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7 reviews in total 
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2 out of 10 people found the following review useful:
cheerful supernatural entertainment, 16 April 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Look, this show is based on a comic book about a busty blonde descendant of Wyatt Earp who goes around shooting demons with a magic gun, and the viewer's expectations should be set at a corresponding level. Don't take it too seriously and you'll be fine.

The first episode was a bit convoluted and hard to follow, but by the second episode things went much smoother. In time, it could become the kind of enjoyable cult show that's all too rare in sci-fi/fantasy these days. With everyone so obsessed with turning comic books into High Art with Profound Existential Meaning (witness the entire Marvel and DC cinematic universes), it's nice to have a show whose sole ambition is to give the viewer a good old-fashioned fun time. No one will accuse "Wynonna Earp" of breaking new ground or setting a new bar for the fantasy Western genre (at least at this juncture), but everyone can take pleasure in watching it.

The actors clearly enjoy what they're doing, and the storytelling is goofy and engaging, and keeps us wanting to know what happens next. As the surly, hard-drinking, tough-yet-vulnerable eponymous protagonist with a huge chip on her shoulder and a serious disregard for authority, Melanie Scrofano delivers the one-liners, shoots demons, and kicks ass with the requisite aplomb.

The demons ("revenants") look like a redneck biker gang and are thoroughly repugnant and vicious, led by the menacing, fur-clad Bobo Del Rey. Long story short: they're trapped in Wynonna's hometown by a powerful spell, they're trying to get out and overrun the whole world in an orgy of blood and murder, and Wynonna's the only one who can put them down with her ancestor's magic gun. The enigmatic Doc Holliday (yes, THAT Doc Holliday), played with an aura of smoldering mystery by the superb Tim Rozon, is the wild card who seems to be playing both sides against each other.

As with Emily Andras's previous supernatural show, Lost Girl, there's lots of girl power, sisterly bonding, and depictions of same-sex sexual tension/relationships (particularly the appropriately-named Officer Haught who has her eye on Wynonna's comely younger sister); fans of the previous show will feel at home pretty quickly here.

There's plenty of potential for drama in the first season, between all of Doc Holliday's mysteries wrapped within riddles inside enigmas, and Wynonna's convoluted family history (pretty safe bet that her older sister, who was kidnapped by the revenants as a child and thought dead, is still alive and working with the demons). And the laconic, ruthless Agent Dolls, what's going on behind that stone face? I'm sure all of this (or at least most of it) will be explored in the episodes to come.

In short, there's worse ways to spend an hour than hanging out with Wynonna Earp.

"Arrow" (2012)
0 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
action, adventure, and more, 19 September 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I wasn't expecting much from this show in the beginning, but I was pleasantly surprised. The scenes are short, tight and pack a punch. There is rarely a slack moment and the plot lines have considerable emotional resonance. As is typical of CW shows, it's full of gorgeous twenty- somethings with perfect cheekbones and impeccably coiffed hair, but that's just a bonus.

In two seasons, Arrow has gone from strength to strength. The villain-of-the-week episodes are now interwoven with long-running story lines. Some of the second season episodes--Keep Your Enemies Closer, Three Ghosts, and Tremors--stand out as some of the best pieces of television in the last seven or eight years. Though they occasionally veer too far into comic-bookiness, the stories have become even more compelling—in fact, sometimes I even wish there were more character scenes and fewer fights.

It never ceases to amaze how the showrunners manage to squeeze the maximum out of a TV budget every single week. Not since Miami Vice has there been a show that aimed for--and so often achieved--the ideal of a TV series as an hour-long mini-movie, delivered once a week for the viewer's delectation. Often big-budget Hollywood movies feel bloated and weighed-down by all the money spent on special effects; Arrow is freed, its creativity stimulated, by the need to work within a smaller budget. The visuals are gritty and imaginative and the fight scenes are always wonderful to watch.

Unlike most CW shows (ahem, Smallville) which aim for a more emo sensibility, or the angry-young-man nihilism which afflicted Nolan's Batman movies, Arrow strikes a more mature tone. Themes of loyalty, revenge, love, honor, family ties, sibling rivalries, friendship, betrayal, Oedipal struggle, motherhood, absent fathers, guilt, redemption, class struggle, the dichotomy between the mask one wears and one's true self, and more--pulp fiction it may be, but treated with loving care by the writers, showrunners, and actors. This combination of heightened emotional intensity with the comic book mythos elevates Arrow to something like opera: a world of stylized, epic, larger-than-life conflicts, but which is still recognizably human and compelling. And it's addictive.

The powers that be at CW have fortunately renewed the series for a third season and I'm eager to see if they can manage to take the story of Oliver Queen to new heights. I hope the show runs as long as they can make it interesting.

"Castle" (2009)
5 out of 9 people found the following review useful:
very watchable, 15 July 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

There is one reason to watch Castle: Nathan Fillion. Without him it would be yet another detective show, indistinguishable from its hundreds of predecessors and competitors. With him it's more than watchable; it's enjoyable.

The usual romantic-comedic pattern of a man in the straight role and a woman as the comic foil is reversed. The comic role goes to Fillion as the titular Rick Castle, and the straight man is a woman, NYPD Homicide Det. Kate Beckett, played by Stana Katic.

Castle, an author of mysteries, tries to break his writer's block by persuading the city to let him follow around Beckett's team of detectives as they investigate murders. At first, the hard-nosed Det. Beckett has little use for Castle, whom she initially dismisses as an egotistical buffoon, but soon finds that his intuition, imagination, and experience as a writer are valuable in solving cases, and so an unusual partnership is born.

Inevitably, romantic sparks fly from the clash of personalities between the freewheeling, slightly immature Castle, and the intense and highly professional Beckett, and just as inevitably the duo are constantly prevented from acting on those sparks by all manner of circumstances, ranging from the mundane (Beckett's seemingly endless string of new boyfriends) to the ridiculously contrived (Beckett passes out from hypothermia while the duo are trapped in a freezer, just as she's about to confess her true feelings to Castle).

The other characters, including Castle's family and Beckett's NYPD colleagues are essentially pleasant vehicles for banter and plot exposition, with the exception of Beckett's boss, Captain Roy Montgomery (who's no longer on the show, after the events of the season 3 finale). He's the archetypal dedicated, honest cop who lives and breathes the job, essentially a more mainstream version of Lance Reddick's character on The Wire.

The quality of the writing is somewhat above Law and Order but somewhat below Oscar Wilde. The writers are adept at throwing a series of red herrings to keep you guessing about the killer's identity, but you'll usually be able to figure it out by at most the forty-minute mark, just by process of elimination.

The mysterious murder of Beckett's mother is a running subplot that is the focus of some of the more serious episodes. Such overarching plot lines often become bloated and incoherent as the writers attempt to reveal more without revealing all. However I figure the show can get another couple seasons' worth of interest out of it before it starts to get silly.

But in the end, as long as Fillion's on the show, it'll be decent viewing.

4 out of 8 people found the following review useful:
an A-Team for the 21st century, 16 December 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

That pretty much says it all. There's no plot worth the name; it might as well be the same from episode to episode.

Dialogue? What dialogue? You forget what the characters are saying even as it's being said.

Yet it works if you're looking for something totally brainless. It's easy, breezy, and it moves from point A to point B at breakneck speed. Every five minutes the characters are busting out automatic weaponry, breaking into (or jumping out of) buildings, or being chased by an army of mercenaries; sometimes all three at the same time. What's not to like?

In a production like this the charisma of the actors is all-important and fortunately the casting directors made the right choices. Mark Valley is charmingly insouciant as the easygoing protagonist Christopher Chance. Chi McBride provides a great contrast as Winston, the perpetually grumpy ex-cop who's Chance's business partner, and Jackie Earle Haley is superb as the weaselly-looking Guerrero, who does the dirty work. In season 2 the producers clearly realized that there was too much testosterone and added two attractive women to the team: Indira Varma, playing the elegant but steely-willed billionaire Ilsa Pucci, and Janet Montgomery as the scrappy thief Ames. Both are welcome additions.

In the original Human Target (starring Rick Springfield), Christopher Chance actually impersonated his clients, which made for some interesting storytelling. Sadly this is not the case in the remake.

The show makes light of torture (hey, it is a FOX show after all), which I find objectionable.

Those points aside, "Human Target" is shallow, mindless fun. However, unlike most other shallow, mindless entertainments, it doesn't take itself very seriously at all, and yet it's not too trashy, which are the keys to its enjoyability.

3 out of 8 people found the following review useful:
Dull and uninvolving, 5 July 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I can't believe that so many are comparing this movie to Argento's. His work is far more imaginative and vicious--and a lot more fun.

The director simply lacks the ability to build real tension. The murder scenes--and let's face it, that's what this genre is all about--aren't interesting. It was not hard to guess who the murderer was, and I really didn't care when it was revealed. The cinematography isn't memorable, and the much-praised 19th century Gothic atmosphere just didn't draw me in. Several of the actors are quite good (especially the headmistress and the sadistic girl who lords it over the younger students), but they're given very little to do.

Yes, there are undertones of incest, sadomasochism, and lesbianism, but amazingly, they add very little spice or suspense.

If you're looking for a good horror movie, look elsewhere.

2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
great episode of an amazing show, 28 July 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is one of the darkest episodes of this awesome series, and one of the best.

The usual setup is turned completely on its head here. The cool, confident Ray we're accustomed to seeing, the man who can get out of any jam, no matter how tough, is nowhere evident here.

Instead our hero is a hunted man from start to finish, as young, troubled women start turning up dead all over the city. The only common thread to these murders: each of the victims was last seen getting into a black Corvette Stingray.

We see an angry and desperate Ray, a Ray set up and betrayed by people he thought were his friends, fighting to save his own skin and discover who's behind the murders. We get glimpses of Ray's mysterious and painful past--a time he would rather forget, but is forced to confront.

And the climax of Ray's desperate pursuit, when he finally comes face to face with his pursuer--one of the bleakest and darkest scenes in the whole series.

Great episode, and a must-see for any fan of the show.

Oldboy (2003)
14 out of 74 people found the following review useful:
a wild beast of a movie, 3 June 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I can't say I "loved" this movie--it's far too brutal and dark to be called lovable--but I can say that hardly a week goes by without my thinking about it. Upon first seeing it I was dazed, unable to speak, feeling as if I'd been stabbed in the gut. Was this a movie? I'd always thought I knew what movies were, but Oldboy was utterly different. Other movies were about their subject; Oldboy embodied its subject. Other movies were watched; Oldboy was experienced. And after finishing other movies, I leaned back comfortably and thought fondly about how good they were; after finishing Oldboy, I was trembling, unable to fully process what I'd just been through.

Oldboy has inspired an unusual amount of vitriol (judging from some of the angry reviews here, it seems many people want revenge on the movie itself!) Many people are uncomfortable with its horrendous violence, and turn this into hatred. They're right to be disturbed. Oldboy is horrific, because it deals directly with one of the most horrific aspects of humanity: our primal need to destroy those who have caused us suffering. Chan-Wook Park employs every technical resource of the cinema--music, sound effects, set and costume design, cinematography, editing, CGI--and portrays such extreme violence, not merely to sell a few more tickets (though the movie's stylishness and brutality certainly didn't hurt its box office), but to make the audience feel, at the visceral level, the destructiveness and utter futility of revenge.

There are no concessions to the audience's sensibilities. Moviegoers are used to photorealism; Oldboy goes for portraiture. (The director has claimed the movie's cinematography was partly influenced by the paintings of Goya and Velasquez, and it shows, especially in the justly celebrated corridor fight). Standard dramatic exposition is abandoned as the movie leaps dizzyingly from scene to elliptical scene, leaving the audience to play catch-up. Scenes of unbearable torture and suffering alternate with scenes of tenderness, humor, surreal imaginings. We jump back and forth in time as we grow closer to finding out the unspeakable truth. And when all is revealed, the director adds a final twist of the knife: Dae-Su chooses to forget it all, unable to face the acts his antagonist has tricked him into committing, and the lovers are left to find what happiness they can.

Chan-Wook Park's vengeance movies are the closest the cinema has come to Shakespearean tragedy. Lear and Hamlet may be too remote from us to have the impact they undoubtedly did on Elizabethan audiences--but Oldboy is completely pulpy and modern. There are those who bristle at the comparison, rallying to the defense of "high art", those who share Tarkovsky's belief that film is a vehicle to convey sacred truths to the audience, to whom the idea that a movie can be enjoyable and intelligent is anathema. But the Bard was seen as no more than an extremely successful popular entertainer in his own time, and his contemporaries criticized him for his unruly, extravagant style-- exactly the same sort of treatment Park has been accorded. Which is to say that by comparing Oldboy to Macbeth, I don't mean any more than that Oldboy 1) is awesome entertainment and 2) explores a basic facet of human nature. You can't ask for more from a movie than that.