My Sucker Punch movie review

So when I read the mountain of reviews that have come out that “cleverly” used the title “Sucker Punch Sucked” (wow, what an amazing play on words there–not) I wasn’t too dissuaded. I wasn’t going to this film for the plot, character development or to reach some epiphany about the meaning of life, as were many of the mainstream commentators who have really trashed this film.  I was going for the action. But before I talk about that, let me do a brief synopsis of what amounted to a plot.  Sucker Punch is the story of a young girl named ‘Baby Doll’ thrown into a corrupt mental institution who ‘escapes’ from an upcoming lobotomy by delving into a world of make-believe. She finds herself living ‘trapped’ in a bordello filled with other young women working as dancers and prostitutes, conveniently dressed as extras from Moulon Rouge. When Baby Doll is dancing she casts all that watch into a mesmerized trance, at which time Baby Doll and her friends fall into yet another land of make-believe in the video game world on giant gatling-gun toting Samurai, steam-powered Kaiser soldiers from World War I, the set of Lord of the Rings & Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, or a hover train from the film Total Recall. Each video game sequence corresponds with a ‘bordello-world’ sequence in which they are obtaining a necessary parts for their escape. Ok, so basically describing the plot there was a lot like writing down the plot of a porn movie. Kind of irrelevant. For me, this film was always about the action and special effects sequences and the rest of the movie was just cinematic detritus necessary to fill in the allotted time. The special effects sequences were awesome. No denying. In fact, the four combat scenes were both amazing to watch and almost comical in that they hit on every ‘hot button’ thing a 12-year-old desires in a video game. a) Hot chicks in leather mini skirt b) armed with short-barreled M-4 Carbines and HK MP-5s battling against c) steampunk World War I soldiers with d) airplanes and giant blimps in the air, oh, and e) a walking robot Bunny rabbit Gundam/ ‘mech’ robot firing a gatling gun. I mean, check check check check. The film is shot in a ‘washed out’ effect in which various shades of grey and black seem highlighted and most other colors neutered. It’s fitting to the storyline of a dark 1950s mental institution, but toward the end I was starting to feel a bit grey myself. As I mentioned the general story of escape that fitted between the action sequences started to get a tad boring. I didn’t care at all if they escaped, triumphed, found the meaning of life or whatever. I didn’t come for the story or any of that, so toward the end of the film where they are tying up those loose ends I started to feel a bit down. The action sequence sugar highs started to crash and I bemoaned the lack of any more crazy scenes to come. For some of my friends attending the films, the short sugar highs were enough. They agreed that the general story was nothing but a delivery device for the wild combat scenes and beautiful women, and the action sequences were enough to give it a big thumbs up. For me the action scenes are simply the eye candy of this film that provided enough of a meal to get me through the two hours.  It was like watching some kung fu movies. You don’t really care about the story as that is just used to tie together the fight sequences.  For example, Fist of Legend is an amazing movie but honestly I skip everything that is not a battle. I’m sure others do something similar with porn movies that try to introduce a plot or character development. Speaking of porn this really wasn’t an overly sexual movie. Yes, they were wearing mini-skirts and tight fitting clothes pretty much the whole time, but they really didn’t emphasize the sexuality overly. Many video games and mass market magazines like Maxim or FHM are more revealing than this film. There weren’t many close up cleavage shots and apparently several sequences in which the lead characters did their respective sexy dance routines were stripped from the film (but will make it out on the DVD). In fact a very overtly sexual scene was censored to ensure a PG-13 rating in the US. In the end I also started to wonder about the purpose of this film. We now live in a media world in which some video games outstrip the revenues of major motion pictures. Call of Duty Modern Warfare generated $550 million in revenue in just a weekend and the whole genre has generated over $3 billion in revenue. If you think of it this way, imagine a video game of Sucker Punch, with the characters and even more action sequences. Now imagine this film as just a commercial for the game? I can. In fact I wondered if this flick was released on YouTube only as a teaser for the game if the critics would have been kinder and the buzz greater. Many movies are really just plugs for a series of toys or other assorted items (ever ask WTF was an Ewok?). Sucker Punch could have been a movie released just to introduce a whole new line of video games, instead of say Final Fantasy or Lara Croft, which were films made after the games. In a sense I think the business opportunity might have been lost here to bring out a new line of games and characters. In the end, if you are feeling the need to watch a pretty amazing video game for a couple of hours and eat popcorn, this is your film. If you want to talk to those in the comic book or video game industry over the next year, you also need to see this film as it will be a subject of conversation at many of their events. If you are looking to impress your friends in banking, finance, law, medicine or some other industry, probably best if you just keep your guilty little secret to yourself that you saw this film.]]>

Skinning my iPad 2

Gelaskins. Gelaskins is a company making covers for iPhones, Androids, laptops, just about any electronic device. The only problem was what to put on the Gelaskin. I’ve already got the kids pictures as the wallpaper, and honestly I’m not really comfortable blasting their photo out to every person who happens to see the back of my iPad while I’m carrying it on the subway. So I started to look for some cool pictures from around the net. First choice, and one I almost went with, was a photo of the Space Shuttle and an F-15 on combat air patrol. This one was pretty interesting because the exhaust plume of the Space Shuttle shot directly into the camera lens on the back of the iPad. Then I thought to look at some other NASA stuff from my youth. I found a neat photo of a Saturn V being moved out to the launch pad from the VAB. It fit the iPad pretty well and offered quite a few colors. But in the end I decided to go old school. This NASA photo graced my father’s office for many years and the stark black / white colors would just sort of fit with the grey and black iPad. In the end I picked this one which is wining it’s way over from the Great White North to Hong Kong sometime this week. ]]>

Hacking to help Japanese earthquake and tsunami victims

UPDATE: Wed. March 23. 8:00 PM. We’ll be meeting to put together the remaining kits at offices. Last night members of the Hong Kong Hackerspace, aka Hong Kong Hackjam, got together at the Boot.HK offices to undertake a quick project to help victims of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami. With electricity out in many parts of Japan, the call went out from the Tokyo Hackerspace community asking for help in providing lighting, networking and other electronic supplies for victims of the disaster. Here in Hong Kong we settled on the quick and easy (somewhat) task of building “Minty Boosts“. These are battery powered USB chargers that can be used with any AA battery to charge a mobile phone or other electronic device. The entire hardware is soldered together and throw into a candy or mint box, thus the name “Minty Boost”. Over a dozen hackers and technology enthusiasts gathered last night to throw together some relief supplies that will be sent to Tokyo in the next day or two. Only a couple of the devices (mine included) ended up FUBAR, as is to be expected as some of us were not that experienced with a soldering iron. But many others were thrown together by are more hack-savvy members and were charging phones by the end of the night with great success. Here are some pics of the effort. If you want to donate other supplies or time, check out the requests from the Tokyo Hackerspace.     ]]>

My iPad 2 arrives in Hong Kong

iPad 2 arrived today in Hong Kong. Well mine at least… [caption id="attachment_3334" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Someone's little hands are already trying to take my new toy."][/caption] My mom bought it in her hometown in South Carolina. She went to a Best Buy about three hours after it went on sale. I pressed her and pressed her to go earlier but she replied “the people in this podunk town are too poor to buy anything”. Guess what? she was right. She walked into the store, back to the iPad section, and was second in line behind a guy who walked in just before her. The clerks told her earlier they had a long line, but she timed it just right to get there when no one was around. Fast forward a week and a few and it has arrived in Hong Kong. The post office made me go fetch and now I’m back starting the rather time consuming task of moving over all my stuff to the new device. First quandary was how to set it up–either as a “new iPad” or “restore from the backup of the old one”. I wasn’t quite sure so I went with the restore option, though in retrospect (i.e. the 20 minutes it took to do the restore) I discovered I could probably do it either way, syncing the apps and whatnot later on. First impressions is that it’s quite a bit thinner than the older one. The ‘scuba suit’ cover that was on the older version folds back and makes the entire iPad 1 look quite a bit ‘fatter’ than it really is. I’m still impressed when I see one of the originals without a cover (which is rare) as it looks so much smaller than mine which is wrapped in the Apple black latex. I got the ‘smart’ cover (black leather) that I’ll be setting up as soon as the sync is done (god it takes awhile). The new screen, sans fingerprint smudges and cracker crumbs and whatever else a year of use has puts on it, looks gorgeous. Of course it is basically the same as the old one, but it’s clean. I’m not going to sell the old one. While that’s normally my standard procedure as I’ve sold every iPhone I’ve ever owned right after buying a new one, this iPad had the secondary market take a hit with Apple’s price reduction, and we actually have a need for it in the house. The wife can’t use my computer usually as this room is too tiny, but she needs access to her email and celebrity gossip sites so iPad 1 becomes “hers” along with one of the boys, and iPad 2 is mine with the other kid. So, let’s see…time to start the sync…and… Apps transferring…(giving kids a bath) Now to the music…(made a sandwich) Now the pictures…(browsing the Internet) and a bunch of other stuff for about an hour and a half now…. We’re done. Some hints for your first install: Do a backup of your existing iPad before you start this process. Nuke any podcasts / videos / songs you don’t want to sync (saves time) I sync’d 2000 photos faster than 1,100 songs, fwiw Consider doing your first sync overnight when you don’t have to sit and watch the slow process. Ok, now to play with it. The magnetic screen cover works as advertised. Open it and it comes on, close it and close it and it shuts down. I’ve already noticed that I’m still hitting the power button to turn things off rather than just close the screen. Old habits will take a bit to slow down. The home screen now has two new icons. One is Photobooth, which you can use if you are feeling like self portraits with the rather grainy camera. The other is Facetime, which I’ve yet to check out. I showed the wife and let her hold both of them. “The new one is heavier” she wrongly observed (iPad 2 is .2lbs lighter). It definitely is thinner. You can feel that holding it. It also feels ‘faster’. Some apps like Flipboard were really loading quite quickly, and I look forward to playing Infinity Blade later today. But now for the most important test: how much gloating can I do with this? I’ll be heading over to a few of my haunts today to be “that guy” who has the newest toy. Feel free to call me a jerk later if you see me.]]>