Monday, January 28, 2013

Why Mr. Anderson?

The Matrix Revolutions is the third part in the Matrix Trilogy. While both the second and third films lack in substance and are generally far inferior to the original movie, there are moments when you think 'oh... there is something good going on here'.

In Revolutions (spoilers ahead - but this is an old movie) everything leads up to one big final confrontation. During this scene we are treated to a superb monologue from Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving). This is one of those scenes that actually make you pause and consider.

Walking in to this final battle Trinity ( I suppose you could call her Neo's soulmate) has already given her life so that Neo can complete his task. In the second film he asks the Oracle "What happens if I fail?" to which she replies "Then Zion will fall." Zion being the last human city on Earth.

Keeping all this in mind Neo enters the Matrix to fight Agent Smith in one major final confrontation. They fight and Neo takes more of a beating then Smith. He gets up, spits out blood before taking up a defiant fighting stance in what is a homage to the first film.

The fighting continues until finally... Neo is defeated.

This is the scene that immediately follows:

Many would say that Neo's reply is stupid, and it is what I initially thought, but when you keep everything that has happened in the two films in mind it makes sense. Smith states "Why keep fighting? You must be able to see it Mr. Anderson. You must know it by now. You can't win... it's pointless to keep fighting." And that's where Neo's answer makes sense. Instead of choosing capitulation he chooses to keep fighting.

I believe that life is full of choices. At any given moment we always have a choice. Sometimes people say that they didn't have a choice. But here is a line from a different film that has been adapted from the original book:

"Dark and difficult times lie ahead. Soon we must all face the choice between what is right and what is easy." Albus Dumbeldore - Goblet of Fire the film.

Shortly after this scene Neo dies. But so does Agent Smith.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Expendables 2

Bigger, Badder and Better.

The first and most important thing to say is that this movie is vastly superior to the first. Everything is just plain better from the dialogue to the action scenes.

Actions scenes really have to be given a mention as the action sequences in the first film were severely underwhelming. In this film we have much more personal encounters that are well choreographed especially in one particular scene that takes place in a small town. This is where the action sequences really take off and hark back to the glory days of the 80's action flick.

There are also numerous scenes where the 'Good Guy's' just stand around guns blazing 24-7 with people falling front, left, right and centre. These are easily my least favourite sequences in the film. In the aforementioned town scene gun bursts are tight and controlled which makes for a far more interesting action sequence overall instead of non-stop guns blazing.

Jean Claude Van Damme really shines in his first scene as a villain who is quite naturally of Belgian/French ancestry which allows him to just act without being hindered by the way he talks. It's a smart move and his first scene shows that he can act in comparison to the other actors in the movie. Sadly he doesn't get nearly enough meaningful screentime and I felt that he was a bit underpowered as a villain despite showing off his trademark kick several times.

Liam Hemsworth also deserves a special mention as he is easily the best actor in the entire film and steals the show in several scenes. However even he can't save the film from plain bad writing in certain sections. Overall his segments are somewhat stronger than the rest.

Certain cameos are much better than others. The humour is also significantly better in certain segments especially the Chuck Norris joke which I laughed at once during the actual scene and again when I remembered it at the end. Some of the action sequences were also funny, some of which was intentional and some of which wasn't. The same could be said for Stallone's acting.

I have to say Arnold Schwarzenegger really didn't seem to have his heart in this film at all, or he just plain can't act. Not sure which it is. Bruce Willis is interesting but never really hits home. There was however *some* good dialogue between Willis and Arnold.

Overall I'd have to say the film is worth a watch just to get a kick.  It doesn't try to be Citizen Kane and doesn't pretend to be either. It certainly doesn't take itself seriously and has it's moments amidst some cringeworthy ones. If you ever liked or laughed at the long gone glory days of the 80's action flick, you should definitely check it out.

Friday, January 18, 2013

It Figures

See this wonderful figure? It may appear to be a piece of plastic or a toy to most of you. To me it is more of an effigy than a toy and it embodies the essence of a character especially if it is well crafted. After all it is the end user that dictates how an inanimate object is used.

But sadly you cannot buy this figure even if you wanted to. Why not you ask? The reason is simple. It’s what’s known as a custom job. Due to the less than stellar performance of the film ‘Dredd’ in cinemas no official figures were produced or no plans were made to do so prior to the film’s release.

So what this enterprising individual has done is build a custom figure. This is achieved by purchasing different action figures and gutting them for parts which are then modified. That is why the attention to detail on it is quite frankly exemplary. Since only one is produced the craftsmen can apply lots of love and dedication to his final work. Most mass produced figures do not have such caring hands behind their creation as they are produced on a factory line in the thousands.

This figure is pretty impressive and like many of its size has many points of articulation that allows for great posing opportunities.

You can find the original thread about it here:

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

I am Legend.

Interpretation. It is key to how we perceive the world that we live in. A specific set of events can occur but two people can walk away with completely different conclusions.

Let me give you a real example. I recently dusted off my brothers copy of Richard Matheson's I am Legend. Having seen the film many years ago I decided that I would definitely read it. I dived in and was hooked pretty much from the start.

Meanwhile I listen to the radio occasionally when at work. I hear Julian Marley is going to have a concert covering his father's songs. I don't think much of it since my feeling is that I'm not that in to Bob Marley. But as I keep being bombarded with the constant radio adverts I start to think that the songs are actually known to me, just that I have yet to make a mental association with the artist. I'm thinking maybe I should actively go and listen to some Marley.

I continue to read I am Legend and find myself unable to put the book down especially as it gets to its exciting climax. The Marley concert passes and is over. I complete the book and notice how it has deviated heavily from what I remember in the film. So I decide to re-watch the film to glean new insight and perhaps have a more complete experience.

I get the film and begin to watch. Early on Will Smith is driving in his car listening to what seems to be a familiar song. Yep it's Bob Marley. In fact there are a total of four Bob Marley tracks featuring in the film and Smith's character sings his songs on more than one occasion. There is also one scene where Smith's character berates another's complete ignorance of Bob Marley and proceeds to play his music. He then goes on to explain the significance of the artist, his lifestyle and philosophy. One of his songs also plays in the end credits to top it all off.

Another scene involves Smith's character arguing with the female lead in the film. She believes that she came just in the nick of time to save Smith's characters life and that everything was happening for a reason. That it was all the will of God. Smith's reply simply is 'There is no God.'

Now this is just a coincidence right? Or is it? Considering that both events occurred in the span of the same two weeks. I leave that up to you to decide. As for me it doesn't really matter. Things happen, the reasons are unknown. Some people choose to believe it's all just coincidence whilst others choose to believe that a divine hand is at play.

Who knows. I'm just going to go listen to some Bob Marley.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

What's App Doc!

As many of you are already aware is that there is a SMS substitute software called What's App. After having been requested to use it by a work client who informed me he was stepping out of office I installed it on my phone.

Obviously it's needs a net connection to run. At work I can use Wi-fi at the expense of battery power. Essentially I can communicate with this client for free even when he no longer has access to Skype.

He gives me his phone number and then communication carries on. All the while I'm thinking what is the point of this app beyond communicating to people overseas. And yet people are using it even locally.

Some advantages obviously are group chats, sending images and other attachments though this will cost you on your data. However you always need to keep your data/wi-fi connection on unless you keep checking it at regular intervals. Doing this severely reduces the battery life of any device whereas sticking to traditional SMS has no impact on battery whatsoever despite the cost.

Now in an effort to embrace technology I've kept my wi-fi connection on and used what's app. The problem is my battery keeps draining at a much higher rate requiring me to charge once a day.

Also for some strange reason there is no iPad app. This way I could have switched off my Internet on my phone and left the ipad on which is anyway always on when at home. But apple or the developers have prevented this for some strange reason (yes jailbreaking will work). You can however keep it running on a Windows machine or tablet in addition to a Mac. iPod touch is also supported. So there is a win there if you want to stay connected permanently. None of these are official as far as I know except for the iPod touch.

You might have noticed that other popular Social Media platforms started on the web and eventually had a mobile version. When you're at home you can just use your machine. By default this is not how What's App is intended though it would seem to be a smart move to market it that way.

As it stands you need to be connected to the Internet on your mobile device constantly to receive information in a timely manner. When you consider this SMS seems to win out as you are guaranteed delivery though at a higher cost. For people who regular text people such as their boyfriend/girlfriend you do find other alternatives from mobile providers. So what I'm asking you is, is there any real point to What'sApp?

It has been cited that Whatsapp is cheaper which is most certainly true especially if you mange your data correctly. However What's App is not free giving users a year to try it on Android and Windows platforms while Apple users have to pay from the get go. Sure it's only $0.99 but are you actually willing to pay for it?

On the whole this doesn't seem like an SMS killer. Most non users I mentioned the app to suggested using gtalk or Facebook as alternatives instead.

What do you think?