If you are like most people, you probably groaned and laughed a bit when you first saw the teaser for the (now released) Dredd 3D movie. As if they were remaking the atrocious Stallone film, you may think to yourself. Has Hollywood run out of ideas, you ask? Unlike most people though, I got excited. I'm not sure if it's because I have a genuine interest in "remakes" or that I actually enjoyed Judge Dredd back in the day and I would revisit the film a couple of years ago to confirm that it's still decent and worth a watch. I believe it's moreso the fact that I enjoy the character and mythos has to contribute to a modern day sci-fi action movie: a post-apocalyptic world where only one city exists, where crime is completely out of hand and the justice system has allowed Judge-class officers to act as judge, jury and executioner. All that being said, I've never read one of the comics, but I have a general sense of the series, the character of Judge Dredd and the tone, to a degree that I see how a proper movie could be good, if not great.
My friend was home already when I arrived - a rare occurrence with his new job - and I could see the grin on his face from outside. We were going through some movies the night before and stumbled upon the new Piranha movie, and knew then that it was available for viewing. Immediately I supposed that his mind was going through how he was going to see this movie. Two years previous he brought his wife to the theatre for the first one (in 3D) and she was horrified. Not by the "horror" aspect of it, I'm sure, but more of the extreme gratuitous shots of naked women and the shameless level of tongue-in-cheek vulgarity present throughout the running time. But mainly the women: it was pretty ridiculous. So there was no chance of him being able to see the second one when she was around (they watch everything together).
It was as if the stars aligned though, not twenty four hours later. His wife was staying with her mother, and he was not obligated to be with her. My other friend's girlfriend was also away, out of town, leaving the house void of women. He knew this, and anticipated it throughout the day. The first thing he asks is: do we watch it now, or later (that evening)? Regardless of when, it happened and yes, it was incredibly terrible (yet incredibly funny).
A fear washed over me. My forehead broke into a cold sweat. I checked blind spots repeatedly, made verbalization that made no sense that would confuse linguists. Indeed, I had made a left turn into a streetcar lane, which quickly became elevated. The street below felt like miles. Partially, I was in awe: I was driving where no man had gone before, where only streetcars had traversed before. Then reality hit as I checked my rear view mirror and saw a car directly behind me. Probably another tourist, who had followed me onto this railed path of madness. I wasn't entirely sure what to do, although there were very few options. The car following took the lead and leaped off the track onto the civilian road below. The only option had presented itself. I yelled for Cale to hold on, that this was going to happen and it played out just as expected. We hit the road below, bottoming out the car and hearing awful noises from below. But we were safe now. I can only imagine what the locals were thinking, and the only thing to do now was to drive past the shame.
It's now been months since I first imported my collection into iTunes and really embraced the ecosystem. After months of use, the import has proven successful: the data is clean, the albums are organized and it is an actually joy to work with. Never did I believe you would hear that from me in regards to iTunes. That's not to say the software isn't without it's problems, as the software can be slow, sluggish and a pest with it's need to update all the time. But the initial setup and planning has paid off: I have the Core playlist which syncs with my iPod, and podcast episodes are individually chosen. Subscriptions to podcasts are all setup and download automatically all the time (although iTunes seems to forget the odd one).
One of the goals I had was to have the entire music library available through Subsonic, which runs off my server/HTPC that is always powered on (the desktop housing iTunes is not always on). The previous folder structure I had was good for Subsonic, but iTunes' structure is even better. Folders for artists, then folders for each album inside. I simply copied the entire iTunes music folder onto the server and pointed Subsonic at it: everything worked as expected, and as a bonus I get a simple mirror backup of my music. Now, that was good for a while, but I rarely use Subsonic anymore, as work and life don't really permit me to do so. I don't have a big need for it, so the service has been turned off (as has the server most days).
Never did I think that we would have to slap a tacky looking (year) onto one of the greatest sci-fi/action movies of all time. But a couple of years ago the announcement was made; fast forward to now and here we are, with a brand new shiny remake of Arnold's romp through his mind and Mars. After the announcement, would come a trailer, and this is where the true resistence was felt. For hours (or perhaps just minutes) my friends and I spoke about the merits of a remake, and about how old we were getting (that Total Recall really is that old). My friends were dubious about a remake: the film would be sacrilegious and an atrocity affronted to all humankind, but I took a slightly different approach. Perhaps it's fueled by indifference, but I can appreciate re imaginings, reinterpretations and modern updates. I appreciate that what I have loved is loved enough that they want to modernize it for today's youth, and I'm fascinated to see the results. The existence of a remake - good or bad - doesn't sully the original for me; if anything, it will just enhance it further.
In no way could I tell you when I actually started playing this game: my first post is dated September 14, 2011, so I'll just say it's been a year. It's been an addicting run, and where my friends "failed" I built on, surpassing 100 floors in a relative short period of time. The floors just kept piling up, and the time it took to build them increased exponentially. Earlier this year my playtime would decrease, stall to a near halt. I don't know how the citizens of my tower put up with me, but they were glad they did, as I attacked the game aggressively and built into the heavens as no man should.
When you are building so high, so many floors it takes millions of dollars per floor and days to create it. What really frustrated me was building a retail store - for instance - then not being able to staff it because the apartment floor would take me days to build (days to collect the money then days to wait for it to build). So I took out a new approach: save up enough money to build all eight floors at once. The idea was so sound and innovative that architects around the world gasped with joy. So I begin saving money, and it took weeks to get enough for eight floors. But boy, when I did build them all, it was heaven.
Well look at this, a few weeks go by and I totally forgot about seeing The Avengers in theatres. That is not to mean though, that the movie was bad. It was actually quite good. If anything, it shows that Marvel has really hit the perfect formula that was shown earlier with Iron Man. They've had a good run since, as well, with decent turnouts for Thor and Captain America, each of which has been hinting and leading up to the inevitable Avengers film, which landed just a month or so ago. And it landed huge. This movie is blowing apart box office records and just bringing in tons of cash - Avatar style. All of this, plus the incredible ratings - 93% on Rotten Tomatoes at the moment - confirm that the formula is sound and worth repeating. I expect that all characters in the film have their respective sequels in the works, along with new franchises starting for Hawkeye and Black Widow, among others.
So in the same way that I enjoyed Iron Man, I enjoyed The Avengers and then some. It strikes a good balance of action, story, humour and whatever else is necessary for saying the movie is good. It doesn't matter: the movie is fun. While I struck out against the movie earlier, my predictions weren't entirely inaccurate: the movie is somewhat predictable, but that's not a problem. We get quick back stories for some of the heroes, with the Hulk getting by far the most - it's been noted he's the real star of the film and yeah, he's definitely a fan favourite for good reason. We don't get much on the others simply because we've just been inundated with their movies recently. It's alright though: the previous movies met their goal of bringing these characters (arguably back) into the public consciousnesses admirably.
I figured I would mix things up a bit and let you know what I've been watching lately. And provide some short, uninsightful thoughts on them.
Every time a season of Fringe airs, I don't watch it. I have them all queued up and about halfway through the airing, I'll begin watching. I'm not sure where the hesitation stems from, because the show is fantastic. I'm really digging the current season (or the last, I guess), where [spoilers] Peter is vanquished from reality (and everyone's memories) and comes back mysteriously. Lots of guest spots from Observers, cool monsters and sci-fi mysteries. There was concern the show was being cancelled, but we have another (final) season in the pipe. Plenty of time for the writers to wrap things up.
Listen, I'm a fan of Tim Burton. There was a time when I would gobble up any movie he brought out. That's perhaps a lie: I didn't eagerly go see his remake of Planet of the Apes. In fact, I'm not sure how many I've gone to see in the theatre: they seem to be consumed at home more often than not. Alright, that being said, I'm still a big fan of his movies, or at least, the older ones: 1988 through 1999 were very good years for him.
Tim Burton and Johnny Depp teaming up is not exactly news, as they've done quite a few films together, so I'm not entirely sure why I was excited for Dark Shadows. It's based on an old soap opera - seriously? - from the '70's that I've never heard of and have no interest in. The previews looked decent enough though, and Burton does gothic pretty well. Perhaps I was excited as well because there wasn't much else in theatres - this was a week or so before The Avengers came out and the torrent of summer movies were being released. The preview showed some promise though, which made watching the movie so unbearable.
In a daring double feature, we walked briskly into the theatre and took our seats. My friend was telling me how he had rewatched the first two films. I think this act was to help refresh his memory, and to introduce the series to his wife. And it hits me that you need to be refreshed on the series since the sequel came out ten years ago, and the first MIB was five years before that. You would think that with the coin these movies bring in, we would have five or six MIB movies by now. But, Will Smith seems to have veered off course from his July blockbuster routine and has in fact taken a few years off from film - something I didn't notice until everyone kept mentioning how MIB3 was his return. Regardless, I didn't want to refresh myself, and the reasoning is still not clear. Perhaps I wanted to leave those memories alone, perhaps the movies had not stood the test of time.
It turns out that I just didn't want to sit through MIB2 again: the movie is completely lost in the open sewer system of my brain. That's not to say it's bad, but it's just the way things have to be. The first movie remains classic, and if memory serves properly it was a very enjoyable theatre experience (I believe I went on a date to see the movie, where I ran into a couple of friends who were also going - we all sat together and the awkwardness was not lost on me). In any event, the first MIB was fun and light, with the emphasis on fun - again. The score was memorable (Danny Elfman had a distinctive, fresh sound back then), the effects were top notch and most importantly, the characters were interesting and had a great dynamic.