Monday, September 13, 2010

The Last Airbender

I'll preface this review by admitting that I've never seen a single frame of animation from Avatar: The Last Airbender.

The Last Airbender wasn't the worst movie I've ever seen (That honour goes to Peeping Tom. Only reason I didn't walk out was that I was of the opinion that it has GOT to get better... but it never did). That said, it's still a long way from good.

The good stuff: The effects were really good. It was obviously CGI, but it wasn't bad CGI. The scenery was absolutely gorgeous. Cut out all of the scenery shots and you'll have a beautiful 10 minute scenery montage. I liked the music. I just didn't like the plot or the actors.

I've heard all of the controversy about casting Caucasians in the Asian roles. This didn't mean much to me, as I wasn't aware of which characters should have been Asian and which shouldn't. My biggest gripes about The Last Airbender are around the fights and the plot.

The fight scenes probably would have been pretty good if they weren't all happening in slow motion. If they were played at normal speed, the movie would have been half an hour shorter and contained almost no martial arts. Warriors who can control the elements should have led to some absolutely epic battles; instead, they were short and just not that exciting. (One scene in particular features a bad guy who can "bend" fire. He faces off against four water benders, who simply dump four water spouts on him and knock him out, effectively ending the fight with one punch.)

The plot has a major problem; It doesn't end. It's hinted at right at the start, when the title card reads "Book 1: Water", and then for the next hour and a half I was looking for the next "Book" which never came. We find out that Aang, to embrace his heritage as the Avatar, needs to learn how to bend water, earth and fire in addition to his native air (Aang is the titular "Last Airbender"). He learns to bend water, takes part in a non-epic battle, and the movie ends. Wait a minute - what about the other elements? Nobody told me that this was going to be a trilogy.

I truly feel sorry for any die-hard Avatar: The Last Airbender fans. I can sympathise; I'm an X-Men fan from long ago, and when X-men came out, I was a little unimpressed, but at least it was a complete story in its own right. The Last Airbender doesn't even have an ending, and if the rest of the trilogy gets made, I'll be amazed.

Save yourself from disappointment, and grab the original animated series on DVD.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Despicable Me

I'm a huge fan of Steve Carrell. I'm a huge fan of Jason Segel. Did they make me love this movie?

Despicable Me won me over with its three female leads - Margo (Miranda Cosgrove - iCarly, Drake & Josh, School of Rock, and a cameo in Smallville as Lana Lang aged 5), Edith (Dana Gaier) and Agnes (Elsie Fisher) stole this movie from veteran cast mates such as Will Arnett, Kristen Wiig, and Julie Andrews.

The three little girls are adopted by Gru (Steve Carrell - do I have to go through the list?) to unwittingly infiltrate the lair of up-and coming villain Vector (Jason Segel - How I Met Your Mother, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Knocked up, and the legendary Freaks And Geeks).

Gru (with the aid of his multitude of minions) provides a home for the three orphans against the better wishes of his villainous colleague, Dr. Nefario (Russell Brand). While executing his villainous plot (which I won't give away) involving a shrink ray and robot cookies, Gru (without realising it) falls for the three girls (come on, you can't call THAT a spoiler!) and thus they all live happily ever after.

I saw this with a theatre full of 4 and 5 year-olds, and could not have enjoyed it more. Where normally things flying out at me in a 3D movie seem cheap and tacky, watching the rugrats attempt to reach out to the minions as they tried to climb out of the screen made me laugh almost as much as the movie itself. Stay during the credits for more minion action (after watching Despicable Me, you'll love the minions. Trust me on this).

If you have kids, make sure you see this. If you don't, borrow somebody else's and take them.

Despicable Me is already showing in US cinemas, and hits cinema screens in Australia on September 9th, and in the UK on October 15th.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Google Priority Inbox

WARNING! Google Fanboy Alert!

Google are in the process of rolling out another feature to Gmail, and I quite like the sound of this one.
You know how e-mail is divided into "real" mail and spam? Gmail is about to add another level to the strata. Priority Inbox is in the process of rolling out to Gmail users, followed closely by Google Apps users. Priority Inbox will separate out the stuff that Google's algorythms think is important, compared to everyday ho-hum emails that need to be read, just not NOW.

As with any search and classification based business on the net, Google are being pretty tight lipped on exactly how those algorythms will work, but the general consensus is that anything not sent directly to you (so cc:'ed mail, mailing lists, etc.) will be skipped over by the Priority Mail filter, while people who you send mail to and reply to on a regular basis will get picked up by the Priority Mail. Users will also be able to flag email as important or not, improving the automatic classification system.

If you see "New! Priority Inbox" in the top right-hand corner of your Gmail window, give it a go, and let us know your thoughts at the Chaotic Geek Forum.


Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Doctor Who split in two - UPDATE! (Crazy rumour of the day ... )

The UK's most reliable and dependable news source, The Sun, has apparently leaked the plot of the cliffhanger storyline that will make the 7/6 split of next year's run of Doctor Who.

The Sun claims that Karen Gillan is leaving the show, and that the storyline for the cliffhanger centers around the death of companion Amy Pond. While it may be a mid-season cliffhanger, Gillan has stated that she'll be with Doctor Who for some time yet. As long as Amy's husband Rory is fine, I'll somehow manage to carry on.

As with any news from The Sun, take this one with a planet-killing asteroid sized garin of salt (Wait ... wasn't that a Doctor Who plot long ago?).


What the hell is happening with Ghostbusters 3?

Fans of the Ghostbusters franchise (myself included) have got to be pulling out their hair right now.
Is it happening? Is it off again this week? What the *redacted* is Bill Murray saying this week? He's in? He's out? He's in, but only as a ghost?

io9 are reporting that an old rumour has sprung up again. Oscar, who we last saw as the infant receptacle for the spirit of sequel bad-guy Vigo in Ghostbusters 2, turns out to be Pete Venkman's son and is planning on following in daddy's steps and strapping on the ol' proton pack. Latest rumours have not only all four original Ghostbusters (Murray, Harold Ramis, Dan Aykroyd and Ernie Hudson) returning, but Sigourney Weaver as Dana Barrett, Anie Potts as Janine Melnitz, and (wait for it) ... Rick Moranis as Louis Tully! Moranis has long sworn off the acting world, and has been making a nice career for himself as a Country singer (so I'm told ... those of you who know me are aware of my lack of knowledge of Country music).

Barely weeks ago, Murray was quoted as saying that he was out, as the wunderkind writers that Ramis had brought on for the project (Gene Stupnitsky & Lee Eisenberg) based on their success on The Office, may not be the geniuses everybody thought, after the massive flop that was Ramis's Year One.

Ramis & Aykroyd have long been the cheerleaders for Ghostbusters 3, and when we spoke to Ernie Hudson in 2008, he admitted that he'd jump at the chance to reprise the role of Zed, but the fate of this project has always hung on the involvement of Murray. The way rumours have been swinging, the only way that this project is going to get off the ground is if Ramis and Aykroyd bring to bear the weight of a Hollywood studio fleet of lawyers and sign him to an iron-clad contract in a week (day? hour?), when he's swung back to the positive. I'm sure he's going to bitch and moan about it, but if the contract is tight enough, the freaking project may just happen.

And who doesn't want to see Eliza Dushku and Anna Farris join the gang of Old Guys in Ecto1?