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Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Zoo With a View

So Im sure that many of you are wondering...Jordan, we know that you are seeing movies, but what else are you doing in Australia? Its true, I have been slacking in that area. So over the next few weeks as school winds down I will bring everyone up to date. Starting with:


The Taronga Zoo is located across the Harbor from the city, so we had to take a ferry in order to get there. Clearly, it has one of the most unique views in the world. But before I get to that, check out some of these pictures I took of the way there:


"The sun did not know its own beauty until it shone down on this building"
After a gorgeous and relaxing ferry trip over on a stellar day, we entered the Taronga Zoo which was easily the best zoo I have ever been to (sorry Denver Zoo, the only thing you do better is Zoo Lights). It was well organized and very big, featuring multiple categories of animals. Including reptiles. Which if you know me, you know that I love my snakes and stuff, so I got a ton of pictures of the slithery and the scaly...sorry Clark.

Komodo Dragon




North American Rattlesnake. Notice the staring eyes on the right

Some turtles with some really cool triangular shells


A huge @$$ Anaconda. Kinda terrifying



Death Adder. Notice the cool movement patterns beneath it.

I know looking through those pictures had to be hard for some of you (Mom) but the rest of the pictures are of nice fluffy, cute animals. Except this one:

I was almost afraid to be on the other side of the glass across from this guy.
The. World's. Most. Venomous. Snake.
Well that was it for the reptiles so now I figure the easiest thing for me to do is post the rest of the pictures and I'll put a caption if I remember what animal it is. Enjoy:

Red Panda. Really freaking cute



These are really large pigs. (Clearly they are elephants)

Another great shot of the view...more to come

Giraffes I believe. Im not entirely sure, but thats what Wikipedia told me


A Koala. One day, I will own one of these along with an IMAX theater. And Blake Lively being my wife. I set my goals high people.


The "playing grounds" for the ape population at the zoo. It looked so much fun. So what does that say about me?


Zebras!

Oh hello Mr. Elephant!


A freaking beast of a Gorilla


Grizzly Bear

Simba!


Nala!
Nala is not happy with me at the moment. I changed my pants after taking this picture


Tiger...so pretty
Snow Leopard

A bunch of Timons! Or without The Lion King reference: meerkats





You know how I said that was it for the creepy pictures? I lied.
Introducing the world's most venomous spider: the funnel spider

A real life mermaid! Or a seal. Your choice really.
So there you have it! The Taronga Zoo! I saw some animals there that I will probably never see again in my life so it was a very rewarding experience, much like the Sydney Aquarium. I will put the remaining pictures of the zoo, including a video of a VERY smart elephant up on Facebook within the next few days so keep an eye out for that. I'll leave you with some awesome shots of the view from the zoo! See you again soon!




Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Rath's Reviews: Contagion

Ask yourself a couple questions...How well prepared are you if a high-mortality rate virus were to begin spreading across the globe? How well prepared are we as a nation? How well prepared is the world? Would you know what to do? Would your loved ones know what to do? Would our government even know what to do?

Contagion poses some very real and very scary scenarios throughout its length, and comes out with one major conclusion: the world is not ready for an epidemic. This is certainly no H1-N1 we are talking about here; the movie is talking about a virus that latches itself on intricately, and continues to change, making the creation of an antivirus extremely difficult. And once you see how easy it all began, you will leave the theater truly terrified.

I'm not sure how to go about reviewing Contagion. I really think its a movie everyone should see just for the sake of knowledge, but I dont think I would ever watch it again. The movie itself is very dark and gets serious very fast. It lays the ground early and within 15 minutes you know that no one is safe and this movie is not going to hold back its scenario. I'm used to Hollywood leading us by the hand, assuring us that everything is going to be all right, but Contagion does no such thing for most of its run time.

I'm not sure Gwyneth Paltrow will be returning to Glee anytime soon...
 As you can see from the poster above, some big name stars signed up for this one, and it definitely payed off. Their acting skills all shine through within their respective plot lines with Matt Damon and Laurence Fishburne doing the best job in my opinion. But then again, that is because they have the most material within the movie. In addition to the acting, the movie does a good job of telling its story with clean editing and proper pacing. I also really enjoyed the soundtrack which was mainly just some synthesizers, but it seemed to add some urgency to the already tense proceedings.


One of my biggest complaints about the movie, and it may be my only one, is the whole Jude Law story line. In the movie, he is a blogger who claims he found an additional cure on top of the antivirus. Looking back, if you were to subtract his entire plot from the movie, I think it wouldn't have mattered. It serves as an annoying distraction, much like the dirty tooth that his character sports (I couldnt stop looking at it). I think the movie would have been much stronger if it had eliminated Jude Law's section and focused more on the containment, quarantine, and public reaction to the virus.

"I feel like I'm forgetting something..."
Besides Jude's part, the movie is quite honestly near-perfect and I was engrossed from beginning to end. It wants to be a very real movie and it achieves that in multiple senses. The description of the virus and the curing process is very scientific and the movie manages to explain it in a professional manner that I'm sure most could understand, and even more importantly, it is realistic. People react the way you would presume. A little secret from the CDC to get out of town turns into a Facebook group, the last available antivirus shots are fought over, looters begin to break into houses, etc. The movie turns very critical on the human population suddenly, and to be honest, I think that is the scariest part of the whole thing. If there ever was a virus that was inflicting enough people to kill 1% of the world's total population (thats a lot of people) and the nation were to basically shut down, people would go crazy. It would be a lawless society for the most part, and 911 would be practically unreachable. Like I said, scary stuff.

"We have gathered you here to announce that Neo did not take the red pill. Sad face :-( "
Contagion is truthfully one of the scariest movies I have ever seen. It's scary because it's real. It could happen tomorrow, and there is really nothing that we could do about it. Like I said earlier, I recommend everyone to see it, not to scare people, but just so that there is a sense of awareness that this scenario is always a possibility. And once you see just how easy it is created, and just how easy it spreads, I'm sure you will never look at a bowl of peanuts, or a bus handle, or a handshake the same way again.

And just you wait until someone in the theater seat behind you coughs....

Pros:

  • Effective look at what the world faces at any given moment. Truly opens your eyes
  • Not particularly left or right winged politically, which coming from Hollywood, is very much appreciated
  • Superb performances from all
  • Very real and sincere look at how the U.S. in particular would handle the situation
  • Sadly, it presents a very real portrayal of how the human race would most likely react
  • Organized well, edited well, and nifty soundtrack
  • Hopefully will teach people to wash their hands and cover their damn mouths
  • My dad liked it, "That was very interesting!" - Jerry Rath, 2011
Cons:

  • Jude Law's character plot is useless
  • Jude Law's character's front tooth is annoying and distracting
  • The movie moves too swiftly at some points, not taking time to let the dust of present scenes settle
  • Not very re-watchable, unless you want to watch a Debbie Downer movie

Rath's Review Score: 8.5/10

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Rath's Reviews: Paranormal Activity 3

I'll be very upfront and honest. The Paranormal Activity movies terrify the absolute s**t out of me. And I think they truly get under everyone's skin to some degree. I hear a bunch of people who say, "Those movies were hilarious, I wasn't scared at all!" I'm calling bull-shenanigans on that one sir. I think everyone gets scared from these movies, some people just laugh to cover up their fear. Just my personal opinion. Also, on a second rant...I heard some people coming out of the theater I was in saying, "That was the worst movie I have ever seen." What exactly did you expect? Have you been living under a rock for the past few years and you dont know what Paranormal Activities are about? It just frustrates me when people can't appreciate movies for what they are. And the Paranormal Activities are tension-building, intensity-filled horror movies. And you know what? They are damn good at what they do.

Paranormal Activity 3 serves as a prequel to the first two movies, featuring the terrorized sisters in their child years. It seems to describe how this whole terror started, but one of the most glaring problems of the trilogy as a whole has now been created. There appear to be huge plot holes based on the events of the 3rd installment. For example, how do the sisters in the first two movies not remember any of this happening? I won't give anything away, but I'm just not sure that that is an answer that the inevitable Paranormal Activity 4 can answer. As far as the story in just this movie however, it is pretty well done. It helps to explain the origins of this demon and what sect of demonology "it" stems from. It even gives it a name: Toby! I also would like to point out that the acting is pretty good in this movie...I am always amazed how natural the families feel in these movies. I feel like it takes some unique type of acting to essentially act normal. And the children actors in the movie? Phenomenal. The older sister, Katie, played by Chloe Csengery does really good, but the true star of the show is the little Kristi played by Jessica Tyler Brown. At such a young age I was surprised that she was able to be so creepy and so cute all at the same time.

Check the mirror reflection
What I like about the Paranormal Activities is that they strive to stay original within themselves. What I mean is that they try to create new spooks in each film. Sure there are the common doors slamming and loud noises, but they also add some new ones in each iteration. For example, in this one, two of the biggest scares are actually comedic based. It reminded me that these movies still like to have some fun even though they are stressing you out and raising your blood pressure. Paranormal Activity 3 adds to the formula by adding the genius fan-camera which truly adds some tension building moments. I remember I was seriously stressing out at one point because the slowly-oscillating fan had gone back and forth like 7 times and nothing had happened yet, but you know something is going to happen. The makers of these movies are truly masters at what they do. There are so many little details scattered throughout to add to the effect that my eyes were darting around the screen like a pair of ADHD fingers.

This part never actually happens in the movie
So how does Paranormal Activity 3 compare to the others? Extremely well actually. This one is by far the most violent out of the three with the ending and a Bloody-Mary-game-gone-bad being extremely terrifying. I could be quoted as yelling "Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh shhhhhhhhhhhhit!" throughout multiple sections of the movie. And that was completely by instinct. Overall, I would say that the second movie has the most BOO! moments, and the first one still has the originality factor going for it. but this is definitely a strong addition to the trilogy, and most likely continuing franchise.

Also never happens in the movie
Paranormal Activity 3 follows the motto "if it ain't broke then don't fix it". And clearly these movies aren't broke. They cost next to nothing to make and they make hundreds of millions of dollars. They are a sure thing for the studio making them. I like to compare them to the Saw franchise except for the fact that all of the Paranormal Activities are actually good. If you liked the first two, you will love this one no doubt. In fact, it might be my favorite one so far. If you didnt like the first two, then save your money, and save us all the trouble of hearing you complain about how "terrible" it was. If you don't like handheld camera movies, then dont see it and quit complaining...no one cares.

But if you have always been afraid of things lurking in your house, if you are in for a good scare, then I suggest this: work yourself up before the movie. Get stressed out about seeing it. It's what I do once a year when these things come out. I get all worked up beforehand and the experience is one of the most rewarding I have at the movies all year. Once it's all done, my muscles are sore and tense, it takes me a good two to three hours to calm down, and I feel as if I just had multiple heart attacks. I live for that type of adrenaline rush in movies, I would almost even compare it to bungee jumping...it gets to me that much. So when it comes to grading Paranormal Activity 3, I'm judging it on what it strives to be; and that's an effective horror movie. And damn it if these movies aren't effective.
.
..
...
....
BOO!

Pros:

  • If you have the right mindset, the movies are immensely terrifying
  • Fun scenes throughout help to lighten the mood
  • Great acting, especially by Jessica Tyler Brown
  • Genius methodology of scaring people. Little details add to the tension that builds at an alarming pace in some scenes
  • The scares are plentiful and several are iconic. There are scenes I will never forget
  • The fan-camera
Cons:
  • Creates plot holes in the trilogy that I don't think can be repaired
  • I still find myself asking, "What is it with this family and cameras?"
  • How do they keep the inevitable Paranormal Activity 4 fresh, and where do they go from here?

Rath's Review Score: 9/10