Mutant Ninja Turtles 2014

teenage_mutant_ninja_turtles_ver14_xxlg-720x1013OK so Rotten Tomatoes gives it a grilling but its a fun movie and pretty well done.  I’d be lying if I say its worth full price or 3D, but cor a matinee, which is all I and my son go to, its…well…fun.    It gets the tone right, neither too campy or too serious and the characters are, uh, well what can you say about a near seven foot, bipedal rat and turtles? The characters have to have lay it on thick personalities that was the way they always have been.  The TNMT’s are fun loving reasonably serious young guys.  The bad guys are villains with goons what can you add?  Megan Fox’s character is central, and she held the movie together.   Her O’Neal is not a shrinking violet, victim or Mz KickAss, for the plot she had to be a bit pig headed and very naive, but she was well cast and played it well.

We’d certainly go and see a sequel if it’s done as well and doesn’t have much competition.

 

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Guardians of the Galaxy, go and see it!

hr_Guardians_of_the_Galaxy_film posterSo Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy is a fun movie.  If you want a fun afternoon or night out, go a see it, you’ll laugh and be amazed.  I love Groot and Rocket Raccoon the two CGI characters shown  in their own movie poster below.

There are many who are over the top about this movie, I think because it could have been awful and isn’t.  There is something about the movie that makes me hold back from saying Fantastic, but it is very, very good. There may be other things playing in, but  the pace was too frenetic the cutting too staccato for me to fully enjoy.   Also a lot of characters seemed to intimate some link to a deeper story that we didn’t get to see. An introductory movie set in a deep universe like Marvel’s may be prone to this and my ‘author’s bump’ maybe too sensitive to these things but these ‘issues’ kept me from getting as deeply engrossed as I did in Edge of Tomorrow and some of the other Marvel films.

But its a fun movie, go and root for Groot, Rocket and their pets.

 

grootrocketraccoon1

 

Lucy the Movie

Lucy_(2014_film)_posterLucy is a disappointing movie. That is not to say it is awful, but I could not argue with someone who said that it was awful.  For me the movie started out very well and was watchable throughout but it left me feeling like I had seen a Hollywood Horror, not the child of the Luc Besson, director of the movie The Fifth Element.   The movie feels like it was cut short.  Started out on a path like, if a bit less out there than, TFE but then got chopped short.  It as if the script was written around a very tight plot but instead of spending time fleshing out the story and the characters it was decided to just get something out the door as cheaply and quickly as possible.  I suppose that Johansson or others were not available for the time Besson needed to do a TFE like work.   Whatever it was this is a very disappointing movie, mainly because it had great potential.

The details:  the violence is what some called ‘over the top’ but unfortunately it’s what I call pseudo realistic; Lucy starts out as a believable type…and ends equally believable but without an audience leading transition ; while the Lucy UberHuman [LUH]is believable I think a more relate-able version was possible ; the LUH’s abilities are fantastical, over the top, a creepier, more understated version was  possible ; the plot is ultra simple and while the plot holes are there they don’t derail the movie ; [SPOILER ALERT] the bad guys are workmanlike if a bit too Bond-Goon-Squadish, but I really really wanted to evil surgeon from the early scenes to get terminated with prejudice ; the end is utterly anticlimactic the ‘happy’ ending wasn’t cheery and had no punch, the LUH metastasizes to another plane leaving behind the USB key fob to the universe, the confused boy toy police guy gets a text message from the beyond and the world goes on…meh.

Details of the details:

LUH’s creation: The crap about the utilization of the human brain was good as a way of thinking about human capacity but its scientific bunk, which spoiled the movie a bit for me.  The drug was TFE Beeson over the top (as was its introduction) but its derivation and supposed affect were not very convincing.  I’d have bought a material that increases intelligence by accelerating and reorganizing the brain, but requires constant new fill-ups or the user becomes a vegetable, it’s the first of a new family of bio-nanotech human enhancement drugs the Chinese mob has stolen, one vial of the stuff could infect hundreds or thousands, who would all become vegetables if they cannot get the fix… a trope matrix that could have been much more scary.

Violence:  I think that LUH had to use violence she had no time to explain.  The emotionless LUH had no compunction about using it which was funny the first time but troubling with no context.  Also the violence was too risk free, humans react to violence, modern training makes us hesitate but there are many among us who would react almost instinctively.  LUH did to some extent explain herself to the surgeon but the hole here was their reaction to her and the lack of a police response in the time it took to take out the bag etc…A couple of soliloquies or appologetic explanations to victims (even dead ones) would have helped and could even have been funny….

Emotionless: Emotions are chemical and triggered by autonomous systems, LUH could suppress them…believable.  But I lost any real human interest in the whole story when I knew she was essentially a machine with a hard stop use by date.  The appearance of the hurting, frightened, grieving old Lucy would not have been hard or out of place, her goodbye to her mother was only part of what should have been a thread through to the end.

LUH powers: Telekinesis, really? Mental control of electronics plays into my idea for LUH abilities but its just magical crap with the trope used.  With ability to control her physiology, and ultra fast processing she could have senses and reactions and strength way beyond the norm, and would have needed to eat like a horse (that was consistent in a way) she might be able to exude skin oils or pheromones with powerful effects, could heal herself fast, maybe even read minds if in contact with the target, etc, etc.  These effects and her having to think her way out of dead ends would have supported the simple story line.  The magical powers she exhibited should have been part of a movie with more complexity / depth in other areas, where those powers play are a way to keep the story moving fast….here they just truncated this already too simple movie.

Bad Guys: OK pretty good in a Bond Villain Goon Squad sort of way but still.  And what about the evil surgeon? he really needed his own poetic if gory end.

The ending:  A more effective ending would have been failure…the bad guys kill her, the bad guy’s die, maybe science guy and boy toy survive to grieve Lucy’s death.  Then maybe a hint that she did not fail but that she had made sure that the bad guys got sucked in and destroyed while the drug or whatever that created LUH will be treated like a mixture of nuclear weapon and Ebola.

 

Wired : Space photo of the day

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This image emphasizes the beautiful rays of Qi Baishi, in the top of the image. The crater was named for the Chinese painter, Qi Baishi, known for his whimsical watercolors. The extensive rays of the crater mimic such whimsicality, extending far from the impact, exposing new material across the scene. The bright ray system indicates that Qi Baishi is relatively young, compared to other visible features. Notice the lack of rays extending from the west of the crater. This asymmetry indicates that the impactor struck at a relatively low incidence angle from the west.

This image was acquired as a targeted high-resolution 11-color image set. Acquiring 11-color targets is a new campaign that began in March 2013 and that utilizes all of the WAC’s 11 narrow-band color filters. Because of the large data volume involved, only features of special scientific interest are targeted for imaging in all 11 colors.

More at: Wired : Colorful Mercury Rays

Review: Man of Steel

20130623-130611.jpgMy son and I went to see Man of Steel yesterday and thoroughly enjoyed it. In my opinion ‘Hollywood’ for all the damning it/they take these days is/are in fact incredibly good at making movies that the ‘public’ like me enjoy, see: Star Trek into Darkness, Iron Man III, Oblivion, etc, etc….I will agree that they are not so good at making movies that spark movements, deep introspection, change hearts, etc but the working stiffs out here in the real world can only take so much of that (near zero in my case since I suffer internet news triggered navel starring disorder class one to begin with and go to the movies to get away from the world not to get hammered from one more angle by it .)
Other reviews:
http://booksforkidsblog.blogspot.com/search?q=Man+of+Steel
http://www.npr.org/2013/06/13/189284063/steel-trap-snyders-superman-between-worlds
http://arstechnica.com/gaming/2013/06/man-of-steel-review-a-surprisingly-human-superhuman-story/
Henry Cavil …Clark Kent / Kal-El. Great choice
Amy Adams …Lois Lane. Fun to see
Michael Shannon …General Zod Great choice, great part, good man in evil cause
Diane Lane …Martha Kent Yes!
Russell Crowe …Jor-El Wow!
Harry Lennix …General Swanwick Good pick
Richard Schiff …Dr. Emil Hamilton Good pick
Christopher Meloni…Colonel Nathan Hardy Good pick
Kevin Costner …Jonathan Kent Oh Yeah!
Laurence Fishburne …Perry White Great supporting role

This is a very good movie despite what some say, though things that I think make it stand out perhaps ruin it for others. It has now been said many times, this is, at its core, a Science Fiction, not a genre Super Hero, movie and that core is very, very good. Man of Steel takes the Superman back story, fleshes it out and draws it out into a fully imagined prequel to the superhero of our childhood. This story of his birth and orphaning to Earth is striking and heart felt.

An artist without the commercial drivers of movie making and IP dollarization might have been able to stop there without much, if any, Super Hero baggage, leaving us with what might have been a timeless piece of work.

What I see as the problem is that the ‘execs’ felt they needed more than a good science fiction movie based on the Superman back story. They wanted a summer blockbuster super hero movie. So the creators gave them a summer blockbuster SciFi blow em up of the Independence Day sub genre and a Super Hero movie of the Spider-Man genre. They then proceeded to lace these pieces together with the science fiction piece, quite successfully mind you, into Man of Steel.

The three movies in one do actually make an entertaining whole with the core Science Fiction story providing gravitas. The other two parts do their thing though too often when two or three of the ‘bits’ have to overlay, things seem to get spoiled.

As said elsewhere some of the action sequences particularly around the Kent’s home town are too drawn out and there is something almost bug like about the super speed fighting that takes you out of the moment.

In the long battle scenes in ‘Smallville,’ Metropolis, even on Krypton, the humans and normal Kryptonians in the battle zone get squished/slaughtered in bushel lots with very little comment. Yet when Zod forces superman to kill him, Cal-El seems incredibly distraught, as distraught as when his adoptive father stops Clark from saving him thus revealing his super powers during late adolescence.

Related side note: My son said he was glad that the creators had not ruined the ‘reality’ of the action sequences by showing repeated miraculous saves. And though from one view it’s a bit cold from my writers perspective he is absolutely right.

There’s a lot one could say about this movie, my bottom line, if you have hesitated to go due to one review or another my suggestion is go, (see the cheap regular version like we did, it’s excellent and I’ve come to the conclusion that 3D, IMAX3D, etc are not really worth the extra price.) The theater we went to was quite well filled for mid afternoon second week with other new starts, and the folks behind us had seen the movie at least once and perhaps twice before and still seemed ready to see it again after the show.

Cheers

Building with wood on a Major Scale

20130622-180708.jpgShiver me timbers. Architects plan wood skyscraper for resident life
Jun 21, 2013 by Nancy Owano

The wooden skyscraper is gaining attention as “green” news because of the wood factor proposed. A number of points in wood’s favor: C. F. Møller’s team noted how timber production releases less carbon dioxide than steel or concrete production, at a time where construction accounts for 30 to 40 percent of the world’s carbon dioxide generated from humans. Concrete and steel command a large part of the market, but wood-supporters note that wood is a lightweight, renewable material that can bear heavy loads in relation to its weight.

In general, the word “wood” makes some people nervous because of fears of fire. Architects who favor wood, however, argue that wood is safer than other types of building materials and can be more fire resistant than both steel and concrete. Earlier this year, an article in the Toronto Sun took note of what Geoff Triggs, building code consultants expert, had to say about the use of wood in high-rise construction. Rather than using small two-by-fours super-compressed mass timber is used to make very large panels. The compressed lumber is as strong as concrete but lighter. The compression process creates dense wood blocks that are difficult to burn.

Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2013-06-timbers-architects-wood-skyscraper-resident.html#jCp