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476

Instant Theatre – Outer Middle Zone

Improv, Reviews

March 10, 2017

Vancouver is an improv town, boasting several improv theaters that teach and mold gaggles of improv artists each year. The most innovative and prolific is the Instant Theatre Company. Their show lineup is eclectic but well thought-out, ranging from themed performances to all out free-for-alls, where you can see the talents of the many troops that are forming or have coalesced via their school.

One of the most unique shows to come out of the Instant Theatre is The Outer Middle Zone. “Behind this dark curtain lies another dimension – a dimension of late night science fiction theater inspired by The Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits. A dimension where some of Vancouver’s top improvisers bring you astonishing tales from the border of the everyday and the uncanny. The dimension we call… the Outer-Middle Zone! Cast members Nikolai Witschl, Brad Duffy, Travis Bernhardt, Chelsey Stuyt, and Max Tennessen spin stories filled with unexpected twists and macabre turns, all made up on the spot based on your suggestions. Get all the chills, suspense, hilarity, and surprises your all-too-human brain can handle at Instant Theatre’s late night science fiction triple feature!”

The stories spun that night were eerie and delightful, the story of a man who swindled his way into a more modern hell, a white room without a means of escape and with no one to entertain him; a man stranded on an island, reliving the terror of interacting with the ghosts of a family he was marooned with; and the terror of being forced to battle for space on the last rocket ship, leaving Earth before the ever-increasing gravity imploded the planet and everything and everyone on it.

I have seen a lot of improv and it can be hit-or-miss, but Instant Theatre proved to be more of the former and none of the latter. There were moments watching this that I felt slightly terrified and touched by emotions that were honest but not pleasant, though in a good way.

The actors faithfully and lovingly capture the tension and fear that was North America in the middle of The Cold War. Skillful and clever, they were able to evoke the cheesy camp of early TV commercials for products that no one would want, the dryness of a newscast of that era all while battling through suggestions that would flub up those less skilled.

Instant Theatre is a gem and the future of improv in this town. If you ever get a chance to go to a show, please do: you will not be disappointed and if you feel the urge to hone your improv or comedy craft they would be happy to teach you. Visit http://instanttheatre.com/ for their show and class schedule.

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517

Review: Civil War, Dawn of Justice, and Apocalypse Trailers

Culture, Fail, Reviews, Videos

December 14, 2015

Ho-hum. Another day, another trailer.

That looks like something. There’s people in in that resemble the X-Men, certainly. When you talk to people that liked the recent x-movies, though, the thing they mention is the complexity of the relationship between Charles and Erik. Does it look like there’s much of that here?

No, there’s some blue thing who is doing… something? Something bad, maybe? There’s a lot of sparkle and jingle-jangle, like keys being dangled before a toddler, but after the initial wow dies down – the second the trailer ends – everything about the trailer is gone. It’s forgettable, interchangeable with any of a dozen other trailers.

Like, say, this one:

You know, I’m going to go out on a limb: Ben Affleck’s take on Batman looks interesting. I think he’s going to pull that character off, and I’d be interested in seeing his movie, preferably before Dawn of Justice, but DC Comics is playing catch-up to Marvel and instead of taking their time to craft a story using their incredible backlog of characters, they’re just going to jam everyone into one movie like throwing shit at a wall and hoping that something sticks.

The problem with this approach is that it relies on spectacle rather than substance, and spectacle is increasingly meaningless on it’s own – effect based movies have become increasingly boring because every movie has special effects, and so the only thing to set one movie apart from the others is the characters within those movies.

It’s funny that character driven movies, which fell out of favor because of spectacle, are now making a comeback due to the super-saturation of spectacle.

And that’s why we’re excited for this movie:

Yes, the Black Panther looks awesome for those of that know who he is, but every beat in that trailer is character based. Cap, Bucky, Falcon, Natasha, Iron Man. We care about everything in this trailer because of who these people are and what they mean to one another. They have a mythos behind them, history, so everything they say and do is given weight.

X-Men Apocalypse could have focused on the strained ties between Charles, Erik, and Raven as they deal with one another and a new threat, but instead we get what looks like a confused mangled mess. Dawn of Justice could have focused on the fallout from Man of Steel resulting in Batman and a panicked response from the world, but instead we get what looks like a rushed outline that will cram too much style with too little substance.

Civil War hits a perfect median by having every bit of spectacle be character based.

It’s a difference born of different philosophies of movie making. Fox and DC Comics are making superhero movies, whereas Marvel is making good movies that just happen to have superheroes in them. It’s a design choice that informs everything all three of those studios do, and it’s made all the more frustrating when it comes to DC Comics because of how good Arrow and Flash are.

Yes, I’m going to go see all of them in theaters, but by the time they come out on blu-ray I’m only going to remember Civil War, and Civil War is going to be the only one I’m likely to buy. I hope I’m wrong. I hope Dawn of Justice and X-Men Apocalypse buck the expectations set by the trailer and give us solid, interesting characters.

I’m just not going to hold my breath.

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962

Go See Mad Max: Fury Road

film

May 17, 2015

First of all, I should come clear. I’m not a Mad Max aficionado. I haven’t actually seen the originals (*gasp! horror!*). Well, I’ve seen bits and pieces of them over the years, but I don’t think I’ve ever sat and watched them through from start to finish. Or if I did, it was so long ago that I have no recollection of it. So basically, I went in to this movie knowing the basic pop culture aspects of Mad Max, but with no attachment to the character, and no list of things that “must” be in a Mad Max movie.

So,where do I begin? How about…

OMGTHATWASSOAWESOME, GOSEE ITNOW and MOSTEPICMOVIEEVAR!!!!1!!!!1! over and over again.

I don’t think that would be a particularly helpful approach, but I do have to start thinking about how many different words I can come up with for “fabulous”.

Mad Max: Fury Road is the straight up gold standard for action movies. Most “action” movies usually involve a whole lotta plot and exposition, interspersed with bits of action sequences here and there. Mad Max however, is pretty much one giant action sequence – two hours of high speed, explosive car chases. I bet the dialogue itself could probably fit on a dozen pages – aside from one scene, I think the most Tom Hardy had to remember was “my name is Max”.  And yet, for a movie that is in-your-face-action and almost nothing else, it doesn’t get tiring. The two hours actually passes fairly quickly. It is all handled so beautifully, and the way George Miller cuts things together, you can actually *watch* the action scenes. I find that with so many movies these days, the cuts are so fast that you never truly get the scope of that is going on. Although, admittedly, after two hours of watching vehicles speed through the desert and crash into one another, I had to catch my lead foot a few times on the drive home.

The one thing that is making the news these days (mainly because of the response from the MRA douchebags) is that Mad Max is a feminist movie. And if it hadn’t been brought to my attention, I would not have walked out of that movie thinking “man, that was a brilliant piece of feminist filmmaking”. Maybe I like to live in my world where a woman is able to kick ass and take names without it being a big deal. Maybe I just refuse to think that our society has sunk so low that a movie where women are allowed to be something other than eye candy is something to be remarked upon.  But now that I think about it, almost any of the characters in the movie could have been gender swapped, and it the story would have played out in the same way. And I think that is awesome.

I sincerely hope that this movie does well enough at the box office to justify a sequel, but on something like a $150 million budget, it has a ways to go. So this is my way of saying GET OUT THERE AND SEE IT NOW! And be prepared to have your mind blown for two hours straight.

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2003

Movie Review: American Mary

film, Reviews

April 13, 2015

There’s a guy I know that gets very upset when he looks at the modern world.

It’s hard to blame him. There’s people that think that Gamergate is seriously about ethics, as opposed to being about some jilted idiot getting revenge on a girl who dumped him, and a bunch of idiots jumping on his band wagon. Except…

“It’s totally about ethics,” he says. “It’s about ethics in gaming journalism.”

(more…)

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2368

Red Rising – a Book Review

Books & Writing, Reviews

March 24, 2015

RedRising03

Yes. It’s one of those incredibly quotable books.

Dystopia is a common theme of science fiction, and has been since the dawn of the genre. Our need for the present to be the apex of civilization leads to us casting an increase in technology with a degradation of ethics as the only possible future. From the corporate nightmare presented by Aliens to the economic subjugation of the Hunger Games to the political bloodbath that is Battle Royale, we inevitably look to the future as a cautionary tale.

(more…)

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2632

Monopoly – a Board Game Review

Game Review, Reviews

March 18, 2015

It was a cold night in December when my soon-to-be sister-in-law asked, “Hey, it’s cold and snowing outside. Why don’t we play a board game. Does everyone like Monopoly?”

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689

The Odd Couple [TV Review]

Reviews

February 24, 2015

I love me some Matthew Perry. It’s easy enough for me to say that Chandler was my favourite Friend, but it goes beyond that. I’ve enjoyed his work in films, particularly The Whole 9 Yards and its sequel. I’ve enjoyed his attempt at reclaiming television fame. Studio 60 should have been the new West Wing and even Mr. Sunshine wasn’t a terrible show.

(more…)

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779

Dying Light [Review]

Game Review, Reviews

February 18, 2015

I was a pretty big fan of Dead Island. When it first dropped, I was under the impression it was going to be nothing more than a cool concept, and one of the best game trailers ever released. However, the prospect of surviving a zombie outbreak in the first-person, building and maintaining your own catalogue of weapons, and being able to bash zombie-brains with a friend or three ended up being one of the more enjoyable experiences I had in 2011.

(more…)

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669

Hector and the Search for Happiness [Movie Review]

film, Reviews, Uncategorized

January 30, 2015

hector-happyI readily admit that I’m a fan of clichés. I wouldn’t be able to tell you why, but when a review earns the right to fall under a cliché, for example: “life affirming,” I find joy in using the phrase. To be fair, it’s not often that I get to use clichés. I use the word “earn” to the fullest extent. For a film, such a tired phrase like “life affirming” from me, it needs to be something truly special.

(more…)

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1566

God of Comics [2015-01-28]

God Of Comics, Reviews

January 29, 2015

This Week: Amazing X-Men #16, Aquaman #38, Batman Eternal #43, Catwoman #38, Death Vigil #6, Gotham Academy #4, He-Man – the Eternity War #2, Nightbreed #9, Quantum and Woody Must Die #1, Thor #4, Tomb Raider #12, Turok – Dinosaur Hunter #11, Uncanny X-Men #30, Unity #14, X-O Manowar #32

(more…)

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