31 October 2011

MMAM - Vol. 50

We close out the month of October with a favorite song of mine which is (quasi)Halloween-ish. This will not be the last time the BUFFY, THE VAMPIRE SLAYER musical makes its way on this feature in some fashion. So instead of ending the month with another spooky score from a slasher film or what have you, I'd defying expectations by playing this pretty!

You've been pwned.

And also, let's take a second and applaud the whole '50' thing. 50 of these, man! 50! One or two more and we'll hit 50 The Watcher's, as well. Wowzers. Y'know?

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!!!

29 October 2011

The Watcher: 10/09/11 - 10/29/11

BREAKING BAD S04E13 - "Face Off" (09 October 2011) - And that's how Gus meets his end. Gruesome. Terminator-y. Two Face-ish. Delicious. Another iteration of the message that whenever one walks the path of vengeance, you basically end up getting screwed in the end. Gus' desire to see Tio and everyone associated with him exterminated led to his own demise. Sweet, beautiful justice. And Tio's vengeful eyes when he blew the three of them up - yikes! All I can say is bravo Vince Gilligan, for mapping out a superb thirteen episode fourth season. Yes, there may have been some less-than-stellar episodes in the early rush, but once "Hermanos" came about, the series was just relentless with one spectacular episode after another. The last three have been particularly jaw-dropping, defining moments of television. "Face Off" was a gorgeous culmination of all the threads built up this season. Walt has been pushed so over the edge he has transformers into Heisenberg completely, with his gorgeous "I won" spoken over the phone to Skylar perfectly solidifying his going over the deep end. Getting Jesse on his side by poisoning Brock and implicating Gus was pure genius. Hell, the whole thing was pure genius, but also left a lot up to chance. But speaking of Gus, that was one gorgeous end for him. If Gus had to go, he had to go strong, and glad Gilligan delivered. Espositio delivered as well, providing a fantastic sendoff, performance-wise, for Gus. Another element worth mentioning is the choice of music. Stunning. As soon as the western-style track played as Gus began his walk to the nursing home, I knew it had to be mine. Awesome awesomeness.

Great finale. Hard to believe it's all over with, and now we have to wait for another year...or more. Can't wait to watch Walt's descent into darkness come full circle, and become the monster he was trying to kill all year long. Where will all the characters end up? What are their arcs? Is the show being frickin' split in two? Dislike. It's been a wild ride. Thank you, Vince Gilligan. Score: 9.8/10

CHUCK S05E01 - "Chuck Vs. the Zoom" (28 October 2011) - Decent season premiere. For the last two years, Chuck has forfeited any type of seriousness to the proceedings, instead choosing to up the camp at every possible interval. This premiere seems to be a step in the right direction, as the camp and the serious drama actually work well together. I may not understand or be fully behind the whole drama concerning Chuck getting Sarah the perfect house because, c'mon, it's not like that's something everyone can do for their girlfriends. So, Chuck, take a break in that regard. But Chuck finding his place in the unit when Morgan is now the Intersect and his skills aren't as obvious, that was some good drama I can get behind. In the end, it's Chuck's brain that saves the day, and I can absolutely endorse that. With Morgan now an integral part of the team, and Chuck and Sarah safely married and minus the relationship drama of season four, I think this fifth and final year - miraculous that it got this far, really - will shape up to be pretty spiffy. The end alludes to the government needing to lock down Carmichael Industries, but for what purposes? What kind of threat does Chuck pose? And the most important question of all, did anyone else hardly recognize Luke Skywalker? It took a lot of concentration and echoes of the Joker's voice to achieve that, 'aha! That's Mark Hamill!' moment. Score: 8.6/10

COMMUNITY S03E04 - "Remedial Chaos Theory" (13 October 2011) - The first ten minutes or so were chuckle worthy, the makings of a fine Community episode. But then around the thirteen minute mark (when the fire started), "Remedial Chaos Theory" became a laugh-out-loud riot that didn't let up, becoming one of the funniest episodes of the show ever. Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant. And I'm also a sap for the whole romance subplot thing, so the small moments between Troy and Britta made me smile, and I was jealous as hell (but happy) with the Jeff/Annie kiss. Britta has surprisingly been a strongly written character thus far this season, and has been loads of fun instead of her typical stuck up self. I'm digging her. In fact, I'm even not minding Pierce, who was great in all of the timelines, although I especially loved it when he made a effort to take back Troy's gift out of guilt. Shirley will always be the one I like least in the batch, but she was still fun, as well. But c'mon, this episode has to be awesome for the sole fact there's a replica Raiders of the Lost Ark giant boulder! How more awesome can Community get? Yeah, hilarious, awesome episode. Score: 9.3/10

COMMUNITY S03E05 - "Horror Fiction in Seven Spooky Steps" (27 October 2011) - Another hilarious Halloween episode. Not nearly as fun from beginning to end like last year's zombie infestation, but this time it was the rapid paced, witty, self-referential dialogue that hit home. The sight of Britta and Annie in scantly clad clothing didn't hurt matters, either. Each of the stories had their own trademark humor, with Britta providing the hilarity in Annie's super awesome gory werewolf/vampire tale, and Abed plainly stating what you should do in horror movies when faced with a Cabin in the Woods scenario, and Pierce's funny story that sees Troy and Abed as two gangsta thugs, which was LOL-hilarious. In fact, it's those two who offer most of the hilarity in this episode. When the mad scientist (aka Pierce) sows them together (a la Human Centipede), Troy and Abed develop psychic powers! Absolutely brilliant. Great episode. Score: 9.8/10

DEXTER S06E02 - "Once Upon a Time" (09 October 2011) - "Fuck balls, you're serious." See? Another instance of this season already showing an exceptional humorous side. And Jennifer Carpenter's Deb gets a whole episode to shine, showcasing in these fifty minutes why we love her. Deb's response to Quinn's marriage proposal was classic Deb, and her response to whoever's recommendation of her as Lieutenant was also a brilliant Deb moment. That's where that hilarious opening quote comes from. Deb and all her reactions, and Jennifer Carpenter, for being a amazing actress, make this episode. Everything else deserves a shoulder shrug. Batista not getting the promotion is a bummer, but I hope he stays gentlemanly and doesn't pout over this. LaGuerta is kinda not worth mentioning, so... And I dunno about y'all, but judging from the few scenes Colin Hanks and Eddie Olmos have together, I already don't care for them. Hanks' dependent relationship with Eddie is just pitiful, and I don't like my villains pitiful. They are ruthless, cruel, sadistic, and really freakin' weird. They are not Colin Hanks whimpering as Eddie J Olmos hurts himself for Hanks' sins. Bugger that. Mos Def shows off his acting skills as Brother Sam in a role I eagerly look forward to being expanded. The writing team are still not remotely subtle with their comments on believing in something and religious and God, etc., but Mos Def, Deb, and a burdenless Dexter just happy to be on the hunt makes me giddy. Score: 7.8/10

DEXTER S06E03 - "Smokey and the Bandit" (16 October 2011) - A rather forgettable episode, truth be told. I had to look up what happened, nearly two weeks later, to recall the events. Well, there's the whole drama between Deb and LaGuerta which is entirely obnoxious. There's the drama of Deb and Quinn, which only makes me wish Deb could quick Quinn's ass for being a douchebag. But the one piece of drama that does interest me is Deb acclimating to her new position, and all the pressure and procedure that comes with it. Out of all the characters, even Dexter, she's had the most growth, and it's great entertainment to see how she handles it all. The other big plot of the episode is Dexter vs. the Tooth Fairy. Not much stellarness in that category, but it does pose to Dexter what his future as a serial killer will be. Apparently, a really fucked up, not-all-that-great future. Let's hope for some more sophisticated writing in the future. But the episode ends on a jaw-dropping note, as the crazy religious nuts have cut and tied bodies together and put them on horses walking about in public. Pretty messed up. My interest has now perked. Score: 7.5/10

DEXTER S06E04 - "A Horse of a Different Color" (23 October 2011) - Now this was a good episode, and with some surprising momentum in relation to the killers that leaves me a bit puzzled (in a good way) where the story will go after the next episode. There's a wonderful, honest moment with Dexter and Brother Sam as the man of god tells his story of his father, of prison, of finding faith. It's a marvelous scene with Mos [Def] giving one hell of a fantastic performance. I loved every second of Deb and Dexter time; it's great seeing these two together more than ever before. More scenes like those! I'm surprised as hell that Miami Homicide is already on the tail of Eddie Olmos and Dex is onto Colin Hanks. With them implicated here and next week, where is the story heading? "A Horse of a Different Color" boasts some gorgeous imagery, such as the ending scene involving the slain waitress in Angel wings, and the rather rubbish CG locusts. Still not sold on the Doomsday Killer(s), but now I'm mildly open to see where it goes. Pretty damn good episode. Score: 9.0/10

FRINGE S04E04 - "Subject 9" (14 October 2011) - There is no other show that causes some anger when the Next Time trailer announces a two week delay for a new episode. Ugh. I love Fringe and support it entirely, but this is why it's almost better to absorb the show on DVD for back-to-back viewings. Anyway, with "Subject 9", Peter finally returns thanks to this blue electrical energy thing reaching out to Olivia and another Cortexiphan subject channeling said energy thingy. This episode serves both to push the story and also reiterate the horrors Walter and William committed decades ago, and the consequences it has for the grown up kids now. These last few episodes have worked to establish this new universe without Peter, a universe that felt fine, frankly, and Peter's official absence wouldn't be that entirely horrible, because as far as I understand it, there's no going back. This is the final, established timeline of events, a new world that cannot be changed. Or at least this is how I understand it. It will be interesting to see Peter reassert himself back into the team. For now, season four has thus far been uneven, but we still have loads to go. Entertaining episode that leads into, hopefully, the awesomeness. Score: 8.7/10

PERSON OF INTEREST S01E04 - "Cura Te Ipsum" (13 October 2011) - Well, that Linda Cardellini definitely likes to play doctor, doesn't she? I'm sure I'm not the first person to say something, so, er, sorry for the lack of originality. Overall, not a bad episode. I enjoy watching Jim Cavizel kick ass, although it seems inherently fake, like the actors are just waiting to be tossed around and hit their cue correctly. Doesn't add for some nice realism. Nonetheless, we got ourselves some action scenes. Just some more random notes: I think it's my exposure to Breaking Bad that has made me not so welcoming of shows that use music at inappropriate places or to add tension in scenes that could benefit from simply relying on powerful performances. This episode had such multiple instances, like the last scene, which could have been very strong if it was just left to Cavizel and the guest star to talk it out, but the overdone music took me right out of the scene. Speaking of Cavizel, is this how he normally talks? Sorta air-y? And if I was a trained combat guy like him, I would think about standing a bit further away from the person you're following and knows your face, cos you ain't that sneaky. It was great to see some classic Ben Linus at work here as Finch lies to the police detective gal. Oh, Michael Emerson, you are awesome. Score: 7.8/10

ONCE UPON A TIME S01E01 - "Pilot" (23 October 2011) - What a wonderful surprise! I've been eagerly anticipating this premiere, but also approaching it with some dread. The wonderful premise could possibly not hold up in the show, and thus the episode would be rather rubbish and not worth watching. Or, of course, it could be great but ratings would suck and cancellation would hit it quicker than lighting doing its zapping thing. Turns out I had nothing to worry about. A really well structured premiere episode, setting up the characters, the dilemma, and the potential stories to be covered in the series. By episodes end, I didn't want it over, I wanted to find out more, see where the story goes. That's a pretty good sign, because none of the other premiers quite grabbed me like this. Only the basic surface level of the series was covered in these 42 minutes, reliant on introducing Snow White, the sleeping prince, Emma and her role, the son she gave up, the antagonist, the fortuneteller, and the two universes dependent on each other, but it was a thrilling 42 minutes. It's great to see the eerily similar (and gorgeous) Ginnifer Goodwin and Jennifer Morrison together as mother and daughter, and I can't wait to see what the series has in store for us. The first real super success of the Fall, I'd say. Score: 9.5/10
REVENGE S01E04 - "Duplicity" (12 October 2011) - Not the shows strongest episode to date, but it's still in the early stages so I'll forgive it. But with "Duplicity", I realized how much more the series could benefit from being more Breaking Bad-ish. The first area where I felt this was when Emily was had unexpected dinner with Jack, and once it's revealed that Daniel was watching from outside, we cut to commercial. Frankly, I want to see that conversation. So little of Revenge is spent on Emily Thorn as a person, her psychology - all she is is revenge. Oh, look, that's the title of the show! Yes, but even The Punisher has a complex psychology and his main thing for a whole movie was revenge. What I'm saying is that I like the show, but it could be so much better. Since not much happened here, I'm going to use this opportunity to voice my dislike of Ms. VanCamp's desire to show Thorn's posture in only two ways: fake happy or all revenge-y. Add some layers to Emily Thorn, don't just let her be a one-note. I do like that we're exploring the lives and relationships of characters that are wrapped up in Emily's grand scheme, but still, I'd like to see some real characterization to Ms. Thorn aside from 'I want revenge on the people who fucked my father over.' This episode was a bit of a dud, not really surprising or delicious, but perhaps necessary in regards to plot progression. Anyways, I'm excited for next weeks. Score: 7.1/10

REVENGE S01E05 - "Guilt" (19 October 20111) - I really don't like when shows use something from later in the episode as a 'teaser' and pull that whole 15 Hours Later thing. They should be able to tease us, pull us, without resorting to that. Thus, Lydia's whole thing didn't seem remotely tense because we knew bad shit was heading her way by the end of "Guilt". Emily and Daniel shag. Score: 7.8/10

REVENGE S01E06 - "Intrigue" (26 October 20111) - Looks like Emily's going to need to up her game and cover her tracks better. Hopefully this will lead to some great drama, but I'm already looking forward to when Emily gets her hands dirty again. I liked the scene where Jack professed his fixation to Emily, as well as her silent cry on the dock after he left. Character moments like that are much appreciated. Turns out Lydia's only in a coma. Why can't that bitch just be dead? And what the frak is up with this friend of Daniel crap? Is this going to be as bad a subplot as Dana Walsh in the last season of 24? A good episode with fine moments for characters to shine, but simultaneously, it ain't the best. Score: 8.2/10

SUPERNATURAL S07E04 - "Defending Your Life" (14 October 2011) - An episode that had so much potential, but didn't end up fulfilling said potential. Dean is thrown a question or two by the God Osiris to 'show' the defendant's guilt, and is almost forcibly killed by the apparition of Jo, but for some reason, it didn't feel enough. "Defending Your Life" didn't push the envelope, didn't push up the drama or the twisting of our emotions like it should have. Instead, it was done and over with in 43 minutes without feeling like anything was accomplished, or that Dean grew at all. The most fascinating element of the episode was Sam admitting he doesn't feel guilty anymore. This is awesome, in that we finally have a angstless Sam, a Sam who does what he needs to do, and understands that everything that happens is necessary for the greater good. He's guiltless. I can totally get behind that. On the opposite spectrum, we have a super guilty Dean who just seems to whine a lot. Out of the two brothers, it's Dean, I feel, that hasn't grown all that much since the beginning. It's season seven, folks, Dean needs to become something more - or at least different - than what he is now. Score: 7.6/10

SUPERNATURAL S07E05 - "Shut Up, Dr. Phil" (21 October 2011) - It was great to see Charisma Carpenter and James Marsters back together on screen again. It was not great, however, to see Cordelia and Spike kissing. That's just grossy. Everything about "Shut Up, Dr. Phil" was great, though. Sam and Dean had some fine scenes here, and when Charisma and James were onscreen doing their pissmatch thang, everything just clicked. A hugely fun episode, and thus far one of my favorites this year. Score: 9.5/10

SUPERNATURAL S07E06 - "Slash Fiction" (28 October 2011) - This episode has a few good things going for it. One, Bobby getting his flirt on with the police gal we've seen before this season and, I think, last year or the year before that. Two, Leviathan Sam and Dean on a weirdly hilarious killing spree. And three, Sam finding out about Dean's killing of Amy, but this good point is overshadowed by his rather lackluster response. All in all, it's an episode that could have been a lot cooler and epic in scale, but ended up being nothing but a one-off story. Sam and Dean are fugitives of the law, but by episode's end, with the exception of the Leviathan still on their trail, the brothers are once again regarded as officially 'dead' to the world. A bit disappointing. I was hoping it would be a season long thing, this manhunt for them; it would add another layer of tension to every episode, whether or not they'll be caught. Not the strongest episode, but not the worst, either. Score: 8.1/10

28 October 2011

Andy's Friday Five: Annual Halloween Viewing

Oh yes, it's Halloween time, baby! That means marathons of the Friday the 13ths, Nightmare on Elm Streets, Screams, and nine out of ten of the Halloweens. And, of course, school work somewhere in between all that movie watching. Best time of the year, ladies and gents. Best month of the year, too. Goodbye obnoxious hot weather, and hello cold, breezy windy wind!

Alright, so I may or may not be able to watch every film from every horror franchise I love because of time, but below I list five horror movies that are mandatory Halloween treats. No matter what, I have just got to watch 'em, or it's simply not Halloween, y'know? These movies are instrumental in making Halloween great.

5. Jason Lives: Friday the 13th Part VI, the most perfect blend of comedy and horror, making it not only easily accessible to new viewers without any understanding of previous Friday films, but also the most enjoyable. The other movies have a certain degree or boringness to them. Unless you're truly in love with Jason Vorhees, and the 'atmosphere' that seems to take forever to establish, the Friday films, to me, become a bit of a hassle. This sixth installment breaks that mold. From beginning to end, it's fantastic fun. The writing and acting is, at this point, the best of the series, and when Jason Vorhees is resurrected for some teen killing mayhem, he truly comes across as an unstoppable, brutal, killing force. When he's not thrown into comedic situations, such as the poor paintball gamers who run into him in the woods. The film also boasts a rather brilliant way to conclude Jason's reign, at least this time. It's inspired and rather ingenuous. So for its clever writing, funny dialogue, tolerable characters, and brutal antagonist, Jason Lives is must see Halloween viewing.

4. From Dusk Till Dawn is nothing short of brilliant. The first hour plays like a tense family drama mixed in with the story of two quick-to-kill robbers (George Clooney, Quentin Tarantino). Once this family of three, held hostage by Clooney and Tarantino, arrive at a bar, the film turns into utter chaos and carnage. Turns out, all the workers at the bar - even the band - are vamps, and it's feeding time! What follows is blood, guts, and dismemberment galore. It's beautiful in its own little way. Not only is the battle royale an absolute joy to watch, but by this point, Tarantino's fantastic script has gotten us to care about each and everyone of these characters. And for anyone who actually ends up not liking these people we follow, they're heavily rewarded by the battle that ensues for the final 45 minute run. The film doesn't take itself seriously at all, and it helps that everyone involved clearly are game players and want to have a good time and make a good movie. They definitely succeed. From Dusk Till Dawn is a pleasure from beginning to end, one of those films you make popcorn, sit back and relax, and enjoy. Mandatory.

3. Troll 2 is one of my more recent pleasures. Hell, I'm not even sure if 'pleasure' is the right word. There's something about this movie that just grabs you and refuses to let you go. May it be certain scenes that are nearly unbelievable in that they actually exist in this world, or dialogue that make me crack up laughing, or the actions of the little kid dude who takes drastic actions to get his family out of Nilbog. Point is, Troll 2 is terrible, terrible, terrible. It's not the absolute worst thing in the entire universe, but yes, it's a stinker. But it also boasts something not all terrible movies can: it's a hell of a lot of fun. Hell yes. Give me the bad script. Give me the outrageously bad 'acting'. Give me that seductive corn! Give me the goblins and the green planty goo! Give me a ghostly apparition of a dead grandfather/uncle/whatever. Give me a hour and a half of pure enjoyment. Troll 2 is the ultimate in fun. It demands a group viewing where you either all laugh and have fun, or come together in mockery. It's a horror movie of a different kind, and cannot be missed.

2. Trick 'r Treat was one of those films that was hyped up a lot before its release, and luckily, live up to the hype absolutely. Anthology pieces are great, and to concentrate one on All Hallow's Eve is just fantastic. The traditions of Samhain must be respected, and the super creepy Sam (pictured above) ensures that they are. With the exception of my number one, there's not another on this list I respect nearly as much as this. In this state of horror, it's what we needed. The script is clever, there's a wide range of talented actors given great parts, the cinematography is beautiful and, when necessary, utterly creepy. A success through and through. And, surprisingly, it's creepy factor continues to shine through with each subsequent viewing. Do yourself a favor: if you haven't had the privilege of checking out Trick 'r Treat yet, remedy that immediately. It's not Halloween without this film, nor...

1. Halloween, John Carpenter's original, and still, after 50+ times seeing it, helluva effective. Out of all the slashers in horror history (next to Ghostface), Michael Myers continues to freak me out yet fascinate me. His story is utterly compelling. I will watch this franchise through great times (Halloween 4) and bad times (Rob Zombie's Halloween II), because Michael Myers is the most interesting of killers. Ten movies later, and Michael Myers continues to be utterly frightening. All thanks to the 1978 original. Atmosphere. Score. Performances (within question; some of the girls are annoying as hell). Editing. Script. Lighting. Set design. Cinematography. Every element of filmmaking is used to extraordinary effect here, coming together to make a movie that is scary, is tense, is heart pounding. Words of love for Halloween is spread all around the blogosphere, so I'll limit to what I say to this: this is horror at its finest, and everyone owes it to themselves to see this before they die. This is the Birth of Evil right here, folks. And He ain't going away.

So now that I've listed my five mandatory Halloween films to watch, what are some of yours?

24 October 2011

MMAM - Vol. 49

IT'S HALLOWEEN TIME! All week at the Ramblings of a Minnesota Geek, I will be posting Halloween related goodies, cos I love Halloween and it's, like, the coolest holiday of, like, ever! Today we kick off with our nearly fiftieth Much Music Awesomeness Monday being all super Halloween-y. Enjoy the awesomeness!


John Ottman did the score for HALLOWEEN: H20, and although apparently a good percentage of his work didn't make it to the final film, this theme persevered, and it's an absolute beauty. John Carpenter's original theme is still there in all its glory, but with a more freaky atmospheric twist from Mr. Ottman. Love.

14 October 2011

Andy's Friday Five: 1997

Wow. Turns out that 1997/1998 are super busy years of movies that I love, so making the lists for this year and next have been the toughest thus far. Amped? You should, like, totally be.

Previous Entries:
1990 | 1995 | 2000

1997
A pretty stellar year of movies it looks like, frankly. I feel slightly ashamed at the amount of flicks I haven't seen from 97, chief amongst them Starship Troopers. It's floating around Syfy here and there, so I catch glimpses, but I eagerly look forward to the day when I see the whole shebang from beginning to end.

Still in My Que
The Fifth Element
L.A. Confidential
Event Horizon
Starship Troopers
RocketMan
Speed 2: Cruise Control
Donnie Brasco

Nearly Made the List:
I Know What You Did Last Summer - A lot hate it, some love it; I fall into the loving category. There's something inherently fun and not too serious about this Scream-inspired slasher flick, and looking back at the movie all these years later and seeing recognizable names just makes me laugh. Freakin' Anne Heche is in this movie, man!

The Lost World: Jurassic Park - A pretty dyno-mite sequel, if I say so myself. The pacing is quite off, making this epic feel long as hell, but for the whole world I would never take back a T-Rex wrecking havoc in Los Angeles, or the gripping double Rex scene that causes the team's cars go overboard. A pretty damn good sequel, just not hugely enjoyable.

Chasing Amy - One of Smith's best, although it's oddly one I don't revisit often. I feel I should remedy that. And with a cheap Blu-Ray roaming around Best Buy, that's all but certain.

Kull the Conquerer - Blame it on my love for Kevin Sorbo in Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, but Kull the Conquerer is all kinds of fun, and when I found it in the $5 Wal Mart bin, there wasn't a seconds hesitation. That baby was mine! So, years and years later, does the flick hold up? Oh God, yeah. The special effects are craptacular, mind you, but the fun, laid-back script and 'let's go bonkers!' performances is the type of crazy that should not be missed.

Liar, Liar - One of the very, very few Jim Carrey movies I love. Best line: "I'm kicking my own ass!"

Princess Mononoke - Confession: I very strongly dislike Anime. So, yeah, huge surprise when I quite in fact fell for this flick.

Good Burger - Included on the list more for nostalgia factors, as I had the pleasure of revisiting this film within the last few months, and it does not hold up. Wow this was bad. Can't believe I used to love, love, love, love Good Burger. I still miss Kenan & Kel.

Air Force One - "Get off my plane!" Harrison Ford as the President. Gary Oldman as bad guy. Heaven.

Andy's Favorite Five of 1997
5. Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery
Do I really have to name the reasons for loving this movie? Doctor Evil. Seth Green. Austin Powers. Easily escapable death trap. Liquid hot "magma". Seth Green. Elizabeth Hurley. Mike Meyers. Fat Bastard. Basal. The whole movie is one giant hilarious gag after another. I love the whole trilogy, and a small part of me wants to see the series continue, although I know that probably isn't a very good notion. But still, wow this movie was funny. One of my first true laugh-out-loud film experiences.

4. Good Will Hunting
Lots of hype surrounding this one, and it actually delivered, surprisingly enough. Everything about this flick is really, really well done, from the direction to the performances from, and especially, Damon and Williams. I think this is one of the few times I respected Robin Williams as a actor, and since I saw this film in a post-Bourne world, I guess I really just wanted to see Will to just stop pouting, say enough of this shit, and use his intelligence to create some spectacular fiction scenes. Anyone with me on that?

Um, anyway, what I love more then anything about this film is the script. There is that exquisite monologue Williams delivers, but the entirety of the movie is well structured, the characters are intricately given dimension, and in the end, although the flick isn't dealing with some big scale story like the Apocalypse or whathaveyou, Good Will Hunting felt like quite the experience. Oh hell, guess I'll have to go back and rewatch this one now. [searches for Blu-Ray...]

3. Hercules
The movies above didn't stand a chance: this Disney flick had a CGI hydra! And Hercules sliced their heads off, making more heads sprout up! At one point there was, like, a hundred Hydra heads! HOW AWESOME IS THAT?!?!!?

[Answer: REALLY FRAKKIN' AWESOME, ANDY!!!]

And Hades: now that was a fun interpretation of the character, and James Woods gives him such a wickedly awesome voice. It's perfect. Genuinely, 100% perfection. Perhaps my love for the Disney flick stems from cherishing the Kevin Sorbo Hercules series, but really, they're two entirely different universes. Not the least of which is the costume design - which, I wager, this would be more in line with something a Greek warrior would wear instead of Sorbo's lack of shirtiness. But this is beside the point - Hercules is gosh darn tootin' fun. My affection for monsters adds to the enjoyment factor, the script's funny, and there's even a stellar down-to-the-wire Underworld sequence (!). Hercules floats my fancy.

2. Titanic
At seven, when I first saw this four hour epic, all I really cared about was the pretty special effects of the final act. Everything involving the older Rose, and most of the Jack/Rose stuff, I just didn't care about. Over the years I've rewatched the movie in full only a handful of times, but chunks quite frequently. And the more and more I expose myself to Titanic, and block away the fact it's the highest grossing movie ever (next to Gone with the Wind) and is the most cherished and mocked film in cinema probably ever, I actually tend to like it more and more, sorta transforming into love. It may not be a perfect film, but damn to hell, it's a pretty impressive one. The Jack/Rose relationship is surprisingly very well defined and shown, and of course the last act remains ever impressive as a feat of digital accomplishments. I still don't care about the older Rose/Bill Paxton bit, but it's a necessary evil, a story device to get us to 1912. So all in all, against my seven year old self, turns out I actually quite like this flick.

1. Scream 2
This isn't a popular opinion, but this is one of those rare times I feel the sequel is superior to the original. Mind you, I'm not saying the original is a piece of garbage that can easily be dismissed; nay, kind friend. I love Scream, and that film is about as perfect as it comes, but I think Scream 2 comments on our culture better, boasts bigger scares and tense scenes, and is about the most unpredictable of the bunch (although I didn't see the reveals in Scream 4 coming). Regardless of the agree/disagree nature of this opinion, I do feel that Scream 2 should get wider recognition for all it does right instead of being simply disregarded as, 'it's good, but it's not the original'. Timothy Olypfantastic alone rivals the stellar performance of Matthew Lillard from the first one. Neve Campbell gives her best work in the series up to this year. This is just one of those sequels that don't feel like a letdown, where the tension remains the same, the characters are consistent but continue to grow, the scares and reveals are unpredictable, the music's strength still holds power, the editing is tight, etc. All those things Scream 2 has, and shows off in spades. Frak. Now I really wanna watch it again.

12 October 2011

Jessica Chastain Triple Feature: The Tree of Life, The Debt, The Help

Out of nowhere this gorgeous yet-spectacular actress Jessica Chastain showed up in, like, a bazillion movies over the summer, with two or three scheduled before the end of the year. This girl's everywhere. So, in honor of her awesomeness and prettiness, three of her flicks have been reviewed today. I should just make a mention that I laughed a lot when I read reviews of The Tree of Life Blu-Ray saying the mother was played by Bryce Dallas Howard. Oh, ha with the ha. Anyway, Jessica has the fortune of being in three very distinctly different (in a good way) films, and manages to be a demanding presence in each one of them.

Long review short - all three films reviewed below should be seen. Alrightey then? Onto the awesomeness of Andy reviews!

The Debt

Plot: Lies and deceit from a 1960s mission haunts the survivors in the present.

I was forced into The Debt for some quality mother/son time, and it was surprisingly worth it. All I knew was that it was a thriller, and Helen Mirren was in it (which is always nice). And as the movie got going, I saw that Sam Worthington was also present and accounted for, mumbling his lines as per usual but luckily they’re to a minimum. And then, in the first few minutes, it’s Julius Caesar from Rome (Ciaran Hinds), back from the dead only to be dead again as soon as he arrived! This sets itself up for the main mystery: the awesome Tom Wilkinson tasks Helen Mirren to solve a problem that could have some serious repercussions on them in the present, something good ol’ Ciaran Hinds just didn’t want to be a part of. It was by this point I also realized it was a mystery and a thriller.

And once we flashback to the younger versions of Helen Mirren, Tom Wilkinson, and Ciaran Hinds to see the stunningly gorgeous Jessica Chastain (in the first role I ever saw her in), the brute Sam Worthington, and Xena-alumni Marton Csokas, The Debt becomes a film you can’t take your eyes away from. It’s the 1960’s, and the three characters are united to bring down a big bad Nazi guy who killed a bunch of folks – but not before inflicting horrible, horrible forms of torment. Worthington resigns himself to standing around pinning after Chastain, occasionally saying a line or two and remaining all around stoic. Csokas seems to enjoy himself as the handsome lead who just wants to complete the mission successfully. And Ms. Chastain – well, she definitely has that being pretty thing down, but lo and behold, she is a marvelous, tremendous actress. There are two or three scenes where, for the sake of the mission, she allows herself to be touched by the Nazi they’re targeting, and her reactions: they are the type of things that stick to your mind long after the film is over with.

When The Debt cuts back to contemporary times with our older leads, it’s not nearly as exciting as watching the 1960s counterparts do everything they can to see the mission through thick and thin, but Helen Mirren carries the last act heroically. She confronts of a demon from her past, engaging in a fight in a bathroom that is as brutal as any Jet Li film. Not as creative and well-choreographed, no, but there’s a certain amount of rising tension that stems from their encounter, and when they finally draw blood on one another, it’s pretty gruesome.

When all is said and done, The Debt works. I was grabbed by the narrative, although I wasn’t too fond of the ‘twist’ that brings us into the third act, and when I left the theater, I can honestly say I enjoyed myself. The 1960s flashbacks, which occupy a good 60% of the movie, is definitely its strength, but the last ten minutes are, perhaps, the most memorable long after you leave the theater (and, let’s not forget, Chastain’s awesomeness). To put another way, this is a thriller I’ll have in my home video collection.

Rating: 8.5/10 – An engaging mystery/thriller with boasting a standout performance, a tense mission, and some super engaging character dynamic that flares up in the flashbacks but sorta fiddles in the present.

The Help

The Help is one of those unexpected movies that creep up on you. In my case, I had zero interest in seeing it, despite the casting of future wife Emma Stone. However, when the opportunity to see the film for free presented itself, I am never one to pass up such an offer. And I am not remotely disgruntled about seeing it. The Help was fun beginning to end, thanks largely to a smart script and some wonderful performances.

First, attention must be brought to the two outstanding performances of the film: Octavia Spencer as Minny, a maid who always has some witty remark to say and isn’t always successful at biting her tongue. Spencer’s facial reactions, her mannerisms, and most of all, how she delivers her lines make her the most memorable aspect of the film. Her “eat my shit” scene will forever be one of the summer highlights (and that reminds me, the mother of Bryce Dallas Howard’s character Hilly, Sissy Spacek, is just as hilarious in this moment). Giving Octavia Spencer a run for her money is Jessica Chastain as Celia, a woman who has no idea about anything and whose own naiveté and free-spirited self provides just as many laugh out loud moments as Minny. Halfway through the film, the two characters unite in one house, and every scene with the two of them together is priceless. Their dynamic makes this movie.

As for my dear Emma Stone, who I love and cherish, she surprisingly felt very much like a side character. Now, I understand the movie’s called The Help, and thus the primary focus is on Viola Davis’ Aibileen and Octavia’s Minny, and Stone’s Skeeter Phelan is more a conduit to get their story told to the world, but I feel that Stone’s character wasn’t given enough room to breathe to become her own person. Instead, her trademark Stone quirkiness (which is at a minimum) accomplishes the job, more or less. And in regards to feeling like a side character, Skeeter’s love interest subplot is hardly worth mentioning, because the film surely doesn’t seem interested in it at all. Those seven minutes of screentime amount to nothing, and could easily be exercised from the film without missing a single beat.

Bryce Dallas Howard’s Hilly was also great, with Bryce giving a greatly comedic performance: funny when stupid crap happens to her, obnoxious when she gets all prejudice, and obnoxious when she gets all Stepford Wives-y. It’s because of these actresses’ that The Help is successful, that there’s a heart and soul to it.

To be frank, and I might get some flake for this, but Viola Davis just didn’t cut it as Aibileen. Her character never felt honest, and because of that, I just didn’t care about Aibileen at all. Minny, Hilly, Celia, Skeeter (sorta), even the maid who asks Hilly for some money to pay for her kid – all those characters I cared for beginning to end. Maybe it was the script, or the sort of tired performance from Davis, but Aibileen just didn’t cut it.

The script’s well written, full of humor and drama (although The Help feels more humor-y then drama-y), and doesn’t overplay its hand. As in, the comedy doesn’t go too farfetched, and the drama doesn’t feel too Hallmarkish. As I said, Skeeter’s romantic subplot could have been exercised entirely, and perhaps Aibileen should have been given a bit more life to her instead of feeling fairly paint-by-the-numbers. All in all, The Help was a good movie. The ladies make it memorable.

Rating: 7.5/10 – There’s a few clunkers here and there, but for the most part, THE HELP is a resounding success, made enjoyable by the wonderful performances from the female leads who are hilarious and heartfelt.

The Tree of Life

Plot: Space, something, something, earth, something, something, angry father, something, pretty!, something, something, dinosaurs?, something, opera music pretty!, something, something, WTF? I think whoever couldn't follow the series finale of LOST will effectively have their brains blown out watching this.

The Tree of Life is a difficult movie to discuss. There are images circulating in my head two weeks after seeing it, images I’m sure I might never stop thinking about. But as for the actual content, I don’t feel anything but disappointment, really. When I look back at The Tree of Life, I don’t contemplate over whatever the hell Terrence Malick was trying to convey, if anyone. I just think of the striking visual imagery, the dynamic of Brad Pitt’s strict stereotypical 1950s father and the careing and giving mother, played by Jessica Chastain to their eleven year old son Jack, who must have one hell of an Oedipus complex.

Whatever Castor saw in his evaluation of Malick’s screenplay, whatever amazing feelings or thoughts Malick inspired in his apparently brilliant script, I don’t think it’s here in the finished product. Hell, with the exception of the O’Brien family crazy house, there’s very little emotion or sense in the whole enterprise, I feel.

In regards to the cinematography, well, in a word, it’s stunning. Yes, to say that each shot is like a painting come to life would not be an exaggeration. Even close ups of characters or dinner scenes have a rich freshness to them, as if they’ve never been shot from whatever angle Malick desired and each new shot is something entirely unique onto itself. The camera definitely calls attention to itself. Malick’s like a child, so amazed by the world and where he could film, the camera is positioned anywhere and everywhere he could think of, moved in any fashion possible. This lends itself to a kinetic energy that is exciting and interesting. When the film slows down for the more dramatic scenes, the ones that typically include characters whispering instead of talking at a normal chit chat voice, Tree of Life is just as visually stunning. There are so many times during the Creation of the universe sequence that I was just amazed at how they filmed this. There is truly some of the most amazing cinematography in Tree of Life.

But that all comes to naught if there’s no emotion – or even point – to the movie. Now I entered the film knowing what I was getting into. I knew that Malick loves nature, that he would film the world in ways that have never been done before. I knew, based off Castor’s script review, that there are moments of contemplation, made deliberately for contemplation, that this isn’t just your typical run-of-the-mill movie and forces you to think. But, honestly, I think that was left on the page. I don’t feel any of that translated onto screen. It comes across as a heartless, directionless movie. Acts or shots that are supposed to have meaning just don’t. The whole last 20 minutes – hell, everything with Sean Penn’s grown up Jack – no number of theories will convince me there’s something worthwhile there. If there is any emotion, anything worth thinking about, it’s the hour chunk with the O’Brien family as a young Jack deals with adolescence and his desire to not become his father. Whatever big themes, ideas, or statements Malick was trying at – just ain’t there.

That said, though, Tree of Life is one of those flicks that when someone reads a review, they shouldn’t make a decision based off that. As you can tell, I didn’t like The Tree of Life nearly as much as other parties did, finding the flick a bit heartless but visually beautiful. There’s a huge possibility that I misread scenes, or maybe something just went over my head and the reader will encounter something life changing when they see the film. At the very least, Malick’s controversial experience should be…experienced. Does it all add up to something? Does the last 10 minutes make a lick of friggin’ sense? Would you re-edit the first hour like I would?

For a better (or complimentary) look at the meaning of life or whatnot, I’d say check out Darren Aronofsky’s The Fountain.

Rating: 5.5/10 - If there's something there in the script, then I would strongly recommend Malick to restructure this film to give what needs to have meaning meaning, to give life to his script instead of shooting pretty pictures and cobbling them together in hopes of it making sense.

10 October 2011

MMAM - Vol. 48

In commemoration of Gus from BREAKING BAD, and in celebration of finishing its fourth season yesterday, today's Much Music Awesomeness Monday is "Goodbye" from some band I never heard of - Apparat. Their music plays as Gus makes his walk to the nursing home to confront Tio. In the context of the show, it's one of the most spine-chilling, tense walk anyone has ever made. Also gives the whole thing a sort of western feel, no? Perfect music choice. Perfect. Give it a listen!




09 October 2011

Geek Newsroom: Green Lantern, The Thing, Drive, The SImpsons

News Feed

  • If you missed the six-episode premiere season of AMC's The Walking Dead, every episode is now on Netflix Streaming just in time for its second season premiere a week from today.
  • The first casualties of Fall 2011 TV programming are: The Playboy Club and Free Agents. The first winners of Fall 2011 TV programming are: The New Girl, Up All Night, 2 Broke Girls, and Whitney.
  • Also winning: The Simpsons. After difficult conversations involving price cuts for the principal voice cast, the series was given a two season commitment by FOX - complete with those budget decreases. (TVLine.com)
  • Other good news: the possible resurrection of Arrested Development in the form of a 10-episode season, each episode concentrating on one member of the Bluth family, and a movie, which the series would lead into. Yay?
  • Tucker and Dale vs. Evil director Eli Craig wants a sequel with the titular heroes hitting up Yale (Slashfilm)
  • Woman sues the makers of Drive for not being Fast & Furious. Yeah, she's nuts. (BeyondHollywood)
  • Orlano Bloom wants back in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise...probably because he hasn't made a worthwhile film since At World's End? Actually, what has he been in? (CBM.com)

DVD/Blu-Ray Releases

Zookeeper
Rosario Dawson. The singular, only, #1 reason why I have any interest int his garbage. Unless your wife and children are forcing you to watch this under threat of something really, really bad, don't bother.









Horrible Bosses
Had the pleasure of checking out this super funny comedy two weeks ago, and it's definitely worth price of purchase. And in this Blu-Ray/DVD combo? What's not to love? It's a funny movie, Jennifer Aniston looks hot for the first time since ever, and Kevin Spacey kicks ass.







Green Lantern
So, this ain't a first-day buy for me. I'll get it...eventually. I didn't hate the movie and I didn't love it. There's a lot of middle area where the film could use humungous amounts of improvement. And from the sound of a few reviews, the picture quality of this release is rather lacking, so there's another deterring factor. Basically, if you loved Green Lantern this summer, of course pick it up. If this is a blind buy, don't. Rent first, suss out of you like it. Though, I am interested in this 'Extended Cut', see if it adds anything new... Oh! And Best Buy will have an exclusive Blu-Ray Steelbook, if anyone's interested in that. I would be. [Review]




The Tree of Life
It's been two weeks since I saw this and I still have no flippin idea what to say about it. One interesting thing worth mentioning is that Tree of Life is only being released in this DVD/Blu-Ray combo pack, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. I'd say a step in the right direction. Besides, this flick is made for Blu-Ray - I'm sure the creation of the universe shots would look gorgeous in HD. Won't be picking this up. Don't really mind if I ever see this flick again, frankly.





New Releases


The Thing
Ramona Flowers vs. an alien identity face changer thingy? I'm all in. But before I see this prequel/remake, I have a inkling I should check out John Carpenter's The Thing. I haven't heard anything negative about that 1980s flick, so I expect good things. And I don't intend to do any 'what's better?' when I see this 2011 update, just to see the similarities and differences. Anyone else wanna see this?







Footloose
Looks bad. Is it bad that I'm excited about that? Is it also bad that I sorta think the flick would be a tad more tolerable if Zac Efron was still the lead? (I promise you, this ain't no Efron crush or anything, just think the boy has some genuine talent...sometimse)








The Big Year
Normally, I see Steve Martin's name and the ticket sold itself. Unfortunately, I can't really see the appeal of The Big Year. It's almost Bucket List-y, but less interesting. Might be more funny. So this is a theatrical skip for me, sadly. Might rent it someday, though. Sorry, Steve.

08 October 2011

The Watcher: 10/02/11 - 10/08/11

Just want to take a moment and say that over a month ago was the one-year anniversary of The Watcher. Let's take a quiet moment and acknowledge the awesomeness of that. Satisfied? Alright, moving on. Review time!

[And I know loads of you guys read these reviews, but just gotta say sorry Terra Nova, Person of Interest, Nikita, or The Secret Circle aren't reviewed. Oh, and the premiere of American Horror Story. I'm already well behind on my viewing. Apologies.]

BREAKING BAD S04E12 - "End Times" (02 October 2011) - "Crawl Space" was the epitome of Breaking Bad at its ultimate best. The series also has a knack for not going the expected route. "End Times" did not proceed anywhere near as chaotic, violent, or intense as "Crawl Space" led me to believe, expecting the next two episodes to be nothing more than Walt vs. Gus in a fight to the finish. Instead, after this amazing cliffhangery episode, there's another silence before the storm. Walt's getting into position, masterminding his method to get rid of Gus. Gus may or may not have poisoned the kid of the girl Jessie's involved with, but Walter gives a convincing argument to Jessie - convincing enough that Jessie and Walt are on the same team again, leading us to the sure-to-be-jaw dropping season finale next week, which I'm both excited and sad to see. "End Times" was another exhilarating episode, proving that Gus is even more difficult to kill then expected. How will Walt and Jessie get their opportunity? Score: 9.1/10

COMMUNITY S03E03 - "Competitive Ecology" (06 October 2011) - I've read a lot of reviews of "Competitive Ecology" where the viewers liked the banter between Jeff and the group, supposedly reminiscent to the kind of dynamic/arguments they had back in its freshman season. Maybe it's been too long since I watched those episodes, but "Competitive Ecology" wasn't exactly a stellar episode, nor did the core group really impress me. Hell, I found myself more interested in Todd then anyone in the group - despite the supreme hotness of Brita and Annie. You know it's a weird episode when you get more chuckles out of Pierce or - gasp! - even motherfrakkin' Chang. I dislike Ken Jeong to the point where I would make a thorough website dedicated in honor of my dislike for him if only I had HTML skills, and I think his continued inclusion in the show is to its detriment, but hell if I didn't find his insane, outrageous, barmy subplot somewhat amusing. I think I grinned. I think I chuckled. Maybe this is another case of comedies being funnier when watched in consecutive order instead of week-to-week, but "Competitive Ecology" was very 'meh'. Score: 5.1/10

DEXTER S06E01 - "Those Kings of Things" (02 October 2011) - The writers don't often turn comedic with Dexter Morgan, but when they do, it work. "Those Kings of Things" has more laughs than the last two seasons combined (which I know probably isn't a fair thing to say, given the subject matter of those seasons), making it a fun premiere to a show's sixth series. It feels not too long ago Julia Stiles was just discovered by our serial killer and taught in the way of revenge, and now here we are, fast forward a year or so later as Dexter looks for schools for Harrison, Deb's living with Quinn and a possible marriage proposal on its way, and Batista is being promoted for whatever reasons that I don't care about. In a nutshell, I liked this premiere. I laughed. I loved everything involving Dexter's high school reunion: the awkward conversations, the unexpected blowjob from a hot ex-classmate, and indulging in his extra-curricular activities with a wife murderer, which also lends itself to solidifying the show's theme of religion this year. Dexter's victim is religious, leading to a conversation before his imminent death about forgiveness and the sin of killing. Furthermore, Dexter enrolls Harrison in a Catholic school (funny, but far too blatant, writers!), and two new baddies are introduced - Colin Hanks and Edward James Olmos, who like to quote Scripture before a kill. All other subplots I'm not hugely in love with, with the exception of Batista's sexy sister/cousin/whatever who watches over Harrison. Everything else - well, when one watches Dexter, you sorta know what you're getting into: good plotlines, bad, bad ridiculous subplots, gruesome kills, soul searching that may lead nowhere. It's just part of the shows DNA. But I'm excited to see how Dexter tracks down these Bible thumpers and eventually interacts with them. And Deb, who has perhaps the most substantial character growth of anyone else in the series, will hopefully go some interesting places this season that don't directly involve her romance with Quinn. So, show me more, Team Dexter. Score: 8.1/10

FRINGE S04E03 - "Alone in the World" (07 October 2011) - Last week's episode of FRINGE showed what this new type of format could bring to make the series fresh and exciting again. Although it would be nifty to have Peter back, last week proved that the series doesn't need him. Like the Observers said, his part of the story was finished. Perhaps it would be best for Peter to be just gone from the show after successfully making the bridge that will save both deteriorating universes? Because, and I apologize to any Peter fans here, I'm just not feeling the vibe of this "Where's Peter?" stuff. Let's start saving the universes instead of concentrating solely on Scientific Matters of the Week. So as you can tell, I was less than in love with this week's monstrosity, a being that latches itself onto a young boy's psyche which results in the death of lots of people and nearly became a city-wide virus. Big threats, connected to Walter's emotional story, but I didn't feel a thing for it. What I did like, though, was the dynamic between Lincoln and Olivia - again, although I have doubt she feels the same way he does. Damn my sappy undertones! I also liked Walter confessing to the young boy in his lab what happened to the Other Peter when he crossed over to the Other Side, and the consequences of that. At least the writers have now set up a viable reason why Walternate wants this universe decimated. Still a faithful viewer, but season four - which just might be its last season if viewership doesn't improve - is thus far off to a rocky start. But next Friday promises some big development in the whole Peter Bishop department. Score: 6.4.10

REVENGE S01E03 - "Betrayal" (05 October 2011) - With "Betrayal", we add another layer, and possibly alley, to Emily's revenge scheme with the revelation of Victoria's romantic relationship with Emily's father. Not a jaw-dropping, huge twist, but definitely one that may benefit Emily down the line, as evidenced by the final scene as feelings towards her late affair lingers still. That's a plot line that I am excited to see develop. The sappy side of me also wants to see Emily/Amanda reconnect with her childhood friend, what's-his-name, the bar dude. I get her reasoning for not revealing herself to him, but damn, am I already looking forward to the moment when who she truly is gets outed - since I doubt she'll ever be upfront about it. The scene where she finds out he named his boat "Amanda" was especially touching. As for her revenge this week, it wasn't hugely satisfying, but it was another step. Three episodes in, I'm engaged in the overall plot - with the minor exception of Emily's romance with Victoria's son, primarily because I feel the chemistry between the two leads is rather lacking - but I hope Ms. VanCamp will be able to show a wider range of skills instead of the skulking 'I have a sinister plan' expression she's been obligated to show thus far. Still, I'm glued. Score: 7.5/10

SUPERNATURAL S07E03 - "The Girl Next Door" (07 October 2011) - Regrettably, the rich and urgent cliffhanger of last week's episode - Sam and Dean in an ambulance being sent to the hospital under charge of the Leviathan - gets resolved in the first ten minutes, leaving the rest of the episode to fall into the "Monster of the Week" format. That part is disappointing, as I was really looking forward to the Winchesters doing their own Halloween II-esque cat & mouse game with the Leviathans, so the very much alive Bobby swooping in to save the day was a bit of a bummer. Still, "The Girl Next Door" gave us multiple things I liked, and one aspect I particularly did not like, which I will touch on first: Dean's murdering of Amy (Pond, haha) and subsequent letting-her-son-go thing. Immediately I wasn't a fan considering my love for the name and character of Amy Pond, so the whole murdering her thing did not set well with me. And then, under the rules in which he decided to kill her, he elected not to kill the son, even though by those rules he should have. Whatever, Dean. More reason to love Sam over you. And speaking of loving Sam, I loved, loved, LOVED the flashback's of a 1998 Sam meeting Amy for the first time - ignorant in the ways of talking to girls, showing his kickass side to Amy, and his youngster smooch. Whenever Supernatural delves more into Sam, I am all for that, and "The Girl Next Door" delivers in spades. Also to their benefit: the casting of the gorgeous Jewel Staite as Amy Pond. Sci-fi geeks will recognize her from Firefly and Stargate: Atlantis. Ain't she pretty? So an overall really good episode spoiled by the dumbassness of Dean. Score: 9.4/10

07 October 2011

Andy's Friday Five: Best Doctor Who Series 6 Moments

Howdy!

It will be a week tomorrow that DOCTOR WHO ended its sixth series, leaving my heart shattered into a million pieces at the prospect of waiting nearly a whole year for the next thirteen episode series. But for now, let's take a fond look back at what just ended and celebrate some scenes that are particularly worth praise. So here we are, the final week before the Geek continues his 'year in film' Friday Five, giving DW fans my favorite moments from Series 6.

Also, apologies. I didn't realize until I finished this that four out of the five scenes listed below involve River Song. Blame Moffat. He knows how to write her. And when she's onscreen, the show is just so damn much. And before continuing to read, be aware, as the title of this posts suggests, there are spoilers. Stay away if you haven't seen the entire season! So, anyway, my favorite moments:

Favorite Doctor Who Series 6 Moments

5. The Amy Reveal. It doesn't happen often, but there are times when a show does something so unexpected, so shocking, that that moment when it happens will forever be engrained in your mind. This is one of those moments (and #4). Now, I'm obsessive with spoilers. I'm dumb and I seek them out. But nowhere did I read anything about this. I was as clueless as anyone who stayed away from spoilers. When it was revealed that Amy Pond was in fact not with Rory and The Doctor onboard the TARDIS, that she hasn't been since possibly pre-America (aka the season premiere), that was a shocker. That was a "holy crap!" moment. Amy Pond was a ganger the entire time! And all that business about POSITIVE/NEGATIVE pregnant? Well, she IS pregnant, but she's being held captive somewhere else, completely and totally fooling The Doctor for months! Wow, now that was a doozy. Absolutely brilliant execution. In one quick stroke, two subplos from the five previous episodes are explained visually in a jaw-dropping scene. Clever, Moffat, clever.

4. Here Comes River. And speaking of clever, I was absolutely oblivious to this change of events. This Mels person showed up out of nowhere, ruining a perfectly fine episode with "Let's Kill Hitler", supposedly being a best friend of Amy and Rory's. Now maybe my noggins just don't work super quick and I didn't put two to two together in seconds, but when Mels was shot and she started glowing her pre-regeneration glowiness: wow. Another one of those "holy shit!" moments. Because of the surprise, because of the retrospective 'duh' and brilliance of the whole thing, the death of Mels and emergence of River Song will forever be one of the most amazing and clever things to come from this series. I remember when I first watched it, I had the most giant grin in all of Mankato. This. Was. Brilliant. Unfortunately, after the bit that follows (choice #1), River becomes sorta obnoxious for the remainder of the episode until her emotional sacrifice at the end. Still, one helluva episode, and one helluva surprise.

3. The Mighty Warrior. Whenever we're given the opportunity to analyze who and/or what The Doctor has become, I love it, I cherish it. To examine the darkness and the danger of this Time Lord, to see how he started off as nothing more than a man who wanted to see the universe and now turns armies away at the mention of his name - it's bone chilling, and it's exactly the kind of analysis of the character that I want Moffat to explore. Like it or hate it, The Doctor is one of the more complex 'protagonists' on television, and by all means, he should be looked into. When Davros told The Doctor that he fashions people into weapons, that he announced The Doctor that 'Destroyer of Worlds', when Donna recognizes the darkness in The Doctor in "The Runaway Bride" and tells him he needs people to keep him in check - those are perfect moments. The Doctor has darkness, let's explore it. The Doctor's adventures have changed the way the universe looks at him, let's explore it. Hell, let's just say I love this scene and quote River who said it so eloquently:

"This was exactly you. All this, all of it. You make them so afraid. When you began, all those years ago, sailing off to see the universe, did you ever think you'd become this? The man who can turn an army around at the mention of his name? Doctor? The word for healer and wise man, throughout the universe. We get that word from you, you know. But if you carry on the way you are, what might that word come to mean? To the people of the Gamma Forests, the word "Doctor" means mighty warrior. How far you've come. And now they've taken a child, the child of your best friends, and they're going to turn her into a weapon, just to bring you down. And all this, my love...in fear of you."

2. "Guys, I mean us. RUN!" The next two points are possibly the funniest bits of Doctor Who this series. Just when The Doctor saves the earth and his plan to eradicate The Silents are taken into effect, his master plan rebounds and he and everyone else are in terrible danger. Classic Who. As The Doctor reveals his brilliant plan to The Silents, there's such a kickass, "you go, Doctor!" vibe to the whole thing, no doubt thanks in part to Murray Gold's rousing score. And then there's this funny exchange as The Doctor realizes exactly how in trouble they are. This leads us into possibly the best action scene of any Doctor Who episode. A super sexy River Song blasting away at the Silents, The Doctor doing something with his sonic to defeat the bad guy (cue River/Doctor bantering, which is always fun!), and Rory realizing that "stupid face" was none other than him, and not The Doctor as he mistakenly believed. What a gorgeous, beautiful scene. Action, comedy, drama - that's why this show succeeds.

1. "Is killing you going to take all day?" Talk about laugh-out-loud funny. Another one of those grinning moments. River, programmed by The Silence since a young girl to kill The Doctor, seizes plenty of opportunities to kill him, but The Doctor's always one step ahead of her. This is a brilliant Laurel & Hardy type sketch, where River shoots to kill, only for The Doctor to reveal he took the magazine, or replaced a gun with a banana. This is definitely Moffat's funniest script to date, and it shows no brighter than this scene - which is odd for a dramatic, action-packed episode. Check out this link and watch the clip on YouTube. May be, for me, the funniest thing since Supernatural's "The French Connection", which you should watch (and rewatch) here. Just brilliant. All of these moments are brilliant. True testaments to the creative and clever people working behind the scenes and in front of the camera.

*All images from the spectacular Sonic Brio

So those are just some of my favorite moments from Doctor Who Series 6. What are yours? Voice your opinions below!