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The Shield: Streaks and Tips (2004)
Streaks and Tips
SPOILERS This is it, the climatic episode to the slow building tension between the feuding Detectives Shane and Tavon. Here's the play-by-play:
As Strike Force cohesion and effectiveness in the field are at stake, Mackey asks Tavon to "take one for the team" and be the bigger man and extend the olive branch to Shane. With a Latino Captain and a Black Police Commmissioner, Mackey recognizes the obvious placement and importance of Tavon on his team.
Its evening time Shane arrives home to see Tavon's hand on Mara's belly feeling the baby kick. She excuses herself to do the laundry so that the men can have words. The conversation starts amicably with "I think we got off on the wrong foot." However as Tavon is ready to leave Shane advises "as long as you remember your place" on the team, which to Tavon equates to "back of the bus" mentality. Shane retorts with a "I'm not losing my place in Strike Force to some darky!" The two men are now in a full out no holds barred brawl, busting through the coffee table, stereo stand, into the wall, lying on his back Shane has Tavon in a headlock, but Tavon has no choice but to bite his arm and quickly gains the upper hand leveling blows on Shane. Mara gets back and yells stop, she's ignored, she grabs the iron and one time bashes Tavon in the back of the head. It is the crippling blow. A stunned Tavon gets up and is about to attack Mara who is ready to swing her iron again. Tavon is badly hurt but decides to walk/stagger away. A crawling Shane screams get back here. This fight is over.
Tavon gets into the van and drives away. As he touches his head, which is bleeding badly, the van is swerving on the road towards oncoming traffic. His injury overcomes him and he collapses unconscious on the wheel as his van smashes full speed into a parked car.
I gotta feel for Detective Tavon who always tried to do the right thing by Mackey and the Strike Force, but truth was he was an outsider. Whether its interrupting a heated Money Train discussion, Tavon entrance to the clubhouse always stopped conversations cold, and he knew it. Conversely Shane will forever be a pitball marking his territory. And yes, in the heat of the moment things will be said that just can't be taken back and underlying racial perceptions will overpower ego which will have catastrophic results.
This episode was a powderkeg...an intense and insane explosion. And just like poor Det Ronnie Gardocki who was horribly burned in Season 2, it is Det Shane Vendrell turn to be irreparably scarred. The consequences for Shane, Mara and Mackey and the fate of Tavon are left to unfold.
6 Words: The Best Film Of The Year!
Just as the Dark Knight exploded as the ultimate adult vision of the comic-book story, Inception emerges as the sci-fi thriller masterpiece painted on the canvas of imagination.
With the astronomical expectations set by TDK, Christopher Nolan's Inception is a strong follow up that doesn't disappoint, and depending on your taste just may be a more satisfying film experience. I really shouldn't compare the two, other than they're both stem from the mind of Nolan. In the first case, avid fan appeal resides with Batman, the vigilante detective with 70 year history vs. his ultimate adversary which thanks to Nolan has finally been done right. But in the second case, the fan forum and discussion over Inception's concepts will long transcend.
**MINOR SPOILERS AHEAD** Nolan begins by introducing the concept: Inception is the ability to enter another's subconscious to introduce a thought via dream invasion. The creative possibilities are now limitless, which helps explain why it took Nolan over 10 years to get Inception onto the screen (which is probably fast considering his Batman commitments). The foundation of this multifaceted story is showcased then layered and structured so high, that it challenges the audience to keep up on its cinematic ride. I am interested to know if Nolan took inspirations from the Matrix (there are striking similarities) but in all fairness there's enough originality in Inception's own architecture and its storytelling.
Inception has a strong ensemble cast that are defined in purpose and precision. This team is effectively led in execution by Leo Dicaprio who himself delivers an intense and captivating performance. Ironic that Cillian Murphy, the former archenemy with a speciality of inflicting hallucinations, has been recast as the subject mind to infiltrate (I digress but is a monstrous grotesque Batman the only think that would lurk in the recesses of the Scarecrow's twisted mind?). I won't spoil plot points and character development further, as your first viewing should be largely untainted (other than reading favourable reviews) which will hopefully prove to be ultimately rewarding. And yes, Inception is one of those rare films that must be experienced again.
Over the years, Christopher's Nolan has earned the trust of fans with his continued command as a cinematic visionary no matter the subject matter. IMO I liken his film's success to Pixar's track record of "knocking it out of the park" with its original features and sequels. But in Nolan's case, consistently amusing and entertaining adults is arguably the more challenging and difficult task of the two.
Iron Man 2 (2010)
Get Ready North America Because IM2 Rocks!!
Are you awaiting a review from a Canadian avid comicbook fan? I caught an advanced screening and Fans, SHELLHEAD returns with a Fury (bad pun)!
If you can forgive some of the creative liberties Favreau and Theroux have taken with Marvel property, then you may agree that IM2 has met and in ways exceeded No 1. While some reviewers lambasted the dialogue and pace, this reviewer welcomes this Popcorn Recipe: its a (familiar) solid blend of humorous banter, intense action sequences, and character development of heroes & villain who are morally conflicted in the face of adversity.
New characters: The story picks up from Col. Nick's infamous visit/request at Stark mansion, to witness an angry Russian physicist Ivan Vanko who plots revenge in the name of his birthright. Rourke even brings a little swagger from his Randy the Wrestler persona and presents a formidable and deadly foe.
Hammer the rival arms and munitions dealer is ever bit the wormy snide opportunist that only Rockwell can deliver.
And you just can't take your eyes off of Rushman aka Romanov aka Black Widow who steals the scenes as the sexy legal PA and a SHIELD operative you don't want to mess with (or maybe you do). Those martial arts lessons paid off Scarlett I'm both impressed and turned on.
Old Friends: From Pepper's reining in her newly appointed duties, to Hogan flexing some bodyguard muscle, to Agent Coulson the patriotic SHIELD journeyman, to Jarvis the omnipresent companion, to Fury continuing his Project Avenger recruitment, and to Rhodey finally seizing his opportunity to arm the big guns of War Machine, the cast of IM are back and larger than ever. Paltrow, Favreau, Gregg, Bettany, Jackson and NKOTB Chedle all excel with substantially stronger material for their key supporting roles.
If RDJ first turn as Stark was a home run, then his return is a bottom of the 9th slam. RDJ further tailors the role he was born to play by showcasing the billionaire playboy as an egomaniac genius, a megalomanical god, a self destructive narcissistic, to finally a superhero reborn. From that moment Stark declares his alter ego thereby accepting the weight of accountability and responsibility, finding his balance when everybody wants a piece of the action cannot be easy. Its no small wonder that the comicbook storyline Demon in the Bottle is explored here. Ultimately, discovering his legacy will illuminate the answers.
IM2 has succeeded by expanding the "bigger universe" and paved the way for continuing Marvel chapters namely Thor, Captain America towards an epic culmination of Earth's Mightiest Heroes.
Welcome to Summer 2010 First Blockbuster. And you already know to stay past the closing credits.
Terminator Salvation (2009)
Welcome to the Salvation
With the unmistakable collision of metal, the barrage of artillery and ordinance, the scorched temperature of engines, the burning stench of gasoline and rotting corpses, and the precisioned whirling of mechanized parts...the Machines have returned (cue Terminator Drums).
It is 2018 and the land lays waste from the nuclear toll of Judgment Day...mankind's legacy. But amidst these ruins are the hubs of Skynet assemblers and hunter killers vs. the pockets of Resistance tacticians and strategists.
The New Machines T800, Harvester, Aerstat, Hydrorobot, MotoTerminator and the familiar HK are varied in their capabilities and arsenal but all programmed towards the collection and eradication of humans.
On land, sea and air the Resistance is well armed with conventional weapons. Although they are seemingly fragmented and scattered, they are committed, organized and held together by the band-aid transmissions of Radio Free Resistance. Huddling around the warmth of burning drums and radio broadcasts, the freedom fighters listen to the messages of hope and guidance which strengthen their resolve.
Over the years we've endured the rambunctious growth of the juveniles Furlong and Stahl but now is the time of the prophet warrior. From the wired intensity of Christian Bale's performance as John Connor one can appreciate he's acting on an adrenaline edge, and just a hair trigger away from his infamous off-screen tirade. If Jackman's method of preparation was a cold shower, then Bale must have submerged in the ice of an adamantium pool (my bad). Nevertheless as the Leader of the Resistance, Bale/Connor preaches the anthem and might of the indomitable human spirit.
The secondary players hit their mark strong. On his quest towards the Resistance is the nomadic enigma Marcus Wright (Sam Worthington). Along the way he encounters a brash and young Kyle Reese (Anton Yelchin) of the LA Resistance Branch. Decent supporting performances also by Common, Bryce Dallas Howard, Helena Bonham Carter and Moon Bloodgood. But I could have done without Michael Ironside, like the 80s relic mad dog Richter, barking out his unheeded commands.
The action and chase sequences are frantic and visceral as the carnage ensues. The special effects of the unrelenting and menacing Terminators were amped up to both impress and frighten. We've all seen many action scenes of this genre before. But McG's culls the best together painted with a fresh coat of metallic vs. flesh, cold steel vs hope and desperation. His film respectfully pays dues to its iconic origins with familiar soundbites, albeit too cute, but the fans roared its approval. Since Cameron's groundbreaking T & T2, we have waited long to witness this story of the apocalyptic battleground for man's survival.
Kudos to McG, Bale and Co for finally delivering Salvation and this vision.
Note: IMO negative reviews compare too much with predecessors or genre bests. Surely The Road Warrior (great film) did not invent the car chase scene. Nevertheless Terminator Salvation faithfully supports the core franchise's arcing story and timeline.
The Dark Knight (2008)
Raison d'etre...just want to watch the world burn.
Heath Ledger's edgy portrayal of the Joker is a frightening and macabre vision of the Clown Prince of Crime.
Sure his costume is the right colours, but shades of purple and green have never looked so muted like he's been dragged through the filth of alleys and gutters. His makeup is a halloween gone wrong: applied blood red over torture scars, smudged & cracked white wash, blacken sharks eyes of death, capped by a entangled toxic green weave of hair. While his lip smacks and tongue snakes, his many quotable psycho babble tirades on chaos and madness had this preview screening audience in silent shock and awe. As fans, we wait to finally hear the Joker's maniacal laughter...we are rewarded. But it is a chilling laugh that plays on our nerves with a subliminal shrilling echo that will haunt us long after the film. His facial twitches and deliberate gestures work to induce a hypnotic and mesmerizing hold on Gotham/audience. His weapon of choice (not the lint or veg peeler) is the knife, for both it's ability to inflict a visceral cold kill and likely because it was an instrument of his own twisted grinning origin. The lack of origin story is also effective as an open book for the imagination. The hand held cam scenes of Joker 1st POV filming his prey and the off cam torture is a stark reminder of the realty of terrorist footage. From the sick punch line of his disappearing pen trick to becoming a masochistic punching bag for The Batman, Joker can certainly dish out as well as he gets.
The Joker casts pure fear into the minds of Gotham by testing the citizens beliefs and moral lines of good and evil. This Mad Dog of Chaos thrives in a world without rules, where even the Good of Gotham can succumb to corruption and conflict. Hence his handiwork in the transformation of Gotham's White Knight to Harvey Two Face Dent.
The eerie background "music" is like a deaf tone barbed-wire noise that rings through Gotham's cityscapes as a harbinger of the Joker's evil to come.
In all fairness Ledger cannot be compared to Nicholson. Its Apples and Oranges. Burton's 80's film delivered a comic book to screen, thug turned clown which was hammed up with the flair and suave that's stamped with Jack's vintage trademark. Ledger has redefined the role and delivered a nightmare Monster that won't let you awake or escape. All truly memorable screen villains are able to forever get into the mind of the protagonist and audience. It is with this performance that Ledger/Joker joins the ranks of the top three cerebral cinematic killers, namely Hopkins/Lecter, Spacey/Doe.
This is a tour de force Oscar worthy performance that lives up to the hype (rare thing) and even raises the bar (even rarer). So kudos to Ledger/Nolan and TDK Team for unleashing the perfect villain for The Batman. And remember, the next time you're playing a card game your hand may come up with the Joker's signature calling card. RIP HL.
Iron Man (2008)
Shellhead is Summer's First Blockbuster
Attended an special advanced screening last night. This Movie Rocks! Kudos to Jon Favreau and company for Iron Man! IMO, JF joins Singer and Raimi in the top 3 pantheon of Superhero Directors.
The casting is so MONEY! Stark the Playboy/Iron Man the Avenger is a tailor-made role for RDJ...welcome back and enjoy the Cristal. Supporting actors/actresses all portrayed well too. LOL Bridges' Neidermayer scene wailing on poor engineer who's no Tony Stark (is that a pledge pin on your uniform?)
This movie has the perfect balance of humour, action, story, character development, but what steals the show is Mark 3, 2, 1. Even though we've all seen numerous trailers and spoilers (can't avert our eyes), seeing Shellhead finally assembled before our eyes on the Big Screen is a MARVEL! Mark 3 is everybit the kickass Avenging arsenal that die hard truebelieving Marvel comic fans have long waited for.
It would have been good to see a classic comic supervillain, aka Mandarin, instead of a power hungry Obadiah Stane in his corporate takeover bid. It also would have been interesting to explore Stark the alcoholic, but again this impacts the movie flow/mood/tone.
Nevertheless don't wait for DVD, get in your "FunVee", see it on the Big Screen and get ready to be blown away!
JF/RDJ Green Light for Iron Man 2!
10,000 BC (2008)
Went to a preview screening last night. Thankfully I did not have to pay for this one, but had to endure it. Yup, the negative reviews are right on the money. This movie is plagued by weak dialogue ("we are tired, we sleep here?") weaker characters (laughable old mother, Diva Plavalaguna ripoff...aww c'mon get real), and the weakest most predictable story (recycled from vastly superior Apocalypto, Mel should get a cut or an apology).
The SP effects were inconsistent, needed more sabertooth (or even more "cowbell" for that matter...see how crazy this movie has made me) and what was with those laughable attack chickens (again another apology owed this time to Ice Age).
Heck, even when D'Leh makes his big Leader speech to the tribes before the final battle, didn't we already see this scene in 1996 with President Whitmore declaring our Independence Day? Want more ripoffs...how about King Leonidas spear throw on Xeres? Seen it, seen it, seen it!!!
Maybe Roland was paying tribute to the genre, but I seriously doubt it. Makes us miss Astronaut Taylor & Nova, heck even Beastmaster Dar & Kiri all did it so much better.
Anyway the 1 star is for Evolet for teasing us throughout.
After 2 hours the audience was groaning having endured 10000 clichés.
And if you're thinking about waiting for the DVD, save your hard earned money because nothing can save this Mammoth Razzie!
Hot Fuzz (2007)
I finally saw Hot Fuzz yesterday.
As the HF filmmakers want to point out "from the guys who created Shaun of the Dead", audiences and critics will naturally compare and critique against the success of SOTD. I love SOTD, preach and advocate it, and often carry a copy (to lend to others who haven't seen it of course). As a fan I had high expectations for Fuzz, maybe too high as Fuzz misses the bar. Reasons: the Fuzz homage seemed more like a tribute/reunion to SOTD than to the police/buddy cop genre (unsure why gore needs to be in a comedy cop movie...unnecessary excess), too many characters that weren't that interesting, weak storyline, the overall pacing was too slow, to the point that even the few funny parts wheren't all that funny (I found myself hoping that Simon/Nick would get funnier), and the big climatic gunfight was pure fromage.
It was interesting that "the guys who created SOTD" chose to reference Point Break and Bad Boys 2. Royalties...hmm? Nevertheless the references were so played up that the upcoming scenes became predictable (keanu shooting/emptying his gun in the air when he couldn't fire on fleeing swayze...actually watching Nick in this scene was kinda funny).
I wanted to like Fuzz and although it was good to see the chemistry of Simon and Nick together again on the big screen, that only gets you a 5 rating. Disappointing boyz.
Little Miss Sunshine (2006)
don't believe the hype
Finally got around seeing lms, and i'm glad i didn't pay for it. this movie did not live up to the tremendous hype and left me wondering if i saw the same movie as the rest of you who seem to think this is an 8? wtf? imo the story wasn't interesting, the acting was average, the casting was a selection of who can we get to do a cheap indie film. but the kicker was seeing the routine that sicko grandpa taught innocent olive as her talent competition. a final laugh at life from the grave. if he wasn't dead he should be locked up. horrific its not comedy folks. although it was nice of her family to stick up for her, the subject matter was very inappropriate, as the only audience applause came from the av guy and the biker. was not impressed.
Masters of Horror (2005)
Imprint Review **SPOILER alert**
Finally picked up the "Banned from Broadcast" DVD. As a Miike & genre fan, I have some mixed feeling about Imprint: THE GOOD: Miike gives his fans an equally horrific needle torture scene a la Audition. On top of that he throws in some taboo abortion with floating fetus scenes. I know, sick stuff. The cinematography and colour Red were strong and equally memorable. Also the prostitute castings were great. THE BAD: Billy Drago, yeah he looked the part, but his acting is something to be desired. Some of his lines and delivery were pure fromage. I understand the creative reasonings behind having the dialogue in English, but I think it should have been shot in Japanese, with Billy struggling in English and basic Japanese. THE UGLY: I get the whole brother sister inbred produced the deformed daughter(s) thing, but a hand with a talking little face coming out of the head, c'mon now, that looked really lame. (Reminded me of curling your index finger around your thumb, drawing little eyes on the top and making your hand speak). Lame! THE FUNNY: Anyone else thought the Japanes brothel midget looked like DeepRoy from Charlie & the Chocolate Factory? Overall its a mixed bag with obvious strengths and weaknesses, I generously rate this one a 7. But essential viewing for Miike and MOH fans with a strong intestinal fortitude.