August 23, 2013, 10:18 AM — Happy weekend everyone! Here's a bunch of geeky weekend-related videos and ideas to entertain and amuse you, courtesy of me and Phil Johnson:
The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones
On the movie front, there's a couple of movies that may interest you. First is "The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones", a fantasy drama based on a book series.
Keith: Because of the success of Twilight and Harry Potter, young adult book series that get turned into movies are huge, and this is another one. Because I'm a male in my mid-40s, I haven't read any of these books, so it's not likely that I would go see this series either. But maybe 25 years ago, this would have appealed to me. I'm also hearing that this has a Buffy the Vampire Style feel to it in terms of teens fighting supernatural creatures with a dash of angsty love triangle mixed in.
Phil: Likewise, I am a mid-40s male (err, an EARLY mid-40s male, just to be clear) and I don't now anything about this book series. This is definitely not for you and I, and it's not something I'll be watching.
However, it's nice to see a different kind of evil creature (demons) getting screen time, instead of more zombies or vampires. But I'm really hoping that mummies make a movie comeback soon.
In the following "Geekend Debate" segment, Phil and I discuss the merits and downsides of reading a book series before seeing the movie/TV show:
The World's End
Another movie opening this weekend is "The World's End", featuring the same team that brought you the zombie comedy "Shaun of the Dead" and "Hot Fuzz".
Keith: Simon Pegg has a lot of geek cred, not only for those movies but because he was in the two latest Star Trek movies (and he was also a favorite of Doctor Who fans for an appearance in a 2005 episode). I'm sure Phil will be interested in this flick, as he loved Shaun of the Dead. Sadly for me, it's still on my to-do list.
Phil: Yes indeed, I am all over this one, for a bunch of reasons. First, it's about a bunch of 40-something guys trying to relive their youth (and drink a lot of beer), so I can actually identify with that. Second, Simon Pegg is great and, as you said, I really enjoyed Shaun of the Dead. Third, let's not forget it also stars Martin Freeman, from the original BBC version of The Office (the better version, IMHO) and also the star of The Hobbit and The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. That's some good geek cred, right there. I don't know what goes on with the monsters at the end of this movie, but there's more than enough there for me to go see it in the theaters.
On the DVD front, check out "Don't Stop Believin': Everyman's Journey (2012)", which tells the "real-life rock and roll fairy tale of Filipino Arnel Pineda, who was plucked from YouTube to become the front man for iconic American rock band Journey."
Keith: I grew up in the '80s listening to Journey, but never got so into them that I followed them after high school. But I have heard of this story, and how amazing it was that Pineda was able to become the lead singer of a band based on his uncanny ability to sound exactly like Steve Perry, and the band's willingness to let him into their band. It seems like a very cool, feel good story - especially if you like Journey.
Phil: You said the key thing there at the end "if you like Journey," which I do not. However, I must admit this is an interesting story, made even weirder by the fact that original Journey vocalist Steve Perry is STILL ALIVE. Um, why not just make up with the real deal and go on tour again? So, I may have to check this out anyway.
Another DVD that may appeal to the kids this week is "Epic" - it's an animated (well, CGI animation) tale that came out earlier in this year, but like many animated films, it gets lost in the shuffle with movies from Pixar and Dreamworks. A teenager is transported to a magical world where she meets nature spirits, "Leafmen" and a whole bunch of other creatures, all magically voiced by celebrities like Colin Farrell, Jason Sudeikis, Steven Tyler, Beyonce and Pitbull.
Keith: I remember when this came ou in theaterst, my kids wanted to see it, but the timing of the release was such that we were already committed to some other movies. It quickly left theaters before the big summer boom of movies came in. I'm not sure I'd go out and buy this at the Best Buy, but a $1 rental at Redbox might be worth it for a family movie night at home.
Phil: I'm pretty much in on most animated movies these days, even if my kids aren't so much anymore. This looks entertaining enough (gotta love a talking slug) to watch at home. The question is how much would I pay to watch it? Probably nothing; I'd wait until I can catch it for free somewhere or perhaps on Netflix streaming.
Video games: Disney Infinity, Splinter Cell Blacklist and Saints Row IV
If you prefer video games, we're entering the golden season for new releases. The game "Disney Infinity" was released last Sunday, and this week's releases include the first-person, military shooter game "Splinter Cell Blacklist" and the action-adventure-shooter "Saints Row IV."
Keith: My kids have been anxiously awaiting Disney Infinity, which takes the Skylanders Giants theme of merging action-figure characters with video games to a whole new level. They're completely hooked at the moment, running around different worlds with characters from The Incredibles, Monsters University, Pirates of the Caribbean and The Lone Ranger. In fact, more people would likely play the Lone Ranger game here in Disney Infinity than those who watched the big-screen movie earlier in the summer. As for the other two, they have their fan bases, so worth checking out if you really like shooting things (in video games).
Phil: As you know, I'm not a gamer (neither are my daughters) so you're speaking Greek to me. Although, hang on, I must admit I did get caught up playing Missile Command via the recent YouTube Easter egg. As a matter of fact, I could go for a game right now. Back in a bit...
Keith's Netflix suggestion: The IT Crowd
Keith: I recently started watching this British comedy, which ran from 2006 to 2010 (an upcoming final special episode is airing later this year). It features "the comedic adventures of a ragtag group of tech support workers at a large corporation", so you'd expect a lot of techie-related humor. While some of that appears at first (like the joke of the IT guy constantly asking the user "have you rebooted the computer" and "check the power cord"), the IT angle eventually goes away and you have a sitcom about the awkwardness of the IT department members with the rest of the staff. It reminded me a little bit of The Office sprinkled with The Big Bang Theory (the latter likely the main reason that an American version of the show never took off), but I'm really enjoying watching it. Especially Richard Ayoade's performance of socially challenged Maurice Moss.
Phil's Netflix suggestion: The Office (UK version):
Phil: I've watched The IT Crowd before and it's pretty good. An excellent recommendation! Since I mentioned it earlier, I'm gonna recommend people, if they haven't already, check out the original UK version of The Office, starring Ricky Gervais and Martin Freeman. It was only on for a couple of seasons, so you can whip through it in a weekend. But, really, it's just brilliant. Ricky Gervais is so real and so funny and so good that it's truly uncomfortable to watch him. In fact, my wife often couldn't, saying he was so awkward it made her uncomfortable to watch. I can't recommend it highly enough. For those only familiar with the US version, Martin Freeman played the John Krasinski role, while the brilliant Mackenzie Crook played the Rainn Wilson role. The UK version is the better version, in my opinion. Watch it if you haven't!
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+.