My wife and I ended up watching a bit of the Orange BAFTAs last night on BBCAmerica and I was struck by just how well-run the entire affair was. It came in on-time, each of the acceptance speeches was short and to the point, there was very little politicking, and, of course, Return of the King ended up winning Best Picture, which covers a multitude of sins, IMNSHO.
Now, if only the Oscars will follow suit on all counts.

Assorted Reviews

[Originally created a week ago and just completed/posted today]
I haven’t blogged in a while, so I thought I would run down some of the excellent media experiences I’ve encountered recently.

  1. Jak II. Extremely entertaining. Mix the first J&D game with some Grand Theft Auto and you have a compelling gameplay experience. It was so engaging, in fact, that my wife refused to let me play unless she could look on and backseat drive. *grin*
  2. Soul Calibur II for the Gamecube. I spent a good amount of time playing this over the Christmas break with my brother-in-law and was given it for my birthday by the in-laws. I’ve really enjoyed it and the single player mode, while a bit frustrating at times, really is worth playing, if only for all of the bonuses that you can unlock (in the form of bonus characters, new weapons and costumes). I’d highly recommend it to anyone looking for a good, easily accesible fighter for any of the three major consoles. (I picked the GC version as my version of choice because it featured Link. I mean, how could I not?)
  3. Fountains of Wayne – Welcome Interstate Managers. Wow. I was absolutely floored by this album. I cannot recommend it highly enough. It’s upbeat, it’s witty, it’s catchy. I actually caught myself smiling involuntarily the first time I listened to the entire album. If you have any interest in “pop” music, I would rush out and grab this CD posthaste.
  4. Evanescence – Fallen. I received this one from my sister for Christmas. What a great disc! The fan reviews on Amazon apparently disagree with me. I’m not quite sure what they’re railing against, but it seems as if they don’t like it because it’s popular. Oh well.
  5. Big Bad Voodoo Daddy – Save My Soul. A good album, although nowhere near as good as their self-titled major label debut.
  6. Basement Jaxx – Kish Kash. This album is nowhere near as immediately accessible as the Jaxx’s past two albums, but give it a chance. It really has grown on me with repeated play. It has tracks reminiscent of Moby, there is a track that wouldn’t be out of place on a Portishead album, a track you could swear is a cover of a Prince hit, as well as tracks reminiscent of Deltron 3030. I recommend that you reserve your judgement on this disc until you’ve given it repeat listens.

Blogging From The In-Laws

A few quick words, if I may.

  1. Bubba Ho-Tep rocked. Saw it at the Angelika in Dallas with my Father and Brother-in-law. Will definitely be looking forward to the DVD.
  2. The Vikes suck. Losing to the Cardinals to get bounced from the playoffs? I can’t even explain the disappointment.
  3. Sunday’s Pearls Before Swine was extremely rare (for a mainstream comic) in that it actually showed compassion for Israel. It made one mistake, however: it used the passive voice when describing the buses as having “blown up”. I guess the author couldn’t have slipped a mention of the Palestinians in without someone blowing a gasket.
  4. Today’s is a wonderful skewering of the Peace-at-any-pricers out there.

Signing off.

Return of the King

My wife, 5 friends and I viewed RotK at the local cinema house last night ‘twixt the hours of 7 and 11 in the evening. I must say that my feelings on the movie are decidedly mixed.
As Jonah Goldberg noted in his review of the film, it does stay true to the overarching themes of the book. However, I was apparently bothered far more by the differences that Peter Jackson allowed to creep into the film. Having viewed the extras from the first two Extended Edition DVDs, I lay these changes solely at the feet of Phillipa Boyen. It was incredibly evident that, of the primary script writers, she least understood what the book was all about and had the least trouble, therefore, in deviating from it. I blame Jackson for allowing such idiocy to appear in his otherwise wonderful work.
Several of the reviews that I’ve read have mentioned that, even at 3.5 and change hours, Return of the King somehow feels rushed. I concur.
My wife also noted that the sense of Man’s fate hanging by a thread was conspicuously absent. There was a great lack of dramatic tension; Man’s victory over Evil was assured and, when pressed, the cavalry (literally!) rode to the rescue (or, the Dead hovered quickly to the rescue). While a fairly major point, I feel it can safely be overlooked.
What I found to be unconscionable was not the deletions (confronting Saruman, Scouring of the Shire, no unfurling of the white sails on the ships from the South, Sam not donning the One Ring, no Houses of Healing, and on and on) but the additions. Gandalf riding to Sam and Frodo’s rescue on the back of an eagle. Merry riding in to battle before the Black Gate (he was in the Houses of the Healing, dangnabbit!). The King of the Dead speaking. The “searchlight” aspect of the Eye. Arwen “dying” unless Aragorn can defeat Sauron. And there were others that escape me at the moment. (Don’t worry. I’ll see it again in Texas and they’ll come to me then, have no fear).
I was also bothered by the liberties they took with Denethor’s death scene. As Glenn Reynolds put it: “if fictional characters could sue for libel, Denethor would have a case”.

Other than that, it was a great movie, just, somehow, not what I was looking for. I must say it was my least favorite of the three.
I’ve continued to ponder the movie and I re-viewed the trailer and it has begun to dawn on me just how short-changed the characters of Aragorn and Faramir really were. The most compelling speech was delivered by Theoden, not Aragorn. Aragorn’s seemed listless by comparison. Faramir (whose character was previously assasinated in The Two Towers. What does Phillipa Boyen have agains the Stewards of Gondor anyhow?). Eowyn gets to slay the Witch King, but then there’s no recovery scenes in the HoH for her and Faramir to get chummy. They merely get to look at each other with arched eyebrows at Aragorn’s coronation.
As has been pointed out to me, Gandalf did in fact ride Gwaihir to rescue Sam and Frodo, so strike that from my list of complaints.
The rest still stand, though.

Oh Waiter, Three SitComs, Hold The Comedy, Please

How, oh how can an entire network jump the shark? If last night’s “Must” See TV (combined with lackluster debuts of Law and Order and The West Wing) serve(s) as any indication, NBC is firmly astride Fonzie’s bike, glancing triumphantly downward towards Jaws’ long-lost cousin.
How has the network of Seinfeld fame been reduced to “dreadlock jokes” and random hookups (Joey & Rachel, Ross & the other Prof., and, apparently, Jack and Will)? The Friends, Law & Order and West Wing premiers could have been enough excrement for an entire season, but what does NBC do? Slaughter Coupling. Not only is it nowhere near as funny as its BBC incarnation, it might possibly even be worse than Whoopi.
I’m sure the American cast is comprised of wonderful, talented souls who earnestly want to do justice to the source material. However, I was left with an inpression akin to seeing a high school production of Hamlet: you know they’re trying, but you also know you’ve seen it done better before and it sounded a whole lot better with English accents.
Why, NBC, why!?! Mess up your own shows, run them into the ground, do what you wish, but leave our Britcoms alone! What’s next, Keeping Up Appearances, featuring a well-intentioned yet misguided Minnesotan woman? So Mario Cantone? Law and Order: John Rebus?
The mind reels.

Stupid, Stupid, Stupid

I find myself sitting here, wondering why I sat up until 2am EST watching Spawn, a movie so terrible even Martin Sheen seemed ashamed to be associated with it.
But then, the fact that John Leguizamo was playing a short, 400 lb. villain should have tipped me off from the start.
I don’t know what was worse: the barely comprehensible plot, the nails-on-a-chalkboard dialogue, the “I can’t act my way out of a paper bag” performances turned in by the entire cast or the “Gee, we just got a copy of Alias Wavefront and Maya. Let’s see what we can do!” special effects.
This movie just plain sucked, yet I seem to remember it getting decent reviews. What gives?

Matrix Musings

Saw The Matrix Reloaded yesterday afternoon. Now, this may be heresey, but, with the notable exception of the excruciatingly-long Brown People Rave In The Cave/Let’s See How Many Times We Can Show Keanu and Carrie Ann’s Nasty Subdermal Implants In A Single Sex Scene portion, I actually enjoyed TMR better than the first.
I found it to be more philosophically challenging than the first, rather than the “less” most reviewers/commentators seem to be assigning it.

The “Ficticious” of Oscar Night

As my wife and I flipped between the Oscars and BBC America last night, I was struck by just how inconsequential the entire Hollywood community has rendered itself and how desperately they want to disbelieve this fact.
In the two post-9/11 Oscar ceremonies, I’ve noticed that the Hollywood elite have been clamoring about just how relevant they are. They’ve repeatedly had to slap themselves on the back and remind each other just how much they mean to today’s society.
As a wise man once said, if you have to say something out loud in order to believe it’s true, it probably isn’t.
Nicole kidman, in her Oscar speech, asked a question to the effect of “Why are we here during such a time?” “Because art is important,” she answered herself.
Several presenters sought to remind us that movies teach us, inform us, lift our spirits, remind us of what it means to be human. I don’t know what Old School was supposed to teach me, but okay, I’m game.
I almost feel sorry for the lot. They’re trying ever so hard to maintain their connection with the American people. However, their raving-Leftie leanings have driven a bigger and bigger wedge between them and the Ameriproles out there.
We simply don’t want to hear people making between $2 million and $20 million, per picture, whine and complain about the inequality in today’s society. Their caterwauling rings false. Their claims of heroism seem absurd when viewed alongside the true heroism of the police and firefighters on 9/11, the soldiers welcomed with open arms by a up-to-now repressed Afghani people, or the mass of troops we currently have performing the “full titl boogie for freedom and justice.”
The Oscar telecast ended with Steve Martin telling our troops abroad that “We did this for you!” Bull, Steve. They’re doing this for us. They’re facing “stiff” Iraqi resistance. They’re moving about in full chemical gear, gas masks at the ready.
Until the Hollywood elite can realize that they’re nowhere near as important as they think they are, they will continue to lose the relevancy that they not only crave, but opportunistically screech about when presented with a ~1billion member audience.

Iron Monkey

Why have I never watched Iron Monkey prior to tonight? Is it possible for kung fu movies to kick this much butt and go completely unnoticed by Y.T.? Apparently, yes.
‘Twas funny to realize that Ronguang Yu played Po in Jet Li’s The Enforcer.
Anyways, highly reccommended.