Don’t take a Flight with Denzel Washington!

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Flight is a 2012 film by Robert Zemeckis, and it was nominated for two Academy Awards: Best Actor (Denzel Washington), and Best Original Screen Play (John Gatins).  For me, it did not scare me to fly, but it did try awful hard to put me to sleep.

The story starts off with Whip Whitaker (Denzel Washington) drinking and taking cocaine, and then jumping in the cockpit and flying a plane.  As the plane nears its destination it starts to fall apart, and Whip through some amazing maneuvers is able to crash land the plane in an open field and save most of the people, but since there was a crash there will be a toxicology report, so will he or won’t he get blamed for this and go to jail.

I have to start off by saying Denzel is great in this movie, and it is easy to see why he gets an Oscar nomination for it, but the movie is two hours and eighteen minutes long, and the plane crash is over in the first thirty minutes, so then you are forced to watch Denzel drink and lie about it for an hour and forty-five minutes.  They needed an editor to cut this down by at least a half hour, but as it is it just a way to see that Denzel can act, and see if the audience can stay awake.

I wanted to like this movie because I like most of the people in it, and that made it, but it is just too long for the subject matter, so I would say pass on it unless you are an Oscar movie buff and just want to see Denzel’s role.

Star Trek Into Darkness!

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Star Trek Into Darkness is the twelfth Star Trek movie, and the second that features the recast original crew of the Enterprise in their alternate reality.  J.J. Abrams was once again the director of this film, but can it live up to the hype following the last film? Not quite, but it is still pretty darn good.

Captain James T. Kirk (Chris Pine) is forced to brake the Prime Directive of not interfering with primitive cultures to save Commander Spock (Zachary Quinto) from a volcano, and has his command taken away from him, but only to get it back again to go after the terrorist John Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch).  That is about as much of the story as I can tell you without spoiling anything, and trying not spoil things is also why it will be hard for me to explain why this movie wasn’t as good as the last one, but I will do my best.

The main problem I have with this movie is that script makes us believe that a very dumb chain of events happened to kick off the plot of this movie, and you don’t get see how dumb they are until the end of the film, and this seems to be something that writer Damon Lindelof struggles with since he was charged with the same offence with Prometheus.  But he did get the character interaction right.

Despite the lens flares, I think J.J. Abrams does a great job directing this film, and he keeps the pace up so you never get to sit and think about the dumbness of Lindelof’s script until after the movie is over, and everything looks and feels great.

The actors once again prove that they were selected to fill their roles well.  The swagger of Chris Pine as Jim Kirk, the irritating logic of Quinto as Spock, and the bromance they develop is great.  Karl Urban is excellent as the Bones we have all come to know and love, and they way the crew interacts with one another is pitch perfect.  Cumberbatch as the villain does his job, but I wish they the would have used him better.

I liked this movie, and without a doubt Star Trek, and Star Trek Into Darkness are the best back to back Star Trek movies yet, but I wish in the four years it took to bring this movie to theaters that they would have tightened up the story a bit, but as it is it is still well worth watching.

Visit Westworld!

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Westworld is a 1973 film written and directed by Michael Crichton.  It is considered a Sci-Fi classic and the precursor to Jurassic Park.  It is the first film to use computer generated imagery, so I decided to give it a watch, and I am glad that I did.

In the future the Delos Corporation has developed life like androids, and they made amusement parks where you can interact with them: Romeworld, Medievalworld, and Westworld.  The movie obviously takes place in the titular Westworld, but it shows flashes of the other lands, and the concept is that you can do whatever your heart desires in Westworld.  Get in a bar fight, have a shoot out, become an outlaw, or anything else western, but since you will be killing and punching robots no one will get hurt.  Sadly for James Brolin and Richard Benjamin they get there just in time for the parks to start acting up, and a visit from android Yul Brynner does not go as planned.

The movie works so well because you kind of want the bad things to happen to the characters because they are doing such bad things to the robots, but at the same time it forces you to root for the humans because they are trapped in a terrifying situation beyond their control.

An interesting point the movie mentions, in almost a throwaway sentence, is that they cannot figure out what is wrong with the robots since they were designed by other robots, and in real life that is a point we may get to in our lifetime.  It is slightly scary to think about.

I had never seen a movie directed by the author Michael Crichton before (because it turns out that Westworld is the only one), but he does a good job of framing the action.  He films the fantasy fight scenes and the real ones differently.  The way he focuses in on the humans and lets us see their terror adds great tension to the movie versus the zoomed out ‘fun’ fantasy fights the guests delight in.

The actors, especially Yul Brynner, do great jobs with their roles.  The way Brynner looks so lifelike when delivering his programmed lines, but then the way he turns in to an expressionless killing machine when the time comes is chilling.

This a good movie and it is streaming on Amazon Prime.  It is no wonder they are thinking of remaking it, but I think the original was pretty darn good, and worth the watch.

What Type of TV Should You Buy?

There are a lot of TV choices to choose from, and people have asked me what type of TV they should buy so here is my handy guide.

LCD

People seem to think there is a difference between LCD and LED, but the only difference is that LED adds a backlight to give you a better contrast ratio, and make it easier to view in light rooms, but as far as picture quality goes there isn’t a difference for the most part, so if you have a dark room and there is a good deal on a LCD it is not a bad choice.  These make great monitors because you are up close to them and you do not need the back light, but the sharp pixels mean you get great font display.

Edge Lit LED

Edge lit LED is just as it sounds.  It shoots the light from the sides of the TV to brighten it.  What is nice about edge lit is that it makes the TV much thinner, but what you have to look out for is the ‘halo’ effect.  If you are watching dark films or TV it can sometimes look like there is ring around your TV, but that is just the back light beaming in and not being uniform.  Gamers like LEDs because they have sharp pixels, but since they are further back from them they like the brighter screen.

Back/Grid Lit LED

Back Lit and Grid Lit are the same thing, and they shoot the light from the back of the TV to give you a more uniform light and color, so that is better, but your TV will be thicker to provide the space for the lights.

Plasma

Plasma has made a comeback in the last couple of years, and that is because you get the best true picture out of a plasma, and they also don’t have the ‘soap opera effect’ where it makes you movies look a little too real.  That is because of the way that they make their pixels, but they usually have glass screens so they have refection issues, and they are not as bright as an LED so the room needs to be a little darker. For the same reason they do not have the ‘soap opera effect’ is also the same reason they do not make good monitors, since the pixels are not as sharp.

3D/4K/UHD

For now, I would say that 3D is a gimmick and only get it if your TV comes with it.  Do not seek it out.  The same goes for 4K/UHD.  The extra resolution is great but there is nothing made for the 4K spec to watch.

So What to Buy

It depends on what you want.  Are you going to hook your computer up to it and use it as a monitor? Probably an LCD.  You going to play a lot of video games? Probably an LED, but I would get a back lit one.  You want the best picture for your movies and sports? Probably a Plasma, but all TVs have gotten much better so usually you will get one and be happy with it.