Monday, November 29, 2010

The Men Who Stare At Goats

The Men Who Stare At Goats:
Or How To Tell A True Story Through Fiction

Its never really been a well kept secret that the militaries of the world have, for lack of a better term, fringe divisions, aimed at finding the more sci fi aspects of combat and war in general, based simply on the idea that every other country is doing it and is close to a breakthrough, so you better create a deterrent to whatever they're coming up with or you're gonna get your ass kicked. When you speak of stuff like this, most people will recall detailed or vague rememberings of reading about the CIA's tests believing the key is in LSD and other mind altering drugs, trying to create "Remote viewing spies" and various other things, and ofcourse the KGB's entire division dedicated to every form of paranormal they felt could be used in the battlefield. Its all strange and confusing and unbelievably believable, and just to strange to have been made up, beyond science fiction if you will. But still, the stuff movies eat up with a spoon, or a bent spoon as the case may be.

So the question is, with such a great idea for movies, why hasn't there been one yet? Well its simple, everyone always tries to make it something more serious and technical and hard hitting drama then insane sci fi come to life and given a giant budget of government money. And people are tired of military dramas, so the question remains, how do you make it happen? The answer is simple, make up a story based on the lives of real people and real events, but change it just enough so you don't really know what is real and what fiction, and really in a case like this, you don't wanna know how much of it really is real, it'll just leave you dumbfounded. Plus changing the names and stuff makes it so much easier then paying people for their names, and dealing with the US Military.

It should be stated that with all of this said, the film version of The Men Who Stare At Goats is alot different then the book its based on, where the book was basically just three separated segments all dealing with various things used in all of these stranger then fiction military tests, where at the movie, has a fictional plot about a fictional journalist meeting fictional people and being told fictional but true story of a group of oddball soldiers who always showed odd powers that made them stand out, a group that would be known as The New World Army, a group of misfits who's entire concept is to use as much non-lethal and as little actual aggression as possible, and how after hearing their story, the reporter's life is changed forever, both for the good, and the bad.

The film starts out in 2003 in Ann Arbor Michigan, where local newspaper reporter Bob Wilton was asked to do a report on a local man named Gus Lacey that claimed he killed his hamster with his mind, Bob goes to see if its a crackpot or not, he's then shown a video of Gus' hamsters, first with one showing bizarre behavior, twitching and convulsing, and then passing out. When Bob looks in amazement at the tape, he then states "but you didn't actually kill him did you? he's fine.." Gus replies that his mom whom he lives with, told him it would come off more sane if he showed just the tape with the strange behavior, not the death one. Bob says thats probably better, and from there, Gus starts to tell him of a secret military unit he was part of called The New Earth Army, a unit of paranormal soldiers, once under the command of a man named Bill Django, and states that the best of them was a man named Lyn Cassady, who now owns a dance studio. When asked if he could contact either of them, Gus says he's not sure how too anymore. Bill goes back to his office and dismisses the whole thing. Not long after, Bill's wife leaves him for his editor, a one armed bald man who's apparently got a great choke hold, for a guy with one arm. This sends Bill into a depression, he starts drinking and eventually decides, he's gonna get into Iraq and report from there, to prove to his wife and his jackass exboss that he's not a loser, and that he's something and someone. While he's waiting to get into Iraq with all the other press, he starts to draw a pyramid with an eye ontop of it, and then, he meets a person who's name he clearly remembers from Gus' story, Bob meets Lyn Cassady. When Bob asks him if he knows Gus, the power goes out at the hotel where they are, and Lyn disappears, leaving a trail of lights left on behind him. Bob follows, and eventually meets up with him, and explains he's not out to get him and that he met Gus and that he told him of him and the rest of their unit.

Lyn tells Bob that he's there on a secret black ops mission, but will not tell him what it is, when he notices the doodle that Bob had done while in the hotel lobby, Lyn takes out his copy of the manual to the new earth army and shows it to Bob, pointing to the very image that Bob had drawn as it looks in the manual. Lyn decides that its not random chance thats brought him and Bob together, and decides that Bob is like him, he then starts to explain the foundation and formation of The New Earth Army, telling him how it all started with Bill Django when he fell out of a helicopter in Vietnam, and had a vision of clarity when he was shot on the battlefield, and when he recovered, he held a meeting with many high ranking generals, with hopes of one of them backing his concept and allowing him to research his brainchild, among those who attended that day was General Hopgood, a full believer in the paranormal and occult who spends alot of his down time at gatherings and parties about such things, the man that would greenlight Django's trip around the world to discover how to create an army that was non-aggressive and ment as a means of peace through peace with no force or aggression unless there is no other choice, and even then, it being non-lethal force unless there is no other choice. Lyn tells Bob how it took Bill Django 6 years to complete his mission and return with the original copy of the new earth army manual, and to soon start recruiting people from through out the military.

The next day Lyn and Bob set out across the border into Iraq on Lyn's mission, as they drive Lyn tells him more of the new age army, how he started out as a low level officer at Groom Lake/Area 51, and came across General Hopgood when by simply walking by, Lyn caused a whole row of computers to crash with out so much as a touch, he just happened to be near by. When he tells Hopgood, who'd come out to the facility just to talk to him, Hopgood smiles and asks him if he'd like a transfer. Lyn then talks about how not only did he finally feel he fit in with the new earth army, but he's finally found a way to be himself, and how his inner self was freed by Bill Django ordering him to let loose and dance, from that moment on, Lyn loved to dance. Lyn believed in the matra of what the new earth army was all about and quickly began to raise with its ranks as well as become its shining star, after Lyn used remote viewing to locate a kidnapped General, which earned him immense praise for himself, and for the unit as proof that it can work. At this point we flash back to Lyn and Bob in the dessert where they've stopped for the night. Bob starts to put puzzle parts together and starts to believe this is a real thing, after asking Lyn how exactly they were trained for other things, Lyn shows him a non-lethal weapon called The Predator, which has many offensive and defensive applications, but is not really able to use as a death giving weapon, Lyn shows Bob its many applications, much to Bob's dismay and pain.

The next morning, Bob finds Lyn doing his morning yoga and reciting the mantra of the new earth army, a meditative chant ment to focus the mind, body and spirit for all that is to come that day, and to reaffirm their connection to mother earth. As the start to drive again, Lyn starts doing what he calls cloud-bursting, where he claims he can force clouds apart with his mind. While doing this however, Lyn drives straight into the only rock in the middle of the abandoned dessert road they are driving on. As they wait on the side of the road for help, they're picked up by a truck of men who, it turns out, decide to kidnap them and trade them to another small group of terrorists in exchange for someone else, because i guess in the kidnapping world of Iraq americans are higher priced. As Bob and Lyn sit in a make shift cell, Lyn tells Bob of how the end came about for The New Earth Army, he tells him of Larry Hooper, a man General Hopgood met at a spoonbending party and recruited into their ranks, he explains that Larry was the darkside, the sith to their jedis, explaining how he treated all of the rest like they were blew him, and treated Lyn horribly because he was jealous of Lyn's skills that were much more powerful then Larry's. He talks about how Larry would intentionally antagonize the rest, and eventually caused a young private to go crazy trying to recreate the CIA's LSD tests, causing the young man to walk naked into the center of the training grounds at Fort Bragg and start shooting, Bill Django tries to calm him, but the young solider shoots himself through the mouth instead.

this leads to the fall of The New Earth Army, Larry turns on them all in military court omitting his own fault in the incident, when its all over Django is dishonorably discharged and a more standard belief military commander takes over The New Earth Army and turns it back into a regular military unit, even using them as weapons, having Lyn use his power to kill a goat by looking at it. Lyn says how he decided to leave when his tour was over, and didn't look back until he was reactivated. Him and Bob escape using some mental tactics the new earth army used, and as they get out, they encounter a man named Mahmud Dash, who takes them to his house and gives them a car to get on with their mission, a car which soon hits a home made landmine and flips, leaving Lyn and Bob in the middle of nowhere Iraq, Lyn finally breaks down and tells Bob his mission was to find Bill Django, who appeared to him in his trailer and told him to find him. From there, they're lead off into the sands to complete this mission, and in the end, Bob comes home and writes the story of the rise, fall and legacy of the new earth army, which, in typical fashion, is overlooked almost completely.

The film does a good job with what its ment to do, make the stranger then fiction reality fit into a fictional story thats more fact then fiction, sure the characters are all made up and aren't the real one, and some characters are based on the same guy, and sadly there is no real Larry Hooper, insane mentalist douchebag out there in the world, I'd have really liked there to be one, because, come on, real world supervillian... but still, for a fiction thats not fiction story, the film holds together rather well, even if most of it is ment to just set up flashback scenes. The real joy of the film though is the cast, Clooney plays an incredibly insane Lyn Cassady, Jeff Bridges plays a great Bill Django, so good infact he won't get mistaken for Bill Paxton this time, and ofcourse Kevin Spacey proves that he is the master of playing total dickheads as Larry Hooper, and Ewan McGregor plays a believable everyman in Bill, though I personally found the short role of Mahmud Dash played by the under rated Arabic mastor of the theatrical arts Waleed Zuaiter was a great little surprise, though sadly, I doubt many people will know who he is, and well, they should.

So the big question, is it worth watching? Sure, if you have an afternoon to kill and would like a fun and odd story about the insanity of the US Army, its a good way to spend two hours, I would say rent of on demand it though, might not be the kind of thing you want to have in your home collection given that after maybe twice through it seems less and less fun, but still, its a film worth giving a chance. So if you got some time, and wanna see George Clooney rocking a Beiver bowl and a 1970s Oakridge boys mustache, you should give it a shot.

here is the trailer...



Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Walking Dead

The Walking Dead:
Its Like Zombieland Meets Survivors...

When I first heard about a TV series being made from comic book series The Walking Dead, I was abit leery, having read the comic book and loved how it wasn't just a zombie story, but it had logical and believable laws to it, like how you don't become a zombie if you get bit, you become one when you die, you can be saved from it if you remove a body part thats been bit, or how you need a nerve system to become a zombie, stuff like that, it seemed to fill in the blanks for most of the annoying things that weren't really all that well explained through all the years of zombie lore. Plus, well comic book to TV show adaption haven't actually been the greatest moments for either genre in the last 20 or so years. Plus, well non-pay channel cable hasn't always been the most faithful place for a series based on something super violent to be, if it wishes to remain intact, and also, as I have stated many times, the bitter taste of never getting more then one episode of Babylon Fields still lingers in my mouth at this point. All these things added to why I kind of have bad feeling about The Walking Dead, but still come Halloween night when it debuted, I still watched it and gave it a chance.

The pilot starts out with Officer Rick Grimes in his cop car, as it comes to a stop outside of a chaotic scene outside a gas station, as he walks up to attempt to find some gas, he encounters a little girl whom he thinks is a normal girl, she then turns around and much to his horror, the girl is a zombie, whom he shoots dead in the head the second she starts to run at him. Then the focus switches to a flashback of Grimes sometime earlier with his partner, sitting in their patrol car on a rutine traffic detail, and talking about relationships and how each of theirs are going, when they get a call to respond to a police chase, heading out to the call and helping by setting up a stop strip to take down the car they're chasing, once the car is rolled and stopped, three men get out and start shooting at the officers, all three men are killed on the spot, but Grimes is shot just above the heart. After seeing his partner show up to see him, then drifting into a coma, Grimes wakes up alone, apparently weeks later, to a completely empty hospital that looks like its been in a war, he discovers a completely eaten body along the way and is puzzled by this, not knowing whats gone on, but he still goes about looking for help, for someone that can help him.

He comes across a door thats boarded, chain locked and has "do not open, dead inside" on it in giant letters, he gets close, and sees hands starting to come out of the door, and hears the yelling of zombies, in fear he runs off and finds himself in a darkened hallway, using a found pack of matches, he finds his way to a door outside, near the back loading docks. He stumbles out into the sun and looks around only to find stacks and stacks of bead bodies, all wrapped in white sheets and with bullets through their heads, they look as if they've been here for a great deal of time, horrified at this Grimes continues on outside the walls of the hospital grounds, he walks up a hill, to another part of the grounds, where it looks like at one point there was a military command post set up, also completely lined with bodies, he then walks past this, and ends up in a city park, where as he attempts to get himself a bicycle, he encounters his first zombie, a torso that was slowly crawling toward him, hissing and growling all the way. He takes the bike and quickly evades the half a person, and heads for his home, which he finds empty, believing his girlfriend and son dead, he cries and starts to wonder if this is all a nightmare, he walks outside and sits on the front steps of his home, he sees what he thinks is another survivor, it turns out that one is a zombie, but before he can discover this, he's beat in the head with a shovel by a young child, who's father comes out of nowhere and shoots the zombie walking toward him in the head. He then asks Grimes what his wound is, but he passes out before he can tell him.

Grimes wakes up in the care of the man and son that just knocked him out, the man having treated him by replacing his bandage over shot chest where the bullet hit him earlier, he is however, restrained. And after telling the man that he was shot, not bitten or chewed on or anything else, he's set free, Grimes then makes his way out of the room to a kitchen area where the man and his son are having dinner. Over dinner they explain to Grimes whats been going on while he was in a coma, explains that there are walking dead, and the dead that have been put down, and implies that whatever was left of the military left the survivors there to die. After dinner is probably the most scary scene I've seen on television sense Dead Set, a car alarm is triggered and after looking through a very small window, you see that there is an entire street of zombies, just roaming around, you then find out that one of them is the man's wife. The next morning, Grimes and his two new friends go looking through Grimes' home, and he discovers that there are missing clothing, and missing pictures and things that he believes his wife would take if running for safety. They then head to the police station which has its own emergency power, water and heating. After bathing, and getting into clean clothing, and a trip to the weapon storage area, deciding up all the weapons and ammo, Grimes and his new friends part ways, each taking a police radio to use for contacting each other if an emergency happens. Grimes goes back to his house one last time before heading off for Atlanta, where its said there is a giant refugee center run by the CDC, assuming that would be where his wife and son are. Before he leaves, Grimes goes back to the park where he met his first zombie, and puts it down by a bullet to the head. Back on his street, the man that helped Grimes tells his son to stay down on the first floor, while he goes up to the second and using a sniper riffle, goes through what is probably the most gut-wrenching scene in the entire episode, where he tries, but can't bring himself to shoot the zombie that used to be his wife, though he has no issues shooting the others near by.

Grimes next is seen driving down highway 85 toward Atlanta, using his emergency radio to send out a beacon of sorts to anyone thats possibly listening. His broadcast is picked up by a group of survivors, one of which is his former partner and also, his wife and son are among them too, who seems to be organizing this group that is held up at a farm somewhere near by, they try in vain to contact him, though he seems unable to hear them, they can hear him, though he didn't ID himself by name, which leaves the group in the dark on who he is. Grimes finds his way to Atlanta, on horseback sense his car ran out of gas, completely unaware that going anywhere near the city is a zombie death sentence, and after seeing and trying to flag down a helicopter, he runs afoul of a large group of zombies, which leaves his horse dead and him eventually trapped inside of an M1A1 Tank, and as he feels he's completely surrounded and going to die, he hears a voice over the tanks radio, and in true episodic television show style, thats where the episode ends.

The show itself as a whole is incredibly well done, I was abit leery given how little I've cared for AMC's other original television shows, Breaking Bad, Mad Men and Rubicon, all well made and well written, they just don't grab me. But who am I to judge, I still miss Remember WENN (haha... obscure television reference). But The Walking Dead seems to be more my kind of thing, sure I tend to lean toward Sci fi and stuff more, as well as brave shows that aren't scared of taking a risk or two to get something done, but still its a great show, and its not afraid to blow afew heads open to get where it needs to go. Plus also, I'm glad to see Andrew Lincoln, whom I was delighted to see again after his memorably role of Robert Bridge on the series Afterlife, which as I've always said was the greatest sci fi series of all time, he's just as good here, if you ignore his faked southern accent that is, and well, after the first few minutes you tend to forget its there.

So if you're up for abit of a scare, and abit of unconventional action, or you just for some reason like to see walking dead people get shot in the head, give this show a shot, you will not be let down.



How About Alittle Bit Of I Told You So.... Scarecrow...

So afew months back, on the first day of filming for Captain America: The First Avenger, pictures of the stunt double for film star Chris Evans, wearing the stunt padding and safety gear and driving the stunt cycle quickly spread across the internet, much to the destine of the fans, who despite being told many times over that it was a stunt suit and stunt rider, and that it was only use for long distance far off shots, which means on film it won't look fat at all, the internet, as they always do, never listen and almost instantly damned the film, claiming that was Evans on the bike and declaring they'll never spend their money to go see the film.

Yes, you read that right, the general population, even though it clearly states the pictures were of a stunt driver, and even with many film industry people (myself included btw) stating on many boards and news blogs, that they were infact NOT the film's star and you wouldn't even notice in the real film, failed to read any of the facts stated, failed to understand it wasn't the star but his beefy by means of safety gear vesuvian doppleganger, and on the first day of filming, decided to instead of being excited, trash the film and decree that it will bomb and never be worth going to se. Yes, on the first day of filming.

Isn't that insane?

Anyway, I mention this because today, today is a great day, today, the first photos released from the upcoming Entertainment Weekly issues highlighting the film and giving the world a first look at all things there in, have hit the internet, I'll post afew below, but what makes the fact these are excellent pictures even better is the fact that I can flat out say, once again, the following statement...

Attention Internet, I told you to chill and let things get made before you declare them unworthy, but you never listen, now that proof of what I, and many others have said right along comes out, and all of you are raving about it like you were on board all the long, I take great joy in saying this... Suck it playahaters.

Face fact, if you've been following the marvel movies and all that is in them, Captain America is gonna kick you right in the jorblox repeatedly till you can't remember any other feeling except for pain. And unlike most of you, I was onboard from the start... so meh.

And with my small moment of bragging out of the way, I give you afew of the photos from the set... Click them for the high rez version....

and for the ladies, alittle something just for you....

And now that my fanboy moment is over, back to getting ready for my review of The Walking Dead...



Monday, November 1, 2010

This Has Me Puzzled...

I don't normally post film related viral videos, normally they're just altered by some guy in a basement with a 1996 Video Toaster, or are just some stupid clip spliced into some other video or another, and are all pretty generally stupid and not really worth my time. Not hating on those of you out there who feel the need to watch Arnold yelling "GET ON THA CHOPPA!!!" done to a dance beat or slowed down videos of kids singing horrible in a 1990 Mary Kate and Ashley Olson video, but just not my thing normally.

That being said, I happened across this video, thats become so viral its made it to many a television, print and internet news outlets, and though thats not really all that uncommon these days, I felt the need to share it regardless, simply because I can't really figure out just what it is, is it the most brilliant bit of CGI aided live action footage ever made? Is it real? Is it promotion for the man in the video's movie production company he mentions at the beginning? Is it some forgotten bit of early technology that had a short time of use and was more then likely forgotten to the scattered winds of time? There are just so many questions. So in the name of all things film, sci fi and Gallifrey, I went out this morning and bought a copy of this box set the video's creator mentions, which really isn't a big thing because I been wanting to get it anyway, my massive movie collection was lacking in Charlie Chaplin films as it was, so, you know, double word score.

So after cuing it up, and watching the segment thats shown in the video on my 42 in. HDTV in slow motion, going as close to frame by frame as possible, I can tell you this, it is there, I have no idea what it really is, but its clearly there, just as the video and many other videos related to it show, its clearly a woman or woman-ish person, talking into what looks like a modern style cellphone shaped object, but I can't for the life of me figure out what the hell it is.. But before I go any farther, here, let me show you the video, let you have a look for yourselves.

Its gonna be abit of this guy talking about who he is, and why he is making the video, and then many angles of the video in question, so have a look..

So what do you all think?

Could it be what it looks like? Could it really be someone thats traveled back in time to see opening night for one of Charlie Chaplin's greatest films, and felt the need to hide as a woman for some reason? That sure would explain afew things, the way "she" is dressed for one, to my knowledge of the time period those odd looking shoes weren't exactly what people were wearing in 1928, they actually look not only out of place, but a tad manufactured using modern means, though to be fair my knowledge of cobblers and all things shoe making related is limited to stories about small central European village cobblers who kill 7 flies with one swing of a belt and felt the need to brag about it till the townsfolk send him off to deal with giants just to shut him up, the mink coat and the hat are pretty timeless and date back to earlier then that time, but those are common today too, so they don't look out of place.

But that leaves the question of what exactly it is "she" is talking into. Its 1928 or something, and looking at what was available back then, its still completely baffling that she's talking into it, there is nothing that could look at all like that, that A) actually fits that visual reference B) would allow "her" to talk into it as if she's conversing with someone and C) would be available, even to the rich of the world that you could talk into like a cellphone, because whatever that is, its clear that "she" is talking directly into it.

Its not a small radio, again this is 1928, they didn't have transistorized radios that were that small back then, let alone ones that didn't require a large long antenna which would clearly be visible. Its not a hearing aid, because hearing aids as we know them, weren't readily available then, and also didn't look like a small rectangle you hold to your ear. Its not a two way shortwave radio, those again were not exactly commonplace back then nor were they with out the giant antenna, much like the handheld radio theory. As much as it pains me to say so, the only logical answer really is Time Traveler, because nothing else tech wise could possibly be in that shot, and nothing that could come at all close, would have been something that you would talk directly into. Thats what gets me, "she" is clearly having a conversation into whatever that thing is, there were no two way radios that were that small, there was no way its AM Radio, none of that stuff at all, its completely crazy, because the only logical answer is, thats a cell phone. A Modern, Iphone or android style cell phone.

And before anyone brings it up, I did some research, and though yes, the first wireless telephone was patented in 1912 or so by a man named Nathan Stubblefield, a googling and wiki read later, its clearly obvious that his over all failure at the idea would not have allowed for such things to be possible, plus, most homes didn't actually have telephones back then, let alone magical mystery out of place cellular phones.

So I don't know about any of you, but I'm left scratching my head on this one, logical inspection and research says that shouldn't be, but she is clearly dressed somewhat out of character and style for the time, and is clearly talking into a device when no such thing was available even to the super rich, at that point in history. So I am stumped. Part of me wants to blame Doctor Who, but The Doctor wouldn't be that subtle, so again, I'm left confused and scratching my head.. what about the rest of you?