Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

This started as a comment on a BlackChampagne post. If some thoughts seem more incomplete than usual that is probably why.

I saw the film this morning, luckily for me the children in attendance kept mostly quiet throughout.

I have a completely different take on the movie though, as I watched and loved the original version of it. I have seen it several times in the last five years or so and still really enjoy it. It has a great message and Wilder as Wonka is so eccentric that he might actually be insane.

After having read reviews for the new version I had pretty low expectations. Much to my surprise I actually enjoyed it. While I have never read the book, the fact that both Wilder and Depp played Wonka in the same manner would imply that that is how he is supposed to act. How can you fault an actor for portraying a character as it was written?

The addition of the childhood scenes made this movie better than the original. In the original Wonka was just crazy and there was never a mention of how he got that way. He was a bit darker in the original film also, a quote:

“There’s no earthly way of knowing / Which direction we are going / There’s no knowing where we’re rowing / Or which way the river’s flowing / Is it raining? / Is it snowing? / Is a hurricane a-blowing? / Not a speck of light is showing / So the danger must be growing / Are the fires of hell a-glowing? / Is the grisly reaper mowing? / Yes, the danger must be growing / ‘Cause the rowers keep on rowing / And they’re certainly not showing / Any signs that they are slowing.”

That is damn creepy to a five year old, especially when you hear the tone and building frenzy with which it is delivered. The addition of the childhood flashbacks, and the subtraction of the dark undertones, made a lot more sense. If you could say that anything about it actually made sense, that is.

The new version also removed one of the most ridiculous parts of the old one, which I am gonna spoil right here. In the original movie each child is approached by Slugworth and offered a bunch of money to get him an everlasting gobstopper. Charlie, after being viciously demoralized by Wonka and denied the prize he was due, gave the candy back to Wonka. No one, not even a saint, would have done that. Though it was a necessary plot element in the first film, thus making it all the more ridiculous.

The only thing that I really didn’t like about the new movie was the way it ended. It made it seem as though the grand prize was to be a slave to Wonka forever; he would never be able to see his family again after all. I suppose that was necessary to the plot, but at that point anyone over the age of about six had to have already figured out the last ten minutes. I guess it was included to tie it up as a nice little family film. Much in the way that Disney destroys films by making the endings absurdly happy.

The Cap Alert Guy gave this one such a good review that I am pretty surprised I like it at all. Though I do wonder where he saw a nude statue, why a mannequin in underwear is a sex offense, who he saw drinking, and what was the one use of the 3 or 4 letter word. There was one instance where someone was about to use a profanity but the audio was removed so that all you could see was a child with his ears being blocked. Of course my ears/eyes might not be quite so in tune with the Devil’s handiwork to pick up a passing word. Unless, of course, the use of the word nuts was considered obscene by context, who knows.

Possibly the only thing that was actually worse about the second film was the Oompa Loompa songs. The ones in the first film were cheese-tastic in a way that only a 1970’s film can be, but the ones in the newer version seemed like drug induced adaptations of the originals. Though I really doubt a child today would sit through the old songs, which were basically public service announcements, I also doubt that we will be seeing a spike in the piracy of Oompa Loompa songs onto iPods in the near future. The old songs were cute and cheesy, the new ones are just bizarre.

I am still pretty fond of the first movie, but the second movie tied things together a bit more cohesively. I am now curious to read the book to see which version is closer to it. Probably not so curious as to actually read it though.

Now, just for fun, I offer up my initial comment about the movie, before I saw it obviously

The trailers for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory show exactly what the reviews you are quoting say. I know that not everyone in the world, especially children today, have seen the original movie, maybe it will seem new and fresh to them?

My wife is still creeped out by the performance of Gene Wilder in the original movie. The majority of the creepiness is that Wilder doesn’t try to do an over-the-top caricature for the role, he is just a guy, any guy, who happens to be extremely eccentric. Wilder does have the crazy hair and pale eyes at his disposal which probably makes it easier but, he still looks human.

I can judge only by the trailers as I have yet to see the film but, my guess is that Depp was trying to combine Edward Scissorhands with the smooth clay Gumby figure when he was acting it out. Of course it should also be noted that he might have stolen the teeth directly from Mr. Ed.

I hope that I enjoy it when I do see it, but if the trailers are representative of the rest of the film I really doubt that will be a possibility.

I am glad that I was so wrong.

Hollywood movie porn names?; Onion horoscopes; Mom’s PC

• This is something that I have been kicking around, inside my mind, for at least a month. Are film makers really trying to get Hollywood to start giving out Oscars for the worst named film? The summer releases this year seem to indicate that yes, they are. Or at least my assumption is based on the titles of said films.

Cinderella Man is the first up. It is a gay porn take on the original Cinderalla story. The prince eventually tracks down his lover, based on the size of his cock ring? No, it turns out it is a story about boxing during the depression. I know that you can only name one boxing movie Rocky, but come on, Cinderella Man? What the hell were they thinking? Of course the critical acclaim and box office gross for this movie seem to show that everyone other than me doesn’t think it is gay porn, I will attribute that directly to their lack of cynicism.

Next up is a movie called The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. I assume that this is supposed to be one of those chick flicks where women cry a lot. I don’t know, I don’t care. The title implies, to me at least, that the sisterhood that they speak of is not friendship, it is lesbianism. The traveling pants is a euphemism which implies that the women take turns being the dominant one.

Yes, I know that this is a very chauvinistic point of view, but it is so not my fault. The movie industry named the movies, they should have known that calling a man Cinderella might not be understood as a movie about a prize fighter trying to keep his family alive, and fighting only to meet that end. Similarly, using the word “Sisterhood” in the title of a movie sort of implies lesbianism, and when you throw in the “traveling pants” part of the title it really seals the deal.

I am certainly not a person that hates homosexuals, that being thin ice to skate when you have family members that are of that demographic, but were there no other titles available? Say, like, Dude That Beats the Shit Out Of Everyone, Helping To support His Family, well, that title seems a bit long, how about, “Poverty to Prince”? Why did Cinderella’s name have to come into this? With the crying chick movie it is not so easy. I can tell you right upfront, however, that most of the women would never fit into those pants even a year after graduation. Had they chosen a small necklace, or something of the sort, that would have been far more believable, and it would have added the bonus of being plausible. By that I mean that the women might continue to send a piece of jewelry around, while the pants that don’t fit would go into the recycle bin.

But, the big question remains. Which is the worst named movie of summer 2005?


It is Thursday, June 9, 2005

• I have been reading The Onion for quite a while, yet have never linked to it. Consider that situation remedied.

If you have never visited the site you should know that it is a must read. It is updated weekly, on Wednesday’s I think, with new content. It is news much in the same way that that George W. Bush is a level-headed leader with America’s best interest at heart: It is utter bullshit, but frequently hilarious. Some of the features may seem a bit campy, but when compared to what passes for actual news these days it’s not really that bad.

The horoscopes are probably my favorite part of the whole site. Not because they are always funny, not because they are usefull, but because they are never vague references that could apply to anyone. There is never anything like “Venus is passing the shadow of Mercury, therefore a difficult situation in your life will become a bit less difficult.” No, no, they are pretty damn specific. I have chosen a couple of samples from this week’s horoscopes to give you an idea:

Leo: (July 23—Aug. 22)
You must learn to stop screaming “Rape! Rape!” at the top of your lungs. Everyone can see perfectly well what you’re doing without the grandstanding narration.
Aries: (March 21—April 19)
You’ll be forced to run more than 50 miles by some cruel bastard who’ll rig your hat with a fiendish device consisting of a candy bar, a piece of string, and a six-foot stick.

The rest of the site follows the same lines. If you have never been, you must go. Funny, funny stuff.


It is Sunday, June 5, 2005

Mom’s New PC

My mother finally broke down and (with a bit of help from me) bought a new pc. It turns out that even people who don’t spend an enormous amount of time online still want their machine to run faster. In her case, having a 366mhz processor and 192megs of ram, it was a fairly inexpensive venture, well in the grand scheme of things anyway.

I went through Dell to order her new machine, hoping to get the cheapest model available (as they have tv spots with 299 dollar computers). Turns out that there is a 99 dollar shipping charge on their pc’s if it is under 400 dollars, so I was forced to make upgrades. Which is good, I guess, since if you buy 100 bucks in upgrades you don’t have to pay for the shipping. The upgrades that I made were doubling the RAM (to 512mb) and adding speakers (so that she could still have sound on her old pc). Of course the advertised 299 dollar PC didn’t have an upgrade option on the RAM, so I had to use a 349 dollar model as a base. After doubling the RAM and adding the speakers, it was over 400 dollars, which qualified for free shipping…Golden…

There is one tiny thing that I misled my mother about though. I was trying to get her a pc for about 300 dollars, and failed by about 100. Yet, the pc that I bought for her came with a free 15″ flat panel monitor upgrade. I asked the sales guy and he said that it would cost 70 dollars for it if you were to buy it outright, so, I just knocked 70 bucks off of the total that mom owes me for her new pc. I was in need of a new monitor anyway, and I could get another one for the same price I am paying on her PC, so it’s really a wash (I also gifted her the 13.2″ monitor that we had been using on our old pc). Yet, I didn’t tell her about it in advance, and I kind of feel bad. But, if she wants that flat panel monitor, I can get it for her for the 70 bucks that I knocked off of the price when I bought it for her, so, no big deal.


I suck

The first week of the new posting type jobby has passed, yet I never added an update on any other day than Sunday. That means that there is no way I could possibly know if I like it better or worse than the old style. Oh well, I am about the only one that reads this anyway.

The Pacifier; Alex Winter

Today’s post is going to be pretty mundane, feel free to read it in its entirety!

Today we took in a movie, The Pacifier, which I had seen the trailer for at a different movie and thought would be enough fun to pay for matinee tickets for. It was actually far better than my wife or I had expected, though you wouldn’t know that from the 18% rating at rotten tomatoes.

I have never seen a film with Vin Diesel in it before, mostly since I really don’t like the huge-action-film genre (I just can’t seem to suspend my disbelief in those type of films and it leads me to annoying everyone within earshot when I start picking apart the movie for the obviously fake things happening. Once, while watching Mortal Kombat with one of my closest friends, on tape, he actually just turned it off and said he couldn’t watch it with me. At least I know that I will be disappointed by those movies though, and don’t go watch every one thinking that maybe this will be the one that doesn’t piss me off). This may well have worked to my advantage while watching Pacifier. I knew who Vin Diesel was, but only enough to recognize his face, that character could have been played by any of countless thousands of buff men. I really think Diesel pulled it off pretty well though.

The movie does start off with a huge action sequence, and I could start picking apart all of the impossibilities, but, quite thankfully, that scene was very short and only there to show the limitless capabilities of a trained NAVY S.E.A.L. (which I am sure would piss off an actual Navy Seal if they watched the film, but that is a whole different story).

As a quick aside, while I am thinking about it, Mr. Cap Reports gave this film only his third R-PG rating ever! I can never thank Flux from BlackChampagne.com enough for getting me that guy’s website, the “cap reviews” are frequently more entertaining than the movies. In this particular case, however, I can only find one point to really question in his review of it. Mr. Cap Reports said, “positioning and movement of a teen and preteen girl to cause exposure of their underwear while wearing dresses “. I watched the film, and I look for that kind of thing, and I never saw teen or preteen underwear, at least if I did it was in such a nonprovocative manner that it completely went under my radar.

The movie actually works pretty well in its situational comedy. Of course a hard-nosed military man is going to be out of his element when dealing with common household problems, of course the situations are going to cause friction between the military man and the kids, of course all of the comedy is going to lead to an eventual happy ending. It is a Disney movie FFS. You knew long before you went to the theatre that this was meant to be disposable entertainment, while the PG rating suggested that it was more geared for children. I think that is where the major movie critics get it all wrong on this type of film, it seems that they know that it is a kid’s film, yet they expect it to have a lot of humor that kids just won’t understand. This film didn’t have any of that so the critics are pissed, of course as I look at my track record I notice that I disagree with the critics in damn near every instance so maybe I am just stupid?

I found myself pretty sympathetic to the Vin Diesel character, even though there was never a doubt as to how the movie was going to end. I laughed out loud several times, and had to fight it back a few others. As far as the film being too formulaic, of course it was, but if you didn’t know that from the trailers then you really have no business bitching about it. It is made as a kid’s film, and while it does show it mostly from the adult angle, it is still a kid’s film. The theatre where we saw it was almost evenly split between adults and children and everyone laughed, though the kids laughed at the fart jokes, while the adults laughed at some of the jokes that would really go over the head of a child. The 90 minute film went by pretty quickly, and I am glad that I watched it.

The critics that didn’t like it all seemed to think that it should have been a more ‘adult’ film that would have been okay for the kids to watch. I really wish that the critics had to review the film that they actually saw, as opposed to the movie they wanted to see. Just because Vin Diesel is in the movie doesn’t mean that it has to be the next action hero movie. There is a very simple plot, but were it much more complex the kids wouldn’t understand it. I think they did a pretty good job of balancing the humor for adults and children. Critics suck.

• Today I decided that I had to answer a question that his been burning in my brain for the last couple of months. That question: What ever happened to Alex Winter. Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter were the lead roles in the Bill and Ted movies, but it seems that you never hear about Alex Winter anymore. Why? It isn’t like he got completely out acted in the Bill and Ted movies, I bought both of them as complete skater dufuses. Yet, for some reason Reeves went on to bigger and better things, while Winter seemed to simply vanish. I know that some of the ladies think that Reeves is ‘hot’, but is that alone enough to explain it?

Researching the two actors was actually a bit of fun. It turns out that Alex Winter had actually directed a film before the runaway success of the Bill and Ted movies. Not only that but he went on to write, direct, and star in the movie Freaked, which Keanu Reeves also starred in. Wow, who knew.

Between the release of the first and second Bill and Ted movie, Alex Winter also had a starring role in the film Rosalie Goes Shopping. While it seems that no one really watched the movie, Ebert did, and he gave it three stars.

Alex Winter is now writing the script for a bipoic about Sean Fanning, the founder of Napster, and his life and times. All of this was happening while I thought that Winter had dropped off of the face of the earth…

Keanu Reeves, on the other hand, he has made a lot of horrible films. I guess his looks just carry him from job to job. One of the films that he was in, Chain Reaction, is the only film that I have ever seen with a 0% on rotten tomatoes. That was based on only 19 reviews, but come on. That movie had Reeves and Morgan Freeman in it. How can 19 critics all give it bad reviews?

Searching a bit more into the film career of Keanu, I noticed that he also has a lot of less than 50% positive reviews, and I mean a lot. A couple of 13’s, a 14, a 16, and so many under 50 that I am not gonna waste the time counting them. In fact, Alex Winter has a better ‘fresh rating’ the Keanu Reeves does. Of course the IMDB rates all of Reeves films a lot higher, thus proving that critics are not in tune with the general public.

I am sure I will sleep better tonight have finally answered this question.

Sideways

Just a quick note to mention that today marks the one year anniversary of my little bitch site. Happy Birthday to me!

•My wife and I wanted to go to see a movie today, we still had one free guest pass and it expires at the end of January. The movie that we wanted to go see was Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, which is currently only at 69% positive at rottentomatoes.com. Not that we really cared what the critics thought of it, we both wanted to see it regardless. Unfortunately, due to arriving at the theatre only fifteen minutes early, and an enormously long line, the show sold out before we were able to get tickets. That is where things started to spiral out of control. Let this be a lesson to all of us that we should buy the tickets online and pick them up inside the theatre, it would have saved us fifteen minutes -thus getting us into the movie we were hoping to see (which wasn’t an option for us anyway, since we had a free pass we had to go to the ticket window).

I did have a plan b, which sucked as it turns out. I had seen a trailer for Sideways recently and it looked pretty good. Not to mention that it won 2 Golden Globes and is nominated for 5 Academy Awards. All of that and it is currently at 96% positive at rottentomatoes.com. It also had a showing at the theatre we went to at the same time as the movie that we wanted to see, it seemed like such a good idea at the time…

This is the first movie, that I have seen recently, that the critics at rotten tomatoes got this wrong. Sideways is quite possibly the worst piece of cinematic shit that has ever hit the big screen. No, I am not exaggerating. Movies of this caliber are rarely ever made, and the few that are are always direct to video. This level of trash has probably never been seen on a big screen. This film makes Amazon Women on the Moon (which I loved, BTW) look like cinematic gold, and believe me it would take a real stinker to do that. Unlike Amzon Women on the Moon, Sideways won’t even attract a cult following; It is simply too horrible, in too many ways -yet, not in a campy or funny manner. Simply put, Shit is the best single word that could be used to describe it. To use more than one word; the Shit the day after binge drinking and a lot of Mexican food.

There is a possibility that my unbridled hatred opinion about this movie is based a lot on expectation. The trailer that I saw for it, which is vastly different than the trailer at the official website, made it look like it was going to be a comedy romp. I went into the theatre expecting to see a couple of guys getting wild in the days before a wedding. Like an extended Bachelor party where awkward and zany things happen, but, in the end it all works out for the best. That is certainly not this movie at all, in fact it is almost the polar opposite.

I hesitate to call it a drama since that would imply a plot, something that was very sparse in this flick. As a matter of fact, the official trailer shows the entire plot of the movie in about thirty seconds, yet the movie is over two hours long! Two very long hours of mostly stunned silence, with an occasional laugh that is mostly forced since you had to pay for the ticket. I would highly recommend the trailer for Sideways, but, for the love of random fluctuations of time and space god, do not watch the film. Not now, not on video, not on pay per view, not on cable, just never watch it. It is that bad. Not that I am bitter or anything.

Now for a plot spoiler. Stop reading right now if you plan to watch the movie. Two guys go to Napa Valley a week before one of them is to marry. The groom to be wants to get laid. He does. Then he gets married. The other guy doesn’t want to get laid since he still loves his ex-wife. He gets laid. Then is the best man at the other guy’s wedding. His ex-wife is now pregnant with her new husband’s child. His book doesn’t get published. He knocks on a door. The end. I am sure something else happens; I vaguely remember a game of golf at some point. But that is the plot in a nutshell.

I have been trying to understand the critical acclaim for this film ever since I left the theatre. The only thing that I can come up with is that maybe the first guy that reviewed it gave it glowing praise, then other reviewers saw it and thought it sucked -yet, they saw the first review and were worried that maybe they just weren’t intelligent enough to understand it, so they gave it praise as well. The problem with that logic is that Sideways is certainly not some high brow humor that only someone with an IQ of 170 can understand, it is just a really lame movie. I suppose it really is like the Channing Pollock quote says, “A critic is a legless man who teaches running.” Which might not even accurately describe it since the critic gets paid to watch the film and then give his/her opinion about it; That would be more like paying Bill Gates to critique Microsoft’s performance, there may be a bias there.

I know that I am basically the lone gun here, hell, Ebert practically gave the movie a blow-job. I hated it, my wife hated it, and I might be the only one in the entire world that actually puts that hatred out there to be seen. This movie sucked! It is not a ‘guilty pleasure’, it is not a love story, it is not a comedy, it doesn’t have an actual plot (most of the time the only thing that holds it all together is the fact that they display every new day in type, on a black screen, to let you know that the movie is still happening), it is that bad. Critics be damned! I would rather put Tiger Balm on my nuts (again, and a long story of accidental encounter) than to watch this garbage again!

So, by the standard of the critic, I guess that would be 4 out of 5 stars?

The Incredibles; Support our Troops; Evolution Vs. Creationism

Once again I have taken a week off from posting. Again no real reson why. Laziness would probably be the most realistic reason. Either that or just a lack of anything to write about.

I had intentions of getting something typed out on Sunday, however, the wife and I decided to go see a movie before her free passes expired. The movie that we went to see was The Incredibles, which I had been wanting to see ever since it hit theatres, while she went only grudgingly even with free passes.

The thing that amazed me the most about the movie was the size of the audience. The movie was released on Nov. 5, 2004, we went to see it on jan. 16, 2005, two and a half months after release, to find the theatre at about 85% capacity. It was showing in a pretty small theatre (as most older movies do), and only had three showings that day, so maybe I shouldn’t have been quite that surprised. I honestly thought that there would be my wife, myself and about another three people there, hah. And I really thought that there wouldn’t be any children at all, which I based on parents getting sick of their children’s constant begging to see it within the first month after release. Again I was way off. We were among about four couples that were there, every other group had multiple children. Expecting the audience to be small, we didn’t arrive until just a couple of minutes before showtime, which meant that we were in the second row, staring up for two hours to watch it.

Why are the theatres designed that way in the first place? They could make it a bit wider and add a couple of seats to each upper row, maybe even move all of the upper seating closer to the screen (at the same height of course) and add an extra row in the back. I have never had a problem watching a movie from an aisle seat, and the back row is just about the best view in the house. I guess there are reasons why they have them set up the way they do, I just will never understand them.

How was the movie? It was everything that I had expected (of course I had read a lot of reviews going in), and far better than the wife was expecting. It was certainly the most entertaining cgi film that I have ever seen, of course I have only seen a few of them. The characters in this movie were so much more realistic than what you normally see in animated films. There are many layers to each of them. For the majority of the movie I found myself almost forgetting that they were super-heroes, right up until one of them got mad and used his/her powers in anger. The visual quality was amazing, the story was pretty good (though it seemed to try a bit too hard to be dramatic) and the dialogue really carried it. Simply put, The Incrdibles has set the bar pretty high for cgi films; It’s no longer about cutesy little fish and worn out fart jokes.

• While on the way to the movie, I noticed yet another “support our troops” sticker on the back of a car. I didn’t realize until recently that almost all of those ribbons are actually magnets (I had assumed that they were stickers). Seeing this one had reminded me of the mission that I have undertaken in my local area. The thing about those little decals is that they are supposed to be displayed vertically (at least they are done that way traditionally), yet some people put them on their cars in such a manner that it looks like a Jesus Fish. Normally I wouldn’t get upset about this type of thing, but in light of the war in Iraq being based on the delusions of the religious nut that leads our country, it pisses me off. It makes me think that they put it that way on purpose, which makes me think that they probably voted to reelect Bush. Which is sick, sad and wrong.

So I decided to set the world right. When I get to work, as well as when I leave, I walk through the parking lot and take the liberty of putting their ribbons on the car properly. I only change the ones that are very obviously meant to look like the Jesus Fish. There are some that are halfway between, but it looks like the people just put them that way so that you could read what was written on it horizontaly, those I let go. I am sure that this really won’t make a damn bit of difference to the world as a whole, but it sure does make me feel better. I did find that there are limitations to my desire to straighten out the ribbons though. For instance, in the parking lot of the movie theatre I saw one that needed to be changed, I left it alone. It is one thing to do this in the tiny little town that I live in, quite another to do it in the Metro-Phoenix area. That is to say that I really don’t think it is something I am prepared to die for.

• On sort of a similar topic, that being delusional religious people, I had a conversation with a guy named Rick the other day about eggs.

All my life I have believed that the question “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?” was a pretty obvious gauge of religious belief. That is what the question is about, isn’t it? The way I see it, if you believe that the chicken came first that is saying that the chicken was created by someone/something. While if you believe that the egg came first, that would lend itself to the belief that the egg was the offspring of pre-existing animals that either cross-bred, or two animals of the same species that had a genetically mutated offspring. That would lend itself to the theory of evolution. Much like everything else in life, I never thought that anyone could believe that the question meant anything else (I always seem to think that everyone shares my views, right until they tell me they don’t). Rick, on the other hand, said that it was not anything like that. He said that the question was meant to be retorical, one of those meditiation thoughts along the lines of “If a tree falls in the forest, and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?”

I have tried to find evidence of my presumption that the question was an argument for or against evolution, but have had no success. If you happen to know how/why this question came about, please shoot me an email, I am really curious about it. Even if you don’t know how/why the question came about, but you have always believed that the fundamental reason for the question was evolution, let me know that also. I am really curious on this one.

That’s about all I have for now. Tune in next time to see photos of the craziest bitch on the net (if Zelda is willing to pose, that is).

Saw

Do you remember how, last week, I was commenting that I wanted to see the movie Saw? Well, as luck would have it, it is still in theatres three months after release, making that possible. So I saw it today yesterday.

I am not capable of doing an objective review of anything, and I am certainly not going to try to learn how to be objective, or to review, for the purposes of bitching about this movie. I am also going to spoil every damn ‘twist’ in the movie that was supposed to make it more shocking and amazing. Bear that in mind if you read beyond this paragraph.

I was extremely underwhelmed by the movie. The teasers and previews made it out to be some sort of psychological thriller along the lines of Silence of the Lambs and Seven. While Silence of the Lambs is a pretty high bar to set for a movie, Seven seems a bit more realistic of a goal. Judging a movie is always a bit of a joke anyway, since it depends on the person who reviews it understanding the material, reading the clues (in this case) etc. It is a very subjective thing. The reason that I linked to the other movies through Rotten Tomatoes was to illustrate the point that hundreds of people can watch the same movie and give it glowing praise, albeit for different reasons. Silence of the Lambs stands at 97% positive on their scale, while Seven is only at 85%. Yet, comparing that to the dismal 47% that Saw is sitting at, you can see that the majority opinion really does work (if you have seen the movie I am sure you will agree).

For some reason, though, when people who are not professional critics review the movie they give it pretty high marks. I am going to attribute this to the fact that if you like it you want to rave about it, while if you hate it you just want to forget about it. Thus, people who liked it are far more likely to voice their opinions about it (in the form of a review/recommendation) than people who didn’t like it. It is either that or every major critic is just plain wrong. I have watched a lot of movies that got bashed by the critics, this particular one is a case where I pretty much agree with them. Which, I suppose, puts me into the middle of the critic camp. But, this movie is so deserving of being there…

Spoilers galore start here.

The movie starts with a guy in a bathtub, and drowning. He has no idea where he is, of course, else it would make for a pretty lame thriller. There are two other people in the room, one on the opposite side of the room, the other dead, in a pool of his own blood, with a revolver in one hand and a tape recorder in the other. This is where the movie grabs you and promises greatness. Greatness that is never achieved.

I think that this may be the reason why I really didn’t like the movie very much. The material is great, the killer has a very unique style that leaves open thousands of possibilites for where it can take the viewer. Unfortunately, the movie takes you straight down the freeway, as opposed to taking a side road with lots of twists and turns. Had this screenplay been turned over to someone like Wes Craven or Stephen King, I really think that it could have gone from pretty mundane to outright brilliant.

In any thriller there must be scenes that shock and surprise you. Saw has a couple of moments that shock you (for all the wrong reasons) and a couple of moments of surprise, but they generally just fell flat. There were not a lot of people in the theatre where I watched the film, but still, no one screamed even once, there didn’t seem to be any gasps of horror; I looked to my wife during a couple of the ‘shocking’ parts to find her with her mouth agape…unfortunately, she was yawning (no joke).

In one particular scene there is a flashback of one of the major characters, showing how he was abducted in the first place. He is walking through a tiny apartment, it is totally dark (the power has been cut off) so he is using his camera flash (he is a photographer) as a make-shift flashlight. Of course, he can only use the flash once every few seconds, leaving many, many opportunities for surprise. Instead, he eventually reaches a room where he hears a noise in the closet. He lets his flash charge, then reaches for the knob, opens the door and flashes. The guy was there…Not very startling…Honestly now, with only a camera flash as a light source, being able to use it only once every few seconds, you really should be able to make a little bit more shocking scene than that. In the dark of the house, his vision would be momentarily stunned by the light as well, leaving hundreds of opportunities to actually surprise him/us.

The entire movie is much the same. The times when you should have your heart racing, wondering what is going to happen, where the killer might be, etc. The killer is always in the most obvious place, the only place you would expect him to be. It is very anticlimatic in that respect. Never is there a scene where you are just watching and all of a sudden something makes you gasp or scream. If this is supposed to be a ‘thriller’ or ‘horror’ film, wouldn’t you expect that to happen multiple times? I sure did, but that is why I am ranting about it.

One major plus for the movie is that I did not know who did it until they told me. Most movies of this type (and I can think of only Urban Legend as I sit here) end with me knowing who did it for a good half of the film. I strongly doubt that there is anyone, anywhere, that was actually able to finger the culprit in this one before the final frame of the movie. I am not saying that just because I am mad at myself for not guessing it either, I am saying that because it is/was literally impossible for the perpetrator to be who it ended up being.

A very short time into the movie, they introduce a character who you just know is the guy who did it. He is an intern at a hospital where one of the victims (a doctor) work. The fact that it all points so obviously to him simply excludes him. Later in the movie it actually shows that character (if the movie held my interest, I might remember the names) holding the doctor’s family hostage. This all happens by halfway through it, thus we know that he can not possibly be the guy behind it all.

Then the movie tries to make you think that it was one of the police investigating the crimes that is behind it…It does this even after it has shown that investigator getting knifed by the villain. While that would have been an interesting way for it to go, it is impossible for any person to have two bodies at the same time (well, maybe in porn). One can not be kneeling on the floor in front of one’s self, then turn around and slash one’s (the other one) neck and run away.

So, you must wonder, who really did it. Well the answer is pretty obvious, isn’t it? It was, of course, the dead body that has been laying on the floor in the room with the two victims for the last eight hours. I must admit that this was foreshadowed a bit by showing one of his crimes using a powerful tranquilizer to make someone appear dead, but then I would also have to mention that he somehow actively ‘electrocuted’ both of the guys while he was in that state.

The way that you know that the intern from the hospital had nothing to do with it is because of the electrical shocks (or common sense). If he had the power to kill them from the little room he was sitting in, he would never have gone down to actually shoot them when the time ran out. Not to mention that one of the shocks happened while he was on his way to the area where the victims were confined. Of course, that is where the story all turns into Swiss Cheese with holes, and likely the reason that it ended pretty abruptly right there.

You see, the killer was an older guy in the hospital with some cancer in the frontal lobe of his brain. He seemed to be comatose, yet, his first crime happened at that time, which is why the doctor was a suspect. I am pretty sure that you can fake being asleep, but can you fake having cancer in your brain, being in a coma, having doctors diagnose it, then go ahead and run out to build a huge cage of razor wire while you are at it? If you can then you are a better man than me. Possibly so much a better man that you managed to steal the doctors little flashlight, so that you could leave it at the scene of the crime. All that seems pretty tough to do while you are in a hospital bed. Of course I may just be thinking a tad too realistically.

The real question is: If the mastermind of the plot was really the ‘dead body’ where the main plot happens, and if he was using a tranquilizer to make him appear dead, how did he manage to 1)suppress bodily functions for that amount of time? 2)Shock both of the victims at random, while both of his hands were clearly visible? 3)Get both of the guys into that room before taking the tranquilizer (as one mentioned that he had tried screaming, to no effect. And the other woke up drowning in a bathtub. Making me think that the first guy had been there for a while before the second guy got there). 4)All of this is not even touching on how the guy that was in a coma, in the hospital, was able to get out to conduct the first couple of crimes, let alone set up a little media center in an abondoned building. Which leads nicely into 5)How can you possibly get the electric company to supply power to an abandoned building in the first place? -I had to show two forms of ID and have a home inspection before they turned on the power at my house-.

Now just a couple of technical fubars. The cell phone that the doctor finds appears to be exactly the same phone that he had when he was abducted. He is a doctor, lots of people are likely trying to call him, what if someone other than the killer calls? Towards the end of the movie, the doctor is not able to reach his cell phone, it is just out of his reach. He tries using a small box to retrieve it, can’t reach. Then he grabs a hacksaw (average length about 16″), which has a handy loop at the end of it, and proceeds to chop off his own foot, hmm, perhaps the hacksaw could have reached the phone?

I really thought that I was going to like this movie. I likely would have liked this movie if it had lived up to its potential. My wife told me that the story was written by some ‘no-name’ and was later picked up by an actual production company, that is great and all, but someone along the line should have said; “you know, it is decent as is. We could get a real producer in here and make it great.” Which, obviously, never happened. My guess is that this one will get remade in a decade or so, and it will be absolutely brilliant.

This movie is absolute proof that a good idea/story does not necessarily lead to a good movie.

Wow, I didn’t realize just how badly I hated this movie. Die, Saw, Die!

Thanksgiving thoughts and National Treasure

To begin by finishing where I left off on Thursday, the remainder of the Thanksgiving went rather well. It was unfortunate that my Mother-in-law was not able to sit at the table for the meal (due to extreme pain in her hip, something I certainly can’t/won’t fault her for), but the food and the company were both good. I might add that this is the first time that one of the guest actually did the dishes before leaving, which was nice (especially for the wife, who had been busting her ass for the last couple of days to get everything ready for the feast). Of course when I think about it, no one except my wife ever seems to have to put so much time into the preparation of the meal, which includes washing most of the pans a couple of times along the way to use them to make additional dishes. Perhaps in the future we should require additional help in the final clean up. Now that is something that we could truly be thankfull for.

• Having nothing of any substance planned for this Sunday, I decided that it would be nice to go and see a movie. There were three movies playing that I had an interest in seeing, those being “Saw”, “National Treasure” and “The Incredibles”. Our theatre of choice (which is only our theatre of choice because it is always slow, especially on Sundays.) was not showing “Saw” at all, and the nearest other theatres were only showing it much later in the day. Left with the choice between “The Incredibles” and “National Treasure”, I went to check the reviews at Rotten Tomatoes. “The Incredibles” has an amazing 96% positive rating over there, while “National Treasure” is being beaten to death. I was thinking that we would go see the former, however, when I presented the options to the wife, she chose the latter. You guess which one we went to see.

How was the movie? It was pretty good.

A lot of the critics are ripping at National Treasure for being basically Indiana Jones meets The Davinci Code. That might all be true, since I have yet to read the Davinci code there is no way for me to know. Of course critics have only opinions, and opinions are not to be taken as fact. When almost every major critic is saying the same thing, however, it seems to push it from an opinion to a more-than-likely that the plot is ripped off from the aforementioned book. The fact that I didn’t read the Davinci Code might have made it possible for me to enjoy the movie, as such, I just hung on for the ride.

I am not sure whether the fact that I don’t watch a lot of movies made me enjoy it more than a seasoned movie-goer, but I must say that it kept me entertained from start to finish. There were a couple of pretty dull moments in it, as well as a couple of times where completely abstract clues were solved just a smidge to fast (putting it mildly). But in my rating system I judge only by how many times I check my watch. I checked my watch about a half a dozen times during this one, however the watch checks were not based on boredom, but on curiosity as to how much time had passed since I last checked. The first time I looked down was over an hour into it (counting the previews), so I just wanted to make sure I wasn’t having some weird episode with ‘missing time’ or something. The rest of the times that I was checking the watch were much later in the film, and then just because I really, really, wanted to see exactly what the treasure was, and wondered how much longer they could hold out on letting me see it.

Being a veteran of a lot of video games, I was not surprised to see references to the Knights Templar in the film. There have been rumors of the wealth of the Templars forever, tons of books have used that as a premise, as well as a lot of point-and-click adventure games. It is good solid mythology to base them on. Not quite as popular in the U.S. as it is abroad, I think the movie will do extremely well overseas, where they really eat these stories up.

The tie-in of the Masons was certainly meant to draw in the conspiracy theorists here in the U.S. The Masons are a society that is pretty well known, yet not many people over here know exactly what they stand for. While it is certainly true that some of the forefathers, George Washington for instance, were Masons, it is pretty likely that a lot of people who opposed the U.S. having independence were Masons as well.

Trying to combine the Legend of the Templars from centuries long ago with the Masons of today (or 200 years ago) just doesn’t fit. The Masons have set up a helpfull little page on their website for those who watched the movie and thought that every minute of it was true.

Just to venture a guess, I am gonna say that anyone who knows anything about early American history is going to have a lot of problems with this film. I don’t know much about it at all, but I still know enough to doubt the Templar/Mason aspect of it. There is also the fact that some of the clues are on printed money. While the bills have remained (virtually) the same for quite some time, there were not paper bills going back as far as necessary to make that premise work for this film (this was, I think, a way for them to avoid having to find the actual paintings that the bills were based on, which would have made the movie go a lot longer.).

Further, anyone who knows anything about modern science will point out that the shadow that is cast from the tower at independence hall will vary not only by the time of day, but also by the day of the year. My wife pointed out (and I noticed) that the place the shadow was pointing to was pretty clearly marked when viewed close up anyway, the problem with that is that the film made you believe that it could only be seen at exactly 2:22p.m. (and why p.m.? The moon will make things cast shadows on clear nights). That is not even bringing to light the fact that if 200 years had really passed since the original clue was left the shadow wouldn’t fall the same anyway. A couple of hundred years can make shadows fall a bit different, if you know what I mean.

Finally, at least as far as ripping the movie apart, the opening sequence is all too easy. Why would an old, wooden ship be anywhere near the Arctic Circle in the first place (I understand it is a bit chilly up there). Even if it was, why would it be common knowledge to everyone who signed the declaration of independence? How did the Hero in this story find information to lead him to the ship when all his ancestors had failed? (that part is not touched on at all. No mention of why he was looking there as opposed to looking at the South Pole.) Yes, ocean currents could dictate the direction of the ship, but when the ship is lost it is usually because of catastrophic disaster, not sailing into a little nook that then freezes over trapping you. Even if that did happen, why did the people die in the ship? It is then solid ground (well ice, but ice that huge motor vehicles can traverse), why not try to find a way out? Ohh, right, had they done that, they might have lived. Had that happened, I would not have had a movie to watch in the first place.

Wow, that sounds pretty brutal, and I actually liked the movie.

The movie flows pretty well. There are some times when there are far too many cut-scenes, which I suppose add to the drama, but kind of fall flat in the greater scheme. The movie is pretty long (which was a good thing in this case), which kept me wondering how much the good guys would be able to find before the bad guys got the upper hand again. The ‘riddles’ are all a bit too unbelievable, especially in the solving portion of them. Yet, it was entertaining from beginning to end. That seems to be a difficult thing for a film to achieve.

I really enjoyed the film, even when it tried to tie the Templars to the Masons. It kept my curiosity high enough that I wanted to see the final frame, just to see how it would all turn out. There was never a doubt as to whether the good guys would win, yet, the bad guys were close enough to get the upper hand quite a few times. There are a couple of unexpected twists (unless you have read the Davinci Code, evidently), that don’t really throw you off, but at least make yoy question your theory about how it will all work out.

Long story shorter, I watched this film for more than two hours and I think I got my money’s worth. You might want to make sure that you get it at matinee pricing though. Not great, but a good ride for sure.

Ebert actively hated it. A quote from the final paragraph in his review:

Cage, one of my favorite actors, is ideal for this caper because he has the ability to seem uncontrollably enthusiastic about almost anything. Harvey Keitel, who plays FBI agent Sadusky, falls back on his ability to seem grim about almost anything. Jon Voight calls on his skill at seeming sincere at the drop of a pin. Diane Kruger has a foreign accent even though she is the National Archivist, so that our eyes can mist at the thought that in the land of opportunity, even a person with a foreign accent can become the National Archivist. “National Treasure” is so silly that the Monty Python version could use the same screenplay, line for line.

What, did this film kill his mom?

Commercial law, Games, and Bad Santa

I decided to take a week off of updating this page, and for no damn reason whatsoever. This should lead to one of two responses; either you are angry that I didn’t mention I would be taking the time off, or you didn’t even notice. Most likely the latter I suspect.

Fear not, nothing terrible has happened to myself or my family. I don’t have intentions of shutting down the page. I just didn’t feel like typing much over the last week. Not to mention that I didn’t find much of use in the news. I instead spent my computer time like I always did before I started this site, I played a lot of video games. And not even very good ones!

• Here is one of those things that I could not believe when I saw it, but when I clicked through to read the article I found out that it is true. Congress is sitting on legislation that would make it illegal to fast-forward through commercials on shows that you have recorded. How true that is, or how likely the legislation is to pass, remains a mystery.

While reading through the article linked to above, and having read a couple of other articles about the issue, it seems like what they are actually trying to get rid off is peer to peer file sharing software. How that has anything to do with fast forwarding through a commercial is beyond me. The thing is that this is just exactly how a lot of really stupid laws get passed. It starts with a fairly decent idea like banning peer to peer movie sharing software. Then someone in the advertising lobby says, “And while we are at it let’s make it illegal to fast forward through the commercials if they record the movie from tv.” Everyone laughs, but no one reads the fine print. Next thing you know you are in prison for skipping a kotex commercial.

Democracy in action. How sad is that.

• So I finally got around to buying Roller Coaster Tycoon. That is something that I had been thinking aobut doing since it came out, at which point I was pretty seriously into SimCity. So five or six years later, I actually boosted the nine bucks for the game. The first thing I gotta say is what a difference half a decade can make in system requirements. I have every one of the major requirements beat by 500%. Even the so-called ‘optimal’ ones. So, at the very least I don’t have to screw around with the choppy gameplay I would have had I bought it when it first came out.

As for the game itself, it is pretty fun. It is certainly not the type of game that you want to sit there and play. You really just want to get the park set up fairly well and then let it run in the background while you are off surfing porn sites and what not. Check back in once in a while to build new attractions as funds become available. That’s about it. Much like any simulation type game, you really have to have a taste for it in the first place. The type of micro management that you have to do is all a bit tedious, sometimes borderline boring. But it is fun to be able to quadruple the price of umbrellas when the weather forecast shows rain. It is good to be the king.

There are two things about the game that really annoy me. The first is that it is called Roller Coaster Tycoon, while it seems (at least early on) that roller coasters are far from the meat of succeeding in your objectives. They have some prefabricated coasters that you can put up, which cost a ton of money, that can attract a crowd. That is great for just getting started, but I want to build some really monsterous ones. Which I did. And while it costs me about 350 dollars an hour to operate it, it routinely goes through the course empty, almost all of the park goers say that it is too intense for them. Honestly now, most good theme parks are built around one very intense roller coaster. Some people will travel thousands of miles just to try out the next big one. Why is it that no one wants to ride the monster that I built? Oh well, it was a lesson learned.

The other annoying thing about it is that there are four different angles that you can view the park from. Depending on which view you have it on it will make it look like your coaster is a complete circuit, while if you rotate the view it turns out that you are off on the height or distance of a couple of sections of the track. This really only happens after you build one freestyle only to find out that one of the hills is too steep to make it up, thus forcing you to cut the section, tone it down, and try to reconnect later. I spent a good half an hour fucking with that problem yesterday, quite annoying. It is possible that this was all covered in the instruction booklet, however the game didn’t actually come with one, only a blurry version of it in .pdf format, which is quite the annoyance in and of itself.

These problems were likely solved in the second roller coaster tycoon game, who knows maybe I will buy that one in another five or six years.

• My wife and I took the time to watch the movie Bad Santa over the weekend. I found it pretty amusing. It was sort of the type of low brow humor I was expecting, while it did have moments that were damn near touching. The funniest part of the movie though was when Billie Bob Thorntons character said that the north pole was like the suburbs. When asked which one, he replied “Apache Junction”. You would really have to live in the Phoenix area to understand just how funny that is. A.J. is the butt of every joke ever made about rednecks, hispanics and indians. Of course it is deservedly so, there is nowhere else in the valley that has so few teeth, and so many non-functioning cars, per capita.

As far as Billie Bob, I don’t know that I had ever seen a movie with him in it. At least if I did he left so little impression on me that I am blanking it. I only knew who he was because of his previous relationship with Angelina Jolie. I can say this much for Billy Bob, he sure does play a convincing drunk. Whether that is the skill of a finely hones actor, or the easiest role of his life since it was not an act at all…Who knows?

Funny thing about my wife renting the movie was that the other movie she wanted to rent was not available that day. The other movie was ‘Elf’. I am just guessing here, but those two movies seem to be on opposite sides of the holiday film universe. Of course it could be that watching Elf after Bad Santa would negate some of the horrible Christmas thoughts that I now have in my head, but I guess I will never know.

I am pretty sure that the only reason that she was looking to rent Elf was that it has Will Ferrell in it. I like Will Ferrell as much as the next guy, but I am afraid that he is going down the same road that Jim Carey did early in his career. They put them in movies to get butts in the seats, then just make them basically do the same comedy routine that we have already seen hundreds of times. Then it just starts to get tired and boring. Hopefully this won’t be the case with Ferrell, or if it is he will overcome it as well as Carey did. Of course I don’t really care, so this is kind of moot anyway.

Well that is about it for today.

Red Sox Series and Dogma

I have again been quite lacking in the supposed ‘daily update’ department of late. I could likely have banged something out over the last couple of days just for the sake of making a post, but it would have been pretty poor even by my meager standards. Who knew I had standards?

• So it turns out that the Red Sox really did win the world series and lift the ‘Curse of the Bambino’. That is great and all, I am very happy to see someone other than the Yankees take it home this year. I think a lot of the baseball fans in the U.S. are the same way. There were a few quotes in the news articles about the Red Sox win, however, that really make me think the people in Boston may be a bit delusional, if not clinically insane:

All the psychic pain doesn’t just disappear in one day. On Thursday, some Red Sox fans were cautious, and even irrational, about accepting their good fortune. Several said they read the sports pages first thing to make sure the win actually happened. Gilligan looked in another section of the paper.
“I checked the obituaries to make sure I was still alive,” he said.

Okay, I know it has been a while, but come on! I understand that his statement was likely not meant as fact (though with the rabid BoSox fans one can never know), but it is just not that big a deal. Beating the Yankees after being down 3-0 in the previous series was a big deal, as it had NEVER happened. Not by any team in the entire history of professional baseball. Yet, the BoSox fans wait until they sweep another team in the ‘World Series’ to start to express their disbelief? Was the ‘Curse of the Bambino’ so much a part of life in Boston that they really, truly believed that the Sox were never going to win it again?

Of course I only bring this up since it makes it seem possible that my beloved Cubs will be able to rid themselves of the ‘Curse of the Goat’. That will be entirely necessary if they are to avoid the plan that I laid out in a previous post, and fulfill my prophecy of winning the World Series in 2007. The significance of which is that they would be the only sporting team to ever go exactly a century between title wins. I am a Cubs fan, we have to have goals too.

• I took in the movie Dogma over the weekend. It was released in 1999 and I have somehow just never found the time to watch it. Sure they play it on lots of networks at this point, but it is the type of movie that you really have to see without censorship to truly appreciate. I really loved the movie and plan to watch it at least once more just to make sure that I didn’t miss any of the innuendo. It is wonderful to have an open mind. I am not even going to go into a ‘psuedo-review’ of this one though, as there are other people that have done it so much better than I could ever hope to.

Here is the CAP Alert guy with his ‘Full Review’ of the movie. You will either laugh or cry, depending on your particular faith, but it is definite must read material when researching a movie such as this. It is not my intention to rip on anybody for being really small minded and simple, but (there is always a ‘but’) this guy fell off of his rocker a long time ago and is only still rocking in his own head, if you get my drift. The only thing that keeps him out of the mental hospital, likely, is that there are a lot of people that think just like he does. Scary thought, considering that one of the two presidential candidates share in his beliefs. I have no proof of his sanity, or lack thereof, but I do have a single quote from his review of the Dogma movie:

Since the release of Dogma in 1999 it has apparently served well the appetites of the unbelievers and of the situational and conditional Christian — those who are Christian only when and where it suits them. By deeper inspection of the letters of the many who claim to be Christian have told me they found “deeper insight” and “spiritual fulfillment” in Dogma, they each have only been apparently duped into questioning and doubting not only God’s Word but God Himself; into thinking it is good to question everything. What a dilemma! While it is good to question most worldly things to avoid being deceived, one must assume deception is the goal. God has no plan or goal to deceive us in any way. Thus, the promotion of free-thinking by Dogma targeted at the Gospel and His Word cheapens for the gullible and uninformed their perception of God AND His Word.

So, then, it is really good to question everything on earth. Yet, it is not good to question everything on earth. You should only question the things that are not by the hand of God…Oh, I get it. So it is okay to question whether the pizza really had double pepperoni, but it is not okay to question whether God looked on and watched a child die in agony. It is okay to question why there is not more World Support for the thousands of people who die in underdeveloped countries every year, yet, it is not okay to question God’s plan for whatever is left of them when ,and if, they finally make it to heaven.

Mankind has tried to use religion to explain everything since the beginning of time. Don’t you think it is just about time that we start to live for now?

The whole “worshipping god” thing has pushed us further back in technology (and any other race ever constructed) than we would be if we just finally gave up on religion.

I guess God, Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and lots of other figures who never existed, in reality, will laugh when I come to greet them. It is a choice that I have made.

Note to parents out there. Don’t try to tell your kids that all of these mythical beings exist, then tell them that they don’t exist…Except God…

Well, at least my parents went the extra mile and never killed any of us. They also killed all of the ‘mysterious gift bringer’ myths by the time I was twelve. I don’t know if either of them had the cajones to take a stance on whether or not there was a ‘God’, but I think mom did a better job of dispelling myths about it. By the time I was 12 I knew that there was no one looking out for me, what I did/said was it. That all worked out well, as I did grow up. Religion is only Myth in my mind.

Strange dream; Team America: World Police; The System Has Failed

I took a few days off around the website in case you haven’t noticed. Again the problem was just an utter lack of anything to say, I won’t let that little fact stop me today!

If anyone out there is into dream analysis, here’s one for you. In this dream I am standing in front of a shopping center in the town where I grew up. There is an ambulance parked nearby. Next to me (in the same general area anyway) are two paramedics and a young kid that I don’t recognize. After a few moments a black Chevelle with blacked out windows comes around the corner, the passenger window comes down, a rifle comes out and fires three shots, about a half a second apart. The Chevelle speeds away.

The three shots seem to have hit their intended targets. The two paramedics are both very obviously dead; each having been hit in the head and missing a great deal of the skull. The kid that I don’t recognize is hit also, but in the chest. He is breathing but barely. I can’t be certain what the bullet actually hit, but in my best estimation it looks like it probably missed his heart, I think he had a collapsed lung though, as he was coughing up blood.

My shouts for help go unanswered, the shopping center is deserted. In fact I don’t think there is a single car in the lot with the exception of the ambulance. I remove the stretcher from the back of the ambulance and put the kid onto it. I manage to get the stretcher into the back of the ambulance but I can not figure out how to secure the kid to the stretcher, or how to keep the stretcher from rolling/sliding. After a minute or so of trying to figure it out I decide it is better to bang him up a bit on the way to the hospital than to let him die while I am fucking with the straps.

I have never seen the driver’s seat of an ambulance but in my dream there are so many switches that it puts me in mind of a jet. All I want to do is start it and go, which I figure out quickly enough. The second I am on the road in front of the shopping center though there are cars backed up going both ways with no way to get around them. I start messing with the switches hoping to find the siren or the lights, and eventually find the one for the lights, yet the cars don’t seem to see them, as they don’t make way for me to pass. I do eventually find the siren (bear with me I know this is weird), it is a hand crank on passenger side of the cabin. In order to use the siren I have to put the ambulance in park, move to the passenger seat and crank it. I do this and the cars immediately all make their way to the side of the road, but by the time I am back in the driver’s seat the noise has faded and the cars are all back in front of me.

Through experimentation I am able to figure out that if I give the thing a good crank, five revolutions or so, I am able to get back to the driver’s seat and make it a couple of car lengths before I am boxed in again. A couple of dozen times of doing that and I make it to a cross street that I take towards the hospital (in my dream the location of the hospital is actually the location of the court, but that is another story). The four streets that surround the hospital are all one way, I was of course on the wrong street and had to make my way all the way around the thing to reach the entrance. When I come to a stop at the emergency entrance I crank the siren once more and a bunch of people rush out of the hospital. When I open the back of the ambulance to get the kid out, he is just sitting there on the stretcher with no sign of an injury at all. As I stare around confused, looking back and forth between the kid and the doctors, the black Chevelle pulls up behind the ambulance. I duck to the ground instinctively, but when the doors open the two paramedics from the shopping center get out. Suddenly a police car appears, I am in handcuffs, the hospital (which is in the location of the courthouse in the actual town layout) has turned into the police station and I am in a room being questioned about stealing the ambulance when the dream ends.

So what does that all mean?

•With the Megadeth concert being only two weeks away, I finally decided I had better go ahead and buy the new cd. The System Has Failed is the latest release, which I have just listened to twice. I have a couple of comments about it. First, they sure did go back to their roots as far as speed and power. I am not sure if it could hold a candle to ‘Rust in Piece’, but it is certainly on par with ‘Countdown to Extinction’. The second thing of note is that a lot of the lyrics are pretty sub par for Megadeth. The songs make sense (as much as a song can) but they just don’t seem to be of the same caliber as most of the older stuff. I suppose one can only write about so many great poems beforing running out of brilliant stories to tell.

One other thing that I took away from listening to it, I don’t think that Dave Mustaine thinks much of George W. Bush, or the situation in Iraq. That much is never actually said, but it is kind of implied. Even the albums cover art depicts someone, who looks an awful lot like dubya, paying off Vic the judge. The first song on the album, ‘Blackmail the Universe’, starts with air force one getting shot down and the president being detained by terrorists. One of the quotes in the song is, “I red, white and blew it.” That is a great line…

• The wife and I went out to take in a movie today. It was the first movie that I have seen on opening weekend since the original theatrical release of E.T. So what movie was so compelling as to make me see it on opening weekend, a movie so powerful to break a 22 year run of never seeing a movie on opening weekend? Well Team America: World Police, of course.

This is one of those movies that is certainly not for everyone. If you like it, you really like it, if you don’t like it, you actively hate it. A quick look at the reviews on RottenTomatoes will certainly evidence that. I am of the camp that really, really liked the movie. If you have yet to see it, I have only this to ask, “Jesus titty-fucking Christ!”, why not?

Now I am going to talk a little bit about the movie, not a review, more a list of things that I did/didn’t like about it. That means that there will be some spoilers. Of course this movie is pretty hard to spoil, I could likely read the entire script to you verbatim and you would still be blown away by it. That all being said, away I go.

First off, the movie took me completely by surprise. I had seen only one trailer for it ever. I mean there was only one t.v. commercial that I ever saw advertising the film, and that was a couple of months ago. All that I was able to gather from that was that it was done with marionettes, and that the minds that created ‘South Park’ were behind it. That was not a lot to go on. That was all that I knew about the movie when my butt hit the seat at the theatre (where we arrived a half an hour in advance, only to find that even at show start there were only about 20 people there).

To start with a few very specific examples of what I didn’t like about the movie. 1) There is a puking scene that goes on WAY longer than it needs to. The guy threw up, we get it, move on. It was not all that funny to just watch a marionette spit out pea soup for a minute and a half. 2) There is a quite unnecessary little song that the evil mastermind (Kim Jong Il?) sings, should have been on the cutting room floor, and likely would have been were it not for the childish humor in stereotyping the speech of all Asians by making all the ‘L’s sound like ‘R’s. The movie would have been better off without it. 3) There is just a lot of profanity for the sake of profanity. I know that they are Lampooning other movies and the such, but no one really ever says Fuck that often…Not even me and I am a potty-mouth. 4) The ‘running joke’ about the main character sucking ‘Spotswoods’ dick had lost most of its steam by the time that it actually happened. While I did find it a bit humorous, I don’t think it was actually necessary. I am sure that there are a few issues that I am overlooking, but I want to get on to the good stuff, so I will leave that all for a later date.

What I liked about the movie, now that is a tough one. I would probably have to list at least half of the movie to get all of that across. I will try to just list a few extreme laugh out loud (xlol) moments.

Xlol moment 1: This one is covering two scenes, the destruction in both Paris and Cairo. I was laughing so hard because that is just the way the rest of the world seems to look at the U.S.A., Destroying every precious, ageless monument, yet declaring victory after leaving the country in ruin.

Xlol moment 2: The twangy, country-western style song that Trey is singing while the main character makes up his mind about going to fight for his freedom. The song ends with something close to “Freedom isn’t free, it costs a buck-o-five”. I may have been the only one in the theatre laughing, but that one really tickled me. Take that all you country-western artsists that write songs about freedom, yet would never ‘slip on your boots’ to fight for it!

Xlol moment 3: The first time the team started to roll out of Mt. Rushmore, when they first started to sing “America, America” in a pretty dignified tone, then followed that with the hammering, “America, Fuck Yeah!” on our way to save the mother-fucking world, Fuck Yeah! Or however it actually goes, I damn near pissed myself with laughter. I think that was mostly because it reminded me a lot of the song from the old G.I. Joe cartoon themesong at least I thought it did right until I just listened to the g.i.joe theme again, not even close. Still, that was really, really funny when they broke that song out.

Xlol moment 4: There were a lot of times during this film that I laughed out loud, that is quite unusual for me as I try to never be noticed, ever. After the first half hour or so of the movie I was able to contain my laughter for the most part, and as such the fourth xlol moment was in the credits. There are the two separate sets of credits, the ‘team america’ credits (which appear to be in steel with rivets) and after that the actual, normal credits roll. During the first credits, while the ‘America, Fuck yeah!’ song is playing, they start throwing out random terms. Like, “the internet, Fuck Yeah!”. There are a lot of them that I didn’t actually hear, but one of the last ones was, “Slavery, Fuck Yeah!”. I nearly split my gut with laughter, while I guess my wife didn’t hear it at all.

Jesus titty-fucking Christ, that is the funniest movie of all time. Well the funniest movie in this century. Then again, this century is only four years old…The funniest movie counting the last two centuries then…But, I guess they didn’t have movies before then, so I guess it really must be the funniest movie of all time.

As far as the fact that the characters are just marionettes, it really only comes up when they really want you to see it. The first ‘fight scene’ illustrates that, but I am pretty sure that it is done on purpose. In the latter part of the movie, the marionettes do some hand to hand fighting that looks, at the very least, as realistic as most of the crap that Hollywood has to offer. Also, and unlike Hollywood prodcutions, with one exception, when the people are dead, they are dead. Having no head, splitting your torso in half, these things will keep you down for a while. No one in this movie gets slapped and then ignored for the duration.

I guess I better stop now, if I don’t I will likely go on forever. Just go watch the damn movie!