Pretty Movie Playing Down the Street

Last Sunday a few friends and I decided to check out the new box office release of Avatar.  It wasn’t so much a decision as an apparent entertainment industry mandate based on the barrage of media hype as the “Revolution of the movie industry” and “The largest advancement in the industry since the on-seat cup holder”.  Okay, I made the last one up, but that is probably the one thing that really improved my movie experience in the last 10 years.  I was pretty skeptical of the 3D capabilities based on the disappointment from last year’s “super game” commercials supposedly leveraging this new form of entertainment immersion.  Although he tends to exaggerate his worth at awards ceremonies, Cameron tends to put out quality movies and ones that I tend to prefer over the other lame Academy Awards nominations (think Milk).  He is also talented enough not to need the shaky camera crutch.  So off we went to add our money to the opening weekend box office gross.  We slap our $9 dollars down expecting to get the required stylish cardboard and cellophane glasses.  Instead the cashier hands us a pair of Roy Orbison (per Pakage’s astute observation) grey tinted glasses.  Well, already the initial expectations have been exceeded.  After paying $8.50 for a medium drink and a bottled water (does anyone really wonder why people prefer to skip the theater experience these days), we made it to our seats in a relatively packed house.  Now this is somewhat a surprise since either I have been catching big releases later than the opening weekend or the hype was working because rarely these days do I see a movie in a crowded theater.

Ironically enough, I spent 3 grand to not have to wear glasses/contacts anymore and there we were putting on our thick plastic glasses when the prompt came up on the screen.  Immediately, the 10 years of 3D research and technology advancements were paying off.  Gone were the jerky phase in and outs of the screen images and the blur that usually occurred at least in the middle of the screen.  Every once in awhile, the edges would blur a bit, but may be due to the coverage of the glasses.  There were three distinct visual planes, the screen view (which we’ll call the reference point) and then two more planes equidistant forward and back of the reference point.  This technology is still new to me so a lot of the movie preview time was spent checking things out and experimenting.  One interesting thing is the reference plane appears to be normal when viewing the screen without the glasses.  The other two planes were blurred and had the dual color (stereo) blurring seen in the older 3D attempts.  It seemed that the further apart the dual images were the farther distance away it appeared from the reference plane, but again, I know little about this technology.  It did darken the screen a tad due to the lens tint.  There was also a concern as to whether these glasses would give me a headache after such a long movie (way over 2.5 hrs) but with a few removals to view how things were progressing on the reference plane there were no problems.

I do not want to spoil the movie for the rest of you, but I honestly had an “ah” experience when the name of the movie clicked.  For some reason this totally escaped me but that may be because I tried to avoid seeing/reading any details on it in order to get the full effect.  From a story perspective, I give it 3 stars.  Looking over the green liberal propaganda, the story did have some unique concepts and in my opinion drew from the classics.  For example, the personal mechanical warriors reminded me of the material handlers in Aliens (helped by Sigourney’s presence), Jakes speech was clearly in the Braveheart mode, the blue leader’s proclamation brought visions of the Last of the Mohican’s Magua discussion with the chief regarding how best to avenge the aggressions of Munro.  Add in a healthy dose of references to Gone in Sixty Seconds (thanks to Ribisi) and Grandma’s Boy (thanks to Moore) – okay, maybe those last two do not fit the “classic” description.

Visuals get a hands down 5 stars.  Not since Hero has there been a more graphically stunning movie.  The color palettes in the jungle, the first (IMHO) movie to get the physics of non human movement right, the diversity in weapons and the seamless CGI to human interaction were extremely impressive.  Clearly Cameron compensated for the tinting in the glasses by going the neon route which really popped out of the jungle.  Even if you have issues with the story, there is no reason not to enjoy the cinematography in this movie.

Lastly, the 3D technology gets a 4 in my book.  They have progressed light years from the cardboard cutouts and realized the benefits in the millions of research dollars.  There is some room for improvement on the fringes of the screen.  There tends to be an occasional blur on the front foreground panel, but not sure if that is the glasses or pushing the edges of the technology.  The impact on those that are prone to motion sickness still needs to be investigated.  One of friends (Pakage) has been effected by heavy motion movies (Dark Knight’s cell phone scene for one) and Linda only made it about third of the way through the Star Trek movie due to the crap shaky camera effect (this even annoys me because I think it is a crutch for lack of still talent).  Pakage made it through this movie okay, however, it is likely to make Linda pretty sick especially during the warp holes and flying creature scenes.

So the final rating is a 4.2 stars based on the average of the three categories plus a bonus for replacing the obnoxious blue wang image in Watchmen with one of a  blue boob.  My recommendation – See It, Enjoy It, Dismiss the green liberal tree hugging gargle.

Now back to belting out my Pretty Woman parody on the Ol’ Les Paul.

We’re Gonna Be Rich…but First Get the Dogs Inside!

A Thanksgiving miracle apparently occurred that went unnoticed until now.  I have a field cam out in my back wooded acres to keep tabs on some unwanted hunter issues I was having and to keep up on the wildlife activity out there.  I changed out the batteries and the memory card recently and was going through the large number of pictures when low and behold I stumble on this beast.  At first I was scared for my pets because clearly this demon spawn is in search of prey to send back to the land of the dead.  After checking on the dogs of course, I sat down to assess the situation.  Apparently it was caught by the camera in the 4:00am time frame, required the infrared strobe to pull it from the cover of the night and is obviously well fed.  The oddest part was this is the only frame in a 9 frame consecutive burst that caught the demon.  There is nothing in the frames before it or after it.  Ruling out all the wildlife native to my woods, I started researching the possibilities.  Countless hours reading wildlife books at the library, tiring late nights surfing every off ramp on the information highway (Al Gore our technology savior) and a few beers with the locals at the nearby pubs resulted in only one conclusion.  A conclusion that is destined to make my bank account swell to unimaginable size.  A conclusion that will have the media consuming every second of my daily schedule yet doesn’t require me to duct tape a bunch of plastic together and fill it with helium.  Yes, folks, the terror you see before you is none other than “The Goat Sucker”.  I will let that sink in a while tick tick tick tick……. maybe the translated name is throwing you a bit… are you sitting down?  are the lights on?  are your credit cards nearby?  for the The Goat Sucker to our Southern tongues is CHUPACABRA (an assist goes out to Pakage for helping me with the spelling).

I know, I could hardly believe it myself.  Apparently Jerry Ayer is not the only one to find the creature (who later sold it to the Lost World Museum last September).  Although it is a little difficult to validate all the supposed features of the demon creature (reptile like skin, spines down the back, red eyes etc.) it clearly has a nasty set of teeth/fangs in which to suck the blood out of its victims.  This also opens up an additional possibility on the cause of a previous post I made on the dead coyote.  I had originally hypothesized that the cause of that death was drowning, but now it may have been the result of an unlucky encounter with the Chupacabra.  An encounter that resulted in the blood drained carcass being dragged up onto the branches by the scythe like claws.  The nasty venom causing the coyote’s skin to turn to leather thus providing the well preserved carcass in the pictures.

Now I just need to figure out the best way to market this invaluable gift from the dark side.  Should I put a large sign by the road advertising the chance to see the only Chupacabra ever found alive (for a mere $20 bucks which is the amount I got ripped off.. I mean invested at Crazy Horse) or maybe break out my rifle and track this creature myself so I can embed it in a freezer full of ice and go on public TV to find the highest bidder (except this time it will not just be a Halloween costume).  Maybe call up Bravo and persuade them to film a reality show about me instead of a couple  of broke washed up  socialites.  Or possibly call the Stealth Cam guys and get an endorsement as the only camera to catch a mythical creature.  All I know is I better figure this out quick if I am going to capitalize on this opportunity or worse yet it finds me before I capture it.  Until then, feel free to send me as much money as you can and I’ll be sure and put you at the top of the list to participate in whatever action I decide to take and just maybe I’ll even send you the picture above personally autographed in appreciation for your eagerness to witness history.

Honey, get the car, we’re going to make this a great Christmas this year!  Thank you Chupacabra for making us wealthy beyond our wildest dreams.  Well, maybe not beyond our wildest dreams, but at least enough to pay for the tax fallout from the “Ticket for Change” farce.