Friday, June 19, 2015

Movie Review: "Jurassic World" (2015)


RAWR!  Jurassic World just had the biggest domestic box office opening weekend EVER, and right now it's the hottest thing to smash into the planet since the asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs.  This movie is the roaring, stomping, jungle-crushing behemoth of the season, and even if it can't recapture the sheer thrilling novelty of the iconic 1993 flick, it will do just fine for a mega-blockbuster popcorn flick for Summer 2015.  Really, how can you lose with Steven Spielberg as producer, the latest in eye-popping special effects, and a Goliath Franken-saur that treats other dinosaurs as chew toys, never mind 20,000 tourists?  

The movie does have its flaws.  Lots of them.  I didn't care.  I pretty much ignored them except for indulging a few eye rolls, because I had sprinted to the theatre for two things and two things only.  I raced there to see (A) Chris Pratt wrangle velociraptors (my all-time favorite dinosaur!), and (B) all kinds of other prehistoric critters wreak ridiculous amounts of bloody havoc by land, sea, and air.  In terms of those two basic requirements, Jurassic World delivered.  Everything else is distraction and detail.  

Friday Fun Video: Star Trek vs. Star Wars

Remember, though, that we've long been advised to look past our differences in order to team up against a true abomination.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

200 Years After Waterloo, "The Nearest Run Thing"

June 18, 1815: Napoleon back from exile versus a coalition force under England's Duke of Wellington and Prussia's Gebhard von Bl├╝cher.  It was Wellington, by the way, who supposedly called the victory "the nearest run thing you ever saw in your life."

There are all sorts of commemorations and related news items, but since I'm in a hurry today, I'll leave you with three that stood out to me:

Monday, June 15, 2015

800 Years of Magna Carta

June 15, 1215 at Runnymede: King John agreed to the terms of the Magna Carta and acknowledged that no one is above the law, not even the king.  The document has become a powerful symbol of liberty and resistance to the arbitrary - and therefore tyrannical - (ab)use of power by rulers.

The celebrations are in full swing!  Yes, bells and all!

Need a refresher about the Magna Carta?  Here is the text.  Here is a fun little video from the British Library. (Recognize the voice?  It's Terry Jones from Monty Python!)

Want more?  Take a look at the resources of the Magna Carta Project.  Go on a field trip to the US National Archives and visit one of the few remaining copies of the charter!

Monday Therapy: A Cappella "Jurassic Park"

In honor of Jurassic World's new release (and overwhelming dominance at the box office - RAWR!), here's a cool video to tide you over until I can write a movie review:

Lest we forget, John Williams is the man!

Sunday, June 14, 2015

A Tweet For Flag Day

I almost forgot!  June 14 is Flag Day. Of course the incomparable Iowahawk is on task:

Dave Grohl Turns Awesomeness Up to Eleven

I've posted about Foo Fighters' and Dave Grohl's awesomeness before, but this is of an entirely different magnitude. 

Come on, just look at the headline:"'I think I just broke my leg': Dave Grohl finishes show after Sweden stage plunge: Foo Fighters frontman returns to the stage in Gothenburg after treatment, completing the set with his bandaged leg propped up in front of him."  

Grohl is now an even bigger rock god whose badassery is clear to all.

Apparently he then told his worried fans, "I may not be able to walk or run but I can still play guitar and scream."

Here's a song in his honor:

Ave atque Vale: Sir Christopher Lee (1922-2015)

By now the sad news has flown across the Internet that iconic actor Christopher Lee has died at age 93.  Here is a proper British obituary, but I can think of no better way to honor the great polymath and Renaissance man than by pointing you to the fact that he received the honor of being hailed as Badass of the Week while he was still living.  Hail and farewell, sir!

Sunday, June 07, 2015

Movie Review: San Andreas (2015)


I can sum up this blockbuster action disaster flick in just one phrase: The Rock vs. the Fault.  Dwayne Johnson and the San Andreas, that is!  Johnson's established himself as an action movie star of the first order long before this flick, and he'll be one long after it.  That's good, because San Andreas is pretty much a huge, noisy, bombastic CGI cartoon of geological mayhem and mass urban destruction.  (Weather forecast: Cloudy with a chance of storage ship containers.)  I'd be lying, though, if I said that I wasn't stupidly entertained for 2 hours, because I was, and that's due almost entirely to the Rock's own irrepressible personal charisma.  Is the movie preposterous in a dozen different ways?  Yes, it is.  Did I have fun anyway?  Yes, I did.

Quote of the Day: Self-Debunking Middle East Policy?

My colleague Alessandra called this long ago: Obama's Middle East foreign policy debacles would induce the Saudis and Israelis to work more and more closely, even flat out openly, against Iran.  A common fear of a regional nuclear hegemon makes strange bedfellows?  Desperate times call for desperate measures.

There's also this observation (my emphasis in boldface):
Obama came into office convinced that U.S. influence in the Middle East, as well as regional stability, revolved around one problem: the plight of the Palestinians. Resolving their conflict with Israel was the president’s top foreign policy from his first day in office. His belief that the U.S. was too close to Israel and that by establishing more daylight between the two allies, he could help broker an end to the long war between Jews and Arabs. To accomplish that goal, he picked fights with Israel, undermined its diplomatic position, and did his best to pressure the Israelis into making concessions that would please the Palestinians. The failure of this policy was foreordained since the Palestinians are still unable to recognize the legitimacy of a Jewish state no matter where its borders are drawn.

But the events of the past six years have also shown that his focus on the Palestinians as the source of the problem was a disastrous mistake. The Arab spring, civil war in Syria, the rise of ISIS, and the Iranian nuclear threat proved that the Palestinians had little or nothing to do with the most serious problems in the region. Indeed, by forcing Israel and the Saudis to cooperate against Iran with little attention being paid to the dead end peace process with the Palestinians, Obama has effectively debunked the core idea at the heart of his foreign policy.

Hello Kitty Monstrosity of the Day: Hello NYPD


The Cinema-Mad Sibling Recommends: "Kung Fury"

This awesomely lunatic, over-the-top homage to 80s cinema hit the Internet last week, and you really have to see it to believe it. 

BONUS: Music video tie-in starring a real 80s pop culture icon. Enjoy, my lovelies!