2018-06-05

Credit Where Credit Is Due

So remember my thought about time travel in TV shows from fall 2016? I bet that either Timeless or Travellers (or both!) would be cancelled before renewal time came up.

Well I tripped over that 'blog entry today, and it occurs to me that all four shows I listed there are still going.

Who knew.

2018-06-03

Solo

Took Nathan to see Solo on Saturday. Worth seeing. At times I thought the easter-egg-slash-fanboy-nods were a little too on point -- perhaps most grating example to me was found in the soundtrack of all places. In any case, characters like Han Solo don't become fully formed over one afternoon. Chewbacca's decision to run with Han rather than with his other options was a bit flimsy -- the second one especially so. The Big Reveal at the end is confusing unless you are up on the Correct Star Wars Canon No Not That Correct Canon The Other One. And their way of reconciling the "12 parsecs is a unit of distance, not time!" to Han's brag in A New Hope is not the most flimsy thing in this movie. But a heist movie in this universe is fun. Overall: would watch again; not sure it needs the inevitable sequels I'm sure it's gonna get.

2018-05-27

“Glamorous” Monaco

One thing that was tossed off in passing during the pre-race show for Monaco this year was the comment that “Monaco was losing its shine as Formula One’s crown jewel event”. To me, this is a ridiculous thing to say — for one, I’ve been watching F1 since the late ‘90s and even back then there was commentary that F1 cars had no business winding their way through that narrow cattlepath. Subsequent changes to both the track and the formula have done absolutely nothing to improve this state of affairs, and in fact at the front of the pack today all the passes were done under pit conditions — and even with that there wasn’t any change in position one to five from the beginning of the race to the end.

If Monaco is “glamorous” it is only so for the participants — for those of us watching on TV around the world, it is a boring processional race and always has been.

2018-05-24

Deadpool II

Not bad. The cameos were good. The film carried the weight of a non-origin-story quite well. The usual time-travel bullshit problems. I’m still not convinced that this movie had to be made, though.

2018-05-18

Westworld S1

I finished up Westworld S1 in March; it had an effect on me so I had Jenn watch it. The first three episodes in particular are a real slog -- call me repressed but I don't feel the need to see all this gratuitous sex, violence and gore that is available to directors on non-broadcast mediums. After that though it does get going well. It is a rare bird in that even once you know where things are going you can enjoy the slow reveals of what is going on. The whole thing was lovingly crafted and masterfully executed. And one of the reveals is a no-kidding "holy shit!" moment. It was a season which had an ending that made all the other season-endings seem boring by comparison.

2018-05-12

Netflix Re View -- Minions

I stand by my "solidly ok" view from last time. It was actually easier to watch for a second time than I thought it would be.

(Previously.)

2018-05-10

That was fast

I got a reply:


Neat.

2018-05-09

Dear Vote Compass People -- Decline Your Ballot

An email I sent to info@voxpoplabs.com. I was looking for a CBC email or twitter to send it to but couldn't find anything obvious. I'd already tweeted about this to @cbcottawa but that's probably not the right place.
Greetings 

I participated in the Vote Compass exercise today. I noticed that in your "how would you vote if the election was held today" and "how did you vote last time" you omitted the option of declining your ballot. 
Declining the ballot is different from a spoiled or blank ballot, in that in a spoiled ballot the voter's intention is unclear. Alternatively, a declined ballot is a way that a voter can say to all parties that they are engaged enough to come out and participate in the process, but none of the options offered are acceptable. 
In 2014, more than 22000 Ontarians declined their ballot (source: https://www.thestar.com/news/queenspark/2014/06/19/ontario_election_sees_highest_number_of_declined_ballots_since_1975.html). While not a statistically significant number, the article notes that this is a high-point of declined ballots for Ontario which was probably related to increased voter awareness of this being an option. 
One could argue in an extreme case, an elected official (or, indeed, a government) that was elected with more declined ballots than properly filed ballots would have serious questions of having a legitimate mandate from the voters. 
Beyond me having to explain to the polling official what they needed to do, my personal experience with declining the ballot went smoothly in 2014. If more widely exercised, I would want changes made to the process in that 
A) I had to verbally decline my ballot; and 
B) a written notation was made on my name in the voters list used by the polling officials, creating a permanent record that I had declined my ballot. 
Both of these requirements would seem to defeat my right to a secret ballot. 
My hope is that if enough ballots are declined, the political parties will observe that there is a constituency that is both engaged and demonstrably willing to vote, and will adjust their platforms to capture these votes. 
In conclusion, I encourage you to adjust the Vote Compass application for future provincial elections, and also note that I find that the word "ballot" looks funny after you type it out a bunch of times in an email. 
Sincerely,
David Mackintosh
Kanata-Carleton

2018-05-06

Planes 2: Fire & Rescue

Disney's Cars was so successful at spinning out a line at toys that they thought "why not try to duplicate that with a slightly different premise so we can sell different toys?" Well sure, why not. The story is perfunctory and functional, the internal world-building only inconsistent if you make the mistake of thinking about it, and the characterizations bland and stereotypical. Frankly I knew who was going to rebuild what just as soon as something was declared as being "better than new!" So a solid whynot out of ten, but nothing unmissable.

(Note: in researching this movie for this article, I learned that it was actually Planes 2, and I'd not seen the original. Which sort of made sense since as an "origin story" it was very weak. It makes more sense as  "a flabby sequel that doesn't really have any plans for where the franchise is going" though.)

2018-04-29

Avengers: Infinity War

Frankly I didn't like it.

There's a way to build tension, to make it seem like things are going someplace, while still leaving your characters behind the metaphorical 8-ball. And then there's kicking your characters in the teeth, over and over and over. And I don't like that. And Infinity War doesn't even do it particularly well.

This was always going to be a part one of two -- when the movies were originally announced, Avengers 4 was called Infinity War Part 2.

Multipart movies are always judged by the whole, and we have not seen the whole yet. Tune in this time next year for the (undoubtedly) thrilling conclusion.

2018-03-29

Who can figure NANOG?

OK, this just makes me angry --


I can't get my question about Bell name servers past the moderators or something, from either email address I have registered. But some idiot can't log in to AOL, and THAT gets posted.

Seriously.


2018-03-23

Pacific Rim Uprising

Spoiler-free summary: BIG ROBOT SMASH BIG ROBOT! BIG LIZARD SMASH BIG CITY! SMASH! SMASH! SMASH! WHEEAAALAAALAAAAGH!

Seriously though, those who liked the first one can probably find things to like about this one; the movie barrels along at a frenetic pace, not letting itself be too troubled with things like "plot" or "plausibility". There are worse ways to spend two hours.

2018-02-19

Bright

So Netflix has suckered Will Smith into making a sci-fi movie for them. Bright is exclusive content that shows the modern world -- if magic, elves, orcs, et al were actually real. Smith is a cop who's been saddled with LAPD's diversity hire of the first orc to qualify as a police officer, and hijinks ensue. The movie is very much an action/adventure without having to be restrained in what it actually shows on the screen. So the gunplay is excessive, the blood spatters gratuitous, the language salty, and the dancers topless. Overall it's a reasonable movie, one I don't regret seeing; however on its own it isn't something that I'd watch again and again -- or even, frankly, again. One thing I will say for Netflix is that it's easy to stop in the middle of something and pick it up again later, a viewing rhythm that fits my current activity level pretty well.

2018-02-02

Blade Runner 2049

Visually and aurally stunning. I liked the story arc the first time through. Doesn't stand up to consideration, though I continue to watch it for the images. I don't know if it will become the "cult hit" it needs to be to generate future examples.

The problem for me is that "building replicants as a slave class" is fine on its own justification, however it doesn't explain why said slave class has to be indistinguishable -- even by experts -- from the real thing. A slave class only makes sense if you can get more work per unit cost out of it than a real person, or if additional costs are acceptable because a real person wouldn't cooperate. Giving replicants the ability to reproduce, as Tyrell did as his last gift before the blackout, makes even less sense. The whole thing just isn't reasonable to me.

2018-01-26

Star Wars 8: The Last Jedi

I think this movie is better than Episode 7. I have read interpretations that the message to Star Wars fans is: time moves on, and we don't have to be slavishly attached to your heroes in order to thrive in the future. Luke is given an honorable, loving end to his arc as a flawed hero, and the story moves on with new heroes doing new things. The movie ends up being a respectful farewell to our Princess Leia. And both of these are good. At some point you have to accept that the universe goes on, and as a film maker your choices are to reboot everything (ie: Star Trek) or crumble under the weight of your own canon (something I suspect Marvel is in very real danger of with the next Avengers movie).

The most powerful moment for me was the Rebel cruiser's jump to hyperspace. The brutality of what happens coupled with the choices in sound design work together to amplify that experience.

Overall, though Episode 7 is exhausting. The tension device of "oh noes all our heroes are doomed and evil will take the day oh wait nevermind" cycles which is constantly repeated through the movie is clearly concealing something, but I'm not movie-savvy enough to see what it is.

I do have doubts about the way the franchise is going. With Skywalker's death, Snopes' betrayal, and Ren's turn back towards the dark side, and the blatant illustration at the end that there are still force-sensitives being born -- Jedi or no Jedi -- the message seems to be the same as Battlestar Galactica's reboot's message: that all this has happened before, and all this will happen again...

and again...

and again...