Tuesday, February 18, 2014

dont judge me for this

SWEET! I just got a free Minecraft card code at http://minecraftcode.me/

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Who's Hands Are These?

So guess what guys.  I found tumblr; or maybe it found me...  I've always known it was there, and my friends have been on it for ages, but I've always refused to become involved.  Until now... Until now I've become the very thing I swore to destroy...

Whether I post anything original will be one thing, but re blogging is just as dangerous.

I will still be doing my reviews and such on here when I finally get around to consuming any new material, so don't worry I haven't abandoned you.

Until next time, tumblr.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Film Review: Vehicle 19

Vehicle 19 is a new movie starring Paul Walker (Fast and Furious, The Lazerous Project) that didn't really get the kind of prerelease advertising campaign it might have deserved.  Of course the lack of immediate popularity adds a little bit to it's charm, so maybe that's for the best.  Now I'm not going to say anything about it right now except for the 'back of DVD' equivalent synopsis.

Vehicle 19 is all about Michael, an alleged criminal from the US who goes to visit his ex-wife who works in foreign affairs at the US embassy in South Africa.  Little does he know, he's about to be catapulted head first into the middle of an international human trafficker's plot to murder a woman who's only crime is wanting to expose the truth.

Now if you want to see this movie without having any preconceptions about it, see it now and don't read any further.  I'm not going to go into spoilers yet, but the next thing I'm about to talk about may take away slightly from the unexpected cool-factor.  You've been warned.

So this film had a lot of good qualities about it.  You know, good special effects, significantly above par acting (mostly), and a good - albeit more simple - plot.  However the thing that really makes Vehicle 19 special and as awesome as it is, is the camera.  Oh there were a lot of cool angles?  Yeah there were a few, but that's not what I'm talking about. Good use of focusing?  Yeah a lot of that too, but still not what I'm talking about.  What I'm talking about is the fact that the whole film simultaneously takes place in two locations and in dozens.  Come on Nick, what are you on about now?  I'm going to start with the second of the two locations and work back for dramatic effect here.  The second location is a parking lot, and there is one shot there.  The camera zooms out and then tilts up.  Yup, that's the whole second and final shot of the movie.  It lasts about 20 seconds.  Now as for the first and (one could argue) only other location, it's the inside of a minivan.  That's right, the entire movie save 20 seconds at the end takes place in a minivan.  So now you see what I meant by simultaneously two locations and dozens.  Walker's character drives around for the whole movie and the camera never leaves that van except for that final shot.

It is not very common anymore to find films that both do something really awesomely artistic like that, and are actually good.  The first example of a similar movie which comes to mind that was really quite good as well is a movie called "Cellular" starring Chris Evans where essentially the entire film revolves around one phone call.  It's awesome, I love that movie, you should go watch that if you like Vehicle 19.  Even if you don't, it's different enough that you might still like Cellular.  Sounds like I have to do a Cellular review too huh?  I'll get on that I suppose.  Anywho, moving right along...

Having the whole movie take place in a minivan might seem like it would get tedious very quickly, but it is done in such a way that sometimes you actually forget you're watching everything happen from inside a little 6x12 foot space (or however big a minivan is).  Although the camera stays in the van, the characters do not share the same restriction, which is part of the reason it works so well.  There is plenty of interaction with people outside the van, but it's all received from inside.

As I mentioned before, the film also makes great use of angles.  The really cool and different thing about the use of angles in this film however is that you can't always use the same standard angles that you use to convey emotion in other films.  In Vehicle 19, the dashboard is a part of the set; it helps convey emotion in a lot of scenes.  The backs of the seats do the same.  So does the glove box and the steering wheel.  Everything in that van is able to help give mood and purpose to the scene.

I spoke about focus briefly as well, but that's just about what you'd expect.  Good use of racking focus, shallow focuses, depth of field, etc.

I don't think I'll go into any spoiler info about the story on this one.  It's not that I think there are any major plot devices I shouldn't be talking about, but it's just that it isn't that type of film.  The story is not the main focus, it's the journey and the style that make it what it is.

So there you have it: Vehicle 19.  I'd give this film a solid 8 out of 10 (it would be a 7 but I gave it an extra point for creativity).  I do recommend watching it if you are looking for something different or are just a fan of the Phone-booth style of movie.

Well that's all for me for now.  Stay tuned for that Cellular review, but there may be one or two before that, we'll see how it goes.  I'm off, keep reading, keep watching, keep listening.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Film Review: Fast & Furious 6

Fast and Furious.  This series is undoubtedly one of the most Bro movie series' of all time.  It has fast cars, big strong dudes, a lot of half-dressed women and - in the most recent installments - guns and explosions.  What more can you ask for in a movie?  Well some people would argue that a compelling story would be nice.  Normally I'd be that guy, but there are some movies in which the reasoning behind the events taking place just doesn't matter as much.  I would argue that with the first 5 Fast and Furious films, the question was not "why", but "why not".  This approach worked really well for them as the series quickly started to become the new Die Hard.

However in the newest movie in the franchise, Fast and Furious 6 changed the formula slightly.  Now don't get me wrong, I am definitely not saying there were any radical changes, so don't worry, F&F 6 is just as high octane, high adrenaline, and low riding as ever.  I won't even go as far as to say they put a spin on it; more like the wind adjusted some particles on it's way through the hoop.  Well come on then, what's this change?  What are these particles that have been moved?  Well in a word: sentiment.  The way the series has gone on so far has allowed for a lot of different locations and characters to be introduced.  Now some of us don't like to admit it, but we're all kind of suckers for nostalgia when it comes to something we really like.  Now if you haven't seen the first couple Fast and Furious movies (particularly the first 3), don't worry, this one is still awesome.  However if you have seen the rest of the movies, this one seems so much sweeter.  I won't get into spoilers but if you're a fan, or at least were a fan of the Fast and Furious movies before this, I highly recommend seeing it.

I have a bunch more I could say, but not without getting into spoilers territory so if you want to see this movie, stop reading here.

I already warned you once, but here's another warning...


Ok good, if you're still reading this far, I assume you're either reading ahead a little bit because you're curious, or you've seen the movie.  Or you just don't care about spoilers.  In any case, this section is going to go a little bit deeper into the movie.

So Letty's back, yay!  Now before I get into that whole kettle of fish though, just remember what I said earlier about sentiment.  Ok moving on.  So for those of you who have been following the series, you know that Dom and Letty have what people like to call "a history".  Now that history is mostly pretty awesome.  It's filled with them swashbuckling around the open roads, stealing stuff and racing cars (am I aloud to use the word 'swashbuckling' when it's on dry land?); pretty awesome right?  Well for those of you who don't know, Dom and Letty have been good ol' pals for ages, ever since they were about 15+.  I don't think the movies go a lot into their romance story beyond that, but that's not really important.  The important part is that they are shown as essentially the perfect pairing and suddenly, boom: Letty dies in "Fast and Furious" (the 4th movie in the series).  Naturally Dom is all torn up and that leads him on this revenge crazed mission with Brian who's with the FBI at that point.  It's a very convenient excuse to get Dom and Brian back working together and busting some heads.  But now that Letty's back (as foreshadowed in Fast 5), Dom's starting to get excited again.  Now that brings us to the part in Fast 6 where his new girlfriend from Interpol says something along the lines of, "If that were my husband I'd go after him too.  You need to go find her..." or something equally as strange and somewhat cheesy.  This is not the movie's finest moment but I figured I'd get it out of the way now so we're only going up from here.  Ok so we're going to get into some story stuff here, you guys ready?

As you will know if you have seen the movie, Letty has lost her memory. Yes, this is bad news for Dom and the gang as not only does she not remember them, but she's also working for the baddies.  Whoops.  However tragic the tail of Letty's accident and explosion escaping skills, this gives us a very good portal for motivation.  Dom sees Letty very early on, which eased my mind of a very serious question/fear I had that they would end up playing long-arsed footsies for the whole movie (forgive the British colloquialism but I can get away with it since the movie's set in London for most of the time).  This also gives Dom a reason to continue on.  Now this sets up our theme for the movie: Reclamation.  Why reclamation?  Well of course there's Dom and Letty; since one of them has amnesia, it's the other's job to bring her back to her family.  They both reclaim the lives they lost.  For Brian, it's about getting his old life back (not his old life as a cop necessarily, but his life of action and movement), and in the end of the movie, about literally getting his wife back.  For the rest of the crew, sure they get back in the fast lane too, but what's perhaps more important, is they reclaim their freedom.  Now here comes that nostalgia: at the end of the film, the crew gets their old house back.  Sure it is just a house, and yes it's kind of run down in a far from ideal part of town, but as corny as it sounds, fans of the series know that even though that house was really only a major part of the first installment, it's a symbol non-the-less.  It's a symbol of the 'good old days' and the freedom they all had before they started romping around the globe causing chaos and spreading mayhem.  The crew has changed slightly over the years, but they're still a family as they would put it.  Them getting the old house back is the rebirth of something old, but something that will turn into something new.  What something you ask?  What could possibly happen next?  We don't know for sure, but we have a few clues to work off of; Jason Statham to name one.  For this next part, we're going to mess with the timeline a bit here, so stay with me.

The third installment of the Fast and Furious franchise was called "Tokyo Drift" and was set, as you may well guess, in Tokyo.  This movie however, only had one character from the previous two Fast and Furious movies and he was only in the last 6 seconds of the movie.  This film introduced all new characters and a new style of racing previously untouched by the series: drifting.  Tokyo Drift however, is our first introduction to Han.  Now of course Han plays a pretty large role in Fast 5 and 6, but what appears to be his entire story is encapsulated into this one movie.  Now let's just take some time here and look at Han as a character.  He is technically speaking a supporting character.  Supporting who?  Well Dom and Brian of course.  However Han is a very complex and even somewhat dynamic character if you look at his 'story arch' over the course of all the movies he appears in.  Now things do get a little weird when he keeps saying he's going to Tokyo (like at the end of the 4th and 5th movies) but he ends up in the next movie all the same.  We keep assuming that he's going to Tokyo Drift, but he keeps coming back!  Of course I didn't mind, I thought he was a great character and I hated to see him go in T.D.  Although he is a side character, Han really has the capacity to be a main character if the story was geared a little bit more in his direction.  He has his little quirks right from the moment we meet him, such as the fact that he used to smoke and now pushes that urge to do something with his hands down by eating snacks all the time, but more importantly, Fast 6 gives him some trauma to work with.  He was given something great in his relationship with Ms Glow-kini from Fast 5, and had it taken away from him in the next movie.  Now of course this is a very localized and compressed sub-plot, but it's still quite impactful.  This of course gives him his motivation to go to Tokyo - for realz this time - and start his drift racing career just in time to become a mentor for some white hillbilly kid from the US with maturity issues.  Now at the end of Fast 6, we are forced to relive Han's death scene, but luckily from a distance as who else but Jason Statham decides to show up and set him on fire.  That's cold Jason, real cold... or you know, warm.  So now we've gotten some closure on one character who we've grown to know and love, and we've been introduced to a new villain, but even better yet, they're connected, and we have a perfect revenge sub-plot for the next film all set up and ready to go.  Who is this new guy? I don't know.  Will the next film take us back to Tokyo for some drift racing?  Maybe.  Will that kid from Tokyo Drift be in the next movie?  Maybe; I'm a sucker for references, I absolutely love them for some reason, I just think they're the best thing ever.  But I'd be perfectly happy if that guy didn't show up again.  I just really didn't get into him as a character, but that's an issue for another time.  Maybe I'll talk about characters some time because that's something I know a lot about.  But until then, you have this fabulous review of Fast and Furious 6 to mull over.

Have any theories on how the next Fast and Furious movie might go?  Post in the comments!  I'd be intersted to see if other people's ideas are similar to my own and what other shenanigans you think the O'Coretto family can get into.

Well that about wraps it up here for me.  I'm not going to bother talking about lighting and camera work and sets and blah blah blah because guess what?  It's a Hollywood movie.  I've said this before, but just in case you didn't read my last film review, I don't see the point in reviewing something's aesthetic quality from Hollywood unless it's either unusual, extremely outstanding and unexpected, or really bad.  As for acting, well again, it's a Hollywood movie with the Rock so... well I'll let you take that one as you will.

Until next time, "Ride or Die, remember?"

Monday, August 12, 2013

Movie Review: Oblivion

Who?  What?  When?  Where?  Why?  These questions, known as the five W's are the core of story telling.  A well constructed story will make the reader/viewer/listener (because this is a movie review we'll just call them viewers) ask all of these questions.  It will also answer all of these questions in one way or another.  Often times, a simply constructed story can be well done by creating and answering 5W questions.  For instance, the simplest way to include these questions may be as such:

-Who is the protagonist?
-What is he/she trying to accomplish?
-When does the story take place?
-Where does the story take place?
-Why do the events in the story happen?

To dive a little deeper, let's see what a more complex blueprint might look like based around those same questions:

-Who is the protagonist?  Who is the antagonist?  Who are the allies to each side?  Who are the factions involved?
-What is the conflict?  What fuels the conflict?  What is the plan to solve it?
-When does this story happen?  When will it finish?  If there is a time limit, when does it end?  When did it start?
-Where does this story take place?  Where are the characters from?  Where are they going?
-Why is there conflict?  Why are the characters here in the story?  Why did they make that choice?

As you can see, things can get very specific very quickly.  Of course some of these questions; specifically "why" and "what" can come up more often.  "Why did he let him live?"  "Why did she not push the button?"  "What is this thing?"  "What is that thing?"

As story telling techniques have adapted over the years, we have been getting more adventurous with mixing up these questions, therefore "who" has become a more popular question, and more of a mysterious one at that.  Of course mystery is something that adds to the thrill of the story and the payoff at the end when all of the viewer's questions are answered (or at least the important ones.  Some questions are best left either to the imagination, or unanswered entirely).  "Who is this new character being introduced 55 minutes into the movie?  I can't wait to find out!"

Now you're asking, "When are you going to get to reviewing the movie you said you were going to?"  Well the answer to that is, I have been indirectly criticizing Oblivion throughout this whole thing thus far.  How?  Here's how:

Oblivion starts out completely top notch. There is an immediate intrigue: Who are these two characters?  What are they doing here?  What year is it (when)?  Where are they?  And eventually, why are they doing what they are doing?

We soon find out who the two characters in the beginning are, but are soon introduced to a seemingly familiar face through a dream, but we don't know who it is.  We later find out where they are and the year.  Questions are being answered left and right, soon we even find out what they are doing and the reason why.  Great, all questions answered before the movie is half way done, what now?  Well now comes the twist.

A chunk of the way through the movie, we are introduced to a bunch of new characters, a few new settings, and even a new plot line.  Suddenly we have all new questions which we eagerly await the answers to.  As we receive a few convoluted answers to a few of these questions, the end draws near.

We have reached the final ascent on the plot line.  The tides have turned, the teams have changed, as have the stakes.  Preparations have been made and the plan to end the conflict once and for all has been set into motion.  The audience sits on the edge of their seats as they await a final and epic climax where our fearless hero is about to come face to face with the true villain of this tale.  However when finally the end arrives, we are left with only more questions:

The enemy was not who we expected, and its origin is unknown.  Its motivations are unknown.  Its very essence is unknown.  Although in the end, the hero fulfills his mission and the resolution is a happy one as demonstrated in the aftermath of his actions, we are still left wondering.

-Who?  Who was the enemy after all?
-What?  What did that enemy really want?
-When?  When did the enemy arrive?
-Where?  Where did the enemy come from?
-Why did the enemy even bother with any of this?

We can speculate, but we may never know.  Are we meant to know?  I don't know if we are meant to know, but as a viewer if I do not know if I am meant to know, then I feel like I am meant to know and simply do not.  Where does that leave me?  Awaiting a sequel?  Maybe, but I would more accurately describe it as unfulfilled and a little disappointed.

Should you buy Oblivion?  Sure, if you're looking for an exciting futuristic movie and have the coin to drop, do it!  Should you buy it on blu-ray?  Well it looks pretty dang good on blu-ray and you get that nifty digital copy with it, so if you want to drop the extra six-eight or so dollars/pounds, yes you should.  Should you rent Oblivion?  Absolutely.  The visuals are stunning and the soundtrack is brilliant (if you like the Mass Effect-esqu, futuristic style of music), so yes, at least rent it for a night, you will still enjoy it.

I could get into the details like acting and visuals but come on, it's a Hollywood movie, of course everything is darn near perfect it the technical department.  Plus, if you've made it all the way to here, you're probably sick of reading.

So there you have it:  Oblivion.

Thanks for reading this far if you did.  If you didn't, well you're not reading this so you don't get a thank you.  Check back here periodically for more of these reviews (seems to be what this blog has become) and some other fun stuff!

Until next time, keep watching movies, keep playing video games, and keep breathing (that's an important one).  Cheers guys.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Quick Update

So in case you were wondering, I got the drink before we took off, but drank responsibly and did not have to use the bathroom on the plane!  Anyway I made it to Hawaii a few hours later and I've been here for just under three weeks now.  I brought a friend with me, but she left last Wednesday because she couldn't get the whole three weeks off work.  Tragic I know.  Anyway, I leave tomorrow to head back to the wonderful and magical land of Canada.  My first order of business when I get back?  Well I've been working on a Dungeons and Dragons campaign I'm running so I'll be playing that with my crew.  I've also been hired to film a commercial so that will happen sometime in there when the guy running it gets me the times...

That's all for now.  Stay tuned for more semi-irregular updates.  Cheers.

Thursday, July 4, 2013


I'm 3 hours into a 4 hour layover in Seattle and I'm trying to weigh out whether I want to get a drink or not.  If I get it, my thirst will be quenched, but then I might have to go to the bathroom on the plane as soon as we take off.  If I don't, I could wait for free drinks on the plane, but I have to wait... Decisions decisions...