Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Final Fantasy and other releases you weren't told about

I don't pay much attention to what's being released, direct-to-video in the U.S. except every 6 months or so, when I go review what's on Amazon. This is when I find some of the most surprising movies that I watch. For example, there was apparently another computer-rendered Final Fantasy movie (Final Fantasy VII, just to be confusing, since it's only the second  movie in the franchise). It's getting decent reviews, so I might have to check it out...

Also in the "well reviewed, but you've probably never heard there was a sequel," category are Ip Man 2 (there's a 3 being advertised on Amazon, but it's either a fake or a bad bootleg... hard to tell from the reviews... but 2 is real and the first was a good enough film to make me consider buying the sequel), Full Metal Alchemist: The Sacred Star of Milos (which is a film based on the series, which is itself a reboot of a previous series which had its own film... so sequel?!) and the Alec Guinness version of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, which I've somehow never seen.

These things just manage to sneak up on me, but sometimes it gets way out of control, and not always in a good way. Such is the case with Highlander which has had recent (as in the last 5 years) releases of an animated movie, Highlander - The Search for Vengeance and a live-action, direct-to-TV-and-then-video Highlander: The Source. The latter, being one of my top contenders for worst film of all time, right up there with Misery Brothers.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Cabin in the Woods needs an "altquel"

Sequels, prequels, reboots, remakes and franchise mergers are the meat of Hollywood's content-generating engine. From AvP to Rise of the Return of the Revenge of the Reinvented Reinstantiation, the modern cinema is all about rehashed revisionism. So, when I watched Cabin in the Woods, I immediately started to wonder: how can there be a sequel to this movie? Of course, I can't even explore why that's a difficult question without spoiling the film, and I won't do that in this posting. However, what I can say is that a sequel would have to be a very different story, and might not interest the same audience. A prequel could be interesting, but it might be slightly predictable, since we're told at a certain point in the film, pretty much exactly what has transpired before.

This is where I lit on the idea of the "altquel". That is, a sequel that follows the same events from the first film (perhaps from a slightly different perspective) up to a critical moment in the film, where a key even causes the two films to diverge. Essentially, it's the story of an alternate timeline or universe in which the same events lead up to very different results.

So why an altquel for Cabin in the Woods, specifically? Without indulging in spoilers, all I can say is that there is a moment in the film where we get a glimpse of what might have happened, had any one of several other actions been taken. It's a perfect jumping-off point for an altquel!

But, Cabin in the Woods is really more than just a horror movie. It's a postmodern, revisionist take on the state of the horror movie genre, so why go with a straight altquel? Why not tell all of the stories at once? How? OK, that will require spoilers, so let me give you some time to go watch the movie, first...

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Quite possibly the worst film-review of all time

Sometimes reviewers just "don't get it". That's OK. I don't demand that they understand every sub-genre as well as its fans do, and it's still possible to review a film well when you don't understand the conventions of the sub-genre. Acting, writing, cinematography, costuming... these can all be evaluated in a semi-objective fashion, regardless.

That being said, professional reviewer Rex Reed recently decided to abandon all pretense of doing his job and submit a review of Cabin in the Woods which is so bad that it actually deserves a review of its own.

Before I get started, let me be clear: there will be massive spoilers in this review. See the movie first, then read this for the lulz. His review actually makes the movie a bit more fun, if that's actually possible.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Growth of Google+ and Where It Can Go Next

Google+ has been growing rapidly, it seemed to me... but I had no hard data. Then this came along:

that shows G+ hitting 100mil users
Faster than any other social service
This is slightly misleading in a way. There's a sort of tipping point, now, where any social media, primarily-text-oriented posting system will immediately absorb a very large number of users once it becomes "significant enough" to warrant mirroring corporate, celebrity and brand posts from other services. This is why you see The White HouseHugh JackmanNASA, and the like on Google+. It's not that they're not on Facebook and Twitter, and in fact, most of their postings are mirrored to all of these services.

Still, Google+ is certainly growing rapidly. I find that posts I used to be able to comment on have now ballooned into massive post-fests in which any comment I might have will be drowned out, and as with any other social venue, I find myself searching for more and more restrictive subcultures in order to find a group of peers with whom I can converse in a meaningful way. The ability to share circles with specific people is a real win. That definitely makes the process easier.

I feel that the G+ niche is going to be the corporate outreach and community/ecosystem building space. Google is already using it this way, if you look at some of their recent posts:
They use the service to find and build communities around their technologies. This is exactly what every technology company wants to see happen to their products, but it's hard to take those first few steps, especially because, to marketing people, this tends to smell like losing control of the message, and that's a cardinal sin in their books.

It will be interesting to see if other organizations can build this kind of ecosystem using Google's tools...