So anyway, Star Trek II arrived today - normally cause for celebration indeed...
I open it, and lo what should I find but - A BIG FUCKIN' SCRATCH OVER THE LAST 30 MINUTES!!!
Monday, July 27, 2009
Monday, July 13, 2009
First, you were terrified by the horror of the infamous McDonald's Hot Coffee Lawsuit!
You couldn't bring yourself to gaze upon the terror that was the Chicken McNugget 911 Call!
But NOTHING could prepare you for...
Someone. Please. Explain.
Too. Much. Stupidity.
..."He's dead, Jim."
You couldn't bring yourself to gaze upon the terror that was the Chicken McNugget 911 Call!
But NOTHING could prepare you for...
Someone. Please. Explain.
Too. Much. Stupidity.
..."He's dead, Jim."
Tuesday, July 07, 2009
So anyway, I've been thinking a bit about something Herr V asked me yesterday. Since I had seen Revenge of the Fallen twice, he asked me my opinion on the track sequencing for the score album. I suggested the following (a guess mind you, but a pretty damned good one if I do say so myself):
Heed Our Warning
The Fallen (I'm not certain this is an actual cue in the film)
The Fallen Arrives
Tomb of the Primes
The Matrix of Leadership
I Claim Your Sun
I Rise, You Fall
I wasn't sure where to put "Prime". I'm of the opinion that it, like "The Fallen", isn't an actual cue - but a thematic suite. This all got me thinking about track sequencing in general and the sometimes odd decisions that are made by the composer/album producer as to where to put what. It used to be that nearly all albums were sequenced for "listenablility" rather than placed in film order. Lately however, with more and more of the music from the film (typically) going on the CD, the albums are more often being presented in chronological order.
I understand the idea of resequencing cues for shorter album presentations. With large chunks of material being left out altogether, it makes perfect sense to rearrange things so that the overall listening experience is heightened. This idea though makes albums like Revenge of the Fallen all the more puzzling and irritating. I commented at length on V's ROTF score post about my frustrations with the album as a whole, so I'll simply reiterate here that I found the album somewhat disappointing. Particularly for it's length - it's blaringly obvious that many of the cues of the album were truncated, giving us sometimes half or less of the music from the scene that the track title eludes to (N.E.S.T. especially pissed me off as it ends just prior *spoiler warning* to Optimus hopping out of the C31 in Shanghai to kick some Decepticon ass!). And it's even more obvious that a BIG chunk of the score was left off altogether. So...the album is obviously sequenced out of film order, but...why?! The placement of the cues on the CD is such that it stacks most of the more exciting material at the end, leaving a sort of void in the middle. I figure if you're gonna fuck with it, at least intersperse an action cue after every couple of non-action cues.
John Williams' Star Wars prequel albums were really bad about this sort of thing. Ok, so...obviously we weren't going to get complete score albums at the time of release. Add to that all the tracking-in from The Phantom Menace that occurred with AOTC and ROTS - and the potential for disappointment sails off the chart. I'd still like a definitive answer on how much new (and obviously unused) material Williams wrote for those lengthy sequences at the end of both of those films - as I write this, I'm listening to expanded additions of AOTC and ROTS that I've "acquired". All that tracking-in is really fuckin' odd, and just damned frustrating ...But I digress. The albums stacked any and all new thematic suites at the front of the album - ok, sure...I get that. And it's not that the album tracks were presented out of order, it's that the music within many of the tracks was cut and pasted together from all-the-fuck-over the movies! The "Main Titles" were really bad - sure it'd start out with the main title, then rather than presenting the music that accompanied the opening scene, it would jump to a cue from 20 frickin' minutes later in the movie! Zimmer splices cues together in a similar manner; been doing it for almost every album he's put out - but at least his music isn't all that thematically dense, so it's not so jarringly obvious when cues from multiple sequences have been merged.
Michael Giacchino's Star Trek is another great example. The tracks are presented in film order. The music within those tracks isn't a product of cue splicing from various parts of the picture. Many of them however are very cropped. Then there's the issue of the fact that most of the middle act of the film is MIA. And it's short...too fucking short! I think most of us would argue in favor of a 70+minute album for this one...it's that good! But, given what we ended up getting, the result makes for quite a good listen. The middle act of Star Trek, like most middle acts, is full of exposition. The music for those scenes reflects this. So, I guess I'd argue in favor of keeping the album shorter in that regard, especially if they weren't planning on giving us the complete (or nearly so) score. And sensibly, what we did get constituted mostly action music, so the album never gets a bogged-down-in-the-middle sort of feeling. I suppose in my mind a good rule of thumb would be: If your score album is going to contain 60 or more minutes of music, you absolutely should sequence the tracks in film order. Logically, this makes perfect sense - the music (in theory...assuming the composer knows what he/she is doing) should match the ebb and flow of the drama/action on screen. So with a lengthy album, there should theoretically be a good sampling of music from all over the film - a good listening experience will just occur naturally. If your score album is going to be short - stack it with a good sampling of the more exciting material, then order it for listenablility. That's my two cents anyway...
Thursday, July 02, 2009
So anyway, did you hear there's a new Transformers movie out? You did...really?! Hmph - I had no idea, nary a peep on the TV, radio, internets, billboards...nothin'. Oh, I know why...that singer guy died the other day - that's why I haven't heard anything about it. OK, well now that that's resolved. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen - a 150 minute vfx-porn extravaganza. But that's what most of Mike Bay's movies are right...fx porn. That's not porn with special effects (although how cool would that be?!). I would define fx-porn as a movie who's sole intent is to elicit a full-fledged geek-gasm via a complete, visual skull-fuck onslaught. That's what Bay does...he fucks your brain with visuals. Great performances from the performers...a minor concern. Plot coherency and sensibility - fuck that! Does it have a shot following a bomb as it leaves a Japanese Zero all the way to the point of impact on the U.S. destroyer that makes you want to come in your pants?! Fuckin' A right!!! That's the Michael Bay film aesthetic.
As everyone on the planet has heard by now - and I'm even talking about little, lost tribes of pygmies in the Amazon and the lizard people at the Earth's core - Transformers: ROTF had made some considerable bank despite a tepid critical response and general disdain from the fanboy community. Fuck fanboys, we've already covered their biggest problem in prior posts - in this case, these particular giant fucking robots committing carnage aren't doing so in the specific, precise manner that the über-geeks have been masturbating about since they were 12. As for the critics, well...revenge (pun intended) is a dish best served loud and green. Does the movie have problems, issues, concerns, troubles, consternations, etc? Absolutely!!! I'd say one of it's biggest problems is Bay himself. T:ROTF, more than any previous Bayfilm, feels as though he was given free reign to go completely and totally balls-out - they gave him almost a quarter of a billion dollars to make it...and he went frakkin' nuts! And in the end, the film actually suffers for it - but just a smidge. The movie is absolutely a study in visual excess. Let's face it, we're all going for the insane, giant-fucking-robot carnage...but there's almost too much to take in. To that end, I offer that the majority of the critics did have one issue correct - the middle act...needs work!
Unfortunately, this movie is (glaringly) a product of a rushed production schedule, and the WGA strike. It was reported a year ago that Alex Kurtzman and Rob Orci had about two weeks prior to the strike to hammer out a treatment and give it to Bay to, ermm..."flesh out". Bay's not a WGA member - he can do what he wants to it while the real writers are out of the office. On top of that, when the writers did come back to work, Ehren Kruger was brought in as a script polisher. Now, IMHO, and as evidenced by a recent film with young men and women boldly going and whatnot, Kurtzman and Orci wouldn't seem to really need a script doctor. In this case, I'd say Freddie Kruger would be a more appropriate moniker for the man. He hacked it to little bits. He's also responsible for the awesomness that is Blood and Chocolate, The Ring and The Ring II, The Skeleton Key, and of course who could forget...Reindeer Games! Particular low-points in ROTF include the (as I counted) 7 references to testicles (four by that Leo douchebag), the Jar-Jar twins and their just-slightly-over-the-top racially offensive personae, and as previously mentioned...the entire middle act. In the end, the movie is really only 15 minutes longer than the first one. The major gripe from the critical community from the first was that it had no plot. This new entry seems to drown in 2nd-Act exposition. As is always the case, no one ever asks us (the educated, seemingly intelligent, laid-back movie fan) our opinion on things (I make the assumption that there are considerably more of us out there than my tiny little readership). If they had, say, asked someone like...me...I would have offered a simple solution. Trim the middle act by 20 minutes of what is there, and substitute about 5 to 10 more minutes of the meat and potatoes of this movie...i.e. MORE GIANT-FUCK-ROBOT-CARNAGE!!! A simple answer would have been for the Decepticons to make good on their threats of worldwide destruction for not handing Sam over. There...problem solved. I offer that a good rule of thumb for future installments would be to have GFR's beating the hell out of...something...every twenty minutes or so.
The human element of both of these movies was a bit too much really. There were too many humans in the first. The second smartly excised the superfluous characters from the first, but then just went and threw in a few new ones seemingly just for the hell of it. Even the ones that only appeared for a few moments...just weren't entirely necessary (I'm looking at you Egyptian Checkpoint Scene!!!). I'm not going to quibble over the return of Sam's parents...his mom in particular cracks me up. I like Major Lennox and Sgt. Epps (Josh Duhamel and Tyrese Gibson), I thought they were grossly underused here. Isabel Lucas, a.k.a. The Fembot - WOW! At one point I thought Bay was literally going to put the camera up her ass - not a bad thing mind you. I agree totally with something Brad told me: where the fuck are these colleges at?! How does one east coast school manage to wrangle up every insanely fuckable woman on the planet and put them in one place?! Then there's the title (of my post) character...Mikaela. I maintain that her sole purpose in both movies was to give all the male members of the audience, ages 10 to 203, a reason to pop a load in their pants. That has to be the purpose of her character - there is no other reason for her. To prove it, let me submit this question: ever notice that in both Transformers movies, Megan Fox...is moist...all the time?!?! There isn't a single moment in either movie where some part of her skin isn't shimmering from wet. It's usually her bust...but regardless, some portion of her body is wet. She could've been placed into a scene baking a cake at a convent, and she'd still look like she was lubed up for a day at the beach/strip club! I think we should at least be grateful that it's Michael Bay shooting her - let's face it, he (particularly in this new installment) basically fucks her with the camera in every shot she's in! And the world is a better place for it. I honestly do hope there is some real acting talent under all that unrelenting gorgeousness...I'd like to see her around in the future. If not...then I suppose there's always porn (please God...PLEEEEEAAAAAASSSSSEEEE!!!).
Jablonsky returned for music duties (as expected). And, well...he brought Hans and Linkin Park with him. Again...excess. I like Linkin Park, but they weren't needed here. Neither was Hans' influence on the overall sound of the score. I haven't heard the score away from the film, but what I did hear in the film (under all the calamity) I wasn't blown away by (figuratively) as I was with the score for the original. I like the consistency with the Optimus theme every time he appeared. I don't care how many times I see it, when Optimus Prime transforms...it kicks 31 flavors of fucking ass! And the Optimus theme is a great support system for said ass kicking. But it seems to me...and I don't know how this is possible, the elements from the first score were actually dumbed down. The Media Ventures/Remote Control compositional aesthetic was/is/forever-shall-be bold, ass-kicking music via the lowest common denominator. The scores for Transformers I & II are no exception. But the first was really a breath of fresh air from what most of us have come to expect from the MV guys. Unfortunately here, it lost itself somewhere. Brad had a point, maybe that was the point of Hans' presence - to make sure the music projected over the rest of the cacophony. Mission accomplished I supposed...but it definitely lost a little of the magic in the process.
So, in the end, what's my verdict? It needed a touch-up or two, but overall I really fucking liked it! I went apeshit over everything that I was supposed to go apeshit over, and I tagged along for the ride on the rest. That's not a bad thing...given the ingredients in the mix, it coulda/woulda/shoulda been a complete and total clusterfuck. But it wasn't, it really wasn't! I just hope they polish the ever-lovin' shit out of the next one. Because I'm already game for round three of insane-ginormous-transforming-fucking-robots-from-space carnage - but I'll wait...patiently...do us all a favor folks, and get this next one just right!
for those that are counting, this is the third day in a row with a new post...I'm thinking one more and the entire space-time continuum as we know it will collapse - thoughts?!
Wednesday, July 01, 2009
So anyway, the mundanity of my job, it would seem, has apexed. I can't get on Facebook at work...it's blocked. I can't get on MySpace at work, it too...is blocked. I can't install anything interesting on my work PC (e.g. iTunes, Quicktime, etc) - they're (you guessed it) blocked. Pogo, Boxerjam, IGN...hell even fucking Victoria's Secret* (?!) - blocked, blocked, blocked and blocked. I'm sure if I was so inclined I could actually get on Stinky McPoon's House O'Dirty Bitchez** (.com) and browse around - it wouldn't surprise me in the least if places like that were available to me. Of course going somewhere like that would be the fastest track to a pink slip EVER - they apparently do monitor those kinds of things. I could buy a dildo and a leather bondage mask on Ebay, but I can't check my Facebook page...priorities seem a little misplaced there somehow. Incidentally, I have read the Wiki bio's for just about every porn star since 1986 - that, apparently, they're ok with. And currently, there isn't enough going on during my shift to actually fill an entire work evening for the three of us that are still here (we really only need two people on any given night).
So what praytell do I fill my night with (when I'm not reading, and since I can't afford a MacBook to do any composing on). I'll tell you...Microsoft Solitaire. Oh wait, there's more! It's not just any old fucking Microsoft Solitaire, no, no, no that'd be too-the-fuck-easy! No...I've expanded upon it - cuz let's face it, how many games can anyone play of plain old Solitaire before they're bored stupid?! It essentially goes down like this:
I play single-card-draw, Vegas-scoring Microsoft Solitaire - which means once you've gone through the draw pile a single time, you're done...and I've added rules of my own. See I play it like it's a tournament...in my mind. Each new game starts you off $52 in the hole. My tournament rules require that in order to draw a second deal during any given game, the player must at least score high enough to put themselves in the black. If not, that player (me) is disqualified, the game is closed, and a new player (still me) can open a new game. If the player on his first deal gets into the black, but doesn't actually win the hand, he/she (me) is eligible to re-deal and try again. That player may then continue re-dealing for each losing game until they have passed -$100. At that point their turn is also over...UNLESS (and here's where it starts to get really interesting/insane)...
...the arbiters decide that said player is worthy of another deal. That's right...I said arbiters - plural. In my head, I have a panel of three adjudicators who are watching the progress of the current player (still just me), and can decide if they've (I've) been doing well enough to warrant one more chance (i.e. the play has resulted in a deficit of say...-$102). But wait...there's STILL more! This little tourny of mine has an audience and fucking broadcast announcers! Oh yeah baby...Bob Fucking Costas and some other pompous douchebag who once won a tournament some years back are fucking COMMENTATORS for my little psychotic break here!!! How awesomely insane is that?!?! The audience (in my mind) actually gets excited when things go well for me! I even have an imagined past champion (ala Bobby Fischer) who won big years ago and hasn't been seen in ages...and the commentators make comparative references to him as I'm playing!!! They even act as though there's some actual skill involved - like it's not all (or mostly) up to chance!
The fucking game even has it's own slang/jargon. The arbiters...have penalties! If a player (again...still just me!) pulls a card that he can't play and tries to lay it down - they call out "penalty". If the player does it and gets away with it...it's called a "Scot-Free" (as in I got away with it...you know...). The player gets three penalties per game, if he reaches the third, he's automatically disqualified regardless of how good or bad he's playing. The penalties are only used to either eject a player, or in consideration when it's time for the arbiters to decide the players fate (when they're just over the -$100 deficit). If the player pulls a scoring card back into play to place a card off the draw pile, it's called a "sacrifice". If two aces are dealt face up, it's a "double-whammy", three is a "triple-whammy", four is a "grand-slam". Each deal costs you $52, so if you win back enough to cover your deal, it's called "holding your own". Doing this repeatedly is called "holding on for your life". A round that results in little or no monetary gain is called a "shitty deal". Oh, and get this...a player has to resign his game with a score in the black in order to qualify for next season's tournament. There was even a bit of a conspiracy a couple weeks ago when the douchebag commentator accused a player who was doing a bang-up job of holding on for his life...of cheating!!! There's even more, but I'll save it lest someone be compelled to call Two Rivers and have me committed!
So...now what?! Well, the way I see it you have two choices really. One: just pretend like this whole post never happened and try to forget just how psychotic your old pal The Pikey has really become, or Two: try it for yourself and see just how much of a hoot it really is (and it is quite fun, hahahahahahahahaha)!
The decision...is yours...
*A while back before it was blocked, I would occasionally stop by and browse for birthday/anniversary/mother's day/Christmas gift ideas (for the Missus, for the MISSUS)...so, nothing weird really (but can't do that anymore)
**This isn't really a website, as far as I know anyway...I'll let someone else find out for certain.