Saturday, October 15, 2011

The Thing (2011) Review

THE PROLOGUE! (feel free to scroll down to the actual review)
John Carpenter's The Thing (1982) is one of my favorite movies of all time. A team of American scientists trapped in the most desolate place on earth with a creature that is trying to kill and replicate them causing paranoia and terror to spread like herpes on Jersey Shore. The formula is perfect, the characters are believable and the creature effects set a standard for the movie industry.

When I learned that a prequel was in the works I got that:
"excited/scared feeling. Like 98% excited, 2% scared. Or maybe it's more - It could be two - it could be 98% scared, 2% excited but that's what makes it so intense, it's so - confused. I can't really figure it out." -Oscar (Armageddon)
I didn't want to set my sights too high and get stabbed in the back like Hollywood has a tendency to do but I allowed myself to hope. When I started reading articles talking about all the practical effects and the interior of the space ship I had a geekasm. The female role left me feeling dubious, but what the hell, WHY NOT?! It's gotta get pretty lonely out there in Antarctica, am I RIGHT LLLLLLADIES!? Nothing against female leads but in a movie such as this it's just a distraction. Anyway, I went to see the movie with my heart in my hands and hoping Universal would not snatch it from me and take a dump on it but instead cause it to erupt from terror and icky nasty alien glee.
THE REVIEW! (minor spoiler alert)
The Thing (2011) is decent movie. It's not good, and it's not awful. It is a modern director's tribute to John Carpenter's classic that was very aware that it could never come close to the movie it was honoring; but tried anyway.

OVERVIEW: A team of Norwegian scientists tracking a mysterious signal find a space ship in the ice, they find a frozen alien nearby and get a hold of an American paleontologist (Winstead) with experience digging out ice age animals to come to Antarctica and dig up the ET. Once all the characters are assembled on top of the alien space ship, the first thing that becomes apparent is that there are no ugly women in Antarctica. All two of them.

They dig up the alien and bring it back to base and OH NO the main scientist guy turns out to be a dick and wants a tissue sample from the alien despite the protests by our friendly neighborhood American paleontologist hot chick and wouldn't you know it the alien gets thawed out and death ensues.

GOOD STUFF: The story keeps you interested through the end and it's a lot of fun if you're a fan of the 1982 film to see how the two films get tied together; the axe in the wall, the frozen body with it's throat cut, the creature that RJ and Doc find burnt in the ice outside of the camp are all there and explained. The ship is impressive and you get to go inside where a mad-crazy game of Tetris is going on (you'll see) and the base is faithfully recreated and the acting is pretty good.

The original original

BAD STUFF: The female lead is dubious and boring, not at all like the hard boiled RJ MacReady and her purpose seems to just be a place holder even though you're forced to spend most of your time with her instead of getting to know the other characters so when they die you don't really care because they are all place holders as well. Several scenes are brought right over from the 1982 flick which classifies it as a remake/prequel (remaquel, sounds Latin) only in less interesting ways. There are plot holes abound but you don't really notice them until the movie is over because it does keep you engaged to the end. There are some twists but the movie relies too much on shock scares to create the same level of paranoia in the original. Some characters make decisions that make no sense and it fails to explain how two men survive a helicopter crash with a massive alien on board with no fire. The creature itself also makes a lot of stupid decisions like NOT kill Winstead when it had several opportunities. OH, and if you like impaling than you have found your home! Impaling is EVERYWHERE! What is it with horror movies and impaling? Have you noticed that impaling is like the go-to for a death? And they're always through center of body mass, never through the face, or the side, or the hip, always through the sternum like they're SEAL team 6.

PRODUCTION: The creature effects are good if not great but become a little too reliant on CGI later on in the film which blows as the 1982 is so well known for it's practical effects; even the Norwegian helicopter is digital. Shaky cam is rampant, especially in a lot of the dialogue and if there's one trend I despise in Hollywood film making it's over used shaky cam. You don't feel like the characters are in Antarctica so much as on set; they don't get cold, in fact they don't even wear jackets a good bit of the time and run around outside like they're on vacation in Miami. For a place where the mean annual temperature is −57°C (−70°F) that's pretty ridiculous. To be fair the director had no idea what he was doing. He makes commercials. Considering this though, he did a good job for what he knew.

CONCLUSION: This movie is worth watching, but not a worthy installment to The Thing franchise. Think of it as a companion piece and nothing else. If you're looking a more satisfying accompaniment to John Carpenter's classic then I suggest the 2002 video game if you can find it.

The Thing (2011) gets a 3/5





Thursday, October 13, 2011

Combating Complacency

I think everyone has the dream of doing what they love for a living. For those that can keep their heads straight and objective in sight a professional passion is an attainable goal if the dreamer has the talent and the drive. However I think most people are afflicted by the same plague that keeps me from seeing most of my grand schemes to fruition, the chronic vidjagametittiosis (legit).

Save the ta-tas

Losing focus on a project is an ailment that has afflicted me since I discovered video games and boobs. So, since second grade every time I set out on a project that takes longer than an afternoon to accomplish (Lego's, trapping lizards, climbing a tree) I tend to get sidetracked by the most basic of distractions, the two most common offenders being already mentioned.

semper gumby

When I start a project it is usually because I've been inspired by something, a movie, a book, a video game, a person, or just seeing something and going, "dammit, I can do better that that asshole." So I plan it out, I talk about it with my friends and maybe get a small support network going, tell people about it and start cranking out the framework and then maybe a week or so later, I just forget all about it. My vidjagametittiosis kicks in and I'll start playing a game or reading a book or pick up a weird hobby like wood burning or didgeridoos and get completely side tracked. All that planning, all that ground work is gone. If you know what I'm talking about by this point then hold on, because I may have some help for you that's better than anything prescribed by a prick in a lab coat.

That cure I was talking about? Oh, I lied I don't actually have one, that's what I'm talking about. But I do have a few ideas in mind which I will discuss... now.

Notice how it is blank.

1. Schedule - A routine is something that is tough to break. If you masturbate every night before you go to sleep for a week, chances are it's gonna be hard to break that routine, you may not even be able to sleep without doing it. I am aware that masturbation may not be the most common example of this but it's a human habit and it seems to work for what I'm getting at. The best time to set up a routing is first thing when you wake up in the morning and your brain has a chance to distract you from your goal or right when you go to sleep so you have a steady time slot available for whatever it is you are working on. This is all based on crap I've read but I know that it works because it's how I programmed myself to exercise 3 days a week. If I don't do it I go crazy, and if it works for flexing the gluts it's gotta work for a writing a novel. For further reading check out


2. Support Network - A lot of professionals claim they never could have gotten where they are today without having a support network. Stephen King talks about it in his book On Writing and so does Robert Rodriguez in Rebel Without A Crew. Having a group of like minded individuals whom you can count on and share your passion is a huge plus to any project. "But Draco, what about the fine gentlemen of Raptor Inc.? How can you be so lazy when you have such an amazing team of professionals supporting you every step of the way?" you may ask. Well my answer to you is this: We're all lazy fat people on the inside if not on the outside. The fact that we have weekly meetings is a miracle. You should have seen the time we tried to make a video game LOL.


3. Self Discipline - You can't do shit unless you force yourself to do it. Even if you feel awful and there is nothing you would like more than to NOT work on your project that day you HAVE TO. Why? Because if you don't you will start writing articles about growing complacent because you lost your pace. It's just like running a 10k, you have to find your rhythm and once you get it you have to keep it. You can't charge ahead and burn yourself out but you can't go so slow your 56 year old XO beats you (personal experience).

Working on the movie has taught me a lot about where I want to be in life and how I want to live it. So many people out there have found a way to make a living out of what they love, and a damn good one at that and I'll post some examples after I conclude this article. After 4 years of service in the Navy college is looming right around the corner. Do I focus on my passion and get an art based degree or do I play it safe and go for engineering and keep my loves on the side? Do I take a risk or cheat myself? I don't know. I know that 'starving artist' isn't a euphemism and I know that the economy is rough and if I can't even get off my ass to crank out and finish something that I know I love with all my heart, how am I going to convince others to take a trip through the worlds and with the characters I have created? Thus the dilemma.

Here are those links (keep in mind there are tons of crap like this, these are just the few that seam to have the biggest impact on me):

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Fat Guy Thought: Twizzlers

Fat Guy's think a little differently than thin people, and here is Darris with the proof.

Darris - Fat Guy

Don't be discouraged by the previous Fat Guy post, Fat Guy's love candy.

Since we sample all types of treats in our lifetime, we gain some serious opinions on different kinds of candy, and their sub-groups. Some people, even the fat ones, don't like Twizzlers, but I sure as hell do. I think it's also a slight chemical attraction with Fat Guy's, because anything that tastes so good and yet says "low fat snack" on the package makes us think we are doing a good job.

Even though we could easily eat an entire packet as a mid-day snack. I'm talking the one pound bags, not those stupid 2.5 ounce bags. Waste of time.

Alright, lets take a moment to first talk about the Twizzlers I hate.

The original and worst flavor, liquorice.

Whoever invented this crap should be ashamed.

Chocolate Twizzlers... something about them just rub me the wrong way.

I mean, if you want chocolate, just get a chocolate bar, right? Right. Now, let's get onto the OK Twizzlers.

Not bad, a little waxy, but a good addition to the family.

The original, the classic. Quite nice, but can get a little boring after a while.

That's not a bad line-up of Twizzlers flavors. But...

Something is missing. Something amazing, something perfect. Could it be... the best Twizzlers flavor ever invented?

I'd say so. Sweet & Sour is amazing.

And that's what the Fat Guy says.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Fat Guy Thought: October

Fat Guy's think a little differently than thin people, and here is Darris with the proof.

The obvious stereotype for fat people liking October boils down to two things:

1. Halloween Candy

2. Almost Thanksgiving

The first is simply a myth. Halloween candy might seem enticing, but as Fat Guy's, we have the money to buy candy whenever we want, even if it's not a holiday in which you eat candy! Also, ask any fat guy and they will tell you that those "Mini" candy bars are nothing but a tease.

On the second point, it does actually hold some merit. We fat guy's love overeating, but one thing we love more than overeating is overeating on days in which it is socially acceptable. Not only does October lead into November (Turkey, yummy), but November leads into December! (Ham, yummy)

Want to know what actually pops into a Fat Guy's head when October rolls around?

Easy. Boo Berry and Franken Berry.

These awesome cereal treats are almost always limited to being sold in October, and have made a successfully comeback to the cereal world after they died out in the 80's and early 90's.

What's Franken Berry and Boo Berry? Ever have Count Chocula? Just take the chocolate flavored crunchy bit's and replace them with either strawberry or blueberry flavored bits!

Oh, and in my opinion, Boo Berry is the best.

Fat Guy - Darris