Monthly Archives: July 2013

Winning Science July 31, 2013

As July wraps up, here’s some of what’s happening in the world of science.

In keeping with this week’s Wolverine theme, we have an article from Popular Science talking about what Wolverine’s real weaknesses would be.

Uncanny X-Force Vol. 1, #26 This won't be pretty

Uncanny X-Force Vol. 1, #26
This won’t be pretty.

One that was left out in the article that the comics picked up on not so long ago, is autoimmune disease. With his super immune system, this could cause all kinds of unpleasant things to happen.

Yesterday commemorated the 55th birthday of NASA . And here is the document that made it all possible

nasa_logo

We love the work NASA has done, but seriously, it’s time to GET BACK UP THERE! If the Virgin Records guy gets to Mars before they do, I’m gonna be seriously annoyed.

Some lucky (or perhaps unlucky) diner will soon have the chance to eat the world’s first artifically grown hamburger. A lab in the Netherlands has developed this using beef muscle stem cells at a cost of $384,000. I’ve heard some grumbling that this a waste of scientific resources, but this same research might be applied to the growing of new organs. It may also help address future global food shortages.

Om Nom Nom Nom

Om Nom Nom Nom

I’m all about trying new foods, but at least for the moment, I’ll stick with the real thing.

And finally Mr. Charles Darwin is making way for Ms. Jane Austen. Coming soon the £10 note will now feature the face of author Jane Austen.

Ooooo, fancy.

Ooooo, fancy.

While not purely a piece of science news, let’s be honest, Charles Darwin is the father of evolution. Still, maybe it’s time someone else had a turn on the money.

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Editorial | Review: The Wolverine

While the fearless leader of Therefore I Geek has pretty much given a flawless review of The Wolverine, there are some things I wanted to point out in the movie.

First of all, I must say that I have always been a big fan of the star-crossed love story of Jean Grey and Wolverine. Jean may have loved Scott Sommers, but she shared a special part of her heart, and a psychological connection that transcended even her death, with Logan. While her appearance in The Wolverine might have been confusing to someone new to the X-Men movies, it resonated with die-hard fans, I think.

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However, having said how much I enjoyed seen Jean again, I must also point out that Mariko is, to paraphrase one of the above mentioned diehard fans, “Wolverine’s greatest love.” It seems like an odd decision to lessen the impact of her arrival on the Wolverine movie timeline by continuing to show Logan’s flashbacks to his deceased flame whose consciousness may or may not still be around.

Speaking of Mariko, a study of Wolverine’s behavior would seem to show that, given a choice of two attractive Japanese girls, he would choose to love the bad ass one, not the one that didn’t know how to fend for herself.

Finally, I would like to point out that superheating a blade does not increase its cutting power. In fact, if adamantium were heated to the point that it could cut through adamantium, it would be melting on itself. Fail.

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Overall, I walked out of the theater feeling unimpressed. These plot points coupled with a ridiculous amount of handcam for action sequences, and an overly dark palette of colors force me to give this move just three out of five Death Stars.

3 Death Stars

[I DID however squeal ever so slightly over the X-Men: Days of Future Past trailer at the beginning of the movie. Well done, movie creators!]

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Filed under Editorial, Movie Reviews, Movies, Tracy Gronewold

Review: The Wolverine

the_wolverine_teaser_one-sheet

“I’m Wolverine. I’m the best at what I do, but what I do isn’t very nice”.  Ok, so that quote isn’t in The Wolverine, but it has always been true.  This movie is no exception.  The Wolverine provides plenty of high energy action as well as some nice quiet moments which are used to explore the thoughts going on inside Logan’s head.  All said and done this was a fun summer action movie, but while certainly better than X-Men Origins: Wolverine there was still some room for improvement.

Prior to seeing the film on Friday night, I had intentionally avoided reading or watching almost anything about the film as much as possible.  While parts of X-Men Origins: Wolverine were good, overall I was not impressed and I wanted to come into this film with as clean a slate as I could.  This meant that until about fifteen minutes into the movie I wasn’t quite sure where in the X-Men film timeline this film took place.  This is not necessarily a bad thing, but I had assumed it would be a direct sequel to the first Wolverine movie.  Instead it takes place sometime after the events of X-Men: The Last Stand.

After an opening flashback sequence, we find Logan living on the fringes of society, sleeping in the woods, haunted by nightmares of things he’s done.  A quick few scenes occur in Wolverine’s native Canada and then viewers are off to Japan, where the real story begins.  This story taps into material from the Frank Miller Wolverine mini-series as well as the first story arc of the Wolverine on-going series that followed.

The first thing I’d like to mention is that they fixed the biggest problem I had with the last movie:  the CGI claws. For whatever reason, in several scenes of the previous Wolverine movie, the CGI claws look incredibly low budget and just plain bad.  That was not the case this time around. I don’t know if it was due to better CGI or the possible increased use of physical claws, but it did the trick.

I had no issue with the plot.  I have only a passing knowledge of this particular portion of Wolverine comics, so the movie seemed to line up well enough with what I already knew.

Hugh Jackman’s portrayal of Wolverine is still fantastic.  He has a great understanding of the character and it appears that he truly enjoys putting on the claws and sideburns to become Wolverine.

Okamoto-Mariko

I think it’s a pretty good fit.

Playing Wolverine’s love interest, Mariko, was new comer Tao Okamoto.  I liked her performance, but it did seem as though she is new to film acting.  With a bit more time and experience I think she could do some interesting things.

Fellow model-turned-actress Rila Fukushima served as a sidekick of sorts to Wolverine and served well enough in the role, though her English was a bit choppy and that wore on me after a while.  Several of the other cast members looked familiar to me, but I couldn’t place them and had to look them up on IMDB.  Mariko’s father, Shingen, was played by Hiroyuki Sanada, who I knew as Kaneda in Sunshine, and Yashida, played by Hal Yamanouchi, had a small role in 2004’s The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou.

The phrase “big superhero movie” implies several things, chief among which is action. The Wolverine delivers on the action pretty consistently though the movie.  All actions movies have their peaks and valleys, but this one seemed to have many more of both. Shorter, more frequent periods of calm were punctuated by action sequences of varying length. Since the movie was rated PG-13, the amount of violence that could be shown was minimal, but it was still obvious that Wolverine is still the best at what he does—slashing and stabbing people.

Unfortunately, the action scenes lead me into what I didn’t like about the movie.  I cannot stand shaky camera work, and many of the action sequences were shot using this terrible technique. I understand that the idea is to try and convey a sense of movement and the chaos of a fight, but instead it just causes viewers confusion and really bad visuals. Some of these scenes would look so much better they didn’t feel like a Parkinson’s patient was holding the camera. On a positive note, the panoramic scenery shots were wonderful.  They really make me want to visit Australia, where the film was shot.

My other biggest complaint has to do with the considerable amount of prior knowledge necessary to really enjoy most of this film.  At various points in the movie, Logan dreams about Jean Grey.  Although I have always loved her character, her inclusion without any explanation made for some confusion.  I also felt that Jean’s presence in this movie was unnecessary. It’s not that I didn’t like the actress who played her or how they used her; I just think the movie would have been perfectly fine without her in it.

I would also like to point out that there were far too many secondary villains.  There were 5 different characters that I would classify as secondary villains, in addition to the final bad guy, the Silver Samurai. The only saving grace in this is that unlike Iron Man 2, which suffered from too many villains with separate plots running at the same time, all of Wolverine’s foes tied into a single interwoven plot.  viperAlso, the use of Viper as a secondary villain confused even me. I have a fair amount of Marvel Comics knowledge and I had to look her up when I got home. I’m sure there was another more prominent villain that they could have used.  I’m also unsure of her previous connections to Wolverine in the comic universe.

In both the comic and the movie universes Wolverine is a major fan favorite, and yet for some reason, these movies keep falling short of achieving their full potential. I have heard nothing about a potential sequel, and this weekend’s box office take makes me doubt the likelihood a bit, but the increase in quality makes me believe that a third movie could really be something special.  While I liked the movie, I wasn’t wowed by it and there were some considerable flaws that detracted from the overall enjoyment of the movie. Moreover, the amount of background knowledge needed makes this a difficult jumping on point for new movie goers.  I give The Wolverine 3 out of 5 Death Stars.

3 Death Stars

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Filed under Andrew Hales, Movie Reviews, Movies

Fit 4 Con Update: Week 4

When I started this post series I said I was going to be honest, so here it goes. I have not been very good these last couple weeks about get in shape. In part it’s due to having some family in town and the other part is just being busy with work and rehearsal, but that not much of an excuse. I’m up about a pound right now. It’s not much, but it’s still the wrong direction. The good news is that now that my schedule is more fixed, I will be able to return to the gym this week. I’m actually looking forward to it. I was feeling quite a bit better on days after I had worked out. Keep with me folks, I promise I’ll get better about this and I hope to surprise more than a few of you. 74 days to NYCC.

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