In the Kingdom of Ice: The Grand and Terrible Polar Voyage of the USS Jeannette

In the Kingdom of Ice by Hampton Sides is a book that I could not recommend more about the perils of Arctic exploration.

The book is the unbelievable true story of the USS Jeannette. Its captain, George Washington De Long, embarks on a mission to reach the North Pole, as no explorers had yet done. Their voyage is like nothing I have ever read about or seen — in life or on screen.

Continue reading “In the Kingdom of Ice: The Grand and Terrible Polar Voyage of the USS Jeannette”

Source Code–Movie Review

source-code-movie-2011 An action thriller centered on a soldier who wakes up in the body of an unknown man and discovers he’s part of a mission to find the bomber of a Chicago commuter train.

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Source Code, starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Michelle Monaghan, is “an action thriller centered on a soldier who wakes up in the body of an unknown man and discovers he’s part of a mission to find the bomber of a Chicago commuter train.” I cannot describe the movie much more without ruining the plot so I will leave the overview at that.

I disagree to an extent about the movie being classified as an action thriller. There are certainly action and thriller elements to the movie, however, the movie is primarily dialogue driven with action sequences kept to a minimum. This might be bad news for those looking for nothing but action.

I’ll start by saying that the movie was extremely good. It might even have made it into my Top 5. The storyline was original – and so was the “gimmick”. In my books, uniqueness is weighted heavily and certainly helped boost my rating. The dialogue was also one of the best parts of the movie, although I have seen a lot better (think The Taking of Pelham 123).

There was a distinct humanistic element of the movie – seemed a little tacked on near the end but did help to develop the characters and add charm to the movie. Usually these elements are added to appease the critics – whom seem to be won over almost entirely by the amount of human emotion in a movie. Unlike some movies that overdo the love story, this movie kept a delicate balance between nauseating emotion and emotionally devoid.

I saw the movie in AVX (better sound, bigger picture) but it wasn’t necessary. The movie is story and dialogue heavy with little action and special effects to make use of AVX. Although, in general, I do recommend AVX as it is a great experience – just choose the movie wisely. I will say that for this movie, you will enjoy it just the same in a regular theatre (or even at home for that matter).

Overall, the movie was fantastic and definitely worth the watch. There was essentially a two-part ending – with the second part being completely unnecessary. In fact, I think the movie is a lot better if you ignore the last 5 minutes and just pretend it ended at the “first ending”. For those who have seen the movie, you probably know what I mean. 5 out of 5.

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The first part of the two-part ending that I described above is the happy scene when everyone is on the train happy and laughing and the lead actors kiss. It would have made a fantastic ending to finish off the movie with them kissing and then have time stop. Or, alternatively, for Jake to realize that time had not stopped and he had beat the system. Unfortunately they decided to continue the movie past that part and add in a twist that was completely unnecessary and I believe really hurt the ending of the movie. He should have died happily after having accomplished his goal.

Reliving the memories of another individual through a computer program is a neat concept. For a while I was confused by the fact that he was able to act outside those memories. I later determined that anything that happened outside those memories were an extrapolation performed by the Source Code “software” – the calculus that was referred to, although I cannot be sure.

I do have some questions for those who have seen the movie:

Why were the memories changing each time he went in? Perhaps more extrapolations made by the software depending on slight variations in his behaviour? That is one thing left open in my mind. Otherwise the movie made a lot of sense (excluding the ending).

Can anyone explain how it makes sense that he was then able to influence reality from within a computer program? I presume it was just an artistic twist they decided to add that I believe really took away from the movie. Ending was garbage in my opinion. Felt tacked on just to add another twist and something to think about. Not all movies have to leave you guessing – it would have been perfect to leave it as it was.

What did you think of the movie? Any help interpreting it Is welcome.

Movie Reviews from a Movie Lover – Not a Critic Snob

I am not going to call myself a movie guru but, suffice it to say, I watch A LOT of movies. To give you some perspective, I see at least one movie in theatre per week. I typically also see an additional movie in theatres once a month. This brings my in-theatre movie total to somewhere between 52 and 64 movies per year. This, of course, does not include any movie that I purchase, rent or download and watch at home.

Am I a film critic? No, I am not; certainly not in the traditional sense. I like to think, however, that I watch enough movies to offer a lot of insight for those who perhaps do not see many. I watch movies across a variety of genres but the most common are:

  1. Suspense
  2. Comedy
  3. Thriller
  4. Action

If you are looking for reviews on chick-flicks, you might want to look somewhere else. Other than when I am dragged to the occasional eye-bleeder, there probably won’t be many reviews of that kind on here (when I do decide to do a post on a chick flick, I will make sure to rate it on a scale of 1 to 5 tears).

I tend to favour movies that are dialogue-driven as opposed to anything else. Some of my favourite movies may seem boring to some as a result (witty banter scores high-up on my list of things to watch for in a movie – certainly far above number of explosions). I tend to rate movies on a number of dimensions such as:

  1. Quality of Dialogue
  2. Story (more points the more unique it is)
  3. Visuals
  4. Sound and music
  5. Quality of acting/Believability of cast

Typically I tend to avoid the more artsy qualities of movies than many critics seems to base their entire review on. This may be a relief to many readers as I try to take a much more down-to-earth, I-am-not-a-movie-snob approach. I am just a guy who loves movies! (no formal education required)

I think that about sums things up. I should have been doing this for the last 3 years, but alas, my first movie-review blog is:

Source Code

I will continue to add posts to this page but please subscribe to get your weekly fill!

    Is the Nintendo 3DS a Bust?

    Whenever, I am truly interested in something, I tend to do a lot of research on it. Needless to say, when Nintendo announced the launch of their next big thing – the Nintendo 3DS – I never stopped reading about it (partially due to interest, and partially because the news was inescapably everywhere).

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    Haven’t heard about the 3DS? Have you been living under a rock?

     

    I am certainly not going to get into a full review here, as they are very easily found via a Google search. If you want all the nitty-gritty details, see IGN’s Review.What I will cover here is my overall opinion and a summary of the neat little device.

    1. The 3D is great

      I was lucky enough to get a chance to test out the device days before it came out and was very impressed with the 3D. I played around with some 3D pictures I took with the 3DS and they looked awesome too

    2. The 3D is limited

      Apart from the fact that not all of the games for the device will fully utilize the 3D to its potential, it is still really neat. However, you will likely find yourself turning off the 3D a lot to avoid headaches and to avoid having to deal with the very narrow viewing angle with which you can actually see the 3D (reiterate: the viewing angle is VERY small)

    3. The games are crap

      The 3DS has some great potential given how good the 3D actually looks, unfortunately most of the games available as of its release fail to impress. Pilot Wings may be the only game released that truly makes good use of 3D. Most of the other games were unimpressive or targeted towards young children (with Street Fighter as a possible exception)

    4. It’s expensive as hell

      When your options are to pay $299 for a PS3 (which is a powerhouse console that includes a Blu-Ray player) and $250 for a 3DS the correct choice is obvious. Also, games will be priced around the $50 mark, only $10 less than console games . . . That being said, if you already own all the consoles you want and are currently reading this article in a bathtub full of money – you might as well run out and pick it up.

    Okay, so after all that it probably looks like I think it was a bust. For the most part, now, I think it is. However, I do realize that it has a ton of potential with future improvements. As the games get better and the price drops, it will certainly start looking very pretty. I definitely think Nintendo is on to something here but in the meantime I await the next iteration.

    Have you run out and purchased one yet? If not, why?