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X3 Thoughts

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Toast Toast Toast

So geeks like me have not been looking forward to this edition much. Director Brett Ratner was going to direct Superman Returns, and then X1/X2 directory Bryan Singer took over Superman. Eventually, they ended up trading places, and Brett Ratner took over X3. I bought into the geek panning of Brett Ratner. We had the direct of The Usual Suspects, and now we have the directory of Rush Hour? Not much of a comparison!

Thing is, that's quite a good comparison, actually. I mean, dude, I liked Rush Hour. It was a good movie. But whereas The Usual Suspects was all about details, Rush Hour was broad. And that's my first impression of X3: It's broad.

The humor in this movie is broad. Lots of jokes that poke fun at Wolverine and, as the British would say, "take the piss out of him". Geeks might not like that, but hey, they were pretty good jokes. There were even some pretty geeky ideas in this movie. The flaming car scene near the end even made me say, "SWEET." (You'll know it when you see see it.) Thing is, everything's painted in broad strokes; there wasn't much attention to detail. The broad strokes were reasonably pretty and nice, but they don't quite satisfy geeks like me.

I've read that this movie was rushed into production, but the bigger problem was that the movie itself felt rushed (at 1 hour and 44 minutes, including credits). As I said, it had some good ideas, and the central plot point of the Cure was brilliant and appropriate for our times, but they didn't really do much with it. That leads me to...

Demise of the Schematic-based Plan

You know, I was thinking, in a lot of older action movies, ones that took their time, they really knew how to build up to the finale. If the main characters were about to go in for a big fight, or perhaps a heist, they'd plan it out first. The earliest examples of this in war movies was the "sticks in the sand" method. The original Star Wars had its brief wireframe Death Star scene that set you up for the Trench Run. Titanic had the computer animation of the ship breaking apart at the beginning so you'd understand what was happening later. Even the first X-Men had that nifty metal-spike-based map thingy of the Statue of Liberty, remember?

A lot of action movies these days are just action scene after action scene. (I'm looking at you, Star Wars prequels.) They don't give the viewer time to get involved in what's happening. They don't let the viewer in on the layout of the scene, so we don't feel as much like we're part of the action. Instead, we just sit back at a distance and see stuff happen.

I demand the return of schematic-based planning scenes!

I remember when I first moved to this country, and my parents mused on how American action movies always have a bunch of action, then a lull where people chatted, and then some more action. We made fun of that, but it was actually a brilliant and effective device! The lull set you up for the next action scene, and so each action scene became more enjoyable and memorable. Quality over quantity, people! We're losing that!

Still, in the end, I went into X3 with low expectations, and I was pleasantly surprised. It'll probably be one of those movies that I like less the more I think about it, so I'll try not to think about it too much. :)

(Holy crap that was a long-ass rant. That's what happens when you try to review a movie at 4am, I guess! Compare to my mere 160-word review of X2. :P Oh hey... that link is to my review of 8 sequels and a remake, all from the summer of 2003, and we're getting sequels to 3 of those sequels this summer! (Plus, there was already another sequel to Matrix, and T4 is in the works.) Up next: Dead Man's Chest and 3 Fast 3 Furious.)

P.S.: Be sure to stick around until the end of the credits!

Nelson Hernandez ambushed!

I don't think many of my blog readers are from my high school, actually, so many of you (do I even have "many" readers?) probably don't know who Nelson Hernandez is. No, he's not some South American dictator. He's a guy I know from high school who works for the Washington Post now. The Post is the paper I read most often, so I'm often amused when I notice his byline on something. This time, I was more concerned than amused.

I was looking around the Post for information on Bush's speech tonight when I saw an article on a civilian water truck supply convoy that was ambushed in Iraq. I was halfway through reading the story when I decided to watch the accompanying video, and whoa! It's Nelson reporting! From Baghdad! He was with the the convoy when it was ambushed, and he shot the video of it, even. Freaky!

None of the guards were hurt, but they did kill two of the attackers, and a few of the Iraqi truck drivers were kidnapped on their way home later. :\

All I can say is, I'm happy to just be an armchair pundit, sending you web links to news instead of reporting direct from Iraq. Nelson's got way more guts than me.

And Nelson, good luck!

Think Think Think Think Think Think Think Think Think...

I've been thinking about how I think too much. I often think myself into inaction. I need to do stuff more and think about it less. I guess the problem is that thinking has served me well for the most part, but I need to control it. I need to keep harnessing it for the forces of Good while protecting myself from its Dark Side. :P

I try to reason my way out of everything, and there isn't always a rational solution. I find a lot of that new age "Eastern Philosophy" stuff hokey, but I think that maybe there is something to things like medication. I mean, I basically just set my brain loose, and it goes a little wild sometimes. It needs some training. Maybe even a leash to begin with.

Anyway, on a related note, I'm amused by this exchange in Ebert's latest Answer Man column:

Q. In your anecdote in the "Silent Hill" review about children's brain activity and video games, you cite Dr. Leonard Shlain describing the monitoring of brain activity by young children learning to play video games: "At first, when they were figuring out the games, the whole brain lit up. But by the time they knew how to play the games, the brain went dark, except for one little point."

As if this was a negative argument! I read and write plays and films all day long. I went to "Silent Hill" yesterday to give my brain a break, which is why most people play video games (or watch stupid movies). There is a place for entertainment that discourages thought -- it gives us space to actually think.

Tommy Smith, New York City

A. That's exactly my problem. I watch stupid movies, and they make me actually think, and I write those reviews about brain waves. There is also a place for entertainment that encourages thought, I suppose, although then we would also actually be thinking. I am confused.

You see why I love Ebert? :D

The True Spirit of the Internet

The following quote expresses the True Spirit of the Internet, from this page:

Since I'm bored, and astoundingly enough there is no complete list of Monopoly versions on the Internet (!!!), here is a list I collected from eBay, BoardGameGeek, and various people's online collections.

If it can be listed, it must be listed! :) What makes it even better is this quote, further down the page:

In my opinion, Monopoly is not a very good game, even when played without house rules. It remains popular mostly due to nostalgia and lack of information about better games.

This guy went to all this trouble to make this list... even though he doesn't like the game that much! He made the list simply because it did not exist. If that doesn't express the True Spirit of the Internet, I don't know what does.

* * *

Okay, so that's some nostalgia for the old Internet. Now here's the new Internet: BBC Radio One is having a virtual counterpart to its real live music festival.

* * *

P.S.: MIT students set up their dorm room with instant "party mode" activated by—what else?—a big red button!

FINALLY!

This news just totally brightened my day: The original unaltered Star Wars Trilogy will finally be released on DVD September 12!

High Expectations

From a customer review of a book on Amazon:

... I gave the book four stars rather than five because the author doesn't adequately resolve the issue of credibility of traditional religions in a scientific age.

About May 2006

This page contains all entries posted to the klog in May 2006. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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