Archive for January, 2008

DOA: Dead or Alive Movie was Dead on Arrival

Okay, so I got suckered into watching the live action movie for the X-Box video game hit, Dead or Alive, a fighting game that is all about the curves inasmuch as it is about the moves. Any gamer would tell you that the main draw for DOA (the game) when it first came out was the female characters’ uber voluptuous figures and breasts whose movements defy generally accepted laws of physics. The live action movie, released in the U.S. in June of ’07, banked on the title’s sex appeal in its cinematography, suggestive dialogue, costuming, and overall look– including a very nice beach volleyball game with four of the movie’s main characters. Here’s a YouTube trailer:

The trouble with this movie is that those who are familiar with the game already have some high expectations. First, there’s the casting. Devon Aoki‘s interracial facial features, for instance, seemed to make her an odd choice to play the role of Kasumi, although her stint as Miho (a ninja assassin, in the movie Sin City) most likely was a helpful precursor to snagging this role. The role of Ayane, the childhood friend-cum-bitter rival to Kasumi, was portrayed by a purple wig-wearing Natassia Malthe, who, although yet another stunner, couldn’t turn Japanese-o even if you paid her. The actress who plays the British character of Christie speaks with an Australian accent; and the French character, Helena, was portrayed by a rolling blading Californian. Only Jaime Pressly and Collin Chou, cast as Tina Armstrong and Hayate, respectively, seemed to be the only characters perfectly matched. Lastly, and I don’t know why this is, but actor Eric Roberts, regardless of the character he portrays, is just plain creepy.

Additionally, the martial arts moves that gaming enthusiasts have grown to associate with each character also seemed to be missing from their live action versions, with very few exceptions. However, director Corey Yuen, who himself is a martial artist and long-time action genre actor in a multitude of Hong Kong films, created action sequences that were both visually stunning and technically convincing.

The bottom line, however, is that the film ended up being more campy than it probably intended on being. But, how seriously can you make a movie based on a video game renowned for its female characters’ jiggling boobies? I rest my case.

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Weight-Loss Through Hypnosis?

So, once again, while on the treadmill a couple of days ago, the TVs in the health club were showing one informercial or another about a great new diet trend or groundbreaking weight-loss technique or amazing ab-toning gadget. As I silently cursed, I was suddenly transfixed on an informercial for a product called Think and Lose, a weight-loss program based on hypnosis. One of their tag lines is: “If hypnosis can help someone walk on fire, it can certainly help you lose weight.”

This past summer, me and a buddy of mine were enjoying some adult beverages at a watering hole along Hawthorne, catching the last few rays of the afternoon sun. We were sitting at bistro seating they had upfront, on the sidewalk. A car parallel parked into a spot that was directly across from us and my buddy immediately saw the magnetic sign on the car door advertising hypnosis as a cure for common ailments. A rather rotund woman squeezed out of the driver’s seat and walked to the sidewalk and my buddy asked her about the sign, asking specifically if hypnosis can help him quit smoking.

The woman caught her breath and enthusiastically promoted her husband’s practice, assuring my friend that hypnosis certainly can help. (For the record, my friend was just humoring her; he has no intention of giving up the cancer stick.) She then said, “It can even help you lose weight.” Me and my buddy just looked at each other and had to bite our tongues. I have a feeling that we both wanted to ask her if she’d tried it. We exchanged pleasantries and the woman walked away. My buddy and I discussed the thought of hypnosis for a little bit after that and we were both not convinced that it would work. So, imagine my surprise when this infomercial came on, complete with one amazing testimonial after another.

I am weary of products and programs advertised on cheesy infomercials, but I have to admit my curiosity being piqued about this product. What do you think?

Voyager: Nearly 13 Years Since the Beginning…

I’ll admit to being a bit of a Trek fan but only of The Next Generation and Voyager installments. I suppose this admission comes with the anticipation of the pending new film from the Star Trek franchise. Voyager to me was the Trek creative team’s answer to the vacuum left behind when The Next Generation ended in 1994. (No, I don’t consider Deep Space Nine as a viable alternative since they really didn’t go “where no one has gone before;” they pretty much just stayed put and dealt with whatever the wormhole spat out.) But, I digress. I’m here to blab about Voyager.

While channel surfing tonight, I happened upon an old Voyager episode, and wondered what the actors who used to portray characters that I grew to love were doing now. Here’s a brief update:

Kate Mulgrew (“Katherine Janeway”) – Like most Trek alumni, Mulgrew can be seen at Trek Conventions and Sci-Fi Expos periodically. She is also a “champion” for the National Alzheimer’s Association Awareness Campaign. It was also interesting to read on her website that she was actually recently in my backyard– figuratively speaking, of course– to support a gallery showing of her son’s work.

Robert Beltran (“Chakotay”) – One of many Latino actors to portray Native American roles in entertainment, Beltran did a couple of Trek-related films at the conclusion of the Voyager series. In addition to convention appearances, he also has a Latino poetry CD out.

Tim Russ (“Tuvok”) – Russ had small parts in film following his stint on Voyager. He currently portrays the role of Frank, The Doorman on Samantha Who?

Roxann Dawson (“B’Elanna Torres”) – Dawson went behind the camera after Voyager, directing episodes on Enterprise (another Trek spin-off) and even Heroes. She also remains active in theater and some acting projects.

Robert Duncan McNeil (“Tom Paris”) – Yet another one to focus his energies behind the camera, McNeil has gone on to direct, including the pilot episode of aforementioned Samantha Who?

Garrett Wang (“Harry Kim”) – Wang has not been too busy in the acting biz since his Voyager job, and, according to his Wikipedia entry, wants to pursue interests outside of acting. You’ll most likely see him in conventions.

Robert Picardo (“The Doctor”) – Well, his website still has a holiday greeting video. Picardo played the role of “The Cowboy” in one of my most favorite flicks, Innerspace. You know, that movie when Meg Ryan was still genuinely cute? Anyway, Picardo was brilliant in it, if I do say so myself.

Ethan Phillips (“Neelix”) – After playing the human version of ALF on TV for seven seasons, it appears that Phillips turned to writing, but did have roles on several TV shows in 2007 (according to his Wikipedia entry).

Jennifer Lien (“Kes”) – Kes was inarguably the “pivotal character” for the first three seasons of the show, whose storyline seemed ever-present. Since her character evolved herself out of the series in 1997, Lien did some work before seeming to disappear completely from acting.

Jeri Ryan (“Seven of Nine/Annika Hansen”) – Ryan replaced Lien with the role of having the “pivotal character” on the show until the series ended in 2001. She successfully continued her TV career as a regular in the show, Boston Public.

Live long and…uh, never mind.

Cloverfield: One Long YouTube Video

I’ve never been one to be completely swayed into seeing or not seeing a movie based solely on reviews, especially from jaded movie critics, but I definitely should have listened when it came to Cloverfield. The concept was promising– an entire movie filmed via amateur commercial video camera, complete with shaky images and shots that were in-and-out of focus, possibly causing some viewers to go into epileptic shock. It certainly made for interesting, anti-formulaic rendering of this monster-invades-New York offering.

But the concept isn’t original; the Blair Witch Project paved the way on seeing the world from a digicam’s view lens. This, however, was also Cloverfield’s Achilles heel, as we were privy only to the scenes captured by the reluctant cameraman (in this case, one of the movie’s characters). Were there scenes that could’ve had a stronger impact had they been filmed differently? Maybe. Where this movie succeeded is the suspenseful nature in which some of the scenes were depicted. There were many a time when I actually found myself having unknowingly gripped the armrests of my seat.

If you were expecting the movie to live up to the hype the ambiguous trailers had caused, you may be disappointed, what with the oft vacuous dialogue and clichéish characterization that it also came with. But, if you want to see it for the pure pleasure of watching yet something else wreak havoc on the Big Apple while her hapless inhabitants try to make sense of it all, then go see the film. You may want to hold off on the popcorn, however; you’ll find that there’s already plenty of corn in the movie.

On This Day in 1993: André the Giant Passed Away

Andre the Giant (top) with Mandy Patinkin and Wallace Shawn

André René Roussimoff, known worldwide as wrestling’s Andre the Giant, died in his sleep today in 1993, at the age of 46, from congestive heart failure. He played a lovable character named Fezzik in one of my most favorite films of all time, “The Princess Bride” (shown in picture above with co-stars Mandy Patinkin, who played Iñigo Montoya, and Wallace Shawn, who played the wily Sicilian, Vizzini). The funniest moment of many was when he uttered a memorable line in the following exchange involving the three characters above:

Iñigo Montoya: That Vizzini, he can *fuss*.
Fezzik: Fuss, fuss… I think he like to scream at *us*.
Iñigo Montoya: Probably he means no *harm*.
Fezzik: He’s really very short on *charm*.
Iñigo Montoya: You have a great gift for rhyme.
Fezzik: Yes, yes, some of the time.
Vizzini: Enough of that.
Iñigo Montoya: Fezzik, are there rocks ahead?
Fezzik: If there are, we all be dead.
Vizzini: No more rhyming now, I mean it.
Fezzik: Anybody want a peanut?
Vizzini: DYEEAAHHHHHH.

Bwahahahaha! (Okay, you had to be there…) Ah, Mr. Roussimoff, you are missed.

Aishwarya Rai

Speaking of Bollywood, do you know about Aishwarya Rai, dubbed as the most beautiful woman in the world? I recently saw the movie “The Last Legion,” and rather than treat you to a virtual castigation of such a juvenile movie, I’d like to focus on Ms. Rai. As I’d mentioned before, I was into Bollywood films for awhile. Ironically, in the over 50 Bollywood films that I watched over a two-year period, Aishwarya wasn’t in any of them. It took a goofy Bollywood “Pride & Prejudice” re-imagining called “Bride & Prejudice” to introduce me to this beauty.

Sadly, Aishwarya is married to Bollywood actor, Abhishek Bachchan, who most likely would be dubbed as the luckiest bastard in the world. Winning the Miss World competition in 1994 helped usher Aishwarya into acting, with her first two films released in 1997. “Bride & Prejudice” was also released in the U.S. in 2005, helping to introduce Aishwarya to non-Bollywood audiences. She will be appearing in an upcoming “The Pink Panther” reissue, and I hope that her face and, uh, talents will be a mainstay in Western entertainment for many years to come.

Radha Kaise Na Jale (Music from Lagaan)

There was a period in my movie-watching life when I got such a kick out of Bollywood films. One of the best that I saw was a movie called “Lagaan,” which starred one of India’s most revered celebrities, Aamir Khan. As most will know, Bollywood films tend to run long because of the musical numbers that are written into the stories. Lagaan was no exception, and boasted nearly a dozen thematic songs. My favorite is called “Radha Kaise Na Jale,” and here is the video: