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Archive for April 8th, 2012

Happy Easter!!

Christ IS risen!!
 

 

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There is something about a web site which claims as its purpose: “To arrive at the edge of the world’s knowledge, seek out the most complex and sophisticated minds, put them in a room together, and have them ask each other the questions they are asking themselves.”  To find out more and to stretch your mind, visit www.edge.org.  You’ll be glad you did…  This site may not have the breadth or humor of www.ted.com, but it will definitely make you think.
 

Today’s movie reviews include a repeat (“X-men: First Class“), a new viewing (“Clash Of The Titans“) and a first viewing of a remake (“The Flight Of The Phoenix“).
 

What is left to be re-said about this reboot of the X-men franchise.  This is probably the third time I’ve watched it and it is the best of the bunch (the X-men franchise).  I even give it an edge over “Wolverine: Origins” which was my previous favorite.  If they can keep up the story quality (and acting), this franchise can easily go another 10 years.  The evolution of Magneto into an enemy of humanity (as opposed to simply an evil person) is quite deep (and fascinating).  The performances by Michael Fassbender (as Magneto) and Kevin Bacon (as Sebastian Shaw) easily dominate the movie.  The interesting twist (level of depth) is that Magneto grows up to hate humans because he believes Shaw is evil and a human, when in fact, Shaw is a mutant who has complete disregard for humans because he is a mutant and believes himself to be superior (even to other mutants).  
 

This is a movie I can watch over and over again and I highly recommend it.
 

I was sure I first saw “Clash Of The Titans” when I was a child, but I honestly didn’t remember it.  This is, quite frankly, an incredibly bad movie.  The casting is bad and the acting is worse.  The movie has two redeeming features: it does follow the Greek myths (on which it is based) more closely than the average Hollywood movie, and for its day, the stop-action special effects (by Ray Harryhausen) are quite good.  I would still rate the stop-action from “Jason And The Argonauts” better though.  Almost all of the other special effects are as bad as the acting.  I was shocked to find out the movie was released in 1981!!  Considering “Jason” was made in 1963, one would have assumed there was greater improvements in the technology in almost 20 years.  I can only attribute the poor effects to the producers having spent too much money on the big names in the cast.  Money, I add, which was wasted as I struggle to find a single decent performance (and this from a cast including Laurence Olivier). 
 

Interestingly, even the title is incorrect.  This is not a “clash of titans” as the movie implies.  To begin with the “Kracken” is a Norse myth, not Greek, and Medusa was a human, turned into an evil creature by a jealous goddess.  Neither were Titans from Greek mythology.  And finally, the “clash” is about 10 seconds, at the end of a two hour movie.  Anyway, like I said this movie is only “based” on Greek myth – the adventures of Perseus.
 

The reason I bought the DVD was because there was a re-make done recently and its sequel is due out soon.  I was intending to pick up the re-make prior to going to see the sequel.  I will probably still do that, but I certainly have much lower expectations now.  Unless you are really a stop-action special effects fan, this movie is a complete waste of time.
 

The third movie I’m reviewing is “Flight Of The Phoenix“.  This is a 2004 remake of the 1965 movie by the same name (well, actually “The Flight Of The Phoenix“).   I now own both versions, although I haven’t watched the original in some time.  What starts out as a typical disaster movie turns out to be a better than average study in human dynamics when faced with extreme stress (yeah, I know, that’s what all “disaster movies” are supposed to be about).  This version has the addition of a female in the cast – I’m not sure why as there is no particular advantage or plot twist involving her.  This movie also does the politically correct thing of adding minorities in many of the roles.  In the original, the cast is multi-national as opposed to multi-racial.  The slight twist is the addition of “class” difference where Hugh Laurie plays a “valuable” management type as opposed to the average worker.  It’s interesting that this plays a more significant role in the movie than does the multi-gender or multi-racial aspects.
 

As if surviving in the desert isn’t bad enough, this re-make version adds in a final sequence attack by roaming bandits.  Setting aside the unlikeliness of bandits wandering around in the middle of the desert, the odds of them stumbling on the crashed crew is so improbable as to boggle all credulity.  But, what the heck, in a disaster/survival movie – in for a penny (desert, storms, crashes), in for a pound (roving bandits with motor cycles).  To be honest, I kept waiting for someone to say, “Oh, heck!  A brother never survives this shit in the movies…”  
 

The ending in the original is MUCH better than in the re-make which is entirely Hollywood “happily ever after”.  Anyway, I am a Dennis Quaid fan and I liked this version – so – recommended!!  Now I’ve got to go watch the original with Jimmy Stewart!!
 

 

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The truth is that no large enterprise can work without bureaucracy.  Bureaucrats, or staff people, provide coordination among disparate line organizations; establish and enforce corporate-wide strategies that allow the enterprise to avoid duplication, confusion, and conflict; and provide highly specialized skills that cannot be duplicated because of cost or simply the shortage of available resources.
 

—  Louis V. Gerstner, Jr.
from his book: “Who Says Elephants Can’t Dance
 

 

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