Category Archives: Reviews

Ineffable: Perceptions of Beauty

The Gamut never fails. Okay, maybe I’m a little biased because I wrote a feature on the exhibit but every one I’ve been to has been its own unique experience (kind of the point, I know).

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At The Movies: Terminator Genisys

I’ve been excited about Terminator Genisys for a while. While I was excited as everyone else that ArnoldSchwarzenegger was coming back I was also excited about the casting decisions of the main roles: Emilia Clarke as Sarah Connor, Jai Courtney as Kyle Reese, and Jason Clarke (no relation) as John Connor.  Matt Smith (Doctor Who) also has a cool part.

In the movie, Reese is sent back in time to 1984 by John Connor to save Sarah Connor from the original Terminator. Little do they know that things have actually changed, and Schwarzenegger’s Terminator is actually on Sarah’s side. So they go forward in time to 2017 just before the birth of Skynet which is at the time called Genisys. They find John there, but find out he’s changed, too, thanks to being attacked by a machine (Smith) just before Reese is sent to save Sarah. He’s now pro-Skynet and he’s what’s standing between them and the launch of Genisys/Skynet.

The movie moved a long pretty well, and there was plenty of action. Despite it being a serious movie there were definite moments of humor, and Schwarzenegger was really good being back in one of the roles that catapulted him to stardom so many years back. Both Courtney and Clarke were solid as Kyle and Sarah, and worked pretty well together. Although there was one plot line that seemed to miss a little buildup (maybe I’ll talk about it in another post later this week after people have seen the movie). Jason Clarke was awesome as John Connor (when isn’t he awesome?).

Also, for the Whovians out there (Doctor Who fans), Matt Smith has a pretty cool part. Oh, there also is one scene after the first part of the credits. It’s kind of important.

I thinks it’s definitely worth a trip to the theaters to watch, especially in IMAX 3D if you can cover the extra cost.

Now, go forth and watch the humans attempt to dismantle Skynet….again.

At the Movies: The Numbers Station

This is a slightly older movie in the John Cusack discography, but still worth a mention. He stars as some sort of disgraced government agent who was taken out of the field after he was unable to take care of a witness (yes, it’s another way of saying he couldn’t kill an innocent girl after she watched him kill her dad).

For his rehab he’s sent over to Europe to watch over a code broadcaster played by Malin Akerman (The Watchmen). It’s a top-secret job that very few can do: she relays coded messages in the form of numbers via a secret broadcast system to field agents who then carry out the assignments under a set time limit.

It all comes undone when they are waiting for another team to get out, and they’re shot at by a hidden sniper. Once inside, they realize the team was attacked by someone trying to broadcast certain messages. The movie balances between Emerson (Cusack) and Katherine (Akerman) trying to find out what happened to the other team, and Emerson struggling with the fact that part of his job is to “take care of” Katherine.

Even though it was short with just below an hour and a half running time, it was still pretty good movie. It was moved pretty quickly, and they did a great job with building up suspense. Parts of me does wish that it was a bit longer to allow for more back story and character development, but there is also an argument that those factors aren’t as important.

There were, however, a few things that could have benefited from a longer movie or even some sort of miniseries. Some background on Emerson’s boss would’ve been nice being as he seemed kind of central to what was going on, and you’re never really told who the guys were that attacked the station and killed the first team.

In the end, however, it’s definitely worth a watch.

At The Movies: Jurassic World

There have been many who have been waiting for this movie for a long time, and it’s had so many production delays that many feared it would never happen. But it finally has, and it is so totally worth the wait.

Jurassic World takes place twenty-plus years after the original, and is said to be a direct sequel to the 1993 classic. It takes place in present day with the theme park up and running, and being hugely successful. Behind the scenes finds Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard)  who appears to be in a chief operations officer trying to find a way to add excitement to the park, and draw more attendees.  Of course that means genetically enhancing the dinosaur embryos they create in the labs.

One of those enhanced dinosaurs is a full-grown T-Rex which Claire is told needs to be looked before it can be crowd-ready (whatever that means when it comes to gigantic meat-eating dinosaurs). She is told to bring in Owen (Chris Pratt, America’s current favorite actor), who has somehow managed to train velociraptors to listen to directions in some form. Also interested in the raptors is Hoskins (Vincent D’Onofrio), a military contractor who wants to use the raptors in the battlefield (not part of Owen’s plans).

Everything really starts heating up after they are notified that the T-Rex’s tracking device is outside the enclosed area. That’s when they realize it was more of a diversion to get them in the area. The T-Rex escapes after eating one of guards, and chaos slowly ensues as they try to keep the park open as the enhanced dinosaur makes its way toward the main theme park area. Meanwhile, Claire is also worried about her two nephews who came to spend time with her, but she put her assistant Zara (Katie McGrath, BBC’s Merlin) on them because she had important meetings to attend to. The nephews ditched  Zara are touring a field of dinosaurs when they chaos starts unknown to them (they find out soon enough).

Despite all the production delays it’s well worth a trip to a theater, especially to see it in IMAX 3D. The ticket prices are outrageous (which the employees working there have no control over, by the way), but it’s worth. Chris Pratt’s leading-man skill is undeniable, and Howard’s portrayal of a career woman also dealing with the arrival two nephews (whose names she tends to forget) is pretty spot on. At first, she seems really cold, but she’s clearly used to having two responsibilities: the unbelievable task of making sure a the park stays profitable, and her own life (the ounce of a personal life revealed is her nephews, her sister (Judy Greer), and her failed date with Owen years ago). She tries her best, and scenes with her nephews can be awkwardly comical.

The only way the movie could have been better is with a few appearances by characters from the original 1993 epic. There were two, but no spoilers (it’s time to be surprised again).

It’s a great movie, and there’s a very good chance we can look forward to more installments in the near future (as of this writing the movie took in over $18 million on Thursday, $80 million-plus on Friday, and is on track to end the weekend with $180 million).

Go on, now! The park is open.

Digital Digging: Chris Stapleton

If you aren’t that into country music, then there’s a good chance you have no idea who Chris Stapleton is. He’s been a hit songwriter in Nashville for over a decade helping pen hits such as Luke Bryan’s “Drink a Beer” where he even provided background vocals, and he also fronted a critically acclaimed Americana-bluegrass band called the SteelDrivers for a few years.

But now it’s his turn to take center stage with his debut solo record, Traveller.

With this record he seems he used only what was necessary for each song, which gives it a very raw feel. It sounds like it could’ve been made on the dirt floor of an old honkytonk which has a neon sign that won’t stop flickering. It may be categorized as country music, but he sings like a soul singer from another era mixed blues and country.

Most of the songs range from slow to mid-tempo with the lone exception being “Might As Well Get Stoned.” The songs may not make you dance like a Luke Bryan or FGL party cut, but that doesn’t mean they won’t move you. They cut straight through to your soul, which even I’ll admit doesn’t happen too much anymore.

In the end, Chris Stapleton made all about the song. And it’ll have you pressing repeat many times over.

Now Showing on Netflix: “Jen Kirkman: I’m Gonna Die Alone (And I Feel Fine)”

My only exposure to Jen Kirkman until now has been on Comedy Central’s late night game show @Midnight hosted by Chris Hardwick, but she’s always done really well on there so I was excited when I saw that she did a special for Netflix. Also, I hadn’t watched many female comics until recently, and the only way I was really introduced to them was through @Midnight, and Hardwick’s Nerdist Podcast.

I knew Kirkman’s comedy wasn’t the Jeff Foxworthy-type stuff that’d I’d grown up to listening with my family in the car (although we did listen to quite a bit of Lewis Black), but I had never seen her actual act on stage — until now. And I really enjoyed it.

She didn’t hold back on anything: being divorced, not wanting kids, what turning 40 did to her, and many more subjects. She’s probably considered a dirty comic. Now, not dirty in the Bob Saget way, but it’s not something I’d watch with my family (I still refuse to watch the American Pie franchise with my parents). I would go into details, but you should just watch it for yourself (there’s also a good chance people I know may read this, and there are some things I don’t want brought up in conversation. Although this side comment could prove very counterproductive in my attempt to make sure those things aren’t discussed.)

The other thing I liked about her set was that she was very lively; she didn’t just stand by the microphone stand the whole time. She worked the stage very well, constantly moving from side to side. Her mixture of storytelling and revealing what her inner monologue was at the time made for some of the best parts due to how seamlessly she switched from each one. There were also plenty observations she made that made you think of the topic in a different way (the one on alternative parenting styles was particularly enjoyable).

If you don’t normally watch female comedians, then this is a great place to start. And she’s only 40, so you’ll have plenty of time to catch her perform. Her special is available on Netflix now.

Book Review: “American Gods”

This was my first adventure into a Neil Gaiman novel, and it’s definitely different from anything I’ve ever read in recent memory. But in a good way.

The book follows Shadow, a man just released from prison who finds out his wife was killed in a car crash just days earlier. On his way home he meets a man who calls himself Wednesday, and offers to hire Shadow to travel with him, and help him on some trips. Little does he know that Wednesday — who has some secrets of his own — is getting ready for a big war between the Old Gods (Old Norse mythology) and the New Gods (money, technology, fame, etc.).

The book took me a lot longer than planned to read, but it was well worth it. When Gaiman once answered the question of where he gets his ideas from by replying, “I make them up,” I believe it 100%. The book is full of detours through time, and there’s a good chance I may have to go through it again. It’s a weird story, but it really only makes me excited for the miniseries currently in development.

I think it’s definitely worth a read if you’re into sci-fi, fantasy, and mystery. It will definitely take you on a ride you’ll be thinking about for a while. But it does have some very explicit content, so be aware if you don’t like that stuff or are looking at books for your kids.