Archive for May 20th, 2008

20
May
08

New to the Endangered Species List: The Video Rental Store Guy

There is a species among man that has now found itself among the endangered; souls who find themselves with the likes of the Arakan Forest Turtle and the Javan Rhino. Where once they could be found nearly anywhere in captivity they’re reserves are now scattered, their laborious domiciles eyesores verging on dilapidation. This species goes by the description “Video repono pensio alio;” the Video Rental Store Guy.

 

This species was first discovered in the late 1970’s, when electronics began to arrive in the family home. At the time the species was divided between two groups: the Beta tapes, and the Videocassettes. As the pornographic industry gave Videocassettes their approval, Beta tapes found themselves being phased-out and their “rental assistants” found themselves cohabitating with the VHS to continue their survival. The advent of the Laserdisc showed no change to the cause of the Video Rental Store Guy, nor any significant change to the Video Rental Store Retailer.

 

The Retailers came, went, changed, and merged; whether it was Roadrunner, West Coast Video, Red Giraffe, Blockbuster, Family Circus, or any number of franchise or local-based stores, the Video Rental Store Guy adapted to the changes and environments. As a nation went forth into the Nineteen-Nineties, the VRSG looked forward to a bright and shining future; he was standing on the peak of Home Video Entertainment.

 

Little did he know that two things would change the face of home entertainment forever.

 

In the mid-Nineties the computing world introduced its inter-network, called the World Wide Web, to the culture en masse. While a few made note and slowly it gained acceptance, the VSRG only saw it as computers connecting to other computers; there wasn’t any harm to be seen. People were still renting VCR’s to watch their movies, and on occasion someone WOULD buy a popcorn, soda, and candy combo.

 

Around the same time came the release of the Digital Versatile Disc (DVD). DVD’s were lighter, cheaper, and held more information than a standard VHS tape. They also came with the functionality of the Laserdisc but again, they were smaller. The changeover from VHS to DVD was slow as human culture was not sure about embracing this new technology. In fact it wasn’t until the motion picture, “The Matrix,” that DVD gained acceptance into home entertainment.

 

Unbeknownst to the VSRG, DVD and the WWW (or Internet) would soon be married in the form of online renting through several services, the least of which is called Netflix. Netflix operated by offering a catalog of movies difficult to find in some areas and stores, and the ability for the renters to receive rentals through mail. Retailers were quick to counter the movement, offering packages whereby renters could pay a monthly sum to rent movies through the mail and return them to a store, where they would have in-store credit and be able to choose among that retailer’s selection.

 

The Internet led to more developments: computers having DVD burners and peer-to-peer software that allowed for individuals to copy movies and distribute them to friends. Netflix allowed for “recommendations” based on a person’s movie “queue.” The biggest change was that now the common person didn’t have to drive to a store to get a movie or drop on off, they no longer had to deal with late fees, and they didn’t have to spend the extra money for a combo.

 

Now the VSRG finds himself having to hock combos just to stay in the business. The people are staying at home; no one needs his suggestions. The Retailers are closing their stores and/or merging them, and the Video Store Rental Guy is doing everything he can to keep his job. As he stands looking across a vast landscape that was once rife with videotapes, he sheds a tear.

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20
May
08

Movie Review: The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian

Prince Caspian

 

 

 

Narnia is darker the second go-around.

 

Starring Georgie Henley, Skandar Keynes, William Moseley, Anna Popplewell, Ben Barnes, and Sergio Castellitto. Includes voices of Liam Neeson and Eddie Izzard. Directed by Andrew Adamson.

 

Story: At a castle, royal nephew and heir to the throne Caspian the 10th is saved from death by Doctor Cornelius. It seems that Caspian’s uncle King Miraz just had a son and the whole “nephew is rightful heir to throne” has rubbed him the wrong way for long enough. Caspian goes into the woods (Narnia) and blows an ancient horn…

 

Meanwhile, it’s been a year and the Pevensie kids (Lucy, Edmund, Peter, and Susan) are standing at a subway station going… somewhere. As they stand in the bus station their “world” falls away and instantly they’re back in Narnia, but Narnia doesn’t look or feel the same…

 

Back to Caspian who awakes to find that the furry, talking creatures of Narnia are NOT extinct as previously thought. The badger and dwarf Nikabrik argue over what to do with this Telmarine, and he states that he’s the true heir to Narnia, and that he can unite the land.

 

Back to the Pevensies. They look around and find that they are in Narnia, but how long after they left is undetermined. Each of them wonder: where is Aslan, and what happened to Narnia after they left?

 

To cut to the chase, Caspian unites the Narnians and goes to confront the King. Peter and company head off to find Aslan and what happened to Narnia. Both parties confront each other and a plan is made to dethrone Miraz. This leads to fighting and more fighting, and the story pretty much ends there.

 

This follow-up to 2005’s “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” is darker and more action-oriented; those who complained that “Lion, Witch, and Wardrobe” will probably enjoy “Prince Caspian” more. As for myself, I had a few problems with it.

 

My first big problem: what happened during the 1300 years the Pevensies weren’t in Narnia? We find that Aslan left the kingdom to its own devices. Following that the Telmarines took over. I would’ve liked some exposition or visual account for what happened during those years instead of the glossing over that happens here. It’s as if everyone on screen knows what’s going on and if you don’t understand, sorry about your luck.

 

The other problem I had with the film was that the “magic” and “wonderment” was gone. Part of what I liked about “Lion, Witch, and Wardrobe” was that Narnia had “magic” waiting to be restored and that if restored, everything would right itself. Pure fantasy, say yes, but the kid inside all of us identified with that. “Prince Caspian” took the “rightful heir that needs to be on the throne” formula and threw it into war. And maybe I was hoping for something closer to “Lion, Witch, and Wardrobe,” and that Adamson wanted to make a statement on war: how children perceive it, how adults react to it, etc. There’s a lot of fighting that goes on for that statement…

 

Last is a water character (you’ve seen it in the trailers). Aslan calls him up. What is he? Why is he? A little background info here? Yeah, thanks.

 

Overall, I liked the film. With the “Narnia” series you like them, not love them. They are well made and for the most part enjoyable. I would go and see another “Narnia” film, just to know what happens next.

 

Watch for the “return” of the White Witch (Tilda Swinton) and a mouse called Reepicheep (voiced by Eddie Izzard). And if you’ve ever seen the movie “Cronicas,” Damian Alcazar has a role as Lord Sopespian.

 

My grade: B