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I don't know where to begin. This show...
Okay, I could take X-Men Evolution. I could even tolerate X-Men Origins: Wolverine. I made it all the way through the mid-90's Spider Man cartoon. I grew up watching the corny 70's Spider Man cartoons, including the 'Amazing Friends' one.
This show is so terrible, I COULD NOT WATCH IT!! It's like they decided to take everything likable about Spider Man and flush it away so they could cram in enough Avengers movie name-drops and Nick Fury screen time without actually making an Avengers or Nick Fury cartoon. Then they decided to give Peter Parker these exposition narratives with intentionally terrible animation and ungodly unfunny cartoon visuals. MJ has been replaced by a teenage Lois Lane. J. Jonah Jameson is Bill O'Reilly. The first super-villains we meet are lame even for Spider Man villains. And, the final slap in the face, Spider Man is leading a small team of teenage super heroes. The music is pretty stupid, the flashy animation attempts to mimic comic book style but only serves to bring the story to a screeching halt. I just... God, every time it looked like it might get better it derailed into pointless exposition and unfunny slapstick.
My childhood continues to be raped. Won't someone please abort this thing before it gets any worse?
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Very rarely can you find a movie that just gets absolutely everything
wrong. It's a true gem when you find a movie so doomed from the very
beginning that what comes after can only serve to heighten the
experience of a terrible movie. The acting is awful, the story is
garbage, the plot makes no sense, there's no witch, no real witchcraft.
I mean... just wow. And all that said, this movie was a pleasure to
watch if only because a movie this unintentionally bad is just so damn
It feels like the filmmakers decided not to even bother trying to live up to the previous two films. So basically, here's the story. An old man comes into a hospital one night with serious injuries. He's terrified, incoherent, and his doctor does everything he can to care for the poor old man.
But, a bland man in a suit waltz's into the hospital, kills the old man, then walks out to his car and sets himself on fire. Where DOES one buy disposable assassins? Are they cheaper than assassins who plan on living after the job to spend their money? Or do they want full life insurance coverage? Anyway, so the Doctor is so intrigued by this mystery that he completely ignores it and goes to a bar. While here he sees a commercial for Silver Shamrock masks, and get used to this annoying commercial jingle, because you'll hear it about ninety times in this movie. Also, for some reason, there's a commercial for the first Halloween on television.
Why? Because the writer and director are openly mocking you. So anyway, Dr. Can't-Act is approached by the daughter of the old man who died, and she convinces him to help her investigate the murder. They see the last place he went to was the Silver Shamrock factory, and decide to go there. They get a lukewarm welcome from the locals, and decide to pose as buyers of Silver Shamrock masks, the most popular item this Halloween season. They start investigating the weird town run by Donal Cochran, the head of Silver Shamrock, and find that it's a strange kind of Big Brother controlled town.
A woman staying in the room next door finds a little Silver Shamrock coin in her mask that contains a microchip. She fiddles with it and for some reason, this causes a laser to shoot her in the head, killing her, and spawning a bug in her mouth.
Why? God only knows.
Welcome to our first stop on the train to WTF town. Trust me, you'll know when you've arrived. So after seeing the woman get carted away by, who else, Donal Cochran and his people from the factory, they decide it's time to dig a lot deeper since something's obviously weird about this place. No kidding? They start doing research on Cochran, but Cochran overhears their plans via the worst-placed listening device in cinema history, and sends his bland men to stop them. There's a fight, and the Doctor kills one of the bland men to find out he's a robot.
Robots. We have Robots in a movie called Halloween III: Season of the Witch. Just think about that.
So the girl is captured, the doctor goes to try and rescue her, but fails and is also captured. He is brought to the control room where Cochran begins explaining his evil plan. I hope you're wearing a helmet, because this just might blow your mind.
His plan: He's put little microchips in all his masks that, when given the appropriate signal, will transform the heads of anyone wearing them into piles of snakes and bugs. It kills them. Now... this would sound silly for even the sillier of the James Bond rogues gallery. We have now arrived at WTF town, your baggage has turned into a cat and your passengers are all wearing tutu's.
Why? f*^$ you, that's why! So Cochran ties up the Doc and puts a mask on him while delivering a villain speech that sounds like it was pieced together from a half-dozen other villain speeches. It makes no sense and gives us zero idea to what is motivation is. At one point he does say it's all a big joke, but I'm sorry, millions and millions of dollars into research for a scheme like this? I mean, do you set out saying 'I'm gonna change people's heads into bugs and snakes... WITH SCIENCE' or do you stumble upon such a thing accidentally and just roll with it?
And if you can change people into insects and snakes, why not turn all those children into wild dogs under your control? Or wolves? Or werewolves? SOMETHING that has SOMETHING to do with the horror genre?! Something that might even let you, I don't know, take over the world or something? No, snakes and bugs. So anyway, the Doctor escapes, frees the girl, and sabotages the factory by throwing a box of microchips down on the robots.
Why does this work? F*#$ if I know.
So the consoles all glow, turn into a big glowing ring, which zaps a big stone, which zaps Cochran, killing him...? The two escape, but surprise! The chick's been replaced by a robot. So the Doc defeats the fake love interest, gets to a convenience store, and starts calling TV stations begging them to pull the plug on the commercial that will send the evil signal.
Somehow, this works for two out of three stations, but the third one doesn't seem to listen. We cut to black on one of the least convincing "Noooooooo's..." in film history. And that's Season of the Witch.
It's like the writers all sat in different rooms in different cities and wrote different scripts, then randomly stapled the pages all together. See it just for the sheer WTF value alone!
Let me preface: I dislike Joss Whedon. I don't hate him. I don't like
him. I would be apathetic towards him except for things like Alien:
Resurrection. Rumor has it he wrote it as a satire, but I have no
evidence of this. His work is so hit-or-miss that it's hard not to
ascribe most of his success to dumb luck. So, I was rather surprised to
watch this 14 episode series run and not hate it.
In fact, it's kind of a guilty pleasure. The series is about a group of former rebels flying a starship and taking mercenary jobs to make ends meet in a galaxy colonized by humans. Because some outer worlds are poverty-stricken, they exist in wild-west type societies instead of, say, slums. The Sci-Western thing is hard to pull off and Firefly... it does not do it well. I'm sorry, but a sawed off shotgun with bits glued onto it STILL does not make 'pew-pew' noises. The episode where their cargo is cattle, and the doctor and his sister get accused of being witches... Um, yeah. I'm not buying that premise out of the bargain bin.
The characters themselves are fairly likable. The Captain is a somewhat reckless rebel who cares nothing for authority figures but cares everything for his crew. He's got his loyal, butt-kicking right-hand woman, his hired dumb tough-guy merc, his always peppy and upbeat mechanic chick, and the doctor with his trademark Whedon messed-up tough chick sister. And a preacher guy, for some reason. Oh, and the prostitute.
The stories usually aren't too bad, but they're often bogged down by someone seriously forgetting about where the HELL it all takes place. Oh, and people keep forgetting how physics works. One episode had the ship hurtling towards some trap that would roast them all alive. Their solution? Climb outside the ship and shoot it. Better solution? Open a vent for a half-second. It'll alter the ship's trajectory.
Other than a few glaring faults (Most of which are trademark Whedon-isms) the show itself seemed fairly well written... then I realized why. He didn't write the bulk of the series. Concept, design, themes, these are all Whedon's ideas. Even episode stories are largely his ideas. But in the hands of better writers, and a competent director, they actually become quite good. Like when the ship was disabled and we see flashbacks to how Malcolm Reynolds set up his little crew in the first place... that was well done. Joss didn't write it.
All in all, tone, style, and stories are slightly above average. I've seen better shows cancelled for worse reasons, so I don't think Firefly was treated unfairly. They even got a movie out of the deal, you can't say that for most sci-fi shows.
And now for the part of the show I liked to call: What did Joss Whedon rip off hoping no one would notice?!
Outlaw Star - Engineered super-girl in a box Cowboy Bebop - Crew of outlaws performing merc work and usually getting screwed Star Wars - Han Solo, his right-hand Wookie, skirting the law as lovable rogues Farscape - Crew of dysfunctional people evading capture and swearing in another language
And that's really the key to Joss Whedon. See something that's been done before, steal it, combine it with something else that works and see what happens. I guess with Dollhouse he read a lot of P.K. Dick and took a crack at cyberpunk... And crack is really the right word. But seriously, all in all, Firefly isn't a terrible show. It's an okay show. It's probably the best thing Joss has ever done.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I had my doubts when it seemed Marvel studios was going to follow up
its successful and critically acclaimed Iron Man with the rest of the
cast of the Avengers all getting their own movie culminating ultimately
in the Avengers movie which will, of course, totally fail to live up to
the buildup. Don't get me wrong, I want it to be a great movie, but I'm
afraid I've been deluded and jaded by things like the 1979 Captain
America, the two abysmal Fantastic Four movies, and a depressingly long
list of incredibly bad movies done solely for the purposes of grabbing
the rights to Marvel characters.
So, yes, I'm not expecting Shakespeare here, and it's a good thing, too.
Thor's not bad. Grading Marvel on a scale it easily falls closer to the 'good' spectrum, i.e. Iron Man, and a lot farther form the 'bad' spectrum, say, Spider Man 3. Here's the thing, Marvel has finally gotten the idea that 1. You can make money on a good movie just as well as you can on a bad, and 2. Making a good movie can actually make you MORE money. Just look at the difference between X-Men and X-Men Origins: Wolverine. You'd think they existed in completely different universes by how vast the gulf of stupid is between the competently told X-Men and... the other one. And box office returns reflect this.
I'm ranting. Fine. To the point: Thor is a competently told story of the Thunder God falling to Earth only to rise again through self-sacrifice and a shoehorned in romance with a clearly pregnant and hiding it Natalie Portman. It's fun. But more importantly, it is visually stunning. I don't even just mean in 3D, I mean entirely. The digital effects are (mostly) perfectly believable. The visuals of Asgard are breathtaking.
The fight scenes are... well, they're okay. Honestly, I'd rather have had a more clearly visible fight choreography, but I understand that when you're story is about Thor, God of Thunder, it's going to be very CG heavy.
SHIELD shows up an awful lot in this one, as the main driving force of the plot on Earth, though I'm still a little fuzzy on how exactly SHIELD has any idea that a weapon of the Gods has fallen to Earth suddenly, much less how they can get there so quickly to retrieve it.
The somewhat mangled love story is... well, it's a mangled love story because Hollywood doesn't understand how to make a movie that appeals to both sexes without cramming in a pointless romance. Can't we just see Thor hurling lightning at monsters? Does it have to be ruined by Natalie 'I'm not preggo, I just like to wear a big jacket in the desert' Portman staring at the hunky English Norseman with moony eyes? Okay, I unfairly picked on Nat there. Mea Culpa.
And speaking of inexplicably English Norsemen, what the living balls was Cary Elwes doing in this movie? Besides sporting a fake goatee and dancing around with a rapier? And the Asian Norseman? And the black Norseman? Not that I have a problem with diversity, and they all played their parts well. Maybe I just don't know the Thor mythos that well.
I nitpick, but ultimately, Thor is a fairly fun ride. It's a summer CG action movie that could have been better but in the end isn't really that bad at all. I recommend seeing it because we all know the new Pirates movie is going to be balls.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Okay... let's take it from the top.
The movie opens with some fairly direct and uninspiring narration. (Cliche count: 1) An ex-marine who's lost the use of his legs, and his twin brother, get sent to another planet for a fresh start. The planet Pandora contains some incredibly valuable resource that makes it worth the time and energy everyone expends to get there. There's an indigenous population that lives on top of a major deposit of this rare resource. (Cliche count: 2)
The Avatar program puts people's minds in the bodies of half-alien, half-human hybrids to better relate to the natives. Our hero is one of these people, and instantly goes bonkers-happy at being able to use his legs again. (Cliche count: 3)
The other characters include a nerdy little buddy who's excited about everything. (Cliche count: 4) The base commander, who's an irrepressible douche because he's a hardened marine with no emotion. (Cliche count: 5) There's lead scientist lady who's a bitch outwardly, but a bleeding-heart liberal inwardly. Not sure that's a cliché yet, so we'll let that slide. There's the hot, tough fighter pilot chick who says stuff like "five by five" and shows off cleavage at every possible opportunity. (Cliche count: 6)
Now here's where the movie really gets moving. Our hero, in his Avatar body, stumbles across a great big monster that makes him run away and get lost in the jungle. (Cliche count: 7) Where he is alone, unarmed, and is being watched by the natives. One of them takes aim at him with a bow and arrow, but decides to spare his life because a dandelion puff lands on the end of her bow. So, instead, she saves him from death, then treats him like garbage because he's an outsider who doesn't know the ways of the forest. (Cliche count: 8) She takes him back to her village. (Cliche count: 9) There, he finds out that she's the chief's daughter. (Cliche count:10) And she is next in line to be high priestess like her mother. (Cliche count:11) Her betrothed is an insufferable jackass to the outsider, and wants to kill him immediately, (Cliche count:12) but her mother intercedes and says that she must show him the ways of the tribe so he will understand them better. (Cliche count:13)
Well, when our hero wakes up, the General wants him to use his in to get Intel, the scientists want him to use his in to improve relations, and the annoying, one-dimensional corporate ass who runs the operation wants to just bulldoze the natives to grab his valuable rocks. (Cliche count: 14)
Ooookay... that takes us through the first 25 minutes. Only two hours more to go!! And it goes on like this. I invite you to watch this movie with a notepad and pen, and count the clichés. I cannot understand why this movie is so amazingly acclaimed. It it because it fills a plot we've already seem before with extraordinarily expensive, stunning visuals?
Anyway, I'm gonna rush through to the end here. Hero learns the way of the tribe, recreates the fairy sex scene from Ferngully, lands the chief's daughter, then tells them they have to leave as the bulldozers are on the way, they try to kill him, the marines try to kill him, the scientists try to help him. They end up in a cell, the pilot chick busts them out, Sigourney Weaver dies. They go back to the tribe, our hero bags and tames some giant pteradactle and earns their respect enough to lead the various clans in an epic battle against the evil humans... of which, he is one.
They fight. It looks pretty. The Marines lose. Our hero gets transferred into the body of his avatar permanently. He likes it. Everything works out fine for everyone...
Except the human beings.
My cliché counter explodes. The End.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
LOOK!!! See, Hayden Christiansen can act!! Not particularly well and
not overtly, but damnit, he CAN act!! So WHY OH WHY DIDN'T HE IN THE
Anyway, all this aside, Jumper is... well, kind of lame. There are these people born all over the world who randomly have the power to teleport anywhere they want. There are a group of bad guys led by a silver-haired (but always awesome) Samuel L. Jackson. They capture and kill these people.
That's really about it. Oh, the twist is pretty predictable.
Let's see... what else? The special effects are pretty decent. Yeah, I remember those were okay.
All in all, this movie is okay. It's not exactly an award-winning, set-the-standard for superhero movies kind of thing, but it could be so much worse. It could be Attack of the Clones or something.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I'm a pretty picky fellow when it comes to my television viewing.
Supernatural first piqued my interest when it promised to be a
horror-themed television show that might actually be scary.
I don't mean the 'monster jumps out at you' scary, but that 'There could be monsters ready to jump out at me from everywhere' scary that leaves you immobile and huddling in the dark.
In this, the show tries, but doesn't quite get there, but I give it credit for getting halfway there. Having watched this show up to season 5, and suffered the tedious and possibly overzealous angels versus demons versus Sam versus Dean versus alien versus predator versus Evil Knievel... Sorry, got carried away... My point is the biblical storyline all-but consumes the story for over two seasons. It's not terrible and has a lot of insight on the nature of religion, blind faith, and what it means to be evil; but I can't help feeling the Apocalyptic end-is-nigh storyline was beaten to death back when Buffy was doing it.
But at least the show knows how to have fun with itself, too. After all, horror's other face is comedy, that relief of tension that allows tension to start building anew. There are a half dozen or so truly hysterically funny episodes sprinkled in to break things up.
My biggest problem with this show, though, is that virtually every hot woman featured either dies, needs to die, or should die. There's a strange misogynistic streak in this show, but then, since every single baddie on Charmed was a guy, I think we can call this a wash.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
While both my wife and I eagerly look forward to every Jolie movie, and
we both thoroughly enjoyed Salt, I couldn't help feeling that we needed
some Tequila and Lime as well.
It's not a bad movie as such. It's got a lot going for it, great acting, amazing action scenes, and as usual, Jolie pulls off sexy badass just by existing. But the story was a strange sort of blend between the Manchurian Candidate and Invasion of the Body Snatchers. The Russians apparently, back during the cold war, placed a number of specially trained children into American life as sleeper agents that would one day rise up, seize control of the American Nuclear Arsenal and... nuke it? Spark a war? I'm a little fuzzy about what the Endgame is really supposed to be, but apparently so is Evelyn Salt, since after her cover is blown and she is brought into the fold with her sleeper agent counterparts, they kill her none-the-wiser husband and she goes ballistic. Using her skills, she goes rogue and infiltrates her own infiltration program in order to kill everyone involved with it. She even jumps out of a helicopter at the end.
Again, despite the odd, cliché' ridden plot and the stretched believability of Russians starting anything more than an impolite dinner conversation these days, Salt is a fun movie.
As always, Jolie makes the character real. I heard the movie and the part was originally written for a male character, but they changed it to cast Jolie in the role. Probably because while straight women would have been drawn to a male lead, they needed Jolie to bring in the straight women AND the action-movie male crowd.
I would place this movie on the level of a Die Hard sequel. While the action is great, the tension is real, and the acting is perfect, the movie does have its flaws. It's still an enjoyable ride and if you're a fan of the Jolie-appeal, you should definitely check it out.
(P.S. When will bad guys learn not to kill helpless spouses? It never works in their favor.)
No show is perfect, but I think if any television show is close to
perfect, it's Burn Notice. It's a descendant of the A-Team, Mission
Impossible, MacGuyver, the Fugitive, and yet transcends its ancestors
so thoroughly as to rise to a whole new level of eff-star-star-star-ing
The show tells you its premise in the opening credits, and you can pick up any episode in any season and not be totally lost. The writers have a way of weaving the complex story into exposition dialog so seamlessly and effectively, that the actors have to do very little to make it convincing. Of course, the acting is so phenomenal that they make it totally convincing, and sometimes unnoticeable.
So what is Burn Notice? Michael Westen was a spy for the US, when for reasons unknown, he was blacklisted, or 'Burned.' He was dumped in his home town of Miami, disavowed, and alone. Somehow he managed to reconnect with his old girlfriend Fiona (An IRA guerrilla with a taste for explosives and reckless violence) and an old NAVY Seal buddy named Sam, played by Bruce Campbell in one of the best Bruce Campbell roles ever devised. While he spends his time trying to find out who burned him and get his old job back, he takes side jobs where he helps people who are in trouble, sometimes for money.
My description does this show no justice. Let me list a few things Michael Westen has done that are beyond awesome: Used spray cans and a microwave to make a quick bomb as an escape. Convinced a Bank Robber to run for his life by having Bruce Campbell convince him he was about to be killed. Super-glued a psychotic drug-lord in a drug lab in the middle of a firefight so the police could get him. While on the run, in a swamp, he set up an ambush and took out the hit squad trying to gun him down. Bullet-proofed a car with phone books. Jammed a long-range listening device with a vibrator taped to a window.
Of course, the leading lady, Fiona, played by Gabrielle Anwar, is no slouch herself. Not only can she easily and effectively match his on screen presence, sometimes she can overtake it. Not to mention, for a woman just turned 40, she's as sexy as sexy can get. Those desperate housewives, real life housewives, forget them. She blows them all away, possibly literally if she's got her sawed-off shotgun and C4. Any woman who can mix up molotov cocktails while sipping actual cocktails without batting an eye is perfect in my book.
Adding Bruce Campbell to the cast was a stroke of genius. He plays Sam Axe, a retired NAVY Seal and occasional spy who enjoys mojitos, beer, and the ladies. It's a perfect fit for Bruce. It just raises that level of awesome one more level.
Last but not least, there's Sharon Gless, who plays Michael Westen's mother. Though nagging and always disapproving, she is capable of being a formidable force herself. She was recently nominated for an Emmy for her role, and I hope she gets it. This show deserves awards. It might not be high art, but it does what it does better than anyone has ever done it before. It's intelligent, gripping, funny, serious, and such a well-rounded, well done show. I keep trying to think of criticisms, but even the things that seem like they would get annoying after a while keep getting turned and twisted in inventive ways, like the voice overs, or the names and titles of the secondary characters.
I'm very critical of a lot of things, but Burn Notice... Yes, I rate this as a perfect ten. Maybe because it's just my kind of show, but I could watch this show for days at a time and never get bored. To me, that's a perfect show. Even if you've seen it a thousand times, you still enjoy watching it, that's a perfect show.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The USA Network has long been known for putting on original series, and
you can clearly tell when they care about something and when they're
just going to toss it away. White Collar is part of their latest
attempt to join the 'Leverage' movement in making a show about
criminals who fight crime. While Leverage is a silly little show that
knows exactly what it is, White Collar has me just a bit baffled. It's
hard to tell if it's serious or not.
I watched several episodes, including the pilot, and I was angry that a lot of the things in the pilot seemed to get weeded out for the show, and then miraculously brought back at the end of the season, read; the lesbian assistant. Now I liked the concept of putting a gay woman next to the suave, blue-eyed man of mystery. It seemed like a great way to avoid the typical cliché of the thief working with a woman who eventually falls for him. Well, fear not, because the very first episode throws that cliché right in your face so gratuitously it might as well have taken off its bra. Out goes the assistant, and in comes some FBI woman with no personality who is a fan of our protagonists thief career and has a crush on him. Well, gee, I've never seen that before!
Oddly enough, they went to the trouble of throwing the cliché in and then never bothered to do anything with it. This makes me feel a little conflicted. It's almost like they were forced to listen to focus groups when writing the rest of the season, then got sick of them and tried to change the show back again.
Story-wise, the show is okay. It's not groundbreaking, but it's entertaining and not too over the top, if a little dull at times. I know there aren't going to be explosions going off constantly like on Burn Notice, and the drama is a little understated, but I guess it could be far far worse.
I guess what I'm saying is that the show is average. It's not going to win any Emmy's anytime soon, but it's something to watch in between Monk, Psych, Royal Pains, and Burn Notice. Maybe that was the idea all along.
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