Wednesday, April 5, 2006
I just saw this picture in The Onion of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld about to shoot Force lightning to members of the press when he was lauding Iraqis' progress in making war.
Geez, do all politicians think they are Sith Lords now?
Monday, April 3, 2006
It seems that not even the best episode in the Star Wars Saga was safe from critics' negativity.
New movie audiences and people with fuzzy memories tend to think that everybody (or in this case, movie critics) loved the "Original Trilogy" and that everybody (or all critics) hated the "Prequel Trilogy" at the time each of the movies came out. Well, that's simply not true. All of the movies were torn apart by those pesky know-it-alls called "film critics." All of the movies, except Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back, since critics hold it in such high regard. Or so I thought.
I was surprised to find a negative review for The Empire Strikes Back written by Vincent Canby for The New York Times, published on June 15, 1980. Not only did this guy not get the movie, he was bored by it:
"When I went to see The Empire Strikes Back I found myself glancing at my watch almost as often as I did when I was sitting through a truly terrible movie called The Island... It's a big, expensive, time-consuming, essentially mechanical operation."
He constantly complains that watching the movie is a waste of time. When a critic feels this way about such an amazing picture as The Empire Strikes Back, I truly believe that that writer is just bored with movies in general and should start looking for other stuff to write about.
Canby seems baffled by all of those things that I (and a lot of people I know) love about The Empire Strikes Back:
Its mind-blowing start and cliffhanger ending ("It has no beginning or end").
The AT-AT Walkers ("some awfully inefficient tanks that have the shape of armor-plated camels.")
The cool dialogue ("After one has one's fill of the special effects and after one identifies the source of the facetious banter that passes for wit between Han Solo and Leia (it's straight out of B-picture comedies of the 30's), there isn't a great deal for the eye or the mind to focus on.")
The acting ("The other performers are no better or worse, being similarly limited by the not-super material.")
Oh, his review also included a cheap shot towards the droids. Canby wrote, "Even the appeal of those immensely popular robots, C-3PO and R2-D2, starts to run out." Yeah, I guess that's why the last time we saw the droids in a movie was, uh, last year.
Did this guy even try to enjoy the film? Or at least pay attention to it?
He wrote, "It's a measure of my mixed feelings about "The Empire Strikes Back" that I'm not at all sure that I understand the plot... I'm not as bothered by the film's lack of resolution as I am about my suspicion that I really don't care."
Well, I think that the term for that is "short attention span."
He also did not understand why everybody loved the film except him:
"I'm also puzzled by the praise that some of my colleagues have heaped... Perhaps my colleagues have information denied to those of us who have to judge the movie by what is on the screen."
As I have mentioned before, I do not think that film criticism is restricted to mere opinion, a movie can very well be analyzed for "what is on the screen." But Canby did not do that, as he claims. Didn't he say that his "mixed feelings" were involved in his review? In this case, his feelings were boredom and apathy, and he let them get in the way of his review.
I guess George Lucas was right. Critics have not liked any of the Star Wars movies.
Friday, March 31, 2006
In light of the recent hoopla surrounding debates about what the US Senate should do about border security and illegal immigrants, and if employers who hire them should be penalized, I found an article at TheOnion.com titled "WWE: Illegal Mexican Wrestlers Taking Smakdowns American Wrestlers Don't Want" that I thought was funny.
Feel free to read it.
Cool pics there too.
This just shows a different aspect of an issue that is usually associated only to "fruit-picking" work on agriculture fields.
Thursday, March 23, 2006
After watching the new X-Men: The Last Stand theatrical trailer, where you can clearly see that Magneto, the master of magnetism, is doing something really insane to the Golden Gate Bridge, I said to myself, "I've never visited San Francisco... I've better go there soon before The Brotherhood of Evil Mutants strikes the city... Gotta see that bridge."
So, I took a couple of days off from work and last weekend I stayed in San Francisco. I have to say, it's a very cool city. I had a really good time. The public transportation system they have there is great. You can take an electric trolley bus (or light-rail vehicles, or the world-famous cable cars) and get around and go anywhere you like in the city/county quickly, without any problem, and without having to walk a long distance to get to your destination. It is light years away from what we have here in Tijuana, or even San Diego. Public transportation is a pain in the ass around here.
I also enjoyed visiting the SF Museum of Modern Art and the Asian Art Museum. I noticed that there are a lot of artists, and art galleries, and art academies, and a lot of places where you can listen to good music. It just has an amazing art environment. My dad was fortunate to study art in the Bay Area some time ago (I'm guessing that was in the 60's) and I always wanted to go there.
I noticed that SF is the most tolerant city I have ever visited. You can go through any street and walk by people from all different cultural backgrounds and economic status. During my whole stay I didn't get any stupid remarks like, "Well, you don't sound Mexican", or, "You're coming here to work, aren't you? Why do I get the stinkin' feeling you are lying to me?", as a friendly US immigration officer once told me when I was crossing the border to go to the San Diego Comic-Con.
I even got to see a very big protest starting at the Civic Center Plaza which lasted all weekend. Something against the president of the US, and something about the third anniversary of the war, I don't know, I was just passing by.
I did visit all of the usual tourist attractions (Fisherman's Whorf, Alcatraz, China Town, Haight & Ashbury), but the biggest surprise I had was at the Golden Gate Bridge, where I saw a blue Imperial logo sticker on a sign that read:
INJURY OR DEFACEMENT
OF THIS BRIDGE
IS A MISDEMEANOR
VIOLATORS WILL BE PROSECUTED
OF THIS BRIDGE
IS A MISDEMEANOR
VIOLATORS WILL BE PROSECUTED
I guess that the Galactic Empire arrived at the Golden Gate Bridge before Magneto and his henchmen (and henchwomen) did.
That's a relief.
Monday, November 28, 2005
Following up on my last blog entry related to films dubbed in Spanish, I wanted to talk about the experience I had last week when I went to see Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire at a local movie theatre in Tijuana.
First of all, I'm a fan, so I had been waiting for this movie for some time now. I was trying to read the whole book before I saw the movie, but I just didn't have the time and I only got to "The Yule Ball." I have to say, the movie is amazing, I loved everything about it, and I can't wait for the next one.
The movie was great, but I had a horrible experience at the movie theatre. You see, there is a ridiculous trend going on in Mexico with more and more movies being shown in theatres only in their Spanish dub version instead of the subtitled version. This is really annoying because I prefer to see this kind of movies in English. Where I live, the best and closest option to see a movie is Cinemastar, but it's not a big movie theater chain in México, and lately, some of this year's most popular movies (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Corpse Bride, among others) have only been shown dubbed in Spanish. For those who don't know, when a Spanish dub is not made correctly, it can suck really, really hard. Well, Goblet of Fire was only shown dubbed in Spanish in my favorite theatre, so I had to look else.
I only had 2 other options: Cinepolis (which I avoid due to really bad customer service) (just my opinion here), and Cinemark. Both are big chains in Mexico and both where showing Goblet of Fire in your choice of subtitled or dubbed versions. Well, I picked Cinemark, and I really regret it. The movie and the soundtrack where scratched, throughout the whole movie! You could see 2 vertical stripes and a screechy sound whenever the score was played. I still can't believe that the movie was in such bad condition on opening day.
I wrote to the managers of both Cinemastar and Cinemark. I didn't get an answer from Cinemark, but the manager at Cinemastar kindly replied to my message and said that he agrees that the movie-going public should always have the choice of both dubbed and subtitled versions, but that, unfortunately, they depend on what the distributors in Mexico City send them. What this means is that, in Mexico, we live in a stupid centralized system. Think of Coruscant as the Capital and the rest of the country as the Outer Rim Territories. But, what the distributors don't understand is that whatever they like to see in Mexico City (or if they prefer dubbed versions) doesn't necessarily apply to the rest of the country, much less a border town like Tijuana.
So, I'm running out of choices to go to the movies in my town. I guess I'll just go to San Diego to watch my next must-see movie in a digital projection theatre.
In summary: Harry Potter Year 4. Great movie. Bad movie theatre experience.
Monday, November 14, 2005
There is a sort of controversy in Mexico with pictures being shown in movie theatres dubbed in Spanish or with Spanish subtitles. This Dub vs. Sub debate has been going on for ages, but it has become more evident lately because more and more movies, specially the family-oriented ones, are shown dubbed in Spanish, and sometimes the subtitled version is not made available. A lot of peophe really hate the dubbed versions, they want to hear the real voices in English and prefer to read the subtitles. But also, a lot of people prefer the dubbed versions because, well, they don't know English, or, like in so many other countries, they don't know how (or don't like) to read. Personally, I have no use for either one of them, but only because I know English. So, when I go to the movies, I skip the dubbed versions (because sometimes they are not made properly) and I ignore the subtitles.
Some countries don't have a choice. I don't know if it's entirely true but, I have heard that movie theatres in Spain are required to show all international films dubbed in Spanish ONLY. Or that subtitled versions are not very accessible. I think that's stupid.
My position in this debate is neutral. I don't think that one version is more important than the other one in the context of the Mexican movie-going public. The important thing is that we have a choice. Both versions should always be available to public. Much like the audio options in a DVD.
Which brings me to the Spanish dub in the Revenge of the Sith DVD. Though I prefer the English version, I have made it somewhat of a tradition to watch the Star Wars movies dubbed in Spanish with my Dad, because that's the way he prefers it and because non of the Region 1 Star Wars DVDs have Spanish subtitles. Also, my sister has done some voice over work recently, so I have learned to appreciate the craft and talent of voice actors.
Yesterday, I got together with my family and watched Episode III dubbed in Spanish. Not to be confused with the awful (so I'm told) Spanish dub from Spain, fortunately, this was the same Spanish dub that was released in theatres in Mexico and Latin America, and I have to say, It was not that bad. Some dialog is slightly changed to match the screen actor's lip movement, but, other that, most of the voice acting was convincing. Mario Filio is okay as Obi-Wan Kenobi and Cristina Hernández is great as Padmé Amidala. Jesús Colin nails it as Chancellor Palpatine/Darth Sidious, he sounds almost like Ian McDiarmid. Irwin Daayan is also very good as Anakin Skywalker, although he sounds a bit older for the part.
The cool part about this voice over work is that they paid attention to continuity and used the same cast for Episode I and II, and also the Clone Wars micro-series for Cartoon Network, as you can see here and here. Also, some of the same voice actors worked in the Spanish dub for Episodes IV, V, and VI, so, you can hear Arturo Mercado as Yoda and Carlos del Campo as C-3PO throughout the whole Star Wars Saga.
Now, since they are not shown in the DVD credits, and so that they don't remain as unsung heroes, here is the entire cast list of voice actors for Star Wars Episodio III: La venganza de los Sith:
Anakin Skywalker: Irwin Daayan
Padme: Cristina Hernández
Obi Wan Kenobi: Mario Filio
Canciller Palpatine: Jesús Colin
Yoda: Arturo Mercado
C-3PO: Carlos del Campo
Mace Windu: Víctor Hugo Aguilar
Conde Dooku: José Lavat
Bail Organa: Gerardo Reyero
Darth Vader: Federico Romano
Clones: Miguel Angel Ghigliazza
Nute: Paco Mauri
Ki Adi Mundi: Carlos Aguila
Eeth Koth: José Luis Orozco
Saesee Tiin: Gerardo Vázquez
Kit Fisto: Ismael Castro
Tion Medon: Alberto de la Plata
Odd Ball: Rolando de Castro
Mas Ameda: Mario Arvizu
Droid médico: Humberto Solórzano
Piloto de Fireship: Raúl Anaya
Super battle droids: Oscar Flores
Super battle droid 3: Javier Rivero
Droid de batalla: Igor Cruz
Capitan en Cruiser: Herman López
Capitan Antilles: Andrés García
Genaral Grievous: Eduardo Giaccardi
Droid técnico: Carlos Hernández
Typho: Ricardo Brust
Niño Jedi: Andoni Sánchez
Piloto en Cruiser: José Luis Mora
Tuesday, October 18, 2005
"They told me there was nothing out there, nothing to fear. But the night my parents were murdered I caught a glimpse of something. I've looked for it ever since. I went around the world, searched in all the shadows. And there is something out there in the darkness, something terrifying, something that will not stop until it gets revenge... Me."
So, why am I talking about Batman after I have been posting about Star Wars? Well, my excuse is the obvious connection of Liam Neeson playing a mentor to both Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader in The Phantom Menace as Qui-Gon Jinn and Bruce Wayne/Batman as Henri Ducard in Batman Begins.
But, the truth is that I am a Batman fan and I love everything about Batman Begins, which was just released on DVD today. I am just so happy with how this movie turned out. And it was a long wait to see a good Batman film.
I am a big fan, but, unlike my love for Star Wars, I do have to be more selective when it comes to Batman, because, let's face it, there has been a lot of crap (specially in movies and TV) associated with the Dark Knight since his first appearance in Detective Comics in May 1939.
They had tried making bat-movies before but never got it right. Batman (1989) was not a "Batman movie," it was a "Tim Burton movie," and although it was 100 times better than the shameful 1960's TV series, it was still not faithful to the Batman seen in comic books.Batman Returns (1992) was weird and boring. Batman Forever (1995) was silly and over the top. But Batman and Robin (1997), the worst movie ever made, brought the franchise to a dead stop and left it with the same campy stupidity as the 60's TV show. I never understood why director Joel Schumacher, a filmmaker that has given us some really intense dramas, never took Batman seriously. But, because of that lack of respect for the Dark Knight, I have not seen one of his movies ever since. But now that we have Batman Begins, let's never talk about those movies or the groovy 60's TV show ever again. Ok? They never existed.
But that does not mean that there has not been anything good before Batman Begins. There have been many amazing graphic novels by such authors as Frank Miller, Alan Moore, and Jeph Loeb, just to name a few. And let's not forget animation. I am a big, big fan of "Batman The Animated Series" (1992-1995, and known as "The New Batman Adventures" from 1997-1999), not to be confused with "The Batman" currently shown on Kids WB. Also, before Batman Begins, the feature length animated movie Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (1993) was the best Batman movie ever made. The series and the animated movie were faithful to the comic book, very well written, beautifully drawn and animated, and the voice actors were excellent. Mark Hamill provided the voice of The Joker. Hey, there's another Star Wars connection.
Well, may The Force be with the cast and crew of Batman Begins. Can't wait for the next movie.