Cinematic guilt trips - and Ashton Kutcher

Some geeky things to watch or do over the next few weekends - it's Geekend time!

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With summer vacations and other work-related offerings this week, we interrupt our regularly scheduled Geekend video series to present you with a text-based discussion of geeky weekend offerings.

Instead of a video this week, Phil Johnson and I are doing an old-fashioned Q&A-format of our show - instead of watching us discuss geeky things to do over the next two weekends, you can read our thoughts below:

Weekend of Aug. 9-11, 2013

Elysium

First up, there's the science-fiction movie "Elysium", starring Matt Damon and Jodie Foster. Set in the future, the world is divided into the haves and have-nots, where the have-nots live on a desolate Earth, while the haves live on a space station known as Elysium. Damon's character is a have-not who tries to get to Elysium to save himself and the other have-nots:

Keith: This movie appears to be a "movie with a message", using a science-fiction backdrop to discuss the issues of wealth vs. poverty, and the consequences that those issues deliver. It's like an extended episode of "Star Trek" in trying to teach the audience a message: "Wealth is bad, be nice to everyone", at least from the trailer. I prefer my science-fiction to offer up more positive images of the future, I'm not sure I really need a guilt trip when I'm going to the movies.

Phil: I hear you. Guilt trips at the cineplex aren't fun - but Matt Damon shaving his noggin and getting computer hardware drilled into his skull sure is! I'm all in on this one. I'm thinking of taking my kids so they can see what life they're in for if they don't work hard at school. "See, girls? If you don't study hard you'll end up being stuck on the Earth with all dregs of society and WITH NO MALLS!" That should scare them into working harder on their math homework. As an aside, this movie is set in 2154 and it doesn't seem like like clothing will evolve much over the next 141 years.

Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters

Another movie in theaters this weekend is "Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters" (actually debuted Aug. 7). This sequel is based on the "Percy Jackson & the Olympians" series of young-adult novels, written by Rick Riordan. The original movie, "Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief", was released in Feburary 2010 and made about $226 million worldwide.

Keith: The trailer has a Harry Potter vibe to it, in terms of magical creatures and other such sorts, but with a Greek mythology twist. Anyone who has read the books will likely want to watch this movie as well, in addition to any young person who is into Greek mythology and those characters. I missed the original film and have not read the books, but I suppose by the time they get to the other films/books (there are at least three other novels for materials), my kids may be old enough to start reading them and be interested in the films.

Phil: Hmm, this is a sequel? I never heard of the books or the original movie. The trailer looks entertaining enough for 10-year-olds, although I think they mess with potentially the best part of the movie: a Cyclops! How many movies have those? Unfortunately, it looks like they "fix" his one-eye problem to make him look normal. Disappointing. I'm also intrigued by the name of the lead character. Is Percy the geekiest hero name these days? I guess Poindexter was too long for the marquee.

Disney's Planes

A third film might appeal to geeks this weekend - animation geeks, especially. Disney's "Planes" opens this weekend. A spin-off from Pixar's "Cars" franchise, this film takes place in that same world, but the airplanes have personalities in addition to the road-based vehicles.

Keith: While I often enjoy Pixar-based films, their track record with "Cars 2" is considered a "failure" in terms of how they relate to other Pixar films. Originally this movie was set to be a direct-to-video movie (never a good sign), but then Disney decided to release it to theaters (albeit in the August timeframe, where filmgoing tends to start trailing off compared to other summer movies). The plot seems exactly like the one to "Cars" and "Cars 2", but with planes. My kids might be interested in this one, but only as a DVD rental from Redbox or a Netflix streaming down the line.

Phil: The "direct-to-video" thing is a bad sign (as is featuring Dane Cook, IMHO) but it's Pixar so I don't care. I'll see it. I'm surprised (and disappointed) that they didn’t shoehorn Larry the Cable Guy into this one to reprise his role as Mater from Cars. But it does include voice work by Val Kilmer (one of my favorites) so if only a smidge of his brilliance from Real Genius or Top Gun rubs off on this, it'll be worth seeing.

Weekend of Aug. 16-18, 2013

Jobs

It's finally here! The Ashton Kutcher movie where he channels Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, originally planned for an earlier-this-year release, finally hits theaters on Aug. 16. Here's the latest trailer for the biopic:

Keith: With several movies about Steve Jobs either having debuted or in the works (including an Aaron Sorkin-written movie based on Walter Isaacson's "Steve Jobs" authorized biography), there's already a body of work out there that shows different aspects of Jobs' personality. There are a ton of videos on YouTube by Jobs himself discussing life, Apple products, etc. I think anyone watching this film will already have an opinion about Jobs, so I'm not sure whether anything in the movie will surprise anyone. Plus, the fact that they delayed the distribution of the movie is concerning, and Steve Wozniak already said that one clip released earlier was inaccurate - not a good sign for viewers wanting to know more about the early days of Apple. I think most people would go to see whether Kutcher could pull off a depiction of Jobs without having people think it's the guy from "Dude, Where's My Car?" or "That '70s Show".

Phil: This movie just looks awful. I can't imagine paying money to see this. The clothes, the writing the acting - it all looks like the cinematic version of Ping (Apple's attempt at a social network for music). That all being said, based on my track record of predictions around Apple-based things ("The iPad? What an awful name for a product. Who'd buy that?") this movie will probably make $1 billion.

Kick Ass 2

Another movie debuting the weekend of Aug. 16-18 is "Kick Ass 2", a sequel of the 2010 film, which was based on a comic book series by Mark Millar and John Romita Jr. The series focuses on an ordinary teen-ager who decides to become a real-life superhero, and all of the troubles that ensue because of this decision. It has a pretty good cult following, both in the comic book world, as well as the film world.

Keith: This and the first film were both Rated R, which kind of takes it out of the normal super-hero film genre that you see with movies like "Iron Man" and "The Avengers", as well as Superman and Batman. The violence is grittier, and while geeks may flock to see the film based on the super-hero wish-fulfillment angle, this is clearly meant for older teens and young adult comic book fans.

Phil: This movie features the actor who played McLovin in Superbad (Christopher Mintz-Plasse). If that alone isn't enough to get you to go see it, then there's no point in discussing it further. Count me in.

Phineas & Ferb: Mission Marvel

For younger kids, check out Aug. 16's debut of "Phineas & Ferb: Mission Marvel", in which the characters of Disney's very popular animated show team up with members of The Avengers on a special mission:

Keith: This is the first team-up featuring two properties owned by Disney - Phineas & Ferb and characters from the Marvel Universe. With the recent acquisition of Lucasfilm and the Star Wars universe, expect to see a team-up between P&F and Luke Skywalker next year. But for this episode, expect to see lots of craziness with Iron Man, Spider-Man, Hulk and Thor as they meet characters like Perry the Platypus, Dr. Doofenshmirtz and Candace (Phineas and Ferb's older sister). The show is great for parents to watch along with (there's lots of jokes that the kids won't get, but will entertain you), and comics fans will appreciate the shout-outs as well.

Phil: My kids are a little older and don't watch P&F. Plus, as you and I have discussed, I'm not much of a comic book guy, so the Marvel characters won't do much to entice me to watch this. However if they'd do an episode where they worked SpongeBob in, well, then, I'd have to watch. That probably won't happen, though, unless Disney buys Nickelodeon from Viacom. Until then, such a match-up will have to remain a pipe dream for me.

What geeky pursuits are you planning over the next two weekends? Let us know in the comments, and be sure to subscribe to the ITworld YouTube channel and share this show with friends and family!

Keith Shaw rounds up the best in geek video in his ITworld.tv 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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