Beauty and the Best

AGT Host Carol Seleme

Just a reminder to check out her reviews:

Wreck It Ralph
The Artist


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"Blackfish" Film Review

You know how people always say, “Read the book, it’s SO much better than the movie?” Well, get ready to hear that again. Gabriela Cowperthwaite’s documentary about the plight of killer whales at theme parks, and particularly SeaWorld, is interesting in parts. However, it is not nearly as compelling as the two pieces written by Ted Zimmerman (who is the editor of “Blackfish” ) for Outside Magazine about the deaths of trainers Alexis Martinez at Loro Parque in the Canary Islands and Dawn Brancheau at Seaworld San Diego.

The movie features several interviews with ex-SeaWorld employees about the misinformation they were given about the killer whales from SeaWorld and how, in hindsight, they were foolish to think what they were doing was safe or morally sound. Some of these employees are more compelling than others.  Samantha Berg, Jeff Ventre, Carol Ray and Dave Duffus from OSHA are especially good. Some of the others come off as self righteous and overly dramatic.

What you are not going to see in this movie is some shocking, hidden footage of killer whales tearing people apart, which you might expect from the hyperbolic film reviews. If you are interested in the details of how Tilikum killed Dawn Brancheau or Keto killed Martinez, read Zimmerman’s bone chilling articles. The background on what might have led these majestic creatures to act in this way - which is what I find interesting – is spelled out in great detail in Zimmerman’s articles.

There are a few ghoulish accounts in “Blackfish,” most notably the 1991 death of Keltie Byrne at a rundown, smaller park in British Columbia called Sealand. Keltie was a 20-year-old research assistant who would feed Tilikum (and two other orcas) fish to get them to jump out of the water for guests. To the credit of Cowperthwaite, she tracked down two eye witnesses to this horrific event who detail exactly what happened on that overcast day. The witnesses describe the park as dilapidated -- essentially a couple big swimming pools with captive Orcas -- nothing approaching the professionalism of SeaWorld. Perhaps adding to the moroseness of the interview is the fact that one witness is clearly still somewhat traumatized by the event and awkwardly smiles during the whole recount, even as she describes how Keltie’s eyes went wide once she realized no one could save her (although lots of people were watching). Once again, reality trumps even the most expertly done horror films.

Overall, this is a good film definitely worth a watch. When you really think about it, the real miracle is that these six ton whales (the largest members of the dolphin family) have rarely attacked a human in the wild and for the most part, do not exhibit aggression to humans even in captivity.

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A Few Thoughts on Comic Con 2013

Here are some tips based on having attending the 2013 (and 2012) San Diego Comic-Con…

1. Know What You Want Upfront: Figure out exactly what you want here *beforehand* so you don't wind up walking around aimlessly. Find out which panels you wanna go to, the vendors you want to visit, etc. It still won't change all the waiting, but at least it will be worthwhile.

2. Be Prepared to Wait and for Crowds: There is a lot of waiting around to get into stuff, lines everywhere, people stacked on top of each other, slow moving crowds. It wears you out. Two hours of walking the floor and you're ready to sit down somewhere.

3. Women: There is a tremendous diversity of non-mainstream curvy women at Comic Con, as well as a bevy of traditional type beauties. Bring a wing man and be prepared before you go to the Con (get in shape, buy some nice clothes to wear)… I get the feeling there are a lot of Comic Con babies out there.

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Early Review: Pacific Rim Packs a Wallop!

I am not a big a fan of Guillermo del Toro.  While I do applaud him for his direction of creature and special effects, I have never really liked his stories.  I felt his effects took center stage with plot and actors trailing behind.  With this in mind I sat down to my free advance screening of Pacific Rim with moderate expectations.  I preface this review with my unflattering critique of his work because I do not want this review to sound like the hype of a fanboy that thinks everything del Toro touches is gold, but  I was amazed and stunned with Pacific Rim.

Without spoiling this movie I can tell you Pacific Rim takes place in the not too distant future.  Alien contact has been made, not from the stars, but from an Einstein-Rosen Bridge located in a crevasse in the Pacific Ocean.  Giant monsters, called Kaiju, come through the wormhole and attack coastal cities.  The countries of the world strike back with technological monstrosities of our own called Jaegers (pronounced Yaegers).  Technological and physical limitations prevent the Jaegers from being piloted by just one person.  Two must operate half of the Jaeger.  In order for this to work, the pilots must create a rapport and then sync with the Jaeger for direct bodily control.  The easier that two people can cooperate and feel comfortable with one another, the smoother the mental fusion is, and that makes for seamless control with the Jaeger; close bonds between pilots create a deadly weapon.


Well, the Jaegers work and kill the Kaiju almost too easily.  The pilots become something like rock stars and superheroes, with all the fame and swelled egos, but no one is prepared for what happens next:  the Kaiju evolve.  They get bigger, faster, smarter, stronger and more powerful, and start exhibiting new abilities that decimate Jaegers from what used to be in the dozens to a mere handful. The Kaiju are scary for the same reason Jurassic Park was so great.  Instead of just making monsters, del Toro made the Kaiju sentient, very dangerous animals.

Pacific Rim has great characters with great stories and great actors.  Each pilot has his or her own reasons for fighting, as well as demons he or she must battle in order to operate the Jaegers and share minds to effectively co-pilot the Jaeger.  The slightest hiccup could cause a glitch that would spell disaster.  Even the Jaegers themselves seem to have their own personalities.  This, combined with the special effects, make them very imposing and impressive figures in their own right.

The battles between the Jaegers and Kaiju are not slow and dramatic like the big rubber monster movies from Toho Films, or overly flashy and stylishly choreographed, like so many Japanese anime or live action films.  They also aren't as physically limiting as live action Western films.  It is a new genre unto itself.  The Jaegers are not humanly fast.   When they move, you do not forget that they are machines being piloted by two humans, but del Toro was able to more than compensate for their slow reflexes with the utility that only machines can have by having weapons and nigh invulnerable durability.


I also love the fact that this isn't just a movie about hot shot pilots or Rock'em'Sock'em Robots.  The science and research teams play just as big a role in this movie, which is another part of del Toro's brilliance.  Just when you think it might get a little too violent or physical, the science entices you with innovative means of countering the Kaiju insurgency.  Del Toro even manages to squeeze in humour that does not feel forced and does not betray wit for the groundlings.  This movie does what most movies have not done for a long time:  It is the total package that anyone can enjoy, and remains white knuckledly suspenseful until the end!

I haven't felt this way watching a movie since I saw Star Wars. The movie is rated PG-13, but I don't remember a single actor cursing, and there wasn't a single bit of racy or suggestively sexual content in the entire movie.  While it will come out in theatres everywhere, I cannot stress how much I suggest that you see it the way I did:  on an IMAX screen with 3D.  Pay the extra $10.  You will thank me for it.  Also, speaking as a person that usually waits for videos to watch at home on my 42 inch 3D TV, I say RUN to the theatres and see it just like I did.  You will not be sorry.  Go all out.  Even spend the $20 on snacks or food.  You will not be disappointed!

Jason O. N. Roberts
Founder/Owner/CEO | Otaku no Baka, LLC
770.864.1042 | JasonRoberts@OtakuNoBaka.NET | http://www.AllCoolThings.NET/ |

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Europa Report - Signs of Intelligent Life?

Imagine landing your spacecraft on the icy surface of Europa, the fourth largest of Jupiter’s 67 moons, 390,400,000 miles from earth. You’re now completely cut off from human contact other than your fellow crew members, most of whom are dead. To make matters worse, your ship has malfunctioned, the ice surrounding it is fracturing, and you are slipping into the depths of the frigidly cold waters beneath Europa’s surface. But there’s a catch: there is a massive organism down there too that no one has ever seen or even thought could exist . If you really let your imagination go there, it’s a pretty scary proposition, and that’s the proposition the filmmakers of “Europa Report” are asserting with a matter-of-fact, intelligent and often thought provoking clarity. This is a film backed by science; it was written with the cooperation and input of some of the brightest minds in astronomy. This is not an action packed, explosion laden roller coaster movie. Instead what you get is a ponderous, somewhat talky and moderately paced found-footage sci-fi horror flick.
“Europa Report” tells the story of five astronauts who actually make it to Europa. Problems landing the exploratory pod lead the crew to veer off mission to collect data, and as they venture out onto Europa’s odd terrain, a bioluminescent organism beneath the ice stalks their movements. The ice cracks beneath one of the astronauts and as she slips into Eurpoa’s icy waters, the reflection of her attacker appears in her retina.

Time to go! But when the remaining members try to get blast back to the main pod, Europa’s gravitational pull proves deadly and they go crashing back into the surface. At this point the ship is so badly damaged escape seems unlikely. Of the three remaining members, one of whom is a woman, the two men have to go outside to repair the ship. I’ll let the movie take it from there. If you have a chance to rent this one, and you like intelligent sci fi, you’ll enjoy Europa Report. As an added bonus, Bear McCreary’s soundtrack is excellent.

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Tana - AGT Video Coming Soon


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