Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Some Really Scary Stuff! Read With Caution... Boo!

Let's talk about some scary stuff! Since it's the New Year I thought that it would be best if we were to talk all about scary horror stuff and blood and all of that jazz. If you don't know what scary means then allow me to remedy that. When something is scary you are scared. To be scared is to feel fear. Webster's Dictionary describes fear as: a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined; the feeling or condition of being afraid. I would have just said "Fear is being scared." but they make it sound so much more legit!

Now you may be asking/telling me, "Brandon, why write about scary stuff? No one likes it." WRONG! Everyone loves scary stuff! The reason why I am writing about this crap is because I had my first nightmare in many years on Tuesday night. I won't say what it was about because... it's gross... Just think "toilets" and you might get an idea... it actually wasn't much of a nightmare, just made me grossed out. I wasn't scared, just... yeah. I also had a second "nightmare" on Wednesday night. I might blog about that one later... Also my girlfriend Christina and I watched The Shining on Wednesday, and some stupid movie called Session 9 on Thursday which has further inspired me to write all about this horrific topic.

We all feel fear. People get scared by different things, and everyone is scared by something. So when a guy tells his girlfriend that he's not scared of anything, you know he's just trying to get lucky. But whether we want to admit it or not, something out there scares all of us. Some people are scared by spending hours watching horror-flicks about the supernatural and serial killers. While most of us are scared by clowns and our grandmothers feet, true horror and fear have an interesting relationship with video games. Laugh if you want, but video games and pure terror share a bond that can result in nightmares days after you've turned off the game. Get the idea that games are only for kids out of your head. Because it's not true.

I get freaked out every time the first zombie looks at you in the Resident Evil remake.

Only recently has scary blossomed out of video games. Mostly due to advancements in technology that have been able to produce disturbing visuals, and unsettling sounds that help drive out the emotion that is in all of us, fear. Movies are scary for some, but video games scare everyone. The biggest reason for that is the fact that in a video game you are actually playing and interacting with the environment, and you really don't know what's going to happen to you. The result is an atmosphere that is terrifying. Some of the biggest scares in my life are from playing scary games. (Don't mock me!) Some video games are scary enough that they've actually been made into films. (Silent Hill, Doom, Resident Evil, etc.) Although they're all terrible pieces of cinema, the actual game that the film comes from is something for the eyes to behold. Games are disturbing from beginning to end, and leave uncomfortable emotions in you that are hard to drive away. Games like the classic Clock Tower push your senses and mind to the limit while you try to run away from a psychopathic maniac with a giant pair of garden shears. You can say it's not freaky, but say that while you're hiding helpless under a bed and the crazy man is about to look under the bed.

So? Video games are spooky. I said some people find movies scary. But that doesn't mean that they aren't scary or freaky. Let's talk about some movies that have freaked me out. I think the scariest movie I have ever seen was a Korean horror about three teenage girls that stumble upon an ancient board game that allows you to kill anyone in the world. These three girls happen to not be very popular, and decide to kill all of the kids that bully them at school. Throughout the next week strange things including being possessed by the dead, and haunting visions about death begin to happen to them everyday of the week, until they can all see the spirits of the dead trying to kill them. May sound dumb, but I was freaked out... I was also fourteen. That didn't matter though because I still get freaked out whenever I think about that movie. I can't remember the name of it, because it was Korean. But it was on Comcast a couple years back. Try finding it there if you're curious.

Scary picture of me in the eighth grade. This is from a montage I made for a class where I was a serial killer. We called it, "The Utah Fire Extinguisher Massacre." I got an "A" on it...

Enough about all of this though. I feel like such a dork writing about all of this. The sad part is that I could talk about it forever too. Particularly with the games part, since I've played more scary games than seen scary movies. It's so much fun! (I am a huge dork...) Maybe next time I'll write about some of my "nightmares." They'd probably make you people mock me... They're not that scary. Anyway, let me know what you find scary. Do you agree with what I've said, or do you think I'm full of crap? Leave a comment and let me know!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

COUNTDOWN: The Best Movies of 2009

Which will come out on top?
2009 was a great year for movies. Probably the best since 2003. There were so many movies released this year that it feels like there were almost too many good movies for the big man himself to fit under a Christmas tree. It was hard to pick out the best of the best. All is fair in movie watching and critiquing. May the best movie win.

A dream come true for any comic person... or a nightmare. Watchmen is considered by many to be the greatest graphic-novel ever written. And for good reason. The book was fantastic. So when the movie was announced, fan boys screamed in either joy, or terror. Watchmen was named an impossible film to make, so the level of expectation was sky rocketing. I myself grew anxious to see Watchmen. The only problem with Watchmen was that it was directed by Zack Snyder. (300) Zack doesn't know how to direct well, and for that reason Watchmen was flawed.

If you aren't aware of what Watchmen is about, then I'll give you a brief explanation. In an alternate 1980's, superheroes have been outlawed. Nixon is up for re-election, and the doomsday clock is frozen at five minutes before midnight. The only hope to prevent a full-out nuclear war is a walking nuclear super hero entitled Dr. Manhattan. Things aren't good, and they only start to get worse after an ex-superhero is murdered, and an ex-vigilante begins to investigate his death to find matters are only worse than you can imagine. With that being said, Watchmen was a good movie. Although it wasn't super faithful to the novel, and Zack Snyder's directing is funny, the movie is still an interesting take on society and superheroes. It ultimately misses the point of the novel, but was still highly entertaining to watch. Be warned though, it isn't for the faint of heart or people with weak stomach's.

The Terminator series is one of my favorite series in all of cinema. The first two were directed by one of my favorite Director's James Cameron. The third was directed by Jonathan Mostow, with Cameron only helping with the script. (Least favorite one.)

Terminator Salvation is the newest film in the series and is directed by McG. Salvation was disliked by many, and sure it has flaws. The story is full of a million gaps, the dialouge is far from the best, the film is too corny, not bloody enough, and looks like a Michael Bay film. However, the film was still a fun one to watch. It was good to see another Terminator film, even if they were sticking lines from the previous entries in any chance they got.

If you're not familiar with Terminator, then stay away from this film. If you are familiar with Terminator, then watch this one with a light heart and accept it for what it is. Also, Arnold Schwarzenegger makes an awesome cameo. Christian Bale and Sam Worthington also perform fantastically together in the movie. It isn't a very memorable film, but it works and was a fun popcorn flick.

The world waited anxiously for the return of Disney and their golden age. After several awful 2D projects, most of them being crappy sequels, the world gave up on Disney and their return to glory with the 2D animation. Then came the announcement of The Princess and the Frog. Disney told us that it would be the revival of their golden years, and that 2D animation would return. Did succeed?

Well it made the number eight spot, so you can say, yes. Yes it did. The Princess and the Frog is the first good Disney cartoon since The Emperor's New Groove. Fortunately, it's a really good one too. If aren't aware of what they story is about, then I'll fill you in a little. The story takes place in New-Orleans and centers around a girl named Princess Tiana, throughout the courses of events in the movie she ends up kissing a frog, which ultimately transforms herself into a frog as well.

It's a classic Disney plot, and pulled off beautifully. The artists and writers to this movie truly cared about this project. They knew the kind of pressure that was on them, and you can see that in the movie. Everything is handled with so much care, that this feels like one of the old Disney cartoons that we've all grown up with.

I will be honest, I don't think it's one of their best movies. I did like it more than Tarzan though. The movie lets the culture of New Orleans be the flavor of the film. They do the music in the style of New Orleans, and for that reason this film has some very unique and very cool music for a Disney cartoon. It's original, and refreshing to see that Disney can still work the magic that we love. I don't think it was their best, but if they keep going like this, then we can say that Disney is redeeming themselves.

Wow. Isn't that poster cool? Take a moment to take in the pure awesomeness of it... done? Good.

The purpose of the new Star Trek film was to reboot the franchise. With a new cast, and story the series was ready to blast off again. It was a huge gamble, and many didn't have much faith that this new series would live long or prosper. (Excuse my lame jokes.) However, those fears for the most part were blown away with the audiences while watching Star Trek.

The new film takes place at the beginning of the entire saga. Beginning with Kirk's birth and his father's death, then moving forward, this film never had a dull moment. The movie was leading up to the series and showed us how the characters and crew of the USS Enterprise turned into the characters we loved. This is a film that should've been seen by everyone, whether you like Star Trek or not.

Quentin Tarantino (Pulp Fiction) returns with his newest film, Inglorious Basterds. All I can really say about this film is that Tarantino is a crazy Basterd. (No offense.)

After an awesome advertising campaign I was anxious to finally see this film, and it didn't disappoint. The film is very unique, this becomes very obvious during the opening credits. (You'll have to see the film to know what I'm talking about.) The story is completely fictional. It takes place in a Nazi-Occupied France and stars the Basterds. A group of American soldiers specially trained in killing Nazi's in the most brutal ways possible. The Basterds have only one goal in this movie. Kill Hitler. Little do they know that several other people share the same goal. It all leads up to one crazy climax that you could never predict.

A basterd's work is never done. The only problem with Inglorious Basterds is that the Basterds are hardly in it. The film is still fantastic and the Basterds are all awesome, but they are only in the film for about twenty minutes. The film is still entertaining and has plenty of laughs, but I only wish that Brad Pitt could've had a little more screen time. It's still a fantastic movie and shouldn't be missed.

Fantastic Mr. Fox is one of the hidden gems of the year. Not many people saw this film due to the release of bigger movies, and because many thought that this movie looked... well, stupid. All I can say is that anyone who thought that was wrong.

Fantastic Mr. Fox is a grand achievement in stop-motion animation. We've been watching it for years. We've seen it with Nightmare Before Christmas, James and the Giant Peach, Corpse Bride, Coraline, etc. And we've seen it with Fantastic Mr. Fox. But never like this. There's an artistic element added to Mr. Fox that can't be described. When they said in the trailer that it looks like nothing you've seen before, they weren't lying. The film is gorgeous to look at and is highly entertaining. This film made me laugh harder than any other film this year. (Except for number four on this list.)

The story is about a Fox that is tired of living underground. He wants to live life on the edge like he used to before he settled down for marriage. So what does he do? He buys the nicest tree, which is located near the most dangerous men in the country side. The whole film is carried out perfectly. The pacing and dialogue are nearly flawless, and George Clooney is absolutely hilarious. This is one of the must see movies of the year. If you missed Fantastic Mr. Fox, then you missed out on one of the best movie experiences of the year. To sum it up, the movie was truly fantastic.

4. UP
It has been a truly great year for Disney. They may have had only two big film releases this year, but those two both made this list. The first was Princess and the Frog, and the second was Pixar's Up.

I feel that Up is Pixar's most mature film yet. The film circles around an old grouchy man, Carl Fredicksen. Carl has lived a hard life, and to make it only harder, his wife has just died. Not even ten minutes pass into the film before we start to see the life of Carl, we see how he met his wife and how they were friends their entire lives. We see all the trails they shared, some are heart breaking, and others a little funny. It's not long before we can see that these two characters are really in love... and then she dies. I've never been in a movie at the theater where the audience was moved from laughs to tears so fast. The beginning of the film almost makes me cry every time I watch it. That's rare for an animated film, or any film.

Moving on, Carl wants to fill out the promise he made to his wife that they would live together on a waterfall in South America entitled Paradise Falls. So what does he do? He straps thousands of his balloons to his house and literally flies it to South America. From there, the film is non-stop laughs with a few moments that move you. All I can really say about Up is that it is my favorite Pixar movie to date, and that it is one of the best movies ever made. This is a film that's all about thinking that you've never accomplished something in life, and then looking back and realizing that you really have done some good. I went into this movie and there were more adults than kids. I think that that's proof that animated movies don't have to be for kids only, and that they're still for everyone.

Clint Eastwood demonstrates here why he is an auteur. Gran Torino is one of the best movies to be released this year. I know what you're thinking. "Wasn't Gran Torino released last year?" The answer is yes and no. Gran Torino was released at a weird time of year. It was released in December last year to select theaters, and finally made nation wide in January this year. In other words, it released this year AND last year. For this reason, Gran Torino is the true lost gem of 2009.

The story of Gran Torino is about old Korean War Veteran Walt Kowalski. Kowalski lives an awful neighborhood full of gangsters and drug dealers. It's a wild neighborhood where everyone thinks that they're on top. Little do they all know, Walt is the most dangerous and scary of them all. One night Walt catches his neighbor trying to steal his prized car, his Gran Torino. Walt then sets out to straighten his neighborhood and teach his neighbor how to be a man.

It may not sound great, or very enjoyable to watch. But Clint Eastwood demonstrates perfectly in this film why he's a legend in film making. He gives one of the best performances I've ever seen in a movie. Gran Torino is moving film, it is very entertaining to watch and unfortunately, is a very sad film. It shows us why violence is bad, and how our society is moving downwards. Whether you agree with it or not, you cannot deny that Gran Torino is one of the best pictures of this year.

What are the secrets to District 9? Do you even want to know? District 9 is one of the darkest and saddest movies I've ever seen. Fortunately, it's also one of the best. You've never seen Science Fiction done this way, and that is a very very good thing. In a world where originality is becoming a rare thing, District 9 takes an interesting take on the alien invasion plot. What if the aliens never meant to come to earth? What if they were trapped on earth, and forced to live with us? If you're curious then you probably haven't seen District 9.

The whole film is a statement on society. It shows us how we treat each other. It's a symbolic movie where the aliens represent the lower class of society, and the humans represent the bourgeois. It's a marxist piece that says that we, the humans, have become so entangled in the machine of society that we have forgotten who we are. It is a must see film. It is a mind blowing film that cannot be missed. It's one of the best movies I have ever seen and is tied right up there with number one on this list for the best Sci-Fi I have ever seen.

Surprised? If you read my review for this then you already knew what was coming. It was close call for this and District 9. But Avatar is the best film of the year because of the level of depth and care that has gone into this movie. Every shot of this film shows that James Cameron wanted to take us somewhere we have never been before in movies. That place is Pandora.

The plot to the film isn't the most original, as we've seen it done a hundred times before with films like Dances With Wolves and The Last Samurai. Avatar makes it work though. It all feels so refreshing some how even though we already knew how the film was going to end just from watching the trailer. It doesn't matter if we know how it's going to end though, because the take of the film is executed so well that it feels like an entire new experience. The visuals are breath taking. You've never seen anything like this movie before. It is a beautiful film.

I loved Avatar because it made me feel like I was there in Pandora. The movie sucks you in like no other movie out there, especially in 3D. It is the must see movie of the year, and cannot be missed. You have to see Avatar. It is the best film of the year.

Well that was my countdown for the best movies of 2009. Hope I didn't make anyone too angry for not putting Sherlock Holmes or Boondocks Saints II up there. This year was probably the best year ever for Sci-Fi movies. It overall was a fantastic movie year, the best in years. So picking out the best of the best was hard. I hope that the people that read this don't come after me with pitch forks and torches.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Avatar: Once in a lifetime film making


James Cameron is one of the best directors of all time. He is what you may call an Auteur. If you aren't aware of this, then you probably are not a movie person. James Cameron wrote and directed Terminator, Aliens, Terminator 2, and Titanic. That last one I'm not a fan of, but he won Best Director, Picture, and it became the highest grossing film of all time. $1.2 billion dollars.

Avatar is his latest film, it is a movie that has been in the works since 1994. After a decade of being in the works, you would expect it to be a good movie. But the real question is it any good? It is the most expensive film ever made. The budget was $500,000,000 so you'll be wondering if all that money was put to good use, and if you should spend $11.00 to see the film in 3-D. Should you or should you not?

The answer is that you should. Avatar is a monumental success. It is a film unlike anything you have ever seen. It uses special effects to a level that you have never seen, and that's not a bad thing.

The story to Avatar revolves around Jake Sully, a paraplegic ex-marine who is sent unwillingly to a hostile planet known as Pandora. While on this planet he finds himself caught in the middle of a war between the planet's indigenous people known as the Na'vi, and his own race. He must decide whether he should fight for what he knows is right or help his own people destroy Pandora as they destroyed earth. I don't want to spoil anything in the story, so I'll refrain from saying anything else. To put it simple, the whole movie was the prime example of a colonialism work.

The cast in Avatar is strong. Sam Worthington (Terminator: Salvation) stars as Jake Sully. He does a fantastic job, but the real credit in the film has to go to Zoe Saldana (Star Trek) for playing the native Neytiri. She creates most of the emotion in the entire film. She preforms fantastically and I also have to mention that she is also really attractive as a blue woman. (True fact.) Some people have complained about Stephen Lang (Public Enemies) as the antagonist of the film. But he actually pulls off a very believable and cruel performance. All the actors in the film are great. But the real actors are the ones that are the digital Na'vi. These actors are the ones that create the film. I think that this movie is proof that special effects don't have to be of just robots killing and blowing stuff up. (Even though that's in this movie.) This movie shows that special effects can be used to take us to places that we never even dreamed of.

Other films have used special effects like this. (Lord of the Rings, King Kong, Pirates of the Caribbean, District 9) But none of them have gone as far as this movie has. This movie takes you to a whole new level of film making that you can't even imagine. You almost want to call this movie insane, because of how different and unique it is. You really have never seen anything like this, and that's a very good thing. What I really enjoyed about this film, was how it is a breath of fresh air. You don't see that very often. The only other films to do that this year for me were District 9 and Fantastic Mr. Fox. But Avatar is far more different and unique than these other movies.

One thing that I always enjoy about a James Cameron film is his sense of innovation. Avatar is the most innovative movie I've seen in years. It is so different from anything else that you have seen. It is a movie a film that you literally cannot describe. This is a see to believe film. You'll have to see the movie to believe that it's as good as I'm telling you. Avatar is a once in a lifetime film. You will not get another chance to see a movie like this one.

James Cameron creates not only a visually beautiful race of people, but also a culture that is so beautiful. The Na'vi in Avatar felt very Native American to me. Everything from how they dress to the musical score is very unique, and made me think of Native Americans. The film was almost like a reenactment of our history, with the Native Americans being driven out of their home land. It's all very believable. It's all very sad as well; and it moves you. I sympathize with the Na'vi as they fight for their lives and their home.

Avatar looks like nothing you've ever seen.

I am not a fan of 3D. I think it is over used, and ultimately lessens the movie experience. Avatar however, is not like that. The 3D in Avatar is extraordinary. Little bugs on the screen fly right past you, leaves fall from trees towards you, and the battles are astronomical. You really feel like you're there, and forget that this is a movie. The cinematography is actually enhanced by the 3D which is a rare thing. The wide flying camera shots make you feel like you're flying with the film, it is fantastic.

Avatar is a difficult movie to review because it is so innovative. It blows away almost all sci-fi epics out there, and is a must see. See Avatar. It is well worth full-price, and it is the best picture of the year. The only movie that comes to being as good as Avatar is District 9. Avatar however, I will say is better because Avatar has heart. A truly fantastic movie. Avatar is one of the most beautiful movies ever made, it is James Cameron's masterpiece, and it should not be missed.
  • Story: 10/10
  • Design: 10/10
  • Presentation: 10/10
  • Cinematography: 10/10
  • Musical Score: 9.8/10
  • Replay Value: 10/10
  • Total Score: 10/10

Final Fantasy I

If anyone knows me then they have to know that I am a huge geek. A really huge geek/nerd/dork. I don't hide it. I like to display it proudly. I am not ashamed of what I am.

One of my greatest obsessions as a geek/nerd is Final Fantasy. For those of you who do not know, Final Fantasy is a video game series that has touched the hearts of millions of young teenage boys like me. There are over 45 games in the series. The newest game in the series, Final Fantasy XIII was released in Japan on Thursday in Japan. I'm a little upset that it won't come to America until March...

The series is the sixth best selling video game series of all time, with over 92 million copies being sold worldwide. The total amount cash made from these games is probably more than I will ever make in my life.

I first came across the Final Fantasy series when Disney for whatever reason thought that they should make a video game that would cross Final Fantasy with Disney. The result was Kingdom Hearts. A random cross-over between franchises that sounds pretty lame, but ultimately wasn't too bad of an idea.

I got Kingdom Hearts for Christmas in the fourth grade. The game made me a curious young chap. Why were some of the girls dressed in only short skirts and bras? Why do some characters have really spiky hair and the others look like Goofy? I needed to know! So I went to Blockbuster and rented probably the greatest game ever made, Final Fantasy X.

I got my hands on this little jewel when I was still in the fourth grade. This game can be described as perfection. Because that's what it is.

The story of Final Fantasy X takes place in a world called "Spira." The plot essentially revolves around religion and people being destroyed by a giant magical flying whale named "Sin." Sin decimates entire cities when the people become to wicked. The God of the world entitled "Yu-Yevon" chooses pure souls to be summoners. Summoners are beings that can summon the souls of the dead as powerful Aeons, (Good monster things.) to vanquish and destroy Sin. Once Sin is destroyed 1000 years of peace begin. After that, Sin is born again and starts to kill stuff again. The whole thing repeats endlessly.

I just went nerd on you people! Anyways, moving on, Final Fantasy is really great. The series has taken up an embarrassing amount of time and cash into my life. It also has influenced our media. People don't even know it too! Unless they're losers like me! Anyways, Final Fantasy has influenced me in ways I can't describe. I talk about it all the time, and even quote it to my friends. (Most of them don't realize I'm quoting something.) My girlfriend Christina always laughs at me whenever I talk nerd. I can't help it though, it's part of my life.

The greatest moment where I showed my nerdy side best was when Christina and I were walking through the halls at school, and some old bloke wasn't being very nice. Christina was offended by the obscene things that this poop-head was doing. So I decided to take manners into my own hands. I stood in front of him and said, "Leave her alone, or I'll Thundaga your ass!" The level of terror in his eyes was something to behold. It made me feel good, and I think Christina respects me for my nerdiness now... I think.

For those who don't know what Thundaga is, you read all about it here: http://finalfantasy.wikia.com/wiki/Thundaga

Or you can just look at this picture and figure it out yourself.

I think the whole thing is self explanatory. Anyways, I think I've written enough about one of my passions. I'll continue some other time, because believe me, I could talk about Final Fantasy forever.

Join me next time I talk about Final Fantasy, for even more nerdy information. By the way, if you read all of this, then I'm impressed! Very impressed! Good job!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Useless Knowledge of Brandon Prows!

Hey people! My name is Brandon Prows. I've been meaning to start a blog for a couple of months, but I've never really gotten around to it... until now.

Anyways, the first thing you need to know about me is that I'm a big dork/nerd. The second thing you need to know is that this blog is more than just a blog. It's my blog, meaning that it'll be filled with a lot of pointless (and hopefully) entertaining posts for you to read.

I really don't know what to write with this first post. So here's to the future!