Vin Diesel, magic capers and football fun

Our weekly Geekend suggestions of things to do over the next three days

It's the first full weekend of September, and while the summer movie season may be officially over, there's still plenty of geeky things to do this weekend (trust us, the barbershop singers will make sense later...)


Let's get right to it in this week's Geekend segment:

At the movies: Riddick

Description: "Left for dead on a sun-scorched planet, Riddick finds himself up against an alien race of predators. Activating an emergency beacon alerts two ships: one carrying a new breed of mercenary, the other captained by a man from Riddick's past."

Keith: You know the summer movie season is over when there's only one major film release on an upcoming weekend. Fortunately, it's a science-fiction action movie. Unfortunately, Vin Diesel is in it. OK, that was an easy joke. Riddick is the third film in this series, which started with 2000's "Pitch Black", followed by 2004's "The Chronicles of Riddick." The film has garnered a small cult following, and this movie takes viewers back towards the first movie's themes (I guess the second one veered a bit). Having never seen those other two films, I can't really say that I'm enthusiastic about this one - based on the movie trailer it feels like a cross between Rambo (group of people trying to hunt down a super-soldier) and Aliens (group of people fighting aliens).

Phil: Hmm, I haven't seen either of the first two Riddick installments either, but I'm tempted to see this one. It looks chock full of goo, slime and gunk, not to mention creepy looking creatures and a bunch of badass dudes (and at least one dudette) with some killer weapons. This trailer got what's left of the 13 year old me excited! Plus, I agree with you about Vin Diesel, in general: he's not usually a draw for me. But he looks just right in this type of flick. Big, bad and slow talking with lots of dumb, simple lines. This smells like a winner to me.

New on DVD: Now You See Me

Description: "FBI agents track a team of illusionists who pull off bank heists during their performances and reward their audiences with the money."

Keith: I love a good caper/heist movie, so I'm not sure why I missed this when it originally came out in theaters - it was likely because it was before the summer movie season fully hit, and I'm also not a big fan of Jesse Eisenberg (he always seems to play the same character in his films). However, this seems like a perfect DVD movie to watch (does anyone still rent DVD movies?) - movies with capers, cons and magic tend to trick the audience on film as much as they do in person - so I can see this film having a great number of twists and turns. Worth a rental, definitely.

Phil: Same here – this looks pretty good and I'm surprised I missed it when it came out. I'll see anything with Woody Harrelson, for starters. But this movie raises the question for me of why Hollywood hash't made more movies like this. That is, action flicks with magicians or illusionists being criminal masterminds. It makes total sense. Who better to pull off various crimes and robberies than people who perform magic? How come Brad Pitt or George Clooney or Matt Damon hasn't played a tortured illusionist with a criminal past who gets drawn back into the biz for one last heist, like making all the gold in Fort Knox disappear? Seems like a winning formula to me. What's up with that, Hollywood? Anyway, I'm gonna watch this one.


With the release of "Now You See Me" on DVD (as well as the magic-themed "The Incredible Burt Wonderstone" a few weeks ago), Phil and I were wondering about the subculture of magicians (or fans of magicians, or illusionists if you will). Can they be classified under the geek genre? Or are they too unique (or even looked down upon by other geeks) to fit within this realm? Phil and Keith discuss this in our weekly GeekDebate segment:

Keith's Netflix suggestion: Football football football! OK, this isn't much of a Netflix streaming suggestion, but rather the reminder that if you're a fan of the NFL, you'll likely be sitting on your couch all day Sunday watching gridiron action. If you do happen to have a break during the action (or if you're depressed about your team losing in Week 1), head over to Netflix and catch any number of football-related videos. My suggestion - watch "Brian's Song", the 1971 weeper starring James Caan - it's one of those sad movies that men are allowed to watch and cry with (although it's debatable whether you should watch this with others in the room). If you prefer a documentary around football, the ESPN 30 for 30 series of films have a ton of football-related films, including "Small Potatoes: Who Killed the USFL?", a fantastic look at the biggest threat to the NFL in the 1980s. For more football-related drama, check out the five seasons of "Friday Night Lights", still available on Netflix streaming.

Phil's Netflix suggestion: WarGames: WarGames is one of the all-time classic hacker/computer flicks and there are about a million good reasons to watch it. First, you have Matthew Broderick at just about his Broderick-y best (aside from Ferris Bueller, of course, his number one movie ever). Then you have all that awesome early 1980's computer equipment. Then you have Dabney Coleman and Barry Corbin in great supporting roles and, of course, the lovely early-mid 1980's version of Ally Sheedy. WarGames officially turned 30 in June, at which point I wrote a bunch of pieces about it, including a slideshow on the computer hardware featured in the movie (some of which is for sale, BTW). Anyway, three, possibly four thumbs up from me on this one. If you haven't seen it, now's the time. Stop reading this and go watch it!

Keith Shaw rounds up the best in geek video in his blog. Follow Keith on Twitter at @shawkeith. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.

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