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Warm Bodies

So with Valentine's day swiftly approaching, love is in the air. Well, in the real world it is. Here on the internet, ironic, Valentine-based hate is the prevailing force. However, if you are in a situation where you're celebrated the holiday, you may need to decide on a movie to go catch. You and your woman/man/narwhal (I'm not here to judge) may be thinking about seeing Warm Bodies.

Now if you're anything like me, then you probably looked at this movie and thought "oh God, our cultural obsession with Twilight and zombies have somehow merged together and produced an undead love-child." I was ready to hate this movie. But this weekend, me and m'lady went and saw it and...okay, it was actually really good.

For those of you who don't know, Warm Bodies is about a zombie named R, who seems to remember more of his human traits than the zombies surrounding him. During a hunt, however, he comes across a girl he's instantly smitten with, and he eats the brain of her boyfriend (who in fairness just shot him), which somehow lets him experience the guys memories, showing him flashes of his time with his girlfriend, who is about to be eaten as well. This spurs R into getting back in touch with his humanity, which in turn makes the other zombies start to experience a revival of their humanity as well.

So what is good about this movie? Well, going back to the Twilight comparison, the main female is almost nothing like Bella. She fights, she's proactive, she doesn't just instantly depend on R for everything, and she has to learn to like him. R, meanwhile, is nothing like Edward. He's not perfect, or immortal or anything, he's as close to a normal guy as Hollywood is willing to show. Outside of being a zombie, of course.

I mean yeah, he's the undead, but that doesn't mean we can't make him better looking than most living guys, right?
R's narration almost always got a chuckle out of me, the way he non-nonchalantly goes about his everyday un-death like the rest of us trudge through our often monotonous lives. There's one moment of symbolism that's almost too blatant, where he fantasizes about when the zombies were alive and interacting, only to envision everyone on their mobile devices and not paying a lick of attention to each other. It was kind of blunt, but I suppose it worked.

It's a highly entertaining concept, and for the most part it was very well executed.

Now that's not to say there was nothing wrong with it, and I have to warn you, there will be spoilers from here on.

There are just some parts that kind of broke my suspension of disbelief. One big one was when R and the girl just take a joy ride in a car they just happened to find in the wasteland that is in pristine condition, and still has a working GPS. On top of that, this happens while she's trying to "lay low" amongst the zombies. That and when she found a totally operational weed-whacker at an airport kind of threw me off.


Also, in the end when R turns human again, he's immediately shot by the girl's father, who thinks he's still a zombie. When she realizes he's bleeding, the girl yells in joy that "corpses don't bleed!", realizing that he's fully human again. Everyone is happy and awestruck, and no one decides to address the fact that THE HUMAN JUST GOT SHOT. Seriously, no one even give him a band-aid, and the water is literally turning red with his blood. I said out loud that "he's losing a LOT of blood..." and the people behind me laughed.

"You were mortally wounded!" "No I wasn't!"


The big problem I had though was with the "bonies." They were zombies that had degraded to skeletons, and were the big threat, since the zombies themselves weren't all that threatening by the end. My problem with having these irredeemable villains was that the entire message of the movie was that anyone can be redeemed. Love conquers all. I guess what it really meant was "love conquers all...unless you're one of these guys."

But even so, Warm Bodies is a clever, humorous movie that is sure to have plenty of cute scenes for the girls, and plenty of action and humor for the guys.

If you're one of the aforementioned narwhal lovers...well I guess there's water sometimes. 



Okay kids, today we're going to talk about the trope known as "Chekhov's Gun." Coined by Anton Chekhov in the early 1900's, the term is used to describe conservation of detail. In other words, one shouldn't bring up things that are in no way going to affect the story later on. The titular "chekhov's gun" is that if there is a loaded gun hung up the wall in the first chapter, it must go off at some point during the story. If the gun just hangs on the wall, it should never have been put there in the first place.

I tell you this because Frankenweenie, a stop-motion film by Tim Burton, seems entirely unaware of this basic principal of storytelling. If this movie were a room, its walls would be lined with guns. There would be guns of all shapes and sizes and calibers hanging every which way, and precisely zero of them would go off by the end.
Otter is disappoint.
Where do I even begin. Well, let's start off by trying to answer one simple question: what is the message? I have no idea.

The movie is about a friendless young boy named Victor Frankenstein (because Tim Burton lost the page in his dictionary that defined 'subtle') who loses his dog in a tragic accident at a baseball game, which Victor only played in because his father insisted he try sports instead of making home movies all day. Using the power of lightning, he brings his beloved dog back to life as a slap in the face of God and nature.

Meanwhile another group of kids who's names I can't remember, who I will refer to as Orlock, Gloop and Hirohito (I'll get to the Japanese one in a moment), want to know how to bring the dead to life so they can win an upcoming science fair.
"Just thought I'd remind you all, I'm Asian!"
MEANWHILE the school science teacher is under attack by the ignorant town, who view his enlightened way of thinking with contempt and fear.

MEANWHILE the evil, self-absorbed mayor is pressuring his niece into performing well at the "Dutch Day" celebration so that he doesn't find himself embarrassed (somehow).

MEANWHILE the writers wanted to cram in every single horror and monster reference they possibly could.

So yeah, that's a lot of ground to cover in a single movie, and a ton of plots to resolve. So how does the movie do it? Well, it goes the clever strategy of just not resolving the vast majority of them. The science fair never happens (it's not cancelled, it just never takes place), the mayor is never punished or defeated, the Dutch Day festival is a small footnote at best, Victor's bitterness towards his father for making him participate in the activity that cost him his dog fails to exist, Victor's hobby of film making is barely even mentioned after the opening, he never really makes friends with anyone...and the list just goes on and on.

So, we've ruled out defeating a villain, father/son conflict, or anything about competition, so what's left? Well, at first I thought the movie was going to be about letting go, that Victor's dog would die again by the end, but Victor will have learned to move on. SPOILERS: this is not the case.

Okay, so maybe it's about using science and knowledge for good rather than evil. I guess there's a stronger case for that, since the animals that Orlock, Gloop and Hirohito bring back are unholy abominations, but in this instance, "science" translates roughly into "lightning is magic and can do whatever we feel like to whatever we feel like it should do it to." There was a point where Victor discovers a group of mutated monster sea-monkeys (it kinda-maybe-not really makes sense in context) that are defeated when they eat salted popcorn, because freshwater animals can't handle salt. Okay, so maybe now Victor has to undo the evil creations by finding a unique biological weakness to each one.

Nope. He just hits the rest with more electricity. Not even kidding.

There is just so much that never comes to fruition, so much that is left unresolved, and so much that we aren't even told enough to care about that the end of this movie just feels like it sort of...stops. Even Tim Burton's characters, who are normally so exaggerated and memorable feel flat and lifeless here.

Was there anything good about it? Sure there was. I got a kick out of finding all the obscure movie references, and the science teacher and girl with the cat (you'll know which ones if you see it) are amusing enough. These, however, are by no means enough to save this movie.

Oh right, the Asian kid. How on EARTH did Burton, in this day and age, manage to make an Asian science-wiz fly a dragon shaped kite to harness the lightning that turns his turtle into Godzilla without someone pointing a finger at the racism? I don't even feel bad calling him Hirohito because his whole character is a stereotype.

Frankenweenie is the worst thing that a movie like this can possibly be: pointless and unfulfilling. Even a bad movie can have a message, or at least be memorable in some way. Frankenweenie just isn't. I won't say it's "Dark Shadows" levels of bad, but I'm not too optimistic about Burton's directing abilities anymore.


Star wars is NOT science fiction

Yes, you read the title correctly. No, I won't wait for you to read it again.
...okay fine, I will. Now click play.


The Fifth Doctor: Peter Davison

So yeah, it's been a LONG time since I did a Doctor Who article. But welcome back to the retrospective!
When we last left the Time Lord, he was the curly-haired Tom Baker, a relatively unknown actor until he got the role. After his ridiculously long run, the producers of the show decided to take the character in a different direction, selecting a far younger man, and one who could be recognized by the general public. Thus, Peter Davison was chosen, already well known for his part in the BBC series All Creatures Great and Small.

Unlike the fourth doctor, who was massively bohemian, quirky and a combination of the Mad Hatter and Merlin, the fifth doctor was far more sensitive and reserved. He was not always the leader amongst his companions, and often liked to take the back seat and let someone else be in charge. Despite being one of the more courageous of the Doctors, the fifth was also the most hesitant when it came to violence.

Much of this was shaped by the death of the companion Adric, who mad the Doctor begin to question his own actions. Another companion, named Tegan, suffered a near-emotional breakdown as well.

Also differing from his previous incarnation, the fifth Doctor's costume was not all that striking, comparatively speaking. His dress was that of a cricket player and a panama hat. The only thing that was really odd about his appearance was his tendency to wear a stick of celery on his lapel.

Some of the notable achievements of this doctor were surviving the near-deadly regeneration that brought him about, dealing with being bonded to the time lord Omega (and subsequently avoiding execution at the hands of the times lords) and re-encountering the Silurians and the Sea Devils.

What most fans of the show today will recognize the fifth Doctor from is the short special "Time Crash" alongside the tenth Doctor, David Tennant, when their TARDIS's crash into each other, and threaten to create a black hole "the exact size of Belgium." The two have some pretty brilliant verbal sparring, and it really was great to watch.

On a side note, Tennant is now married to Davison's daughter, and if their child does not appear in Doctor Who in some way or anther, I will be very disappointed.

The fifth Doctor met his end when he and his companion Peri Brown were poisoned, and they had only one antidote. The Doctor sacrificed himself to let Peri live, and regenerated into...well...we'll talk about it next time.
"For some people, small, beautiful events are what life is all about!"


Trailer Trashing: Oz, Great and Powerful

I'm question the underlying thesis of this movie.
So the wizard wants to be a “great man” (would've gone with lumberjack myself) and presumably is going to go on this grand adventure to defeat the witch and achieve that goal. I feel confident saying this because this is a Disney piece. Something big needs to happen during the course of this movie, right at the very end if need be, to turn this wizard from the hero of this story to the kind of pathetic fraud we see in the classical “Wizard of Oz,” and frankly, I don't see Disney having the brass to go there.
But as for the trailer itself, I have to saw that this piece looks very visually similar to “Alice in Wonderland”. Hopefully they create a more simplified landscape, because Alice simply had way too much colorful, quirky stuff crammed into every shot. I would not recommend this one on 3-D. I think that would be overwhelming. But in 2-D, and if they tone the sheer amount of stuff down, this could be a very visually striking and memorable piece in that respect.
As for the characters so far, what is there to say? You know nothing about the wizard from this, you only get flashes of everyone else. Is the lady in red supposed to be a witch, or just some random woman that just exists in Oz? I didn't think regular people lived there.
All in all, I'll have to reserve judgement on this one. There is simply too little to go on in this trailer. Keep your eyes open, but be careful, because I think this is going to be one that tries so hard to blow you away with striking visuals that it may just be a mess of color and quirk with a lack of real substance.