Saturday, April 11, 2009

I'm Back! (again)

After getting paid yesterday, my first order of business was to go pick up a new LIVE subscription. Success! 13 months of LIVE for me. ::happy dance::

Also, for anyone who listens to the OXM podcast, I got a little recognition on yesterday's episode (number 159). I won the Name That Xbox Sound Effect contest, so Ryan and Dan obviously mentioned me. What I found funny was the amount of detail they went into in regards to Bemidji; they actually took the time to do a bit of research. Everyone still assumes Minnesotans are backwoods hicks who sound like they do in Fargo, but oh well, what can ya do. Anyways, it was nothing too spectacular, but being up in the boondocks (hence the in-good-fun jabs from OXM), it's nice to know that the outside world exists and, in turn, knows we exist as well.

Check out OXM.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

KNOWING that SPOILERS may follow is in your best interest

So I went to Knowing tonight. Sure, I'm a couple of weeks late, but oh well. I was thinking the movie looked good from the trailers, and I've liked Alex Proyas' other films (The Crow, Dark City, I, Robot), so I finally drug myself into the theater. I've gotta say, I'm glad I did.

The film has an interesting enough premise: a girl in 1959 writes a shit-ton of numbers on a sheet of paper and adds it to her class' time capsul. 50 years later, the time capsul is dug up and the paper uncovered. Nic Cage, being the super genius we all know he is, discovers that the numbers relate to every major disaster that has happened over the past 50 years (with 3 yet to occur). From there it's a little mystery, some cool effects, some distubring situations, and holy fuckness.

The acting isn't too shabby. A little bit of over-the-topness from Nicky, but what do you expect? The guy has had something of a losing streak lately, and it's nice to see him in a movie I'll actually admit to watching. Rose Byrne is in the film and she's a little--excessive at times, but for the most part acceptable. But let's face it, I didn't go to this movie for Oscar-worthy acting, and I don't think anyone else did either.

So what DID we go for? Glad you asked. The shit hitting the fan, to put it bluntly. This is a sci-fi film, but it's also a disaster movie. As such, there has to be some cool scenarios. Rest assured, there are. The effects kind of flip-flopped between being excellent to being "just decent", but the content of the scene as a whole really kept me from being overly critical of the CG and whatnot. There's a plane crash that looks badass (and, to be honest, I was a little shocked by the brutality of it), a subway crash that has it's ups and downs, and, well, I won't spoil the final hoorah...yet.

Note: Major SPOILERS follow.

Now I want to get into the part of this movie that really made me appreciate it. I think this movie did an excellent job of appealing to both sides of a never-ending debate: science or mircales, evolution or creation, chance or divine power.

Although on the surface they say that the events in this film are the result of chance or science (mechanical malfunctions, weather, and solar flares, to be precise), one could also watch Knowing and see all kinds of religious symbolism. Towards the end, the aliens (yes, there are aliens involved) take on an angelic appearance once they revert to their true form (a type of wing can be seen), and it can also be interpretted that the aliens act as the voice of God (a higher power is speaking to the chosen). On top of that, they create a type of "Noah's Ark" to save the human race from total destruction (Armageddon).

And then, of course, if there is a God and if He created the entire universe, it would stand to reason He created the aliens. So, thinking back to Dogma, we remember that hearing God would kill us puny mortals, and therefore an intermediary would be needed to speak on God's behalf. Thus, the aliens bring a message from God to save humanity just before the End. Like I said, religious symbolism.

The film has its flaws, but it was entertaining, and it walks a line similar to the one The Exorcism of Emily Rose did--it gives the audience, who is divided by their beliefs of spirituality and science (or however you want to say it), a scenario, and then allows them to draw their own conclusions, find out what it means to them. Some see a freak natural occurance and aliens, others see God's wrath and the angels He has sent to save the chosen few. Two sides of the same coin? You decide.

I may be agnostic, but I can definitely appreciate a film that is put together in such a way as to not choose one side over another, but instead to work towards uniting--or at least accepting--both sides. Just because I'm not religious doesn't mean I abhor all things religious.

Anywho, Knowing is well crafted and entertaining. Definitely worth a watch.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

10 years later and there's still a splinter in my mind

Way back in 1999, two relatively unknown brothers-turned-directors brought us one of the most groundbreaking, imaginative sci-fi/action movies of all time. I know people say that about shit all the time, but IMO, this time it's for realz.

The Matrix was a pioneer in special effects, throwing enough bullets and fire at the camera to take on Ted Nugent while, at the same time, introducing the mainstream movie-viewing audiences to bullet time (whether or not they actually invented bullet time is still debated). and beyond that, under all of that spit and polish, there was something more. For one of the first times, I saw a film that not only kept me entertained on a glorious, action-packed level, but also on a deep, intellectual level as well. To this day, I can still throw in the Wachowski Brothers' masterpiece (and I do believe it to be a masterpiece) and be completely enthralled in the world(s) they have created. The effects still, for the most part, hold up, and the story is still as engaging and thought-provoking as ever.

Keanu is still clueless--but in this role it works--and Laurence "I am Morpheus" Fishburn is kicking ass in all his bald glory; Carrie-Anne Moss, who, until this movie, was unknown to me, pulls her weight as the ass-kicking dominatrix love interest; and finally, this is where Joey Pants and Hugo "Agent Elrond" Weaving were first brought to my attention. What I'm trying to say is that this cast is solid without being an ensamble of grade-A pretty boys and girls.

The plot, for those not in the know, is about a computer generated dream world that is actually the world we live in every day. Keanu is Neo who wants to know what the Matrix is. Morpheus is the guy who can enlighten him. I'd tell you more but, as Morpheus says, "No one can tell you what the Matrix is. You have to see it for yourself." Regardless, its name kicking and ass taking to the max times infinity. Alright, I may be exaggerating a bit. Seriously though, there's enough action and explosions to make any Die Hard fan happy; enough effects to amaze you and make you hate George Lucas for making us overdose on Jar-Jar; and enough philosophical depth holding it all together to make you wonder why geeks and nerds aren't getting laid more.

Am I gushing? Maybe, but so what. I'm a fanboy. There, I said it. But it's not without reason. The Matrix is a damn fine film. One of my top 5, actually. It may not be that way for everyone, but I still suggest you give it a chance.

And what better way than the newly released 10th Anniversary Blu-ray edition of The Matrix. Go. Now.