Zephyrus of the Anemoi

.the ramblings of a radman.

Category: Movies (page 1 of 6)

Get seven of Stanley Kubrick’s best films for only $40 on iTunes

For the last couple days, iTunes has been selling a seven-film collection of Stanley Kubrick movies for only $40. In HD. That’s less than $5.72 per film. Hell, A Clockwork Orange and 2001: A Space Odyssey are worth $40 alone. Why are you still reading this? Go buy these!

Free copy of “The Incredibles” with Disney’s new Movies Anywhere app

Right now, you can get a free copy of Pixar’s superhero-family flick The Incredibles just by downloading Disney’s Movies Anywhere app for iOS and linking it with your iTunes account. The app is free and, once synced with your iTunes account, lets you watch any of your purchased films, as well as loads of bonus content. Last night, I watched “Let It Go” from Frozen in 25 languages. There are also numerous behind-the-scenes and extended preview clips of Disney’s films, including a number of them for Marvel’s Avengers series.

Don’t have an iPhone or iPad? No worries. You can also access Movies Anywhere from a web browser. The deal remains the same. Sync with iTunes, get a free movie.

So go check it out. It’s free, it’s easy, and now you can have my favorite Pixar movie with you wherever you go without forking over a single, red cent.

Oh, and if you haven’t yet seen Frozen, go buy it on iTunes today. Honestly, it’s fantastic. If you are looking for strong female characters for your daughter or your own enjoyment, you won’t be disappointed.

There and Back (on sale) Again: The Lord of the Rings Extended Editions

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is now available on iTunes in an exclusive extended edition for $20, which (if you are a fan of the movie) is reason enough for excitement. But, even better than that is the discovery that you can buy the complete extended editions of The Lord of the Rings for $40 in HD.

Sadly, I bought the bundle when it was $54 a couple weeks ago, but if you don’t own them yet, this is an incredible deal (especially with the advent of iCloud streaming for iTunes movies that went live recently).

You can also still get the theatrical edition of the first film in The Hobbit trilogy for $18, if you don’t think the extra 13 minutes is worth $2 (or anything). I know very little about the additional footage, so if you do, feel free to leave a comment letting me know.

#BattleshipLoveBlog

Last night I decided to watch BATTLESHIP, which is a mostly terrible movie that is full of big, stupid fun. I knew almost immediately that I was going to love hating this movie so I decided to do an impromptu live blog on App.net of my thoughts as I watched it. I’ve reposted the results here:

https://alpha.app.net/zepfhyr/post/12557599

Awe-ful, by the way, is a very clever portmanteau of awesome and awful, which is absolutely 100% how I would describe this movie.

https://alpha.app.net/zepfhyr/post/12557663

Fun fact: Producers originally cast Ben Affleck in the lead role before they realized that Taylor Kitsch is, quote: “prettier and younger and at least 2% better at acting”. Yes, I know that it’s redundant to type ‘quote’ when I am using quotation marks, but I liked the way it sounded in my head and it’s my blog so nyaahhhh!

https://alpha.app.net/zepfhyr/post/12557801

https://alpha.app.net/zepfhyr/post/12557962

https://alpha.app.net/zepfhyr/post/12558444

https://alpha.app.net/zepfhyr/post/12559295

Seriously, though, these guys earn the award for worst park rangers ever. Their deaths were in no way unfortunate because they deserved to get grind-murdered by space-blender-death-balls. Also, how fortunate was it that the guard with the keys to the abandoned jeep wasn’t completely ground into mushy-man-pulp so that they could recover said keys?

https://alpha.app.net/zepfhyr/post/12560442

https://alpha.app.net/zepfhyr/post/12560676

No, I didn’t misspell ‘know’. I actually meant ‘now’. Stop judging me. It sounds totally awesome when you say it wrong like that.

https://alpha.app.net/zepfhyr/post/12560704

https://alpha.app.net/zepfhyr/post/12560855

https://alpha.app.net/zepfhyr/post/12560916

I really, really, really want to know if it’s possible to do to the USS Missouri what these guys did. Because, if so, how awesome would Naval X-Games be?!

https://alpha.app.net/zepfhyr/post/12561092

I had an issue with this at the beginning of the movie but I let it go because there were so many other awe-ful things to see. But when it became a critical plot point, I could no longer hold my tongue.

https://alpha.app.net/zepfhyr/post/12561198

At one point during my rantings, fellow appnetizen Greg Mooney caught my typo and pointed it out:

https://alpha.app.net/gm/post/12561281

As it turns out, the typo was on my “buddy cop” comment, so it fit perfectly. All-in-all, I enjoyed myself. And really, isn’t that what life is all about?

P.S. I kept hoping that the Japanese captain would order the attack on Oahu so I could point out the irony of a Japanese naval officer firing on Hawaii in an attempt to save it, rather than destroy it. Sadly, I was disappointed.

Lord of the Rings & Harry Potter anthologies on sale (in HD!) on iTunes

LotR Trilogy-wide

UPDATE (10:40 am): Deal prices for several of the bundles have changed. The original article will remain below, but updated prices are listed here. The Lord of the Rings trilogy is now $18 (still a great deal) and the Harry Potter anthology is now $60. There are still a few $10 bundles remaining, so be sure to check out all of the deals here.

Apple is currently selling specially-priced bundles of movies on iTunes. At the moment, you can actually buy entire sets of movies in HD for cheaper than the price of buying one of the movies by itself. This deal is not likely to last long, so if any of these anthologies look good to you, you should snatch them up immediately.

The most notable of selections are the Lord of the Rings trilogy and the complete Harry Potter anthology for only $10 each. You can also snag all 10 of the pre-reboot Star Trek films for $50, which is an absolute steal. There’s a pretty decent selection, with something for everyone. There are some great franchises here for a good deal, so if you like movies and saving money, then you should check out the complete list here.

[plinker heading=”Find this useful? Check out some of the other cool stuff here!”]

On Star Wars, the prequels, and fatherhood

It’s been a long time since I’ve actually sat down to watch The Holy Trilogy. I don’t mean that it’s been a year or two. I mean that it’s been years. I’ve watched an episode here or there when I was trying to get my son interested, but he always had more interest in Star Wars as a video game (LEGO Star Wars, for example, or The Force Unleashed). He watched them because I was watching them, and he enjoyed them because I enjoy them (remember, the power of being a father is no different than the power to use the Force: it has a light and a dark side and you must maintain balance). But he never got excited about them the way I did as a child. Part of that stems from the fact that cinema has changed a great deal since I was a child. Every movie that kids see these days is chock full of action and humor throughout. There are no slowly-paced scenes with Muppets in a swamp or old dudes in a desert filling in important exposition to a story that has so much more history than is ever revealed in its first trilogy outing. But, since he’s turning 10 soon, I felt it was time to give the movies another go. And, as an experiment, I thought I’d give this Machete Viewing Order a try (more on that later).

Star Wars has a rather labored history for fans, stemming primarily from the fact that George Lucas just can’t leave well-enough alone. As a child, Star Wars was a single entity: a set of three films that each built on the previous but left so much unexplained and filled the entire galaxy with mystery. I remember devouring facts and details en masse as Lucas leaked it in various source and trivia books, as well as entire novels written in the universe (perhaps less with Lucas’s blessing than his bank account’s, as he was pretty determined to damage established continuity when he released the prequels). When I was a young lad entering my senior year of high school, however, Star Wars changed. Lucas released the “Special Edition” (because “Give Me All Your Money Edition” was too on-the-nose). My friends and I went to go see it in theaters, because how could we not? We had grown up with this movie. It was absolutely necessary that we experience it in its shiny new glory. We had not anticipated, however, that so much of the story would be changed due to Lucas’s meddling. Sure, we got some good laughs and a few new scenes to fill in a blank here and there, but the tone of the film was dramatically different as a result. The tragedy continued through Empire and Jedi and my friends and I became less excited about each revision. Han will always shoot first in my house. Luke will never scream while falling into the abyss. “Lapti Nek” will always play in Jabba’s palace.

The true horrors began, however, when I first saw The Phantom Menace in theaters. I remember such conflicting emotions during the movie. So much of it felt wrong somehow, but that didn’t stop me from getting excited about podracing (a scene I still enjoy, despite the majority of my peers hating it with every fiber of their being) and one of the most amazing lightsaber sequences I had ever seen. I tried to convince myself that this is what Star Wars was like to adults that watched it when it first came out, but I couldn’t overcome the sinking sensation that it simply wasn’t on par with the original trilogy. I searched my feelings and knew it to be true. I continued to visit theaters with each release, and while they got better, and Lucas recognized a few of his mistakes, it never seemed to be in time to correct them.

I remember taking my (then-two-year-old) son to see Revenge of the Sith in theaters with me. He loved movies at the time. We watched Spider-Man like it was going out of style, so I knew he’d sit through most of the movie with me, despite it being almost two-and-a-half hours long. I left the theater feeling somewhat satisfied, though still a little frustrated by the entire ordeal. I didn’t watch a single prequel from start to finish from that day on until this past week.

Several months ago, a friend of mine decided to throw a “Losing My Star Wars Virginity Party”. While I didn’t get to stay for the whole thing, it got me excited to watch Episodes IV, V, and VI again. Around the same time, I was introduced to something called The Machete Order. The proper viewing order for the entire Star Wars saga is a bit of a hot-button issue. Lucas himself declares the films should be watched in episode order (which is a great way to make people hate Star Wars). The big flaw here is the loss of some pretty awesome surprises in the original trilogy. Traditionalists believe that they should be viewed in release order, which unfortunately, leads to the prequels leaving a bit of a bad taste in your mouth as you finish the meal. Purists say “damn the prequels” and ignore them entirely. Unfortunately, for a younger generation of Star Wars fans, they are going to be bombarded by friends to see them. Plus, some of the information in the movies is key to appreciating the expanded universe content that exists out there, such as cartoons and video games. An alternative viewing order was suggested in which viewers watch A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back first. Then, after the big reveal in Empire, watching the prequels, and finally finishing the saga with Return of the Jedi. The Machete Order takes this a step further and removes Episode I entirely. Being the weakest of the saga, and the film that most fans of the series take umbrage with the most, it makes sense that removing it makes the series stronger as a whole. I recommend reading the linked site for the best details on why to do this, but that sums it up.

I archived this information for some indeterminate future date when I might have time to introduce someone to Star Wars in this fashion. A couple weeks ago, a new single from Hot Problems (of which, one half of the duo is the lead singer of Ludo) hit the web and got me not only interested in watching Star Wars again, but in watching the prequels to see if they’ve “improved” as I’ve aged.

So, at the beginning of this past week, I made the decision that Avery and I would watch the films in this fashion to determine if a) it improves the story for long-time fans, and b) it is a satisfying introduction to a child that has a knowledge of the saga, but no real recollection of seeing the films. Last night, we finished with Jedi which is an excellent way to spend Father’s Day. I’m sure there are many other, “better” films that represent a father-son relationship to warm the heart-cockles, but Jedi does it for me. The climax is proof that a father’s love is stronger than any Dark Side that exists in all of us.

Unfortunately, while The Machete Order is a fairly decent way to watch the saga, it is not (in my opinion) solid enough for long-time fans. New viewers that want to consume as much Star Wars as possible in as short a time period as they can should definitely consider it. But, the two trilogies exist in such different worlds, that it’s jarring to jump between them. For starters, in the original trilogy, the galaxy is a wreck. Everything except the Empire is a broken-down mess just trying to survive. Every location the characters visit is gritty and dangerous (except for Endor, which I’ll cover in a moment). In the prequels, however, the galaxy seems so much cleaner. Not only that, the atmosphere of the films has changed. The universe of the originals is one of harsh extremes. The prequels feel rather calm and cozy by comparison. Even the Tatooine of Episode I seems like a jolly place, despite the fact that our “hero” and his mother are slaves on a planet where water must be harvested in order to survive. Episode II and III are much darker, but still never quite give that haunting sensation that Empire did when Luke faces Vader on Cloud City.

I feel that the stories should remain separate. I like to think of the prequels as a supplemental story to the all-important original trilogy. If you feel like ignoring Episode I to avoid Jar Jar and the accidental hero effect, then go for it. I’m going to even give Episode I another shot and treat it as what it is: a children’s movie. Because that’s the key issue with Star Wars for me. A New Hope was a movie for everyone. Empire was for adults. Jedi was for everyone, but with a clear tilt toward children (for the merchandising). The Phantom Menace, however, was for kids. Lucas realized his mistake and tried to fix it with Attack of the Clones, but still suffered from some terrible writing and poor action sequences (every scene where a Jedi fights a CGI battle droid is just plain awful). By Revenge of the Sith Lucas realized that the prequels needed more than just flashy lights and recycled dialogue from the original trilogy. Although his writing and directing could have still used some outside help, there were a number of pieces of information revealed that tied up the majority of flaws made present by Episode I (such as Anakin being conceived immaculately and the inability of Jedi to become one with the Force).

I also learned something important about what I thought was absolutely atrocious acting by the actors playing Anakin throughout the series. In Episode II, it’s not that Hayden Christensen is a terrible actor that made Anakin a whiny, self-important jerk. Anakin is a whiny, self-important jerk. He has been told he’s The Chosen One and will fulfill a prophecy and that he’s more powerful than anyone expected any Jedi to be since he was a child. Obviously he’s going to have issues. The parallels to Luke are a lot more obvious when you realize they’re there. Anakin must become the badass that he’s hinted at being in the original trilogy. Could the performance have been better? More subtle? Of course it could. But Lucas is not a character director. Hayden was left to his own devices and this was the best he could do. He was young and fairly inexperienced. Episode I’s Anakin is even worse, though mostly because it’s a children’s movie (we’ll get to that later).

After all this, I’m probably going to watch Episode I again with Avery. He told me that his favorite of the series was Episode II, which doesn’t surprise me considering it has lots of action and more Jedi than you can shake a stick at. Plus, the kid just absolutely loves Yoda. He even thinks Jar Jar is funny, though I’m not sure how long it has been since he’s seen Episode I (I’m assuming he’s seen it outside of our home, though it’s also possible he simply thinks he’s funny because of LEGO Star Wars). His love of Episode II has taught me something as a parent and as a Star Wars fan: when something is a part of your childhood, you cut it a lot of slack, you defend it when it’s attacked, and you enjoy it without quite being able to explain it. Who am I to judge or control what my son loves? Why would I ever want to take away something from him that he enjoys when I can instead learn to enjoy it with him? We’ll watch Episode I together, and we’ll laugh, and I’ll cringe, and we’ll both get excited about an absolutely stunning lightsaber duel. And when it’s over, I’ll look longingly at the original trilogy and wait patiently for the day when I can dust them off and we can watch them again.

Adventures in iPad ownership / Happy Geekend, everyone!

A little over a week ago, I picked up a new iPad. I have had the original for about a year, but have spent little time with it myself, as it was a family device and my children had laid claim to the majority of it’s faculties. While I was still able to check out a few apps here and there, I knew that I would never truly see the wonders of the device until I had one of my own.

I’ve spent the last week eking out as much enjoyment from the device as I could muster between work and family time. I’ve found that, despite the larger screen, I use the device less for gaming (as I thought I would spend the majority of my time with it) and more for creation and consumption.

Since I’m currently in the middle of reading actual, physical books, I haven’t spent any time with ebooks except as an exercise in demonstrating the incredible screen. Instead, I’ve spent a lot more time reading comics than is probably healthy for someone wishing to remain gainfully employed. I’ve watched a few YouTube videos, as well, but since the majority of videos available to view on my iPad are not HD (as I can more easily consume Netflix via computer or TV), I don’t really watch a whole lot of video.

Recently, I decided to spend a bit more time with the creation aspect of the new device. I’m a huge fan of the Paper app by FiftyThree. I used it a couple times on the original iPad to make some rough sketches, but I really got into it today, trying to make something I could show off. It may not be much, but here are a couple sketches I made in the past week (the first was with my fingers, the second with a very basic stylus from Targus):

20120505-160128.jpg

20120505-160139.jpg

And speaking (briefly and not most recently) of comics, in celebration of Free Comic Book Day (and also, Revenge of the Fifth), I spent most of the day downloading every free digital comic book I could find to celebrate. I also took my boys into town and pulled a great collection of comics for FCBD, though the two best comics (The Avengers and Star Wars/Serenity) were already gone from shelves. I wish they had all been available digitally, as well, as I would love to keep my physical books in pristine condition. Ah, well. Such is life.

Hope you all have a great Geekend (thanks to Star Wars Day–“May the 4th Be With You”–, Revenge of the Fifth, and The Avengers premiere on top of FCBD). Enjoy!

P.S. Happy birthday to my little brother who has fled the country for Germany this week. Probably for fun and not to escape the authorities, but you can never tell with him.

Yesterday, I posted an entry about L5, a completely crowd-funded sci-fi series pilot. I received an excellent comment from another fan that brought me some excellent information. It seems that L5’s first episode has already reached over a million downloads! That’s pretty impressive. Unfortunately, it seems that there have only been a little over $7,500 donated to the project since the first episode was released. Imagine, if only a fifth of those that downloaded the episode donated $5, they’d be able to fund 5 seasons of the series at the same budget per episode. Or double the budget per episode and give us two solid seasons of the show.

So, I’m including a link here to the donation page for L5 so that you can choose to give your next caramel macchiato to a worthy cause. And when you do, let me know and I’ll invite you to the first season watch party. Hopefully that happens in 2012 and not 2889.

I’m a sucker for science fiction. I have been since childhood. I grew up staring at the TV with lightsabers  humming and lasers blasts caroming around trash compactors all day long. I loved Battlestar Galactica, despite its incredibly cheesy everything. As I got older, I continued to check out every sci-fi show I could, despite the fact that most of them were canceled before they were able to truly flourish. Most simply couldn’t garner enough viewers to justify the gargantuan budgets necessary to create alien worlds and/or technology. The ’90s were the worst for me. Show after show just vanished from the air just as I grew attached to the characters or story. This practice continued into the new millennium, though with less frequency, as studios stopped risking budgets on sci-fi as a general rule and the Sci-Fi channel became a haven for science fiction to survive.

Thankfully, Netflix provides me with a large source of science fiction that I missed the first time around (Farscape, Babylon 5, Sliders) and has allowed me to re-experience some of my favorites (Stargate, Firefly) without any delay between episodes. However, I’m still looking out for that next great series that runs for 5 to 10 years and enthralls me throughout. But, with studios unwilling to spend the money necessary to create high quality series, some sci-fi creators are seeking new ways to fund their projects.

And now we have reached the entire reason for this post. Today I came across a short film/pilot for a science fiction series that was made entirely using crowdsourced funding with a budget of $15,000. The result is pretty spectacular, though some might be put off by less-than-stellar performances and B-grade special effects. It certainly reminds me of some of my favorite sci-fi novels, in which a great mystery is investigated by a small few individuals. I highly recommend checking it out. I’ll certainly be looking forward to it.

It’s supposed to be available at VODO, but I haven’t been able to get the site to load all day. But it’s being freely distributed via BitTorrent, as well. You can find it via EZTV here.

I have watched Evil Dead 2 (iTunes) and Army of Darkness (iTunes) a number of times, but what makes them so enjoyable, is watching them again and again to find new things to enjoy. Not that the movie is filled with subtlety. But rather, there are amazing things happening all the time, that your brain usually can’t handle it all at once, so you must watch the movie again to take it all in.

Evil Dead 2 is less of a sequel to the original The Evil Dead (iTunes), and more of a remake, with a much higher budget. Where The Evil Dead ends, like many horror movies, with a lone survivor that believes he is out of danger only to be attacked once again (with little to no hope in sight) as the credits roll, Evil Dead 2 sets up a sequel with a wholly different style.

Army of Darkness is a campy, action flick with some of the greatest one-liners in the history of cinema. If you ever played Duke Nukem 3D, you’ll recognize many of them. It has long been one of my favorite movies of all time, despite the stop-animation skeletons not quite holding up to today’s standards. The rest of the movie is a rather epic tale of one man’s determination to do what’s right (with a lot of pushing) and return to his own time.

I know that I’m not giving you a whole lot of information on these movies, and that’s because it’s really important that you simply watch them. Just remember: the more blood used in a scene, the better it is. This is always true.

And thanks to those of you that followed along with my day-by-day horror movie marathon. It was a lot of fun, and I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.

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