Friday, January 31, 2014

Review: I, Frankenstein (Film)

If you saw the trailers for I, Frankenstein you might have shook your head and laughed. Frankenstein’s monster fighting a bunch of gargoyles? The hell? Plus it resembles Underworld or Blade in terms of look, which is not at all a compliment. It’s that World of Darkness RPG feel that would have been very interesting in the late 90s through mid-2000s but seems somewhat out of place in 2014. Apparently this movie is based on a graphic novel. Okay, I’ll buy that though I had never heard of it prior to me seeing this first trailer of this movie.

So yeah, this flick looks like garbage from the trailers and the commercials. Can we all agree on that? So let’s review it and see if it’s as god awful as it looks.

Full review after the jump.

[WARNING: This review contains some spoilers]

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Mini-Reviews: Upstream Color, The To Do List

When I was coming up with the list for my Top Ten Movies of 2013 blog I was a little concerned about including Upstream Color for a couple of reasons but mainly briefly I wondered if by putting it on there, on a list that also included Thor: The Dark World of all things, it might come off as a bit pretentious choice especially since I did no want to talk about the plot of the film or even what I liked about it. Plus I’m guessing the average person hadn’t really heard of it (although as of this writing it’s on Netflix so the chances of you at least seeing it around may be greater than I might assume). Perhaps if I review it here, talk about why it’s a good film and what I really didn’t like, I’d feel bit better about the whole thing. As I’ve said in the past independent movies are a double edge sword; they have creative freedom from a meddlesome studio that only think about the bottom line but also lack a filter to distill ideas for a wide audience and thus things have the capacity to get weird. Upstream Color is a great example of this concept.

But because I don’t want things to get too serious let’s go ahead and also review The To Do List, a teen sex comedy starring Aubrey Plaza.

Two new reviews after the jump.

[WARNING: This review may have some spoilers for Upstream Color, minor though they may be. The filmmakers would likely prefer you watch this film cold so please take that in mind and read the following at your own risk]

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Beta's Top Ten Favorite Movies of 2013

This is obviously very late as I usually get this list out earlier in the month. There were a few outstanding issues that caused me to only do the minimal amount of writing until just this past weekend and while I clearly did do some writing during that time I prioritized things in a way that left this one lower on my To-Do List (By the way, The To Do List didn’t make the cut. Better luck next year Aubrey Plaza).

Anyway it’s finally time for my annual Top Ten Favorite Movie List. It’s true that like every year I wasn’t able to see every movie I wanted to see in the last twelve months but even so I feel like 2013 wasn’t as good a year for films as 2012 was, at least as far as my personal taste and preferences go. I mean last year my top five films basically all had perfect scores while this year I spent most of the fall with a deep worry that I wouldn’t have ten movies above 3 Pandas. If anything the delay in this blog gave me some extra time to track down some movies I didn’t get to see in theaters and that helped a lot. Same deal as every year: these are my personal choices based on my tastes as opposed to a more impersonal analysis. It’s my opinion and yours may be different. If you have any movies you think I snubbed, have your own list, or even want to agree let me know in the comments.

Beta’s Top Ten Movies after the jump.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Nerd Rage #15: Cartoon Network Really Likes Young Boys

[Don’t forget to vote for my band every day at the GTR Online Battle of the Bands!]

This is the same company that put out The Powerpuff Girls.
...the f**k happened?
 Now that we’ve reach Beta is Dead’s Fourth Anniversary I think it’s time for a rant. Now normally I would write a comic book rant, probably something about Stephanie Brown or something like that, but instead I think I’ll talk about cartoons. And gender. There’s been a pretty big controversy going around the internet since late November that I’ve been aching to comment on but just haven’t had the time. Well the time is now.

If you are unfamiliar with who Paul Dini is (shame on you, by the way) he is the co-creator along with Bruce Timm, of Batman: The Animated Series which is still today considered by a great many people to be the best cartoon ever made. Understand that Dini is a pretty big deal when it comes to children’s television. So anyway a while ago Dini appeared on film director/giant nerd Kevin Smith’s podcast “Fatman on Batman” to talk about Batman. Somewhere during the two part interview Smith goes on a rant about how much he loves the new cartoon Beware the Batman, which Dini has nothing to do with but Smith points out that when the show gets going it’s the only Batman show to match the level of depth of BM:TAS. Then Dini destroys Smith’s life by informing him that Cartoon Network had removed it from the schedule and would probably end up canceling it if it hasn’t been canceled already. And indeed the show was put on hiatus back in October and as of this writing it has yet to have a solid return date (they said January but January is almost over) and have offered up no explanation. But Dini has an idea of what the problem is.

Now you can listen to the podcast yourself here (this stuff starts around 38 to 41 minutes in) but I will summarize: companies like Cartoon Network cancel or otherwise don’t renew deep, arc driven shows like Beware the Batman because they attract the wrong demographic; families and girls. But they only want certain shows to be watched by young boys.

Let me repeat his: Cartoon Network has possibly self-sabotaged and canceled their shows because they attracted too large of a female audience. That is one of the most f**ked up things I’ve ever heard.

More ranting, swearing, and screaming after the jump.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Four Year Anniversary is Dead

[Don’t forget to vote for my band every day at the GTR Online Battle of the Bands!]

Another year hone and Beta is Dead is now four years old! I can barely believe it myself; four years is a long time, especially for just writing about random stuff. Theoretically a kid may have started reading this blog in 2010 and now by 2014 could be a legal adult. That is how old this blog is. It’s weird to look back on the last four years and realize how different things are for me compared to back when I first started.

I wish I could say that I’m still jazzed to be doing this blog but, as regular readers might have guessed, 2013 was very difficult for me on a personal level and the blog greatly suffered as a result. This is a hobby and a very time consuming one as well. It’s a lot of work with little reward and in fact the reward seems to get smaller every year. For the first time since I started this blog I feel like I may not have it in me to keep it going for the long haul. That said in the short term there’s nothing to worry about if you’re one of the increasingly small number of regular visitors and, who knows, perhaps when I do my annual Black Superhero Month in a few weeks I’ll feel a little better about things. Should I decide to call it quits with Beta is Dead I’m fairly sure I’ll be giving advanced warning.

Enough doom and gloom. More anniversary stuff after the jump.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Kickstarter Weekends: Michigan City Vandals, One Nation, Low Budget Ethnic Movie

[Don’t forget to vote for my band every day at the GTR Online Battle of the Bands!]

It has been a long while since we did a Kickstarter Weekend and I figured we were due. Today I have three new projects although one of them is actually an Indiegogo project. You know its funny; I consider myself to be very knowledgeable about Kickstarter but not nearly as much when it comes to Indiegogo but whenever someone I personally know does a crowd funding project they tend to use Indiegogo. One day if someone asks me to help them plan to KS campaign I’d be able offer them serious help but if they were doing Indiegogo I’d be less useful to them. Oh well, it’s not a big deal. If nothing else Indiegogo's twitter account are nice folk.

Anyway before we get to the new stuff let’s take a look at the previous project. We only looked at one last time so yay, less typing for me!

MALICE – Metamorphosis: Funding Successful!

Total Earnings: $12,195 ($12,000 Goal)

I obviously made a huge deal about this project to fund this show’s third season last time since Malice was a huge part of the reason I started these KS Weekend blogs. And as you can see they BARELY made it over the finish line. As of now they have released a few episodes but, for reasons I have no interest in talking about here whatsoever, I haven’t watched them yet. So yeah, that’s a little awkward.

Three new projects after the jump.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Review: American Psycho 2

If you have been a reader of this blog for more than a year you’ll know that when I start off the New Year my first review is always something starring Mila Kunis. Is this because I’m a particularly big fan of her work? Not really but my first review ever featured her (The Book of Eli) and then the following year I just happened to review another movie she was featured in (Black Swan). Now its tradition and I do so love tradition. This year was a little tricky as I didn’t have any convenient films of hers to watch but then it hit me.

So at some point during my early college years I was at a video store and stumbled across I was confused by: a DVD titled “American Psycho 2”. The original American Psycho is a very entertaining, if a little trippy, flick starring pre-Dark Knight Trilogy Christian Bale based on a novel by the same name by Bret Easton Ellis. It was critical success and for what it was it did pretty decently in theaters. So the studio, Lions Gate Films, decided thet would attempt to turn the film into a brand. It took a script completely unrelated to the movie, “The Girl Who Wouldn’t Die”, and edited enough to make it seem like a sequel/spin-off. The writer of the novel completely denounced it and Kunis expressed a great deal of regret about doing the film, claiming she didn’t even know she was filming American Psycho 2 at first. For an added bonus this movie was directed by Morgan J. Freeman who has directed a couple of flicks but also apparently produced the hit MTV reality shows 16 and Pregnant and Teen Mom. And you know when I think quality, oh yeah, I think MTV reality television.

So what we have here, ladies and gentlemen, is a potential car wreck of a film. But it’s never a good idea to judge something before you watch it so let’s check it out.

Full review after the jump.

[WARNING: The following review contains spoilers from a nearly twelve year old movie that you probably weren't going to watch anyway.]

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Shameless Self-Promotion: Help Me Win a Battle of the Bands!

Can you tell which one I am?
Happy New Years, everyone. I hope 2014 has been decent for you so far. I'll be putting up some new stuff very soon but for now I have something of a favor to ask of all of you.

As most of you probably know I'm the leader of a nerdy punk rock band based in Chicago called Zombie Apocalypse NOW! If you've never heard us the best way for me to describe our sound is "If NOFX and They Might Be Giants had a really dorky baby". Anyway ZAN is competing in an online Battle of the Bands for GTR Store. 237 or so bands signed up but only five bands will be selected to move onto the next round. The five finalists are determined by fan vote. This is where you would come in.

If you would be so inclined you can vote for us, provided you have a valid e-mail address. If you are really nice you can also do this every day until voting ends (January 24th). Every vote counts and I would incredibly grateful for any help. Again we only have to finish in the top five to move on to round two (as of this writing we're in 10th place). If we make it we'll compete in a physical Battle of Bands in New York City which would be a huge milestone for us!

If you decide to help us out you can vote for us here. If you are hesitant because you've never heard us I'll provide a streaming link to one of our albums but I'll put it after the jump to avoid clustering up the front page. I really appreciate any votes that come our way. Thank you!

Click below to hear Bandora's Box by Zombie Apocalypse NOW!
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