30 May 2014
You Wish You Had As Much Fun In Your Life As These Guys Do In Theirs
It's the end of the week, a slow news day, and I started off talking about X-Men, so I might as well finish up with it. Here is a video of James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender doing impressions of Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen for Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen. And McAvoy rightly treating the right to give the Star Trek "Space..." speech as sacrosanct.
And a good time was had by all.
It'll Take You 20 Some Odd Years From Home, But Will It Reboot You?
|Courtesy of MGM|
In an odd bit of news, Roland Emmerich, a man renounced for not making good films, has announced that he and Dean Devlin intend to reboot their own film, 1994's Stargate, with the intention of creating a new franchise for MGM and Warner Bros. Emmerich has made mention of returning to his Chariots of the Gods inspired science fiction film over the years, a film that he and Devlin had intended to be the first in a trilogy (the reputed story of the sequels were eventually novelized). It seems now that, rather than make a twenty years later sequel (because those always go so well), he'll kick off an entirely new film series by taking the premise back to square one (because that always goes so well) and avoid having to explain Kurt Russell and James Spader's absences.
Making a sequel to the original film never made much sense to me, and rebooting the franchise makes slightly more but still not a lot of sense for the exact same reason: it'll be living in the shadow of MGM's television Stargate franchise, which lasted for 14 years, was far more successful, popular and flat out better than the film that inspired it. Rebooting the film with such a cultural memory (and everyone knows geeks have the longest memories) lingering over it seems as unwise as Bryan Singer's attempts to bring Battlestar Galactica to the big screen so soon after the Sci-Fi series finished. That it is twenty years later, and Emmerich still really wants to tell the story he originally envisioned for Stargate shows a certain level of passion for the project, but who amongst the receptive audience will accept a Stargate universe without the Goa'uld, or the Asgard, or Richard Dean Anderson?
[Opinion] - The One Element An X-Men Movie Needs To Use, And Hasn't
This past weekend saw the release of X-Men: Days of Future Past, and as I mentioned in my review, along with the original cast and the clear vision of director Bryan Singer, a much needed element returned to the series: message. The reason that Stan Lee's creations at Marvel made the company stand out form it's DC competition in the 60s was because everyone comics was allegorical. Spider-man was about the teenage experience; Fantastic Four was about the changing family dynamics emerging after the 50s; Avengers was about how awesome it was to hang out with veterans; and the X-Men were about civil rights, with Professor X and Magneto filling in for the contemporary Martin Luther King Jr and Malcolm X, respectively. This isn't new information (if any of what I've just said was new to you... you need to read more).
When Marvel's properties starting getting adapted into films starting in the late nineties, message was the furthest thing from the producers minds. They wanted fight sequences and money, and if that meant dressing Willem Dafoe up like a Power Ranger, then that's what they did, dammit. And that trend has not changed. As good as the MCU films generally are, they lack anything resembling a message. They are about CGI fight sequences, and making money, and raccoons grabbing their crotch. The exception to this was, briefly, the X-Men films. Singer, aware of the heritage, was not interested in simply throwing a bunch of explosions on screen, he wanted it to mean something. Of course, as soon as he left, that all got pushed to the side in favour of more, less well known, not entirely properly identified mutants.
With the arrival of Days, there have been seven X-Men films made, with Apocalypse on it's way sooner rather than later. In all those films, there is one element from the comics that has a real world analog, that is still relevant today, and would make a great setting for a film: Genosha, the nation of mutants.
Hit the jump for my argument, which includes spoilers for all the X-Men films, including Days.
29 May 2014
Andy Dufresne Didn't Live For Fun, So His Brain Got Smart But His Head Got Dumb
Have you ever asked yourself, "would that scene in Shawshank when Andy locks himself in the office and broadcasts classical music over the prison be better if the music was All Star by Smashmouth?" If not, then join literally everyone else besides the guy who made this video, which is the scene in Shawshank when Andy locks himself in the office and broadcasts classical music over the prison, except the music is All Star by Smashmouth.
Gods, the internet is a weird pace sometimes.
They're All Dead
When I read the first of the Strain books, I couldn't put it down. I thought it was fantastic. The whole first third of the book, or however long it was, with the dead plane touching down, and the CDC investigating - before any of the vampire stuff kicked in - just blew my mind. I couldn't understand why no network had wanted to develop it as a series. Weird how things go some times. As this latest trailer shows, Carlton Cuse has certainly been able to capture Guillermo del Tor's tone and style. I just hope the series lives up to the horror of the books.
[Review] - Fargo, Season 1 Episode 7, "Who Shaves the Barber?"
|Courtesy of MGM|
Since the premiere, Fargo has felt like a show I've been making time for. Like a customer that just won't shut up and go away, and you've got to keep on smiling and nodding and pretending that everything is OK. I watch episodes, glancing at my watch, thinking of all the things I'll do once it's done and I'm free. And because of that, I realized that as bad as I believe Fargo has been (and I stand behind everything I've said about it thus far), I've been unwilling to give it some of the benefit of the doubt. I've been so apathetic about it, I've failed to notice the things worth noticing, and there have been some. So, I vowed that going into this episode, I would be a better viewer, and give the show some genuine attention, for good or ill.
Then the "this is a true story" hit the screen, and my eyes drifted. But, then something remarkable happened. A good episode followed after. And I know that it was good, because it grew my eyes back to it. It made me, literally, sit up and watch. Something about this episode was different. It was interesting, engaging, and enjoyable. It doesn't redeem the series, but after five hours of disappointment, an hour of redemption was like striking gold.
Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers that want a new spleen as much as the next fella.
28 May 2014
Marvel Has A Slightly Better Wednesday
After the events of the weekend, Marvel needed a win. If it hadn't been for the fact that it was released in front of X-Men: Days of Future Past, this would have been a excellent opportunity to release another Guardians trailer and try to get everyone distract with that. So, the best they had in their back pocket was announcing who would play Daredevil in their upcoming Netflix original series. the one the showrunner just dropped out on in order to work on a sequel to a movie no one liked.
So, that's what they did. And the new, 100% Affleck-less Matt Murdock is... Charlie Cox. Said Marvel:
"Marvel is proud to announce that acclaimed actor Charlie Cox has joined “Marvel’s Daredevil,” an all-new 13-episode series premiering on Netflix in 2015. Best known for his acclaimed work in “Boardwalk Empire” and “Stardust,” Cox will play Matt Murdock, the lead role in this all-new Marvel Television series. Blinded as a young boy but imbued with extraordinary senses, Matt Murdock fights against injustice by day as a lawyer, and by night as the super hero Daredevil in modern day Hell’s Kitchen, New York City.Cox is best known to me for his role in Stardust, but more than anything I'm excited for the series to be moving forward. We've heard very very little about the state of the three Netflix series, what with all the hoop-la over the suckitude of SHIELD this past season. But it didn't seem to just be that the announced series were being overshadowed, there just wasn't anything to report on. If Marvel is serious about making TV an integral part of the MCU strategy, they might want to make it seem like it is a priority.
Marvel’s first original series on Netflix is Executive Produced by series Showrunner Steven S. DeKnight (“Spartacus,” “Buffy: The Vampire Slayer,” “Angel”) and Drew Goddard (“Cabin in the Woods,” “Lost,” “Buffy: The Vampire Slayer,” in addition to writing the first two episodes of “Marvel’s Daredevil), along with Marvel TV’s Jeph Loeb (“Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” “Smallville,” “Heroes”).
“Marvel’s Daredevil” is produced by Marvel Television in association with ABC Studios."
And stop having people quit on them. That would help too.
[Review] - Penny Dreadful, Season 1 Episode 3, "Resurrection"
|Courtesy of Neal Street Productions|
Also, a lunatic ate some monkeys, so that was fun.
Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers that understand the appeal of a lost cause.
The Federal Government's Visual Acuity Is Based On Movement
Fossil trafficking is a big problem in the world of paleontology. Every fossil discovered needs to be examined by experts, so it can be classified, and the fossil record can be verified by just that much more of a degree. When fossils are sold to private collectors, they disappear. Science doesn't get to benefit from any knowledge that might have been gleaned from that bone, and while "actions detrimental to science" isn't a crime, fossil trafficking is.
And thus we have the crux of the case of Sue the T-rex, and the focus of the forthcoming documentary, Dinosaur 13. In 1990, Pete Larson and a team of paleontologists discovered the most complete T-rex skeleton ever discovered, a skeleton that went on to be a world wide celebrity, and remains one of the best holotypes of the species. Trouble is, the FBI seized Sue shortly after her excavation, and what followed was a ten year legal battle over her ownership. One one side, you have the scientists acting in the name of discover, and on the other you have an ambitious land owner and an argumentative federal government.
While I would champion every movie being about dinosaurs in some way, it's especially important for stories like this to be told, to highlight the bureaucratic and very human obstacles that scientists can encounter in the process of doing their job. The filmmakers should look into the case of the Mongolian Tarbosaurus next.
27 May 2014
He's Batman: He Can Breathe In Space
LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham takes the entire Justice League into space. I don't understand why there has to be more text in this post beyond that initial sentence. I really don't understand how a LEGO Justice League movie wasn't green lit immediately upon release of the Lego Movie. I really don't understand how Batman: Arkham Knight will have people lining up outside of Best Buy the night before release, but this game, potentially the greatest video game in the history of the medium* won't break the bank. Dammit universe, be less wrong!
I'm just glad the Lego minifigs talk in these games now. They are so damned snarky.
*WARNING: hyperbole. Probably.
|Courtesy of Reunion Pictures|
I suppose other stuff happened too. Alec did some things, Carlos felt a certain way about stuff, and other matters. But that beard! A mystery beard, too! The most seductive of the beards: one cloaked in a general unknowable quality. It wasn't the possibility that this John Doe is another time-lost traveler that drew Kiera's curiosity, it was the eternal question that grips all those in the presence of such a growth: what might his chin look like under all that?
Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers that suggest combing the beard for forensic evidence. Because trust me, a full bodied cheek-sweater of that kind has collected some things along the way.
He's An All New Man
The BBC has confirmed that the new series of Doctor Who will return in August, with Peter Capaldi at the helm. They have done so in a frustratingly short and very blinky teaser trailer, as seen above. Not much more to add to that, other than we can start getting properly excited now. And hope that we won't be properly disappointed by this year's offering.
26 May 2014
Marvel Had A Bad Weekend
Late Friday, Marvel made the surprise announcement that Edgar Wright was stepping down from the director's chair on Ant-man. This was, to say the least, surprising. Shocking even. The press release read as such:
"Marvel and Edgar Wright jointly announced today that the studio and director have parted ways on ANT-MAN due to differences in their vision of the film. The decision to move on is amicable and does not impact the release date on July 17, 2015. A new director will be announced shortly."If that wasn't enough of a hit for the company, over the weekend, it was announced that Drew Goddard is stepping away from the Netflix original Daredevil series, to be replaced by fellow Buffy alumni Steven S. DeKnight. Goddard's exit is believed to be because of Sony pushing the Amazing Spider-man spin off Sinister Six up on the schedule, despite it's parent film being viewed mostly negatively and no one in particular asking for a Sinister Six film. Goddard will remain on Daredevil as a producer, and they will proceed with the series using the initial two episodes Goddard wrote.
As for Ant-man, there seems to be a lot more at work. There are rumors, and they are only just that, that the decision was made based on the fact that Ant-man was meant to go before the cameras within the next couple months, to make the announced release date of Summer 2015. And that Wright was not prepared to the extent that Marvel was satisfied to make that schedule. Another rumor claims that the higher ups at Disney insisted on a last minute rewrite of the script by Wright and Joe Cornish, which Wright would not support. It is important to note that Ant-man has been in the works for 8 years. The development of Ant-man represents the most work Marvel has put into a picture in the history of the MCU, and that includes the entire MCU.
Kevin Feige has stated in the past that Ant-man has only remained part of their plan because of the enthusiasm they've had over Wright's vision. But what has consistently delayed the film has been Wright himself. Ant-man was meant to follow Iron Man and the Incredible Hulk, but was pushed back so that Wright could make Scott Pilgrim and The World's End. Wright, somewhat notoriously, is a perfectionist, taking extreme care to over see ever detail of his films is done just so. While this method produces excellent works (I'm less a fan of Scott Pilgrim than Wright's other projects), it works best when down independently. Marvel keeps a tight schedule, and have spent nearly a decade bending over to accommodate what was essentially a passion project for Wright.
It is also, sadly, nothing new for Marvel. Jon Favreau left the Iron Man films due to Marvel's insistence that he make room in his story for their universe building. Patty Jenkins left Thor: The Dark World due to "creative differences," and they apparently encountered similar issues with eventual director Alan Taylor over the film's final cut, which likely means Taylor will not be revisiting Asgard any time soon. While they have shown considerable enthusiasm in providing unique voices like Joss Whedon, Shaun Balck, the Russo Brothers and James Gunn the opportunity to play in their sandbox, Disney seems less enthusiastic than front man Feige in trusting those voices to deliver a sellable product (considering that no MCU film has been anywhere near a financial failure, Disney really should be less up tight about the creative end of things).
Loosing Wight behind the camera is a deep cut for Marvel. Loosing both him and Goddard (though Goddard in more friendly circumstances), and it will be very interesting to see how they approach the repercussions of these announcements in the coming weeks. Especially as it relates to the condition of the Ant-man script, and the identity of their eleventh hour replacement in the director's chair.
Via Collider, twice.
[Review] - Hannibal Season 2 Finale, Episode 13, "Mizumono"
I feel, in the aftermath of all that, that is is important to remember two things: first, the old cliche, "the villain is the hero of his own story." The second is the name of this show: Hannibal. In which case, I'd say that counts as a win for the hero of the story.
Too bad about everyone else.
Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers that requests the pleasure of your company.
[Review] - X-Men: Days Of Future Past
|Courtesy of 20th Century FOX|
Time travel is that nifty little narrative device that allows for the possibility that mistakes of the past might be changed into something better. And that is exactly how it is used in X-Men: Days of Future Past. I'm not talking about the sending back of Wolverine to put right what once went wrong, I'm talking about Bryan Singer's return to the original modern superhero movie franchise, and sorting out the last ten years of X-Men films not made by his hand. Because in that time, there have been some missteps. Big ones. And Singer, who sees a return to form here that has not been present in his films since he left the franchise all those years ago, has put to good use the opportunity to bring meaning and message back to the mutants.
If Stan Lee and Jack Kirby created the X-Men to explore the heady issues of the civil right movement in the 60s, then their original purpose has never been more faithfully adapted. Yes, it isn't perfect. The flaws remind the viewer of the similar weaknesses in X2, which mostly fall at the feet of over extending the plot in unnecessary directions, over complicating the plot for the sake of set pieces, and the ever present problem of Magneto. But the successes, as they did with X2, overpower the flaws, pin them to the ground and twist their arm until they say uncle.
Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers that don't want your future.
Labels: Marvel, Movies, Reviews
22 May 2014
When You Have To Adapt Every Single Mother Reader In A Bibliography, Accept No Substitutes
Until recently, Elmore Leonard was my favourite living author. His writing, or rather his approach to writing, as had more of an influence on my own than probably any other writer, living or dead. But the films based on his works are generally shit. The shit is in the majority. The exceptions are rare, and can be mostly counted on one hand: Mangold's 3:10 To Yuma, Soderbergh's Out of Sight, Sonnenfeld's Get Shorty, the former TV series Karen Sisco, the current TV series Justified, and Tarentino's Jackie Brown.
That last one was an adaptation of Leonard's novel Rum Punch, which brought back the characters of Ordell Robbie (Samuel L. Jackson in the film) and Louis Gara (Robert DeNiro) that Elmore had introduced nearly fifteen years earlier in The Switch. The Switch is now a film called Life of Crime, which sees Ordell played by Yasiin "Mos Def" Bey, and Louis by John Hawkes. The film (which was originally announced with almost an entirely different cast) also stars Tim Robbins as desperate husband, Isla Fisher as his conniving mistress, and Jennifer Aniston as the kidnapped wife that Robbins would really rather not get back. It remains to be seen if Life of Crime, due out this August, joins it's literary successor into the upper echelon of Elmore's adaptations, or if it is quietly forgotten like so many that have come before.
A Machine That Generates Empathy
That old cliche, "standing on the shoulders of giants," is something that every single putz who considers himself a film critic on the internet needs to remind themselves of: we all stand on the shoulders of Roger Ebert. Hell, every film critic of the last thirty years period stands on that man's shoulder. Now, the trailer for director Steve James' (Hoop Dreams) documentary about Ebert, Life Itself, chronicling Ebert's career, illness and death, has been released.
There are movies about movies, and movies about people, and occasionally movies about movies people love. This is a movie about a man who loved movies, gave everything to them, and whose legacy will rather poetically be preserved in one. And that, to me, is beautiful.
|Courtesy of MGM|
If last week's episode felt like a season finale, as I thought certain parts of it did, than this episode absolutely felt finale-ish. Everything that the series has been working towards came to a head, concluding some story lines, killing a heck of a lot of people, and leaving a few narrative threads dangling over a cliff. The episode offered some tense moments towards the end, as the storm moved in and blanched the world.
But the rest of it was just more of the same of what we've gotten from Fargo thus far. The best analogy for Fargo would probably be a stationary bicycle: it peddles and peddles and sweats and sweats, but the progress it makes can't be measured in distance traveled. It's just burning calories, which if that's your thing, then you are welcome to it.
Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers that haven't seen a mess this big since '96, maybe even back to '93.
21 May 2014
That Is A Great Big Pile Of Bones
|That's a scientist for you, always laying down on the job.|
What is being touted as the world's largest dinosaur has been unearthed outside of Patagonia. It is such a new discovery, the animal doesn't even have a name yet. It is so new that scientists aren't certain if it is a new species of Titanosaur. What is mostly clear, based on the thigh bones excavated by Dr Jose Luis Carballido and Dr Diego Pol and a team from the Museum of Palaeontology Egidio Feruglio, is that the 100 million year old creature weighed weighed 77 tonnes, stood 20m high, and was 40m long from tail to nose. This unseats Argentinosaurus from the claim by about 5 metres each way and about as many tonnes.
The challenge to scientists now is to determine within the realm of reasonable certainty, that their discover is that of a new species, and not that of a larger more mature form of a previously identified creature, which continues to plague scientists with animals described for more than a century. This new animal is known from only 150 bones from 7 individual animals. By comparison, Argentinosaurus is described based on only a handful of bones as well. For myself, I love geographic-based biological anomalies, because it allows us to ask questions like: why in the hell were animals in the Argentina area of Gondwana this massive? What environmental factors caused the herbivores to grow to such massive sizes, and as a result, forced the predators to match, and strain the upper limit of what a complex, warm blooded creature is physically able to achieve? It's fascinating stuff, and discoveries like this are how we will be able to eventually answer those questions.
Via the BBC.
You All Talk So Funny
So, Matthew Vaughn is back with another film based on a comic book (following X-Men First Class and Kick Ass). But really, aside from Layer Cake and maybe Stardust, I haven't been wowed by his films. They lack any sort of personal flair: they all just seem like so much of the same bland thing that others are doing.
This film is Kingsman: The Secret Service, based on the comic by Mark Millar, which means it'll lack any subtly at all. The film stars Colin Firth, Michael Caine, Samuel L. Jackson, and Mark Strong, so it's not wanting for cast, but neither have any of Vaughn's films. The premise (which is really just a British, spy version of Wanted) has promise, but I suspect it'll just be another loud action film. Of course, going back to his British spy film roots might make this output of Vaughn's worth watching. We'll have to wait until the fall to see.
[Review] - Penny Dreadful, Season 1 Episode 2, "Séance"
|Courtesy of Neal Street Productions|
Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers that once had a molehill named after them.
20 May 2014
HBO has been surprisingly open with the content of John Oliver's Last Week Tonight, posting not whole episodes but complete segments on the show's YouTube page. And as I said after the first episode aired, Oliver and his writers have really coming into this thing at a full tilt. Take, for instance, this segment from Sunday's show, where he takes GM to task for their recall of what they all but are admitting are death machines.
When the show first aired, Oliver commented that the GM recall was one of those issues that deserved a more in depth analysis than either the Daily Show would be able to give, or that actual news networks were willing to do. So, now, Oliver got around to it, and he didn't skimp.
I'm Going To Go To The Place That's The Best
While the first trailer for James Gunn's Guardians of the Galaxy was all about introducing the characters and establishing the tone of the film, this second trailer (which Gunn mentioned he enjoyed more) just gets to bask in the awesome sense of self. Promotionally, the film already has people interested. Now it has to sell itself as a space opera worth your time and money, something that isn't the easiest sell if the second word of the title isn't Wars or Trek.
The second trailer isn't a soft sell, by any means, but it eases off Gunn-style weird slightly. I thought it had a heavy Serenity vibe, making big deal of the anti-hero nature of the main characters, while also giving us our first glimpses of Glenn Close and Lee Pace, and more of the very alien environments the film will be featuring. It also plays up the talking raccoon and talking tree, which from a marketing perspective is smart. If they can convince people to buy those principles, then the audience will be more willing to accept wahtever else Marvel has in store on this one.
Hit the jump to check out the fantastic looking new poster for the film, which was released late last week.
[Review] - Game Of Thrones, Season 4 Episode 7, "Mockingbird"
|Courtesy of HBO|
Hit the jump for the brief review, which contains spoilers that like you, but like themselves more.
19 May 2014
No Words... Should Have Sent A Cinematographer
Christopher Nolan's new film supposedly draws influence from the writings of Kip Thorne. As someone who spent a not small part of his adolescence reading the works of Kip Thorne, this had immediate appeal to me. But the shiny has gone off Nolan, as far as I'm concerned. The Prestige remains one of my favourite films, but if the evidence of Inception and Dark Knight Rises suggests anything, it is that Nolan has gotten too caught up in the idea of himself.
Rather than making big films in a small way, which was what made Insomnia and Batman Begins so successful, he's now making movies based on what people expect from Christopher Nolan. In Inception, this lead to bloated egotism of perceived cleverness. In DKR, it lead to confusion of detail and boredom of plot. This is the first good look we've got of Interstellar, and it doesn't immediately suggest anything other than what we've come to expect from Nolan, which is a lot of pretension and dressing up of good ideas under the cloak of grand importance.
We'll have to wait until November to see what exactly Nolan has for us this time.
[Review] - Hannibal, Season 2 Episode 12, "Tome-wan"
|Courtesy of Dino de Laurentiis Company|
And now the trap begins to close, the line grows taunt with investigation, and the game for Hannibal approaches it's conclusion. Last year, the penultimate episode saw Hannibal turn to Abigail and fill what remained of her life with terror. Here, Will attempts to do the same. As the Verger story came to a temporary conclusion, Will and Jack ready their final salvo and Hannibal braces for what he thinks is coming next.
Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers the taste and consistency of chicken gizzard.
[Review] - Godzilla
|Courtesy of Legendary Pictures|
This is not that film. This is not a film that concerns itself with message. Or with real purpose, honestly. It is as transparent as a film can get that it is in it for the money, not for anything deeper. However, it chooses to go about that in such a shallow, distracted way that it alienates the audience from it's own design. This film isn't as bad as the '98 Godzilla, but it isn't any better. It's a different kind of bad, the kind that is dressed to the nines, swaggers onto the screen under the presumption of being a complex film, then reveals itself to be little more than cliches and shadow puppets. But, it is better than Pacific Rim, which isn't saying much, and only by a hair.
Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers that seek a balance, be it in nature, or the force, or whatever.
Labels: Godzilla, Movies, Reviews
16 May 2014
No Matter The Medium, He Remains The Night
In a week where we got our first look at what Ben Affleck's Batman will look like in Batman Vs. Superman: Double Double, Toil and Trouble, I think it's important to remember that there is only one true Batman: that of the Bruce Timm animated series. And the internet being what it is, was happy to provide a live action version of the Animated Series opening sequence, which may well be one of the greatest sequences of television ever, animated or otherwise.
Tomi Pietilä shot the short, with CG by Tommi Tuominen, and it remains amazingly faithful to the wordless, creditless sequence as it can be, and manages to find effective work arounds to those elements that can't be replicated in live action.
[Opinion] - Where SHIELD Went Wrong
|All pictures courtesy of Marvel Television Studios|
Agents of SHIELD has finished it's first season, and against all the usual sense and logic displayed by networks, it has been picked up for a second by ABC. Despite being part of the greater Disney Family, and tying into the billion dollar juggernaut that is the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the show's renewal was a bit of a surprise considering that the first season wasn't that good. Or, good at all. Yes, it managed a significant uplift at the back end of the run, when it had the catastrophic events of the Winter Soldier to draw inspiration from. But for the rest of it's run, it was the very opposite of appointment television.
Will season two be any better? We can hope. But the truth of the matter is, the show needs to undergo some stiff revisions, and to dramatically alter it's trajectory from a creative perspective. How things operated behind the scenes through the first season cannot be allowed to continue, or the second season will absolutely be the last. This is a show that should have been a guaranteed hit, but finished with less than half of the audience it started with, due entirely to mismanagement of resources, and I include story as a resource.
So, what can it do? After the jump, I run through some of the major issues of season one, that need to be improved upon. Spoilers for the entirety of season one, plus the Winter Solider, which if you haven't seen that by now I don't even know what you're doing here.
So, You're Sure There's A God, Then
A new trailer for John Michael McDonagh’s new Irish drama, Calvary has been released, and it looks just as good now as it did the first time. The film stars Brendan Gleeson and a loaded cast of prime Irish talent. And if The Guard was any indication, the film should be as hilarious as it is heartrending. So there's that to look forward to.
15 May 2014
It Only Glows For Those With A Soldier's Heart
Someone at the BBC decided the best way to advertise their tributes and coverage of WWI would be to make a sarcastic fake trailer based on war movie cliches. That person deserves a raise, a better parking space, and access to two... no, three of the company prostitutes.
Via The Mary Sue.
[Review] - Fargo, Season 1 Episode 5, "The Six Ungraspables"
|Courtesy of MGM Television|
Fargo has, as I thought it might, fallen part due to the sheer absence of room to expand. The pilot was a self contained story that felt too little room to grow, and not nearly enough material to get ten episodes of equal quality out of. The past few weeks, and this episode especially, have been prove of the series over reaching, and spilling the diet Mr. Pibb into the coleslaw.
Hit the jump for the brief review, which contains spoilers that are mixed in with ladies spoilers, and you can’t tell which.
[Review] - Penny Dreadful, Season 1 Episode 1, "Night Work"
|Courtesy of Neal Street Productions|
Logan has crafted (after developing the idea for somewhere near 16 years, apparently) a love song to the gothic romances of the Victorian era, and a deeply atmospheric, emotionally charged story that crackles with both promise and mood. A piece infused with character, driven by tension and sprinkled with the familiar. It is a world I will be very comfortable visiting over the next seven weeks.
Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers that hit you like a meat hook to the cheek.
14 May 2014
That's A Lot Of Riffs
Last summer's live Rifftrax of Starship Troopers was both one of the funniest riffs I've heard them do, but also one of the best ways I've ever spent an evening. It was glorious in every way three middle aged guys making fun of a terrible movie could be. And now they need our help to do it again, with a film that deserves every bit of attention the old Mystery Science Theatre 3000 gusto can muster: 1998's Godzilla.
They've launched a Kickstater campaign in order to raise the sizable sum needed to broadcast this film live across the US (and hopefully Canada). As of this writing, they have actually managed to surpass their base-line goal of $100,000, but there remain 28 days in the campaign, and the more money raised means an ultimately better show (again, hopefully one broadcast in Canada).
To tide us over until then, this July 10th Mike and the Bots will be taking aim at Sharknado, live in theatres, from which a whirling vortex of aquatic predators of some kind couldn't keep me away.
|Courtesy of Marvel Television Studios|
It is only fitting for SHIELD to end it's first season with an offering that perfectly encapsulates the entire 22 episodes to this point: it began with great promise, only to drop off steeply almost immediately and languish in mediocrity for the bulk of the run time, only to come back strong at the eleventh hour, complete with oddly placed hiccup and a touch of Fury ex machina. Was the episode the best thing ever? Far from it. Was it bad? Not entirely. Will I tune in next season? Against my better nature, and like I've done every week this year, for some reason I can't explain, yes I will.
Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers that bring the noise and the funk wherever they go.
|Courtesy of Reunion Pictures|
Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers which, if they weren't such a bulldog about Liber8 in the past, you'd think they were protecting them.
Daily readers (hello Kevin) might have noticed that yesterday's content stopped rather abruptly. This was due to a rather rude Technical Thing. This obstructive Technical Thing was shortly taken out back and told what to do with itself, and normality has now returned. Everything will just be pushed back one slot. So, the Continuum review will run today, along with Agents of SHIELD, then look for the inaugural Penny Dreadful review to run tomorrow along with the Fargo recap. That should bring us up to speed.
Posted by MR. Clark at 09:00
13 May 2014
[Review] - Game Of Thrones, Season 4 Episode 6, "The Laws of Gods and Men"
|Courtesy of HBO.|
Hit the jump for the brief review, which contains spoilers that wish they were the monster you think they are.
12 May 2014
It's "Tine" As In Fine, Not "Tine" As In Been
Of the two DC related TV projects that will be coming to our screens next season, Constantine is the one I'm more looking forward to. Yes, it's on NBC, and yes, they've dropped it into the Friday night slot after Grimm (which, to be fair, is also Hannibal's timeshare). But I'm just so much more interested in seeing a fairer adaptation of the Constantine character than I am in Bat-Babies. Mostly, I'm looking for some redemption from the Keanu Reeves movie, which was a decent enough film in and of itself, but it wasn't Constantine.
This trailer looks pretty solid, though the ghost of the film haunts it to a distressing degree. In fact, it appears that a lot of the pilot draws inspiration from the film. Which is distressing, but not the end of the world. It's only a pilot after all. Plenty of time to work up to the Trenchcoat Brigade.
Hit the jump for an extended clip featuring John making a first impression on Lucy Griffiths, during which he mispronounces his own name.
[Review] - Hannibal, Season 2 Episode 11, "Kō No Mono"
|Courtesy of the Dino de Laurentiis Company|
In the mean time, we have to finish up this season, and boy howdy are the walls closing in. The Vergers are moving at full tilt, and Will's hand he's holding against Hannibal is being revealed one card at a time. We know that confrontation lay ahead, and now he have a better idea of how much game Will is playing. Which doesn't subtract from the sheer amount of horror dispensed in this episode.
Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers which are, at their base, a people business.
[Review] - Ottawa Comiccon, Summer 2014
|Via the Doctor Who Society of Canada, from the OCC Twitter. Because I couldn't be bothered|
Still and all, some of the shine has come off it for me personally. This was the first year I've walked away from the event feeling less than whole. Certainly, I purchased some kit that I didn't necessarily need (and spent more money that I should have). And I got some autographs of people I admired, and took in some of the special events. For the first time in my life, I even cosplayed (the only evidence of my fantastic Krieger costume exists only on stranger's phones - which, to the Cheryl cosplayer I rather rudely rebuffed, that was my bad; I thought you were simply a crazy person).
Hit the jump for some analysis of the good, the bad, and the furry (seriously, there was just someone wandering the hall in a full fox costume, sucking a raspberry slushie through a straw - it was weird).
Labels: Bruce Campbell, Buffy, Comiccon, Firefly, Reviews, Star Trek
9 May 2014
Brienne of Tarth Fighting Dinosaurs
Some Fridays, I really put in an effort. Some Fridays, I'm so pumped for the weekend, all the creative juices get flowing in the right direction and I produce. This is not one of those Fridays. I'm gearing up to attend the third annual Ottawa Comic-con this weekend, so this is one of those Fridays where I sit around, watching videos of news anchors nearly shooting themselves in the face with nail guns.
Or, as artist Amelie Belcher says, "Sometimes you just need to take a few hours out of your life to draw Brienne of Tarth fighting dinosaurs." I completely understand where she's coming from (and would totally watch that movie - get on it Asylum).
Via The Mary Sue.
ABC has officially renewed Agents of SHIELD for a second season, as well as giving a series order to Agent Carter. Carter will be run by former Reaper runners Tara Butters and Michele Fazekas, working from a script by Winter Solider writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely. The series has been designed as a limited run show, to hone and direct the story telling, and cut out unnecessary filler. No word on if there will be any behind the scenes changes in store for SHIELD.
Frankly, there should be. Where the blame can be laid for SHIELD's failures as a product are unclear. But the fact of the matter is, the producers are expected to foster an environment that produces the best (or profitable; hopefully both) show they can, and it is the writer's obligation to actually create that product. And they simply haven't done so. ABC had no obligation, or even reasonable argument for renewal, considering the negative critical reaction and poor rating performance. Any other network, faced with the same response, would have cancelled the show after the first ten episodes. Which means this second season is little more than charity. A hope that the slight up-tick in quality that the show has experienced in these last six episodes can carry over into next year.
Next week at this time, after the finale has aired and we know exactly what footing we'll be on going into next year, I'll take a closer look at what the show needs to do to improve itself. As for Agent Carter, I'm excited. As excited as I was this time last year for Agents of SHIELD. And aggressively excited that Marvel has dug their heads out of their asses and moved forward on a female-lead project, which is long overdue.
Now if they would just announce a Captain Marvel film, all would be right in the world. Or, the MCU, at least.
Pennies In The Bank
This Sunday sees the premiere of John Logan and Sam Mendes' "psycho-sexual" Victorian thriller series, Penny Dreadful, a portmanteau of public domain characters and original creations. And I'm quite looking forward to it. The first episode has been available on YouTube for a while now, if you live in the right region, but the series begins in earnest this week. Reviews on this site will replace Agents of SHIELD on Wednesdays, so look forward to those.
And can someone explain when Sunday nights became the high holy night for quality TV? I spend half of my week just reporting on what I saw on Sunday. Back in the day, the only thing Sunday night could be counted on was Touched by an Angel. Anyone else remember that period in CBS history when a large part of their programming was heavily religious? That was weird, right?
8 May 2014
Why the Long Face?
That video is of a Walking With Dinosaurs Arena Spectacular dinosaur throwing out the first pitch at a San Diego Padres game, and it does a damned good job. Hell, most Presidents can't seem to get the ball over home plate, but that dino hucks it in there right through the strike zone.
In other news of dead relatives of things that poop on my car, University of Edinburgough researches have identified what they believe to be an entirely new branch of the Tyrannosaur family The discovers comes following the identification of a new species of animal, named Qianzhousaurus sinensis, but nicknamed Pinocchio. The 66 million year old, nine meter long Tyrannosaur was discovered by road construction workers near Ganzhou in southern China.
The nickname comes from the longer snout, up to 35% longer than it's most common relatives, says Dr Steve Brusatte, who headed the team that made the identification. This keeps it well out of the range of the crocodilian-snouted Spinosauridae. Meaning, this smaller, more agile animal likely belongs in its own subgroup, along with the recently discovered Mongolian Alioramus. "Although we are only starting to learn about them, the long-snouted tyrannosaurs were apparently one of the main groups of predatory dinosaurs in Asia," said Prof Junchang Lu of the Chinese Academy of Geological Sciences and co-author on the research.
Via Geekologie and the BBC.
Wait For The Tap
We're a couple weeks away form Seth McFarlane's A Million Ways To Die In The West, and they've released another red band trailer for the film. It's essentially the same trailer as was released before, with a few choice jokes swapped out. Which I'm fine with. I can't stand it when comedy movies spoiler all the jokes in the trailers, leaving nothing fresh in the film (We're The Millers, every Will Farrell movie). I'm standing by my belief that this will be a divisive, but ultimately funny movie. And we need more successful westerns in general.
[Review] - Fargo, Season 1 Episode 4, "Eating the Blame"
|Courtesy of MGM|
Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers that, when they figure out the answer, will have their answer.
7 May 2014
Someone On The POM Wonderful Legal Team Has A Sharp Sense Of Humour
After last week's fantastic premiere of Last Week, Tonight, Jon Oliver has received his first bit of feedback in the form of an incredibly passive aggressive and very funny letter from the good folks at POM Wonderful. This is a good sign, as it took Colbert weeks before he pissed off a corporate entity, but Oilver knocked it out of the park in one try.
[Review] - Agents of SHIELD, Season 1 Episode 21, "Ragtag"
|Courtesy of Marvel Television Studios|
Let's all celebrate this episode for what it wasn't. It wasn't a redemption episode for Ward, which is what the previews heavily suggested. Ward, as I've mentioned, is beyond redemption. He is a villain, plain and simple. It doesn't matter how he got there, how many dogs he shot, or how many of his former teammates look at him doe-eyed. There is no coming back for Ward, and this episode thankfully didn't even try to convince us that he was capable of doing so. Yes, the shine on the Hydra badge is coming off, but that doesn't change the fact that for ten years, he's been mole-hill deep working against SHIELD. If the season ends with anything less than his incarceration, it'll be as complete a failure as anything else this show has done.
Hit the jump for the brief review, which contains spoilers that should have made another chart for this.
Labels: Agents of SHIELD, Marvel, Reviews, TV
Cause It Worked So Well With Smallville
I've been saying for years that DC's properties would have a better chance on television than in films. That is, of course, dependent on the TV series being good. Here, we have the first trailer for Gotham, the Batman-by-way-of-Smallville series coming to FOX next year. What was initially sold as a police procedural based on Jim Gordon's early days in the Gotham PD is clearly now just the elaborated version of the one flashback sequence from Batman Begins. Which wouldn't be so bad, I guess, except from this admittedly early and very showy look, it doesn't look that good. The dialogue seems a little hammy, and the acting appears to have edged closer to "large" than "subtle." Now, I've been wrong before, and trailers are woeful places to judge quality from. I said something similar about Hannibal, and it turned out to be fantastic. So, I guess we'll all just have to wait and see.
But I don't have the greatest feeling about this one. Though they get points for casting Richard Kind as the mayor.
6 May 2014
Who Wants To See David Gregory Crying In the Corner All Night
The White House Correspondents Dinner is, let's all just admit, weird. It's a night specifically set aside to prove that a bunch of beaurocrats with no sense of humour or ability to self depricate have a sense of humour and can self depricate. So, usually, those invited to participate use the oppurtunity to take advantage of the politicans being unable to tell the difference between "laughing at" and "laughing with." That being said, each year there is usually one moment of brilliance. This year, that moment belongs to Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Joe Biden's Veep crossover.
CNN played this in it's entirety on the weekend while I was at the gym, and even muted and surrounded by sweating, desperate people, I was laughing my ass off. Seriously, I nearly had a Dexter-level accident with a treadmill because this thing through off my pace.
|Courtesy of Reunion Pictures|
Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers that are content hitting the snooze button.
[Review] - Game Of Thrones, Season 4 Episode 5, "First of His Name"
|Courtesy of HBO|
Elsewhere, Westeros took a breather between horrible acts, and went for a leisurely autumn stroll. Felt the wind in their hair, the breeze on their neck, the swords through the back of both. After all, stuff can't happen unless folk get to where they need to be, and this was a "folk getting to where they need to be so that stuff can happen later" kind of episode. A mellow pause amidst the turmoil of their lives, and a chance for people to say words out loud at each other. Which, just so happens, to be my favourite kinds of episodes.
Hit the jump for the brief review, which contains spoilers with whom you should make a formal alliance.
5 May 2014
Eddie Izzard Interview On The Stream [Updated]
The story thus far: last Thursday, I was invited to participate in an interview with comedian Eddie Izzard on the Al Jazeera English talk show The Stream. I, along with three others from around the world and coming from various backgrounds, had the opportunity to ask the British comedian and aspiring politician questions about his life, work and goals via live stream. This actually made up for my missed opportunity to ask him a question when he participated in an informal Q&A after a performance of his Force Majeure tour.
The entire episode is above, with my question coming last. Izzard was engaging, as always, and the questions from my fellow panelists and from twitter were interesting, and elicited a great discussion. I have some personal criticism about my performance. First of all, despite appearances, I was not in a disused UPS depot, just a convenient location with a hardwired broadband connection. That does not excuse the general dungeon-like vibe of my location, and I want to make clear that I rarely spend time in dungeons. Second, while my initial question was well thought out and concisely deployed, my followup was much more off the cuff, and I butchered it. I ramble like a goon, and entirely forgot to include the word "unfairly," when I asked if his charisma would give him an advantage in politics. Because obviously it would give him an advantage. Instead of looking inquisitive, I came off sounding like a gomer.
Also, some who watched it live noted that I should smile more. I know this, but I don't have a smiler's face. I have a fantastic scowler's face, honed over many years of intense disapproval. When I smile, I look like I'm suffering from abdominal distress. Or I'm about to enter the dungeon (which again, to be clear, is rare).
I had a fantastic time, enjoyed myself immensely, and would like to thank The Stream, it's hosts and producers for giving me to opportunity to participate, to my fellow panelists for being kind, and to Eddie Izzard for providing an insightful and entertaining answer to my ramblings.
Via the Stream.
[Review] - Hannibal, Season 2 Episode 10, "Naka-Choko"
|Courtesy of Sony Pictures Television|
Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers that are in a fine place for the obnoxious and wealthy.
[Review] - The Amazing Spider-man 2
|Courtesy of Sony Pictures|
However, that it isn't constantly looking over it's shoulder at what Raimi had previously done doesn't mean it isn't looking over it's shoulder, attempting to ape someone else's success. And it doesn't mean that a more assured sense of identity has elevated this film to a new level of quality over it's dull and disjointed predecessor. It's a different kind of bad, this film, so at least this franchise is achieving consistency. It is surprisingly bloated for a film that has very little direction, but it's worst sin is being aggressively predictable and about as subtle as a manhole cover upside the head.
Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers which are about as subtle as a manhole cover upside the head.
Labels: Marvel, Movies, Reviews
2 May 2014
First Of All, Don't Say Jelly. It's So Weird
The folks over at How It Should Have Ended are always good for a laugh, pointing out the ridiculously obvious plot holes from popular films in delightful animation, and always somehow finding a way to bring it back to Superman and Batman chilling in a cafe. Well, they've went one further with their take on The Lego Movie, which is a real film that features both Superman and Batman (unlike Super/Batman: Passport to Paris, which I maintain will never happen). Because HISHE animated their analysis in glorious Lego-motion. And recreated some of the scenes from the film very impressively. Not that I necessarily agree with their point (the film makes sense in context), but now I kind of wish that the gum that did trap Superman had been green. That seems like a lost opportunity.
And, at just about the point where I had finally gotten Everything Is Awesome out of my head, now it's back, with all the words replaced with "Batman."
Myself, I'm A "AMFOL"
I haven't watched a new episode of the Simpsons since 2003, but I'll break that fast this Sunday when FOX will air the all Lego episode, called Brick Like Me, of the apparently endless animated series. Whether the episode is good or not, I wish the figures used in this episode were the ones Lego chose to sell (which are on sale as of yesterday).
Not that the purchasable figures don't look amazing, but the specially molded heads don't exactly follow the aesthetic of the rest of Lego's line. The smaller, printed heads used in the episode are more traditional. But that's a small quibble, and speaks in no way to the potential quality of the episode. Which does look good. Has the Simpsons come back around to where it was more than a decade ago? That seems... unlikely.
[Review] - Fargo, Season 1 Episode 3, "A Muddy Road"
|Courtesy of MGM|
Elsewhere, things actually started to come together in this episode. While not every element is working quite right, this episode felt like it was finally bringing things together in a cohesive way. As the story lines begin to... not merge, merge isn't the right word. Orbit; as the story lines begin to orbit each other, you can see the design of the series finally emerge. Except for Malvo's story, which is still wiping around out in the dark, like a rogue planet messing with gravitational balance.
Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers that sit there like a 300 pound nine year old.
1 May 2014
Dangit, I Just Hit The Cat
The Bad Lip Reading folks has struck again, going back to the well-that-keeps-on-giving that is the Twilight franchise, this time making Eclipse both watchable and enjoyable. I like the confidence the Bad Lip Readers have been developing since they started out, moving from random line reads in early videos to being able to construct a musical number in this one (plus adding in CG elements). It shows real initiative.
And you'd need a lot of it if you had to watch these movies to find the sweet spots to mock.
Always Remember: Fear Nipples
If you hadn't been able to put it together by now, Hannibal is probably my favourite show currently on TV. And two episodes ago, they uttered what is probably the greatest single line ever to be spoken on network TV: "Is your social worker in that horse?"
Well, /Film's David Chen was able to sit down with episode director Vincenzo Natali and discuss what exactly went into creating the horse-Hot Pocket sequences that began and ended Su-Zukana. In summery, a willing actress, a strong zipper, and a talented second unit.
Some people's lives are different from the rest of us.