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Categories: Interviews, Articles, Reviews

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Pacific Rim - Film Review: Family Sized Monster Hit

Lars Hindsley
By Lars Hindsley Thu 11 Jul 2013 11:11 PM EST
Category: Film Reviews | 4315 Views
Three Dangers

(DL) – With superhero films appearing as the only reliable summer blockbuster draw, Pacific Rim provides a change in diet to theater goers. Updated only slightly from known monster verses mech stories, Pacific Rim is reminiscent of Evangelion and a homage to campy Godzilla monster movies of the 1960's. There is nothing original about it, combining concepts from sci-fis since film began such as King-Kong to Avatar

In a narrated montage Raleigh Becket played by Charlie Hunnan walks you through the first five minutes setting up the plot. You should interpret that as a spoiler mistake by the director. If you have half a brain, you understand this point. If you don't have the brainpower to figure out what the implications of a protagonist operating as the narrator means, then be advised your ignorance is bliss. 

Computer Generated Imagery (CGI) has been honed by directors over time. Each new movie using CGI increases the detail and our senses adjust expecting more. At Comic-Con geeks were lead to believe Pacific Rim would be a game changer in this category, instead it feels like Transformers with a story. I'd say much better story but Transformers has no story. To Transformers credit, they gave us well lit scenes. In Pacific Rim, darkness and rain are used not to enhance but hide detail. Perhaps the budget was being busted on so much CGI? Hype for Pacific Rim started a year before release, almost every poster highlighted a well lit fight scene. Throughout the film most monster vrs mech scenes are tight dark shots. Perspective shots are short. The interior settings are odd, war bunkers are a combination of post apocalyptic with a dash of steam-punk. Why so much rust in places that would never oxidize? Style without substance is just one more reason Pacific Rim doesn't reach great levels in storytelling. You get the feeling a world was created that can't exist. 
Gypsy Danger
Becket is your typical American hero. No character flaws, strong and mild mannered. In his calm voice you learn he is a pilot of huge robot machines named Jaegers, pronounced (yea-ger). A Jaeger must be manned by two humans, which I'll leave for you to learn why in the story. They are the world's only means to fight the war with giant undersea monsters known as Kaiju (Japanese for strange beast.) Here is what every theater goer should be asking. "What is the motivation for these colossal beast to rise up out of the sea and stomp all over buildings?" They lumber up out of the ocean and they are pissed off for what reason? Are they hungry? Can they get their fill on tiny human morsels? Wouldn't dining on whales be an option? Worse yet for myself if I'm going to get a subtle understanding of why we are at war with these creatures - other than the obvious fact they are destroying everything, there is never a clear visual message of what our monolithic enemies are up to when they surface. If things like this nag at you when you watch an action blockbuster, reasons such as this are why the film is good but not great. 
Pacific Rim Diagram
The Kaiju are relentless. Meant to look like a cross between a shark and alien they look more like generic sea monsters. Becket tells us that for a time humans were winning the war against the Kaiju through the procurement of Jaegers but the size and the frequency of the Kaiju have become more than the Jaegers can handle. In the establishing montage there may be only one small glimpse of a Kaiju getting owned by Jaegers in battle. We see the Jaegers fighting with the upper hand but aside from a visual or two of the Kaiju getting socked in the face with oversized metal fist, there isn't much to be excited about. For as brutal as the fight scenes are you don't get the feeling earth is being saved, you get the feeling it's being destroyed....Read more...

Firefly Music Festival: The Fan Experience

Lars Hindsley
By Lars Hindsley Mon 24 Jun 2013 11:43 PM EST
Category: Pop Culture | 5177 Views

(DL) – I am from Delaware. If anyone knows, it's me – Delaware is not a destination. It's a starting point. Everywhere is within driving distance, mountains, beach, the nation's capital, Philly events, NYC entertainment. None of which are in Delaware. Enter, Firefly – a three day music festival. It includes big name bands to headline like 2012's Killers and The Black Keys to 2013's Tom Petty and Foster the People. Firefly has a genuine interest in bands about to break like 2013's Capital Cities or 2012's Fitz & the Tantrums and Modest MousePassion Pit makes an encore performance to the festival's main stage.

EDM (Electronic Dance Music) makes a bigger play in 2013 at Firefly drawing not only the hipster crowd but more of the introverted at home closet dance hounds. Put them in front of Big Gigantic, Calvin Harris, Zed and White Panda and they too exploded in dance energy bouncing up and down along in a sea of people tossing beach balls, glow sticks and blow-up dolls. By the time Saturday hit MGMT's pop sound was bound to draw a huge crowd.

Sunday, Matt and Kim worked the crowd like any other Matt and Kim gig, tossing balloons into the crowd with Kim standing on her drum kit. Although she's chilled a bit after injuring herself previously. True story, they are as positive energy off stage as on. I met them last year in Philly at a gig at the Electric Factory. Kim gave me relationship advice I've used ever since. They are a high energy duo and the crowd fed off their energy on a hot Sunday afternoon.

The festival grounds known as The Woodlands is home to four stages separated by wood lined malls. It's got a somewhat cozy feel but the tall chain linked fences remind you of the business end of the festival experience. You won't be sneaking in to beat the $300 three day ticket price. You wear a bracelet that is digitally scanned for entry. Scratch the bar-code and management is relentless on this rule – you pay $20 to replace it after they confirm your original registration. 

Hammock HangoutThe fun starts at the gate. Everyone picks up the pace as the music nears. The huge banner, FIREFLY on a soft green backdrop with golden lights draws you in like a mindless bug. It's the same feeling you had as a child wanting to race in to be the first on the ride at an amusement park.

DowntimeFirefly's unique appeal is its accessibility. An even better word may be inclusivity. Yes it draws college students that want to cut loose, but even the college students I came across kept the partying in check. It draws a young at heart crowd but regardless of age a noticeable thumbprint of the typical Firefly attendee is they are positive and kind. This is no loose observation....Read more...

Aeroplane City - Preview

Lars Hindsley
By Lars Hindsley Sat 15 Jun 2013 5:34 PM EST
Category: Lifestyle | 7655 Views

   I'm standing patient. Forcing fate. I know what's to come. I draw my sunglasses from my pocket, no more than an innate moment of memory reflex. This mundane act precedes a rush. As the seal breaks I feel it in my spine. Anticipation of what I've experienced countless times before. Passengers behind me avert their eyes as overwhelming light bounces up from the glass runway. I'm back in the arms of the one love who has never failed me. Her name is Aeroplane City.

Aeroplane City in the night time
   Secluded in the mountains of the east this compact twenty square mile stretch is more than a paradox, it's one of a kind. No other city in the world is accessible only by airplane. It’s like the moon to most people – they know it’s here, but will never visit it.

   I step from my plane, the elements of clean air and busy atmosphere shift my anxious mood into what I can only describe as highly tuned perception. I feel twice as alive the moment I land here. I look down at the glass beneath my plane. My relay isn't resting on some tarmac in a field. It's four stories from ground level in the heart of the dense cityscape. A ballet of flights are landing and departing at etched locations across the landing deck adjacent to the inbound runway. The rotating thrust pivots each relay downward like a bird that has found its nest. Others rise is a hush, defying gravity then propel out and up as if each were in a race to escape. Crews and passengers like mine hurry from each relay toward suspended muted light beacons hovering off the glass which marks access down into the terminal. A small recess in the glass opens after the first passenger reaches it and places their hand into a section of the beam hued in green.

Dalton Resting Above Aeroplane City   Surrounding me is a breath taking sight of the city to the south, west and north. It is fleeting as I'm expected to exit my plane in a direct line to those same downward openings to enter the terminal. This is the busiest place in the city with a view that can't be savored in the moment, only recalled in wonder....Read more...

Man of Steel - Film Review: Deliberately Harder

Lars Hindsley
By Lars Hindsley Thu 13 Jun 2013 1:54 PM EST
Category: Film Reviews | 4442 Views
Four Dangers

The once all-American fictional superhero of Detective Comics (Then Action Comics) created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster in 1938 is once again rebooted in the most modern effort yet. With comic book movies shifting from all action to dramatic character dynamics, storytelling mastery in a darker style similar to Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy is the vehicle delivering the goods in Man of Steel. If there is any challenge to a Superman movie it is making a dry character like Superman relatable. Can a change be done without going too far?

It's hard to provide any spoilers as this story has been told many times in print, radio and celluloid of all forms. Familiarity is what makes sitting through Superman Man of Steel  potentially a bit underwhelming. The good news – casting Henry Cavill against animation and print type as Superman is part of what makes this new character relatable.  He's not the Superman you'd expect. Visually, the slicked black hair is all that remains. He's a deliberate new definition of dashing, not-in-tights. To anyone who knows the name Superman you ask yourself what surprises can be offered in yet another reboot? What is the message or story to be told if it's the same story being told? Director Zach Snyder is careful to not give us another version of Batman. No one wants to see one more brooding superhero. What we get is the soul of Superman.
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After Earth - Film Review: Avoid Earth It's Bad

Lars Hindsley
By Lars Hindsley Wed 5 Jun 2013 9:45 PM EST
Category: Film Reviews | 2368 Views
One Danger

(DL) –  After Earth is a failed attempt at a father son bonding experience. Kitai Raige (Jaden Smith) and father Cypher (Will Smith) are the only two survivors aboard a crashed space vessel which just so happens to return to Earth 1000 years after its abandoned, for inexplicable reasons. The father son re-connect theme makes up the bulk of the story in a convoluted sci-fi that yearns to be huge visual blockbuster.

If you've seen the posters they sum up the entire film's premise. Danger is real, fear is choice.  Suppressing emotions can be a great message, but inside twenty minutes the theme is exhausted and we are left with a worn out plot, overcoming a challenge coupled with a father son re-connect theme.  Throw in a bit of overcoming guilt and that is it. That's all you got.  Oh, and that Danger is real, fear is a choice message – that is an L.Ron Hubbard teaching. If you don't know what that is, it's Dianetics (Scientolgy).  Through Scientology you are supposed to rid yourself of all your fears.
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