Friday, 31 May 2013

Superban Unmound

DC Animation continues its practice of not caring about any live action movies with the latest in the Superman series. (Okay, it may or may not be a 'series', but it's hard to tell if it is continuing a story universe, rebooting the universe continuity each time, or some mash up whereby some elements continue but not in the same way.)

[Bad guy] sends out probes that alerts [hero] to his presence. [Hero] seeks out [bad guy] and has an initial entanglement. [Hero] doesn't win, but falls back to regroup. [Bad guy] turns up on [hero]'s turf and there's an epic battle until finally [hero] wins.

Yes, I did spoil this movie, per se, but really... how many movies did I just spoil with that? How many movies fit that model? Certainly this one does, but what saves it is what it does as an original take on this... which is nothing... so it's not saved at all.

Admittedly, it was over half-way through the movie before I realised this was entirely pointless, and nothing on screen was happening that mattered a damn. It was during one of the fights when I realised that... it was just [bad guy] and [hero] hitting each other, over and over and over and... this is Superman? He's Punchingman! He punches until he wins! Because... screw any sense that Superman uses his brains. Doomsday worked because Doomsday was all about no trick would work, Doomsday would just punch through it, so Superman had no choice but to punch in return. But Brainiac (yes, we have Brainiac, a character I've heard more about than read anything) is intelligent, can talk, could be reasoned or tricked or... no, wait, he can be punched, and that's it.

Meh. Nothing of interest. Move along...


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Thursday, 30 May 2013

Ender's Book

There are many books I haven't read that sci-fi people consider essential. I'm not entirely sure if Ender's Game counts as one of those, but I consumed it anyway. And yes, because of the upcoming movie.

Er... why are people loving this? I assume that people do love this, and the number of people I've heard talk about it and that there is many books in this series isn't because it's rubbish. Although it isn't good. Just what the hell is going on in this? The 'climax' as such occurs around 80% into the book, and is only a climax in retrospect. And then the rest of the book is basically exposition.

And what's the point of the subplot with Demosthenes and Locke? I can see why there's no mention of that in the trailer. That could all easily be cut out. It might be more in later books, but... I have no interest in later books. If this is the meandering mess I have to deal with, I don't see why I should deal with it any more than I have.

This has achieved something... I won't be seeing the movie in the theatres. And it reinforces that 'popular' does not mean 'good'.

So, what other 'popular' books should I look at?


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Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Saxy Aval Ganaos

Was this a student film? A student film of an art film? The taglines for this movie read Comedy, Drama, Thriller... I laughed, just once, half way through the movie, so I'm doubtful.

Let's be honest, if you watch this, it's because of the cast. Seth Green. Katee Sackhoff. Michelle Trachtenberg. Some guy that looks like Alec Baldwin (his brother William). And Michael from Lost.

So, Katee gathers her ex-lovers to meet her current lover, and we find out she more manic than pixie dream girl, and then she pulls some mad stunt that is a brilliant plan or...? It's not clear a lot where this film is going. It's a character piece, definitely, but not one in which I am engaging with this crazy woman. Am I supposed to? There's a moment where we get a pointed piece of backstory that is supposed to explain it all... but that doesn't mean I am going to give her any excuse for the things she does to others. 'Crazy whacked out' is still damaging, even if it's 'crazy cool'.

And the performances aren't that great either. Most of the actors are just giving surface effort, and the changes (such as we get) the characters go through are because of what the script says happen, not from any organic process in the story. The writer, Scott Lew, has written... nothing else I've heard of. Perhaps the actors were all good friends of him or something?

Anyway, a lot less exciting than it might sound. Although reading the one-liner, it doesn't sound that exciting either.


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Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Back to Square One

Children's television covered a far range of programs. And a lot were educational. But while they were educational, they generally covered a fair range of topics. And then some went crazy. You remember The Electric Company? HEY YOU GUYS! Of course you do! But, due to a random twitter comment, I was reminded of another show in the same vein that I used to watch, that was far more targeted to me.

Square One was a children's television show... about math! While I can't remember a lot of it, I do vaguely remember the performers. Maybe Mathman... definitely Mathnet. Everyone remembers Mathnet. Some of the other sections... well, I did only just rewatch the first episode, so they probably got better. Certainly I do recall enjoying it.

And, thanks to the power of YouTube, you can watch the first episode too:


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Monday, 27 May 2013

Dr Who and the Rifftrax

Yes, at last! What every Doctor Who fan has been waiting for! For Doctor Who to get the Rifftrax treatment! You know, Rifftrax... the guys who supply an alternative commentary track to a movie, making fun of it. You know, Doctor Who, where the old guy happens to invest a police box in his backyard that is bigger on the inside and can travel anywhere.

Yes, this is Dr Who and the Daleks. With the great Peter Cushing, the Grand Moff himself. And even better... this isn't just the commentary, with this you get the entire movie as a download! (Much easier than fussing around, trying to sync it.) And with them giving the whole thing as a VOD, perhaps we might soon see Dalek Invasion of Earth 2150AD?


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Sunday, 26 May 2013

My Phoney Pony

Yes, my watching of MLP:FIS continued with Season 2 (and yes, it is still possible to get a complete compilation...). The stories continue to be decent enough, but not the centre of my life. And I still have taken completely the wrong lesson from each episode:
Ep 1/2: Don’t trust a chap named Discord.
Ep 3: There’s always that crazy friend to be wary of.
Ep 4: Dealing with royalty is always tricky.
Ep 5: Sisters should always trick each other.
Ep 6: You can’t be an expert at more than one thing.
Ep 7: You must be able to tell the difference between a turtle and a tortoise.
Ep 8: Superheroes depend on good PR.
Ep 9: Only be seen as a person of status.
Ep 10: Demand all the presents on your birthday!
Ep 11: Winter is not a season but an emotional state.
Ep 12: Age means your memories are in black and white.
Ep 13: Flour is comedy.
Ep 14: Blue is the best colour ever.
Ep 15: Technology is the root of all evil.
Ep 16: Never let anyone find out that you read.
Ep 17: Love only works if you force it.
Ep 18: Never accept that people know what they want, and know what they want for them.
Ep 19: Fussy eaters are an incredible pain.
Ep 20: Your past self is a dick.
Ep 21: Eggs are for smashing.
Ep 22: When they say 800, they mean 800, 799.9 just won’t do.
Ep 23: Journalism is a vicious business.
Ep 24: Detecting can only be done if you have a bubble pipe.
Ep 25/26: Childhood songs are the only way to recognise each other.

There is next season three... which isn't compilated. Although it is shorter.


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Saturday, 25 May 2013

Bonus Video: Wild Animal Talk

At the Wellington Zoo for the Wild Animals talk featuring a trained bird, of which I don't have the spelling.


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Megasuss Vs. Trymera

Yes, this is one of those straight to the Recycle Bin on the Desktop movies that you can tell is such merely by the title. And yet, while no-one is getting glory from this, you do nearly get the sense that the actors tried.

Some backstory happens... then more... then finally a Chimera! Yes, an obviously CGI creature, ahoy! Then there is much wandering around, and more characters and backstory and then... an actual horse! It is a pegasus, really... even though it is a horse. Except when it grows wings, then it is very CGI indeed. There's a bad CGI based battle...then they talk a lot more about... I have no idea. People get captured, and escape. But finally we get to the last battle... and it's a big waste of everyone's time.

There's so much about this movie that is believable. I can really believe that the actors in the past are... walking around modern day bushes. I can really believe that that sword fighting is... actors attempting to badly hit each others sword. I believe that the monsters are... pasted onto the image afterwards. I really believe that one day... the film crew might know how to shoot a movie.

And yet, the actors do, within the script and production qualities, give good performances. Sebastian Roche doesn't go over the top (something Carlo Rota doesn't quite manage). Nazneen Contractor is earnest. James Kidnie actually manages to underplay being a crazy over the top general/sorcerer (a lesson Rae Dawn Chong could have done with). They manage to drag the movie up from the nadir it would otherwise hit.

A rare case of a creature feature that is better because of the acting in it. Still not a movie worth watching, but still.


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Friday, 24 May 2013


That's right, the latest outputting from Dan Brown is now an object that has been read by me. (That's a long winded way of saying: I read Inferno.)

This is certainly going to be a lot less controversial on the history front. No-one is claiming Jesus got married (or, worse, had sex!). No-one is saying that hidden messages are stored in old pieces of art, or that there are groups that are working behind the scenes of humanity for centuries. So, on that front... yeah, nothing there. People might be complaining how various works of art are being presented, but that's nothing new in to this author.

The story is more about what one person does when inspired by his own ideas and old works of art. Which leads to a more contained story (only three cities are visited) and a more pedestrian 'go here, learn about this art, then go here and learn about this art, and then...' repeat. Dan Brown so much wants to write an action book, and you can clearly read that... but it doesn't work. There is no action here. No tension. 'Will they escape... the mild threat that is supposedly uber competent but can't stop people from going through a door'.

As for the world changing event... um... I'm not sure if Dan Brown is saying this is a good thing or not? (Let alone patently absurd from happening.) There's a discussion at the end among the character that has a philosophical bent and talks about science and Darwinism and evolution and... it's a mess. It's not clear what Dan Brown's message is, if he has one beyond 'yeah, think about it'.

I will now go look to see what about this book is getting people's panties in a twist... but if it is anything at all, then people are taking this book way too seriously.


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Thursday, 23 May 2013

A Place at the Table

Poor people have poor food nutrition, because they are poor. But how can they even get a leg up when, politically speaking, they can't even get A Place at the Table?

We get quite a few stories of mothers, and some fathers, who can't feed their kids properly. Because they can't get decent jobs. And often if they have a job, then guess what, you can't get public assistance (at one point because the mother was $2 over the limit). And even with assistance, there's still the matter of trying to get a proper food allocation while on that budget. The cheapest and bulkiest option, usually the processed good option, being the one they have to go for.

And what does government do? Get out of the way to let charities work. And if they do help... well, they can't be giving any budget to that because that will mean less budget for the big corporations who have lobby partners giving out monies.

America has already reached a tipping point where the next generation of kids won't be able to properly engage with the workforce, but hey, as long as corporations have money, what do they care? It's not like poor people can give them any money, is it?

This is another movie with a 'what next' not answered, because the answers that are tried aren't being taken up.


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Wednesday, 22 May 2013


Day... is it only day three of this? Wow. Anyways, we meet with the Bank... that is the leadership of the planet, and say 'hey, we're New Republic'. They're mostly on board with this. Sweet sailing, no problems. Oh, a garbage truck tried to crash us, but I'm sure that's nothing.

Although it's nothing, while some of us are hob-nobbing, others go off to find the truck. It says it didn't crash into us. Oh, a 'he said, she said' situation. Except it totally did, and the not at all suspicious computer runs everything. It continues to be nice and pleasant (another traffic accident not withstanding), and we casually set up a meeting with Cuthbert, the computer, for the next day.

Day 4 and we start with getting information on hyperspace coordinates. Or rather, being told there is information, it's in the computer, and they'll just get their computer to talk to our ship and - nope, not happening. We go have a chat with the computer, and it's very nice and "I have no record of that problem. It can only be attributable to human error." Right. Getting technicians to have a look, we find there's no limiters on its behaviour. And it's been told to stop us going anywhere... oh. Well, never mind, we put a stop to that.

With that sorted, we enjoy a nice play at a theatre, nothing has ever gone bad that way... and then the droid tries to kill us. Nearly takes most of us out with a missile, but we shoot back well. Although not without taking a lot of damage. (I get to do a little something myself... but only a little something.) A final shot and...

That's it. We're done with this planet. We have the complete star map of the area. We have a new location to head to... We're outta here!


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Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Shadows of Liberty

Hey, guess what. Here's a secret... the media is controlled by corporations! I know, right! But have you really taken time to think about what that means? About how these create just Shadows of Liberty?

This movie alternates between presenting stories of media not covering media stories, instead they tend to ignore it and fire journalists. We've heard stories like that before, but these are big stories that would otherwise topple corporations and governments. But, hey, if those organisations can shake hands with the corporations who own the media, then that's good right? Isn't it?

And also we get a taste of history. How Freedom of the Press has become Freedom of Corporations. (One person said that it was now the 'United Corporations of America'... there's a doco title!)

Now, this is all bad and terrible, but what are we to do? The movie doesn't say. I think the creator is hoping this will inspire people to rise up and overthrow... something, but the people already tried, and as the movie showed, the big corporations and government don't care. The internet might change things... or the corporations might own that too (and they are close). We'll see... but probably not as most people will be watching the latest cereal ad while waiting to find out if Britney will really ever join up with Justin again...


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Monday, 20 May 2013

DW: Episode 7.2.8

So we start with Forest Gump'ing all over the series (although not 8, 9 and 10 that I spotted). Yes I did work out most of the episodes they referenced (in so far as it wasn't some random extra dressed as the Doctor walking around). But, what will the name be? If it's Rassilon, I'm slapping Moffat.

Okay, so I've now watched that... and WE STILL DON'T KNOW THE DOCTOR'S NAME!!! Even though River Song says it, and we've heard everything else she's said. But noooo... And Clara doesn't get back her memory from reading that book in the library? And, and... and this is the biggest thing... we've set up this season so that Clara went into the stream, so clearly the Doctor going to Trenzalor was always a thing, but... knowing that, why wouldn't the Doctor have set up the Tomb to be a trap of some kind? Or other 'get out' clause built in (that still preserved some form of the time line). Not to mention how depressed must the Doctor get, always knowing that at some point he's going to end up on Trenzalor... [But where's the Silence? And wasn't there a big thing about the Field of Whatsis? And where's the falling Silence that's supposed to happen? Or is all that still yet to happen, and will happen during the big death fight of the Doctor?]

And it's a title??? A promise? The Doctor has always going on about how he's a doctor of science, but that would imply the Doctor is a healing term!! Bah! You know what, Moffat. No. You don't get to write the series any more. You clearly only want to rewrite the entire series for some mad idea you want and don't care about the history. RTD did this because he didn't care about the history, only cared about the characters. You obviously care about the history, but not enough to not to want to shit all over it with this. Clara all over the Doctor's past? Bullshit. Just straight up bullshit.

But really this whole episode is set up for the big 50th. With John Hurt. Big love for Hurt, but... I don't know any more... I just don't trust Moffat to deliver whatever he promises. This episode works in a basic way... but just fails in so many others.

Next time: The worst part isn't the six month wait, but the endless speculation and spoilers we're going to have to avoid.


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Sunday, 19 May 2013

Star Trek Into Flareness!

How dark can it get when every shot is set up to flare light everywhere? I didn't notice it before, but now that JJ's tendency has been pointed out... dear me, that's a lot of flare! Anyway, yes, just in time to keep up with the American release, I did finally see that particular sequel... although which one I saw could be debated...

I have to be careful here for spoilers... so look at the hidden section below. I will say that a lot of this was very predictable. Various set ups were easily spotted and we can easily see future movies being versus the Klingons... speaking of which, when they were revealed... I laughed. There's only so much you can do with bumpy foreheads, but that was comical. And largely pointless, but as I say, that's more a set up.

Does Chris Pine have any expression other than smirk? Not that Zachary Quinto is much better. It is possible to be a Vulcan and still act, but that's not it. Karl Urban can do McCoy till the cows come home, he's great! And Benedict Cumberbatch was channelling the Alan Rickman school of evil English actors. Simon Pegg's accent was decent. And, hey, surprise Noel Clarke!

Was it good? It was loud. Often drowning out the dialogue. And the flares wiped out scenes, even emotional ones. I think there is a decent movie there, but it could be presented better.

Spoiler time: Yep, guessed it was Khan early, then waited for the movie to reveal. Guessed how Kirk was going to be saved as soon as he went into the engine. Knew that line was going to come up. And, of course, knew that the ship would be saved, because the cast has script immunity. But the worst thing was... old Spock? Really? Did they need to bring him back? Sigh. And the yell... did they really need to redo the second movie for this second movie?


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Saturday, 18 May 2013

The Invisible War

Where there are groups with power, there is abuse of that power. In this case, we're talking about the USA military, and The Invisible War.

You know the one. The one where women get raped, but nothing happens because it is the people in power who are either the rapists, know the rapists, or don't want to admit to there being rapist. And if you don't know, this movie will tell you as we see many women's stories. (And yes, a few from the men as well.) Why the hell is there so many stories? What the hell is going wrong here?

Actually, as I've already said, it's about power, and powerlessness. Which is what the women feel. Certainly from the numbers given here, you aren't feeling cheery by the end of it. From the looks of the wiki page, there has been some changes because of it... too little too late? Maybe. (I do wonder what publishing names would do for this...)

Not an easy movie to watch, but definitely one of those ones that shine a much needed light.


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Friday, 17 May 2013

9 Muses of Star Empire

Pop groups are everywhere, and Korea is no exception. And this is the story of the start of one such group, 9 Muses of Star Empire.

There are nine of them, so they were named 9 Muses, because there were nine Greek muses... although there is no further differentiation of any of them being any particular muse. It isn't clear if this is an entirely manufactured group, or if some of them came together naturally... but I suspect they were formed by the manager wholesale. And so we get their story of them getting together for their big debut, and of the struggles they have along the way... and how the 9 may not be the same 9 all the way through...

Which is one problem with documentaries. At some point, you stop the cameras and start putting together your film, but the subject goes on. We do get a little taste of 'where are they now' for some of them, but the group as a whole... the person who introduced the film did say that the 9 Muses were doing a lot better now.

A decent look at the forming of a pop group... although I was reminded of the Pussycat Dolls (with less stripper background).


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Thursday, 16 May 2013


What better way to promote your brand by making people pay to go see something they can view for free? It's all a matter of Propaganda.

This film is all about propaganda, as used by the powerful to keep the majority in check. All this gets revealed by one person in North Korea, who smuggled this movie out to reveal to the world how propaganda works.

And this movie certainly goes on about it. It's long, and it's largely a tirade against propaganda. I'm sure the film maker wanted to make a point all about it, but... yeah. It just sets out to make its point again and time again. I can't even bother mentioning examples, because most of us, if we thought about it, would probably be able to come up with the methods ourselves. (Which we don't of course, that's part of the problem.)

But... and here's the catch. To quote from the link: "At the World Premiere at International Documentary Festival Amsterdam, a hushed audience was shocked when it was revealed that the director was a Pakeha filmmaker from Christchurch wanting to make ”an antidote to the giant dose of bullshit we’re fed by PR”. There is one hitch in a real life twist with this clever thought out documentary, the Christchurch actor who played the scientist in the film is wanted for questioning by the South Korean authorities because they think he is a North Korean spy."

Yeah... this whole film is propaganda about propaganda... and just takes too long making its point.

But don't take my word for it. Watch it for yourself:


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Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Mr Cao Goes to Washington

He is but one man. And he is venturing somewhere. Behold the journey as Mr Cao Goes to Washington.

Well, it's not that impressive. Joseph Cao is the elected Republican representative for New Orleans, and we join him as he faces events in office... which is where this movie has some trouble. They have a fair few small events, making it hard to form an ongoing coherent narrative (which, okay, life doesn't provide, but this is a documentary, dammit, edited together). The first half is about how he does, or doesn't, support Obama's health care bill, being the only Republican not towing the party line on that... and then the second half is about him in the lead up to the election for his next term.

The summary certainly makes note of the fact he is the first Vietnamese American Republican to be elected to the US House of Representatives, and we see his home life with that flavour, most of the events are about how he is as a Republican first. While he says he can connect better with the African-American community, they see a conservative Republican, not the Democrat they want. And how he voted on the health care bill didn't impress either side.

Watching this... I'm wondering if it was another case of a film maker thinking they had something interesting, then tried to create a documentary from the footage he had. Not the best.

(You may or may not be able to watch it online.)


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Tuesday, 14 May 2013


As a journalist, you expect to uncover some highly problematic stories. You don't expect to die because of them. Unless you are in Mexico. This is the experience of reporters at the paper Zeta, as detailed in Reportero.

The reporters there cover narcotics and drugs, and political crimes. Although the narcotic stories are the preferred ones. Preferred by the public that is. Less preferred by the criminals themselves. And so the criminals take revenge, and we get the point of this movie. Over the past decade or two, reporters have published stories in Zeta... and many of them have died because of it. This movie discusses the lives of those reporters, and how they were cut down. And how the current ones are in constant danger, but what can they do?

Because the government in corrupt. The murders weren't investigated. The acts they publish don't bring down the big names. And yet... they continue. They even get the paper published in California and shipped over to them because they can't get the paper from local, government controlled, sources.

They want to continue to report. But their eyes, and how ours, are open to what they have to face.


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Monday, 13 May 2013

DW: Episode 7.2.7

Before we get into it... I like the new Cybermen design. Looks more sleek and stylish, and... yeah, not as clunky as the old design. But never more have we had a Borg look-a-like conversion...

The setting of the theme park... was rather disappointing. It was either an obvious and bad set, or CGI work. And there was a lot of CGI work. And it didn't add anything to the Cybermen battle other than providing a fake looking castle (sets are: open yard, bridge, and bulwark). And was it a Cyber tomb before or after the planet got converted? (If before, how does it all connect up? If after, it was deliberate?? Either way, I have no idea where the tomb was because that wasn't well explained... at all.)

Jenna gets to play Clara on rather generic 'oh, I'm a good (as in capable) girl with no particularly exciting character characteristics to distinguish me from any other generic capable girl'. But then Clara has had this problem in every script. Matt, on the other hand... gets to put on a rather bizarre dual performance. I would have liked to see a bigger difference between the two characters (I know one point is that they aren't easy to tell apart, but...). Can Matt only provide one bizarre character and Neil wrote a script to allow for that? (Not to mention his rather odd performance of his previous incumbents.)

But best performance is obviously Warwick Davis. He's the only one that can actually deliver a serious and believable character.

I haven't felt the Cybermen are a threat for many a time now. And this... doesn't really change that. They are at their best when there are only a few of them taking on many and beating them. Having lots of them is always going to suggest a big wipe out is coming, but a small group leads to a more personal and intense battle when they can be more in your face about their unbeatability.

Moments of this script were good, but there is a lot in this episode I would cut out.

Next time: The biggest arc ever... looks to severely disappoint.


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Sunday, 12 May 2013

Olympus Can't Get Up

Because it's fallen and... yeah, okay. All right, it might just be me, but I kept thinking Die Hard in a White House. (Okay, originally McClane is supposed to be an everyman guy, but he's so not that now.)

This was... cartoony. In the opening scene, I thought 'that guy will be a bad guy'... and he was! This movie was not subtle in any way. There's a big airplane... which happens to have machine guns on movable turrent. But that's okay because the White House has pop up anti-attack missile launchers! (I have no idea if that is supposed to be a real this, but it just could not come across as believable.) And the Washington Monument gets smashed in a scene that won't evoke any memory at all (it was an inside job!). And there are so many scenes of people with machine guns shooting at Gerald Butler without hitting him, but he's taking out people with a handgun! And the plot is just so forced, the bad guys kill off the good guys because that's what the script needs to happen! No sign of any of them being competent or incompetent, it needs to happen or the movie can't continue. (That said, when you run out into the field of fire of a machine gun, you deserve to die.) And there's this huge plot point of needing to get codes, so the bad guys beat up the good guys to get them... but they space it out over hours... why? Why not get them straight away? You've set up that they can't get you if you put the codes in early, so that's not a problem. It's just spaced out because... the script demands there be these 'get codes' moment spaced out in the movie! And the Connor subplot is just so pointless, and fails to mean anything!

So, you might guess that I have some problems with this movie. I didn't have high expectations, but this movie was just so dumb. And heavy handed. There's an attack on the White House, and there are a lot of American flags so... yep, there's we go, a completely lack of subtle shot of a shot up American flag. Really? We needed that because we wouldn't get that America is trouble without that?

Oh, and this brings up another point that kept shouting in my head. These movies that always put the President in trouble... fine, let me say this... He is expendable! You have a whole government of people. You have protocol for people to take over if the President is unable to act. But no! He's the President. He's AMERICAN! WE NEED THE AMERICAN PRESIDENT! FUCK YEAH!!!!!!!!! Just once (and this should be more than once), can't we get a 'yeah, okay, you got the president, but we are going to cut him out and carry on doing our stuff without him, so... have fun with that chap that doesn't have any actual power'. He's the guy you elected to run the country, but his physical existence is not a necessary condition for the continual existence of the country! He might know the details of a few deals, but he is replaceable. Especially when there are (usually) millions of other lives in the balance. But they aren't the American President, so who cares about them? This one person is worth getting so many other people killed to get back.

... right ... Okay, so Gerald Butler, Aaron Eckhart and Morgan Freeman are in this movie... And could have been any other actor, the roles are so generic. Oh, one interesting point, the bad guys have females in their fighting force. The Americans? Only men of course. And there are explosions and fight scenes and...

This is an action movie you really need to switch off your brain to watch and enjoy. I couldn't, so might have laughed at some bits I wasn't supposed to. But this movie hasn't earned being taken seriously.


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Saturday, 11 May 2013


As they say "don't do the crime if you can't do the time". Marc Dreier did the crime, and now he is facing doing the time. This is Unraveled, his story in the lead up to his sentencing.

Marc Dreier is under house arrest, and a very nice house it is too. While there, he talks about what he did. Basically "I thought it was something I could get away with". Yeah, for so long. One point with Madoff was that people ignored what he was doing. With Dreier, he wasn't suspected for a while, managed to come up with some explanations when checked, but eventually over reached himself. And certainly he didn't go as far as Madoff did either.

Dreier doesn't quite say 'it wasn't my fault', but he doesn't come across as incredibly sorry either. If it wasn't for wanting to see his children, he would quite likely have stayed out of the country. And he also insists on wanting to be in a low security jail and have no hard work to do while in prison. Yeah, he's really ready to face his penance.

An interesting look at a fraudster, but a shallow one.


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Friday, 10 May 2013

Her Master's Voice

Those voices inside your head? This is how to get them out without getting called crazy. Be a ventriloquist! And this is a movie about one and her mentor, in Her Master's Voice.

Nina Conti is a ventriloquist... or maybe not. She's thinking about giving up when she hears of the death of her mentor, Ken Campbell. And she gets his puppets. For one last trip, she takes the puppets to a ventriloquist convention, and will donate one to Vent Haven Museum. But while there, she tries to find voices for the puppets, and fills them with her own inner thoughts...

And this is one of the most charming things about this movie. Nina uses the puppets to express her own doubts and even attack herself about what she is doing there. It's an interesting form of psychotherapy.

We also get a lot of ventriloquism. And they are good. She is very good.

This is a funny sad movie, and well worth the watching.


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Thursday, 9 May 2013

The Island President

What do you do when the country you are in charge of is disappearing beneath the waves? This is the dilemma that faces The Island President.

It's the Maldives, and this is President Mohammad Nasheed. He took over from 30 year dictator Gayoom... whom I wonder if he took off because he saw the climate issues coming and wanted nothing to do with it, so allowed a 'free election' and basically said 'you deal with it'. Which President Nasheed had to. And the big event coming up (which is the focus of the movie) is the Copenhagen talk in 2009 and Nasheed is trying to get the governments to agree to changes, without which the Maldives will cease to exist.

What I noted with interest was the people he met with. Here he is, the President of an island nation, and in other countries he is meeting with ministers and radio hosts. Yeah, that's the lot of power he's swinging here.

He tries, tries to get all the small island nations together, tries to ask for reasonable agreements... and at the end comes away with a 'this is a note we agree is a note that has nice ideas'... about as binding as anything the United Nations seem to be involved with. When facing up against China, America, India... none of whom have the slightest interest in caring about the climate change situation in other countries... you ain't going to get very far, and just getting the 'that's a note' agreement nearly ruined everything.

And then, in the text at the end, President Nasheed isn't even in power any more... and looking over the wiki page... yep, that chain of islands is on a countdown to going bye-bye...


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Wednesday, 8 May 2013


We're still on Gandle-Ott, being welcomed with open arms. Day two, and we have a full itinerary waiting for us... and for tomorrow... and the day after...

While others go off to a mushroom cutting ceremony (the 'shrooms, man!), Nat'tar heads out to the local university, and gets in touch with the head of their political department. They discuss the nature of Moff Sarne's leaving, taking with him all the big name powerful people that support the Imperials. And that the people left on the planet are either Imperial toadies, or people who are looking to the New Republic to maybe come in and set up shop, which wouldn't be so bad. Meanwhile, at the shrooming, General [name I've forgotten] has made a wee speech that indicates he might be thinking of leadership, and it wouldn't be an Imperial backed one...

Back at the ship, there's a 'radiation leak', and drone vehicle come in to stop it and spray foam everywhere. For example the exits and in the ship's engines. We aren't too impressed, and Jessa (the acting Captain) makes a big speech about needing to take care of the ship and departs with many a bitter word with Governor Lang. However, since we don't want to burn all the bridges, Nat'tar, the actual captain Kaiya, and others do take the city tour, and Nat'tar shows much appreciation for this unexciting place.

That evening, we are dining at the General's place, and Jessa and Nat'tar have a quiet word with him. Which ends up being 'yes, we are New Republic, and we want to help you take over'. Plans are made for this to be announced (us being rebels, that is, not that the general is stepping up) during tomorrow's events. I'm sure it will be... completely smooth and seamless transition...

[I have to say I am much liking these mechanics when we aren't in combat.]


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Monday, 6 May 2013

DW: Episode 7.2.6

Pro-tip: when the reaction to the dead body is laughter, you might be doing something a little bit wrong. Oh... and it's a "comedy"... strap in!

There are unusual things happening in Yorkshire, and aliens are involved and... you know what? I'm not saying I foresaw every revelation before it happened (although a lot of it was incredibly obvious), I will say that no revelation surprised me. The Doctor was red! Yep, already guessed. Big rocket! Not surprised. Alien was attached to her body! Well obviously! And it was made all the more painful by the inclusion of the Veiled Lady, et al, as they tried to play up the comedy. Especially Strax. And what the hell was the point of Thomas Thomas? Let alone that fainting guy (was he supposed to be Lovecraft or something?). A lot of this just didn't work, either because we've seen it before or because it made no sense.

It's been... about an hour since I watched the episode, and I've already forgotten a lot of what happened. So much so, that I'm going to end this early, and let that forgetfulness stand as the final point of this episode.

Next week: Sudden visions of Picard-Borg for some reason...


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Sunday, 5 May 2013

The numbers whatever

If you ever decide to watch this movie, don't worry, get around to it at some point, take your time. The movie won't mind.

We start with John Cusack being unable to shoot a teenage girl, and so the government can't make any use of him any more (you know, when you phrase it like that...). And so he is moved to a numbers station, which sounds impressive because they sound mysterious, but when you see it is just some woman spouting numbers into a microphone, it becomes less impressive. After arriving back on shift, they find out the place has been compromised -

And that's the main problem with this movie. It's exceedingly low key. The attack happens in flashback, we already know the outcome, so the 'attack' is robbed of all tension. It's not like there's a great mystery around it, so we see events unfold that we already know about, and.. yeah... yep, that's what happens. Exactly as we already knew.

- but Cusack and the woman actress I haven't seen before, get around to foiling their evil plans, escaping and have a final confrontation with the villain... you know, if that's all right with you. The movie doesn't want to make any kind of big deal about any of it, the complete lack of tension continues over to the 'how will the heroes win' moments of plan foiling and villain confrontation. It's all very casual and... completely fails to engage the audience at all.

It does keep the cast small (there are more people listed on the cast page than I remember seeing), and it's mainly about the atmosphere of the numbers station itself. Only there isn't one as it's mostly a base under siege movie so the pair aren't in trouble while in the base. And certainly Cusack isn't presenting any sign of acting that makes you think there is any danger.

So yeah, it's an action movie with energy turned down to 2.


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Saturday, 4 May 2013

Received Terminal Prose

Yes, in the mail box this week: RTP #30. And, as Alex himself points out, there's a lot of endings in this issue. On the other hand, that does nicely clear the deck for #31 and its fiftieth anniversary spectacular... assuming the usual suspects submit material in time.

In this issue, we get three, count 'em, three Erato strips! I can't say I got all the references, but I definitely got some that people wouldn't. And speaking of strips, the Tower of Angum ends, with extreme finality. Keeping with fiction, we also see out Weapon of Choice... and here is were the gap between issues means I have no memory of who any of these people are (aside from Doctor and Donna of course). Hopefully Dave wrote the story in one go and didn't suffer from the same problem.

And we've got articles too. Aside from my own pieces (take that Eternity Clock! And, btw, yes it was cancelled delayed), we have a look at interpreting a DW story as interactive... in the same issue I bash the computer games. And a bunch of whiners who whine about being old (for example, me!). Making the most interesting piece in this issue being Peter's look at the village of Stockbridge as presented in the audios... that man knows far too much about Stockbridge, and I admire that.

A paper 'zine in the world of online reading, I appreciate that. But with that issue gap, would need to dig up past issues to get a full sense of those stories.


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Friday, 3 May 2013

DW: Shroud of Sorrow

It's the third book. We've had Daleks. We've had Cybermen. What other representative of the general view of Doctor Who can we have? How about... really bad fan fiction? I'm certainly suffering under a Shroud of Sorrow by Tommy Donbavand.

Everyone (well, most Doctor Who fans) know of the 23rd November 1963 the start of the series. But that's an entirely meta-date that is only significant to the viewers, so... of course we must set a story there! And, everyone (possibly less) knows that the first episode was delayed due to the assassination of JFK. So why not base a story around that? Well... it can be done. But not like this.

JKF died... and everyone was sad... and so the Shroud decided to feast on the grief. They do this by appearing as faces that represent people who died and make the viewer sad... and eat! Apparently no-one is capable of looking at these faces and going 'nope, that's wrong'. Mental powers! Fortunately, the Doctor and Clara are around to find out their exposition, then set about defeating them. (I won't reveal the latter part with the other people coming in... but suffice to say you don't see it coming, and wish you still didn't after you do.)

Hey, yeah, the previous two books are Doctor solo, this is with Clara. And indeed you will believe that there is a person in this book called Clara. I'm doubting Tommy got all the inside skinny on her, so don't be surprised if she is fairly generic. As is the Doctor, but you definitely know he's the 11th Doctor. Because, as this is fanfic, we get references to the previous Doctors and stories.

This reads like someone came up with a bunch of (what they thought were) cool ideas, and stuck them all in a story. The editor should have spent more time on this, or gone with something completely different.


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Thursday, 2 May 2013

Does whatever an Iron can?

Of course I was building up to this. The big movie that America is only just getting to see. (Always sounds odd when we get a release date earlier than them.) Be interesting to hear if they get a different post-credit sequence again.

Well, I can definitely confirm there's a lot of Extremis in this. And I think it does it far better than the comic did. But... But. The story is just... there. It start, goes on, and then finally finishes. It's nearly 'the superhero loses his powers and has to gain them back', but it's not even really that. The most character arc Stark goes through is dealing with what happened in New York and even that doesn't really go anywhere other than just being there. Also, it feels like it goes on too long (possibly because it wasn't doing anything). I wasn't at the watch watching stage (because, you know, in a cinema), but I definitely wasn't getting engaged and letting time slip by. [For this, I decided to stick with 2D. Aside from not being bothered by annoying glasses, I didn't feel like it was a loss of any kind.] (I was going to talk about the end in a hidden section, but... I don't have anything to say other than it didn't surprise me.)

Along with the story, the acting felt like they were all running in place too. Everyone was largely playing one note: Downey is manic, Paltrow is caring, Pearce is maniacal, Kingsley is sporting a weird accent... And the CGI was... a lot of CGI. I felt like I was watching a CGI battle, not a character piece.

In the end, and this is an unusual thing to say about this, it was a bland movie. Maybe if this had come out without the previous movie, it might be more exciting, but... meh.


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Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Iron Man is a Technovore

That's right, I'm talking about the movie... the animated Iron Man movie that is. It's anime. Moreover, it is aggressively anime.

Stark launches a new satellite that can watch over the entire earth... while just being one satellite on one side of the planet... wait, what? Anyway, an organic armour kid turns up, fails to destroy it, but wipes out the facility. So SHIELD want to hold Iron Man because... it helps pad out the movie? I really don't know. And included bonus Punisher, Hawkeye and Black Widow, to also help pad the movie. Iron Man finds the kid, who attacks everything, then turns into some weird alien creature and... a big gun solves everything. [It looks like the story could fit after the first movie, but I'm not sure if it is supposed to be in that continuity or not.]

There is a lot of static shots of people sitting around in empty environments, while spouting philosophical writings... yep, it's an anime. In fact, outside of the Marvel characters, all the other designs are straight out of the typical anime character art book.

That clash... causes problems. It is really obvious when it is western style and then anime style. Clearly it can be done, but... it doesn't really work. Still, they did get the irreverent personality of Stark down pretty well.

If you don't get around to seeing this, then don't like you missed out on anything.


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