Thursday, December 31, 2009
Better late than never. Here's by belated Christmas present to the viewers: a special review of Beauty & the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas.
Monday, December 21, 2009
Sunday, December 20, 2009
And furthermore...The more I think about this movie, the more I hate it. They couldn't settle for beating us over the head with environmental propaganda, but they even throw in a rant against the War on Terror. They might as well have had the words "all white people are evil" omnipresent of the screen.
By the way, is the actual name of the mineral they're mining for unobtainium? Are you fucking kidding me? I thought at first that they were joking and would mention the real name later, but NO!! As if Pandora wasn't a lousy enough name for the planet itself. And how the fucking hell were the Na'vi communicating in the battlefield? They just squeezed their throats a little, and it worked exactly like a walkie-talkie! Explanations, movie!! We need to know these things!! Honestly, when Sigourney Weaver hit us us with the bullshit about how everything on the planet is connected, the movie's mail order "corporate asshole" took the words right out of my mouth: "What have you people been smoking!?"
And the real tragedy of it is that it truly is massive waste of truly groundbreaking technology. I think is speaks volume that the best actor in the movie is Zoe Saldana, whose character is entirely animated. I've honestly never seen animated characters so realistic and expressive, and it breaks my heart that there were no three dimensional, well developed characters behind said faces.
EDIT: Also, the longer I think, the more I realize that this technology really isn't that groundbreaking. Sure it was more realistic looking, but not that much. CGI technology has been steadily improving over the years, and this is really nothing more than another small micro-step, not a game-changing leap forward. It's still not seamless, and it still can't fully replace real-life actors, concrete matter, and practical effects. Pixar mastered the art of making animated characters believable & expressive over ten years ago, without the aid of a real actors face as a model. So really, even the special effects don't stand out that much.
Monday, December 14, 2009
Friday, December 4, 2009
To start off this series, I'm gonna go with a movie I already love, I just wish it was a genuinely good movie and not just a guilty pleasure: Judge Dredd
What to Keep: First off, the casting of the title character was absolutely perfect. Sylvester Stallone is Judge Joseph Dredd. I honestly cannot picture anyone else in the role. I've never actually read the 2000 AD comics myself, but based on the research I've done, the character is actually supposed to be a loud, over-the-top caricature. I means just look at him:
Who else but stallone could pull of a character that looks like that and still be badass? Well, maybe Jason Statham if you must recast.
Another thing that was fine was the costume & set design. Well, for the most part, but we'll get to that is a minute.
What to Change: First let's find a new director, and man is this a no-brainer: Paul Verhoeven. It could not be more perfect. Judge Dredd would clearly work best as a kind of Starship Troopers/RoboCop style dark political satire, So who better than the man who directed both of those movies? He could make it not only entertaining as hell, but socially relevant at the same time.
Now let's recast. No disrespect to Max von Sydow, but I have a hard time picture Sly Stallone growing into a Swedish Shakespearean. Sure, the movie danced around the idea the Dredd was Fargo's clone by never actually calling him a clone, but still, lets keep this within the realm of possibility, shall we? My personal vote goes to Ian McShane. Seriously, how glorious would that be?
For Judge Hershey, I guess I'll go with Lena Headey, make her a household name before 300. If you made the movie now instead of in 1995 however, I'd totally get Eliza Dushku. Yeah sorry, Whedon nerd. And for the part of Fergee, we'll get Martin Lawrence, in order to make the character even more annoying and unfunny. PSYCHE, I jest of course, let's hire Brad Pitt. You'll see why in a minute (think 12 Monkeys Brad Pitt). Most other major characters from the original movie won't be appearing in my version, so onto the plot.
The plot for the original movie was loosely based on a story arc from the comics called "The Day the Law Died!". And as with most adaptions, the solution is more adherence to the source material. This means Rico is completely removed from the equation and Judge Cal takes his place as the new Big Bad. Armand Assante could take that role too I guess, but for some reason I keep picturing James Woods in the role (or since Cal is based on the roman emperor Caligula, cast Caligula himself: Malcolm McDowell). Cal is a member of the Council of Five, and like Judge Griffin in the film, desires to dethrone Chief Judge Fargo and rule Mega City One. Unlike Griffin but very much like Rico however, he is completely bat-shit insane. So there's room aplenty for hilarious scenery chewing.
Like in the comic books, Judge Dredd is one of several clones of Fargo, a fact that is public knowledge. Fargo is currently experiencing doubts about the Judge system, wondering if justice is world the price of freedom. He voices these doubts to Dredd, who barely even understands what he means. The law is all he knows.
Judge Cal then makes his move. He assassinates Fargo, frames Dredd for it, and assumes the office of Chief Judge. He then appoints his pet goldfish as Deputy Chief, why not? He begins a reign of terror, brainwashing all the Judges and executing anyone who speaks against him.
Dredd manages to escape imprisonment with Hershey's help and, now a wanted fugitive, goes underground. He finds a large group of impoverished citizens would fled Cal's tyranny, living in Undercity, led by street thief Fergee, who'd been arrested by Dredd more than a few times. Dredd tries to organize a citizens revolt against Cal, but finds that they all think of him as just as much of a dictator as Cal, seeing little difference between the Judges' police state and outright enslavement.
Dredd And Hershey recruit what Judges they can, including council member Judge Griffin who escaped being brainwashed, gather was citizens are willing to follow them, and launch an assault on the Grand Hall of Justice. However, the are ambushed by the Kleggs, alien mercenaries hired by Cal. The survivors escape back to Undercity, spirits broken. In order to win back the peoples confidence, Dredd and Hershey start taking out Klegg patrols guerrilla style, slowly frustrating Cal's regime. Cal grows increasing insane, and is tormented by nightmares of Dredd, causing him to tighten his grip on the city, executing innocents on whims, sealing of the city, and outlawing everything that could bring joy, burning luxury items in the street.
Eventually life is made completely intolerable for the people of Mega City One, and the rally behind Dredd, though more out of hatred for Cal that actually trust in Dredd. Panicking, Cal sentences the entire population to death, activating a Doomsday measure that floods the entire city in poisonous gas within hours. Dredd and his army attack, finally defeat at kill Cal, and shut off the gas, but not before it's killed a good tenth of the city.
Judge Dredd is offered the vacant seat of Chief Judge, but refuses, as the death of Fargo and the citizens mistrust of him have led him to reconsider his entire belief system. He finally understands what Fargo was trying to say, but is too devoted to the law to actually consider quitting. He elects Griffin as the new Chief Judge and elects to take the Long Walk in order to reaffirm his faith in law and order.
But we're not done there. We're gonna make this sucker a trilogy, baby. We can follow it up with Judge Dredd 2: Dark Judgement, in which Dredd comes out of retirement to save Mega City One from Judge Death and the Dark Judges. And for the grand finale, Judge Dredd 3: Apocalypse War, based on, of course, the Apocalpyse War storyline, in which Mega City One wages nuclear war against their Soviet counterpart, East Meg One. And as the main villain Sov Judge Orlock, we could cast...wait for it...Dolph Lundgren! Yes, it's Rocky vs. Drago once again, only with really big guns! Just tell me you don't want to see that!
Monday, November 30, 2009
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Saturday, November 21, 2009
Sunday, November 8, 2009
Visit Cin's website at CinfulCritiques.blogspot.com for music reviews and more!
Sunday, November 1, 2009
Monday, October 26, 2009
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Click here to buy The Tournament on DVD.
Sunday, October 4, 2009
Yeah, I know, right? How dare I say that there might be a comic book villain out there better than the Clown Prince of Crime! Especially after the glowing review I gave The Dark Knight (admittedly not the most analytical review I've ever written). And I'm not just talking about the Heath Ledger Joker, I'm talking about the Joker in general, from the comics to the small screen to the big screen. Don't get me wrong, I love a little clown on bat action as much as the next comic book nerd, but that doesn't change how I feel. The Joker is overrated. How so? Here so:
Ask almost comic book fan, hell anyone who saw The Dark Knight, who their favorite supervillain is, they will almost always answer The Joker. But there's a followup question no one ever seems to ask: Which one? And I don't mean which actor, I mean which Joker. Because there's been like six of 'em. Unlike Batman, who remained fundamentally unchanged over the years, the Joker becomes a completely different character every time he switches hands. While the tone of Batman's universe has ranged from dark to light to outright parody, the idea of Batman has always been the same: he fights crime to avenge the death of his parents. The Joker has no such consistency. And by that I don't mean they change his origins, I mean the Joker's character has no one established set of motivations.
Every writer has a different take on him, a different reason why he does what he does. Some say he's an anarchist who believes life itself is one big joke. Some say he's a failed comedian psychotically obsessed with making people laugh. Some say he believed insanity is the cure for misery and wants to make everybody "happy". And no, I don't buy that it's just part of the insanity of his character, that he reinvents himself constantly. That's just an excuse, and I'm not falling for it.
But which is the real Joker? You see the problem here? Saying the Joker is the greatest supervillain ever is a really unspecific statement. There's more than one Joker to pick from. I'm not saying they aren't all great villains on their own, I'm just saying they're not all one character, not by a long shot.
So in my mind, the Joker comes short of the title for supreme comic book baddie. So who do I think is the ultimate comic book villain? Lex Luthor? Doctor Doom? Galactus? Nope, nope, and yeah, right. The award for greatest comic book supervillain of all time goes to (drum roll, please)...Darkseid!
They don't get much more badass than Darkseid. In fact, they don't get anymore badass than him. If Colonel Kurtz from Apocalypse Now was an alien despot, he'd pretty much be this motherfucker, right here. Like many people my age, I was first introduced to the Lord of Apokolips through Superman: The Animated Series, and later Justice League. But as cool as he was then, what made him truly awesome was what I learned about him once I actually got into comics...like what the hell the Anti-Life Equation was.
There are many things that make Darkseid the supreme bad guy. One of them is his supreme arrogance. He regards everyone else, even Superman himself, as little more than insects. And sure, most villains have a big ego, but he actually has the muscle to back it up. Not only can his Omega Beams he shoots from his eyes completely erase you from existence, but they even turn corners! I know that seems like a small thing, but think about this. He doesn't even have to look at you to kill you! He doesn't think enough of you to give you a second glance. Even the Joker will give you the courtesy of looking at you when he kills you.
But I think that one thing about Darkseid stands out more than any other: Most supervillains want to conquer the universe, and most of them follow the same old schtick: kill the hero, build an army, take over the world. Yawn. But what is Darkseid's master plan? To mathematically prove the futility of life thereby destroying all hope in the universe leaving people with no choice but to submit to him. Ho-lee shit. Any dumbass can say they want to conquer your planet. But not even Galactus can say he wants to systematically destroy your every last hope and dominate you mind, body, and soul. He doesn't force you to serve him, he convinces you to serve him. Because hey, your life's pointless so why put up a fight? Darkseid's goal in life is to show everyone that resistance really is futile. Suck on that, Borg!
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
WARNING: This is an uncut, bitter rant recorded in the heat of the moment. Therefore it can get very personal and tactless. So unless your very thick-skinned you may be offended by some of what is said.
Sunday, September 6, 2009
Friday, July 24, 2009
The Pros: As much as I joked about the plot's similarities to Training Day, in no way to I consider this a ripoff. But despite the title, this film is not a origin story. In fact, his origin is over and done with within the first five minutes before the credits even role. This is not a bad thing, however, in fact, since his origin is covered in detail is Justice League: The New Frontier, you could very easily consider this a spin-off of that film. This film is basically like the second half of your average superhero film. Most superhero films spend the first half introducing the character and then transforming him into a superhero, then he usual meets his villain and has his first adventure as a superhero in the second half.
One of the best aspects of this film is the animation. Bruce Timm & Company have always been superior animators, but this is some of their best work ever. The explosions are beautifully realistic, and nowhere will you see better space battles involving no space ships. The redesigns on the characters are great too, particularly on Sinestro and Kilowog, who always looks somewhat ridiculous in the comics. Incidentally, Michael Madsen as Kilowog = AWESOME!!
The Cons: There seems to be an unwritten law that all Direct-to DVD animated features can be no longer than 80 minutes in length. It's a law that needs to be done away with because it's been seriously affecting the quality of these otherwise stellar DC animated films. Justice League: The New Frontier and Wonder Woman in particular suffered greatly because of their short running times. They simply leave too little time for real character development, and often the plots feel rushed.
It's my understanding that fans intially disliked the character of Hal Jordan when he first appeared in 1959. He was thought of a a bit of a stiffneck, with no real characteristics to distiguish him personality-wise. However, the more recent portrayals of Hal Jordan particularly is Darwyn Cooke's excellent graphic novel DC: The New Frontier, Hal is portrayed as someone more akin to Marverick from Top Gun, the hotshot pilot with a devilmaycare attitude. And while that is ostensibly the Hal Jordan portrayed here, the film rushes by so fast you barely get even a sense of that.
Hal doesn't even seem have time to react with suprise and awe to any of the fantastic events happening to him out of the blue. I don't know about you, but if I were suddenly recruited into an alien police force, I'd proabaly start babbling like an idiot. But Hal just takes it all in a stride. It would've also been nice to see Hal actually learning to use the ring. One of the best parts of the Iron Man film for me was the bits with Tony Stark getting the hang of his armor. Here, Hal pretty much masters the ring either instantly, or offscreen, either wat depriving us of some great comedic moments.
The Rest: Not that I'm complaining, but this film was way, way more violent than I was expecting. Superman: Doomsday wasn't as brutal as this. Blood is spilt almost literally every other scene. In fact, if not for the fact that most of it is alien and therefore not red, this film might've very well received a R rating. And not all of it isn't red. There's on seen where character is impaled and covered in his/her (no spoilers!) own very red blood.
The End: Overall, this is fairly average work for Bruce Timm. Of course even mediocre Bruce Timm is lightyears beyond most people. I would however reccomend watching this back to back with Justice League: The New Frontier, to really get the full Hal Jordan experience.
Overall, I give Green Lantern: First Flight a Silver Anarchy Coin.
Click here to visit the official website for Green Lantern: First Flight.
Thursday, July 23, 2009
Evil is on the loose, the forces of darkness are attacking both the magical and human worlds, and the most dangerous wizard of all time is gearing up to destroy the world. So naturally, the most important thing in the world right now is to get Ron and Hermione together. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is the 6th installment in the film franchise based on the much beloved book by J. K. Rowling. It is Harry Potter's (Daniel Radcliffe) 6th year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The truth of Voldemort's return has finally been exposed, dark wizards are not only openly attacking the magic world, but the muggle world as well, and Harry seems to be the only hope of preventing the Dark Lord's victory. Oh well, back to school. Severus Snape (Alan Rickman) has finally aquired his dream job as the Defense against the Dark Arts professor (which explains why we never see him teach a single class or even discuss this fact beyond mentioning it is passing once), and a new professor named Horace Slughorn (Jim Broadbent) has taken over the potions class. Harry's new potions textbook is mysteriously marked "Property of the Half-Blood Prince", and is filled with notes and corrections that allow Harry to excell in the class. On a completely unrelated but far more interesting note, Harry and Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) go investigating Voldemort's past, Draco (Tom Felton) is dragged into a plot to kill Dumbledore, and all the kids start hooking up (OK, not so interesting).
The Pros: There's not denying that the Potter books were very well written. I'm not actually finished with them myself (I've only read the first three), but no who has read any of them can deny that author J. K. Rowling possesses a talent for sucking her audience into the story from page one. It's virtually impossible to be bored reading her work, even if you're not a habitual reader.
But the Harry Potter books are more that simply great stories, they are coming-of-age stories, and some of the best ever written. You could literally give a kid one book a year starting at age eleven. Kids decades from now might very well be growing up on these books and maybe even the films as well.
The Cons: Admittedly, I'm not the biggest fan of the Harry Potter mythos. I grew up on The Chronicles of Narnia books, so that's always been by fantasy franchise of choice. So maybe it's just that I'm growing tired of the films, but this one came across to me as boring. Really boring. I even considered giving it a re-watch just to make sure it wasn't just me (and I probably will eventually, with lowered expectations), but I honestly don't think it will do much good.
This film is the first real wake up call to the fact that the Harry Potter books are very difficult to film, maybe even unfilmable is some cases. And I'm not saying that because they're some kind of sacred cows that can never be done justice, I'm saying that because they're simply to long to be put on film with proper coherance. There's simply too much that has to be lost for time reasons. And I hate to have to say that because the films thus far have been extraordinarily faithful to the books, which is a rare thing. For example, I understand the plot element the title derives it's name from is vitally important to the plot in the book, but whatever it did lend to the overall story has apparantly but cut from the film, which already has a very long running time, to long to not have an intermission.
Another thing that bothered me was that the most interesting characters were really pushed into the background. I know I'll take hate for saying this, but the three main characters (Harry, Ron & Hermione) are actually the least interesting of the cast. Harry is a passive blank slate for the other characters to mold and use as they please, Hermione is an unlikable know-it-all bitch, and Ron, well, is just a dork. In fact, when it comes to the kids, my three favorite characters are Luna Lovegood (because she reminds me of River Tam), Neville Longbottom (because he reminds me of Samwise Gamgee), and, believe it or not, Draco Malfoy. Yeah, I know, but as much of a asshole as he is, you have to admit he has far more dimensions to his character that Harry ever had. Not that you could tell that at first. In the first film he was just the stereotypical snobby rich kid. But as early as the second film we started to see that there was indeed a real reason for his behavior. I mean, think about it: His dad, who abuses him, essentially works for the devil! That'd screw anyone up. Harry's aunt & uncle are mean, sure, but they're nothing next to Lucius Malfoy (by-the-by, it's pretty telling of Harry's character that after witnessing Draco's plight multiple times, he still has zero sympathy for him).
Once again, I haven't read the book, but everyone who has tells me that there's supposed to be a huge battle scene in the school at the end, a battle that was despertely needed but left out for some reason. It's honestly hard to believe that this is supposed to be the follow-up to Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, which had some of the most spectacular battles in film history. But this really killed the momentum of the series.
The End: I think I can safely say that this is the second worst of the Potter films, with Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets retaining the award for worst. Chamber of Secrets was a boring retread of the first film and a completely pointless addition to the story. Half-Blood Prince is certainly boring, but it's certainly not pointless, nor a complete retread. It's more like a less entertaining version of Order of the Phoenix. Of course, even the worst of the Potter films are still good films, but they're still disappointing by this series' standerds. All I can say is that they picked a hell of a time to break the pace with the saga nearing it's climax. If they do make Deathly Hallows into two films, they better step it up.
Overall, I give Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince the Bronze Anarchy Coin.
Click here to visit the official website for Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince.
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Monday, June 29, 2009
Courtesy of: ScarletVulture on deviantART
Yes, I'm still pissed about the Wolverine movie. But revenge his good for the soul. If your soul is a twisted black void of despair like mine. Anyway, gaze upon the glorious retrubution wrought on Baraka-Pool by the true Deadpool, with a little help from a very talented fan.
The Pros: After doing my research on this film, I'm not sure I fully understand it as well as I thought I did upon first viewing. The tagline "Anything that makes people happy can't be bad, can it?" led to to believe it was an anti-fascism statement, and seeing the film itself only served to reinforce that. As I said before "People see fascism as the stereotypical black clad stormtroopers policing the streets and herding helpless civilians like they were cattle, like we've seen in the movies. Fascism is an attractive thing. It promises us peace, and for some it delivers. That's why it's so dangerous. If it looked like Darth Vader, who would go for it?"
However, the people who were involved in the making of this film have lead me to consider that I may be misinterpreting the films intentions. Viggo Mortensen is an outspoken liberal, and C. P. Taylor was a known socialist who often drew from that when writing his plays. I find in hard to believe that he would right a story that condemns his own personal beliefs, as this film seems too.
But regardless of what it's message is, Good is still very, well good (sorry, I had to make that joke). Viggo Mortensen and Jason Isaacs are excellent as usual. You can truly feel the emotional conflict within Halder, and we understand him enough so that we don't completely hate him when he chickens out and joins the dark side. Jason Isaacs character by be rather unforgiving an dogmatic at times, but he's still admirable, and he truly want him to escape an survive. We simpathize with his plight and his determination not to be driven from him home. And the ending is truly haunting. However you chose to interpret this film, it will be forever burned in your memory.
The Cons: This film definitely has is pacing problems. Having Viggo in virtually every scene helps, but there's no denying that there are more than a few scenes a story elements that felt unnecessary to the main plot. This is especially clear in the final scene, where the film just sort of stutters and dies instead of simply ending. It feels like the movie is already over, and the characters are just wandering around waiting for the credits to role.
The End: Admittedly, this movie wasn't quite as good as I imagined but still a well made film, and certainly deserving of more attention than it got. To me, any film that gets you to think is a success, especially in the film industry today.
Overall, I give Good a Silver Anarchy Coin.
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
This was my first attempt at deconstructing a popular film, one that in hindsight I'm not terribly proud of. The standard formula of making snarky comments whilst summarizing the plot just isn't the proper context for presenting my arguments.
The more recent review of "The Usual Suspects" was essentially a reboot of the Lunatic Fringe show concept, using a more analytical and less comedy-oriented format. I intend to eventually redo this review in that format.
So for anyone who has never seen this before, please take this review which a grain of salt, because frankly, it's not very good.
Watch the commentary for this episode here.
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
Friday, June 5, 2009
Thursday, June 4, 2009
Monday, May 25, 2009
EDIT: The name "Rogue Reviews" has once again been changed, this time to "The Lunatic Fringe".
NOTE TO MY YOUTUBE SUBSCRIBERS: One change not mentioned in the video it that from now on I will be posting videos on youtube less and less. I will instead be uploading them onto Blip.tv and posting them here, on my blog. My youtube channel will be used primarily to post video trailers and notices as too when my reviews will be available. This change is being made for four reasons: 1) Youtube's video runningtime restrictions hinder me, 2) This way, there is less of a chance of false copyright claims, 3) The advertising revenue offered by Blip.tv will help fund my reviews, and 4) It is my long term goal to be a video reviewer on ThatGuyWithTheGlasses.com, and Blip.tv is their standard video format. If any of you are regular viewers of TGWTG.com, I urge you to visit their forum, where I regularly post my reviews is hopes of being recruited.
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
Saturday, May 9, 2009
Oh, come on! It's a Matthew McConaughey movie called "The Ghosts of Girlfriends Past"! It can't possibly by any good, right? Wait, it can? Whoa, didn't see that one coming. It's clear from the title that this is one of many, many, many films to steal, uh, I mean borrow the plot line from the Dickens classic. So you pretty much can guess the plot, "Don't tell me: McConaughey plays some douche bag playboy womanizer who doesn't respect women and doesn't believe in love or marriage, but his still secretly loves Jennifer Garner but he won't admit it, so three ghosts of his old girlfriends show up to make him reexamine his life, right?" Yup, that's pretty much it. Throw in his brother's wedding & Jacob Marley's stand in (Michael Douglas) in the form of his dead playboy uncle and that's more or less your plot.
The Pros: Um, you know what, I think we're better off doing the cons first this time.
The Cons: What, were you expecting cinematic excellent from a McConaughey film? You are a sad, strange little man. Anyway, this movie is many things but one thing it is not is unpredictable. Not that I was expecting it to be, I mean just the title is a warning that the story is as old as...well, Dickens. But still that does not excuse it. There's nothing that says they have to follow the plot scene for scene. It would've been great to see them shake things up a little, maybe make a romantic comedy without a happy ending for once. Well, I can dream can't I? CAN'T I?!
The writing is tolerable...at least half the time. The other half makes you want to bang your head against something very hard, or shoot yourself in the head with adamantium amnesia bullets, anything to erase the memory of what you just saw. For one thing, the logic behind the whole ghost thing is flimsy at best. None of them are actually ghost because they're not actually dead. At least the Ghost of Girlfriends Present (Noureen DeWulf) isn't, not to mention it's never explained whether she actually knows she's having this out-of-body experience in her normal life. Uncle Wayne (Jacob Marley stand in) is but with the Ghost of Girlfriends Past (Emma Stone) it's unclear. And the Ghost of Girlfriends Future (Amanda Walsh), well, doesn't seem to be anyone in particular, just the White Witch's less androgynous sister who shows up to be all Angel of Death-y.
The comedy is all either cliched or just plain not funny. There's the expected Dickens jokes, all of which are poorly executed. All of the wedding comedy troupes are here, from the slutty bridesmaids, to the blunt ex-military father-in-law & divorced in-laws, to the neurotic panicky bride. There were moments of humor that were so bad that they were funny again, but still, comic gold this ain't.
But the most fundamental problem I have with this film is with Jennifer Garner's character Jenny. She's McConaughey's (named Connor in this film) primary love interest, the girl he's known and loved since childhood, you know the drill (no pun intended). But here's the problem: When we go back in time and look at Connor's childhood, we discover that it's her fault he's like this in the first place! And that's no spoiler because this revelation isn't a plot point, it's a plot hole! She blew him off for the popular guy at their middle school dance even through she knew he was literally a split-second from asking her to dance (yes they were both already pretty much in love at this point), and they broke his heart, leading him to swear off love. And this issue is never brought up or confronted again. Jenny is treated as a total innocent who only half-heartedly owns up to her role in his emotional downfall once, when in actuality she's the shallow bitch who broke his heart. Sure she was young and immature then, but as I said, she never answers for or apologizes for it once.
The Pros, again: The reason I started with the cons is very simple: this is a bad film, there's just no getting around that. And when it it comes to it's pros, there's really no artistic merit here for me to point out. But despite all this, there was something at the core of this film that keep me from hating it. It's hard to describe. I can only call it heart. It's that indefinable part of cinema that can't be proved, only felt. Either you feel it or you don't. And despite all of it's flaws, this film, to me, had heart. I still hate Jenny. I still hate Matthew McConaughey. But some how this film managed to make me care about their relationship, even if I only cared about Jenny by default because Connor did (I know I had undying crushes on girls despite their being a bitch to me, so maybe this is just wish fulfilment). Of course, it could be it's just because it's nice to see the player get his just desserts. And even I had to smile at reformed Connor chasing down his brothers fiancee to save the wedding in a convertible to the tun of Elvis's "Burning Love".
The End: I have a confession to make: I don't watch a lot of romantic comedies, at least not the more recent ones. I'm a huge fan of the classic romantic comedies of the 30s & 40s, especially those starring Cary Grant. The man practically invented the genre, and consequently almost every modern romantic comedy borrows from him is some fashion, and as a result, they never do anything for me but to remind me there's a better movie I could be watching. So believe me, I'm really picky about my romance films. And if this thing could entertain me, trust me, there's something to it. And besides, you could do much, much worse.
Overall, I give The Ghosts of Girlfriends Past a Bronze Anarchy Coin.
Sunday, April 26, 2009
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
The Review: Oh, how the mighty have fallen. What happened to you Heroes? You used to be cool. You were never perfect to be sure (I'm still not quite over you stealing the ending to Watchmen), but you were still one damn good show, at least in the first season. Your storytelling was second-to-none, you never failed to shock me, amaze me, and just generally keep me on the edge of my seat episode after episode. You maintained a genuine sense of menace week after week, something not a lot of shows or even films can claim. You were in line to become the next Lost.
Then came the second season. Ah, the controversy, how I adore the controversy. Most people hated the second season, and I really have neither the words nor reason to counter their arguments. I can only say that I personally enjoyed the second season. Sure it was bad, but it was still fun. It held my interest, it still managed to surprise me often enough, and I was never bored. Sure Hiro's time travel adventure was stupid and overdrawn. Sure Adam Monroe (David Anders) was an unmenacing villain with a boring, cliche master plan. But like I said, it still managed to maintain whatever it was that made me love the show to begin with.
But I say "whatever it was" for a very grim reason: I don't even remember why I watch this show anymore. The show has lost it, completely & utterly lost it. And the worst part is, I can't really figure out how. I can't pinpoint exactly what sucks about Heroes these days. I only know that the show has lost its spirit, its soul. It completely fails to make me give a crap. I just don't care anymore. I don't care what happens, who lives or who dies. I don't even bother to double check back stories when they refer to something I don't remember.
As I matter-of-fact, I barely remember what happened in this episode, nor would I care to look it up if I wasn't writing this review. OK, let's see here...blah blah blah, Sylar f*cks with random people, blah blah blah, speedster bitch can't act, I wish she would die, blah blah blah, Hiro makes an ass of himself, blah blah. Yep, just another typical Season 3 episode.
Seriously, once my two favorite characters, Hiro & Sylar, fail to keep my interest, you know it's hopeless. Hiro used to be so good-hearted and endearing. He was the Peter Parker of the Heroes universe, and one of the few characters who really qualified as a hero (seriously, a better name for the show would've been Powers, but that's taken). Now he's nothing more than comic relief, and what's worse, he's not even funny. Disney Channel would be ashamed to use his jokes. Even worse, Hiro isn't even a likable character anymore. He's a jealous rambling jackass who's now more concerned with getting his powers back than actually helping people. Apparently he's completely forgotten what a "hero" actually is, despite being the personification of it in the first season. Of course, I suppose there is the chance that this is an intentional set up for some character building storyline, but...I...bwahahahaha! Whoa, haha, I'm sorry, I thought I could say that with a straight face.
As for Sylar, well, I realize that he's always been insane, but before there was always a method to his madness. He was always working toward the same goal: power. He wants nothing but to steal every power he can get his hands on. Now...well, I have no idea what the hell he thinks he's doing. He's just making whatever random sh*t the plot requires him to at any given moment. I mean, what the hell was his point in trying to break up Noah Bennett's marriage? What, is he taking a page from the Mephisto Book of Evil? And what's with these idiotic Sylar music videos we're suddenly being subjected too? Suddenly I understand what people were complaining about in Watchmen.
Well, at least they finally got rid of the annoying, bratty teen sidekick (even though they denied us the pleasure for watching him suffer and die at Sylar's hands to make him pay for wasting our time). In fact the only joy I get out of this show anymore is watching Sylar murder characters I hate. The best moment of this season by far was when, after almost a season and a half of suffering through her annoying Smallville-style attempts at villainy, we finally got to see Elle Bishop (Kristen Bell) bite the dust. Oh, how I rejoiced as Sylar slowly and sadistically split her skull and her screams of agony filled my heart with vengeful glee, mwahahahaha! Good Sylar, now kill the speedster bitch whose name I won't even dignify by mentioning! We must cull the weak from the herd! We must remove the impure and leave only those in the crucible with the might to expand across the universe! EXTERMINATE!! EXTERMINATE!! EXTERMINAAATE!!!
The Review: Castle is officially my favorite show currently on TV. For starters, Nathan Fillion and Stana Katic are two of my favorite actors working today, as well as some of the most underrated. Nathan Fillion has been under-utilized since Firefly, but at least he enjoys modest fame as a geek culture icon (possibly the next Bruce Campbell). Stana Katic, on the other hand, has never really had a project of her own. her career thus far has consisted mainly of guest spots in various TV shows, though I know her best from her endearing and drop dead hilarious performance in The Spirit (seriously, she was the best part of the film). You might remember her as the Canadian spy chick from the end of Quantum of Solace, as well as that computer controlling Israeli girl who showed up in the first season of Heroes, only to disappear with no explanation. Both of them are always a joy to watch, and they bring their A-game to everything they do. And fortunately for this show, it turns out they have great chemistry with each other and do well together.
But more than great casting, this show has great...well, everything. The closest thing to a complaint I can come up with is that the buddy cop romance crime show has been done before...a lot. But this common & minor lack of originality never affects the quality of this show, at least not for me. Making one of the main characters a writer is a big bonus for me, being a writer myself. I can relate to how Richard Castle looks at the world. Poet Muriel Rukeyser once said "the universe is made of stories, not atoms", and there's not better way to describe Castle's (or my) thought process. He thinks outside the box, because he's always looking for inspiration, looking for a story. Sure it's pretty implausible that this would routinely lead to him to the truth of every murder week after week, but hey, that's TV for ya.
Castle has only aired five episodes so far, but so far it has never failed to thoroughly entertain me week after week. The humor, the mystery, the romantic tension, it's all great stuff. But this episode is one of the first to really brought the heavy stuff. When Beckett has to choose between letting a murderer go free or dividing a happy family forever, it's truly moving. Her character is one we still know little about, or didn't until this episode. And even though it seems the mystery of her past has more or less been revealed, some thing tells me there's more to it than she's telling us. Maybe it's just the writer in me.
The Review: Now that's more like it, Whedon! I knew you wouldn't let me down. Sure last weeks episode was underwhelming, but this weeks episode more than makes up for it. Now I remember why I love Dollhouse so much.
Now this is a difficult episode to review, since the thing that makes it so great is a plot twist that is slowly revealed over the course of the episode, but not fully revealed or explained until the end. I dare not spoil it for you, so let me only saw that the plot is nowhere near as straight forward as the synopsis makes it out to be. It delivers what ultimately this series is about: exploration of character. Not to mention it takes an old cliche' and makes it fresh again, quite a feat in this day & age.
In fact, I think this may be the very first episode of the series to stand out in the series as truly great. Sure the series has always been good, but no single episode really rose above the others. The only reason "Man on the Street" stood out was because it finally got the ball rolling on a number of plot lines, principally Ballard's (Tahmoh Penikett), that had been more or less in limbo for most of the series. It was the first time our two main characters actually met each other, and since that's what everyone was waiting for, the episode stood out for that reason alone. But "Needs" is special for a much deeper reason: is touches on the characters. It provides them with much needed depth, and showed all the doubters that the series is actually about something. As much as I don't want to keep comparing this to Firefly, this for me was this series' "Jaynestown". That was the first episode that made me realize how truly great and meaningful that series was, and "Needs" has done the same for Dollhouse.
Well, the good news is that Dollhouse's ratings haven't dropped significantly. The bad news is, they haven't gone up either, and their not very impressive as is. Please, PLEASE people, support this show. I desperately want this to stay on the air. If Buffy the Vampire Slayer can keep going for seven seasons, Dollhouse sure as hell deserves to do just as well, if not better.
Monday, April 6, 2009
Sunday, March 29, 2009
The Review: I said last week that Dollhouse was a great new science fiction series. And that's still true. But I think now, at the seventh episode, the show has finally produced an episode that I didn't like. I suppose it was inevitable, no show is perfect after all (Although Firefly went it's full season without really disappointing me. Oh, well). Maybe it's just disappointment after the last episode, which was without a doubt the best the series has yet produced.
That said, this is not a terrible episode, it's simply not up to par with everything we've seen so far (hey, that rhymes!) To show's credit, it's entertaining and engaging even on it's off days. I rather watch "Echoes" on a loop for 48 hours straight than 5 minutes of any given reality show or Disney Channel garbage.
The first thing that disappointed me was that it did nothing to advance the Agent Ballard storyline. After "Man on the Street" finally brought Ballard (Tahmoh Penikett) to the forefront of the story in a big way, I was excited to see what he would do this episode. But he didn't do anything, except maybe have a small relationship talk of no real consequence with Mellie (Miracle Laurie). He barely even appeared.
Also, the whole episode was, well, a bit of a mindf*ck. Strike that, it was a total mindf*ck. And not a mindf*ck like the ending to 2001: A Space Odyssey, or the tunnel scene from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, or the pink elephant scene from Dumbo. I mean a mindf*ck more lick the Architect scene from The Matrix Reloaded: you've got no idea what's going on, and you're not sure the writers do either. The plot is convoluted, and story elements go completely unexplained, or if they were I missed them. There were times when I thought I had been affected by the drug. Probably the biggest WTF moment was when they employ the magic reset button at the end with little to no explanation. (spoiler warning) Almost every employee and Active in the Dollhouse organization is caught with their pants down by the drug, out in the field in a populated area, as are the people back at base...And yet somehow they are able to clean the whole thing up without the authorities even noticing. And no, that's not another mystery to be solved, it's just poor writing. (spoiler ending)
But my major complaint was that this episode was, to be honest, a major waste of potential. This plot basically called for almost every single character to have all inhibitions and memory blocks removed. This is a incredible opportunity for character development, the chances to see these people as they truly are. But it never happens. The memory drugs effects are played almost entirely for laughs (not terribly funny ones at that), and when they aren't, they don't really tell us anything we don't already know. The only real exception is Echo, and frankly, the more I find out about her former self Caroline, the less I like her. Apparently (spoiler warning) she was just some crazy animal rights bitch who got her boyfriend killed just because she didn't like labs using guinea pigs as...well, guinea pigs. Incidentally, when she and her boyfriend do break into the lab, they discover the lab's also experimenting on human infants, but she's still way more concerned with the caged monkeys (spoiler ending). Wow. Not only have they spoiled Echo's secret origin halfway through the first season, but her secret origin makes her completely unlikable. There better be more to this, Whedon.
So yeah, this latest episode was pretty disappointing. Hope the show doesn't lose viewers for this, they were on a roll. I still love Dollhouse, as demonstrated by the fact that I expected so much more than this. But hey, we've still got a 6:1 ratio in are favor, and in all likelihood, this was just a rare misstep. Although, there is a part of me that's afraid Joss Whedon's already been handed a cancellation notice, and has to cram his five seasons of planned brilliance into this season. Pray to God I'm wrong.