30 September 2010
S04E02 - "Chuck Versus the Suitcase" (27 September 2010) - Last week, CHUCK was awesome. This week, still pretty awesome, but less with the awesomeness. The whole episode felt very generic, and a tad bit contrived. I am happy that Chuck and Sarah seem to have a mostly healthy relationship, but I'm a tad agitated that it seems they're going down the route where Chuck wants this, this and this, but won't say anything, which causes major drama and problems for the two. I don't want that, and I will be a very pissed viewer if this show spends too much time messing up with their relationship instead of strengthening it. But luckily, the pain of their contrived problems was lessened by Yvonne Strahvoski showing off her goddess-like figure. Oh, thank you, thank you. On a unrelated note, I really hope Casey gets more screentime and story soon, because Adam Baldwin is a very underused actor in this show. Every series I have seen him in, regular or guest spot, Baldwin owns, so I really, really hope we get a episode soon that allows him to show off his dramatic and comedic side simultaneously.
The stuff at the Buy More: not sure if I dig it or dislike it. Jeffster and....er, that other one are back, and everything is going back to basics. So, color me sorta excited. However, this means the General won't be Buy More manager anymore? Kudos, though, to Morgan for hitting that jackpot, should be interesting to see how that develops. Overall, not a super strong episode of CHUCK, but here's optimism that things will improve.
S05E01 - "My Bad" (26 September 2010) - Five seasons in, and when Dexter Morgan finally shows emotion, it's frakkin' frightening. Near the end of this intense hour, the cold, calculating exterior of Dexter finally cracks when a hippie dude at a random gas station makes the mistake to say to Dexter that his dead wife should suck his dick. Every ounce of what we would call guilt and sadness transforms into rage, and Dexter takes a blunt instrument to punch his fury. And then, at the urging of Harry, Dexter screams in rage, guilt, and agony. It's a chilling sequence in a otherwise uneventful-ish episode, but a good episode nonetheless. Julie Benz makes a special appearance in a flashback sequence of their first date, and keeping true to Dexter's personality, it really wasn't a date at all, just a cover for a job. Brilliant. Also brilliant: how Dexter is forced to spill the beans to Astrid and Cody, and the dark comedy of wearing Mickey Mouse ears. I love it when this show uses light elements juxtaposed against a greater darkness; it just makes me giddy. The interaction between Dexter and Deb was also interesting to watch, as Deb was all over the place, confused as Dexter's very incriminating words on the scene as well as his blatant lack of emotion in any regard of the situation. I will most certainly look forward to their scenes together, although I have no interest in a Deb/Quinn hook up. Wasn't he just banging Trinity's daughter two days ago?
Season 5 appears to be a odd one. On one hand, Dexter will have to cover his last season tracks from Quinn, who seems to think Dexter may have killed his wife. And apparently, instead of one serial killer, this season will be host to multiple baddies. I'm not quite sure where this season is headed, but I am genuinely engaged.
S10E01 - "Lazarus" (24 September 2010) - SMALLVILLE begins its tenth and final season with a remarkably well put together season premiere. Before moving forward, this is the second time in two years that a CW show has used the word "Lazarus" (the other being the SUPERNATURAL season 4 premiere, 'Lazarus Rising'; a quick Wiki search of the word states it means 'God's assistant', which is quite appropriate for both shows, especially in SUPE's last two seasons), anyone else find that semi-humorous? Anyhow, more than ever, it feels like Clark Kent is so close to fulfilling his 'destiny' in becoming the iconic blue and red Superman. With the great leaps forward Clark has made the last two seasons, I was admittedly curious where the writers could take Clark - and lo and behold, they go a route I didn't even think about. The major theme of this season, it appears, and one of three major hurdles Clark needs to overcome before becoming the global icon, is battling his pride. I would say this character flaw sort of comes out of left field, considering that Clark hasn't shown much in the way of obnoxious pride in his work at all. However, if it means Clark battling his own inner demons, I'm more than willing to encourage the writers to go that route.
The second major hurdle is Lex Luthor, as foreshadowed by the three years later vision Clark had in last season's finale, "Salvation." Unexpectedly, Superman's bald villain played a major role in this episode, minus the original actor. In true SMALLVILLE form, clones of Lex Luthor were used to force Clark to fight his foe, but they were used in such a fashion I really don't mind. Apparently, Lex had manufactured multiple clones of himself in the event of needing healing, as he would most definitely need after the Fortress collapsed on him two seasons ago. So I give major kudos to the writers for that idea, as well as using that to relieve Cassidy Freeman from using burn prosthetic for the rest of the series. Although I wasn't particularly a major fan of the Lex clone that picks a fight with Clark, he did shed some possibly inaccurate information about the real Lex: he claimed that the 'maker' is 'dead', died in that explosion from season eight. My wager is that that is the 'official' story until the day Michael Rosenbaum, the role's originator, agrees to reprise his role. Entertainment Weekly columnist Michael Ausiello recently indicated a future episode of the season will be called "Luthor", so at the very least, the family still plays a major part in Clark's journey.
The third major hurdle is the new villain Darkseid; truth be told, I don't know too much about the character, so I can't comment too much, but from what I understand, he sounds like a formidable foe and worthy as Clark's final adversary - assuming the series finale doesn't conclude with Clark and Lex [oh, how I wish we could get Kevin Smith to write their dialogue...]. So what do we have in store for this season? Well, we require a tragic conclusion to Chloe Sullivan's arc. It's been foreshadowing many, many times the last few seasons, that the Legion have no idea who Chloe even is and her role in Clark's life. In this episode, she trades herself for Oliver's freedom, and from the sounds of it, she won't pop up again until later on. If Chloe doesn't get a very, very tragic and sad ending, I will be very disappointed. Her cousin Lois, after finding out that Clark is the blur, takes off, emotionally unsure of what to do next. Not so sure where they're going to take her storyline, but I sorta gotta have faith in these dudes. And one final note - I quite liked the callbacks to SMALLVILLE season one. I love when shows that are reaching their end acknowledge their beginning.
"Lazarus" was a very well written and directed episode, setting up Clark's path, setting up Chloe's departure from the mythology, setting up villains present and future, and all around making me majorly giddy for tomorrow. So, all in all, the show's tenth and final season looks to be something grand.
S02E01 - "Intervention" (Part 3) - (28 September 2010) - SG-U is a hard show to review. I like the show, and I don't like the show. I really dig what Wright and Cooper set out to do with UNIVERSE, and I like the whole concept of the Destiny ship and that it had a mysterious destination, but the execution of everything is just so...flat, I guess is the right word. SG-U could be so, so, soo good - on the level of quality of Moore's BATTLESTAR GALACTICA, but its poor writing, direction, and characters just sorta frak it all up. And I don't say this with happiness. But even with my bitching and complaining, I'll still stop in every week to see what happens next. It just sucks that this show boasts true unrealized potential.
Anyhow, the Lucien Alliance problem from last season is resolved in a rather fun manner, and by episodes end, everything is cleaned up to a nice musical montage [note: it's ironic that the real dramatically heavy moments get the music montage treatment, considering that the goal of the show is to delve into all aspects of these characters' lives], preparing the Destiny crew for next week's little adventure. Things worth noting: the girl who played Anna on SUPERNATURAL plays a Lucien Alliance gal, and I couldn't be more excited! Oh, wait, there's more! Robert Knepper of PRISON BREAK fame is also a Lucien Alliance baddie! YES! And the final thing worth noting: the really interestingness of T.J's storyline. I'm really hoping that planet and the aliens from last season's "Faith" play a major role in the events to come, because that could be super duper wicked.
Overall, the series seems to be aiming to grow, and here's a genuine hope it does evolve into something extraordinary.
S06E01 - "Exile on Main St." (24 September 2010) - With last seasons finale "Swan Song", SUPERNATURAL concluded the five-year plan set forth by series creator Eric Kripke. As such, Kripke announced he would be relinquish his role as showrunner, giving that position to longtime collaborator Sera Gamble, but remain on as a creative force nonetheless. That news alone set fans in a tizzy. Additionally, "Swan Song" was such a emotionally powered episode, so clearly and definitively feeling like a series finale, many couldn't understand bringing the series back for a sixth season. So "Exile on Main St.", penned by Gamble, has a lot to accomplish in a very, very short amount of time. The episode begins a year later, with Dean the everyday man now, working construction, making breakfast, being a father figure for Ben, and being a good boyfriend for Lisa, the girl of his dreams. But on this particular day, his mind has been playing tricks on him, causing Dean to suffer hallucinations [bringing about a stellar reprisal of Azazel, who was so freakishly wicked, it nearly made the whole episode], and also causing Sam to re-enter the picture, saving his brother. The two reunite to take down the Djin, who have been setting up camp around Dean's neighborhood. Oh, and another major revelation: not only is Grandpa Campbell, last seen dead in the season 4 episode "In the Beginning", resurrected, but Sam's traveling with three other Campbell s - family. Grandpa Campbell reveals that in the past few months, monsters of the world have been acting strange - going against established patterns, for instance. Additionally, there's new creatures being discovered every day, creatures that they don't know how to fight. Something is messing up the beastie's schedules, and something resurrected Sam and Grandpa Campbell, and who knows who else. So running out of storylines? SUPERNATURAL is not.
One note though: will Ben factor in as some sort of important figure, as Azazel was saying as Dean's hallucination, working as possible foreshadowing, or is this just the writers having some fun toying with Dean? It would be a bit interesting to see a repeated cycle, with Ben becoming as screwed up as Sam.
Although I like the set-up, I like the story ideas, there is something disappointingly flat about this episode. For example, the reunion of Sam and Dean was oddly anti-climatic, and the emotion simply wasn't there as opposed to the, like, three or four other times they come back together after a death and resurrection [yeah, that happens a lot in this show]. I normally wouldn't make it a big deal, but after a entire year of thinking his brother was dead, Sam and Dean's reunion was just - well, dead, really. I don't know if there really is anyone to fault for that, because the direction was fine, Jared and Jensen were great, but I'm maybe guessing the writing needed a little bit more something? It's a odd episode, to be sure. It took three viewings for me to fully appreciate it. I just really feel SUPERNATURAL needs a longer running time. So, overall, I enjoyed it, but compared to season openers of the past, "Lazarus Rising" is still stronger. It's a bit humorous that I enjoyed the SMALLVILLE premiere over SUPERNATURAL. Would not have expected that...
Similar to most folks, I haven't stood up and cheered for a movie basically ever. Though, gotta admit, I quite agree with Rachel: I will definitely be one of the dudes in the audience during the midnight screening clapping, whistling, and going all bonkers when the final credits roll on HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS next year. But as far as past experiences go, when the final credits rolled in May 2005 on STAR WARS - EPISODE III: REVENGE OF THE SITH - man, was it a experience. I didn't necessarily get up and clap and whistle with everyone (bad me), but it was amazing to be in that movie theater experiencing this mass hysteria and major amount of love being thrown at the movie by these hardcore fans. So when on this blog you read me going all goo-goo ga-ga over SITH, it's much, much more than just me loving the movie - EPISODE III was the first time I truly felt I was part of this history-making experience, where everything cinema is supposed to be clicked. We were all fans, and we all just saw the proper conclusion of the STAR WARS SAGA. It was amazing, and most likely gonna be one of the best nights of my life. And that includes my future wedding. .. ... ... sorry, honey.
Super honestly? The very first image in my mind when I thought of this came from THE DARK KNIGHT. Rachel's death scene. Now in the first movie, I wouldn't give a shit. But Rachel was helping by two things in the second flick: 1) the casting of Maggie, a actress who is simply phenomenal in about everything she does. That still won't make me go see the second NANNY MCPHEE movie, but nonetheless, I have nothing but respect for her. Plus, she's quite pretty, so that works in her favor. 2) The Nolans and Goyer wrote this character a bit better in DARK KNIGHT. To clarify, she was already a strong female role in BEGINS, but she seems to have a bit more...spunk [?] in KNIGHT, and Maggie can pull of spunk like nobody's business - just watch STRANGER THAN FICTION. Anyhow, those two elements helped elevate the emotion of Rachel's death sequence plenty. Additionally, the cinematography, the tight editing as Gordon and Batman are racing to save Rachel and Harvey, and the spine-chilling music by Zimmer and Howard - it's the perfect marriage of elements to make the entire sequence, from beginning to end, a chilling and thrilling death.
29 September 2010
Cast: Matt Bennett, Zack Pearlman, Jacob Davich, Justin Kline, Nicole Weaver Writer: Andrew Gurland, Huck Botko Director: Andrew Gurland, Huck Botko Release: 24 September 2010 Gary Sanchez Productions, 86 mins., Rated R
Plot: Of all his friends, Matt's the last virgin standing, and his camera-obsessed brother is there to film the whole damn adventure.
Judging from all the extremely positive reviews of VIRGINITY HIT that's hit online [hehe, hit online], I can safely say that nearly everyone everywhere hated it, walked out, and some even demanded their money back. Perhaps I'm still a tad too immature for my ancient age of 20, but beyond all reason, I can't say I didn't like the movie. It had its bad parts, for sure, but the overall product was a enjoyable experience, and I did in fact laugh at multiple occasions, something that has been quite difficult to accomplish with summer 'comedies' that aren't called SCOTT PILGRIM. Since I'm quite sure the lot of you who have actual interest in the movie will see it, and those who wish the filmmakers to suffer in eternal Dante-like damnation will have already chosen to not see it, I'll make this review short and simple.
The best thing VIRGINITY HIT has going for it is a charismatic cast that never once gave off the impression that we were watching a performance. For all intents and purposes, I felt as if I really was being granted a peak into these teenagers' lives, and living the ridiculously outlandish tale of Matt losing his virginity [well, if it wasn't outlandish, there really wouldn't be a reason for the movie to exist, anyway...]. The reality of the flick was fantastic - if I didn't know better, I would most definitely have sworn this was home video footage that was too outrageous to not be shown unto the world. The entire cast work off each other brilliantly, never feeling forced or gimmicky; real friendships and romances were thrown onscreen, dudes and lady dudes. Yes, I know it was all fake, but this has most definitely been one of the best examples of actors living the part. The cut-together segments also add to the already funny sequences, the one-liners are actually pretty humorous, and for the first time in a long, long, long while, I actually giggled at a poop and fart joke. I guess if they craft it right, it works. So in summation: the cast is wonderful, the jokes are there and are genuinely funny, and in a way, I didn't want the movie to reach its conclusion.
Now, the negative parts: the resolution of Matt and Nicole's relationship was simply a cop-out, and if I was Nicole, that was not the way I'd have it go down. Even as a non-girl, I felt pissed for her in a situation that she seemed relatively fine with. Another aspect I automatically dislike no matter how good the movie is: frakkin' rich kids. These teens have a giant pool, a bazillion rooms, a van, and complete disregard for rules and authority. Why couldn't they just be random everyday Joe's who just happen to have a video camera filming stuff? And my final dislike: there are some jokes that just didn't work, and I actually bowed my head in shame.
So what can I take away from this? I don't regret paying for THE VIRGINITY HIT. In fact, I'd still recommend it as pretty decent entertainment. I understand it won't appeal to a large majority of folks, and will probably receive a larger audience in the DVD market. Like all movies, low-budget and major releases, it has its faults, and it also has its strengths. The comedy is no AMERICAN PIE [which is pretty much my favorite teen-oriented franchise of all time], but it's a entertaining fluff piece with some genuine 'moments', pretty cool and realistic characters, and a good amount of fun thrown into the mix.
Nearly everything in my DVD collection I've had repeated viewings of. I'd say there's about half of them that I've watched about ten times, and perhaps about fifteen I've watched over ten times. First and foremost is, of course, STAR WARS - EPISODE III: REVENGE OF THE SITH. After all, what type of fan would I be if I hadn't watched this gorgeous movie repeatedly? At last count, I saw it seven times theatrically, and hell if I know how many times on DVD. Another one: THE CHRONICLES OF RIDDICK, a sci-fi flick with Vin Diesel that doesn't get the proper love it deserves, frankly. There's just something so immensely enjoyable about that production, and boasts enormous rewatch value. The Edgar Wright/Simon Pegg combo HOT FUZZ has been watched ten times over, and I have no doubt in my mind the five-time-theatrical experience of SCOTT PILGRIM will be added on with a good fifty more viewings on home video. Christopher Nolan's masterpiece THE DARK KNIGHT was seen five times in theaters, and many, many more times on DVD/Blu-Ray. Same goes for David Yates' HARRY POTTER AND THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX, a movie that flies by thanks to the fantastic screenplay and precise editing. Oh, and let's not forget the AMERICAN PIE series, with each film having at minimum ten viewings, not counting commentaries, 'course.
Wow, I need a life.
28 September 2010
Notes: The film that I largely consider M. Night's masterpiece in every imaginable aspect, Unbreakable is the first film selected for this feature simply because Night's name has been in the press a lot these past few months. With the rather dodgy reception of his LAST AIRBENDER, which boasts a critical backlash and not exactly excelling in the box office department. And now audiences have DEVIL to discuss [which I still haven't seen, sadly enough; will be remedied soon!], the first in a proposed NIGHT CHRONICLES with two more installments lined up. Oh, interesting tidbit about that: apparently, a major character/villain from Night's UNBREAKABLE 2 storyline is being used for the third NIGHT CHRONICLES production. That information alone makes me all sorts of giddy.
So discuss: What is your opinion on UNBREAKABLE? Like me, do you consider it his masterpiece, or rather a dull and dreary production? Likes? Dislikes? Is M. Night ruined?!
Dude, take your pick:
- The Wizard of Oz
- No Country for Old Men
- Napoleon Dynamite
- The Big Lebowski
- Interview with a Vampire
- The Godfather
27 September 2010
The trailers use two 1-minute tracks from their work, and it's absolutely stellar. Below is a compilation of music used in the 3 (?) HALLOWS trailers out now. Enjoy. This music is beautiful. And I can't wait until the soundtrack. And the movie, 'course.
Yep, score another movie blogger going the traditional Heath Ledger Joker route. For awhile there, I was thinking of going the Darth Vader, Lord of the Sith route, but decided against that at the last second. I find Darth to be much more of a tragic figure moreso than a villain. Yeah, sure, I know I'm crazy, nonetheless...
Alright, so why the Joker? It's not just the popular choice. Christopher Nolan, Jonathan Nolan, David S. Goyer, and Heath Ledger were really onto something when they created this...thing. It's been captured before in the graphic novels, most notably Alan Moore's acclaimed THE KILLING JOKE, but on film - nope, never. See what this Joker is..well, he's a uncaged animal. A pure representation of actions without consequences, of simply making the choice of doing something, of a human being doing everything in their power to upset the establishment and cause discord and chaos. This Joker is something far, far greater than anything Jack Nicholson was able to make - perhaps a unfair statement considering the sheer differences between the two Jokers, but it's a commonly made comparison, so there it is. Nicholson's Joker, and much of the Animated Series, was really a dude who laughed a bunch, made up hilariously bad puns, and had a hard-on for Batman. Mind you, I'm not dissing those incarnations at all - nay, I'm just pointing out the differences. Here the title "the Joker" is more of a cruel ironic expression; sure, the Joker giggles and laughs at the actions made by Batman and the GCPD to stop what he's already set in motion, but this Joker is a fairly deadly serious dude. Don't frak with this clown.
The Joker is the best villain because he doesn't have some grand scheme, some finite purpose in his life. He doesn't exist to follow the Emperor and corrupt his son; he doesn't exist to exact vengeance on the people who murdered his parents or raped him as a kid, etc. The Joker exists, simple as that. The Joker does what he does because he enjoys doing it - it's fun. Frak up the world, mess with the minds of the tainted populace, just create, to use his word, "chaos." These are just a few of the many, many, many reasons why Heath Ledger and Christopher Nolan's The Joker is something so profoundly powerful and beautifully rendered.
Plus, how can one not love that voice? Inspired! Brilliant! Frakkin' nightmarish!
26 September 2010
Cast: Jacob Zachar, Clark Duke, Scott Michael Foster, Spencer Grammer, Paul James, Jake McDorman, Amber Stevens, Dilshad Vadsaria
Created by Patrick Sean Smith
Transmission season: Summer 2007
ABC Family, 10 episodes, 42 mins.
Plot: Freshman Rusty Cartwright pledges Kappa Tau, and his science nerdiness part of his sorta gets thrown upside down.
I’ve realized I’m no better than the next teenager who digs drama-filled television. By golly, my guilty pleasure is ONE TREE HILL, and here I am sucked into another soap opera-esque program, at least this time the students are college level dudes with ‘grown up’ drama. This new show is the ABC Family program GREEK, now nearing its fourth and final season early next year. The funny thing is that I avoided this show for the longest time. There would be promos on my KYLE XY sets [note: if you have not yet had the honor of experiencing KYLE XY, I would very much recommend you do so in the very immediate future], and I would hardly pay it any attention. Honestly, it looked rubbish, and I was sure I had the entire series pegged just from the trailer – twenty to thirty year olds playing young college students, plenty of ‘you slept with my boyfriend!’ storylines, and ‘awkward science nerd’ scenarios galore. I guess it was inevitable that GREEK would end up becoming my fall 2010 addiction.
GREEK: CHAPTER ONE is composed of the first ten episodes of season one, with the remaining twelve on the CHAPTER TWO DVD [which is unavailable for rent, so expect my reviews of those episodes as part of The Watcher]. In a day and a half, those ten episodes were devoured, and one of my favorite characters in the soap opera world established. More on that later. So for those like me who were a bit reluctant to take the plunge with GREEK, here’s the lowdown:
The show begins from the point of view of Rusty Cartwright (Zachar), a freshman science genius who seeks to join a fraternity, much to the irritation of his roommate Dale (Duke). He prances over to the Zeta Beta Zeta house where his sister Casey Cartwright is second in command to get some advice, and she’s understandably a tad reluctant to give it. At this point in her life, Casey has it all: good grades, a great kinship with her ZBZ sisters, and the most awesomest boyfriend of all time in the form of Evan Chambers (McDorman), so she sorta gives him some halfhearted advice and he goes off on his own to do some pledging. Rusty lands at Kappa Tau, a relaxed and party-heavy fraternity run by Casey’s ex Cappie (Foster), who still has feelings for Casey and does the occasional construction of situations to try to win her back. As a new pledge, Rusty juggles Kappa Tau, school work, and trying to lose his awkward stance with girls.
Like most shows centered towards young adult ‘coming-of-age’ stories, the strength of the show is its cast, characters, and stories. Luckily, the folks behind GREEK are full of vigor, offering fresh plotlines and three dimensional characters that are charming, interesting, and have their own personalities that are not dictated solely by plot. The sort of triangle relationship between Casey, Evan and Cappie is dynamite gold. At times, I was the rooting champion of team Casey/Cappie, but then Evan acted like a genuinely cool dude, and I was suddenly not too broken hearted if Cappie and Casey got together. The point of that example is that these characters are so well written, you’re as torn up as they are.
As the character we’re first introduced to, I can’t say I’m particularly a fan of Rusty Cartwright, although it may have more to do with the performance by Jacob Zachar. Yes, I know I said everyone in the show did stellar work, and they do; all I’m saying is that Zachar just needed to up his game a bit more. I do appreciate Rusty wasn’t your usual dweeb science nerd who knew absolutely nothing about social life and was a walking embarrassment, and I was glad he wasn’t a completely naive individual. There are just aspects of Zachar’s performance that I didn’t appreciate. In fact, the only other qualm I have about Chapter One deals with Rusty, as well. In the middle portion of these episodes, Rusty engages in a relationship with ZBZ sista Jen K. How he gets to that relationship was ill-handled, at least as far to my liking. Relationships are built on mutual attraction, whether it is physical or personality-wise. In Rusty and Jen K’s situation, there was attraction on Jens part, but from everything I saw from Rusty, he seemed more or less ‘Oh, this chick digs me? Cool. Alright, I like you, too!’ Before Jen reveals her feelings to Rusty, the science nerd is too enamored with the idea that he has a secret admirer and even wants Jen K to scram so ‘she doesn’t get the wrong idea.’ Watch the episode in context. Poor writing, poor execution. That being said, however, I did enjoy their relationship, and am frankly surprised at how far the relationship progressed in such a short amount of time. The Jen K surprise in the discs final episode was truly a surprise, and a truly disappointing loss.
Casey Cartwright, as said above, is a gal who seems to have everything together. However, similar to so many young people, when ones in a relationship for a long time with no end in sight, the future looks to be a scary place, and her contemplation and fear results in some juicy plotlines that involve Cappie. Perhaps moreso than any other character on the show, Casey’s story from the pilot to the tenth episode is the most engaging and honestly written. Well, I sorta take that back. Speaking as a quasi-Cappie type of person, Cappie’s feelings towards Casey and his sorta moodiness is very, very honestly written and beautifully acted. Anyhow, Casey also has a awesomely written trustworthy friend in the form of Ashleigh (Stevens), a gal stuck in one of those controlling relationships that she doesn’t recognize. As Casey’s arch nemesis, Rebecca Logan (Vadsaria) threatens to break her and Evan apart, and also conspires to usurp Casey at all opportunities. Although Rebecca most certainly filled the bitch quota in the beginning, cracks in her armor around Cappie is beginning to reveal a softer side that’s far more intriguing, and offers some rich storytelling opportunities for Season 1.5.
Dale Kettlewell is a boy of God, and acts as the comedy relief. Brought to life by the ever talented Clark Duke (SEX DRIVE), I wouldn’t be lying by saying that a smile forms when Dale’s onscreen. Also not to be missed is Rusty’s friend Calvin Owens (James), a dude wrestling with how to best come out of the closet with his pledge buddies. His storyline hits high points, then low points, and finishes off with a high. I still don’t have a firm grasp on his character, but I can’t necessarily say I don’t like him, either. As for Evan Chambers, Casey’s boyfriend, he can be a pompous ass at times, while also being a rather cool cat here and there.
Alright, digging the characters? If this summary sounds like bollocks, I totally blame it on the fact it’s being ghost written by someone way less cool than, um, Andy. Anyhow, the main point is that I strongly encourage a screening of GREEK. The characters are fun, as I said, and three dimensional. The scripts are top notch, jokes and dramatic moments mixed with real honest writing, making for a enjoyable forty-two minutes well spent. If, like me, you’re tiring of the fun nature of the outlandish plotlines in your favorite primetime soap operas – ONE TREE HILL, GOSSIP GIRL – then I strongly implore GREEK. It’s a breath of fresh air, and really, any Cappie-centric episode makes everything worth it.
However, new thought: since I avoided GREEK like the plague, much like I’m doing with MAKE IT OR BREAK IT, should I give that thing a chance? I mean, I tried SECRET LIFE OF THE AMERICAN TEENAGER, but then it just provided proof that Lucifer is indeed real and corrupting the young. So, dilemma. Anyway, point: GREEK is awesome. Watch now. Every episode of the first three seasons are available now.
Oh, and there's a guest appearance by Charisma Carpenter! See? I save the best news for last.
I fear death, and I hate it. The whole being dead thing is not something I'm especially keen on experiencing, so I'm fully able to respond to characters in literary and feature films who spend the entirety of the time trying to figure out how to cheat death. Finding the Fountain of Youth - sure, totally doable. Cloning your body and transplanting your consciousness into a fully functional and brand spankin' new entity - coolness, if you have the money and resources to pull it off. Writer/director Darren Aronofsky (THE WRESTLER) crafted this mega epic that spanned three different timelines with Hugh Jackman starring as the man seeking the path to immortality. Before heading into the movie, I was aware that it was going to be a mind frak, so I paid especially close attention. But then again, I was 16 or 17, so I doubt my brilliance at that age is as super awesome as it is now. Anyway, I followed the film fine enough until about the last two minutes, and all I remember is that suddenly Hugh Jackman is out in the snow standing above a grave, and everything I thought I knew and understood went out the window. I was left puzzled and a tad irritated, like I missed some grand thingy.
I fully intend on watching THE FOUNTAIN again, not only to see if I can understand the ending that for all I know isn't actually all that complicated, but also for sheer entertainment value. Aronofsky made one hell of a beautiful picture, and the creativity and imagination imbued in every frame is unmistakable. But for right now, THE FOUNTAIN has left me befuddled since I saw it, and therefore it's the most freakish movie ending I've seen....yet.
25 September 2010
Created by Jane Espenson, D. Brent Mote
Starring Eddie McClintock, Joanne Kelly, Saul Rubinek, Allison Scagilotti, CCH Pounder
Transmission season: Summer 2009
12 episodes, 42 mins.
Plot: Agents Peter and Myka are begrudgingly teamed up by a secret Warehouse, a facility that stores highly dangerous artifacts from around the globe with scientific/supernatural properties.
Maintaining the line between fun and campiness, SyFy’s Original Series WAREHOUSE 13 has quickly become one of my favorite shows on television. Developed by D. Brent Mote, Jane Espenson (BUFFY, BATTLESTAR GALACTICA) and David Simkins (BLADE: THE SERIES), the twelve-episode first season has its share of dramatic moments mixed in with a lot of cultural references, geek cred, fun, and hammy whammy. When I said Espenson’s name in the opening credits, it all became apparent: “Oh, duh, of course” is basically the thought I had. After all, spending all those years with Joss Whedon and Marti Noxon would tend to have their personalities rub off on you. So here we have this, a show about a huuuuge warehouse that stores scientific/paranormal artifacts that have no reason being out in our world. My apologies for partaking of the overused analogy, but it’s similar to where that dude put the Ark of the Covenant in the final shot of RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK.
Our main characters are Pete Lattimer (McClintock), a hot headed Secret Service Agent who acts first and thinks third, and also has some weird sixth sense thing that comes in handy when dealing with bad guys intent on killing him and his partner Myka. Agent Myka Bering (Kelly) is the polar opposite of Pete, very analytical, thinking things through, level headed, and not rash. Of course, when the two of them are paired together by the Warehouse, they tend to clash with their different ways of operating. Happily, that’s where a great amount of the fun is. Their leader of operations at the Warehouse is Arthur “Artie” Nielsen (Rubinek), a bumbling dude who we don’t know too much about, doesn’t bother explaining much, and is very know-it-allish. But the great thing about Artie is that he’s a sort of father figure for the two, especially Claudia, a character introduced a bit into the season and becomes a series regular. Artie’s trustworthy (to a degree), and dependable (also to a degree…so…), and plus has this whole intelligent man thing going for him. Speaking of Claudia (Scagliotti), aside from being cute and gorgeous, she’s a brilliant computer whiz in her early twenties who has a great sense of humor, throwing off hilarious one-liners here and there, and occasionally getting into trouble [but then again, everyone seems to do that in this show]. The boss of Artie is Mrs. Fredric, played by SHIELD veteran C.C.H Pounder, a woman older than she looks and doesn’t have a high tolerance of their shenanigans. And the cast is evened out by Leena, the resident psychic who can read a person’s aura.
The series opens with a great “Pilot”, establishing the tone and feel of the show, the vast space of the Warehouse itself, and setting up the main premise of the show: find artifacts, bring ‘em back for archival. It’s not until over halfway through the series where a antagonist is revealed, and a arc comes into place; otherwise, the majority of the episodes are very standalone, Artifact-of-the-Week type of deals. Which, really, I don’t mind; after all, it’s the freshman season, and the writers/creators are still finding their footing. Plus, it allows them to go any direction they want each and every episode – they can go for the dramatic, such as “Burnout” when Pete’s life is a mili-inch from being no more, and “Nevermore”, where Myka finds her father (guest star Michael Hogan, BATTLESTAR GALACTICA) slowly dying by having his life force drained. But where there’s drama, there are a few more episodes on the light side of things – and that’s either the beauty or curse of the series. Either things are played out in too comedic, too cartoony of a fashion that it really feels like an entirely unreletable alternate universe where these things are taking place, or everything gels perfectly that that fine line stays true and we get an excellent episode.
Eddie McClintock and Joanne Kelly work well off each other. Even when they’re bickering ferociously and trying to be all ‘grrr’ at each other, the obvious fact that they’re having loads of fun doing it is hugely apparent on their faces. Saul Rubinek is one of the shows highlights as Artie, nearly always stealing the scene from the other actors. Although it is part of his character, my only real criticism is his constant mumbling and use of “uh”; damn, man, stop! The real stellar aspect of the show is Allison Scagliotti who plays Claudia. Allison is, no doubt in my mind, a actress with amazing star power, showing off her ability to delve deep into emotional avenues, as evidenced by her debut episode “Claudia”, as well as yamming up the fun overdrive-style, as in “Breakdown.”
Sadly, I must say, there’s not much to critique about WAREHOUSE 13. Basically, if you’re a fan of shows that don’t take themselves too seriously, and are immensely enjoyable and most definitely a blast to watch, running through all twelve episodes in rapid-fire succession, then I’d say look no further than WAREHOUSE 13.
Um, like, a lot. I have multiple DVDs that are due on Monday that I need to watch: WALL STREET, THE FULL MONTY, and VERSUS, not to mention finishing MAD MEN: SEASON ONE. Theatrical viewing-wise, I still really want to see THE NIGHT CHRONICLES: DEVIL, THE TOWN, WALL STREET: MONEY NEVER SLEEPS, and RESIDENT EVIL:AFTERLIFE [2-D]. So sure, there's plenty I plan on watching, but with the load of junk I got to get done by Tuesday, it's rather in the doubtful category that I will indeed watch 'em. I need to at least finish MAD MEN; I've already renewed the item once, and the Mankato library doesn't really allow a second renewal. And, next month, I plan on doing that whole OMENS thing, so my load of movies will primarily be Netflix Instant Streaming-related. So, here's hoping I survive that, eh?
24 September 2010
Created by Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman, J.J. Abrams
Starring Ana Torv, Joshua Jackson, John Noble, Lance Reddick
Transmission season: 2008-2009
FOX, 22 episodes, 43 mins.
Plot: The Fringe division at the FBI investigates advanced 'out-there' scientific anomalies that are affecting the world; their mission is to find it, contain it or stop it. Led by Special Agent Olivia Dunham, she recruits Peter Bishop and his father Walter Bishop, a man who experimented with scientific realms not thought possible years before.
Truth be told, I finished Fringe: The Complete First Season about three months ago, so this review will be short, sweet, and to the point. Despite rave reviews, I had some trepidation of getting into a procedural science fiction program. Also despite rave reviews, I found myself bored most of the time throughout the first two seasons of THE X-FILES, so that didn’t quite bode well for FRINGE. Turns out this series, developed by mega creative minds J.J. Abrams (LOST), Alex Kurtzman and Robert Orci (STAR TREK), is not only genuinely a damn good show, but also highly addictive, intelligent, and very dimensional (and more ways than one; yeah, you get the joke). Although the series is most definitely science fiction heavy, the real heart of the program is the relationship between all the characters, most specifically that of the strained Bishops.
FBI Special Agent Olivia Dunham [possibly deliberate reference to Carl Dunham from KING KONG? Hey, for all we know, they’re major fans] finds herself exposed to a world of unimaginable scientific possibilities when she races against time to save her comatose lover, John Scott (guest star Mark Valley). Even with the resolution of that storyline, Olivia is nonetheless pulled into the Fringe Division, a special sector of the FBI tasked with investigating, cleaning up, and preventing scientific anomalies such as the one that wrecked havoc on a airliner and left her boyfriend for dead. In order to save the day on a daily basis, she recruits Peter Bishop, begrudgingly from his perspective, to persuade his father, Dr. Walter Bishop, to help her. Easier said than done, taking into account Peter has nothing but spite for his father after having the opposite of a pleasant, homey childhood. But Peter, a young man in his early twenties who isn’t exactly with the straight and narrow of the law, agrees. However, as Olivia and the Bishops seek their teeth further into Fringe Division and solve these anomalies, Peter is beginning to see a grander connection to all these events. Not only are Peter and Walter significant components of science gone awry, but Olivia discovers something about herself that forces her to confront her past.
Science attacking the universe, literally. It’s a gorgeous, brilliantly executed idea. There’s heistmanwho can move through walls, plenty of genetic animal anomalies that wreck havoc not only on the mainland but also sewers, folks with extraordinary powers thanks to childhood treatments, heart-crushing parasites, message-imprinting flashlights, computers liquefying brains, emotion sensors, pyrokenesis, and the much-overused-but-yet-somehow-super-fresh teleportation device. Of course there’s much, much more – a whole universe worth of totally unconventional scientific phenomena gone awry, and it’s up to our trio to stop it. Basically, this show can best be summarized as so: Um, COOL!
Indeed, all the science mumbo jumbo – and believe me, there is plenty – is actually pretty damn cool, as are the generated effects – visual and computer generated – of the messed up science stuff. Watching these anomalies brought to life is nothing short of beautiful, and from the little I’ve seen of season two at this point, it only improves. Furthermore, this show wisely doesn’t just turn into a freak out the week type program, but more often than not, these scientific anomalies have a close, personal connection to a member of the team, which allows for some utterly great emotional writing and performances. Additionally, Olivia finds out she may not be as normal as she initially thought, which also conjures up some great moments for Anna Torv to play with.
As I said before, FRINGE works great as a science fiction procedural program, but the main crux of the show is the family formed at Fringe Division. Olivia’s close friendship with her partner Charlie, a man who is always there to have her back and believes in her; Olivia’s relationship with her sister, which may also spark a relationship with Peter. Hell, even the work-related relationship between Olivia and her boss Phillip Broyles (Lance Reddick, a Abrams favorite) is awesome to watch. Broyles believers in Olivia, trusts her, and backs her up. Damn good boss. And of course, the strained relationship between Walter and Peter. Walter, who just spent the last seventeen years locked up in a mental institution, is perfectly delighted examining bodies, recalling memories, and eating random delicious foods, not having a care in the world. For the majority of the season, Peter is torn on whether or not he’s pleased to have his father back in his life, or regrets getting him out of the institution. Of course their father/son relationship has moments of dramatic strains, it nonetheless is perhaps the most amusing and fun aspect of the show.
Even with disasters each episode to deal with, there are arcs spread throughout the season that’s just as engaging. First and foremost is the search for William Bell, the mastermind behind the world’s leading scientific company Massive Dynamics. As each case gets solved, there are more and more connections to Bell, making him a top priority for the Fringe Division. Another arc is Olivia’s past, and what was done to her as a child that causes her to posses abilities a regular everyday Joe really shouldn’t have. The third arc, and perhaps the juiciest and most epic, is the devious plan by David Robert Jones, a biochemist who is cunning, manipulative, and possibly a little bad. Immediately, his sights are fixed on Olivia, and helps her explore who she is and conjures up aspects of her past. He also has a personal vendetta against William Bell, which makes finding Bell of even greater importance for the Fringe team.
FRINGE excels in basically all levels. The characters are gripping, and entirely three dimensional. They don’t act as devices to keep the story flowing, these are true flesh and blood characters, even the bloody guest stars. All the actors are at the top of their game: Anna Torv never fails to impress in every episode, showing vulnerability, kickassery, sheer determination, and simply awesomeness. Aside from the whole being beautiful thing, Ms. Torv is possibly one of the most promising actresses on television right now. John Noble is obviously having a blast playing Walter, and his charm and playfulness can’t help but be absorbed by the audience. Kirk Acevedo is a faithful friend and husband as Charlie Francis, and Jasika Nicole is fun and gets some great one-liners as Walter’s assistant Agent Astrid Farnsworth. Pretty boy Joshua Jackson, arguably the best part of DAWSON’S CREEK a millenia ago, shows a tremendous talent that I had never seen before, making him entirely likable, charismatic, and another reason why this show is must-watch television.
Cinematography is gorgeous, making FRINGE one of the best lit and directed shows on the tube right now. Music by maestro Michael Giacchino (LOST) is also basking in the realm of brilliance. Even the bloody editing is quick and smooth. Oh, and lest I forget, a creative aspect of FRINGE that makes me giddy every episode – the dimensional pop out location titles that hover in mid air [there’s a name for them, I just don’t know what it is…]. Sure, it can get a bit repetitive with how many times ‘Harvard University’ shows up, but I can deal. It’s bloody fun!
Sadly, I feel like I’ve given far too much of the overall story arc away, so perhaps it’s best to end this review nowish. FRINGE is a terrific show. Brilliant in writing, performances, cinematography, score, and editing, the series is highly addictive, and the scientific jargon doesn’t fall into the ‘distracting’ category. The characters are gripping, the storyline intense, and similar to me, I have very little doubt you won’t be wowed by the imaginative scope of the series as I was. By the season finale, you’ll be screaming for me. Which, lucky for you, you can do basically ASAP with the recently released complete second season on DVD/Blu-Ray, and season three having just premiered on FOX. It’s a good time to be a FRINGE fan.
"Why, Mr. Anderson, why?"
Out of context, no apparent reason, dunno why I do it, I just say it. A lot. Girlfriend gets all 'ugh' when I say it, and I get all 'ugh' when I say it. It just sorta comes out, y'know? More often than not, I quote television material, like DOCTOR WHO. However, the Wachowski Siblings (as they're now called) are very gifted writers, so whenever I quote a movie, it's typically something associated with them. I quite often quote the V FOR VENDETTA monologue which I memorized by heart in high school - turns out, chicks didn't quite dig that as much as I did. I also quote the speech from MATRIX REVOLUTIONS, such as that one line above but in the full form. Basically, those two movies I quote - a lot. Here and there I quote some AMERICAN WEDDING, but only when I'm in a rather foul mood and I channel my inner Stifler. So, yeah...
23 September 2010
S01E03 - "Reins of a Waterfall" (5 February 2010) - This episode marks the guys behind CAPRICA firing on all cylinders. Directed by BATTLESTAR GALACTICA developer Ronald D. Moore, he creates a visually beautiful forty-three minute episode with great use of camera movements, lights, blurriness, and quick edits. It's most definitely a huge step up from his directorial effort from the final few episodes of GALACTICA. Not only that, but plot points are beginning to pick up. I'm finally getting a inkling of what Sister Clarice is up to, dealing with something called "apotheosis." Suffice to say, I'm now sorta intrigued. Magda Apanowicz continues to impress as Lacy, as does Eric Stolz and Esai Morales. Speaking of Morales, holy frakkin' Gods did he have two lovely scenes in the episode - near the beginning when he hires his brother/cousin/whoever to beat up Daniel for him, and the final scene where he orders the hit on Daniel's wife. Damn, that man of honor from the pilot is sure going down a dark, dangerous path. But with how fast the show is moving the relationship between the two, I am curious about the longevity of the program. In conclusion, "Reins of a Waterfall" has re-instilled my faith in the show. Plus, this trailer for Season 1.5 helped matters.
S01E04 - "Gravedancing" (19 February 2010) - Another fantastic episode, although that can mostly be attributed to the riveting sequence where Daniel Graystone went on Sarno's show for a live interview, which understandably went horribly basically right away. And then Amanda Graystone walks onstage, completely by surprise of everyone in the show, and me for that matter. I was hooked. Sarno, Amanda, and Daniel engage in a verbal jest, and boy was it captivating. Great writing, phenomenal performances by Stolz, Oswalt, and Paula. Lacy is getting a bit more into the action by abiding a request from Zoe to transport something to Gemenon, and all I could really think of was 'damn, she's gorgeous.' Sister Clarice warns her STO students of the law enforcement coming to school so they could hide their bad materials. Zoe gets the opportunity to dance and loosen up in her Cylon body. Adama figures out he doesn't have the nuts to follow through on the Amanda Graystone hit. Overall, a pretty damn good episode. Like I said above, the Sarno interview was utterly riveting, and I'm still loving Alessandra Torressani's work as Zoe.
S04E01 - "Chuck Versus the Anniversary" (20 September 2010) - The show that somehow survived cancellation three seasons in a row is back for its fourth season, and similar to the season three premiere, it's a game changer. In the previous season finale, Chuck made a promise to sister Ellie to quit the spy business, and quit the spy business he did. However, a final request from his father is nagging Chuck's head, and he feels obligated to fulfill it: locate his mother, who disappeared when he was six years old. So we got Chuck and Morgan searching for Mamma Bartowski on their own dime, Sarah and Casey still with the CIA and mission impossibling themselves, Ellie has exciting news, and the Buy More has been rebuilt from the ground up, but this time erected by the CIA to serve as a homebase. Yep, things are strange in Chuckville. I guess the first thing worth mentioning about the premiere: the casting of Linda Hamilton (Sarah freakin' Connor!) as Chuck's mother. She's aged well, and if the final scene is any indication, she can still kick mighty ass, perhaps even giving Ellen Ripley a run for her money.
And Yvonne Strahovski, perhaps the single most attractive woman on television right now [a difficult choice, taking into account the gorgeousness of Anna Torv, FRINGE], not only gets to show off her beautiful assets, but also gets some spy ass-kicking going on. I really got to hand it to Yvonne and Anna: these two women are able to be cute, adorable, beautiful, manipulative, and utterly dangerous, and pull it off as fantastically as Kiefer Sutherland's Jack Bauer. Sarah confronting Chuck about the "sexting" was also far too great to be true. More on that later. Those two girls are true fighting machines. Adam Baldwin (FIREFLY) is always great as Casey, and it was hilarious whenever he deflected Sarah's "you miss [Chuck]" moments. Basically, Baldwin rocks. I'm very much liking this mature and mostly confidant Chuck Bartowski, how he walks into that entirely fake Russian place with such suave, and makes the adult [but unnecessary, taking account the time table?] decision to disconnect the upload in order to get the frak out. Chuck's bestie Morgan is still fantastic, initiating the whole "sexting" thing as well as the rolling-on-the-floor-laughing interpretations of Sarah's S.O.S. texts. So Chuck's possibly being forced back into the CIA, he's growing up, Elle's gonna have her plate full, Sarah and Chuck are still good, and Linda Hamilton is freakin' awesome as Mamma Bartowski who seems to be as threatening to the world as Orion was two seasons ago. Overall, this season is shaping up to be very interesting. Only downside: damn budget cuts! The CGI is atrocious. Here's hoping that the series continues after this, but even if that doesn't come to pass, NBC most generously gave this show a chance, and more seasons than I would have ever expected. So no matter what, I've been a happy beaver.
S01E02 - "2.0" (16 September 2010) - Watching the freshman shows second episode, I couldn't help but wonder how much better it could be on a harder network - say, FX for example. By all means, Nikita is still good, still interesting, still engaging, and still a show that I'll check out because I think it has some great potential, but it could most definitely be so much more. Yes, this show does have a edge to it; Alex being beaten around by the German dude, Percy ordering Michael to the German dude to save their asses, and the harsh shoot-out in the subway station. By 'harder', I don't just mean making the violence of the show have more impact and weight, but also adding great amount of emotional impact to the flashback sequences between Nikita and Alex. Those three or four scenes introduce us to how these two messed up individuals came to trust each other so completely, but yet they fall flat. Perhaps a longer running time would be in order, or exercising the entire plot of "2.0" and instead dedicating the entire episode to a flashback. Or, wait until episode three to go the flashback route, and use "2.0" to continue establishing the tone and drive of the show. The "Pilot" promised a grand storyline of Nikita bringing down Division, and considering that the board behind CW see some sort of longevity for the franchise, I wager Division isn't being brought down immediately, and thus inconsequential filler episodes like this are necessary; I just wish they weren't. Or at the very least make some damn engaging fillers, like Angel always seemed to accomplish. Point is, still a good episode, and taking into account the show is still finding its footing, I probably shouldn't judge it so harshly. Besides, Alex still kicks ass.
S01E03 - "Kill Jill" (23 September 2010) - "Michael, you have no idea how much pain I can take." See, now that's the badass quality I've been looking forward to in this new Nikita series, but has been disappointingly lacking - sorta. This episode was a decent step in the right direction, but I dunno if this is just me, but I LOVE those moments when the bad guys have that little, "Oh, shit - it's [insert person - Jason Bourne, Jack Bauer, Nikkita]." I want more of those; I'd never get tired of 'em. Anyhow, that aside, "Kill Jill" was a enjoyable, quick 40 minutes of a good story idea that deserved to be executed with a bit more precision and tension, not to mention stakes. There's a lot of "this and this is going to happen if this gets out!!!", a lot of telling without showing, or conveying the stakes in a grand way. There's not much to say about the episode, honestly. I was lovin' the Birkoff stuff, where he was being suspected of treason, and his scene with Melinda Clarke was very fun(ny) to watch. I'm still lovin' Alex, and I can't wait to see people starting to catch onto her. I'm not too thrilled about the potential kinship between her and one of the other recruits. Eh, we'll see. The series is still young, and for all I know, every episode for the rest of the season will be super stellars. Overall, still liking the series. A good step forward.
At this point it's almost a cliche to choose this one, but I blame it entirely on Christopher Nolan for crafting the most original, most invigorating, most 'Holy shit!' action scene in recent memory [sorry Anakin vs. Obi-Wan, I still love you, honestly]. Don't know what I'm talking about yet? Well, it's still somehow on the Top 10 box office charts thanks to good word of mouth and repeated screenings, and is one of the top five best ticketsellers of the year. I speak of Nolan's INCEPTION, the "Hamster Wheel Hallway Fight" [is that what it's really called?].
Alright, so now that I've chosen that, why exactly did I? Well, we, the movie bloggers, go to the movies to experience something, so watch a film that will hopefully move us and have us fall in love with it. More often than not, we're greeted with movies that are either extremely lackluster or simply "yeah, that was good." INCEPTION is original, INCEPTION is beautiful, not only in the aspect of cinematography but as well as in the script department. And then this scene happens, this hallway fight sequence, and my jaw drops. I'm floored. I can't process the awesomeness of what I am watching, of the sheer technical skill, brilliance of execution, and lack of computer generated effects utilized in this very real, very powerful scene that also brings some [sorta] real jeopardy to the situation. And when you have a scene as brilliant as that inter-cut with the first dream state's car flipping all around, and master Hans Zimmer's pounding, profoundly epic music pushing the boundaries of suspense and amazement simultaneously - well, that's solid cinematic gold. Forget the fact that this is a fight scene, the fact is that the four or five minutes that that truck is flipping over is pure cinema gold, and I am so, so, so thankful for it.
RUNNER-UP: The Moscow car chase in THE BOURNE SUPREMACY. I so nearly, nearly did that one.
22 September 2010
No schedule. The only two things that remain the same will be the MMAM and The Watcher. I got plenty of reviews to write, so I'll at least be staying true to that. Thus, Ramblings of a Minnesota Geek will be in good waters. Movies and TV shows will/are the prime objective of the site, and with The Watcher, the TV aspect will be covered rather thoroughly, so yippie with that.
I'd also like to acknowledge that next month I plan on taking part of David Bishop's One Month Exploring Netflix Streaming, or more appropriately, OMENS. I already have quite the heavy Netflix Streaming list, and with my nifty new headphones recently acquired from Wal-Mart, I'm downright ready to get me some Netflix watching going.
One last thing, so you can understand the atrocious pain I've been dealing with the last two weeks: poetry. I'm quite certain there's very, very few things in existence that is as wicked, vile, and simply evil as poetry. Just reading it and giving a reader response is fine - I'm groovy with that. But having to write a three to five page analytical paper, not only pointing out poetry jargon but also using it in the document...it was just very uber-crazy. However, hazzah! The Final Draft was turned in this morning, and the sure-to-fail poetry test I took on Monday actually produced a high C. So, mesa much with the happy. Again, my apologies. Evil homework took precedence. [Never thought I would say that...]
And before I sign off, SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD hits DVD/Blu-Ray November 9th. Buy it first day, or you are so not cool:
Honestly, I'm not too enthusiastic about this category. Initially, I was thinking the resurrection of Barbossa, revealed at the closing seconds of PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MAN'S CHEST, but then sorta concluded that I think I like that scene more because of the audience reaction which was hysterical [listening to everyone cheer, whistle, and call Geoffrey Rush 'hot', utter greatness]. And although I do like BACK TO THE FUTURE and PRINCESS BRIDE, I can't say their endings really won me over with anything like fellow bloggers. And as far as lines go, not too many final lines that I can honestly say I like, let alone remember enough to include 'em.
Anyhow, there is, however, one particular scene that I nearly skip the ENTIRE movie to watch, and it's the final sequence. A few short years ago, Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez teamed up to present audiences with a true grindhouse experience with a three hour-plus movie appropriately titled GRINDHOUSE. When the DVD hit markets, the two features were separated a month apart, DEATH PROOF then PLANET TERROR. Out of the two, I'm more of a PLANET TERROR fan, but Tarantino sure delivered one hell of a final reel to his 'crazy driver' storyline. Kurt Russell played a dude who loved to stalk and kill him some pretty ladies [sexual satisfaction?], but on this particular occasion, he picked the wrong gals. SPOILER ALERT for those who haven't seen DEATH PROOF.
Also, apologies for the crappy screencap. It's difficult to find a shot of the DEATH PROOF final scene online. Now I dunno if it's my own sick, twisted mind that finds this scene so damn funny and bloody fantastic to watch, but similar to the AMERICAN WEDDING scene that never fails to make me happy after a pissy day, this three minute punch-kicking-beatdown gives me such joy and giddiness. Here's Russell's character, a hard motherfrakker who cavalierly kills without mercy or compassion, and his pretty car gets beat up quite a bit and he's bleeding a tad, and the three gorgeous girls make their way to him, finding the dude crying his little hearts out. The irony there is enough to make me smile writing this. What follows for the next two minutes are our three female leads beating the living bonkers out of the poor dude, all the way to the killing blow. DEATH PROOF itself may not exactly be Tarantino's masterpiece [still better than JACKIE BROWN; don't kill me], but he sure as hell knows how to craft some stellar car chases and action scenes.
Anyway, there's my pick for Favorite Final Scene. For all I know, this will change rather quickly, but as it stands, DEATH PROOF's closing moments are freakin' hilarious, ironic, uncompromising, nicely directed and edited, and just simply fun. If you haven't done yourself the pleasure of seeing GRINDHOUSE yet [which hits Blu-Ray next month in a special edition 3-Disc set], I'd very much give the recommendation to do so.
21 September 2010
Kevin Smith is first and foremost a writer before a director, so feel free to say shit about his directing style, although I personally don't mind it. Smith is mostly known for his dick and fart jokes from his first directorial feature CLERKS up to ZACK AND MIRI MAKE A PORNO, and yeah, he had a fanbase, and he wrote accordingly. But unlike a lot of writers in town, he crafts perhaps some of the most honest, realistic, and heart-tugging characters, scenes, conversations and relationships on film. Sure, I have no doubt a lot of folks will disagree - after all, I'm a young chap who still has a lot of movies to experience, but right now, when I think of a great couple that completely gets me absorbed into a movie, the will they? won't they? chemistry between Dante Hicks and Becky Scott is mesmerizing.
Dante is scheduled [yep, right word] to get married in the very immediate future, and if there's one person who could possibly talk him out of it, it's Becky. Randal could try, but Dante and Randal don't exactly have that type of relationship. Becky and Dante have about two scenes together without anyone else, but those two scenes are masterpieces. The screencap above is from their first solo scene, where they just have a conversation about the connotations of 'love' and the romantic form of 'love'. Technically speaking, although they do have a sort of past, they aren't a official romantic couple through the majority of the movie - it's more like a courtship that's being wrestled with in Dante's heart and mind. And Becky, played by Rosario Dawson, damn if she's not one of the most perfect women ever made on this earth...
Oh, and that second scene. Dante's a tad worried about the whole dancing at the wedding thing, so Becky brings him to the building rooftop to teach him some moves to the Jackson Five's "ABC." [FYI: At this second as I'm writing this, the music used for the CLERKS II opening theme is playing in my University's computer lab. Oh, yeah, this is so a sign from Those Up High]. The relationship these two had grabbed me immediately, and if those two hadn't had some sort of resolution, I would have been freakin' pissed, and I can't really make that claim about a lot of will they?/won't they? couples on film. And that's a great part of Kevin Smith's writing abilities, but I'll say that glamorous article for another time.
I'm not much of a romantic, and I don't respond all that deeply to a lot of cinematic courtships, but Dante and Becky is sure as hell at the very top.
20 September 2010
I recognize that THE PRINCESS BRIDE is perhaps the most logical choice, but what I take away from that movie is the awesome sword fights, the hilarious script, and the overall funness of the film. I don't care about the romantic element of the film at all. In fact, I've pondered this topic for a long, long, long time, and I still don't have a solid, completely honest answer. So I'm going with a rather gut reaction. Here's a kiss that I always turn my attention to whenever the film is playing at work. A kiss that I can't help but root for. This kiss is when Harry Potter finally caves into his hormones and kisses Cho Chang in HARRY POTTER AND THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX. Thank the Gods, Harry Potter finally snogged a gal!
The setting is a sweet and comedic one. Cho is reminiscing about her vampire boyfriend Edward and how Voldemort cursed him to drink from human blood for the rest of eternity, and for some stupid reason glow in sunlight. Perhaps Voldey was hoping some jealous boyfriend would stake the poor sod. Anyhow, Harry, being the kind bloke he is, offers sympathetic statements about Edward, saying he knew all this wizardy stuff and Voldemort just knows more. Cho recognizes this niceness on Harry's part, and then her hormones and desires cave, and the two embrace in a kiss. The comedic part? The Room of Requirement creating a mistletoe for the two, providing a avenue for them to smooch. And Harry's "no idea" he quickly throws out before he tilts his head forward. I pretty much love this scene, and I, like so many in the theater during that midnight showing, were vocally rooting for our dear Harry. Now 'cuz I'm a Harry/Ginny shipper, if that scene in HALF-BLOOD was done one tenth as good, you can bet that'd be here instead of this.
19 September 2010
This one is sort of a cheat because the entire cast worked together in a prior TV series, but my initial gut reaction was the folks on Joss Whedon's SERENITY. Aside from being a all-around perfect movie, the fact is that Whedon assembled the ideal cast - every single one of them have their own distinct personality, and much to Whedon's luck, they all have amazing chemistry with one another. Their dialogue, their relationships, the overall dynamic - it feels truly natural, like the director was sneaking in on the ship Serenity and offering lines of dialogue for these true-to-life ship dudes to say. The dynamite cast features such recognize blokes like Nathan Fillion (CASTLE), Gina Torres (HERCULES: THE LEGENDARY JOURNEYS), Alan Tudyk (DOLLHOUSE), Summer Glau (TERMINATOR: THE SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES), Adam Baldwin (INDEPENDENCE DAY, CHUCK), Jewel Staite (STARGATE ATLANTIS), Morena Baccarin (V), Sean Maher (WAREHOUSE 13), Ron Glass (DEATH AT A FUNERAL), and Chiwetel Ejiofor (SALT). If that ensemble isn't enough to wet your appetite, I implore you to take a journey over to that invaluable device known as YouTube and watch a clip or two from the movie or show; not only is this a great cast together, but I would go so far as to say these folks are perhaps some of the top actors in the field today. Want proof to back up my claim? Watch SERENITY. Then come back to me.
18 September 2010
17 September 2010
It'd be far too obvious and far too simple to say the STAR WARS saga. So I'm not. And it would be far too obvious to say the GODZILLA series, as well. So I'm not. Therefore, I'm going to choose a series that had just come out within the decade, a series spanning two different directors and one very awesome action star.
The Bourne Trilogy
Matt Damon as a action hero. Guess I never really pictured that. Silly me. Under the guidance of Doug Liman, Matt Damon played the titular hero Jason Bourne in The Bourne Identity in 2002, a man who lost his memory but somehow knows how to fight and kill better than your usual everyday Joe. By the films conclusion, he gets a good idea of the man he used to be, and why exactly he doesn't remember a single damn thing from before waking up in the sea. The central question of who he is and how he became who he became is the crux of the trilogy. Bourne Identity is a all around splendid film, with some great chase sequences and brilliant casting - Chris Cooper, Julia Stiles, and Clive Owen among them. But it was 2004's The Bourne Supremacy, directed by Paul Greengrass (United 93), that sold me on the series. Many have criticized Greengrass for his extensive use of hand held camera to throw the audience into reality, but I loved it, and it completely threw me into the story, the action, the characters, and the conspiracy. Supremacy was the creative team firing at all cylinders, making a exhilarating movie that was relentless with the action and the Damon awesomeness. The film also introduced Joan Allen in a pivotal role that would run into the third story as well, crafting a immensely likable character that is doing her damnest to find out who Bourne is and stop him. Julia Stiles even gets a cameo, but her presence greatly increases in The Bourne Ultimatum. As with the previous installments, Ultimatum is hardly faithful to the Ludlum source material, instead branching in its own direction. Bourne is on the run again, but forces beyond his control calls his hand, resulting in a raid in New York meant to finish everything once and for all. Breathtaking, brilliant, and just as breathtaking as Supremacy, Ultimatum was utterly fantastic, and quite the satisfying culmination of the series - depending if a fourth one never moves forward into production.
Jason Bourne is a great character, although I attribute my likeiness to the guy wholeheartedly to Matt Damon's fantastic performances in all three films. Julia Stiles, Joan Allen, and Brian Cox - all splendid. Direction by Greengrass is a beauty to behold, especially the cinematography of car chase sequences, as well as fight scenes. For example, the cat & mouse game in Tangiers was the single most heart-pounding, intense sequence of 2007. Worthy of respect and admiration by all critics and preferences [as in drama lovin' or comedy lovin'], the Bourne trilogy is perfect.
16 September 2010
S01E11 - "The New Normal" (24 March 2008) - After renting the Chapter One DVD, I couldn't stop. Racing over to the nearest computer, ransacked through Hulu, and began to watch like a crazy possessed person. So, basically, expect GREEK reviews each week. Season 1.5 starts off with a rather damn good episode. Rachel, the girl I thought I wouldn't be able to tolerate, is now becoming a character that I look forward to seeing, thanks to this new 'relationship' with Cappie. Rusty is still a character I'm not particularly fond of, but I can still get behind the dude, so when he stupidly goes to see Jenny K [a character that I was disappointed to see go, and equally disappointed to see not having a recurring role anymore], I couldn't help but yell at the dude - with my mind, 'course, 'cuz everyone in the computer lab would be quite taken aback with my odd behavior, no doubt. Casey as a single girl is a nice development, Calvin is dealing with being 'homeless' after his gayness got outed inadvertently in the mid-season finale, Evan is being a douche, Cappie is as awesome as always, and this new character Lizzie is....obnoxious.
S01E12 - "The Great Cappie" (31 March 2008) - A super fun episode where I spent nearly the entire time wishing I was Cappie. Ah, great man.
S01E13 - "Highway to the Discomfort Zone" (7 April 2008) - Only if I was that 16 year old. Hmmm. Dale trying to convert Calvin to heterosexuality was nothing short of hilarious in true Dale fashion. Rusty - big surprise - is one upping everyone in Kappa Tau, and his pledge brothers aren't too pleased with that. By episodes end, he does everything in his power to make them all happy. Their big solution to show to Cappie isn't anything remotely with the interesting, really. I did like Cappie being straightforward honest with Casey and telling her what's going on between him and Rebbecca, and I also enjoyed Casey's disapproving glares of evilness. Oh, the Casey/Cappie/Rebbecca triangle is just way too fun.
S01E14 - "War and Peace" (14 April 2008) - About time Casey told Evan what's what. Since the mid-season finale, Evan has displayed nothing but jerktacularness in every scene he's in that doesn't have him defending Calvin. Otherwise, jerko. So when Casey said enough was enough, and gave her a piece of her mind, it was nothing short of beautiful. Kudos, Casey. The remainder of the episode - don't remember. However, major props also need to be given to the Kappa Tau for their inventive retribution against the Omega Chi's. That was pretty damn sweet.
S01E15 - "Freshman Daze" (21 April 2008) - The flashback episode that provides light for what happened between Cappie and Casey, as well as the spark that started the Casey and Evan relationship. Overall, about what I expected. What I didn't expect, though, was how assy Cappie had acted towards Casey. I love the guy, I do, but even I was pissed at the dude for forgetting to pick her up. Flash forward to the present, it was nonetheless spectacular to see him remedy the situation with Rachel, to show the growth that Cappie's undergone. Well, in some areas of his life, at least. I'm glad that Evan realized he wanted Casey back just when she realized how much she doesn't want him anymore, and I'm grateful that from this point forward new relationships and storylines will blossom.
S01E16 - "Move on Cartwrights" (28 April 2008) - All I'm going to say about this episode is that Dale is still a cool cat, but Rusty has the makings of a potential stalker serial killer. As a viewer watching the episode on Hulu, even I was scared shitless for my safety. That dude has no social abilities nor understandings of the dating mechanics - despite being in a fraternity and living on college and shagging his ex-girlfriend of a few weeks for the last six or so months. Rusty went from a alright character to nearly insufferable. Too bad this isn't the type of show that has him killed off helping Jack Bauer save the world.
S01E17 - "47 Hours and 11 Minutes" (5 May 2008) - It's a little disappointing that GREEK went with the contrived subplot of Rachel being a little bit embarrassed of Cappie being her boyfriend, and thus decided to not show him to her father, Senator Logan - y'know, except to piss her daddy off. Kudos to Cappie and actor Scott Michael Foster, though, for providing a very real, very mature and grounded performance, instead of over-acting in the hands of a less confidant and gifted actor.
S01E01 - "Pilot" (9 September 2010) - Never watched a single episode of the original Le Femme Nikita TV show from a few zillion eons ago [over exaggeration, can't you tell?], so I'm entering this particular series with a blank slate. And thus far, I'm digging it. I'm excited to see where they take this series, however long it lasts with a premise like it has. A rogue assassin trained by the government isn't too fond of them anymore thanks to taking out her love of all loves, and vows to take some vengeance out and ruin Division [the evil organization] forever. Well, damn! Sign me up! Nikita starts off with a bang, quite literally, with some super cool action sequences as well as plenty of opportunities for star Maggie Q to show off her body in skin-tight outfits. Also, the addition of this Alex character, and the subsequent twist at the end that I didn't see coming at all, has most definitely got me intrigued by the show. Plus the addition of a gazillion familiar names: Xander Berkly (24), Shane West (ER), Maggie Q (Mission: Impossible III), Lyndsey Fonseca (Kick-Ass), and Melinda Clarke (The O.C.) - yeah, I'm pumped! A definitely recommended new show - even on The CW.
S06E04 - "Breakout" (20 July 2010) - One of the benchmarks of Rescue Me is the shows ability to combine hilarious dialogue with really dramatic storylines. "Breakout" has Lou in the hospital, post-collapse, and everyone at the FDNY giving him a hard shitty time in true fashion, and then construct a breakout for the poor bloke. It's a comedic episode, but a filler nonetheless. Disappointing really. The two Stooges continue to be dumb, thus providing a good amount of jokes, and there's a interesting subplot with a firefighter friend of theirs who now has cancer, but that's about it. The real gem of the episode is the final eight minutes, when Tommy walks over to the church where Father Phil gives the good lad some enlightenment. I was a huge fan of Gallagher from The O.C., but I still don't have a hold on his performance yet; not sure if I like it, or find it over the top. Nonetheless, I'm intrigued enough by this plotline, I hope it finds further development and/or resolution.
S06E05 - "Blackout" (27 July 2010) - Tommy utterly shit-faced. His drinking went nine bazillion percent overboard [unbeknown to him, his bottle was sorta poisoned by some 'concerned' family members], and the episode plays as a search for Colleen, as Tommy desperately tries to remember details of the previous night. A episode pivotal for Tommy's downward spiral to perhaps reach its limit, it provided a lot of drama between Tommy and not only Janet, but his FDNY buddies. Plus there's Tommy with his thong. Yep, Tommy with a thong. Perhaps the frighting highlight of the episode?
S03E05 - "Trouble" (18 July 2010) - The last two scenes made the episode worth it, honestly. Russel trying to snatch Sookie, only for her mystical powers to send the guy aching with pain. And then Eric remembering something from his past that will directly reflect the future. Speaking of that memory, it was beautifully lit and shot - and by that, I am very much thinking of that eerie shot of the cloaked figure outside the doorway in the snow. Freak-ey. The rest of the episode I couldn't care less about. I'm still digging Franklin and his utter insanity - I wager this is what the Joker would be like vamped up. I'm liking Alcide, and hope his storyline and character picks up to accomplish greater things. Until this, consider "Trouble" a necessary filler.
S03E06 - "I Got a Right to Sing the Blues" (25 July 2010) - A gorgeous, bloody opening five minutes, leading to a bloody but otherwise "eh" fifty-some other minutes. Tara grows some serious balls in this episode, showcasing a tough ass side of her that has been depressingly vacant for a long, long time. Not only does she plan the escape, but she also smashes Franklin's head in, and that was by golly a gorgeous sight to behold. And I don't mean that in a super sick way, dudes and lady dudes. Sam leaves his bar again to go do something heroic (?), Jason becomes further enthralled by this new chick he just met, and there's some nice sequences between Russel and the Queen. Lorena gets the opportunity to torture Bill before hurting him - and I quite didn't mind watching the obnoxious vampire suffer. Damn is this show getting bloody.
S03E07 - "Hitting the Ground" (1 August 2010) - Wow, now if that wasn't a pretty, gory death for Lorena, who is ever so nicely allowed a "What are you?" to Sookie before getting with the deadness. Man, this show sure has upped the gore level. Last season was sex, sex, sex - this season is very much shaping up to be a horror fans wet dream, in a way. Another good example of this would be the beheading of the Magister by Russel at episodes end.