Sci-Fi Movie Trailers Extravaganza!!! (Rogue One)

Hollywood really wants us to go watch science fiction movies. We’re all plenty aware that Disney is going to bombard general audiences with annual Star Wars movies from now to 2020. In addition to the numbered entries in the series, we’ll also be getting side stories of characters like Obi-Wan Kenobi and Han Solo as individual films. I personally can’t wait to find out more about Dexter Jettster™ and his 50’s themed diner.

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As for non-Disney controlled properties, a film adaptation of a French comic series and a live-action adaptation of a popular anime are both coming soon to silver screens near you. One of which has the director of The Fifth Element on board, and the other has Scarlett Johansson looking practically butt nekkid. As god-king, I will now pass my ultimate judgements for these movies based on their trailers. Will they find the land of milk and honey that is my favor? Or will my growing sense of apathy toward Hollywood damn them for eternity?

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

I suppose we should just start with the morbidly obese elephant in the room: the Star Wars. Sometimes when I’m alone, I think. And sometimes when I think of the hideous mass of tumors that is Disney’s empire, with it’s lumpy, misshapen form lousy with boils, and dollar bills strewn about its gurgling, amorphous figure clinging to its sticky, milky flesh… I sometimes forget that I actually enjoy some of the viscous waste goo excreted from its various udders.

Certainly not all of it. If someone puts Mickey Mouse™ ears on my body when I die, they best know I’m waking tf up and dragging them to hell with me. I don’t like Disneyland. I don’t like musical numbers. Pixar’s lost their touch. Disney princesses are about as interesting as a glass of hot dog water. And the next person who tells me The Lion King is “just like Hamlet,” is getting a collected volume of Shakespeare across the temple.

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It just so happens that one of Disney’s many tentacles is currently absorbing the nutrients of Lucasfilm’s monolithic franchise (and therefore my childhood), so I have to put up with it. So far, it only seems like the dialogue is awful. That’s the right word. Awful.

Cliches and lame excuses for interesting dialogue have been evident since the first trailer’s “This is a rebellion… I rebel,” quote broke my ankles and stole my SSN. I thought that would be the worst of it. But then the “Rogue… Rogue One” line in this trailer threw bleach in my eyes and laughed at me for ever thinking that. Now I’m Brailling it.

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Speaking of severely debilitating vision impairments, Donnie Yen’s inclusion as a blind guy-with-stick is a rock solid casting choice. I’m very happy to see my Ip Man cross-contaminated with my Star Wars, even if it is just an obvious ploy to net the elusive Chinese dollar that Force Awakens totally and hilariously missed.

Unfortunately, the yin to to Yen’s yang comes in the form of the theatrically stunted oaf, himself: Forest Whitaker. Thus raising the question: “Who let this happen?” Really, I will be taking note of casting during the credits. How has Morgan Freeman still not been cast as the sagely, old Star Wars character yet? The guy will read the script of a high school stage production if you promise him a scalp massage and two coupons to the Long John Silvers. How could he deny this check?

I would call this a let down, but naturally I’m saving those feelings of disappointment for when Darth Vader shows up in the film for 5 whole minutes of screen time. I can’t wait to see his nondescript face plastered all over cereal boxes, toys, clothing, and adult novelties, accordingly.

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Stepping back from the flaming roast I’ve just created, I would be lying if I said the cinematography in Rogue One  doesn’t look stellar. I actually want to pay money to see the action scenes in this film. The practical effects look great, and considering the production pedigree, I can expect an amazing soundtrack to play over the whole nonsensical thing. Never mind all that story stuff when you got good pew-pew lasers. Who watches movies for good stories anyway? Certainly not this red-blooded American, that’s for sure.

Hype Level: 2.5 Hypes out of 5

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(end of Part 1)

28 Days Later – Review

Donald J. Trump. Donald J-Muthafuckin Trump is going to be the 45th president of the United States.

As if the universe finds personal gratification in making my life a more miserable thing to endure specifically, it would appear South Korea is also experiencing its fair share of presidential woes. Typing “president” into Google this morning resulted in the expected and ubiquitous Trump articles, in addition to pictures of Obama’s exhausted face. But news of hundreds of thousands of Koreans marching through the streets of Seoul last night also made headlines.

Apparently they’re demanding their own scandalous president’s resignation. With drums banging and horns blaring, the candlelit protesters yelled out for Park Guen-hye to step down in response to her alleged, widespread corruption. Yikes. There goes my back-up plan.

In the spirit of the end of days, I finally watched 28 Days Later for the first time. And you know what, I’m more in favor of national demise via zombie apocalypse than by way of Trump presidency.

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Danny Boyle’s then-original idea of “zombies that run” takes everything we know about zombles in the over-saturated realm of popular culture now, and sets it in the early 2000’s – a simpler time with simpler pleasures. The good old days when Britain was part of the E.U. and jet fuel could melt steel beams.

The story begins in a Cambridge laboratory, where a group of chimpanzees have been introduced to an experimental virus that is only described as “rage.” Once PETA-with-guns comes storming in to liberate our poo-flinging cousins, it only takes 28 days for 99% of the island’s population to go feral. If only we could be so lucky.

Our protagonist, Jim (Cillian Murphy), wakes from his coma and joins a small handful of nomadic scroungers surviving off snack cakes. There’s romance, strife, family bonding, and a pre-teen on Vicodin. The film focuses largely on the human interactions between survivors, rather than on mowing down the infected horde. But that’s every zombini movie, even the not-so-decent ones. And “decent” is really all I can say about the writing in 28 Days Later.

This could be because of the film’s age and how many zombaloos we’ve seen since 2002, but the threads of the plot aren’t tightly woven and didn’t engage me as well as they could have. For instance, the only zombizzle that Jim kills is an infected boy that attacks him in an abandoned diner midway through the movie. The experience is supposed to be an emotional and harrowing moment for Jim. But aside from one brief back-and-forth on the subject, it’s entirely forgotten as Jim proceeds to brutally murder an entire militia alongside an infected soldier.

This, as well as the fact that no other character seems interested in sharing any expository information on their pre-outbreak lives, their interests, or opinions on much of anything, makes the cast of characters come across as somewhat hollow. The film runs for nearly two hours, but the script seems largely pre-occupied in setting up beats of action rather than use the time to engage with the characters closely until… oops one died, and oh, I guess they’re making out now.

Moments like the grocery shopping scene and the tense drive through the zombo-infested tunnel, though well-shot and edited, could have delivered more impact had there been more scenes to flesh out characters beyond “she’s tough, he’s a dad, and she’s a girl.”

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Cinematography is the highlight of 28 Days Later. The eerie views of a desolate London are spectacular, and the frenetic close-ups of the rabid zombipperkins does an excellent job of transitioning that sense of panic into the frame. Composition and lighting was also very well done. The climactic scenes were utterly dominated by the imposing use of shadows and lightning. I didn’t take particular note of the film’s score, but it wasn’t something I disliked either. It was serviceable, neither spectacular nor awful.

Danny Boyle’s made a name for himself since 2002. The director now claims a total of eight Academy Awards, and boasts an impressive filmography including Trainspotting and Slumdog Millionaire. If you dig film and have yet to see 28 Days Later, give it a shot. It’s not particularly horror-intensive either, so don’t let that stop you. The film has a lot to teach on the framing and lighting of scenes, intense or otherwise. If you’re not into movies like that but are concerned for your country’s future political leadership, then watch the movie anyway and hope for a sick chimp to bite your neck.

Obligatory Number at the End: 7/10

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O Bernie, Where Art Thou?

Election day is finally here, and the fate of the White House and the United States as a whole is only a few grueling hours away. Will the nation’s people choose the soulless Borg queen, who is so cold and calculating she makes Margaret Thatcher look like the girl-next-door? Or will our democratic system prove to be a broken mess once and for all, historically electing the first Cheetos Puff into office? It’s tough to predict considering we ended up with the two most disliked candidates possible to represent the two (count them, two) major parties. Thus begging the question, what ever happened to Deez Nuts?

Considering I’ll be flipping patties for the next six hours, I suppose I’ve been spared the nerve-wracking anxiety and sweaty palms that accompany this four-year tradition. Although I’m not convinced either candidate will accomplish much as el presidente, I still have my reservations. Mostly because only one of them would compel me to buy a plane ticket out of the country.

Those that know me well are already aware of my ideal nation to flee to should we decide to make America great again. For those that don’t, it’s a wonderful place where the idols are beautiful and the Wi-Fi is plentiful; a land of kimchi, and Starcraft players so unthinkably competitive they could probably beat Nike, Goddess of Victory, in a 1v1. This country also just so happens to have what may be the most comically evil twin living just across the Demilitarized Zone.

Do I really know anything substantial about South Korea’s culture, history, or language? Not terribly so. Do I have a tendency to jump into things with both feet and a devil-may-care attitude? You bet that sweet blog-reading ass I do.

So regardless of whose name you throw in the ballot box today, prepare a back-up plan in case your nominee of choice doesn’t win. A negative outcome for either party would be disastrous at this point. And if you’re a “Bernie-bot,” as my old man would say, then join hands in prayer, my friends. Pray that Bernie, the second coming, parts through the clouds and flies down from the heavens on the back of his glorious white steed. And pray that with his Progressive Blade of Student Loan Debt Forgiveness raised high in his right arm, he frees us from the two party system that has left us with the crappiest election in recent memory. Hey, if there’s one thing Bernie Sanders supporters are known for, it’s wishful thinking.

Poems – Vol. 2

Saying a lot by saying a little. A simple poem made simply for the making of poems. Getting in touch with my roots.

Let Her – 11/4/2016

Let her

Whether now or never

Let her

Tell her pleasure

Rhyme and measure

I met her

Eiffel Treasure

Oasis in desert

Recollect her


Yesterdays forever

Never forget her

One of my earliest poems. Inspired by Alea’s “The Last Supper”, Rage Against the Machine, and my own appraisal of the modern American life.

Umbilical Chords – 9/15/2016

somewhere deep
festering, blistering creep
thorns born from motherboards
strum umbilical chords
cut throats on stolen swords

an omen and a fetish
dive-bombing albatross
surrounded by those that relish
in one’s own dross
front-facing self-love
toxic wings carry quick-judging doves
clockwork flight patterns
in unending rotation
in validation
coal-walking temptation
don’t ask
for liberation
escape from the plantation
means trial and tribulation

In time
null rhymes
seasons without reasons
All is reclaimed by sands
take fate in your own hands
‘fore they do it for you
lords and priests and pharaohs who
will put foot to back
limbs chained in the rack
masters count the lash
rise up serf and slave
there’s freedom for those who crave
nothing past the grave
not just angry mobs
these maroons and exiles and braves
the fist of the common man throbs

the steel dagger cloaker
the cane sugar joker
the fish bone choker
the wish bone broker
the barbed pyre stoker
the dead leaves smoker
inhale man’s hate
petrified and irate
pawns corner kings
a check and a mate

ebony, ivory the eclipsing twin
blood moon knights shield a corona day
the only way to win
is to never play

Sometimes it just feels good to feel bad, man.

Misery in Misty Eyes – 9/24/2016

misery in misty eyes
phantom sensations and blighted cries
tell me your lies
pipe dreams to memorize
words of forgiveness
tongues tied
can’t deliver this
a feeling that’s long since died
but the coffin shakes
still alive, zombified
unearthed and bleeding
dragging and leading
grey flesh beckons me
no heart beating

Halloween III: Season of the Witch – Review

Any horror fan worth their salt is already all too familiar with the story and mystique of the classic Michael Myers character. Not only did John Carpenter’s silent, lumbering serial killer propel the teenage slasher to heights surpassing Texas Chainsaw Massacre, but it solidified Hollywood’s revival of the horror genre. This Halloween, I took the time to re-watch the 1978 hit, as well as its two most immediate sequels, Halloween II and Halloween III: Season of the Witch. It’s this last one that would inspire me to write this piece, however. Season of the Witch isn’t a perfect movie, and its plot has nothing to do with Michael Myers or the protagonists of the first two films, but it is an uncut gem buried under a mountain of slasher schlock. Season is both a sorely underrated title with new and interesting themes, and a vast missed opportunity for a more interesting Halloween franchise.

It didn’t happen immediately. My opinion on the series didn’t suddenly flip-flop like a politician discussing gay marriage. No. Much like the first film, the idea of Halloween III’s secret greatness lurked in the shadows like a returned Myers.

I went into the third film knowing very little: That it would be about Halloween masks, and that the film ended with a man screaming at a television. And that was an image that’s stuck with me since childhood, when I caught the last couple of minutes on TV. Other than that, I went in completely blind. I was pleasantly surprised to discover a unique plot revolving around a mysterious novelty toy company’s sinister intentions for October 31st.

Unlike the first two films, the titular holiday actually plays an important role in the film’s plot, as opposed to simply setting an interesting day for the events to unfold. In Season of the Witch, protagonist Dr. Daniel Challis (Tom Atkins) partners up with Ellie Grimbridge (Stacey Nelkin) to investigate Ellie’s father’s murder, as well as uncover the Silver Shamrock company’s diabolical intentions for the upcoming halloween. I don’t want to give too much of the plot away considering how well the mystery thread is utilized. It kept me wondering until the very last act, when the film changes gears to a more suspenseful nail-biter, culminating in an ending more impactful than Halloween 2’s yawn of a resolution.

I will say that there is a pretty healthy helping of 80’s cheese in Season of the Witch. However, if that’s not a problem for you, then there’s plenty to enjoy. I actually howled in laughter at certain moments in the movie because of this. The suddenness of the obligatory sex scene was unintentional comedy gold, and the final fight that Dr. Challis gets into is nothing short of genius slapstick. Neither of these moments diminished the tense conclusion, though, demonstrating the film’s real strengths. In addition to a strong B-movie cast, a crew of skilled film makers created tension in the atmosphere of an otherwise silly spook story.

On the acting front, special commendation should be directed to Tom Atkins. As Dr. Challis, Atkins is not the pretty face typical of horror film leads. His character is an older divorcee with two children, and a tempered but rugged masculinity. I think it’s because of the mustache. As he gets sucked into a plot far larger than he could have anticipated, Atkins portrays the audience’s curiosities and rising stress levels admirably and intelligently. Very rarely does his character suffer from that profound lack of logic symptomatic of slasher protagonists.

I wish I could say the same for his co-star, Stacey Nelkin. Though her performance isn’t awful, it’s nothing special either. Bad script writing is partially to blame for this, as her character is a bit underdeveloped. It’s the “Hayden Christensen as Anakin Skywalker” problem, really. She could have benefited from a mustache… However what Season lacks in co-star, it makes up for in antagonist. As the owner of the Silver Shamrock toy company, Conal Cochran, Dan O’Herlihy fully embraces his character’s demented menace. In a particularly low point for Dr. Challis, when everything seems hopeless, O’Herlihy delivers what may be one of the best “evil plan” speeches of all time. In all of the Halloween series, this is the only villain who speaks, and that is a treasure all its own.

I was inspired by the remaining elements of the film: direction, cinematography, and soundtrack. To start, John Carpenter and Alan Howarth scored an original soundtrack for Season of the Witch, replete with high tempo synth over a gloom of deep, bassy beats. And yet again, Carpenter’s mastery of the movie theme song is showcased in Season. And though it never reached the enormity in pop culture that the Myers theme achieved, the Halloween III theme is an amazingly dreadful piece that is second to none other than its own movie franchise.

Behind the camera, Season was led by Halloween vets. Both director Tommy Lee Wallace and cinematographer Dean Cundey worked on the first two films. Interestingly, Cundey had been nominated for an Academy Award for his work in Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, and his experience shows in Halloween III. The scene setting shots of the desolate company town of Santa Mira stand out in particular. Kudos to Wallace as well, who nearly transformed Halloween from a simple slasher series to an anthology. Had this film been successful, the series would have seen different stories with new directors for each entry, but instead we got one film lost under a pile of Myers sequels whose quality range from “ok, I guess” to “I guess the monkeys with typewriters actually got something out.”

It’s really too bad what ended up happening to Halloween III. Upon release, audiences and critics panned the film for diverging away from the masked killer. Only after decades of drowning in never-ending Jason Voorhees trash, Scream’s parody of the genre, and the torture porn of 2000’s horror did this film get looked at with welcome eyes. Now a minor cult classic, I’ve come to spread the good word of Season of the Witch. The masks central to the film’s story perfectly capture the difference between this entry and the rest of the series. Both look really damn cool, but one is iconic, and the other is actually in the spirit of Halloween. Next October, give the movie a shot. Halloween III gets far more right than wrong, and deserves a spot in the annual scary movie line-up.

Obligatory Number at the End – 7.75