Saturday, July 20, 2013

Friday's Frightfully Funny Moment one day late

Sorry, but I had a few things happen on Friday, so my post about the horror events in the Northwest was late and I forgot to post this little funny tidbit, courtesy of HISHE....

Hope you enjoy it!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Syfy and The Asylum to push their luck with Sharknado 2

A sequel?  I couldn't me more surprised than if a shark fell on my face.... OH DAMN!

Variety announced that Syf and The Asylum are teaming up to bring a Sharknado to the Big Apple.  Yes, Sharknado 2 is a go, because "... fans are clamoring for a sequel," executive VP of programming and original movies told Variety.

As most of you might know, I had a blast watching the movie last Thursday with friends, and it sounds like a lot of other viewers did the same (which, as I mentioned, could spike the viewership for the movie above the official rating).  But to presume that fans are "clamoring" for a sequel seems a bit of a reach, as the film aired less than a week ago.

I figured a sequel would happen, but that any announcement would come after a couple of repeat viewings and the DVD was released.  It would give both Syfy and The Asylum to gauge whether the first airing was pure luck, a lightening strike that might not happen ever again.  And such a delay in production would make the sequel feel like less of a cash grab.  Not that increased profits on a known commodity wouldn't cross the minds of those clamoring fans of the original, but it wouldn't feel so blatant.

Regardless, a sequel is coming, and Syfy is holding a contest for fans to come up with a subtitle.  Check out the Variety article if you want more information, but I'd suggest you don't encourage them anymore, as we all can now see what happens if we band together to enjoy two hours of cheesy goodness.  Some executive gets the bright idea to Super Size it, and we all end up bloated and with clogged arteries as a result.

Hey, at least I avoided adding in "jumped the Sharknado."  I earned the cheesy/cholesterol bit.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Pacific Rim (2013)

I wanted to love this movie.  No, I wanted LOVE, this movie, I really did.  The trailers I’d seen had my inner five-year-old squealing with delight.  But, as one long past my childhood, I kept falling over the script, the clichéd characters and the feeling of having been there, done that.

But every time I had concerns about the script, the film delivered such wondrous sights, a giant ball of rainbow cotton candy.  And no concerns about the story could keep me from loving most every diabetic coma-inducing minute of it.

Co-writer/director Guillermo del Toro wastes no time getting us into the action.  The story starts with the dimension rift that opens up in the Pacific Ocean, allowing giant monsters called Kaiju to enter our world.  In response, the world jointly creates the Jaegers, giant robots piloted by two humans with their brains linked, to pummel the monsters into submission.

Yea, a visual like this has me worried about plot every time

Things go fine for a while, and the Jaeger pilots become rock stars to the world.  But the Kaiju become smarter, and the Jaeger start to lose the battle, prompting the world government to relay on the construction of containment walls rather than a direct offensive.

One pilot, Raleigh Becket (Charlie Hunnam) loses his brother as the tide turns against the Jaeger program, and spends the next few years building a wall that is reveled to be useless against the Kaiju.  Fortunately, his old commander (Idris Elba) is looking for someone to run interference in an older Jaeger for a newer generation robot to drop an atomic bomb into the rift and seal it forever.  All that’s needed is to select his partner, but the best candidate is an unproven rookie, Mako, (Rinko Kikuchi), who’s past might complicate her mental connection with Becket.

And they prove their compatibility by beating on each other with stick.  Hey, don't ask me.

Okay, stop me if you’ve heard this one before.  The two pilots have a VERY rocky start, causing the top Jaeger pilot and the commander to distrust them.  However, dire circumstances force them into battle, and…

Oh, hell, the script is a recycled mess.  And I dispute the idea of any originality in this movie, as the idea of giant robots and giant monsters beating the crap out of each other can be traced to the true Kaiju films from Japan back in the 70s.  And the script cribs from Top Gun to the reboot of Battlestar Galactica.  And the characters are such stiff stereotypes that you shouldn't be surprised when Elba breaks into a Bill Pullman/ID4 speech before getting into a Jaeger.  I would have called a spoiler alert, but come on.  It’s too obvious that will happen.

But still, the visuals in this movie are amazing.  The first Jaeger/Kiaju battle is just breathtaking, and the minor touches resulting from the battle (the two characters on the beach) are so real, it strikes a stark contrast from the clichéd characters to come.

Cue nerdgasm in 3, 2, 1.... 

But even as the movie slows down in the prolonged second act, as Becket finds his partner through staff fighting (and how that works, as the two minds are suppose to synch, I have no clue) and we get into Mako’s past, the visuals are still a treat.  The Jaeger facility is amazing, the Kaiju are beautiful and the visions of downtown Hong Kong, with its underground Kaiju remains black market (yea, giant monster bone powder will help you guys stay erect) are a feast for the eyes.

What helps this middle act are two competing scientist, biologist Newton Geiszler (Charlie Day) and mathematician Gottieb (Burn Gorman).  The antics as these two compete against each other’s theories about the Kaiju, along with an terrific appearance by Ron Perlman, keeps the second act of the film from putting the audience into a coma.

Because, yes, Ron Perlman makes every movie much more awesome

But, just as things get dull, the Kaiju attack and turn Hong Kong into a delightful, Disney-colored battleground.  The scenes are gorgeous, lacking the shaky cam perspective of Bay’s Transformer movies and allowing the audience crisp views of the action, as giant robots use cargo ships and train cars as weapons against giant monsters.  Adding to the fun is del Toro ability to seamlessly weave Newton’s desire to mind meld with a Kaiju’s brain into a major plot point during the final act. And though it leads to a very predictable conclusion, the final battle is a delight to behold.

As you might have noticed, I think del Toro was more interested in the visuals than the story, and it shows on screen.  Yet no matter how often the script falls into cliché-ridden territory, his direction keeps the film looking fresh and original.  And given the parade of bland remakes and reboots storming theaters, that’s enough for Pacific Rim to earn my seal of approval. 

Some views on Sharknado and Pacific Rim

Bet you never expected to see those two movies mentioned in the same sentence, did you?  But everyone is chiming in on the public responded to these features, and well, I have to say a few things as well.  After all, this is the Internet.

First up, people were amazed at the amount of Tweets generated by Sharknado, until they looked at the ratings.  Then everyone started calling the Asylum film a ratings flop.  But the rating system hasn't kept up with technology and isn't a real representation of how many people were watching Syfy at 9 pm Thursday night.

And if you need any other reason to watch this film, well, damn, you don't see this every day!

First off, the single night ratings don't take into account DVR viewings.  Sure, people are able to fast forward through the commercial breaks, but they are watching the program.  Such delayed viewing, which it appears can be tracked, was enough to give Dollhouse a partial season to wrap things up, and I suspect gives Sharknado a decent bump in views for the week.

But another component must be added into the equation, how many people viewed Sharknado at a party.  A household with three people might have tuned into Sharknado, but if that house hosted a party attended by 25 people, the ratings won't reflect the total viewership of that single household.  Add in the people watching it at a bar (I've seen pictures on line of such events), and the viewership will get a significant bump, not reflected by the number of households tuned in to the show.

Still, that doesn't mean the public wants Sharknado 2: The Sharkening.  I can only hope all the talk about sequels will die down and everyone will be happy with a film that hit the right nerve at the right time.  But try to hit that nerve again, and the cute little tickle might feel like a lightening bolt of pain.

Okay, if you watched Sharknado but not Pacific Rim, I don't want to hear you complain 
about CGI effects EVER!

Onto Pacific Rim.  Yes, it was rather disappointing that the film was beaten by Grown Ups 2, but I think the outcome was never in doubt.  First off, the trailer for Pacific Rim was hard to find in theaters.  Counting nothing but theatrical trailers, I wouldn't have known about del Toro's giant monsters vs. giant robot film, as I ONLY SAW A TRAILER IN THE THEATER ONCE!  Okay, maybe twice, but still, I saw the trailers for The Lone Ranger far too many times, and everyone knew the masked man was going to tank at the box office.

Granted, I've cut back on my trips to the cinema for several reasons, but given my exposure to the trailer, I suspect it wasn't placed in front of too many films.  And that really hamstrung the film, as it's not a sequel and has a title that really doesn't sum up the plot very well.  Had the film been entitled Giant Robots! Giant Monsters!!  RON PERLMAN!!, I suspect it would have done better this weekend.

Let's face it, genre fans might bring in some money, but it's not enough for a blockbuster.  It wasn't fanboys that made the Dark Knight series, or the current Marvel Movie Universe such a success.  The studios made the films appeal to both mainstream audiences and fans of the material, promoted it well and let EVERYONE know the type of movie they should expect.  The studio didn't really do that with Pacific Rim, and the opening weekend returns show that.

But we can still turn things around, to a point.  Fans who saw the film could generate enough word of mouth to others, and those of you I mentioned earlier could get your butts into a theater seat, and we might keep this in theaters for a while.  Add in the strong opening overseas (the film has yet to hit China and Japan), and we might get a sequel.

Still, even though I don't believe genre fans alone can make a film a success, I am going to give a special shout out to the fans of all things horror/sci fi/ giant monster films who decided to wait for a home video release or (even worse) plan to see it online through some nefarious means.  Thanks in part to your desire not to spend a few bucks, control of the giant robot genre has been conceded to Michael Bay.  And Pacific Rim's third place opening has likely sealed the fate of Hellboy 3 and At the Mountain of Madness for good, as del Toro will be viewed by the studios as a director that can not open a big budget film.  Hope you're happy, because that's what you get when you won't be troubled to visit the multiplexes.

Sure, we can blame the system for being out to get us, as the recent, and rather irrational, uproar about the ratings for Sharknado shows.  But, looking at the numbers for Pacific Rim, we nerds might be our worse enemy.