Review: 3:10 To Yuma

September 13th, 2007

I just got back from a screening I was able to go to of the western 3:10 To Yuma with Christian Bale and Russell Crowe. To be honest, it didn’t really look that interesting to me and I don’t think I would have gone if it hadn’t been for the free tickets. What convinced me to even show up today was the fact that Christian Bale is in it. Since seeing him in Equilibrium (which is actually on TV now as I write this), I’ve found that any film with him in it, is actually worth watching.

3:10 To Yuma

Christian Bale plays Dan Evans, a rancher who is paid to help bring a captured outlaw, Ben Wade played by Russell Crowe, to a train leaving at 3:10 to Yuma, where he will be led to trial. Bale perfectly portrays Dan as a down-on-his-luck man who is desperate to do anything to sustain him and his family. He believes he has long failed and lost the respect of his wife and sons, which is why he decides to take on the offer of escorting Ben Wade to the train. Adding to that is Russell Crowe as the outlaw Ben Wade. This character could have been so one-sided and just plain mean and unlike-able, but Crowe manages to actually bring some more dimensionality into it. He isn’t really the completely bad-person that he wants you to think he is; just one with not too high morals. The acting of the two main characters was just superb; I wouldn’t be surprised if one of them got nominated for an Oscar next year.

3:10 To Yuma

So what did I think of it? It was… interesting. It’s not as if I didn’t like it, but I also didn’t really love it. The acting was good, the music was good, the setting was good; in fact there was a lot that was good, but nothing that was great. Maybe it’s because I’m not the western type or the “Oscar”-winning movie type. Haven’t you ever noticed that most Oscar nominated movies are quite intense and dramatic? Full of meaningful life lessons and bravery and complicated relationships?Well, this was kind of one of those films. I can appreciate 3:10 To Yuma as a good well-thought-out well-cast well-scripted well-directed and so on movie, but it won’t be one I’ll passionately adore and want to see over and over again.

If you like Oscar-type movies, you really should go here. If you don’t, wait till it comes out on dvd and watch it before the Oscars in February; it has all the requirements to be nominated and I have a weird feeling it will.

Chuck Full of Marketing

September 13th, 2007

A couple of weeks ago I posted a review about the new TV series starting this year, including the comedy-action Chuck. My main grievance with this new series was that while they were clearly trying to attract a geeky nerd audience, they failed to deliver a logically sounding plot riddled with inaccurate computer facts and this puts off the very audience they’re trying to attract.

Chuck Bartowski

Now more than ever I’m convinced NBC is trying to attract a geeky following for this show. Since last week the main character Chuck Bartowski has appeared on multiple social websites. So far these are the ones I’ve found:
del.icio.us
Last.fm
Flickr
Facebook
MySpace
YouTube
Amazon
Twitter
I especially love the del.icio.us bookmarks and the Twitter feeds; you really get a feel for the character, as if he’s a real person.

I’m still not convinced that Chuck will survive it’s first year, but I’m willing to at least give the first couple of episodes a try. Tip to the writers: hire some real nerds as advisors. I mean, Grey’s Anatomy and CSI do it for their specialities, why shouldn’t Chuck?

I do have to applaud NBC though for trying something a bit different. Yes, there have been online marketing stunts before for other tv series and movies, but one that actually makes use of the sites and social networks that people are using daily? I don’t think there has.

Tags: TV Series

Maybe you’ve already heard about this, but yesterday AICN reported that Shia LaBeouf disclosed the name of the fourth Indiana Jones movie: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Soon thereafter the official IndyIV website also confirmed it, so it’s not some weird rumour just floating about, but the real deal.

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Now the title kindles some pretty nice speculation about the plot of the movie. I remember reading about the discovery of a crystal skull which was supposedly thousands and thousands years old and not carved with metal tools, but I’m not sure what part is just Big Foot-loving-Elvis-is-alive-believing-Alien-worshipping-paranormal bullshit and what part was actually real. It does fit right up the alley of the previous Indy films.

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But what about the “Kingdom” part? Here’s my prediction: the Kingdom will be Atantis. It would fit, right? Indy searching for an advanced ancient civilization, because of a crystal skull he found with clues indicating to where it leads. Better yet: let’s also use some of the “original” story! The “real Indy” took his 17-year old daughter exploring some temple and she discovered the skull. So for the movie let’s have Indy’s son discover the skull!

But then I read this on FirstShowing.net:

The crystal skulls turn out to be alien skulls, underneath a Mayan or Aztec pyramid that takes off and thus reveals itself to be a mothership of sorts.

I hope this is not true; aliens will make it just too corny. Little grey men and flying saucers?!? Okay, for some movies it can work, but I don’t think IndyIV would be one of them. It could be just a internet rumour and I’ll continue to believe my only little prediction until I hear actual confirmation from the studio.

Just a couple more weeks and a big chunk of all that wonderful tv-goodness returns back to us. Yeah!! It might be a bit tricky keeping track of when all your beloved series start again (especially if you watch a lot, like I do), but no worries the TV addict has come to the rescue! And no, I am not the TV addict; although I am “a” TV addict, I’m not “the” TV addict (wish I had been so smart to register that url :-p ). Here’s Your Definitive Guide to the Fall 2007 TV Season Premieres.

Tags: TV Series

London Film and Comic Con

September 8th, 2007

I’ve been a bit lax lately with writing about the events that I’ve been to, but here’s finally a report of one of them. Last Sunday I went to my very first nerd fest geek gathering convention: the London Film and Comic Con.

There was quite a good line-up of guests; however, some weeks eariler the event was moved to one week earlier and some guests, like Zachary Quinto (Sylar in Heroes) and Torri Hogginson (Stargate Atlantis) had to drop out. The big guests that they announced (and showed up) were: Patrick Stewart (do I even have to mention were he’s from? If so: shame on you!), Dominic Monaghan (Charlie in Lost, Merry in LOTR), Hayden Panettiere (Claire Bennett in Heroes) and Jack Coleman (Mr Bennet aka HRG in Heroes). Then 2 days before the event they also added Milo Ventimiglia (Peter Petrelli in Heroes) and Adrian Pasdar (Nathan Petrelli in Heroes). Wow!! For a Heroes lover like me, it couldn’t get any better. (BTW: there were a whole lot of other “celebrities”, but are people really interested in the “guy who walked in the hallway” in Star Wars?? Sorry, but I’m not one of them.)

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I wasn’t really sure what to expect of the whole day, but I have to admit I was at the same time delighted and disappointed. The venue was just horrible; most of the stalls didn’t get enough light and the most important guests were cramped in one corner. You also could only “meet” the guests, if you payed for a signed autograph. This also sometimes only meant walking up to them, them taking the photo/poster/weird fan item and scribbling quickly on it, without even glacing up. As a poor, poor student living in expensive, expensive London, getting one autotgraphs (let alone 6 of them) was not a possibility. I would have loved just to step up to them, completely make a fool of myself and go cheerfully my own way. Alas, it was not to be.

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Cristiano and I did manage to get a couple of good photo’s of the main guests, which was quite tricky. You weren’t allowed to make photo’s up close and the stewards were pushing everybody back and standing in your path blocking your view. I only didn’t get a good shot Hayden (I did see her! just a quick glimpse). To see more photos just go Cristiano’s Flickr page.
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I loved the stalls, but most of the cool stuff were way to expensive. One stall was selling a replica of the Hiro sword from Heroes, that would perfectly go with out Kill Bill and Last Samuari swords. Maybe next year (one can only hope 😀 ). I stumbled across 2 second hand Buffy books for only 4 pounds and got 4 small posters (Ratatouille, Transformers, Aeon Flux and Fealess) for 80p! Next to that we also got a Casino Royale pokerset, which of course we’ll be taking with us to BarCamp Brighton tomorrow.

I’m definitely going to next year’s LFACC (and I hope I have a little bit more money to spend). It wasn’t the “best day evah”, but still very enjoyable.

Del.icio.us Preview

September 7th, 2007

I’ve always liked the idea of del.icio.us and do kind of use it, but the website itself was never really “delicious”. Yes, it did do what it had to do, but you wouldn’t really consider it a pretty interface. This all is seeming to change though. Techcrunch showed some screenshots of the new website here.

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I really like the new look; it seems much more userfriendly. They’ve also added some needed searching and tagging functionalities. You can request an invite, but at the moment they’ll just put you on the waiting list.

Tags: Geeky

Upcoming events

August 23rd, 2007

I haven’t posted much lately (being 2 weeks in the Netherlands), but that’s going to change. The next couple of weeks are going to be busy, busy, busy. So what’s on my schedule:

Sunday 26 August and Monday 27 August: Notting Hill Carnival
Saturday 1 September and Sunday 2 September: London Film & Comic Con
Saturday 8 September and Sunday 9 September: BarCamp Brighton

If you want to follow/see more of what I’m doing, check out my Upcoming page.

Tooth Hurty

August 13th, 2007

For my 6th or 7th birthday I got a jokebook from some one (no clue anymore who) and I drove my parents crazy with repeating all the jokes (at least all the ones that I understood). One of the (well known) bad ones was:

Q: When does a Chinese man go the dentist?
A: 2:30

Exactly 2 weeks ago, one day after I decided to visit Holland for a while, my tooth started to hurt. Well, I thought it was my tooth that hurt. I mean, I had never had any cavities and I wasn’t really sure what’s supposed to hurt then. It started out with not being able to bite properly, because the gums around the tooth hurt a bit. I thought it wasn’t too serious and decided not to do anything about it; I was planning to see the dentist the next week, when I was in Holland, anyway; a couple of days wouldn’t matter. After four days though, the pain worsened, I couldn’t eat properly and when I pressed on the gum, pus came out. This really freaked me out and being the optimist I am I started imagining all the possible scenario’s. What started with “The tooth will have to be filled.” turned into “I need a root canal!” and eventually ended with a “They’re going to pull my tooth out!!! And then I won’t be pretty anymore!!!”

I still decided not to take any action; it was a Sunday in a place where I didn’t completely understand the health insurance and didn’t even have a dentist, and it was one day before leaving to Holland (where I did have full health insurance and a dentist I’ve been going to for 13 years). The dentist only had a spot for me on Thursday, but after some pleading I could also stop by on Tuesday afternoon after all the regular appointments to have a quick check. So Tuesday (one week after it started hurting) the dentist finally had a look at it and told me it was “just” an infection of the gum (actually from cleaning too intensely). So no root canals or tooth pulling! I did, however, have to come back on that Thursday for my normal appointment and he would give me an anesthetic and “clean the whole thing out”. He also made some x-ray photo’s, just to be sure there wasn’t anything else.

That Thursday the dentist gave the local anesthetic and within 10 minutes he was done with cleaning everything. Since then the pain has almost gone completely. So that’s the end of the story, right? Wrong. The dentist also showed the x-ray photos which he made 2 days earlier and asked me what I saw. I had no idea what I was supposed to be looking for and just pointed at the gum which was infected. I was completely looking in the wrong direction. Turns out that my wisdom teeth (both bottom ones, didn’t make a photo of the top ones) are ‘horizontally impacted’, meaning they’re not growing upwards, erupting through the gum, but heading straight into another tooth. Not that they’ll bulldoze through the tooth or anything like that, but if left like it is it could get infected.

Meaning they’ll have to be pulled.

And because they’re horizontal, the top has to be sliced first before the root can be pulled.

I am so not looking forward to that.

Tags: Personal

Fall 2007 Pilots

July 29th, 2007

I always used to hate summers; all my beloved TV-series would be on hiatus, leaving me with exasperating cliffhangers and endless reruns of the shows I just didn’t watch. I’ve found two ways to deal with these empty months, so that I still get a healthy dose of tv-goodness. The first is to try out new shows and (if you like them) to catch up on all the seasons you’ve missed. I’ve watched quite a couple of series like this: 8 seasons of Friends, 4 seasons of Gilmore Girls, 5 seasons of CSI, 1 season of The O.C., 1 season of Kyle XY and a couple of others.

The second anti-tv-withdrawal scheme is to try out all the new pilots for the Fall season. Two years ago I did this and got hooked on all the pilots/series, only to be disappointed when they got cancelled (truth is though, they did have it coming). Last year I watched all the pilots and chose only to continue with the ones with the most potential, Heroes and Ugly Betty. Good decision, right?

Well, this year’s new offerings all seem to be very interesting. After reading the descriptions, all the series sounded to have a lot of potential. After watching the pilots, however, some seem much less promising than others. Here’s a short review of each pilot I’ve seen (beware: minor spoilers):

Reaper
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This is about a guy Sam who finds out on his 21st birthday that before he was born his parents sold his soul to the devil and that he now has to serve as the devil’s bounty hunter, tracking down escaped souls from Hell. It’s not the most original premise for a show (anyone remember Brimstone?), but it stands apart by it’s funny execution. There’s a brilliant moment where Sam gets a chest containing a “vessel” from Satan with which he can capture one of the lost souls. Expecting some glorious, frightening artifact, he and his friends gather around the chest, open it and discover… a mini vaccuum cleaner. The actors are all well cast, especially Ray Wise as Satan (supportive, yet scary in that mafia-grandfather sort of way). It won’t be a breakout hit, but I’m definitely going to keep my eye on this one.

Pushing Daisies
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There’s been a lot of buzz around this pilot and I understand why. Ned the Piemaker can bring dead people back to life by touching them once. Catch 1: Touch them again and they’re dead again. Catch 2: Keep them alive for more then 1 minute and somebody random in the vicinity dies instead. These catches show the ground rules of a structured mythology for this slightly otherworldy show. Add to that the beautiful way it’s been shot and fairy tale like narration, you get something completely new and invigorating. I got the same vibe from it as with Amelie; vivid colours and vivid imagination. The show is created and written by Bryan Fuller, the genius behind Dead Like Me and Wonderfalls. I really hope this turns out to be a hit; there’s never been a tv-serie quite like this and I want to see what it’s writers will come up with.

Chuck
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The premise of this show sounded okay on paper: geek (Chuck) accidently downloads government secrets into his brain and Adam Baldwin plays a snarly NSA agent. It’s not a completely original idea (everyday guy gets to work for secret agency: Jake 2.0, Now and Again), although in this show the guy doesn’t have any real superpowers: he just knows a lot.

The problem I had with this pilot, was that there were a lot of small (technical) things that just annoyed me. For starters, how was Chuck able to download all the information into his brain? I know, you should try to be ignorant and embrace whatever the writers throw at you, but this show is set in our world with our rules and the unlikeliness of this happening just ticked me off. Further, why would they have only one computer where all the data is together? Shouldn’t there be like backups or something? And, okay, Chuck saved the day by noticing the pattern in the data in his head, but what happens when the serie continues? This data was fresh and new with schematics of buildings and travel times of some important general. Eventually though, his data will be outdated; you can’t predict patterns, if you don’t have the newest data.

There were also a couple of nerd blunders in this pilot: at one point the computer is dropped and falls apart. The hard disk is supposedly “damaged beyond repair”. I mean, come on! That shouldn’t have been possible. Another “great” moment was the bomb laptop with the DOS override. Excuse me?? DOS override?? There were a couple of funny geek moments in it, but I really feel as if the writers tried to make it for geeks/nerds, yet in trying to do so put off most of their target audience by their ignorance. Maybe once the show gets going it will make more sense, but at the moment I don’t have much faith in it.

The Sarah Connor Chronicles
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The Terminator movies are great, if you want gunfights, explosions and indestructible robots. But if you’re looking for a good story? Not really the right place to be. The time travel plot was confusing and head ache inducing, as is usual with time travel antics. For big action blockbusters this doesn’t mind that much; you go mainly for the action. For a good TV-series, however, a good plot and story line is essential.

After watching this pilot I wasn’t even sure where to place it within the movie story line. Does it take place between movies 2 and 3? Or is it after 3, but in an alternate history preceding the events of 3? As I said, time travel is tricky and a dangerous story element if not handled properly. For those of you, who don’t know what the pilot’s about: after two years of reasonable quietness, Sarah Connor (Lena Headey, Queen Gorgo in 300) and her destined-to-be-last-hope-of-mankind son John (Thomas Dekker, Claire’s friend Zach in Heroes) are once again tracked down and chased by both the Terminators and the government. This time though help (read: a good Terminator) has the form of psychic brainwashed soldier River Tam a teenage girl played by Summer Glau.

What might be the downfall of this show is that transaction from movie to TV. What works for a movie doesn’t necessarily work for TV. The pilot contained a lot of action, a bit of failed, awkward emotional mother/son moments and a very thin story line. I’m just not sure how this will translate to an entire season. I’ll be watching this show, but I won’t be surprised if it fails miserably. I guess, it largely depends if it finds it’s groove in the next couple of episodes.

Bionic Woman
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This show had me intrigued from the very beginning: a modernized remake of The Bionic Woman with Lindsay Wagner, a strong female lead and best of all created by David Eick, one of the masterminds behind Battlestar Galactica. Add Katee Sackhoff as evil villain and you’ve got a recipe for a potential hit. After seeing the pilot the words “best show evah” don’t spring straight in my mind; it has a lot potential, but it’s not quite there yet. The plot is straightforward. Jaime Sommers is a surrogate mother for her deaf teenage sister, having to drop out of college and work as a bartender to make ends meet. College professor boyfriend Will is secretly working for a government laboratory and when Jaime is almost killed in a car crash, he (of course, out of love) operates on her and gives her bionic limbs to save her. The rest of the episode shows Jaime dealing with her newfound powers, enemies and allies, setting up the basic mythology. The pilot was interesting, but it gave no real indication on how further episodes would be. Does she go on missions for the secret agency or something like that? The main thing that bugged me was the deaf sister; she was just too irritating and the fact that she was deaf didn’t really contribute to the story. I’ve heard that they’ve recast and rewrote that character, though, so I guess the real first episode will be better. I’ll continue watching this series and I predict that with the right amount of tweaking and twirling it could turn out to be great show.

I’ve never understood those people that like dressing up their pets. I mean, having matching outfits with your dog just seems to weird to me. Now this post from Shiny Shiny, however, shows a new even more disturbing horror:

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You can now turn your cat into an actual Hello Kitty cat with the Hello Kitty cat transformation set! Who could ever put their cat through such a thing? And what kind of cat docilely accepts wearing such an outfit?

Tags: Gadgets