Thursday, July 26, 2012

Mini-review: Mirror Mirror


This review shall not delve into the philosophical questions raised by this movie, because there are none.

Mirror Mirror is a modern, old-feminist retelling of the well-known Snow White fairy tale.  After losing her mother and father at an early age, Snow grows up in the palace of her step-mother, the ambiguously evil queen (villains don’t need motives in family movies) embodied by Julia Roberts.  Snow, having been confined to the palace her whole life, is blind to the reality of the outside world and the poverty which afflicts the kingdom’s commoners, whom the queen liberally taxes to pay for her extravagant parties (it might sound like a conservative movie, but it's not).  Upon turning eighteen, Snow decides to escape her isolation and *See The World*.  She finds two guys, a prince and his companion, hanging upside down in a snowy forest.  After she rescues them, the prince immediately falls for her and Snow seems to return his admiration.  Their friendship draws the jealousy of the queen, who commands her servant to execute Snow White.  As the old tale goes, the servant spares Snow out of sympathy and our heroine stumbles upon seven dwarves in the woods.  The dwarves in this film are certainly oddities.  Here they’re depicted as acrobatic bandits who use mechanical leg extensions to look like giants and accomplish their dastardly thefts.  These good-for-nothing rogues adopt Snow and train her in the art of Kung Fu, err, swordplay.  The story proceeds with the prince embarking to give the pesky dwarves justice for their crimes.

Mirror Mirror is a weak movie on the technical side of things.  Bad green-screen abounds, the camera work is cliché, and many sets closely resemble those from better movies (Alice in Wonderland) and video games (Myst).  The acting is fine, though, and the screenplay conjures a couple laughs.  Mirror Mirror is rather similar to another fantasy movie called Ella Enchanted.  Both are funny, optimistic movies about “true love” which have well-defined characters and plenty of comic relief to ease our minds when the heroes deal with strife, even though nobody dies or inherits wounds.  Neither movie will require thinking or logical analysis to enjoy.

If you want some uplifting, wholesome, happily-ever-after entertainment to watch with your younglings, Mirror Mirror should satiate you.  It has clever dialogue, amusing characters, and no bad words except for one abuse of God’s name (not that I count things like that, oh no).

Grade: B- (Where C+ is that Enchanted movie I hardly remember, B is Tangled, A- is The Princess Bride, and A is Shrek), or A- if you rate movies based on a cuss word count, in which case you’d say that The Matrix, one of history’s greatest films, is a solid D

Irrelevant observation: Sean Bean has a small role in the movie.  I have no idea what he’s doing in here.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Bane Capital: The Media's New Low

Before you go to the midnight “premiere” of The Dark Knight Rises, you should be aware that the Democrat-controlled media are using this movie to ridicule and demean conservatives.

If you’ve been following the news online or watching The View, you probably believe that the great Rush Limbaugh thinks The Dark Knight Rises is liberal propaganda designed to hurt Mitt Romney’s chances in the general election.  If you’ve been reading the NY Daily News, the AP, the Chicago Sun-Times, the LA Times, The Huffington Post, the Hollywood Reporter, MSNBC, or ABC News, you’ve probably been informed that Rush Limbaugh is a lunatic who draws baseless comparisons between Bane, the villain of the latest film, and Bain, the name of the company once run by Romney.  Such “objective” sources have told you that Rush is attacking a Batman movie he hasn’t seen for the sake of taking your mind off Romney’s tax returns, which frankly are none of our concern (especially since 47% of us pay absolutely nothing and in fact receive free food, education, and cell phones from the labor of people like Romney who are generous enough to give the government anything so we can get a free lunch and send text messages for 250 minutes a month) and are his right to conceal.

The Truth is that Rush Limbaugh, in commenting on this movie Tuesday, was mocking a Democrat named Christopher Lehane who drew the wildly illogical link before it even entered Limbaugh’s mind.  Anyone with an ounce of reason knows that the commentator was simply relaying a Drudge story to his audience to point out the idiocy of Democrat politicians.  Rush’s website even provides a link to the article he referenced on his show.  Limbaugh did not make a single remark about the movie itself; he was only making a prediction that the Democrats would exploit the coincidence of the movie’s villain’s name to demonize Romney come November, a plausible prediction seeing how Obama is incapable of eloquently defending his policies and must resort to relentlessly hammering his opponent on irrelevant topics like unreleased tax returns (as if the president, who continues to withhold many vital documents from his subjects, including Bin Laden photos and his birth certificate, is to talk) and the condition of Bain Capital two years after Romney left the damn place.  Rush even clarified later on that the movie’s trailers seem to indicate that Bane is representative not of capitalist Romney but of socialist Occupiers.  He also noted that Bane’s creator, Chuck Dixon, tied the villain to liberals instead of conservatives.  Clearly, Rush was not criticizing the movie, as the news stories say, but the Democrats who are bound to use it to win the votes of mindless college students.

Essentially, we are observing a situation where the media have flat-out lied to the American people, taking the delusional words of their own village idiot and ascribing them to a powerful, influential conservative in order to make the Republican Party appear stupid.   Obama once quoted his racist mentor, Jeremiah Wright, in saying: “White man’s greed runs a world in need.”  Although nothing can excuse him from such a reprehensible statement, can you imagine the national outrage we’d have seen if the media had falsely attributed this line’s origin to Obama instead of to Wright?  There would be cries of racism for sure, but also many lawsuits over libel.  The scenario is not much different here: a moron of the Democrat party has said something utterly foolish, and the media, by cutting off important context, have passed the beginnings of the analogy onto Limbaugh in an attempt to discredit him and his followers.  In team policy debate, such an egregious and deceptive attack on a man’s character would lead to disqualification.  In The White House, it would lead to impeachment.  In the media, though, slanderous language is somehow tolerable.

Misrepresentation of Republicans’ words is commonplace in the media.  They did it with Rick Santorum, they did it with Sarah Palin, and they’ve done it many times with Rush, yet they never endure retaliation for their lies.  It baffles me why news sources are not held to the same standards as individuals, for such organizations are really just groups of people assembled with the aim of spreading stories or, more often, promoting an agenda.  If a single person can be penalized for making false and derogatory claims about another man, why not the media?  In order for America to be a truly free nation, we must enslave the media to the truth.  Without a requirement for reporters to accurately describe Objective Reality, the media would be able to say anything and pass it off as truth to the average voter, who, as Winston Churchill discerned, gives in a five-minute conversation the best argument against democracy.

That’s my rant for the day.  Enjoy the movie.  Drink lots of coffee.  Long live Bruce Wayne.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Smart Phones – The Great Destroyers

I dedicate the following invective to my superb Classical Writing teacher, Mrs. Kathy Weitz.  This post contains none of my political beliefs... just kidding.

For thousands of years, civilizations, communities, and individuals survived without the so-called “smart phone”, but many people living in the 21st century would struggle to survive a single day without one.  Smart phones can certainly be useful, because of the sheer amount of information one can procure through them, but ultimately the inventions do more harm than good because of mankind’s utter dependence upon them.  These electronic devices more often than not are guilty of causing addiction, solitude, illiteracy, and stupidity.  While the smart phone is sometimes useful, it also has degraded modern people to the point that it causes societal disease, separating its users rather than uniting them as it should.

Cell phones were originally conceived as instruments for traveling people to communicate verbally with friends and associates across great dimensions.  When used in this manner, cell phones could be handy tools for accomplishing work and swiftly contacting one’s acquaintances.   Now manufacturers are upgrading their mobile devices into “smart phones”, which have a multitude of extraneous functions including texting, internet browsing support, and apps, programs which are too insignificant to truly be called applications.  Oddly enough, these new abilities for the mobile phones don’t complement the technology; rather they weaken it.  In the present day, people use smart phones not to approach community but to sever themselves from it.

The smart phone itself is not a loathsome creation; it merely brings out the worst aspects of the human beings who use them.  If a person does not conduct his smart phone usage with moderation, he will quickly become addicted to the machine and unable to live comfortably without it.  The effects of a smart phone addiction are obvious, the most significant being a deterrence to interacting with one’s close fellows.  Take, for example, the disaster of a party I attended a while ago.  The purpose of this event was to socialize with former school friends and collectively enjoy a Pixar film, namely Up.  Unfortunately, the party started to collapse at the dinner table, when people turned to their smart phones instead of their friends for amusement.  The rudeness of this gesture cannot be understated, as they even occupied themselves with texting other friends who were not present at the congregation, trading those people in their midst for those who were not.  This poor display of manners continued even into the excellent movie, which was largely ignored for 2 hours as my friends shot and shared smart photos of each other.  The pointlessness of the whole exercise shocked me: instead of looking to Pixar’s wonderful story or to their friends for entertainment, they looked to the unspeaking and soulless digital replicas of themselves on the tiny screens of their electronics.  What is the allure of staring at a simple image of one’s friend when one can see and speak to that friend in person?  It appears then that smart phones are also guilty of causing a severe detachment from reality in their owners.  When given a choice between reality and fabrication, smart phone owners will often take unreal things over real ones, discarding their true friends for dots and lines on a monitor.  The gravest threat to a man’s relationships is not a dispute or a harsh word; it is his tie to his smart phone.

Some people have claimed that video games are just as successful at turning humans in anti-social zombies, but this is not so.  Although people can just as easily become addicted to video games as they can to their cell phones, the former are not as mobile as the latter.  While video games are confined to one’s own home, smart phones can go with one anywhere, even into social gatherings.  In addition, smart phones share all the same faults as video games, for these devices are capable of carrying electronic games like Temple Run and Angry Birds which easily become the obsession of their owners.  Cell phone games, however, lack the same positive aspects on a group which their larger console cousins boast: a big-screen game such as Halo can provide a decent, competitive activity to engage and unite friends, but a man playing Angry Birds at a party entertains himself alone while distancing his friends.

At a time when the fools in the American government consider smart phones a human right, it’s important to realize that the damage inflicted by these toys on society far outweighs their benefit.  Smart phones are mindless diversions for the stupid, which is why they’ve become an entitlement.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Avenging a Lot of Origin Stories

If you want to think about political subjects like the War on Terror or social “justice”, watch The Dark Knight or The Incredibles.  If you want to ponder lofty philosophical themes like justice and identity, watch Batman Begins.  If you want to contemplate Free Will and what constitutes a hero, then watch either of the Hellboy movies.  If you just want to turn your mind off and amuse your senses for two and a half hours, The Avengers perfectly accommodates that desire.  This movie, which is the result of four years of mostly poor buildup, is probably the best “popcorn movie” to come along since Avatar or Star Trek back in 2009.  If you haven’t seen it yet, you should catch a showing soon because this is a movie that ought to be experienced on the big screen.

The Avengers opens with the trickster god of Norse mythology, Loki, breaking into a S.H.I.E.L.D. base and stealing a powerful cube called the Tessaract.  Don’t ask me how he recovered from that fall he took in Thor; such an inquiry is beyond my ability to explain.  Anyway, Loki is back, he’s used his staff to enslave the master marksman Hawkeye (who is briefly shown in Thor, for no other reason than to get him in this movie), and he plans to open a portal to another galaxy, an action which would unleash an alien army upon the denizens of Earth.  The fate of the universe is at stake, and a group of extraordinary people is needed to save our planet from an unprecedented threat.  Nick Fury, the head of S.H.I.E.L.D, dispatches several agents to assemble his superhero dream team, The Avengers, an organization which includes Iron Man, The Hulk, Captain America, Black Widow, Hawkeye, and Thor, although he hails from another universe entirely and wasn’t originally on the list.  The movie kind of spins the situation of Aesop’s old fable about the bundle of twigs - individually our heroes are strong, but united they are weak.  They’re accustomed to battling evil on their own but are strangers to the concept of cooperation and teamwork.  Before they confront Loki and his army in a magnificent Manhattan-set battle, The Avengers must conquer their pride and learn to fuse their powers in order to more effectively combat the evil which threatens mankind’s freedom.

There’s nothing really profound about the story of The Avengers; it’s basically another good vs. evil tale with a positive message about working together to solve common problems.  Had the director, Joss Whedon of Buffy and Firefly fame, taken the movie a little further, it could have been genuinely communist, but you’ll have to wait for the Blu-Ray release to see the uber-liberal director’s cut.  Nonetheless, the movie is spectacular in its characterization, due to the excellent script and acting.  All the heroes are well defined and admirable despite their flaws.  Captain America is far more interesting in this movie than he was in his WW2 adventure, in which he was essentially an infallible, flawless Prince Charming.  Thor is as captivating as ever, and Black Widow endures a satisfying evolution from an object to a real person.  The decision to replace Edward Norton with Mark Ruffallo in the role of The Hulk was wise, as the latter actor proves far more capable of conveying Bruce Banner’s complex emotions of guilt and anger (or maybe The Incredible Hulk was just an incrediblunder of a movie).  Robert Downey Jr. embodies the “volatile, self-obsessed” Tony Stark, and the rest of the cast is great as well.  No one is spared a good one-liner...

“You have no idea what you’re dealing with.”
“Shakespeare in the park? Doth mother know you weareth her drapes?” ~ Thor and Tony Stark

“I’d sit this one out, Cap.”
“I don’t see how I can.”
“These guys come from legend, Captain. They’re basically gods.”
“There’s only one god, ma’am, and I’m pretty sure he doesn’t dress like that.” ~ Natasha Romanoff (Black Widow) and Steve Rogers (Captain America)

“Please tell me you’re going to appeal to my humanity.” ~ Loki

“Nick Fury seems to trust you. But now I need you to come in.”
“What if I said ‘no’?”
“I’ll persuade you.”
“And what if the… other guy says ‘no’?” ~ Romanoff and Bruce Banner

The movie’s brimming with witty dialogue.  Prior to seeing the film, I was scared that all the best lines would be in the trailers, but I fortunately was proven wrong.  I was able to muster a laugh at least a half-dozen times during this non-comedy, and there were enough moments of slapstick to have the younger kids in the audience laughing continuously (the movie was effectively muffled for about 30 seconds after one particularly hysterical pummeling by the Hulk).

The special effects are akin to the CGI creations of the Transformers films; those coming to see this can expect a plethora of detailed explosions, collapsing buildings, futuristic weaponry, and nasty aliens.  The animation and representation of the Hulk is a vast improvement over that in the 2008 origins movie.  In the Edward Norton movie, the Hulk was a simple, digital creation who ended up looking cheesy because he was assembled entirely on a computer.  In The Avengers, however, the special effects team used motion capture (the technology exploited in LOTR, King Kong, and Avatar) to design the Hulk, with the end result of making the conflicted hero much more intimidating and lifelike.  The first Hulk was a laughable cartoon, but the new Hulk is a monster who could scare the heck out of some kids.  The Iron Man effects are great as usual, and some of the film’s best scenes are those which show him flying through city streets, evading alien vehicles and causing a lot of destruction in the process.

To sum up, watching The Avengers on the big screen is a Marvelous way to spend a couple hours and temporarily divert your mind from the Supreme Court train-wreck and the precipice on which our country’s freedom totters.  You won’t leave the theater a wiser man, and you certainly won’t leave a richer man (if you caught an Imax 3D showing, you could leave a $20 poorer man), but you’ll probably leave a happier man.

Grade: B + (Where A is The Dark Knight or Hellboy, B is Thor, C is Captain America or Iron Man 2, and F is The In-credible Hulk)

I now take a break from writing The Author’s Files to buy some Lego Avengers sets I’ll eventually resell for a profit to the movie’s legions of fans.  Think of it as Craigslist stock-trading, only less risky and requiring more patience.

Trailer reviews
Most of the trailers at Avengers have already been analyzed under my Hunger Games review, but there were a few new ones… 
Brave – It’s from Pixar, so it’s probably terrible.  It appears to be pro-abortion, feminazi indoctrination for the little kids, but maybe I’m overthinking things.  At the very least, it encourages young viewers to disrespect their oppressive, out-of-touch elders.
The Dictator – Politically incorrect jokes about middle-eastern dictators = awesome.  Politically incorrect jokes about 9/11 = heinous.
The Dark Knight Rises – “There’s a storm coming, Mr. Wayne… you and your friends better batten down the hatches, ‘cause when it hits, you’re all going to wonder how you ever thought you could live so large and leave so little for the rest of us.”  Christopher Nolan has a lot of gall to depict the liberal Occupiers as the villains… I can’t wait for this.
The Amazing Spiderman – “You found my weakness: small knives!!!”  Pew pew pew.  Peter Parker… what a fine, humble role model for boys.  The trailer tells me his story has never been told… since Spiderman 3, 5 years ago.