Sun, Mar 26, 2017

: Independence Day: Resurgence

This movie is a sequel to the mediocre Independence Day, a film that was better than the sum of its parts since it had some heart and patriotism. This one picks up 20 years later after earth has been transformed by alien technology, while we’re preparing and waiting for the aliens’ inevitable return.

Unfortunately, this is a lot of awkward jokes and attempts at humor, characters that are mere sketches with obvious stereotypical characteristics (The Jock, The Innocent, The Toughie, The Hero, etc.), and special effects that are so ambitious they utter fail to be convincing at all.

There are still a handful of good moments, a few heroic scenes, and some interesting/cool effects, but overall everything is paint by numbers and the plot is sleep-inspiring in its predictability.

Topic: [/movie]

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Sat, Mar 25, 2017

: Mechanic: Resurrection

Okay action flick about a retired hit man being forced to kill three “impossible” targets. The idea is good, and the action is good, but the manipulations are absurd.

For instance, they track down and chase this hitman all over the world, losing dozens of men in the process — if they have the resources to do that, why can’t they kill the targets themselves? Then extort an innocent woman so that the hitman somehow falls in the love with her (after meeting her for two seconds); this hitman is such a softie that when they kidnap the girl, he’s powerful to do anything but obey them.

Pretty silly, but still fun, and has a few good moments. A good movie to watch while reading a book.

Topic: [/movie]

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Thu, Mar 16, 2017

: Paranoia

This is a very strange movie with some big stars (like Harrison Ford in a wasted role). It’s filled with clich├ęs and lame stuff transparently stolen from the headlines, such as Steve Jobs-like tech moguls, fake smartphone tech that looks incredibly cheesy and unrealistic, and a plot filled with coincidence and silliness.

The basic idea has some merit: a tech wiz is blackmailed to go work for the competition in order to steal tech secrets, thus embroiling him in a complex spy world.

But the writers ruin it by doing stupid stuff like having the two companies being run by former partners who now hate each other (gee, that’s original), our hero having previously had a one-night stand with one of his new colleagues, and idiotic spy-within-spy scenarios that are just too convoluted to be interesting.

It’s made worse when they can’t get basic reality right, such as how our hero is fired from the first company for being incompetent (he’s worked there for years as a nobody), and yet suddenly he’s like the top guy at the new company.

In short, very little of this works. It’s all a muddled mess and there’s next to nothing that relates to the inappropriate title. The top actor names chew scenery with corny dialog and the young ones seem to clueless to realize their in a bad movie. Pretty sad waste of potential.

Topic: [/movie]

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Mon, Mar 13, 2017

: Sporting Kansas City 2017 Season Opener

I happened to have a trip to Missouri planned so I positioned it around this game so I could attend. (I have a goal of visiting every MLS stadium for a match, so now I can cross KC off my list.)

The first and most important thing to note is the weather. Earlier in the week it was 78 degrees and I was sweating. On Saturday a cold front blew in and I actually had snow coming down as I was driving to KC. It was 30 degrees at the stadium that night, which was not good for me as I wasn’t dressed for that, and it wasn’t great for the soccer, which was sluggish and there were no goals. By the end of the night I was a popsicle.

Still, it was a fun night. There were fireworks, I got to see how Sporting puts on a match, and I got to explore their stadium. Most interesting to me is the location: basically in the middle of a huge shopping center!

There are apparently other stadiums nearby and a race track, so there’s tons of parking (some of a good walk away) and it’s all free. (Compare that to Seattle, where they jack up the parking prices to $40 for a few hours on match days.) Right across from the stadium are huge stores like Best Buy and such, restaurants, and much more. I didn’t have time to explore such things, but had I known I could have come early and done so.

The stadium itself felt a little smaller than I expected. Not in terms of seatings (though is a modest 18K or so), but the way it’s designed it’s really just one level. So the loop around the top of the stadium has a few concession stands (nothing that interesting or special) and that’s all there is to it. You descend from that into the bowl where the seats are located. It’s very nice, but I think stadiums like the one in Vancouver, B.C. have more variety. Even Providence Park, in Portland, has different types of architecture and levels.

Overall it was fun. I may come back when the Timbers play there sometime, though I’ll definitely not coming the winter (though summers there can be sweltering, so I’d have the opposite problem).

Topic: [/soccer]

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Sat, Mar 04, 2017

: Logan

Shockingly good character-driven film that’s not all about special effects and mutant powers.

Set in the future, it deals with the end of the X-Men, after mutants are essentially cured. But there’s one new mutant, a little girl, that’s being hunted, and that gets Logan (Wolverine) and a half-drugged Professor X to try and protect her.

There’s good action and a lot of unusual scenes, like Logan getting old. The movie feels small, in a way, intimate, and that makes it much more powerful. By far the best of all the X-Men movies.

Topic: [/movie]

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Thu, Jan 12, 2017

: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

I assumed at first that this was little more than a ploy to get more money out of Harry Potter fans, but it’s not: it’s a real movie with great new characters and an excellent story.

It’s set about 70 years before Harry Potter, in 1924 New York City where Brit Newt Scalamander arrives and runs into trouble. He’s a sort of zoo-keeper animal behavioralist for magical creatures. There’s fun stuff when some of his strange beasts escape, but a darker plot when he runs into a threat to NYC that could reveal the magical community to the general “no magic” public.

Like Harry Potter, there are serious things behind the fun, with real deaths and threats of death, and some people might not like that for young kids (though I think it’s fine and better than the saccharine-coated world most modern children’s literature gives us).

The casting and acting is superb (though two characters looked so much alike I got them confused at first); Eddie Redmayne is perfect as Newt.

This is supposed to the first of a whole series of “Fantastic Beasts” movies. I can’t wait!

Topic: [/movie]

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Sat, Jan 07, 2017

: Mayhem (1998-2017)

Yesterday I had to say good-bye to a close friend of over 17 years.

It had been coming. Mayhem used to be a big fat cat of 15 pounds, but the last few years he hasn’t been eating much no matter what I did. Various tricks worked for a time — feeding him multiple times, separating from thief Minx, expensive cat food — but he never did eat enough and has been slowly wasting away. Last spring he was down to 7.3 pounds; yesterday he was 4.9.

He stopped eating altogether on Wednesday. The doctor’s diagnosis was the same as for Mischief: kidney failure, anemia, and the body’s organs shutting down. Sad, but I suppose it’s better to die of old age than get eaten by a wolf.

I’ve put together a memorial page for Mayhem — be sure to watch the video of him I made when he was a tiny kitten. It blows me away to see how much of his personality, so evident as a baby, was still there at the very end.

You can also look at his never-updated personal webpage, created 17 years ago in January 2000 when he moved in with me.

Topic: [/cats]

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Thu, Jan 05, 2017

: Star Wars: Rogue One

I had little interest in seeing this from the previews. I was expecting a new movie to continue last years’ story and this is another prequel. (The premise is this takes place before “A New Hope” and covers how the Death Star plans were obtained to bring to Princess Leia.)

But I finally went to see it anyway and it’s surprisingly good. There’s great action, fun characters (I loved the sardonic robot), and a decent plot. It’s not “important” in terms of carrying on the whole Star Wars story, but it’s interesting.

Topic: [/movie]

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Wed, Jan 04, 2017

: Passengers

I really liked this! I couldn’t tell that much about it from the previews, and that’s because you can’t really explain much without giving away the story.

It sounds generic — about people in suspended animation on a huge starship’s 120-year voyage — but the visuals, good acting, and the intriguing psychological complexity of the plot make it worth your time.

Topic: [/movie]

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