25 May 2010

Daybreakers, The Lovely Bones, The Road

Starring Ethan Hawke, Willem Dafoe, Sam Neil, Claudia Karvan, Michael Dorman, Isabel Lucas
Written by Michael & Peter Spierig
Directed by Michael & Peter Spierig

Release date: 8 January 2010

Lionsgate, 98 mins., Rated R

Plot: The vampires supply of human blood is running out, and a substitute needs to be found pronto or vampires are gonna evolve into something really frakked up.

Vampires have been done to death these days. Vampire there, vampire here - oh, the tortured soul thou art! So it's bloody spectacular (pun sorta intended) to have vampires go back to their roots: blood suckers and proud of it. Well, with the exception of our protagonist, the horribly named Edward Dalton (Hawke) who isn't a fan of the whole drinking-human-blood thing. But the majority of the world is damn happy to be a vampire. The entire world has been made to accommodate vampire life: security systems for houses and vehicles to warn 'em about approaching sunlight, coffee with some nicely rich blood thrown in for good measure, and a good supply of human blood to make everyone the world happy.

Except the bloods running out, and here startith the really cool concepts of Daybreakers. Turns out that vampires will evolve into something ugly, reminiscent to how Dracula looked in Van Helsing but even uglier and nuttier. So a substitute needs to be manufactured and really damn soon - and Edward, the blood producing companies biggest asset - decides to accompany Mr. Dafoe and Ms. Karvan to find a CURE to vampirism (that's a word, right?). That cure ends up being both a stupid and cool idea simultaneously, which is rather a neat accomplishment when you think about it. There's the opinion that's it's stupid 'cuz it doesn't make any sense whatsoever, but also sorta nifty because as far as I know this solution hasn't been used before.

Oh! And Sam Neil. Yep, Dr. Grant from Jurassic Park. Or Merlin. Whatever one you prefer. But his presence in this movie was basically my ticket. Dr. Grant made a 'cool!' impression on me as a wee lad, totally obsessed with dinosaurs and paleontology, I nearly idolized the bloke. So if there's any other Sam Neil lovers in the world, this is a guaranteed need-to-see. Neil plays the main badass vampire dude in charge of the human blood bank company, and he gets some awesome moments to shine as he makes one wicked decision after another.

In the end, Daybreakers isn't a bad film at all. It's quite entertaining, has a good amount of original material that's unprecedented in vampire films these years, and features some fine performances from Hawke and Dafoe [especially Hawke, who has seemingly been in and out of consciousness in film roles as of late], cool vampire effects, and a attractive leading lady (which is always a plus). My only real problem with the finished production is that is DOESN'T feel like a finished product. By all means, they probably wrote, produced and directed this flick with the intent of creating some sort of franchise, and I don't know if the film's gross was sizable enough to warrant as such, but the film concludes in a very anti-climatic fashion. It's as of the writer came up with this exciting concept but couldn't think up a proper resolution (or at least path to where the story is heading). Where it ends now, basically anything can happen. Sure, a cure has been found, but there's still so many unanswered questions concerning virtually everything introduced in the movie.

In that regard, there's disappointment, but not nearly as much as I was disappointed with Legion which came out the same month earlier this year. Bad comparison, I know, but it was the only thing I could think of. So all in all, I'd highly recommend Daybreakers. It gives us something fresh-ish, which is desperately needed in the height of Twilight-mania. Plus Willem Dafoe as a ex-vampire is just too sweet to pass up, no?

The Lovely Bones
Starring Saorise Ronan, Rachel Weisz, Mark Wahlberg, Stanley Tucci
Written by Fran Walsh, Peter Jackson, Philippa Boyens

Based on the book "The Lovely Bones" by Alice Sebold

Directed by Peter Jackson

Release date: 15 January 2010

DreamWorks, 136 mins., Rated PG-13

Plot: 16-year old Susie Salmon dies and watches her loved ones from the in-between world.

That was...interesting. Some really pretty visuals that totally and utterly do justice to the word pretty, but overall lack of any real emotion or relatability to character really affects the film in a negative way. Which is weird considering that we're dealing with the writing and directing team who made up care about three foot Hobbits and a freaky ring-obsessed skinny thing for three loooonngg movies. But weird as it may be, The Lovely Bones just doesn't click, and judging by other reviews, I'm not the only bloke who thinks this. So how does a A-class filmmaker team make a rather dodgy flick?

Well, I can't say 100% where the problem lies, but I wager the casting would be the biggest component. See, I think the script's just fine. A good, faithful adaptation of the book (as far as I can tell), with all the necessary details, decent enough characterization, etc. Sure, I think a bit more emphasis on Susie is necessary, since it is, y'know, her story, but since the direction of the movie is more of a murder-mystery than a Susie's life and afterlife, I can forgive that. So it comes down to casting. Rachel Weisz and Mark Wahlberg were not the right guys for the roles, and it almost feels like the actors even know this. They just seem uncomfortable with their performances, which makes me uncomfortable by extension. It's odd that the best actor in the picture is Susie's sister, Lindsey, played by Rose McIver (who is in Power Rangers RPM!!!), who doesn't become a major force of the film until the final 30 minutes. And don't think I'm dissing Stanley Tucci's performance by neglecting to comment on that - he was undoubtedly a strong second force in the picture, and was absolutely creepy as hell.

The most pivotal role in the film is also the biggest miscast, I think. Saorise, I got nothing against you. I liked you in City of Ember, but I just don't think you were ready for this type of role. Not yet. Perhaps it's because we don't get enough time with her, but I really didn't care about Susie Salmon, nor did I get a feel for her character. The biggest emotional impact I got concerning her was when Tucci's murderous George Harvey is getting away with tossing her body, and you're literally hoping beyond hope that someone will be able to intervene and catch this freakin' guy. But as far as Susie goes - yeah, she's your typical adorable young girl who is just discovering who she is, and then spends the rest of the movie not really doing much of anything other than walking around aimlessly in her 'in-between' world. It's not until the final reel where some sort of emotion comes from her, starting to display her disagreement with her being dead status. If I were to compare her performance to a well known character, I'd say she's not too dissimilar to the portrayal of Luna Lovegood.

Peter Jackson directs the hell out of this picture. The camera is constantly moving or doing something unique and directorially spiffy, and although I'm all for being creative with this wonderful tool known as the camera, Jackson could have restrained himself a bit, most definitely. I love Jackson as a director - Lord of the Rings and King Kong are phenomenal from a technical standpoint alone - but this far more intimate tail didn't need all this spizz spazz. Speaking of 'spizz spazz', whatever that may be, digital effects are all the rage in The Lovely Bones, and that's a mighty downfall. Yes, Susie creates her own ideal world with all these fancy things [there's particularly a AWESOME sequence in which her father's (Wahlberg) miniature ships in bottles are not so miniature anymore: they're giant monster size, and crashing into each other, causing broken glass and wood flying everywhere. It's a very chaotic but beautiful scene that nicely displays what Jackson envisioned with the 'in-between' world, but then he went a bit too far with it...], but that shouldn't be Susie's focus point, personally or story-wise.

The Lovely Bones is simply just a missed opportunity. Something went wrong along the way of production, and the film became a showcase of digital creations and a fantasy world, and seemed to have forgotten about its central character along the way. It was still a decent movie, but I can't necessarily recommend it to anyone. Maybe if there's a YouTube video called, er, "Lovely Bones in 60 Seconds"? Y'know, with the entire movie sped up x60, maybe with a dialogue pause every 15 seconds. If you're still curious about the title, than by no means will I dissuade you from doing that, just understand that it's not at the level of filmmaking you're expecting. Or at least I was. Oh, nevermind.

The Road
Starring Viggo Mortensen, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Charlize Theron
Written by Joe Penhall
Based on the book 'The Road' by Cormack McCarthy
Directed by John Hillcoat
Release date: 25 November 2009
The Weinstein Company, 111 mins., Rated R

Plot: A father and son do their best to survive in the aftermath of the apocalypse.

This is a good example of studios infuriatingly screwing decent movies over with limited releases where freakin' nobody can see the flick until it hits the DVD market. A powerful lead performer, bunch of Oscar buzz and critical accolades, I don't get why The Road didn't get a bigger distribution. Was it the 'depressing' subject matter? Couldn't have been. A more depressing subject is that junk like Letters to Juliet still gets made. Is it that it's not uber-marketable? Possibly, but like I said, it has plenty of power behind it. Aragorn and good buzz - two pretty good things that would help a movie garner to a wider audience. But whatev, the studio did what they did, and now the DVD is upon us, and I've finally seen The Road!

Immediate reaction: that was the movie I've been waiting months to see? By that, I mean that I was expecting something grandiose, sorta full of philosophizing, and a lot of good guy vs. bad guy. Turns out, it really, truly is a documentary like glimpse in the life of a father and son who survived the apocalypse and do whatever they need to do to stay amongst the living. Sure, there's threats to their existence, like cannibals and all that, but it's not the driving force of the movie. Father and son. And a lot of distrust in basically everything and everybody, but that goes along with the whole cannibal-thing.

The Road is unjustifiably compared to The Book of Eli, understandable considering the post-apocalyptic theme and similar landscape. But Eli has a story...a mission, and it gets resolved by the film's end. Plus that movie has Denzel Washington shooting and slicin' bad guys into bits, and Viggo Mortensen's biggest action is making a 50/50 shot at a cannibal in the first 20 minute stretch. The Road doesn't concern itself with a major plot. There's not a direction the film's going. Viggo wants to go west, because he was instructed to. What's waiting for them west, what west has to do with anything, I don't know. Maybe they said something, but everyone was whispering in the movie so bloody much I didn't catch portions of the dialogue. If one was to cut the film down to its bare essentials, the movie is about people walking. Y'know that scene in Clerks II with Randal giving his interpretation of the LOTR trilogy? Well, that could very well be applied here.

The movie concludes without really concluding. Nothing is resolved, everything is open ended, and nothing has been gained [although one could argue against this assertion]. But I wager that's the best finale for a film that delights in its bleakness.

As it stands, I wasn't particularly taken away with The Road, but I don't necessarily dislike it either. The movie is haunting, to be sure. The crew did a fantastic job at making the entire earth look like a shit storm, where every tree and house is a potential threat waiting to be sprung and cause a problem to our dynamic duo. It's bleak, and really, really depressing. And that just helps stir the emotional journey of Dad and Son, who even have their own system on when to commit suicide and the quickest way to do it if things turn bad.

Viggo Mortensen bares his soul as 'the Man', as you can literally see the wear and tear of this broken down father doing everything and anything to protect his son. Speaking about wear and tear, (hopefully) CG shots of a skeletal-like Viggo are utterly freaky to see, conjuring up images of Holocaust survivors. At the opposite spectrum, we've got Charlize Theron in three unnecessary flashbacks as the Mom who is the utter definition of depressed, regretting bringing a child into this world and too far gone in her own internal depression that she decides to vaca her husband and son and go out into the woods at night. Kodi Smit-McPhee, slated to be seen in Let Me In (the remake of Let the Right One In), is impressive as the unnamed son, displaying fear and (at one point) jubilation to great effect.

The Road's worth seeing, and the good performances and gorgeously depressing cinematography makes it definitely worth seeing. Just watch a uplifting fluff film afterwards.

Lost - Season 5

Lost - Season 5
Naveen Andrews, Matthew Fox, Evangeline Lilly, Josh Holloway, Jorge Garcia, Terry O'Quinn, Elizabeth Mitchell, Henry Ian Cusick, Michael Emerson, Daniel Day Kim, Yunjin Kim, Alan Dale, Ken Leung
Developed by Jeffrey Lieber, J.J. Abrams, Damon Lindelof
Transmission season: Spring 2009
ABC, 17 episodes, 43 mins.

: Oceanic 815 vs. 1977!!!


Wow. Just wow. A few hours ago, I finished the show's fifth season, and I'm absolutely blown away. In two days - the quickest I've went through a season of a show - I've watched some of the most amazing, awesome, brilliant, and moving episodes I've ever seen. Yah ever get that feeling, watching something, that a particular episode or entire program was crafted specifically for you? That was my experience with this year of Lost.

As the end date of the show approaches ever nearer, the writers have created a complicated season full of time travel mu
mbo jumbo, character reversals, major twists, major amount of destiny vs. free will fights, and some of the best storylines the show has ever crafted. And by the end of this season, we get a glimpse of the larger picture that encompasses the entire Lost universe, and it is phenomenal.

Basically, I'm so enamored with this season I'm rushing off and picking it up on Blu-Ray ASAP. I will leave no bonus feature or commentary unturned. This season calls for multiple rewatch, and damn if I don't comply.

The Season

Alright, last season introduced the freighter, the flashforwards, the characters Frank, Charlotte, Daniel, and Miles, and the concept of time and movement. This season, as a ramification of Ben moving the island, a hiccup effect occurs and the island "flashes" and moves through diverse time periods; Locke embarks on a mission that could very well cost him his life; the "Oceanic Six" are faced with a extremely difficult choice, although it may not be a choice at all if fate has anything to do with it; the freighter folk find hidden connections to the island they've never known before; and the mysterious Jacob, the Dharma Initiative, and the Others shed a bit more detail about themselves, but of course not the whole picture.

With 17 episodes,
a lot happens and it doesn't feel like a single episode was wasted.

With the whole time travel aspect, time is quite the important factor this season, moreso than others. The trademark Lost gimmick of introducing something amazing in one episode and paying it off with the resolution three or four episodes down the road is used here, but not as often as prior seasons (thank God). But it's still around: the opening scene of the season with Dr. Change and Daniel Faraday springs to mind, as resolution to that doesn't come until the end of the season. But anyway, time is a gorgeous thing: the whole Locke telling Richard to tell a wounded Locke something blew my mind, and it took a few brain cells to finally 'get' that whole sequence of events once it's explained before the finale; the whole thing with Eloise and Daniel in 1954/1977 was also particularly well thought on. Basically, the Lost writers did a amazing job coordinating all these different time-lines, deciding what they can and can't do according to quantum physics and general sci-fi rules of time itself.

I also think they did a fantastic job with meshing all these time periods together. Before I even watched the series, I knew about this whole 1977/2007 thing the show was doing, and I was confused as hell but simultaneously interested in how they would pull it off. Well, brilliantly simple. Everything changes but them - they are the constants (throwback to a season 4 episode), but the environment alters according to said timeline. For example, the Swan hatch not existing, then existing, and then blown up - all three instances shown in the season. As far as why the island goes through these multiple time periods without being some sort of plot contrivance, it's a nice ramification of when Ben moved the island, it started to go a little haywire, zapping from period to period. The only part I didn't get is why getting the Oceanic Six back would basically save the day (since the time looping ended when Locke zapped himself to Tuscany or wherever), and I hope that gets explained someway somehow before the finale.

But anyway, I love the reveal of Miles, Sawyer, Juliet, and a well-sounding English speaking Jin working at the Dharma Initiative, stuck in 1974 with not much else to do. The only other Oceanic survivors who are still around on the island, Rose and Bernard, have set up came somewhere else and really don't give a damn about what new plot to save the day Jack & Co. have in store. Obviously I don't know if this whole time table scenario was part of the original mega-mythology plan created by Lindelof and Cuse, but it seems so effortlessly tied into everything established thus far while simultaneously wonderfully setting up elements for what's to come, I can't help but think that perhaps these guys really have had a master plan all this time.

And furthering the mythology big time this season, the writers finally, finally, finally give us a glimpse of Jacob (Supernatural's Mark Pellegrino), the enigmatic powerful figure that's been mentioned since, I believe, season 3. The downside to this great reveal? He's only featured in the two-parter "The Incident." But overall, that's OK: the first scene of the finale gives us the set-up for the big events that will unfold in season 6, and presents to the audience the bigger storyline of Lost and what everything has been about from the beginning. Turns out that the island has been a battleground between two brothers, one dressed in white and brights (Jacob, the protector), and the other made up all in black and plotting to kill his broheim (because the "rules" dictate he can't kill Jacob). It's a grand Shakespearean tale of betrayal and tragedy laid out on a mystical island.

Way freakin' cool!

In previous reviews, I've sorta complained about a lack of movement with a lot of the characters. I get that the flashbacks are done, so further insight into their past and what makes them them is not gonna happen anytime soon. But as far as on the island, unless there's a death threat, everyone is very reactionary and aren't given a moment to grow as a character. Well, this season changes all that. Everyone gets to shine, and I mean everyone.

There's two characters who particularly go through quite a change - Ben and Sawyer. Introduced in season 2, Ben/Henry Gale was always the 'man in charge', even when held prisoner by John and Jack. Throughout season three, he further solidified his power of manipulation and utter malice, and in season four we began to see his exterior break a little, but tragic events in his life hardened his shell back into a force of calculation and murder. But here in season five, Ben is completely out of his element, a broken version of who he once was. When he gets back on the island, he is nothing more than a rodent compared to greater powers, and at the very end of the season it is he who is manipulated. A very nice reversal of character three years in the making.

Sawyer matures and becomes a leader, making the tough decisions, maintains a stable relationship, and is all around a new and improved version of the broken down man he was in seasons three and four. Now he has a great relationship with Juliet (super shocker), is the Chief of Security at the Dharma Initiative, and is rather living a pretty good life. And when the Oceanic Six return to frak things up
for him, he thinks things through, contemplates multiple solutions, and acts quick on his feet. This isn't the Sawyer we all knew - this is a grown man, and it's awesome to see Josh Holloway allowed to do this character like this. It's also quite awesome to see Sawyer take a anti-Jack stance near the end, effectively trying to stop him from going through with his Jughead plan. That was some super riveting stuff, and Sawyer's transformation is definitely one of the major highlights of the season.

Speaking of Juliet, I did find her more likable this season, but Elizabeth Mitchell honestly can't seem to convey a single emotion on her stern, seemingly glued expression. With the sole exception of her final scene at the Swan Station, Juliet maintains the exact same expression on her face the entire season. Happy, mad, sad - doesn't matter; that expression don't move, dude.

Miles, Daniel, and Charlotte are given the opportunity to explore their pasts. Turns out Daniel has a lot of connections to the island stemming from his parentage (LOVE the twist with his mom on the island and the BOOM!), and I loved every sequence with him in it. Charlotte lived on the island as a young girl, but her storyline and character is unfortunately not given enough material to really care - with the exception of Daniel's agony over her decreasing health with each subsequent 'flash'. Miles' background isn't paid off till the final episodes, and it's delicious to find that a recurring character from since season 1 be integral to a season 4 character.

Locke gets the short end of the stick big time. His 'leadership' over Richard's gang doesn't exactly last too long, and he's immediately thrust into the time game as the island f
lashes at random intervals. And then he seems to discover his purpose - to reunite the Oceanic Six and save the island. Enter Ben, doing a deed that I still don't understand and effectively destroying Locke's life. Um, why? And damnit, that's just cruel. I half wish the twist at the end of "The Incident" involving Locke didn't happen, and that everything that happened on the island after 316 crashed was actually him. But I can deal; it sucks that it happened, and I feel a little short-ended by the producers, butt it's also a delicious twist that even I as a show runner couldn't pass up. Plus, it directly ties into the show's overall mythology.

Another great thing about the time travel element - it allows the audience to get a glimpse of the Asian man who hosts all the Orientation videos: Dr. Chang. And it turns out Dr. Chang has a connection to one of our Lostites. This season allows the opportunity for characters who have been briefly seen in flashbacks to be fleshed out, given greater dimension, and also see the beginnings of certain things/projects/places that will be very important to the Oceanic 815 crew.

I could honestly bask in the brilliance of this season in a ginormous blog, and write about how much I love certain aspects of every friggin' episode, but I won't and I'll just say that season 5 is the best season yet, and I'll probably analyze it over and over and over again. For those who want to join in the fun, I recommend the book Finding Lost: Season 5, by Nikki Stafford (who wrote books on Buffy, Xena and Angel, as well). That woman leaves no clue unturned, delves into the books the characters read (e.g., Ben's book given to him by Locke in Season 2; Sawyer's book he's reading in 1977 at Dharmaville), poses questions, reveals goofs and hidden Easter eggs in each episode - it's a goldmine of Lost information. My apologies if this sounds too much like a TV ad - it's simply that this lady has done her research and written a magnificent series of books that unlocks even deeper layers of Lost awesomeness, and shouldn't be skipped by any means.


I could go on and on and on and on about the brilliance of Michael Giacchino and how the series couldn't be nearly as powerful as it is without his majestic score, but I won't. I'm simply going to say that you're doing a disservice to the show if you don't go out and try to iTunes or buy the CD of his work, you positively won't regret it. Or hell, before you buy it, give it a listen on YouTube.

- It's great to see Richard Alpert get a even bigger role in events this season.

- Charles Widmore and Eloise Hawking had a "complicated" relationship!

- The Smoke Monster and The Temple!

- Jin is alive, rescued by a important [now deceased in 2004 timeline] character!

Final Words

The best season by far, it has everything I could ask for: riveting plot, beautiful character development for everyone involved (even the minors get their time to shine), plenty of surprises, brilliant cinematography by Jack Bender (as always), and a game-changing new direction for the show to take in its sixth and final season. But the true essence of why this season should be seen are these two names: John Locke and Benjamin Linus. Yeah, you knew it. Well, onward to re-watching season 6.

24 May 2010

Iron Man 2

Iron Man 2 (Take One)
Starring Robert Downey, Jr., Don Cheadle, Scarlett Johansson, Sam Rockwell, Samuel L. Jackson, Mickey Rourke, Gwyneth Paltrow
Written by Justin Theroux

Directed by Jon Favreau

Release: 07 May 2010

Marvel Entertainment, 125 mins., Rated PG-13

Plot: Tony Stark (Downey) has revealed himself to the public as Iron Man, and he's under immense pressure from the US and military to hand over his weapons while simultaneously a Russian man with a grudge really wants to beat Tony up for some past history he has no part in.

Yep, Iron Man 2 was pretty damn good. For me, I could absolutely use a 'Extended Cut' experience with a extra 20 minutes attached to flesh out the characters and emphasize the subplots a little more, but overall, a damn fine product handled with love and care, and best of all: was super fun to watch. Either due to utter laziness or the fact there's already 4,892 Iron Man 2 reviews online by critics/bloggers like myself, I've decided to just cut up my thoughts as such:

- I love, love, love, love, LOVE the banter between Tony Stark and Pepper Pots, and the movie's real crime is not allowing these two wonderful actors and characters enough screentime to really do their thing. The flick is so overloaded with plot points and Robert Downey being super awesome as Tony that the pair don't have enough time together to just sit and talk. They have one really good scene together when he promotes Pepper, but then they don't share anything remotely as awesome as the last film's hilarious banter until the finale.

- Jon Favreau's epic fight at Hammer Industries was by far one of the greatest things about the flick, and his gleeful reaction to his ass-handed beat-down on one of the guards was beautifully perfect. "I got one!!!" will be a line I will quote multiple times for the rest of the year.

- My initial instinct was to point out that there was too many plots and subplots going on throughout the picture, that there could be plenty exercised without losing much of anything. Well, before I blew that horn and became one of those critics I despised when they wrote that exact same thing with Dead Man's Chest, I decided to reevalute my thoughts, and I have now concluded that the amount of subplots and storylines is perfect, and the only thing the script suffers from is a two and a half hour running time limit. Iron Man 2 and its many storylines could be as perfect and epic as The Lord of the Rings trilogy if it was given their "Extended Edition" ability, so here's hoping that's a possibility.

- Speaking of plot, I really liked the blood poisoning subplot. As far as I know, it's not a storyline that has been used in the comics, and is fairly original to comic book adaptation movies. I just wish there was greater emphasis on this particular plot point, really - to be presented as a bigger threat than it was played out as. I mean, here's something inside himself that's killing Tony. It's not some Big Bad trying to destroy him, it's his own body, and he is running out of time. I do appreciate that they played out Tony's emotional response to a T: drinking, going crazy, having mindless fun, which eventually has quite the repercussions. Again, considering the massive rollercoaster race-against-time this subplot was, I just wish it was expounded in the picture more.

- It was awesome seeing Howard Stark in old 1970's reel footage, and it was equally awesome to find out Mr. Stark was instrumental in the creation of S.H.I.E.L.D. I loved the hell out of the blooper reel that had a young Tony Stark coming up from behind a miniature; it was a nice 'ahh, shucks' Hallmark moment.

- The ending: I wanted more. I wanted Pepper demanding a explanation from Tony about his actions as of late and about his imminent death. I wanted a bookend scene discussing the United Nations hearing about the Star technology, or at least some sort of inkling as to what's going to be explored in Iron Man 3. There's room for delicious scenes and story elements to be had, but brilliant ideas are once again truncated for time.

- Not a fan of Don Cheadle overall, but I'm pleasantly surprised to find myself OK with his work here. And I LOVED his first scene: "I'm here, get over it, let's move on." Awesome wink to the audiences that nicely works for the scene.

- Speaking about that sequence at the Senate (with Cheadle's introduction), I loved it. Loved it, loved it, LOVED it. It's scenes like this that fully allows Robert Downey, Jr. to just deliver anything and everything he's got, and let the audience sit back and enjoy the brilliant line deliveries by Downey, Rockwell, and the main Senate dude. It was equally delicious to see that exact same guy who was dissing Tony and trying to order him around end up giving him a badge of honor at the end. Perfect.

- Scarlett Johansson is hot. Her character was hot. Scarlett, I love you. But sadly, Black Widow was highly underused. Hopefully, if she's signed up for more Marvel films, her character can grow and become more integral to the storyline.

- CGI work was impressive, but sometimes the Iron Man suits just look too fake. However, in regards to the suits, I do have to give props to the CG department because there are times where I'm seriously questioning if something is in fact CGI or just a really shiny real construction, and in this day of age...that's one hell of an accomplishment.

All in all, Iron Man 2 is very well made, takes elements of the first movie and expounds on it, gives the audience a original, catching plot, and allows Robert Downey the time to do his thing - which is awesome. I'm already eagerly awaiting Downey's next appearance as Stark, whether that be Iron Man 3 or The Avengers in 2012. Mr. Favreau, thank you for the awesome experience.

19 May 2010

Lost - Season 4

Lost - Season 4
Naveen Andrews, Matthew Fox, Evangeline Lilly, Josh Holloway, Jorge Garcia, Terry O'Quinn, Elizabeth Mitchell, Henry Ian Cusick, Michael Emerson, Daniel Day Kim, Yunjin Kim, Emile de Ravin, Harold Perrineau
Developed by Jeffrey Lieber, J.J. Abrams, Damon Lindelof
Transmission season: 2006-2
ABC, 14 episodes, 43 mins.

Plot: The Oceanic 815 survivors are uber-giddy 'cuz it appears that rescue is on its way - but y'know the thing about appearances....they tend to be, well, deceiving.

"I used to have dreams" - Benjamin Linus, "Cabin Fever"

Thanks to the 100 day Writer's Strike, Lost - Season 4 had a truncated season. From the usual 23 episodes, we got 14 (a extra hour given at the 11th hour due to the magnitude of events that transpire in the two-part finale). On one hand, a smaller season, but on the other hand, it offered a tighter story structure which allowed more plot points to happen at a quicker pace, and less stand-alone episodes. Plus with the announcement that Lost would be concluding its run in three seasons by 2010, every episode would be precious.

What we got is a overall decent season, but not nearly as powerful as the third. I know I said this with the previous review, but I'd say it more qualifies here: season 4 acts
as a epilogue to the original story - the story of 40+ survivors on a island full of mysteries, and then moves us into the final act - which introduces science fiction elements, furthers destiny vs. free will, and introduces a whole new set of problems that will eventually lead up to the series finale.

The Season
When we left the islanders, the survivors were in jubilee, super happy that rescue is imminent, but yet Locke and Charlie's warning that something is amiss quite dampers the mood, which literally separates the survivors into Team Locke and Team Jack. Through the course of the season, both members of the groups analyze their decisions, come to conclusions about themselves and about what matters to them, and occasionally switch sides here and there.

This season's main mystery is all about the freighter, the people on the freighter, and what exactly is their purpose on the island if it isn't rescuing the survivors? It's overall not as compelling as the Others storyline from the past season, but by the finale, the s
uspense and masterwork of storytelling is at a all-time high, so the decent season is quite forgiven. And Lost being Lost, this season brings new characters and expands old ones as their roles in the mythology become more important.

In the category of new recruits, we've got Daniel Faraday, Miles, and Charlotte, three dudes picked by Charles Widmore to come to the island and do...stuff. Daniel is the highlight character by far, all of his awesome eccentricities and mild mannered whisper-like voice easily making every one of his scenes something special. Faraday is also the personification of a exposition tool, something that will become more extreme in the following season. Basically, it's great fun to watch this guy act and say his scientific mumbo jumbo. As a casualty of the strike, Charlotte's character isn't allowed the opportunity to really be significant, but again, this gets addressed in the first batch of season 5 episodes. And then we got Miles, the witty to-the-point bloke who apparently can 'feel' and 'speak' to our de
arly departed. As far as new characters introduced, Miles is my second fave.

Alan Dale's Charles Widmo
re, father of Penny Widmore, becomes far more integral to the plot than ever before (and from what I've seen of the next season, he's only gonna play a even bigger role). Widmore hires some army dudes and these scientists to go to the island, extract/kill Benjamin Linus, and then murder everyone on that island. Charles is one badass mofo that you just don't want to cross paths with. As to be expected by Alan's amazing ability to be a cold, heartless jackass, his performance is rock solid. No complaints. Gotta love that dude.

Additionally, making a return appearance after being totally absent in season 3, Harold Perrineau rejoins the cast as Michael, and this time with a redemptive storyline that I actually don't mind!
Michael has been on his own little journey since leaving the island - basically a journey to kill himself. He's been so emotionally burdened by what he did to Ana and Libby in season 2 - plus the fact that after he blurted this info to Walt the kid doesn't want to speak to him - that he becomes reckless and fully embracing death. It's odd that characters like Michael and Charlie, two blokes who I had no love for, became interesting only after death gets involved: for one of 'em, a prophesied death, and for the other, a need for death that won't be fulfilled by the island's reckoning. His character, although credited for the entire 13-episode run, only appears in about seven of those episodes, which is a shame. This time around, his arc of redemption is quite engaging to watch, and it's a shame it's not further explored with the exception of Michael's flashback episode "Meet Kevin Johnson."

A nifty device that
that makes this season unique compared to its predecessors is the introduction of the flash-forwards, events that take place three years after everything that's happening on the island. There's the "Oceanic Six", which we quickly learn the identities to, and we get information about their official story of what happened to them during the plane crash, as well as the not-as-happy-ending-as-we-would-figure scenarios that happen to basically everyone. Legal troubles, institutions, suspensions, assassinations - these guys come back messed up, perhaps moreso than they were on the island.

Oh! And before I forget, that's another beautiful element of season 4 that gets solidified more in the flash forwards - addressing the island as its only little alive creature, basically being something really powerful, really unique, and really special. I mean that the island isn't just some place where the Oceanic survivors walk around and face off enemies, it actually see
ms to be something alive, something that can make decisions (e.g., being not 'done' with people yet, like in the case of Michael), something God-like almost. Hopefully the answer of what the island is and its many mysteries will be revealed in the series finale airing in...three days. Sheesh. I've got 23 episodes to watch before Sunday!

As far as our heroes are concerned - Jack, Kate, Sawyer, Juliet, Sun, Jin, Hurley, Sayid, Locke, Claire - they have two goals: 1) surviving any way they can, and 2) getting off the island (for those in Team Jack). It's those goals that bring the momentum to the season, and regrettably, with everything going on with the freighter and the determination to get off the island, characters aren't allowed to evolve. The good news is that the Oceanic Six brings some gorgeous character development - or, in a sad way, regressions. You'll know what I mean when you see the episodes. It is quite interesting that in the midst of them not knowing what to do with their lives, some of them resort to who or what t
hey were before.

In the midst of all this ongoing war stuff with the army dudes on the freighter, season 4 delivers one of the biggest emotional punches in the entire series (as of yet), and it happens to a character we all love to despise: Benjamin Linus. Two characters that are very close to him die, one of them right in front of his eyes. The pure shock, fury, and hatred that's etched on Michael Emerson's face was worthy of a Emmy alone. By the finale, Linus takes his revenge at a great cost of many other lives. Y'know in Braveheart when Mel Gibson rides in slowly on his horse after his wife is killed and you just know that
shit. got. real? Yeah, well that's Ben Linus' face when he says, "They just changed the rules."

Concerning Ben, his character arc nicely evolves as well. No longer is he the ma
n in charge, calling for action and making the tough decisions. Instead he spends a good portion of the season tied up and dragged around until the halfway point, where he really becomes a pitiful character to a extent. Yeah, he stays true to his old ways of using nothing but his words to coerce people into doing what he wants them to do, and is as sinister as he was in the season before, but this year Ben becomes quite the sympathetic figure. The finale really hit me in the gut emotionally as Ben makes a sacrifice, nearly as much as that line I quoted before the review. It's beautiful cases like these that show the beauty of the Lost writers.

Lost is done and gone, and we remember the show, the time traveling element and the rich, beautifully written characters will be the top two things I will fondly recall of the show.

Once again, Michael Giacchino gives us outstanding work. I'd go so far as to say his compositions this season kicks the ass out of the previous three. He shows off some particularly jaw-dropping work in the two-part finale, and a Lost - Season 4 soundtrack is definitely high on my list of must-buy stuff. Next to pizza. See, that's how important it is to me.

One final thing worth mentioning - the DVD
extras. The Complete Fourth Season box set comes with a buttload of extras - two discs worth! Behind the Scenes footage galore, nearly a hour of chronological order flash forwards, and perhaps the best part of the set: audio commentaries! For those who've read earlier DVD reviews, you know I'm a commentary whore, so their inclusion is a happy bonus. The best thing, though, is that the two-part finale "There's No Place Like Home" features commentary with Lindelof and Cuse, who are friggin' awesome - a nice balance of detail, info, and jokes. For those who own the set, I implore you to listen to them, you will not be disappointed.

Final Words

A strong season, no doubt, but not one of my favorites. There's some great episodes, such as the much-hailed "The Constant" and two-part finale, but it was overall just a decent, although necessary, season. The show is beginning to walk away from the stranded-on-a-weird-island storyline and is now entering new uncharted territory by introducing sci-fi elements into the program, but yet nicely keeping it in the realm of possibilities within the shows universe. Themes of fate/destiny vs. free will, individual purpose, life, death, and the human reaction to loss...it's all still there. I'm 11 episodes into Season 5, and it already is one hell of a jaw-dropping ride!

17 May 2010

The Crazies, Last Song, Repo Men, Robin Hood

The Crazies
Starring Timothy Olyphan, Radha Mitchell, Danielle Panabaker, Joe Anderson
Written by Ray Wright, Scott Kosar
Based on "The Crazies" by George Romero
Directed by Brek Eisner
Release: 26 February 2010
Overture Films, 101 mins., Rated R

Plot: A sheriff, his wife, and a deputy face off against everyone else in town who have been infected by some strange virus in the water and have become quite crazy.

Luckily, I didn't endure the same experience others had while watching The Crazies, this remake (and here it actually does apply as a remake) of a old George Romero production (which I never saw), so my review is pretty straight-forward. All in all, a pretty strong and quite effective movie, which was quite nice considering I was expecting nothing less than a below average rehash of Grudge 2-esque crap.

The movie is pretty intense, I won't lie. Although it's not necessarily scary, it did make me literally cling to every shot, wondering where the new bad guy is gonna be and what new obstacle is gonna get in their way now. It's awesome. There's some truly cool moments, like the super-duper-best-ever-death involving Olyphant, a hand, and a knife. That was tight. There's also the awesome car wash sequence which I'm sure plenty have written about already - that was pure terror and intensity, same thing near the end with the deputy and his wife at the gas station/market area where they're confronted by two crazies.

The biggest and best surprise of The Crazies - and a large reason why I'm giving it additional props - is the 70 second scene with Glen Morshower, who you may recognize as being a military Head Honcho in both Transformers movies, and in TV Land, you recognize him as Agent Piece in 24. In Crazies, he has a short, sweet, and thankless role as a government agent who tells Olyphant & Co. what's going on before getting shot in the head.

Another element that I like - and yeah, I know it's not necessarily original - is that these are not zombies, and that the U.S. military comes in to clean up their mess mercilessly. That's just cool, and I like how it's handled here. It's truly a fight for survival, and it's dirty. But none of the drama or the heightened tension would mean a single thing if it wasn't for the great cast involved - Olyphant, Mitchell, Anderson. All three feel like they've known each other for years, and to their fight for survival where not everyone makes it is grueling yet cool. So The Crazies is recommended, 'cuz it's actually pretty damn cool.

The Last Song
Starring Miley Cyrus, Liam Hemsworth, Greg Kinnear, Kelly Preston, Bobby Coleman
Written by Jeff Van Wie, Nicholas Sparks
Based on the book "The Last Song" by Nicholas Sparks
Directed by Julie-Anne Robinson
Release: 31 March 2010
Offspring Entertainment, 107 mins., Rated PG-13

Plot: Ronnie (Cyrus) is forced to live with her dad on a really pretty beach after getting into some major legal trouble back home, and as luck would have it, she finds romance in a well-built, doofus looking hunka-bunka.

This Miley Cyrus romance vehicle surprisingly didn't suck. Sure, there were some rather funny moments of really bad acting thanks to Cyrus' real-life hubby and onscreen romantic elemento Hemsworth, but overall, not too bad. Based off a Nicholas Sparks novel - which incidentally, Sparks wrote the book with Cyrus' starpower in mind - it's expected that A) romance will blossom, and B) something bad will happen. Both do indeed transpire through the course of the movie. What's interesting is that I actually gave a damn, and I think that means that Cyrus and company actually did a pretty OK job.

Cyrus' Ronnie doesn't much like her father Steve all that much, probably blaming him for breaking up the family, so they spend the majority of the movie in a verbal jest - she yells, he calmly rebuttals and tells her to go to bed. Greg Kinnear is a awesome actor, and it's great to see him actually engage in a conversation with a angry daughter instead of the stereotypical back-to-back yellfest. On the opposite spectrum of good acting, we have Chris Hemsworth, who is just as bad as Hayden Christensen in Episode II [give the guy a break with Episode III - with the exception of the Courscant balcony scene, then make fun as much as you want].

The fact that I enjoyed the movie doesn't forgive the fact that it's your run-of-the-mill, predictable romantic entanglement. There will somehow, someway be some sort of fault with Ronnie's new leading man, and although he's hunky and 'deep', he has some emotional baggage and regret about something that will just make her fall in love more, etc. And as for the title, it takes only a couple seconds to guess the few scenarios that it suggests. Even through the script isn't entirely strong (e.g., the entire subplot involving this rebel girl Blaze was entirely unnecessary, and I wouldn't have been saddened if a legion of zombies wanted to massacre her in any way), it nonetheless boasts some pretty decent performances, and in all honesty folks, there's far, far worse romantic dramas/comedies floating around the world right now. This one just happens to be rather tolerable. How about that for an endorsement?

Repo Men
Starring Jude Law, Forest Whitaker, Liev Schriber
Written by Eric Garcia, Garrett Lerner
Directed by Miguel Sapochnik
Release: 12 March 2010
Universal Pics., 111 mins., Rated R

Plot: Jude Law slices people up to take their organs if their payments overdue, and when he gets one tossed in his body, he decides to run 'cuz he can't get the dough.

Yes, I've seen Repo! The Genetic Opera, and no, I'm not going to compare the two. Repo Men is all about Jude Law pulling a Minority Report, and kicking some Tom Cruise-esque ass. And Jude is rather good at doing just that.

2010 has been a powerhouse of awesome action scenes, and Repo Men is no different. The final 20 minutes gives us one hell of a awesome hallway fight sequence, where Jude uses his hands and any weapons he can get a hold of to beat up about 15 bad guys. It's sorta like Oldboy, but without the 'woah' factor of being filmed in one shot. With the raging music and Jude pulverizing everyone in that hallway, that was just sweet.

A real ruiner of the movie comes in the form of the ending. On one hand, it's a nice cop out, and completely unexpected, and I can't help but respect the decision. On the other hand, WTF? It's not remotely a understatement to say that I seriously, really like-a-lot hated that ending. I'll rent the DVD to (hopefully) watch 2 or 3 alternate endings, because they MUST have filmed at least a few more and just wrongly chose that one.

Overall, Repo Men was a pretty good run-for-your-life action film with plenty of awesome sequences and awesome actors - Forest Whitaker is 'da man! (don't believe me, watch season 5 of The Shield. Period.) - and is one of the better action films of the year thus far. Just perhaps leave right after the hallway sequence mentioned above, and you won't have to suffer the uber-dumb twist of an ending.

Robin Hood
Starring Russel Crowe, Cate Blanchett, Mark Strong, Oscar Isaac
Written by Brian Hegeland
Directed by Ridley Scott
Release: 12 May 2010
Imagine Entertainment, 140 mins., Rated PG-13

Plot: Robin Hood's, like, really good at shooting arrows and stuff.

Well, no, it wasn't Gladiator 2.0, though I'm not sure if that's necessarily a good thing, Gladiator was visually stunning, dramatic, character driven, action-awesomey, and just simply a great movie. Robin Hood is a underwhelming "it was good." Keep in mind though, folks, this film is a prequel/origin tale of the legendary Robin Hood - it's not actually about his crusades against King John and taxation. The last 10 minutes are dedicated to that mythology. As a origin story, though, I'd say Robin Hood doesn't quite succeed. Speaking of which, looking back at the movie, I would have much preferred if they kept the title Nottingham as the script was originally called.

Although he looks awesome in the Robin Hood outfit, Russel Crowe mumbles his way through the performance and doesn't seem all that interested in the role. He just looks tired. Cate Blanchett is overall OK in her performance as Lady Marion, but her character is severely undeveloped and in the end, her character makes no real impact that calls for her presence in the film. Oscar Isaac as King John is perhaps the most revealing performance, as it's obvious the actor is having immense fun being this pompous imbecile. I would have loved to see more of his character, although if there is a sequel commissioned, I can't wait to see what he will do with such juicy material.

The script is...alright. The first act suffers the most, being rather dodgy and all over the place, and there's a lack of flow that hinders the film rather largely. By the time Robin arrives in Nottingham to give the Locksley family a sword he vowed to return, things start picking up, but yet the scripts still feels a little choppy. The main problem facing Robin Hood is, simply, there needs to be more. And I say that knowing full well its lengthy running time. But there's plenty of material that can be condensed or omitted (William Hurt's material, for example, which doesn't necessarily need to be there) to make way for more character beats. The entire picture just seems to cobbled together, with all these random elements thrown in to make some big 'epic' production, and they lost sight on the characters.

From a directorial standpoint, Robin Hood was rather tame. When I think of Ridley Scott productions, that man has crafted visually beautiful films - this movie doesn't fall in that category. A particular problem that takes away the joy of the fight scenes is that the framing is too tight that we can't enjoy the full spectacle of the battle. The fight scene in Nottingham is guilty of this, as is the big climatic finale. Perhaps I'm too picky about framing, spoiled by Nolan, Spielberg and Favreau (yes, Favreau), but this was a little disappointing. However, one really super cool aspect of the film was the freakin' awesome score, which will definitely be a must-buy purchase.

All in all, Robin Hood falls into the 'eh, it's OK' category, which is quite unfortunate. It's a beautiful tale, and a origin story held boundless possibilities. On the plus side, it's not nearly as offending as last year's "origin" story. Yeah, you know what I'm talking about.

16 May 2010

Lost - Season 3

Lost - Season 3
Naveen Andrews, Matthew Fox, Evangeline Lilly, Josh Holloway, Jorge Garcia, Terry O'Quinn, Elizabeth Mitchell, Henry Ian Cusick, Michael Emerson, Daniel Day Kim, Yunjin Kim, Emile de Ravin, Dominic Monaghan, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje
Co-starring M.C. Gainey, Tania Raymonds, Mira Furlan

Developed by
Jeffrey Lieber, J.J. Abrams, Damon Lindelof
Transmission season: 2006-2007
ABC, 23 episodes, 43 mins.

: Oceanic 815 survivors have even more problems on their plate, this time in the for
m of "the Others", a group of baddies that live on the other side of the island and aren't too keen on having them take up space on 'their' land.

that was awesome. Through the course of the entire season, I feel like I've just went through a roller-coaster ride. Season 3 was filled with so much emotion, so many thrills episode to episode, filled with so many awesome and immensely interesting characters and storylines - I can safely say I dug it more than the second season and first season. Seriously, I was throwing in disc after disc - and it's finals week, mate! I need to study!!! However, it's top ranking may not last long - I just picked up the fourth season from the library, and I have yet to hear a negative word against that truncated season. So, we'll see, but the intensity of season 3 would be hard to top.

The Season

This year is all about the Others, expanding info on the Dharma Initiative, and continuing to build on the island mythology. The sad thing is, though, even with nearly the entire year dedicated to the Dharmas and the Others, I still don't get their motives or purpose on the island. Eh, I'll tackle that a little later. Month three of the Oceanic 815's residence on the island is truly chaotic - at least for our main leads. The group on shore are rather aimless, spending a majority of their time questioning what to do now, brainstorming new ideas of rescue, and a unexpected pregnancy is about the big news that happens to them.

Our main groupies - Jack, Sawyer, and Kate, have been caged by the Ot
hers, beaten up and 'experimented on.' The true essence of these first six episodes is the character of Ben Linus (aka the impostor Henry Gale from season 2), watching this rather short and freaky-looking dude manipulative people to do anything he pleases, which makes him a frighting individual. His cool, calculating voice, never wavering unless he's truly provoked - yeah, I get why Michael Emerson gets a lot of attention. Let's not forget his stunning backstory in "The Man Behind the Curtain."

We also get to meet a new cast member, Juliet, a woman he initially really comes off as quite a bitch. Even though I knew she would be around up t
o the end of season 5, I was really hoping the Smoke Monster or a giant polar bear would just kill her in a very ouch-filled manner. Of course, her flashbacks throughout the season help flesh out her character, and add a bit more sympathy, but truth be told, Juliet is a tough woman to get a fix on. Even as her character progression at the end is cloudy, and her loyalties are never fully determined - which of course heightens drama and continues the thrilling Lost model of ambiguity, but even when she helps Sun in a later episode, I never really got a sense of her humanity. It's like she's a Dharma Initiative robot, or has been around Ben too long and has become as cold and calculating as he has.

"A Tale of Two Cities", the opening episode, is terrific."Further Instruc
tions" (S03E03) is not. Locke, currently suffering from momentary lack of voice ('until he has something to say'), enters a spiritual dimension to locate Eko, who has been missing since the hatch implosion. Alright, I can deal with that - sounds pretty cool, even. But the whole Eko-captured-by-polar-bear bit...yeah, not so cool. In fact, Mr. Eko is terribly wasted in the two episodes he's in. It would make better sense to have killed him off when the hatch imploded.

Alright, back to the Jack/Sawyer/Kate thing - it's tense, really, super duper tense. Kate and Sawyer are beginning to bond heavily, and I can't help but purr and ahhhhh when they make their little cuddly faces to each other. Jack can't tolerate being caged, 'losing' so to speak, and he devises a friggin' awesome plan in "I Do". So Jack succeeds in getting Kate and Sawyer out of the Others' hands, he does good on his promise to Ben, and then the focus shifts to the two escapees getting back to camp.

Well, now's a good of time as any: why were Kate, Sawyer, and Jack treate
d in the manner that they were? What is the primary goal of the Others? Juliet was recruited for her fertility research, Ben is just a head honcho, and Tom is the older Dwayne Johnson character. But what are they doing, and why the hell did they think it necessary to taunt, beat, and shoot at our beloved trio? In regards to Jack, I understand Ben was planning to manipulative him into doing something for him, and perhaps hurting Kate and Sawyer was the best avenue of coercion. I guess I'm frustrated because the treatment of Kate and Sawyer, and the whole purpose of them doing so, is too cloudy, and what the Others are even doing ('something special', they keep on saying over and over again) is never explored or explained.

The remainder of the season is pretty good, and then the two-hour finale comes upon us, and it's like, "Holy friggin' crap! COOL!" With Juliet tagging along Jack and Kate to their camp, she expectedly receives a lukewarm welcome, Jack being the only one who really trusts her. While this is going on, Locke is losing his bloody mind. I don't get his motivation, I don't get what continues to drive him other than his anointment of being 'special', but he stays with the Others, hangs around Ben, and overall seems directionless. However, I will say Locke/Sawyer get a MAGNIFICENT episode in "The Brig", where Locke gets Sawyer to do his dirty work for him. The episode is suspenseful and utterly dramatic - a series high point. By the end of the season, though, Locke seems lost. He kills someone - something I found rather uncharacteristic, but whatev - to stop something 'bad' from happening, and then just leaves. Um, yeah.

When "Through the Looking Glass" originally aired, it definitely stirred a lot of O!M!G! reactions, and understandably so. By the finale's conclusion, the game has changed, a end to the series appears to be in sight, and so many news questions are raised and offers a extremely intriguing path for the series to follow. All in all, a great season.

The Characters
Jack spends the most of the season frustrated by his captivity by the Others, rather adventurous and ballsy, and quite determined by the finale to get the frak off the island. As a character, I would say he grows stronger. Kate, too, I would add to that category. Sawyer probably gets the best pay-off, what with his blossoming romance with Kate and his fulfillment of revenge in "The Brig", his character definitely gets to shine this season.

A much undeveloped character gets his due this season, although it's sad he's given great material to work with just when he reaches a tragic end. The character I speak of, is of course, Charlie. Severely annoying and manipulatively written, Charlie was never a character to really like or take seriously, and sorta came across to me as Edward to Claire's Bella: always watching and stalking. So it's fantastic to see Dominic Monaghan work his wide range of skills as Charlie comes to terms with Desmond's visions of his death, and even face his destiny head-on in the finale.

The character of Desmond is given given a greater capacity to shine, and boy is th
is 'brotha' one hell of a awesome dude. His love story with Penny (the gal from The Librarian!), his duel of respect against her father (the dude from The O.C.!), his self-hatred about his cowardice, and his never-ending goal to help Charlie avert his fate. Desmond is probably one of the most unique and interesting characters on that island, and his ability to see snippets into the future and also survive a electromagnetic explosion is remarkably awesome and intriguing.


I made a horrible error in my Lost - Season 2 review: I neglected to mention the work of composer Michael Giacchino. Doing such is, in my opinion, tantamount to a really bad sin. It's difficult to express how closely the success of Lost and the thrill and emotion it conveys is tied to Giacchino's terrific, magnificent score. If you've never watched a episode of Lost in your life, and maintain that you have no intention of doing so, I nevertheless implore you to do a blind buy of Giacchino's stuff. He's the John Williams of this age - a master at work, creating gorgeous works of music that deserves to be listened to over and over and over again. So, yeah, Giacchino rocks!

There's one thing I would like to mention that sorta irks me, and that's the time lapse between when a story element is introduced and when it's picked up again. Sometimes, a cliffhanger finale isn't resolved until two or three episodes down the line, which can be ridiculously maddening. I understand why they do that - I get it, I do; and I have no doubt it was more frustrating at a week-by-week basis, but a story follow-up with the next episode isn't necessarily a bad thing, guys.

And it's quite cool that the writers are already introducing elements that tie in with the greater Lost mythology (as I understand it from seasons 5 & 6 spoilers), such as the character of Jacob and Richard Alpert. That's kinda uber-nifty.

Final Words

The third season of Lost is terrific, and one hell of a high-energy rollercoaster of a ride. Moreso than season 2, I was flipping from one episode to the next, anxious to find out what happens next. This season benefits from the addition of Ben Linus and the enigma that is the Others, proposing many new questions, bringing in plenty of new obstacles and characters, giving payoffs to standing subplots and character arcs, introducing a season-long fight with fate in the form of Charlie's dilemma, and the stunning finale which offers a new direction and fresh ideas. Damn this show is awesome.