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April 12, 2009

Bluntly, there is no other way to express where I have been the past six months besides the words: “I screwed up.”

In a nutshell, I suddenly abandoned my healthy readership, and disappeared into my supposed alibi consisting of sad excuses of overloading homework and events. I took a break, fiddled with a possible culturedecoded.com, and ended up less than I started with. And although I understand that most likely some of you — my readers — may not read my work again, I want to apologize for my naive pause from blogging and come back just as I left Culture Deocded. 

An overwhelming amount of events have occurred in the political world as I have left, and I want to discuss them as soon as possible. A President Barack Obama has taken countless actions to bring the free world back to where it once was, some of which I disagree with and some of which I agree with. Iraq has remained a focal point in the middle east, and there is still question in the air over when american troops will really pull out. Somalian pirates have put a fixture in the previously quiet Gulf of Aden, and America is torn over what actions should be taken. The president has purchased a long awaited dog, and Vice President Biden has taken swings at Karl Rove, and the press is taking sides.

As far as the status of the blog, I encourage all of you visiting and returning to leave comments on what you think about the issue at hand. A successful blog is not just written by the author, but by its readers, and if you contribute, there will be very interesting conversations for a long time. 

So without further ado, I will continue where I left off, and work as hard as possible to initiate political discussions that will benefit everyone.

– pacer521

Recently the difference between the silver screen and the numerous thirty-inchers hooked up to gaming platforms, dotting bedroom’s across the globe has been merged. But has it been abused?

Adam Elkus wrote a piece that I recently discovered, titled Game Over, Curtains Close, which gives an interesting analysis toward why video-game adapted movies have always been worse than their predecessor. He lets in the common argument from disappointed gaming fans: that the cast of the movie, its director, and its plot pails to compare to the superiority of the original game.

But this is contradicted entirely with the case of Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, which was written, directed, produced, and scored by the exact same people who made the original game. Consequently, the movie was a complete flop — going straight to DVD. 

So what really is the difference between video games and movies that is so large, yet undiscoverable? Elkus argues that because video games are active and movies are not, watching a video-game based movie would ultimately be a direct contrast to watching your friend play video games over his back for two hours. 

Although I do believe this is true, I think there’s more to the argument than that. In truth, a movie may be different morally than a video game, the audience is a big factor. Movie-goers are simply different people with different tastes than gamers, and that carries out to the theaters. And no matter how original the remake may be, it simply will fail because no one watching it will enjoy. 

And because a movie is the opposite of a game, a gaming movie will never succeed in the box office. Simple as that.

After a long string of politics, I took cover by way of the local AMC, but in the end, I couldn’t escape what continues to surround me as well as everyone else — politics. 

No, this time it wasn’t Wolf Blitzer or a fiery Fox anchor, but a dose of something rare – an American citizen who just let it slip. It was actually the most exciting part of the movie, (Traitor), and the film hadn’t started yet.

After a quite loud tribute to the soldiers overseas wearing the red, white, and blue via song by Kid Rock (somehow with NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. thrown into it) a sole man seated across from me booed. 

It wasn’t a scream, but it had meaning to it. Received almost exactly to the contrary by a enraged man in the row behind, the disagreement turned into a full-fledged political debate — all we needed now was Ralph Nater to show up.

And then there was me. From the outer shell, the innocent thirteen year old sitting with a friend for the sole purpose of enjoying a movie. But then here I was — the partisan, sometimes non partisan political blogger who is regularly mistaken for someone decades older. And that person, the late twenties or early thirties political mojo would almost certainly jump in, maybe even throw in a little dose of Anderson Cooper while they were at it. But no, of course not. I’m a kid. So I sat down. 

Eventually the two men were calmed down by some security and the whole thing was over with, but the buzz in the movie theater was still alive. The previews rolled on and the movie started, which was conveniently centered around terrorism, hardly a theme that suited the previous argument. 

So I didn’t move a muscle. Why? Certainly a highly opinionated and politically immersed person like me would have a voice, and this was definitely a time to show it. But in the end, until I grow over 5’10, lose my braces and higher-pitched voice, I would look like your average kid, associated with anything your average stereotypical annoying thirteen-year old would be connected with. But connect me with a pen and paper, and its a different world.

Another reason by blogging is the new media.

After a string of horrible movies this summer that didn’t exactly hit the spot, I am looking for a savior in Daniel Craig’s new Bond. In each and every movie that I have watched this summer, the preview for Quantum of Solace has shown, and sadly, each and every time it was the best part of the entire two and a half hours for me. This summer, in fact, I have been reduced to seeing good 70’s and 80’s movies to keep my sanity at the movie theater. So after seeing that the new Bond is out, I have been so ready — ready for a good movie, which is due for me right now. 

Everything in this Bond movie seems better than the last. Its set with a more mature Bond, that is more experienced in the field. But what I’m looking for is a more mature Bond in the way of his etiquette. What do I mean? In Casino Royale, Bond was still classy, but not very sure of himself in some situations. For starters, he fell in love, which is not acceptable in a Bond movie, and lastly he didn’t ask for a double Martini, shaken not stirred when at the drink counter. But in a larger scale, a darker and more intellectual Casino Royale was fine with me, but in my opinion, putting a poker tournament as the centerpiece of the plot was pretty weak. It was advertised as win all-end all tournament, but in truth when it actually started it was pretty boring. But in all fairness, the last Bond was in sense all about Bond beginning again and learning the game. 

So what looks good out of the new one? It looks like it is a little more action packed, which is a tell tail sign from the main movie poster — with Bond holding an automatic rather than his customary Glock. And also, judging from the trailer, Bond may go rouge from MI6, so that may be interesting. And judging from the price spent on the movie and the many stuntman, it looks like their cranking up the explosions and big jumps. I’m sure it will have at least an up to par, customary Bond plot, which can be complex. The bond girls look good, a little retro with the hairdo’s but that may be a good sign. The only thing that I am not looking forward to is the Bond theme song. Its not Alicia Keys that bothers me, I’m just not happy about hearing Jack White’s painful voice. If the music coordinators over in Great Britain has any sense in their brains, they will let Jack do the guitar and let Alicia do the sining.

Guest Movie Review

July 30, 2008

To my readers, 

Hey guys, I made a guest movie review of Wall-E on Involuntary Fury’s blog, though you might want to check it out. Here’s the link: http://blog.involuntaryfury.com

After sitting through all the superhero movies Marvel and Hollywood could throw at me, I was pondering the awful question: what has happened to the great Hollywood? It seems today that everything they make is the customary Disney G-Rated movie that will definitely include: 1 dead parent, 2 golden retrievers (or more), someone from either the disney channel shows Hannah Montana, The Suite Life of Zach and Cody, or the Raven Show, and finally one of the annoying Jonas Brothers to randomly do a solo during the credits. Either that or they will mass produce an string of animated Star Wars movies and then throw in a second Transformers without Megan Fox (because she asked for too much cash), with more annoying Shia Labeouf, and then toss in as much special effects that you’d think you were in a nightmare. The result? Sadly, with millions of 15 year old girls for Shia Labeouf and millions of tweenage disney cult members buying tickets, the makers of these movies (while sitting on a throne of cash) start a sequel — then a trilogy…. This is why movies today in every season but maybe Fall are just the reality of a bad dream. And now, the small population of film enthusiasts that appreciate good movies today is a dying breed. 

If only Hollywood could put aside their blood and gore ego and remember the masterpiece that they made almost 40 years ago in All the President’s Men. This was a movie that defied all the odds to me, it delivered an excellent plot, twists, suspense, it kept you guessing, and above all — there wasn’t a single shot fired. The plot was true (Nixon’s henchman’s infamous failed heist of the democratic headquarters) and even though you knew the ending, you still wanted to see more, because somehow even though you knew every single detail backwards and forwards, you were engaged 100% on the screen. You head was spinning through the full two and a half hours, and after so many years, here we are in 2008, still remembering this movie. Its a timeless, classic mystery, but its too action packed to be a classic or a mystery. Its a great action movie, but there wasn’t a single drop of blood. This movie deserves to be in its own category, and it goes to show you that even though today we have all the money and brains we want to spend on a cinema, we are still too egotistic and stubborn to produce a movie with a plot and sequence that we could 40 years ago. And because of this, I am saddened that I was not born yet into that past movie era of great minds, directors, actors, and above all…plots.

The Worst Movie Ever

July 17, 2008

I have seen some pretty bad movies, and I’ve seen what the web thinks are the worst. But of what I’ve seen, the last two absolutely horrible movies standing are Plan 9 From Outer Space and Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer. When I saw Plan 9, it struck me as so bad, it was funny to watch it. The best part about a movie like that was the budget it was on. It seemed like Ed Wood was broke after his last stink up that went straight to dvd (erm…VCR or whatever they had in the 50’s). The best parts include the really cheesy walking dead man who looked like he ate too much, the plastic foam graveyard, but what stands out in my mind was the UFO’s they used. First of all, my friend could do a better job constructing a model like that for a science project blindfolded. But what really stood out in that scene was the faint and poorly removed Pontiac logo on the space ship, suddenly made me realize that Ed Wood, (being the genius he is) used his car’s hub cap! I replayed it over and over again, each time falling off the couch and onto my dog who eventually got up and slept somewhere else. What will always give me a lasting impression though, is the total effort put in the movie. The cast was trying so hard…but they fell just a bit too short. Just a bit. 

Now moving on to the other title contender, 2007’s Fantastic Four, Rise of the Silver Surfer. This movie somehow made 150 million on the box office while managing to get really bad reviews. Now what keeps amazing me about this movie is the amount of money they spent on it. They may have actually spent a million times more money than Ed Wood did, and they still made it pitiful. This plotless, hopeless sequel to a plotless, hopeless original was amassed with an array of horrible actors topped off with Jessica Alba, who just plain can’t act for a can of beans and was about (what else) but them saving the world from an evil Galactia. Don’t they always! But the true sign of this bad movie was the pain and agony suffered by watching every single minute of it. It was almost similar to getting braces put on — a slow painful, torturous death that got worse until the end, when you just sit there after the credits when everyone else has left, staring at the now turned off screen mesmerized by just how painful that really was. The difference between this movie and Plan 9 was that it just was so full of itself, over-paid, and plotless that you had to hate it. 

When I compare the two, the overwhelming favorite for me is Plan 9 because you could watch it 10 times in a row and still get a kick out of it while with Fantastic Four you really want to leave the theater for some fresh air after its finished showing. So when it comes to the worst movie that has ever graced (or tripped over) the silver screen, congratulations Fantastic Four: Rise of The Silver Surfer, you can officially consider yourself pitiful in all ways imagineable. Oh, and thanks Ed Wood, you really made me laugh.

What Makes A Movie Bad?

July 14, 2008

When making the commitment to sacrifice two or three hours of your precious time to a movie, I’m sure everyone would love to know if the picture is actually good. And no, this does not just mean glancing at their ad on the LA times Calendar section, it means actually doing some research. The difference from a good and bad movie can be very slim, but in the end, it all boils down to you. The “starred reviews” won’t tell you if the movie is good, and most of the time even the critics will give you bogus and maybe even biased info. First, check out the actors in the picture. This is the first test to see if the movie is as good as it claims it is. I fell for this trick when I failed to check the cast of the second Fantastic Four, and paid for it when Jessica Alba’s painfully bad acting forced me and my brother end up walking out on the movie. Second, look who the movie’s studio is. Unless you are a 12 year old Miley Cyrus buff, you might want to stay away from a family movie from Disney, no matter how funny it sounds. Trust me, after the first 15 minutes of Disney’s College Road Trip, I learned this the hard way. Last, but not least, if you are planning to see a sequel or a trilogy, keep in mind if the first movie was good. If it wasn’t (ex. Shrek) then there is a slim chance that it’s actually going to be good, or even have a plot for that matter. But if the first movie was good, go for it (ex. The Bourne Trilogy and Ocean’s 11, 12, and 13). Many people I know would disagree with this article, but hey, look at my blog’s subtitle.

Movie Review: Hancock

July 12, 2008

In this summer of Hollywood blockbusters, good plots are definitely scarce, and after going through years of painful chick flicks, awful sequels and trilogies (Fantastic Four 3 was the only movie I have ever walked out on) a picture like Hancock would be something I would run away from like a book report. But after being pleasantly surprised by Iron Man, I decided to take a chance and see it. From the start, I never had any expectations for it, and that was good. It was a popcorn movie, meaning it was good enough to entertain, but not great for much else. Yes, it did have a great plot twist that saved it from its inevitable 1 stars, but after that, it went steep downhill. This was obviously one of Will Smith’s worst movies, but it was worth watching for the average movie enthusiast who just wants a good time. Why so harsh? Well, when it comes to special effects-dominated superhero movies, Hancock is similar to Transformers in style: it highly relies on its action to carry the audience, not its plot. So if you are looking for a great storyline that keeps you guessing…you’re better off seeing Happy Feet.

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