Best Show You Don't Know About

Best Show You Don't Know About
Leverage

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Update

I have updated the Coming Soon List.

Also, I hurt my back and have not wanted to do much sitting at the computer the last few weeks beyond my work time, so I will be back the next few days for more movie reviews and my take on the Indy 4 trailer.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Movie Review- Cloverfield

Yesterday, I had the day off and caught a 10:55 AM showing of Cloverfield. The premise is a monster movie where the monster destroys New York, but instead of being with a scientist or military guy, we are with a group of the humans who are in the destruction caused by the monster.
I don't to say too much to avoid spoilers, but, for what it is, this film is very effective. It starts with a going away party for a guy who is moving to Japan for his new job. One of his friends is videotaping goodbye wishes from the party guests. He happens to catch a glimpse of downtown New York erupting into a fireball. Destruction follows and the handheld video camera catches it all. We follow a group of 6 friends as they try to escape the destruction, the miliitary units trying to mobilize to stop the Thing, and, even the monster itself.
The film itself, without credits is only about 80 minutes long, and the party scene, as it sets up the characters, does go on a touch too long, but once the destruction happens, the tension ratchets up. This is basically "Blair Witch Project" meets "Godzilla" and, on that level it works fantastically.
The filmmakers have learned from Jaws and show enough of the creature to make it not feel like a cheat, but you only get a full view a few times. The sense of forboding is palpable. In a scene where our group is waiting on a subway platform, even though there is little dialogue, the rumbling of the creature's foootsteps and the military's artillary is omnipresent.
The cast of mainly unknowns (the biggest star is Lizzy Caplan who had a role on last yera's now defunct CBS series "The Class" and was Lindsay Lohan's partner in crime in Mean Girls) does well with their roles and, if maybe not perfect, are verybelieveable in their reactions to the chaos and destruction around them.
There are several jump to the back of your seat and scream moments, which are fun, because the tension must be released somehow.
The camerawork, depending on your viewpoint, either works or is the worst thing known to man. It's all handheld and shaky, and, as the character who is videotaping it all is running, has about 45 seconds of nothing but blur. This is the one time I do not recommend sitting on the front row.
Apparently, the actual making of this film was only done on a 25 million dollar budget, but the chaos and destruction is done so well, it seems like a 200 million dollar film. It is very believeable and I give a huge thumbs up to the visual artists.
Cloverfield does not reinvent the wheel, but, for what it is, it gives a great ride.

film- 7 (knocked down for camerawork issues)
movie- 9 (knocked down for the opening scene dragging just a touch)

Thursday, January 24, 2008

From Out of Nowhere....

comes the announcement for Season 3 of The Muppet Show! You can own more episodes of Kermit & the gang on May 20th, 2008! No word on which Muppet the packaging will feature yet.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Writer's Strike

I have been asked quite often about my opinions on the writer' strike, so I thought I would share them here. I don't want to get on my major soapbox, so I will try to keep it short-

First of all, I totally agree with the writers.

To keep this as simple as possible, there are 2 major points in the negotiations that are holding them up- "New Media Rights"- this is for Internet downloads and on things such as iTunes, and secondly, amount of money earned from DVD sales.

The studios are saying that there is absolutely no money yet for full downloads on the Internet and iTunes. Bullcrap! When you pay the $1.99 to download it from iTunes, what is that for? Shipping and handling as Jon Stewart put it? Doubtful. It's going to someone's pockets, but not the writer's. When you go and download it from the network's website, whether it's free or not, have you noticed that Coke or Chevy have ads all over the place? Does the network place those ads for free? Doubtful! Where does that money go?
The other problem with "New Media" is that writers are asked to write material for it all the time, whether it is as blogs as a specific charcater from the show, or 30 second web-isodes. The writers are asked to do that for promotion and are not paid for it. If the writers don't get paid for something, it's called promotion. If the studios don't get paid, it's called piracy.
Then, DVD sales. Writers get paid 4 cents for each DVD sold. They are asking for 8 cents. I think I can safely say that every time you purchase a DVD that has been "written", you purchase it, in some way, because of the writer. Imagine it, you are in the store and you pick up a DVD. You look at the cover, flip it over, read the back, and put it in your basket. If you found the plot synopsis interesting, that's the writer's plot. If you buy it just for Seagal or Alba (and let's face it, you're not buying it for their acting talent), they signed it because there was a script for them to be attached to. Spielberg will only direct if he has a script he likes. The reason that the caterer got paid on that film is because there was a script that all of the crew has come together on. I think the writers deserve 8 cents out of every DVD for that.

I will admit that the fact that, after tomorrow, I have no new episodes of Chuck this year and only 3 new episodes of House left, hurts. I love spending time each week with these characters, but I do feel it is for the greater good of television and movies.

Coming Soon List- January 23

I was planning on updating the coming soon list yesterday and adding a few new movie reviews today.
Ends up that not updating the Coming Soon List officially for the past 4 months took its toll. It has now taken me a total of almost 6 1/2 hours to go through all my info to basically start from scratch and get this running again.
So, after playing around with it for a bit, I have discovered how I can just update the list through Google documents and I have added the link at the top of the right hand column. I will update it every week or so with the latest information on DVD release dates.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Movie review- War

I seem to be watching a lot of brain dead films this month. The next one that my wife and I watched was called War.
It stars Jason Statham (the Transporter himself) as an FBI agent taking on the Japanese Yakuza with his partner. During a raid, his partner shoots a man in the face while saving Statham's life. It is possible that the guy who was shot was a bigtime hitman who works for the Yakuza named Rogue.
Several weeks pass by and Statham is on leave and is going to a game with his family and his partner's family. As he arrives to pick up his partner, the house is engulfed in flames and, afterward, they discover 3 bodies- his partner and family. Evidence is left that suggests Rogue.
3 years pass and Rogue (Jet Li) shows up again and is in the middle of pitting the 2 Japanese crime families against each other and Statham vows to bring Rogue to justice.
The action scenes are impressively staged and a lot of bones are broken and blood spilt. Statham and Li are both presences on screen and demand your attention. The script is all over the place with tons of exposition about the battle between the families, but none of it makes sense. Statham and Li are used well, but the supporting cast (Luis Guzman, Saul Rubinek, Matthew St. Patrick, Nadine Velazquez) are all onscreen for 5 minutes tops and dropped. Devon Aoki, who has done her own stunts in Sin City and DEBS, is wasted in her role as the daughter of one of the family heads.
There are several nice surprises in store if you can make it through the rough first hour. The last 15 minutes almost makes up for the rest- ALMOST, but it's a case of too little, too late.
This is a definite recommend for action junkies, all others- beware, depending on your tolerance of these types of films.

film- 4
movie- 6

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Movie Reviews- Resident Evil Trilogy

Again, explanation needed. Why did I watch these films? 2 words- Ali Larter. In 1999, I saw 4 different films, all having Ali in a major role and did not realize it was the same actress. The 4 films were- House on Haunted Hill (innocent brunette in a horror film who survives the climax), Final Desination (same), Legally Blonde (the heiress accused of murder), and Varsity Blues (for those who have seen the film I now have 3 words- whipped cream bikini). Anyone who can pull that off impresses me. Ali is now on the TV show Heroes (and, I will admit, she is the main reason I started watching Heroes, and, what a character intro in the pilot, huh?) She has a major role in the 3rd film in this series Extinction, so I decided to catch up on the other two before seeing her in the third.

The entire trilogy is based on a series of videogames. I'm sure the videogames were great for their time. Without Resident Evil, there would be no Silent Hill. Movies based on videogames do not have a good track record. Super Mario Bros. anyone? So, any movie based on a videogame already has 2 strikes and 3 balls against it. The first film doesn't help.

Resident Evil stars Milla Jovovich(Fifth Element) as Alice, a female (who is often found in little or no clothing) who, at the start of the film has amnesia. She wakes up in her mansion and is soon kidnapped by a bunch of SWAT memebers and taken below the mansion to help them stop a virus from being released to the general population. It seems that a deadly virus was released in a top secret lab hidden below the city and it must be stopped.
This original film is more of a horror film- tons of zombies popping up, bloody and gruesome deaths await most of the SWAT team (I must admit, the laser hallway is a great sequence), and, it has, a kick-butt chick! Halfway through Alice realizes that she is partially to blame for the outbreak and that she was a security personnel for the entry to the labs. When her life and the life of her friends are on the line, she starts taking charge!
Although not a real fan of Milla, I must admit, she looks good in the little red dress and kicking butt. I doubt if she will ever be a great actress, but she's a good actress for being an ex-model. In the film, Alice does have miraculously healing cuts and bruises, but, it is part of the fun because Milla did 90 percent of her own stunts and they decided to not cover up any of "battle scars".
The dialogue in the film is laughably bad and it is fun to mock. From talking to a fan of the games, he said that the sets were amazing because they were straight out of the game. There are a couple of good fight scenes, but, overall, nothing too impressive.

film rating- 1 (for Milla's red dress and art direction)
movie rating- 3

Resident Evil- Apocalypse

This takes place immediately after the end of the first film. This film's tone is more futuristic sci-fi action than horror. Alice (Milla) has been kidnapped by the evil corporation and has had her genes spliced with the virus. Not only did she survive but now she has superhuman abilities.
Racoon City has been overtaken by the virus, the city walls are closed, and only a few survivors are struggling to stay away from the infected, and they arent winning. As always, a small group has banded together. They discover that the main scientist(from the secret underground lab in part 1) has lost his daughter in the zombified city and that the government is going to send a nuclear weapon over the city at dawn to contain the outbreak. He offers room on the last helicopter out of the city to the small band if they get his daughter.
Alice is given a bit of help by Jill Valentine, a tough female cop trying to get out of the city. Milla has a new provacative outfit and Jill is a cop in hot pants and tube top and adds to the scenery as well. There is an impressive new villain in Nemesis(with a surprising connection to the first film) and the final battle between Nemesis and Alice is a visual treat.
The dialogue is still horrendous, but there is a greater sense of fun here. Again, no great shakes, but the fact that this is a true sequel with strong connections to the first film shows that the filmmakers at least tried with this one. A definite step up.

film- 3
movie- 6

Resident Evil- Extinction

Guess what? The nuclear bomb didnt stop the spread of the virus! It is 5 years later and the world is now barren and, yet again, another band of survivors is trying to find a place to settle down where they wont be visited by Zombies. The leader of this band is Claire Redfield (Ali Larter) and they have a convoy of trucks. Alice is travelling alone, just trying to survive because she knows that the Evil Corporation is hunting her down to take advantage of her powers.
Of course, Alice finds Claire and the convoy needs to find gas to head up to Alaska where they feel they may be safe. They are in the Western US and decide the best place for gas before their trip may be Las Vegas. So they head to Vegas while the corporation starts tracking Alice.
This is basically Road Warrior with zombies and hot butt-kicking chicks instead of Mel Gibson. Parts of it are just as cheesy as part one, but the fun of the Vegas Strip under sand and some more great stunts by Milla help. In films like this, you know that characters are only introduced to become zombie food and the audience can enjoy watching the band get smaller. I will admit that I was surprised with who dies and the order of it all. Characters that I just knew were going to live got chomped earlier than I would have guessed. That put a bit of suspense into the proceedings.
Dialogue is again atrocious, but by now, it's almost endearing. ("What are we doing?" "Getting out of here!") Milla and Ali look great. The final 10 minutes takes an interesting turn, and, I will admit, the final shot made me sad that I wasn't watching these in preparation for Resident Evil 4.
The amount of fun as a whole is lessened, but the final 10 minutes and a few surprising and shocking sequences almost make up for it.

film-2
movie-5

None of these will stand the test of time. 20 years from now, no one will remember these (unless they are still cranking out sequels). These are not high art by any means. The reason for these films is simple- to make money by showing the audience the blood, guts, and gore of a zombie movie by having kick-ass chicks looking hot while killing the zombies. At least some thought has gone into the plotting of the scripts, even if dialogue was missed completely. If you just want to turn your brain off, there are much better films to watch, but these will do. These would also make for a fun MST3K-type style of Saturday night and you may hate yourself for actually defending certain scenes here or there.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Movie reviews

I am going to post a ton of movie reviews tonight. I was going to post last night, but had to help a friend. Stay tuned!