Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Third Time’s a charm for X-Men

Movie fans are quick to point out that sequels are rarely as good as the film that imitated the series. Moreso, the third film in the series is usually a severe downturn in the franchise’s quality. It is a rare event then that a series will actually improve with each installment.

X-Men is one such franchise. This despite a change in the director’s chair (Bryan Singer left for Superman Returns and Brett Ratner succeeds him).

The first X-Men film was a groundbreaking event in comic book-to-film transitions. Instead of bringing the audience into the world of the superheroes, Instead the paradigm shift was to bring the superheroes into our world.

The second X-Men film is widely credited as being better than it’s predecessor. My personal opinion is that the climactic action was included a plot hole that allowed for the death of X-man Jean Grey, which was totally avoidable given the resources of the characters involved.

Fortunately all is forgiven in the resolution found in the third film.

X-Men 3 begins with flashbacks to the first time Professor Xavier meets Jean and also introduces a new mutant, Warren Worthington III, as the mutant son of a successful industrialist, embarrassed to tell his father he is a mutant.

Jean’s lover, Cyclops travels to the site of Jean’s death to find her miraculously alive.

Meanwhile Worthington’s father introduces a “cure” for the mutant gene. This is the core plot of the film and along which sides are drawn. On one side Magneto and his brotherhood seek to destroy the “cure” and its human developers.

Standing in their way are the X-Men with furry blue addition, Beast (Kelsey Grammer).

The wildcard in this match up is Jean Grey, who has been resurrected with a magnificent increase in power.

The movie is paced quite well, and even though two principle characters are killed off in the first half of the movie, it sets up a great emotional monologue for Haley Berry (Storm) to show off her Oscar-wining acting. Patrick Stewart ( Professor Xavier) and Ian McKellen (Magneto), offer the most acting experience and the best performances, followed by Hugh Jackman (Wolverine) and Haley Berry who are the clear stars, and with just cause. Berry for her Oscar and Jackman because Wolverine is clearly the favorite mutant among long-time X-fans.

The rest of the cast, while young, provides passable performances that help to movie along the plot rather than drag you into the mire of teeny-bopper soap opera sub plots.

In the end the movie is very high quality. Not only as a summer popcorn muncher, but as a gripping story that draws the viewer into the climactic final battle. I for one found myself on the edge of my seat anticipating the final showdown. It was worth it.

X-men 3 is a great film, satisfying long-time X-men comic fans as well as fans introduced to mutants exclusively through the movies.

Oh, and a little hint. When you see this movie, sit through the credits!

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Poseidon – After 3 tries you think it would have gotten better.

One of the greatest disaster movies of all time would have to be The Poseidon Adventure with Gene Hackman. That movie was a riveting tale of survival against all odds. On the surface this movie does just that, but anyone who has seen the original will find much to be desired.

Kurt Russle is our hero, and is so in many ways. As Robert Ramsey he is the former mayor of New York and an ex firefighter… wait, is this a Backdraft sequel?

Of course the ship is turned upside down at the stroke of midnight in on New Year’s Eve by a Rogue Wave (I never heard of such a thing but it makes for some interesting reading) that leaves our band of oceanic voyagers upside-down in the ship’s ballroom.

Filling out our cast of adventurers not willing to stay put in the ship’s ballroom is Emily Rossum as the hero’s daughter, Mike Vogal as her secret fiancĂ©, Josh Lucas as the troubleshooting loaner, Jadica Barrett as the sexy woman in need of rescue, Jimmy Bennett as her son, Mia Mastero as the Spanish stowaway, Richard Dreyfuss as the broken hearted gay architect (not sure who came up with this one) and Kevin Dillon as a character so repulsive you’re actually rather relieved he’s killed off five minutes after he’s introduced.

So there you have it; nine people trying to get off an upside down boat in the middle of the north Atlantic in late December, diving through water-filled compartments and not catching hypothermia.

Immediately after the boat tips you start to wonder why you’re supposed to care about these people, but eventually you do. If not for their back story, but because you’ve invested eight bucks and ninety-nine minutes of your life in this movie.

This remake doesn’t have the heart of the original, but fortunately lacks the cheese factor and the why-do-I-care-if-Steve-Gutenberg-survives factor of the NBC’s made-for-TV-version last year.

If you are capable of willing suspension of disbelief you can enjoy the movie, but if you are looking for deep thought-out filmmaking you will be disappointed.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

The Da Vinci Code… A flop?

Dan Brown’s Tome, “The Da Vinci Code” is one of the best selling whodunnit’s in recent memory. Some facts on the book’s success include 60.5 million copies in print in 44 languages and any number of weeks on everybody’s best seller list.

Now let me put forth that I have not read the book. But I have consumed some news around the film to be released tomorrow.

1. Columbia/Sony has not released the film to reviewers until Wednesday Night. The company line explaining this rather unusual move for a movie of this magnitude is that they wanted to keep the controversey up. Typically the reason films are not released to the filmviewing press prior to public release is because they fear bad reviews before the release and don’t want to hurt opening weekend ticket sales. As the movie industry has changed in recent years a movie is made or broken in the first weekend. Aperantly even controversey won't overcome bad reviews.

2. Tom Hanks, one of the most beloved actors in Hollywood today is practically nowhere to be found. He has canceled the majority of his interviews promoting this movie because of what he reportedly said, “I don’t want to talk about my religion” (Source: Bill O’Reilly 5/18/2006). Could it be that he doesn’t want to go in front of an audience and apologize for a bad movie?

3. Early reviews are less glowing than the source material would warrant. Given the caliber of talent involved with the movie (no less than 4 well-deserved Oscars between Hanks and Ron Howard) I have heard the movie is “long”, “uninteresting” etc… This would confirm points 1 and 2.

Does the Da Vinci Code bother me as a Christian?

Now, Even though Dan Brown has become a media darling, and millions have read his book, I don’t see many people, not already on the side of persecuting Christianity heading to join that party. Christians who read the book, say it’s a good mystery, but were rather passĂ© about the plot linking Jesus to Mary Magdalene romantically and creating a bloodline that ascended to the royal French throne.

Where as the mainstream media will promote anything that contradicts traditional religious teaching (see the recent excitement around the supposed Gospel of Judas) intellectually honest historians will point out hundreds of errors in Dan Brown’s “evidence.”

The Da Vinci Code does not bother me because truth always wins out over fiction… over time.

Perhaps Tom Hanks did say it best in one of his few interviews in which he stated, “People have been trying to bring down Christianity for thousands of years, and I don’t think the book that’s going to do it is sold at Barns & Noble in the fiction section.”

I really do like your attitude here, Tom. It's just a made-up story about some stuff, some of which actually happened.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

The Exit Interview

Today I had my exit interview. This was the first time I have ever gone through such things.

As I've mentioned recently, I've only ever been downsized. So now that it’s my choice to seek employment elsewhere someone from HR brings you into their office and asks you questions about how you rate your boss and the company.

I find it odd that this interview is conducted by someone I have never met before I gave my notice.

Now here's the really ironic part. When I essentially decide that I am better off working someplace else, they finally start asking me questions about how the company can work better. What did I like what can be improved type of stuff.

I've been reviewed every year for 5 years now, and nobody asked me what I thought about the company until I decide to quit. Maybe it's a moot point now but don't you think asking a current employee about the company would benefit that employee and get them to work better?

Or are that many people so fearful of criticizing management that they will only do it when there are no possible consequences?

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Stuart Scott, I'm disapointed in you!

Stuart Scott has long been one of my favorite ESPN anchors. As a fine sports comentator he has long anchored SportsCenter and recently his talents have been a part of ABC's broadcast of NBA games.

But you disapoint me Stuart!

Monday Night ABC aired a 2 hour special in which Illusionist, media whore, and animated cult leader, David Blaine would attempt to hold his breath in a water tank for nine minutes.

I didn't watch this "special" because, well as I described above, the whole point of this televised event would be to see if a man can survive holding his breath for nine minutes. Yet when I looked at the TV listings the show was scheduled to air for 2 hours.

And this is why I am disapointed with Stuart Scott!

As I channel Surfed monday Night I saw Mr. Scott, accomplished sportscaster and coiner of the phrase "Boo-ya" doing his best to fill the remaining 111 minutes of ABC's monday night lineup.

Stuart, I'm ashamed that you would stoop so low as to emcee such an event. David Blaine is to sports what Mr. Belvedere is to baseball (Intentional indirect Bob Eucher reference).

If this is what passed for TV on Mondays, I'm begining to think that Disney moving Monday Night Football from ABC to ESPN might have been a bad idea.

One mor thing... I have no idea if David Blaine held his breath for 9 minutes... and to be honest, I don't care!

Monday, May 08, 2006

I love Spam

I love spam. Most people are trying to find a way to filter it, remove it, delete it and never come in contact with it.

Oh, I'm refering to unsolicited email, not the canned meat (which goes great with grilled cheese!).

But spam email can be just as much fun, and without all the cholesterol. for instance, today I took a walk through my spam filter on my hotmail inbox. to which I recieved the following message:

Baton-wielding Israeli police cajoled and dragged dozens of Jewish squatters out of a three-story, Palestinian-owned home Sunday,demonstrating the new government's resolve to confront extremist settlers. Nineteen officers and seven settlers were reported injured during a clash outside as protesters tried to keep police from entering the building in a scene reminiscent of violence during last summer's forced evacuation of all the Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip.

In another sign of his tough approach, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told his Cabinet's first session that he will also crack down on wildcat settler outposts in the West Bank that have drawn international criticism.

Hi there :)
Susy sent me your email, she said you were looking to meet someone just like me :)
If you are interested, come meet me on this site it's alot of fun.

(link withheld)

Boy, does Suzy's friend know how to sweet talk a guy or what?

Friday, May 05, 2006

Giving Notice

This week marks a momentous event in my career.

I quit.

On the surface that’s not much of a career move but personally it’s a big event. You see, I’ve never quit before.

Out of college I was let go the day it was announced Gary Cherone left Van Halen (looking back, only one bad thing happened that day)

A year later I was part of the dotcom bubble burst, as I was informed I had no job 5 days before Christmas.

I still hold the right to be bitter about that one.

Here I am nearly 5 and a half years later I get to tell one of the largest corporations in America to take a hike. Well it’s not that bad, I’m still a shareholder so I have to like this place.

Over the past few months I’ve felt less and less comfortable in my position. Knowing that the technology that I’m an expert in isn’t what I’m working on. I have no design input and there is no need for my creative side in my work.

Is it any surprise I jumped on a job that would offer me exactly that?

Since giving my notice on Monday I’ve gotten a lot of “we’ll miss you but we’re happy for you.”

Will I miss this place? Yes and no… some of the bureaucracy, definitely not (the new job has a total of about 25 employees) the people, yes, the stock discount, definitely, getting up extra early to post earnings 4 times a year? No… but the 2 minute drill of web development will fall to someone else.

My last day is 1 week away.

And next Monday I can wear shorts to work.

I need to go shopping!