REVIEW: Transformers

Post ImageWow, just wow. I went to see Transformers last night, and I left the theatre damn impressed. Keep in mind that I’m not a Transformers geek. I never played with the toys, nor did I watch the cartoon. Thus, it would have been hard for me to be disappointed about “staying true to the story” or something like that. Turns out even the big fans loved the movie though. Take Justice, for instance:

I will be proselytizing this movie to random strangers starting tomorrow; I won’t stop until the entire world recognizes how great this film was. If you were ever going to do Transformers as a live-action film, this would be how to do it.

Don’t listen to the critics, listen to the audience. I’ll echo what Justice said: go see the movie, you’ll like it.

I read the Wikipedia entry for the movie the other day, the most interesting part of which is the section on the development of the film. Fans of Steven Spielberg (such as myself) will notice his stamp all over the film. Alien comes to earth, finds boy. Boy is afraid at first, then develops a relationship with alien. Boy is only the only one who can understand alien. Later, alien is near death, boy is heartbroken. Sound familiar? It should. A large part of the storyline in Transformers might as well have been lifted right from E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. And that’s not a bad thing.

Anyway, here are some comments:

  • I didn’t expect the movie to be funny, but there was some clever humor injected throughout!
  • Awesome action sequences, just incredible. Though if you’ve seen the trailer, you’ve seen a lot of the major eye-candy-scenes. Still, the CGI in this movie is breathtaking.
  • Not one, but two incredibly attractive women in this movie: Megan Fox and Rachael Taylor.
  • Shia LaBeouf was incredible. Looking forward to more movies with him as the lead.
  • I suppose one negative is that the movie could be taken as an extended commercial for GM.
  • Great music, both original and included. The new Linkin Park stuff was featured pretty heavily.
  • Don’t let the length (144 mins) deter you from seeing the film. Like Pirates 3, it did not feel that long.

Apparently two sequels have already been greenlit, with Shia LaBeouf and Megan Fox on board for both. I’d go see more Transformers movies! Heck, I’d go see this one again!

Read: Transformers

Thank you, come again!

Post ImageI was surfing around Yahoo! News yesterday when I came across this story: 7-Elevens become Simpsons ‘Kwik-E-Marts’. How awesome is that? Eleven locations in the US and one in Canada have been converted to Kwik-E-Marts, selling things like Buzz Cola, KrustyO’s cereal, and Squishees. There’s a wicked photoset at Flickr that shows just how detailed these real-life Kwik-E-Marts are.

John Biehler visited the Coquitlam, BC location yesterday (lucky bastard):

One thing that struck me (and that others have posted about) is the lengths they went to do it right….it’s easy enough to slap a few posters up for a big movie but to transform an entire store to something as beloved as a Kwik-E-Mart is pure genius.

Agreed. This is one of the best movie promotion ideas ever! Too bad I won’t get to see one of the Kwik-E-Marts in person. The movie opens July 27th.

Read: Yahoo! News

10 Reasons For Simultaneous Movie Releases

Post ImageIn my humble opinion, the way movies are released today sucks. First they hit the theatres, then DVDs, then video-on-demand services, and finally television. The movie studios really like these different release windows for some reason. Why not release movies to all of these distribution channels at once? It makes a lot of sense to me. The hottest item during the Xmas shopping season in 2006 was probably HDTVs, and I suspect it will remain a big seller this year and next. Watching new releases like Spider-Man 3 in the comfort of my own home sounds very appealing.

The idea is finally being explored:

Comcast is trying to make the “simultaneous release” dream happen, but with prices being proposed in the $30-50 range per screening, the dream looks more like a Hollywood acid trip.

Yeah, that price simply isn’t going to fly. The article includes a bunch of really great analysis, so check it out.

Here are ten reasons why I think the “simultaneous release” dream needs to happen (in no particular order):

  1. Drinks and snacks at the theatre are horribly overpriced – talk about price gouging. Not to mention the cost of gas to get from your house to the theatre! I’d rather eat the food I already have in the house, thanks.
  2. There aren’t any crying kids, cell phones, or other distractions in my house. Oh and my floors aren’t sticky either.
  3. I don’t like being forced to sit through fifteen minutes of commercials before the movie previews start. It makes seeing a 90 minute movie a two hour experience (and that’s assuming you don’t line up to get good seats).
  4. Many people have invested thousands of dollars into a comfortable home theatre system – simultaneous releases let them make the most of it.
  5. Hollywood would make more money. Increased sales and reduced marketing expenses.
  6. Pause! You should control the viewing experience, not the theatre. Want to pause for a few minutes? Go for it.
  7. We’ll get better quality movies. Instead of making only movies that are likely to do well at the box office, Hollywood would be free to make all kinds of movies with each one being widely accessible.
  8. Theatre owners would be forced to revisit their business. Why do we go to the theatre? I think “to see a movie” is a secondary reason. The primary reason is to socialize. Perhaps theatres will come up with a better overall experience when their backs are against the wall.
  9. Independent and other small movie studios would play on the same field as the big boys. Remember all the trouble Mel Gibson had to go through to get The Passion of the Christ released in theatres? It wouldn’t have been such an issue in a world with simultaneous releases.
  10. Control over the volume. Control over the temperature. No parking necessary. You can lay down if you want. Etc.

Anything else? I think it’s only a matter of time until the simultaneous release becomes the norm.

Movie Piracy? Blame Canada!

Post ImageLooks like the “our business model sucks so let’s insult our customers” mantra has made it to the desks of Warner Bros. executives. If you’ve never been to an advance movie screening, too bad, because they are now banned for Warner Bros. movies in Canada:

Frustrated with unauthorized camcording of its new releases in Canadian cinemas, the studio said it will immediately halt all “promotional and word-of-mouth screenings” of upcoming releases.

“We regret having to cancel our screenings in Canada, but our studio must take steps to protect not only our branded assets but our commitment to our filmmakers and to our distributors,” Warner Bros. president of domestic distribution Dan Fellman said.

I can honestly say that were I to download a movie that was recorded using a camcorder in a theatre, I would immediately delete it. Not because I am sleeping with movie studio executives, but because a movie recorded using a camcorder just can’t look very good. Any serious pirate will have the time and bandwidth to go for quality!

When will these idiots learn? Camcorders in Canada are not the source of piracy. I doubt the practice has any measurable effect on the movie industry at all. Mathew Ingram points out a number of flaws with the argument being made, and Engadget gets a dig in too, noting the ban affects upcoming movies like…

…the upcoming Ocean’s Thirteen and Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, which’ll surely not be pirated now.

Surely not indeed! Come back next week to read about Warner Bros. suing toddlers and their grandparents!

Read: Reuters

Get ready for Spider-Man 4, 5, and 6

Post ImageI went to see Spider-Man 3 last night, and I enjoyed it. I think the critics were unnecessarily harsh (though not harsh enough to make it rotten). It’s like they all met in the back room and decided to call the movie “a disappointment.” With a few minor exceptions, I thought Spider-Man 3 was even better than the second movie.

There is a particular villain who really should have its own movie, so I wouldn’t be sad to see them make another installment in the Spider-Man series. If you believe the chief executive of Sony Pictures though, they’ll be making more than just another one:

Sony Pictures chief executive Michael Lynton told the BBC: “Everybody has every intention of making a fourth, a fifth and a sixth and on and on.”

There would be “as many as we can make good stories for”, he pledged.

That is kind of exciting to hear, but you have wonder if fans will get tired of Spider-Man movies at some point. Or more importantly, if the actors will get tired of the movies!

He probably said that because Spider-Man 3 has broken both the opening day and opening weekend North American box office records, bringing in $148 million (do they not count Sunday as part of the opening weekend, or what?). It’ll be interesting to see if it can hang on to that record with Shrek 3 and Pirates 3 coming out later this month.

Don’t listen to the critics, Spider-Man 3 is definitely worth going to see.

Read: BBC

Spider-Man 3 HD Preview Clip

Post ImageIf there’s one movie I am looking forward to this year, it’s Spider-Man 3. Even though I have high expectations for the movie, I am confident it will exceed them. Needless to say, I was pretty excited to learn that would have a special preview available tonight after Heroes aired. I just downloaded and watched the largest option, a whopping 285 MB for seven and a half minutes of 720p HD content.

The preview contains a scene with Peter and MJ, a scene with Peter and Aunt May, and the rest is an action sequence featuring Peter and Harry. And yes, the preview does end with a bit of a cliffhanger. It’s a fairly good preview, despite not giving us the goods (no Venom, no Sandman, etc)! If you want to download the clip, you’ve only got until tomorrow at 9 PM pacific time. Though I’m sure it will be up on BitTorrent by then.

The video took me about 8 minutes to download, which is pretty good considering I wasn’t even using our fastest connection. Looks like Sony is using Limelight Networks to serve the video.


Xbox 360 to offer movies and television via Live

Post ImageMicrosoft has announced that starting November 22nd, which just happens to be the one year anniversary of the Xbox 360, users will be able to download standard and high definition TV shows and movies. This is a big deal, make no mistake about it. Engadget has some more details on the service, dubbed Xbox Live Video. Pricing has not yet been announced, but we do know payment will be made in Microsoft points.

Here are some choice quotes from around the web. From Microsoft Monitor:

Rental is something Microsoft offers that Apple doesn’t. And Microsoft will offer HD content, too, which is really smart. It’s not just differentiating from iTunes or other services, but preserving the user experience. Xbox 360 is very much about the HD experience.

From Don Dodge:

Stay tuned for more Live services. It is going to be tough to keep up with all the announcements coming from Microsoft over the next few months. It just gets better every day.

And not as positive, from GigaOM:

With just 20 gigs in the consoles standard hard drive set-up, youre talking about 10 high definition TV episodes or five HD movies. Most gamers can churn through that content in days.

I would not be surprised if Microsoft announced a larger hard drive in the near future.

All of a sudden, owning an Xbox 360 is about more than being a gamer. It’s great news for people like me, a fairly casual gamer. I knew the 360 would be big on media when I bought it, but I had no idea this was coming. I can’t wait to see what they launch next!


REVIEW: Snakes on a Plane

Post ImageThis is the post I know you’ve all been waiting for – I just got back from Snakes on a Plane! Tonight was definitely the night to go, as everyone in attendance was cheering and shouting and super excited for the movie. Someone even had one of those big snakes you can get in the kids section at Ikea. And even better, we were first in line! To put it simply, the movie exceeded my expectations, which were actually fairly simple: there must be snakes, a plane, and Samuel L. Jackson. In addition to those three things, Snakes on a Plane delivered violence, coarse language, nudity and sex. And perhaps most awesomely, a surprising variety of snake attacks!

The movie started out a little oddly, but I soon realized they were just setting up the plot. As crazy as it sounds, they actually had a decent plot behind the movie. Better than some that I have seen anyway (such as every Batman movie except the first Tim Burton one and Batman Begins). It didn’t take long to get the plane in the air, snakes and all. And as soon as the snakes got loose, and the mayhem began, I was happy. I think the entire theater was (despite a few empty seats).

I wish I could have been there when they came up with ways for the snakes to attack and kill people! They had just about everything you can think of, and then some. They had all sorts of passengers too – kids, babies, a lady with a dog, a guy deathly afraid of flying, a grumpy business man, a spoiled music star, etc. I am so glad they trashed that PG rating and went straight for R – they held nothing back! I couldn’t even watch at some points. Of course I did anyway.

Samuel L. Jackson was awesome. He had some great moments in the movie, and when he delivered the now infamous “I’ve had it with these motherfuckin snakes on this motherfuckin plane!” the entire theater erupted into cheers and applause! Smartly, he doesn’t say it until near the end. Speaking of the ending, it was actually pretty good!

Now let’s get one thing straight – this movie is not meant to please critics or be realistic or any of that crap. It’s meant to deviate from the norm, and deliver the literal greatness that is its title. Snakes on a Plane does not disappoint in that regard. If nothing else, I hope the movie shows Hollywood they can be experimental and try new things, even if they sound crazy at first. I am willing to bet this won’t be the last movie that borrows lines or ideas from the community.

I thoroughly enjoyed Snakes on a Plane. If you’re afraid of snakes or flying you might want to avoid it, otherwise, I think you’ll enjoy it too! I expect most people won’t see the movie in the theater, which is fine, because I think it will make a great DVD rental. I intend to buy it when it comes out. It’s the perfect kind of movie to sit around and watch with a bunch of friends, though there’s probably too many snakes to turn it into a drinking game.

I dunno what I am going to do now, I’ve been waiting for this movie for so long! I guess there’s always hope that Samuel L. Jackson will make “mo’ motherfuckin snakes on mo’ motherfuckin planes!”

Read: Snakes on a Plane

Snakes on The Daily Show

Post ImageWhat could possibly be better than Snakes on a Plane? Samuel L. Jackson talking with Jon Stewart on The Daily Show about Snakes on a Plane! You can watch the clip at YouTube. Apparently Samuel L. Jackson can “negotiate his ass off” for the sequel, because he didn’t sign any sequel contracts. Don’t you just love the ‘L’ in Samuel L. Jackson? Makes him so much more badass.

You know, I never watch The Daily Show on TV anymore. I pretty much only watch clips and segments on YouTube now. Welcome to 2006.

Read: YouTube

Revealing The Hidden Terror: Snakes on a Plane!

Post ImageIf you haven’t had the pleasure of talking to me in person for a while, you might not know just how excited I am for the upcoming movie Snakes on a Plane, which opens Friday (though I have tickets for the Thursday screening). I mean there’s snakes, a plane, fear-stricken passengers, and one extremely badass FBI agent, better know as Samuel L. Jackson. Just check out the summary:

On board a flight over the Pacific Ocean, an assassin, bent on killing a passenger who’s a witness in protective custody, lets loose a crate full of deadly snakes.

And with much cussing and violence, I fully expect Samuel L. Jackson to save the day. You just can’t go wrong with a title like Snakes on a Plane!

Another interesting aspect of the movie is the huge community of fans who have created “fan media” for the movie – fake trailers, posters, websites, fake scripts, etc. There’s really an amazing amount of stuff available. You can find links to some of it as well as some good background on the movie and the community at Wikipedia.

Which brings me to the point of this post – to show you fan media created by myself and Andrew! We went to the Edmonton International Airport yesterday, to interview people about the hidden terror; the terror the media doesn’t want you to know about. Snakes on a Plane. What we found was shocking – no one was aware of this growing terror! Among those we talked to were a security screener and a baggage person, and it was clear from our conversations that there is no plan in place to fight the snakes. The ban on liquids is good, but what we really need is a ban on snakes!

Watch the video at YouTube!

The video turned out to be a little longer than I had hoped it would at seventeen minutes, but I wasn’t sure what else to cut. It has its funny moments, especially in the latter half, so if you have some time to spare, check it out! We find out if people are afraid of snakes, if they trust Samuel L. Jackson, and if they are planning to see the movie. It was fun to make!

Read: YouTube