Category Archives: Review

Why CGI has Jumped the Shark

Prepare to abandon

In the 1970’s, the show Happy Days, which portrayed 1950’s american life, was a huge success. Originally following the Cunningham family, the show slowly shifted it’s focus towards “The Fonz,” (one of Richie Cunningham’s friends) due to his popularity among viewers. As the show progressed, the writers had to come up with more and more plots, and wacky situations for the Fonz to encounter. In 1977, in the show’s 5th season, Fonzie literally jumped over a shark on water skis. This scene is when many believe the show began to go downhill. Cast members left, spin offs were created, and the show was still technically a success… but something was missing. The term “jumping the shark” would later come to describe anything that has become a mockery of itself. The point in which something fizzles out, and ceases to glimmer as it once did. Tonight, for me at least,  computer generated imagery (CGI) has jumped the shark.

What brought on the demise of this wonderful technology, the same that showed us the Titanic sinking, fallen cities resurrected, and dinosaurs in the flesh? Michael Bay, like a child who has found his father’s gun,  has irresponsibly used this technology and squeezed out every last bit of dignity it had.

Film-making is about more than pretty moving pictures. Movies have dialogue, they tell stories. Someone didn’t tell Mr. Bay that people can speak without explosions in the background. In fact, in the beginning of his latest film Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, during every scene where Shia Labeouf and Megan Fox were talking to one another, there was a generic guitar ballad playing for no reason, as if Bay couldn’t stand two characters conversing without yelling. You couldn’t show me a scene made using CGI that would impress me. It’s over. Sure it all looks real, yet in Quantum of Solace when they beat that Astin Martin to bits it was more impressive than Bay’s exploding CGI aircraft carrier.

I understand that expecting an action movie to do anything but entertain is pushing it, but it can be done. Look at The Dark Knight. In addition to fancy vehicles, violence and explosions, there was a psychologically intense element which made you think. The scene in which the two boats each had a detonator in their possesion was brilliantly laced with philosophical overtones without ruining the action.

Someone has given Bay an unlimited budget, and there is nothing to show for it. I went to the movie. I wanted to like it. What I saw when I got there was a camera rotating around rolling metal balls in a close up view to “increase the action” for 2 1/2 hours. Here is something that irks me: the movie was based off of the Hasbro action figures by the same name; it says it right in the credits. What made these toys a hit was that they looked like a truck or plane, then could change into a human or animal form using it’s existing parts. The movie versions simply seem to explode for a moment, with pieces moving every which way, finally coming to a much larger piece of machinery that has random wheels and gears placed in random places. There are no rules. Want to make all of the machines combine together? Why not! The lack of rules weakens the story, because the viewer is unable to deduce the next action along with the characters. Shia could very well just say “lets get some whale blubber and feed it to the Decepticons, and that will kill them!” and you would have to go along, because the story follows no logical line.

Michael Bay is not the only one to blame. Mr Spielberg, the most innovative director of all time, is slowly raping the motion picture industry as well. You need not look any further than the latest Indiana Jones film he was associated with creating.

I watched Seven Pounds about a week ago, and haven’t stopped thinking about it since. It was amazing. During the climax of Bay’s latest, however, I didn’t give a autobot’s trunk about what happened to the main characters. Simply saying “I won’t go without you” over and over again amidst danger does not qualify as drama. I imagine that if Bay had his way, the movie wouldn’t have had any dialogue at all.

I know Hollywood knows what they are doing. They think we are stupid. And I suppose we are for shoveling all of our money into their pockets. But know this: they think you are an idiot. And if you can watch 2 1/2 hours of explosions and not get sick of it, I’m not sure I disagree.

UPDATE*

Heres a parody “sneak peek” that pretty much summarizes the movie:

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Bacon Flavored Lollipop

What is the first thing that you think of when you hear those words?

“Those words don’t belong together.”

“My tastebuds hurt.”

The first thing that went through my mind was “I want to eat one with my mouth.” I’m a doer not a wisher so I went ahead and got one. No, I didn’t walk into my local odd-flavored lollipop store, no I ordered it on the Internet. My computer told their server that I desired to try one of their breakfast-themed confectionary masterpieces, and they obliged.

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I received my pig flavored sucker a few days later, and promptly dove in. Before I submit my review, here is some more info about the candy itself.

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They are manufactured by a company called Das Foods, a company who brazenly makes all sorts of gourmet lollipops. In addition to my pork flavored one, I also got ginger & lemon, salty caramel, and orange & pomegranate (Orange? Gross!).

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As you can see, there are little spots in the sucker. I know what you are thinking… Don’t worry those spots are not peanuts, they are actual meat chunks. Close call there. As I tasted it something strange happened…

I kind of liked it.

I know you all think that I am crazy, but the reality is, that bacon tastes good, and when applied to another type of food, it kind of works. The thing I didn’t expect is that it is actually Maple Bacon flavored, giving it a sugary zing that wisks you away to Vermont. Honestly, it tasted like camping (in a good way). I don’t know how else to describe it. It tasted a little smoky, a little salty, sweet and that is pretty much it. It did taste like bacon, but not gross. It also did not taste like swine flu, so that is good I suppose.

I am no stranger to trying new candy. Whenever I see a new package in the checkout at the grocery I always try it because it could be my favorite candy, and I just don’t know it yet. I believe this is a good policy. It has done me well in the past, though my dentist might not agree.

I feel that my $6 was well spent. I got 8 suckers, and have 8 more on the way for free! If any of you would like to try the hoggish candy, I will be breaking up the remaining one the next movie night.

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East of Eden

steinbeck-eastofedenI’m not one to claim that every book I read changes my life. I can see what they are saying, and then I choose to either accept or deny the viewpoints of the author. With the case of East of Eden by John Steinbeck, I believe that it presents some valid reasoning. It isn’t a short book. In fact the overview of the book would be described as a tri-generational family history, that follows the Trask family, and their moral conflicts dealing with money, life purpose, and jealousy.

As the name implies, there are many biblical references, most of which must be drawn by the reader. The book explores the all great question of why we do the things we do, yet does not come off as being didactic. Some motivations are more worthy than others is an idea that is explored. The book has been on many banned book lists through the years, which pretty much guarantees a good read, because it usually means that things are said which needed to be, but haven’t due to our society’s (or the one in which the book was first presented) tendency to sweep anything under the rug which may not reflect a positive light upon it.

The characters contrast each other enough that no-matter who you are, you are sure to find a favorite, and cheer them on as they trudge through their entire life, or a large portion due to the length of the book.

A favorite of many people, is the character of Cathy Ames, who has been the subject of much acclaim and criticism due to the strength of her character. You may have heard of Matt Costa, an Indie-Folk artist whose song “Ballad of Miss Kate” is about the character. Don’t listen to the song if you don’t want to hear a couple of spoilers, however.

One interesting thing about the book, is that many of the characters are actually real people. John Steinbeck began under the premise of it being a family history, though many of the family legends that happened to and around his relatives are included. It is left to the reader to decipher which is true, and which is embellishment.

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The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Rarely do I see a flick that I want to see again the second it is over. When I got home from watching this movie, I decided to read a book, but decided not to because then it would ruin the “aftertaste” of the movie I had just seen.

Why You Need To See It
The writing, cinematography, special effects and overall feel are fantastic. I went into this movie knowing that I would probably like it, but that expectation was far surpassed. It is no secret that the film industry is running out of ideas. If I see one more “I’m from the ghetto, you’re rich and we are going to dance together” trailer, I just might chew off my own face.

Brad Pitt, although often on the covers of magazines I wouldn’t wipe my nose with, has definitely won me over. Having starred in films like Fight Club and the Ocean’s series he has established himself as more than just an incredibly disfigured face… that poor, poor, ugly soul…

This movie is not one that you need to see in the theatres, but if you do wait, make sure that when you watch it, someone isn’t making food in the background or talking. You want to really watch it.

It might make you cry, but I didn’t. I don’t say that in a manly sort of way, but to establish that it isn’t that kind of film. Some movies try their hardest to wrench your heart out at a specific moment, making you burst forth with obligatory tears, showing that you aren’t a heartless meathead. This isn’t one of those, but if you cry I will forgive you, as it is understandable.

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