Some tips for surviving Sci Fi movies

If you find yourself anywhere near a mining operation: hail a cab, pronto.

image In the future we’re big on strip-mining other planets. I have yet to see a Sci-Fi movie where a freighter full of soldiers and Mega Corp employees travel light years to a foreign solar system then farm the hell out of some unsuspecting planet. Know why? Because bad stuff doesn’t happen to farmers. Miners, on the other hand, seem to have the karmic deck stacked against them. Archeologists are only slightly safer. The conservative among you should just avoid breaking rocks at all.

Short, dark and pretty

If you’re joining a military squad, look for the one with the tough Latina. The universe is chock full of massively muscled, BFG-toting ultra soldiers. If you spot a little woman from Puerto Rico you can be sure she’s something special… she’s made it this far. Rest assured, when all the other space marines wet their pants and go to pieces, this woman will keep you alive.

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Avoid robots, robots are bad

image image Sure, they may seem like they’re there to help you, but then that’s when all the screaming and running and blood starts. There are robots out there to kill you too. You can trust them, at least they’re honest wanting to kill your worthless meatbag self. Basically avoid them all. The good ones will break, then kill you. The bad ones will just kill you (yeah, you wish they’d break).

Don’t touch that


No, seriously, don’t touch it. Do you know what it’s for? Do you know how to use it? Is it poisonous? How about what happened to the last guy who touched it? Yeah, that’s what I thought. Please just put your hands in your pockets.

Keep your friends close and your engineer closer


Your junk is going to break because it’s… well… junk. The big mega corporation that is funding your little operation only cares about the bottom line (note: evil corporations don’t need a separate warning because corporations are evil and cheep, just like the real world). So, as sure as death and taxes, you better be able to fix it when it breaks. I know, the engineer is chatty, overweight and a general PITA, but keep an eye on him. After all, you can’t toss the bad guys out the airlock when the latch is jammed.


No good ever comes from pissing off Sigourney Weaver.

Movies Sites

Should you sit through the credits? Check MovieStinger

You’ve made it to the end of the movie and the credits start to roll. Your soda is empty, your pop corn bag is mostly empty (it’s cold and you’re out of soda) and you probably really need to use the restroom.

Hang on a second… there might be still be more movie. Should you leave?

Worry no more, MovieStinger has the info you need, and it’s in a handy mobile phone friendly format (if you visit from your phone).

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New releases will tend to show on the first page, but if a movie isn’t shown (or if you’re watching an oldie) you can also browse their database by genre or title.

You also don’t need to worry about MovieStinger spoiling the surprise either, it just tells you if there are extras or not. Note: if you want to know exactly what to expect, you can click on an entry to get the full details, but where’s the fun in that?


Seriously, watch this 70 minute movie review

I really don’t quite believe it myself. I just watched a seventy minute review of Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. Yes, 70… an hour and ten minutes. I honestly thought “meh, I’ll check out the beginning of the review, the first part is about the characters, it’s just 10 minutes, then I’ll move on.”

imageThere was a slight problem. This review is fantastic. It’s brutal, funny and, at times, a truly bizarre dissection of the Star Wars “prequel”. The reason I was able to sit through all seven ten minute segments is because this isn’t a two-bit hack job by a bored teenager with a pirated copy of Final Cut Pro. This is a detailed analysis of the plot, characters and structure of the film by a filmmaking professional. It’s entertaining because it’s dead on… and because the reviewer likes Pizza rolls and appears to have a woman tied up in his basement.

image I know, I don’t believe myself. Sit through over an hour of analysis of a major cinematic disappointment? Would you believe Damon Lindelof, co-creator of lost and producer of Star Trek? Mr. Lindelof said: “Your life is about to change. This is astounding film making. Watch ALL of it.” (no, I had no idea who Damon Lindelof was either)

So, go ahead and try it. It’s wafer thin.

See? Told you so. Go on over to Slash Film for the rest, they have all the segments conveniently embedded in a single page. I’ll bet if you click play on all of them in rapid succession it will take less than 70 minutes to watch. It will, however, probably be hard to understand.


King of Kong: a great story for gamers and non-gamers alike.

I wouldn’t say I’m a fan of documentaries… but I can’t say I don’t like them either.  Given the choice, however, I’m much more likely to pick an action adventure.  But who could pass up a story with a likable underdog, down on his luck and fighting against the establishment for recognition?

King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters tells the story of an out of work guy from Seattle who decides to beat the world record score for Donkey Kong.  The documentary follows his progress as he strives to take the crown from a champion who, it seems, may not deserve it. 

Steve Wiebe isn’t your average gamer, he’s attractive, was a jock and has a beautiful family. When Steve looses his job he decides to focus his competitive energy on something he can do from home, while caring for his children: beat a world record on a classic video game.  When he wades into the world of competitive video games, populated with… well… people who weren’t jocks, it’s almost like high school all over again, only this time, the geeks have the upper hand.  Can Steve prevail? Watch and find out, you never can tell how it may end.


My rating: worth the cost of a rental and the time to watch it.


A Ninja Pays Half My Rent

I don’t know what reminded me of this short film, but once in my head I had to go find it an watch it again.

Steven Tsuchida’s short film about the ups and downs of finding roommates won a whole mess of awards in 2003.


Geeky weekend: Star Wars I – VI

Saint Patrick’s day weekend is a three day weekend here in Ireland (hey, we don’t get president’s day), combine that with Paula still being sick and we had plenty of time to just vegge in front of the boob-tube. All we needed to do was find a good batch of entertainment.

We bought Revenge of the Sith about six months ago but we never got around to watching it.  We couldn’t, of course, just start with episode III, we had to start at the “beginning”, episode I (as painful as that would be to sit through).

Watching the whole series in the space of 5 days brought up a few of questions. 

  1. When Obi-Wan dies he vanishes, leaving just his cloak.  When Yoda dies, he vanishes leaving no clothes at all.  When Darth dies, he leaves everything behind, clothes, meat-sack and all.
  2. Why did Leia set out to bring Obi-Wan and the death star plans to Alderaan?  The rebel base was on Tatooine.  You’re going to great lengths to find this guy, why send him on a wild goose chase?
  3. At the end of episode VI when glowing Obi-Wan, Yoda and Anakin show up to watch the end party, why is Obi-Wan all old and Anakin all young?  Sure, George had to make his re-edits… but that one is just dumb.
  4. If Obi-Wan and the rebels were going to such great lengths to hide Luke from his father why didn’t they change his name to something other than Skywalker?  Combine that with stashing him on Darth Vader’s home planet with Darth’s step-brother and it makes me wonder how many brain cells Anakin had left functioning after being given the oven-baked ham treatment.

I guess it doesn’t take a genius to poke holes in George Lucas’s writing.  But honestly now, how were the Jedi able to keep peace in the galaxy when all it takes to defeat them is persistent taunting?

Jedi: “Stop you fiend! Put down those stolen power converters!”

Thief: “Oh no! The Jedi! Say, how’s your mother?  She still mad that I dumped her and dating your sister?”

Jedi: “Oh!!! Why you! Grrr!! …. Aw nuts.  Let me help you carry those.”

Thief: “Thanks”

Movies Video Games

HD TV and Movies on demand? Thank you Xbox 360… almost

Mike aggregated some wonderful news about a new feature coming to Xbox 360 on November 22nd: video on demand. HD content will be available for free and for pay to download direct to your hard drive-equipped Xbox 360.

My first thought? SWEET! Living in Ireland has a lot of upside but the downside is no NetFlix and no TiVo. This service is the answer to a huge need.

Xbox 360 Projector

Your 360 is now a great way to watch movies!

Well… it would be the answer to my need if it weren’t for the fact that the service will be for US Xboxes only. I suppose it comes as no surprise given that international copyright law is a deep murky pool… filled with hungry sharks… and with little floaty things edged with razor blades… and all the ladders out are greased… and electrified.

At any rate, Xbox owners back in America: congratulations… [scowl grumble grumble]

Movies Weird

A bit of Friday fun

Do you like movies?  Do you like spoofs?  Are you just tired of the hype around Brokeback Mountain? 

If you answered yes to any of the questions above, here’s a little Friday diversion for you: check out the movie trailers for “Brokeback To The Future” and “Top Gun 2, Brokeback Squadron”

I found the pointers to these clips in a great NPR article on spoof movie trailers (and for you etymologysts, it has an interesting little sidebar on the origin of the word “satire”).  The NPR story links to a number of spoofs, including my favorite, a trailer for a nice, uplifting comedic drama, “Shining”.

(note: don’t bother watching the trailers for “Big” or “Taxi Driver”, they fall short)

Movies Net Web

It’s about freakin’ time

The broadband world has been here for a while but getting good content over the net is still not a simple matter.  Where’s that on-demand, world-wide entertainment network we’ve been promised?

Well, for you fans of Indian movies there is now a site for you which allows you to download digital copies of movies.  Movies like Raincoat which your local movie store will never carry… or new releases like Dhoom which even aren’t yet available on Netflix.  Not only are the latest movies available but you can get them much faster than driving to your local video store and way faster than Blockbuster Online.

If movies with people randomly bursting in to song and dance are your cup of tea, then check out Masala Downloads (

If, on the other hand, Jean-Claude Van Damme is your cup of tea… simply switch on Spike TV… he’s sure to show up at some point.


Eye candy with a capital EYE

Imagine a 90 minute classical music video filmed in beautiful locations.

Imagine a martial arts sword movie with lots of wire work.

Toss the two in a Cuisenart…et voilà! Hero.

Hero is a true visual and musical treat for fans of Chinese/Hong Kong martial arts movies.  Containing more emotional content then any action film ought to, presenting a striking visual style and possessed of a musical score with acres of pedigree Hero is a movie that defies you to find a frame of reference.

While the pure artistry of this movie is beyond compare, it is a martial arts movie… if you don’t like the genre, you may find the story won’t hold your attention.  If, however, you’re up for a feast of optic gluttony served up with a heaping side of musical goodness, you won’t be disappointed.  Tan Dun‘s score featuring Itzhak Perlman and KODO Drummers of Japan makes you just sit back and rub your belly.  Mmmm… tasty.

I could go on about how beautiful this movie is… but instead I ask you to just look… the use of color in this film borders on overwhelming and yet is delivered with incomparable precision… they whipped out a big ol’ Technicolor sledge hammer and did finish carpentery… and you won’t find a missed stroke anywhere.