Archive for August, 2013

Movie Critics Are Mostly Idiots – And They Know It

August 4, 2013

I recently had the misfortune of watching Human Centipede 2. It was recommended to me in Amazon Prime Video under the Horror genre. Let’s be clear: It isn’t horror. There’s nothing scary about Human Centipede 2. I’ve seen movies that scared me enough to affect my sleep for several days at a time. Scary movies stick with you – regardless of how legitimately realistic they may be. I’ll say it again: Human Centipede 2 is not a horror movie.

Human Centipede 2 is what I refer to as the new torture porn movies. The formula is pretty simple:

  • Lots of pointless nudity
  • As much vomiting as possible
  • Human beings being graphically tortured to death
  • Villains who don’t get their comeuppance
  • Arrogant, socially awkward director

That’s why I call it torture porn. It’s basically naked people being brutally murdered and butchered by a villain who never really gets what is coming to him/her. There are no heroes. There is no satisfaction. It’s just a depressing, pointless shit show. 

So, I decided to head to Rotten Tomatoes to see if 100% of people agreed with me that this was utter garbage. I was relieved to see that this movie is rated a very generous 30%. I KNEW – I just knew – that there were going to be some critics who tried to put lipstick on this pig and I wasn’t let down.

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WrestleMania 29 Follow-Up

August 4, 2013

In a previous entry, I heavily criticized WWE for having so many promo/recap videos during the live PPV. I said that it not only wasted a lot of time and caused a match to get bumped from the card, it was also irrelevant to an audience that already ordered the event.

Today, PWTorch posted their daily Q&A where someone asked a question that may have read my article considering how strikingly similar his complaints were to mine. To make a long question short, he asked: Why were there so many recap videos during the PPV?

The answer by James Caldwell was as follows:

There are a few main reasons why WWE incorporates a heavy dose of video packages into their PPVs, especially for the main events.

In no particular order of importance, one main reason is that it creates a natural buffer for the live audience to hit the concessions/restroom or just come down from the previous match, while also allowing the home viewer to go the kitchen/restroom in-between matches when a commercial break would normally fill that time.

Another main reason is that WWE operates with the mindset that people watch PPVs in groups and not everyone watching is up-to-speed on the main storylines. There might be a group of 2-10 people watching at home and only half of that audience might know what’s happening with a big match, so WWE wants to make sure everyone watching at home is caught up by the time the match starts.

Another main reason is that it creates a greater sense of importance to a main event match. It’s a cue to the home viewer/live attendee that “this next match is a big deal” if the match gets an intro video package.

Overall, it might not be the most ideal viewing situation if you follow the product closely or have seen a similar video package 5-10 times by the time the match happens, but WWE is trying to connect with as broad of an audience as possible while creating natural come-down moments in-between big matches.

That’s one way to look at it that I hadn’t really thought about. However, it seems kind of like a bunch of BS. A natural bathroom break/concessions time for the crowd or a come-down time following a match? Isn’t that why a few matches have certain placement on the card? The 8-Man tag? Ryback vs. Henry? Those are positioned to be the come-down matches. That’s the time when people at home go get food in the kitchen (or pause the DVR in most cases) or people at the event go to the bathroom.

As far as trying to catch up people who may be watching in a group that don’t follow the product – why would WWE care? Wouldn’t their friends catch them up? Furthermore, most of these matches barely have much of a back story as is. Rock came back and cost Cena the title at WM27. They cut some promos on each other leading up to WM28, which Rock won. Rock beat CM Punk for the belt and exchanged promos with Cena. Now they’re fighting again. The end.

Want to give Rock vs. Cena the big match feel? How about some backstage promos and shots of them warming up? Then some big-time entrances. That’s worked out pretty well for, oh, the last 28 years.

My complaint still seems valid to me. This isn’t RAW. It’s a PPV that we paid $70 for at home and up to $1000 for live. That many promo videos was absolutely absurd. It seemed like it was absolutely non-stop with filler. Inexcusable.

*Note: I tried to direct link to PWTorch’s article, but for some reason, the link isn’t valid. That’s pretty funny because they use their garbage iPhone App to force you to visit their website for most of the links – presumably for ad revenue. Actually, now that I think about it, they are the kind of website that would defend heavy advertising since their site is miserable to browse due to all the pop-ups.

Why Adjusted Box Office Grosses Are Mostly Meaningless

August 2, 2013

You hear it all the time: “Movie X did $400 million in the U.S. Box Office, but adjusted for inflation, it’s not even in the Top 100 movies of all time!”

This is a tactic commonly used by people who cling to their generation’s films as being the best and this statistic justifies it in their mind. They have a point, to an extent, as a lot of movies nowadays do bomb, but there are an unbelievable amount of movies hitting theaters nowadays – more on that later.

Let’s start with the obvious. Inflation adjustment is good for measuring the proportion of tickets sold. Older movies sold more tickets to a population less than what we have now. Now I’m going to tell you why it’s not a relevant statistic.

When I was younger (2002), I could buy two student tickets to a movie, popcorn, and drinks for about $20. Now, in 2013, it is $10-11 PER TICKET (Up to $15-17 for IMAX/3D/IMAX 3D). For two people to go to a movie in 3D and get drinks and snacks, you’re looking at between $35-50. That is a huge difference compared to only 10 years ago. Going to the movies is EXPENSIVE. In 1960, tickets were roughly $1 each. Nowadays, combining non-3D and 3D movie showings, the average ticket is probably around $11 (Especially if you use Fandango and pay fees). Since 1960, the average household income has increased 8X. The price of a movie ticket has increased roughly 11X.

Bottom line: The price of a ticket in 2013 is a higher proportion of people’s income than it was in 1960 – not including the rising cost of theater drinks and food.

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Can you imagine ANY movie putting up $1 billion at the U.S. Box Office?
Source: Box Office Mojo

The other HUGE factor is simply the volume of movies. When Lion King, Jurassic Park, Star Wars, and others released, they had top billing in the theater for at least a month. Nowadays, a $150+ million blockbuster releases every 6-7 days and sometimes 2 or 3 at a time. A month after release and there are 10-12 major movies pushing the films out of theaters. I would estimate the competition in theaters to be 10 times what it was 20-30 years ago.

Another factor that is ignored is that many of these older movies have been re-released multiple times in theaters and have pushed up their totals to misleading heights.

Lots of other things have affected recent movie totals that are worth mentioning:

  • Illegal streaming/downloading
  • Faster turn-around between theater and DVD/Blu-Ray release
  • Increase in media consumption mediums (Netflix, Red Box, On Demand PPV, Amazon Prime Video, Playstation Network, XBox Live, iTunes, etc.)
  • Increased exposure to critics and media hype (By this, I mean people that get off to movies bombing – see recent headlines)

What’s the point of this post? To show people that adjusted domestic totals are fun to look at, but ultimately meaningless. Avatar, Titanic, and The Avengers are this generation’s Star Wars or Gone With the Wind. Their performance is equally impressive, if not better than the older movies. I mean, due to the insane competition in theaters alone, any movie that goes over $400-500 million nowadays is absolutely amazing. I’m not saying older movies are bad, either. I’m saying that box office grosses from 1930, 1960, and 2010 are not an apples-to-apples comparison and shouldn’t be treated as such (but they are).

Apple iPhone Wireless Internet

August 2, 2013

I like my iPhone. As I mentioned previously, I’ve had all the major releases: The original iPhone, 3G, 4, and now the 5. In every single one of those phones, there is something that has universally driven me insane: The length of time it takes for the phone to shut the WiFi receiver off when it determines that the signal is no longer usable.

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No, really iPhone, it’s a lost cause.

Now, unless you have a dog and spend a lot of time taking it on walks, you may not even notice it. Basically, when you walk outside your home, your signal indicator will usually drop to 2 bars. Depending on where your router is, the wireless will still work if you’re just right around the house. Once you get about 30 yards away, the signal will drop to 1-2 bars and it will no longer work. If you attempt to access anything, it will just endlessly load or say there’s no network connection.

Here is where the problem starts. It won’t switch to cellular for what seems like an eternity (OK, like 1-2 minutes, but it feels like an eternity). It just sits there with 1 signal bar and won’t switch off. You’re probably asking yourself, “Why doesn’t this dumb ass just toggle the WiFi off?” I’ll tell you why: I’m lazy. I need to hit the home button to exit what I’m in. Then I have to scroll to the Settings app. Then select WiFi. Then toggle it off. Then exit back out and go back to what I was doing. It takes 10 seconds, but it’s annoying. Then I have to remember to turn it back on later, or else feel the wrath of AT&T’s data throttling on my ‘unlimited‘ plan.

So, yes. I could toggle it off kind of easily, but why should I have to? Excuse my ignorance of how the cellular and wireless radios work together, but I have an idea for how to make it better. I assume 3 bars of signal is equal to 67-100% signal strength. Two bars equal 34-66%. One bar is <34%. From my experience, 2 bars is hit or miss depending on how close I am to the router – obviously. Why not have the WiFi radio switch off after 5 seconds below 50% and instantly if it’s under 34%? Does that sound outrageous? There’s no reason for me to sit at one bar of signal strength for 60-120 seconds while it tries to stay connected.

Is there a hardware issue that prevents rapid switching of the radios? Power savings, maybe? The battery already blows, so if there was an option to enable such a feature, I’d be fine with that.

That’s all, really. Just an annoying feature that has been pissing me off for years.

Edit to add: I just realized that I have had instances where I had 1 signal bar and the WiFi worked. Mostly in hotels or someone’s house. Therefore, my idea about being able to toggle rapid switching on and off would be the best option as it would make people’s lives miserable if it was always on, in some cases.