Archive for August, 2013

Twisted Fish is on Facebook!

Posted: August 31, 2013 in Uncategorized

This is just a quick update to tell you all about my new Facebook page! That’s right – in an attempt to increase my visibility I’ve created a Facebook page for Twisted Fish. Think of it like putting a hi-vis vest on my blog.

Seeing as now practically everyone has a Facebook account, I figured this would be an easy way for you to stay up to date about any future blog posts and to perhaps see some of the posts you might have missed (some of them are pretty hilarious, if I do say so myself).

So why not give it a ‘Like’ – https://www.facebook.com/TwistedFishBlog

Tom

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Maybe they just ran out of footage?

Most people reading this will have seen a Pixar film, unless they’ve been living under a rock for the past few decades. In fact, most people reading this will be aware of the famous ‘Pixar Easter Eggs’ that are present in all of their films –  these are little references to other Pixar works. For example, there’s the same caravan present in both Monsters Inc. and A Bug’s Life – see the image on the right. Now these are seemingly unimportant hidden jokes for the fans to spot. However, one man Jon Negroni has looked at all these little Easter Eggs hidden in Pixar films and theorised that they form a larger story: one that involves all Pixar films to date. He has published his thesis in which he talks about ‘The Pixar Theory’.

Put simply, The Pixar Theory states that all Pixar films are set in the same universe – just at different points in time. Whilst each film tells its own separate story, they all form part of a larger and more complex tale. At first, this sounds ridiculous – but once you start reading Mr Negroni’s theory and the evidence he uses to support it, it does start to make sense. At least up until a point.

The entire thesis is available here, and I absolutely encourage you to read it (it does have pictures) as it is fascinating just how much research Mr Negroni has done into the subject. But what I’m going to do in this post is summarise his theory and maybe offer a critique or two.

So, where does this ‘Pixar universe’ begin? It starts with Brave. Without spoiling it, Brave tells the story of a young princess who discovers magic in the world. This magic comes from a strange old witch, who can make animals and inanimate objects move and act like humans.

Then, fast-forward a few centuries and (supposedly) these ‘magic’ animals start inter-breeding and have now formed a decent size population of these ‘clever’ animals. Remember Ratatouille? The tale of the clever rat that learnt to cook better than a human? This is the start of the ‘animal revolution’. Now this ‘revolution’ can be seen through two Pixar films: there’s the animosity between humans and sea-life in Finding Nemo andthere’s the implied animosity in Up (between Charles Muntz’s experiments and the human population).

Now, let’s move onto machines. In true Terminator style, machines rise up and overthrow humans. Take The Incredibles : there you have the A.I. controlled ‘Omnidroid’ that starts attacking the city – as if it has an in-built hatred of humans. In Up there’s the evil corporation who are threatening to tear down Carl’s house; in the Toy Story series we see the gradual dissatisfaction on the part of the toys – the rise against Sid, Jesse resent her owner for leaving her, Lotso’s hatred of humans.

The ‘Skynet’ of the Pixar universe.

All this is leading up to one big ‘Skynet’ moment in which a corporation takes over completely. And that corporation is Buy-N-Large (or BNL). They were the ones wanting to tear down Carl’s house in Up, they were the ones who ‘took over’ the world in Wall-E and, in the same film, they were the ones responsible of removing humans from Earth. There are BNL logos hidden throughout many Pixar films (check out Mr Negroni’s work for more detail).

Note that there is no massive war between man and machine – instead, the machines take over by using BNL to cater for their every need (see Wall-E). Overconsumption leads to overpollution. Overpollution leads to the animals (like in Finding Nemo) fighting back. When the animals start fighting back, humans use machines to stop them. But, all the pollution cannot be reversed and so humans leave Earth on the big BNL spaceship. What does that leave behind on Earth? Well, we know there’s Wall-E. But there’s also machines. Or rather Cars. Yup, this is where Cars fits into this theory – when the humans have gone the cars inhabit the Earth. Negroni delves further into the world of Cars and its sequel – with the hunt for ‘green’ energy when oil starts to run out. So at the end of Wall-E the cute lil’ robot liberates the chubby humans and then he plants the shoe containing the last bit of plant life on Earth. This then grows into a tree. A tree that looks remarkably like the one from A Bug’s Life. 

It’s interesting to note that humans are never mentioned in A Bug’s Life. Negroni believes that this implies that there aren’t many humans left on Earth during the events of the film (a very contrived corollary, I know). So we appear to have an almost utopia – humanity, machines and animals are living in harmony. Then eventually a new species emerges, what we call monsters. Yes, according to The Pixar Theory, the events in Monsters Inc. and Monsters University take place in the far future, when humans (somehow) have died out.

Now, you’re probably thinking ‘Wait a sec, don’t the monsters interact with humans? How can they be wiped out/in the future?’ Well Mr Negroni has a solution – time travel! Yup, that age old cop-out. Acording to Negroni, the doors that the monsters pass through allow them to travel back in time to when humans still populated the planet. And to avoid the whole ‘interacting with the past will affect the present’ paradox, the monsters enforced the ‘no human/monster interaction’ rules.

Kitty?

Now, we get onto Boo. The cute kid who, Negroni assumes, will spend her entire life obsessing about Sully – whom she met as a child. Now this is where it gets weird(er). Boo discovers the power that doors have (they can travel in time) and she tries to go back and forward in time to try and find her friend Sully. This leads her to the ‘source’ of the ‘magic’ in the world and she becomes…the witch from Brave.

She goes back to where all the magic began in the world in an attempt to try an cultivate it to find Sully. in Brave in the witch’s workshop, there is a carving of what appears to be Sully – a constant reminder of her friend she hasn’t forgotten after all these years. And that is how the Pixar universe began – with one child’s love for her friend and her desperate attempt to be reunited with him. That, in a nutshell, is The Pixar Theory.

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Now, Pixar themselves have heard this theory and flat-out denied it, which is sad in a way. It’d have been nice for them to at least leave it open to discussion, but hey-ho. Personally, I am a big fan of films that intersect with one another and so I would love to see a Pixar film that ties up every Pixar film to date in one aver-arching story. But I doubt that’ll happen.

So, what do you think? Do you think it makes sense (obviously there’s the time-travel bit that’s a tad contrived) in the grand scheme of things? Have a read of the full theory  and let me know your thoughts.

Tom

The Bat-symbol looks a little chunky…

Well the Internet has pretty much gone nuts today, with the news of Ben Affleck set to play Batman in Zack Snyder’s upcoming Batman/Superman crossover, due to be released July 17th 2015. Now, I could quickly turn this post into an ‘Oh my God, how dare Warner Bros. even consider letting the man who played Daredevil attempt to play Batman?!’ post, but I won’t. I look forward to seeing how Ben Affleck puts his spin on The Caped Crusader and will reserve judgement until I’ve seen the film. But, please don’t do a Daredevil…or a Giglifor that matter. They were both terrible.

Instead, I’m going to talk about the film itself – so far a title hasn’t been released yet. Personally I’m opting for a combination of both names: Buperman – although he sounds more like an advocate for private healthcare and not an advocate for justice (or maybe he fights injustice through his healthcare system?) Anyway, I’m getting off-topic.

The whole Batman/Superman crossover idea has been in people’s minds for years, but did you know it was actually predicted in recent films and TV shows? Let’s have a look-see:

1. Previous Batman and Superman films. 

If you’ve seen Man of Steel then you’ll know what I’m talking about: the little Easter eggs that hint at a potential Batman/Superman crossover. There’s the Wayne Enterprises satellite that Zod crashes into.

There’s the ‘Keep Calm and Call Batman’ sign that’s only just visible (if you buy the Blu-Ray copy and have a 52″ television, then you’ll have a better view).

It’s a bit tenuous, but wait for the DVD.

Someone from Bleeding Cool has even managed to find the Batman symbol hidden in Jor-El’s Kryptonian suit.

Obviously the red is just for highlighting the symbol. Jor-El has some fashion sense…

There were many other Easter eggs in Man of Steel – some were just subtle nods to either people or places from the Superman universe. For a list of some Easter eggs that you might have missed, check out this brilliant guide by Empire.

But here’s one that’s just a little too contrived. We all remember the teaser poster for The Dark Knight RisesNo? Well here it is:

Now if you look on the left hand side you’ll see a piece of rubble. WRONG! You’ll, apparently, see a hidden Superman logo.

Hmm…

No one’s actually announced that this is genuinely an Easter egg, but it’s fun to imagine, right?

2. I Am Legend

In the abandoned Times Square in the film there’s a poster on the side of a wall advertising a supposed Batman/Superman film.

Not the best prediction for how the film will do financially…

Fans went nuts when they saw this: they thought it was viral advertising for the 2004 Batman/Superman film by Wolfgang Peterson, or perhaps Will Smith was set to star as Batman (just take a second to imagine that – Will Smith as Batman and Jaden Smith as Superman…). Sadly, in fact, none of these were true. Producer Akiva Goldsman put in the Easter egg as an in-joke, referring to the Batman/Superman project he was a part of that was stuck in development hell. Oh, and the apparent release date was March 15 2010, so there’s no link there – just in case you thought (in some kind of huge Hollywood conspiracy) that the events of I Am Legend take place in 2015. I must admit though, that would be freaking awesome.

3. Fringe

In the alternate universe (if you haven’t seen Fringe then I suggest you do so immediately) on one of the cinema displays it shows times for Superman vs Batman as well as a host of other potential films.

I would watch ALL these films.

This is probably another in-joke by Akiva Goldsman as he was also a producer on Fringe. But if I start seeing posters for Indiana Jones and the Hex of the Hydra or if JJ  Abrams announces Star Wars Episode VII: Legion of the Droids, I’m sitting tight until Mask vs Joker is out.

4. The Dark Knight Rises…again

Here’s a thought for you. Remember how much uproar there was about the ending of TDKRHow did Batman manage to escape the nuclear blast? Or was Alfred just imagining Master Wayne? How did he get from that pit prison all the way back to Gotham in what seemed like a few days? Well, what if he had help? By which I mean someone who could travel really really fast? Ok, I’ll spell it out – imagine if they revealed in the Batman/Superman crossover that it was Superman that got Bruce to Gotham after the ‘pit bit’ and it was also Superman that saved Batman from the nuclear blast?

There are two reasons why they probably won’t do this: 1) It’d piss off countless fans and, 2) it’d imply a connection to Christopher Nolan’s universe which can’t really happen – else they’d have to explain why Superman has just ignored the suffering of Gotham all this time (where was he when Joker attacked?) and they’d have to explain what happened to Jospeh Gordon-Levitt (he was all set to replace Bruce Wayne at the end of TDKR) and why Christian Bale has morphed into Ben Affleck (they could blame it on the radiation, I suppose…)

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Well that concludes today’s post. I hope you learned something or even just enjoyed yourself. All that remaains to be seen is how Ben Affleck copes as Batman. I wish him the best of luck.

Tom

The light/dark motif will likely be sending Lost fans crazy.

I am a huge JJ Abrams fan: he was one of the pioneers into ‘intelligent’ television (with the phenomenal hit Lost) and his work is riddled with mystery and intrigue. Yesterday, his company Bad Robot released a delightfully enigmatic teaser trailer for Abrams’ upcoming project entitled Stranger. 

Followers of Abrams’ work will remember that his trademark ‘let’s release a trailer and not reveal anything’ began in 2007 with the release of the infamous Cloverfield teaser trailer that sent the Internet into uproar. This remains one of my favourite trailers ever released.

So by now we’re pretty used to the mysterious trailer for Mr Abrams, but what is it actually for? I mean, we all knew Cloverfield was a film – it has the ‘This trailer is appropriate for America‘ thingy before it, and the credits at the end. But Stranger doesn’t even have that: no release date, no website, no title!

Here are some of the fan theories as to what is may be advertising:

  • Abrams’ new book, S.released in Ocotber
  • Believe – a new TV show by Abrams and Alfonso Cuaron (Children of Men, Harry Potter 3)
  • Deadpool movie
  • A remake of The Crow
  • An Aquaman movie
  • Lost spin-off
  • or (my current favourite) a trailer for Star Wars: Episode VII

So, it looks like we’ll have to wait for any more information to be released about this mysterious trailer. But I can tell you one thing, if it’s anything like Star Trek then we can expect a whole lot of lens flare.

Thanks for readin’ (that’s my new ‘sign off’, as suggested by my brother),

Tom

Is it time to hang up the pistols, Jack?

I loved the first Pirates of the Carribean film: it was a fun cinema experience. The second one was alright, but started to get a little complex in terms of plot and then the third one just didn’t seem to end. Now, On Stranger Tides was where the franchise changed: the executives at Disney realised that Johhny Depp’s character Jack Sparrow practically IS the POTC franchise and so they focused on him for this film. They scrapped the Elizabeth/Will stroyline and concentrated on Captain Sparrow’s shenanigans on the high seas. In my opinion, they ‘over-Jack‘ed Depp’s character, but that’s another story.

A report done by NerdWallet has looked into the decline in ratings and box office takings for film sequels. We all have those films we can say ‘they weren’t as good as the first one‘, well now there is some data to try and prove this hypothesis. N.B. Being a mathematician I feel obliged to point out that whilst this data seems to prove the fact that movie sequels decline in quality and profitability, there were limitations to the test (not every film ever was involved in the test, for example). Plus, there are certain films that prove exceptions to the rule, which I will touch upon later.

The reason I (and the report by Mr. Anderson – wow, total Matrix moment) concentrate on the POTC franchise is because the decline of the series has been harsh: the first film received an average rating of 79% from critics; Dead Man’s Chest only attained 54%; then a measly 44% for At World’s End and, finally, a disappointing 33% for On Stranger Tides. That’s a drop of 58% from the first film (before you start questioning my maths, the drop in rating score is measured by percentage change, not percentage difference – the difference between the first and fourth’s average reviews is 46%). The same principle, it was found, applies to the box office ratings.

Next, using data from 130 film series (comprising of 475 films), Anderson looked at reviews from popular film review website Rotten Tomatoes and revenue figures from Box Office Mojo and he came up with the following graph:

So, if we are to go by the data (remember though: there are lies, damned lies, and statistics) and using linear regression (don’t even ask) we get an average rating for POTC:5 of 31% – which is a 61% drop than the original. Whilst the box office revenues are not much help themselves (some films don’t make anywhere near $208 million) but the percentage change in revenue can be calculated and analysed (feel free to do this at home).

N.B. POTC:5 hasn’t come out yet (it’s set to be released in 2015) and who knows – they may make a fantastic film that lives up to the excitement and adventure of the original: we can’t judge a film before it has come out – that would be silly. I am NOT saying ‘Don’t watch the fifth film – it’s going to be rubbish!‘ I am simply commenting on the interesting decline in ratings and revenue that occur for film sequels. 

Dammit, Bond!

As I have mentioned earlier, there are many many examples of film series in which the sequels haven’t declined in ratings or revenue: Fast and Furious 5/6, Saw II/III/3D, The Matrix Reloaded, the list goes on. There is an important collection of films that are huge exceptions to the rule: James Bond. The 007 franchise is a tricksy one, in terms of ratings and revenue because it doesn’t technically have sequels. As each film is a standalone story (OK, there’s a bit of continuation between the Daniel Craig films) its ratings aren’t affected by those of the previous film (just look at Skyfall – an average rating of 92% comapred to Quantum of Solace‘s 64%). That’s why this particular franchise wasn’t involved in Anderson’s report – as it doesn’t follow the sequential nature that other series do.

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So, a more serious blog post today – but I hope that you found it interesting. All statistics and facts were provided by Mike Anderson from NerdWallet – the full article is available here. Next up, I’ll have to post about the scary world of Hollywood financing – in which accountants try and prove that nothing has made any money.

Till next time,

Tom

Amusing Things From Canada

Posted: August 13, 2013 in Uncategorized

I know, I know, I haven’t posted anything in nearly a month, but I’ve been busy. I had graduation and now I’ve just spent the last two weeks in Vancouver on holiday, which was fantastic. We did loads: Whistler mountain, Grouse mountain, whale-watching in Victoria, Stanley Park and many more shenanigans. We were walking through Walmart one day – which is an experience in itself – and I just decided to take pictures on my phone of things that made me chuckle. If I’d known I was going to do a blog post then I would’ve taken more pictures from the start of my holiday, but hey ho. Enjoy!

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‘Now with 20% more party!’

1. ‘Party Cubes’

These aren’t in fact cubes made of ‘party’ – they’re actually made of cheese. For those people who enjoy cheese, but think that Babybels are too ‘mainstream’ then these are the cheeses for you! Guaranteed to turn literally any sort of event into an instant ‘party’. However, I’m afraid they only come in ‘Plain Nature’ flavour…

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A little known fact – by removing the ‘e’ from words, it makes them instantly more fun.

2. ‘SqueaK’rs’

This is just cheese. No, seriously, it’s just cheese. There’s no fun shapes, no ‘quirky’ characters. Just (from what I recall) a sweaty bag of cheese bits. Mmmm…

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Say, whaddaya call a tomato with Chlamydia?

3. ‘Clamato’

This ‘tomato clam cocktail’ was plastered all over Canada: showing smiling, happy people drinking this beverage with a stick of celery in it. I’m ashamed to admit that I never got round to tasting it, but I would love to hear your thoughts on this drink.

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I remember that show. Terrible cliffhanger at the end…

4. ‘A Story Of God And All Of Us’

This one made me chuckle. It was just lying on a bookshelf in Walmart. At first it seems like just a ‘re-telling’ of The Bible, maybe for children or for adults who are put off by the length of The Bible. However, what I absolutely love about this book is that it’s based on the TV show: The Bible. Sorry, I mean the ‘epic TV miniseries’ called The Bible. Not the book that practically everyone ever has heard of and is the cornerstone of one of the most powerful religions on Earth, but the 5-week miniseries based on a couple of stories in The Bible. 

If you did want to check out the TV series, here’s the trailer:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XcJcmm-SEK0

P.S. I forgot to mention that it was nominated for Emmy’s in the categories of ‘Best Sound Editing’ and ‘Best Sound Mixing’…

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Nothing about the word ‘buddy’ makes this more appealing.

5. ‘Bowel Buddy’

This is my favourite thing ever. I don’t know what I like about it more: the ‘cutesy’ name ‘Bowel Buddy’ or the fact that it looks like it says ‘Bowel Buddy: Grenade Edition’ – implying some kind of devastating effect on your bowels. (FYI: the reason it does say ‘grenade’ is because the French translation of ‘pomegranate’ is ‘grenade’. It does not imply super-strength.) All in all, it still makes me giggle.

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There we go, I hope this list brought a ray of sunshine into what may have been a boring day for you. If you have any amusing products you may have come across (or just seen) then feel free to comment.

Tom