July 28, 2011

Who Won The 2011 Super Hero Showdown?

Way back in February I projected that this summer would be a Super Hero Smackdown. There were four films battling it out to be the King of the heroes: "X-Men: First Class," "Green Lantern," "Thor," and "Captain America." Now they've all busted into the multiplex with their assorted powers, let's take a look back to see how they all stack up.

1. "X-Men: First Class" - Michael Fassbender dominates the summer as Magneto, it's that simple. His final kill is the biggest OSM* of the entire summer and he's doing so much badass shit in the movie it's just straight bananas. That being said James McCavoy is great as Professor X and the alternate history plot is effective and the most original of the summer. This film more than any other this summer has the most scenes that I remember and think back on and say "yeah....that was worth my loot."

2. "Captain America: The First Avenger" - While it's cool to see Magneto killing Nazi's with his magnetic mastery, Captain America is my favorite on screen hero this summer, and it's for his non-action related abilities. One of the key themes in the flick is that Cap is a "good man" and Chris Evans really sells this theme. It's great seeing a hero who isn't an asshole like Tony Stark, a psychopath like Batman, or a emo-baby freak like Superman. Also, the shield throwing was as cool as I hoped it would be. Bonus points for having the best romance of any of the flicks.

3. "Thor" - Unlike some of my pals who thought "Thor" was an abomination, I enjoyed the film. Pretty much unknown actor Chris Hemsworth brings the humor, heart, and hammer time to his performance as the Norse God. Out of all the movies this one had the best production design. I mean Asgard has rainbow bridges, galaxies flowing into waterfalls, and Stringer Bell as the gate keeper to an ancient portal involving an cosmic tree. Not for everyone. (Note...my Dad saw Thor twice and loved it)

4. "Green Lantern" - A buddy of mine who possesses the power of Comic-Book knowledge called this movie "The Frat Lantern," and he's right. I like Reynolds and he's trying hard here...but the story which involves rastafari alien cloud monsters, fighter jets, alien fish with British accents, and Blake Lively just doesn't work. Guest blogger Kosher D once said this was one to be taken seriously, and to that I say... c'mon son.

Until next summer (holy shit next summer) have a good one.

July 26, 2011

Comic Con Revisted

After taking last year off, I returned to Comic Con and it was glorious. And while I wasn't there for the whole weekend I managed to do enough to bring you these simple Comic-Con reflections

  1. While there are nerds everywhere they're harmless. It's the action figure collecting 50 year old dudes that are huffing and puffing while carrying a 60 pound bag of Gandalf replicas that you have to worry about.
  2. I met the President of Marvel Studios Kevin Feige. I asked him where I could get an "Avengers" T-shirt and if he could give me any information about "Dr. Strange." He said he couldn't talk about either thing, but he did offer me a part as "Dude that Hulk Picks Up" in "The Avengers."
  3. It never gets old seeing giant figures of the toys you enjoyed as a child. And in case your rookie self didn't know it...that's Voltron on the right. Respect tha Voltron!
  4. When it comes to people giving out free swag it's really a feeding frenzy out there. What you giving out...give it to me...oh you only have it in extra extra extra extra large....thats fine...gimme that shit.
  5. When you're at the Con, you hear stories about the worse kind of monster that roams the halls. The line cutters. 
  6. There are tons of kids on the floor at Comic Con. They're really pumped to be there, I mean it's a magical place. That being said there is a crazy amount of very scantily clad women walking the floor in their favorite characters "outfits," so simply put it's a dream land for 13 year old boys. (See below).
  8. I met Guillermo Del Toro and Tom Morrello and besides both having last names that end in O they both were extremely nice and both were taking down egg white omeletes. Are Egg White omeletes the key?
  9. I don't think I saw any of these people put it's pretty funny to read about celebrities who have to go incognito on the floor
  10. In between all the madness there is still some heartwarming stuff, like this little guy.    

July 25, 2011

TPG's Chemistry Class: Episode 2 "Thirty Eight Snub"

Party Party Party! Last night's episode of Breaking Bad titled "Thirty Eight Snub" was both one of the happier episodes ever (no-geyser's of Victor Blood) and also one of the most foreboding. I mean you just know that something bad is going to happen right. Also what's up with the minerals? Let's get our lefty draw on and dive in.

1. Technology! Last night's episode seemed to have machines running rampant like a Terminator movie. We had Jesse's brand new stereo equipment (complete with psychedelic lights yo), the roomba, Hank and Marie's mechanical bed, and finally the thirty eight snub nosed pistol. That last one, which the episode is named after is the most important piece of technology out of all of them. With an opening scene discussing the mechanics of using it, it was interesting to see Walter approach it with the how-do-to style of a scientist. Yet even with all these mechanics, not one device brings anyone happiness.

2. But......things aren't all empty. For a little bit there, this was one of the happiest episodes of "Breaking Bad" ever. Jesse was back with his old chums, talking that bullshit and throwing an epic party. I mean let's be honest here, any party where cutting a pizza with scissors is discussed had to be epic right. It was strange seeing Jesse surrounded by so many people, and it just made the end, with Jesse losing it right next to his massive speaker that much more intense. Songs from this party world are all broken down here.

3. He's Back...the real life theorist Dr. Anthony Megamix had this to say about the episode:

Mike killed Gus. (Gus) was absent from the episode and Mike had blood on his shirt at the bar. Some think he has cancer as well which is why he's coughing throughout the episode. I also think Saul is next to go. Mike raised his glass to the commercial of Saul at the bar. 

4. At first I thought that Badger and Skinny Pete's video game conversation was the writer's attempt to inject some humor and knowledge for all the gamer bros that love "Breaking Bad," but reviewing the episode on a whole their conversation takes a new life. They were mainly amped about the various types of zombies both their undead motivations and their foes, but I couldn't help but notice at the end of the episode...Badger said said he needed a brain transplant as him and Skinny Pete did the hangover/zombie shuffle across the lawn. As for Jesse, he just curled up...empty...a zombie himself. No real motivation for anything, totally apathetic, and searching for anything.

5. Give it up for Betsy Brandt who plays Hank's wife Marie. She's been doing great work on this show since the beginning, but this season, with Hank all incapacitated she is doing work!

5. MILD NOT SPICY MIND MELT I really wish I had something epic to tell you about this blue corundum mineral that Hank is really into, but the only thing I could dig it that it is extremely abrasive and hard, with only diamonds being stronger. Then again a blue corundum is also a a sapphire. So maybe it means that Hank acts hard but really ultimately a pansy? He's going to write about a book about Urban poverty? Anyone?

7. I was kicking it with a buddy and he said that he likes "Breaking Bad" but it's really really "arty." I responded with a: "Yess...brah it's arty as hell but Gus Fring son!" But he's got a point, the camera angles and the sound design and score in particular are on some next level shit this season. Last week we talked about cinematography so this week let's notice Dave Porter's excellent score.

8.  Even though he hasn't been around for that long, I love how Gale's coffee machine still lingers the meth lab. It serves as a constant reminder of the simple plain innocent* life that Walt/Jesse took, the coming storm of Feds looking into lab book, an example for the still complex process of cooking,  and as memento of a rosier past for all parties involved

*Innocent - Gale did get excited with the prospect of his own lab.

July 18, 2011

Unofficial poster for The Dark Knight Rises is Incredible

Via Slash Film

TPG's Chemistry Class: Episode 1 "Boxcutter"

Welcome to my weekly recaps of AMC's "Breaking Bad." I got into this show thanks to all AMC's repeats of past seasons, so this will be my first season that I watch live. The recaps will be in the style of my previous ones for "24," "Lost," "Boardwalk Empire," and "Game of Thrones." Hell I might even throw in a "True Blood" reference if you're watching that to. But in the mean time, let's put on some red and blue outfits and get some acid huh?

1. This has gotta be one of the most dialogue free episodes of TV. Gus Fring (more on him later) said three words the whole episode and Pinkman barely said anything until the final scene. While some people found this to be underwhelming, I thought it was fantastic. It allowed the shows reigning Emmy titans to really dig in and get into it! It also showcased one of my favorite things about the show: it's deliberate haunting thematic imagery.

2. I watched the show with blogger/ TV wunderkind Henning of The Lifting Fog Blog and he pointed how incredible Michael Slovus's cinematography was in this episode. Besides Breaking Bad's obsession with bald dudes (see above picture) the show was really driving home this red/blue thing last night. Red floor, red chemical/murder suits, blue mood lights, red body after getting pulverized by acid, it goes on and on. What does this mean? Of course it's some statement of the shifting duality of the characters but also how patriotic the show is.

2.5 *BONUS* THISLALIFE reader and real life scientist Anthony Megamix had this to say about the real life science of red and blue

Now that you mentioned the blue and red imagery, being that the show focuses on the science, it could relate to the physics aspect of blue and red shifts in physics, in space. stars and objects appear blue when they are traveling towards you because the frequency they appear at is greater than their actual frequency so they travel at smaller wavelengths (blue), so a star traveling towards earth will appear blue and a star traveling away from you will appear red because its image is at a smaller frequency than its actual object and travels at a larger wavelength, its called the blue-red shift. anyway thought it could relate to the shifting of characters as they go further away or towards what we expect from them. walt going away from the righteous science teacher to moral less drug supplier and gus from the seemingly humble chicken restaurant owner to a no nonsense drug pin

3. As I was taking notes watching this episode, I wrote down what a great character Victor is. Had to cross off that "is" and put a "was"....but jesus....that was an extremely violent and gnarly death. I mean I watch HBO and even those shows don't compare in crazy violence to that. Dare I type that "Mike" is a great character for fear of what might happen to him.

4. Walt's vehicle of choice: an Pontiac Aztec is rapidly becoming a key part of the show's imagery. Who would have thought this funky looking SUV would become associated with running over drug dealers, breaking up cop stakeouts, and finally becoming symbolic for the shifting relationship between Walt and Skyler. Is that a good marketing for the SUV Brand?
5. Gus F***ing Fring! Can we talk about this dude? In addition to being a calm reserved negotiator, brilliant criminal strategian, and an exceptional chicken magnate, we can now add stone cold ice in the veins i don't care if i'm covered in blood evil killer to his resume. Naturally is next role is in a light hearted ABC series about fairy tale creatures. Giancarlo Esposito who plays the madman is an acting powerhouse!

6. MIND MELT WITH A SIDE OF BLUE CHEESE I know the last scene where we saw Gale's lab book on the table was ominous, but the real crazy foreshadowing scene took place in the driveway with Walt & Skyler. Take Walt, he's dressed in flashy white pants and red shoes (he's got blood on em metaphorically) and wearing a Kenny Rogers shirt. Skyler, who with her brilliant lying to the locksmith routine, knowledge to call Saul, and sweet face about paying Hanks medical bill with drug money is 95% corrupt is dressing COMPLETELY IN BLACK. In the world of Badger and Skinny Pete...."she's like evil yo!" And don't think I forgot about the significance of dear ol' Kenny Rogers. Check out the lyrics to his most famous song "The Gambler," they hold some serious significance to our characters...."know when to walk away....know when to run....."

July 14, 2011

Harry Potter Ends Today and I've Had Way To Much Veritaserum

Since it all ends tonight at midnight I figured this is my last chance to come clean about everything Harry Potter. Thanks to some shady contacts at Diagonally I've managed to procure some veritaserum. Whoahhhh, here comes the truth bombs!
  1. Selby, Dewey, Zach, and John, back in seventh grade when I bailed on a sickkk NFL Blitz tournament after school on Friday cause I had to do "chores," I wasn't doing chores, I was curled up in a chair reading Prisoner of Azkaban.
  2. Let's be honest here, if you're not gonna sorted into Gryffindor, the only other house you should want to be in is Slytherin. The other houses just don't compete
  3. I think the real life version of Quidditch is kind of lame. I understand people are really passionate about it, but it seemed like a bunch of Hufflepuff's pretending to be Gryffindor's, it's just not the same.
  4. When the book of "Goblet of Fire" dropped I took down a giant two liter of Barq's root beer and a huge bag of Lay's BBQ Masterpiece chips and read it in one sitting. Harry Potter +Junk Food+Caffeine = Heaven.
  5. No matter how hard I've tried, I've never been sorted into Gryffindor in any sorting hart ceremony, online or in real life....and this really breaks my heart.....Am I Snape?
  6. Lee Jordan is the coolest person in Hogwarts. This is undeniable.
  7. Dementors are scarier/better than Nazgul, even if Dementors are clearly Nazgul rip offs.
  8. EXCLUSIVE - Rupert Grint will play BRJ in the 500 million dollar adaptation of "BRJ and The Soul of The Universe," coming out in 2020.
  9. I once ditched out on a summer job to get the final book, almost got fired, but it was totally worth it!
  10. I didn't realize that Padma and Parvati Patil were Indian until I saw the movie. And on that accord I thought Hermione was pronouced Her-meeee-ownnnn for a solid 3 books...yikes guy.
  11. My favorite character in the entire series is Remus Lupin.
  12. Book 5 is a waste of time. Emo Harry + Lame Prophecy = C'mon JK!
  13. Bernie Bott's beans are delicious. Giving them out to strangers at midnight showings is more creepy than it is charming, I learned this the hard way.
  14. Goblet of Fire is hands down the best book.
  15. The best part of any book is in "Half Blood Prince" when Harry has to poison Dumbledore to get the Horcrux. This was so terrifying, sad, thrilling, and just intense!
  16. In my truest hearts of hearts, I always had a sneaking suspicion that Jane Yolen's "Wizard's Hall" was a little more than "inspiration" for everyone's favorite boy wizard book series.
  17. Harry should have ended up with Hermione.
  18. The story collection "The Tales of the Beedle and the Bard" is a magical book.
  19. Marauder's Map or Invisibility Cloak? That is the question!
  20. I'm going to miss Harry Potter so much after it's gone. I've met so many people cause we all loved the books. Thanks JK.

July 12, 2011

Is "The Hurt Locker" a Spiritual Sequel To "Point Break"

"Point Break" was released 20 years ago today and I'm still shocked by the amount of people who have not seen it. I credit this massive tragedy to the fact that people consider just another 80's action film that gets lumped in with "Cobra," "Road House," and "Commando" (Note the writers at THISLALIFE support those films). And while "Point Break" does have a certain 80's vibe to it (see Bodhi's hair brah) it is actually way more than a standard 80's action flick, in fact it has a lot in common with 2009 best picture winner "The Hurt Locker."

Both films examine the seductive rush of pushing oneself to the edge. Think of Bodhi's famous line in "Point Break,"- "It's not tragic to die doing what you love." This theme of men who are seduced by the flirting with power and death runs through all Bigelow's films, but is most prevalent in "Point Break" and "The Hurt Locker." Both films lack a clear antagonist, because the true antagonist lives withint the broken heroes. The antagonist bomb maker in "The Hurt Locker" is never found and Bodhi, the pseudo antagonist in "Point Break" is apprehended but never has to answer to his crimes. There's no real closure because their is no real bad guy.

Think about the final scenes of each film. In "Point Break," Utah reveals he has never stopped searching (or surfing) for Bodhi, who is basically the ultimate rush personified. In "The Hurt Locker" Renner's character is talking to his child and says that "there is only one thing he knows he loves," cut to Renner back in the field...on the edge. This theme of the ultimate is easier to recognize in "The Hurt Locker," but it's there in "Point Break," it's just wrapped in an extreme sports package!

While both films focus on a man's drive to the edge in the pursuit of saving lives/catching bad guys, I know "The Hurt Locker" is a superior film. I also don't have to remind anyone that "Point Break" was also produced by cinematic titan James Cameron, which gives the surf bank robbing masterpiece even more credibility. So on this 20th Anniversay, let's give Point Break the respect it deserves...after all good things come in twos.....so.......GIMME TWO!!

July 11, 2011

The Dark Knight Rises Poster Drops

No doubt this is a mashup of the mind bending imagery of "Inception," the iconography of Batman, and a promise of destruction. Either way, it's awesome

July 8, 2011

Films To Inspire Us To Get Back To Space

Today marks the final launch of the Space Shuttle and while it's pretty tragic, I like to be optimistic about the future of the space shuttles and space travel. Nasa.gov are you listening? My reasons for this aren't really that complicated: space, space travel, space exploration, aliens, x-wings, jedis, galaxies, planets, comets, the borg, Oa, are extremely exciting and awesome. So while it's easy to get down that there won't be any space shuttle launches for a while, check out some films that will hopefully inspire us to return to the cosmos

I mean where does one start with this flick. It's both incredibly detailed in how it envisions space travel to evolve and wickedly heady in terms of it's cosmic implications about....everything.......brahhhhhh. I recently saw it on the big screen for the fist time and the level of detail and care put into showing space exploration is astounding. If anyone in NASA needs a shot of inspiration check out this flick, just don't drop any acid when you do, everyone knows how that works out. 

Star Wars: A New Hope
Yo...N.A.S.A. the sooner you create X-Wings, Y Wings, A-Wings, and hire frog people like Admiral Akbar the sooner the public will be ready to get back to space! While you're at it, have some other government agencies make some lightsabers!

Michael Bay
Now before you Wes Anderson junkies start freaking out about including this divise director on the list. Remember that he made "Armageddon" a movie which NASA both loves and hates. The message in that flick is clear that: A) Anyone can be a space hero B)N.AS.A has tons of cool space tech C) Respect space or it will drop fiery rocks on you. Bay also has successfully linked real life Space missions to his transformers reality both in the plot lines and trailers of first and third film. I mean the guy has the real life Buzz Aldrin meetings Optimus Prime in the new one! Respect!

Apollo 13 

I saw this flick on opening night and it blew my mind. As real as it gets when it comes to NASA and space flight this movie is so accurate we watched in science class, and not because my science teacher sucked, but because of it's brilliant lessons of problem solving and teamwork that film conveys. Also the explosions in the launch sequence are choice, also Tom Hanks is the man.

Star Trek (2009)
The deep space jump on the rig that's destroying the planet with some shady red-matter science is a long way off (maybe 20 years tops) but this sequence is enough to get anyone fired up to go to space. Unlike "Star Wars" it has kind of basic connection to science and reality and that scores major points.

Event Horizon & Alien
Just kidding, don't watch these unless you want to start signing petitions for NASA not to explore space/hell/the abyss.

The Right Stuff
Yikes I've never seen this flick, but I had to include because I know my Dad and my older readers who care about space would think I was a real rookie/ferengi (that's for you JP) if I didn't include it.

Sunshine (Update)
My Dad pointed out this title was missing from my list. Not only is it from Academy Award winning director Danny Boyle but it also features real life science in a practical sci-fi setting. I dig how the ship makes it's own oxygen via plant garden, the physicist is the most important person on board, and kick ass soundtrack.

Honorable Mentions
"Space Cowboys" is pretty good, I never bothered to see "The Astronaut's Wife," but apparently it's wack so don't bother. "Galaxy Quest" is notable for being hilarious and "The Last Starfighter" is also notable for being the bomb.com

I'm gonna miss the space shuttle, but sense of wonder in the cosmos in strong. This is mainly in part for a desire to go on my own personal trench run (with my boy Jay Judah as Wedge) to save the galaxy and because I read Astronomy Picture of the Day every day of my life. Go Space!

July 7, 2011

The Hype Train: "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo"

David Fincher's "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo" is my most anticipated film of the end of the year. I mean let's be honest here there are a lot of great films coming out in the Fall, a couple of highlights include "War Horse," and sequels to "Sherlock Holmes" and "Mission Impossible," but nothing compares to "Dragon Tattoo." Alright, I know what you're thinking, TPG,  you're just missing James Bond and wanna see D. Craig back in ass-kicking mode. Sure that's part of it, but the main reason here is the director called David Fincher.

Before he was getting robbed of the Oscar for "The Social Network," Fincher was making some pretty dark ass movies. "Seven," "Zodiac," and "Fight Club" all come to mind when thinking about his menacing work. Don't get me wrong, I love "Benjamin Button" but having Fincher back in the menacing zone is a good thing for everybody. Hell, D. Craig in a recent interview disclosed about what to expect from the director's vision of the popular Stieg Larson bestseller

And this is a $100 million R-rated movie. Nobody makes those anymore. And Fincher, he’s not holding back. They’ve given him free rein. He showed me some scenes recently, and my hand was over my mouth, going, Are you fucking serious?.
So wow, Daniel Craig has quite the mouth on him huh? But you get the vibe here right, anyone who has read the book knows that the original Swedish film held back a little bit when it came to the super intense torture, rape,violence etc.  To top it off, the cast is also on point. Daniel Craig is a beast, but the supporting cast including Robin Wright, Stellan Skarsgard,  Christopher Plummer, and Joel Kinnaman (who audiences will recognize from "The Killing") is on point as well.

 Fincher is gonna bring it like a director scorned and it's going to be dark, intense, and an incredible cinematic experience from one of the world's best storytellers.