Monthly Archives: May 2010

WMD: Gut-punching movies

This week over on Geek Bits, the ‘Weapon of Mass Discussion’ topic was quite an interesting one. “What movie or movies have left you feeling like you’d been punched in the gut?” Since this was one of my topic suggestions I emailed to the boys a while back, and since I am experiencing a bit of a writer’s block at the moment, I’m going to steal it.

For a movie to leave me feeling “punched in the gut,” it doesn’t have to be a sad movie. It has to leave me feeling like I’d just experienced something amazing, special, awe-inspiring. The Geek Bits boys had several good examples. This is my list.

Haley Joel Osment may have seen dead people, but I totally did not see the end of this movie coming.

1. The Sixth Sense

This is the movie that inspired this topic in the first place. I did not see The Sixth Sense in the theater. I did not rent it straight away when it came out. Somehow, I managed to stay completely in the dark about the ending between the time it came out and the time I eventually rented it. Because I totally did not see that ending coming. Normally I can predict how a movie will end. The Prestige? Totally saw that one coming. The Village? I’d read the book M. Night Shyamalan stole his idea from. But The Sixth Sense? At the big reveal, I was literally left gasping at the plot twist. No other movie has ever surprised me like that. Sure, I may have been a little bit drunk while watching it for the first time, but that was really the first time I had felt a movie had really packed a punch.

2. The Matrix

The combination of the amazing special effects and the idea that the world around us isn’t real but rather a virtual reality really blew me away. Of course, the special effects pioneered by The Matrix are old hat now, but at the time I was awe-struck by the time-freezing technique used in the movie. I remember leaving the theater and standing in the parking lot, looking around at the world and wondering if it were really real. It left me hungering for more. Too bad the sequels sucked.

3. Sliding Doors

Though this movie predates The Sixth Sense, I didn’t see it until years later, renting it on DVD. If you’ve never seen this movie, you should. It’s an amazing concept. Two sides of the same story are shown almost simultaneously — parallel views of a woman’s life depending on whether or not she caught the train. In one reality, her life is seemingly perfect. In the other, not so much. But being happy doesn’t always lead to a happy ending. It’s a feel-good movie with a twist, and one that was exceedingly well done.

4. The Reaping

This is a gut-punching movie for two reasons. And it’s kind of hard to explain why without giving away the plot. The story revolves around a small town where the 10 biblical plagues are destroying the town and the people in it. The cause appears to be a young girl, a child of the devil. The twist at the end would have made this a great movie if it had ended right before the last scene, and the second twist. I had been really enjoying the movie — to which I was dragged to see — up to that point, and when the second twist occurred, I wanted to throw popcorn at the screen in protest. No other movie has made me change my mind about it that quickly before. (Though I still wish the second twist hadn’t happened.)

5. Transformers

I’ve said it before. When I saw the first Transformers movie for the first time, I cried when Optimus Prime spoke for the first time. That voice was a sweet, fun memory from childhood. And the visual effects of the transforming vehicles were so stunning, I almost expected the cars in the parking lot to transform when I left the theater. It was a remake of a childhood favorite done right, which turned it into one of my favorite movies of all time.

6. Star Trek

I was really doubtful when I heard they were making a Star Trek prequel. I wasn’t sure if it would be any good, though I was pleased that Zachary Quinto was picked to play Spock. But the hype around the movie was huge and the trailers looked pretty good. And since I was a huge Star Trek fan, I decided to give it a shot. I left the theater in a daze. That’s when I realized J.J. Abrams was a true cinematic genius. And that he had some serious BALLS to turn the whole of Trek history on its head and not piss off the Star Trek crowd. Bravo, Mr. Abrams. Bravo.

There have been other movies over the years that have left an emotional impact — The Boy Who Could Fly, Star Wars, Labyrinth, The Little Mermaid — but none of these ever really surprised me or left me feeling that the world was just a little bit different now that I had seen them.

So now I pose the question to you. Which movies have you seen over the years that have left you feeling as though you had been punched in the gut?

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Friday Five: Get ‘Lost’

As I’m typing this, there’s still two hours left in Friday… so it’s not too late to post my Friday Five, right? I had today off today and planned to get so much done. And then I overslept until almost lunch time and my day just went to hell after that. Never did catch up. But there’s always tomorrow.

It’s funny. When I was in my 20s I could stay up all night. Now that I’m in my 30s, I can’t wait to go to bed. So I’ll just jump right in. Sooner done, sooner to sleep. 🙂

1. ABC extends ‘Lost’ finale

This better not be a Bobby Ewing, snowglobe, waking up in bed with Suzanne Pleshette kind of ending. Or heads will roll.

No spoilers, but if you haven’t seen this week’s episode of ‘Lost’ yet, have some tissues ready. The writers aren’t holding back any punches for this show’s final season it seems. ‘Lost’ was such a great show when it started. Then it suffered from dragging plots in later seasons, especially thanks to the writers strike. I almost gave up on it, but stuck with it because I knew it would end someday. And that day is almost upon us. And now that it is, I find myself not wanting it to ever end! Lucky for us, ABC has allowed the show’s producers to extend the finale to 2 and a half hours. That’s right, an extra half hour in which to RIP OUT MY HEART. *sob*

Source: The Live Feed

2. Muppets meet ‘Lost’ creators

I’m not the only one giving the writers and creators of ‘Lost’ a hard time. Check out this video of a couple of Muppets crashing their planning session for the final episodes. Give ’em hell, Rizzo!

Source: MTV Movies Blog

3. Raising money for hot, ass-kicking chicks

Stephen Baldwin isn’t my favorite Baldwin. Sure, he was OK in Biodome. Which is a bad movie. But he’s done worse. Much worse. And now he’s broke. And raising money. Because of Jesus and stuff. Or something. But there’s someone else who also deserves some money. Joss Whedon. Not because he needs it. But because he’s awesome. Really. Watch the video and see if you don’t agree.

Source: io9

4. LEGO Star Wars trilogy

May 4th was Star Wars Day. What’s better than Star Wars? LEGO Star Wars! What’s better than LEGO Star Wars? How about the entire Star Wars trilogy (the good one) told in two minutes… in LEGO. “Whaddup, son?” I did learn a valuable lesson. Don’t watch while drinking, because inhaling liquid is not a pleasant experience.

Source: Huffington Post

5. Remake of Lady Gaga’s ‘Telephone’

Last week we had Gaga a capella. This week, it’s a remake of her video ‘Telephone’ as performed by soldiers in Afghanistan. I don’t know what my fascination with Lady Gaga has been of late, but I do know I really enjoy the remakes.

Source: malibumelcher on YouTube

Enjoy the weekend!

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Celebrate your inner nerf-herder

Today, May 4th, is the unofficial official International Star Wars Day. (And, in case you live under the same rock as I occasionally do and want to know why May 4th… “May the Fourth be with you.” Get it? Yuk yuk.)

By the time I was 7, I had built a droid, left home, won a major space battle and met the woman I would marry. What have you done? Look at yourself. No hand, no master and you can't even levitate your X-wing out of a swamp...

This year also marks the 30th anniversary of The Empire Strikes Back, arguably the best of the Holy Trilogy. But Empire holds special memories for me because it was the first live-action movie I ever saw in the theater. I was either just about to turn 4 or had already done so when my parents took me and my baby brother to see Empire. As my mom tells it, my brother started crying, so she had to go sit out in the car with him while Dad and I finished the movie. (It would be a long time before they took him to the movies again.)

I really have only one memory of the movie, and that’s the very end when Boba Fett is loading a carbonite-frozen Han Solo into his ship. I remember wondering, with my 4-year-old brain, why Boba Fett was going to shoot Han Solo out of his cannon, because that’s what his ship looked like to me at the time. It wasn’t until years later when I saw the film again did I realize it was a ship and not a big gun.

I remember going to preschool after seeing the movie and playing Star Wars on the playground. I was always Princess Leia because I think I was a little bully at the age of 4, while the other two girls in our group had to be the droids. I obviously had not learned the lesson of sharing yet. I think I would have been better suited to play Vader, come to think of it.

Those are really the only memories I have of the entire Star Wars franchise. I’m pretty sure we went to see Return of the Jedi, but I don’t remember seeing it. All my other memories come from when I was older and better able to understand the actual plot.

Star Wars Day has been a trending topic all day on Twitter, and that makes my inner geek proud. These movies have been with me since I was very young, and will continue to inspire and awe me for years to come.

Happy Star Wars Day! MTFBWY.

And as a treat, some Star Wars humor. (Watch all the way to the end!)

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How Taco Bell saved my life

The weather forecast on Saturday for the following day, Sunday, May 3, 2009, called for possible severe storms, but by Sunday morning, all mention of severe weather had been taken out of the day’s forecast. Mom and I decided to make a trip to Walmart, something we hate doing, but find it necessary to embark upon once a month or so. It had been raining a lot that week, and the sky looked like it would dump more rain on us later, but we took advantage of a dry spell and headed out.

Leaving Walmart that evening, the sky looked black and it was raining, though not too heavily. We decided, since it was kind of late, to stop at Taco Bell and pick up something to eat for dinner, since neither one of us felt like cooking after getting home and putting all our purchases away.

That decision to stop at Taco Bell probably saved our lives.

This was just a few houses from mine.

We hit a wall of rain about a mile and a half from home. Mom slowed down to a crawl and we slowly made our way home. We were both bitching about the weather and how our food was going to get cold by the time we made it home. The radio was on. There were no warnings.

There is a large curve on the road to my house. As we rounded the curve, our mouths dropped open in shock as we saw a number of trees down in a local doctor’s yard. We drove even more slowly, the rain whipping around the van, and figured the wind must have been bad. Then Mom slammed on the brakes as she noticed several trees lying across the road. That’s when the panic set in.

There are only two roads into our subdivision. The main one was obviously blocked. We turned around and tried the back way, while I frantically called Dad, who was staying at my grandfather’s house that night, to ask what was going on. He turned on the Weather Channel and told us there was a tornado warning for our county.

Just up the street, we had a transformer in the road. And not the fun kind of transformer.

I immediately went into a panic attack because I had seen trees on houses and our little dog was home alone. I don’t handle that kind of stress well. Dad said he was on his way and Mom and I continued home. Fortunately, the back road into the subdivision was mostly clear. We got home. We had one tree twisted and the power was out (from a couple of power poles just up the street that snapped in half, we later found out). Two houses from us and all up the street, our neighbors weren’t so lucky, as most had several large trees on their home, and in some cases, in their home. One neighbor had his pickup crushed by a tree.

Tornado + tree = squished truck

We were lucky. No one was hurt. The tornado was classified as a weak F1. But Mom and I had driven into the tail end of the tornado. Both of us believe that if we had not stopped at Taco Bell for dinner that night, we would have driven right into the tornado and possible have been on one of the sections of road where the trees and power lines came down.

I know people have been through far worse storms than this, such as the folks in Nashville now, but it was terrifying for me, who had never seen that much damage up close.

It’s been a year now, and there are still twisted trees around the neighborhood, but homes have been repaired and no one was hurt. That’s something to be thankful for.

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