Monday, October 31, 2005

DOOM...not half bad

I'll start off by saying, I hate computer games. Okay, not all computer games, I love Sid Meiers' Civilization II. I also enjoy Age of Empires and a few other real-time strategy games, but I hate first-person shooters. I tried Halo II once and I died 16 times in a row at the same corner, about 20 seconds into the game. Oh what fun!

Needless to say, when I heard a movie based on DOOM was coming out and some of it was shot from the perspective of a first-person shooter, I had pretty low expectations. However, The Rock and Karl Urban (Eomer from The Lord of the Rings) were both in it, so I thought I'd give it a look. Turns out, it was pretty good. No, not great, but it neither gave me a headache nor did it have me checking my watch at the one hour mark, both of which happened when I went to see Star Wars III: Revenge of the Sith. All the usual cliches were there; the beautiful, brilliant blond science babe, the special forces team of misfits (doesn't anyone do psych profiles on these guys?) and the top secret research into things man was not meant to know. There is a lot of running around in dark wet tunnels (apparently the days of sterile, clean research facilities have gone the way of the dodo) and the usual techniques for building suspense (note to minions, when you look down a dark tunnel, wait a few seconds longer than you otherwise would, you keep turning away just before the passing shadow). Still, despite the fact that everything was derivative, it was still worth my $10.95. It was also refreshing to see a movie that didn't have a 105 lb. woman throwing 300 lb. marines around a room like they were ragdolls. It may be sexist, but I simply can't suspend my disbelief when Cameron Diaz takes out the trash at the local Hell's Angels hangout.


Monday, October 03, 2005

Serenity Rocks!!

I went to see Joss Whedon's Serenity this past weekend and I have to say, it is Whedon at his best. For the uninitiated, Joss Whedon was the writer/producer of the hit series, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but less well-known was his short-lived sci-fi series, Firefly. The latter lasted less than one season, but in my opinion, deserved better. The show revolved around the crew of Serenity, a Firefly-class starship. Led by Captain Malcolm "Mal" Reynolds (played by Canadian actor Nathan Fillion), the crew of misfits tries to get by on the fringe of a harsh interplanetary empire known as the Alliance. Captain Reynolds and his righthand woman, Zoe, are veterans of a failed insurrection against the Alliance. The pilot, Wash, the engineer, Kaylee and the muscle, Jayne make up the rest of the crew. Add to that, the preacher, Shepherd Book (played by Ron Glass of Barney Miller fame) , the courtesan, Inara, the doctor, Simon and his enigmatic sister, River.

The movie, Serenity, revolves around River. In the TV series, we learn that River was subject to some kind of experimentation at the hands of the Alliance as a result of her mysterious psychic abilities. Her older brother Simon, rescued her from the research facility and the two are on the run from the authorities who desperately want her back. Captain Reynolds figures if the hated Alliance wants her back badly enough to pursue her to the edge of explored space then that's reason enough to protect her. I won't give away anything from the movie, but the humour we've come to expect from Firefly, as well as the dark vision of the future are both present in good measure. All that was missing was that awesome theme song.