Archive for February, 2010

“Piracy Is A Crime, But This Message Will Be Lost In The Annoying Advert When It Backfires…”

Sunday, February 28th, 2010

For many years now, we have been warned of the evils of digital piracy through irritating adverts. “You wouldn’t steal a handbag,” the copyright warnings claim. If I would, I doubt I’d be typing this or watching the fucking adverts in the first place. I’d be in prison being shown what guy-love truly is…

The things that really annoys me about the adverts are that they are on dvds that you have spent your money on. This could be the only dvd you get in about a month or more. And you are subjected to reasons why you shouldn’t pirate and why you should support the industry legally. In other words, exactly what you’re doing! It makes it a little easier to bear if you think of the advert as essentially saying ‘keep up the good work!’. Although that message would be better received if it wasn’t playing horrible music louder than the dvd itself.

The other thing is that they put time and man-hours into meetings and hiring people to make the adverts. These people needed paying, you know. Where’d the money come from? It certainly didn’t come from piracy, I can tell you that much. If I’m right, they’ve got money from previous dvd sales and put it into making adverts to tell people to keep doing exactly what they were doing in the first place! It’s like breaking into somebody else’s house, yelling at them really loudly (“YOU’RE DOING FINE! KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK!”) and departing while telling them to keep on living.

And the other types of anti-piracy advert are no less annoying. Take, for example, the one with the guy with a brander. You know the one, “Don’t let the pirates brand you with their mark.” This one is not as bad, as it’s found at the end of certain dvds rather than the beginning, but it still bears talking about.

The advert says ‘piracy funds organised crime’. That is sort of fair enough, except organised crime doesn’t require a lot of money to keep it going. And they don’t do it through selling hooky dvds. It also claims that ‘piracy funds terrorism’. Okay, fair enough. Wait, WHAT?! You are seriously suggesting that piracy funds terrorism? As in, acts of terror frequently taking the form of mass catastrophes and deliberately perpetrated to terrify?! Show me the statistics that say Bin Laden funded 9/11 by selling illegal copies of Shrek! This blatant attempt to play to post 9/11 paranoia disgusts me!

The overall message (other than ‘piracy is bad’, obviously) is “Don’t let the pirates brand you with their mark.” That would be okay after the terrorism claim, but I’m pretty sure it’s trying to associate branding with digital piracy (ahh, you see? Piracy, like those “Yarrrr!” kind of pirates!). And as far as I can tell, pirates never actually made it a point to brand people. And it wouldn’t be seen as a mark of your support of piracy, it would tell the viewer that you got on the bad side of some pirates.

The advert that is the main focus of this blog post: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HmZm8vNHBSU&feature=related (incidentally, after the girl cancels the download, she gets her bag and goes somewhere. Where, to get a life? Download rehab?!)

Unfortunately I couldn’t find the ‘branding aids terrorism’ one, so here’s a Futurama parody of the above advert: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OWPfcEOr2Yg&feature=PlayList&p=9452EC2C7AC0D34B&index=7

Why Did The Chicken Cross The Road? To Make A Star Wars Special, Of Course…

Saturday, February 27th, 2010

Through the magic of torrenting (which I consider a try before you buy service) I had the pleasure of watching the second Robot Chicken Star Wars special. Like the first one, it suffers for its short running time, which means that any dvd is best purchased in the sales or as an impulse buy, rather than a shopping highlight or making the trip specially.

This one is a better buy than the first Robot Chicken Star Wars special though, as it is a lot funnier. Sure, the special itself is 22 minutes long, but if you buy the dvd you get an extra 15 minutes of footage. That doesn’t sound like much, but what you already have makes for great viewing, and the dvd has an hour and a half of extra features. They take scenes from the films and take them to places that you wouldn’t have thought of before. Mercifully, they seem to have taken my complaints back in time and completely rejected doing another song and dance number.

There are some real gems in this that will make you laugh more than the first one did. Some of the notables are the Krayt Dragon bit (which deserves mention because you won’t work out what’s coming until it’s almost finished), the ‘take your daughter to work day’ arc and the parody of the “I can’t believe he’s gone” scene from A New Hope. There’s also a post-credits scene that you might not notice, which I’m not going to spoil; suffice to say that it poses a good argument.

All of these pale in comparison to the two best sketches in the show: the Dr. Ball sketch (link is at the bottom, do not click if you don’t want to be spoiled before you buy the dvd) and the reused scene with the awkward dinner that Lando, Han and others have in Cloud City.

I do have one or two minor complaints about this. One is that they couldn’t get James Earl Jones to do the voice of Darth Vader again, which was a real shame considering that they got Billy Dee Williams and Carrie Fisher (what have they been doing recently?) to participate in this one, along with Mark Hamill reprising his old role as Luke in the last one. The other is that they used a very similar scene to the one in Blue Harvest when the little mouse robot runs into Chewbacca. Indeed, I could almost hear the lines from Blue Harvest playing.

Overall, I liked this one. It’s a definite improvement on the last one, and it made me laugh quite a lot for such a short running time. Highly recommended, although you might want to wait a while as there are better dvds that you can get for the same price. Wait until it’s about five pounds.

Dr Ball: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZGAMFX2nt-I

My thoughts on Robot Chicken 1, along with Family Guy Blue Harvest: https://scottv2.wordpress.com/2009/11/22/thats-no-moon-thats-a-review/

(Incidentally, while I was looking for that sketch on YouTube I came across a video about unboxing the dvd. Seriously. That has to be one of the most boring ideas for a YouTube video ever. He didn’t even talk about the content, just described the dvd as he was showing it; what, is there like a niche market just waiting for his input on dvd packaging?!)

“I’m Going To Be A Roast Ted Man…Roasted Man!”

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

As my friends know, I’ve been a fan of William Shatner’s works for a while, so I decided to watch Comedy Central’s Roasting of The Living Legend himself.

For those unfamiliar with a roast (not to be confused with a roast dinner, which by the looks of him, Shatner would prefer), it’s where a roomful of the person’s friends and acquaintances get together and poke fun at him with the intention of showing how good-natured the Roastee is. In this case, Shatner got to say something as well and respond to the jokes.

The host of the roast is Jason Alexander (sounds like a mythological hero), who breaks up the guests with some jokes of his own before introducing the next one.

Such Star Trek actors as George Takei (rhymes with toupee) and Nichelle Nichols appear, along with a whole other bunch of people that English people probably recognise vaguely. The role of these comedians (as most of them were) was seemingly to do nothing but mock the other comedians, with a token acknowledgement of how Shatner influenced them, or how they know him.

Most of the comedians were pretty damn funny, and they certainly got laughs from me. Although with George Takei being there, there was a strange preference for gay jokes, which I found a bit odd. Surely there is tons of stuff that you could say about The Shatman? Another complaint is that a lot of their humour seemed to be aiming for shock value, which is a peeve of mine. Sure, I like rude comedians as much as anyone, but when there’s more gasping than laughing, you know something’s wrong. Only one of the comedians made fun of the fact that he rode in on a bloody horse! I realise there’s a reason for that but still!

My picks of the show are Shatner himself (naturally), Betty White was pretty funny too, but I think my favourite has to be George Takei. You have not lived until you have heard Sulu himself making gay jokes and on top of that he was genuinely funny, which you don’t expect from a serious actor (“Bill Shatner…if my boyfriend could suck that hard, I’d never leave the château.”).

The last five minutes or so is The Shat himself taking the stage to talk about the others and how he felt about being roasted. He was one of the funniest acts on the show, although as any true Trekker (Trekkie?) will know, he got the opening voiceover of Star Trek wrong when he performed it here.

The performers were George Takei, Nichelle Nichols, Farrah Fawcett (there’s a blast from the past!), Andy Dick, Greg Giraldo, Betty White, Patton Oswalt, Lisa Lampanelli, Artie Lange, Kevin Pollak (he does impressions of Shatner, pretty funny), Fred Willard (the newspaper editor from Anchorman) and Jeffrey Ross.

There are some nice nods to Star Trek in the mix, such as the green Orion girls tending bar, or his famous expression during the ‘KHANNN!’ bit as one of the big pictures of Shatner on the wall.

All in all, if you are a casual fan or a devoted fan, you could do a lot worse than seeking out this hour and twenty minutes of laughter. It’s on dvd or you can go the cheapskate route and watch it on the internet.

Did This Movie Take My Breath Away? Read On To Find Out…

Tuesday, February 16th, 2010

I have broken my before-now unmentioned one post per week rule to bring you a review of the manliest homosexual movie of all time. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it’s time for a review of Top Gun (1986). Based around an actually-existing school of pilots, it shows their training processes built around a love story between Maverick and Iceman his woman whose name I forget. Actually, I’m not sure that her first name is ever mentioned.

On paper, this movie had everything that makes a manly movie manly. You have your shots of aircraft taking off, your volleyball scene, a rockin’ soundtrack and several mid-air dogfights. Arguably this movie popularised the aviator style of glasses and allowed men to look cool with those for decades to come. So where did it go wrong?

Well, for starters, I found a recut trailer of Top Gun on the internet that means I will never be able to look at it in the same way again (link will be at the bottom of the blog). And the locker room scenes give off huge sexual undercurrents for the dudes, which supports my ‘the characters are all gay’ theory. Which is not in and of itself a reason not to watch the movie, but I think some guys may be put off.

The main character of the film is Maverick (real name Pete Mitchell), a fighter pilot played by Tom Cruise. He gets his shot at a place at the best-of-the-best-only Top Gun flight school. What follows is a love story that starts when he meets the main woman in a bar and sings ‘You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling’ in what is actually a funny moment. His character is played with a hint of sadness over losing his father in Vietnam in what everyone else views as incompetence. I just viewed this as the mandatory emotional baggage that characters are required to have. Other than that, Maverick just came off as a jackass, rather than the cool and great pilot that the film tried to portray.

The antagonist is played by Val Kilmer, also known as ‘Iceman’. I say antagonist, but as they’re all on the same team there is no real bad guy. Strictly speaking, he’s like the school bully who turns out to be okay when you get to know him. Val Kilmer himself has referred to Iceman as one of two gay characters that he’s played.

One of the ways that this movie is actually good is in the soundtrack department. Highway To The Danger Zone and Top Gun Anthem by Kenny Loggins and Harold Faltermeyer respectively are two of the best things to come from this movie. Anyone who has done this will know that blasting down the road with Highway To The Danger Zone playing is an epic thing to do.

Showing that audiences are easily influenced, many people signed up for the Navy after seeing this movie, despite the death that occurs late in the movie that completely destroys Cruise’s morale (this would be a spoiler but frankly if you haven’t seen it you’re not missing much). One would think that it would put them off, but no…

The reasons that this movie isn’t so good in my eyes are that they tried too hard to create an atmosphere of manliness, what with the rockin’ soundtrack and the guns and all, but then they added the Cruise love story angle, which clashes with the overall feel of the film. Plus the shots of the hot allegedly hot men in flightsuits and sweat glimmering off their bodies seems at odds with the awesome dogfights and suchlike that they added to the movie to appeal to the male audience. It’s a movie that doesn’t know what it is, an awesome guy movie or a female romantic movie. And I feel that is to its detriment and that they should’ve picked one audience to play to really well, rather than become a multi-demographic lacklustre film. If you take it seriously, it just falls flat and doesn’t quite work. But I also feel that if you view it with undertones of a hidden romance between Maverick and Iceman that it becomes hilarious to watch, which redeems it in a small way.

So yes, if you like movies that don’t try for any kind of artistic undertones and just concentrates on cool stuff, then along with Die Hard, Top Gun is a good movie for you. But I would generally recommend not seeing it. Other than some great music and one great scene, you’re not missing much. Give this one a miss, watch a truly great 80’s movie instead (I for one recommend The Terminator).

The homosexuality supporting trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ekXxi9IKZSA

How I Blogged Your Mother (And She Loved Every Second)…

Saturday, February 13th, 2010

Boy introduced me to the sitcom ‘How I Met Your Mother’ last night. It is excellent on pretty much every level. Yes, it’s pretty much a F.R.I.E.N.D.S clone, but it doesn’t suffer for it. The action revolves around a group of four friends and their relationships with one another/other people.

The show has a framing device of a man telling his kids of the future how he met their mother, hence the title. At the time of writing, he still hasn’t met her. And it’s been going for five seasons. Seriously.

The protagonist of the show is Ted, a commitment-ready (and how!) over-thinker of relationships. Sounds like me. He has one of those faces where you think you’ve seen him before, but you can’t remember where.

The on-again, off-again, on-yet-again girlfriend of the protagonist is Robin, a local news reporter, who I’ve definitely never seen before. They use a Friends-style ‘will they, won’t they’ plot to tease the viewer into watching it, and if it wasn’t for Wikipedia, the show might still hold some surprises for me on that front.

Moving right along, Ted’s flatmate and best friend (“ONE of his best friends”) is Marshall, a six foot four Mountie of a man. His fiancé is a smaller woman called Lily (more on her later) and one of the ongoing plot lines is their relationship as they go through the upgrades, much like Friends. He is studying to be a lawyer, but is still very much a ‘lad’. He is played by the star of the unfunny comedy (there’s an oxymoron if I ever heard one) ‘Forgetting Sarah Marshall’. However, don’t let this fool you. In this, he is very funny.

Barney Stinson is played by Neil Patrick Harris, a former child actor and one of the stars of the recent ‘Dr Horrible’s Sing-a-Long Blog’ and is on top form here. He plays a womanizer whose antics are legen-(wait for it)-dary! One of my favourite moments will be linked to at the bottom of this blog. It’s one of my favourite character moments and one of my favourites of all the shows I’ve seen so far. He tries to be the embodiment of awesomeness and living your life to the fullest, and I say that he succeeds.

Lily is Marshall’s partner, and is an embodiment of the things that some women want, such as to seem grown-up and sophisticated, as well as keeping the romance alive within a relationship. Which is no bad thing, as it helps contribute to the ongoing story lines of the show and how they evolve as a couple and separate people.

All in all, this is a great show to watch. There will be many laughs spread right across the episode, much like The Big Bang Theory. It sometimes includes references to its framing device within the show, such as some of the times that the father of the device (Ted) wasn’t there to see the event, and so the events changed in the telling. This show boasts an impressive guest cast list (which will also be linked at the bottom of the blog) and is genuinely funny. It may not be to everybody’s tastes, but at only twenty minutes per episode, it’s well worth checking out and seeing if you like it.

The context of this clip: Ted and Barney are going to a Halloween party. You won’t guess how they show Barney’s costume…  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=20YNcMmwdPg&NR=1

And here’s the guest cast list, just scroll down a little bit and you will notice Britney Spears was in two episodes, people!

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0460649/fullcredits#cast