Tag Archive for theater

Movie Round-Up: July 17th, 2009

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince:

This actually opened Wednesday, and its going to be huge.  Millions of people will see it, and I’ve seen quite a few good reviews of it already.  I’ve seen the other ones in the theater, so it is quite likely I’ll make the trek to the local multi-plex in order to plunk down my hard earned dollars for this one as well.  However, now that I’ve seen how the books end, and knowing that they’ve decided to split the last book into two movies, I’m just not as excited as I once was for these movies.  Perhaps the movies will end better.

(500) Days of Summer:

Opening in very few theaters and opposite Harry Potter means that this movie will probably not be noticed by many people, and that’s a shame.  (500) Days of Summer is a brilliant comedy that is not a love story.  Its a film about a break up, all from the point of view of the guy.  I was lucky enough to catch a free screening of this film and I absolutely loved it.  I’d almost consider going and buying tickets for it even if I don’t see it again just to support the filmmakers.  If this one happens to be showing at a theater near you, I highly recommend it.

The Monster Trilogy

There is a guy out there on the Internet named David Wellington. He’s calling himself a serial novelist. Essentially posting his works up a chapter at a time on the web, and when he’s done, getting them published into traditional book form. I would love to speak with him candidly about how successful it has been (obviously enough that he’s done six novels this way, with a seventh in progress).

In any event, I didn’t find him on the Internet. Instead, I stumbled on his books at a Borders bookstore while wasting time before seeing a movie at the theater in the same complex. I was drifting through the horror section, as I often do when I go to Borders, and found a curious set of books: Monster Island, Monster Nation, and Monster Planet. The subtitle to each was “A Zombie Novel” and from that alone I knew I had to at least read the book cover. Being near Christmas when I found them, I agonized for a couple of trips to the theater over whether I should add these to my ever growing Amazon wish list and hope to get them for the big day, or to just buy them. I bought them.

After reading the first book, I wanted to post a review, but I decided to wait. I wanted to review them all at once. So here you go, a trilogy review in one part.

Monster Island is set two years after a plague has hit. That plague: zombies. The first theory presented in the book is one that just smacks of common sense, that in a world descending into chaos places that are used to chaos will handle it better. In the case of a zombie plague, the places with the most armed citizens fairs better than urban areas full of unarmed people. In short, the Third World outlasts the First. Dekalb is a UN Weapons inspector who is tasked by a Somali warlord to find AIDS treatment drugs to help keep her well and alive. After a few failed raids of local installations, Dekalb suggests that the one place he is sure will have what they want is the UN Secretariat Building in New York City. So Dekalb and a group of female soldiers head to the United States. Remember that bit about the First World not doing so well? Yep, New York is a veritable Zombietown. Monster Island isn’t your traditional zombie story, as there is more going on with a talking zombie (a lich) named Gary and an old dead druid named Mael Mag Och who would just like to finish ending the world. The book is very well written, well paced, and I devoured it. A great read.

I wish I could say the same about Monster Nation. For the second book we actually step back to the beginning of the plague and a girl with no name. She’s a lich, one of those talking, thinking zombies with magic powers, but she doesn’t know it and doesn’t want to admit it. We are also introduced to Bannerman Clark the man initially in charge with figuring out what is going on. While this book isn’t “bad”, it doesn’t have the punch of the first book. Sometimes I literally felt like I was forcing myself to read the book. Overall, while still a decent read, I have to say that it suffers the same fate that many middle chapters in trilogies do, that is reads like a bridge from the first to the third more than it feels like a story all on its own. The only familiar character is Mael Mag Och, but he’s not as involved here as he will be in two years.

Monster Planet comes in ten years after Monster Island, twelve years after Monster Nation. Here we meet Sarah, Dekalb’s daughter, who is still running with the remains of the camp he left her in, bolstered by the survivors of the New York escapade. All the elements of the first two books come together here in a story much closer in energy and style to the first. Much more enjoyable than the second book, and a fine end for the trilogy… if it truly is the end.

Overall, I recommend the Monster Trilogy if you like apocalyptic tales and/or zombie stories. Its a bit rough in the middle, but is worth the ride in the end. David Wellington has definitely made my must read authors list, and I’ll be picking up more of his works to support him.

Cinematic Cuisine

The other night I had lightning strike my brain. No, not literally. I mean that I had an idea, and its a whopper.

I love going to see movies at the theater. There is just something about the big screen and even the crowd (when they aren’t doing annoying things like talking loudly or text messaging) that I enjoy. And while I think ticket prices are outrageous, I’ve learned to modify my habits to get a better deal. AMC does $5 tickets for shows before noon on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. One thing I don’t like about going to the theater is the food.

Oh, don’t get me wrong, I love having a bucket of popcorn, candy and a soda at the movies. But the prices are so insane that I will only buy something when I’ve got coupons that reduce the cost down to a more manageable level, or I just have the wife bring candy and sodas in her purse.

I’ve learned over the years that mostly this is because theaters make diddly squat from their box office and rely heavily on their concessions for revenue. This is where my big idea comes in…

Rather than have a couple of overpriced counters of undersized candy and a sprawling game room filled with games nobody plays, why not lease out space to food and candy shops?

The most obvious benefit is that the theaters could set lease agreements to make the space profitable, modify rent as needed. Next, they’d be able to cut their own overhead by reducing staff. A little healthy competition between 3 or 4 food/candy vendors would probably do the customers some good. Lower prices would mean more people willing to pay for snacks, and probably more revenue (trying to explain the “lower prices = more money” concept to some business people is infuriating though) for the stores. Better and more affordable food selection might even increase ticket sales since it might make a night out at the movies a little more enjoyable.

Really, I just don’t see why this couldn’t work out well for the theaters. Someone, please explain it to me if I’m completely bonkers…

Just My Luck

I am married, so just get over the fact that, yes, I went to go see a chick movie in the theater.

That said, its wasn’t a bad film. It was funny, all the parts well cast and played, although it was typical, and by that I mean the basic plot is a “switch” story, like a Freaky Friday, Vice Versa, Like Father Like Son or 18 Again, only without the body switching. In this case, an almost teminally bad lucked guy switches his fate with that of an overly blessed young girl. His life is crappy, hers is blissfully wonderful, and then suddenly his life is fantastically awesome and hers is in the pits. And of course, when he (unknowingly) runs into her again he can sympathize with her woes and helps her out, leading to romance…

Yeah, typical chick movie. But I laughed, so its all good. Well, except for the $14 we spent to see it. AMC raised their matinee price to $7. Now it will actually be cheaper to buy movies on DVD than to go to the cheapest showing at the theater.

The Hitchhiker`s Guide

I just got back from the theater, and I must say I’m a bit… not underwhelmed… and not overwhelmed. I guess I’m just… whelmed. I read the books long ago, read them twice. And I loved them. The movie captures some of that… and loses some of that… and adds something different. There is an entire plot thread in the movie that isn’t from the book, and some of what I read and pictured in my head came out differently in the film.

It was funny… I laughed quite a few times, but overall I think I laughed more with the book.

Anyway, it was okay, but I’d suggest people wait to rent it or something. Oh, and when you do, or if you see it at the theater, stay through the credits. One of my favorite parts of the book shows up in there… admittedly, less funny on screen than in my imagination.

Cellular

I like seeing action films in the theater. Dramas and comedies are fine for the small screen, but action films just beg for big. Last year I really wanted to go see ‘Cellular’ on the big screen. However, time got away from me as it often does, and I missed it.

It showed up from Netflix the other day, and I just watched it tonight. It was awesome. The action scenes were well paced and spaced, the funny moments were funny at the right moments. It’s just a really well made film. And it has William H. Macy in it too. Bonus.

If you don’t recall, the movie is about a woman who gets kidnapped and she’s held in a room with a smashed phone. She manages to fix the phone enough to make a random call, and luckily enough, the guy she calls doesn’t hang up.

It was definately worth the viewing. Good movie.

A butterfly flaps its wings…

I went out on Saturday and saw The Butterfly Effect at the theater. And wow. It was good.

If you don’t know, the story is simple enough, a man is able to "travel" back into his past to try to fix what went wrong, but sometimes when he thinks he’s doing right, the world spins out of control more.

The movie was well written, filmed, and all that. It was just solidly good.

Oh, and Ashton Kutcher, to my surprise, can actually act.