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Movie Review: Cloud Atlas

I had seen a trailer for Cloud Atlas not very long ago. I didn’t really understand it, but it piqued my curiosity. There appeared to be some elements of science fiction and adventure involved that appealed to me. From what I had heard it was based on a novel that was supposed to be unfilmable. Several days after experiencing the movie, I am still thinking about it. And I say ‘experience’ because one does not simply watch this movie, you become involved in it. If you like Cloud Atlas, despite its 172 minute run-time, it is unlikely that you will be satisfied with a single viewing.

Cloud Atlas is, in fact, six separate stories set in different eras, but all told in parallel. Initially, the jumping back and forth between six different plots is confusing and disorienting, but as things progress, it becomes increasingly easy to follow since we are not bogged down by any unnecessary elements in the plots. These are fairly terse short stories weaved together with physical and thematic ties. While it is tempting to try and keep track of everything from the outset, don’t. Just sit back and enjoy the film, the pieces will come together as they are meant.

Read on for more details of the plots and my reactions.
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Arrow first episode review

Stephen Amell - Arrow poster

Last month at Fan Expo in Toronto I was lucky enough to catch a screening of the first episode of Arrow. I really dragged my ass on writing this review of it but that’s okay because CW also dragged their ass on actually airing the show which will premiere on October 10th. I’ve put together my thoughts on the show. I’ll try to keep spoilers to a minimum. Keep in mind I know very little about the Green Arrow comic on which I’m told this show is based.

Savage island native Oliver Queen in Arrow

The story is simple enough. Some super rich playboy, Oliver Queen, crashes on an island, spends a ton of time there, *something* happens, he becomes proficient with a bow and arrow, then he’s rescued and … he fights crime! With a bow and arrow! He fights criminals that are armed with guns with a bow and arrow!

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Care Bears: Welcome to Care-a-Lot first impressions

Care Bears Welcome to Care-a-Lot - Compassion -- Not! - Beastly and Grumpy Bear

After hyping up this new show for weeks the premiere came and went without any comment. Why, you might wonder? Well as a Canadian I do not have access to the Hub, but fear not as the “first” episode of Care Bears: Welcome to Care-a-Lot is now available for viewing online at the hub’s web site, for a limited time, to people who live in the US. I found the show decent, with some nice animation, some nice characters and a few good jokes, but ultimately probably too juvenile to find a home with adult fans.

Care Bears Welcome to Care-a-Lot - Compassion -- Not! - Penny arrives in Care-a-Lot

One thing to note is that this was in fact not the first episode. This is episode 5 “Compassion — NOT!”. Why start with episode 5? I can’t pretend to understand the thought process of network executives. Perhaps this was a stronger episode they thought would hook more fans? All I know is that it not being the first episode was a bit annoying. From one of the preview clips we knew that “Care Kids” were transported to Care-a-Lot via a “Care and Share Charm”. This information would have been helpful to tell audiences in this episode, instead a girl named Penny is brought in by a rainbow and seems very unsurprised to be transported to this magical world of talking Bears who she’s meeting for the first time. Her acceptance of this incredible situation is something I can only compare to the unsurprised reaction of various characters from Megaman Upon a Star when Megaman enters the real world from the video game world. Another annoying situations is that Wonderheart Bear clearly has a belly badge, although a plot point of the first episode will obviously be her getting one.

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Continuum is off to a great start

Continuum "A Stitch in Time" - Rachel Nichols as Kiera Cameron with some cool tech

Last night the Canadian network Showcase premiered a new science fiction series “Continuum”. It scored great ratings and seems to have hit a cord with fans, but without an American distributor, can we expect it to last much longer than the 13 episode season which has already been completed? To get a taste of the show check out the 3 minute trailer embedded at the bottom of this post.

Continuum "A Stitch in Time" - Time Travel

The show’s premise is pretty solid. In word … time travel! The series’s first episode, “A Stitch in Time”, begins in the futuristic world of 2077, but the main character of Kiera, played by Rachel Nichols, travels back in time to the year 2012 along with a bunch of death row inmates. In a plot that’s not unlike the 90s TV series Time Tracks, but without the British hologram lady, she burdens herself with tracking them down.

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Review: Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol: Hot Fuzz

In what should have been a forgotten series, Brad Bird and J.J. Abrams breathe new life and maybe too many laughs in the languishing franchise. To be fair the current trend in action films is lean more towards the comic relief, but there are series that are entrenched in a legacy that transcends current fads. Consider for a moment, if you remember a lot of knee-slappers in the Bourne legacy or if indeed James Bond left you in stitches with his drink order. The Mission Impossible franchise, the films at least, were following this very paradigm; but to a detriment. By the time the third film came out the word of mouth informed many a casual fan that if you barely followed the plot of the sequel don’t bother to finish out the third installment. In a rare feat of cinematic resuscitation the brains behind the latest iteration of the Mission Impossible franchise has moved the series in the right direction.

To say the film moves at a break-neck speed is a disservice to the thought and careful plotting behind all of the action and exposition. Basically it looks great with smart gadgets and a plot that is within the viewers grasp. The first twenty minutes of the film are tightly plotted and paced to really reach in and grab the viewer. The best part of the opening of the film is that it has struck the correct balance of showcasing the beloved parts of the series as well as showcasing the stylistic and comedic flares that Bird and Abrams bring to the series.

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John Carter is lots of fun, but deviates a lot from the source material

Noah Wyle is John Carter of Mars

Disney’s John Carter is a film that’s based on Edgar Rice Burroughs’s “A Princess of Mars”. Or is it? The film deviates quite a bit from the source material, so fans of it should certainly check out the John Carter novels if they’re looking for a good read. The movie is a great amount of fun. The fantastic world of Mars, known to it’s natives as Barsoom, is a rich world full of amazing creatures, people, places and technology that will delight and entertain audiences of all ages.

Taylor Kitsch as John Carter with Tharks

This is a science fiction story, but based on a work so old that we’d barely started flying airplanes and driving automobiles when it was written, so it gives a perspective not seen in a modern work. The fantasy world seen in the movie, and within the pages of the John Carter stories, is one born not out of intentional ignorance of other planets as much modern science fiction is, but rather from a time when we really did not know much of anything of worlds outside of our own. The world of Barsoom is based off of ideas that astronomers from the early 20th century had about Mars. It’s not spaceships, computers and laser guns because this was all conceived in a world without knowledge of such things.

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KEEP PLAYING: Rewind – Actraiser

PlayStation Vita and Uncharted: Golden Abyss first impressions

PlayStation Vita - Uncharted: Golden Abyss - Nathan Drake

The PlayStation Vita will be released on Wednesday February 22nd. Should you pick one up? Now that I’ve had a few days with the system, I’d like to share my first impressions of the system itself and the game I’ve spent the most time with, Uncharted: Golden Abyss. The PlayStation Vita is a powerful machine with great graphics and the best controls a portable has ever seen, but it’s UI and launch titles are plagued by an unnecessary overuse of it’s various gimmicks such as two touch screens, cameras and gyros. At a $250 price point, getting one is a no brainer to me, but the real value of the system won’t be obvious until we see how successful it will be, and what kind of support the system gets from developers.

Playstation Vita size compared to a Playstation Portable and Nintendo 3DS

A PSP, PlayStation Vita and 3DS

The size of the system is larger than Sony’s previous handheld, the PSP and Nintendo’s current offering, the 3DS. It’s not so large that it’s not portable, and a lot of that size is in the screen, which is really noticeable. With an amazing resolution of 960×544, the 3DS with it’s laughable 400×240 main screen offers no competition and this is apparent by the breathtaking graphics this system is capable of pulling off.

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