Change Your Image
Upload An Image
Crop And Save
I'm not doing myself any favors by admitting I'm a Disney fanatic, am I? I wouldn't think so. But suffice it to say I'm a real Disney fanatic. I'll watch anything they put on the Disney Channel here in America, no matter what it is. I've sat through fun shows like "Shake it Up!" and real junk like "Pair of Kings" and I really do appreciate the programming they've been enlisting since "Hannah Montana" mercifully bowed out of the channel.
We're seeing a lot less shows about kids trying to become fame freaks and much more family oriented shows. Which I'm all for. "Good Luck Charlie" gets heavy play on the channel and that's a family show if I've ever seen one.
"Jessie" is a new addiction because, simply put, I loved "Charles in Charge." They're basically the same premise when you think about it. A college student comes to live with an upper class family filled with mischievous children and takes care of them, handling their nonsense with patience and good humor. "Jessie" has a more varied cast this time as title character Jessie takes care of a family filled with adopted children. This is a good excuse to feature a very diverse cast of characters so all the bases are covered.
"Jessie" two episodes in is fairly addictive mainly because the show is so darn cute it's hard to find flaws with it. As with most Disney shows the mom and dad are basically MIA, appearing every so often while the young cast basically comes and goes as they please. Jessie follows after making sure they don't inflict any harm on themselves and that's the basic premise.
Okay, and there's Debby Ryan who went from gawky cute in "The Suite Life on Deck," to damn good looking on "Jessie." The rest of the characters are all pretty basic archetypes. My favorite so far is Skai Jackson who plays the baby of the family Zuri. While she's there to mainly spout one liners and look adorable, she pulls it off very well quite often.
Ryan as Jessie is likable. She's basically a branch off of Bailey Picket from her previous show as a small town Southern gal who is mysteriously very street wise. I like to think of "Jessie" as a modern "Charles in Charge" with a twist of "Mary Poppins" and I appreciate the simple stories and limitless character arcs it gives the audience. There's no end to the possibilities of sub-plots with the kids.
One is an adopted Indian boy, one is an adopted African girl, one is an adopted Brooklyn kid, and the oldest is the biological daughter of the celebrity couple featured. There has yet to be a lot of talk about the adoption process and whatnot, and I hope it stays that way. Last thing we need is a PSA about the benefits of adoption on a family show.
Nevertheless I remain a tried and true Disney fanatic and I'll be watching "Jessie" with most interest. Mainly for Debby Ryan.
Rare stellar episode of TZ
When I say rare stellar episode of Twilight Zone I mean that it's one of the few good hour long episodes of the anthology series.
I caught this episode on a marathon here in America on the Scyfy channel and found it to be quite excellent.
Sure some of it is padded, but the overall message is pretty powerful. As well the climax is also pretty stunning with a look at what happens when men are given too much power and what it does to their mind and overall sanity.
James Whitmore's performance is quite great as a man who is a mixture of obnoxious, controlling, and just plain pathetic. He's a man whose taken the role of provider much too seriously and thinks of himself as a god of sorts.
I won't ruin the whole episode for you, but it's a really good look at the god complex.
As for the other "Twilight Zone" episodes that run at an hour, they're all really hit or miss, but this one is really quite good.
The Fresh Beat Band (2009)
Goes a little somethin' like this...
"The Fresh Beat Band" has been given a lot of flack since it premiered. Being basically Nickelodeon's answer to "Imagination Movers," many have outright dismissed this series as a rip off and while it is in essence kind of a rip off the show is still really very good.
This series doesn't rely on cartoon characters or puppets to reach kids. Instead it succeeds in being enjoyable mainly because it's so well written.
The plots for every episode is basically at pre-school level but the songs are truly good because they're always really fun to listen to, have great beats, and will surely stick in your head days after watching an actual episode.
Right from the start the opening theme song expresses what you're getting from the series. There's four members of the cast who are focused on and each person plays a particular instrument and in the opening theme they're essentially asking you to come along for the ride and join in on the fun.
And boy is it fun.
One thing I noticed is that the songs are so catchy that before you even realize it you'll be tapping your feet and nodding your head because unlike many other pre-school shows, the songs are just a blast to listen to. Take "Loco Legs" or "Great Day," two songs that have some really good beats and somehow seem much too hip for a kids show at times.
The show excels at creating music kids can listen to and dance along with and the series definitely inspires you to get up and dance, and it helps that the dance moves for the songs are easy to learn. But they're not all great obviously. "Friends Give Friends a Hand" is pretty clunky and the lyrics are very on the nose.
Another fine aspect is that without cartoons or puppets the writers have to turn the four cast members in to animated characters and lo and behold they do with flying colors.
The casting is pretty predictable with a diverse cast but the actors are so talented that it's impossible to dislike them. Sure they can grate on the viewer at times with their habit for giggling at every little thing, not to mention Jon Beaver's squeaky voice makes him sound like Shaggy from "Scooby-Doo." But those flaws aside the characters are very likable.
Twist is a great influence on the audience inspiring creativity with his rap lyrics. Most times Beavers isn't given much to do but when he's on screen he has a definite charm to him. Shout is downplayed with a humility that's pretty genuine. With his incredible talent it would be easy to make him smug or a braggart but the writers only use him when it's necessary and when he explodes he's quite impressive. His vocals are fantastic and he has a great physical presence. Shayna Rose as Marina is utterly adorable pulling off some great miming on the drums. Sometimes it's pretty obvious she's not playing but Rose makes up for it with her raspy vocals that play off well against the others. And then there's the very talented Yvette Gonzalez who is, not surprisingly, given the most to do.
Not only does her guitar playing completely outshine the other instruments at times but she leads most of the songs with these booming vocals that blast through the television. Basically she's the leader of the group and for good reason, too. In most of the songs you can hear her singing over everyone else and it feels like she has to hold back to prevent outshining the other cast members.
Which is understandable because they all have a lot to offer the series. While they're not perfect they definitely are charming and fun to watch and it's hard to pick a favorite.
There are some flaws to the show of course. Aside from the aforementioned, there's the supporting cast who aren't completely fun to watch. Melody is kind of annoying, and Ms. Piccolo's character is played for laughs that never deliver. There's also the extras who keep up with the choreography but never look like they belong in this environment. Every one of the four characters have their own color scheme, and even the supporting players have their own designs but the extras just look like they were pulled off the street so they stand out. And there's never an explanation why the Fresh Beats have prepubescent dopplegangers. They never appear until the final song, and they're noticeably conspicuous. Why are they always popping up in a music school comprised of adults on a campus that seems self-contained? And what relation do they bear to their adult counterparts? It makes no real sense.
As for the choreography it's often very fun to watch and the actors are very well trained but sometimes they dance out of synch and sometimes can never catch up with one another. This is made apparent by Beavers and Rose who can sometimes lag behind their co-stars. Beavers seems too slow while Rose can often look confused.
Otherwise it's a strictly simple show with simplistic plots but it holds a lot of appeal to parents and their kids. The music is great, the actors are likable, and I intend to see the show through to the end.
Halloween Night (2006)
Christopher Vale: Michael Myers fan boy??
It's a blatant rip-off of "Halloween," that's obvious, but what's inside is a stock slasher flick that's terrible on its own merits. Immediately the desperation from the director and writer to keep the audiences attention is shown, as they feature a lesbian sex scene not ten minutes in for no reason whatsoever. But with Asylum this is basically par for the course. Even in a "serious" film like "9/11 Commission Report," they featured an obligatory sex scene. But that's only one problem with "Halloween Night." Invariably, you'll be left with a plethora of questions that will never really be answered. Why is Christopher on a killing spree? Why did he escape and where was he going? Why would he kill if he saw his mom brutally murdered? "Duh he's insane." Nah, I don't buy it.
Not to mention Gingold rips elements from previous slashers. Christopher doesn't kill a girl because she reminds him of his mom, his mask looks similar to Jason's, and the whole mental patient angle is very derivative of a certain film that drops on the same holiday. Gingold pads the film with plodding characterization, terrible dialogue, especially from the lead actor who performs the worst ad-libbing I've ever seen anywhere, and characters that I could give two shits about. It's as hard to list the endless flaws as it was to sit through this, but in the end "Halloween Night" is the result of monkeys on a typewriter who finished off "Halloween" hours before. Boo.
In spite of my best attempted enthusiasm, I just couldn't muster the excitement in watching what I can safely consider one of the worst slasher movies ever made. Only from Asylum could that be accomplished.
The 9/11 Commission Report (2006)
Ambitious but ultimately very flat...
I tried. Lord help me, how I tried. But there are just some people almost incapable of creating quality. Brett Ratner, Uwe Boll, Britney Spears, and Asylum. To their credit "The 9/11 Commission Report" seems like an honest attempt by the company to advance into a more sophisticated state of storytelling and movie making. But for all intents and purposes, it comes off as another truly film in their gallery. At the opening, the disclaimer notifies audiences that all the names have been changed, but the names of the terrorists remain relatively the same. A man named Mussaui attempts to learn how to fly a plane. With a stone cold grimace that would instantly make anyone uneasy, this "undercover" agent is able to learn how to fly on a small computer. And you have to wonder, not how he was able to get into this program so easily, but on how these people didn't even ask questions; because this scene is so far-fetched in its presentation, and the actor playing this man is extremely over the top. And you can see that director Scott attempts to mimic Paul Greengrass with a bright grainy photography that's followed by an awfully dizzying and irritating hand-held direction that, throughout the entire film, attempts to take off from Greengrass's gung-ho guerrilla film-making techniques.
You can sense Scott emulating Greengrass's technique for realism, but it becomes rather lame-brained halfway in. Meanwhile the film comes off less a "Traffic" take off, and more a take off on "Law & Order" in which we'll have the disclaimer notifying us the names have been changed, the logo almost reminiscent of the "Law & Order" logo, and then ninety minutes of the actors pumping their chests and discussing politics.
Neither of which are ever as compelling as it tries to be. And then when the film seems as if its attempting to be an adult drama, Scott relies on his old failsafe, the sex scene. Scott's new film looks like it really wants to be thought of as a low budget "Munich" but it's not, and it manages to be underwhelming on every such occasion possible. "The 9/11 Commission Report" falls flat, and that's because its limited in its attempts to imitate other films.
While I appreciate the ambition inherent behind the camera, this new perspective of the events leading up to 9/11 is flat, and dull. Hard as it may try to be a low-budget "Munich" it's only really as entertaining as a normal Dolph Lundgren film you'd find on Cinemax.
Snakes on a Train (2006)
Score for Asylum
For their credit, this is one of their more competent pieces of trash, and that's because there's considerably good gore, and an interesting take on ripping off "Snakes on a Plane." But, if there's any more of example of the inconsistency behind Asylum's newest rip-off it's the two characters at the beginning whom are illegal immigrants and can't understand nor speak English to a Texas man sneaking them across the border, yet when they get on a train and meet a friend, they begin understanding and speaking perfect English.
Aside from being a pretty bad depiction of a Hollywood formula, "Snakes on a Train" is utterly boring. At least, with "Snakes on a Plane" we were given the chance to watch actors wax comedic and attempt to be remotely interesting. The Mallachi Brothers installment features some of the most boring characters I've ever seen, from an electrical engineer (gee, I wonder how he comes in handy later on), to some stoner surfers, right down to our two main characters attempting to fight off the snake curse that lurks in the husband's wife.
"Snakes" is never entertaining, and even when it's very gory, it's still never as good as it has the chance to be, because "Snakes" could have been a funny short film, and instead just takes itself much too seriously, and never camps it up at any moment. Instead of taking their small budget and making original films that can set a precedent, they instead force their small budget to work against them in these knock offs. While the Mallachi brothers seem to be trying, the train just looks incredibly artificial.
It seems almost like a stage play with these inconsistent and awfully bland set pieces that try desperately to look like actual train cars, while every so often it shakes, the background of the windows are blurred, and the sound effects go off every now and then to let us know they're actually on a train; not to mention that in such a large extended train there only seems to be about ten passengers on it. And beyond the train fight, and a drawn out sex scene, we're forced to be subjected to a plot that makes zero sense. And not even the directors can work around the fact that the "lethal" snakes that go on this train look far from venomous or dangerous.
The rest of the film staggers onto only about a minute of snake carnage and a bad subplot of an ex drug agent trying to molest a passenger. All of this dull exposition ends with a really ridiculous climax in which a poorly computer generated snake (I saw better animation on the Super Nintendo) completely swallows the train whole, and is then dispensed in a method that should have been exercised from the very beginning. Asylum scores again.
Asylum scores yet again with a hackneyed, lazy, horribly directed, and boring rip-off of another better film. "Snakes on a Train" takes itself way too seriously, and that's why it's never entertaining or memorable.
So bad, it's good...
I know someone in Hollywood got a hold of a concept for a video game called "Crank," and thought that this was too good to be some stupid old video game. So, they made it into a movie. Because "Crank" is essentially set up like a video game. Our hero gets up, watches a video that lays out the plot, and now he has to find the people who wronged him.
In order to stop the poison, get epinephrine. Level two: Get Epinephrine. Find the villain's brother. Level three: Find him and fight him. Keep your heart rate up, Level Four: Steal a police cycle and drive as fast as you can before your heart slows down; avoid pedestrians and environment. The mob is after you now that you're alive and may go after your girlfriend. Level Five: Get your girlfriend out of her apartment, without getting her killed. It's blatant, and ridiculous, and formulaic, but I had a good time. "Crank" is very much like "Speed" except with a human body as a bomb.
Chevy has just awoken to discover his body has been injected by a rival gang with a poison that, if his heart stops beating fast, will kill him. This is not only the plot, but it gives the movie an excuse to be fast paced and without much characterization. "Crank" is so bad that it's good, and that's because of Statham's entertaining turn as a mobster who just had the worst revenge committed on him. What do you not do to get back at a psychotic mobster? Fill him with adrenaline.
And that's the worst mistake his rivals commit when they pump him with a poison that will kill him if he doesn't keep going. And most of the film is Chevy's journey to keep his heart pumping, and boy do the methods get creative! "Crank" doesn't have much of a plot, it's merely just a sequence of events that resemble a plot in which our hero Chevy must roam around the city causing rampage to keep his heart beating, and in turn it helps him live his life, and face what might happen if he doesn't get the antidote if there is one.
Statham seems to be having a good time kicking ass and destroying property, while the direction from Mark Neveldine, and Brian Taylor is utterly chaotic. The direction never calms down because the movie never calms down and brings about some utterly hilarious situations that you'll get a kick out of, if you don't put too much stock into what you're watching. I had a blast at this good bad film, and Statham comes through once again.
In Memorium (2005)
I'm not one to usually give cheesy analogous one-liners, but "In Memorium" is a surefire mixture of "The Shining" and "Blair Witch Project".
Director Gusack creates a film very much in the vein of "Blair Witch Project", and from the get go there's this sense of pure dread and impending doom that's presented with a stark gray ambiance.
Director Gusack has a handle on characterization, pacing, and story and takes a tired concept adding a wonderful air of originality, unease, and suspense. "In Memorium" is an intense simplistic piece of the horror genre.
The Beast of Bray Road (2005)
The Werewolf steps in a steaming pile...
At the start of "Beast", a young bar patron drifts away from her friends after closing hours and is stalked and mauled to death by a werewolf. The beast grabs her, tears her apart, and howls into the sky. I enjoyed that. But, for no reason, director Scott feels that even though we had that good opening signaling grand things, we could have done without it for another thirty or forty minutes, which in common sense land is a large portion of a film that doesn't even hit the two hour mark, and that makes zero sense.
There's also mainly vapid characterization, plenty of padding including sex scenes, particular focus on sister journalists who have a web log, and a comedic barroom brawl included for no other reason but to pad the movie. Meanwhile, you'll be wondering if the monster is still lurking about, or just fell asleep waiting for victims to get out of that bar that's featured quite prominently.
Does anyone have a shop in that town, or is the main economic base that one small bar? You know that when a horror film is turned into "Roadhouse" for an instance just to keep the story going, it becomes painfully clear that you're not watching anything resembling entertainment. Also featured are a funeral that looks like it was held in a backyard, a town filled with an endless supply of women who look like they came off an open audition for "Hustler", the most inept inactive sheriff, and characters that constantly re-appear due to an obviously menial cast.
So, it's been confirmed to me. Even when The Asylum isn't ripping off another movie, they still suck. "Beast of Bray Road" could have been a fun movie had they actually had creature action and not so much utter stupidity and poor storytelling. Otherwise, this isn't even a fun monster movie.
Superman: Brainiac Attacks (2006)
"Superman: Braniac Attacks" is an interesting effort from the DCU, and without a doubt a tie-in with the upcoming "Superman Returns" even featuring interesting foreshadowing that's meant for fun. But, the true glory of this film is that Tim Daly returns! Out of all the animated voices for Superman, Daly is my favorite mainly because he provides a humility that a god-like individual like Superman needs to have. While I thought George Newbern was great, Daly is the man I grew to enjoy, and he's back yet again, and this time Clark is re-considering confessing his secret to Lois. But when Lex and Braniac team up to create the ultimate weapon to defeat Superman, he must save Metropolis once more and discover a cure for Lois who is infected by Braniac.
Gladly, the welcome refreshing course is also aided by the talents of Dana Delany, the definitive voice of Lois Lane as the spunky and brave reporter. "Braniac Attacks" has the same wide-eyed enthusiasm as the series, the wide-eyed enthusiasm Timm couldn't grasp, and evidently, the writers were approaching the same fantastic experience to make way for the upcoming film, and I didn't mind it. The script dares to have more fun with Superman and his powers, and the audience gets to watch him make use of his abilities with a wider spectrum. One highlight of which is seeing Superman enter the Phantom Zone, Superman struggling to leave the Phantom Zone, and we even get to witness an effect we never saw in the animated series. Superman uses his x-ray vision to see Lois' beating heart, and the infection coursing through her blood stream. A wonderful use of x-ray vision, and his redundant microscopic vision. Superman is superman here. Powerful, determined, and center square.
Sadly, though, as much as I didn't want to admit it, this felt awfully empty, and not because Timm was gone, but because there was really nothing to it. Superman is Superman, and Lex and Braniac team up. It's the same themes we saw throughout the end of the "Justice League" Series, and we see it here, too. Though the film takes place before "Justice League" continuity, and this is intended as foreshadowing to future team-ups we'd see in the former series, it's really nothing but more of the same plot we saw in the last seasons of the "Justice League" series involving cadmus and whatnot. So, with this alliance, we have the awkward, and I do mean awkward, alliance of Lex and Braniac that I've seen played with much more grace. And that's due primarily to the wholly inconsistent characterization presented without much shame.
One of the many inconsistencies is that Lex is a sniveling, spineless, comedic presence, a complete departure from any of the variations on the character and a most unwelcome change. Lex is a man among a god challenging him, not some worm. Also Mercy is annoying and becomes nothing but a Harley Quinn clone who sits around waxing sarcastic to Lex, and has a ridiculously forgettable sub-plot where she trades flirts with Jimmy Olsen. In the series, Mercy was a hard-boiled, street tough, vicious body guard who must have been in the mid-thirties, but oddly the writers feel compelled to make her in her mid-twenties, and not very useful to her employer. And, you expect me to believe Jimmy could sneak into Lex's labs without being spotted? Give me a break. Worst of all, Lois is reduced to nothing but a lovelorn teenager who sighs and gazes wide-eyed at Superman's presence and gets herself into trouble. I'm aware this film disconnects from continuity, but did they really have to back step character progress? So, Superman is back in animated form, and I couldn't be happier. True, there are many bumps along the road in terms of characterization, and some of it feels empty, but I had fun, and it was great to see the actors voicing these great characters once again. Would I buy it? No, but as a passing experience I'd definitely recommend it. Bring on "Superman Returns"!