Artificial Continuum

Saturday, July 23, 2011
The pieces are now in place. With this weeks release of Captain America: The First Avenger Marvel has officially assembled its Avengers on screen. Yet how do does its final hero stand amongst the ranks of its fellow blockbusters? Captain America is easily the best Marvel Studios film released in recent years, but it may not be enough to dethrone the Studio's spectacular start with Jon Favreau's Iron Man.

A weakling his entire life, Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) wants nothing more to serve his country alongside his best friend Bucky Rogers (Sebastian Stan). With a war waging in Europe, Rogers wants not only to do his part, but ,as a man who has been picked on constantly since birth, to stand up to the world's ultimate bully the Nazi Party. Opportunity presents itself in the form a super serum created by former German scientist Dr. Abraham Erskine (Stanley Tucci), who finds Rogers to be the perfect test subject, much to the chagrin of Col. Chester Phillips (Tommy Lee Jones). Rogers, joined by technological genius Howard Stark (Dominic Cooper) and the beautiful British agent Peggy Carter (Haley Atwell) finds himself soon part of a sect of the war that he never knew existed.

Captain America as directed by Joe Johnston plays out like a classic adventure film, very much in vein of Raiders of the Lost Ark. The plot contains creative set pieces, snarling Nazi villains, a bombastic heroic score, an often clever style of humor, mystical weapons from god like powers, and moments of godlike heroism. It would not seem strange at all to find Captain America and Indiana Jones fighting side by side against HYDRA agents.

This in many ways is one of the films only faults. Although this sense of adventure often pays off through exciting  action sequences and clever moments throughout, Captain America at times does not execute this design choice as effectively as it should. The opening sequences of the film often feel awkward, as Johnston attempts to ease into the world he has created. While Rogers's spirit is endearing, he at times feels one and almost saint like in his weakling heroism. This disappears as the film progresses, but those awkward moments at the films start are enough to drag the film down ever slightly. The classic sense of adventure also sometimes strays away from fun and into fleeting points of corniness, which isn't helped by the film's heroic and sometimes bombastic score.

Despite this flaw, Captain America excels as blockbuster entertainment and as a film. The plot is fun and for the most part cleverly paced. The action scenes are exciting and surprisingly brutal for a Marvel film. The film even portrays one of the best romances to grace a comic book adaptation since Spider-man 2. You will never find yourself bored. The characters are engaging, the action is exciting, and the humor is surprisingly funny. Michael Bay could learn a lesson or two from Johnston on how to tell a joke in a summer action flick.

However, the real stars of Captain  America are, oddly enough, its actors. Chris Evans is a empathetic and powerful lead. Despite early scene script pratfalls, Evans sells Rogers as an earnest hero at heart. He creates a hero, that while lacking the depth and energy or Robert Downey Jr's Tony Stark, proudly stands amongst Marvel's heroes.

Even then, it is the supporting cast that truly steals the show. Haley Atwell is largely who sells the compelling romance of the film, and also plays a pretty fun WWII era spy. Dominic Cooper creates a Howard Stark that is every bit the father of the Tony we have come to love. Hugo Weaving plays the villainous Red Skull with brilliant Nazi evil, making a villain that could have easily done battle with a certain archaeologist. Sebastian Stan is also notable as Roger's childhood sidekick. Yet, the real scene stealer is Tommy Lee Jones's Col. Phillips. Jones has an undeniable screen presence and delivers the majority of the films humor with unbreakable deadpan.

If the script had been a bit tighter in its portrayal of the environment and the growth of Rogers as the title character, The First Avenger could have easily become the best. However as it stands now, Captain America stands as a great entry into the Marvel mythos.

Score: B+
Wednesday, July 20, 2011
Here we go. Our weekly countdown of all things awesome. This week...we have a count down of the top ten best episodes of the classic television series. Buffy The Vampire Slayer. Why you may ask? Well...the truth is...Buffy is cool and SDCC is stealing all of the cool stuff this week so there is nothing really relevant to talk about. However, one can never have too much Buffy.

What makes Buff the Vampire Slayer worthy of such a countdown is simply how brilliant the show is. Although it started as a simple monster of the week show with quirky dialogue and a female protagonist, Joss Whedon's pet project slowly evolved into a poignant and thought provoking show. Well written and often hilarious, the best episodes of Buffy are those that break the form. This was a show that inspired a legion of fans and changed the face of television for years to come.

10. Normal Again

Normal Again presents a haunting "What if" plot that in many ways could have served as a deeply disturbing series finale. The central idea focuses around the concept that the entirety of the previous 5 seasons of the series occurred within Buffy's brain while she is in a coma. While the events really did take place, Buffy does struggle with her hold on reality. The episode also presents one of the most haunting endings of the entire series.

9. Chosen

It may seem strange to see a series finale listed so low on a list of top ten episodes, but this does not change the fact that "Chosen" is a truly gripping hour of television.

With heart breaking character deaths and a powerful, satisfying conclusion to seven years worth of television and character building, "Chosen" stands as one of the most memorable episodes of the series.

8. The Zeppo

I love episodes of Buffy that subvert the idea of the show to focus on something atypical. This is what the Zeppo does to brilliant degree.

What makes "The Zeppo" such an ingenious episode of the series is how it takes what could have been one of the most intense and gripping episode on its head, and instead pushes the A plot into the background. Xander's quest for acceptance becomes the main focus of the episode forcing the very real and very dangerous danger to become comical in its lack of focus.

Also, Xander played by Nicholas Brendon undergoes a brilliant character arc through the course of a single episode.

7. Becoming

I have often found that the second season of Buffy contained the most involving overarching plot. Even though it already shined through its introduction of such classic characters as Spike and Drusilla, the really drama came in the form of the evolving relationship between Angel and Buffy. When the two come to blows in this brilliant season capper, the tension is powerful and gripping. It all ends with a tragic twist that in many ways is one of the most defining moments in the Buffy canon.

6. Conversations with Dead People

"Conversations with Dead People" again subverts the Buffy formula to provide an episode that is presented as several short stories that represent separate aspects of the show. Buffy's encounter with a vamped up former class mate represents the shows humor. Dawn's encounter with the First Evil accents the horror. Willow's discussion's with an avatar of her dead lover, Tara, shows the series' clever dialogue. And Andrew and Jonathan's quest demonstrates the suspense.

This clever approach to the story creates a unique episode, but it is elevated to greatness by just how seamlessly they all mesh. Each is equally involving in its own way, but transitions happen regularly and without incident.

5. Once More with Feeling

Here we go, the musical episode takes spot number five. Undoubtedly one of the most popular episodes of the entire series,"Once More with Feeling" is a truly memorable hour of television.

The town of Sunnydale erupts into song and dance following a curse enacted by a stylish demon.

"Once More with Feeling" is just alot of well crafted fun. The songs are clever and catchy. There are laughs to be had throughout. In short, its one of the best examples of wit and creativity in the series.

4. Restless

One thing I disliked about Christopher Nolan's Inception was that despite the euphoria of the script, Nolan failed to truly capture the feeling of dreaming. This is what Whedon does in "Restless" to outstanding effect.

Funny, creepy, and endlessly clever, "Restless" follows the dreams of the Scooby gang while they are stalked by the spirit of the original slayer.

Presented as several different short stories like the season seven episode "Conversations with Dead People" "Restless" follows each specific character as they confront fears and changes in their lives. However, each sequence is conducted with beautifully accurate dream logic.

3. "The Gift"

This season five finale in many ways is as climactic and tension filled as any of the previous season cappers. However, what sets "The Gift" apart from other finales is the truly dramatic and tragic ending.

In order to save her new found sister's life and prevent an oncoming apocalypse, Buffy plunges to her death in a swirling cloud of mystical energy.

Although Buffy's death is hardly permanent, "The Gift" treats this development in the series as more than a ratings gimmick. The event is given proper dramatic weight and the reaction of Buffy's friends, Spike in particular, is suitably heartbreaking.

2. "Hush"

"Hush", the only episode of the series to nab an Emmy win for writing, is an achievement on all fronts. Although it in many ways plays out like a standard monster of the week episode, this season four installment, written and directed by series creator Joss Whedon, stands out for its novel premise and genuinely creepy villains.

A group of fairy tale beasts known as the Gentlemen arrive in town, and using a magical device render it mute. Forced to communicate through signs and writing, Buffy and her friends are forced to fight the horrifying group of villains and return speech to the town of Sunnydale.

The Gentlemen stand as the single most disturbing and best executed villains on the series' run. The twisted mime like creatures, float delicately through the air making simple smooth hand gestures.

However, "Hush" succeeds in its long dialogue free period. Comical, artful, and horrifying, Joss Whedon carries this episodes silent period to true writing genius in turn making it the second best episode of the series.

1. "The Body"

Following the death of someone close to her, Buffy finds herself facing issues of mortality in loss in this spectacular hour of television. "The Body" is one of those shows that will never leave you once it has been viewed.

Buffy has often been lauded as a series that skillfully uses its fantastical backdrop to handle real life issues. However, "The Body" subverts that entire mindset by making the focus of the issue a mundane but tragic issue.

The artistic lack of music and dream like sequences accent the character's feelings of grief to a point of untouched upon realism in almost any form of media. Joss Whedon's writing and directing also create wonderfully long shots and sequences that never once detract from the gravity of the situation presented.

As for acting? Sarah Michelle Gellar and Emma Caulfield steal the show. Gellar's portrayal of an emotionally numb Buffy is gripping and powerful. Caulfield's is more of a surprise as Anya's lack of experience with reality leads to heartbreaking emotional collapse.

"The Body" is not only the best episode of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, but many (myself included) consider it to be one of the best hours of television ever made.
Monday, July 18, 2011
Holy Shit! Nick's still posting this stuff? It's been a week and he's kept with a feature? I know, I'm as surprised as you are. Here we go, then. Web video time!

1. Thumbs up for Rock and Roll

So here's one of the biggest videos of the summer. Watch as this child gives you powerful emotional advice, and supports the rock and roll industry. It's pretty moving stuff.

2. Classic Viral: You Dun Goofed!

It's been a year now since Jesse Slaughter's father told us all we had dun goofed. And consequences still aren't the same.

3. Dramatic Reading: Break up Letter

Gotta love dramatic readings. You make me touch your hand for stupid reasons!
Saturday, July 16, 2011
Hello, everyone. It's been a relatively quiet week with the giant that is San Diego Comic Con looming in the distance. The two largest events of the week have already been covered (the release of the latest Batman trailer and the final Harry Potter film). However, there have been some interesting announcements, especially one regarding a certain big green monster.

1. Akira News

An adaptation of the popular sci-fi cyberpunk anime/manga Akira has been rumored for years. Names such as Zac Efron have been tossed around more than once for starring roles in the film, and due to negative backlash it appeared as if the film had gone into development hell. According to VarietyWarner Bros. has finally announced a new director for the adaptation and a new more conservative production budget for the film of $90 million. Akira will be directed by Oprhan and Unknown director  Jaume Collet-Serra.

2. Kingdom Hearts 3 Update

Development hell is an unfortunate state of being that seems to take hold of a large amount of properties this day. It held onto Duke Nukem Forever for over a decade and look how that turned out. However, depsite a lack of news fans of the Kingdom Hearts franchise have waited patiently for years on information on the latest installment in the series. This week series director Tetsuya Nomura announced that the aniticipated handheld spin off Kingdom Hearts 3D would feature numerous hints towards the next installment in the main franchise Kingdom Hearst 3. He also announced that the plot for the game would finish the Xenahort saga, but keep Sora around for future installmetns in the franchise.

3. The Hobbit Production Diary #2

In keeping with true Peter Jackson fashion, the New Zealand director has continued to offer us glimpses into the behind the scenes settings of the latest trip to Middle Earth. This time the production diary gives us a glimpse into the actor's lives between filming, but still offers us some tantalizing glimpses at next years two part prequel.

4. The Evil Dead to be Remade

There are few bigger cult films than the Evil Dead franchise. Each film is held in high esteem in sects of nerd culture across the world, and their success helped to elevate star Bruce Campbell and director Sam Raimi to cult status. Now before anyone starts crying foul on this, Ghost House Pictures has announced that Evil Dead will be remade, but with Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell both acting as producers. Ghost House also announced that the two handpicked fledgling director  Fede Alvarez to direct and write the film after seeing his work on the short film "Panic Attack". The script will later be revised by Academy Award winner Diablo Cody.

5. David Goyer to Write Godzilla Script

There are few films I am more excited for than the upcoming reboot of the Godzilla franchise. However, little has been said about the production since the January announcement that Monsters director Gareth Edwards would direct the film. Wednesday, Legendary announced that the film would be written by David Goyer who previously penned the scripts for Batman Begins, Blade 2, and the upcoming Superman reboot Man of Steel. He also has story credits on the two Nolan Batman sequels. Later this week, Legendary Pictures head Thomas Tull spoke to the heads of Motion Captured regarding the film and its take on the world famous monster star:

What I can tell you about the approach the studio is taking to the film is that Godzilla is not "just" a giant monster. He is a character, a major force of nature, and there will definitely be other giant monsters in the world. They're focusing on the notion of Godzilla as a defender of Earth, the one thing that can stop some of these other giant creatures, and while there will obviously be a human story playing out with the giant monster story, don't expect it to overwhelm or overshadow the monsters. They know why you're going to the theater, and they are determined to give you a real, no-compromises Godzilla film featuring the giant lizard you know and love already. There are definite design choices they'll make, and the official Toho Godzilla has gone through many changes over the years, but I guarantee when you see this one for the first time, you will know immediately that it is Godzilla.

The site also hinted that if the film performs well that there will be multiple sequels.


There are few franchises throughout history that have had as large a cultural impact as Harry Potter. It has grabbed a generation of readers and viewers under its magical grasp and has created a fanbase as loyal and fanatical as any other. And this week the final official installment in the Harry Potter series was released. On Friday July 15 the final film adaptation of the seventh and ultimate Harry Potter books Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Luckily, for fans it is as every bit as good as they hoped.

With the loss of Dobby the elf behind them, Harry, Hermione, and Ron attempt to track down the final Horcruxes, mystical pieces of the dark lord Voldemort's soul. However, this search them leads them to familiar grounds and with a now wounded Voldemort on their trail, the battle becomes as deadly as ever.

Director David Yates and screenwriter Steve Kloves tackle the monumental job of bringing the screen adaptations of JK Rowling's novels to a close with skill and grace. Both are at the top of their game, and together produce a film that is as slick and stunning visually as it is emotional.

David Yates, who has directed every Potter film since the fifth installment Order of the Phoenix, has an incredible visual eye. Again, the latest Potter film like the two before it features breathtaking cinematography and visual design. The opening shot of a Hogwarts held captive is breathtakingly beautiful, and this carries on for the remainder of the film.

Kloves also adapts the incredibly dense seventh novel with skill. It never feels unnecessarily weighty, and the drama and tension are captured here perhaps better than in the novel. It is truly in the quiet moments that the two really do succeed.

The two together only fail when it comes to perfecting the desired emotional response from the audience. As I sat amongst and watched hardcore Potter fans tear up at the loss of their favorite characters or during the closing credits, I felt lost. I was emotionally affected sure. I had chills down my spine, and my eyes were beginning to water. However, I did not feel the emotional punch that I did for the resolution to the Lord of the Rings films or even the final Toy Story installment. This in no way means that the film's handling of emotion is bad. On the contrary, it is spectacular for a summer blockbuster, especially an adaptation of a novel. It just does not reach the level it could have.

The acting, however, is at the top of its game. With a decade of experience behind them Daniel Radcliffe (Harry), Rupert Grint (Ron), and Emma Watson (Hermione) have matured into powerful actors with an undeniable chemistry. Radcliffe in particular delivers an incredibly powerful performance, which may be the best of his career. Ralph Fiennes also steals the scene as Lord Voldemort, finally capturing the essence of the role after struggling in previous installments. The true star is Alan Rickman as Professor Severus Snape, who single handily carries the film through its most emotional and powerful moment.

As mentioned before, The Deathly Hallows Part 2 is a visual wonder. Not only through its incredible cinematography, but in its handling of action and special effects. The appearance of a dragon during the films opening action sequence is stunning and breathtakingly realistic. Magic is implemented more creatively and seamlessly than ever before. The attack on Hogwarts school is a visual marvel. Spells shoot back in forth like super powered bullets. Giants battle sentient statues to the death. And Harry and his nemesis tumble through the sky in a climactic duel to the death.

Although his score does not match the magical beauty brought by John Williams's take on the earlier films, Alexandre Desplat delivers a musical backdrop to the Deathly Hallows that is fittingly haunting and memorable.

Although it does not reach its highest potential, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 succeeds beautifully at bringing a magical and emotional closure to a beloved series. With a capper like this, it is doubtful that we will see the last of Potter for a long long time.

Score: A
Okay, so I'm aware we had one of these the other day. However, with the release of the final Harry Potter film this week studios have scrambled to preview their biggest upcoming attractions. We've got a wide range of films coming up so let's get started.

1. Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows

Robert Downey Jr.'s first Sherlock Holmes film was a financial success but in many ways controversial amongst critics and fans of the original series. The decision to make the series more action oriented indeed made it more pedestrian, but at the same time lost some of the source materials wit. The same seems to apply here, except elevated to an even higher degree. Jude Law and Downey Jr. continue to provide standout performances, but they lack the freshness of seeing them for the first time. Plus, seeing Sherlock Holmes in a dress was not on my bucket list.

Score: -B

2. Hugo

Hugo based on the critically acclaimed illustrated novel by Brian Selznick originally caught my attention when it was anounced that Martin Scorsese would direct. However, this new trailer has done nothing but harm my interest for the film. While the source material told an original and spellbinding mystery, this trailer barely hints at it and instead focuses too much on slapstick pratfalls. Not too mention that it is pared with 30 Seconds to Mars's song "Kings and Queens" which has become the go to soundtrack peice for uplifting family films. This trailer is just incredibly bland. There are hints of promise scattered within cover of medicority, but my attention is lost.

Score: C

3. Arthur Christmas

Another trailer that premiered with Harry Potter, this animated holidy comedy first appears promising with Morgan Freeman taking a jab at his own previous work in nature film narrating. Than we descend into one of the most frustrating and long whinded gags I have ever seen in a film trailer. The animation is nice, but the entire trailer relies on a singular joke that goes and goes and goes. The sad thing is, it wasn't even funny to begin with. Although the film stars James McAvoy of X-men fame, after this trailer I have zero to no desire to see this.

Score: D

4. John Carter

John Carter has slowly become one of my most anticipated films for next year. Not only is it a science fiction epic based on the classic books by Edgar Rice Burroughs (who also appears to be a character in the film), but its work is actually being overseen by Pixar. As for the trailer, it is good but not great. While the design for the film is stunning and inspired, we also are treated to a Mars that looks a little too much like the American West. The story also appears to be a bit on the familiar side. Despite this, my interest is piqued and I look forward to see where Disney takes this adaptation.

Score: B

6. The Thing

Although this didn't air in front of Harry Potter, the trailer for the remake/prequel to the classic John Carpenter film, The Thing, also premiered this week. While the trailer is exciting and looks to atleast have the potential to be as frightening as the original, I can't help but thinking I've seen this before. The sad thing is that because the film acts as a prequel it has to fit into the previous films canon. We already know what happens to that Norwegian snow base. Wouldn't that take away the scare factor? Sadly, this trailer doesn't do much to convince me otherwise despite the interesting visuals and creepy backdrop.

Score: -B

7. The Dark Knight Rises

The most anticipated trailer of the week, heck probably the year, and I'm not allowed to show you it. If you want to see the sneak peak of the upcoming Batman sequel you just have to buy a ticket to see the newest Harry Potter film (you should probably do that anyway).

As for the quality of the trailer? Its a teaser, so you can't expect much. We get out first glimpse at Bane, Liam Neeson does some voice overs, and Christian Bale stalks by in his costume. Its not much, but it's affective. Not too mention that creepy chanting from the viral videos is still around.

Score: B+
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
This year marks the end to one of the msot lucrative franchises of all time. A seven book stories and eight movies comes to an end in a conclusion thats guranteed to make a boat load of money. However, there are a fair amount of great finales out there in multiple forms of media across several different series. (Of course, finales never really stay finales for long.)

Disclaimer: As always, this is limited to my own experience. If a reader out there wishes to recommend a series with a great finale, go ahead and place it in the comments below.

10. The Chronicles of Narnia: The Last Battle (novel)

Although its tone is decidedly more bleak than previous installments in C.S. Lewis's beloved franchise, the final novel in the series presents another Chrsitian parallel in its portrayel of the apocalypse. Characters are killed brutally, but in typical Lewis fashion returns in the final chapters. The Last Battle is a truly smart capper to a great series.

9. Ultimate Spider-man

Although the series has yet to officially conclude, Brian Bendis has done tthe unthinkable, Peter Parker has died. Although death in comics is hardly permanent and main characters have been known to die, Marvel's Ultimate line is decidedly different. Only rarely do characters return from the grave and unlike the Marvel's main coninuity, writer Brian Bendis has complete control over how the series will play out from this point forward. Peter's death is handled with class and incredible emotion. It never feels like a gimmick.

8. Toy Story 3

Last year, I doubt many of us would have expected to include this amoung the best series cappers of all time. However, Pixar's incredible third installment in the Toy Story series is just that. It not only stands on its own as a clever and inventive animated film, but delivers a poignant statement on mortality. It also delivers closure to characters we have come to love for over a decade.

7. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (novel)

Are there lots of deaths? Yes. Powerful character revelations? Check. Controversial final scene? Yep. J.K. Rowling's modern fantasy epic concludes in typical fashion, but with a sense of grandeur and style the series is known for. And yes, while some hated the final scene, I have to admit I rather liked it.

6. Buffy The Vampire Slayer-"Chosen"

Although it is not the best episode of the series, "Chosen" ends Buffy in grand fashion with the battle for evil taking even greater stakes than ever before. Friends are lost in heart breaking sacrifice and at the same time preparing its series for a new step in its mythology and a eventually a new medium.

5. Serenity
Whoa, another Joss Whedon show? Insanity! This movie conclusion to the short lived series easily earns its place on this list. In addition to wrapping up the majority of the mythology questions posed by the series. However, Serenity thrives in bringing about sometimes heart breaking character conclusions through action filled spectacle.

4. Lost: The End

Controversial and beloved at the time, the final episode of the epic television series Lost does not answer all the questions viewers posed about the show's intricate mythology. However, what it suceeds beautifully at is at creating some of the most satisfying and beautiful character resolutions ever seen. Plus there's that scene with the dog.

3. Star Wars: Return of the Jedi
Although it is still the worst of the original trilogy, Return of the Jedi is one hell of a series capper. The epic of Anakin Skywalker comes to an emotional and empactful close amongst epic spacebattles and slug like crime lords. The wordless finale also delivers a sense of galactic euphoria.

2. Watchmen

I may be cheating with this one. I mean Watchmen is a book right? Well before it was a book, Watchmen was a critically acclaimed miniseries. The bleak and atypical finale to the series not only subvert nearly every superhero cliche at the time, but creates a resolution that caps off a timeless series. It would also earn the series the label of being completely unfilmable for years.

1. Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (Film/Novel)

Perhaps the greatest fantasy series ever created, The Lord of the Rings suceeds in both forms of media. It brings its quest to a climactic close with spectacular battles, blood thirsty creatures, and twists left and right. However, what makes the finale to this trilogy such a winner are its quiet moments. Especially in Peter Jackson's film adaptation this finale suceeds with its characters. Whether its the realization of Gimley and Legolas's friendship, Pippin singing to the steward of Gondor, or its great conclusion that remembers that there are more to endings than climactic battles, Return of the King is storytelling gold and the best series finale of all time.
Monday, July 11, 2011
Its that time again. Time for me to go through the latest movie trailers, and well review them.

Yes, one of these was posted earlier, but hey what you gonna do about it. Gotta get this out of the way before that thing called Comic Con brings in a whole new slew of trailers.

1. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 Trailer

Now, I'm aware we will be seeing the actual product in a few days. However, one cannot deny that this trailer brims of marketing goodness. Even for non fans of the franchise, this preview at the film series's final installment. Special effects, spoilers, and a fantastic score give any viewer chills.

Score: A

2. Brave

Here we have Disney Pixar's Brave. It may be the fact that fans of the stellar animation studio are looking for hope following this year's travesty, Cars 2, but the trailer for Brave works. The animation is stunning, and the glimpse we get at the world Pixar creates is tantalizing. Even more exciting is the idea that Pixar is tackling a Brothers Grimm style fairy tale. That has to be exciting to you.

Score: -A

3. Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Ridiculous title aside, this trailer establishes something that the entire marketing campaign for this prequel has been, a deep haunting atmosphere. Caesar, rendered through stunning technology, has already become the emotional focal point for the film. If the film is as strong as these trailers make it seem, than we may have the strongest Planet of the Apes film since the original. Though it still doesn't make sense how about fifty apes can take overall of Los Angeles...

Score: -A

4. Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol

Mission Impossible Ghost Protocol seems to be more of the same for the Tom Cruise action franchise. However, that is not necessarily a bad thing when it comes to this franchise that is not necessarily a bad thing. There are hints at some interesting action set pieces, and a plot that strays slightly from the norm. I'm still not completely sold, though.

Score: B

5. Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 1

The reason why this film has been split in half is still a mystery to many. Despite the fan service, this trailer really does nothing. Sure, they get married. What else happens? This trailer isn't gonna help. There's alot of vampire sex, and some boy fighting. Nothing else.

Score: D+

6. The Adventures of Tintin

Although its animations style requires some adjusting, there's little doubt that Tintin is a visual marvel. It is also to see a slightly edgy animated adventure aimed at the all ages demographic. With the promising names of Peter Jackson, Steven Spielberg, and Edgar Wright it's pretty easy to get excited.

Score: B+

(A bit late, but bare with me)

In 2007, famous action director Michael Bay did what seemed like a Hollywood impossibility. He took a dated toy property and turned it into a multi-million dollar franchise. Sure he had some help, primarily from teenage boys wishing to catch their glimpse at a certain actress, but the original Transformers film will forever remain as a great summer blockbuster.

In 2009, the same director, cast, and writers did the exact opposite. They created a spectacular failure of a film. A nonsensical plot, soulless human characters, and absolutely horrific humor made Transformers Revenge of the Fallen an exercise in just how bad sequels can get. A movie Rolling Stone labeled as one of the worst films of the entire decade.

Bay has labeled this latest, and probably final, installment his apology for the second film. Transformers: Dark of the Moon certainly does improve upon its predecessor, but is not without its own pratfalls.

Dark of the Moon opens up two years following the previous film. The Autobots continue to fight the remnants of their Decepticon foes. Meanwhile, Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) attempts to move on with his life with his new girlfriend, Carly (Rosie Huntington Whiteley). However, Sam despite having saved the world twice finds it difficult to find a career. Sam's search does last long. The Decepticons have returned and this time become involved in a conspiracy that stretches back to the space race.

When it comes to the scale of its story, Dark of the Moon is easily the strongest of the three films. The conspiracy, which is shown spectacularly in the first ten minutes of the film, proves to be an interesting backdrop to the robot action. The plot also features some unexpected twists that make the film more engaging in some ways than both its predecessors.

What Dark of the Moon lacks is a compelling human story. While the overarching plot and the robot centered segments are engaging and filled with spectacle, the human storyline has none of this. This is unfortunate seeing as a good hour of the film follows Sam Witwicky's attempt to find a career. It is just difficult to care for any of the characters Bay presents to us.

This is made even worse by the absolutely awful humor. Although not racist or as crude as the previous film, the script is packed with some of the least affective and brainless humor seen in years. The Hangover 's Ken Jeung is the worst offender of this. He appears in a brief stint that borders on unwatchable. What makes matters worse is that this idiotic humor takes up a solid hour of the film.

However, Michael Bay takes his billion dollar franchise to a new level of intensity. When it comes to delivering spectacle, the famed master of explosions does not disappoint. The visual effects are easily some of the most impressive ever seen. Each of the machines glittering and shifting parts is rendered beautifully. The same goes for the 3D effects, which rank as the best since James Cameron's Avatar.

When the humor has died down and the plot finally reaches its head, the action begins. And what a sight it is. Visceral, grand in scale, and unmatched in scope, Dark of the Moon delivers fantastic action set piece after set piece. One moment, robots are locked in a Western style standstill. Next, characters are sliding and diving through a collapsing skyscraper. Then, Optimus Prime, who reaches levels of unbelievable cool in this film, jetpacks through a crowd of enemies slicing and dicing. Once it gets started, the action never lets up, which for a Michael Bay movie is not a bad thing.

When it comes to performances, there are few to truly write home about. LaBeouf is on par with his previous roles in the franchise. Huntington-Whiteley fares better than Megan Fox but never exceeds mediocrity. However, Leonard Nemoy does provide an interesting voice role for Optimus's new mentor Sentinel Prime.

Perhaps the unsung hero of the film is Steve Jablonksy's heroic score. Jablonsky originally wowed in the original 2007 film with tracks that have become staples to the franchise. He expands upon these beautifully here, creating an audio treat amidst the bullets and explosions.

Ultimately, as a summer blockbuster Transformers Dark of the Moon does deliver. It may be a tad too long and lack a soul, but when it comes to flat out action and spectacle you are unlikely to do better this season. Just make sure to brain bleach out those jokes.

Score: -B
Outside of Rango, this year has been rather lackluster when it comes to animation. The always trusty Pixar delivered its first ever flop, and the rest have been equall uninspired.

This film based off the classic comic books by Belgian artist Georges RĂ©mi produced by Peter Jackson, directed by Steven Spielberg, and written by Edgar Wright looks to be a spectacle on par with some of the highest budget live action films.

Not to mention that gorgeous animation.

Wow...It's been a long time hasn't it my friends? Well, welome to the brand new Artificial Continuum. A world of endless possibilites, and weekly nerd features.

So its been a crazy week at the web. Lots of great viral videos are breaking out. Unfortunatley, you peeps will only get to see one of these late breaking videos today. You'll have to wait for subsequent weeks to see the others. could just go on youtube. Take your pic.

1. eHarmony Cat video

Here's a video that's been making waves on the web for the last few weeks. For those who haven't seen it, you'll be in for a treat. But please, male readers, I am aware that she does seem to move her breasts about alot, but this is a video about well...cats.

2. Classic Viral: PINGAS

Yes, I pulled the PINGAS card. This travesty of voice acting created a viral and eventual meme that would shape the internet forever.

3. Fan Trailer: Deadpool

So, yes. I am aware you all expected me to show you something funny. Well, this last spot has traditionally been reserved for simply cool videos that have captured my attention over the week.

This week that video is this great fan trailer for the hypothetical Ryan Reynolds movie that will probably never actaully be made. Its brilliantly edited, and actually looks pretty cool.
Sunday, July 3, 2011
So after much soul searching, and reading over our single suggestion we recieved, the fate of Artificial Continuum has been decided.

What, you ask, will become of this site? Will it die? Will it change itself completely? Well..the answer is neither.

AC will be repurposed into a site that runs off features and commentaries rather than a focus on news. Some of the most popular features on our site have been the weekly web video topic, and our reviews. These will be expanded upon, and both will be seen in weekly features.

Our new catalogue of content will include:

Monday: Weekly Web Video Topic ( A feature that will be completely identical to our web video topic of last year)

Wednesday: Nick's Top Ten (This one came as a surprise. However, when I went back and reviewed our view stats on our posts. Some of the most popular posts I made on the sites were actually my top ten countdowns. So now every Wednesday will feature a top ten countdown ranging across all geekdom.)

Friday: News Round Up (We can't forget the news! We have to keep the masses informed! Every Friday will now contain a round up of some of the most interesting, bizarre, and important announcements across geekdom.)

Every other week will also feature a round up review of released movie trailers.

I will also continue movie reviews and possibly reviews of Clone Wars, but on a far less scheduled basis.

I hope you all are as excited for this change of pace as I am. Look forward to seeing you in the coming months.