Saturday, May 28, 2011

Movie Review: Pirates 4: On Stranger Tides

(I apologize for the lack of posts; after graduating, I became a leading source for unpaid labor. I'm back now. Sorry again!)

I went to see the Pirates movie with two things on my mind: excitement, for I deeply enjoy the PotC movies, especially Johnny Depp's acting, and apprehensiveness, because anything that is a 4th sequel has a tremendous possibility of being very, very bad. Thankfully, and surprisingly, the latter was absolved not 10 minutes into the film, when I realized this was not just a quest for more money. This was a movie worthy of the series.

First of all, I count this movie as Johnny Depp's second best appearance as Jack Sparrow, the first being the first movie. He flawlessly pulls of the madness and genius that embodies Sparrow, and has more than his fair share of lines that personify Jack Sparrow.

The storyline itself eclipses "Dead Man's Chest" and "At World's End". It is imaginative, original, humorous, and tells a great pirate story. In my opinion, World's End dragged a bit, sullied down by all of the relations between characters and was simply made to finish the story. Stranger Tides, however, begins a whole new story, based around Jack Sparrow's adventures. It feels fresh and rejuvenated, ready for more films (two more of which are planned, I have heard).

The music is simply divine. It extrapolates on the themes of the earlier movies, but gives it a new feel, just like the storyline. Spanish influences are relied upon, with a mandolin and Spanish guitar playing the main theme many times. It feels like new music.

The special effects were subtle, not over the top as in World's End. It was mostly background images that were computer generated, and a few effects of Blackbeard that I won't reveal. It shows that a good movie can still be made with out heavily relying on green screen and digital models.

All in all, I give this movie a 9.5 out of 10. It was a great tribute to the series, and was surprisingly good for a 4th sequel. I highly recommend this movie to any Pirates fan.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Science Friday (Two Days Late!): Exoskeleton! Do Want!

Woah. This is the coolest project I have ever seen. Some Japanese students have built a light-weight exoskeleton that extends the ability of the human body, using only aluminum tubing, plastic, and aluminum plates. The level of want that I feel inside right now is unimaginable. Start watching the video about 2 minutes in to see the practical tests; otherwise, begin at the beginning to watch the build process.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Movie Review: Thor

(Sorry about Minecraft and Science Friday; I've been trying to finish up school, and these past few days have been hectic. Things will start to become semi-regular next week)

I went to go see Thor tonight, as a treat to myself for getting my school work done and completing the last day of my high school career. While I thought it was a good movie, I saw a few things that disappointed or irritated me:

  1. The makers of this film took the stereotype of someone suddenly finding themselves in our society and misbehaving in it (a la Enchanted or Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure). This led to some funny lines and situations, but this type of film makes me uneasy and I don't enjoy the as much as other films.
  2. The heavy reliance on comedy. Don't get me wrong, I love a few funny lines in my comic book movies, but this one is a little over the top. Even the action sequences came across as comical at times. 
  3. The lack of depth in the villain. Loki is supposed to be mysterious and chaotic, but he never seems to have a definite goal in mind and feels one-dimensional.
  4. Anti-climatic. I won't go into detail, but many of the big climatic moments seem to deflate rapidly, as if wanting to move the movie along.
While I did have grievances, this movie was great. The parts were cast perfectly, and it did a good job as a precursor to The Avengers, which I think was the main reason for this movie. The special effects were good, and the comedy, though overused, was of good quality. I give this movie a 6.5 out of 10.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Tales of a Minecraft Tourist: Intro

On Thursdays, I'm going to post screenshots of a world that I created for Minecraft specifically for this blog. I will simply be exploring and posting screenshots and thoughts on what I see. Hope you enjoy it!

(as an added note, the world seed I am using for this is the word "Glacier")

Just as a teaser for tomorrow, here's the first thing I saw:
I think I'm in love.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Concerning the Death of bin Laden, or Now What?

As reported by many sources, including the President, Osama bin Laden is dead. 9 years, 8 months, and 21 days, 2 ongoing conflicts, and $1,188,285,670,000 later, the leader of the world's most threatening and deadly terrorist group is dead. Question is: now what?
Unfortunately, we won't be pulling out of Afghanistan/Iraq this instant, this month, or even this year. We are too involved right now to just lay our guns down and come home. I have never been one for war, but, since we're there, we might as well fix the problems we set out to fix and the problems we caused. Also, this does not mean the end of Al Qaeda. Most likely, this will launch a wave of revenge, orchestrated by bin Laden's No. 2's. The Middle East has been the powder keg of my generation, and it's been oh-so-slowly emptying as time has passed since 9/11. This might be the spark that makes the rest of it explode.
Am I glad he's dead? Sort of. I don't wish death on anyone, but I do believe this is the best justice he could be served. Am I confident this is a significant blow to our opponents? Not at all. This may not be the best thing for us and our forces abroad. 
But let's not worry about that right now. Take a moment. Feel some of that unity we had after the attacks. Take a small comfort in knowing that one of the truly evil men on the planet has ceased to exist. Give some sympathy to the men, women, and children who lost someone on that fateful day, and let them know they have had their vengeance.
Try to hold on to that sense of unity. That is the cure to our society's stagnation. Know that no matter how screwed up politics get, this truly is the Land of the Free, Home to the Brave. Even I, as a very neutral non-patriot/non-dissident person, feel good and proud to be an American this day.  While we still have a problem on our hands, this is still a victory.