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Showing posts from November, 2013

Movie Review: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013)

If movies had their own Hunger Games, then Catching Fire would pincushion the first movie with arrows, set tracker jackers on its twitching corpse, and then set it aflame.

I re-watched the first Hunger Games before going to see Catching Fire and was like, "What is this, a political docu-drama? What is with the gritty-ass cinematography?" Full disclosure: I reviewed it favorably back in 2012, mostly because of my delight at the casting choices. Now, having seen what author Suzanne Collins' work could truly be, I poo-poo my younger self.

Now--(she trilled in her Effie voice)--let's move on!

This time around, the odds are stacked more cruelly against surly archer protagonist Katniss Everdeen (JLaw). Viewed by the oppressed districts as a symbol of rebellion, she becomes a personal target of President Snow (a magnificently evil Donald Sutherland). With the head Gamemaker gone, Plutarch Heavensbee (Philip Seymour Hoffman) steps in. As Katniss struggles to avoid further an…

Movie Review: Ender's Game (2013)

Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game is probably the most intelligent sci-fi I’ve ever read. Back in 1985, Card created compelling characters, wrote tense situations, and explored profound moralities. In Andrew “Ender” Wiggins, the author underlined the themes of things lost in war, survival and strategy, talent and responsibility, friendship and solitude, and a host of other concepts that require re-reading to capture.

I initially refused to watch the movie because Card lost his marbles at some point, but this abridged script persuaded me to watch. Bottom line: worth it. Ender’s Game is a visually stunning film. It’s not Gravity, but it comes close. The futuristic cars, tablets, gear, etc. were believable. The “simulation room” at the Command School base was spectacular. Before that, the design crew’s interpretation of the zero-gravity training room was effective, and it was a delight to see the formations that the “armies” came up with as they floated and blasted their way to victory.

S…

Movie Review: Argo (2012)

Argo is a suspenseful film that chronicles the covert rescue of six US Embassy workers who hid in the Canadian Embassy after the Iranian Revolution erupted. The movie boasts a stellar cast, snappy dialogue, and superb cinematography that ramps up the tension once the action shifts to Iran. Ben Affleck pulls double duty as director and star, and is effective as both.

I thought I had Argo’s Oscar success figured out in the first half hour. When CIA agent “Kevin” (Affleck) devises an extraction strategy involving a fake sci-fi movie, he goes to Hollywood—and snark ensues. John Goodman and Alan Arkin play a Hollywood makeup artist and famous director, respectively, and both hilariously deliver sly in-jokes about the movie industry and its particular culture. To create credibility for their front, they select a script entitled Argo.

This act stands out through a series of overlapping shots and voice overs during a crucial moment in solidifying Argo’s cred as an actual movie. As prominent a…

Game Review: Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light (iOS)

I purchased a little app on my iPhone that I hoped would slake my thirst for more Tomb Raider goodness. It kind of worked.

Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light is a platform game that is not connected to the Tomb Raider brand. Sigh. The plot, such as it is, goes like this: somewhere in South America, mercenaries uncover the Mirror of Shadows, which releases the evil Xolotl. Together with Totec, a Mayan warrior also released by the find, Lara must defeat Xolotl before dawn. Let the jumping and shooting begin!

Pros:
EasyOffers variety of levels, puzzle-based challenges, weapons, and rewards/bonuses Soundtrack clearly homage to Angelina Jolie Tomb Raider films Authentic creature and undead monster sounds! *RARRRR crk crk crk* 
Cons:
Lara jumps even worse that Mario in the NES Mario Bros. game Controls unfriendly to oily/cracked fingers Camera angles make it difficult to see elements of an entire area Auto-aim feature frequently targets farthest enemy instead of the one eating Lara’s face 

Yay Movember, Nay Beard

Here in the land of the free, there are many movements to raise health awareness. The most prominent example in recent years has been the profusion of pink during October, meant to remind us of the scourge that is breast cancer, killer of hundreds of thousands of women a year in the US alone.

The menfolk have their own cause: Movember, celebrated in November, when beards are grown to encourage screenings for common conditions: prostate cancer and the like.

I applaud Movember. It's important for people, especially men, to overcome the stigma of medical visits and own up to the fact that maybe that isn't heartburn, it just might be CVD, our species' number one killer disease. And if so, a trip to the doctor is in order!

However. I am not a fan of beards. My thought on beards: "Ew." Puzzlingly, other men see beards and swoon in admiration. Just this morning, Fragrant Husband spoke enthusiastically about the utilikilt worn by a man who I mistook for a woman.

"Wh…

Movie Review: Thor: The Dark World 3D (2013)

Chris Hemsworth’s enormous sculpted body is back in all its Asgardian glory, but gone is the brash-then-humbled Odinson from the 2011 movie. In his place is a confident and responsible god of thunder, pining for Oscar winner Natalie Portman, because let’s face it, who doesn’t?

After the events of The Avengers movie, Thor has his hands full with peacekeeping duties in other realms, plus he’d broken the Bifrost/Rainbow Bridge back in the first movie while stopping Loki’s attempt to destroy Yodenheim (remember that? neither did I), meaning he hasn’t really kept up his correspondence with Jane Foster, PhD (Portman). Back on Earth, Jane is determined to get her some more of that godly goodness, so off she goes with trusty sidekick Darcy (Kat Jennings, once again a reliable comic relief character) to investigate a paranormal phenomenon…

Quiz time! Pick the correct cliché!

a) …and becomes host to an ancient evil bent on ending the universe.
b) …only to be trapped in a struggle between two o…

TV Series Review: Babylon 5 (1994)

This post is about Seasons 1-4, because Claudia Christian was not on Season 5 and I call shenanigans. I said good day!
Moving on.
I acquiesced to watching this nineties sci-fi series after what I can only describe as a sustained nerd campaign by my husband. For months he would turn to me, eyes shining, and declare how much I would love Babylon 5. He would leave tantalizing hints about the Minbari and their mysteriousness. He would mention the series in casual conversation having nothing whatsoever to do with science fiction or television. His efforts received an unexpected boost when my friend Cheap Date vetted the show. I finally succumbed when he marched out his DVD collection of Seasons 1 through 4, placed them prominently on the entertainment shelf, and gave me puppy dog eyes. Dammit.
So I popped in Season 1 and was immediately treated to Ambassador Londo Mollari’s bombast. His race of big-haired aliens was at odds with reptilian ones, and only human intervention was keeping them…

How to Spot a Filipina

Advisory: This post contains sweeping generalizations.

A co-worker stopped me today and said, “Are you a model? Because you walk like one,” to which I immediately responded: “I’m a model of good behavior.”

That’s a flashing FILIPINA sign right there, dear readers. We're well behaved, like prancing fawn on a paradise island.

...What?

Anyway, please adjust your posture as I share my hard-won wisdom about how to identify humans born within the same political boundaries as me, or those whose ancestry matches mine. If you are of another tribe, this list will save you from eagerly asking folks from Cambodia/Indonesia/Malaysia/Vietnam if they’re from the Philippines. May I present…

A Fragrant Guide to Spotting Filipinas 
The Nose: Look for nostrils that fan out sideways, much like the branches of a chestnut tree. Exceptions: chinitas, who have East Asian features, and mestizas, who look white. The Eyes: Brown, unless wearing contacts. The Lips: Will be quick to flash a smile or laugh. The…

Game Review: Tomb Raider (PS3)

Lara Croft and I have been adventuring together since 1996. At the time, I was in high school and her boobs were large triangles, thanks to cutting-edge PlayStation technology. The game’s mix of action and puzzle-solving was engaging and entertaining, and I liked having two guns to shoot things with, especially wild animals who wanted to eat my archaeologist in short shorts. At least they had taste, amirite?

The developers of the latest, PS3 origin story have done a spectacular job of creating a nearly perfect action/adventure game. 2013’s Tomb Raider has a sympathetic protagonist, solid supporting characters, a creepy, creepy villain, great graphics, terrific gameplay, a fun combat system, and effective music. It seems no Tomb Raider game can go without a sci-fi/fantasy component, so this time, 21-year-old Lara is marooned on Yamatai, the Japanese version of Atlantis. Weaponless and injured, she must reunite with the crew of the ship Endurance, and find out how to leave the deadly i…