Sunday, February 22, 2015

Best Film of the Year for 2014

Usually, I try to write something witty or self deprecating about the Basement Blog Film of the Year award. But let's get onto the winner. It's the Oscars without commercials. The winner is: It's a tie! Tying for Best Film of the Year are The Imitation Game and Guardians of the Galaxy.

The Imitation Game is the story of English scientist Alan Turning who worked with the British government to solve the Nazi code during World War II. To the world, very little was know about him or his efforts. But it's because of his work, that the Allies won the war. To break the code, he built a machine which was able to decipher the code. In essence, he built one of the first computers. Unfortunately in his later years, he was prosecuted for his homosexuality which may have led to his suicide. Still, the world owes a debt to him.

The Imitation Game works on many levels. It's an intellectual thriller without all the explosions. It's a fine drama of a quirky genius. The directing by Morten Tyldum is confident and doesn't detract from the movie. The acting is superb. Benedict Cumberbatch's performance as Turning is subtle, realistic, and heartbreaking. He portrays a man who's more comfortable with mathematical equations than people. Bravo to all involved. The grade is A Plus.



The second film, Guardians of the Galaxy, has grown on me. It's a movie that can stand multiple viewings and never get tired. It's hilarious, action packed and entertaining. And it has one of the greatest, joyful scenes in the history of cinema. It's when protagonist Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) dances and grooves to Redbone's "Come and Get Your Love" during the opening credits. Reminiscent of Gene Kelly in Singing in the Rain. I almost got up and started dancing with him. Enjoy the Redbone in the video below.

Science Fiction Film of the Year 2014

Director Christopher Nolan deserves all the accolades in the world for his filmmaking. He creates popular entertainment tentpoles that do not cater to the lowest common denominator. They're all smart and yet entertaining. This year's Basement Blog Science Fiction Film of the Year is Interstellar. While flawed, it's still a great movie.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The history of the Hulkbuster armor

If you've seen The Avengers: Age of Ultron teaser trailer, you may have noticed what looks like Iron Man putting on a gigantic exosuit to fight Hulk. Comicvine.com has put together a history of the suit from comics to movies. Here's the article. Quoting from the piece, the "Hulkbuster was a specific variant of the Iron Man Armor designed to combat the Hulk." It begs the question, "Does Tony Stark turn evil or does he Hulk go bad in the upcoming movie?" We'll find out when the movie comes out. Meanwhile, check out the teaser trailer below.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Season's Greetings

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays everyone.

Lizard Squad humiliates Microsoft

You may have tried to play that video game you got for Christmas and was not able to connect online. Well, don't blame your router. Business Insider is reporting that the hacker group, Lizard Squad, has taken down XBOX Live and the Playstation Network. I had trouble last night with XBOX Live, However, both networks may be back today, Christmas day.

First, let me admit I was wrong when I wrote that Lizard Squad would get crushed by Microsoft, the owner of XBOX Live. Lizard Squad threatened XBOX Live that they would bring down the network on Christmas Day and it looks like they did. I will assume that Microsoft knew of the prior attack and threat. Because if it didn't then some lawyer has a class action lawsuit on his hands. But I digress. I am going to surmise that Microsoft had some countermeasure in place. And yet a group of hacker trolls defeated and humiliated the most powerful software company in the world.

But what does this mean in a larger sense? In light of the Sony hacking, and now the antics of Lizard Squad, should we fear? Yesterday, it's a major media company. Today, it's a video game network. Tomorrow, perhaps it's a banking network. And are our government networks safe? Until the United States brings Lizard Squad and other hackers to justice, no one can be sure.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Interstellar review

There's been a tendency in popular entertainment to not explain things in story telling. Look at the TV series Lost, or the video game Destiny. While screenwriters are taught to show not tell, there are times that one must have some exposition or else the audience will spend most of their time trying to figure out what is going on rather than getting the major message of the story. This lack of exposition affects writer-director Christopher Nolan's film, Interstellar.

Interstellar takes place in a dystopian future where mankind is struggling to survive due to large dust storms. And if you want to know what is causing this environmental disaster, well you can forget about it. Writers Christopher and Jonathan Nolan aren't going to tell you. Widower Cooper (Mathew McConaughey) is a farmer and former astronaut struggling to raise corn and his family. His daughter Murphy starts to get strange coded messages from her bedroom which she says are ghosts. One of the messages are coordinates to a nearby secret NASA base.

Cooper and Murphy drive to the base. They are arrested and brought before Professor Brand (Michael Caine) and his daughter Amelia. (Anne Hathaway) Professor Brand tells them that NASA knows the world is dying but they have discovered a wormhole created by some intelligent beings. Deducing that the aliens put the wormhole to save man, NASA sends three astronauts separately through it. NASA is getting signals from them and that they have landed on three planets surrounding a black hole. Brand enlists Cooper to join his daughter to find the astronauts and explore the worlds to see which ones would support mankind in their exodus from earth. Failing that, there's another plan where the scientists would start humanity all over with fertilized eggs.

To enjoy Interstellar, you're going to have to accept its plot devices on faith. For some reason, Nolan decides not to tell you what is causing earth's drought. While the logical culprit is global warming, I wonder if the writers wanted to avoid the cause for political reasons. Can't piss off the Kock brothers, can we? Then there is the physics involved in the movie. Cooper and Amelia go to one of the planets and according to them they will age at a significantly slower rate than the rest of earth due to the black hole. I'm talking hours for years. It's gut wrenching to see Cooper get videos from his children now grown up when he's only been on the planet's surface for a few hours. There are additional twists such as Amelia's relationship with one of the lost astronauts that causes the film to feel disjointed. Without exposition, the plot twists make the story telling artificial, i.e. it's melodramatic for no reason.

While watching Interstellar, I spent too much time trying to figure out one, what was going on with the earth. And then trying to figure out the time issues regarding the physics. This could have been problematic if Interstellar wasn't so well made. The stakes to humanity are so severe that it kept the drama moving. The screenplay is intelligent and relies on serious science. Once Cooper and Brand land on an alien world, I was captivated as to what they would find. The film kept me glued to the seat with intrigue. There are some nice nods to other science fiction movies specifically 2001: A Space Odyssey. When you see the rectangular shape of TARS, the robot in the movie, one can't help think of HAL from 2001 and the alien monolith. I did feel the design of TARS was a little impractical but maybe the nod to 2001 was the point.

As for the acting, you can't go wrong with this cast. McConaughey loves his daughter and there's pain when he leaves her. Caine and Hathaway's scientists are brainy, and sincere. Jessica Chastain plays a grown up Murphy. She's wonderful as the hurt daughter who's dedicated finding a solution to earth's problems with Brand.

Interstellar continues the pattern of Christopher Nolan's filmmaking. He doesn't dumb down anything for the masses. Despite its flaws, the film is thought provoking and exciting. The grade is A.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

You stink Lizard Squad

It looks like for the second time this month, the hacker group Lizard Squad has hit XBOX Live. If you've been trying to play XBOX Live this morning and last night, you've probably been thrown out of the service and been unable to connect. Well, it's not your Internet connection. According to Neowin, it's the hacker group Lizard Squad. And they did it when the 2014 Game Awards was set to air. How's that for strategic planning?

It gets worse my fellow XBOX players. XBOX Live will go offline then come back online. Then after a few hours, it seems Lizard Squad attacks again. They've threatened more sabotage this weekend with a tweet that reads, "This will be an entertaining weekend."

This is one of the problems of the Internet. You get trolls and you get these guys, the hackers. Ha, ha. (sarcastically) Lizard Squad you got us. But you want know something my reptilian friends? I don't need XBOX to have a good weekend. I can go to a movie, or go out to the pub or watch football. But you will eventually be caught. That's because you're messing with Microsoft. These are the guys who run the PC world. It ain't Sony. You're interfering with the company's ability to make money through financial transactions not just players gaming with each other. They will crush you. Enjoy eating that prison food. And by the way, you guys are using Twitter to brag about your exploits. You really don't think they can't track you, do you? Who's the idiot now?