is recommended.

Tomorrow When The War Began
It’s hard to say anything about this movie without drawing a direct comparison to the superior 80′s film Red Dawn. Basic premise is an invading force takes control of part of Australia while some kids are camping. When they return, they find themselves behind enemy lines and begin guerrilla warfare against said force.

It’s not a bad movie. And I hate that that implies negativity towards the film. It’s an Australian production and suffers somewhat from a smaller budget. It also is hampered by a PG rating, but that is to be expected as it is adapted from a young-adult series of books. I think a full-on, R-rated version of this would be a really wonderful film. Exploring just how far people will go in a lord of the flies type situation against a superior enemy… but then I can just pop in Red Dawn (which itself has a remake completed awaiting distribution which I am dreading…). Overall, if you’re looking for a neat little mid-budget film, I recommend it.

I also must mention that the lead actress, a miss Caitlin Stasey, is ridiculously beautiful.

Dinner for Shmucks
I didn’t hate it. I didn’t love it. It had a few funny moments, mostly executed by Jermaine Clement’s over-the-top artist character.

Easy A
I really really loved this movie. It was my introduction to Emma Stone, who, aside from being astoundingly gorgeous, has fantastic comedic timing. This film is a homage to the wonderful John Hughes films that peppered the 80′s.

The script is tight, the dialogue witty, and the characters great. Amanda Bynes bible thumper is hilarious and with a supporting grown-up cast including Stanley Tucci, Thomas Hayden Church and Lisa Kudrow among others, the delivery of everything in this script is great. The back-and-forth banter is very quick and laugh-out-loud funny with some very obscure and high-brow reverences.

Overall, a great film worth seeing.

Legend of the Guardians – The Owls of Ga’Hoole
Aside from an excruciatingly long title and some monumentally uninspired posters, I really enjoyed this. It has some truly gorgeous footage and looks great on a big screen. As a kids animated movie, it’s got your typical archetypes displayed and exploited; the mentor, the friend, the betrayed sibling, etc. But it works. I liked it and again, it’s damn pretty.

Plus, I think it’s the only film with a talking echidna released in 2010.

The American
Contrary to the title, this is a very European feeling film. One that is very much a slow burner and I think that hurt it greatly at the box office. Most of the online comments I’ve seen about this say that it’s incredibly boring, but I found it anything but. It is most definitely not an action film, despite what the premise and poster may allude to, but rather a tight drama about an assassin and how isolated and lonely his life is. I thought the performances were excellent and the story was quite engaging.

Don’t go in expecting a shoot-em-up action film and you might be surprised by how much you like this.

The Tourist

Another European thriller, this one moves along a fair bit quicker than The American, and I enjoyed it just as much. It really does keep you guessing with a “is he/isn’t he” question throughout the entire film. The cinematography in Venice is great and the colours of the film really stand out. The production was plagued with many challenges with actors and director’s going through many changes, but the end result is far better than expected.

The Next Three Days
I’m not a huge fan of Russel Crowe, but I found him to be well cast in this film. The premise is an ordinary man trying to break his wife out of jail for a crime she may or may not have committed. It’s interesting to see to what lengths and what a normal guy would do, sacrifice and learn to get back the woman he loves. This isn’t Ocean’s Eleven where we have a team full of professional thieves and con-men; this is one normal dude who has to learn everything and improvise along the way to create a fool-proof plan to break out his wife and escape. There are some moments of belief suspension, but overall it works and I was pleasantly surprised with how much I enjoyed it.

Morning Glory
Far better than I expected, you should watch this film if only to see Harrison Ford turn in a hilarious performance as a crotchety old reporter who believes (in my opinion rightly) that morning shows are beneath him. It’s fairly formulaic and expected, but provides some laughs and decent performances all around. But watching Ford chew through this stuff is a real treat.

Tangled
Exactly as you would expect from a Disney animated film. It’s stereotypical, funny, creative and pretty. I was kind of annoyed that they billed it as Walt Disney’s 50th animated motion picture as it’s clearly 3D and not traditional animation, but it’s still a fun little film with no consequences.

And the chameleon character I found myself laughing at far more than a grown man should.

Winter’s Bone
This is a great film… which I found incredibly boring. I was not in the right frame of mind when I started watching it and would have been better suited with a comedy of some sort. I do recommend it, but make sure you’re int he mood for a slow character drama when you start watching.

One thing I will note about this, Jennifer Lawrence has been heavily pushed as the front-runner for the lead role of Katniss in the film version of The Hunger Games. You can really see why when watching Winter’s Bone. The characters are very similar in defending their younger siblings through times of extreme poverty and suppression and sacrificing all to do so.

Just some brief final films that I didn’t enjoy:

You Again – A great cast totally put to waste. Painful to watch.

The Kids Are All Right – Good film, which I just found very boring to watch. Performances are good, but I think over-rated.

Shrek 4 – Awful. There’s a surprise.

New Box!

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I got a new video card… Mini is thrilled.

I has a box.

(Sorry about the dearth of posts lately… been an odd couple of months… I’ll try to make up for it for my one or two readers… I have a tonne of notes on things I’d like to talk about… most of them geeky.)

A Few Fan Films

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A couple of days ago I stumbled upon a fan-film for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles called “Fight the Foot”. I found it to be remarkably well shot (it looked like a film) and a fun little short.

Lately I’ve been encountering a few of these and I wanted to share a few of my favorites. Enjoy.

The first fan movie I can recall seeing was Troops!, a parody that blended Cops! and Star Wars in wonderful form and for the Star Wars geeks, it humorously filled in a some missing plot elements from “A New Hope”. I think I first saw it in 1997 and I loved it.

Troops!

Here’s the one mentioned above, Fight the Foot. I’d recommend clicking on the link and watching in HD. I really like the colour pallet and framing… and the last quick shot is really cool. I can’t wait to see the turtles back on the big screen if the studios ever get around to it.

Fight the Foot

Next up is this cool Mortal Kombat proof-of-concept. This one landed the director a pending web-series apparently. Perhaps if it does well we’ll get to see a big-screen adaptation.
(Warning, this one is pretty graphic.)

Mortal Kombat

Last but not least, here’s a couple of fan films based around the Half-Life franchise. One from last year (Escape From City 17) and one just from last month (Beyond Black Mesa). Both are excellent, but my personal preference is for Escape From City 17.

Escape From City 17 – Part 1

Beyond Black Mesa

Got any others I should look at? A personal favorite?

I’d love to make one of these. An adult-tuned Thundercats would be badass.

EDIT: Forgot to include an old one I forgot about… below is Batman – Dead End… which is awesome at first… and then really really weird…

Batman – Dead End

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I was just cruising Reddit and I came across a comment I wanted to post here. It was in a thread about Ad-Block. It fairly accurately described my own issues with advertisements (though I have sheltered myself a little more from it by working from home).

I run ad-block on both Chrome and Firefox and if I think your site isn’t going to assault me with intrusive crap, I will allow ads; Blessed by the Potato and Reddit are good examples of these. There are other sites, however, which I love, but every time I try to allow ads on them, I get painfully loud, distracting banners all over the place, Ain’t It Cool News and Dark Horizons are examples of these.

Anyways, here’s the comment I thought was good.

Original Comment by yeahiknow5

I really don’t give a shit how intrusive or non-intrusive ads are frankly. We are the most hounded generation from marketers the world has ever seen.

Lets assume I do nothing to block ads and lets just go through my typical day. Ok?

I wake up in the morning to my alarm radio going off – chances are instead of music – i get an earful of advertisements. I shower, eat breakfast, turn on the tv to catch a bit of an early morning show – which has ads, products sponsored right in the show sometimes, possibly even little popups at the bottom of the screen for shows on later tonight or the next day. I eat my breakfast, brush my teeth and leave.

On my way to work I pass by billboard signs attempting to convince me to buy this or to buy that, or little signs by jack-legs who are trying to earn a buck with startup computer repair and payday loan companies.

I pull into the gas station to fill up – and i get an earful from the speaker at the pump telling me to come on inside – get a coffee, a hoagie or a tacquito or whatever. Signs are everywhere advertising the price of cigarettes, beer, and such.

I make it to work. I login to Gmail and get assaulted with ads in my fucking inbox and mail messages. Thank god Gmail has a great spam filter because then I’d get even more ads in my mailbox. I go to my favorite websites – ads everywhere. I search for something job realted – more ads. All day at work – for work or when i’m slacking off – ADS ADS ADS. Some are “non-intrusive” text, some popup and cover the whole screen. Some are auditory and visual, some are static. Some open their own windows, some are embedded in text so when you drag your mouse over it -it give a java popup windows. Some are little blocks like at Reddit.

SOME carry fucking malware.

But you know – i make it to lunch, get in my car and go to a restaurant (passing more billboards) and i order and i sit down to eat. They either a) have the tv on – which will inevitably play more ads, or B) i’ll grab a newspaper or magazine laying around there which has MORE FUCKING ads in it. (Gotta love that people pay for magazines and you’re paying for a book of advertisements basically).
I go back to work – make it through the remainder of the day. On my way home I decide to stop by the grocery store. When I walk in the door there’s a machine audibly telling me about the store’s new deals. There’s ads on the floor, ads hanging from the ceiling, end-cap deals trying to grab my attention.

I get food for the evening, make my way home and check my mail. And like always my mailbox is fucking stuffed. Am i popular? Nope. Do i have “THAT” many bills? I have a lot – but not that many. No most of my mailbox is filled with credit card deals, ads for this, ads for that, 95% of the mail i receive is fucking junk.

So i sort through my mail and i cook myself dinner and right as i sit down to eat, my phone rings – it’s some shitcocked telemarketers trying to sell me satellite tv, insurance, comcast telephone, or any number of other services.

Every blank space in the world there is – there’s an advertiser that wants to put their fucking logo or witty tag line on it.

It’s getting to the point that they have to be “innovative” with viral ad campaigns that “engage” the consumer. Hell, we can look at a future where a walk in public means getting audibly assaulted with sonic beams that you don’t know where the fuck it’s coming from.

And this ignores also the entire issue about privacy – data collection on the populace for the sake of marketing data is at scary levels IMHO. Google and Facebook (and yahoo, Bing, and others) thrive on collecting everything they can about you and then reselling that data off to others.

We are generally so subjected to ads or the effect of marketing from the time we wake up until the time we fall asleep.

So excuse me if i don’t give two flying fucks about whether an ad is “intrusive” or not. A culture built on consumerism has given rise to a culture built on marketing and ads and excuse me but I will do everything i can to avoid it.

If that means ablock+noscript, fine. If it means Do Not Call registries – fine. If it means DVR to fast forward through them, or if it means buying the content on dvd/bluray or if it means torrenting the damn material to avoid ads – fine. I don’t buy magazines, i don’t buy the newspaper.

and i don’t have the slightest bit of pity for any lost profits someone might have because i didn’t view or click their ads. Small website or not. Want money? Charge me for content and provide content worth charging for. I do have had (in the past) subscriptions to several online publications – i’m not above paying for things.

Sorry about the lack of posts lately; I haven’t been in a writing mood for some reason. I do have quite a list of things to blog about now though.

One of the gifts I received for Christmas this year was a box set of The Hunger Games Trilogy Box Set by Suzanne Collins given to me by my brothers girlfriend Holly.

I didn’t get a chance to start into it until this past week, however when I did get to it, the result was about 2 hours of sleep a night for three days.

They are wonderful stories. The best answer I could give for “What are these books like?” would be, I suppose, a cross between Battle Royale and The White Mountains (How is that series not in print any more?!). The basic premise is a story about a girl in a post-apocalyptic north American society which has reverted to a form of totalitarian Roman government in which districts send representatives under the age of 17 (I think) each year to an arena to fight to the death. One oddity I found about it is the narrative is written in first person present tense… which was strange at first, but I got used to it fairly quickly. There is some teenage angst from the lead character, however it doesn’t come close to Twilight cheese.

The series is flagged as Young Adult, however there is a lot of violence, as one would imagine from a story about kids killing each other.

It’s not a perfect book, but the narrative is superb and as evidenced from my lack of sleep, holds the reader. The only major fault I had with the plot was that, in my opinion, a society that had all the amazing technology that they employed in the arenas to kill these kids would have no trouble with automated systems and environmental tech to perform the jobs of the outlying suppressed districts. For example, there’s a district for growing and harvesting grain, an activity which even at our current level of technology is mostly automated. But as I said, this is forgivable and the story holds even with some logical flaws.

I must admit that I hated the ending. Don’t get me wrong, it was a good ending, I just didn’t like it. :)

It’s not a difficult read and I would highly recommend it. You could chew through each book in a few evenings at a leisurely pace.