shark

Movie Issues: Deep Blue Sea

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Movie Issues: Deep Blue Sea

So this week, the guys decide to watch a creature feature, a great one too: Deep Blue Sea. For those of you who might not remember, that’s the 1999 Renny Harlin flick about sharks that get way too smart for our good and start terrorizing the people that made them that way.

Get ready to hear the guys sharing a beer and commiserating over their fear/hatred of sharks.

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Xbox 360 Splitfish Shark

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Xbox 360 Splitfish Shark

You want to be the very best, like no one ever was?

Well then consider a new controller for your Xbox 360. Sure, there are plenty to choose from, but what about one that brings the balance of both analog joystick and mouse?

Yes, I speak of the fabled creature from the deep: the SplitFish Shark. I’ve become quite familiar with the previous device, but nothing excited me more then taking the latest edition out in the land of FPS on the 360. How does this controller compare to the standard 360 controller?

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Sharkoon Xtatic SX [Headset Review]

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Sharkoon Xtatic SX [Headset Review]

In the past, we have reviewed some new gaming audio accessory brands headsets.  Now a new challenger has entered the ring coming all the way from Denmark. Sharkoon has sent us its Xbox 360/PC gaming headset for review.

Will this new headset from this new brand from Denmark be the right fit for you? Check out the unboxing video, photos and review past the break.

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Splitfish: Shark Controller Early Impressions

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Splitfish: Shark Controller Early Impressions

So TF2esday’s are in full swing. Every Tuesday from 7pm -9pm PST join us on Steam for some Team Fortress 2 fun. While I’ve been doing TF2esdays I’ve also been taking the new Splitfish Shark controller for a spin. Now let me make this clear, I’m not very good at Team Fortress 2. Which was part of the reason for doing TF2esdays. I had high hopes that maybe I could become a better player.

Early Impressions after the break.

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Splitfish to Premiere FRAGFX Shark at Gamescon 2010

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Splitfish to Premiere FRAGFX Shark at Gamescon 2010

Splitfish is at it again with the newest of their controllers the FRAGFX Shark. It will be on display at the 2010 Gamescon. On hand to take on all challengers will be international Call of Duty champ Dennis Dozier (zDD). The FRAGFX Shark is compatible with PS3, PC and now the MAC :) With the recent addition of Steam on MAC this certainly going to be some fun. The FRAGFX Shark boasts a variety of innovations such as power conserving technology so that it requires only a single AA battery in the split fragchuck and mouse to provide 50+ hours of gaming time and 500 + hours on standby.

Teaser video and more controller info after the break.

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Eagle Vs. Shark

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Despite all appearances, the writer of this $1.5 million dollar (NZ; so $1,285,290 USD) film did not see Napoleon Dynamite until after making this movie. This begs the question: How universal is this odd sort of loser character? Flight of the Conchords’ Jemaine Clement’s character Jarrod is a passive, apathetic, self-centered insecure braggart, with little to recommend him beyond an artificially cultivated air of mystery. Lily (played by cowriters Loren Horsley) is a quiet, put-upon loser herself, infatuated beyond any reason with Jarrod and incomprehensibly kind to everyone she meets, despite how they treat her. To her delight, these wallflowery loners cross paths in a gently-paced quirkfest.

Writer/Director Taika Watiti modeled Jarrod after friends of his and what he described as the worst traits in men. Jarrod is dressed in every scene to make his body look as physically imbalanced ad awkward as possible. Clement is a demonstrably good actor when performing in his folk duo and puts his low-key, subtle skills to good use here, giving us a strong physical characterization when Jarrod is otherwise mum. Lily is sweetly lame herself, blanketing Horsley’s real-life hotness below a wide-eyed hunch of low self esteem.

It’s a lovely character study, full of whimsy and the same kind of oddball jerktitude of Napoleon Dynamite, but less abrasive. That’s the type where you can’t even be offended since it’s so clear any rudeness or cruelty on Jarrod’s part is a desperate sort of self-aggrandizement built from years of suffering in his family and his own naïve fantasies. Lily is kind and strong, strong in that she’s forgiving and truthful, even as she evinces “door mat” and gets herself stuck in terrible situations. Occasionally some stop-motion animation brings the subtext to life, rotten apple cores and other forgotten detritus finding a place of bliss. The side characters bring a lot to Jarrod and Lily’s characters as well, such as the vibe with Jarrod’s father and the predatory acceptance of Jarrod’s sister and brother-in-law. But it’s all about Lily and Jarrod.

If you didn’t much like Napoleon Dynamite (I didn’t), you may still enjoy this (I did), since the characters are less aggressively obnoxious and more accidentally horrible; they are also better justified in their behavior. If you loved Napoleon Dynamite, you will adore this, because it dispenses with the painful randomness and just focuses on the two solitary hunters from different environments circling each other, hoping for a connection, with enjoyably agonizing social awkwardness. It’s joyless, yet whimsical.

You should also be forewarned that if you have any trouble discerning an Australian accent, the New Zealand one will blow your mind. You might prefer to wait for the captions on the small screen, but if you dig the NZ patois, then run, don’t walk to your local art house for some ifficting dramah and saimple cormedih.
MPAA Rating R for language, some sexuality and brief animated violence.
Release date 7/6/07
Time in minutes 117
Director Taika Watiti
Studio Miramax Films

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Shark Tale

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Dreamworks and Disney and Warner Brothers and Pixar, as animation studios, all have sought to find their own voice in an industry only recently beginning to be taken as seriously as the work deserves. Obviously, of these two groups, Disney and Warner are the hand-drawn titans, and Pixar and Dreamworks are the computer animated sovereigns.

Shark Tale is Dreamworks’ latest entry to its spotty but prolific short history. You might think, oh, it’s just another Finding Nemo, because it’s about fish. The good news for Dreamworks is that short of being set in a reef, the similarities between Oscar’s and Marlin’s stories are nil. The good news for Pixar is that they are in no danger of being overcome by Dreamworks’ quality. I hate to deride any work in this genre – it is a long, painful labor of love over many years, and the results can be dismissed in an instant. It always starts with the writing, and there is where Dreamworks fails its hard working animators.

Oscar (voiced by Will Smith) is a high-dreaming, but not hard-working, fish who happens to get entangled in the life of a powerfully connected vegetarian shark (an unrecognizable Jack Black). The reef is a punny, barnacled New York City, its transmogrification more like Shrek’s faux Hollywood than Osmosis Jone’s pun-centered alternate universe. While you’re waiting for something funny to come out of the action or dialogue, you can enjoy funny visual gags. The fish are highly anthropomorphized, sass-talking creatures with a penchant for the latest commercial successes. The main story is amusing enough, but nothing to write home about.

The better treats are the supporting characters and the throwaway visual jokes. I don’t mean “Gup” as a pun for the Gap. I laughed harder at an octopus pouring tea – underwater, with all that implies – than at any of the jokes they told me to laugh at. I felt pretty much the same as in the Shrek sequel – like I was being told “this is funny” and that I was just supposed to believe it. However, anything having to do with the inherent difficulties of our human lives being conducted underwater (tea, paint, fire hydrants) was funny. Supporting characters Leno (Robert DeNiro) and Sykes (Martin Scorcese) were great. These actors were really having fun, not clocking a paycheck. Don’t get me wrong, I like Smith and Black, but these dynamic performers were trapped by their roles (as were the dames), whereas Deniro and Scorcese were liberated by them.

The voice casting overall was great. Renee Zellweger sounds like a girl next door and Angelina Jolie sounds like a social climbing vamp. Go figure. The jellyfish thugs assayed by Doug E. Doug and, yes, Ziggy freaking Marley) were as cool to look at as to listen to bickering.

This Shark Tale, however, stripped to the bone, is like 100 other stories just like it, with the corporate stench of “like this or else” that has permeated Dreamworks’ animation since after Prince of Egypt. I enjoyed it on a simple level, my companion loved it, and it was a diverting little movie. It’s no Finding Nemo, with its tumbling, biology-derived humor, genuine characterizations, and mature-yet-accessible-to-kids writing. Shark Tale has hip hop and funk numbers, with the older fish dancing as painfully fake as their real life bodies would, crass commercialism, and forgettable kid characters in a movie supposedly written for them. Nemo was a cool, gutsy kid with resources and real child anxieties, vulnerability, and heroism. It’s not fair to compare, but it can’t be helped, what with the fish and all. The animation is good, the performances are good, but it’s between Nemo and this that we can easily draw the distinction between movie and classic. It’s mostly worth seeing, but it’s disposable.

MPAA Rating PG
Release date 10/1/04
Time in minutes 90
Director Rob Letterman, Bibo Bergeron, Vicky Jenson
Studio Dreamworks

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Open Water

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I wish I could be the first to assess this genuinely scary movie as The Blair Witch Project in the Caribbean, but I have been beaten to the punch. Everything that worked for Blair Witch (video, small cast, complete isolation in the middle of nowhere) is at play here, with the added implacability of sharks, creatures that exist, for sure and don’t need lasers mounted on their heads to be scary. I don’t know what the Blair Witch is, but I know what sharks are. And they are so, so silent.

Blanchard Ryan and Daniel Travis are the unfortunate couple who bobbed for most of the film in the water. They are a normal couple, with normal fights and normal stresses, in terribly extraordinary circumstances. You’ve seen the preview, you know they’re bobbing alone and unmissed in the deep blue sea. What you can’t know until you see it is the agonizing buildup of tension, the apprehension that accompanies any change in their situation.

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Deep Blue Sea (1999)

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Smart sharks. Stupid filmmakers. During the credits, the cursed name of Akiva Goldsman came up, and I knew I was in trouble. The man who wrote and produced the vomitous Lost in Space and wrote the execrable Batman Forever/Batman & Robin – this is a man who needs to be eaten by a smart shark. Samuel L. Jackson’s 3rd movie that even he couldn’t save (Fandom Menace and Sphere). Mr. Jackson wins the award for most un-freaking-expected moment in the whole movie. If you have no intention of seeing it, write me and ask me about it. I’d hate to spoil it, it (and super hunk Thomas Jane) were the only things worth seeing – but they were worth seeing enough to rate the movie “catch it on HBO.”

To the writers’ credit, a lot of what is said about sharks is true. Basically, sharks are the sexiest wonders of evolution in the world. After 65 million years, they have evolved into a perfect carnivorous machine. The cockroach, the coelocanth, and the shark will all kick our Darwinian butts come…the Darwinian equivalent of Judgment Day, but we have reduced them to goofy, inane set pieces in a movie that does little more than prove the Hollywood theory that Movies Made On Water (With The Notable Exception Of Titanic) Never Profit.

Poor underappreciated Renny Harlin. I have yet to hate a movie he has directed. He makes these expensive, epic movies (Cutthroat Island, anyone?) with terrific sequences and incredible stunt work and visuals and pacing and then people crab about the dialogue. Someone please raise your hand: Who saw Cliffhanger expecting the dialogue from a Coen brothers movie? He doesn’t know much about the English language: After a computerized explanation of the brain research they were doing I actually thought, “Hey, I bet this would be easy to translate into any language.” Harlin does know about the language of action sequences. He should get into Kung Fu John Woo Jackie Chan type movies, whose script shortcomings American audiences are more ready to forgive. Long Kiss Goodnight is *awesome!* His action scenes in Deep Blue Sea, even if you have no idea how they could possibly be relevant to the plot, are totally full-blown pro. I was gripping my seat and freaking out in a scene with a helicopter.

Oh heavens but the whole script is pretty dang dumb. Visually exciting but D-U-M. Why enlarge the shark’s brains when you could, uh, use more sharks? Why harvest a “lot” when you could harvest a little and synthesize? Why explain to the sub-cretinous popcorn-chomping masses through digitally enhanced instant gratification what the heck all this brain talk is leading up to? My friends out there in the neuroscience field, please don’t see this movie at all. You will go mad. (Note to my frequent readers: I really, truly am friends with rocket scientists, neuroscientists, sexy-accented foreigners, actors, movie people, swordfighters, and all these other folk I frequently reference. I am their friends solely to boost my career and make me look cooler in my reviews. Right guys? Guys?)

The set is very cool. Catch it on HBO, have some friends over and play MST3K during the silly parts (watch for that gratuitous disrobing!), and admire that set. The dialogue doesn’t string together well, but the geography of that complicated set does. Remember in Armageddon how the Mir was all jumbled and you couldn’t tell where anyone was without the little LCD? Deep Blue Sea (soon to be known around the studios as Deep Red Ink) somehow avoided that editing trap. The sharks are pretty cool looking, someone gets to ask Samuel L. Jackson if he is “The Man,” (to which the answer is, of course, affirmative), and Thomas Jane is HOT – despite being that skanky mustached guy in Boogie Nights. And that girl Saffron Burrows (*there’s* a porn name for you!) is cute too, I guess. Sexual tension – you bet – between LL Cool J and his parrot, that is.

They shot this movie at the Fox Studios in Baja, aka the Titanic tank, also home to In Dreams, and you know what? Not just using logic, mind you, that the most kick ass water-tank would be home to every water movie ever made from here on out (avoiding Waterworld’s budget-escalating set losses) – but you can just freaking TELL when people are in that tank. The water is crystalline, it’s lit from below, and even when it’s murky, it’s clean. Guys: install fish.

MPAA Rating R for graphic shark attacks, language.
Release date 7/28/99
Time in minutes 105
Director Renny Harlin
Studio Warner Brothers