Monday, November 30, 2015

TV REVIEW: MINORITY REPORT (EPISODE TEN, SEASON ONE)

TV REVIEW

MINORITY REPORT

EPISODE TEN, SEASON ONE- "EVERYBODY RUNS"
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Tonight's season finale of "Minority Report" feels more like a fan fiction than an actual continuation of the story that was left off from the 2002 movie. More than ever before, this show is nothing compared to the movie, nor does it really care to connect to the movie in even the most fundamental of ways. In the movie Agatha was the strongest PreCog, and now on the drop of a dime, it is revealed that Dash is the strongest PreCog. Why? I don't know. I guess because the show has been following him all along instead of Agatha. This Agatha in this story doesn't feel anything like the Agatha from the movie and if they tried a little harder to connect her to the movie, I would have cared about this show a little bit more. At the beginning of tonight's episode, we got a flashback of how Wally joined Precrime. It was completely un-needed and didn't illuminate ANYTHING in this finale, I guess the show just wanted to show us how Wally got into the Precrime business. But the PreCogs we see in this flashback doesn't match how they were described growing up in the movie. All of this begs the question, did the TV show creators watch the movie?

The season finale itself made little sense. As I stated last week, it feels like the show tried to do way too little and way too late. Maybe the show would have benefited from not cutting three episodes off of its first season, but if they didn't want that, they should have made a better show. Perhaps the Memento Mori terrorist group should have been introduced in the first episode instead of the second-to-last episode. Maybe the story could have benefited from doing more with Reed Diamonds character and how shady government workers are trying to revive and sell the PreCogs to the highest bidder. These could have been good potential stories for a first season. But the show was so focused on being a police show with a gimmick that it didn't trust the stories it should have been telling. There were moments of potential all over this first season, and the showrunners squandered those moments at every turn. They should have decided to be a police show or something more. Once they made that decision, they should have chose something more.

Because they couldn't decide what they wanted their show to be about, the ending finale is a jumbled mess of two different ideas. They wanted to tell the Memento Mori story, but they had to brush it under the rug so quickly for the big reveal at the end of the episode that it feels like a total wash. Why even put these terrorists at all? There story goes nowhere and they aren't interesting enough to see more of in a future season. They could have told a better story about government using the PreCogs and the potential harm that could cause, but since the first half of the episode is dedicated to an evil organization, the shadowy figures seem half-assed as well. All of it leading to an uneventful finale where it feel like nothing is accomplished and no tensions are created.

With all of that tied into what appears to be a stupid fan-fiction, equalled a show I wish I could have liked, but ultimately I couldn't give my heart to. It seems unlikely to me that this will get a second season, but if it does, I am having a hard time seeing myself returning to watch it. There are some other cool movie-related shows I am having a blast watching, and I think next year, I will turn my attention to those. I gave "Minority Report" ten tries to win me over, and it just couldn't.

What did everyone else think?

New Batman vs. Superman Footage

So we got a little tease of "Batman vs. Superman" tonight.

It sounds like we are going to get a new trailer on December 2nd on...ironically enough...Jimmy Kimmel Live and I will be tuning in again this week to check that out. But tonight, we did get a little tease of what is to come.

When the trailers came out over Spring and Summer for this movie, one thing that caught my attention was the moments where Batman is wearing a trench-coat, he is also fighting off armed men wearing the Superman symbol on their uniforms. What on Earth could that possibly mean? Why does it look like Batman is storming the beaches of Normandy? Why does Superman have armed minions? Too bad Zak Synder didn't make them polar bears as a fun gag from the past. But on an honest and more serious note, what the hell do these scenes mean? I didn't think they would really be apart of the movie. But the tease we got tonight would say otherwise.

The entire tease was one scene. We see Batman tied up, hanging from the ceiling. What is weird is that he is hanging next to others too, possibly the Sons of Batman? (Yeah, I know that is a bit of a reach, but you never know.) Then we see Superman land from a whole, and we see the scene of the armed guards on a sandy area bow down to the man of steel. Superman walks over to Batman and takes off his mask. They both give each other a vile stare down and the scene ends.

I am kind of wondering if this scene is some kind of dream sequence. Or, Snyder has something even larger brewing and both Batman and Superman will both make armies of human followers, seems a little weird and unlikely, but I don't know how else to describe this scene. Especially in the context of what we have scene in the trailers. More than ever before, I need to know what is going on here, which I think was the point of all this.

Am I looking forward to this more than "Captain America: Civil War?" Honestly, I have no answer for that. I want and need both of these movies badly. I don't play the East vs. West game, I love both Marvel and DC for different reasons and I can't wait to see the DC Extended Universe to finally begin to really unfold. For right now, I think I will be debating what this scene means for the next couple of days and I will see you back here for the next trailer.

Youtube is being silly right now, but if you Google this new exclusive sneak, you will be able to find it.


TV REVIEW: FARGO (EPISODE EIGHT, SEASON TWO)

TV REVIEW

FARGO

EPISODE EIGHT, SEASON TWO-"LOPLOP"
Tonight's episode of "Fargo" was all about Peggy and Ed Blumquist and Dodd Gerhardt. It was pretty glorious.

A few episodes ago, the Gerhardt's met the Blumquists at their home in order to seal the deal of justice on Rye Gerhardt. This didn't go incredibly well for the Gerhardt's side, as Dodd got captured by the Blumquists and they went on the run, with Dodd in their trunk. On tonight's episode, the couple barricades themselves in a remote cabin, and they tied Dodd up in the cabin. The entire episode revolved around the three and how they deal with their current situation. All the while Hanzee Dent is hot on the trail, to find Dodd for the Gerhardt's. I knew that somebody was going to die this episode, whether it was Dodd, or Hanzee, or Ed or Peggy. I knew it was coming, I just didn't see it playing out the way it did tonight.

I was not expecting Hanzee to shoot Dodd in the head. Honestly, after seeing the whole episode, I did not see that coming. What made Hanzee snap? He seemed so loyal to the Gerhardt's, what could possibly make him turn. Did I miss something tonight. I have to admit, I think "Fargo" works best when its an hour episode, tonight's hour and a half episode felt a little overly-long, and sometimes when that happens, movie or show, it can be easy to tune out. Especially when one episode focuses on a small group of people. Dodd, Hanzee and the Blumquists are all equally strong characters, I guess the writing for this episode could have been a little bit better, it was just kind of hard to keep up with an episode that feels long. So if I indeed missed something, I will have to apologize.

It wasn't all bad. There was an excellent exchange between Ed and Mike Milligan, discussing Ed giving Dodd to Mike, it feels like Bokeem Woodbine has really been a highlight episode after episode, even though he was barely in it tonight. There is also a laugh-out-loud funny moment between Ed and Dodd when Dodd has to use the bathroom. The last ten minutes of the episode were pretty goddamn nuts, especially when you think everybody is going to kill each other, but the reversal I didn't see coming. I would say Kirsten Dunst is equally memorable as Peggy and she does really good in the last moments of tonight's episode, very well done.

We have two episodes left on this wild ride of a season. What did everyone else think?

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Bridge of Spies Review

Bridge of Spies Review
What is it about Steven Spielberg teaming up with Tom Hanks and how well they craft a 1950-1960's period pieces?

I really do find that remarkable. Maybe not just reducing it to that time period either, as I felt the team did a very good job on "Saving Private Ryan" in 1998. I also have a very deep love for "Catch Me If You Can." The team can seemingly do no wrong, when it comes to period pieces together, and Hanks has a good control of empathy and emotion for each character he plays. When I heard that the team was coming together for a Cold War spy drama, I could barely contain my excitement. Could this team pull off another winner. Much like Martin Scorsese with Robert De Niro, and now Leonardo DiCaprio, when a director can have such a strong bond with a particular performer, the sky is truly the limit.

The year 2015 has already had its fair share of spy movies, ranging from great ("Kingsman") to fun ("Spy") to bitterly disappointing ("Spectre") and I think its worth it to point out that "Bridge of Spies" is very different from any other spy movie released this year. I know I was a little late to this party, but "Bridge of Spies" isn't the usual spy movie. You won't be seeing Tom Hanks use state-of-the-art gadgets in this movie nor will you see him display some wicked kung-fu skills on the evil Soviets. But honestly, I wasn't expecting that at all. This is a much quieter spy movie. This is a much more character driven spy movie, it focuses on the characters and drama of it all instead of any sort of action. In a year rich with all sorts of spy-thrillers, I am eager to learn how this one pairs up with the other films.

Tom Hanks plays James Donovan, an insurance lawyer who was hired to represent Rudolf Abel (Mark Rylance) a Russian spy captured by the CIA. While the job is entirely thankless and rather demeaning, Donovan is sought for the job so that the world can see American fairness and so the capturing of Abel cannot be used as propaganda. While Donovan is hesitant at first, he accepts the job, while it turns on tension with his family, his friends, his neighborhood and the world in general. During the trail, a U2 spy plane is sent to Russia in order to obtain photos that will be used in the nuclear arms race, and the plane is shot down. This leaves pilot Frances Gary Powers (Austin Stowell) in the custody of the Soviets, and they quietly will give the American pilot back in exchange for Abel, which Donovan will eventually be in charge of. 

This is a character ripe for an actor like Tom Hanks, and you can bet he absolutely flies with it. I definitely got an Atticus Finch vibe from the character, which is pretty obvious. But how Donovan fights for Abel to have a short sentence in the case of a bartering tool, I can't help but see Atticus Finch in him. I think Hanks displays every emotion and every character description naturally and masterfully. There are moments where Hanks will make you laugh, make you think and even make you shed a tear. Its a classic Hanks performance and he's really good. But he's even better when he's sharing the screen with Mark Rylance. I don't know much about this guy, but I have heard he's great. Now that I have seen him for myself, I can attest to his talent. And both actors working off of a screenplay written by Joel and Ethan Coen made it all even more exciting. The whole cast is good all around, with exemplary performances by Stowell, Jesse Plemons, Amy Ryan, and Alan Alda.

The look of the film is absolutely perfect as well, and I credit Spielberg for finding the right team in each project for his movie. The scene in which Powers' plane is shot down is willfully harrowing, and the cinematography and effects of the scene are extremely moving, and match Stowell's performance well. There are also great scenes of the Berlin Wall being built or the subtle tension of the capturing of Abel that work extraordinary well. The stages and costumes make this time period believable, it feels lived in, this doesn't feel like community theater at all. Which is a good sign.

For everything that works so well in the movie, I am surprised just how natural and straightforward things play. Especially for a movie with Spielberg's name on it. Whether he is dealing in history tales like this or some mind-bending science fiction, he able to really pull the emotions out of every scene and out of every character. Spielberg's movies are movies I would describe as cookie-cutter, and I thought as a whole Spielberg slightly plaid it safe in this entry. The movie unfolds exactly how you would expect it to, and you can pretty much telegraph the whole thing. I was kind of surprised how much I saw coming and how it ended.

But, Spielberg is too talented a filmmaker to make something pompous, or soulless or anything boring. Especially when he has the aid of Tom Hanks to work with. There is a ton to like about "Bridge of Spies," even if it isn't the spy movie we have been getting repeatedly all year. The look and feel of the movie, and the great performances are all evidence to how well Spielberg has grown as a filmmaker, and that alone is a treasure.

FINAL GRADE: B+

Thursday, November 26, 2015

TV REVIEW: MARVEL'S JESSICA JONES

TV REVIEW

MARVEL'S JESSICA JONES
The partnership between Marvel and Netflix really hit the ground running earlier this year with "Daredevil." I will admit that I had my reservations at first with a new host of television shows set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but I was curious as Hell to see what they were going to do. "Daredevil" felt like a bomb going off, after the initial trailers, I was expecting it to be good, I just didn't know it was going to be that good. "Daredevil" was a show I liked quite a bit. After that this Netflix experiment earned my trust, and I could not wait to see what was next. Jessica Jones the character is very different from other characters. Yes, Jessica Jones has superpowers, but she doesn't really put on a super-suit and have at supervillains, not quite. In the comic books, Jones had a small stint as a superhero, but that evaporated quickly. So she opened her own private eye service in New York City afterward. Could Netflix and Marvel make the character work?

Much like Jessica Jones was a different character compared to other superheroes in the comic books, "Jessica Jones" the television show is much different compared to "Daredevil" or other MCU shows. Heck, its different compared to any other comic book or superhero show on TV right now. If you are going in expecting something like "Daredevil," you maybe a bit disappointed. While "Daredevil" is a serious and darker show than any of the MCU shows and movies, it still had the excitement of any superhero show. "Jessica Jones" isn't really like that, even though there are characters who have superpowers and they occasionally discuss Captain America and Hulk on the show, I'd barely call this a superhero show. Jessica Jones is a private eye and her show is very much a crime thriller more than anything. I'd even go far to say that the show ventures into psychological thriller at times. The show works as a slow burn for a healthy part of the season, and on the very first episode, you can barely understand what is going on with the characters. If you sitting down to "Jessica Jones" expecting a full-fledged superhero show, you might want to watch something else, because the ship doesn't really dock there.

If you don't mind something different as the MCU continues its world-building, then "Jessica Jones" is another home run for Marvel and Netflix. I am now more excited then ever for the next two Netflix shows and "The Defenders" mini-series coming soon too. I grew up loving film noir, mysteries and crime thrillers. So at a personal standpoint, "Jessica Jones" was right up my alley. If you like those genres, I would recommend "Jessica Jones" highly. Especially if you don't mind a private eye who can break locks with her bare hands and glide in the air.

Jessica Jones didn't start out as a superhero as she did in the comics. She starts her Private Investigation firm as a way to get away from her past. She doesn't consider herself a good person, and its not her fault. She has lots of skeletons in her closet that she is guilty about. From gaining superpowers from a freak accident that killed her parents, to being psychologically damaged by Kevin Kilgrave (David Tennant), she is trying to pick up the pieces of her life for something good. As a budding private eye, she already has her hands full. With her best friend Trish Walker (Racheal Taylor) being stalked, or her lawyer Jeri Hogarth (Carrie-Ann Moss) getting over her divorce, or helping Luke Cage (Mike Colter) a charming and mysterious bartender with favors. Everything seems to halt when Kilgrave returns from Jones' past, apparently not dead as he was believed to be and he will affect not just Jones' life, but everyone in her orbit.

When it was announced that Krysten Ritter was going to play Jessica Jones, I was interested to see what Marvel saw in her. They announced four different actresses in the running for the character and she was about dead-last on my predictions and fan-casting for the role. I have to say that Ritter absolutely kills the role. She plays Jones' broken emotions dead on and she makes Jessica Jones a believable person, not just someone with superpowers. Jessica Jones is a character who is responsible for lots of pain, on herself and others around her, and Ritter makes you believe in all of it. This is a huge breakout for Ritter, and I hope she is all the more popular because of it. She even handles the very few spontaneous moments of humor well.

Kevin Kilgrave is such a great villain, and he is brought to astounding life in by David Tennant. Kilgrave is a guy with absolutely profound mind-control powers. How profound? Well, in the first episode, she gets a girl to shoot her parents dead. In another episode he gets his father to put his hand into a blender. These are just two of several horrendous acts Kilgrave unleashes on people, and what he does to Jessica Jones over her life is even worse. Much like Wilson Fisk in the "Daredevil" series, spending the whole season focusing on one villain helps the show tremendously. In fact, its pretty much Kilgrave who is the only adversary on the show, and Tennant is given ample time to really flesh him out. Its a great role for Tennant, who we usually don't see in villain roles, but he pours as much power and ambition into this role and it pays off every episode.

There are two key performances in this show that I think stick out more than others. The first is the character Malcolm played by Eka Darville. Malcolm is a junkie who lives down the hall from Jones, and the two become friends. Much like Jones, Malcolm has lots of secrets he's not proud of and the way Malcolm and Jones bounce off of each other is both powerful and engrossing. Its a character that matters more than they should and Darville does very good work making Malcolm count over the course of the season. The second greater than average character is Trish Walker played by Racheal Taylor. Trish and Jessica have been through everything together, as Trish's family took Jessica in after Jessica's family died. The performance by Taylor really shows an aged friendship and bond between the two girls. It feels like a relationship that has been lifelong, and I give both actresses credit for making it come alive. The work by Carrie-Ann Moss is also very good and I can't wait to see Colter in his own "Luke Cage" show, that guy is just great! I also liked the work by Erin Moriarty, whose character Hope sets up the entire season, very good work.


In fact, the only thing that really disappointed me about the show was the action scenes. In "Daredevil," because Daredevil was a character who had no super-strength, the fights felt more personal and more believable. The fights in that show felt raw and realistic and there was a sense of urgency to the action. In "Jessica Jones," everything ends before it really begins. Jessica Jones has super-strength, as does Luke Cage, who also has unbreakable skin. These two spend the show throwing people around. There is no sense of tension or urgency to any of the fights, and that is always a risk when making stories were superpowered people fight regular people. With that said, the fight scenes are far and in between, this is much more story-oriented and its the work of the characters really drive the story well.

Overall, this is another great show for Netflix. I liked the episode with Claire Temple, who had several episodes on "Daredevil" and she is once again played Rosario Dawson. I loved the opening credits scene for the show, very comic book-like and set the mood for the overall season. I liked the private eye-ish music by Sean Callery. This is a cast and crew that fully embraced what these characters are about, which is what Marvel is getting exceedingly good at.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Captain America: Civil War - Trailer World Premiere

What Happened on Jimmy Kimmel Live Tonight?

I don't watch any late night TV, usually because I am too busy watching movies and writing for this blog that I love. I was going treat this Tuesday night like every other Tuesday night. Then something on Facebook caught my eye. I belong to an awesome Marvel Cinematic Universe group on Facebook, and I love chatting with Marvel fans worldwide about this massive franchise that I really get a kick out of. I was scrolling through all my friends lives when a notification came up from this MCU group, stating that Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Evans were going to be on Jimmy Kimmel Live tonight, and that they had a "surprise" regarding "Captain America: Civil War."

Holy shit, I thought.

No matter what, no matter how late I had to stay awake, I was going to see whatever this surprise was. Could it be a trailer? Could it be a clip? Could it be a glimpse of Spider-Man or Baron Zemo or whomever Martin Freeman was playing? Who knew? But I had to find out. I read the description of the Cap 3 trailer that premiered at D23 this summer, so if it were to be a trailer, I thought I had a pretty good idea of what to expect. But as we all know, seeing something for yourself is always better than reading something somebody wrote on a computer.

When Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Evans show up on the show, they are their normal humorous selves. They crack jokes and really get the audience excited for what's coming. First, Kimmel asks them about shooting the third movie in Atlanta and what its like for RDJ to take a more backseat role in a Marvel movie. These guys look like the best of friends and they look like they are just having a ball. They have completely become these characters at this point, and they know how much these characters mean to the fans. They have fully embraced what they have been hired to do and they feed off of our love.

After a commercial break, Kimmel quit the tap-dancing, and he got right to business. What was this surprise? RDJ was sitting the closest to Kimmel, apparently called Seat A and he presented the first official poster for "Captain America: Civil War." Its a pretty cool poster of the faces of Cap and Iron Man facing each other with the tagline "Divided We Fall" on the top. Its not what we expected, but I like whatever they can give me. Suddenly, Kimmel asked something along the lines was "I think the people want more." 

Then Evans said "I have a surprise too, but I think I need to sit in Seat A" The whole crowd laughed, and the actors quickly switched places. Then after several moments of Kimmel banter, Evans presented the teaser trailer for "Captain America: Civil War." Yep, I said it.

The teaser opens with the scene that we saw at the end of the credits for "Ant-Man." Captain America is trying to get his old friend Bucky to remember him, and it seems Bucky does. It seems like Bucky is a wanted man, and now that Bucky remembers who he is, Cap is going to try to protect him.

There was an internet rumor that the Civil War in the movies would break-out when Iron Man found out that Bucky killed Stark's parents, while Cap knows Bucky is a victim. Seeing from this trailer, it looks like that quasi-might be true. There is a lot of talk between Black Widow and Cap in the trailer about Cap not pursuing his crusade to help Bucky. "Why?" Cap asks "Will you arrest me?"

But General Ross (William Hurt) shows up and delivers a new act to Cap, so it also looks like we will see some sort of Superhuman Registration Act in this movie. While I don't think we will see the true Superhuman Registration Act from the comics, we are definitely going to get a version of it and that's how Iron Man will come at odds with Captain America. "I want to punch you in your perfect teeth!" Iron Man says.

There is no glimpse of Crossbones or Martin Freeman or Baron Zemo or Spider-Man. We do see Black Panther on the run from Cap in a scene. We see one team of superheroes charging against another. We see Iron Man sitting on the floor next to War Machine's body. We see Falcon flying around in action. There is no sign of Ant-Man anywhere either, nor Vision. But we do see Black Widow in action. Easily, my favorite scene was Bucky and Cap together taking on Iron Man in a fight, chills! I taped the teaser and I will be studying it for several upcoming months!!!!

"I am sorry, Tony. He's my friend" says Cap.
"So was I" says Iron Man

So "Captain America: Civil War" teaser? Loved it.

Kimmel also interviewed Krysten Ritter who played Jessica Jones, the new character introduced on Netflix, whose show also takes place in the MCU. I didn't have the time over the busy weekend to binge-watch all of "Jessica Jones" but I am on episode 9/13 and I am trying tirelessly to crank out the entire series. Once I have, I will have an entire season review ready for you to read. So if you've finished the first season on Netflix, keep your traps shut around me for the time being!

If you missed tonight's episode of Jimmy Kimmel Live, you can see the full trailer for "Captain America: Civil War" on the Jimmy Kimmel website, or you can email me and I will send you the "bootlegged" copy I made.

What did everyone else think???? 


******UPDATE: Below you can find the full trailer for "Captain America:Civil War" which hit the internet moments after the Jimmy Kimmel Show!

http://bloggershawn89.blogspot.com/2015/11/captain-america-civil-war-trailer-world.html


The Last Witch Hunter Review

The Last Witch Hunter Review
I like Vin Diesel, and I know lots of other people who like Vin Diesel. Oddly, for such a charismatic actor, he's had a rough career. There have been several filmmakers who have found the spark inside of Diesel, and he has shown outstanding work in films like "The Fast and The Furious," "Saving Private Ryan" and, I think, "XxX." It seems despite his greatest efforts, his career has never blossomed in the way I thought it would. I don't know if its his agent or him or both, but most of the movies Diesel has been in have been a bust, and it seems "Fast and Furious" has been his bread and butter. Somehow, even though Diesel is built like an action hero, in another world he was the most accomplished voice actor of his generation. I don't say that because of Groot, even though he killed that role in "Guardians of the Galaxy," but "The Iron Giant" is one of my most beloved animated films of all time. Its because Brad Bird was able capture what makes Diesel's voice so great in the first place. Diesel brings out the childlike innocence out of the Iron Giant, and he created several emotions even though we never saw his face. So why is "Fast and Furious" the only hugely successful franchise to Diesel's name?

I don't know what draws Diesel to the movies he signs on for. Maybe some nerd instincts kicked in when he signed on for "The Last Witch Hunter," because I know he's a avid D&D player. Maybe he thought it would just be flat out cool. Maybe he got a hefty paycheck for it. I am honestly not sure, just like I am baffled by several of his choices. While I will say that "The Last Witch Hunter" isn't as bad as "Babylon AD" or "The Chronicles of Riddick," its certainly not something I will rush to watch over again. It was pretty flat and forgettable.

Vin Diesel plays Kaulder, a witch hunter who destroyed several during the Middle Ages. After a particularly brutal stand-off with The Witch Queen (Julie Engelbrecht), he is cursed with eternal life. From the Middle Ages to today, Kaulder works for a secret society called The Axe And Cross, a group dedicated to fighting witches. Kaulder has also had 36 Dolans, which are priests who record everything happening in Kaulder's life. Why? Honestly, the movie never really explains the relevents of what the Dolans do, I guess the clergy of the world needed to write down everything these witch-hunters do in order to sell another great book! The 36th Dolan (Michael Caine) mysteriously dies on the night of his retirement, and Kaulder with his new 37th Dolan (Elijah Wood) are hot on the trail to find out who killed the 36th Dolan and why.

I will say that Vin Diesel is fine in this. He is not bad and he is not great, but he is fine. He's the typical Diesel we see in movies like this, all massive presence, loud vocals and slight charisma. Like I said, its not a bad performance, just one I think I have seen from him before. Michael Caine is good in this, but he's not in it very long. Elijah Wood is pretty good in this, and there was a reversal of his character that you may not see coming, which he handled well. Rose Leslie of "Game of Thrones" fame, shows up as a dream walker who helps Kaulder in the movie. I like Leslie and she did good here too, except I feel like her character channeled the character she played on "Game of Thrones" at some points. That's always a risk as an actor, if you play a character for a certain amount of time, every character you play afterward is a clone of that popular character. It has happened to several actors, and I hope this is a small hiccup for Leslie.

So when I mentioned dream-walker, you probably asked what that was. Sadly, the movie is displays fairly abysmal insight. The mythology behind this movie is so scarce I was hoping the movie came with a glossary card. I think that was the thing that bothered me the most out of the whole movie, how poorly-explored the movie is as a story. The great fantasy films out there really explore the world they create, almost as if the movies are pulled from history themselves. Its not enough for me to throw out a couple of cool names, cool ideas, and cool scenarios and then barely explain what they all mean. Even if the explanation causes my eyes to roll, at least its somewhat of an explanation, but to never try at all is a lot worse.

The fight scenes are okay in this movie, and I think they could have been a little better of the special effects weren't so terrible. Yeah, think of the worst special effects work you have ever seen in any movie, and that is pretty much "The Last Witch Hunter." Other than that, its mostly Vin Diesel throwing around his sword, and there is no special choreography to any of it. I don't think at least. But goodness, that CGI, shameless.

You are probably wondering what I liked about this movie. I did like Diesel in some instances. I liked Caine when he was around. I do think Leslie and Wood bounce off of Diesel well enough. I just wish they had better characters to play. I equally wish that the story they created had a better mythology around it. Its just too bad that movie like this won't end up being good or being bad, it will just end up being forgettable.

FINAL GRADE: C+

Monday, November 23, 2015

TV REVIEW: "Minority Report" (Season One, Episode Nine)

TV REVIEW

MINORITY REPORT

SEASON ONE, EPISODE NINE-"MEMENTO MORI"

Okay, I have to be honest. I missed the last few minutes of this episode due to falling asleep. Yep, it happened, it really happened. I fell asleep. While I could have easily rewound the episode and watched what I missed, I decided against it. This is a show that I having extreme difficult in trying to watch each week. Every week the show is constantly making mistakes, not trying to be different and only playing things in the safest of safe ways. While I did feel aspects of this episode was different, it still ultimately felt the same. While I did fall asleep for part of the episode, I feel the ending that was presented in tonight's episode was not shocking and it landed just how I thought it would.

What did surprise me was regarding whether or not the PreCogs are in danger of being recruited against their will. The FBI has been thinking of getting the PreCogs for their new Hawkeye program. From the beginning of the show, Agatha has seen visions of herself, Arthur and Dash being taken in against their will to see  the future once more, and tonight Agatha was back. We saw more of her vision on tonight's episode, and in her vision of the future, the person who makes sure they go back to being PreCogs is...none other than Detective Vega. Wait, what? The detective who has befriended Dash and has worked with him to capture several bad guys? How is she going to bring the three of them against their will back to the milk baths? I don't know, it was the very last image of tonight's episode, so we will have to wait until next week to see how this unfolds.

The rest of the episode revolved around Vega and Dash uncovering this group called Memento Mori, a group that is trying to kill certain people connected to our government for...whatever reason. Again, I may have missed a few points according to my snoozing. But its fairly clear that this group could become a Big Bad by next season, if that next season happens. This first season was originally going to be thirteen episodes, then it got cut down to ten in early October. There is no evidence yet that this show is built to last, and how the show has been handled since the beginning, that didn't seem like a viable option. I would have rather seen Memento Mori from the very beginning, and I think the show could have played with ideas and done cool things with this mysterious group being around since the beginning. I am still puzzled why this show chose to be a gimmicky police show instead of being something completely different.

What did everyone else think?

TV REVIEW- "Fargo" (Season Two, Episode Seven)

TV REVIEW

FARGO

SEASON TWO, EPISODE SEVEN- "DID YOU DO THIS? NO, YOU DID IT!"
The turf war between the Kansas City Mob and the Gerhardt family continues to rage in the North Dakota. It is going less than well for the Gerhardt family. So much so that Floyd Gerhardt, mother and acting leader of the family has made an alliance with the North Dakota State Police department in an effort to destroy what is left of the Kansas City Mob in the state. There is a great exchange between Sheriff Solverston and Mike Milligan (Bokeem Woodbine). Both of have arguably been the two best characters on the show, and every time they are together on screen is special. But for now, it seems one side is finally going to make some moves in order to win this turf war.

The reason why the Kansas City Mob has been so successful in their war against the Gerhardt's is because of a dissenter on the other side. I haven't really talked much about Simone Gerhardt, the daughter of Bear Gerhardt. She hasn't done much on the show so far, except she has had a run-in with Mike Milligan, and they are having an affair. An affair that brought Simone secretly over to the other side, feeding the Kansas City Mob information on the Gerhardt's. Milligan and his crew are always one step ahead of the Gerhardts. I think Rachel Keller, who plays Simone does a wonderful job with her role, she's just never done anything super substantial. So that is why I didn't find her death all that emotional. Her father finds out that she is having an affair with Milligan on the other side, so he drives out in the middle of nowhere to kill her. Again, they play it up like its a big deal, but since Simone is here and there, and not as prominent as some other characters I could name, so her death didn't mean too much to me. Sure, it makes Milligan mad, who is already receiving heat from down south for not ending this war quicker. I just wish they gave Keller more of a character to play, all this time she felt more like an afterthought.

One character that stood out was Betsy Solverson, played by Cristin Milioti. She is the wife of Sheriff Solverson. It was actually Betsy who found the gun used in the murders at the diner in episode one or two. She too has been a character committed to the background. As Lou Solverson has been out of city, she has been by herself. But she isn't helpless. We see that she can load and properly hold a shotgun. Nevertheless, Lou has Karl Weathers look after her while he's away, which leads to some more humorous scenes by Nick Offerman. Offerman really stood out last week, and while he isn't a huge presents in this episode, he has several funny scenes that I truly enjoyed.

With all of this going on, I was wondering whatever happened to the Blumquists. They are fine. They are together on the run. They also have Dodd Gerhardt in their trunk however.

It was a bit of a slow episode tonight, but it felt like a breath between what has happened so far, and will close this season out. This has been a good one overall, and I can't help but smile when I heard today that "Fargo" will be getting a third season.

What did everyone else think?

Saturday, November 21, 2015

The Man From U.N.C.L.E. Review

The Man From U.N.C.L.E. Review
Before "The Man From U.N.C.L.E." came out in theaters, I had no idea it was based upon an old television show. I researched the television show as much as I could in preparation for the movie. I understood going in that UNCLE stands for United Network Command for Law and Enforcement. I knew it dealt with a fictional organization that brought together an American spy and a Russian spy, something that was extremely radical at the time, since our world was engaged in the Cold War at the time. I am surprised that a show with a nature as such wasn't blacklisted at the time, but I was not there to experience any of it. I am not sure what drew director Guy Ritchie to this material, I guess he liked the idea of so many spy movies in one year.
 
Yes its true, 2015 has been a big year for spy films. While I liked both "Kingsman: The Secret Service" and I liked "Mission: Impossible-Rogue Nation" and I was bitterly disappointed by key moments in "Spectre," I came into "Man From U.N.C.L.E." with an unclear perspective. How would a film based on a TV show I never experienced play out for me? The answer is actually quite well. "The Man From U.N.C.L.E." is another fun, spy-thriller to set next to "Kingsman" and "M:I-RN" and another reason to see how off-the-mark "Spectre" was.
 
Much like the television show, the American government and the Russian government have set aside their differences for a greater evil. It appears some Nazi leftover after World War II got their hands on a nuclear missile and are planning to use it against the free world. The Americans lend CIA operative Napoleon Solo (Henry Cavill) and Russia sends KGB operative Illya Kuryakin (Armie Hammer). This is a bit a predicament, since both operatives tried to kill the other when both were on a mission against each other in East Germany. They each wanted to extract Gaby Teller (Alicia Vikander) and it was Solo who ended up victorious. Gaby is the daughter of a Nazi scientist who switched sides in the war, then mysteriously vanished. This could have to due with the Nazi plot. Funny, while in this movie the Communists and Americans unite against the Nazi's, it worked the other way around in the actual Cold War.
 
While Solo and Kuryakin have to work with each other, they hardly play nice until they are friends at the very end. The film is telegraphed as you'd expect, but what makes the film entertaining is how Cavill and Hammer bounce off of each other. The two men have incredible chemistry and represent two familiar spy tropes, the American is a womanizer of the largest degree and the Russian is motivated by his duty, trying to rid himself of his terrible past and reputation. Both actors do very good work, and when they share time with Vikander, its even better. Hammer and Vikander share a lot of time together, but are very good in their scenes together.
 
There is some good action in the movie, when there is action in it. To my surprise, "The Man From U.N.C.L.E." isn't a huge action-fest. The movie is more about the double-crosses, the drama, the tension, the exotic locations, the humor and all of the fun that gets rolled into a spy movie. I am not saying the action isn't thrilling, because it absolutely is, there just isn't a ton of it. To be honest, I am not sure the movie really needed it. The movie provides the best of both worlds when it comes to what people want out of their spy movies. "The Man From U.N.C.L.E." plays it fun at every corner.
 
Hugh Grant shows up a couple of times, and while he isn't in the movie a lot, he is golden whenever he pops onscreen, and his character is never whom you think he is. I can say the exact same for Jared Harris, who has a few scenes, but when he's onscreen, he's very good. I love the authentic feel of the 1960's world that these characters live in, never does the movie feel like a soundstage, and I give Ritchie credit for picking the right crew to bring this backdrop to life. I also have to say that I got a huge kick out of Cavill's scarce Bond moments, I think he'd be an excellent replacement for Craig, once Craig finishes his time with the role. Which could be sooner than we think.
 
All in all, if you like your spy thrillers fun, fast and fierce, "U.N.C.L.E." certainly delivers the goods. But what really struck me was how the movie embraced the spy culture. I wouldn't say the movie is grounded in realism, but I also wouldn't call the movie a cartoon. There was a happy medium, and I found it profoundly surprising.
 
FINAL GRADE: A-


Wednesday, November 18, 2015

A Brave Heart: The Lizzie Velasquez Story Review

A BRAVE HEART: THE LIZZIE VELASQUEZ STORY
Depending on how YouTube savvy you are, you may or may not have run into Lizzie Velasquez. Though that isn't the only place to find her, she has been on TV, she's been on TED, and she has talked all over the country and all over the world. She is an inspirational speaker and an anti-bullying activist. She is currently fighting hard in order to get a bill passed in Congress which will regulate and disqualify bullying in all school systems of all types all over the country. It would be an amazing thing for all school systems to pull off and would be a wonderful way to improve life around every school, no matter where you go.

Lizzie Velasquez was born with a syndrome which remained unnamed for years. Doctors would tell her that she had slight vision impairments and that her body could not obtain fat, but exactly what the condition was remained a mystery for a decent portion of her life. Still, she had a wonderful family who loved her everyday, but that didn't stop the bullying. It started with stairs and whispers, which is very wrong but thankfully nothing to the extreme. Unfortunately, Lizzie would experience the extreme in high school.

One day, while searching on YouTube for music, a 17-year-old Lizzie stumbled, literally stumbled, upon a video of herself. The video was titled "The World's Ugliest Woman."

Not only did she find a humiliating video of herself with such a repulsive name, the comments section of the YouTube was equally repulsive. This was the moment that sparked something special inside of Lizzie, something creative. She created her very own YouTube channel, discussing everything under the sun. Her channel soon picked up steam, and she suddenly found herself speaking all over the world, and soon became a full-fledged anti-bullying activist. It's easy to see why so many people are drawn to her. Anybody can use a terrible life experience to spearhead something important, but Lizzie's YouTube channel featured real flair, something fun and quirky. This is also what makes the movie so amazing to watch. Lizzie really lets her personality shine throughout the entire movie, and there are moments where you won't be able to laugh. Not at her of course, but just how much she has fully embraced life.

I also think "A Brave Heart" hit a strong cord with me, because it shed light on something I find very important. Yes, our world is full of problems at the moment, but something that has been a problem everywhere for years is bullying. I work at a daycare, and while children there have fought, with words and hands, or said mean things, all the children there for the most part like each other. Sure, there are bad days, but each class seems completely united in most aspects. But that doesn't mean that bullying isn't real, and it has come to the point where simply ignoring it won't stop it. I think the film highlights just how much bullying has evolved over the years. The movie makes reference to social media and  how people who are bullied are literally under pressure all day long due to social media. How can we protect children from it? Simply banning social media isn't really a solution, we need something like a law that can help out more aggressively at the school front. I think the movie makes some very good points and presents very good ideas without ever feeling like a political campaign. Something most documentaries have a hard time doing.

The film is more that just a cry for help. The movie is a near perfect example of where determination in anything can land you. It shows us that even when the world feels like it is kicking you to the curb, you can always get right back up and achieve your goals. "A Brave Heart" proves that making excuses for anything in life shouldn't mean anything, and that you can anything you set your mind to if your heart is in completely. Sometimes the world may get you down, but it is the decisions you make that really affect you. What a wonderful little movie this was.

FINAL GRADE: A

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Pan Review

Pan Review
Which is worse? Joe Wright's "Pan" or Steven Spielberg's "Hook?" Its an honest question. I am not even going to tiptoe around it tonight, "Pan" was awful. It was the worst kind of awful. It was everything I dreaded "Pan" would be and surprisingly, it was a lot more. I never thought there would ever be a worse Peter Pan movie than "Hook," but Wright justifiably made one. The cool concept behind "Hook" was "What if Peter Pan grew up?" Which could have been an interesting starting point to a movie, its just that the execution was awful. "Pan" starts in a rather tepid point in Pan's life and makes every wrong-headed decision, and some other decisions that completely mystified me.

There is so much great material that could be used for a Peter Pan movie, whose story was written by J.M. Barrie. Joe Wright decided to ignore it all to create this big-canvass story, no doubt in order to squeeze a few sequels as he could for the studio. We meet Pan (Levi Miller) at some orphanage, but he quickly soaked up into this flying pirate ship and taken to Neverland. Where he meets a guy named Hook (Garret Hedlund). He soon finds out that that he has been enslaved by a pirate named Blackbeard (Hugh Jackman), who is using slaves to mine crystals with fairy dust which he will use for a machine that will keep him young forever. But he soon opposes Pan because he learns of a prophecy involving a boy named Pan who will take back Neverland. Everyone believes Pan to be  the boy in the prophecy and he eventually accepts it.

Really, that's the story. They turned Peter Pan into a Chosen One. Can I ask why you did that, Hollywood? What is your fascination with turning every big pop culture icon into a Chosen One? This the best way for you to sell international tickets? Did you just not want to try and you just wanted some greenbacks? When there is so much source material in the writings of J.M. Barrie, why did you decide to ignore it? The Chosen One cliche is starting to become the most annoying, most insulting, and most bizarre story-arc to tack onto a movie's story. Stop it, Hollywood. Especially when you have great material to adapt. Stop. There was really no need to tell this story. Its even worse that the movie is a prequel, so putting Hooks life or Peter's life or even Tiger Lilly's life (Rooney Mara) into any sort of peril is equally insulting, since we know nothing bad will happen to them. This is a prequel, and by the end of "Pan" the characters are nowhere near where we find them once Pan finds Wendy and her family. So why even try to pull a fast one on the audience.

Astoundingly, that isn't the worst part about "Pan." What had me tearing up in laughter was one bizarre choice which plays out in the beginning of the movie. When Blackbeard is being introduced, the slaves and fellow pirates are singing Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit." Yes, I am serious. No, I am not lying. The characters sing Nirvana to welcome Blackbeard. Then a few minutes later, the characters sing "Blitzkrieg Bop" by The Ramones. Then, they never sing the rest of the movie. Yes, you read that correctly. The characters randomly breakout into modern song, even though the movie takes place during World War II, but then never sing again. At first, I thought "Pan" would be a "Moulin Rouge!" style musical. But the characters literally sing two songs in the beginning, then never sing again. Were there other songs in the filming of this movie? Will we get a director's cut? Did Blackbeard travel through time, decide he liked 1990's grunge rock and forced his slaves to learn Nirvana? We never find out, but its the most bizarre choice I have seen in any movie this year.

Hugh Jackman seems like he's channeling Dustin Hoffman, which was the total wrong way to go for the character. Hook is nothing more than just the typical, wiseguy side-kick the whole movie and his pending romance with Tiger Lilly is stupid and forced and doesn't belong in this movie at all. Mara is fine, she just never has a real character to play. I can't really get a good read off of Miller either, he could possibly be a talented young boy, but his Peter Pan is so cookie-cutter that I feel any child off the street could have filled the role.

Joe Wright got Neverland wrong. He got Hook and Tiger Lily wrong. But most importantly, he got Peter Pan wrong. "Pan" is a failure on almost every level. Wow.

FINAL GRADE: D-

"The Huntsman: Winter's War" --The Sequel Nobody Asked For

I don't know how many of you saw "Snow White and The Huntsman" back in 2012. If you were lucky enough to skip it, I will envy you. I think I might be a little too hard on myself, I have to admit it wasn't has horrible as the "Mirror, Mirror" movie that came out a few months before in the exact same year. But it still wasn't anything special. Its something I am having a hard time remembering because of how uneventful it was as a movie. It certainly didn't ring SEQUEL! after its release, and I hardly hear anybody talking about it. Well, scratch that, I hear nobody talking about it ever. I am not going to look up how much it grossed at the box office because I know I don't have to, is this a movie where a sequel was truly needed or better yet, wanted?

I can't speak for everyone, but I think the answer is no. But Hollywood has decided to make another mint factory out of an unneeded franchise. "The Huntsman: Winter's War" is set for release on April 22nd, 2016. It will see Chris Hemsworth reprise his role as The Huntsman and Charlize Theron as the Evil Queen. Here is a synopsis of the movie from Hitfix.com

The fantastical world of Snow White and the Huntsman expands to reveal how the fates of The Huntsman Eric and Queen Ravenna are deeply and dangerously intertwined.  Chris Hemsworth and Oscar® winner Charlize Theron return to their roles in The Huntsman Winter’s War, an epic action-adventure in which they are joined by Emily Blunt and Jessica Chastain, as well as director Cedric Nicolas-Troyan.  Producer Joe Roth (Maleficent, Alice in Wonderland) once again leads the team in a breathtaking new tale nested in the legendary saga.
Long before the evil Queen Ravenna (Theron) was thought vanquished by Snow White’s blade, she watched silently as her sister, Freya (Blunt), suffered a heartbreaking betrayal and fled their kingdom.  With Freya’s ability to freeze any enemy, the young ice queen has spent decades in a remote wintry palace raising a legion of deadly huntsmen—including Eric (Hemsworth) and warrior Sara (Chastain)—only to find that her prized two defied her one demand: Forever harden your hearts to love.
When Freya learns of her sister’s demise, she summons her remaining soldiers to bring the Magic Mirror home to the only sorceress left who can harness its power.  But once she discovers Ravenna can be resurrected from its golden depths, the wicked sisters threaten this enchanted land with twice the darkest force it’s ever seen.  Now, their amassing army shall prove undefeatable…unless the banished huntsmen who broke their queen’s cardinal rule can fight their way back to one another.

Read more at http://www.hitfix.com/motion-captured/see-theron-and-hemsworth-in-new-posters-for-the-hunstman-sequel-no-one-asked-for#R3ZZlvmbB11pRoUy.99


Here are the first four character posters for the film


Great. So since "Frozen" made Disney a lot of money we have to see The Snow Queen show up under a different pseudonym in a sequel nobody needed? I sure do love how Hollywood works! I guess Hollywood isn't going to let "Frozen" go any time soon. I know I shouldn't prejudge too much, but I am really being serious here. Did anybody want or need this sequel? Is anybody excited for this?
We should be getting a trailer soon, so this isn't the last time we will discuss this upcoming movie.

SOURCE:
http://www.hitfix.com/motion-captured/see-theron-and-hemsworth-in-new-posters-for-the-hunstman-sequel-no-one-asked-for

TV REVIEW: "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." (Episode Eight, Season Three)

TV REVIEW

AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D.

EPISODE EIGHT, SEASON THREE- "MANY HEADS, ONE TAIL"
Tonight's episode of "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." was one of the very best episodes of the series so far. I remember when this show started, and it felt like the red-headed stepchild to the greater MCU. It was kind of fun, and when it started, I was probably one of the very few who had any enthusiasm for it. But in the beginning, it felt like an NCIS with superpowers. The show morphed into something so much more, and with each season since, they are constantly changing the game they created from the beginning.

Tonight was the most exciting revelation since we found out Ward was HYDRA. This was a huge episode, huge for the show itself, huge for the possibilities that lay forth in the movies. With everything that was revealed tonight, something about what happened has to overlap into the movies eventually. When Marvel gets around to making "Inhumans," and they will, there has to be some repercussion from what is going on in the show, it has to. That is how big these decisions are, and they are leading to one of the very best seasons of the show.

So let's get something straight, Rosalind Price isn't HYDRA. Yep, the show had me fooled too, especially after her phone call with Gideon Malick last week. But she is not HYDRA. It turns out that Gideon Malick has been influencing ATCU for HYDRA. That is why Rosalind Price was in league with Gideon in the first place. But the show sure does milk the suspense in a heated exchange between Price and Coulson. Coulson's team spends the entire episode trying to get closer to the ATCU and where they keep captured Inhumans, whether through Price's guidance and trust, or not. Bobbi Morse stumbles on something, which makes the audience believe that the ATCU isn't trying to find a cure for the Inhumans, but to physically make them. But Price swears she did not know about this, she really does want to help the Inhumans, its Malick that was the bad guy, and he duped her.

But that wasn't even the most exciting revelation of the episode. Tonight also had a huge focus on Ward, and his entire history of HYDRA was turned upside down. See, HYDRA was not created during WWII, they were around before. Before they were the science and technology division of Nazi Germany, they were a space cult trying to create world domination. One of the ways they tried to gain world domination was through the monolith. Yes, Gideon Malick is in possession of a miniature monolith, the rock that sucked Jemma to another part of the universe earlier in the season. Apparently, whomever started HYDRA was an Inhuman, and he got lost on that distant planet Jemma was on. Ever since HYDRA has been preparing for their leader's arrival, and Malick is creating an army of Inhumans for him to command once he returns. 

HOW CRAZY IS THAT!

Now, I am still trying to wrap my head around HYDRA being born from a space cult. Sure, its not the comic book upbringing, but this is a different universe so that's not a big deal. I am trying to figure out if it connects with the rest of the films, and I guess I will just have to have a massive MCU fest this Thanksgiving. But the more I think about it, the more its kind of cool. Its different, but different doesn't mean bad.

Other highlights of the episode include the fight between Bobbi Morse and Mark "Iron Chef" Dacascos, an Inhuman who works for HYDRA. Lance Hunter had a couple of really funny scenes during the ATCU infiltration and Nick Blood's work since season two is making Hunter become my new favorite character on the show. I also loved that Jemma and Fitz stopped lying to themselves and finally kissed, they belong together, I think everyone can concur on that. But nothing compared to the space cult HYDRA! Now who is this Inhuman leader on the other planet? Could it be Will, the astronaut Jemma met? Could it be Jemma herself? My brain probably won't shut off tonight.

What did everyone else think?

Monday, November 16, 2015

TV REVIEW: "Minority Report (Episode Eight, Season Two)

TV REVIEW

MINORITY REPORT

EPISODE EIGHT, SEASON TWO-" THE AMERICAN DREAM"
I completely misjudged tonight's episode of "Minority Report." I thought it was going to revolve around something I noticed in the beginning of the episode. It was another throwback to the 2002 movie. We watch as a man is being arrested for the future murder of her wife, and it is a complete teleplay of the opening of the 2002 movie. I figured tonight's episode would be nothing more than just a case revolving around this opening scene.

It turns out in that case in which the father got arrested, that the stepson of the almost murdered wife was present during the arrest. The stepson would grow up to be none other than Will Blake, Vega's boss. In tonight's episode, Blake figures out why Vega has been on such a hot streak lately, he finds out that Dash is a former PreCog. What was funny is that Blake's reaction was exactly how I figured it would be. The show tried very hard to set Blake up as a side villain, somebody who would try to be a thorn in the side of Vega after finding out Dash was a PreCog. What happens is Blake allows Dash to escape police questioning and Blake, Vega and Dash all catch this week's monster. They paint it in a big broad canvass of obvious. 

This is what is driving me nuts about this show. They have so many opportunities to add some much needed tension and drama to the show, and they drop it before they know what to do with it. Blake's past could have made a very good subplot for the show and playing with Blake's feelings towards the use of PreCogs would have been equally interesting, but the show wastes any of that in one episode. This further explains my feelings of the show, it doesn't want to be anything more than a police show with a gimmick, and it hints more and more that it could be much better than that.

Some highlights was a crazy killing near the end of the episode when a miniature drone helicopter flew into a bad guys face. Honestly, didn't expect that kind of violence on this show. Blake also finds out the truth about Arthur being a PreCog too, and the exchange between the two was slightly amusing, but nothing more.

What did the rest of you think?

TV REVIEW: "Fargo" (Season Two, Episode Six)

TV REVIEW

FARGO

SEASON TWO, EPISODE SIX- "RHINOCEROS"
Things are getting bloody, and while death looms around each corner in this show, it still led to some big drama.

The show has been teasing a moment between Ted Danson's Sherriff Hank Larsson and Jeffrey Donovan's Dodd Gerhardt. Dodd brought a group of Gerhardt's to the Blumquist residents. Ed Blumquist wasn't there, and yes he really wasn't there, he was taken the local sheriff department for questioning, Solverson is closing in on them and he has all the evidence he needs. But its more than just finding the killer of Rye Gerhardt, he is trying to protect the Blumquists from getting killed by the Gerhardt's, who are ready to kill the Blumquists and whomever stands in their way. Dodd does not believe that Ed is away, and he is ready to kill him. Which leads to the scene between Larsson and Dodd. Its a magnificent scene. There is absolutely nothing better than watching two mighty actors bounce off of each other. I have to admit, I thought Danson would be done after tonight, but he merely gets knocked out. Dodd and a couple of his subordinates enter the Blumquist residence, and I have to admit, I didn't expect Peggy to be such a badass at taking care of herself, but "Fargo" is a show that is always full of surprises.

Dodd sends Bear Gerhardt to the police station, and while he's on his way, Solverson is talking to Ed. He's hoping to get him to testify, which is proven to be very hard. Ed doesn't believe just how much his life is on the line, and there is another tense scene when Bear shows up and has a stand off with Solverson. Again, its just a great example of wonderful acting. Its amazing how much tension is created in this scenes. They are wonderfully written and wickedly clever and work each and every time.

Ed asks Solverson for lawyer, and the lawyer the police department gives Ed is Karl Weathers. Weathers is the character played by Nick Offerman, whose been mostly in the background the whole season. As I have stated, each episode breaks out a certain character, and tonight's episode belonged to Offerman. If you've seen any of his movies, if you've seen his stand-up, if you ever cared to watch "Parks and Recreation," you know how good Offerman is. He's great here, oh he is great here. He shares a particularly great scene between Angus Sampson, who plays Bear Gerhardt. This season has been built on the exchanges between the characters and each episode it is a wild highlight.

Other great moments of tonight's episode includes a particularly brutal shootout between the Kansas City Mob and the Gerhardt house. Yep, the war is still waging, and it looks like things are going to continue to get ugly. I love how certain parallels have been echoing throughout the entire season, and tonight Ed Blumquist brings up the myth of Sisyphus, which put a smile on my face.

We have four episodes left, and it looks like things are going to be pretty crazy. I can't wait. What did everyone else think?

Sunday, November 15, 2015

The Death of Superman Lives: What Happened? Review

The Death of Superman Lives: What Happened? Review
In 2013, we got "Man of Steel." While it was met with lots of controversy, I still stand by the review I wrote back in that summer. I think it is a great Superman movie, and its been something I was waiting for for a very long time. I was not much of a fan of "Superman Returns." I thought some scenes and ideas were nice, but the movie ultimately didn't work for me. I thought Lex Luthor's plot was terrible. I thought the idea of Lois and Superman's child was dumb and cliche-ridden. Its not a movie I was overly-enthused about. I will say, that I think "Superman Returns," was way better than what could have been.

For some reason, Warner Brothers struggled over the years to get DC Superheroes on the big screen. Sure, Superman worked for a little bit in the 1970's, Batman worked off and on, but nothing else has. I am hoping that streak changes next year with the arrival of the DC Extended Universe of movies. But there was a time where Warner Brothers clearly just didn't get it. "Superman Lives" was a movie we almost got in the mid-1990s. This is the documentary of that Superman movie we never got. 

"Superman Lives" was to kickstart the hero in the 1990's. Warner Brothers executive Jon Peters wanted to bring Superman back to the screen and in style. Peters wanted Tim Burton to direct the movie, yes the guy behind "Batman" and "Batman Returns." Why not? He successfully brought the Caped Crusader to the big screen, couldn't do the same for The Man of Steel? Burton signed on to make "Superman Lives," and he pursued Nicolas Cage to play Superman.
Yep, its true. Nicolas Cage was almost Superman. While you may be laughing right now, or revolting in horror. Please remember one thing, everybody rejected the idea of Michael Keaton playing Batman in the late 1980's, and he ended up being one of the best actors to play the role, and that happened under Burton's watch. Could Tim Burton get Nicolas Cage to be Superman? Could Nic Cage get us to believe him as Superman? Even though it never happened, I would kind of kill to see it, even if it turned out to be a trainwreck. 

So Burton had Cage as Superman, Sandra Bullock as Lois Lane, Chris Rock as Jimmy Olsen, Christopher Walken as Brainiac and Kevin Spacey as Lex Luthor (which actually ended up happening.). Burton was working from a script whose first draft was written by Kevin Smith, yep Silent Bob himself. Smith is actually a big comic book guy, and his script was actually pretty cool. Smith's Superman script would have been the first shared universe, as he had several aspects of the DC universe in his script, including a Batman cameo. But Jon Peters wanted three specific things in the movie, Superman couldn't wear his signature suit because Peters thought it was "too faggy" (yep, the exact words of a studio exec), Superman couldn't fly, and Superman had to fight a giant spider. Why, I don't know and I don't get it. I guess Peters thought it would be exciting. Of course, when Peters was interviewed, he denied everything, so we will never know if what Smith claimed he said was true.

So Smith's script got scrapped and re-written, and that's when the crazy ideas REALLY took hold. Imagine seeing Brainiac and Lex Luthor sharing a body, with a twisting head represented both characters. Imagine a small robot following Superman around and being his sidekick because I guess that's what Superman needed. Imagine a scene where Superman randomly fought polar bears in the Fortress of Solitude. Oh, and that big Spider? Brainiac would have become that by the end of the movie.

As silly as that all sounds, it was a movie that almost got made. Nicolas Cage went through several costume tests, several costumes were made, concept art was created. There was lots of money spent on this, and right before the date of filming, WB scrapped the idea! The movie never got made. 

What's fascinating about "The Death of Superman Lives" is it really captures all of the effort and ideas that go into making a movie. Its a showing of how an idea sparks, how it hits a page and begins to become a reality, even though this particular film didn't become a reality. Its amazing to see how much effort was put into a movie that didn't get made. It is both humorous and interesting to look at something that could have been. Would a Nic Cage-led Superman movie had worked? We will never know, we will never know if Burton could have got him to work as the character. 

Documentary director Jon Schnepp gives us a great glimpse of what could have been. He makes its entertaining, funny and wisely insightful. This is a different kind of documentary, but something that was a great watch, something that should be seen by anybody who loves movies. As a comic book fan, I was glued to this. Did we dodge a bullet? Who knows, but the ride was quite fun.

FINAL GRADE: A

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse Review

Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse Review
I am writing a review for "Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse." Its everything you think it is. Its a movie about a group of boy scouts who fight zombies, that's the movie, that is what you are getting yourself into if you stumble into the theater to see this. If this is not what you want, don't go see it. Everything you need to know is in the title.

When movies are this straightforward, they run the risk of letting us down. While watching boy scouts fight off zombies might seem like a fun joke, something like this had the potential to leave a bad taste in your mouth. There have already been several zombie movies made. Lots and lots and lots of zombie movies made. I love the genre, but I don't fall head over heels about everything zombie. If a movie approaches zombies in a very general way, it looses me, because there have already been too many zombie movies like that. If a zombie movie has absolutely nothing to offer except blood and gore and allowing its characters to play duck-and-cover, I probably won't like it. This sub-genre of horror has survived through the ages because people are constantly changing it, constantly adjusting it, trying new things and being ambitious.

So I liked "Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse" not just because it revolved around boy scouts fighting zombies, it was the experience itself. It showed me things I have never seen before in a theater this year. Where else are you going to find a zombie pull a "Re-Animator" and give oral sex to a woman? Where else are you going to find a undead cat trying to eat people? Where else are you going to see a boy scout kill dozens of zombies with a weed wacker? Where else are you going to find a boy scout take a selfie with a female zombie with her breasts out? "Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse" is much more of comedy than it is a zombie-horror movie, but it made me laugh several times so I didn't care at all.

The movie is about three best friends who are boy scouts. Their names are Ben (Tye Sheridan), Carter (Logan Miller), and Augie (Joey Morgan). At the beginning of the film, they are trying to find new recruits for their boy scout group with their Scout Leader, Rogers (the always great David Koechner), but to no avail. In fact, the boys are almost juniors in high school, and they begin to wonder if the boy scout life is still for them, especially Carter who is only thinking about getting laid. When Ben and Carter get invited to a senior only party by Ben's crush Kendall (Halston Sage) and her boyfriend Jeff (Patrick Schwarzenegger), they do everything to prepare. Everything is going fine, until zombies start eating everyone around them. With the help of shotgun-wielding Denise (Sarah Dumont), Ben finds Kendall before the military destroys the town to rid it of the outbreak.

Basically that's the plot, were you expecting anything more from a zombie movie? It features everything you would want to have for a zombie movie. There is plenty of blood and gore, there are some fun one-liners and there is some big action. I have sung the praises of Tye Sheridan already, and I know already know he will be a big deal later on in life. Logan Miller was a stand-out surprise and does good work as Ben's best friend. Joey Morgan does good work as Augie. This is the second time in twenty-four hours that I have seen Halston Sage, and I got to say, I like her. David Koechner doesn't have too many parts in this movie, but he makes sure to shine in the limited screen time he as. Patrick Schwarzenegger is fine as the douche bag boyfriend, but anybody I feel could fit that role. 

Oh, and Sarah Dumont makes shooting a shotgun look goooooood.

I will say that I didn't laugh as much as I wanted to. I will also say that what bothers me about "Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse" isn't whats there, but whats not there. At an hour and a half, the whole movie feels rushed to hit that time frame. I wish the movie stopped to give us more good one-liners, more carnage, and more mayhem. I think the movie also could have paused for better character development, because even though everyone is good, this is a typical stock of characters you would find in a movie like this. Then again, for a movie titled "Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse," should I even have bothered to want any of that stuff?

FINAL GRADE: B