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Perfect transitional album with some great songs

Posted : 8 years, 7 months ago on 25 August 2015 10:18 (A review of Rubber Soul)

“Is there anybody going to listen to my story/All about the girl who came to stay?”

John. Paul. George. Ringo.

Lots of people know their names. Lots of people know their story. Lots of people have heard their music. These men formed one of the greatest music groups to ever strike a chord or a fill. During their decade-long career, they changed their style while simultaneously shaping the music of their time. They changed history and became legends of the field. They were the Beatles: four boys from Liverpool who turned into the most popular thing since Jesus Christ.

...but that was a long time ago. Nowadays, young people will more likely recognize Paul McCartney working with Kanye West than with John Lennon. Ringo has turned into yet another tired drummer joke. And John and George are both dead. But even if the Beatles are longer the most relevant music icon, their legacy and influence still rages on through their incredible music.

While going their incredible discography, I realize that there are two notable eras of Beatles music: the early teeny-bopper love song era (i.e. Please Please Me, With the Beatles, and Beatles for Sale) and the more-renowned experimental psychedelic era (i.e. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, The White Album, and Revolver). Both eras are generally liked for varying reasons but my preference is the latter era. Even still, the transition between these two eras was gradual and subtle with the Rubber Soul album being the middle point between these two points. This album is generally seen as either the last of the teeny-bopper era or the first of the experimental era.

The reason for this is that Rubber Soul contains mostly love songs like plenty of their early records but such songs explore more complex and ambiguous themes, compares the more simplified “boy-meets-girl” tunes. “Girl” explores the ignored plight of a man stuck in an abusive relationship. “I’m Looking Through You” presents a stagnating relationship as the couple becomes unable to relate to each other. “The Word” even explores the more abstract concept of love and ponders its’ true meaning. For the first time in their career, the Beatles also deviate from the topic of love completely in a couple of tracks, most notably “Nowhere Man” which is a song focused exclusively on the titular loner.

However, it wasn’t just the album’s complex themes but its distinct sounds that distinguishes it from some of the Beatles’ early works and connects it closer to the Beatles’ late-era. Some of the stylistic choices would foreshadow the Beatles’ incredible experimentation in their later career. “Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)” was the first appearance of George Harrison’s sitar. This track helped bring Indian music into the Western music scene as well as influence Harrison’s interest in Eastern music as seen in some of his most well-known compositions (“Love You To”, “Within You, Without You”, etc.). While exploring new territory, the Beatles still kept to their rocking roots with jams like “Drive My Car” and “Nowhere Man”.

Despite being one of their lesser-recognized Beatles endeavors, Rubber Soul is definitely an influential record. This album served as a stepping stone for the Beatles, allowing them to further experiment on their next record, Revolver. It also inspired Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys with the concept of a well-constructed album without filler, resulting in the acclaimed Beach Boys record, Pet Sounds. Pet Sounds’s complex, well-orchestrated sound would eventually inspire Paul McCartney to do a similar approach on their next record, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. And the rest is musical history…

I feel that this album is pretty much a spotlight of John Lennon’s incredible lyrical talent. On this album, he is responsible for most of the album’s best tracks: “Norwegian Wood”, “Nowhere Man”, “Girl”, and “In My Life”. Particularly, the powerful poetic lyrics presented here may have aided in the Beatle’s musical maturity. The stringing sitar works perfectly with Lennon’s tale of an awkward attempt at a one-night stand in “Norwegian Wood” and the themes of reminiscence of old times and lost ones incorporating with current relationships are touched excellently on “In My Life”. It certainly makes up for working on the uncomfortable last-track, “Run For Your Life”. The song’s portrayal of an abusive relationship doesn’t sit well with me, especially when considering Lennon’s own abusive past. With hindsight, even John Lennon eventually became disgusted by the track. Most of Paul McCartney’s tracks on the album are less ambitious and memorable in comparison but he still manages to perform some stand-out songs such as the opener “Drive My Car” and the emotional guitar-headed “Michelle” that ends Side One of the album.

Unfortunately, both George Harrison and Ringo Starr lack truly memorable or influential tracks on this album. The song structure of “If I Needed Someone” reminded me of a more interesting Harrison track, “Only A Northern Song”, off the Yellow Submarine soundtrack. “Think for Yourself” isn't just another love song but it's still nothing particularly special, definitely better Harrison songs than this. While “What Goes On” isn’t a bad song and does feature the first Ringo Starr songwriting credit, there isn’t much to it to make it stand-out from the other more spectacular tracks. It’s just Ringo Starr doing a country song, besides he’s done better country songs anyway (“Act Naturally”, “Don’t Pass Me By”, “Octopus’s Garden”, etc.).

Overall, this album is still great. While some of the tracks aren’t very memorable, the tracks that are memorable here are absolutely phenomenal. Those tracks aren’t just some of the greatest Beatles songs but some of the greatest songs ever. Even the lesser tracks are still a fine listen. I definitely recommend you listen to this album. I wouldn’t call it the #5 Greatest Album of All Time, like Rolling Stones magazine did, but it’s definitely worth checking out.

Favorite Songs:
Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)
Drive My Car
In My Life
Nowhere Man

Least-Favorite Songs:
Run For Your Life
Think for Yourself
What Goes On

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A Subtle But Powerful Film With Great Performances

Posted : 8 years, 7 months ago on 20 August 2015 11:33 (A review of Her)

Her focuses on the unique relationship between a lonely man named Theodore Twombly, played by Joaquin Phoenix, and an artificial intelligence named Samantha, voiced by Scarlett Johansson. Director Spike Jonze has worked on critically-acclaimed artistic films in the past such as Being John Malkovich, Adaptation, and Where the Wild Things Are. Spike Jonze has also worked on several music videos and even co-created Jackass. His filmography focuses on nuance filmmaking and storytelling that is perfectly exemplified in this film. Her could have easily have been a completely ridiculous film if it were not for the subtle ways that Spike Jonze directs the romance of this interesting relationship. The interactions between the characters seems genuine due to the terrific performances from great actors like Joaquin Phoenix, Scarlett Johansson, and Amy Adams. Even the brief appearances from Matt Letscher, Chris Pratt, and Rooney Mara manage to be memorable and engrossing.

Her takes place in the future but it is never directly addressed as such. Through subtle use of technology, hobbies, and environment, the film manages to establish the setting as a future period that could realistically occur in a couple of years. While Her does focus on science fiction elements like artificial intelligence and the distant future as its setting, this film is much more a romance film. While most romance films try to be schmaltzy and fantastical with a cliched storyline and uninteresting characters, this movie works in not only deconstructing the typical romance formula while also presenting a natural relationship between Theodore and Samantha. Joaquin Phoenix and Scarlett Johansson really do excel in their roles, especially considering they do not actually physically interact during the movie. Phoenix’s shy and neurotic Theodore charmingly going with Scarlett’s curious and optimistic Samantha. It is not a easy-going romance they go through and it does not end completely peachy with these two but it is a romantic couple you support throughout the film.

Like the story, setting, and performances, the film score is also rather nuanced when it comes to its presentation. Unlike more acclaimed and recognized film composers like Hans Zimmer and John Williams, the film score was composed by the indie band Arcade Fire. This shows as there is no bombastic or epic moments in this soundtrack but rather soft sounds and chords that play to the scene more like background music. Even the Oscar-nominated “Moon Song” by Karen O presents a soft-spoken but deeply emotional work of music that really sets the scene its feature in as memorable, along with the memorably beautiful background that surrounds it.

The ideas that Her explores can allow different emotional and intellectual cinema experiences from different people. Some people could question elements from the film: whether the relationship between Theodore and Samantha is genuine? Is Samantha really breaking out of her established role? Should the advancement of artificial intelligence be seen as a positive or a negative feeling? If the relationship between Theodore and Samantha is not real, does that mean Theodore is still lonely? Will artificial intelligence eventually advance enough to replace humans as the dominant species of the planet? Does Theodore have a successful relationship after Samantha? The film addresses but never answers these questions, leaving the viewers to discuss, analyze, and explore their own answers while watching this fantastic one-of-a-kind movie. Her is subtle but emotionally effective in presenting a unique relationship that manages to question the validity of romance and human life.

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Surprisingly high-quality sitcom

Posted : 9 years, 3 months ago on 10 January 2015 06:11 (A review of Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide)

I remember watching this show when I was rather young. At first, this seems like the typical ridiculous unfunny Nickelodeon sitcom. However, watching some episodes of the show again, I realized this show was a surprisingly clever and hilarious show with some interesting characters and an overarching plot not usually seen in most children’s sitcoms.

Ned Bigby was currently entering middle school, along with his two best friends: the athletic and tomboyish Moze and the black and nerdy Cookie. Due to an incident in kindergarten class where Ned went to the girl’s bathroom, Ned has been haunted and reminded of this event to this day. To help prepare for middle school and help students survive and avoid the embarrassment he had to face, Ned decided to make the ultimate survival guide to surviving middle school with various tips, tricks, and subjects to help face the cruel systems of bullies, teachers, tests, and the cafeteria sludge they call “food”.

One of the great things about this show is how establish the environment of this middle school. James K. Polk Middle School isn’t just a typical middle school, but rather a more exaggerated cartoonish look at the school system based on cliches. An examples of this wonderful ridiculous situations based on exaggerated high school stereotypes are episodes like “Guide To: Class Clowns” (where the class clown moving away causes the sky to turn grey, everyone gets instantly depressed, and the teachers are now giving more tests and pop quizzes) and Guide To: Dodgeball” (where a game of dodgeball is turned into a Star Wars-inspired battlefield of pain and suffering). I believe it works in presenting extreme and ridiculous situations while still dealing with the real issues of going through middle or high school, best exemplified in episodes like “Guide To: Pressure” and “Guide To: Getting Organized”. Seriously, the advice is genuinely good and applicable. They could have set this in high school and the tips presented from the guide would still have helped. There is the occasional joke tip but most of it was genuinely useful.

Overall, the show blurred the line between a ridiculous and actually hilarious sitcom based in a ridiculous show and an actually well-done drama based on dealing with relationships and the pressures of school life. Another great aspect of this show is the insane-amount of continuity spliced between each episode. Mostly this focused on relationships between characters but most of the time when an episode ended, they wouldn’t just set everything back to normal or forget about events from the previous episodes. They would continue the stories through the main plot or subplot of the episode. Not only does it provide storylines and character arcs better than most children’s (or sometimes even regular) sitcoms do. It also allows the characters to develop and grow throughout the series.

Most of the characters in this show are based on cliches like the mean teacher, the talkative kid, the tomboy tough chick, etc. Most of the main characters and even some of the supporting characters develop throughout the series in interesting ways. For example, Suzie Crabgrass started as a rival for Moze. Then, a few episodes later, Ned develops romantic interest for her but shows difficulty expressing it, especially when she goes out for other guys like the dumb jock and bully with a sensitive side of the series. However, Ned and Suzie eventually go out but Suzie has to move to another school and the two develop a long-distance relationship. Suzie and Moze even manage to develop to becoming good friends. Eventually, cultivating in the finale where conflict arises from Ned, Moze, Suzie, and Billy (the bully character) all having romantic feelings for them forming a weird romantic rectangle. Ned Bigby works as a main character as he is mediocre with his grades and constantly getting in trouble. Despite trying to make a guide to help people survive through school, Ned makes a lot of mistakes and tries to take the easy route. However, this works in making him relatable to the average teen reluctant to work and Ned does eventually grow to be a more responsible character with nobility to him. Moze is an interesting female character who is one with the guys. Most of her plots focus on her athletic career but there are the occasional episodes like “Guide To: Fashion” and “Guide To: Dares” that plays with the feminine aspect of her character. Although she does eventually become Ned’s boyfriend at the end of the series, I felt the relationships were gradual and evolved throughout the series. The weakest of the main characters is definitely Cookie. Aside from the exaggerated nerd stereotype whose almost half-cyborg, Cookie takes the role of comic relief. Aside from the usually one-side relationship between Cookie and Lisa (the homely geek who was beautiful the entire time) which changes from Lisa loving Cookie in the first two seasons and switching in the third, most of Cookie’s storylines are comedic subplots rather than any real development.

While some might say the characters are too cooker-cutter and stereotypical, I say this helps add to details to this unique cartoonish environment for a sitcom. I can say similar things about another show created by Scott Fellows, Big Time Rush. This is rather ironic considering how good Scott Fellows is great at making live-action sitcoms with fun, cartoon-like world but his attempt at making a cartoon in Johnny Test is one of the most boring, lifeless, unoriginal, stupid, annoying, and downright awful animated series ever made. However, I think Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide works because it is a genuinely hilarious sitcom that manages to paint ridiculous situations based on school cliches along with well-written storylines and some great continuity. Some people will write this show off immediately for being a lame Nickelodeon sitcom but I say you give this show a chance as the quality of the humor, writing, and characters is surprisingly well-made.

Also, the theme song is just awesome:
Why’d you make it so complicated, WOOOOOH!!! (Guitar riff)

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Haven't Loved A Film Like This In A Long Time

Posted : 9 years, 4 months ago on 18 December 2014 01:26 (A review of Guardians of the Galaxy)

I don’t go to theaters to watch movies as much as most people. Not only because it is pretty costly to spend on a couple of movie tickets but I feel with this restriction, it allows the actual experience of watching the film on a large screen with surround sound to be much more impactful. I certainly had grand experiences enjoying films like “Spider-Man 3”, “The Dark Knight Rises”, and “The Hungry Games: Catching Fire”. But there will probably be one cinematic experience that will stick out in my mind for the rest of my life: the first time watching Guardians of the Galaxy.

The love I have for this movie was established when the very first trailer came out. This trailer pretty much blow up as soon as it made impact, bringing interest to people whom were originally skeptical of Marvel backing up this strange concept. With clever humor, interesting characters, and the booming sounds of “Hooked in the Feeling” both playing up the comical moments and amping up the action, this trailer perfectly accomplished its goal of hyping up this movie as an unique and enjoyable experience. I had been excited for the film since seeing that trailer and was immediately anticipating the eventual release of this peculiar film.

However, I was on vacation in Puerto Rico during the beginning of August. The movie already reached theaters but I was aware there was no possible way I could see the film. Even if I did get the chance, I thought they would just dub the film in Spanish and leave me confused throughout. Then, I found out from my cousins visiting that they were going to see that film and were inviting my brother and I to see the Sunday showing. I was pessimistic but they claimed it was going to be the English version with Spanish subs. That’s when I got excited, again. There was a part of my subconscious that was worried about this being a disappointment with the hype I build around it. Fortunately for me, it wasn’t. It really wasn’t. I adore and appreciate every aspect of that this film has to offer. This film beat “The Avengers” as my favorite MCU flick.

David Gunn did an unbelievable job directing this film. Every scene, every image, every frame is eye-grabbing with its bright colors and incredible scenery. He really does incredibly well in establishing its’ expansive universe. Although, we all know this is meant to establish the eventual moment when the Avengers go to space to fight off Thanos and his Infinity Gauntlet (I’m a total nerd) . This film feels very self-contained and those seem to be blatantly trying to tie details into the lore like other films do *ahem* Iron Man 2 *ahem*. The story does better in establishing the five core characters than “The Avengers” did (although, they had films to establish their characters while the Guardians haven’t) as such becomes more character-driven. And these are some great characters, boosted by some incredible performances.

In terms of the Guardians, each actor does splendid jobs in portraying their unique and interesting characters (along with making a talking raccoon and giant tree man who only speaks one phrase believable and not too cartoonish). Each character has their moments to shine and provide purpose to the plot. Even the supporting cast is memorable and significant with good performances from well-known actors like John C. Reilly, Glenn Close, Michael Rooker, and Benicio del Toro. The overall lighthearted and more comic-inspired tone does not prevent the emotional scenes, character development, occasional raunchy humor, and epic moments of action from making an impact. Seriously, I can’t believe they got away with the “Jackson Pollock” joke while still retaining the PG-13 rating.

The interrogation of classic 70s-80s music into the plots and scenes gives Quentin Tarantino a run for his money. I mean “Guardians”’s use of this music has purpose in both story and tone while “Reservoir Dogs” has this kind of music because they just happen to be listening to a retro radio station. Plus, with the grand selection of jammy tunes and emotional ballads, this film got me listening to songs (and its incredible soundtrack) like “Come and Get Your Love”, “O-o-h Child” and “Hooked on the Feeling” on repeat. Also, if I didn’t make it obvious already, this movie is absolutely hilarious. I remember the audience watching this film and I were laughing severely during my first viewing. The dialogue is memorable and witty that both adults and children will probably bust a gut viewing this film (I don’t know why but every single line Groot says is instantly quotable).

I know this film isn’t perfect. The most common complaint is the main villain, Ronan the Accuser. While I feel he works as a powerful and threatening antagonist, he certainly is no “Loki” and certainly not the most interesting character in this film. But to be fair, Marvel films certainly has issues making memorable villains and at least he’s not as bland and forgettable as whoever the hell was the villain in “Thor: The Dark World”. I just feel that Ronan serves his purpose of being the dastardly forces that unites these band of criminals into the Guardians of the Galaxy. Even if he wasn’t the most memorable antagonist, he certainly didn’t hinder my enjoyment of this film. Heck, I don’t think anything could hinder the massive amount of happiness this film provided me. After I left the theater, I still had that air of enthusiasm clinging to me for the next few days. I swear I was saying “I am Groot” so much that my brother wanted to choke me.

Overall, there is an admiration and passion that this film invoked into me that few films ever accomplish. There are films that I like. There are films that I love. Then, there are films that I will keep the experiences and images that they preserved to my subconscious for the rest of my life as a lover of cinema. “Guardians of the Galaxy” was the third one. I can’t say no more, this film has made me speechless... I am mute.

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A Unique Experience But Not An Enjoyable One

Posted : 10 years, 2 months ago on 29 January 2014 08:13 (A review of Only God Forgives)

The main reason I wanted to check out this film was because I wanted to see some of Nicolas Winding Refn's work to try to prepare myself to eventual see Drive. However, it wasn't just that as this is one of those big "love it or hate it" films that I was also interested in checking out what the fuss was all about. I have to say it was certainly a unique experience but unfortunately not an enjoyable one.

The best part about this film is its cinematography which is incredibly well-made. Every scene is lively, full of vivid colors, and some shots were instantly memorable and memorizing. I certainly can tell that Refn knows how to set up a shot and make it look incredible. Unfortunately, the same praise cannot be said on the plot and acting... or lack thereof. Now, I understand that this is a big artsy film that is going to be filled with themes, symbols, and ideas that I might not understand the first time watching. However, I felt the first two halves were just so slow that I was considering just abandoning the film altogether. Only until the third half did I understand why things were going and then had some enjoyment out of it but I still believe this film has problems. I can't really hate against the acting in the movie as originally I thought Ryan Gosling (whom I praised for his performance in Lars and the Real Girl) was giving a really disappointing performance as Julian, the guy who just stands around with a blank face that could have been played by any random stranger on the street with zero acting chops. However, I don't blame Gosling or the other actors considering how they aren't playing "characters" but just things that are meant to portray ideas and move the plot along. Now, there were a bunch of ideas, themes, and messages that I didn't understand at all like the character of Chang being an Old Testament God and the motif of hands until I decided to check on a few videos "explaining" the plots of this movie. Even when I sort of had an idea what the film was trying to be about there were two main problems that really straight this film from having any kind of enjoyable or rewatch-ability.

One being how the story fails to get across these ideas to the audience which is just bad analysis right there. They also don't get across why these symbols and ideas are so important besides being symbols and recurring motifs; there isn't a real clear message to this film besides the basic "eye for an eye" be-good message. But even if they did manage to get across these themes in the story and present a clear message, they still didn't manage to construct any interesting characters that gave me any kind of interesting in delving into the meanings and ideas of the film. If you don't have characters that you have interest in or care about, then you have no reason to get involved in the story and thus, don't care about rewatching and understanding the subliminal messages in it. Still I do give respect Refn's vision for this story as not only those he provide incredible cinematography to this film but also really tried telling his own story, not caring about what others would think of this content. He managed to get across a good portion of the story without any kind of exposition but through visions and expressions which is always impressive when done right (Although, this one didn't do it perfectly). However, I do believe if Refn had tried making the story make little bit more accessible and presenting characters we could attach ourselves too while still having those artistic elements, he could have made an incredible film that would not have been so polarizing for both critics and audiences.

That being said, I don't really HATE the movie but I am slightly disappointed with how much I didn't really enjoy it. I am significantly less hyped about seeing the praised Drive, although I still will try to check it out when receiving the opportunity. Still if you are interested in checking this film out, I'd say give this film a chance as the very least it will provide one unforgettably unique experience.

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Funny, Tragic, Awesome, Catchy, and Genius

Posted : 10 years, 2 months ago on 20 January 2014 05:14 (A review of Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog)

Some may not consider this a “film” due to it airing in 3 separate parts online. But personally I consider this to be a film because it works best watching it is a singular film with a 3-act structure plus it doesn't count as a short film because it’s short time passes the short film limit of being 40 minutes or less by being 42 minutes. Even if you guys think it should be called a “mini-series”, I don’t care this is one of the greatest filmed works I've ever seen in a long time. It’s a slice of pure brilliance that filled to the prim with subtle moments of foreshadowing, jokes, and just overall genius that makes it enjoyable for rewatching to catch all those subtle moments you missed on your 1st, 2nd, or 10th viewing. This film goes through all kinds of genres: comedy, romance, musical, superhero movie, tragedy, and most importantly video blog.

The characters are very interesting: their themes, philosophies, actions, and how they contrast the typical roles you’d see in a superhero movie. Dr. Horrible is of the course your typical supervillain: he steals from armored cars, stalks the love interest, admires terrible people/animals, has an evil plan to rule the world, and in the end, tries to kill the hero. However, he is drastically different from your typical supervillain for a couple of reasons. For one thing, he has good intentions: he is someone who is doing the things he does for the good of the people. The world of Dr. Horrible is basically ruled by an asshole with superstrength who doesn't care at all for others and is mostly in the business for sex and to continue to expand his already gigantic ego a.k.a. “Our hero”. Now, there have been many villains in the past who have had some good intentions but the difference being that while you might agree with some of the villain’s points. There is usually one step that they cross in order to fulfill those good intentions that the audience believes is one step too far. However, the goal Dr. Horrible is trying to get at is understandable and you might agree yourself that these steps might need to be done for the better of this society. However, his planning on how to reach that goal and what to do afterwards is filled with holes and is very misguided in what should be considered important which mostly the reason why he never succeeds. Another reason why Dr. Horrible is not most supervillains is because he’s actually a nice guy. You can tell from some of the scenes in the film that Dr. Horrible really does care for people. Despite wanting to be in the Evil League of Evil, he actually tries to avoid committing murder to gain acceptance and tries to find the least immoral way to become a supervillain through petty robberies and remember he built a freeze ray... not a death ray.

It shows he is trying to worm out excuses to avoid the idea of murder to get what he wants. That is the other reason that Dr. Horrible fails in his goals is that he is just too nice to perform his own villainous deeds. His character is basically an desperate geek trying to be something that he wasn’t meant to be. Now, the story also sets up Captain Hammer as your typical superhero, he saves people from moving trucks, gets the love interest, always thwarts the villain’s schemes, opens a homeless shelter, and even gives a rousing speech about true heroism in the end. However, he is FAR from a likable hero. He is an unbelievably jackass who only cares about himself. He isn’t a “hero” because he doesn’t do his job for the safety of people but to satisfy his reputation and gigantic ego. Now, despite his overly selfish and egotistical demeanor, he stills fits the criteria of being a superhero. It’s really an interesting dynamic considering the conflicting ideas of who the audience should root for: who should be called the hero of this story? Is Dr. Horrible the hero because he is the main focus of the story and is the more likable character or is Captain Hammer the hero because he fits more in the actual role of the “hero”? The love interest of the story, Penny, becomes a very interesting element in this triangular dynamic.

Penny’s interactions with these two characters really displays the whole dilemma that is going on. Dr. Horrible stalks Penny and doesn't really care about her goals in helping to make a homeless shelter but still has genuine care and affection for her, while Captain Hammer saves Penny from a speeding trunk and actually helps get the homeless shelter made but is only in a relationship with Penny for sex and to piss Dr. Horrible off and only decided to get the homeless shelter running for the good press he would receive. However, Penny isn't just a generic love interest. There is more to Penny as a character as she is pretty much the pure optimist who sees the good in everybody which ironically makes her a bigger foil to Dr. Horrible’s character than Captain Hammer as Dr. Horrible is more of a nihilist who sees only the bad in people. There are many scenes that establish this dynamic between Dr. H and Penny. Most notably in the song, “My Eyes”. It is interesting to see an overtly cynical character falling for an overly optimistic character. Maybe, this is a case of opposites attract. Maybe, Dr. Horrible is a big fan of the Guild. Or possibly, Penny is meant to represents the good that is still in Dr. Horrible’s heart despite trying to persuade himself that he is a heartless supervillain. Penny may be a way of showing Dr. Horrible that he doesn't have to be a vile criminal in order to gain respect and to sometimes accept that there is good in humanity and you don’t need to force the world to change. We see through Penny that Dr. Horrible could redeem himself to live a normal and happy life with Penny. However, she is a pure optimist in a tragedy and this is being written by Joss "Murderer of Beloved Characters" Whedon. So let’s just say she isn't going to be carried off by Billy in the end to live their days in a happy little cardboard cut-out middle-class house to raise a joyful nuclear family.

Neil Patrick Harris did a brilliant performance portraying the awkward and kinda creepy but still sweet and sympathetic Dr. Horrible. He really got this character done and I think Neil’s portrayal of this mad scientist wannabe is up there with Dougie Howser, Barney, and Neil Patrick Harris as Neil’s most memorable performance and do I even need to mention his magnificent singing? In fact, I believe Neil’s talents as an actor are solidified with the ending of this film. Nathan Fillion does a great performance as the unbelievably hammy jerkass that is Captain Hammer. Felicia Day also does a great job portraying the innocent optimist, Penny, and while her singing voice isn't as magnificent as Neil’s or as gloriously cheesy as Nathan’s, she still managed to project a soft and sweet singing voice that made her songs all the more heart-tugging. The characters are wonderfully-written with interesting dynamics and conflicts. There is certainly something to be said about how they were written considering how long this is taking to describe them.

Let’s talk about the songs in the movie as this is a musical. Joss Whedon has said that music to a musical is like the action to action movie. They should have meaning to the story and not be thrown together to the sake of simply trying to entertaining audiences. However, the music in this film not only work in a narrative way but in an analytical way, as I previously mentioned, “My Eyes” focused on the optimistic/cynical conflict between Penny and Dr. Horrible. However, there are other examples like in “Freeze Ray” where Dr. Horrible distinctly mentions he wasn’t making a death ray, not only showing Dr. Horrible’s pacifistic nature against murder but also foreshadowing his eventual making of a Death Ray. So, the songs serve a purpose, big deal but what really matters is are the songs any good? THEY ARE DAMN GOOD! The songs in this musical present a very unique style that was greatly influenced by the works of American composer and lyricist, Stephen Sondheim. Nearly every song is great on its rights, allowing a variety of songs that people could enjoy. Allowing anyone who's seen the movie to have their own favorite song they enjoy listening to. Personally, I have two favorite songs in the whole film are “Brand New Day” for its awesome music and wonderfully subversive lyrics and the finale number, “Everything You Ever”, for being a powerfully emotional song that just by listening to it gives you this strange bittersweet feeling and works for the events of the film.

Let’s see what else can I say about this film. The humor is very funny. There is all kinds of jokes in there: subtle, overt, visual, dialogue-based and a lot of them managed to integrate themselves into the story. Even the lines you don’t think are that important probably has more than you’d think. If you want to see just check out the movie for yourself, you can find it on Youtube as there really is no excuse for not watching it. But if you want to check out the DVD, it has an incredible commentary track that works as its own clever and funny musical which is really incredible. Also, the film has one of the most powerful endings in recent memory.

This was made during the tough times of the 2008 Writer's Strike and somehow Joss Whedon managed to make one of the greatest inventions of the year (officially declared by TIME). It really shows itself to be a unique masterpiece that I really truly recommend you check out. Seriously, you'll feel horrible for not checking out Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog. Yeah, I had to end this rather serious analytical review with a terrible pun... I just had to.

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otnemeM fo weiveR esreveR A

Posted : 10 years, 4 months ago on 30 November 2013 05:14 (A review of Memento)

There is so many great things to talk about this movie but I have decided to leave this review spoiler-less. Either way this is one of those films that is great to watch when you have barely a clue about what the film is about. So if you are even slightly interested in checking out this film, go check out because you will not regret it. This is a spectacular film that can be watched, analyzed, rewatched, and provide an overall smart and intriguing experience.

The actors did an exceptional job in bringing this extraordinary script to life. As the movie goes along, you have trouble believing who should be trusted and who should not as more of the plot is revealed. Since the film doesn’t give definite answers to who is right and wrong, it is left up to the viewer to decide on the overall outcome which has points that could lead to either side. Thus, Memento is a film that is great to rewatch and analyze.

If you have not guessed already, I absolutely loved watching this movie. This may be my favorite Christopher Nolan film I’ve seen so far. This is a smart and engaging experience that really showed the great potential that Nolan has a filmmaker which was further proven by his later works. However, the directing and story isn’t the only good parts of this film.

I've watched Batman Begins and Following, so I already know that Nolan loves to have non-linear storytelling in his movies. This is probably the pinnacle example of a non-linear story done right. Many people believe Memento is a film that plays backwards: starting with the end and ending with the start. That is only half-true as there are actually two storylines going on in Memento: the one that does go backwards (which is done in color) and another that goes forwards (which is done in black-and-white). The movie ends chronologically in the middle of the story but this is the best and most interesting way to tell the story.

Christopher Nolan has made a name for himself among the great filmmakers for his recent work on the spectacular Dark Knight Trilogy and Inception. So, I decided to take the opportunity and check out one of his very first successes with the non-linear noir thriller, Memento.

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A good finale to this spectacular trilogy

Posted : 10 years, 5 months ago on 2 November 2013 04:15 (A review of Back to the Future Part III)

After watching the first two Back to the Future films, I was immediately interested in seeing how the final part of this trilogy, Back to the Future Part III, would turn out. I mean the second part left off on quite the cliffhanger, so I was interested in seeing how they would continue from their. I have to say I enjoyed this film and considered it a fitting finale to this spectacular trilogy. However, I would be lying if I said I didn't consider it to be a bit disappointing. I don't consider Part III to be a bad movie by any means but compared to the first two films, I just wanted more out of it than I got. Though, I can say that this film is still funny. From the beginning of the film, there were so many great humorous moments that I was laughing nearly constantly. There were less laughs as the films goes on but overall, it was still a fun comedic experience.

However what I think doesn't work is just the whole western feel, I feel considering what the first two films were able to explore with the concept of time travel. I felt they went backwards with this one by only travelling to the old west. It just feels like someone any other generic time travel movie would try to do and I think the other Back to the Future films were able to explore the more creative potentials of the time travel concept. Another thing that I found really disappointing was the fun fact that apparently there was talks of Ronald Reagan playing the Mayor of Hill Valley. I just thought that was such a perfect opportunity that I couldn't believe they never went through with it. I mean Ronald Reagan was a big fan of the Back to the Future films having even mentioned parts of those films in his speeches. He been joked about in the first film and showed up as a Max Headroom-expy in the second one. I'm sure he would have loved to finally have made an actual appearance in the final film to make things come full circle. I mean besides being the fricking President at one point, he was also at one point a popular actor and even starred in some westerns. It is just a damn shame that was never the case because that would've been just amazing. But besides those elements, I think Back to the Future Part III is still overall a good film. I don't even mind the presence of Clara in this film and I believed she worked out fine despite the backlash she received by fans. I think this film is good but not as amazing or spectacular as the first two films. But let's be grateful that this film was good at all considering how awful and story-destroying third installments of film trilogies have infamously been known to be.

Also, one interesting epiphany that I discovered is how each film of this trilogy focuses primarily one of the three primary characters that appears in each film. The first film focused on Marty, how he discovers and interacts with his parents from the 50s, and how he learns to appreciate his family and what he has. The second film focuses on Biff, how he manages to destroy Hill Valley and the future through a sports almanac, and how much of a real asshole he really is from the past, present, and future. The third film focuses on Doc Brown, his death in the Old West is prevented, and exploring the more personal aspects of his character. After realizing this kind of obvious fact really gives me a deeper appreciation for this films and the creativity, intelligence, and hard-work that went into the making of each of these films, while definitely a headache to keep track of and declining in quality as the trilogy goes on. As a trilogy, these are three great films that worked in connecting and exploring all kinds of story elements that makes it such a cinematic experience to see the completed story of Marty McFly, Doc Brown, and the time-travelling DeLorean.


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An impressive sequel to a classic film

Posted : 10 years, 6 months ago on 8 October 2013 08:40 (A review of Back to the Future Part II)

Back to the Future is one of my favorite movies of all time. Everything works in that film: the likable characters, the fascinating story, the amazing soundtrack, the hilarious and clever jokes, and the level of fun is through the roof. So, I was definitely interesting in checking out how the sequels turned out. A lot of people say that Part II and III turn the original 1985 film into a spectacular trilogy. While I'll need to see the third one to confirm my thoughts on this, I have to say far I'm really enjoying this trilogy. Back to the Future Part II is an impressive sequel to the first film in that does what many good sequels should do and often fail to do and more. They continued the adventure of Marty, Doc Brown, and the time-travelling DeLorean that explores new ideas while still being faithful to what the first film established. I don't think it's as good as the first film which I'll explain later but first let me tell you why I think Back to the Future Part II works.

The movie explores the limitless fun and potential that can come from the concept of time travel for the purpose of jokes, plot, and special effects. It expands on the time travels rules that were established in the first film and really explores the ideas that can only come from a time travel movie. We travel to three places in this film: the shiny chrome future of 2015 (yeah, I can't wait for those self-lacing shoes two years from now), the alternate grimy Biff-controlled present of 1985, and the most creative of all actually travelling back to 1955 to the very events of the first film. I actually really like this part of the film more than the awesome future scenes. This really feels like I re-experienced the original film for the first time and I greatly enjoyed that feeling. And they managed to do that without completely remaking its original film without one significant different (a la The Hangover Part II and Home Alone 2 ). Also, I'm glad to saw the quality of the story, humor, characters, and overall memorable moments (the awesome future, the Old Biff/Young Biff banter, "I think he took his wallet") haven't really declined. They all really worked just as astoundingly as the first film. In fact, I considered this film to be just as good as the first film during certain points. However, there are certain things that don't work as well.

While I think the story with the almanac and the horrid alternate future work well for the plot, it is underwhelming compared to the first film which literally had the main character's existence on the line. That said it still manages to keep good suspense with the constant worry that one tiny screw-up could destroy the entire universe (or merely our own galaxy). "Well, that's a relief". Also, they introduce the "don't call me chicken" running gag that I thought was a bit hit-or-miss compared to the rest of the jokes which were pretty hilarious. Plus, while I think Back to the Future as an amazing stand-alone film, the same can't be said for this film. It seems it can only really be enjoyed after seeing the first film and thus while an amazing sequel, it only works as sequel as less as its own film.

Yeah, this film isn't the first film but to be fair, it would be a pretty damn hard task to accomplish. I think it should be appreciated that Back to the Future Part II worked the way it did. It could've easily have been just another lame cash-grab that either makes us wish we were watching the original or worse outright ruin the original film's greatness. In fact, I think this film really enhances what makes the original so good. I can't wait to see the third to truly see how these three films work as one long adventurous trilogy.


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A decent blockbuster but nothing magical

Posted : 10 years, 6 months ago on 2 October 2013 10:17 (A review of Now You See Me)

I watched this movie yesterday on DVD and I thought it was decent enough to warrant a short review. "Now You See Me" is one of those films with an interesting-enough premise and a large-enough cast that is definitely worth watching at least once. This is one of the films that is decent enough to be enjoyed in theaters but it is more worth it to just wait the few months until the DVD is released and just rent it. As said, the premise is pretty interesting basically mixing "Ocean's Eleven" and "The Prestige" by having big-time magicians using their illusions and tricks to perform bank heists. This film definitely showcases an all-star that came from recently popular projects: Mark Zuckerberg, Tallahassee, The Tooth Fairy, Harry Osborne's Brother, The Hulk III, Alfred, and God. That being said, this is the kind of film that is best to turn your brain off. While trying to provide complex techniques, mysterious plot elements, and story twists, it also showcases major plot-holes and overall convoluted decisions. "Now You See Me" is an enjoyably decent blockbuster film that is definitely worth watching on DVD but it's nothing magical.

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