Monday, June 20, 2005

Recent Acquisitions - June 05...

It's been a whirlwind month so far and there's no end of business in sight.

Several excellent acquisitions this month so far that I wanted to share. On to the listing...

"The Aviator": What many thought was last year's snubbed picture of the year makes it's way to my collection this month, along with a an exclusive bonus/companion disc that provides viewers with a biography of Howard Hughes and c0mplete coverage of the Aviator World Premeire. Gloria and I have plans to watch this soon and I will be sure to post a solid review of the movie after it's over.

STAR TREK: The Original Series - Season 1 & 3: Two spectacular sets of add-ons here. Over the last two weeks we've been preparing a variety of boxes and "stuff" for a subdivision-wide garage sale. Included in those boxes were my old-school consoles and their associated games from 1981 on. Intellivision, ATARI 5200 & 7800, NES, SEGA and all of their associated games. As you can imagine if you've ever spent time with games and systems, getting rid of them is often something that doesn't happen easily and this was no exception. Though it was tough to pack them all up and get them to a local exchange place - I did it. It yielded me $185 in store credit and so I purchased the two TOS series disc sets that have eluded me since their release almost 2 years ago now.

"24" Season 2: What is easily one of the most compelling television series of our age, "24" has been a wonderful ride every season so far (check out my blog for any of the fun and detailed "Blow by Blow" reviews for more great readings from this recent 4th season) . Season 2 of the series makes its way to my collection via a dandy wife-provided Father's Day gift.

Look for more as I have the opportnity to watch and review the above and look for new editions.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Alone In the Theater...

This weekend, my wife and I took the time to cozy-up in the theater and watch a couple of movies. While I plan on detailing them both, I wanted to be sure to wave-off anyone in the near vicinity of one of the offers -- "Alone In the Dark" starring Christian Slater.

To fill people in on the "proposed" plot, here is the description from everyone's favorite movie-factoid website, The Internet Movie Database.

"Alone In the Dark" Based on the video game, Alone in the Dark focuses on Edward Carnby, a detective of the paranormal, who slowly unravels a mysterious events with deadly results. Edward Carnby (Slater), detective of the paranormal, unexplained and supernatural, investigates a mystery (the recent death of a friend) with clues leading to "Shadow Island" that brings him face to face with bizarre horrors that prove both psychologically disturbing and lethal, as he discovers that evil demons worshiped by an ancient culture called the Abskani are planning on coming back to life in the 21st century to once again take over the world... and only he and a young genius anthropologist with an incredible memory (and his ex-girlfriend), Aline Cedrac (Reid), stand in their way, at a gateway to hell. Standing in Carnby's way, however, is the impact that a brief encounter with an evil spirit called the Queen had upon his mind, as he slowly finds himself overpowered by the forces of darkness as they eat away at his very sanity..."

The accurate irony of the last few words there is haunting. I have been a Christian Slater fan for a long time. From his earliest works to some of the lesser but still solid portrayals recently, he offers something I'm usually willing to watch and go along with. Murder in the First, Pump Up the Volume, Broken Arrow, and a variety of others are pieces of my collection and they really provide some great storytelling and acting samples. When "Alone In the Dark" offered Slater up as a detective, and that the film was based on a video/computer game of the same name, I was ready to see what there was to offer. I had no idea how unprepared I was.

From the VERY LONG, STAR WARS-like reading session (it's actually longer than any of the STAR WARS intros - can you believe that?) that was inane and described a "lost civilization" I knew that something was askew. I am all for "lost civilizations", I'm all for treasure hunts, but this one decides that that is simply not enough to drive a movie. Roll in some very shoddy character development for just about every character on board, and an attention-span focus that will induce seizure, you've got a recipe for a very long 96 minutes.

Slater pulls off probably the first 20 minutes of the movie, but eventually his role and the movie spirals into something that is a mix of bad B horror movie and a sample reel of how not to produce a movie. While I am completely unfamiliar with how the game worked when playing it on the computer, I surely would have had to consider an icepick for my eyesocket if it had anything to do with the content of this movie. When you take that and feature moderate-level CGI effects (that looked like they might have come from today's computer games rather than a movie studio pushing film-level special effects), you have clearly initiated a recipe for cinematic disaster.

With a mix of pseudo-zombies being controlled by symbiotic organisms that latch onto 19 orphans spines (luckily, number 20 Slater was electrocuted the nite they were installed in the rest and was 'saved'), dog-like CGI-things that are not only not scary, but stupid and loud, and a compliment of "Section 713 Soldiers" that are armed with black, short-sleeved T-Shirts and bicycle helmets (this is the army that's going to stop Armageddon?), this movie is one of the few movies I nearly considered turning off with more than half the movie left to go.

Try again, Christian - try again.