Friday, October 31, 2014

Review: Pontypool

Happy Halloween, everybody. As you may well know by now I’m not a huge fan of horror films (like, at all) but I had such a fun time reviewing Evil Dead last year that I decided to review another horror film today. My friend Travis, upon hearing I was thinking of reviewing a horror flick, got super excited and sent me a list of films he thought I would like because he’s a giant fan of the genre and is also history’s greatest monster. Despite reservations I decided to take him up on his suggestions and watch the 2008 film Pontypool which is based on the 1995 novel Pontypool Changes Everything by Tony Burgess (who also wrote the screenplay). It’s a zombie flick…kind of. The fact is that the film is part of the zombie genre of horror but plays itself differently from the norm.

Directed by Bruce McDonald Pontypool is a low-budget Canadian feature that didn’t get a heck of a lot of screen time in the USA until finally being released on home video in 2010. Despite this the film received a lot of favorable reviews over the years. Perhaps now something of a cult film whether or not it can overturn my long established dislike of the genre is the question of the day.

Full review after the jump.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Mini-Reviews: Sin City - A Dame to Kill For, The Maze Runner

It's taking me longer than I anticipated to get back into the swing of reviewing things again here on Beta is Dead (the previous blog was actually started after I was half-way through this one). To make matters worse both the movies we’re looking at today are pretty much old news and you’ve already either seen them or at least decided that you’re not going to bother seeing them. The cost of being idle is high when you’re a writer, I guess.

Anyway today we’ll be looking at two film adaptations, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For and The Maze Runner. Sin City 2 is the long promised sequel to the 2005 film and both movies are (mostly) based on the comic of the same name by Frank Miller. Now I’m not sure what the shit took so long for this movie to get made but here’s a list of movies Robert Rodriguez chose to direct over Sin City 2 during the near decade gap:

The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl (2005)

Planet Terror (2007)

Shorts (2009)

Machete (2010)

Spy Kids: All the Time in the World (2011)

Machete Kills (2013)

No less than three kids films and a full length version of a fake trailer AND its sequel (neither of which were all that great). Planet Terror is the only film on that list that doesn’t feel like a waste of time to me. Oh yeah, Frank Miller directed The Spirit in 2008 and it was one of the worst films of the decade; that’s not as important but it’s still notable.

The Maze Runner is based on a young adult novel of the same name by James Dashner that originally came out in 2009. And…that’s pretty much all I know about it. The Maze Runner did extremely well in the Box Office while Sin City 2 was a major bomb, possibly the biggest bomb of the summer. But as we learned from Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, Dredd, and any Transformers movie monetary success does not always determine the film’s quality.

Two reviews after the jump.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Kickstarter Weekends: Like Father, Like Daughter; Zombie ApocalyOOPS!

By my calculations (i.e. I looked at the archives) it’s been about eight months since the last Kickstarter Weekend. Aside from the obvious glitches this summer with me working on my novel I think the major reason for this has been that I haven’t been visiting Kickstarter and other crowd funding sites as often as I used to. Perhaps my obsession over them has cooled off. That successful, but ridiculous, Potato Salad campaign that floated around everywhere certainly didn’t make me too eager to visit any projects for a while. I should point out that the most interesting crowd funding project I came across during the off time was Hullabaloo, a steam punk hand drawn animated short film starring a strong female lead character (!) that made 588% of its goal on Indiegogo. I would have blogged about it if I wasn’t so distracted this summer but obviously it didn’t need my help.

Anywho today I’ve decided to get back on the horse, so to speak, and look at two new projects. In this case both of them sort of tugged on my heartstrings as the creators remind me of what I myself might need to do in the near future to see my own dreams and vision come to fruition, more so than the average campaign I cover. But before we get to talking about the new stuff we need to revisits the old stuff…and it looks like there’s a lot of old stuff.

Michigan City Vandals Album Project: Funding Semi-Successful

Final Earnings: $1,150 ($5,000 Goal)

This project failed to meet its $5,000 goal but because the Michigan City Vandals were using Indiegogo it would seem they got to keep what they made (to a point; Indiegogo’s cut was probably pretty steep). As it’s been such a long time since the campaign ended the album has since been recorded and released so I guess it all worked out in the end. I’ve listened to it and I think it’s pretty good. You can find (and hopefully buy) it here.

One Nation - Out of the Darkness: Funding successful!

Final Earnings: $13,515 ($13,000 Goal)

Another close call but the project managed to end in success. As far as I can tell they’re still working on getting the book itself done but I haven’t heard a tremendous amount of things about the comic lately. Of course that’s partly because I sort of forget to keep tabs on it over the summer. Oops.

Water War: Funding Unsuccessful!

Final Earnings: $0 ($30,000 Goal)

This one bums me out but in a way I’m not really surprised. The concept of this film was amazing but the presentation of the project was overly ambitious. With a super long KS video (not to mention several prequel videos!) I imagine a lot of potential backers backed away without giving it a fair shot. Director Josh Nikolas had vowed that he’d try to make the movie even if the campaign failed but I’m not certain what, if any, progress has been made since then. As of right now it seems that my dream of seeing a flick about children shooting each other with squirt guns and being over dramatic about the whole thing will remain just that; a dream.

Robot Heart: Funding Successful!

Final Earnings: $28,914 ($3,000 Goal)

Absolutely no surprise here since the project was funded before I even got to post the last KSW. I do want to mention that since I posted that last KSW one of Kawehi’s video covers (I think it was “Heart Shaped Box”) and went viral and she has become massively more popular and famous than she was before. In fact she’s had another project on KS since the last one and it not only got funded super quickly it made $42,972 ($3,000 goal)! Wow! [EDIT: The new project is still ongoing as of this writing, though not for much longer, and has picked up even more money than originally reported].  Overall this makes me feel really good as I get to see someone I’ve admired do very well after seeing them struggle with their art in the past plus it gives me some hope for my own artistic endeavors.

Then again if there’s one thing I’ve learned this year it’s that "hope" is bullshit and poisonous. F**k it, let’s move on.

Two new projects after the jump.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

State of Beta is Dead

Hello everyone. If you’re a regular reader of Beta is Dead I’m sure by now you’ve become concerned by the severe lack of updates, especially based on what I said earlier this year about possibly quitting the blog business altogether. Or perhaps you didn’t really give a shit and didn’t even notice. Either way now that it’s October (…really?) I figured I give an update about what’s been going, what hasn’t been going on and what my plan going forward is.

The lull in updates has primarily been due to two factors. The first is personal and as you should know by now I don’t like using this blog as a live journal. Still if you’re a loyal reader and have been upset from the lack of hearing from me I suppose you would want some sort of explanation. Long story short this past July something made me very, very sad and my ability to function was impaired but is now relatively fine. The second reason is that I spent the second half the summer being obsessed with finishing my novel. As you probably noticed I have stats for book projects I’m currently working on post on the sidebar and if you were observant you may have seen the word count for “Project Brothers” skyrocket over the past few months. I put everything in my life on hold while I worked on it. I managed to post a few blogs during this period but the more I wrote of my novel the more it felt like any other writing was a distraction.

Somewhere along the line I went from “I’ll work on this review later tonight” to “f**k everything that isn’t this book, goddamn it!”

So anyway the first draft of my first novel, “Project Brothers” (clearly not its real name), is done so my obsession has died down and bit. Beta is Dead is, um, not as dead as the name implies and I’ll be attempting to get back into groove of writing shortly (easier said than done as it’s taken me three days to actually even start this blog). I also have something I’m working on but it’s better not to talk about it now in case it doesn’t work out. I will just try to do reviews until I get back in the habit of writing blogs.

That all said November is coming up. For the last couple of years I've tended to take November off to participate in National Novel Writing Month. Since I basically took September off doing it again so soon seems pretty lousy. Also I’m unsure I want to try to blaze through another 50,000 words of a new book when I probably should be editing the current one. As of right now I haven’t decided what I’ll do but I’m leaning towards skipping it this year. We’ll see.

Anyway bottom line is that I’m sorry I was gone but now I’m back. I also still haven’t seen the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie yet so my sanity is relatively intact.