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Jasper Redd: Jazz Talk (2014)
Not Ready for Prime Time, Playa
This was a tight 30 minutes stretched out to an hour. Half of the jokes are brilliant well-written observations. Half of the jokes are no more original than things you and friends might say while hanging out. He starts and ends with weak jokes but there's really funny stuff in the middle with long stretches of silence. Oddly, the audience groans at many of his jokes which led me to believe that Redd was unable to fill a theater of fans and people were pulled off the street. There are frequent cuts to audience members which are annoying because a) it's so dark that you can barely see them and b) they're not really laughing so much that a shot of them was needed. He also laughs at a lot of his own jokes which is charming once in a while but not every few minutes. The jazz motif is an odd choice as Redd seems to have no real connection to jazz. This looked like he was trying to emulate young Cosby. Seinfeld and Chappelle influences are also glaringly obvious. His delivery is so laid-back it appeared that he didn't care if his special went well or not. The only thing really original about him is his off-beat delivery. He's a good comic but if he tightens his pacing and broadens his subject matter, he could be great.
MacGyver: Trumbo's World (1985)
The opening gambit of this episode is everything "MacGyver" should be. Exciting, funny, sexy. MacGyver rescues an attractive female scientist from Basque terrorists while wearing nothing but a towel. Great fun for men and women. After that rip-roaring sequence, the episode settles for a rather dull story about killer ants eating up a jungle plantation. Sure, it's an exciting idea but it's stretched past its limit. This would have been a good 30-minute episode of "Land of the Lost".
Peter Jurasik plays MacGyver's entomologist friend. Jurasik's role in "Babylon 5" has gone down in history as one of the greatest all-time performances. But playing a poorly written character speaking even poorer dialogue, he comes across rather poorly. His death at the pincers of the ants is a welcome sight. MacGyver watches his old friend get massacred...but gets over his friend's gruesome death rather quickly in order to figure out how to kill the ants. He teams up with the plantation owner, well-played by David Ackroyd. MacGyver has a much easier chemistry with Ackroyd than he does with his "friend". Which is probably why Ackroyd was hired again to play a different character in a later episode.
This episode is also marred by obvious usage of 1950s stock footage complete with black spots and not-even-trying green screen. The plantation workers are all American Indian stereotypes (the young, noble one; the old wise one). But if they're gonna do that, why didn't they throw in a sexy squaw for MacGyver to crush on? Maybe he should have brought along the cute scientist from the opening. But what saves this episode is the last act. MacGyver's final plan is ingenious as usual and the execution of it was tense and exciting. Watch the first 15 minutes, then watch the last 15 minutes.
True Justice (2010)
Steven Seagal is Steven Seagal in Steven Seagal's True Justice
Steven Seagal had so much fun being a real fake cop on "Lawman", he became a fake fake cop on "True Justice". Steven Seagal plays Steven Seagal's version of Steven Seagal. He's the smartest guy in the room, the sexiest man in America, the best martial artist in the world. Of course, he is. He's Steven Seagal! He's a Seattle cop who talks like he's from New Orleans, looks like he's from Hollywood, and moves like he's from "Zombieland". He leads a special team called the Central Casting Squad. They look up to him for some reason while he mumbles orders at them. In his spare time, he practices waving his samurai sword around. He so respects the way of the samurai that he got his hair cut like "Samurai Jack". Every episode is written by Steven Seagal's favorite writer: Steven Seagal. Oh, and one of the squad members has a droopy eye and is played by an actor credited as "Big Sleeps". Mr. Sleeps is the third-best actor to play a droopy-eyed detective on TV. (#1 is Forest Whitaker, #2 is Droopy Dog). If you love Steven Seagal - and how could you not? - you'll love this show.
Ang Lee made me Angry. You wouldn't like me when I'm angry.
I don't remember Bruce Banner being the son of Charles Manson in the comic book. Jeez, Nick Nolte! Any emotions I was supposed to feel with their relationship was lost with Nolte's scenery chewing. I bet he still has pieces of blue screen stuck in his teeth. I have the same kind of troubled relationship with my father and I felt nothing during those scenes except embarrassment for the actors. Not only were these scenes embarrassing but also unnecessary since they weren't based on the comic.
The fact of the matter is, in a comic book movie there just has to be a great villain. It's the villain that really makes these kinds of films. The best superhero films or just action films in general always have a strong actor playing the villain. Josh Lucas is a decent actor but not very striking and his character might as well have had a black hat and handlebar mustache. But wait...Bruce Banner's biggest enemy is himself, right? Right. But we really didn't need that explained to us for 2 and 1/2 hours!
And the final chase, while it was supposed to be beautifully poetic in the Ang Lee style, with Hulk jumping across the Southwest, ended up looking ridiculous and being nonsensical and boring. I don't remember him having the ability to do that in the comic and there's not much fun in watching a solitary figure fly through the desert. This scene might not have been longer than five minutes. But it seemed like an eternity. Why not have Hulk jump to the Vegas Strip while you are it? At least that would have been visually stimulating.
On the plus side, the acting by Eric Bana, Jennnifer Connelly and Sam Elliott was excellent. Especially, Connelly making a mountain out of a molehill of an underwritten role. She really showed the pain of loving someone who is emotionally unavailable (both her father and Bruce). Bana is actually very fortunate that this movie failed because it has freed him to take on a variety of interesting roles without being typecast or contractually obligated. Welcome to Hollywood, mate. Please stay!
Ang Lee is a fantastic director. But he was the wrong man for the job. No, he didn't write the script. But his writer James Schamus added a ton of his usual flourishes to the hacky script by John Turman and Michael France, leaving the viewer with two different movies HULK SMASHED together. The comic book panel scenes were a nice touch by Lee and he made the film visually interesting overall. But a different director could have taken the script and made something exciting out of it. (Look at the other films Michael France has written for example) So "Hulk", even with the pedestrian script and weak villain, could have been a lean, mean summer popcorn flick and a perfect set-up for sequels under someone else. Too bad. My rating 6/10.