Vulcan Stev's Database

It's a BLOG Captain, but not as we know it.

Cancer Crisis: 5:30 am at the UIHC

I hope folks will forgive me for this as this post is only tangentially about Virginia and her cancer.  It’s still dark outside as I begin this.  Virginia is sleeping right now.  Her breathing is heavy and a trifle labored.  She is hugging tightly the most recent acquisition to her stuffed critter collection, a large green frog holding a heart that says “Kiss Me”.  I’m awake answering e-mails, thinking, and praying

I’ve been getting a lot of e-mail and phone calls.  The words of encouragement are, well, encouraging.  Some of the e-mails have asked me blunt questions, one in particular asked “How could I still post those Demotivational Posters during this time?”

My answer to that is that I’ve got to do something to keep the smiles coming.

One e-mail from an online buddy struck a chord.  I won’t re-post his e-mail because he revealed some personal information that I assume is for my eyes alone.  As I read through my response to him, I realized that it very nicely summed up how I was currently coping with the whole situation.  S.L. I wrote this to you but I hope you don’t mind my sharing it with everyone…

At 43 years of age I have seen careless death, needless death, folks who have spent years in pain wishing they could die, and more senseless tragedy than I really care to.  I’ve lost both sets of grandparents.  Virginia and I have had a miscarriage.  I also lost a cousin when he was 10 due to drowning.

I have also seen pregnancy where the doctors said it couldn’t be done.  I’ve personally witnessed miracles of healing that defy common wisdom (I wish cell phone cameras had been invented the day I witnessed of boy with a serious birth defect grow his face back in front of the entire church).

My faith has always carried me through the toughest parts of my life.  I’ve been told by many people that my faith is a crutch.  That may be true, but then everyone has a crutch of some sort.  I just happen to replenish mine at church instead of the liquor store.  Please be aware that in no way am I representing those as the only two options and am by no means placing you or anyone else in a category. 😎

Yes, my faith tells me that someday after she passes from this life, I WILL see Virginia again.  I will see my grandparents.  I will see the child who never even had a chance.  I will see my still-born sister.  I do believe that the human soul is an eternal creature and will spend eternity in one of two places.  However Virginia’s eternal soul will not help me feed the boys.  She will not help in keeping the house clean.  Once she’s gone, I’m faced with some things on this plane of existence that truly scare me.  We are barely making ends meet with both of us working.  PIT #3 is only 11 years old, he’s not taking the whole “Mommy is going to heaven” thing very well.

Even though my faith gives me comfort and hope it does nothing to change some of the very real problems I’ll be facing once Virginia has left her cancer ridden shell.

Why does God allow things like this to happen?  Why is a young mother torn from the embrace of her husband and children?  Why does $h!t happen, God?  Believe me, even though I have my faith I still ask these questions.  They’re not easy to answer and folks who have asked these questions are faced with two choices; one to abandon that faith or two to accept that there is more to this existence and that we as humans do not comprehend everything.

We have never met face-to-face but I do number you among my friends.  If your conclusions about life, the universe, and everything are correct then my faith costs me nothing and provides me comfort in the time of a serious crisis.  If my conclusions about what’s going on are correct then again I have lost nothing but have gained something in the long run.

When I wrote that I was scared about the future, I may have unintentionally given the wrong impression of my thoughts regarding what will happen after Virgina has passed from this life to the next.  Yes, I am scared.  However, it is not the scared-out-of-my-wits-unable-to-do-anything-but-piss-my-pants sort of fear.  It’s the type of fear I had as a child, the “Daddy the thunderstorm is really scary is it going to get us?  No Steve, we’re safe inside the house.  C’mere, Daddy has a hug for you” fear.  I’m still scared but my faith tells me something larger than I has things under control.  I don’t see the whole picture.  I don’t know the reasons for “WHY?”.  But Daddy did and I believe that God does.

Science does not have all the answers.  Science cannot explain that spark of life.  Science cannot explain everything.  Every scientific FACT out there has yet to disprove God.  Scientific THEORIES abound that try to explain things that science cannot test for.  The thing is that faith does NOT require proof.  I believe that God exists.  I believe that He is in control of a larger plan that I do not understand.  This plan requires that my wife have cancer.  The future is not set, she may recover, she may not.  I do not know what the future has in store.

Pain is temporary, pain is something we have to endure here.  When Virginia leaves us she will leave the pain behind.  Someone will still have to feel it.  We live in an imperfect universe.  I will happily share my faith you if you ask.  I hope am not now and will not ever be seen as shoving it in front of you.

To answer your implied question, What is Truth?  Is it what the doctors tell us?  Is it what Televangelists tell us?  Is it what the Media spoons out to us in carefully measured sound-bites?  No, Truth is something that each individual must find for themselves.  There are guideposts for that journey.

…..

That in a nutshell (ok a very large nutshell) sums up why I am both afraid and unconcerned about the future.

To this I add that I do not make friends easily.  Once made, I do not give them up easily either.  I have been disappointed many time by people who claimed to be my friends.  When I say that someone is my friend please be aware that this is not a title I bestow lightly nor is it a title I take for granted.

I’m not going to apologize for sharing my faith in this post.  If it offends you, it offends you.  I do not claim that I have discovered THE TRUTH, only that I believe that I have.  Truth is a personally journey for everyone.  I cannot make your choices for you.  I can only give you a glimpse of my journey and hope and pray that it helps you along yours.

May 10, 2010 Posted by | Life near an Iowa Cornfield, Mrs. Vulcan Stev's Fight | , , , , , | 13 Comments

Life Near an Iowa Cornfield 1-24-10

Wow has it really been nearly three months since I wrote anything?

Not that I haven’t had things to say but it’s been busy.  I’ve reconnected with a bunch of old friends via Facebook.  I’ve discovered that as much as I like writing, I enjoy my job more.   I’ve been extraordinarily busy with the job.  Recently, I was informed that according to the Iowa Newspaper Association, I am one of the top three ad designers in the entire state for the class of newspaper I work for (weekly under 10,000 circulation).  I find out exactly where I place at the banquet in February.

The can company is OFFICIALLY sold.  We signed the papers last week.  Yay!!!!!!!!!

PIT #1 (aka Pvt. Black Spartan) is still learning to be intelligent.  Her graduation has been pushed back again due to National Guard needing the same training, but she’s enjoying the challenge.

PIT #2 is now almost as tall as I am (when did that happen?).  He’s learning the ins and outs of controlled fishtails on the snow covered roads.

PIT #3 is being 10.  He finally agreed to let his mother wash his favorite Christmas present, an official Army fatigue shirt.  He received this from his big sister and has worn it nearly every day since Christmas.

Mrs. VS is recovering more every day.  Her hair is now long enough that she doesn’t wear wigs anymore.

One Way Express (the puppet team) has taken the tentative steps into video.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w39S1YZWRhQ

We are now digitally recording the morning services at church and will be placing more videos up at YouTube as I get  time to edit.  Check out my channel http://www.youtube.com/user/vulcanstev

The entire family has been playing Wizard’s 101.  We’re enjoying it to the point of possibly getting a second subscription that we can play together instead of watching one person play.

The boys and I are back to a bi-weekly D&D 4e game at The Core in Cedar Falls.  I can’t say I much like the hack and slash version of D&D, but it’s time with my boys.  Alternate weeks, our local gaming group has begun a Top Secret! campaign, yes let’s resurrect more classic games from the 80’s

I also recently came to terms with my decision to leave Starships of the Third Fleet.  The constrictions being placed on my writing from the higher-ups made it less than fun to continue with the group.  I’ve also re-found the KSF and resurrected Chris Dehart.  Stev isn’t gone.  He’s just not onboard the Phoenix anymore.  When last seen he, T’Aiya, Phread and Neila had boarded the Ghost Rider and taken off for parts unknown.  (I am thinking of posting my stuff here for the world to read).

Hoping it’ll be sooner than March before I post again…

STEVe

January 24, 2010 Posted by | Life near an Iowa Cornfield, Mrs. Vulcan Stev's Fight, Play | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Life Near an Iowa Cornfield: Sept 27, 2009

Where to begin?

PIT #3 is back at Timothy Christian and giving Mrs. VandeVort as hard a time as his brother did when we first moved to the area.  He his happy that his enforced review of the Yellow Belt form for Tae Kwon Do is over and we are now studying the Camo Belt form.  His skills as an RPG gamer are growing, enough that I’d consider taking a family vacation to a nearby convention.

PIT #2 is now a sophomore (*shudder*).  With his sister gone, he’s establishing his own identity.  He’s a member of chorus, the drama department, AcDec, and the “I can put a car into a sideways spin on gravel” club.  He’s trying to convince daddy that because we are now Camo Belts that we need to enroll in weapons class.  He’s also VERY happy that Saturday mornings no longer involve spending the day counting cans.

 Pvt Black Spartan (formerly known as PIT #1) finished Basic back in August.  She’s now at GoodFellow AFB getting her AIT or as she puts it “Learning to be intelligent”.  She’s found a group of gamers on base and has weekly D&D sessions with her new friends.  She still plays D&D with us on Sunday afternoons via SKYPE.  She just recently earned the right to leave base on pass and wear civies while not on base.

Mrs. VS is back to work.  She’s interpreting for fourth grade student.  Aside from having to deal with an entire class of uncooperative children, she’s glad to be back at work.  She has finished her chemotherapy but has started radiation treatments.  I’m just glad she’s still here.

VS is enjoying the challenges of his new job.  Last week I got to design the entire contest the paper is conducting for a ticket giveaway.  I’m glad I’m using my degree again.  This fall our church decided to help our sister church (an urban multi-ethnic church) start their new Wednesday evening children’s programs.  The logistics of transporting all the puppets, gear, lesson materials, and whatnot can get pretty interesting now that the can van is no longer at my beck and call.  We’re getting it done.

There now you’re up to date.

September 27, 2009 Posted by | Life near an Iowa Cornfield | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Vulcan Stev Family Movie Review: GI Joe The Rise of Cobra

g_i_joe_ver12Starring:
Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje …  Heavy Duty
Christopher Eccleston …  James McCullen / Destro
Grégory Fitoussi …  Baron de Cobray
Joseph Gordon-Levitt …  The Doctor / Rex Lewis
Leo Howard …  Young Snake Eyes
Karolina Kurkova …  Courtney A. Kreiger / Cover Girl
Byung-hun Lee …  Storm Shadow
Sienna Miller …  Anastasia ‘Ana’ DeCobray / Baroness
David Murray …  James McCullen – 1641
Rachel Nichols …  Shana ‘Scarlett’ O’Hara
Kevin J. O’Connor …  Dr. Mindbender
Gerald Okamura …  Hard Master
Ray Park …  Snake Eyes
Jonathan Pryce …  U.S. President
Dennis Quaid …  General Hawk

Synopsis: An elite team made up of allied military personel fights the good fight.  Adding new members to the team, the unit takes on Destro, the Baroness, Storm Shadow and witnesses the birth of a new world-wide terrorist organization, Cobra.

Reviewers: Vulcan Stev, Pvt. Black Spartan (formerly known as PIT #1), PIT #2, PIT #3

VS – 1.5 pointed ears
I am a fan of the Larry Hama comic book series published by Marvel Comics.  I still own my complete set of G.I. Joe comics.  I am one of those fans that felt the cartoon was an absolute waste of air time.  I can recite you chapter and verse of Storm Shadow’s origin, his transformation from villain to hero and back.  In my mind Scarlett and Snake Eyes are a couple and the Pit was originally located under the Chaplain’s assistant School at Fort Wadsworth.

I am one of the fans that Hasbro and Paramount did NOT want to alienate with this two hour introduction to another potential box office franchise.  For the most part the producers were successful.  This is not a film based on reality.  It is not a treatise on how to fight terrorism.  It is a thriller from start to finish.

The producers were smart enough to set the movie into a continuity of its own without relying on the comic book or the cartoon series.  Stephen Sommers also had the brains to hire Larry Hama as a consultant on the film.  Larry Hama knows the G.I. Joe universe cold.

What did I think were the problems with this film?  First the implication that Rip-Cord was able to make it onto the team solely by being Duke’s friend.  G.I. Joe is supposed to be the BEST of the Best.  Those acceleration suits were completely unneccessary.  Brandon Fraiser’s cameo detracted from the film.  Finally excuse me for being a raving fanboy here… Scarlet and Snake Eyes 4Evar ’nuff said.

Pvt. Black Spartan – 1.8 pointed ears
This movie was nowhere near as bad as the critics implied.  My first trip off base to a civilian theater in forever would’ve been a treat if the theater didn’t have as many technical difficulties.  This movie is obviously a two hour preview for the actual series coming soon.

I had given this movie 2 pointed ears then proceeded to complain to Dad about the laughable military protocol.  Dad insisted that I deduct some for my complaints.  Most of the problems with military protocol and procedure are ones that non-military folks will never notice.

PIT #2  – 1.9 pointed ears.
This is my first exposure to the G.I. Joe universe.  I was suitably impressed with the concept that I’m looking forward to the actual movie.  This two-hour preview for the eventual movie is the best commercial I’ve ever seen.

PIT #3 – 2 pointed ears
This movie rocked.  There was absolutely nothing about this movie that made it bad.  Massive explosions, action, explosions, no kissing, explosions.  Did I mention the explosions?

7.2 pointed ears out of 8.

Aside from this being an obvious Part I, this movie provides  2 hours of mindless entertainment.  The violence is cartoonish at best.  If mild language and cartoon violence are acceptable then this is a nice way to spend an evening.

September 22, 2009 Posted by | Movie Reviews, Movies | , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Vulcan Stev Family Movie Review: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

harry_potter_and_the_half_blood_prince_ver19Starring:
Daniel Radcliffe …  Harry Potter
Rupert Grint …  Ron Weasley
Emma Watson …  Hermione Granger
Jim Broadbent …  Professor Horace Slughorn
Elarica Gallacher …  Waitress
Robbie Coltrane …  Rubeus Hagrid
Michael Gambon …  Professor Albus Dumbledore
Maggie Smith …  Professor Minerva McGonagall
Alan Rickman …  Professor Severus Snape
Bonnie Wright …  Ginny Weasley
James Phelps …  Fred Weasley
Oliver Phelps …  George Weasley
Julie Walters …  Molly Weasley
Mark Williams …  Arthur Weasley
David Thewlis …  Remus Lupin

Synopsis: In the sixth year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft, and in both wizard and muggle worlds Lord Voldemort and his henchmen are increasingly active. With vacancies to fill at Hogwarts, Professor Dumbledor persuades Horace Slughorn, back from retirement to become the potions teacher, while Professor Snape receives long awaited news. Harry Potter, together with Dumbledore, must face treacherous tasks to defeat his evil nemesis.

Reviewers: Vulcan Stev, Mrs. VS, PIT #1/Pvt Spartan, PIT #2, PIT #3

Vulcan Stev: 1.4 pointed ears
I have never read any of the Harry Potter books.  When my children complain about things the movie left out of the previous novels, it usually didn’t matter much to me.  The movies have, to this point, been able to stand on their own.  HPatHBP is the first time that I, as a non-reader of the novels, could sense something was missing.  Don’t get me wrong, the movie was still enjoyable.  There was just to much unexplained.  Harry’s being forced to give up the textbook seemed, from my vantage point, to be more jealousy from his fellow students than it was a necessity to get rid of the book.  The whole sub-plot of the hor-cruxes seemed to be given short shrift.

Warner Bros. determined that it would be impossible to do adequate justice to the Deathly Hallows in one 2-hour movie.  After watching HBP, I wonder if they shouldn’t have done the same thing with book six.  How hard would it have been to film HBP as a two-parter release part one at Memorial Day and then part two at Labor Day.

Mrs. VS: 1.4 pointed ears
This movie was a little confusing.  I had a difficult time following parts of this story.  The part of the story where Harry is attacked in the cave was VERY creepy.

Pvt Spartan/PIT #1: 1.5 pointed ears
Watching this movie without my family was a bittersweet experience.  This was a good movie but a terrible adaptation.  Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is a very misleading title.  The book is more about the discovery of Voldemort’s horcruxes and setting up lots of things for the final book.  There is lots of underplay relational issues that are left out of the movie.

Non-readers of the books might be confused by this movie.

PIT #2: 1.7 pointed ears
The was a decent movie.  However the producers tried to cram wa-a-ay to much stuff into a two and a half hour movie.  What I’ve read of the book, it should have been turned into 2 two-hour movies at least.

PIT #3: 1.4 pointed ears
In addition to all the kissing (yecch!) this movie left out a lot of the novel it was adapting.  The parts they did film where done nicely.  I didn’t like the fact that the movie showed an attack on the Weasleys.  Daddy explained that it probably was done to lump all the attacks by the Death Eaters into one attack that mattered.  All in all a decent movie.

7.4 pointed ears out of 10.

The overall consensus of the VS family that this movie was too short for the material was trying to cover.  If you own the first five you’ll definitely be owning this one as well.  This film is a little too intense for younger viewers without parental supervision.

September 12, 2009 Posted by | Movie Reviews, Movies | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The View from My Chair: Sequels that shouldn’t have been made

star_trek_v_ver2One of the things I’ve been doing more of since the modem went down is watching DVDs with PITs 2&3.  We’ve got a pretty extensive collection.  PIT #3 noticed the large number of sequels we have in our collection.  He wondered why Hollywood made so many sequels.  I tired my best to explain that movies are very expensive to make and that Hollywood (as a general rule is more apt to make a second movie when the first has proven successful.  PIT #3 then wanted to know “Why Hollywood made crappy sequels?”

His simple question left me thinking the same thing.  This train of thought then morphed into what Hollywood sequels probably seemed like a slam dunk to whoever green light it but probably shouldn’t have ever been filmed.

#1: Star Trek V: The Final Frontier – The movie that proves William Shatner can’t direct.  The insipid story line and faithless use of the characters doomed this flick from the outset.  What went wrong with this turkey could be a whole column all to itself

#2: Superman IV: The Quest for Peace – Singlehandedly responsible for sinking the Superman franchise.  This movie showcases one of the problems with bringing a 4-color property to the big screen.  Whereas the comic book writer has multiple issues to introduce a formidable opponent for the hero, the motion picture has approximately two hours to introduce, set up the battle with, and have the hero defeat, the villain.

#3 & 4 Karate Kid 3, The Next Karate Kid: Continuing the story after a CLEAR ending is one of Hollywood’s bigger mis-steps.  It is also a sure sign that the movie was green-lit by a “suit” interested in money and not because they have a good story to tell.  Then the further miscue of Hollywood thinking that the previous failure had something to do with the cast, meaning a re-cast and another bad movie.

#5 Batman & Robin: Psychedelic colors, a complete disregard for the Bat Universe (even the one established for the film) and forced conflict between Batman and Robin doomed an otherwise credible performance by Clooney.  On the other hand this flop paved the way for Batman Begins

#6 Herbie Goes Bananas: This movie seemed to me that somebody at Disney was desperately looking for hit and authorized a less than stellar script “just to get something out there”.  Having a prop being the only connection to the previous movies (albeit a prop that folks had emotional involvement in) that close to the release dates of the other movies wasn’t the best idea either.

#7 The Lion King 1 1/2: Seriously? turning one of Disney’s animated classics into a clipfest and tons of rude jokes was completely unnecessary.  Disney’s animation department was coasting at this point.

#8 & #9 Ghostbusters 2 & Gremlins 2: Clear examples of taking a hit movie, hiring original cast, having a cool idea, and still not capturing the magic.  Hey Hollywood, we’ll wait until you have a script that is actually watchable.

#10  #11 Smokey and the Bandit Part 3 & Speed 2: When the movie’s success is in large part due to the chemistry of it’s stars, do NOT attempt to make a sequel without those same actors.

There’s definitely more sequels out there that shouldn’t have been made.

I’d be interested to hear yours

September 10, 2009 Posted by | Movie Reviews, Movies | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

I’m ba-ack

It’s been awhile but I think I’ve got the modem problems fixed to the point of being able to blog again.  So where to begin?  There’ll be some changes coming to the blog.  I’ll still be writing about gaming but I’ll branching out to cover some of my other interests.  I also won’t be putting up daily content.  One of the things that came out of my enforced hiatus was PIT #3 expressing his happiness that Daddy wasn’t spending EVERY NIGHT at the laptop writing about gaming instead of actually playing.

Updates on the V.S. family:

Mrs. V.S. has finished her chemo treatments.  She is back at work interpreting for a 4th grade deaf student.  She goes to see the Radiology Oncologist on Wednesday and we learn at that point whether she’ll be undergoing radiation therapy.  Her hair is growing back, unfortunately it isn’t returning in the appropriate color.

PIT #1 is now Pvt. Spartan.  She is done with basic and is now undergoing A.I.T.  She’ll be back to providing her unique insights into the movie reviews (in fact she’s already phoned in her first).  She’s not completely online yet as her new laptop does not have net access inside her barracks.

PIT #2 is back in school.  He’s in Ac Dec this year and is looking forward to being the oldest at home.  He’s also back in Tae Kwon Do and will be testing for his camo belt next weekend.

PIT #3 has discovered Wizard’s 101.  He’s not as enthralled with 4e he terms it “offline gaming”.  When I asked him to clarify he responded that 4e wasn’t role playing.  It was more like the games he plays online only without the computer.

Me… I have sold the redemption center.  I’m back to punching a clock instead of working for myself.  This is not a step backwards as I’m using my degree.  I’m working as an ad designer for a local paper and loving it.  I’m also working on a “sekrit pojikt” that I’ll be sharing as soon as it’s ready to go.

What changes are coming to blog?  There will be still be gaming stuff.  However, my first love/obsession is movies.  I’ll be blogging more about films.  The family will still be doing reviews, however we’ll be adding blog posts about the goofs we picked up on while watching the films we’ve reviewed.  I’ll be adding some columns about comic books as well as bringing back Goober’s Words of Wisdom.

So bang the drum, sound the gong, let it be known far and wide.  Stev is back.

September 6, 2009 Posted by | Comic Books, Life near an Iowa Cornfield, Movies, Mrs. Vulcan Stev's Fight, RPG | , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

How to Host a Dungeon: a Review

promo_small

Planet Thirteen’s How to Host a Dungeon is a quick entertaining diversion designed for one person.  As a game it’s enjoyment level ranks right up there with an actual gaming session.  However, I’ve discovered that it can also become an essential part of your DM toolbox. 

As I have stated many times, my creative streak seems to work best with SOME kind of inspiration.  I’m always on the lookout for something that will jump start my creative synapses.  How to Host a Dungeon, does just that.

Let me start by saying this game is a lot of fun.  I started off playing this solo and had to improvise rules for two more players before I finished my first dungeon.  PIT #2 & #3 saw how much fun I was having and DEMANDED to play along.  We had a blast building the first few dungeons.  We laughed uproariously as we named the various monsters, humanoids, and the arch-villains.  We’re averaging about 3 hours per dungeon, so it’s not necessarily a quick random dungeon.  Though I will admit a good portion of our time was spent laughing over the names we invented for the various inhabitants.

You will need a standard set of dice to play this game (d4, d6, d8, d10, d12, & d20).  You will also need pencils, paper, pens and small beads or tokens (we used little necklace beads from Hobby Lobby), standard fare for a self-published game.

sc0004d7cdThe dungeon pictured was the first one we built.  It was built for our ongoing Quest for the Staff of Genesis campaign.  So we did not play that build out to the end as we needed monsters for the party to hunt, treasure to find, and a villain to defeat.   I also had to shoehorn established points from our campaign into the dungeon design.  This was easily handled as the this game is designed to be multi-system compatible.

I had two small quibbles with the game.  The first is an acknowledged typo contained throughout the game.  The rules are constantly stating to roll a d6 against tables that are obviously larger than six items.  When you play amend that rule to read roll a dX (where X = the size of the table being rolled against).  The second minor quibble was rules for battles involving wandering monsters and adventurers are printed a different page than the rest of the adventurer and wandering monster rules.  These complaints are minor considering the overall fun of this game.  Both of these complaints are easily fixable in subsequent printings.

Overall I was impressed with the ease and simplicity of the game.  $19.00 for both a print and .pdf version is a very good value.  PIT#3 likes the game but would like to see bats added as permanent part of the rule set.  PIT #2 found the game to be incredibly fun.  I recommend getting the print version as the constant shuffle of pages during the age of Monsters can get to be a hassle using .pdf.

4.95 pointed ears out of 6 – Recommended

July 2, 2009 Posted by | Fluff/Inspiration, Legacy D&D, News, Reviews and Culture, RPG | , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Vulcan Stev Family Movie Review: Tales of the Black Freighter

Two videos on one DVD. So you get a two-for-one review:
tales_of_the_black_freighter_dvdTales of the Balck Freighter
Starring:
Gerard Butler …  The Sea Captain (voice)
Cam Clarke …  Money Lender (voice)
Siobhan Flynn …  Sea Captain’s Daughter (voice)
Jared Harris …  Ridley (voice)
Salli Saffioti …  Sea Captain’s Daughter (voice)
Lori Tritel …  Sea Captain’s Wife (voice)

Under the Hood
Starring:
Jay Brazeau …  Bernard / News Vendor
Frank Cassini …  Lawrence Shexnayder
Glenn Ennis …  Hooded Justice
Matt Frewer …  Edgar Jacobi / Moloch the Mystic
Ted Friend …  Larry Culpeper
Carla Gugino …  Sally Jupiter / Silk Spectre
Erik Johnson …  Commercial Narrator (voice)
Rob LaBelle …  Wally Weaver
Niall Matter …  Mothman
Stephen McHattie …  Hollis Mason / Nite Owl
Jeffrey Dean Morgan …  Edward Blake / The Comedian
Dan Payne …  Dollar Bill
Darryl Scheelar …  Captain Metropolis
William Taylor …  William Long
Apollonia Vanova …  Silhouette

Reviewers: VS, PIT #2, PIT #3

VS:
TotBF – .75 pointed ears
A very nicely animated, true to the source material, cartoon sequence.  Therein lies part of my problem with this sequence.  I didn’t care for the comic-within-the-comic.  The cartoon is rated R and rightly so.  It is graphic in it’s outlook and tone and not suitable for kids.  The subject matter, while an interesting counterpoint to the comic it appears in, seems out of place when excerpted into its own format.  It is a very dark and depressing storyline and is NOT suitable for children.  Watching this portion made me regret

UtH – 1.8 pointed ears.
The saving grace for this DVD.  The Culpepper Minute provides a lot of backstory to the movie.  Most of the complaints I saw on the boards from the general public about the Watchmen movie would’ve been answered by watching this video first.  The producers did a very nice job of translating straight text into a engaging video production.

PIT #2
TotBF – .5 pointed ears
Nice animation, that’s the only good thing about this cartoon.  The entire story was overly gory and pointless

UtH – 1.5 pointed ears
The background information contained in this video was a nice addition to the movie.  I can’t wait to watch Watchmen on DVD again.

PIT #3
TotBF – .5 pointed ears
When I dislike a Pirate movie  you know it’s bad.  I don’t recommend this cartoon at all.  The fact that it’s about pirates is the only redeeming feature.  The song playing over the credits was annoying as well.

UtH – 1 pointed ear
This movie gave us a lot of background info about the Watchmen.  I wish I had seen this before Daddy took us to see the Watchmen.

Overall: TotBF – 1.75 out of 6 pointed ears :: UtH 4.3 pointed ears out of 6
This DVD comes recommended for Watchman fans or for those planning on buying or renting the Watchmen DVD, with reservations.  The Under the Hood segments provides a backstory only hinted at in the opening credits of the motion picture.  The Tales of the Black Freighter segment is there for the purists, if you enjoyed that portion of the graphic novel you will enjoy the cartoon.

Bonus material: the first issue of the Watchmen comic is presented in an animated.  This DVD is 2/3 recommended.

June 27, 2009 Posted by | Movie Reviews, Movies | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Vulcan Stev Family Movie Review: Night at the Museum 2

night_at_the_museum_battle_of_the_smithsonianStarring
Ben Stiller …  Larry Daley
Amy Adams …  Amelia Earhart
Owen Wilson …  Jedediah Smith
Hank Azaria …  Kahmunrah / The Thinker /
                                    & Abe Lincoln
Robin Williams …  Teddy Roosevelt
Christopher Guest …  Ivan the Terrible
Alain Chabat …  Napoleon Bonaparte
Steve Coogan …  Octavius
Ricky Gervais …  Dr. McPhee
Bill Hader …  General George Armstrong Custer
Jon Bernthal …  Al Capone
Patrick Gallagher …  Attila the Hun
Jake Cherry …  Nicky Daley
Rami Malek …  Ahkmenrah
Mizuo Peck …  Sacajawea

Synopsis from IMDb: When the Museum of Natural History is closed for upgrades and renovations, the museum pieces are moved into federal storage at the famous Washington Museums. The centerpiece of the film will be bringing to life the Smithsonian Institution, which houses the world’s largest museum complex with more than 136 million items in its collections, ranging from the plane Amelia Earhart (Amy Adams) flew on her non-stop solo flight across the Atlantic and Al Capone’s (Jon Bernthal) rap sheet and mug shot to Dorothy’s ruby slippers, Fonzie’s jacket from Happy Days, the still from M*A*S*H and Archie Bunker’s lounge chair from All in the Family. After stealing a security guard’s ID badge, Larry (Ben Stiller) slips into the Archives of the Smithsonian, where Kahmunrah, an evil Pharaoh will come to life with the reestablishing of a tablet as a magical force in the museum bringing the old exhibits (Such as Theodore Roosevelt and Dexter) and new exhibits (like General Custer and Al Capone) back to life, and in conflict with each other. Larry enlists the help of Amelia Earheart, who he develops a romantic interest in, and together they try to put everything back in order.

Reviewers: VS, PIT #2, PIT #3

VS – 1.75 pointed ears
Let’s face it this is NOT great cinema.  It’s a sequel to a mildly successful film.  For fans of the original you’re expecting more of the same thing that you got in the original.  That said, this film manages to avoid sequelitis.  It gives us more of the same thing while managing to avoid using the original film as a crutch.  The first film dealt with Larry the Night Guard (Ben Stiller) coping with the fact that his job entailed policing the exhibits that come to life each night in his museum.

This film manages to move the whole premise to the Smithsonian without a lot of juxtaposition and hoop jumping.  This time around Larry copes very well with the living exhibits while trying to save Earth from being taken over by Ahkmenrah’s evil brother.  Lots of fun moments in this film that had the whole theater laughing.

My only gripes with the movie were first, the underuse of the original characters.  Aside from Larry, Jedediah and Octavius, the rest of the orginal cast have what amounts to an extended cameo.  Second was the Darth Vader cameo.  The producers went to great lengths to get Carrol Spinney to Oscar the Grouch, they couldn’t get James Earl Jones to do Vader’s voice?  Third, General Custer replacing Teddy Roosvelt as the historical guide/leader? puh-leez

PIT #2 – 1.99 pointed ears
This movie took a whole lot of time to get up to speed.  It’s like they tried to start the movie out in fourth gear.  They did manage to give us more of the same stuff as we got the first film but without being repetitive.

PIT #3 – 1.9 pointed ears
This movie was replete in awesomeness.  Look up Awesome in the dictionary and you’ll find this movie.  However there’s a BIG asterisk by this movie.  Amelia Earhart didn’t need to go kissing Larry.

5.64 out 6 pointed ears
This is a family friendly movie, fans of the original will not be disappointed.  Newcomers to the NatM franchise don’t need a primer in “What happened previously”.

Recommended

June 20, 2009 Posted by | Movie Reviews | , , , , , , | 1 Comment