Sunday, April 26, 2009

Movie Review: Crank 2: High Voltage

The ultimate video game movie that never was a video game is back with avengeance. Here's my review.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

TV Review: Heroes "Turn and Face the Strange"

Season 3, Episode 22 (Original Air Date: Monday, April 6th 2009, at 9/8c on NBC)

The Plot: (From Someone close to Danko (Zeljko Ivanek) is put in the line of fire as he spearheads the anti-superhuman operation. Meanwhile, Noah's (Jack Coleman) marriage continues to crumble while Hiro (Masi Oka) and Ando (James Kyson Lee) continue their journey to save Matt (Greg Grunberg). Angela (Cristine Rose) faces some demons from her past.

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!!!

Click here to visit the official website for Heroes.

TV Review: Castle "A Chill Goes Through Her Veins"

Season 1, Episode 5 (Original Air Date: Monday, April 6th 2009, at 10/9c on ABC)

The Plot: (From Castle (Nathan Fillion) and Beckett (Stana Katic) investigate the murder of a women found frozen and tangled in steel bars at a construction site. The case leads them to looking into an old case and also has Beckett thinking about some memories from her past.

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.

Click here to visit the official website for Castle.

TV Review: Dollhouse "Needs"

Season 1, Episode 8 (Original Air Date: Friday, April 3rd 2009 at 9/8c on FOX)

The Plot: (From Awakening within the Dollhouse, with large parts of their original personalities having returned, Echo (Eliza Dushku), Sierra (Dichen Lachman) and Victor (Enver Gjokaj) plan an escape.

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.

Click here to visit the official website for Dollhouse.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Movie Review: Monsters vs. Aliens

The greatest monster mash since King King vs Godzilla! Or not. Here's my review for Monsters vs. Aliens.