Feb 29, 2012

Avenge This!

The new trailer for the Avengers was released this morning, and boy is it an amazing piece of cinematic editing epicness! Feast your eyes in full HD for best effect.

I have no idea how they do this, but with each trailer they have released, this movie gets better and better! Looks like there will be some very good character development and character driven moments as well as some insane action sequences. Great mix of humor and seriousness as well.

All who know me know that I am an absolute nut for Lord of the Rings and am looking forward to The Hobbit this year more than anything else, but this may just have gone into a tie for 1st place with me. I don't know what you're doing this May, but you' better be seeing this movie. It's going to be one really awesome, really wild, really fun ride!

Feb 13, 2012

Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter

I am REALLY looking forward to this. The whole idea is just silly awesome fun. The cinematography looks great, the casting. Just a fun movie. Guess I should read the book huh?

Feb 11, 2012

Face it George, Han Shot First

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Why does George Lucas insist on changing Star Wars decades after it was already popular?
The controversy over who shot first, Greedo or Han Solo, in Episode IV, what I did was try to clean up the confusion, but obviously it upset people because they wanted Solo [who seemed to be the one who shot first in the original] to be a cold-blooded killer, but he actually isn’t. It had been done in all close-ups and it was confusing about who did what to whom. [1]
Ok, fine. Lucas is the creator and does know what his original intent for the character was because he wrote him. However, George seems to be missing two crucial points here.

First, people have never thought of Han as a "cold-blooded killer." He is a space pirate in a space opera. He's a rogue, a Jack Sparrow kind of character if you will. Ok, not a great comparison but it makes the point. He didn't kill Greedo in cold blood but in self defense. Greedo was holding him at gun point and going to turn him over to Jabba the Hut. Han was built up through A New Hope as a man who has a code of honor and lives by it, but it is his own and he can't be expected to live by anyone else's. This is what makes it so cool when he comes back to save Luke later on. He has grown as a character. By changing the scene with Greedo you remove that rough, roguish edge from his character and the eventual change of heart becomes less meaningful.

Second, why change it in the first place? It wasn't clear in the original scene and yet several generations of fans loved that scene and what it meant about the character. So why, after all that time, would you go back in and change it? Yes, it is your film Mr. Lucas, but when a film is released to the public and has been out for decades, the fans take a bit of possession of it as well. Not to mention that it was another decade and a half before this explanation. It's just not a smart decision.

For those too young to remember how things really went down, here's a video:

But that's not all. Darth Vader suffers from this as well. In the original trilogy, Vader is the archetypal bad guy. Wears all black, deep voice, doesn't hesitate to kill those of his minions who disappoint him. He is single minded in his focus and is intent on ruling the galaxy. He came, over the years, to define "bad guy." Then George Lucas brought us the prequel trilogy and Anakin Skywalker's backstory. Suddenly Darth Vader goes from being the archetypal bad guy to tragic hero. He's just a kid who loved his mommy too much. Somehow, the bad guy Darth Vader is no longer as scary, or bad.

Then, in the recent BluRay re-re-re-re-release, another nail went into the coffin of Vader's awesome-bad-guy-ness. In Episode III when he learns of Padme's death, Vader let's out a cry of anguish. George added a similar cry of "noooooo" to the climax of Return of the Jedi as Vader watches Emperor Palpatine torturing his son. Fine, I get that we're supposed to see the parallel between Vader's anguish at losing his wife and now about to lose his son, but that scene was one of the most powerful moments in cinematic history. Vader's silence, watching the torture and impending death of his son at the hands of his mentor and master, is powerful. Even though he wears a full mask that is all black, you can see the internal redemption and change in the masks "eyes" when Vader moves to save Luke. It needed no words, no vocalizations beyond the purity of Luke's agonized screams. Thanks George, once again ruining what was an incredibly deep and moving character arc.

Oh, but it doesn't end there either. Boba Fett has also been ruined. From the original trilogy we know Boba Fett as a stone-cold killer. A mercenary for hire. Enter the prequels and suddenly he is a little boy with daddy issues. Suddenly the most feared assassin in the galaxy is a little less cool.

I just don't get it. The original trilogy was near perfection. For an operatic space fantasy film, not the most amazingly deep genre, to garner the love and respect that it has is beyond phenomenal. Fine, add in some cool background details and such, no problem. Change character story arcs? Cheapen the villains? Destroy one of the hero's redemption? WHY George? Why!?

Don't get me wrong, I love the prequel movies, albeit not as much as the originals, but somehow, they weaken and make the originals a little less powerful. George's incessant meddling isn't helping matters any.

Feb 7, 2012

Wreck-It Ralph Looks Great

Image Courtesy {link}
Can I just say, I am REALLY looking forward to this film? I think it has a huge amount of potential. It's a risky kind of story and setting for Disney, and that's why I support it. It's branching out and doing something kind of crazy but that still has the heart and soul of a Disney movie. Plus, I'm a bit of a gamer myself and look forward to seeing how they interpret the world and characters. From this artwork, I like it so far.

Synopsis and more artwork at ComingSoon.net.

Earl of Sandwich in Downtown Disney

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Disney confirmed[1] this morning that the sandwich chain Earl of Sandwich will be coming to Downtown Disney by early summer this year. It will be taking the place of the Compass Bookstore right next to the AMC Theater location.

I am very excited by this news. We have loved eating at the Vegas location for a number of years now, and having one in Downtown Disney will provide another great place to get a quick bite to eat.

Feb 4, 2012

The Woman in Black

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Last night I saw The Woman in Black and had a really good time. This was a ghost story along the lines of The Others. The movie was well acted, didn't drag and had a simple, straightforward story to tell.

Arthur Kipps (Daniel Radcliffe) is a lawyer sent by his London firm to the town of Crythin Gifford to examine and put in order the documents of the late widow of Eel Marsh House, an old estate home on an island in the coastal marsh near the town. Upon arriving the townsfolk try to get him to return to London both with their brusque manner and by refusing to aid him. He persists in going to the estate anyway. In going through the vast collection of papers and letters he finds, we begin to learn the tragic history of the family of Eel Marsh House and how it has involved the terrified villagers.

The film relies heavily on the setting to build an uneasy feeling. The village is small and feels devoid of color. There is a persistent coastal fog and mist the seems to have leeched the color, and thus life, from the village and the people. The island is accessible by a dirt track that is washed out twice a day by the tides, leaving a boggy marsh at low tide. Trees have grown rampantly on the island, the house looks disheveled. Inside are layers of dust, cobwebs, dark woods and faded colors that seem to suck what little light enters right out of the air. It is just what you have always imagined a haunted house to look like. It is adorned with the trappings of a wealthy family that has traveled. Creepy statues, busts and dolls fill alcoves along the hallways and heavy cast iron candelabras add a sense of unease and weight. The set design and art direction were really very good.

Daniel Radcliffe is alone for the majority of the movie and must carry it himself. No easy task for any actor, having to act with the sets rather than another person, but he does it very well. I was curious to see how he would do as he hasn't done  much besides Harry Potter. Happily I did not spend the duration of the film picturing him as Harry Potter. He did a great job presenting the character. The only other major characters in the film are a wealthy land owning couple Arthur meets on the way to the town, Mr. and Mrs. Daily. Sam Daily (Ciaran Hinds) is the one person Arthur can confide in and trust, though it turns out even this couple, often shown symbolically in full sunlight rather than foggy grey, has been touched by the tragedy of Eel Marsh House and hide their secret.

Though it follows the usual method of escalating haunts, the film doesn't feel tired. I think having Daniel Radcliffe in a setting we are so unaccustomed to seeing him in helps it feel fresh. There are several "gotcha" scares, but they are well executed. Most of the time, it is what you don't see that brings on the creepy feeling. Motion on the edge of a frame, in a mirror, a shadow in the dark distance. Shapes that were steady suddenly moving, etc. There are a couple of shots that I hadn't seen anywhere else and got a bit of a jump out of me.

I won't spoil the ending of the film, but will say that it was absolutely perfect. I can not think of any other way this film could have ended as happily as it did while still maintaining the horror of the story. I know some of you will be scratching your heads in wonderment, but I promise, this was actually a happy ending.

It isn't a groundbreaking horror film by any means, but it was very well executed and genuinely acted and that made it a lot of fun to watch and buy into. My wife and I both enjoyed ourselves thoroughly and would recommend it to anyone.

Feb 2, 2012

A Greener California Adventure

One of the biggest problems facing DCA 1.0 in my view was the lack of trees. Disneyland uses trees and plants to break up walkways, offer shade and create a more natural, comforting feeling. The old DCA had very few trees anywhere and very little in the way of plants and shrubs either. Thankfully, this is changing. Twitter user @mintcrocodile and avid Disney photographer (Magic Eye) tweeted this photo today.


This is the new fountain that will form the center piece of the Carthay Circle area of Buena Vista Street. They have just brought in quite a number of trees to surround the fountain. Several trees have also recently gone in near the entry gates. More are on their way to line the street.

Paradise Gardens is full of trees. The World of Color viewing area has trees and plants. The queue and overflow areas for Little Mermaid have been significantly greened up. It may seem like a small thing, but all these new trees and plants have a major impact on the feel of the park.

Previously DCA consisted of wide concrete paths and nothing else. Wide open views that were very utilitarian and to be honest, boring. With the addition of so many trees, the park feels more alive in a way, long distance views are broken up making the park feel more cozy and intimate. The shade reduces the heat coming off the pavement, cooling the park as well. Having all these large, older trees will also give the parks themed areas a feeling of having been there for many years.

I love all the new green!