Friday, October 27, 2006

Movie Review: Bloodrayne

Being a fan of vampire movies in general, the first glimpse I caught of Bloodrayne came through its teaser trailer. While it definitely wasn't going to be Oscar-worthy, the teaser still caught my interest. At the time, I had not seen an Uwe Boll movie nor heard reviews of any. In fact, I had no idea who he was. Starring Kristanna Loken from Terminator 3 alongside Michael Madsen, Ben Kingsley, Billy Zane, and Udo Kier, it came as a surprise to see all of the negative press.

For quite some time, Bloodrayne has been hanging out at the bottom of my Netflix queue. After a while, it seemed a good idea to drop it, but Dave at Filmrot had to write a review about how funny he though the movie was (unintentionally). So, I decided to join the game by watching a Boll movie.

My first Boll movie got off to a smashing start. The silly thing wouldn't even play in my Myth TV system. For some reason, the DVD drive couldn't read the disc. I should have taken that as a sign and sent the movie right back to Netflix. But, no...I just had to pull out the laptop and give it a whirl. To my horror, it played.

Now, let's be clear right up front. This movie is bad. Unlike Dave, I don't think this movie is bad in a funny's bad in a sad, pathetic way. That's because all, or most, of the actors took it seriously. If they thought they were making something like Evil Dead, this might be a different review.

Anyway, how about some positives before we dive into the negatives? The locations and, to a lesser extent, the sets looked very good on screen. While I didn't spend a lot of time reviewing them in detail, they definitely did the best acting in this movie. I'm sure the Romanian countryside is thankful it didn't have any dialog.
Though I don't know the source, the background music always seemed reasonably appropriate for the action on screen. There were also a few actors in the movie attempting to do some good work. Loken tried but failed. Rodriguez and Zen pulled off the only non-cringeworthy performances albeit with one exception, Rodriguez horrible "keep your friends close..." line.

Did it seem like I was stretching for positives? Well...I was. Let's move on.

Michael Madsen, unpredictable as ever, looked like he knew Bloodrayne was in the toilet at the outset. He delivered his lines so poorly as to imply a contempt for the material. But how can you know for sure with him? Was he trying in Species? Some of the same stilted dialog showed up there. In Kill Bill 2, he was amazing, but he fell back to kindergarten reading style again in Sin City.

Madsen probably spilled the beans to Kingsley before filmming because the guy just looked miserable the whole time. Instead of a powerful Vampire villain, we have a despondent, bored, old guy sitting on a throne. You can see Kingsley thinking "what the hell have I done" as he recites lines Terminator-style (fitting, given his co-star) for the camera.

Beyond the performances and dialog in general, you have some really goofy special effects, terrible editing, and a difficult to follow story. Blood sprays all over the place during every fight scene, and limbs are hacked off in a way reminscent of a famous Monty Python skit. Flashbacks disturbed the flow of what story there was by confusing you as to whether you were watching the past or the future. Several times, characters seemed to move too slowly, especially Loken. It makes one think Boll was playing with the film speed to get the fights to look right and just didn't spend enough time on it. And the story, good grief. I seriously have no idea why Kagan needed to kill Bloodrayne. And at the end, the violence montage...who in their right mind told Boll that was a good idea?

Anyway, that's enough for Bloodrayne. If you want to have a good laugh, remember that you may need to put some effort into it.


IF Update: Day #35 (Fasting)

Very strange...after an eating day in which I took in more carbs than I should, I lost some weight. This morning was my first weigh-in under 190 lbs at 189.8 lbs. It's been two years since I've been to that weight, but I was carrying far less muscle at the time.

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Thursday, October 26, 2006

IF Update: Day #34 (Eating)

It seems I'm stuck. 191.1 lbs this morning with 14.1% body fat last night. I even did 1 hour of Yoga and 15 minutes of interval running on Day #32 without seeing any progress. Even though my physique is much improved, I still have some fat around my midsection that needs to go. If the fat won't move in the next couple of weeks, I'm going to add protein shakes to my fasting days and try to put on more muscle.

In the meantime, I'll try to behave myself on my diet a little better. The fasting days are easy and something I even look forward to, but I let too much sugar creep back into my eating days.

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Thursday, October 19, 2006

CSI Miami on Eminent Domain

When a television show treats its viewers to a session of sermonizing, it usually jumps on a tired theme like gun control, health care, poverty, or abortion. E.R. has jumped on the gun control bandwagon so many times that I've forgotten what the show was about, and they're just one of many examples. Breaking the mold, CSI Miami walked a different path last week. They attacked Eminent Domain.

Roughly defined in the 5th Amendment of the Constitution, Eminent Domain is the power of the government to seize private property for public use. The 5th Amendment then goes on to require "just compensation" for the property owner.

Eminent Domain isn't in and of itself the big bad wolf. More often than not, it is used to build roads and highways, expand universitites, build airports, and perform other such beneficial public works projects. The Libertarian in me wants to say that all Eminent Domain is bad, but a rational person accepts some infringement on their personal property rights as a necessary part of progress.

Unfortunately, our Supreme Court, the "Defenders of our Constitution", have decided to define Eminent Domain much more broadly than its original purpose. To be more specific, they have liberally defined the phrase "public use". In 2005, the Supreme Court in Kelo vs. New London validated the use of Eminent Domain to transfer property from one private owner to another. To qualify as "public use", the Supreme Court expanded the phrase to include economic growth.

To their credit, many states have passed laws limiting the reach of Eminent Domain in light of Kelo vs. New London. However, the effect is no less chilling. Our government has effectively eliminated our right to own property. If the government wants it...or to put it another way...if someone pays the government to want it, they can take it.

Now, back to CSI Miami. In their recent episode Death Eminent, the show addresses the new Supreme Court definition of Eminent Domain. In the show, an upscale, waterfront neighborhood is targeted by a private developer with the city council pushing the economic development angle.

While the show introduces a lot of corruption into the process and a couple of murders (as to be expected of CSI), it still highlights an important and often ignored issue. If XYZ Corporation wants my neighborhood for its newest Big Bang Department Store, it can probably get it through Eminent Domain.

2 Years Ago? Maybe.
20 Years Ago? Unlikely.
200 Years Ago? Not a chance.

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IF Update: Day #27 (Eating)

At the end of yesterday's fast, I hit 189.2, but I jumped back up to 191 this morning. Too much fat and carbs last night I guess and less exercise than normal due to a minor back injury. Anyway, body fat jumped to 16.5% again, but I'm convinced these morning measurements are useless. I may start posting everything from evening measurements.

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Tuesday, October 17, 2006

IF Update: Day #25 (Eating)

190 lbs, 15.5% body fat

There is definitely a correlation between protein consumption and weight loss with this diet. The more protein I eat...the more weight I lose. Carbs seem to be okay as long as I stay away from simple sugars.

Side Note: Evening body fat measurements with the Tanita scale are down in the 12-13% range. I'm not sure morning measurements are all that productive.

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Thursday, October 12, 2006

IF Update: Day #20 (Eating)

192.8 lbs and 16.6% body fat

Waist: 35.5"
Chest: ~38"
Bicep: 14.5"

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Tuesday, October 10, 2006

IF Update: Day #18 (Eating)

193.2 lbs and 16.4% body fat

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Monday, October 09, 2006

IF Update: Day #17 (Fasting)

A little setback over the weekend. 194.6 lbs and 16.8% body fat. Likely the result of changing my schedule a bit, eating too many carbs, and not exercising enough.

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Saturday, October 07, 2006

IF Update: Day #15 (Eating)

194.5 lbs and 17% body fat

I'm changing up my schedule today by starting my fast after lunch and breaking it at lunch tomorrow.

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Friday, October 06, 2006

IF Update: Day #14 (Fasting)

A couple of surprises today. I dropped some weight to get to 193.6 lbs, but my body fat ticked up to 17%. Yesterday I ate less protein with more carbs/fat than I have been so that might explain the body fat change, but I'm surprised by the weight change.

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Thursday, October 05, 2006

IF Update: Day #13 (Eating)

I was a little off with my prediction. This morning, I was 195 lbs and 16.4% body fat.

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Wednesday, October 04, 2006

IF Update: Day #12 (Continued)

Out of sheer curiosity, I weighed myself at the end of my fast today (around 6:30 PM), and I came in at 194.6 lbs and 14.5% body fat. So, I dropped 2.5 lbs during the waking hours of my fast. If I hold to form, I should be around 196 lbs by morning and in the mid-16's on body fat.

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IF Update: Day #12 (Fasting)

With a protein heavy day yesterday, I was able to get back down to 197 with 16.5% body fat. For activity, I did 30 minutes of weight training on Day #11 prior to eating breakfast and 45 minutes of Yoga this morning.

If you are interested in Yoga, I highly recommend Yoga Today. Even though some spiritual commentary is mixed in, it's not so much as to provide me any discomfort, and the instructors do an excellent job of leading you through the poses. I use iTunes to download their video podcasts, but you can also get an HD version through their site. The podcast resolution is just enough that it's not too distracting, but you may disagree. I'm hopeful they'll bump up to 640x480 now that iPods and iTunes support it.

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Tuesday, October 03, 2006

IF Update: Day #11

As of today, I'm 198 lbs and 15.5% body fat.

To explain how I've gone up, we went out of town over the weekend to visit family. On Saturday morning, I started my fast by skipping breakfast, but the social pressure of lunch caused me to break the fast early. I then ate through lunch on Sunday and fasted through mid-afternoon Monday. During this time, I ate poorly and excessively so I'm sure that contributed.

I plan to get back on my previous schedule tonight by eating a high protein meal before 6 pm tonight and fasting tomorrow.

One thing I should note as I'm going through this is that I do indeed exercise. I've been strength training since I was 15 years old and have only very rarely stopped training during my life. Earlier this year was one of those times, but right now, I usually manage to get in 2-3 30 minute workouts per week. Lately, I've been using some of the concepts of Cross Fit along with my traditional training methods. I've also recently started Yoga (more for joint problems and asthma than conditioning) and usually manage to get in 2-3 1 hour sessions per week.

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