But what do I know? I'm just a twice clicken brown shirt teabaggin tjroll. Right? --PatP

Not now. There are dirty, swaying men at my door. They’re looking for Brian. I need to go deal with that. --Thor

If Joss Wedon was near me, I'd of kicked his ass. --PaulC

Thursday, September 9, 2010

G.I. Joke

G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra

Image via Wikipedia

G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra just got put on Netflix’s instant play list in the past week or two. So I just got done watching it. Before I get to anything serious, let me just say: you should see this movie. It is exciting, entertaining and the acting was mostly (see below) pretty good. The production designer is a genius, and the stunt choreographer was good. Not magnificent, nothing breathtaking. Just good. For anybody who still knows who Alan Silvestri is, he wrote the music. So it wasn’t John Williams, but it wasn’t Has Zimmer either.

Now, on with the show. This movie sucked. I mean it sucked balls. If you had told me when I was seven years old that in twenty years there would be a G.I. Joe live-action movie and that it would suck this hard, I would have kicked you square in the nuts.

I would have done this because G.I. Joe is awesome. It always was, and it always shall be. Lasers flying all over the place and four main characters ever get shot (good guys or bad). Super cool vehicles (land, sea and air) that look like they could be in use in the near future but which, under close scrutiny, are completely implausible (but really, who scrutinizes that kind of thing?).

This movie was completely and unapologetically ridiculous. From the egg-headed Scarlett (who “graduated college” at age twelve) who denies the existence of human emotion, to the complete and utter mis-representation of nano-technology (and science and scientists in general), to the fucking awesome vehicles of every variety, nothing about this film was beyond mildly believable. The story idea is not totally bogus, but the screenplay was written by three fourth-graders from South Park, Colorado.

Let me start with Scarlett. First off: super hot, as were all (3) of the females in the movie. This is as it should be. They don’t let non-smokin’ hot chicks into G.I. Joe and they never have. Second: super-smart. I guess. They say she’s super-smart, so she must be. Right up until she says this: “Attraction is an emotion. Emotions are not based in science. If you can’t quantify or prove that something exists, well, in my mind it doesn’t.” Is there anything true about that statement? Let’s examine.

“Attraction is an emotion.” Well, no. It isn’t. Happy is an emotion. Attraction is a biological imperative. Dogs are attracted to one another. Insects and birds are attracted to one another. Anything that reproduces sexually is attracted to its sexual partner. Whether or not dogs have emotions is debatable, But organisms with no brain or self-awareness absolutely do not.

“Emotions are not based in science.” What the hell does that even mean? That there’s no scientific basis for their existence? No scientific way of describing them? No scientific process by which they can be studied, reproduced and consistently explained? In any of those cases: patently not true. Scientifically speaking, emotions are neural chemical reactions caused by the application of external stimuli. Is that scientific enough for you?

“If you can’t quantify or prove that something exists…, it doesn’t.” Quantify yourself and prove to me that you exist. Go ahead. I dare you. “I think, therefore I am,” is a plausible response to that challenge. Great. You clearly don’t understand “I think, therefore I am.” That only proves to a person that they themselves exist. So now you’ve convinced me that I exist, but not that you do. That being said, emotions can be quantified and proven to exist. The fact that psychiatrists are able to make a living is proof enough. If emotions didn’t exist, there would never be any such things as religion, war, murder or funerals. Want me to quantify an emotion? Measure the brain waves of a sleeping human. While still monitoring, stab that human in the hand. You’ve just observed and measured an emotion named “panic.” Proved.

In summation: the problem isn’t that she’s stupid. It’s that she doesn’t exist. No one as intelligent as Scarlett is purported to be would say the things that she says. Even Spock doesn’t deny the existence of emotions, or even that he has them.

On to the mis-representation of science. Apparently, you can just walk into any “science lab” in the world and they can “weaponize” a nano-technology weapon with stuff they have on-hand. Their “weaponization software” just needs the right commands to activate the nanobots. I was under the impression that to “weaponize” something was to somehow change it into a form that could be used as a weapon, and was really more a matter of R&D than of actual physical labor. But apparently it means “to activate a unit of ammunition so that it is ready to be deployed.” And all you need is a blue laser.

Let’s not even talk about chunks breaking off an icepack and sinking to the bottom of the ocean.

According to General Hawk, GI Joe is made up of all “alpha dogs.” Whatever you say. Any organization made up of “alpha dog” type personalities would eat itself alive on a daily basis. I’m not saying two alpha dogs can’t work together, but I bet a lot of good psychologists would. Regardless, an operation as large as GI Joe, composed entirely of alpha wolves, would be constant anarchy.

Also, I’m pretty sure guys don’t get asked to join special ops groups because their friend scored really well on the entrance exam.

Let’s talk about actors. I like actors. for the most part, I liked all of the actors in this movie. Christopher Eccleston and Dennis Quaid both gave solid performances that should have been much larger. Ray Park as Snake Eyes was magnificent as he always is, and Marlon Wayans turned in another performance of “look at me! I’m Marlon Wayans!” And the former nobodies for whom this was a big break were all pretty good. It’s pretty unfortunate for them that this movie was their big break.

After all that negative, here are some positives. As I said above, the vehicles in this movie are all toy-worthy. I want to play with those one-man fighter subs. The accelerator suits are equally want-ariffic. All the tech in the movie was really cool. At least half of it (“Telepresence” by Cisco, for example) was totally ridiculous, but still pretty cool.

To sum up: see this movie. As I said above, it was a ton of fun. I really, really wish it had been as well-written as its budget deserves, but I guess we can’t have everything all the time.

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Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Daz 3D Studio

So I stumbled across this really cool design tool. Basically what it does is let you play dolls on your PC. You take a person, put clothes on them, grab some scenery and pose the person. This is basically a free version of a program called Poser. Here’s what I made today:

aiko at the console

This is one of the free dolls you can get from Daz3d.com. I also found this cool multi-display console somewhere. I initially had her standing at it, but then I found a Captain Kirk chair, so I put her in that. She looks much less stressed this way. Then I dropped the whole scene in a TNG hallway just to have something in the background. All told, I spent three or four hours working on this.

The time-consuming thing is actually posing the doll. You have to control each individual joint in its body, right down to the third knuckle. So doing something like pointing a finger or grabbing something is just tedious. But the end product is fun, so I say it’s worth it.

Tons of fun, and free. Sort of. The 3D Studio software is free, and the most popular male and female dolls are free. Where they get you is content. There’s a ton of 3rd-party content out there, but most of it requires that you have this or that piece of paid content which costs anywhere from 3.95 to 20 macaroons. I’ve put the adult dolls in some fun poses, but I can’t get any clothes for them yet, so for now I’m stuck with the anime chick I used for this scene. Not terribly disappointing, but she makes everything look cartoony.

Just thought someone else might be interested in this. I’d love to be able to afford something like 3DS Max or Bryce so I could whip up (in a manner of speaking) my own content, but for now I’m happy just using other people’s Star Trek objects to play space house. And with classes beginning this week, the last thing I need is a new toy.