30 Sep 2013

A Scotsman Talks To A Hipster Cowboy On A Stripey Couch

One of the biggest on going issues I have with Steven Moffat's time as show runner on Doctor Who (and more so in these last couple years than in the beginning) is the insistence on providing answers to questions that weren't asked, and solving mysteries that aren't mysteries.

I use this as a preface to the above interview with Steven Moffat on Nerd Cubed. It's a half hour long, and contains much that is fun and enjoyable, but there is a bit where they begin discussing the fact that Dozenth Doctor Peter Capaldi has appeared in universe twice already, once in the Fires of Pompeii, and again in the best role and performance from Torchwood: Children of Earth. And instead of just ignoring this fact and allowing the suspension of disbelief to carry the viewer through, he said:
"I’ll let you in on this. I remember Russell [T. Davies, former showrunner] told me he had a big old plan as to why there were two Peter Capaldis in the Who universe, one in Pompeii and one in Torchwood. When I cast Peter, he got in touch to say how pleased he was I said 'Okay, what was your theory and does it still work?' and he said 'Yes it does, here it is'."
Actors appearing on the series multiple times is nothing new. Nicholas Courtney appeared in a first Doctor serial before joining the show as the Brigadier, Sixth Doctor Colin Baker showed up as an entirely different Time Lord in a Fourth Doctor episode, recent companions Freema Agyeman and Karen Gillan both had roles before they stepped on board the TARDIS, the list goes on and on. After 50 years, you shouldn't expect any less. There isn't a need to introduce unnecessary reasoning behind things that don't need to be explained. That way lies only plot holes and narrative gymnastics that threaten to alienate the viewers. That, and you've already dealt with this exact premise with the most recent companion, and that story turned out to be a great load of shite. 

Just leave it alone, write good episodes that don't fold over on themselves like a Möbius strip, and let Capaldi be impressive, as he no doubt will be.

Via Den of Geek.

What Is It With Squirrels All Of A Sudden?

Let's be honest here, there isn't any other news today beyond the fact that Breaking Bad ended last night, and I haven't watched it yet. So I'm wading through the minefield of spoilers that is the internet with trepidation today. As far as I'm concerned, I've got my fingers stuck in my ears, singing la-la-la until I timeshift my ass tonight.

Here is a trailer for Peter Lepeniotis’ animated film The Nut Job, based on his own short film. Set in the 1950's, it follows a squirrel and rat duo as they plan to rob a nut store, which I don't think are things that actually exist (nut stores, that is. My thoughts on squirrels are well documented). It doesn't look spectacular, the cast is the stand mixture of comedians, A-listers looking for an easy cheque and people who can't get hired to do anything else, and they've reused the Despicable Me fonts for the tag cards. with a release in January, I suspect Nut Job will be one of those films that only the most desperate of parents ever see, and that everyone will forget ever existed by mid-February.

So, why am I bothering to post it at all? Because it has absolutely nothing to do with Heisenberg. That's why.

[Review] - Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs 2

Courtesy of Sony Animation
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs was an odd duck. The oddest I've seen in some time. Here was a film, based on a children's book, that while aesthetically appealing to children, was 90 minutes of Python-like absurdity. It was clever and original and wickedly funny, and featured Bruce Campbell as a villain. There was everything to love about that film, and you didn't have to be five to find any charm. In fact, it was far more satisfying form an adult perspective than any non-Pixar animated film to come out in a decade. And Sony, being Sony, has never met an idea they couldn't hammer into the ground while attempting to make it a franchise. Cloudy was a film that didn't need a sequel, was not naturally born to a sequel, and now in the aftermath of a sequel, should never have gotten a sequel.

Cloudy 2 lacks any of the spark that made the first film great. It relies too heavily on revisiting the jokes from the first film, has no original theme to explore and wasted all of the best jokes in the trailer. It's a tepid rehash that can best be described as maintaining the law of diminishing returns that governs Sony Animation. This is a film whose only charm could be found by five year olds.

Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers that is not a monkey.

27 Sep 2013

Marvel Teases, And DC Scrambles Desperately

Marvel has officially released the San Deigo Comic-con teaser for Age of Ultron. They call it a teaser, but it contains no new footage, dialogue recycled from the previous films (and in Thor's case, doesn't make sense in context), so let's call this what it is: it's an announcement trailer. It's sure as hell effective, and if it weren't for Guardians of the Galaxy, I don't think I'd last having to wait two years to see what Joss Whedon is going to give us this time. Marvel could have thrown us a bone, gotten James Spader to record a single line of dialogue, and stuck that onto the end of this thing. Just something a bit more, to get us shaking.

Meanwhile, in another universe, DC and Warner Bros. try desperately to remain relevant (also, if you haven't heard Chris Hemsworth deliver the final blow in the Marvel/DC rivalry, you really should). At a recent corporate event, Warner Bros. CEO Kevin Tsujihara announced that adaptions of DC properties (which, being a wholly owned subsidiary of Warners, they own all of) will form the backbone of the Warner Bros. cinematic output for the foreseeable future, saying "I think the basis, foundation of those 12 to 14 pictures are going to be coming from DC Entertainment." Since saying this, they have announced... no new films beyond Super Love On The Bat Boat. They did announce a deal with CBS for a potential series following an up and coming young Jim Gordon.

And today they have announced a possible television adaptation of Vertigo star John Constantine who in the books is a Cockney magician with substance abuse issues, and not Keanu Reeves. Which is good news. It will be overseen by Daniel Cerone, making him the second former The Mentalist writer getting into bed with DC, and producer David S. Goyer, writer of Man of Steel and the upcoming Superman 2: Bat Harder. That's not so good. The series is being set up at NBC... frell me, that's never a good sign.

Um, OK, just forget I mentioned this. Because... huh, really Warners? NBC? Did everyone else give it a pass, or did you shoot straight for the bottom of the barrel? Because if everyone else gave it a pass, and NBC picked it up, that should tell you something. That tells you to pack it up, go home, and reevaluate your life that it brought you to this point.

Via Den of Geek.

Tiff Experiences An Evolution

With the Toronto International Film Festival all wrapped up, the TIFF Bell Lightbox is set to unveil their first original exhibition. The Lightbox is one of my favourite places, and the exhibitions they've hosted in the past have been extraordinary, so I'm excited to see how they make out with their first original touring show. According to TIFF, "David Cronenberg: Evolution, parallels David Cronenberg's evolution as a filmmaker with his longstanding fascination with the possibilities and perils of human evolution itself." The exhibit, opening November 1st, will explore the evolution of Cronenberg's career, themes and style in three separate sections, which will include "sixty original artifacts, visionary designs, and rare and unseen footage."

As well, TIFF will be devoted to Cronenberg over the winter. Special guests, such as Jeremy Irons and Howard Shore, will be introducing special screenings of Cronenberg's films, and the theatre will be playing a selection of films that influenced, or have been influenced by the director, including a retrospective entitled
Psychoplasmic Panic! Cronenberg and the Rise of Body Horror which looks fantastic. There will also be interactive components to the exhibition, including Body/Mind/Change, billed as an experience that "immerses audiences in a 'Cronenbergian' world inspired by the film Videodrome, re-imagined for the 21st century," and the Virtual Exhibition, an online collection of interviews, production materials, essays and interactive components created in collaboration with OCAD University, Sheridan College, and York University.

The exhibition runs from November 1st to January 19th. Tickets went on sale earlier this week.


[Opinion] - Capitalism Slugfest

As I'm sitting down the other night to watch Agents of SHIELD, the above commercial came on. Like any sensibly human being, I ignore commercials, as they are little more than institutionalised pee breaks. I heard the Siri voice, and assumed that it was another one of Apple's dynamic advertising campaigns (read: hipsterish and annoying). It wasn't until later in the evening that I paid attention, and realised it was an ad for the Microsoft Surface, a decidedly not Apple product. The ad not only utilises the artificial human voice, but features the iPad prominently, and straight up price checks the difference between the two, all the while Siri laments her life choices.

I'm a big fan of this sort of aggressive advertising. Gone are the days of friendly competition, now we live in the cut throat era, one FCC deregulation away from company mascots beating on each other, Thunderdome style. Two products enter, one product leaves.

Hit the jump for more musings on the degraded levels of decency in corporate advertising. Brought to you by Quiznos: because Subway tastes like shit.

26 Sep 2013

Violence: Is There Anything It Can't Fix?

When things don't work, hit them. This is how I fix any unexpected problems with televisions, computers, and day labourers. The long, proud history of percussive maintenance must be upheld, as it has been in films and television for years. As this super cut clearly demonstrates.

Via The Mary Sue.

He Loves Nothing!

The Parks and Rec promotional team are pretty great at what they do, and this super cut of Ron Swanson feeling and expressing emotions is as much proof as you need that they earn their pay checks (since they work for NBC, I assume they get paid in what, bird seed? Tuffs of Brian Williams hair? NBuCks, which can be redeemed for items and foodstuffs at the company store?).

Let this video evidence remind you of two things. First, emotions are highly overrated, and you can get by with just the basic Feel Groups: placid, content, hungry, rage and terror. And also, that Parks and Rec returns with their London adventure tonight at eight on NBC, which is still a functioning broadcast network, and not just a crazy man shouting into an empty tin of peas.

Via Uproxx.

[Review] - Agents Of SHIELD, Season 1 Episode 1, "Pilot"

Courtesy of Marvel Television
Let's take a moment to recognise how absurd it is that we're here, talking about a Marvel TV series. This shouldn't have happened, the Avengers experiment should not have succeeded. Iron Man didn't have a finished script when filming began, and because of the writer's strike, it never would get one. On top of that, it was a film about a (let's be honest here) third tier character that only diehard fans would have been able to say anything about, played by a washed up actor who hadn't had a hit in years. It was followed by the Hulk, a franchise that had already stumbled in a previous outing, and is doggedly entrenched in the memory of the 30 year old TV show that people were complaining that the giant green rage monster not being a body builder painted green made it look too fake.

Against all odds, a series of films focusing on obscure characters who all had their heyday in the seventies became a hit. And the mashup film became a phenomenon. Which doesn't happen either. The last successful mashup film was a Universal monster movie made before the War, and even then it was mostly crap. Nothing Marvel has done to this point had any reason to work. and neither should this series. Billion dollar film franchises don't get TV spinoffs. They get TV reboots twenty years down the line. They get TV ripoffs, and bandwagon jumpers. They don't get concurrent supplements, to sate a constant craving from the adoring fans. So, how did they do?

Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers that, where they're going, don't need roads.

25 Sep 2013

In A Town This Bent...

Courtesy of DC Animation.

It's odd that, considering that Batman is the only DC property that makes consistent money, or that Warner Bros. is willing to get themselves excited about, the Dark Knight has only appeared in animated form on television since the '66 series. Wonder Woman had a live action series, there was an attempt to make a Justice League show (of all things), there have been two real people Superman series in the last twenty years (one of which lasted for exactly half that length), Green Arrow has had two major television roles, Flash had one, and is getting another. They came this close to making an Aquaman TV show, for the love of gods.

It's not like they haven't tried to move the Caped Crusader onto the small screen. Smallville tried no less than three times: initially pitching the series as the journey of a young Bruce Wayne, creating the character of Adam Knight, and the role that eventually became Oliver Queen (who remained pseudo-Batman in all but name only). But most of the reasoning behind that was DC didn't want to interfere with Nolan's cinematic efforts. That, and the memory of Birds of Prey was still fresh in the minds of the dozen people who watched it (though, again, no actual Batmaning in that series). There was also interest in getting the fantastic Gotham Central adapted to screen, though that went nowhere (again, partly due to the Dark Knight films).

Now that everyone is firmly in reboot mode, Warner's is taking another shot, this time with a series called Gordon, which is under development by Mentalist creator Bruno Heller at FOX. The series will follow a young Jim Gordon in his early career as he works in the corrupt Gotham Police force in the very pre-Batman days, once again avoiding the issue of having competing Batmen on screen of different sizes at the same time. I have no problem with this. I think a lot of Batman's world would work far better on television than in films (Batman: the Animated Series proved this long ago), and setting a police procedural in that environment seems like a no-brainer. I'd much rather have a straight up Batman series, on FX or HBO, but I'll take what I can get.

It's not on the CW, so Gordon probably won't be played by a former catalogue model acting while a Top 40 track is dubbed over the dialogue. That, at least, is something.

Via ComicsAlliance.

When Seeking Help, Always Ask Advice From Those Who Have No Idea What They Are Talking About

Every Young Man's Battle is a video of pure intent that aims to help youths overcome the all consuming malevolent force that is pornography. The sort of pornography that you get drunk and watch with your friends, on what I can only assume is VHS. The sort of VHS where the quality is severely reduced in some parts due to constant pausing and rewinding. And would only inevitably lead to several people being very uncomfortable, while others are far too comfortable.

This video looks (read: probably was) put together by people who: 1) have never actually seen pornography, but have had it described to them by the sort of people who would know about that sort of thing; 2) were trained in the arts of acting, directing and video editing 7 minutes before they started to film; 3) could not find any actual youths to appear in the video, and therefor had to settle for the least old looking folks who attended that week's prayer circle casting call.

But remember kids, if your strangely aggressive and vindictive friends ever invite you over to watch pornography with them, just say no. Instead, pay a visit to your single, ginger-moustached councillor in the middle of the night while the lyrics "inside out" seductively croon from somewhere deep within the house. Because that will end with innocence being preserved.

And if you're going to group watch porn, definitely do it with a guy this well adjusted.

Dude just wanted to share the wonder
that is the human body with his chum.

Now there is no one with whom to share. 

Newsroom Season 3 To Take Some Time

Despite season 2 having stable ratings, and Jeff Daniels' surprising (and, in competition with both Bryan Cranston and Kevin Spacey, undeserving) Emmy win the other night, HBO has still not given any indication of a season 3 pick up for Newsroom, beyond their previous statement concerning scheduling. Turns out the reason for this might not be network hesitation, but creator hesitation. Speaking to Anne Thompson at an Emmy party Sunday night, Aaron Sorkin said that "I need time to think about it."

Exactly what he means isn't exactly clear. However, it might be surmised that he is currently busy with the adaptation of Walter Isaacson's Steve Jobs biography, currently under development at Sony. Sorkin prefers to work on one thing at a time, having previously chosen not to continue Sport Night at HBO in order to focus on his new series, West Wing, at NBC. Indeed, his participation in this Jobs bio-pic has been postponed due to his involvement with season two of the Newsroom. So, a logical analysis of both his and HBO's comments might be that, he wants to focus on the Steve Jobs job, HBO wants a third season of Newsroom, and both can't happen at the same time. Sony has already been waiting (I'm sure they would have preferred to have something to market to compete with Ashton Kutcher's recent Jobs), and should probably be the next to get a kick at the can.

I have no doubt we'll eventually get a third season of Newsroom, if HBO wants it badly enough. We just might have to wait longer for it. Instead of a summer 2014 release, it might be a winter 2014, or even a summer 2015 release. HBO, because they are beholden to no one, can make that sort of schedule work, and hope that the viewers will return. Of course, if Sorkin waits a year, he might skip the whole show forward a year, and that'll mean these predictions were for nothing.

What do you mean they were for nothing anyway? You don't think Sorkin reads this prattle? You don't think he... nah, you're right. I can't even fake indignation.

Via Collider.

24 Sep 2013

Simon Barry Sees The Future Of Continuum

With season 2 behind us and season 3 confirmed, Simon Barry, creator of the hit Canadian time travel drama Continuum (of which I am a big fan, and have covered at length), spoke to Collider at length about how the writers have structured the show, and how he sees it moving forward, and for how long.

Speaking to the growing complexity of the show's mythology, Barry revealed, "In the first season, we had an over-abundance of ideas. We had more ideas than we could possibly put into the episodes, so a lot of things were pushed into Season 2, and some things are actually going to be pushed into Season 3." This long form method of planning certainly shows in the series' tendency to slow-burn the mythology, a pace I prefer to the "throw everything against the walls and see what sticks" attitude of a lot of genre shows. He elaborated, "The big things in the show were certainly planned, early on. Some of the smaller little things are either happy accidents or sometimes they’re just discoveries along the way that we wanted to expand because either the idea just improved with age...with characters like Kellog and Garza, I might not have been able to predict how deep we’d go and how many surprises we could have mined from them."

Of the many things that impressed me about season two over season one was how much they owned what they were, what Barry refers to as "backdoor superhero show," though that label seems too narrow band and sensationalistic to me. The mythology became deeper, the characters became more complex and the procedural aspects of the show took a back seat to just letting the show be what it needed to be. Happily, all of that was by Barry's design, with him saying that "Season 2 was really our attempt to be the show that was not just trying out." And it showed. Some shows, especially those on network, struggle to balance their own creative force with audience accessibility for their entire runs, to the detriment of the show. Continuum has shrugged that off, in favour of doing a quality programme.

Looking ahead into season 3, Barry has a plan. "Season 3 definitely has a major component of Freelancer activity and the mythology of the Freelancers, as it relates to the larger mythology of the show, the future and Alec Sadler... It is a time travel show, after all, and we’ve always wanted to explore more time travel on the show.  So, we really planned ahead, that this would be our second use of time travel, after the original incident in Season 1... I think in the first episode of Season 3, there will be no more questions about how this works or how to tell stories using time travel." I hope they don't answer all of the questions, as part of the fun of the series is trying to work out how everything works for myself. but it's not all just timey-whimey stuff that is left to explore. Said Barry, "I actually do know what’s going to happen to Carlos and Julian, and they’re both going to have interesting lives in Season 3... Julian’s role is going to evolve in a way that’s surprising, and I think Carlos is certainly going to show a different side of himself that will challenge everyone."

There will be at least two new characters added to the already diverse cast, but ultimately season 3 will "look at sacrifice as a theme... Especially in time travel, every decision has a consequence. We always felt like we hadn’t really mined the notion of sacrifice to its full extent, given the world that we’re playing in. There are high stakes." Looking even farther ahead, when asked about the future of the series, Barry's writers "had an arbitrary number of seven years," which is the standard goal for science fiction series, based off the success of Star Trek: The Next Generation's run. And they'll continue to do it on "not even a real TV budget.  We’re on what we would call a good Canadian budget... The struggle for us is making a show that looks like it has the same budget as Arrow, or something that is in our wheelhouse, but we’re doing it for half the price." I say they are doing a far better job than what others would do with triple their budget.

To read the complete interview, including how far planned Jason, Escher and Alec's relationship was planned out, and some of the other challenges season 2 presented, I recommend heading over to Collider

Ain't No Power In The Verse Can Stop It

Get within shouting distance of anyone involved with Firefly, and it's only a matter of time before someone asks when it's coming back, when there will be another film, or when the series will move to cable or Netflix. Or when Joss Whedon will just get the gang back together, and film them hanging out in his backyard (wait...). In a way, that question has finally been answered, with the announcement that Dark Horse, publishers of the Buffy Seasons 8 and 9, and the various Serenity comics will be continuing the story of Serenity in a new on-going series. With the exception of Float Out, all of the previous comics were set during or between the series and the film, whereas this new series will be an official continuation, picking up shortly after the film and, as Comic Book resources describes it,
"Mal and the crew are recouping from their recent strike against the sinister interplanetary government, The Alliance, in which they exposed government agencies as those responsible for the creation of the Reavers -- the scourge of the universe. With River Tam in the co-pilot chair and a very pregnant Zoe reeling from the death of her husband, Wash, Mal is finding himself and his ship in greater danger than ever."

The writer has yet to be revealed on the series (smart money would be on Zack Whedon, who has penned the three most recent Serenity offerings), but the artist has been revealed to be Georges Jeanty, who has been the regular artist on the Buffy continuation since 2007. Said Jeanty on the challenge of making the switch, "With Firefly there are seven characters and a ship to consider. When they're on Serenity -- fans know what every inch of that ship looks like, so I have to be very meticulous with my depiction. Not to mention there are a few very subtle differences in the ship from TV to the movie." When seeking inspiration for his art, Jeanty seems to be looking in the right places, saying, "Artist Mobius is a big inspiration, along with Geof Darrow. Walt Simonson on Alien is a good thing to keep handy. Also, movies like Blade Runner, Outland, Alien -- anything with a rustic futuristic feel." Not the first time a comparison has been drawn between Alien and Firefly, I might add.

Personally, I gave up on the Buffy books a while ago. To me, Buffy has run it's course a couple time, and Angel sputtered shortly thereafter. Serenity has literally worlds of places left to go, and I'm sure that Whedon has communicated a range of ideas he had back in the day to whomever is going to be writing this book (when he's got the time between other things). And Jeanty is a solid artist when it comes to the fantastical beasts and environments of the Buffy-verse. However, his characters have had a sameness to them that never really gripped me (everyone looks so damned youthful). Not in the way, for instance, Karl Moline rendered the characters during his brief stint. Not that it matters; this is an easy decision for me. So long as the series stays true to the characters, and has interesting stories to tell, I'm in.

It's also as good a sign as any from The Powers That Be that Serenity's future lies on the page, and not on the screen. And I'm alright with that too.

Via Comic Book Resources.

[Review] - Breaking Bad, Season 5 Episode 15, "Granite State"

Courtesy of AMC
Before we continue any further, can we all acknowledge how excellent a casting move it was to get Robert Forster to play Saul's fixer? While Breaking Bad has never seemed overtly Leonardian, it certainly owes a lot to Elmore Leonard and his pioneering the criminals-as-protagonists genre. It certainly shares Elmore's modern day western motif. So who better, in the dying embers of the series, to bring a bit of cold pragmatism to the series than someone who owes the success of the last two decades of his career to Leonard's writing. He isn't a friend, he isn't rooting for Walter to succeed, and he isn't in this for the moral victory over authority. He's a guy, doing a job, getting paid, and not willing to risk anything. 

He's Walter, if Walter had never had ambition. He plans, he acts, and he never goes above and beyond. If Walter had done that, if he had stuck to the plan all the way back in the beginning, he would have made a couple hundred thousand, his family would have been secure, and he would have died happy. Now, he's alone and cold, alternating between passion fuelled vengeance and absolute defeat. He's got a barrel full of money that he can't spend, a family that fears and hates him, and nothing left to live for. 

Hit the jump for the review which contains spoilers that understand Todd's Neo-Nazi Batman isn't the home invader we need, but the home invader we deserve.

23 Sep 2013

No Posts Today

There will no posts today, as the author takes a mental health day. He currently has no idea where he is, and what he is doing there. He leaves it to decide if he is being metaphorical, or if he is literally wandering through a barren wasteland, with no memory of the past 72 hours, and shockingly devoid of pants.

20 Sep 2013

Oh, The Waiting Is The Hardest Part...

Back a couple episodes on Breaking Bad, I noted how the only character I felt sorry for that week was Huell, Saul's long suffering body man, after he got completely conned by Hank. This video does not make me feel any better about his situation. The set up for the joke only makes sense if you've seen the most recent episode (and really, if you haven't, what is wrong with you), but the rest is sheer brilliance in it's simplicity. Like the Everyobdy Loves Hypnotoad episode included on that one Futurama DVD, Huell Waits is a certain kind of genius.

Man can follow an order, though, can't he?

Via Uproxx.

You Can't Have The Duffy Without The Wynn

Details about Justified's upcoming fifth season are still frustratingly few, some vague rumours aside. One thing that can be reported as "known" is that series long adversary and cockroach-in-a-nuclear-explosion Wynn Duffy, played with reserve and television's best upper third of a head by Jere Burns, has been promoted to a series regular.

Anyone can, and often does, die on Justified, but the regular cast has been remarkably stable over the first four years of the show. So far, as long as they've appeared in the opening credits, a character has been guaranteed a degree of security. Not so much in the reoccurring and guest starring roles. Duffy has thus far survived Raylan, Quarles, Nick Augustine and Graham Yost twice, and has been awarded for that survival with the promise of longevity. He'll start season five as Detroit's top man in Kentucky, and able to exert a degree of control over the Crowder crime syndicate after his late season four manipulation of a broken and dejected Boyd.

Via Uproxx.

[List] - The News Stories Season Three Of The Newsroom Should Cover

Courtesy of HBO

Season one of the Newsroom was entirely structured around the characters reacting to real world events. Season two toned this way down in favour of their own original story, Genoa, and increased character development (successfully or not). While real world events were still incorporated into the narrative, like the Occupy movement or the Election, they were used more as a rally point for the episodes, rather then as the primary motivation for the characters.

Primary or secondary interest besides, one big disappointment for me was the almost complete absence of Hurricane Sandy in season two. This was a huge oversight on the show's part, and should have been the focus of at least one episode, though probably deserving of a two parter. Sandy was a debilitating event, that shut down the city of New York, and would have dramatically effected the lives of these characters. Instead, all we got were two passing references to Sandy relief funds late in the season (I have to wonder if Sandy coverage wasn't something sacrificed in the loss of one episode).

No matter what form the incorporation of real world events takes in the presumptive third season, whether they are brought once more to the forefront, or if they are pushed even further back in favour of original content, 2013 has seen some big stories break that really should be referenced. If the fictional News Night means to keep up the pretence of taking place in our world, not reporting these stories will destroy any suspension of disbelief that is left.

Hit the jump for the list, which includes spoilers for the events of the previous year. In case you're Merlin, or just really unaware of world events.

19 Sep 2013

Trailer Thursday: Toy Story Of Terror

The first trailer (or, to be more accurate, TV promo) for Pixar's Toy Story of Terror has been released, and there really isn't anything to say other than the expectation is that Pixar will be as adept at making 22 minute long shorts as they have been making five minute long shorts, and that they will be as adept at making a Toy Story short as they have been at making Toy Story films. The entire voice cast has returned, and while I don't have any particular wish to ever see a Toy Story 4, I wouldn't be against having a Toy Story TV special every couple years.

In related news, Pixar has announced that due to Bob Peterson's removal as director of The Good Dinosaur, and a replacement beyond the Pixar Brain Trust has yet to be found, the release date for that film has been pushed back to November 25, 2015. Which was the original release date for Finding Dory, necessitating a move for that film to June 26, 2016 (which as a summer release will undoubtedly mean more money for the studio). This leaves Pixar without a 2014 release, the first time since 2005's gap between the Incredibles and Cars. Peterson's removal from The Good Dinosaur is nothing new, Pixar has relieved directors on films that just aren't working as far back as Toy Story 2. But it doesn't help a studio that has seen a drop in quality over the last few offerings.

Only time, plus a little extra, will tell if Dinosaur will be better for the delay.

Via Collider.

Trailer Thursday: Thor: The Dark World

This is billed as an extended version of the most recent trailer for Thor 2, which is just over a month away from release. I don't see a difference, but maybe keener eyed folk will spot the difference. Either way, it's a good enough segway into the news that Joss Whedon rewrote a few select scenes of the Thor sequel. According to the film's director, Alan Taylor:
"He came down, rewrote the scene, and before he got back to his plane I sort of grabbed him and said, ‘And this scene and this scene?’ And he rewrote two other scenes that I thought had problems. Then finally we let go of him, he took off again, and we shot the scenes; and they were just much better and much lighter on their feet. Much more fun, much more surprising than what we had been trying to do. I can relate to guys who come out of the TV world, since that’s where I come from. And being able to land and work and solve a problem quickly… I really was grateful."
Now, some might see this as a sign that the Thor sequel was on uneven ground from the start, and added to rumours of discontent between Taylor and Marvel concerning the final cut of the film might mean that the follow up to my personal favourite of the Phase 1 films will be less than spectacular. I, however, see this for what it is: Joss Whedon doing what Marvel hired him to do. His job is to oversee the development of Phase 2, to aid the filmmakers in creating a shared narrative, and giving assistance in those areas that require it. Whedon, on top of his Avengers duties, is also the Fixer of the MCU. The Harvey Keitel from Pulp Fiction of Kevin Feige's vision. Dark World needed a punch up, and Whedon obliged.

"Whedon obliged" sounds like it should be on a t-shirt.

Via First Showing.

Trailer Thursday: Last Days On Mars

A horror movie set on Mars sounds like an idea that would be hard to screw up. And yet, everyone save Doctor Who has done just that. To the point that I thought the horrors on Mars genre was pretty much dead. I should have known better.

I'm not saying Last Days On Mars is going to change the trend. From this trailer, it looks like yet another Alien clone. Yet Ruairi Robinson's film, starring Liev Schreiber, Elias Koteas, and Olivia Williams might have its charms. Or it might completely suck. Either way, I won't ever not be impressed by Schreiber's voice.

The film is out today in the UK, and in North America in December.

18 Sep 2013

Nothing Beside Remains

If you haven't watched the most recent episode of Breaking Bad, Ozymandias, do not watch this video. it contains heartbreaking spoilers. But if you have watched the episode, feel free to enjoy this video of Bryan Cranston's reading of the Shelley poem, laid over scenes from the episode.

It is exactly what it needs to be.

Via Uproxx.

The Dark Knight Continues?

You can say this about the internet, it never gives up on something it likes. And a lot of people liked Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy (I was partial to only two thirds, myself). So, it was only a matter of time before some industrious fans decided to keep it going. And that's exactly what these folks have done. Over on Indiegogo, they are looking for donations to make the first full episode of The Dark Knight Legacy: The Ultimate Batman Fan Series, the teaser of which they've released as part of Machinima's second annual interactive film festive. The proposed series would follow John Blake as Nightwing, and a version of Stephanie Brown that is apparently just an Aryan version of Renee Montoya.

The teaser is fine. That's the truth of it. I've seen better fan films, and I've seen far worse. The production values seem high, or at least do a good enough job of making them look better than they are. But the writing is simplistic and the acting is... adequate. Their version of the Penguin is flat out embarrassing, verging on parody, but I did like their version of the Ventriloquist. And this version of Red Hood seems like it would fit perfectly into the cinematic continuity. So, watch this, donate to their cause if you want, or don't and wait until inevitably the next enterprising group of youngsters with a camera take Nolan's vision into their own hands.

Via the Mary Sue.

[Review] - The Newsroom Season 2 Finale, Episode 9 "Election Night, Part II"

Courtesy of HBO
There is a scene in the fourth season of West Wing. It isn't boisterous, ranting, or grandiose; it's low key and humbled. It's one of my favourites, and you can see it here. It's taken from the episode Arctic Radar, just as Rob Lowe's Sam had left the series and Will Bailey had joined the cast. Will finds Toby in the mess hall, struggling with the inaugural address, and Toby confesses that he's been suffering from writer's block. It's a speech that every writer can sympathise with, and it's one of the character's more humanising moments. But it's more than that. It's Sorkin, voicing a kind of mea culpa. To that point, he had written or co-written 73 episodes of The West Wing. The show and it's creator had won awards, received acclaim and had lofty expectations thrust upon them by the public, by the network and by himself. And it was taking a toll.

He had recently been arrested for possession of cocaine and other controlled substances, representing a lapse in a half decade long sobriety. The writing in the first half of season 4 lacked the same power and punch as the three preceding years. By the end of the year, Sorkin would leave the show, and wouldn't return to television for another four years. This moment with Toby was his admission that things - that he - wasn't what he once was. That he was having a rough time of it, that he was aware of it, and that, in the words of Will McAvoy a decade later, "the first step in solving any problem is recognising that there is one." Each of Sorkin's shows has had an author avatar: with Sport Night it was (probably) Dan, with West Wing it was Toby, with Studio 60 it was Matt, and in Newsroom it is Will. Will, who is the smartest guy in the room, gifted in his field, and prone to wild swings of emotion when it comes to his "invisible friends." The sort of person who takes the things people say about them on the internet too personally. The sort of person who will try too hard to impress people he will never meet rather then satisfy his own wanting to do what he knows he should.

Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers that think Elizabeth Windsor is doing a fine job.

17 Sep 2013

Remember Mortal Kombat? It's Back, In Internet Short Film Form

Do you remember the first season of Kevin Tancharoen's Mortal Kombat: Legacy? 'Cause I sure as hell didn't. I do now, that this trailer for season 2 has appeared, but if you had searched my mind grapes yesterday, that information would have been so deeply hidden as to have been practically nonexistent. I remember being disappointed in the first season, especially in the shadow of the fantastic short that preceded it. I liked the idea of a stripped down, real world version of Mortal Kombat, and about half way through season one, they just completely abandon that premise and go full on dark and gritty reboot, with all the supernatural elements in place. Not that it wasn't well done, just not what I had come in expecting.

Anyway, that was 2 years ago, and next Thursday, the complete second season will be available on Machinima, if you are into that sort of thing.

Via /Film.

At Least You Never Have To Wonder Which Episode You're Watching

Last week, we had the official reveal of the title of the Doctor Who 50th anniversary special. Then, a day later, we got the official poster for the Doctor Who 50th anniversary special. My money was on getting the first trailer by the end of the week. That didn't happen. So, in place of any further information coming from the Beeb just now, here is a compilation of all the times since the revival that an episode name has been dropped by a character in the episode. Not counting all the times Steven Moffat has had them turn the phrase "Doctor who?" over the past series and a half.

Which, for the record, is a nosey little in-joke that isn't as clever as it thinks it is, and that I hate.

Also, Rose and Dalek are a cheat, and shouldn't have been included.

Via The Mary Sue.

[Review] - Breaking Bad, Season 5 Episode 14, "Ozymandias"

Courtesy of AMC
A cunning plan, starting the episode in days long past, back when all this was starting out and everyone was innocent and happy. It's been a long while since we've seen Walter White, whole, pure, and pantless. Watch with delight as he has to mutter to himself as he comes up with the lie that will keep Skylar unaware of his actions. See the joy in Walter's life as he adapts to the name Holly, and the promise of his daughter's future. Remember when Jesse spent his free time honing his mad Jedi skills, yo.

Then watch as time moves on, and nobody wins.

Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers that appreciate the continuity of discarded pants.

16 Sep 2013

Finally, Network Television Gives Us Something We Really Want

I'll admit that when I first heard that Parks and Rec was going to London for their season premiere, I was sceptical. A sitcom taking the entire cast on a field trip somewhere is usually a sign of either desperation, or network insistence (see: every TGIF show going to Disneyland in the mid-90s). But, since I don't think NBC could insist on a fly getting out of their soup right now, I assumed that it had something to do with the fact that Chris Pratt had to be in London anyway, filming Guardians of the Galaxy, and that the producers of Parks saw an opportunity and took it (and part of me hopes that behind the scenes discussion to make that happen played out much like the episode of 30 Rock where Liz tries to take the gang to Miami). Still and all, the trip to Washington they took a couple years ago jived more with the show's groove. London, not so much, especially Ron, who has went on record saying that "if you want to experience other cultures, use an atlas." 

But I'll give them the benefit of the doubt. And I'll be giving it to them next Thursday night, as so should you. It's the decent thing to do. And NBC, oddly, is promoting a show on their network. After the jump, you can see the other two promos, including one where Chris Pratt manages to make an attempted-British Australian accent sound South African. 

The man is an actor.

And Make Bazillons With The Mighty Magic Midas Touch

That is a picture of a raptor in a space suit. In a right and just universe, this would have been the announcement presentation for Jurassic World. Sadly, we do not live in such a place.

What it is, is a piece of promotional art from BOOM! Studios for Midas Flesh, a new collaboration between Ryan North (of Dinosaur Comics) and his Adventure Time Comics art team, Shelli Paroline and Braden Lamb. In an interview with ComicsAlliance, North describes Midas Flesh as an idea born out a 2009 strip of Dinosaur Comics, looking at the power of the Midas touch as something akin to a weapon of mass destruction. The story, as North describes it, follows a group of explorers researching a planet which has been completely turned to gold, learning how it happened, and figuring out how this ability could be harnessed and used. And, as the image above suggests, includes a space suit wearing dinosaur. North does not explain why there is a space suit wearing dinosaur in Midas Flesh during the interview, but I'm of the belief that such things don't need explanations.

The eight issue limited series arrives in comic book stores in December. Add it to your pick lists now.

Via ComicsAlliance.

[Review] - I Give It A Year

Courtesy of Working Title Films
Romantic comedies are in desperate need of something new. Every genre has it's tired, overused formula, but most other genres have, in equal measure, those examples that subvert or manipulate that formula. Romantic comedies tend not to be brave, or imaginative. Why "fix" something that isn't broken? Just cast Katherine Heigl, make whatever scratch you can off the back of it, and move on to the next one. Perhaps more then any other genre, rom-coms are bereft of any artistic integrity. They aren't made for the sake of the story, they are made because they are simple, easily digested and utterly forgettable. They are the Chinese food of the cinema.

So, at the least, I Give It A Year can be given credit for trying to be original, for taking the standard issue formula and trying to do something new with it, trying to make it engaging rather than passive to the audience. Unfortunately, the directorial debut of Dan Mazer isn't that funny. It tries, but too often the jokes don't land, or aren't given the opportunity to land, or rely too heavily on the current go to comedy technique: cringe humour.

Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers that would also ruin Bieber, but in an entirely different way.

13 Sep 2013

At This Point, I Could Care Less

This is going to be a short post to round out the week, but J.J. Abrams has confirmed that due to his commitments on the forthcoming and unnecessary Star Wars sequel, he will not be directing the next and potentially unnecessary Star Trek film. I'd like to say this is good news. It was, after all, the first point of my list of things the franchise needs to do in order to fix itself. Sadly, despite hiring someone new to make certain the actors are in frame, Abrams will still be producing the film, and Alex Kurtzman and Bob Orci will still be writing it. Indeed, Abrams also confirmed that he is currently helping them to craft the elements of the story.

So, nothing will change. The flaws that were minor in Star Trek '09, and became big chasms of suck in Into Darkness will no doubt become inescapable howling voids of failure in the next film. So, one last time, I'd like to congratulate these three men for sucking the joy out of Trek for me, again. I feel like I did back during the Voyager/Enterprise years. I'm officially back to not giving a shit about a franchise that was a huge influence on me growing up, and was directly responsible for me becoming a writer.

And for you readers, you don't have to put up with me bitching about it anymore. This is it. I'm just done.

Via Gamma Squad.

TIFF Remembers Roger Ebert

Roger Ebert loved Toronto (saying in 2010 that he could see himself living there), and had special affection for the annual Toronto International Film Festival. The festival in turn had special affection for him, and opened the 2013 show with a tribute to the late film critic with the above short. It's a lovely little tribute, and a reminder that TIFF remains one of the few earnest festivals going. It may attract the stars and the big festival films, but it remains at heart and in practise a simple film lovers festival. And no one loved films more than Ebert.

Via First Showing.

[List] - 6 More Shows That Could Have Ended Sooner


At this time last year, I brought to your attention 6 television shows that could have ended sooner then they did. The important word in that sentence is "could." Not should. Should have ended sooner is pretty much all of NBC's dramatic line up from the past decade. Could have ended sooner are those shows that have a point in their run where enough of the plot is wrapped up, where the characters are in a comfortable enough place to leave them in peace, and where there isn't a ugly cliffhanger keeping viewers from having getting a real conclusion.

These "could have ended" moments can be helpful when introducing new viewers to shows, allowing them to experience the best a series has to offer without suffering any potential drops in quality, which doesn't always happen, but is sadly common. I, for instance, suggest new viewers stop watching LOST at the end of season 4. It's not perfect, but it helps. And, a "could have ended" moment can really save your budget when buying a series on DVD, allowing you to guiltlessly refrain from buying latter seasons.

After the jump, we explore six more series that "could have" ended sooner. This means that there will be spoilers from throughout the various series' run, so be cautious when continuing.

12 Sep 2013

Dredd: Day Of Action

Back in July, I mentioned the petition to get a Dredd sequel made. I may have, at the time, compared online petitions to pornography. I stand by that comparison. But, since then, the petition has attracted 80,000 signatories, which has spurred those involved behind the scenes to create a "day of action." Find below the complete text of an email sent out to those 80,000 petition supporters earlier today.

Thank you - you're one of more than 80,000 people have now signed the petition calling for a sequel to DREDD! The response to the petition has been just incredible and the endorsement of the owners of Judge Dredd, 2000 AD and Rebellion, has seen the numbers surpass everyone's expectations.

But we still need your help!

On 18th September, we're encouraging everyone to take part in a massive DREDD SEQUEL DAY OF ACTION - we've already made the moneymen who could get behind a sequel sit up and take notice by consistently keeping the DVD and Blu-Ray in the charts on Amazon and now on Netflix.

We're asking everyone who's signed the petition to come together next Wednesday and drive DREDD back up the charts - if everyone who's signed the petition bought an extra DVD or Blu-Ray (either for themselves or as a present for a friend) or rented/bought it on iTunes and Netflix it will send the loudest signal yet that WE WANT MORE DREDD!

So spread the word that on Wednesday 18th September, you're going to bring DREDD back into the public eye! Plus, it's the day that the new comic book sequel comes out, with lots of media attention planned for this and the campaign.

Thanks to Rebellion for helping put this newsletter together - we're also really pleased to reveal that the official T-shirt for the campaign is now available, so you can wear your support with pride!

So, you ready?
This seems very doable. First of all, next Wednesday pick up a copy of the Dredd movie continuation appearing in 2000 AD. You should be doing that anyway. Second, on the way home from the comic book store, stop by your local where ever still sells DVDs and pick up a copy of Dredd for your sister. Because, and I'm just taking a wild shot in the dark on this one, I guessing she doesn't have one yet. Third, when you get home, jump over to the petition website and sign it if you haven't already. Maybe buy the t-shirt, that's up to you.

And producers, if all these efforts actually result in a sequel getting made down the line, please don't name it Dredd: Day Of Action. You can - nay, you must - come up with a better title than that.

HBO Is Open For Business

I'm just going to say this: Ryan Murphy is a weird guy. His shows are weird, and successful. They last far longer then they should, and while starting off interesting and provocative, almost always devolve very quickly into psycho sexual softcore porn (except Glee. That was always pornography. All that singing and dancing, it's just unseemly). Which I suppose is pretty much the point Murphy is trying to make. And hey, why not? The modern television audience is much more accepting of sexuality, and the repressed American psyche is always looking for a new way to satisfy their vicarious fetishes and deviancies.

For once, it appears that Murphy isn't sugarcoating a pitch, and just going straight at what the inevitably outcome will be. His new series on HBO is called Open, and will focus on Michelle Monaghan (who will also be appearing in True Detective) playing a gynaecologist named Grace, in what is described as "a modern, provocative exploration of human sexuality and relationships." Also starring in the series is Scott Speedman as Grace’s fiance, Anna Torv (in her first post-Fringe role) and Jennifer Jason Leigh as lesbians, and Wes Bentley as "a bit of a blowhard who loves espousing his theories on human sexuality." He sounds insufferable.

HBO has never been hurting for original programming, but they really are having something of a content explosion right now. Seems every time we turn around, they are green lighting some new project. And here I was concerned that they wouldn't have enough money to properly devote to American Gods. At the rate they are burning cash, they must have barrels of it. Perhaps buried in the desert.

No, wait, that's another network.

Via Uproxx.

Don't Watch This Video While Your Boss Is In The Room. Or Small Children

But you should still watch it. It's funny, and most importantly true. I'm not going to give away the punchline, but allow me to explain that every single example contained therein is 100% real, and has occurred within the past 3 years. Which comparatively in porn years would be what, a decade? But don't worry, it's not porn...

Via Uproxx.

11 Sep 2013

A Day Unlike Any Other

On the heels of yesterday's announcement of the title of the 50th anniversary special (because gods forbid they should all do it at once), the BBC has released this very exciting poster for The Day Of The Doctor. Now, I've said right from the moment John Hurt was revealed, and will continue to maintain until this episode inevitably refutes it, that Hurt's Doctor is an aged form of Eight, and that it was his actions at the end of the Time War that have caused his own personal hatred of that regeneration. This poster does very little to convince me I'm wrong.

You can clearly see Hurt, dressed in the Edwardian style Eight took on, surrounded by melting Daleks, TARDIS doors, Gallifreyan symbols and the words "Bad Wolf," the very same words Rose used to end the Time War once and for all. These cannot be coincidencidental images to associate with his character. If Hurt is playing Eight, that doesn't lay good odds on an appearance by Paul McGann (which is all I really wanted, to be honest). But it does open up the potential for at least a cameo from Eccelston, if any flashback include Hurt's regeneration. What has not been made clear, or even referenced, is how the Zygons fit into any of this (remember, the Zygons are in this too).

This is all conjecture at this point. What isn't is the BBC's further announcement of 50th anniversary content, now confirmed to cover the entirety of the BBC. In addition to everything that was announced yesterday, BBC Three is getting in on the festivities with the Doctor Who: Monsters and Villains Weekend, a countdown of  Doctor Who monsters, as voted on by viewers; and Doctor Who: The Ultimate Guide, an introductory course in the show including a "wealth of archive material."

Radio 1 will examine the music of the programme, including something called Time Lord Rock (TROCK), which I think they've made up, but they are devoting an hour to it, so maybe it's only mostly made up. On Radio 2, David Quantick will host The Blagger’s Guide to Doctor Who, and Graham Norton will broadcast a three hour show live from the Doctor Who Celebration in London the morning of Saturday 23 November. On Radio 4 Extra, Who Made Who? will examine 1960s Britain, a three hour "programme combining audio from the archive, new interviews and extracts from audio versions of Doctor Who."

So, now we await the arrival of the trailer, while I sit here and ponder why Billie Piper got a "with" credit on the poster.

Via Den of Geek.

Jurassic Globetrotters

There was one detail in Michael Crichton's original Jurassic Park novel that neither the sequel or any of the films never made an attempt to expand on: at the end of the book, there is the suggestion that the raptors and possibly other creatures had migrated off the island and had begun terrorizing soy crops in South America. That may now change with the official announcement that Jurassic Park 4 has been renamed Jurassic World.

I'm a little disappointed in that title. It just seems so... bland. It's the sort of by-the-books franchise escalation, like Arkham Asylum becoming Arkham City, that suggests grandeur, while also avoiding audience leery numbering. And like the Die Hard franchise, where else to take a sequel then international? Despite early scouting trips looking to recreate Isla Nublar from the original, this new title suggests we'll be seeing the franchise standard raptors backpacking across Europe, and really getting to know themselves while staying at a youth hostile in Prague. While no official logo beyond what you see above has been released, I'm predicting right now that it'll be the T-Rex skeleton imposed over a globe. Perhaps sipping an
espresso (or trying to, anyway)

Director Colin Trevorrow will be using a screenplay he co-wrote with Derek Connolly, with Frank Marshall and Pat Crowley producing, and Steven Spielberg waiting with a bucket under his money shoot. None of the previously reported rumours regarding plot have been confirmed, though considering that the original draft by Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver has been completely discarded, it's safe to assume that all information is outdated at this point. This film will be released by Universal on June 12, 2015 (12 years, one week after the original), putting it in general competition with  The Avengers: The Age of Ultron, Star Wars: Episode VII: The Gravy Train, and National Lampoon's Presents Batman's Metropolis Vacation.

Via CinemaBlend.

[Review] - The Newsroom, Season 2 Episode 8, "Election Night, Part I"

Courtesy of HBO
I take back every bad thing I've said about this season of Newsroom. Every comment about missteps, every criticism about how the time skipping plot device is badly handled. Hell, I'll even take back all the apathy I've voiced for Jim and Maggie. Because Aaron Sorkin is a comedic genius. This uneven season, the meandering Genoa story, the inconsistencies and the faltering characterisations, none of that mattered. It was all just detail material for the longest set up to a joke, ever. Sorkin rather masterfully spent 8 episodes, and HBO's money (including reshoots) telling the most complex joke every conceived. And all of it building towards a punch line expertly delivered and perfectly reacted to. I was floored, and not just because it was a pretty solid joke, but at the artistry involved in the execution.

Kudos to you, sir.

Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers that learned the hard way never to cross the Oxbridge crowd.

10 Sep 2013

A Day That Will Live On In Infamy

The BBC has announced a job-smacking amount of information concerning the Doctor Who 50th Special, including a title, so we can stop just calling it the 50th. It will be The Day Of The Doctor. Which, aside from following the standard Dalek serial naming convention, I'm a little disappointed that it didn't keep with the tradition of the multi-Doctor stories being named after the number of Doctors (Three, Five, Two).

It is confirmed that The Day Of The Doctor will be a 75 minute special airing on BBC One, and around the world, on November 23rd. Beyond that, the whole of the BBC has apparently been given over to the Time Lords (as it should be). BBC Two will be airing Mark Gatiss' docudrama, An Adventure In Space And Time (which I'm looking forward to more then Day, to be honest), though no exact date has been set of that. 

Two will also air a lecture from Professor Brian Cox (the rock star astrophysicist, not the actor) looking into the science of the series (spoilers: there isn't much, but it doesn't matter) and Matthew Sweet will be doing a special edition of The Culture Show called Me, You And Doctor Who, looking into the cultural impact of the series over the last half century.

BBC Four will rebroadcast the restored edition of the inaugural serial, An Unearthly Child, in its entirety, in case you've been lost as to what has been going on up til now, and want to start from the beginning. And Radio 2 will be airing a 90 minute special called Who Is The Doctor? No announcements have been made concerning BBC Three as of yet, but I don't suspect they'll be sitting this one out.

Via Den of Geek. Twice.

Something Deep And Dark

Remember how the other day, Kevin Spacey was making the point that the networks have sapped any possibility of quality out of their dramatic series in the name of viewership statistics and advertising dollars, and all the best television is being made on cable, because those networks allow their shows greater creative freedom? Well, HBO would like to back up that point with this trailer for True Detective, starring Woody Harrelson (in his return to television after 20 years), Matthew McConaughey and Michelle Monaghan.

The series is from first time television writer Nic Pizzolatto, wrote all eight episodes of the series, which follows two detectives over seventeen years, as they hunt for a serial killer. So, look forward to lots of time jumps, slow reveals and the slow deconstruction of once stable characters into empty husks of their former selves. I can't wait!

Seriously, this looks good. Probably not jiggle heavy, but dark and moody and if the writing doesn't buckle under the weight of the concept, is probably going to be a solid winter series.

[Review] - Breaking Bad, Season 5 Episode 13, "To'hajiilee"

Courtesy of AMC
By the simple fact that we know that Walter's world will come crashing down around him at some point, the greatest tension in this season has come from wondering what form that fall will come in. And despite Hank's doggedness, Walter has seemed to be on top of things thus far. He has, in classic Walter fashion, covered his bases, and seemed secure. It made the impending destruction all the more mysterious. But like most things in life, revenge, greed and neo-Nazis make even the best plans dissolve, and on the very ground where Walter began his journey, everything went bad in spectacular fashion.

Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers that really did see the blue, in the right light.

9 Sep 2013

It's Always About The Destiny, Isn't It?

The BBC has been teasing us with their upcoming Merlin replacement, Atlantis, for a few weeks now, but they've finally released the first proper footage from the series. And it looks pretty good. Certainly on par with Merlin, for what little this one minute preview shows us. I stand by my continued puzzlement though, as to why this isn't the story of Theseus, instead of Jason. Everything I've read, and now, that I've seen, certainly makes it seem that Theseus is a better fit.

I'm not going to complain too much though, because this trailer shows us that Alexander Siddig is playing the King (most likely Minos, considering who the other characters are), and that's just good casting.

Gatiss To Play Iron Banker. Unlike Winter, Did Not See That Coming

After many weeks, and much much theorising, Mark Gatiss' role in Game of Thrones has been revealed. He will be playing Tycho Nestoris, representative of the Iron Bank of Braavos, to which the Iron Throne owes much money (recall both Ned and Tyrion's mentions of the crown's enormous debt in previous seasons). Looks like payments are going to come due. Gatiss, it has now been revealed, will appear in episode one of the new series, and likely no more, as his filming was completed very early on in the shooting block.

What it does suggest is a larger role in future seasons, considering that the reason I never suspected Tycho as a possibility is because his character isn't introduced until later books. This suggests that the producers are either thinking in the longer term, or they are beginning to consolidate and push forward certain story lines, to condense the run of the series. Either way, when it was announced that Gatiss would be playing Tycho, my immediate reaction was "yes, that makes perfect sense." And that is as much a sign that the casting agents know what they are doing as anything.

Via Hypable.

[Review] - Riddick

Courtesy of One Race Films
The good news is, despite how the previews made it seem, Riddick is not a redux of Pitch Black. Yes, it shares many similarities to it, and shares many of the same weaknesses in terms of writing, plot and character development, but it is it's own beast. Considering that Pitch Black is easily the best made Alien clone, then I would say Riddick is to Pitch Black what Aliens is to Alien. Namely, more. Not necessarily better, but different. In fact, if it weren't for a very brief and largely unnecessarily flashback about fifteen minutes in, Riddick makes for a superb direct sequel to the original.

Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers that once spent time building up an immunity to Pepto Bismol, which isn't as impressive as mud-raptor venom.

6 Sep 2013

I Don't Know Any Robocop Quotes To Make A Clever Headline With

I'm going to admit something here that might make me unpopular: I don't like Robocop. The original, I mean, not the remake, for which the first trailer has just been released, and therefore I am incapable of having an opinion on. The original Peter Weller "classic," whose appeal I've just never understood. It has the Paul Verhoeven trademark lack of subtly, but for whatever reasons, the uberviolence, over acting and social metaphor TO THE XTREME that I enjoy in Total Recall and Starship Troopers just doesn't grab me with Murphy's tale of transformation.

Meanwhile, we have this trailer for a remake that will most likely fall squarely in to the "unnecessary" category. The trailer gives away the entire film, so I have to wonder if there will be much point in seeing it at all come February. I will say, I appreciate that Murphy's wife and his former life seem to be a much large plot point in this film. And it boasts an impressive cast, including Samuel L. Jackson, Michael Keaton, Gary Oldman and Jackie Earle Haley, each of whom it should be said, can overact with the best of them when given the "right" material.

All that being said, a February release date does not inspire confidence.

Whatever Remains, No Matter How Improbable, SHALL NOT PASS

Chronologically speaking, the final canonical Sherlock Holmes story written by Doyle was His Last Bow, set in 1914, and featuring an ageing and retired Holmes embroiled in European intrigue in the lead up to the First World War. Since then, many many authors have posited as to what Holmes winter years were like, in the aftermath of the Great War and the mounting tensions on the continent. And we can add another title to that seemingly never waning list: A Slight Trick Of The Mind.

What makes Slight Trick stand out is that Holmes will be played by Sir Ian McKellen, and the film will be set in 1947, after the Second World War, which would make the character 93. It will see a Watsonless Holmes living in Sussex, and becoming involved in a mystery thanks to his housekeeper's amateur sleuth son. The film is based on a novel of the same name by Mitch Cullin, adapted by Jeffrey Hatcher, and directed by Bill Condon, who directed McKellen in 1998's Gods and Monsters, the film that really introduced McKellen to the international audience.

I have complex opinions about Holmes, and continuing his story outside of Doyle's stories, but most of those opinions concern writers dropping Holmes into any sort of nonsense they want. The Homes stories (the early ones, anyway) are based on the scientifish concepts like deduction and cold logic. So long as this story remains true to the tone and heart of the character, and doesn't just use him as a play thing because he's a public domain character, then I look forward to McKellen's portrayal.

Via Collider.

[How To] - Get Fit; Or Don't, That's Probably Easier.

There was a time when I ran and biked heavily. The results of which were, from the waist down, I was honed, slim and assless. From the waist up though, I still looked like one of those deformed vegetables that grow in areas that have received heavy doses of radiation. And for a variety of reasons (read: I'm a lazy, lazy man), I stopped. I still enjoy walking, and have been known even to amble on occasion. But not running. I'm of the opinion that running should only occur while being chased. Which is why, having decided to take up running again, I have purchased as motivation, a malnourished leopard.

The act of running for non-fleeing reasons is only just over a century old, and when first introduced in Victorian London, police frequently arrested people assuming that if someone was running, they must be running away from something, and therefore must be a criminal, a tradition proudly continued by the NY and LAPD's to this day. As an exercise, it is simple, cheap and extremely uncomfortable, and as a former and returning participant, I feel I have all the required knowledge (read: none at all) to instruct others in getting involved in this stupid activity.
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