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Don't gouge out your eyes just yet.

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Avatar Script

Posted By on January 14, 2010

Sorry, can’t help but nerd out. Fox released the original script.

It’s interesting to see the differences from that and the final theatrical version. That would explain some of the scenes in the trailer. And yeah, probably not a good idea to look at it if you haven’t seen the movie yet.

Astonishing X-Men Review

Posted By on January 12, 2010

Another X-Men? Huh? That’s for kids! Well, this one’s written by Whedon, who is typically a pretty sharp writer. That whole mutant cure arc that X-men 3 drove into the ground? They originally stole it from Whedon.

Anyway, I’ve read the original comic version, but you can find a very faithful video version of it at Hulu. I say video instead of animated, because it’s not animated really. It’s some weird “moving comic” format. I didn’t mind it too much, because the great voice acting makes up for it, but some people may. Besides, it’s kind of different in a fresh way. Either way, at only 10 minutes a piece, Whedon’s writing skillz become apparent pretty quickly.

So, not willing to wait for the next release, I read all the comics. And…I’d rate the whole thing a 3/5. I’d recommend it to any X-men or Whedon fan, but probably not to anyone else outside those spheres. The writing was sharp in typical Whedon fashion, but the story felt really contrived at times. Maybe he was just emulating the stereotype of mainstream American comics, but I don’t really buy that. Unless someone was pushing and prodding him to do things a certain way, he’s the storyteller, and he determines how things unfold (unless FOX is involved). The rise of Danger (and the blight on Xavier) and her ultimately becoming another one of Whedon’s snarky, witty, Buffy-esque characters just felt extremely…lame.

Then the giant bullet flying through space, that was laughable. I actually chuckled a bit when I saw that pane. That truly would only have worked in the comic book medium. Transcribe that into film, and I think audiences would be laughing. P.S. I don’t want to get into a nerdy planet killer debate, but I suspect there would be far more efficient, less silly-looking, weaponry.

But yeah, that was my only major gripe: the story. Okay, I lied. The writing’s fun and witty. Maybe almost monotonously fun and witty. I kind of got the sense that a lot of his characters were just similar derivations of the same mold. Witty bitches for all the chicks, for example. The Danger character really made that apparent. Oh and then this odd gem from Emma Frost, “He has a disease if you recall: an inexplicably adverse reaction to being shot at.” Wow. YOU GOT SERVED. That was almost cool if it weren’t so long. Who the hell says that? It reminded me of the tactical martyrdom line from Avatar (which actually is not bad in comparison, wow). Awwwwkward. Well, a good effort from Whedon, but I think Neil Gaiman is still better at characterization, at least for this comic.

Dollhouse Die

Posted By on January 11, 2010

So the train wreck is finally ending. My friend’s been trying to get me to watch the last few eps, because they’re supposedly good, but I feel like, what’s the point? Now we’re just panning for gold in a drying stream, when there’s thick veins of gold (or at least consistent silver) in other shows.

Ok, “train wreck” is harsh. I’d give it a 3/5. But it was just such a huge disappoint compared to past Whedon works: Firefly, Dr. Horrible, hell even Buffy, and I didn’t really watch that one. The first half / first season was a complete waste, almost degenerating to Smallville’s villain of the week formula (oh god that was crap). It had the usual girl power angle, but none of the characters were around long enough to give a damn about (their minds are wiped after every ep, and so you’re left with characters with no fixed personality).

I randomly and reluctantly popped in Firefly the other day to put on as background noise while doing some cleaning. I say reluctantly because I had watched firefly so damn much, I didn’t think it’d entertain me anymore. Nope, to my surprise, it was still entertaining. And it just highlighted how much Dollhouse is “meh.” I really feel like Whedon blew it, not just for Dollhouse, but I’m worried for the execs, too, who may hold it against him.


Posted By on January 5, 2010

[I take no responsibility if you google anything in this post.] So I was reading a post on reddit about a kid who made a lot of money, when I came across a term that I had gladly forgotten long ago in one of the comments…I haven’t chatted up with any Japanese nationalists lately denying the Nanking massacre, Unit 731, or comfort women, but I think now, as a rule, if I ever do again, I’m just gonna ask, “What’s up with ‘guro’ art?” Especially ero guro. “OMFG” was made to be used now. I’ll probably just get the usual response: “The West made us do it.” Or “America killed a lot Indians.”

Basically it’s erotic gore. I don’t know why such a genre exists, but it does. And it’s very disturbing. Ah what a coincidence, origins starting around 1920-1930 Japan, just before the war…My pop psych analysis says it’s a hyper extreme case of needing to dominate another person, but man, WTF?

You put people who like that kind of stuff in an imperial war machine that has them convinced that other ethnicities are less than human…it’s not hard to put 2 and 2…I highly, highly, highly, highly^35 recommend you do NOT google either term, unless you are extremely desensitized, or have some kind of purely academic curiosity (of which you will pay a price). What has been seen, cannot be unseen.

And sigh, of course, my usual disclaimer for the knee-jerk, “OMFG YOU’RE STEREOTYPING” folks. No, I do not think all Japanese (likely men) like this stuff. It’s probably a small subset, blah blah blah, although whether it’s an insignificant subset is debatable. There’s definitely a market for it over there, which itself is disturbing.

Best Seats for Avatar 3D

Posted By on January 1, 2010

Differences in Avatar aspect ratios

Well before I write an actual movie review, I thought I’d throw this up after I went with some IMAX noobs at one of my viewings of Avatar…My friend’s friend waited over 3 hrs in line, alone, being about 20th from the front. What’s he do once he goes in? He sits 4 rows from the front bar. Which is good for a normal theater, but the front bar in a true IMAX is essentially the *very front* (as opposed to a LieMAX).  Head and neck aches ensued. From that position, the 3D didn’t sync on the far right and left unless you actually turned your head to look directly at it. I don’t fault him; he didn’t know any better. Poor guy, all that time spent waiting.

Anyway, this is primarily for Avatar-style 3D, but I suspect movies using that technology will continue to trickle in. A major component of Avatar is the immersion, so you might as well see it as it was intended and see where all that spending went, right? I’ve seen Avatar in 3D from various positions now, and I can tell you that more than any other movie I’ve seen before, positioning really had a large affect on my enjoyment of the film. With regular 2D film, it’s clear that you’re watching a flat projected image coming from a projector. But with “Cameron”-style 3D, the movie makes you feel as if you’re there. Until Total Recall technology comes around, Avatar 3D is going to be the closest to traveling to another habitable planet any of us will ever get. I really don’t think 2D or Bluray is going to do this movie justice.

A true IMAX 3D is the best way to see it in my opinion, despite what I said in the previous post on the differing 3D technology. The IMAX version has the full 1.78:1 (16:9) cut of the film, while the 2D and non-IMAX 3D cuts are 2.35:1. I ran the numbers, and we’re talking about a 25% loss in vertical image going from the IMAX cut to the non-IMAX cut. If anyone knows what cut the LieMAX screens are showing, I’d appreciate it.

For a true IMAX screen, I found 5 rows from the top is very good (this is specifically true of the true IMAX in Irvine. Your mileage may vary). It optimally puts the whole screen in your field of vision, without requiring you to move your neck side to side to see what’s on the left and right. You’re also vertically centered, so you don’t need to crane your neck up either. For all intents and purposes, the top of the IMAX is analogous to the center in a regular theater. So anywhere in the back is good. The front is the face-f**k zone. I got a little dizzy sitting that close. Plus as I mentioned before, the 3D on the sides weren’t syncing sitting that closely unless I physically turned my head to look.

For a regular, non-IMAX screen, the back is terrible. Normally I’d say the back is fine for any other film, but with the immersion factor of Avatar, sitting in the back kind of ruins it. I could see speakers and the walls of the theater in my peripheral vision. It was like watching real life Picture-in-Picture. So in this case, you’d want to sit in the middle, probably near the bar.

I haven’t seen Avatar in a LieMax, but since they’re just up-converted regular theaters, I’d guess the middle would be where to go.

Well, hope that helps some people out there.

Avatar 3D – “Dreaming with your eyes open”

Posted By on December 23, 2009

[Update] I’ve seen researched it a little more, and I’ve heard multiple complaints about the XpandD glasses. Also, apparently the IMAX version has the full cut, whereas the non-IMAX versions have a cropped cut, losing about 25% of the screen. Definitely see it in real IMAX if you can.

“Cameron’s genius is this: He makes movies for women disguised as movies for men.” Definitely a pretty good balance of yin and yang.

OK, I’m addicted. I’ll admit it. I’ve seen Avatar in 3D, three times now. If I know someone that hasn’t seen it, I unabashedly agree to go with them. I’m slightly ashamed, yet the addiction is strong enough that I don’t care. Twice in Imax 3D, and once in RealD. I didn’t know there was a difference, but apparently RealD is superior. Link about different 3D tech. The trade off is that the screen is smaller, and I believe some of the image is cropped = less immersion. I sat in the back for the RealD show and it was like watching a picture-in-picture broadcast. Too much of the peripheral vision was filled by “theater”: speakers, walls, people….definitely sit around the middle or closer.

The 3D…hmm the first time I watched it, I didn’t really think it added all that much. I think it’s because Cameron used it tastefully, did the whole movie in 3D, and didn’t make it in-your-face, save a couple scenes here and there. Hence, since we naturally view things in 3D on a daily basis, I just didn’t notice it and didn’t think it added that much. However, when I saw it a 3rd time at the Irvine Imax 3D, the feed for the left eye was extremely messed up (you can verify by closing each eye individually; the image should be sharp for each). It pretty much ruined all of the 3D. That and the dumb broad next to me who was literally texting on her cell every 5 minutes. I wanted to throw that phone down the stairs. Although I’m guilty of being retarded for not saying anything…

But on the flip side, while constantly fiddling with my 3D glasses, I noticed just how much of the movie was in 3D, and how much of it I was taking for granted. I watched the trailer when I got home, and boy did it look like crap in comparison, like watching some kind of ancient Egyptian papyrus version, or some kind of stone tablet version. I seriously don’t think I can watch this movie in 2D. The bluray isn’t going to do this movie justice, so I figure I should catch it in theaters while I can, until 3D TVs come around. Our kids will wonder how we could put up with 2D TVs.

If you read the first comment in the link above, he mentions a tech called XPAND, supposedly the best of them all. There’s a theater in socal with it…tempted…

Google Maps Down, Bing Maps Up?

Posted By on December 5, 2009

Interesting. My friend pointed out that Google’s directions to an address we were heading to was completely wrong. Apparently Google dumped Nav Teq in ’08 for Tele Atlas, and recently it dumped Tele Atlas in favor of its own collected data. Ambitious, but now Maps doesn’t seem to be very accurate anymore. These directions are totally wrong by 2 miles. Sure, Google Maps has had mistakes before, and I guess now they’re just trusting in user corrections to fix things…but I don’t want wiki-assurance on my map. I want as accurate data as possible. And with Bing Maps Beta showing some strong promise…

Note To Self

Posted By on October 28, 2009

Don’t buy a Mustang for any future wife.

Do consider a Subie.

During an extrication seminar I was conducting, several members of an area fire department approached me with a question and a challenge. They had encountered a Subaru Forester involved in a crash and were unable to cut through the B-pillar with any of their extrication tools. Their cutter and their reciprocating saw were both unable to sever the pillar. They actually went back to the junkyard the next day and used a gasoline-powered rotary saw with an abrasive blade to totally remove the B-pillar. They brought it to the seminar to show me.

When I saw the pillar, it was clear that something was different about the Forester B-pillar construction. It was eight layers thick! One of the layers was a round steel rod that resembled a concrete reinforcement bar (rebar). That B-pillar had more layers of steel than I had ever seen in a vehicle.

I do realize that it’s not a totally fair comparison. Who knows if the Subaru’s roof could have withstood the same thing…but it does seem clear that the Subaru has superior reinforcement regardless. So why not? That and…I wouldn’t want a car with a live axle anyway.  I should note that the Mustang had a wannabe rollbar in it, too, that totally failed to do anything.

Now here’s an interesting site:

It’s basically a blog for firefighters showing where to cut up cars during an emergency.

The Koreans Cometh

Posted By on October 4, 2009

Honda Chief: “Hyundai is awesome.” — Autoblog
Japan’s automakers know a threat when they see one, and based on their words, it sure isn’t in Michigan. Motown is fleeting image in the Japanese carmakers’ rearview mirrors, which they’re now nervously checking for a budding South Korean juggernaut. …

At the moment, I feel like many people have the same arrogant attitudes towards Hyundai that the whities apparently had towards Japanese auto brands in the 60′s-70′s. “Japanese cars? Pfffffft! Bwahahahaha.” History is repeating itself, but the players have changed places. This attitude includes me, to be honest. Mainly because of Kia. But realizing the hypocrisy, I’m trying to be more open minded.

Open Challenge: First person to meet a Japanese person that owns a Hyundai wins an ice cream!

Rule Britannia

Posted By on September 30, 2009

I love Wikipedia. I couldn’t think of this British anthem for awhile, but started reading about Britannia. It’s played quite a bit, especially in American media when showing off something British. You’ll probably recognize it if you fast forward to 3:45. Anyway, Britannia => Rule, Britannia => Youtube. Sweet.