Category Archives: Opinion

Godzilla (2014): A Kaiju-Sized Letdown

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Godzilla, in almost every single way, is an extremely difficult film to review.  It’s that rare film that isn’t exactly bad, but which still manages to be a bit disappointing in almost every single regard.  If you’re expressly interested in giant monster fights, a repeat viewing of Pacific Rim is probably a better way to spend your time–Godzilla’s screentime here is pretty sparse.  But then that’s the case with nearly every Godzilla movie, so if you were expecting wall-to-wall monster action I don’t really know what to tell you.  If you’re going in expecting a return to Ishiro Honda’s 1954 Gojira, which seems to be what the majority of the trailers were selling, you’re likely to be disappointed.  If you’re looking for director Gareth Edwards to highlight the ground-level human struggle which comes with the territory of giant monster attacks like he did in his impressive 2010 debut film Monsters, well…I guess that’s what he was going for here, anyway.  And yet, this movie pretty much drops the ball in that department as well.

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Noah and his Scandalous Pro-Environmentalism Dreamboat

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Noah, the big-budget Biblical spectacle from auteur director Darren Aronofsky (The Wrestler, Black Swan) hit theaters this weekend, pulling in a surprising amount of cash and generating no end of controversy.  With a stellar cast including Russell Crowe, Emma Watson, Jennifer Connelly, Anthony Hopkins, and Ray Winstone, an array of impressive effects-driven setpieces, and the benefit of a generally familiar story, it’s received generally favorable reviews.  I, for one, was impressed with it.  Like much of Aronofsky’s work I think the ambition ever so slightly outweighs the execution, but there’s no standout flaw that might make the average film fan regret dropping the cash to go see it.  Of course, since it’s a “Bible Movie”, there’s a lot to talk about here outside of what’s shown onscreen.  In particular, I find the fact that audience-driven scores on sites like Metacritic and Rotten Tomatoes are currently trending far below those of critics to be interesting.  I don’t place much stock in aggregate review scores as a general rule, but when there’s nothing inherent in the quality of the film itself to cause such a rift, I think it’s worth talking about.  Don’t worry, I’ll get to the film itself eventually.

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The Secret Diaries of Doctor Drankenstein Ch. 20: In Which I Reach My Limits

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I’ll admit, the life of a gentleman scientist/adventurer isn’t as easy or as glamorous as it might look from the outside.  After months of testing everything from breakfast wine to canned martinis to the chemical-tinged trashwater that is Mad Dragon, there were simply no new horizons.  Your old friend Drankenstein had reached that distant coast, and there retired in comfort atop a truckload of simple, predictable Vella boxwine.  Both fans of this column sorely lamented its passing, but there was nothing to be done for it.  I’d hunted the world of bumwines and questionable malt liquors to extinction.  A few days ago however, something new came to my attention, something that immediately re-lit the old fires within.  Clutching a fistful of dollar bills and with a reckless gleam in my eye, I scoured the bodegas of Cleveland (okay, I checked about three), but my quarry was nowhere to be found.  Just when all hope seemed lost, a new challenger appeared.  This isn’t what I was looking for–not even close–but it is a neon green bumwine with a dancing habanero pepper on the label.  And that suits old Drankenstein just fine.

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Pacific Rim or: Always Bet on del Toro

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The great thing about Guillermo del Toro–what makes him so endlessly interesting as a writer and as a director–is that he never forgot what it’s like to be a kid.  He’s got all these years of filmmaking experience and accumulated knowledge on a vast array of obscure subject matter, nestled alongside the uninhibited creativity of a precocious child.  I can’t decide if that sounds insulting or not, implying that a grown man has a kid brain, but I’m sticking with it.  There’s just no other way to describe it.  Nearly everyone has an amazing mind as a child, and it’s only after years of exposure to words like “impossible” that those parts of the brain die off and we resign ourselves to the mundane.  Del Toro somehow held on against all odds, and like Billy Batson and Captain Marvel now enjoys a full and equal creative partnership with his inner child.  Pacific Rim is the latest fruit of that unique work ethic, a wholly unironic film about giant robots punching giant monsters for the survival of mankind.  And I want to you to know that I’m being completely serious when I say that it’s pretty much a masterpiece.

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Warner Archive Instant: Behold the Future of Streaming! Oh, and Despair.

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I don’t have cable, and I probably never will, at least under the current business model.  As much as I’d love to have access to HBO, AMC, and maybe three other channels, I’m just not willing to pony up that kind of cash for the privilege of accessing several dozen reality TV and sports channels alongside those precious few I’d actually watch.  I wait out the seasons and buy discs instead–so many discs–and like many others in this brave new era of cable-cutting I also rely heavily on streaming services.  It used to be I could get by on just Netflix, but my insatiable hunger for films and quality cable dramas soon saw Amazon Prime and Hulu Plus added to my list.  Even so, it all comes to under $30 a month and I assure you I get my money’s worth.  Each app feels like it serves a special purpose, and I enjoy a wide variety of current and classic entertainment.  Like all good things though, it’s all coming to an end.

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Thrift Store Adventures Volume 5: VHS Edition

The last few themed installments of Thrift Store Adventures turned out better than expected, so I’d like to ride the coattails of Ryan’s review of V/H/S with a discussion of VHS tapes, most commonly found in thrift stores, along with used bookstores and garage sales. To be realistic, VHS tapes are outdated, bulky, you can degrade the tape by rewinding it improperly, you can degrade the tape by watching it too many times, magnets don’t really work well around them and they’re afraid of water. Why watch something on VHS when you can watch it on Bluray? Well, “it’s not available on Bluray or even DVD” is the best answer to that. I collect VHS tapes because they’re cheap, and because I have a fondness for 90s anime. Most have made it to DVD, although when a production studio closes the distribution rights it owned may not be immediately available. Some are formally out of print, or in that græy area until another studio comes along to re-re-release the anime on Bluray. It’s an innocent “thrill of the hunt” kind of collection, where I’ll occasionally look through a thrift store’s VHS selection and see if there’s anything I recognize or anything that looks cool, and might only pay more for something I clearly owned or wanted to own. Here are seven examples of the kinds of tapes I’d buy: Read the rest of this entry

2012 Music as Zombiepaper Heard It

Hello, readers. In celebration of a sleepless night, day one of possibly being snowed in, without any foreseeable work options in the foreseeable future, on the first day of 2013, let’s take a look at that goddamn awful year 2012, and pick out some music that was better than Skillrex or that teenybopper shit. In 2008, I was the world’s foremost expert on new albums – or at the least, I was crazy enough to hear over 700 of them – but this time, time and interest was not on my side, so I went the more subdued route. No hipster indie crap, no poking through hype-maker blogs, just my favorite bands and some extras. Here’s a hint of what the tracklist will look like:

I turned this whole thing into a greatest hits of 2012 compilation album, so why not make an album cover?

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Thrift Store Adventures Volume 4: Bellevue is Crazy

The first two Thrift Store Adventures took place over several visits to various thrift stores, because frankly, there just wasn’t enough oddity to fit into one occurrence. Recently, I started taking a writing class in Bellevue. There are many Bellevues across the United States and the world, perhaps most commonly, the Bellevue Hospital Center. The Bellevue in my mind is where I received my higher education and met many of my friends, but is also a rich, snotty part of the greater Seattle area. I stopped in at the Bellevue Goodwill twice, and each time found enough content for an article, so here are fourteen – rather than seven – crazy things I came across in those two thrift store adventures:

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Thrift Store Adventures Volume 3: Seven Favorite Finds

For the this installment of Thrift Store Adventures, I thought it might be nice to show why I enjoy going to thrift stores. It’s not always for the lulz. Sometimes you see some really cool stuff. Here are seven of my favorite things I came across in my thrift store adventures:

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ANO’s Top 11 Zombie Movies

(Please excuse my tardiness.) On behalf of the ghouls and ghosts at A Nerd Occurrence, here are eleven zombie movies we believe are worth your consideration. The choices were culled from many other top zombie movie lists, with some other choices thrown in to keep things interesting. We have a few passionate zombie movie fans and some more casual horror fans, so it should be a good mix for everyone. Let’s start with a good summary of the genre from one of our experts, sift through some honorable mentions, and then get to the meat of the matter.

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