Sunday, December 27, 2009
District 9 is a mind-blowing (no pun intended - you have to watch the movie to understand) action piece with social commentary. I almost regret not seeing this in theatres, but I wouldn't be me if I turned left instead of right, would I? The special effects are solid, and the realism of the documentary-style filming, and strong story and character development really drive this movie home. A co-worker pointed out how most of the cast was more or less composed of nobodies, and most of the budget went to special effects. A smart move...
Not to beat a dead horse, but this film is a good companion piece to the hit film Avatar (see previous blog entries), due to the strong social commentary. There's been a shortage of brilliant sci/fi movies - and these two come very close, if not being on the spot. I'm a sucker for solid story and character development in movies - I still hold that the deleted Queen Amidala scenes in the STAR WARS prequel trilogy would have made the films a little better than they were - and justify Anakin's virtually baseless switch to the Dark Side (I still need to see the STAR WARS prequel fan edits)...but I digress... District 9 is armrest-gripping as we watch the protagonist/hero delve into the atrocities of the alien concentration camp, and come to revelations about what's really going on - within the camp and without.
Now, my reviews have no intention of giving away plot details and spoilers - I have a notorious history of spoiling movies amongst my friends, and I dare say I have overcome this...shortcoming. Albeit, District 9 has enough action, story, character drama and special effects to keep any movie-goer's attention captivated.
An old friend of mine/college room mate, and a guy that's got his finger on the pulse when it comes to computer generated special effects I'd say, pointed out a correction that needed to be made in my previous blog entry: ILM is indeed listed in the credits for the special effects work, but it seems that an FX house by the name of Weta
(also listed later in the credits) did a bulk of the effects. You don't usually hear about movies using multiple special effects companies - the media typically focuses on the big names like Pixar or ILM. But it is quite common for one film to use three or more FX companies for budgetary and timing/deadline reasons.
According to boxofficemojo.com, Avatar is at $615M, and the Sunday totals for the weekend are of course not in yet. We'll see if Sherlock Holmes, which is in the #2 spot, will beat out Avatar - but I doubt it. Several friends/contacts on Facebook responded to my previous blog entry/review of Avatar, most of them admit that they are going to see the film a second (or more) time - in one instance to experience the film in IMAX 3D. This obviously is why Avatar will remain #1.
I wonder if Cameron will outdo himself compared to his last movie blockbuster...Titanic.
Thursday, December 24, 2009
I don't know what all the resistance to Avatar has been. The movie is on record as being the most expensive ever filmed thus far - estimates ranging from $237 to $460 Million, but what else would you expect from James Cameron? Cameron, who is known for creating the Terminator franchise, directing the second Alien film - simply titled Aliens, and also the massive blockbuster Titanic, should be given credit for producing groundbreaking special effects films that do not sacrifice story and character development.
Avatar is spectacular, and is best experienced in IMAX 3D. George Lucas's special effects house Industrial Light and Magic (ILM) worked on this, and has definitely taken computer generated imagery to the next level. The flora and fauna of the alien world of Pandora literally jump out at you in brilliant and luscious color, excitement and wonder. The story, though at first glance painfully derivative, takes some interesting twists, gives us a solid message about our present and future, and actually allows the audience to invest in the characters as the 2 hour and 47 minute journey unfolds. It is indeed a tale indicative of Joseph Campbell's Hero's Journey, as the main character evolves to stand for something by the end of the film.
Avatar's domestic opening weekend, however was not so spectacular - according to some sources, who compared Avatar's opening weekend numbers to those of New Moon (which made twice as much at $142 million). Bad weather and budget are the apparent culprits, but Avatar has moved on to more than make up for a slow weekend having already made $329 Million worldwide -making back most if not all of its colossal budget.
Indeed, one of the first people that ho-hummed the film was a good friend of mine that figured he'd just see it on DVD. Somewhere along the line, he changed his mind and was waiting in line with us on opening weekend Sunday. The line for the 7:30PM showing for Avatar at the Tampa, FL AMC Veterans 24 theaters was long - people were already there for an hour by the time we showed up, which was an hour before the show. By the end of the film, my friend was glad he came with us to see the film - this was something different, not necessarily new, but a fresh take on what's come before. I raved about the movie at work, and with other friends, and there's a lot of ho-hum out there.
I suspect a lot of that ho-hum is dying down, and the still-ho-hummers will re-nig their ho-humming once they go see what all the hoopla is about.
Monday, November 30, 2009
I listened to a news report a couple weeks ago on NPR Radio about Humboldt County in California. According to David Samuels of the NEW YORKER, Humboldt County is "the heartland of high-grade marijuana farming in California." In the radio report, it is discussed that not only is legal pot grown in Humboldt, but there is also a significant level of illegal pot growth - what a shock. The rampant pot growth occurs in numerous "grow houses," and it's easy to profit from selling, distributing, and assisting in the cultivation and maintenance of pot in this area. Marijuana is entrenched in the county's economy, due to decades of cultural evolution - the hippies of the 60s migrated here, and camped out on the cheap land, and of course pot was/is a staple perishable in hippie culture. Those hippies are in their 50s and 60s now, and many are comfortable to wealthy, and still consuming pot. But it's not just 50 to 60 year olds consuming pot.
Though, many see the benefits of the entrepreneurial enterprise of the marijuana market, there are the setbacks. The NPR radio report used the phrase "Wild West" to describe some of the criminal activity that takes place - neglected grow houses can go a-blaze and consume ridiculous amounts of energy. These said houses are raided by burglars - whether lived in or not, and then there's those subtle turf skirmishes. This is what the politicians will focus in on to battle the legalization of pot. Legalizing pot is not necessarily the bad thing, it's all of the shady activity that could accompany it. The laws dealing with the proliferation of pot in Humboldt are in many cases far more lenient then other parts of the country.
How do you control a legal pot production market when it's so easy for Joe Schmoe down the road to cultivate it in his green garage, and distribute it as far as he can see - under the table to avoid all those pesky business taxes? This seems to be the issue in Humboldt County, where one can walk through a given neighborhood and point out most of the block(s) containing grow houses from door to door. Is this the type of culture that would evolve if pot is legalized, thus making it more socially accessible and marketable?
Saturday, November 28, 2009
I am not the most avid toy collector - though I do have a designated Toy Room, I have seen other peoples' collections, and my collection pales in comparison. I am in now way a completionist, and would never dream of being so - too stressful. My two main lines of focus are Masters of the Universe by Mattel, and Transformers by Hasbro. If I could own stock in these two companies, I would...some day. I'm 32 years old, and I grew up with these two lines and others. I collected them as a kid, and continue to collect them in my adulthood.
Transformers as of late is proving to be far too oversaturating - the movie line is crap in my humble opinion. I do like the complicated, biomechanical, realistic design of the characters onscreen, but the designs do not translate well to the toys. You have repackaged G1 stuff, reimagined G1 stuff, Animated toyline stuff, the movie stuff...there's just too much of it.
Right now, my focus is on Masters of the Universe (MOTU for short), albeit I don't actually collect the figures...not in the budget. Mattel has a good thing going with its MOTU Classics line. Although there's such a limited supply that it sells out quickly on the Mattycollector.com website, and so those that don't act fast enough are forced to pay anywhere from $34 on up for a figure they missed out on - that's some mark up. These third party stores - Ebay, Bigbadtoystore, Amazon, have to recoup their costs from buying the figures from Matty, and try to make a profit. Understandable, but that leaves me and many others out in the cold. It's already a lot to pay $20 plus shipping and tax for one figure, so to invest more? I'm a fan, but I can't go that far.
Well, that is until Adora comes out in the beginning of 2010. Adora, He-Man's twin sister, is She-Ra Princess of Power, the central figure of the female spin-off line Mattel produced back in 1984. The thing is He-Man was re-released in a Commemorative Series in 2000, then was reimagined in 2002. And thanks to the 4 Horsemen toy sculptors, the He-Man flame was kept alive with their "staction" figures and busts, until Mattel released MOTU Classics. She-Ra and company would not receive any sort of attention until the Princess of Power herself received an update as an exclusive San Diego Comic Con retooling of the 2002 Teela figure. The MOTU toyline itself is guilty of having only three female figures in its entire run from 1982 to 1987 - Teela, Evil-Lyn and the Sorceress. What's tragic is the Sorceress was a central character to the mythos, and her figure was not released until the end of the line...hmmmm.
She-ra's line was relatively successful, essentially being an amalgumation of Mattel's two successes - Barbie and He-Man. This amalgumation unfortunately was a key component in the ultimate failure of the She-Ra toyline. Most action figure lines historically have been guilty of producing mostly male figures, and having maybe one or two female figures. The logic is that boys don't want to have girl figures because well...it's too girly. Mattel's decision to make She-Ra strictly a girls' line doomed it from the start, that and the divergent marketing of both the MOTU and the Princess of Power (POP) lines - which ultimately doomed them both. The problem with POP is that the powers that be really didn't know what it should be. Though it was a line for girls, it was an action figure - which was something that boys typically played with. The term "action figure" was coined so that boys didn't have to refer to their 12" G.I. Joe as a doll. Some parents were apprehensive in buying She-Ra figures because she was considered too violent for girls, and they didn't want to promote tom-boyishness. Boys themselves would not dare venture into the "pink" isle at Toys 'R' Us or where ever to pick up a She-Ra figure. I myself had my mother smuggle my She-Ra figure, and kept her in hiding so my father and brother wouldn't ridicule me.
Filmation, the animation house that produced both the He-Man and She-Ra cartoons, essentially used She-Ra's show as a tool to market both the He-Man and She-Ra toylines...
MISTAKE #1. He-Man was cancelled to make She-Ra. So, in essence, She-Ra season one, is He-Man season 3, with He-Man in a guest starring role. This is where the confusion starts. He-Man's success is largely based on this syndicated cartoon series that catapulted the toy franchise to unprecedented fame and sales. You take that marketing vehicle away, and you are destined to see a decline in sales - which is what slowly happened with MOTU. She-Ra, though being a girls' line was made to be hoplessly codependent on MOTU to evolve. Rather than establish She-Ra as her own independent line with some connections to MOTU, the She-Ra show depicted her universe as half MOTU. ALL of her villains, save for Catra and Entrapa, are MOTU characters. So, in order for a girl to logically complete her toyline, her parents have to buy her boys' toys...big no no. Catra should have been the leader of the Horde faction on Etheria (while Hordak re-established a Horde presence on Eternia perhaps). The feline beauty should have had a mass of colorful villainesses at her beck and call to fight against She-Ra's rebellion. But the logic was that you can't have too many "bad girls" in the line, because you don't want girls to want to be bad...sugar and spice and all that.
MISTAKE #2. The inconsistent marketing for She-Ra, as mentioned above, is another dooming factor. The commercials and collectible fiction depicted She-Ra with more Barbie-esque qualities. Pinks, and orchids donned the advertisements, with She-Ra combing her hair wilst admiring her reflection in a pink mirror in the pink Crystral Castle. This was stark contrast to the television series, which did a good job of balancing the sexes if you will. The pinks and orchids are toned down, and She-Ra herself is a strong, but beautiful take charge kind of lady. Boys could watch the show and respect girls, and girls could watch and aspire to be a strong leader. However in Marketing, you have to have a clear and concise direction for what your product should be, and how it is to be represented. This is definitely not the case.
MISTAKE #3. Making a unisex figure toyline....uh a little too early for that. Let's face it, She-Ra was way ahead of her time. Idealistically, a toyline should be accessible to both sexes, not just for boys or girls. This idea that boys only want swords and guns, and girls want combs and dresses is a little dated. Is it the norm for a lot of people, perhaps. But the doors shouldn't be closed to the boy that wants to comb a doll's hair, or have more female action figures, or a girl who wants to wield a sword and be a warrior princess. Maybe conquering sexism starts with the action figure.
Saturday, March 21, 2009
The episode is appropriately titled "Three's a Crowd". I'm not going to do a review that spells out the episode word for word. But I will say that this episode continues to expand the size of the Transformers Animated family, and the ongoing story of the brewing Second Great War that will inevitably come into being.
I will introduce this spoiler, since it is likely to loosely tie into the new Revenge of the Fallen movie...
The new character that comes into being with an Allspark fragment, a forklift and a Headmaster unit is a new third Constructicon by the name of Dirt Boss. Dirt boss is not a character based on a G1 Constructicon, though there is a Revenge of the Fallen figure with the same name, and the same vehicle mode. He adds to the unique flavor of the personalities of the Constructicon group, balancing the goofball, wistling, cackling New York-accented construction worker with the grumbly, slightly sinister, small but hefty Chicago mob boss. He instantly takes control of the group, with a little Three Stooges Moe slapstick. And there's even some potential foreshadowing at the end when Scrapper, Mixmaster, and Dirt Boss find themselves inexplicably entangled with one another...
Do I see a couple more Constructicons joining the entanglement to form the mighty Animated Devestator?
Friday, March 20, 2009
Watchmen is rated R, has gratuitous violence, nudity--namely ample flacid penises, and steamy super hero sex. It's in a category all it's own--I suspect many aren't quite sure how to classify it. It's not as kid friendly as the above mentioned movies, and it goes further than the Punisher, Blade, Hell Boy or even Spawn movies. There's no super hero movie that has ventured into the territory that Watchmen has. It's a deep movie, with socio-political and philosophical tones--it's not just eye candy. It has a shelf life, there's more to it than just watching explosions, special effects and sappy acting.
I'll be honest in saying that there were moments where watching exploding bodies and super hero sex was a little over the top for me. But this film is definitely deserving of a re-watch, and my eventual monetary support of the DVD.
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Then you had those automotive CEOs flying in their private jets to ask for more bailout money.
Then you had the corruption on Wall Street.
Next, you have AIG execs getting awarded $73 million dollars in retention bonuses (some of them didn't end up staying with the company btw), and this money came out of the bailout money being paid by us the taxpayers.
Are the wealthy driving the economy like many have been arguing for years now?
The wealthy have been finding ways to protect their money, and benefit from tax cuts, credits and loopholes--eroding the stability of the US economy. Now, they're screaming "socialist" because someone's trying to change the game, and give assistance to the true drivers of the economy--the working class, the Middle Class. If we the Middle Class can't pay our bills and stay out of debt, the economy tanks. Businesses that depend on consumer dollars (which is most businesses) shrivel up and die if there are no consumers. And there's only so many millionaires and billionaires to go around. It's the Middle Class that keeps the thing going.
So if you cut wages, outsource jobs to China, Cuba, Mexico, India and Hell, and you enslave consumers with shady entrapping loans and credit resources, you siphon off the spending power of the all-important Consumer, thus leading to an economic collapse.
Where did I get this economic theory from? Life in the U.S. of A.
Sunday, March 1, 2009
I don't understand. The Republicans, who had maintained control in Congress since 1995 (until they recently lost that control to the Democrats), continue on this rhetoric about the Liberals, the Left-Wingers, the Democrats.
Leading to an almost scandalous series of events that lands the United States of America into a dark, dank, dismal hole that will take several years to dig out of, the Republicans can't point fingers, since they controlled Congress, and held power in the White House during most if not all of this time.
Bin Laden is still out there, multiple billions of dollars have been siphoned to fund an unpopular and misguided war, excessive deregulation "free market" policies have led to gross abuse at the hands of Wall Street, over-inflated corporations, and banks.
How can so many decisions go wrong?
Conservative Rush Limbaugh continues his near-extremist rhetoric about how the Liberals are destroying the country, and how President Obama needs to fail. He proposes that tax cuts are the solution to our present economic calamity. He fails to see or acknowledge how the Conservative approach has put us in a hole, and led to a public perception that the conservative Republicans have fucked it up and can't be trusted.
Tax cuts? That's what the Republicans always say.
- "We're out of toilet paper!" Give a tax cut.
- "I lost my job." Give a tax cut.
- "They just spilled another 3,000 gallons of oil in the ocean." Give a tax cut.
Tax cuts work in the ideal world, if all the conditions are right. But they rarely are. The idea is: you give people tax cuts, they have more money to spend, and government cuts back on its spending, thus leading to the stimulation of the economy.
In reality, people DID spend the money from Bush's tax cuts, but very little of it would help stimulate the economy...obviously.
- Financial burdens placed on the Middle Class, along with the stagnation of wages and the rise of unemployment, was helped very little by tax cuts.
- The government has consistently increased spending during the Bush Administration, leading to a rampantly increasing national debt. Tax cuts didn't solve this either.
So you hear all this stuff about how scary Obama's "socialist" views and brute force are, and how this doesn't bode well for American prosperity.
People fear change, and Obama did promise that he was going to bring it. So there are those who will fight it, because they don't understand, and their losing the world they know. But change is necessary and inevitable, especially when it's painfully clear that the status quo is broken.
Come back for Part 2 when I rant about the Bernie Madoffs, Wall Street, and the backwards banks and creditors.
Saturday, February 28, 2009
Masters of the Universe, a toy franchise that hit the market back in 1981, still has a presence today. Though its presence is not as strong as another successful, long-living 80s line, i.e. The Transformers, He-Man and his cohorts are finding their way into consumers' hands. MOTU's second climb to fame and success is still at hand, as the potential of the brand is obvious--there is just a need to market the franchise in a way that will make He-Man and the Masters king again.
In an ironic twist, the Transformer line did not appear in the United States until three years after MOTU filled the toy shelves, and then only a year after the He-Man franchise was booming--chiefly due to the success of the cartoon series that debuted in 1983 (MOTU is usually given credit for pioneering an action figure toyline that corresponds with an ongoing cartoon series). At the time, TF was one of the many boy's toy lines that competed for market success, it offered something different--an action figure that presented two modes of play i.e. car and robot etc., and likely wouldn't be compared to He-Man the way another line like Thundercats or Silverhawks would be. Perhaps because of that difference, and indeed Hasbro and Takara's marketing strategy, Transformers would persevere running almost non-stop from 1984 to the present with a steady level of success. MOTU, however, would run from 1981 to 1991 almost non-stop with varying levels of success, and meeting a total demise with the New Adventures of He-Man toyline.
Like many 80s properties, He-Man made an attempt at a come-back--more than ten years after the franchise disappeared from toy shelves, and the entertainment market as a whole. Unlike Transformers, a line that maintained a presence in the boys toy market, as well as the adult collector market, He-Man had to make a come-back, a strong come-back. At a time when competition was fierce, more fierce than it was in the 80s, the marketing ploy had to be one that hit the consumer on multiple levels. Mattel, the toy company that owns the rights to the He-Man franchise, launched a marketing campaign that saw the release of commercials, a cartoon series, a comic book series, and miscellaneous items like partyware, socks, etc. Many argue that the marketing was not invasive enough. The cartoon series, though in many ways innovative and action-packed, somehow was not reaching its audience. In comparison, other brands debuted cartoon series on network television and syndication, hitting a wider audience. Some would even debut on Cartoon Network and air re-runs in syndication, ensuring a massive market coverage. He-Man was exclusive to the Cartoon Network, a cable channel that everyone didn't get.
The action figures of the 2002 Masters of the Universe toyline were beautifully designed and sculpted by the Four Horsemen, a group that is amongst today's top and well-known action figure makers. The line was breath-taking, and when it made its premier at comic-cons and toy conventions in the early 2000's, fans were ecstatic at He-Man's return. Fans had been rooting for his return for years, voicing their desires on websites and forums that eventually merged to become He-Man.org. The 2002 line indeed started with a boom with the toys on shelves, and a television series on Cartoon Network. Eventually, a comic book by MVCreations was released, showing that He-Man was on the up and up. With a second season, and more waves of figures, and statues and bust exclusives, everything was looking good. But then the numbers started pouring in, and He-Man apparently was not performing as well as expected. Yes, the adult collector was ecstatic and avid about the figures, and those expensive busts, but the 4+ year old consumer just wasn't buying it. The line was perhaps too sophisticated, and actually targeted to an older audience, losing the younger demographic.
With a campaign that failed to grab its target audience, Mattel pulled the line back. Though the second season was planned out, and a third season was conceptualized with He-Man's sister She-Ra coming on board, the cartoon was scheduled into the "Oblivion" time slot on Cartoon Network and eventually was cancelled. The toy line was cancelled, and the comic book eventually disappeared as well. Many fans say that the demise of the line was due to Mattel's poor marketing and distribution strategy--not enough advertising of the brand, and too many of the same two or three figures flooding the toy shelves. I experienced multiple times first hand the journey from Walmart to K-Mart to Target to Toys-R-Us to K.B. Toys, all in the same day, only to find the same He-Man and Skeletor variants, and none of the other figures of the rest of the collection.
Despite Mattel's decree, fans were outraged and many online petitions, phone calls and emails followed. The toy company's only answer was to give the Four Horsemen limited power over releasing a line of "staction" figures, statues and busts through NECA (National Entertainment Collectibles Association) that basically keep the franchise afloat. The staction figures were hot order items, some of them going for $80-100 on Ebay because of the demand--off the shelf, one would usually cost around $17. Along with the Four Horsemen's line, BCI Eclipse has struck gold with their ongoing DVD series of the original. The Best of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, a DVD set of 10 episodes voted on by the fans, was a smash hit. Winning the 2005 Award for Best 1980s TV DVD Release, the set paved the way for the entire run of the original show on DVD, as well as the She-Ra series, the New Adventures series, and the 2002 Mike Young Productions series. BCI also plans to release other cartoon series created by Filmation (the original He-Man's cartoon studio) thanks to the success of He-Man.
The desire for MOTU products is obvious with the aforementioned success of the Four Horsemen products and the DVDs. Mattel has released the Masters of the Universe Classics line (likely an attempt to replicate the success of Hasbro's Transformers Universe/Classics line). Unlike the retailer-prevalent Transformers Classics, MOTU Classics can only be found on Mattel's exclusive online store (they're playing it safe, gauging to see if producing such a line can prove to be lucrative). Mattel is also banking on the success of a live motion picture coming to theaters near you...hopefully within the next decade. I say if the Transformers can flood the market and conventions with its various products and sophomoric television series (not counting their most recent TF: Animated), and live motion pictures, the same can be done with the one toy line that started it all.
The good news has finally come down the pipes: Transformers Animated is back for a third season on Cartoon Network, starting on March 14th. There's been much speculation about the fate of this show--especially with rumors abound that the toy line is coming to a swift close. Transformers Animated was something of a departure, as compared with preceding renditions of the Transformers franchise. Animated sports a very stylized look for its cartoon and action figure lines--most compare the style to the Cartoon Network's successful Teen Titans cartoon series of the early aughts (2000s).
Though the style of the cartoon series took some adjustment, the story and character quality are both vast improvements over the Transformers fodder that aired for almost half a decade before. Animated is indeed a captivating show that does a good job of maintaining core characters, while taking advantage of the vast array of characters and mythology that this franchise has at its disposal.
And the rumors about the toy line being cancelled? There may be some truth to it. Though the figures are very faithful to their cartoon counterparts, the quality of the toys themselves is questionable. I only have four in my collection--and only one of them seems to be durable enough to with stand my manipulation of it--and I'm not that rough. Aside from the possible fragility of the toy line, Animated also has Transformers toy counterparts like the Transformers Universe toyline, and the upcoming Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen movie toyline to compete with for shelf space. It seems that retailers are expecting the movie toyline to be super-white-hot with the anticipated success of the film--and with preview shots of figures from the line showing up at major toy shows, and being leaked to the 'net by naughty fanboys, the movie toyline is obviously going to need some room on the shelves. Thus, stores like Walmart and Target are making that room by sacrificing Animated.
Sometimes, you can have too much of a good thing...but as long as they bring back the cartoon, I can miss out on the toys.
Friday, February 20, 2009
Resistance: Fall of Man, a game title that was released shortly after the debut of Play Station 3, has won the hearts of myself and my closest friends. I consider myself to be a mild gamer at best--having had a hard time switching from the old fashion side-scrollers to the contemporary 360 world.
Yeah, I'm slow.
My Better Half and I got the PS3 for each other for Christmas. My main interest in the console was the Blue Ray feature--a la Dark Knight. But I would soon discover how socially engaging video gaming would be. Mortal Kombat vs DC captivated a number of friends at the onslaught of birthday gatherings that seemed to stack up in the winter months. I received Resistance: Fall of Man for my birthday, and wasn't sure how involved I'd get in it. At first the play seemed to be complicated, and progress proved next to impossible. But it was a matter of getting acclimated to the controls, and playing with friends to get through the game.
I haven't played through a game with the involvement of friends in years--spending hours at one another's homes to assist in progressing through the game. We beat the game (I suspect on easy mode) within a week, and though it was quite an achievement, we were hungry for more. The gameplay was intuitive, and there was a tasteful mixture of the historical and sci-fi elements in the story to keep you going. It was an addictive experience that the four of us hope to experience again...it's a matter of finding the right game.
Resistance 2 didn't prove to be as enjoyable an experience--fortunately we rented it, and demanded an exchange at our local Blockbuster.