Archive for November, 2008



13
Nov
08

My Thoughts on Blu-Ray

blu-ray_logo

 

 

With the holiday season approaching, one of the big electronic buys will probably be Blu-Ray players. Probably.

Maybe.

I’m not sure.

Problem is with the current state of the economy, Blu-Ray may not be the wisest of choices. For the sake of logic and pragmatics, let’s look at the pros and cons, shall we?

 

PRO: Blu-Ray delivers up to 7.1 Surround Sound.

CON: How much more sound is needed? I’ll grant you that 5.1 sound was a vast improvement over 4.1, 4.0, and 2.0, but really… How many more speakers do you need?

 

PRO: Blu-Ray delivers High-Def picture quality, and can even improve the picture quality on existing DVDs.

CON: That’s probably true, but first you need a TV set that is HD/Plasma/LCD. And that TV has to have more than a 40 inch screen in order for you to TELL the difference. And you’re looking at a TV that costs at least $1,000 (if not more).

 

PRO: Blu-Ray discs can be played on a Playstation PS3.

CON: I’m not sure if ALL Blu-Ray discs are compatible. Maybe they are. I remember not all DVDs being compatible with PS2s; just a word of caution. Out of curiosity, didn’t you buy the PS3 to play video games?

 

PRO: New titles are added every day.

CON: Yeah, but I have 170 DVDs in my apartment, and that’s 1/5 of my overall collection. How long will it be before “Star Wars,” “Back to the Future,” or “Once Upon a Time in the West,” is released on Blu-Ray? I have way too much money in my collection to switch over now. Will my DVDs then become like the 99-cent bin when VHS was getting kicked to the curb?

 

PRO: You’ll be able to purchase a DVD player for as little as $179.

CON: Yeah. And the TV for $1,000 and the Surround Sound for…

 

PRO: Blu-Rays are affordable.

CON: So is a 1974 Manta Mirage, if you’ve got the money. DVDs are cheaper and have a larger back catalog, somewhere to the tune of $3-$10.

 

PRO: Blu-Ray discs are more interactive, showing exclusive background information and content while the movie is playing.

CON: Whatever happened to watching the movie? Do we need more stuff for Generation ADD to not pay attention to? If I want to know more, I buy the Ultra Hermetically-Sealed- with-Special- Collectible- Inside Limited Collector’s 3-Disc Version at participating retail stores.

 

PRO: If one is inclined, for the money Blu-Ray delivers the best movie-watching experience that money can buy.

CON: I’m lazy, single, and have no money.

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11
Nov
08

TV Update: The Prisoner

“I will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed or numbered. My life is my own.” – Number Six, Patrick McGoohan, from “The Prisoner”

 

patrickWith these words Number Six (Patrick McGoohan) sets out to escape his confinement: The Village. Number Six was formerly a secret agent; now he was being housed in a village where people only had numbers, not names, and he was constantly being questioned as to why he retired. Each week Number Six matched wits against Number Two (a character that changed from actor to actress), who looked out for the interests of Number One. Whether it was brainwashing, an art competition, or being voted in as Mayor of the Village, Number Six could never truly escape. Adding to his problems was Rover, a giant white ball that would be released from the ocean to capture a captive, usually by suffocation.

 

Currently AMC is remaking the series. Jim Cavieziel plays Number Six, while Ian McKellen plays the head of the Village, Number Two. The filming is said to finish shortly, putting the series on the air sometime in 2009.

 

3dvd_Dangerman.epsThe original series came about because of its main benefactor, Patrick McGoohan. McGoohan was in a series called “Danger Man”/ “Secret Agent Man” from 1960-1962, then 1964-1966. In it he played John Drake, at first an agent for NATO assigned to cases in (and outside) NATO jurisdiction. During the second season he was retconned and became a British agent, working for MI9 (as opposed to MI6). Rumor has it that during a dinner party McGoohan said that he was quitting the series which prompted one guest to ask, “What does a ‘Secret Agent’ do after they retire?” In the case of “The Prisoner,” one puts in their resignation, packs up at their home, then is gassed. When they wake up their in a carbon-copy domicile, except they’re in a place called The Village, and everyone wants to know why they left.

 

I became a fan of “The Prisoner” while in college in the early 2000’s. The series had just been released on DVD, and from the time I watched the first episode (“Arrival”) to the last (“Fall Out”), I was impressed by the writing and acting in the series. McGoohan’s character was “Everyman”; a thinking person putting individuality over conformity. Without using guns he had to outwit his captors, who unfortunately saved their best card for last. Another interesting twist in the series was the revolving of “Number Two.” Number Two would report to the unseen Number One and if he was one-up’d by Number Six, he or she would be replaced. I count Leo McKern as my favorite of the Number Twos.

 

tv_prisoner1“The Prisoner” would go on to influence the spectrum of film, tv, and music. The TV show “MacGuyver,” with Richard Dean Anderson playing the titular role, was based on Number Six. Afraid of using guns, MacGuyver had to find his way out of situations, employing his pocketknife, bubble gum, duct tape, the moon’s gravitational pull on the Earth, what-have-you. Heavy metal group Iron Maiden made two songs in homage to “The Prisoner”: “The Prisoner” and “Back in the Village.” There have also been numerous books, comics, and video games that directly, or indirectly, reference “The Prisoner.” An upcoming film is also slated to be directed by Christopher Nolan (“The Dark Knight,” “Memento”).

 

For more information on the “Prisoner” remake, check out AMC’s site at:

http://www.amctv.com/originals/the-prisoner/

 

For more information on the original series, check out Six of One, the Official Prisoner Appreciation Society. They’re site is:

http://www.netreach.net/~sixofone/

 

 

 

Be seeing you.

05
Nov
08

In Passing… Michael Crichton (1942-2008)

 michael_crichton1

 

 

 

Author and filmmaker Michael Crichton has passed on. Known for mixing sci-fi and medicine in his novels and films such as “Timeline,” “The Andromeda Strain,” and “Jurassic Park,” Crichton began his career not in literature but in medicine. In 1964 he was an undergrad at Harvard College and earned his graduate degree from Harvard Med School in 1969. While in med school he began writing under the pen names of John Lang and Jeffrey Hudson. This would eventually payoff with the first book released under his name, “The Andromeda Strain.”

 

With the success of “The Andromeda Strain” (the book as well as the movie) Crichton ventured into Hollywood. His first film movie was, “Westworld.” In the future at an amusement park called Delos there are androids that are like humans in every way possible, except they’re not supposed to harm human beings. Until now. Directed and written by Crichton, “Westworld” became a sci-fi staple with a sequel and proposed TV show. From there Crichton directed “Coma” (based on the Robin Cook novel), “The Great Train Robbery” with Sean Connery and Donald Sutherland, “Looker” with Albert Finney, and “Runaway” with Tom Selleck and Kirstie Alley. I recommend all these movies.

 

But Hollywood had burnt Crichton out, and he was much happier writing. In between films he released the novels, “Eaters of the Dead,” “Congo,” “Sphere,” and “Jurassic Park.” In the early Nineties Steven Spielberg got permission to direct “Jurassic Park,” and Crichton was back in the Hollywood game again, this time he keeping the rights for movies based on his novels. However, he did co-write the screenplay to “Twister” as well as created the hit NBC show, “ER.”

 

Crichton passed away on Tuesday, Nov. 4 in L.A. from complications with cancer. He was 66.

 

Thoughts and prayers go to his family and friends.

05
Nov
08

Movie News and Views Nov. 5, 2008 Trailer Edition

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“Cadillac Records” – Biopic on the record company that gave starts to Muddy Waters, Chuck Berry, Etta James, and others. Stars Adrien Brody, Mos Def, Cedric the Entertainer, and Beyonce Knowles. Opens December 5, 2008 View the trailer at:

http://www.worstpreviews.com/trailer2.php?id=1326&item=1

 

“Che” – Part One of Steven Soderbergh’s two-part saga on revolutionary Ernesto “Che” Guevera. Stars Benicio del Toro. Opens December 12, 2008 View the teaser at:

http://www.worstpreviews.com/trailer2.php?id=974&item=1

 

“While She Was Out” – Kim Basinger is an abused housewife who gets out of the house and goes to the mall, only to run into murderous thugs. Eventually, she finds herself in the woods with only her wits and a toolbox. Opens December 12, 2008 View the trailer at:

http://www.worstpreviews.com/trailer2.php?id=1333&item=0

 

“Gran Torino” – Clint Eastwood plays a man in his seventies (who knew?) who saves the life of his Asian neighbor’s son, much against his prejudice. He ends up in a war against the gang that assaulted the son. Opens December 17, 2008 View the trailer at:

http://www.worstpreviews.com/trailer2.php?id=1332&item=0

 

“Seven Pounds” – Will Smith stars as a guy about to commit suicide who falls in love with a woman. Also, he tries changing the lives of seven people for the good. Opens December 19, 2008 View the trailer at:

http://www.worstpreviews.com/trailer2.php?id=1093&item=1

 

“The Reader” – Ralph Fiennes is a British guy trying to unravel the mystery of his past: a woman (Kate Winslet) who made him read to her who was tried for Nazi war crimes. Opens January 9, 2009 View the trailer at:

http://www.worstpreviews.com/trailer2.php?id=1058&item=0

 

“My Bloody Valentine” – A remake. In 3-D. Stars Jaime King. Opens January 16, 2009 View the trailer at: http://www.worstpreviews.com/trailer2.php?id=1279&item=0

 

“Notorious” – A biopic on the life of rapper Christopher Wallace, a.k.a. The Notorious B.I.G. Opens January 16, 2009 View the trailer at:

http://www.worstpreviews.com/trailer2.php?id=1206&item=1

 

“Underworld 3: Rise of the Lycans” – No need to tell ya what it’s about; you probably need to be a fan. This is a prequel to the series (then why make it #3?) Word on the street is that neither Kate Beckinsdale nor director LenWiseman are returning for this one. Stars Michael Sheen, Bill Nighy and Rhona Mitra. Opens January 23, 2009 View the trailer at:

http://www.worstpreviews.com/trailer2.php?id=1096&item=1

 

“Fanboys” – The “will it be released?” movie of the past two years, if ya haven’t heard of it is about a group of guys storming the Skywalker Ranch before the release of “Star Wars: The Phantom Menace.” Looking back, I’m glad I never thought up this idea… Opens February 6, 2009 View the trailer at:

http://www.worstpreviews.com/trailer2.php?id=650&item=1

 

“They Came From Upstairs” – Comedy about a family moving into their vacation home, which is currently occupied by CG aliens. Stars Tim Meadows and Kevin Nealon. Opens February 13, 2009 View the trailer at:

http://www.worstpreviews.com/trailer2.php?id=1269&item=0

 

“The International” – Clive Owen is an Interpol agent spearheading an investigation into financial corruption. Naomi Watts is an attorney who teams up with him to take a bank down. Opens February 13, 2009 View the trailer at:

http://www.worstpreviews.com/trailer2.php?id=1023&item=1

 

“17 Again” – Matthew Perry is a 37-year-old whose life hits rock bottom and wishes he was twenty years younger. He wakes up as 17-year-old Zac Effron, and is able to re-write his high school life. Hope he doesn’t wind up in a musical… Opens April 17, 2009 View the trailer at:

http://www.worstpreviews.com/trailer2.php?id=1117&item=1

 

“Angels and Demons” – Tom Hanks returns to the character from “The Da Vinci Code” for this installment, a sequel based on a book that was the prequel to “The Da Vinci Code.” Got that? Opens May 15, 2009 View the trailer at:

http://www.worstpreviews.com/trailer2.php?id=659&item=0

 

“Monsters vs. Aliens” – Dreamworks CGI film about a aliens poised to take over the Earth until the U.S. Government releases their secret weapon: a team of monsters (gelatinous blob, scientist/cockroach, fish-man, giant insect, and 50-foot-tall woman). Looks like it’ll be fun. Coming March 2009 View the trailer at:

http://www.worstpreviews.com/trailer2.php?id=850&item=1

04
Nov
08

Remake Radar: Angel Heart (1987)

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Welcome to the post-October edition of Remake Radar, where we tackle Hollywood’s penchant for remaking previous films (for better or worse). This edition’s remake: Angel Heart.

 

“Angel Heart” (1987)

 

Stars Mickey Rourke, Robert DeNiro, Lisa Bonet, and Charlotte Rampling.

 

Director: Alan Parker

 

Story: Harry Angel (Rourke) is a private detective hired by Louis Cyphere (DeNiro) to find a man named Johnny Favourite. As he winds through the back alleys and bayous looking for Johnny, he not only finds an Epiphany (Bonet) but he has one, realizing who Johnny Favourite really is.

 

What do we know now?: It’s being remade! (or else I wouldn’t have listed it, would I?) Producer Michael de Luca has purchased the rights to the original movie as well as the book “Fallen Angel” (which it was based upon). Why redo it? I couldn’t even venture…