Blog / Movies

On Criticism

A critic’s job is not to reflect the public opinion, but to inform it.

Art may be judged by how well it achieves what it sets out to do.

Ratings should be meaningful and distinct. The difference between each rank of the rating system should be obvious to the reviewer and the reader.

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The Best Jurassic Park Sequel

Jurassic Park failed because Dennis Nedry was underpaid.

As a bidding contractor he shares the blame, but in the tech world we’d call him a bad hire. John Hammond says so himself through spoonfuls of ice cream in the Visitor’s Center. There are more specific lessons:

  • Invest in a build server so compile jobs can’t be expected to take down the security cameras
  • Use a source control system to track when your developers install backdoors
  • Upgrade every workstation’s graphics cards so your 3D fly-though Unix systems scroll at a reasonable pace.

Jurassic World has more than one point of failure. I’m going to discuss them all now, in detail, so beware of spoilers for the entire movie.

I can do anything better than you!

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The Amazing Spider-dope

I was amazed that I liked the first Amazing Spider-man. The subplot with the construction workers and the cranes was unbearably cheesy and Dr. Connors’ underground lab made no sense, but the action was good, the stakes were clear, and Peter and Gwen had a great dynamic and some real chemistry. The high school fight was authentic, I’m told, given the way Spider-man moves, improvises, and cracks wise.

Now for the sequel to ruin everything.

Warning: spoilers. But they’re all dumb, so you might be better off knowing this nonsense in advance.

Who was Peter's mother? You never hear her name.

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The Desolation of Smaug

FACT: The expression “the desolation of Smaug” refers to the lands burned by the dragon when he took the dwarven kingdom of Erebor, specifically the city of Dale.

OTHER FACT: This movie spends no time in Dale.

The first Hobbit movie felt like a remix of the original Fellowship of the Ring: panoramic shots of people running, orc fights, and the exact same chase music when escaping from underground. But I loved it for the opening in Erebor, which felt like Dwarf Fortress as rendered by Square Enix. I also loved the high frame rate technology Peter Jackson used to bring the world to life. 3D movies are a gimmick, but HFR is the real future of cinema. Go see it in that format. It’s worth it.

Not shown: Scrooge McDuck, swimming offscreen

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Thor: The Dark World

Thor 2 is an odd movie. It’s mostly given up the fish out of water comedy of the first Thor and now feels more like a puzzle piece in Disney’s Avengers movie continuum. You hear references to the Tesseract, how the Bifrost was destroyed and rebuilt, and the events of The Avengers movie that happened in New York. I’m caught up with the movies, but I pity someone walking into this blind. How much worse will it get by the time The Avengers 2 or 3 comes out?

Right now it’s acceptable. Thor’s mopping up the galactic instability that occurred after The Avengers movie, which mostly involves his smug grin and other absurd facial expressions while smashing something in slow motion. Jane Foster and her equally hot intern are on Earth playing with portals because hey, science.

And now they kiss!

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Apocalypse cancelled

Very little in Pacific Rim makes sense. I’ll allow the giant monsters and giant robots their existence, as the movie has nothing to offer without them. We learn that, on some vaguely predictable schedule, giant monsters (“kaiju”) emerge from a rift in the Pacific Ocean and attack coastal cities. When a monster pops up, one of the giant robots is dispatched to punch it back down. Sounds simple?

Let’s start with the simple questions.

I'm really surprised no monster ever damages the spinning engine in the middle of Gipsy Danger

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Pixar's Brave

Brave is an odd movie for Pixar. It’s so traditional! Girl doesn’t want to get married, runs away, magic curse, makes peace with mom, happy ending. About the only surprise is that she doesn’t find some other boy to marry.

It has some odd discrepancies too, weird loops that I wouldn’t expect from Pixar. How is Merida able to sew anything on the back of a charging horse? Why is her final speech to the three clans so passionate and moving when she’s delivering it in such a halting fashion, glancing at her mother every few seconds? And why didn’t the kooky witch and her raven return for the ending? They were the best part of the movie!

I’m disappointed that I didn’t feel challenged by this movie. WALL-E induced guilt at our consumerist culture. Up fought the notion of old age being a handicap to adventure. Brave shows… uh, that parents and children sometimes have trouble talking to each other.


With thanks to Jason Smith and apologies to the true believers.

J. Jonah Jameson: Unbelievable! Impossible! A new Spider-man without the Daily Bugle? Without ME?

Betty Brant: Sir, the gift basket from Sony Pictures is here.

JJJ: Rrrgh, lemme see that. Cigar cutters, Lonsdales, Toros, Presidentes, bah!

Betty: They also included some Bics and Zippos…

JJJ: I don’t want lighters, I want SPOTLIGHTS! I’m the one protecting this city from that red menace, where’s my RED CARPET?

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  1. Using FFVIIHook on Steam Deck for Final Fantasy VII Remastered
  2. The Last Rug Pull
  3. Mythic Quest Thoughts
  4. My PGP Public Key
  1. Using OBS Studio and ffmpeg to Record Games for YouTube
  1. On Criticism
  2. Using Premium Verizon CDN to run React's BrowserRouter
  1. 307 Pages I Got Back, Part 5
  2. 307 Pages I Got Back, Part 4
  3. 307 Pages I Got Back, Part 3
  4. FFMPEG commands for audio/video mixing
  5. 307 Pages I Got Back, Part 2
  6. 307 Pages I Got Back, Part 1
  1. 372 Pages I Never Got Back
  2. Bandits. Simple as that.
  3. My Sixteen Games
  1. Configuring Samba 5 to share a folder with full write permissions to guest users
  2. Me Suffer Now
  3. Peace Among Worlds
  4. Halo: Installation 07
  5. From Zero to Hero of Time
  6. Remember to Forget
  7. That Next Next Next
  8. Pillars of Whateveritwas
  9. The Average Saiyan Warrior
  10. Bravely Diffident
  1. The Best Jurassic Park Sequel
  2. Hi, I'm HERO
  1. Blackout
  2. Landing gear deployed
  3. So Wildstar
  4. It's that very special time of year, Greendale
  5. iPhones and lizard brains
  6. From the context it is clear what you mean
  7. Do you still want to meet?
  8. Kill meeee
  9. Dark Souls II playthroughs
  10. The Amazing Spider-dope
  11. Final Archstone
  12. More Archstone
  13. Archstone
  14. Horror-ible
  15. Paranoia+
  16. Old Ben on the mountain
  17. Target blank
  18. Clan Centurio knows how to treat its hard working members
  19. Steam Machines
  20. We shall l'cie
  21. Cooling a Playstation 3
  22. Next gen resmolutions
  23. New Year's in Ivalice
  1. The commander is ashore
  2. Fantasies twelve and thirteen
  3. Into the Nexus
  4. Backup
  5. Collector's cretins
  6. The good olde days
  7. OpenEmu
  8. Mulling Mac mini
  9. Driving blind
  10. Hyrule Warriors
  11. Rosalina
  12. Elite: Dangerous
  13. Free play
  14. The Desolation of Smaug
  15. Fallout free
  16. iOS 7 adoption
  17. Xbox, did you see that?
  18. Goodbye, Stanley
  19. Wag the tail
  20. Gold coin for your thoughts?
  21. Beginning Bitcoin
  22. Final Fantasy VIII
  23. The Happy Room and the Stairs
  24. Stanley entered the door on the left
  25. Base secured. Standby for new orders.
  26. Single payer video game
  27. Storm in a teacup
  28. A trapped wolf will cut off its own leg
  29. Assassin's appendix
  30. The wheels on the bus
  31. Riding dirty
  32. Marketing is a feature
  33. Everything is permitted
  34. What shall we do with a drunken sailor?
  35. Day One
  36. Obsolete
  37. Xbox One hunting
  38. Uphill both ways
  39. Recabling fever
  40. Next gen jitters
  41. Thor: The Dark World
  42. Nintenbored
  43. I will see to it personally
  44. Reviewing the Playstation 4
  45. Node Foreeever
  46. Knockin' on Node's door
  47. Junk Jack X
  48. iPad Air
  49. World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor
  50. The fastest way
  51. Internet Explorer-tan
  52. Back to the city
  53. Apocalypse cancelled
  54. Captain Zack Power
  55. It's crime time!
  56. People are protesting low land values
  1. Take a girl for a ride
  2. For Tyria!
  3. Guild Wars 2 is a bad game
  4. Reformat syndrome
  5. At the Nexus of madness
  6. It is now safe to use approved electronic devices
  7. iPhone tremors
  8. A challenger appearz
  9. Surface-level compromises
  10. 7.85 inch... oh no
  11. Magical, revolutionary advertising
  12. Gamer Theater
  13. Deus Ex: Human Revolution reflections
  14. Thoughts on Apple TV
  15. Fixing Apache on Mountain Lion
  16. Insanely Twisted Shadow Remnant
  17. Dark Souls
  18. EYE on Exodus
  19. Zeemote
  20. The Rolling Dead
  21. Sparrow flies away
  22. Memo to Charles Schumer: Publishers are not books
  23. The Binding of Seacrest County
  24. Brave
  25. Consuming iPads
  26. Frequently Asked Questions
  28. Twitter cracking down
  29. Synthetic meat
  30. How I use Facebook
  31. Sublime Text hits version 2
  32. I have to touch it!
  33. EA as underdog
  34. Yes, I would like to gno mor
  35. My format: guardian
  36. Bad. Ass.
  37. How I organize
  38. Summer beach parties are coming
  39. Weyland Science Mission Procedures and Precautions
  40. Setting up Mac for PHP and Ruby websites
  41. Is there any life in the Vita?
  42. Do. Or do not. There is a 30-day trial.
  1. Moving to Mac
  2. You know what's wrong with Skyrim these days?
  3. I didn't ask for these boss battles
  4. This holy place has been desecrated
  5. Jordan's Mod Guide: FreeSpace + FreeSpace 2
  6. Jordan's Mod Guide: Descent + Descent 2 Rebirth
  7. It's a good day to kill, your majesty!
  1. Flower review imagined as a conversation between Morpheus and Neo in The Matrix
  2. The inhabitants of the Gayzor mountains
  1. A better life, underground
  2. Monster Captain Fn'Gaaah
  3. For starters, I'm going to do something about those robots!