XXX2: Electric crapaloo
It's been a while since my favorite reviewer Walter Chaw had made me laugh out loud at a movie review for a film he particularly reviled. Thankfully, XXX: State of the Union delivers the goods, and some of his trademark wrath:
    The chief benefit of the perceptively-titled xXx: State of the Union is that it gathers, for two hours at a time, all the people in your community from whom you'd like a two-hour break. It's a salt-lick for under-hung jackasses--car porn that features one woman shot in the back and another while she's defenseless and on the ground, with the marauding hero strutting around as a bulletproof fantasy of domesticated blackness the whole time. There's a big truck, a couple of tanks, a trio of helicopters, and as its climax, it features a presidential bullet train shooting through the heart of Washington D.C. at roughly mach 4. It's calamitously loud, edited like a primer on how not to edit, and in a just universe, it would be the last nail in the coffin of Ice Cube's precipitously falling career. But this isn't a just universe--this is a universe where a critic is "out of touch" if he doesn't like a piece of shit that happens to earn an extraordinary amount of money, where it doesn't make an ounce of difference if it's actually something anybody involved in the film would want to see as long as you pay a few bones for the privilege of siphoning your life away before its awful majesty. Feckless, vile, and--in the wake of ballsy ruminations on violence and genre like Sin City, Head-On, and Old Boy--not even exciting or affecting in any meaningful way, it's the foetus in the pickle jar in the sideshow tent: impotent, grotesque--and ultimately more than a little pathetic for everyone involved. Save your two bits for a shave and a haircut.
Park it next to the Ferrari
Man, if I only had an extra $40K, this life-size X-wing would have a safe, loving home.


One step closer to the Matrix...
What IT director's life would be complete without this 6-monitor console? For the low low price of $4,000, you too can be saturated with information.

However, I'm afraid I can't take credit for the most obvious practical application with regards to my interests. When I sent the URL to my roommate, she had this succinct reply:
    you could watch all six star wars movies simultaneously
    [head explodes]
Indeed. It will be mine.
Kevin Smith Speak on Sith
For those of you looking for an early rating on Revenge of the Sith, I give you just the first line of Kevin Smith's review of the film:
    "Revenge of the Sith" is, quite simply, fucking awesome. This is the "Star Wars" prequel the haters have been bitching for since "Menace" came out, and if they don't cop to that when they finally see it, they're lying.
I did not read any further, because the label on the article said it was laden with spoilers. I'm just even more juiced because Mr. Smith is a geekofile like so many of us. Yea boy. PS. Heard it first from Force.net.


7 Minutes of Sith
Not that it will be up for long, but someone filmed what I'd describe as a 'summary' screening for Sith. It has no dialogue, with music overtop the scenes. Basically, a start-to-finish briefing.

I wouldn't say that it really had any spoilers in it. If you've watched the trailers, there's nothing in here you wouldn't expect. You get some great extended looks at Grievous, who looks positively creepy; you get a bit more of the Emperor v. Yoda and Anakin v. Obi-wan. Glimpses here and there. I've watched it about four times now.
Force questionaire
Via The Force.Net, TV Guide has a What Kind of Jedi are You? personality quiz. Naturally, I cannot resist finding out what infidels think I should be (I'm quite hard to peg on personality tests as I tend to be quite moody). However, this one was put together by someone with a bit of humor. Of the 18 questions, there are some real gems, but my favorite has to be:
    6. You can't find the remote control, so you:
    a. Use the Force to lift everything and find it.
    b. Force persuade someone to help you find it.
    c. Learn to change the channel with the Force.
    d. Use the Force to turn the nearest person into your personal channel changer.
As fitting, it wasn't hard to forsee my future. The last question is one that is usually mulled over by fans quite often:
    18. Your favorite Force power is:
    a. Force lightning (shooting lightning from your fingertips).
    b. Force choke (choking anyone in sight with the Force).
    c. telekinesis (moving stuff with the Force).
    d. Force persuasion (having your way with weak-minded individuals).
    e. Force stealth (hiding yourself with the Force).
If I had to chose one, I'd personally take the telekinesis, but a close second would be the persuasion. Most people aren't aware of the 'Force stealth' ability from the movies. The Jedi hero of the excellent 1st-person book, I, Jedi, had no telekinesis ability, but advanced powers of persuasion and stealth. Very interesting read.


Super suit
USA Today has published a story on the new Superman suit. Filling it out amply is actor Brandon Routh. From the picture, director Bryan Singer has made a few subtle changes, like darkening the red color to a more crimson shade, but otherwise stayed close to tradition. For better looks at the suit, go to Brandon's fan site. Based on Singer's track record, we may have another superhero franchise resurrected next year (this year could be the trick for Nolan's excellent-looking Batman Begins
Printable Excuse Sheet
Episode III will be only 3 weeks away this Thursday. In light of that, The Force linked to this hilarious absentee form for use on May 19. It has a Mad Libs-style format which will insert your excuse selections seamlessly into a printable format. Bonus is the downloadable MS Outlook blocker that will automatically schedule you for a "Team-Building Seminar" on May 19.

Of course, I may not need either of these as I hope to be strategically in-between jobs that week. And there is the matter of my seeing a screening of the movie prior to May 19. I hope.


Let it be known
It's a very slow Friday, and I'm ancy to get out into the daylight. Before I do, I've got to address something that has needed to be said for weeks. My comments have been inspired by blithe regular-TV recommendations and, well, consistently dull network TV programming over the last few years. Alias and West Wing jumped the shark years ago, and Buffy isn't around anymore. The best show on TV in on cable, and it's on the Sci-Fi channel. I'm talking about Battlestar Galactica.

The series was born from the high ratings and critical acclaim received by the 3-hour mini-series/pilot shown in 2003. It was a riveting and pretty scary beginning to the story, as several billion humans get whacked by the Cylons in the first hour. But, more than just effects or shock value, the mini-series set the tone for what this Battlestar Galactica would be about: character.

For instance, one of the main characters in the series is Sharon (call-sign 'Boomer'). Sharon is one of the skilled pilots on Galactica. She is also on her home planet, struggling with another human ('Helo') to 'escape' from the Cylons. You see, there are (at least) two Sharons, and each is a Cylon clone. The Sharon on Galactica doesn't know that she is a Cylon, but begins to suspect and then goes straight to denial. The Sharon on the planet knows she is a Cylon but falls in love with Helo and begins to defy her orders from her Cylon superiors and help him.

And that is just one character. You also have the female fuckup (or 'frakup' as they say on the show) 'Starbuck', both the best pilot in the fleet and the most likely to get in a brawl. She's got feelings for her commander, Apollo, but instead hooked up with Professor Baltar, who has produced the only 'Cylon detector' in the fleet and is partially responsible for the annihilation of most of humanity. Oh, and Baltar has a chip in his head that enables him to receive psychic input from a tall leggy Cylon blonde who likes to frak. And in case I forget the fleet's commander (Edward James Olmos) and President (Mary McDonell) don't quite see eye-to-eye. On and on.

But even if there wasn't the great plotting and character interactions and situations, by far the most intriguing aspect for me is how they deal with religion. Ronald D. Moore, famous for being the driving force behind Deep Space Nine (another character-driven sci-fi show), has turned conventional religious thinking on its head for the series. For you see, the humans are the ones who have a whole series of gods (kind of a cross between the Roman and Greek mythology), a polytheist culture, while those upstart machines they created a long time ago, the Cylons, have come to believe in a single god, who seems to have much in common with the Christian or Islamic god. And he has a plan.

As I mentioned the mini-series also functions as a pilot, and I would highly recommend renting it before watching the series as a necessary primer. Without it, you'll probably have a hard time figuring out what each character is about in the series. (Well, you could just ask me to blog it.) In any event, the series is being replayed in order, this week's episode being the 2nd.

And a final note, I have no fucking idea what possesses people to watch such tripe as 'American Idol' or even care. People baffle me.


Sith TV teasers
Over the weekend, I noticed Lucas' unleashing of a trio of Star Wars TV spots, two of which feature new footage not found in either trailers. Of the three, easily the most compelling is the one called Tragedy. Although the short TV teaser does feature some cool new action footage, far more interesting are the conversation snippets, which reveal heretofore unseen personal struggles.

Anakin starts off the trailer by confessing to Padme that "Something's happening... I'm not the Jedi I should be." The statement appears to be the first admission that he can sense his footing is off, that there may be other forces at work. Hayden delivers it not so much with sadness or curiosity or a mystery, but almost a resigned matter-of-fact acceptance, possibly even defeat. It's very subtle, but I found it quite chilling.

Mid-way through the teaser is probably the most disturbing snippet, that of Anakin threatening, with a quivering lip, his paramour with, "The Jedi turned against me. Don't you turn against me." Padme's teary, confused reply is simple, "Anakin, you're breaking my heart." Portman aptly conveys in that two seconds a woman who both loves and is afraid of her husband.

And of course, no Star Wars promo would be complete without the requisite, "NO!!" from a character. In this one, it is yet again camera-hog Anakin screaming the line and drawing his lightsaber in what looks to be Palpatine's office. Right, well, I would have been remiss had I not stopped to mention this excellent 30 second spot. Now off to prep for the last NCAA men's basketball game of the year.