Surf's up -
It's hard to believe now, but for many years summertime was the dead zone in the movie industry. In the age before air-conditioning, a summer's night out at the movies often meant going to the drive-in, and the fare there? Well, the trashier, the better.
But since "Jaws" and successive blockbusters, this is the time of year when the most exciting (and definitely not necessarily the best) movies come out.
This week's web column celebrates popcorn season with a spate of sites all about the movies.
"We count bodies, so you don't have to" is the working motto of this site, which scores (if that's the right word) the number of deaths that appear in specific movies. For some popcorn junkies, that's a key indicator - not of quality, but the likelihood they can check their brain at the door, kick back and relax.
Here you'll find a list of new and upcoming releases, presented in a table stacked with data: a numerical summary of critical reviews, ratings, run times, release dates, and so on. Best option: you can customize your own lists.
Roger Ebert on Twitter
The world's most famous film critic may have lost his ability to speak aloud, but Ebert is far from silent. He's still writing, daily, and some of his funniest lines are released through Twitter. Look also for links to blog posts and published work.
This iTunes app - designed for the iPhone, but it works on an iPad, too - is like taking a database into the video store. A web connection is not necessary, which is a bonus if you're watching your minutes or have a wifi-enabled device. Look up titles, get instant information on the cast, and sample what others (including the Rotten Tomatoes critics' aggregator) have to say about a movie ... before you plunk down a penny to see it. Search for it in iTunes; it costs just two bucks.
Speaking of which, this venerable site is still going strong. Its value comes from consensus, of sorts, by sifting through multiple sources to get an idea of whether a movie is good or not. I've found it a pretty good guide through the years.
Almost 20 years ago, I saw an Imax movie for the first time (Blue Planet, a documentary on the planet, filmed from the unique views of space shuttles), and it was a transcending experience. I've made a point of seeking out Imax movies when I travel. I have a dream that St. John's may one day get one of those vast theatres; in the meantime, the official site is a bit of a peek into what we're missing.
Ferdy on Films
If the clout of film critics has waned through the years, there's nonetheless some terrific writing online. This is one place where you'll find solid, informed criticism.
DVD Verdict takes its title pretty seriously, with subheadings like "the facts of the case" and "the evidence" laid out for each, um, case. Yes, it can get a little grating, but the sheer volume of content is worth keeping this one around.
Internet Movie Script Database
IMDB, or the Internet Movie Database, is a key entertainment reference; IMSDB is more than just adding a letter. It collects scripts of numerous movies and posts them here. Other than raising a copyright flag, I'd point hardcore fans here, just so they can immerse themselves.
Insultingly Stupid Movie Physics
Ever seen a movie where an assassin with a silencer fires a weapon and it goes "fut-fut." Sounds familiar, right? And, well, not at all possible. The title of this site gives away its point of view on explosions, lasers and whatnot. It's interesting stuff, but the design is insultingly tough on the eyes.
John Gushue is an online editor with CBC News in St. John's. Twitter: @johngushue. Blog: johngushue.typepad.com.