Tuesday, April 01, 2014

The Lego Movie thinks outside the brick!

“Everything is awesome, Everything is cool when you're part of a team!” This prophetic and thought provoking mantra has touched the hearts and wallets of cinema goers to the tune of almost $400m at time of writing. All in less than two months after it's release, and I must say that I think it’s worth every cent.

The Danes most famous export is undoubtedly the Lego bricks we played with as children and which we now watch the next generation enjoy. Lego unlocks a world of imagination that spans a literally infinite playing field of adventure. But what would happen if someone tried to prevent that imagination from being creative and limited Lego to a singular purpose – to be used only as the original instructions suggest and be glued together for eternity? Well that’s the frighteningly horrific scenario that the little minifigure heroes of The Lego Movie must prevent.

A star studded voice cast is led by Chris Guardians of the Galaxy Pratt as Emmet [the most interesting person ever], the feisty Wildstyle [Elizibeth 30Rock Banks] student of the old and wise Vitruvius [Morgan Freeman] who must unlock Emmet’s potential. They are joined by Lego Batman [Will Arnett], the rainbow loving Unikitty [Alison Community Brie] and slightly mentally unhinged 1980’s Space-guy Benny [Charlie Pacific Rim Day]. Will Ferell voices the evil Legoland President and CEO of Octan, Lord Business who has an army of henchman led by the split personality of GoodCop/BadCop [Liam Neeson].


The movie can be analysed as a classic charming children's fairytale with an unlikely hero, a princess, wise old wizard and an evil king. Some may push a more specific religious analogy by substituting the characters in the movie over those of Star Wars [Emmet=Luke, Widstyle=Leia, Vitruvius=Obi-Wan, Batman=Han, GoodCop/BadCop=Vader and Lord Business is The Emperor and substituting the Piece of Resistance for The Death Star Plans]. Cynics will say it’s simply a 90-minute toy advertisement. Beard-stroking intellectuals will latch onto it being somewhat Orwellian in it's centralised theme but to most it is just a well crafted, colourful, hilarious movie and fun for all the family.

Is my opinion of this movie skewed because I played with several hundred Lego bricks as a spoilt child? Because between the ages of 7 and 9 I was twice awarded the Lego Master Builder’s Badge? Of course it is, but don't let my greatness cloud judgement, see it for yourself.

Final Verdict: Transformers: The Movie, Toy Story 2 and Shrek are the only G-rated animated features in ‘The Whopper Collection’, to which I’ll be proud to add this perfect and flawless example of the genre.

Whopper Rating: EXEMPTION GRANTED

Please note: The last exemption was granted to The Expendables 2 in August 2012.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Ukraine's next president could be Darth Vader?

Vladimir Putin's very own propaganda machine Russia Today reported that the Sith Lord Darth Vader is now a real Ukraine presidential candidate. It's obviously not the real Vader [as he succumbed to his wounds and died in the arms of his son aboard the second Death Star] but the otherwise unnamed chairman of the Ukrainian Internet Party, who wears a Darth Vader outfit during his public appearances.

Vader's involvement in Ukrainian politics seemed to begin in the 2012 parliamentary election. The Sith Lord actually scored a record 3% of votes, which could have secured high office but because supporters had to add Vader’s name to the ballots themselves, they were rendered void.

Lord Vader with his signed paperwork outside City Hall in Odessa

This time however, Darth Vader has already filed the necessary paperwork to appear on the May 25th ballot along with submitting the required deposit of 2.5m hryvnia ($225,225) for presidential candidacy. He told Russia Today: "I am prepared to take responsibility for the fate of this country, if fellow citizens do me this high honour. I alone can make an empire out of a republic, to restore former glory, to return lost territories and pride for this country."


Despite my love of Star Wars, a win for Vader would be disastrous on two levels -
1: It's a bit nuts in all fairness and cheapens the sanctity of Star Wars and
2: Putin could invade Ukraine on the basis they've lost all sense of reality if they've elected a Disney Character as President or just as easily use Vader's publicly stated imperialist policies to initiate a first-strike against Ukraine as he doesn't seem to need much excuse these days.

Basically, I'm not on board with this. Now if it was Master Yoda....

Source: Mr. V / Gizmodo / RT

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Alien mothership photographed in Chile!

SPEARHEAD have dismissed photographic evidence from Chile of an enormous UFO as a ‘trick of light’ 


Brigadier General “Whopper” Creedon, SPEARHEAD Assistant Director for Intelligence and Information informed reporters Friday that Gen. Ricardo Bermudez (Ret.) the director general of the Comité de Estudios de Fenómenos Aéreos Anomalos urgently contacted the SPEARHEAD field office in Santiago to report the findings of a couple who took a photograph of an aerial anomaly over a reservoir. Creedon explained that the report was given adequate analysis and investigation since March 20th, but ultimately it was considered to be insubstantial.  

“While we at SPEARHEAD have tremendous respect for General Bermudez, his people and the work of CEFAA, we cannot at this time, support their claim that the anomalous aerial phenomenon is real and we consider the “proof and the eyewitness accounts” to be as flimsy as a Victoria Secret model’s underwear,” said General Creedon. “The sun is clearly visible in the photographic “evidence” as it often is over that beautiful country,” he continued “but when shining down as it does on say the waters of - say a reservoir - it can certainly create some light refractions and play more than a few tricks of light, which I can certainly forgive for being mistaken for a giant mother ship descending upon the world.”

Source: Mr. V, io9, Planeta UFO, Terra Peru, Ricardo Francino Saldivia, Guillermo Giménez, Planeta UFO with translation by S. Corrales

Monday, March 17, 2014

Happy Paddy's Day

I say Paddy's Day because the whole concept of a 'St. Patrick' has religious connotations and thus passe in today's society. And it's not really a day for HIM it's a day for US. But whatever you call it. Spare a thought for the Marines in Okinawa, Japan who do this on Paddy's day.


It'll probably make more sense after you gave a few, so get started. That's an order!

Friday, March 14, 2014

RIP Hal Douglas

He was the man who told you Martin Riggs was a "criminal's worst nightmare", he warned you to "Check your weapons, take your seat, and say your prayers" when going to see Con Air and he promised you that "The world will never be the same once you've seen it through the eyes of Forest Gump." Sadly, he lost a 4 year battle with cancer and passed away last Friday. His name was Hal Douglas and you've never heard of him.

Douglas was second only to Don LaFontaine [who passed in 2008] in the world of TV commercials, movie trailer voice overs and documentary narration. While LaFontaine is credited with creating the phrase "In a world...", Douglas perhaps used it just as much often substituting Land/Time/Town etc. for World as needed.

He said once in an interview: ‘I never thought of it as a great voice.... It’s throaty, chesty, a voice in need of clearing.’

He may have had one slight edge in the fame stakes over his peers however; in 2002 he portrayed the character of "Jack", an over-zealous voice-over artist literally lampooning himself and his entire career in a trailer for the Jerry Seinfeld movie Comedian. It is considered by many, including myself to be the funniest movie trailer of all time.


Rest in peace Mr. Douglas.


Saturday, March 08, 2014

There's been more than one Lone Survivor

Peter The Kingdom Berg adapted Marcus Lutrell's harrowing account of Operation Red Wings which took place in June 2005. While Berg does use a fair amount of artistic licence in the kill-count and the last 10 minutes is just a Hollywood war-porn and DID NOT HAPPEN THAT WAY - it's no reason not to enjoy this in the spirit it is intended, for Lutrell to tell the world the story of the courage and heroism of his buddies who were lost on an op that went sour.


The cast was brilliant. Mark Wahlberg [as Lutrell] loses his 'Mark Wahlberg' persona to do some 'real' acting for a change and comes out on top. Ben 3:10 To Yuma Foster, Emilie Killer Joe Hirsch and Eric Black Hawk Down Bana all bring their A-game to this fine piece of work. And finally Taylor Kitch has FULLY REDEEMED himself for both John Carter and Battleship and does good service to Lt. Mike Murphy, a name known by every U.S. serviceman today.

In the late 80’s I led a four man Force Recon team into ███████ on a three day Green Op to gather intel so that the brass could plan an operation against the ███████ there. Everything went exactly as planned for the first two days, we had a wooded area for concealment and clean lines of sight on ███████ but little elevation. On day three however everything went to hell. One of the ███████ K9 sentry patrols caught a whiff of some 3-day old Devil Dog sweat or something of ours when the wind changed and began making for our position. The dog handler was out of direct site of the rest of the ███████ but as he seemed to be about to radio in that he was veering off his patrol path, I gave the order to drop them. Three seconds later Gunny Hackett had perforated the handler’s skull with some 5.56, and sent the mutt to doggie heaven too.

We were so fucked. It was almost midday, broad daylight and we had ten minutes, if lucky, before Turner and Hooch were noticed missing. Hiding the bodies was pointless and would have bought us out of cover and probably taken as long as their search party would have taken to find us. It was time to get out of Dodge. Ten minutes seemed optimistic now. We had only gathered our gear and intel, sent our extraction request and were less than half a klick South when the ███████ alert klaxon started wailing – and they had more dogs.

To be honest I thought I was cleverer than the hounds; my egress route took us through a river which would delay doggie pursuit as we’d not enter and exit the river on opposite banks – we’d get out on the same side about a klick downstream! It was an ingenious strategy and I was confident it would enter the Corps' advanced training doctrine for SERE before long. Now if Sergeant Xan just hadn’t triggered that claymore we’d all have escaped intact.

There was nothing left of SSgt Xan save his dog tags, but Sergeant Wieler was very much alive and was pretty vocal about losing his leg below the knee. Giving him a branch to chew on silenced him as we applied a tourniquet but Gunny Hackett and I were under no delusions that the ███████ knew exactly where we were now. As the Gunny's thigh had taken shrapnel, he took the intel and I hoisted Sgt Wieler to begin our downward slope towards the bay before the first bullets began to puncture the foliage around us and we heard the angry barks of well-trained hounds.

The first shell landed about 200 meters in front of us which was bad news because we were running into their range. The dog-augmented force behind us and the several hundred meter sheer drop to the side meant that our best chance was to bet against the mortars. Finally Lady Luck seemed to take some pity on us and we were out of range before we got to the coastline. Alas, our zig-zagging had allowed the ███████ to catch up to us and there was now a heavy machine gun employed with it’s tracers buzzing past us like angry hornets. We stopped a few times to return the favour and dropped a few of 'em before I saw Gunny Hackett’s knee getting blown out and I felt my own stab of pain in my shoulder.

Sgt. Wieler, although unconscious, saved my life because most of the machine gun rounds had chewed him up instead of hitting me. I had met his folks some months back, his death would hit his mom bad but his dad had been a squid in 'Nam and new the score. He’d proudly hang his kid’s Purple Heart above his own and that of his father before him from WWII.

Gunny Hackett grabbed my arm and handed me the intel. “Captain, this is bigger than us! Get it to them!” He was bleeding from his chest now too. I gave him my grenades, spare mags and I saluted him. He returned it saying "Go Sir!" As I ran, I heard him lay down precision covering fire, earning a posthumous Medal of Honor, a photograph of which I'd be allowed to show his wife and daughter some months later. I heard a tremendous explosion from Hackett's position just before I dived into the surf eliminating most of who was pursuing me, and I recall dearly hoping that the extraction sub got our message.

Has this got anything to do with Lone Survivor? No it's just that the sights and sounds in the movie caused a few flashbacks as I watched it. Most Hollywood war movie/action fare won't do that to me. This is no Black Hawk Down but it rides with The Hurt Locker and it seemed real enough from my seat - I don't think it can get more praise than that from someone who's done what I have.

Whopper Rating: *****

Thursday, March 06, 2014

SPEARHEAD and NASA unconcerned for now

During an emergency UNSC meeting on the Crimean crisis yesterday a question was raised concerning SPEARHEAD's ability to secure the planet should there be conflict between the superpowers.

The commander of SPEARHEAD U.S. Army Lieutenant General "Stomper" Santorno, said that both he and his senior flag and general officers including those from the Russian Federation "serve a higher cause than any one nation and are responsible for the planet first and our flags second". He explained that while the operating forces of SPEARHEAD are commissioned, instructed, trained and fielded by the worlds military and security forces as well as drawn from the medical and scientific community of many nations their oaths are superseded by the needs of Earth as a whole.

General Santorno's sentiment was echoed by Russian Air Force Lieutenant General "Voran" Kerimov, SPEARHEAD Deputy Commander for Operations/ Deputy Chief of Staff who addressed the council as the most senior Russian Federation officer assigned to SPEARHEAD. He said that any officer or or serviceman who does not commit his life to the security of Earth would be summarily dismissed from the organisation after a short but effective course of brainwashing.

While SPEARHEAD may find it easy to close ranks, the media became concerned about the joint Russian-U.S. space program. Currently a U.S. astronaut and two cosmonauts, one whom is from Crimea, are scheduled to touch down on Russian soil next Monday after months aboard the ISS. "Everything is nominal right now in our relationship with the Russians," said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden.

Since the retirement of space shuttle program, the U.S. relies entirely on Russia for human transport to and from the ISS, paying $70 million for every astronaut. U.S. House of Representatives Science Committee Chairman Lamar Smith said in a statement on Tuesday that the U.S. needs to back away from the arrangement with Russia's space program and paying them to "hitch a ride to space". He wants NASA to develop it's own delivery vessel and once again lead the world into space. "Leadership in space exploration is a goal worthy of a great nation."

Former astronaut Tom Jones says that NASA is intent on keeping ISS missions from becoming a political football. He points to the Apollo/Soyuz missions of the mid-70s, during the height of the Cold War, as evidence that the two countries cooperated in a spirit of detente and said the two space partners are more inter-dependent than ever now. "What they lack for example, is all the control software that we use to point, manoeuvre and control the space station," Jones says. "So, they would not be wise to deny us access, because they would be denying themselves access to all the utilities and supplies they need for the space station."

Source: FOX News