Sunday, July 29, 2012

Sucker Punch Explained

This was a single article which got split into two. This is the spoilers section. The review of the movie Sucker Punch is here.
By the truck loads. There is no way to explain how to see the movie Sucker Punch without giving it away entirely. Which makes it hard for word of mouth promotion or any promotion at all. So you end up with the focus on the action and the girls.
The best way to understand the movie is to accept that what you have seen most through the movie was the imagination of Baby Doll on two levels. This is like the Kaiser Sozey myth of the Usual Suspects. Whatever you watched, you saw, never really happened. Or happened in a different way.
In the beginning of the movie, as Baby-Doll was being brought into the asylum, she saw the elements she needed to escape. She knew she only 5 days to escape and went about getting those items quickly. She was also befriended other girls who were with her on the scheme. The asylum was run on the inside by the orderlies led by the orderly called Blue in the movie. The escape plan went wrong and the girls were hurt badly but in the end, Baby-Doll realized she had to sacrifice herself so that Sweet Pea could manage to escape. As she was about to be lobotomized, she imagines a dream world. In this world, she replaced the asylum with a brothel. Baby-Doll probably had been able to build dream worlds to replace reality during the times she was molested by her father. This is what she did and what we saw during the brothel sections of the movie was a mix of her reality in the asylum and her imagining it as a brothel. This was her final escape before being lobotomized. You could see the world of the asylum crept in her dream world like the visions of the kitchen, the dorm and the grimy hallways. Whatever was replaced by the brothel imagery (of lights and stages and costumes) were probably pushed out by Baby-Doll from her mind. When she began dancing and entering her dream sequences, she was basically replacing her experience of stealing the items with her fantastic imaginary worlds, only keeping the memory of the excitement and the rush of adrenalin pumping through her. So like a Russian doll, the movie begins with the real-world (asylum), goes into the dream world (brothel) with the imaginary worlds (action scenes) at the center. The movie re-enters the dream brothel world and ends in the real world.
The title of the movie is spot on. Even at the most basic level, the ending will leave you wondering whose story is the movie really about. Despite of what the movie narration alludes to, it is still Baby-Doll's story. Since Baby-Doll goes catatonic, she never really sees Sweet Pea get on a bus. That probably is part of her dream world, too. The return of the wise man, is probably an indication that the vision we see is hers, justifying her sacrifice in exchange for Sweet Pea's escape.
Although the structure of the story seems unique, it has been done before but better. In comparison, the sucker punch was truly delivered by the Sixth Sense.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Sketchy Animated Hilarity (or Funny Cartoons for the rest of us)

YouTube has brought a renaissance of short animated clips. I am not talking about the shorts like Pixar's great shorts that run before their movies. I am not talking about clips that used to be made by some studios on the side and later find themselves as bonus material on DVDs. Not those same short that later find themselves on the Internet being forwarded through millions of clogged dial-up links before reaching overstuffed e-mail in-boxes and becoming the source of headaches for numerous IT admins everywhere. While these later found the safe haven of YouTube, some do find themselves removed by their studio creators.
I am talking about really short animated clips that could have been done on a budget small enough for a month lunches but with a personality and a sense of wit worthy of notable authors. Well, now YouTube has moved beyond a place of refuge to a place where these clips debut or even live beyond their initial run.
A recentcomer is Birdbox Studios, a outfit in London who noble goal is to create short movies that are "talked about, remembered and enjoyed by everyone." Their first work I came across is this

The hilarity of the situation appealed to everybody and I found it popular to whomever I played it too. I didn't give it much thought until I came across their other works which were differently drawn but contained the same style of wit and flair for the impossible. Then came their best piece of work yet.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Watch an IOS jailbreak done properly

How do you jailbreak IOS devices like your iPhone or iPad? Fed up with the useless Android applications installed on your Samsung Galaxy phone but cannot be removed? Well, you need to root your Android phone to remove it. What if you want to try the latest Android OS but your phone's manufacturer does not want to support the latest version?
The TWiT.TV network's new show, Know How, helps users perform various tasks that seem difficult at first but it is actually easy. Ayaz Akhtar and Leo Laporte each week choose a task that at first seems a little complicated. But armed with some reference and information easily available on-line, they demonstrate how to do it right live on-screen.

This time around they show an easy way to jailbreak an IOS device with Ayaz's iPod Touch. After that, they root Leo's Kindle Fire. Both methods provide the owner with more functionality than the original device settings. For example, iPad and iPhones that have been jailbroken can use third-party apps. This may seem strange at first but there are other app markets for IOS devices other than iTunes. Also, this is the only way you can run a custom app that has not been vetted by Apple. An Android device that has been rooted will be able to do things that wasn't possible before, like delete apps that were previously not erasable. With more effort, and provided you can find the right ROM that supports your device, you can try out the latest version of Android.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Underworld Awakening: reboot or remix?

In an effort to recover from the last Underworld movie, the producers decided to do a reboot of sorts with Underworld: Awakening. They decided to change the world that it is set in to a time in the near future. Good choice because the last Underworld movie which was set in the past, didn't quite work out. But isn't it the same decision on but in a different way?
This time around they brought back the husband and wife team of Kate Beckinsale and Len Wiseman (in a producer's role). The story goes that the humans have discovered the war between the Vampires on one side and Lycans and werewolves on the other. They have also discovered that both of the races are the result of a virus. This becomes the motivation for their course of action. Vampires, Lycans and werewolves are hunted as infected animals, to be culled. The effort is successful as the Lycans are believed to be extinct while what is left of the werewolves are running wild like packs of dogs. The Vampires are driven into hiding as the humans go door to door in search of Vampire, Lycan and werewolf.
When am I not holding a gun in this movie?
However, the Selene, the Death Dealer and heroine of first two Underworld movies, was not killed but cryogenically frozen. She is freed and with the help another vampire, David, she finds out that she is connected to Eve, another escapee from Antigen, the company that had been holding her captive. David brings here to what remains of the Vampires and they are set upon the Lycans who seem to want Eve for their own purposes. In the battle, she encounters a werewolf that is immune to silver. Selene learns and accepts the truth about Eve and sets about freeing her from the Lycans, which mysteriously brings her back to Antigen.
That is about more than 50% of the plot. Despite what people have written elsewhere, there is a lot of plot in Underworld Awakening. Unfortunately, a lot of it gets explained to the audience rather than being discovered or allowed to unfold. In fact, of the important plot points, all that is left as a surprise is a key revelation that may come as a real surprise to some (check out the spoiler parts below for more).
The mythology of the world remains largely intact. Although some question as to what is the point to cyrogenically freezing Selene as she is immortal anyway, I think it is more a way to imprison her than anything else.

Saturday, July 07, 2012

Suck: A Funny Vampire movie that doesn't

Starring: Rob Stefaniuk, Jessica Paré, Malcolm McDowell
Category: Horror, Comedy

What do you do when you are part of a struggling band that's competing with other similarly struggling bands for attention from the record companies? You're playing one night gigs in dives and bars that aren't paying you anything because they know how desperate you are to attract attention. Well, you will do anything to outdo the other bands. Use any advantage you have in the search of fame and the fortune that supposedly comes with it.
Suck is the story of one such band. They are pursuing the rock and roll dream and seem to be getting nowhere. They play in places they think record executives will be in the hopes of "being discovered". Their luck changes when their bassist, Jennifer, is bitten and becomes a vampire. At first, she accidentally eliminates a competing band. This works to their advantage. She then ropes in her band-mates, one by one, to help her cover her feeding frenzies. They help her dispose of the bodies of the other bands that she fed on. As the competition begin thinning, they seems to be getting more fans and start becoming more famous. However, a vampire hunter is also hot on their trail.
The movie came out more or less after Twilight. Some would be tempted to say it's an antidote for that movie, an example of what a real vampire movie with "real vampires" should be. I wouldn't go so far. The vampires in this movie do follow the accepted vampire conventions. However, horror isn't what the movie is about.
And it shouldn't be confused with Vampires Suck, the Twilight parody. The movie is a comedy but it's a black comedy. If you are expecting laugh-out-loud moments, you'd be disappointed. Much like you would if you watched Vampires Suck. If you are laughing-out-loud in either movie, you could be just high on something...