Pointless Nonsense

Posted in movies by Bill on February 26, 2015

coherenceCoherence is a weird scifi/suspense movie that I think kinda wanted to be like a less heady version of Primer but with quantum physics instead of time travel. Tiny budget ($50k, apparently), and it’s 99% people at a dinner party sitting around and talking, but a lot of weird stuff happens. When you start to figure out what’s going on, the payoff isn’t nearly as good as Primer, but it’s still vaguely interesting. Also the first thing I’ve seen Xander from Buffy in it in a long time. Not bad.

Posted in movies by Bill on February 20, 2015

bh6Big Hero 6 is the CG-animated Disney movie based on the Marvel comic I’ve never read. It’s apparently changed a lot from the comic, which was set in Japan and features Japanese characters, while in this the main character is half Japanese and lives in half-Japan (the city is called San Fransokoyo and is obviously a hybrid between the two cities, it mostly seems like San Fran but with Japanese architectural accent on most of the buildings, like the tower-y parts of the Golden Gate Bridge have pagoda style tops), and the rest of the team is a rainbow of diversity.

It’s really good. Solid story, action, characters, animation. The only real flaw is that there’s a masked villain whose identity is a mystery, and there are too few possible suspects. Being kid-friendly, I guess I couldn’t expect a complex whodunit, but that part was kind of annoying. Otherwise, a very well made and entertaining movie.

Posted in tv by Bill on February 19, 2015

oddcoupleThe Odd Couple is CBS’s new remake of the sitcom that was the adaptation of the movie that was the adaptation of the play, which was also remade as a sitcom in the 80s and remade again gender-swapped also in the 80s. So, you know, totally fresh material.

Matthew Perry is the slovenly Oscar (instead of a sportswriter, he hosts a sports talk radio show), while Thomas Lennon is the uptight Felix. Yvette Nicole Brown is Oscar’s assistant, Leslie Bibb is his potential love interest, Wendell (Bunk) Pierce is his agent, Dave Foley is his friend and looks about 100 years old, and Lindsay Sloane is Felix’s maybe love interest.

For some reason, Matthew Perry’s approach to the character is to talk really loud. It’s quite annoying. I basically only gave the show a shot because I’ve found him to be a capable actor, but since he’s irritating in an otherwise generic sitcom, I’m definitely not watching this.

Posted in movies by Bill on February 17, 2015

kingsmanKingsman: The Secret Service is the Matthew Vaughn (Kick-Ass) adaptation of the Mark Millar (also Kick-Ass) comic. And it’s similar in a lot of ways to Kick-Ass: an established genre, taken it half-seriously, adding extreme violence, sometimes for laughs. I kind of don’t want to like the movie, because it’s very juvenile and ridiculous. The comic was ridiculous too, but plot ridiculous. While this one is ridiculous in terms of body count and a couple stupidly over-the-top moments. But I can’t help but like it.

Colin Firth plays the experienced gentleman spy, some guy I don’t know is the ne’er-do-well kid who of course could never become a gentleman spy but does, some girl I don’t know is the hot other spy candidate, and Samuel L. Jackson is the bad guy. Michael Caine, Mark Strong, and Mark Hamill are also along for the ride.

The action scenes are filmed in an odd way that I don’t quite know how to describe, but the result is a disorienting effect sort of like shaky-cam, but without losing your ability to follow what’s happening. Colin Firth kills like 100 people in this movie, most of them all bunched together in one scene. The camera in that scene probably never stops moving, and it’s not moving gently either. You feel like if you blink, you’ll lose track of what’s happening. But you don’t, it all flows together in a way that makes sense, and that I can follow easily.

Anyway, I kind of hate myself for liking this as much as I did.

Posted in video games by Bill on February 13, 2015

empire-at-warStar Wars: Empire at War is another game from that Star Wars bundle. This one, a real-time strategy game, is nice looking, but kind of dull. You pick either the Empire or Rebellion, and work on building your space fleet and ground forces by acquiring planets, and the resources that come with them. I didn’t get too far into the Empire campaign before finding it pretty boring.

It sounds kind of nice in theory. There’s a big map of planets, you build forces and send them places. To take control of a planet, you first send your ships into orbit and an RTS space battle spawns. Then once you control space, you send in ground forces and an RTS ground battle spawns. You get star destroyers and the like, and walkers and stormtroopers, and special “hero” characters like Vader and Boba Fett, which is all nifty. But the act of taking a planet is quite boring. The building buildings and timing attacks parts of all the real-time strategy games I’ve played is the part I like. But in taking a planet, you just want to control “reinforcement points,” which allow you to land more of the forces you’ve dedicated to this assault. And then you just kinda run around the map killing whatever you come across.

I think they realize how boring this can get, because as you get going, you start to get the option to auto-resolve a lot of the combats. But then you’re skipping like half the game, it’s weird. So yeah I doubt I’ll be coming back to this game at all.

Posted in video games by Bill on February 11, 2015

kotorI picked up the Star Wars Humble Bundle, with 12 games, 11 of which I’d never played before for $12 (Jedi Knight II being, for some reason, the one I did play), starting with Knights of the Old Republic, because I tried to search for an order to play them in, and all I got was an in-universe chronological order, which seemed better than nothing. So the Old Republic goes first.

I didn’t know it was a Bioware game, but after a clunky intro it totally felt like Mass Effect 0. You run around a place that kinda resembles the citadel, talking to security guards, merchants, bar patrons, and random alien species, starting in the nice parts and then working your way to the shadier areas, navigating dialogue trees to pick up side quests and gain paragon/renegade (in this game, light/dark side) points, and having random conversations with your companions. Plus a lot of familiar voice actors from that series. Kaidan, Doctor Chakwas, and lady Shephard (with a British accent), at least (maybe Ashley too, but I let her die so I don’t remember what she sounds like). The only real differences early on are the crappier graphics, crappier combat (it’s a lot like the first Dragon Age), less impressive voice acting, and all the Star Wars stuff.

Anyway, that format totally works for me. I’m not too far in, but I’m already hooked. It’s ugly, graphics-wise, what with it being 12 years old and all, but the story is pretty engaging. And I’ll be getting a lightsaber at some point, so there’s that to look forward to.

What with new TV and stuff, it’s probably going to be months before I finish this, though I expect Knights of the Old Republic II will be next up. Unless I have some downtime at work, I might try the RTS Empire at War, since I can’t (easily) sync KOTOR saves.

Posted in tv by Bill on February 9, 2015

bcsBetter Call Saul is AMC’s Breaking Bad prequel thing, focusing on Bob Odenkirk’s Saul Goodman character. Lawyer descends into shadiness isn’t exactly the same great high concept premise as the former series, but I can’t imagine this not appealing to Breaking Bad fans, because it brings back some familiar characters, has the same Albuquerque setting, and the pilot at least is very well written and engaging. And apparently the pilot is free on Amazon (with ads), so that’s convenient.

Posted in movies by Bill on February 7, 2015

johnwickJohn Wick seems an odd choice for me to watch, since I have a lifelong dislike for Keanu Reeves[0], but I kept hearing good things about it, that it was a sort of old school action movie, so what the hell?

And I basically heard right. Quality movie. They spend about 15 minutes setting up why he’s both really dangerous and really pissed off, and then he just becomes human murder factory for the rest of the movie. There’s not a whole lot to it beyond he wants to kill some people, so he goes and kills some people. And I can dig that.

It’s basically a revenge story, though there’s some interesting background stuff about an open structure of organized crime, not unlike the syndicates in the Parker books and movies.

Turns out the lovely and talented and used to babysit me Bridget Moynahan is in it, so that’s a bonus. Then Greyjoy is also in it. He sill has a totally punchable face, which is appropriate for his role here. That one dude from The Newsroom whose character banged Olivia Munn is in it for about 10 seconds, but is great in it. John Leguizamo, Willem Dafoe, Dean Winters, Lance Reddick, Adrienne Palicki (with black hair, which is hot), Ian McShane, Clarke Peters, and Bridget Regan (with one arm covered in tattoos, which is weird) are also around.

The movie opens with him deeply saddened at the death of his wife. Like totally miserable, from what they’d have us believe. But I found it hard to believe because his house is spotless, and from my experience, people who are truly miserable lack the energy to clean up after themselves.

0. Except when he’s playing the idiot surfer/bro/dude type he did so well in Bill and Ted and Parenthood.

Posted in movies by Bill on February 7, 2015

jupiter-ascendingJupiter Ascending is the Wachowski’s SciFi movie with Mila Kunis and C-Tates. Really though, despite the scifi veneer, it’s 100% fairy tale. Mila Kunis has an unhappy life cleaning toilets, when she suddenly finds out she’s a space princess and is rescued by her new werewolf boyfriend. She has evil space prince brothers, but ends up beating them. And I guess she and the werewolf boyfriend live happily ever after.

Once it was apparent that it was a fairy tale, I was hoping they might stray away from traditional gender roles, because it’s 2015, and one of the writer/producer/directors is transgender, so you’d think she’d have unique insight into gender roles. But it really didn’t. Mila Kunis’ character is almost killed, rescued by a dude. Almost killed, rescued by a dude again. Almost duped into making a terrible decision, rescued by a dude. Almost duped into making another terrible decision, then correctly decides not to do it, but then her life is in danger, but fortunately there’s a dude to rescue her again. The story is from the damsel point of view, but she still spends most of the movie in distress.

Some of the action sequences are solid, but the fairy tale story didn’t do a thing for me. Mila Kunis is lovely, but she’s looked better. Not a bad movie, but unexceptional.

Posted in tv by Bill on February 5, 2015

maninthehighcastleAmazon has a new pilot season up, with a few that looked kinda interesting:

The Man in the High Castle is an alternate history based on a Philip K. Dick novel. It takes place in the former US in 1962, after we lost World War II. We lost to both Germany and Japan, so the country is like split at the Rockies into German territory to the East and Japanese to the West.

The redneck squintern from Bones, DJ Qualls, Alexa Davalos, Grama from Rounders, and Rufus Sewell star. The storylines are largely concerned with resistance cells, using people new to the resistance (in NY against the Nazis, and San Francisco against the Japanese) as our POV characters (Squintern and Alexa Davalos, respectively).

This is probably the best of the bunch, for my tastes anyway. It’s a bit slow moving, but I think it has a lot of potential. Probably not very likely to get picked up, though. I don’t think alternate history is a money-making genre.

Mad Dogs is a dark comedy thing with Steve Zahn, Michael Imperioli, Romany Malco, some guy I don’t recognize, and Billy Zane, as 40-something Americans in Belize who get involved in some crazy stuff. Zane is a newly retired rich asshole with mysterious goings on in Belize, he invites his old friends to celebrate his retirement in his fancy house, and that gets them wrapped up in his shenanigans.

It could be interesting, but it wasn’t put together very well as a pilot. Most of the plot is in the last 10 minutes. Everything up to that point was kind of slowly introducing the characters, and then a whole bunch of stuff happens at the end that throws the whole thing on its head. Future episodes won’t resemble the pilot at all, so I’m not sure what the series will eventually be like.

Cocked stars Jason Lee, some guy from >True Blood, the Irish girl from A Knights Tale/whatshername from Breaking Bad, and the blonde not-B roommate from Don’t Trust the B—- in Apartment 23, Diora Baird, and Brian Dennehy. It’s sort of an Arrested Development-ish setup, plot-wise. Dennehy’s family gun company, which Jason Lee helps run, is in trouble, and the son who wanted nothing to do with them is dragged into coming back home to help out, even though his family is a bunch of dicks. His plan is to save the company by being the first gun maker to market to LGBTs, hence the double entendre title.

It’s kind of a dark comedy/drama, but the plot similarities to Arrested Development don’t extend to being similarly funny. Jason Lee is well cast as the asshole brother, but doesn’t have a lot to work with. It’s not the worst thing ever, but not that good.

Down Dog is a comedy about a handsome but not-so-bright yoga instructor dude who has breezed through life by being good-looking. It co-stars Paget Brewster, which is the main reason I bothered to check it out. Unfortunately, she doesn’t get to be funny, she’s stuck in the wet blanket no-fun girlfriend role. Lyndsey Fonseca, Kris Kristofferson, and the evil warden lady from OitNB are also in it, I have no idea who the main guy is.

This is not very good at all.

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