Thursday, March 31, 2011

Flashback: Jurassic Park

I'm going to start a series of posts looking at my favorite stories of all time. I going to talk about how these influenced me and what I think where some of the significant themes and features that made them work. Mostly, this will be movies and books. I'm starting with one that's both a book and film. The Michael Crichton (RIP) novel and Steven Spielberg film: Jurassic Park.

I generally list Jurassic Park first among the major influences of my life, and put it at or near the top of lists of favorite books and movies. My dad read me a parentally-edited version of the book when I was three or four, and my parents took me to the movie when it was released in '93. I don't remember it specifically, but Dad's version of the story has me standing on my seat saying, "This wasn't how it was in the book." Apparently I haven't changed much.

Now it's entirely possible that the Jurassic Park's significance for me comes from permanently burning it into my physique by seeing the movie and reading the book more times than I can count and has nothing to do with any qualities of the original work. It's possible, but I don't seem to be only person who appreciates it.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Dragon Age II steps up the action

I spent a significant part of my spring break playing Dragon Age II, the sequel to Bioware's RPG Dragon Age: Origins. I don't play many video games, but I played Bioware's Mass Effect games last summer and discovered there's a whole world of video game RPG storytelling that is absolutely brilliant. Mass Effect 2 significantly stripped down the RPG gear and skill management and Dragon Age II does the same thing. Basically, I spent a lot less time managing my inventory and a lot more time talking. That's right, talking. Dragon Age II utilizes Mass Effect's dialogue wheel, and a fully voiced main character, which was one of my favorite things about Mass Effect and the reason I found this sequel to be a great step up.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Full trailer for Captain America

The first full-length trailer for Captain America: The First Avenger was released online today. It looks awesome and shows how Steve Rogers was selected for the Super Soldier program. It also gives a better look at the supporting characters that we didn't see in the 30-second Super Bowl spot like Dominic Cooper as Howard Stark and Sebastian Stan as Bucky Barnes, plus a quick shot of the future Thorin Oakenshield as a Nazi assassin. Like I've said before, I'm pumped about this movie.

On a side note, I saw Paul today and thoroughly enjoyed it. It was filled with all those the nerdy references that I'm so capable of getting. I also saw Battle: Los Angeles a few days ago and thought it was a surprisingly good, unapologetic action movie. Seriously, it's the movie most other action movies should be trying to imitate. The premise was Black Hawk Down with aliens, and they pulled it off. My 2011 film list has been updated accordingly.

Monday, March 21, 2011

A few updates

It's time for some updates to things I seem to be making a habit of posting about. Today, that would be The Hobbit, Hunger Games, Superman, and Wonder Woman. I'll start with this first set photo from The Hobbit of Peter Jackson in Bag End. It's great that it looks exactly the same as it did in The Lord of the Rings, since I'm guessing they had to rebuild completely rebuild it. Also, PJ looks more like a hobbit than ever. That makes me wonder what his cameos will be this time around.

Friday, March 18, 2011


I've posted a couple of links in the past about preparing for the apocalypse, but what's happening in Japan right now is way more serious. The devastation of the tsunami combined with a potential nuclear meltdown makes for a disaster of Roland Emmerich proportions and is a pretty sobering reminder of how easily things can fall apart.

The first traces of radiation reached the west coast this morning. It's not supposed to pose a threat to us here, but the word "radiation" is one those terrifying words like "infertility" and "mutant babies."

Google created Person Finder during the Haiti earthquake to help people locate friends and family members, and they've got it up and running again for Japan. It's cool to see the power of Google used for something other than providing a free blog and email (though I'm happy for them to keep that up).

There's not really much we can do in a situatin like this except donate to a relief organization. Donating money has never been something I've really done, generally following the xkcd school of thought regarding charity. But hey, there's all sorts of great options available, and it's not like $5 is going to break the bank.

And the real disaster is this whole situation could be hurting the launch of the iPad 2 (and this was sarcasm, which I know doesn't always play well on the internet).

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Hunger Games casting

I'm working on finals right now so I haven't had time to write much for this blog, but this caught my attention. Oscar-nominee Jennifer Lawrence is reportedly on the verge of taking the lead role Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games movie (Variety via /Film). I read the entire Hunger Games Trilogy over Christmas break was really impressed. I didn't find it unbearably angsty, which was nice for a YA series, and since then I've been paying attention to the search for a lead actress for the film adaptation. I watched Winter's Bone a couple of weeks ago, and thought Lawrence did a great job  in that role. Lawrence is 20, while Katniss is 16, but I think it's probably better to cast older than younger, and two of the other contenders (Chloe Moretz and Hailee Steinfeld) are only 14. Besides, the actor's age isn't really an issue. Look at Andrew Garfield playing a high-school age Peter Parker in The Amazing Spider-man. I think Lawrence would be great for the role.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Full Super 8 Trailer

Super 8, the highly secretive film that for a long time was simply known as the J.J. Abrams tribute to Steven Spielberg is one of the movies I'm most looking forward to this year and has new full-length trailer that actually shows what the movie's about. And it's awesome. Abrams seems to have captured the wonderment of Spielberg's early alien movies Close Encounters and ET perfectly, while bringing his own lens-flare visuals. Basically, this movie looks like cross between ET and Cloverfield, and my brain just won't make that into a bad thing.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Weekend Links

A new image of Hugo Weaving in Captain America. The Lord of the Rings Extended Editions on Blu-Ray. More Wonder Woman cast members, why do I care? And Puss In Boots should have made my list of films I want to see.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Matt Damon and the Fedora of Fate

It seems Matt Damon is a movie star. I hadn't realized audiences would go to a film to see him until I was in line for Adjustment Bureau and heard someone ask for "Two for the Matt Damon movie." Since he won his Academy Award as a writer, I approve.

Adjustment Bureau is based on a short story by master science fiction writer Philip K. Dick, who wrote the stories Blade RunnerMinority Report and Total Recall (and many others) were based on. I'm currently taking a class on Dick (okay, poor word choice), so I've read a lot of his work, including the short "Adjustment Team" this was based on. The Adjustment Bureau doesn't really have much to do with that story, and in significant ways, it has nothing to do with Dick's writing in general (He didn't write romance). However, I felt that the pieces of this film worked and I solidly enjoyed the movie. So far, it's the best of this year.

Some spoilers follow, so be warned if you choose to read on.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Avengers and other superheroes

There's just so many cool little tidbits of information floating around. For example, who knew I'd ever consider news even remotely Justin Bieber-adjacent to be worth reporting? Or care about anything related to Kevin Costner?