31 Dec 2013

[Review] - Atlantis Series 1 Finale, Episodes 12 and 13, "Touched by the Gods"

Courtesy of the BBC
Atlantis had a lot to over come in it's final two part story. Inconsistent tone, pacing, quality of writing, acting and general mediocrity have plagued the series since the start. Some weeks, the show has been great. And some weeks, it really hasn't been. The latter half of this first year has been especially troublesome, to the point that I had lost all faith in the series. But, these last two episodes promised finally to return to the story set up mid series, that had seemed to signal a change of course for the show, only to be absolutely abandoned.

These two hours were the chance for the series to redeem itself, to prove that it was worthy of that second series the BBC rushed to award them. Sadly, it didn't. It is something to say that Touched was not a colossal failure, nor were they aggressive terrible. They were just underwhelming, bland, poorly paced and once again showcased the fact that Overman and the writers seem to be paying no attention to the elements of their own universe. The best sentiment I can muster is that they have brought this laborious series to an end, and for that I am thankful.

Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers that are aware that, if you crib from the greatest myth-based film ever made, it'll only make you look bad by comparison.

30 Dec 2013

[Review] - Time Of The Doctor

Courtesy of the BBC
Time of the Doctor has a lot going on behind it. It is the 800th episode of the series produced since 1963. It is the final episode of the 50th anniversary year. It is the final part of a loose trilogy of episodes that included the Name of the Doctor and the Day of the Doctor. And, obviously, it is the final episode of Matt Smith's tenure as the man in question.

Time turned out to a microcosm of the Smith years, distilling down into 60 minutes all the best and worst qualities of the last three series of programming. What was good was very good, what was bad was very bad, but mostly it was needlessly complex to the point that the narrative was tripping over itself, it was so bloated with ideas. And considering that a back door purpose for this episode was to wrap up all those dangling plots that has been brushed aside over the last four years, as well as establish a new paradigm for the show to move into it's next presumed 50 years, there was a lot that was meant to b going on here. Sadly, it didn't all work out. On the whole, Time fit in perfectly with the rest of the disjointed series seven.

Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers that don't like the colour either.

23 Dec 2013

[Video] - A Muppet Family Christmas

Christmas isn't my time of year. It's not meant for me. It's meant for people who like decorating their houses in annoying little lights and then taking them down again a week later, and standing in queues at packed shopping centres buying overpriced crap for people you barely enjoy spending time with the rest of the year, and what do you really get them, cause they wouldn't be decent and just give you a list, no you had to infer what they wanted from subtle messages Well screw, that if you want a waffle maker, JUST TELL ME YOU WANT A WAFFLE MAKER AND I'LL BLOODY WELL GET YOU ONE!

And there might be a religious aspect in there too, I don't know.

I only have two holiday traditions. First, every time Christmas Vacation is on the television, I watch it, commercials and poor editing and all. But I watch it every time. Some years I might see it once, others I might see it a dozen times. And I'm fine with that.

My second tradition is watching what is hands down the greatest expression of Jim Henson's creations (it was also the last complete Muppet film he made before his death). It's a Muppet Family Christmas. I have an original version on a VHS tape, from it's original broadcast in 1987, and yes the tape is in the condition you think it is (it's complete with commercials too. Like for the FTD Brass and Blooms bouquet: flowers, a candle and a brass planter). An early DVD release was heavily edited due to licensing issues, and a reissue is next to impossible because of Disney's purchase of the Muppets in the early millennium.

For those that haven't seen it before, this is the one time that the entire casts of the Muppet Show, Sesame Street and Fraggle Rock (as well as one of two non-animated appearances by the Muppet Babies) all exist in the same place, and since they are all now owned by different companies, licensing issues are a nightmare. But the special is wonderful. From Oscar's impudent "I will not sing this song" in the middle of Deck The Halls, to the Fraggle sharing stone, to the tear inducing cameo (for me anyway) of Henson himself at the end. This special is such a part of my life, the phrase "cold enough to freeze your Winnebago off" is part of my regular winter time vernacular.

So enjoy, and watch out for the icy patch.

20 Dec 2013

America Checks The Time

BBC America has put out their trailer for the Doctor Who Christmas special, and it's better than the properly BBC version. That version was short, and focused entirely on the fact that Matt Smith is leaving the show. This one is longer, show more footage, and actaully reveals something of the plot (as well as extended Oswalds). It's also less focused on the bevy of foes that show up on Trenzalore, apparently to reignite the Time War, if Orla Brady is to believed.

After the deflated series seven, and the decadinal high water mark that was the 50th anniversary special, all I'm hoping for is that the series sees a return to consistent output, starting here and continuing with Peter Capaldi next series. Which is clever speak for "I hope this ones a gooder."

Food Fight, Muppet Style

I'll be off all next week because I'll gladly take off as much time as people are willing to give me, to celebrate other people's holidays.

And an excellent way to start off my break is to post this Muppisode. If these become a regular thing between now and the release of the new film in the spring, I will be a very happy human. This short, I feel, gives us a pretty good idea of what a modern Muppet Show would look and feel like. This is pure Muppet mania - smart humour, celebrity guests, and general absurdity. Just how I like them.

[List] - Ranking The Regenerations Of Doctor Who

This Christmas, to close out the 50th anniversary year of Doctor Who, we're getting a regeneration. While it's always sad to see an incumbent Doctor leave, it's a rather fitting way to celebrate the show, by ending with the single plot device that has allowed the series to continue for half a century (and remember, we've already been spoiled this year by seeing two). But what better way to kick off the next 50 years of the programme than by starting off with a brand new Doctor, an older Doctor and perhaps a hearkening back to the more professor-type Doctors of old, as he begins his journey back home.

Death in fiction should be meaningful. It should have emotional impact on the characters. And Doctor Who is unique in that, since the main character can die multiple times, that emotional impact can be represented on himself, afterwards. It's also one of the rare opportunities that the show can feature real danger, where the threat of the Doctor's demise is very present. Which is why it's odd that, despite being the longest serving and self styled "greatest foe," the Daleks have never been directly responsible for a regeneration.

This is a subjective listing, but in the shadow of Matt Smith's impending regeneration, I will attempt to gauge the effectiveness of the previous 11 deaths of the Doctor. After the jump. Oh, and spoilers.

19 Dec 2013

How To Retrain Your Dragon

My only concern with How To Train Your Dragon 2 is that both Sony and Dreamworks tend to take whatever was original and clever and likable about their animated films, and make certain that none of that stuff comes anywhere near of the barrage of sequels they insist on making (see Shrek, Ice Age, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, etc.) because original ideas are scary.

What makes me less concerned about HtTyD2 is that they've taken their time turning the film into a franchise, with 4 years having passed since the first one came out (to be fair, they were working on this and a third movie simultaneously). It helps too that Jay Baruchel is aggressively enthusiastic about these films, and seems to have some sway over the creative team (which remains in place from the original, as does the cast). And the studio proved they could continue the story effectively with the TV series the Riders of Berk, which as canonal animated TV continues of films go, is probably top of the list.

Whichever way it ends up, this trailer looks solid. New characters, new threats, larger scope, and it voice checks all the returning cast (including Craig Ferguson, who is equally enthusiastic about these films).

Return Of The Rise Of The Dawn Of The World Of The Something Something

I have little to say about this first trailer for Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, because I still haven't seen Rise of the Planet of the Apes. I know, I know... just remember that Judy Greer is playing the ape love interest to Andy Serkis' Caesar, and that alone should be worth price of admission.

Stupid Cat

I mean really, you unevolved animal, can't you tell that the images aren't actually moving? That they are little more than broken lines passing by slits? That it is little more than a boggling and fantastic optical illusion that fails utterly to fool more advanced beings like hu...oly crap, is that a skull!

Via the Bad Astronomer.

18 Dec 2013

Showtime Prepares To Be Dreadful

I'm quite looking forward to Penny Dreadful, the Victorian literature mashup series from John Logan and Sam Mendes. The spring premiere is drawing ever closer, and the marketing campaign has begun, introducing us to Eva Green and her particular issues first. This makes one assume that we'll get further teasers for the 8 episode series featuring additional stars Josh Hartnett, Timothy Dalton, and Billie Piper.

This is going to be twisted. And, since it's on Showtime, probably sexy too.

What Are The Hobbit Movies Missing? Random Pig Jokes

Actually, it occurs to me that both Journey and Smaug had at least one pig joke each...

It's of interest to me that Lego Hobbit is being released this year, rather than waiting until There and Back Again has been released, if only to avoid spoilers. Most of this trailer for the game is Journey footage Legoized, with a few Smaug scenes glimpsed (though not actually Smaug, whose Lego version I'm very interested to see).

But none of that matters, because it looks like you get to race the Bunny Sled, and that's all I want from a game like this.

Via the Mary Sue.

ISIS Recruits Have The Strangest Questions

Seriously man, weapons training! Field operations! Insurance benefits! Not office supplies. Get your priorities in check.

Via Uproxx.

17 Dec 2013

Joseph Gordon-Levitt To Bring Us A Dream

There have been attempts to bring Neil Gaiman's opus Sandman to the screen - either big or small - for years. And thankfully, they've all failed. There has never been a time before now that the technology existed to conceivably create Morpheus and the world of Dream to life. And the story of the Sandman is such a character driven, philosophical tale of self discovery, that any studio (inevitably Warner Bros) producing it would feel the need to water it down, or change it into something far more conventional.

So this morning's news that Joseph Gordon-Levitt has signed on to co-produce (with a potential to direct or star, or both) the most recent attempt to adapt the highly regarded comic makes me of two minds. On one hand, I believe that Levitt is an earnest filmmaker, who has both principles and vision, and is enough of a critical and box office draw that the studio might give him some creative freedom with the project. On the other hand, the movie was pitched and will probably be written (and certainly produced) by David S. Goyer, a man I have no faith in as a fan of films, despite the fact that DC and Warner Bros. have apparently given him the keys to the kingdom.

I won't get too excited about this project happening until it actually happens. We've been down this road before. If Levitt were wise, he'd bring Gaiman into the fold in some capacity. Levitt has also hinted that the film (and we can reasonably say that it would be the first of an intended series of films) would adapt the first collected volume of Sandman, Preludes and Nocturnes, which sees Dream travel the physical and eatherial worlds, and into hell, searching for the icons that were stolen from him after he was imprisioned by obsessed zealots trying to capture his sister Death.

As movie plots go, that's a solid choice. It's worrying though, because Neil considered that his weakest Sandman story, trying too hard to fold the character into the established world of superheroes. If the studio does go with this story, and if they are intent on trying to make a shared universe of DC properties, they'd be wise to bring Levitt together with Guillermo del Toro and whomever is developing that Constantine TV series, as they would all nicely associate with each other (indeed, Constantine would be the connective thread through them all). If Sandman were somehow first out of the gate, it would be an excellent way to introduce the mystical side of the DC universe. Which, as I said some time ago, should be DC's focus, because it's the one element the MCU has actively avoided.

But they'd better hurry, because Kevin Feige's not going to sit on Doctor Strange forever.

Via /Film.

Simon Pegg Has A Fantastic Fear Of Everything

Just the other day, I was saying how Simon Pegg is a very busy man, and here comes a trailer for his next film, A Fantastic Fear Of Everything. The trailer looks... well, insane. Director Crisipian Mills has clearly went with an everything against the wall style, mixing animation, live action, and what looks to be some stop frame stuff too, in a semi-Terry Gilliam inspired kind of visual madness. Which can work wonders, if you have a story and the vision to pull it off. Sadly, /Film warns that the reviews from the UK release earlier this year were not at all good, but the trailer is at least interesting enough to give a few minutes to.

[Review] - Atlantis, Series 1 Episode 11, "Hunger Pangs"

Courtesy of the BBC
Ughh... lets just get on with it, shall we?

Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers that

16 Dec 2013

We Are Still Pioneers

There was a fantastic theory a few years back that Christopher Nolan was filming two simultaneous trilogies, based on the three step magic trick established in The Prestige. The first trilogy was the Dark Knight series, and the second was the films he made in between those, connected by themes of what is real, and what makes a person who they are (akin to Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright's Three Flavours Cornetto series).

The three steps, if you remember, were The Pledge, The Turn, and The Prestige. The Pledge, or the setup, explains things to the audience. This was Batman Begins and The Prestige. The Turn is when something unexpected happens, or when the audience is meant to ask"how did they do that?" This was Dark Knight and Inception. The Prestige is meant to be the reveal, when the real magic happens. It's the payoff, and it was meant to be the Dark Knight Rises, except that was a mess of a film that should have been a big blinking warning light about what was to come with Man of Steel.

Nolan has a chance to redeem himself, and follow through with what would be the final part of the looser, idea driven trilogy, with Interstellar. The movie has a strong cast (including Matthew McConaughey, Jessica Chastain, Anne Hathaway, Casey Affleck, Michael Caine), involves space travel, and the wormholes (there was a time when I devoured the works of Kip Thorne), so there is promise there.

But none of that distracts from the fact that this first teaser for the film, out next November, rather than feeling inspirational, plays like a Manulife ad.

Finish Your Thought

House of Cards was easily the best new show of last year, and while the passive aggressive comment in this trailer about it not actually being on TV seems like an odd thing to include in the official trailer for season 2, it was still better than anything new on TV last year. Based on this first look, season 2 doesn't look like it's going to relent. And Kevin Spacey's Underwood looks like he's not relenting in his deviousness either.

It's nice to see that Gerald McRaney will be back this year too. He makes everything better.

[Review] - The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug

Courtesy of Warner Bros.

I have long asserted that the Desolation of Smaug would be the best of the Hobbit films, and I feel vindicated (despite the final film being a year off) that I was right. If there is a success to be celebrated here, it is that the majority of the flaws of last years Journey are absent, making it the outlier of the series in terms of the overwhelming underwhelmingness of itself. Smaug is a taunt, fun, rollicking adventure that, despite it's three hour run time, never feels bloated and lacks (with the exception of one scene) the obvious signs of scene that should have been cut for the extended edition.

In fact, by the end of it, with an unexpected and very traditional sort of cliffhanger, you very much don't want it to end. At this time last year, Journey left me cold and unattracted to the next in the series. Smaug makes me clamor to see There and Back Again, in the way we felt a decade ago when we first traveled to Middle Earth.

Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers that one have one beard to feed.

13 Dec 2013


This five minute long minisode that sees Benedict Cumberbatch's Sherlock cross over with Matt Smith's Doctor Who is not real. Though, you might be forgiven for thinking it is. This isn't your run of the mill mashup, cutting in clips from the various shows in clever ways. This is a full on digital undertaking.

Uploader John Smith has rendered an entirely original environment here, and manipulated footage and audio from the shows to his own liking. Which means that we can have Sherlock stroll onto the TARDIS next-to-as-naturally as if he actually had. This, frankly, is amazing. And must have been a monumental amount of work, one whose seams are very well hidden. All the kudos to you, sir.

The things that most impressed me? The unique TARDIS dematerialization effect at the end. Very cool.

Via The Mary Sue.

Simon Pegg Will Appear In Absolutely Anything

As I previously reported, along with the official reunion of Monty Python this coming summer, the old boys (minus Eric Idle) will also be reuniting for the film Absolutely Anything, to be directed by Terry Jones (his first film since 1996's Wind in the Willows). The film concerns “a disillusioned school teacher who suddenly finds he has magical powers, bestowed upon him by aliens.” The Pythons will be voicing the aliens, and Robin Williams has apparently been tapped to provide the voice of the school teacher's dog.

It was previously announced that Sherlock star Benedict Cumberbatch had signed up to play Neil Clarke, the man effected by the aliens, but since it appears he's currently signed on to appear in every film between now and the start of the next decade, he's had to drop out. To replace him, Jones has tapped a far better fit in this sort of role, Simon Pegg. Pegg's own schedule is filling up quickly, with roles in the next Mission: Impossible and Star Trek films on the horizon, as well as the romantic comedy Man Up opposite Lake Bell, and three films he currently has in post production. Add to that his presumed role in the Tintin sequel, and Pegg isn't looking at much down time any time soon.

Which is only good news for us.

Via Collider.

[List] - Here Be Dragons

"We took the approach that Smaug is a paranoid psychopath. He has a lust for gold, but it’s a lust that he can’t explain. He’s not like a normal person who wants wealth for all the trappings of fast cars and yachts. Smaug doesn’t have any of that, the poor guy. For 200 years, he’s been there on this pile of gold waiting for someone to come, just sitting there doing crossword puzzles and catching up on Breaking Bad seasons on Netflix. He hasn’t got much else to do."
That's from Peter Jackson, talking about his and fellow Hobbit writer's approach to crafting the character of Smaug, Tolkien's only featured dragon, set to make his debut in the Desolation of himself, opening today. Smaug joins a raft of dragons that have found their way to the screen over the years. And as technology has increased, so has the potential for true impressiveness (and the disappointment when they fail to match expectations). Today, it makes a kind of sense to (non exhaustively) look back on dragons of the screen, and examine the effect they've had on those that have come after, and the mark they've left.

Hit the jump for the list.

12 Dec 2013

There's No Point In Killing A Bad Priest. But Killing A Good One...

Remember when John Cleese released Fierce Creatures, and said it was more an "equal than a sequel" to A Fish Called Wanda? All the same actors, but not related to the previous story at all? I suppose the same can be sort of said about Calvary, the new film from John Michael McDonagh. His previous movie, the fantastic The Guard, starred Brendan Gleeson, as does this, though I suppose that's where the connections between the two end (Calvary was written while they were making The Guard, as a kind of intentional corollary to the first film).

Calvary is set in a small Irish town, and concerns a threat made against the local minister (Gleeson), who then has to try to figure out which of his parishioners (including Chris O'Dowd, Kelly Reilly, Aidan Gillen, and Dylan Moran) wants him dead. Despite the vaguely Christie sounding plot, and that it's billed as a black comedy, the trailer, which looks equally fantastic, seems much more somber that either of those two others descriptors, and I feel stands to be one of the highlights of  2014.

It's Almost Time

The BBC has given us a longer, proper trailer for the Doctor Who Christmas special The Time of the Doctor, and to be honest it's not much of one. It's primary focus is entirely on the fact that, at some point during the episode, Matt Smith will die and be replaced by Peter Capaldi. Beyond that, so we learn very little about the meat of the episode. 

We see Orla Brady in character, being a bit shouty, and it establishes that the Doctor's worst enemies are converging on Trenzalore, but little else (are they there, drawn by the Doctor's presence, of vice versa?). The Silence, that makes sense considering all the build up they've received, but exactly what do the Daleks, Cybermen and Weeping Angels have to do with it, and how would getting all of those folks involved be considered a "minor skirmish" as the Great Intelligence described it.

I don't expect we'll be getting any better a look at the special between now and Christmas, though if Moffat and co. remain consistent, we should be looking forward to an internt minisode between now and then.

[Review] - Agents Of SHIELD, Season 1 Episode 10, "The Bridge"

Courtesy of Marvel Television Productions.
As Agents of SHIELD says goodbye to 2013, it gave us many things. It brought together a lot of the plot threads introduced in those early, rougher episodes. It reoccurred several characters that seemed like they were meant for re-visitation. And it gave us the first truly two parter that the series has attempted, leaving us hanging off a cliff until the show returns early in the new year (Jan 7th). But did it do any of those things well?

The answer is... sort of. The episode left me unfulfilled, but it also left me wondering why I felt that way. In a lot of ways, it was a strong episode. Not their best, but a sign that the show has found it's footing and is equipped to remain at a certain level. There were some very good character moments, but the plot felt flat, especially the big show down, which smacked of incompetency on the character's part, in order to contrive the cliffhanger.

Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers that stopped talking about three embarrassing sentences ago.

11 Dec 2013

Let's End The Day With Something Beautiful, Shall We?

On October 9th, the Juno spacecraft did a slingshot move past the Earth. Slingshooting spacecraft is a way to use the gravitational pull of the planets to increase the velocity of unpiloted spacecraft, without having to use fuel. Juno is headed towards Jupiter, and is expected to reach the gas giant in summer of 2016.

But as it past by the Earth, it caught a glimpse of a perspective that humans don't usually get: the moon orbiting the Earth. It's low res, but that by no means decreases it's beauty. In fact, the more abstract aspect of it, paired by the gradual approach of the probe, makes it something special. Shots like this remind us that we are small, but we are part of something vast and magnificent.

Via the Bad Astronomer.

A Movie, Where Stuff Happens In It, Will Be Released Soon

There isn't much to say about the trailer for former Smallville star Michael Rosenbaum's directorial debut Back In The Day, other than it looks like a standard issue, very by-the-books home town reunion sort of picture, the sort of film that hasn't had anything interesting done to the formula since Grosse Pointe Blank.

What I will take this opportunity to do is ask, why did Morena Baccarin not become a movie star after Firefly was cancelled? She's great for what she's given in Homeland, and she was fine in Stargate and V, but aside from Serenity she really hasn't done much film. And that seems wrong. Very wrong.

Change that, Hollywood. Change it right now.

He's Not The King Of Monsters, He's Their God

Despite the fact that I thought Pacific Rim was a load of hot garbage, I'm a big fan of monster movies, and you literally don't get any more monstrous than the original, proper Godzilla. And while I can appreciate culture that drove the evolution of the character over the decades, since Legendary announced Gareth Edwards' update, what I've wanted more than anything is a return to the brutality and sincerity of the original. Not a horror film, but a film filled with horror.

This first trailer, which is a very effective tease, is a strong indicator that that is exactly what Edwards has done, on the back of Frank Darabont's script which returns the beast to his "force of nature" ways. And, skewing the usual "lets make them wait" style of marketing that has been embraced by films like The Hobbit or Cloverfield, this first trailer gives us a pretty decent look at Godzilla himself, in a less cinematic and more personal perspective kind of way. A person on the ground would be incapable of beholding the entire creature all at once, and that's the sort of glimpse we've gotten of him here.

Hit the jump for a few stills from the film, including Bryan Cranston and the main event himself.

10 Dec 2013

Lord Of The Crumbs

In light of this recent Sesame Street segment, I will now take the position that Peter Jackson should have made the Lord of the Rings films entirely with puppets, Dark Crystal-style, instead of extensive CG.

Of course, everything should be done entirely in puppets. But I shouldn't have to say that.

Via Geekologie.

This Post Contains Bad Words

I love a good insult. The trick to a good insult, and therefore a good laugh line, isn't about how crude it is, but about how clever it is. If it is a well constructed, beginning-middle-end sort of short story - if it takes you on a journey - then you really can't even take offence from it, it's so impressive. That's why I love Archer and the works of Armando Iannucci so much. It's not just yelling and cursing, it's orchestrated meanness.

So I'm really looking forward to Jason Bateman's directorial debut, Bad Words. As this red band trailer illustrates, it seems a meticulously barrage of highly structured bring downs, and several of them directed at children! Yelling at children is always fun. The film, which costars Kathryn Hahn, Allison Janney, and Philip Baker Hall opens in March.

[Review] - Atlantis, Series 1 Episode 10, "The Price of Hope"

Courtesy of the BBC
In response to this week's episode, I ask Howard Overman and the producers of Atlantis a simple question: what the hell?

Seriously, what the hell? How is it that you were convinced that this lat pair of episodes constituted good television? That any of this rushed mash of material should have gotten past a peer edit? That somehow burning through source material and potential story points, by weighing the episodes down with guest stars that have nothing to do, and by generally being impatient with your own storytelling would make for an enjoyable 40 minutes (or 80, if viewed together)? Did you really think that was what would happen? Can you be surprised that these were cluttered, uneven, poorly paced and generally bad episodes that brought a rising show right back down to the disjointed and cumbersome thing that struggled in its first few weeks? Because if you can be surprised by those thing, if you are take aback and left aghast at the response to them, then maybe you're not as good at your job as you thought.

Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers that cringed every time they resort to a poop joked.

9 Dec 2013

A Group of Crowes Is Called A Murder

We're officially less than a month away from the premiere of Justified season 5, and FX has released a brief teaser to wet our appetites. Justified doesn't get into the heavy viral marketing, and while last year they also released a series of short, clothing oriented teasers before the premiere, it seems that Yost and FX prefer to let the series stand on it's own. And I'm fine with that.

But understand, someones going to be asked to clean that hat. And they probably aren't going to be asked nicely.

Update: Hit the jump to see things go from bad to worse for the hat.

What Life? He's Been Away

Until now, the "trailers" we've gotten for the third series of Sherlock have been little more than teasers. Until now. This trailer, complete with finalized premiere date, gives us a lot more details than anything else we've seen. It confirms that Mycroft, as in the stories, assisted Sherlock in remaining hidden during his "death" (in the stories, he worked as Mycroft's agent in Europe until nessesity brought him back to London). It also hints at what might be the fan's biggest problem with the series, if Gatiss and Moffat choose never to explain exactly how Sherlock faked his death, by making it so that Watson doesn't care.

I guess we'll find out on New Years.

[Review] - Ottawa Pop Expo, Winter 2013

Photo by the author
I asked the question, what is the difference between a "comic-con" and a "fan/pop expo?" The difference, on the surface, is non-existent. A quirk of terminology. A brand issue. Underneath however, and in Ottawa's case, it means a marked improvement over the previous instalments. Perhaps it was by necessity, as the cold temperatures forced organisers to keep everything contained within the building. Or maybe it was just that they have learned from the failures of the past. Whatever the reason, the cold or the clues, the first Ottawa Pop Expo, sister to the summer time Comic-con was an organisational success. As the cliche goes, third time was absolutely the charm.

Hit the jump of the review.

6 Dec 2013

Ottawa Pops This Weekend

It's been a weird week, and I'm tired, so I'll finish off today by reminding anyone who might be in the National Capital region this weekend to stop by the first annual Ottawa Pop Expo. The final guest list includes "from The Walking Dead there are five franchise guests, including co-creator and comic book artist Tony Moore, Lew Temple (Axel, Season 3), Sarah Wayne Callies (Lori Grimes), Scott Wilson (Hershel Greene) and Pop Expo Guest-of-Honour, Norman Reedus (Daryl Dixon). Norman Reedus will also be headlining a special reunion for The Boondock Saints, the 1999 cult film with  Sean Patrick Flanery (Young Indiana Jones), and David Della Rocco.
  • Tom Felton from the Harry Potter films
  • Ernie Hudson from the Ghostbusters films
  • Julie Caitlin Brown from Babylon 5
  • Neve McIntosh, Madame Vastra from Doctor Who
  • Sylvester McCoy, the seventh incarnation of The Doctor (1987-1989) and can be seen next week in cinema’s everywhere as Radagast the Brown, in the next Hobbit Trilogy
  • Jason Momoa, from Stargate: Atlantis, Game of Thrones and Conan the Barbarian (2011)
  • Honky Tonk Man, WWF Intercontinental Championship for a record 64 weeks
  • Bret “The Hitman” Hart, former WWE champion who was voted one of the top 50 Canadians of all time on CBC’s Greatest Canadian
  • Monika Lee, one of the main cast of “heroes” in the first season of the Syfy/Space reality series Heroes of Cosplay
  • Jessica Nigri, who worked for WB Games to promote Lollipop Chainsaw (as Juliet Starling) and Suda’s Killer is Dead (as Vivienne Squall)
  • And a host of others.
I'm going almost exclusively to see if there is any difference between a Pop-Expo and a Comic-Con. I suspect there won't be, but I and the hat I will be wearing shall be roaming the convention floor all weekend none the less. [Update: read my review here.]

Via Pop Expo.

Wait For Her

When I first heard about Her, the new project from Spike Jonze, I disregarded it. this was a mistake. Why I decided not to pay attention to the new film from the director of Being John Malkovich and Adaptation, I have no idea. Maybe I was having a small stroke, or getting over a touch of botulism. Anyway, I've changed my tune, and am now fully looking forward to his most recent exploration of the human condition.

Plus, Joaquin Phoenix's moustache is pretty great.

Exploding Whales: A Retrospective

Dead things rot; this is the way of things. Be they walnuts, cartons of milk, or expired whales, eventually the build up of gases reaches a breaking point and causes an eruption. These ejaculations are often putrid, and if you are unlucky enough to get caught in one, no matter how many showers you take afterwards, expect not to get invited to an fancy dress parties anytime soon.

In the case of the Faroe Islands whale above, it would have eventually ruptured like the worlds worst pinata on its own. The only reason it did here, and that we are now blessed with the footage, is because mister high visibility jacket there decided that the best way to deal with an increasingly bloated and foul smelling Cetacea was to poke it with a sharp stick.

A lesson for the children at home: poking things with sharp stick has never ended well for anyone, or the stick. However, this volcanic expression of bottled up mammal-mank does cause one to throw the mind back, and reflect on the veritable epidemic of meat-geysers that has beset the world thanks to beached sea-things.

Hit the jump to take the strangest trip down memory lane you're likely to experience today. If it isn't, then you lead a far more interesting life than I.

5 Dec 2013

The Amazish Spider-man

I haven't watched The Amazing Spider-man since it was in theatres last year. I haven't felt the need to. At the time, I thought it was poorly paced, worsely structured, redundant and felt about ten years late to the party, fitting in more with the likes of Daredevil and the Fantastic Four than the age of the Dark Knight and the MCU. Andrew Garfield might look more like Peter Parker, but he wasn't a better (or even a very good) Peter Parker. Same too with the story. It might have had a longer, more interconnected story thread mean to play out over multiple films, but that didn't make it a better film. It certainly could have (and should have) been, but either Sony or director Marc Webb, or both, dropped that ball.

So, I have been aggressively apathetic about the sequel, whose trailer has arrived and utterly failed to change my opinion. Clearly, the studio didn't learn the lesson from Spider-man 3 that more villains doesn't a better movie make, because aside from two Osbourns, a mecho-Rhino and Electro (and a rumoured Black Cat), there is also a glimpse of Doc Ock's arms and Vulture's wings. The story telling element was the weakest in the first film, and that only had one baddie to worry about. I certainly hope the script has been bolstered to support the amount of stress this many story lines going on will have on the film. Though, the judging from the video-game style boss fight action sequences that dominate this trailer, I somehow doubt that.

So, I'm not getting my hopes up for this one. Though, I'm not getting my hopes down for this one either. I just can't muster the energy to care about it at all.

That Is One Angry Little Hobbit

Need a reason to buy the extended cut of the Hobbit, other than to own an even more bloated version of an already overinflated film? How about a montage of Martin Freeman flipping the bird at the camera? What's that, you say, I've linked the video above, thus eliminating the need to purchase the film itself. Well, to you sir I say... What the hell is that!?

*smoke bomb*
*smoke clears*



Via Uproxx.

Suck It, Liberal Arts

I don't usually pay attention to dictionary announcements this time of year. You know, when the publisher try to look hip by "adding" a word to the dictionary, something that encapsulates the previous year, usually something incredibly trendy and utterly meaningless. For instance, this year, the Oxford Dictionary chose selfie as it's word of the year. Yeah...

As a bit of a shining light at the end of the linguistic tunnel, Merriam-Webster has chosen the word science, which scores over the other guys selections by actually being a word, and gets double points for actually using a scientific rationale for their selection. The word saw a 176% increase in use on their website, putting it ahead of cognitive (158%) and rapport (145%). So, rather then go for the highest trending term on Twitter, or the one that got the most up votes on reddit, in a desperate appeal to remain relevant, whilst also transparently trying to appear hip, M-W has went with simply doing their job. And I say bully for them. In a year that saw a new surge of exoplanets discovered, the earliest known photo of the infant universe taken, saw Peter Higgs win the Nobel prize, saw a massive space rock explode over Russia, and saw the end of Breaking Bad, science deserved to be the word of the year. Of course, science deserves to be the word of the year every year.

Now we just have to get over the rather humbling fact that 176% more people had to look up the word science to know what it meant.

Via Time.

4 Dec 2013

He Is Here

Guillermo del Toro's The Strain has taken the long path to this moment. Conceived as a TV series, it was roundly rejected by every network, forcing del Toro (who never gives up on a good story, it seems) to adapt his idea into a trilogy of novels with Chuck Hogan. The books were successful enough (and because everyone else really wants their own Walking Dead) that interest in adapting it back into a TV series grew, eventually settling at FX (which I still hold is the best of the American cable networks). FX ordered a pilot, starring Corey Stoll and past del Toro collaborator John Hurt, which they recently ordered to series, though with David Bradley replacing Hurt for the ongoing run.

Despite the fact that the series was just ordered, and it still probably a year away from broadcast, FX has already begun the marketing push for the series, with this short found footage and completely unattributed snippet hinting at the influence of the Master.

Via Den of Geek.

This Is Why Hitler Didn't Bomb Paris

Hollywood is weird. Despite director George Clooney coming out and saying that his new film, The Monuments Men, wasn't meant to be awards bait, and that it wasn't going to be finished in time for it's Christmas release, he's still getting flack for the move. I suppose it fits the narrative of a bunch of movie stars all in a film together better if there looks to be an ulterior motive behind making the film, other than just wanting to make a good film and have fun while doing so. I guess people would rather they release an unfinished movie that they can complain about rather than a finished movie that stands a chance at being good.

Anyway, the film was pushed back to February 7, where it won't have to compete against the Hobbit and can benefit from a longer media push. Case in point, here is the UK version of the trailer, which focuses a lot more on the war aspect of the film, and features a lot more footage of the secondary characters, played by John Goodman, Bill Murray and Downton Abbey's Hugh Bonneville.

Yeah, this movie has a great cast.

Which One Is Tubbs?

The January 13th premiere of Archer is getting closer, and the marketing is beginning to ramp up (although, they started with the Top Gun Kenny Loggins video, which is kind of like loosing your virginity to... dammit, I had something for this... someone who is really good at sex). While creator Adam Reed and many of the cast have teased that season 5 will see a significant transformation in the series, everything they've shown us thus far seems to be business as usual for ISIS. Case in point, this fantastic poster, which confirms a very pregnant Lana (can't wait to see how that along will shift dynamics).

After the jump, you can check out the latest ISIS training video, this time tackling the subject of ninjas.

3 Dec 2013

I Was Having Problems, So Here's This

So, there was a power thing, and then some internet stuff, and long story short here is a trailer that I haven't watched, for a film I haven't heard of called The Machine. It might be good, or it might not be. What we can agree on is that it will exist. I assume.

How To Show Off Your Dragon

Despite the fact that Smaug should have been as front and centre in the Desolation of Smaug marketing campaign as Gollum was in the Unexpected Journey promotions, he hasn't been. You have a movie about a dragon, a sure fire (ha) way to attract attention to yourself, and anyone unfamiliar with the books wouldn't even know who or what Smaug is.

So, we're a little under two weeks left until the second part of the hobbit is released, and they've only now released the first full image of Smaug. And it wasn't in a trailer, or still, or production video. It was on the side of an airplane, as part of their partnership with Air New Zealand. Which, to be fair, is a pretty effective way to show off your dragon. I just can't help but think that this should have happened a month ago.

Via Collider.

[Review] - Atlantis, Series 1 Episode 9, "Pandora's Box"

Courtesy of the BBC

Atlantis returns after a week off, and unfortunately it didn't return on a particularly high note. This week's episode had suggestions of darker intent, but it was all just spackling on too much tree bark. Howard Overman's script was all over the place, running too many potential stories straight into the ground in what seemed like a mad dash to get somewhere. Where exactly, I'm not sure, and I don't think he was either. But it certainly had the feel of an episode that was attempting to cover too much ground, and tripped because of it.

Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers that

2 Dec 2013

No Posts Today

I'm taking a personal day. I'm allowed that from time to time. What do you people want from me?

Naw, it's alright. I'll be back tomorrow. Today I'm just very very lazy.
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