Movie Truth

Jurassic Park Ian Malcolm

As the summer winds to a close, I tend to look back at some of the activities I’ve done with my kids. Living in Ohio, I have access to one of the best zoos in the country, the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. However, after a couple visits, it gets tiresome of looking at the same animals over and over again. Thanks to the heartbreaking documentary Blackfish, it’s not cool to visit Sea World any more (and the old Sea World of Ohio location fled the state for warmer temperatures years ago). Without these options, there are few opportunities to look at new and interesting animals. Having recently watched Jurassic Park, I found myself wishing there was a real-life dinosaur park where I could take the kids. Of course, it should be humanely run and not include any velociraptors running amok due to a greedy programmer shutting down park security. I’m sure those issues of park life would be ironed out in beta testing. This got me thinking, at least for next summer’s family activities: How close are scientists to making a real-life Jurassic Park by cloning dinosaurs?

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Superman 3 Computer

The life of a film critic is one of the swankiest and most lucrative jobs you’ll ever have. Forget doctors and lawyers. Forget international business. Forget technology. Film criticism, particularly that which involves publishing on the internet, has me rolling in money like Scrooge McDuck. I’m not just rich, I’m stupid rich. Still, when it gets to be the middle of the month, and I’m paying bills, I can come up a little short. There never seems to be enough money in my bank account to comfortably live. It’s around this time that I start to think creatively about how to make even more money than my swag-filled, jet-setting life already brings me. Sure, there’s always the possibility of becoming the trophy companion of a supermodel. I certainly have the rippling muscles, two-percent body fat, and inguinal arch of Ryan Gosling. Then again, I’m happily married, and that might be a deal-breaker for a sugar momma. After recently watching Superman III and Office Space, I realized that the best way to make ends meet might be a life of crime. After all, I live most of my life on computers. Just ask my 2,693 Twitter followers. That’s got to be worth something. This got me thinking: Could I use the banking glitch we saw in Superman III to get even richer than I am today?

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Guardians of the Galaxy Awesome Mix

Just as Marvel’s The Avengers gave shawarma sales a huge boost in the summer of 2012, Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy has brought forth a newly-rediscovered love for cassette tapes. This is thanks to the “Awesome Mix Vol. 1” that Peter Quill’s (Chris Pratt), dying mother made for him in 1988. Quill kept the joy of mix tapes alive while he bounced around the galaxy for 26 years, rocking out to music from Blue Swede, The Jackson 5, David Bowie, and The Runaways. As a child of the 80s, I am intimately familiar with cassettes, Walkmans, old-school 1/8” headphones, and the awesomeness of a mix tape. However, I also remember burning through my fair share of cassettes in my youth (and needing a pencil more than a few times). Of course, the track list for “Awesome Mix Vol. 1” will always be awesome, but seeing all that Quill goes through in Guardians of the Galaxy, it got me thinking. Would that mix tape have lasted for 26 years in space? Would it even still work?

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Universal Pictures

This weekend, Luc Besson’s Lucy topped the box office with more success than expected. You might say that the film performed above its potential. Coincidentally, the film is about a woman (Scarlett Johansson) who, through an unexpected side effect of being a drug mule, was able to access the full potential of her brain. This led her to various super powers, including being a genius in mathematical calculations, having the ability to diagnose medical conditions by hugging someone and controlling radio waves with her mind. The film rests on the belief that human beings only use about 10 percent of their brain’s full potential, and the drugs that leaked into Lucy’s system helped unlock the other 90 percent. It’s not the first time this theory has been brought to the silver screen. Bradley Cooper got similar powers in the 2011 film Limitless. Both the 90s cheese-fest The Lawnmower Man and the more down-to-earth 70s drama Charley feature similar ideas. Even the character of Sherlock Holmes, seen in everything from classic Basil Rathbone films to Benedict Cumberbatch and his “mind palace” in the BBC’s Sherlock, have found a way to access seemingly limitless and unnatural brain power. This got me thinking. We might never be able to look like Scarlett Johansson or Bradley Cooper, but could we think like their characters on screen? What extraordinary things could we achieve if we tapped into our brains’ “full potential”?

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The best posters of Comic-Con 2014

Much of the press from Comic-Con comes in the form of descriptions of moving images. Everyone wants to hear about the footage being shown in the cavernous Hall H of the San Diego Convention Center. But there’s so much more to the annual geek culture event, including plenty of great memorabilia releases, a slew of awesome comic art and panels (because what would Comic-Con be without actual comics) and some great film art, as well. Galleries such as Mondo, Bottleneck, Gallery Nucleus and even movie studios bring awesome poster releases to the event every year. To celebrate this explosion of art, we’ve rounded up the best and brightest of Comic-Con 2014′s movie poster selection.

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Kill Bill Five Point Punch

In the midst of insane fight sequences and impossible violence, Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill gave me a moment of pause. In the second part of the movie, The Bride (Uma Thurman) finally confronts Bill (David Carradine), and ultimately dispatches him with a secret technique from their old master Pai Mei (Gordon Liu) known as the five-point-palm exploding heart technique. This closely-held secret move uses pressure points on a man’s chest that will stress the heart to a point that the victim can only travel five steps before his heart explodes and he falls dead. That’s a pretty cool technique, and would be quite handy in a pinch, so it got me thinking: Which martial art will teach it to me?

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Memento Movie

We can learn a lot from the movies. Of course, sometimes what we learn has no basis in reality. For example, lawyers should not take their cross-examination techniques from Tom Cruise in A Few Good Men, and doctors shouldn’t be too quick to use a defibrillator as demonstrated in… well… pretty much every medical drama ever made. Certain real-life afflictions make excellent plot points in movies and television, and one of the biggest cliches that’s still used today is amnesia. Whether it’s Jason Bourne trying to get a hold of his past or a poor widower chasing down a man named John G., amnesia makes for a compelling story where we get to learn alongside a person who already knows the thing that they don’t know. But is movie amnesia realistic, or is it total crap?

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The Worlds End Movie

For fans who like to recreate movie moments, The World’s End offers a destructively inebriated challenge. One night, twelve pints, twelve pubs. If you’re trying to be authentic, alien robots and a deep sense of foreshadowing are must-haves. In the movie, Gary King (Simon Pegg) forces his friends to take a second stab at the Golden Mile pub crawl with no regard for age, teetotaling or blue goo-filled beings trying to remove their personalities. When they were kids, they missed the finish line by three pubs, and even though their middle-aged attempt is marred by the fate of the entire planet, King valiantly soldiers on. That got me thinking: what would it take to survive a real-life Golden Mile?

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Thunderball Jet Pack

While watching Thunderball recently, I was reminded of how James Bond escapes from a funeral on a wicked-cool jetpack (or rather, a jetpack that was wicked-cool in 1965). This, in turn, reminded me of all the fantastic uses of jetpacks over the years – from the original King of the Rocket Men serial from 1949 to the Commando Cody shorts from the 50s to Joe Johnston’s The Rocketeer in 1990 and even Iron Man’s portable propulsion devices. Like the flying car from The Jetsons, the jetpack seems forever out of reach for our everyday use, but it’d be such a brilliant tool to have. This got me thinking… where are the jetpacks we were promised?

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Clash of the Titans 1981

It’s no secret that I’m old. I’m so old, in fact, that I saw all the Star Wars movies, the entire summer of ‘82 and ’84, plus the original Clash of the Titans, RoboCop, and Total Recall in the theaters when they were released. No HBO needed for me to see a lot of these classics for the first time. The original Clash of the Titans is of particular note because, aside from some terrible Italian Steve Reeves movies and Jason and the Argonauts, it was the go-to film for the Enlgish teachers of my era to show us when studying Greek Mythology. Trust me, it made for a nice diversion from reading Edith Hamilton’s famous book about the subject. When I studied Greek Mythology in high school, our teacher showed us Clash of the Titans, which led to the inevitable questions of how this all fit together. How had we not heard of the badass that was Calibos? Did Perseus really fight the Kraken? Where the Hades did Bubo come from anyway? And that got me thinking again: how much of Clash of the Titans was accurate to Greek myths?

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Outland Movie

This past week, I was revisiting classic Sean Connery science fiction from the 1980s, and I happened upon Peter Hyams’ High Noon-inspired thriller Outland. In this film, Connery plays a Marshal on Io, a moon of Jupiter. After butting heads with the boss on the moon base, Connery finds himself the target of assassins sent to Io. Their weapons of choice: shotguns. Shotguns… in the future… in space. The climax of the movie played well for plenty of action and thrills, but it did make me ask the same question that Chick (Will Patton) asks of Colonel Willie Sharp (William Fichtner) in Armageddon: “What are you doing with a gun in space?” After considering what is possibly the most level-headed and logical question ever posed in a Michael Bay movie, I got to thinking: Is it really a good idea to have guns in space?

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The Sacrament

While some horror fads like Asian remakes and torture porn burned out their popularity relatively quickly, one fad continues to dominate the genre: found footage. Part of the reason that it’s so widely used is because the movies are extremely cheap to make and can result in pretty large profits. However, with this sub-genre’s continued popularity, there are many people (like myself, for example) who don’t like it on the whole. Our biggest complaint is that, for using presumed realism to increase fear and anxiety, found footage movies are simply not realistic. But the concern got me thinking: how realistic are found footage movies?

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Godzilla Through Goggles

Godzilla isn’t just a monster. He’s more than just an ancient Japanese movie god. He is an icon of science fiction, more responsible than any other creature for bringing kaiju films to the awareness of the world. Sure, Gamera is cool too, but the international cinematic community hasn’t quite embraced the giant turtle the way they have this giant lizard. Since his debut in 1954, Godzilla has become a household name, and his appearance is legendary. Even with the hiccup that was Roland Emmerich’s 1998 attempt (resulting in a creature that is rejected as proper canon to the series), Godzilla has remained the king of the monsters, literally getting bigger and bigger every year. (Seriously, he’s now more than twice as tall as the original from 1954.) These films sure are fun to watch, but when you see enough of them, you can’t help but wonder: Could a creature the size of Godzilla actually exist? Could we make our own?

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Marlin and Dory in Finding Nemo

As a parent, there are certain films that you commit to memory. This is not out of necessity, nor is it specifically out of desire. These movies burn their way into a mother or father’s memory banks because they are often set on constant repeat over the course of months – if not years – to keep the kids happy. The technology of home video systems allows movies like The Lion King and Finding Nemo to play on an infinite loop during the day. After watching a film like Andrew Stanton‘s Finding Nemo 186,000 times, a parent starts to look at it different. He or she will forget it’s a story of talking fish featuring sharks on a twelve-step program and surfer dude turtles. Parents will start to question the internal logic of the film and wonder whether any of it is actually possible. Spoiler alert: it’s just a cartoon, so it really doesn’t matter. Still, one can’t help but wonder if the story of a dedicated father clown fish named Marlin (Albert Brooks) would be able to do what he does in the movie. Forget probability odds of literally finding one fish in the massive sea. Watch it enough times on repeat, and you’ll get to thinking: Would Marlin really be able to find Nemo?

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The Fly Movie 1986

There’s a lot being made of superhero science, both by me and also the rest of the world. Now that superheroes have become a regular thing in the multiplex and not just something that nerds on the fringe of society reads, it’s not uncommon for someone to ask what a real-life superhero would be like. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 marks the fifth time the Marvel web-slinger has made his way onto the modern movie screen. While some of the changes made by Sam Raimi for his series have been switched back to the traditional model (like the organic web shooters being replaced with mechanical ones), the superhero is basically the same. Bitten by a genetically-altered spider, Peter Parker is imbued with special powers unique to spiders. Watching the new movies and contemplating the powers Peter Park has and doesn’t have got me thinking… Ignoring the actual process of infection for Peter Parker, how likely are his powers really ones that realistically come from spiders? What would a real-life “Spider Man” be like?

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Draft Day Movie

Anyone who follows sports knows that being a fan of the Cleveland Browns can be a heartbreaking endeavor. Of all the teams in the NFL, the Browns seem to pull the short straw the most. They have never been to the Super Bowl, let alone won the big game. (Of course, any good Browns fan will tell you that they won plenty of national championships in the 50s and 60s before the creation of the Super Bowl, but that only makes it sting a little less.) Sure, three other teams share this distinction with the Cleveland Browns, but two of them were recent expansion teams (the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Houston Texans). The other is the Detroit Lions, and that city gets more bad press than Cleveland. (Sorry, Detroit.) Having a go at Cleveland teams and their often unfortunate records has become a bit of a tradition in Hollywood. Back in 1989, the film Major League poked some fun at the then-terrible Cleveland Indians, seeing the team fictionally win the pennant. Now, cinema history seems to be repeating itself with the film Draft Day, in which Kevin Costner plays the general manager who tries to wheel and deal a winning team during the NFL draft. Though it may be a bit more Moneyball than Major League for football, Draft Day is striking a chord with Cleveland fans. As one die-hard Browns fan said to me at my press screening for the film, “Yeah, it’s fictional, but this may be the […]

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Peggy Carter in Captain America: The First Avengers

If Superman is the boy scout of DC Comics, then his goody-two-shoes counterpart in the Marvel universe is Captain America. Fitting in nicely with the squeaky clean stereotype of the soldier who fights for truth, justice and the American way, Steve Rogers exemplifies all of the ideals of the classic American hero. He doesn’t drink. He doesn’t smoke. He doesn’t womanize. He fiercely believes in just one God, even though he happens to personally know two other gods from Norse mythology, and he has rippling abs and bulging biceps. However, this clean cut image is not all a conscious decision. In the film Captain America: The First Avenger, he explains that he doesn’t drink only because he is being a good guy. Instead, he doesn’t drink because his body metabolism is so efficient in processing toxins that alcohol basically has no effect on him. And that got me thinking… super soldier or not, this would suck for Steve Rogers at your average Fourth of July picnic. Could Captain America ever get drunk?

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Mystique in X-Men First Class

From the Troma library of films like The Toxic Avenger and Class of Nuke ‘Em High to the higher concept blockbuster science fiction movies like Total Recall and Godzilla, mutants have been almost entirely bad news. While some movies have an occasional mutant that puts it in a class of it’s own – like the character of the Rainmaker in Looper – Hollywood generally considers mutations really problematic. Except the X-Men, of course. In the X-Men universe, mutants are the not-so-meek that will inherit the Earth. Senator Kelly (Bruce Davison) in X-Men tries to legally oppress them. Professor Charles Xavier provides a sanctuary for young mutants. There are constant battles brewing throughout these films between good mutants and bad ones. However, one thing remains the same in all of these scenarios: mutants have great powers bestowed upon them. As Professor Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) states at the beginning of the first film: “Mutation. It is the key to our evolution. It has enabled us to evolve from a single-celled organism into the dominant species on the planet. This process is slow and normally taking thousands and thousands of years, but every few hundred millennia, evolution leaps forward.” And that got me thinking… is the human race on the brink of astounding genetic changes? Are X-Men types of mutation the next step in human evolution?

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Warwick Davis in Leprechaun Movie 1993

We all know that “Based on a true story” is simply a suggestion in Hollywood, otherwise, we’d believe Jack and Rose rode the Titanic, Maximus Decimus Meridius defeated Commodus in the coliseum, and the Charles Xavier and his mutants stopped the Cuban Missile Crisis from erupting into war. Amid all the green beer drinking and corn beef noshing, a St. Patrick’s Day tradition for me is watching the 1993 classic Leprechaun starring Warwick Davis. Prior to this film, leprechauns had almost solely been represented in popular culture by jolly yet mischievous creatures helping Darby O’Gill or protecting his Lucky Charms. Now they had a murderously irritated representative. However, as enjoyable as the cheesy horror classic of Leprechaun is, the movie always gets me thinking: How accurate is Warwick Davis’ leprechaun?

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Dumbo

Typical of early Disney animation, Dumbo isn’t a finely crafted story but rather a film that examines greater ideas in a touching emotional context. It also features a scene in which a mouse and an elephant get blind drunk, hallucinate, and end up waking up in the cartoon ghetto with a hangover. What’s not to love about that? However, all racist crows and animal alcoholism aside, Dumbo is an inspiring film about a biological misfit who uses his disadvantage to become a hero. Born (or rather delivered by the lazy stork) with comically large ears, Jumbo Jr. is shunned by most of the elephants in the circus. However, after getting some confidence care of a magical feather, he discovers he can use those massive ears to fly. As much as I love this movie and recognize the image of a flying elephant as an indelible icon of Disney animation, this got me thinking: Could Dumbo really fly with ears like that?

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