Unprecedented Movies of the 2000’s

I loooooove movies. I’ve invested quite a bit in my home theater and enjoy a good experience in the theater (of which I’m quite picky about.) I guess I’m an escapist at heart; I love to get involved in a good story. So I thought it would be fun to look back at some of the game-changers in movies from the last decade. I probably won’t remember all of them, but these are the ones that stick out in my mind and why. Random order.

1. Batman Begins/Dark Knight – I put these movies together because they spawned the “reboot” era of movies and added that word to our movie lingo, once it was shown to be a success. Thus we get such successful franchises like “Star Trek” once again. “Dark Knight” is there because it was one of the first–if not THE first–feature films to be shot with IMAX film, albeit just parts. But it was those parts that made going to see a movie in “IMAX” cool…even though nothing has really be shot in IMAX since. The actual cameras to do so cost several hundred thousand dollars and only 4-5 are in existence. (They accidentally destroyed one in the making of “Dark Knight”.)

2. Lord of the Rings trilogy – this was the first time a studio foot the bill for THREE movies to be filmed at once. It was a massive undertaking. I believe the typical movie can shoot in a period of 3-4 months. These guys filmed on-location and in studio for about a year. Not to mention the 7 or so years it took to plan the movie, then do post-production work. There hasn’t been anything quite like it since, though some successful first outing movies have filmed two sequels together. Also, their revolutionary detail of a complete CGI character in Gollum spurred the technology to make movies like “Chronicles of Narnia” possible. (We won’t give that credit to JarJar Binks, okay?)

3. Harry Potter franchise – it is unprecedented for one main reason, in my opinion: they kept the same actors for all 8 films. Okay, well Dumbledore’s actor changed but that was because the actor passed away. But this is seriously unheard of…actors don’t like to be type-cast or nailed down to one project for so long, typically. (Of course, Daniel Radcliffe is doing his best not to be type-cast by appearing in the play Equus between filming.) But not only is this fact unprecedented, but the turn-around time for such a special-effect driven film pretty remarkable. They were turning them out about once a year in the beginning, then lengthened it to once every 18-months. And now the last film (due Nov. 2010) is coming out in two-parts (2nd part July 2011). They say it is because they can’t get it all in one film. Bah. They did okay with books 4 and 5…they just want to milk that money. Hopefully the Blu-Ray will have them together? (Yah right.)

4. Avatar – Come on, you really didn’t think I’d leave this off? The 3D craze was a gimmick to draw in crowds until this movie. But James Cameron just did “something” different here that made 3D viewing the only way to see this movie. That’s amazing, but at the same time Hollywood is going to make EVERYTHING in 3D now which is really gonna suck…because without a visionary person like Cameron, it will still be only one thing: a gimmick. But Cameron shot Avatar with this new 3D tech that made you feel like you were there. You seriously can’t get any closer than actually going. It is hard to put into words, but I have never visually experienced something like that ever. And it just wasn’t about the 3D, it was about the new, innovative motion capture technology. The facial movements for speech and expression is unsurpassed and sets a new, high bar in motion capture. And it begs the question, who should win an award for motion captured roles? The actor; the special effects team? This is new territory.

5. Shrek – I thought of this one late into this post. Actually, I wasn’t sure it was from the 2000’s, but it is. I think this is the computer animated movie that put computer animated movies on the map. Hardly anything has been hand-drawn since. Pixar and Dreamworks exploded on to the scene after this movie.

If I think of others, I’ll add them. But chime in with your own and why you think it changed the movie industry.

Unprecedented Movies of the 2000’s

LIEmax Rant

My friend Daniel talked me into going to see “Avatar” in IMAX, against my better judgment. Over a year ago, I was so excited to hear we were getting a feature film IMAX (since the Aerospace one doesn’t show them). I saw “Dark Knight” on it…and have seen one or two other movies…but I never really loved it. My two biggest rants about the place is the screen size (we’ll get to that in a minute) and the film projection.

Local critics cited the film projection as a problem too, so I’m not just complaining about something arbitrary. I simply cannot pay attention to the movie when trash, debris, and dust on the lens are flowing across the screen, blown up to “IMAX” size. It is so distracting. Back before digital projection, that was one of the main reasons I wanted to see a movie as soon as it came out. The film quality dramatically decreases as it is plays more and more. Or is some cases, it is just bad to begin with. I remember going to see the premiere showing of Jurassic Park 2. During a climactic scene where the RVs were hanging off the cliff, the film melted off the reel. It took about 20 minutes to restart and it picked back up after the scene was over. The second time I saw Fellowship of the Ring, the audio track got hung up in the reel and we didn’t hear the last 5 minutes of the movie.

It may be bigger than traditional screens (or is it…hold on, we’re getting there) and the sound may be 12,000 watts, but the viewing quality was a deal breaker, so I opted for the Rave every time. Besides, very little has actually been shot on IMAX film. You can see the difference here. Only 8 scenes in Dark Knight were…the rest of the movie was not. So when you are going to see an “IMAX” film, that’s a bit of a misnomer. Just like watching movies on your TV at home, there will be black bars at the top and bottom of the screens, which may or may not be cleverly hidden by movable currents to frame the screen.

Okay, on to screen size. There is a guy out there who has mapped out http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&oe=UTF8&msa=0&msid=113621990356540393221.000469b6c5915161c3667&ll=34.725812,-92.363434&spn=0.395041,0.583649&z=10&iwloc=lyrftr:msid:113621990356540393221.000469b6c5915161c3667,000469d73bf54bfb7978d,,,0,-31&output=embed
all the IMAX screens in the country and noted if they are true IMAX, Omnimax (domed screen), or LIEmax. It seems a bit superficial to only rely on screen size to determine if you are having a true IMAX experience, but it is the most obvious. Well, I’ll let this extreme example speak for itself.

I wrote Dickinson Theaters to find out how big our “IMAX” screen is and they replied that it is 45 x 70 ft wide. The reported true size of an IMAX screen is 76 x 97 ft. The original IMAX, according to Wikipedia, has different dimensions than that. So who knows what a “real” sized IMAX theater is supposed to be. But compared to the image above, ours isn’t that bad, but it is still only 75% or so of the “true” size. To me, it’s like buying Blu-Ray movies for 20″ TV screens. What’s the point? Well, okay, there’s the sound and the projection style, etc. In fact, one article put it like this:

The company maintains that it’s not just the size of the screen that matters, it’s their “revolutionary projection system, a powerful digital audio system and customized theatre geometry” that make up “The IMAX Experience.”

I’ll buy that. And when I went to reluctantly buy our tickets for Avatar, I asked the manager if they were still film-based. He said they are digital now. So that’s a HUGE step up for me. So the issue comes down to this: is the added expense worth it? If you like to see regularly-filmed movies shown a little bit bigger and a more power sound system, then yah, maybe it is. I wouldn’t have said that when they were projecting film, though. So we’ll see how this showing of Avatar goes.

LIEmax Rant

Day 1 with Kitty

Kitty is a little tooter, I’ll tell ya that. She is very playful…likes dangly toys more than rolly toys. She skitters across the floor back and forth. Right off the bat, if I would leave the living room, she would hide under the couch. When I’d come back and kneel down and tell her I was here and she would come out! She checked everything out cautiously, including my fireplace, where she got black soot on her nose. Ha ha. She is also quite the purr-er, which I LOVE!

We watched Fellowship of the Ring together, but I could tell sounds were kind of making her nervous, so I had it down more than normal. The heater coming on and just other house sounds still give her a little pause.

We started out the night with bedroom-only access. I moved the food, water, and litter in with me. She slept for about an hour in the crook of my arm. Then it was play time. Suddenly I heard her meow several times, so I turned on the light and she was laying a huge pile of poop down on the floor. Whoops! So even though I didn’t really want to, I made her a little pallet in the bathroom, gave her a night light, and moved everything in there. This morning she was sleeping on the little pallet. I was worried that she didn’t eat at all yesterday, but food was gone from the bowl this morning. 🙂

Most of the morning she sat with me and napped while I worked on the computer. She explores but only if I’m in the room. She now meows if she can’t find me. Awwwww. I wanted to test being away from home for a short time, so I went out to lunch for about an hour. Nothing was amiss when I got back, but I’m sure she meowed a lot like she does when she can’t find me.

As of afternoon, she hadn’t used the litterbox yet…there’s gotta be a little peepee somewhere. /sigh But I’m happy to say she just poopied in her box before I started typing this. And boy, does she pack a wallop! If she keeps going, maybe she’ll earn full house privileges sooner than I hoped.

Thanks to everyone for the encouragement. It’s fun and I’m happy, but also have some anxiety. I’ll come with a name soon, I hope. I’m terrible at it. No seriously. But I do like to name based on personality and characteristics, so if you have suggestions, feel free to share.

Day 1 with Kitty

Coming Home…Take Two

Original Post:

About three weeks ago, I was meeting with a mentor and friend and the conversation evolved to how life was going. It’s been pretty rough, to be honest. I’ve been in lower point for a season. It really stemmed from losing Scamper this past spring. I got stuck in a rut, tried to start filling what I thought I needed with things that weren’t spiritually healthy. And when that is not healthy, nothing else is. I found myself not praying–not even wanting to, my relationships with friends became a little distant, and I could easily find myself trying to get a quick fix to being lonely. Contentment with what I was and had in life was something I had achieved, but when I lost Scamper, it escaped me. I wondered–still do–whether I really ever had it. Seems to me contentment is something that doesn’t ebb and flow. It’s like joy vs. happiness.

So my friend helped me by sending me some good short studies about how to put a stopper on temptations not by ignoring them, but by replacing them with good things. Long story short, my “assignment” was to get a pet. Have something to come home to. Something to give my attention. Something to build new, happy memories on the old ones that painfully linger. Everything he said made since and I knew it was good, sound advice. And with school wrapping up, it would be a good time for me to be able to stay at home for several days.

So a few weeks went by and the time for me to do this crept up on me. I started to talk myself out of it. Tried telling myself how nice it has been to not have to worry about pet hair/dander, friends who want to come over but are allergic, cleaning poop, and dealing with everything else that comes with a pet. It was beginning to be like my friend never said anything at all.

So today, I decided if I didn’t go, I wouldn’t. I went to the Little Rock Animal Shelter and viewed the cats, played with them a little, held a few. My only criteria was that I wanted a baby…as baby as I could get it. Optional but preferred things included it being a boy and I was leaning toward a grey color. Playful’s a plus. And the volunteer mentioned she likes a purr-er. Me too! 😀

The last time I went, I thought too hard and waited too long and got emotional and had to leave. I came to a decision pretty quickly this time and am happy–and yes, a bit anxious; even hesitant–to say this little guy is coming home with me tomorrow. (PICTURE REMOVED)

The shelter gave me a huge gift bag with toys, food samples, and a scratch pad! I was amazed! Tax dollars put to good use! Just kidding…it’s all promotional stuff from pet companies, but I still greatly appreciate it.

Name will come soon; I like to name pets based on personality. So with that, he’ll be home around 4 pm tomorrow!


So I was out to lunch with my parents and got a call from the vet at the animal shelter. Turned out the little kitten had Feline Immunodeficiency Virus…which is essentially cat AIDS. Unbelievable. I built up the strength and muster to go and this happens. And not only that, I found out they had to euthanize ALL the kittens in that cage (6-8 in all) because it is contagious. As they play, they scratch and bite…and the FIV could spread. Awful!

I went back up there fully expecting to just get a refund. But they encouraged me to go back and look. There were some more that were 6 weeks old…still wobbly and not particularly playful yet. But they were so cute that small. There was also a 12 week old girl who was pretty affectionate and playful. A little older than I was looking for, though. I asked the worker what it is that I would miss out on in getting a 12 week old over a 6 week old. He told me the younger would have to be kept in a bathroom with a litter box for a couple weeks for training. I guess that’s a little too young, to be fair. So I ended up getting the 12 week old. She’s already spayed and ready to come home.

Coming Home…Take Two