Fri, May 26, 2006

: X-Men: The Last Stand

I hated the second film, and this one’s worse. Everyone dies in this one. As usual, the basic concept’s amazing — they just don’t do anything with it. In this case the plot’s about a “cure” for mutanism, which is a radically powerful idea: Do mutants want to be cured? Are they sick or special? Is this “cure” really the ultimate anti-mutant weapon? There are a few great scenes — my favorite is when Magneto dismisses Mystique as “no longer one of us” once she’s cured — but overall this overdone production is nothing but elaborate set pieces disjointed together and it completely misses on the human element it so desperately tries to figure out.

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Fri, May 19, 2006

: Over the Hedge

Not as bad as I was expecting. From the trailers I feared it would be a leftist, cartoon animal-based attack on human greed and lifestyle, an environmentalist manifesto, but other than a few lame barbs at humans as eating machines and couch potatoes, the film’s mostly about a self-centered racoon who manipulates a motley group of forest animals into doing his thieving for him, then repents when he realizes they’ve genuinely accepted him as part of the “family.” The story’s got some heart — not as much as Pixar films, but more than most animated fare. I liked it.

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: The Da Vinci Code

Better than the book, which isn’t saying much. I was surprised at how well the gobbledy-gook puzzles translated to film, but overall this still doesn’t rate the hype. It’s like it takes a big screen movie for people to realize how lame the book is!

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Fri, May 12, 2006

: Goal! The Dream Begins

This came out on the same day as Goal scores. It’s the hard-luck tale of a young Hispanic immigrant in L.A. who loves soccer but has a stern father who wants him to stay home and run the family’s landscaping business. But Santiago, the boy, gets a chance to try out for Newcastle United, the famed English club, and jumps at it. Of course it doesn’t go well and he faces all sorts of obstacles. I though the story was well-done and somewhat realistic, showing he doesn’t just snap his fingers and realize his dream. Sure, many aspects of the story and characters are typical, but there’s only so many ways you can tell this story. I would have perhaps liked to see more of his early upbringing and his youth soccer experiences (I read Pele’s bio and the most fascinating part for me was his childhood, playing backyard ball with a sock stuffed with paper since he couldn’t afford an actual soccer ball, and how that awkward, unbalanced sock-ball taught him unparalleled ball control), but overall the story’s decent, the soccer’s good, and it’s a standard feel-good sports victory story. I don’t watch many sports films so I can’t say how this compares to others, but I thought it was excellent. I really enjoyed it. There are fun cameos with famous soccer stars, and some nice characterization twists I didn’t expect. For instance, one of the characters, a total showboat jerk who’s the club’s big new signing, seems like he’s going to bring Santiago down by teaching him his bad habits. Instead, it’s the other way around, with Santiago’s honest heart reforming the bad boy. Rather cool!

This film is the first of trilogy. In this one, Santiago gets signed by a big club and his “dream begins” as the tagline says. In the next he struggles with overnight stardom, and in the third he leads his country in the World Cup. That one is being filmed at this summer’s World Cup tournament in Germany, with unprecendent access to teams and venues, so it should be a fantastic movie, one of the most realistic ever. I can’t wait for the rest of the movies!

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: Poseidon

Director: Wolfgang Petersen

I’ve never seen the original and I hated Peterson’s last film,

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Tue, May 09, 2006

: Grandpa’s Birthday

Grandpa turned 91 today! Amazing. That’s a long time. He’s seen a lot in his lifetiime. He insists he’s got a long ways to go yet — he wants to reach 100! So far he’s been doing very good. His leg pain is minimal and he’s pretty active, getting in and out of his wheelchair on his own, dressing and undressing himself, etc. Lately he’s really been enjoying the cats, Mayhem in particular. Or maybe it’s the other way around. Mayhem’s figured out that if he jumps in Grandpa’s lap he’ll get petted, so all the time now I find him curled up in Grandpa’s lap (on top of the hot electric blanket Grandpa insists on using) purring a happy tune. Grandpa is delighted and now refers to Mayhem as “my cat.”

Topic: [/grandpa]

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Fri, May 05, 2006

: Mission Impossible III

I hated the first film, which was horrible and way overplotted, but the second was good. This one falls in between the two. It’s not as good as the second but not nearly as bad as the first. It’s got some good moments, but they just don’t play that MI theme enough. For me, that’s what makes the movie (and the TV show). I hear that theme and I get goosebumps and whatever happens on screen is automatically cool. Here they only played it once, briefly, at the beginning, so that was the only cool part of the film. As for the plot, who cares? It’s action, not psychology like the TV show. This has a decent villain (Philip Seymour Hoffman in grand form) and your typical double agents (gee, quel surprise). There’s drama, but it’s forced and we’re not emotionally tied to any of the characters so it’s not like we really care. We just want to see cool missions and unfortunately there’s not enough of that (the ones shown are mediocre, at best). Overall, I’d say ho-hum, though watching this is not a terrible way to spend an afternoon.

Topic: [/movie]

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Thu, May 04, 2006

: Coast Trip

The weather’s been improving and so we thought a trip to the coast would be a good idea. The last time we planned to go, Grandpa ended up in the hospital the evening before, which was annoying. I feared something like that would derail this trip, but everything worked out wonderfully. The day was stunning — not a cloud in sight — and Grandpa enjoyed the drive and the sights. The whole trip he sat with his eyes the size of silver dollars, taking everything in. He kept raving about the trees (and eventually the ocean, once we got there) and how beautiful everything looked. He normally sleeps half the day so I expected him to conk out during the drive, but he was wide awake the entire day. We went to Pacfic City to the pub and enjoyed a delicious lunch (Grandpa had the salmon, my mom and I had the fish and chips). Uncle Keith showed up, which was great. I’d sent him an email but hadn’t heard back (he doesn’t have a phone). After that we went and visited Grandpa’s old haunts, the town of Oceanside, his old beach house, Tillamook, etc. We got milkshakes at Dairy Queen for the drive home. It was great. On the drive home, two things happened. One, Grandpa kept thanking me for the wonderful day, telling me how much he’d enjoyed it. He really overdid it — he was overcome with emotion and it made me weepy too. But the second event was a little disturbing. His memory’s not great, of course, and it’s fascinating watching how it works (or doesn’t work). Earlier, right after we’d driven by his old house and looked at it for a few minutes, he suggested we go take a look at his old house. He’d already forgotten us doing that! But now, on the way home, he seemed to have lost himself in memories. He became confused, asking where “home” was, and thinking Carol (my mom) still lived at the coast. He seemed to remember nothing about living with me: he wondered where he was going to go and what was going to happen with him. It was like he’d forgotten the entire past year! Fortunately, once we got him home and into a familiar routine, he was fine. It was just a momentary lapse. Being at the coast reminded him of old times and he was back there, unable to distinguish past from present. Fascinating.

Topic: [/travel]

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