Tag Archive for movie

Movie Going

In my opinion, there is almost nothing quite as fantastic as seeing a good movie in the theater. The superior sound and the giant screen enveloping your vision and sucking you right into the story. Even the audience matters. Listening to people enjoying the movie too is part of the greatness. The gasps and laughs, the sniffing of stifled tears. It is unique and wonderful. But increasingly it isn’t worth the price of admission.

Before we even get to the literal price, there is so much more that is wrong with the movie going experience. As much as I love the idea of crowds, the reality of them is always so much less. If your kids aren’t capable of sitting still for a couple of hours and watching a movie, don’t bring them – get a sitter. Not only will everyone else enjoy the movie more, YOU will enjoy the movie more. Also, don’t go to the movies if you have trouble following plots. Nothing will annoy your neighbors more than you constantly asking your friend what’s going on. And if you aren’t enjoying a movie, consider leaving and asking for your money back rather than decide for everyone that this drama should be a comedy by adding your lame remarks in your loudest voice.

People who text or talk on cell phones during movies should be shot. And I’m not being hyperbolic here. Security should come in, drag the texter out of the theater, take them to a room and shoot them. Perhaps just in the hand. Maybe take off a finger, the little one. I bet if they lost a finger they’d stop texting during the movies. Assholes.

And theaters should be required to maintain a certain level of quality. There is a theater near me that I almost never go to because, as I say, “You pay for one movie and you get to listen to two!” The sound barrier between their screens is so poor that you literally get to hear two movies. If your movie is the loud action pack thrill ride, no problem, but if your movie is the dramatic quiet tear jerker, listening to soldiers bark commands and things explode while the main character of your film is supposed to be silently weeping his loss kind of ruins things. At the very least, theaters with shitty quality should charge shitty quality prices.

But before I get to ticket prices, it would be remiss not to mention the concession stand. I can buy a bag of popcorn at the grocery store for about a $1.50, so I wouldn’t be surprised to have to pay $3 to but the same amount of popcorn at a theater where they serve it to me – the people have to get paid somehow. But having to pay $5 to $7 for that amount of popcorn is stupid. And I’m not even going to bother with the $7 sodas. What?!? But what about those $3.75 to $5.75 boxes of candy that are only half filled? I understand that the theaters need the revenue, but every facet of their concession stand appears to be designed to make me angry and never want to buy anything there. These days I don’t even bother. Despite the hanging of signs saying it is forbidden, I bring my own soda and snacks to the movie. And don’t try to sell me on the “but if you buy a large you get free refills!” stuff, because I never leave the theater during the film if I can help it. Why on Earth would I miss part of the movie I just paid that much to see?

Which brings us to the ticket prices. My local theaters are between $9 and $12 for an evening ticket. The $9 is for a theater that is of lower quality. Of course, when I do go to see a movie, I pretty much always go to a matinée on the weekend, before noon, where the price is often $6, maybe $7, for the better quality houses. Still the price is high. For the wife and I to go see a movie it’s going to cost $12 to $24, just for the tickets. And for my money we get to see the movie one time. Whereas if I wait six months, I can buy the movie on DVD or Blu-ray for around the same price, and own the movie – which I can watch as many times as I want or watch it once and then sell it to get some of my money back.

I haven’t even gotten into the latest trend: 3D. Currently, you pay a premium for 3D, an extra $3 to $5 per ticket. They’ll tell you that the extra cost is to cover the glasses (which they ask you to give back so they can recycle them) or to recoup the cost of upgrading their projectors. If that’s true, though, at some point they should finish recovering the projector cost and glasses production & recycling should level off that the premium should go away. It should become standard. Of course, that’ll never happen as they will be too busy enjoying the extra profits. And you know it’s all about the money as every movie seems to be getting a 3D release – and most of those are post-production conversions, not filmed in 3D with special cameras.

I am a movie lover. And back in the days of tickets being $5 to $6 and a concession combo (drink & popcorn) was $4 to $5, I’d go see a movie every single week. It was what I did on a Friday or Saturday night. Now, they’ve doubled the prices and the result is that I never get concessions and I see a movie once every couple of months. And I have to imagine that I’m not alone. These days, my Friday or Saturday nights are often spent streaming a movie off Netflix or Amazon where I pay a movie ticket a month for unlimited streaming of thousands and thousands of movies. I don’t know who is to blame for the skyrocketing prices – the theater companies, the movie producers, someone else – but I do know that it is pricing me out of the market.

I read an article once, and I wish I could find it again (but I think it was in print, not on the Internet), that Hollywood and theater owners were both lamenting “event movies” – stuff like The Avengers, the Harry Potter films, Avatar – movies that draw people into theaters.  Part of their lament was that smaller films just didn’t sell in theaters, and it was only these giant budget risks that stood a chance. I can’t help but think that they’re looking at everything all wrong. The problem is that it’s only these huge “must see” films that get people to ignore the high cost of admission. At half the price, at $6 or $5… or in my dream world $3, I feel people would be a lot more willing to take a risk on a movie. For $3, I would pretty much go see any movie in the theater – even if it was poorly reviewed, for $3 I’d be willing to judge it for myself. On the other hand, for $12 (or $15 in 3D), the movie better be well reviewed and give me two hours worth of awesome entertainment or else not only will I be unhappy but I’m likely to avoid going to the movies for a while. Once bitten, twice shy and all that.

So what do I recommend? First off, do some research on the movies you are going to see. Check this list, and if the movie says it was originally filmed in 2D, see it in 2D. Don’t reward people for going for the 3D cash grab. Second, go to weekend matinées. See the movie at 11am, then go for lunch, do some shopping, whatever, make a day of it – but start with the movie. Plus, if you eat breakfast, and then see a movie with the plan to get lunch after, you don’t need movie snacks, just sit back and enjoy the show. And third, find local theaters with good quality sound setups and stick to them. Reward theaters for being good theaters.

That third step can be the most difficult as movie distribution is a scam just like everything else. The best local theater nearest me doesn’t get all the best movies. They have 24 screens and didn’t get The Avengers, the 16 screen house down the road with lower quality got it. Two different movie theater companies, but they are serviced by the same distributor who ensures they take turns on the blockbusters and don’t compete. Lame.

You know… on second thought, you should probably just invest in a quality home theater instead.

This isn't my personal home theater... yet.

Best Friends Forever

I love apocalyptic films. Especially zombie films, but even when they don’t have zombies. And Best Friends Forever doesn’t have zombies. Instead, BFF is about two girls on a road trip while the world ends. If it sounds interesting, you should consider backing their Kickstarter, which they are using to get the money to complete post-production and release the movie.

You should support it, if for no other reason than to ensure that I get my copy. Because it really is all about me.


Because I know my readers are so very interested in everything I do…

Shakefire.comI’m a writer for Shakefire, and in the last couple of months here is what I’ve written:

I kinda suck as reviewing music. I like reviewing movies more, and hopefully in the future I’ll be given more movies and less music.

Anyway, in the future I plan to post one of these round ups once a month or so, when I remember to do it.

The Ratings Game

starsThis isn’t about TV shows. That particular Ratings Game would take an entire blog unto itself to even begin to properly discuss. No, I’m talking about when people review things and rate them.

Does Size Matter?

Some people used a 5 point system. Usually 5 stars, but then they give out half star ratings, thus making it a 10 point system on a scale of 0.5 to 5. Then you get 10 point systems, and then they go and try to present averages between multiple reviewers and dish out things like 7.6 and 2.4, thus making them actually a 100 point system ranging from 0.1 to 10.0. Luckily, if a person starts with a 100 point system, they generally don’t do decimals (unless you are handing out grades and want to really rub it into the kid’s face that a 92 is an A and they got a 91.9, a B). Really though, most of these systems exist almost entirely to attempt to set expectations. If a movie review site uses a 5 star scale, 3 usually means “like”, 4 “really like” and 5 is “love”.

But I’m all about managing expectations, and large systems (even as large as 5) start to set them for me. A 5 star film isn’t going to be just good, it’s going to be great. A 1 star film isn’t just bad, it’s awful! And it happens with every scale.

And then you run into other people wanting to fiddle with your system. Tons of game sites rate on a 10 point or 100 point scale, but the vast majority of their scores will be in the 7-9/70-90 range. They save the top score for the absolute best games, and everything below 7/70 is complete trash, and even mediocre games get a “C”. I’m sorry, but on a scale of 1 to 10, 5 is the middle, the average, the “meets some minimum level of entertainment but I didn’t really enjoy it”. You wouldn’t know that from the way most sites work.

A Simpler System

For me, however, I prefer a binary system, a scale from 0 to 1. If I enjoyed something and would recommend it to other people it gets a 1. If I didn’t enjoy it and wouldn’t recommend it to other people it gets a 0. No fractions.

Of course, that’s just the score. Any long review would get into exactly why I liked it, and what sort of people I think would also like it. Or it would discuss why I think the thing failed for me, and perhaps try to understand what sort of people might enjoy this, because you have to assume if someone takes the time to make something they must intend for someone else out there to like it.

I’ve written about this before. In fact, twice before. At a glance, I need only one piece of information: did you like it. Then, based on that I can decide if I want to read your full review. More so, if I’ve read a bunch of your reviews in the past and I have a general sense of “if he likes it, then I like it” I may not even need to read every review. I can shorthand. If I’ve heard about a game and think I will like it and I see that a reviewer I generally agree with also liked it, I can pretty safely purchase it and avoid the possibility of getting spoilers in a review. On the other hand, if there is a game I’ve heard of and think I will like and that reviewer says he didn’t like it, now I definitely want to read his review because maybe there’s something I need to know.

Got it in 1

In the past, I’ve toyed with ratings systems on reviews here. I even invented a 13 point system just so that a 7 would be the middle/average score. And I’ve thrown out ratings systems, insisting that the review is the only thing that matters. In the future, I’m going to implement my more simple 0 & 1 system.

Now I just need to make some nifty graphics for my new rating system, and they need to be self-explanatory because I don’t want any passing creator see that I’ve given them a 1 and think I’m saying they suck.

Dead Heat

Dead Heat

You Can't Keep A Good Cop Dead

I knew Joe Piscopo from his time on Saturday Night Live. Sure, I was between the ages of six and ten during his tenure, but the weekend is for staying up late. I’d also seen Johnny Dangerously and Wise Guys. So, probably sometime in 1989, when I saw Dead Heat on the shelf of the local video store, it was Joe who made me say, “I need to see this!” These days I remember it as the first movie I recall Treat Williams being in.

I also remember it as being a funny action buddy cop zombie movie.

It’s the story of a couple of cops, Roger Mortis and Doug Bigelow, looking into a recent rash of crimes perpetrated by criminals thought to be dead. And when they track down the nutcase behind the reanimations, Roger gets himself killed… and reanimated. Now just as indestructible as the bad guys, and finding out his condition is irreversible and deteriorating, he’s got a time limit to finish the job before he dies for good.

This is just such a fun movie that manages to blend horror and comedy well, while leaning more toward comedy, and action. And much to my delight, as of this morning it became available on Netflix Instant. I can’t wait to see it again.

The Dead. Finally!

Over two years ago I posted the trailer for a movie called The Dead.

Well, this month, us zombie movie fans in the United States will finally get a chance to see it. The slow roll out is here. Being in Atlanta, I’ll get to see it on the 28th, and see it on the 28th I will.

Movie Mashup – June 3rd 2011

X-Men Beginners

It's 2011 and this is what super heroes look like.

Movie Mashup – May 27th 2011

The Hangover Panda 2

Pandamonium like you never expected.

A Week of Tweets on 2011-05-08

  • $12 and an hour of my time = toilet fixed. I love knowing how to do things. #
  • Hey Netflix, if you can't put a recent movie up as widescreen, don't bother streaming it. Who wants to watch stuff in 4:3? #
  • Writing code and listening to the Machinarium soundtrack. Yes, I am a geek. #
  • Anyone know a way to get Facebook to stop grouping feed items from the same source? #
  • We'll consider today a dry run for life with just one car. #deludingmyself #
  • @Longasc I think cloning is the only responsible solution. in reply to Longasc #
  • "I am fluent in six million forms of pants." #replaceawordinastarwarslinewithpants #
  • @etcet Not my hashtag. in reply to etcet #
  • Shut down all the pants smashers on the detention level! #replaceawordinastarwarslinewithpants #
  • "I used to bullseye womp rats in my pants back home." #replaceawordinastarwarslinewithpants #
  • @petterm I was in the beta for a while, and I hated having my social networks integrated in my browser where I couldn't close them. in reply to petterm #
  • Today, for my listening enjoyment, the soundtrack for the game Revenge of the Titans. #
  • 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12. — If you just read that like this http://youtu.be/WBWxX3713gc you rock. #
  • "How I Won the War" may be a decent film if I were British and it was 1967. It isn't, I'm not, so it wasn't. http://j.mp/k4QxkT @Shakefire #
  • Did the Mexicans really defeat the French, or did the French all come down with Montezuma's Revenge? #cincodemayo #
  • Things are not "for sell" and I cannot "sale" something to you. #
  • About to see Something Borrowed… the things I do to be allowed to see movies like Thor. Totally worth it. #
  • @GameCouch It's pretty good. Not quite Iron Man level, but far better than Fantastic Four. in reply to GameCouch #
  • $25 computer – http://j.mp/iOjEJo #
  • Just saw "Beginners", when it comes out in a month or so, go see it. Seriously solidly good film. #

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Aaah! Zombies!!

In my quest to fill time on the odd occasion the wife has to work on the weekend, I browse Netflix in search of movies that I know she has no interest in watching.  This past weekend I stumbled on Aaah! Zombies!!  Take a look…

As you can see in the trailer, the movie takes a unique approach to the genre.  When the film is in color the main characters appear alive and everyone around them is infected by something that makes them act funny and move rapidly.  When the film goes black & white we see things as they really are with the characters being zombies that are moving slowly while everyone else moves at a normal pace.

Overall the movie isn’t great, but it was good enough.  I enjoyed the hour and a half I spent watching it.  It’s available on Netflix Instant, so if you have the time and the inclination, check it out.