Sunday, June 29, 2008

Resolved to Marvel at Captioning - Interpreter Hell Incarnate

Movie Viewing Date: June 29th, 2008
Movie Title: Resolved
Reviewed By: Mike Wilkerson - The 2GuysTalking Caption Hunt


In the span of my Hard of Hearing-Interpreter career, I have only experienced what I have considered "interpreter hell" a very few times. The stand up comediant referring to the interpreter on stage, testing the interpreter to see "how far they will go" to convey information. Situations that showcase physical proximity to dangers both environmental and legitimate physical harm. They've all been a piece of what is the history of my Interpreting career. I have always prided myself on being able to collect the details of a line of dialogue, an overall argument - to absorb information and be able to translate that to American Sign Language in its many incarnations and provide that to my previous clients. "Resolved" - an outstanding movie on HBOHD this morning showcased the true reality if what would be Interpreter Hell, and why I have never had the opportunity to interpret competitive high school and collegiate debate.

Opinion Review:

What I have found most satisfying about this on-going series of Caption Hunt Reviews is that it has allowed me to not only enjoy an outstanding home theater (called "The Shire"), it also has opened doors to programs that I probably would have never had the interest in watching ot listening to. This movie, "Resolved" was something I probably would have skipped on by, except that I read that it involved debate. While debate was something I dabbled in in high school, the skills, jargon and sheer annunciation skill that I saw in the first several minutes of this truly made my ears and mind spin, wondering just how on Earth I would/could interpret this dialoging bonanza and the answer would have been very much like a very fast country, rock, death-metal or rap song, where I can understand a word here or there, but never anything strung together even on the best most-rested afternoon ever.

Additionally, I wanted to see exactly how this show, where there is a significant section of it depicted with people speed read-speaking (where they actually are giving cogent thought that is collected by not only the team they're debating against, but also the fellow debaters in the room, the judges in the room, and what I perceived were clearly onlookers watching and listening in amazement just as I did for the entire movie, were going to capture in captioning, how the people were speaking so fast. The accomplished it with the same thing interpreters us where the captioning says "[speaking indistinctly]" meaning that they are speaking but nothing in general can be gleaned from what's being said.

The captioning follows each and every team, including the showcased teams that are followed for a series of years as they complete year-round tournaments, local sectionals and everything in between. The names of the players are provided often both in graphics as titles for the participants but also inside of the captioning when they're speaking off screen to people on-screen, that really does make for an easier captioned read. I wish that other programs would take on this trait. In addition to what is the base closed captioning of the movie, they have several sections, including the speed read-speaking segments that are open captioned, which really helps you understand much of what the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Communities experience. A lot of people are under the impression that Deaf and Hard of Hearing people either have hearing, or don't have hearing, when in actuality, it's almost always somewhere on the spectrum of overall hearing losss. I am on the extreme able to function independently end of the Hard of Hearing spectrum and open and closed captioning is definitely gravy for me and helps me to better understand the players participating, their names, the spelling of their names, and more. Regardless of your ability to hear, I would challenge ANYONE READING THIS COLUMN to try to understand much of what is heard inside of this episode, without captioning of any kind. You simply will not be able to do it. Here's why: Over the years, competitive debate has "evolved" into a sort of shorthand speak, that is clearly discernable to those who use and participate in it's creation. To the "rest of us", it sounds just like what shorthand on paper looks like to people that just "write" - squiggles, fragments of words, sometimes-able-to-collect words but not much more. According to the show, the human brain can comprehend up to 800 words per minute being heard. Each of the presenteres in full speed read-speaking mode were pushing about 400 words per minute but it was still - AMAZINGLY DIFFICULT to make them out and I thought to myself: it's possible for some to double THIS speed and sill make things out? Amazing! The experience of listening to them is akin to watching someone speak incredibly fast, with an almost habit-formed bak occurring mid-sentence to break the cadence but also to allow breath. It's one of those things that when you see it with friends, you'll definitely look at your friends sitting in the room and say "you've gotta' be shitting me..."

It's amazing, it's otherworldly, and the best part - it's an acquired and dying skill that many people will never have the opportunity to see - save for the advent of this film that is.

The film continues following the groups as they grow older, pass through the system, and win and lose some major milestones in their scholastic debate careers. There is a point where there is a "revolutnionary team" that makes their presence known, and while I thought the initial ideas that they were providing were solid in regard to what is wrong with "the debate game" and actually attacking it by attacking the process and habitial creation traits of debate, rather than the other team- oy - that descending into what was one of the most frustrating "it's all about racism, and you can't understand because we're black" sessions that make for some very frustrating watching. Thankfully, that is a very tiny and still evocative piece of this great film that I believe everyone should be sure to watch at least once. It's a rich, supporting and educational effort that will give everyone an idea of what being able to communicate faster and more effectively than the other guy can provide to you, your family, your career, and your life - and bring you "resolve."\

Overall Caption Rating: 5

Overall Show Rating: 5

Total Rating: 5

Do You Recommend This Show to Others Who Depend on Captioning? Yes

– Mike Wilkerson
Creator/Graphic Designer/Talk Show Host

- The 2GuysTalking Podcast
2GuysTalking Original Content Podcast Network – 314-229-7683

[Mike is a professional entertainment critic and talk show host for The 2GuysTalking Podcast Network, a multi-media podcasting company specializing in the broadcast of opinion, thought and ideas. Be sure to visit 2GuysTalking.Com for more information.]

30 Days of Night - A Segment from The Caption Hunt

Movie Viewing Date: June 28th, 2008
Movie Title: 30 Days of Night

Reviewed By: Mike Wilkerson - The 2GuysTalking Caption Hunt


If someone were to ask me if I were a horror film fan, I'd probably say "no". In general I'm not a bloody gore for gore's sake fan, and I think that finding a fresh "look" at vampires is something that hasn't been done in an incredibly long time. Recently, a friend of mine had mentioned that not only were there a number of comic book movies coming out this year (all of which we're reviewing this year on The 2GuysTalking Podcast), but that one came out last year that many people would know nothing about. "Know nothing about" a comic book movie coming out? Instantly my interest was piqued and my hunt to find this "mystery comic book film" was intitiated. Would it be yet another dude or chick dressed in spandex? A fitted latex armour suit that had gadgets, perhaps? Ah, ha, what if perhaps it could be an "anti-hero" where it's just a guy with no super powers at all, who just does extraordinary things and understand that he's making a difference?

Clearly I'm locked into the focus of a superhero taking the center stage in this new comic book movie that came out last year and was released earlier this year on DVD. It wasn't a story about a modern-day hero in a red super suit, it was about a band of vampires, covered in red blood, stalking, hunting and destroying a town in northern Alaska, that experiences an annual black-out, that' provides them with with a platter-creating "30 Days of Night."

Previews/Commercials Captioned: Yes

Opinion Review:

As I stated previously, horror films are not generally an easy sell for me. This one carried through in my interest cue by being a comic-based tale, and then the hook? That it took place in an Alaskan Town that, every year, experiences "30 Days of Night" - a regularly-anticipated "dark spot" in the lives of a very ordinary community of people that live their lives just like you and I do - in a very cold and remote environment.

The movie inspires not only with these two attention-getting initial details, but also with what is a very well put-together cast. Starring Josh Harnett, Dany Houston, and a cast of people that provide solid performances across the horror movie genre, this film delivers not only a different "feel" to vampire films, but a completely different and chaotic look of vampires. Whether it's the very naturally scary-looking people that are of course covered in blood, to the original stunt coordination, to the ability of the characters to halt what could be easy samples of "stupid horror film" traits that plague films of this genre, this is a solid offering that gives you creepy, dark bloody, and viable, understandable gore that "fleshes" out a very entertaining off-shoot vampire story that doesn't disappoint.

The captioning both inside of this film, including the commercials and trailers are all very well done. There are no spelling mistakes of any kind, and it's great to see the different names of people that are different, not only because they're original names, but because of the area they live in. Eban, Mallkai and more are showcased wonderfully, as are the names of the would-be nameless vampires as the captioning follows their "voices" by captioning who is making the vocalizations, though their name is never said. A shining, golden turnip in this offering is the complete captioning not only of the features included, but a captioning of the commentary included on this disc. Things like that are TRULY appreciated and something not seen often.

Special/Supplemental Features Captioned: Yes

Overall Caption Rating: 5

Overall Show Rating: 4

Total Rating: 4

Do You Recommend This Show to Others Who Depend on Captioning? Yes

– Mike Wilkerson
Creator/Graphic Designer/Talk Show Host

- The 2GuysTalking Podcast
2GuysTalking Original Content Podcast Network – 314-229-7683

[Mike is a professional entertainment critic and talk show host for The 2GuysTalking Podcast Network, a multi-media podcasting company specializing in the broadcast of opinion, thought and ideas. Be sure to visit 2GuysTalking.Com for more information.]

Monday, June 16, 2008

The Marvel of Another Stan - Remembering Stan Winston

While Stan Lee has always had the mantle of “Stan the Man” for me, there is another Stan that made innovation, quality work, outstanding work ethic and memories in both the arena of television and feature films, that will last a lifetime. I am of course talking about the master - nay - Father, of modern practical special effects, Stan Winston, who died yesterday - Father’s Day 2008.

Stan had tickled my imagination in 1982’s “The Thing” - a movie my father introduced me to the same year that my best friend Carl and I went to see so many movies that kindled the spirit for The 2GuysTalking Podcast... More>>

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Caption Hunt - In the Name of the King: A Dragonsiege Tale

DVD Viewing Date: June 15th, 2008
DVD Title: In the Name of the King - A Dragonsiege Tale
Reviewed By: Mike WIlkerson - 2GuysTalking


To those of you reading this entry for the 2GuysTalking Caption Hunt: I know I won't be the only person that was an adolescent who was trying to make a saving throw verses a wizard-invoked sleep spell during my experiences with Dungeons & Dragons, so let me preface it by stating this: Hope that you fail your saving throw and don't have to experience "In the Name of the King - a Dragonsiege Tale".

The potential for this movie to suck was - well - it's just easiest to say that that it just never had a chance. The career of Jason Statham has had many peaks and valleys, but this one folks? It's right there in the proverbial crotch of a chaotic evil orc. Still not sure why I say that?

Let me clarify - Ray Liotta as an Elvis-looking, sometimes Long Island-accented evil wizard? Ah ha, your eyebrows raise. Still not sold? How about Ron Perlman, Hellboy himself, as a fatherly, grey-haired, written for Morgan Freeman role? Alllmost there. Fine, the final nail in the coffin? It's not the incredibly bad not-so-special digital effects, it's BURT FRICKIN' REYNOLDs as the King. That's right, Smokey and the Bandit's Bandit has returneth to the land of peasants, not with 400+ horsepower, but on horseback in armor and cape. Pardon me while I get an Altoid.

Previews/Commercials Captioned: Yes - one of the saving graces of this very bad movie, is that the captioning is very inclusive. Not only do you get a word-for-word layout of the dialog, you also get a preview of what the character's names are (which in this movie is a great move, because there are so many in it) when they are introduced thereby helping you with a general mental description of who the people are and what their names are. Imagine having something like this featured in - say - Lord of the Rings? It's a piece of brilliance in a very murky cauldron of midieval farce full of bad acting, terrible accents and laughable "how did this movie get made" moments.

Opinion Review:

I think I have had enough post-Indy decompression time to tell you that it's not just my general dissatisfaction with movies lately that makes me hate this movie, it's the fact that I have seen so many movies in the last 5 years that (as I list above) make me wonder how on Earth these movies got made. The level of acting, the special effects quality, and the terribly miscast actors in this film are the stuff of movie WTF legend as far as I'm concerned. In particular is the inclusion of MatthewLillard as the King's completely worthless (both as a character and a family member) and murderous nephew with a floundering English accent and Kristanna Loken - YES TERMINATOR Fans, The TX from T3 appears as a vine-swinging, boob-shaking harlot! Dare I even tell you of the quick, small, please-tell-me-that-he-didn't-take-this-role of Gimli himself, John Rhys-Davies? Indiana Jones would quickly disown him if he knew! Quick! Give me the pair of purple 20-sided dice to change allow me the opportunity to change my fate!

Overall Caption Rating::5

Overall Show Rating: 1

Total Rating: 1

Do You Recommend This Show to Others Who Depend on Captioning? Nope - if fantasy is your choice of movies/DVDs for the evening, the theater releases of The Lord of the Rings (ANY of the three) will destroy all grimey residue of this travesty in your entertainment mouth. Seek them out with the zeal of Aragorn.

– Mike Wilkerson
Creator/Graphic Designer/Talk Show Host
- The 2GuysTalking Podcast
2GuysTalking Original Content Podcast Network – 314-229-7683

[Mike is a professional entertainment critic and talk show host for The 2GuysTalking Podcast Network, a multi-media podcasting company specializing in the broadcast of opinion, thought and ideas. Be sure to visit 2GuysTalking.Com for more information.]

Monday, June 09, 2008

Jumper Doesn't Jump Off a Building

One of the few feature films I saw this year was "Jumper" - sadly, I wish I had the cash I spent on the tickets back in my wallet. I've just seen a note I wanted to share with you: Apparently now 27 year old actor Hayden Christensen says that he's "up for a sequel." I know I'm not, what about you? Were the jittery jumpings of "Jumper" worth the time and ticket cost for a sequel? If you think so, please tell me why. Read the announcement here and put your 2 cents worth in right here!

Christensen Up for Jumper Sequel
Source: Toronto Sun June 9, 2008

With the Jumper DVD (read review) and Blu-ray Disc hitting stores Tuesday, star Hayden Christensen ("Star Wars" prequels) tells the Toronto Sun he's up for a sequel.

"We're talking about it," the 27-year-old Canadian actor said. "I know that they're having those conversations, I hear about them." So would he sign on again? "Oh yeah, and I think I probably will."

Liman originally planned a movie trilogy based on Steven Gould's novel. Liman spun out a liberal re-imagining of Gould's more personal story about child abuse, which had jumping as a metaphor for escape.

"It was set up to become that -- a trilogy -- if it did well," Christensen added. "And I think they're happy with how it did so they want to make another one. But I don't think they're rushing to get into production."

Jumper, made for about $85 million, earned a solid $221.4 million worldwide in theaters."

Making the Computer Animated Movie Mark - Your Thoughts?

While surfing during lunch today, I found an interesting listing that I thought I would share with you all and comment on. The topic: The Best Computer Animated Films of All Time. First, a preface.

There are many things that make my mind fly into an alternate plane of existence. Sometimes it's a movie, sometimes it's a thought that is triggered from a movie, or even a special feature from a DVD or (now) HD-DVD that I see. Animated films have always carried that for me, probably because of my interest and talent in cartooning and originally having that special something that is the desire to animate movies. The last time I remember having "that feeling" during an (traditionally) animated film was for "TARZAN" the outstanding offering featuring a driving make-it-go soundtrack that won an Oscar back in the 90s. The visuals of that film, in particular the creation of the characters and animal studies that were done to develop the characters are the stuff of "become-a-cartoonist" legend.

That being said, I am often completely underwhelmed by most of today's computer animated movies, with a few exceptions that truly ARE classic marks of computer animated screenplay genius. This list that was provided allows me to not only chime in on the films that I've seen (and also the ones I haven't yet seen) but also lets YOU see what is being called today's "best animated films." I look forward to your thoughts both to the listing, as well as the commentary.

Note: I've no idea if this listing is "in order" (I hope not), so put that in your bonnet when commenting.

1.) Kung Fu Panda: I haven't seen this yet, but my initial impression is that they've taken a reasonably well-known Jack Black and made him a giant Panda Bear. Knowing nothing of the plot, can we guess that he learns the art of Kung Fu ala Karate Kid and faces diversity that he has to overcome from a mentor? Feh, I'll watch to have knowledge.

2.) Horton Hears a Who: I haven't seen this film either, mostly because of its short theater run, and the content. This book was one of the most underwhelming of the Dr. Seuss series for me and while I understand the interest in wanting to make a complete animated feature film out of it (including the inclusion of Jim Carey again), proof in the proverbial Dr. Seuss Pudding is "Cat in the Hat", arguably a terrible and bad choice at making a movie. The jury is out and will need to be for a while. In addition to Jim Carey being an excellent Grinch, he was JUST an excellent Grinch and not a terribly bothersome Jim Carey in a green suit. He is like so many things that are like Dark Chocolate: A little goes a terribly long way.

3.) Ratatouille: This movie is one that I've seen several times and I'll always find something new and interesting in it. Whether it's the overall theme that "anyone can and should showcase their love of cooking" or the showcase of being controlled by strings feel that I know I often feel at one time or another, this movie has all kinds of reasons to watch, though if you tell someone "have you seen that rat cooking movie?" - suddenly the interest level dials down to zero. The art and detail of this film are something you truly should see, and the ending is something you'd never really expect. It's much less "with a bow" than other films of this nature and I think tosses a smack of realism to the whole genre.

4.) Shark's Tale: I thought this too was an excellent entry, that took the robust talent pool of Will Smith and a hoard of others and showed you a glimpse of something you'd never see, that used their environment as a completely alien but somehow familiar showcase of life, community and relationships. It didn't succeed as well as they probably wanted, but it's a solid entry.

5.) Happy Feet: I haven't seen it - whether it be because of of the overwhelming musk of "being green" or because it's a bit "too hip" for me, this entry hasn't given me any of the previous interest in seeing it. It has a ton of stars that I like but I will eventually, one day see it - perhaps after your commentary compels me to do so.

6.) Over the Hedge: I own this, I've had it since the day it hit DVD, yet - I've never seen it. It's got Willis and a cavalcade of other stars, it's based on a cartoon that I've never seen or read, and like Happy Feet, I am waiting to be compelled to see it. Anyone wanna' chime in?

7.) Toy Story: If this listing is based on a "standings" type theme, I am amazed that this franchise is so far in the back - halfway through this listing as a matter of fact. These movies bring to the forefront something that we're trying to achieve with out Podcast Network, in that we're hoping that the zeal people experience while revisiting old, familiar entertainment friends keeps them coming back and - guess what? It works just like it does for the Toy Story franchise. These movies help you remember what it was like to be a kid - sure - that's the appeal for "kids" to watch these films. But there's also an overtone in all of these entries that helps you understand that same feeling now that you're an adult. That's rare, and it's something that so MANY of these computer animated movies have lost point on.

8.) The Incredibles: Arguably one of my favorite movies - again, because not only does it give you a complete slant on what is the "life of a comic book super hero" it showcases their family, their jackass job that they're forced into when "the man clamps down" and what superheroes might do if they were just people "at work like you are. It's a wonderful film, a great soundtrack, and something that I think would endure if it were left to one film.

9.) Shrek: I reallllly like the original Shrek. I kind of like the second Shrek. The Third Shrek? Proof positive that many in Hollywood love to breast feed from the industry for the rest of their natural careers and lives. The original gave you the same great pop-culture references and kid-adult feelings while the latter two - meh. You can only go to the well so many times and well - it's time for the 167th time apparently.

10.) Finding Nemo: This is a movie I would put into the same level/category as Ratatouille. It's a great and detailed look at the realm around you, underwater. Completely inventive, the characters all feel very real, and the overall topic of a father and son finding each other - well, it's very well done in here and I'm not even an Albert Brooks fan. The subject matter "matters" in this film and the comedy isn't so completely on the nose as so many of these have become.

11.) Monsters Inc.: This is another feast for those of you, regardless of age, who have eve wondered about "the monsters" that live under your bed, that lurk behind that just slightly open closet, or who might live behind an ominous tree just outside your open bedroom window in the summer. The camp between the voices of Mike (Billy Crystal) and Sully (John Goodman), along with a giant cast of talented people who bring their craft to this film is just something to revel in. Again, this is one I can watch/listen to over and over again and collect something new from at every viewing. The likening of "being in the business to provide monsters/fear as a business - sheer genius.

12.) Ice Age: Ice Age is another of those movies that I think should be higher up in the list. This movie collects fans from just about every single "age", and has a great cast and a very different and eye-catching process of animation. The lava/ice slide scenes are the stuff of legend. The overall story arc is very well done, giving you a basic adventure story, but lifting it higher with some comedy, some warm moments and a laugh regularly. On the other hand, the suckling of the sequel teat is MIND-NUMBING. The second movie is a terrible and dark shadowy reflection of the original film that could have been a direct-to-DVD mess that I can't recommend to anyone, including those that have seen the first.

13.) Madagascar: The proposed redeeming social value for this movie was supposed to be Keifer Sutherland - ALAS - he was lion in ANOTHER computer animated movie, about wild animals on a journey, "The Wild" that was out at virtually the same time Madagascar was out. It might stem from my general dislike for Ben Stiller, but there was a true shadow of redeeming value when I heard Chris Rock was in it. Sadly, I've not investigated this film but I look forward to hearing from YOU why I need to rethink and view it.

So what are your thoughts on the listing provided? I have to tell you that I'd have a completely different listing/ranking for these movies and I think you'd agree that there are many that are misplaced in the list. Provide your thoughts here and let's talk more about the general genre that is today's growing modern-day Computer Animated Movie Collection.