Into the Storm (Spoilers)

(First of all, sorry for the spelling error in the title of last night’s post.)

I did not get to go with anyone from work, but I understand the physics of the tornado themselves were realistic.

Though one wonders why an airport did not clear out its traffic in advance of a major system like that.

As for the film itself?


Even taking into account that it was just a popcorn, special-effects showcase, disaster flick…erm.

Seriously, I was re-writing that film as I was watching it. “Set the entire thing in real time. Because of the briefness of the event, you can do that. Ditch offensive stereotype rednecks. If they contribute nothing to the plot, get rid of them. Ditch whiny camera guy who had no redeeming qualities for the audience to get attached to. (And why would someone hire a cameraman who had no experience in dealing with dangerous events?) Because the audience did not get attached, they did not care when he unnecessarily-horrifically died. Having someone in the main cast suddenly killed by just flying debris (notice no one was? Even though that is what kills most people in a tornado) would have not only been more realistic, the suddenness of it would have had more impact. Like a Saving Private Ryan moment where you are following this guy and then *bang* it’s over. That fast.

Honestly, for drama’s sake, I would have killed Richard Armitage’s character right after he saved his son, when the audience assumed that family was safe. That would have been a shock moment that would resonate through the audience and rest of the characters.

If not him, then either develop and then kill the assistant-dude who only had two lines or kill the African American cameraman who was developed and fun to watch. Anyone the audience would care about. Do not simply leave African-American guy, probably the most interesting one on the entire tornado-chasing team, behind for no reason. The whole argument in the church? Cut it, unnecessary time waster. And badly written, so badly written. A somber mood and accusing and guilty looks would have probably been even more powerful. It’s show, not tell people!”

The whole film, I was doing that.

Also, noticing continuity errors.

I will give it credit for having an exciting and somewhat more realistic end than Twister. Also I did not expect the main tornado chasing guy to come back to save everyone. That was well-played. But The Matrix: Revolutions moment of the tank flying all the way up past the cloud layer was stupid.

Also the “Chekov’s pocket knife” and the father-son interaction over it was nicely done.


GoG was Fantastic! (Spoilers)

I finally got to see this last night and I loved it! The thing about Marvel movies is they do what it says on the tin (I love that phrase): These are popcorn-action flicks meant only to entertain, but they don’t do it half-assed. The characters are fully formed, fun and engaging. The plot is satisfyingly complex and satisfying. The action is first rate and my personal favorite: The dialog is thoroughly enjoyable in balancing wit with that Joss Whedon-esque technique of “Regular folks saying regular things in the face of extraordinary, grandiose or melodramatic circumstances.”

““He says he’s an A-hole, but — and I’m quoting him here — he’s ‘not 100 percent a dick.’”

It’s lines and characters like that, or when Quill promptly ruins an act of selfless heroism by milking it to make a pass, that are not only funny, they help keep the audience grounded in outrageous circumstances. That is a real skill, in both writers and actors.

I was also very pleased they kept the “half-alien” aspect of Peter Quill, it served as a nice “Chekov’s Genetics.” Actually, I liked how Quill’s whole character was just one dorky step away from being the pulp-fiction heroic archetype.

The only tiny flaws I found were the “coming together as a team” moment kind of came out of nowhere given the characters’ relationships up until that point. And Ronin, who was an odd choice to warp into a genocidal madman, was rather dull. Against Marvel villains like Loki, Obediah Stane and Alexander Pierce, Ronin only rises slightly above the faceless Chitauri. Slightly.

But Nebula was great, ruthless and self-serving (with some reason) and I’m glad she escaped to scheme and hate another day.

And those minor flaws did not detract from my enjoyment. I will go see this again, and it will be added to my DVD collection.

Also: “Distraction by dork.”


F-ing brilliant.

Also, also: Dancing baby Groot!

Note: Everything You Need to Know about Guardians of the Galaxy (in the comic books)

Big Disasters

There are going to be a bunch of small posts today with different things that floated to the top of the random roiling flotsam and jetsam that is my thought process.

So, to begin:

I have two threads drawing me to see Into the Storm, the tornado film coming out in August.

The first is this guy:

Richard Armitage, Self Assignment, October 4, 2013

Yes dear, you’re hot. Let’s move on.

The second is the fact that I work at a University in the department that houses the Atmospheric Sciences. I can’t wait to go see this with some of them to point and laugh because this promises to be only slightly more scientifically accurate than 2012.

Now, this film is not trying to sell itself as Chekov, I get that. It’s a mindless pop-corn flick. That’s totally fine. I have Pacific Rim at home because there is something relaxing about watching giant robots and giant monsters pummeling each other. Don’t ask me what, it’s my zen.


Don’t not seek the Kaiju, only cherish kicking its ass.

But when your trailer about a film supposedly based on realistic events has lines like, “This one is bigger than any storm that has ever been!” which is refuted in thee seconds on Wikipedia  (and just to give you an idea of how big Typhoon Tip was) you have hella-bad screenwriting.  There are scientific reasons why large hurricanes and typhoons form over the ocean, not land, so no, you are not going to have the “biggest storm of all time” over Oklahoma. That was an unnecessary piece of hyperbole that just makes the film look foolish. Multiple massive tornadoes tearing through a place is bad enough, you really don’t need to embellish it with “ZOMFG! This is like, the worst storm EVAR!” I also highly question if a storm would have enough energy to put out four or five funnels in close proximity like that. There is bending the truth with some poetic license, and there is just not giving a rat’s ass about your subject matter except as an excuse for special effects.

As a history major I see that a lot. I, and many historians, understand that for the sake of story cohesion and time, events have to be streamlined and compressed, peripheral personages have to be merged or left out, etc.. We get that, but often things are changed for the sake of the Hollywood concept of “drama” and the story suffers because there was plenty of great drama in the real events. Real history is usually more interesting than anything Hollywood can cook up. I find the further a film drifts from the truth, the more “poetic license” they take, the worse the film is. For instance, Tora Tora Tora vs. Pearl Harbor. Tora Tora Tora is considered one of the top WWII films of all time and the only historical accuracy issues were equipment ones because the filmmakers in 1968 could not get their hands on WWII fighters and battleships. Pearl Harbor was an utter mess historically and dramatically.

Real science creates realistic jeopardy which just makes for a better movie. Look at this list from Popular Mechanics for the ten most scientifically accurate vs. ten least scientifically accurate SciFi films, and see which side of the scale is weighted down by artistic quality.

Most Scientifically Accurate:

~ 2001

~ Andromeda Strain

~ Alien

~ Blade Runner

~ Terminator

~ Jurassic Park

~ Gattaca

~ Contact (I do not understand the hate people have for this film. It was faithful to Carl Sagan’s novel, yet people seem to think they bought tickets for a George Lucas movie.)

~ Deep Impact

~ Minority Report (Again, a film that needs more love. It’s a great story told very well. Yes, the psychic premise is shaky, but the technology is sound. And while Tom Cruise maybe a complete nutter off camera, he knows what he is doing in front of it.)

A lot of damn good movies, right? Many iconic, even.

Least Scientifically Accurate:

~ The Black Hole (Does anyone remember this film? Neil deGrasse Tyson does and watch how much this film pisses him off 35 years later. And he makes the same point I just did: Sometimes filmmakers decide that their “vision” is more compelling then reality, and they are just wrong.)

~ Armageddon

~ The Matrix

~ Vanilla Sky

~ The Core

~ The Day After Tomorrow

~ I am Legend

~ Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (Or, “Why Indy Should Have Remained in the Fantasy Genre.”)

~ 2012

~ Angels and Demons

They have The Matrix and Vanilla Sky, if you are into that sort of thing. (In which case, Jacob’s Ladder did it better.)  But as you see by in large, the better films are the ones that strove for some scientific accuracy.

So there is “artistic license” and there’s “I’m just too lazy to put some real work into this script and will leave it to the special effects shop to write most of the movie.”

Which is sad because this guy:


Oh! Hello, there…

…is a first-rate actor and deserves good material. (Thank the Gods he is working with great material now.) I am hoping I am wrong. I am hoping that this is film is better than its marketing. Sometimes that happens.