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Last blog of 2016
Best and worst films I've seen this summer:

Zootopia is now my 2nd favourite Disney film of all time; narrowly edged by 'The Incredibles', but since it's less 'dense', infinitely more rewatchable. I haven't seen Rogue One yet, but thus far still my favourite film of 2016.

Zootopia was clever, with a coherent plot that even references the current crop of mature themed TV shows, pokes fun at Frozen. However, it is very liberally themed, so if you're more right-winged, you may find it too preachy. Most rewatchable Disney animated film ever.

Independence Day Resurgence was so bad, it was almost good. The original was the perfect popcorn flick; end of the world "us vs them" overboard patriotism, action packed, didn't take itself too seriously (and yeah, thin plot).

The sequel tossed all of that aside, took itself *way* too seriously... in the process making all the new leads extremely unlikeable. About 15 minutes in my wife turned to me and said "Wow, the new characters are annoying... I hope the aliens wipe *them* out". The only one of the newbies who can even act is Liam Hemsworth (or maybe they just gave him the least terrible lines, not sure); the female Chinese pilot in particular really felt like she'd never had an acting class in her life.

In fact, I recommend people see this just to see how off the rails a sequel can go. Unless you've already seen Batman v Superman, then you have some idea already. The returning cast, especially Spiner, Hirsch and Goldblum were great as usual, but couldn't save this film. Which, like the Bond film 'Die Another Day' also ends in a very Power Rangers-esque scene. Almost so bad that it was good. However, the 3d was really well done, and worth a laugh. But nowhere near the perfect popcorn pic that the original was.

I liked Captain America Civil War but found the ending anti-climactic. (frankly the Winter Soldier's ending was more satisfying for me). But always kept that light hearted Marvel tone. I know Batman is supposed to be dark and brooding, but Batman V Superman was a terrible film with lots of great scenes interspersed (I especially liked the warehouse fight and the "Friend of your son's" bit. Fantastic 3d btw. Best 3d I'd seen in a while that wasn't Disney.

Speaking of Disney again: Finding Dory wasn't anywhere near the fun of the original, but still a good film in its own right. The Force Awakens may have been a re-hash, but was way more fun than the prequels. Kylo Ren was too emo, but oh well. The leads were awesome, as was the fact that everything was redesigned to look like Ralph McQarrie's original artwork for Star Wars! (check out his original concept artwork from 40 years ago)

X-Men Apocalypse wasn't as good as the excellent First Class, but I still felt it was better than Days of Future Past. But way too long and drawn out... they literally filled it with too many scenes of protagonists and antagonists walking towards each other in slow motion. Possibly 15 minutes worth!! 3D was ok, not too 'deep' to be eye straining, a touch subtle. Nowhere near the Disney /WB levels.

Likewise, Star Trek Beyond:the worst of the 3 reboot films, but still good. Just unbalanced; sometimes it was deathly serious, but most of the film seemed to be aimed at action comedy (maybe because of the Fast and Furious director). The 3d was a little sublet, but no eye strain.

Speaking of which I said last blog that I'd mention the worst offenders: Well the worst game I've ever seen in 3d was Blazing Angels (2 I think it was?) They INVERTED the 3d effect: everything in the foreground looked far away, everything far away was brought up close stereoscopically.

The net result was that it looked like your plane was flying under the ground, magically transparent above it. They shipped it without even testing the 3d stereoscopy *shudder*.

Assassin's Creed Revelations did 3d properly, but at the cost of tearing (not synching each rendered frame with the TV) the end result being that became an unwatchable blurry mess.

Speaking of which, normally I chastise films for either having not enough 3d depth, or not a natural enough steroescopic dual render so that some things look clear and some have double image. But the very cool Tom Cruise groundhog-day film "Edge of Tomorrow" was absolutely nauseating in 3d. Worst. 3D. Ever. Everything was *too* separated; it was like the actors in the foreground were 1 inch in front of your eyeballs, whereas the walls in the room behind them were about 70 miles away. A new level of badly done 3d; One film where I'm definitely sticking with the 2d version!

Keep in mind 3d done right can actually make things 'pop' with greater clarity. Sadly the best example of this on the Xbox 360 is *still* Sina Mora. And how can the Xbox One's version of Castlestorm be called "Definitive" when the 360 offers really well realized stereoscopic 3d, and XB1 version doesn't??!!

Oh, and like Star Trek, Terminator Gensys was also very light hearted... honestly the funniest Terminator film (not an adjective I ever thought I'd use for that franchise). To its credit, the comedy wasn't cheesy.

Finally: 2016, enough with taking all our legends.
*edit* couple of typos
Posted by Evil Toast on 31 December 16 at 08:18 | There are 2 comments on this blog post - Please log in to comment on this blog.
Translation, please?
Due to my weird work schedule, most of the people I can actually boost with aren't in my own time zone, but the UK.

They speak English. We North Americans speak something similar, but clearly a variant requiring translation. So, here to help, American Scott Walters:


If you're from Britain it's quite easy to often forget how great this place is. If you're not from Britain, however, we probably seem like quite an odd bunch at times. The following Facebook post, written by 66-year-old American Scott Waters, pretty much fits both of the above. Penned following a visit to the UK this summer (most of which appears to have been in Cornwall, England), Waters wrote up the various cultural differences and posted them to the world of social media. The post promptly went viral and has been shared almost 50,000 times. Here's what he had to say about us:

I was in England again a few weeks ago, mostly in small towns, but here's some of what I learned:
* Almost everyone is very polite.
* There are no guns.
* There are too many narrow stairs.
* The pubs close too early.
* The reason they drive on the left is because all their cars are built backwards.
* Pubs are not bars, they are community living rooms.
* You'd better like peas, potatoes and sausage.
* Refrigerators and washing machines are very small.
* Everything is generally older, smaller and shorter.
* People don't seem to be afraid of their neighbors or the government.
* Their paper money makes sense, the coins don't.
* Everyone has a washing machine but driers are rare.
* Hot and cold water faucets. Remember them?
* Pants are called "trousers", underwear are "pants" and sweaters are "jumpers".
* The bathroom light is a string hanging from the ceiling.
* "Fanny" is a naughty word, as is "shag".
* All the signs are well designed with beautiful typography and written in full sentences with proper grammar.
* There's no dress code.
* Doors close by themselves, but they don't always open.
* They eat with their forks upside down.
* The English are as crazy about their gardens as Americans are about cars.
* They don't seem to use facecloths or napkins or maybe they’re just neater than we are.
* The wall outlets all have switches, some don't do anything.
* There are hardly any cops or police cars.
* 5,000 year ago, someone arranged a lot of rocks all over, but no one is sure why.
* When you do see police they seem to be in male & female pairs and often smiling.
* Black people are just people: they didn't quite do slavery here.
* Everything comes with chips, which are French fries. You put vinegar on them.
* Cookies are "biscuits" and potato chips are "crisps".
* HP sauce is better then catsup.
* Obama is considered a hero, Bush is considered an idiot.
* After fish and chips, curry is the most popular food.
* The water controls in showers need detailed instructions.
* They can boil anything.
* Folks don't always lock their bikes.
* It's not unusual to see people dressed differently and speaking different languages.
* Your electronic devices will work fine with just a plug adapter.
* Nearly everyone is better educated than we are.
* If someone buys you a drink you must do the same.
* Look right, walk left. Again; look right, walk left. You're welcome.
* Avoid British wine and French beer.
* It's not that hard to eat with the fork in your left hand with a little practice. If you don't, everyone knows you're an American.
* Many of the roads are the size of our sidewalks.
* There's no AC.
* Instead of turning the heat up, you put on a jumper.
* Gas is "petrol", it costs about $6 a gallon and is sold by the liter.
* If you speed on a motorway, you get a ticket. Period. Always.
* You don't have to tip, really!
* There are no guns.
* Scotland, Wales, Ireland and Cornwall really are different countries.
* Only 14% of Americans have a passport, everyone in the UK does.
* You pay the price marked on products because the taxes (VAT) are built in.
* Walking is the national pastime.
* Their TV looks and sounds much better than ours.
* They took the street signs down during WWII, but haven't put them all back up yet.
* Everyone enjoys a good joke.
* Dogs are very well behaved and welcome everywhere.
* There are no window screens.
* You can get on a bus and end up in Paris.
* Everyone knows more about our history than we do.
* Radio is still a big deal. The BBC is quite good.
* The newspapers can be awful.
* Everything costs the same but our money is worth less so you have to add 50% to the price to figure what you're paying.
* Beer comes in large, completely filled, actual pint glasses and the closer the brewery the better the beer.
* Butter and eggs aren't refrigerated.
* The beer isn't warm, each style is served at the proper temperature.
* Cider (alcoholic) is quite good.
* Excess cider consumption can be very painful.
* The universal greeting is "Cheers" (pronounced "cheeahz" unless you are from Cornwall, then it's "chairz")
* The money is easy to understand: 1-2-5-10-20-50 pence, then-£1-£2-£5-£10, etc bills. There are no quarters.
* Their cash makes ours look like Monopoly money.
* Cars don't have bumper stickers.
* Many doorknobs, buildings and tools are older than America.
* By law, there are no crappy, old cars.
* When the sign says something was built in 456, they didn't lose the "1".
* Cake is pudding, ice cream is pudding, anything served for dessert is pudding, even pudding.
* Everything closes by 1800 (6pm)
* Very few people smoke, those who do often roll their own.
* You're defined by your accent.
* No one in Cornwall knows what the hell a Cornish Game Hen is.
* Soccer is a religion, religion is a sport.
* Europeans dress better than the British, we dress worse.
* The trains work: a three minute delay is regrettable.
* Drinks don't come with ice.
* There are far fewer fat English people.
* There are a lot of healthy old folks around participating in life instead of hiding at home watching tv.
* If you're over 60, you get free TV and bus and rail passes.
* They don't use Bose anything anywhere
* Displaying your political or religious affiliation is considered very bad taste
* Every pub has a pet drunk
* Their healthcare works, but they still bitch about it
* Cake is one of the major food groups
* Their coffee is mediocre but their tea is wonderful
* There are still no guns

They have towel warmers!"

Back to Evil Toast: most of these, I knew or have had explained to me by my m8's. But what on earth is a towel warmer???
Posted by Evil Toast on 20 February 16 at 20:26 | There are 16 comments on this blog post - Please log in to comment on this blog.
Good 3D, Bad 3D part 1
Let's get it out of the way: if you wear glasses, or have a problem in 1 eye, you won't get to truly experience the difference between eye-straining poorly done stereoscopic imaging, and the truly stunning opposite end of the spectrum. Which sucks.

Best 3D I've experienced in a film was so good, you could actually see which surfaces were bump-mapped and textured, and which were simply flat textured. Beowulf. Photorealistic CGI coupled with really well thought out stereoscopic rendering, I wish I could find a copy of this in 3d, but I only saw it once in theatres. Naked Angelina Jolie didn't hurt.

2nd best, Avatar. The story was identical to Ferngully, Dances with Wolves, Pocohintas, very derivative... It's pretty clear the focus was the 3D, and it shows.

How to Train Your Dragon, Frozen, both Avengers Films, clearly we're directed with 3D in mind. All really good examples of 3D tech, and totally worth watching in 3D if you've only watched them 'flat'.

Worst 3D in films:
Ice Age 3D was clearly a film they finished first, and then thought "Hey let's make more money by converting it to 3D and charging the higher ticket price". When rendering a 3D movie in flat non stereoscopic imaging, it doesn't matter how far you place the farthest plane, representing the sky / backdrop.

But when you force that rendered image into a stereoscopic image, you have to render it at the appropriate plane depth. The sky and horizon are *not* 3 feet away from you.

The result? there were scenes where they had foreground rendered trees, then drawn flat 2d trees on the far plane, along with a painted sky... Instead of looking like the Ice Age characters were walking in a desolate frozen forest, it instead looked like they were walking in a tiny shoebox, with trees and sky painted on the back wall. Terrible.

Iron Man 3 actually suffered from this as well: there's a fireworks scene at the beginning, where everything else is in 3D but the fireworks were exploding in a single 2D plane, rather than in a swelling spherical pattern. Considering how well the 3D was handled in both Avengers films, this was a let down (the film was entertaining though, and *most* of the film has properly handled 3D)

Despicable Me: great film, but suffers from the 2 perspective points being too close together, the end result being that nothing really pops out from the film at all. It might was well be non-stereoscopic.

Similar criticism for Monsters vs Aliens, nothing really popped out at you.

Captain EO: on the other end of the 3D spectrum, when films move the 2 perspective points too far away, you get eye strain, as well as image ghosting... All for a messy 3D result. Yes this Disney ride film starring Michal Jackson is 25 years old, and currently only available at Tokyo Disney (it was showing at Disney World no Disney Land in the late 80's and early 90's) and was one of the first examples of the current polarized lens 3D instead of the old horrible blue and red method.

It was also a collaboration between Spielberg, Scorcese, and Lucas.. Go figure.

I was going to include stereoscopic games as well here, but this is long enough; I'll make a separate follow up blog soon.
*spoiler: Air Conflict Secret Wars is the worst stereoscopic video gaming ever. I don't think it can be topped.
Posted by Evil Toast on 16 September 15 at 06:49 | There are 7 comments on this blog post - Please log in to comment on this blog.

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