Thursday, January 19, 2006

The Half Bad Boy DVD Review - Batman Begins

Summary: This masterpiece of moviemaking shows why Batman is a worthy hero, and teaches the movie industry how a movie should be made in the process.
Grade: A

About This Movie: We learn about the origins of Batman as he assumes a secret identity to try to bring peace and order back to his Gotham city home. And he also gets to kiss Katie Holmes.

The Best Part About This DVD Is... everything ties together. These days, it seems most movie makers don't even take the time to tie their own movie together. Batman Begins not only ties together logically from beginning to end, but ties in with the whole Batman story. After watching, I understood how he became who he is, how Gotham came to be the way it is, why he is always fighting so many quirky characters, where he gets all of his neat gadgets, and many other things that were previously unanswered questions. This Batman is a worthy hero. Unlike other Batman portrayals, he is an admirable, good-doing man most of the time (not a sniveling nerd or snobby jerk), but a truly terrifying, yet human, crime-fighter. He chooses to fight crime because he wants to make the world a better place, and chooses to use his money and his life to do this instead of basking in the luxury of a billionaire lifestyle. This Batman (not the others) is my favorite of all superheroes.

The Worst Part About This DVD Is..., I'll have to get back to you on that one.

The Bottom Line
This is how movies should be made - great acting, great casting, great stunts, great special effects, great character development, great cinematography, great plot and theme - no stone was left unturned. Everything made sense in this movie. Even Bruce and Rachel's scene at the end was very satisfying - it was neither cheesy and unbelievable, nor was it disappointing. Not only is this hands-down the best superhero movie of all time, it may be one of my favorites of all time, period. Buy this DVD. You will be glad you did.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Another Stupid Congressional Bill

You might want to read this bill, which is currently being debated in the US Congress. Or, you can let me summarize it for you. The bill will make it illegal to manufacture a device that can record analog signals unless the device complies with whatever DRM accompanies the signal.

This completely destroys my new way of watching TV. I watch the TV programs I want to watch when I want to watch them. This new bill has the potential to make it so that I cannot record my shows, or that I can only view the shows the way they were originally broadcast (potentially no fast-forwarding, rewinding, or pausing), or only view them within a certain time period of when the original was broadcast.

Are people really this stupid? Do the producers of the content think that imposing restrictions on how I consume their product will increase my use? Hardly. I am less likely to watch if they do this than before. There are TV shows that I watch quite regularly, but I never watch them at their broadcast time because that time is not convenient for me. Imposing restrictions like these will cause them to lose a viewer. It's that simple.

What I want to know is, who are the genius lawmakers that are sponsoring these things? Are they a bunch of old geezers, jealous of the young whippersnappers that know how to use technology, and dead-set on punishing the youth of the world for having a more comfortable life than they had? Or are they just ignorant? Why would someone sponsor a bill that only makes life worse for the general public?

Some might say, "Well, they have a reason, because this technology can be used to create pirated copies of movies [or whatever]." Hey, just because something can be used to commit a crime doesn't mean that it should be illegal. Should we outlaw kitchen knives because they can be used to stab people? How about gasoline, since it can be used to burn down a building? Should we outlaw water because people can drown other people with it? Just because I have a DVR and a CD burner doesn't mean that I am a criminal. I use these devices, quite a bit, but for perfectly reasonable and legal purposes. And don't get me started on the whole protecting-the-artists argument. Give me a break.

So, who do the lawmakers care about? Obviously not you or I. They seem willing to entertain obviously stupid laws that don't even benefit society. And don't think for a minute they are doing it for the poor artists. They are doing this for their own selves, at the expense of the future of our country and the freedom of future generations.

And what is it they are doing, exactly? What is their agenda? Their agenda is to pass laws that are so ridiculous that they make criminals out of normal, law-abiding citizens. Pass so many obscure and silly laws that a normal person living a normal life and conducting what seems to be logical, harmless acts is actually breaking laws all the time. This way, the government can have the right to subdue and control citizens, because those who are not criminals are still predisposed to crime.

Come on, US Congress. The average American is generally law-abiding, honest, and upright. The government is supposed to be for the people. Can we stop passing laws that make life worse for the average American? Can we stop taking away freedom in the name of security and safety?

Friday, January 13, 2006

The Half Bad Boy DVD Review - War of the Worlds

Summary: Great acting by Tom Cruise, fantastic special effects, and moments of serious, honest introspection cannot mask several logical inconsistencies.
Grade: C

About This Movie: Of course, the movie is based on H.G. Wells book by the same title. Aliens invade the earth with the sole purpose of overtaking the planet and covering it with blood, or something like that.

The Best Part About This DVD Is...
... the internal introspection. Moments when, while watching, you wonder, "Would I do that?" For example, would you steal a car from someone to save the life of your child? Would you kill someone in cold blood if you thought they were threatening your life?
I also like the type of father that Ray is. I know they were trying to portray him as a bad father. He isn't a bad father. Somehow, if your wife leaves you for a richer man and takes your kids with her because you chose a hard-working yet underpaid career, society wants to make you a bad father. Ray isn't a bad father. A good father loves his kids, cares about their welfare, and requires their obedience as he teaches them about survival in the real world.

The Worst Part About This DVD Is...
... the complete lack of logic. For example, why would aliens bury tripods in the earth millions of years ago, in an attempt to take over the earth today? Why not take over millions of years ago? And how is it that, despite many of these being buried in the city, nobody has ever dug one up in the history of mankind? And how is it that, despite having advanced technology where they can ride lightning bolts through solid matter, vaporize objects, and project shields around themselves that repulse anything they wish, the aliens somehow cannot ascertain the deadliness of the environment and compensate for it prior to coming to earth? And, how is it that millions people are dying all over the place, but every single member of Ray's family survives?

The Bottom Line
A friend categorized this movie well as being like a piece of art that could be a masterpiece, except the artist decided to unveil it before it was really finished. There are some parts of this movie that are great and others that are simply either unfinished or illogical. The unfinished parts keep this from being a great movie, but it is still entertaining to watch if you can suspend reality.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Corporate America is Forsaking Us

I have felt for some time now that employment is at best a tenuous existence in terms of providing for one's future. I feel this is so because I believe that corporate America has forsaken the employees, those who built the corporations, in favor of their own profit, and have therefore become too self-centered and too unethical.

This is because they not only think only about how they can get ahead, whether or not at the expense of other corporations or people around them, but they do this based upon the labor of others which they, as a whole, do not pay fairly for. (Notice that payment here is not always monetary although it often is.) They tend toward demanding more and more time, effort, intellect, vision, insight, and loyalty without returning in kind. For example, it is self-centered and unethical of a corporation to hire an employee to complete certain responsibilities, then to assign additional responsibilities on top of those previously agreed to, and yet to pay the same in money, benefits, recognition, and opportunity. This becomes a problem further in the United States today because corporations have a much better chance at getting the government to pass laws in their favor than private citizens do – they simply have more money to make it happen.

This problem becomes magnified in corporations that leverage knowledge, information, goods, or services that are provided to them from external sources under "gentleman's agreement" terms of non-monetary payment in some other means. One example of this is software companies that improperly use open source software. Note, there is nothing wrong with companies making money off of open source if they are able to do so. But since many corporations have the tendency to fail to pay fairly for things they receive, it is likely that they will continue this practice with something like open source, for example, taking credit for work they do not do.

How long will this system last before corporations become so greedy that they erode the foundations of society that support them? We are on this road today and that future is not necessarily far off.