Robert Chesley

What I WPR’d this week. #4

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Wow, I can’t believe I actually made this a kind of a regular thing. This week I’m going to talk about a couple movies that I saw, “The Losers” and “Machete”and a book that I’ve started “Anarchy Evolution”

I wanted to start off by talking a little bit about how the culture of the internet has changed so many aspects of our lives. I’ve spent a good portion of my life behind a computer screen. I’ve seen the days of dial-up and now witnessing the dawn of “Star Trek”-esque devices popping up. Who would have thought even ten years ago we’d be living in such an age where we seem more and more like “The Borg” everyday? We’re all up on Facebook and Twitter, the Blogosphere and Podcastosphere. Our lives are riddled every single day by what the internet can bring us. I remember a time when you had to actually call someone to come over to play a game with you, now you can just log on and millions of players are all waiting for you to be there. It is really interesting to stop and think about it.

This culture has grasped at how we consume and watch media. I do not own cable. I used to have satellite but life got in the way and I had to make a major choice between the internet and cable. Obviously, I went with the internet. And while I use Netflix and Hulu often, it is surprising how much of the content you can just stream online quickly. I’m actually really surprised that people still pay for cable considering how much information you can get quickly and effeciently to our mobile devices and our laptops and desktops. Heck even the Roku player has added Hulu Plus content to its amazing device and that is a very modest investment (I believe they cost under 60 bucks). Most of us gamers stream our content to our home consoles where the media hub of our existence resides.

When I read a post on my Facebook stream the other day talking about is “facebooking too much bad?”, I was taken back a little. I guess I never really understood how much of my life is really spent online. I have a hard time interacting with people face to face, I was always a little shy when it came to social encounters, but because of the great community we have here. (Which I wish I could be more a part of in person and some day I plan to.) It is really comforting to know that I am blessed to have an outlet which I may not have been a part of in the past. I’d like to personally thank Brusr and Xopher for the opportunity to write on this site. I’d also like to thank all of the contributors as well. I read most everything that gets posted on here and we have by far one of the best written sites out there.

Now with that out of the way, since last I wrote, a lot has happened. I’ve been trying to play catch up on a lot of TV shows. I was also trying to play catch up with my DVD queue. I’m a typical guy. I say that in the sense that I usually generally like Action and Adventure movies. I didn’t get a chance to see “The Losers” in the theater. I try to see big budget style action movies in a theater because they are much more of a spectacle than for instance a movie like “Doubt” where watching either in the theater or at home wouldn’t change the emotional roller coaster. I have a modest set up at home. I wouldn’t say my sound system is ideal when it comes to watching these “spectacle” style films. I’ll try not to judge this movie based on my living situation. I put it at the top of my queue because of the review I read about it saying it was just a fun action movie. I guess that is really what it was.

For those not familiar, the story could be any action story you’ve seen in the past 20 years. A group of special military on a secret mission in a far off land trying to pull off one last hurrah before going back to “life as we know it”. Something in this very routine mission goes a rye, and these men must bring revenge for the man responsible for stealing their lives away. It adds a little more suspense in that they have this whole “save the world” angle as well as a little romantic intrigue, and you’ve got the basic ingredients for a typical “guys night out” movie.

I felt a little bored while watching this movie. I think it would have done a lot better with a “Burn Notice” style voice-over. I felt like the movie tried to just hit all the right cliches. Which while they did so in a typically entertaining manner. I think Chris Evans stole the show for me. The guy is incredibly funny when given the right material and he didn’t play out of his character one bit in this romp. I felt the other stereotypes, such as lone ethnic sniper and damaged man who is seemingly a good guy in a bad situation, pretty tired. There was one scene in particular where we see the leader of this rag tag crew, fight a woman who is tailing them and it does this thing that many of these films do, where it turns a fight scene into some romantic foreplay and I really wasn’t feeling it at that point. You get a pretty satisfying explosion but because of how each character is named, I knew right away what was going to happen. Good scripts steer away from bluntly saying who the bad guy is.  It was basically like the character was holding a neon sign saying “expect me to do exactly what my name implies because that is all I bring to this movie.”

I don’t know. I think I may have just seen far too many of these kinds of movies lately and was just a little tired. I think I needed something with a little bit more to it. I’ve seen a lot of really good action films, but this one just didn’t hit me quite the way I was expecting it too I suppose. The other cliche about these films that really bug me is that no matter how much training you receive or how badass you were throughout the entire film. When the moment of truth arrives near the end and there is a massive shoot ’em up to fight for your life. The bad guys will always miss completely and the good guys will always have impeccable aim and far more ammo than you. I like a good shoot out like the next guy, but I wish more of these movies had more realistic outcomes or at least a fair exchange of “loss” to both sides of the gun.

One of my biggest regrets of the past few years was not seeing either “Grindhouse” or “Kill Bill” in movie theaters. While I think the first “Kill Bill” came out before I could really drive myself to a movie theater and I believe I was still in high school and it came out during spring. I just didn’t get a chance to see it in my preferred venue. But with “Grindhouse” I have no excuse. I wanted to see it. It had a fairly long run at theaters. I had a few opportunities to actually see it. Maybe my girlfriend at the time had something to do with it. I’m not sure she was really interested in why exactly I wanted to see this double feature. Well, when I heard about “Machete”, which in my opinion, might as well be the sequel to “Grindhouse”. I wasn’t taking the chance of not seeing it in a theater.

“Machete” is a film about a man who wants to exact revenge on a corrupt crime lord who destroyed his career and family. The title character has to flee the country that he vowed to protect in order to work his way up to expose this man for what he truly is. The film is roughly based upon many of the “blaxplotiation” movies of the seventies. Where one man uses all he can to rid his neighborhood of all the vices that cause it to decay.

The premise of this film is great. There are many big name actors in this movie including Robert DeNiro, Danny Trejo, Michelle Rodriguez, Jessica Alba, and Steven Segal. Each actor shines in their particular moment. I believe I had a smile on my face from start to finish. This movie is exactly what you expect out it. There is plenty of humor, nudity, violence, and romance to really fill out probably an entire movie franchise. My favorite scenes in this movie include the army of Mexicans driving in on souped up “low riders”, DeNiro getting behind the wheel of a Taxi Cab, Lindsay Lohan pulled out of a drug house (I was talking with some friends and we believe this was actually footage of the crew pulling her out of her “trailer” and wasn’t in the film until they decided to just film it one day.), the 70s porn music that plays whenever there is a scene with Machete and females, and my personal favorite scene with a guy who had his intestines pulled out and then used as a rope for Machete to escape the bad guys. I can’t recommend this movie enough if you really want to see just an action movie that has it all. I think it would lose a bit if you decided to watch it at home, most of the appeal for me was seeing this style of movie in a theater. Even though the theater I was at I was the only person filling the seat. See this when it hits the discount theaters in your area if you haven’t already.

I’ve also started a couple books lately, the first one I wanted to talk about is one called “Anarchy Evolution: Faith, Science, and Bad Religion in a world without God.” It is written by one of the most influencing and groundbreakers in the early 80s punk rock scene, Greg Graffin. His band, Bad Religion, has been around for 30 years now, and they are still cranking out music today. In fact, they recently released The Dissent of Man, however, I have not yet heard much from this release other than it is in the same style of their last few releases. Bad Religion was one of the bands that I latched onto growing up because their lyrics weren’t just about girls. Graffin masterfully tried to combine the elements of punk rock that I loved, politics and lifestyle. One of the running jokes throughout the years is that you occasionally need a dictionary to understand Bad Religion songs. I learned a lot of new words just by listening to them and learned to challenge to political and scientific norms by listening to their music.

I’ve really only just begun this book, but Graffin tries to meld his two worlds approach to music and science. Not only is Graffin an accomplished musician, he is also holds a Ph.D in Evolutionary Biology. While this pertains immediately with my college courses (surprise, I’m taking Biology this semester), it is very interesting to hear the first hand accounts about Bad Religion and how it relates to science and his approach to the question of “Can God exist in a world with science?”

I’m also not one to take sides on the manner, my world view is you can believe what you want to believe, just don’t push those onto people who disagree with you in a violent manner. So far I’m entertained both by the stories of the band and by the science. I suggest the book to fans of both biology and Bad Religion you might learn a thing or two about either subject.

Due to scholastic efforts, this was originally written a while ago and I just now had the time to come around and finish it. Who knew that sometimes in college you actually have to do actual homework? So I apologize for how late this is coming out. I do have a few more stuff that I’m working on that I may get to in a timely manner and I will return this maybe not as a weekly feature though. I have plenty of stuff to write about and in my next installment will probably focus a little more on video games rather than movies.

Robert Chesley is a geek of all natures. He mostly spends his time on the forums under the moniker Urzishra.

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