Saturday, April 13, 2013

42 Movie Review

Okay, so for those of you who might've been slightly confused by the name of this post, NO this is not a belated review of Movie 43. God no.

No spoilers.

Okay, so 42 is the movie about Jackie Robinson, the man who broke the color barrier and got African Americans into the MLB. Which begs the question, why is this movie just being made now? Like, why hasn't this already been made? It took Billy Bean all of ten years to get a movie, and apparently it took Jackie Robinson almost seventy. Yeah.

One thing I should mention first: this is not the story of Jackie Robinson's ENTIRE life. This movie does what Lincoln did: it gives you the most interesting part of his life, the thing that he's most remembered for, that was only like a year or two in total out of his life. And I'm glad they did that, because I think that's the best format for biopics, otherwise they get really long and dull. Fortunately averted here.

I'll start with the guy who plays Robinson, I believe his name is Chadwick Boseman: he's great. He portrays Jackie Robinson as this really good guy who stood up for himself and all the crap he kept getting, and I liked seeing that. Which comes into play, because the manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers, who I'll get to in a minute, specifically tells him that he needs to not fight back when everyone treats him like crap. If he does, no  one'll say "he was provoked", they'll say "the black guy lost his temper." So basically, he needs to just play his heart out and destroy everyone on the baseball field, because that way, he wins. And boy does he.

The GM of the Dodgers is played by Harrison Ford, and he's awesome. Like, Oscar Nomination awesome. I'm not saying he would've won, but he could've been nominated. He's almost unrecognizable, too, compared to the parts he usually plays. My friend who I saw the movie with, halfway through he actually asked me (whispering, of course, we were in a crowded theater), "Wait... is that Harrison Ford?!" He gets most of the best lines, too. I won't spoil them, but they're good.

The drama off the field was, by and large, really good: Robinson's dealing with tons of pressure from everyone, a lot of the team doesn't want to accept him (which culminates in this one great scenes that, again, I won't spoil, but it's awesome, in which the manager/coach of the team screams that they all just need to deal with it), and eventually things come together. That being said, even though the team did start to stick up for Robinson eventually, I think it's kind of ridiculous that, aside from one scene in which the Dodgers fail to charge the mound, no one ever really loses their crap and just goes ape on any of the racists, or at least on Alan Tudyk's character (oh Wash, what have you done?). There are some shouting matches, but I kinda would've liked to have seen a fist fight, 'cause let me tell, few things are as immensely entertaining as a fight in a baseball game. That probably sounded wicked shallow and I do not not care because it's true.

The movie did have some good comedy relief lines, to balance things out, and that includes one or two lines that I think are gonna wind up being memes. Heck, the movie came out yesterday, they could already be memes for all I know. If they aren't, they will be. Specifically this line from a little kid and another from Jon Bernthal's character that I can't tell you about because they might lose there comedic value, but it was funny. There were one or two jokes and even dramatic moments that I thought were kind of cheesy, which honestly is one of things that I think bog the movie down a little bit, but they aren't so ever-present that they ruin the whole thing.

One of the best parts of this movie is the baseball itself. It's wicked well directed and choreographed and shot and it just looks awesome. That being said, I wish there was more baseball in it. I guess the trailers were kind of misleading because they showed more baseball than was actually in the movie, which I was disappointed by. That, and the last scene, which, obviously, is at a baseball game, is just Jackie Robinson in one at-bat. It's not a whole game, which was what I and probably everyone else in the theater wanted, just one at-bat.

So, great acting, great drama, great baseball that I wish there had been more of, all in all, I had really good time with 42.

I will say that 42 is a fun way to spend a few hours.

So, what's your favorite baseball movie? Mine, Moneyball, hands down, don't let my Billy Bean joke up top fool you. Comment below, let me know!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

The Walking Dead Season 3 Review

Alright, I suck, I'll admit it; I've basically stopped reviewing TWD of late. I didn't even review the season finale. But I'm here to make it up to you! Yeah, I know this is like the fourth time I've said I'm back in a big way, but I kinda mean it this time. Anyway...

Spoilers for the season follow.

Okay, so, after a really freaking epic second season finale/cliffhanger, the third season of The Walking Dead began back in October. People were excited from the get-go: the cliffhanger at the end of last season left us begging for more, the trailers looked epic, they announced the arrival of Michonne and the Governor, I couldn't wait.

The season picked up roughly eight and a half months after the end of the last one, and the group has been reduced drastically, but now everyone's a total badass (more on that later). They are a well-oiled machine when it comes to killing walkers and clearing a place out. In the season premier, they find the prison, they take it, they kill a bunch of walkers, and it was awesome. And in the prison they stayed. The prison, in my- and a lot of other people's- opinion was the best part of the season. It was a cool metaphor to begin with, but beyond that, something like 75% of the cool stuff that happened went down at the prison.

Meanwhile, Andrea and her katanna-wielding friend Michonne stumble upon Woodbury after Merle (yeah, that Merle. He has a sword for a hand!) find them. Woodbury is this town that's basically the City of Ember on the surface world (I was like eleven when those books came out, sue me), complete with a creepy leader in the form of the Governor. The Governor's insane. That's the best way to put it. He keeps heads of people he's offed in jars, keeps his zombified daughter chained up in a closet, gets his eye stabbed out by Michonne, and basically goes around being a murderous nutcase while still convincing most people they can trust him. Including Andrea. More on that in a later.

As great- and well acted- of a villain as the Governor was, Woodbury itself was a let down. The people in the town were morons (and really bad actors), the zombie-gladiator fights just looked ridiculous, and it generally hosted the slowest and dullest parts to the season. Including Andrea. Okay, so in seasons 1 and 2, I didn't give a crap about Andrea. I didn't hate her, but I genuinely wouldn't have cared if zombie-Shane had eaten her before Carl gunned him down. This season though, we all learned to despise her. Because she's an idiot. There's no other way to describe it, she was just stupid. She let herself basically get seduced by the Governor, a guy she barely knew, even when her BFF Michonne told her she was being a moron, thought she could somehow be a diplomat between Woodbury and the prison, and just acted stupid. And then she died. And I did a little dance. Again, more on that later.

Actually, more on that now. It was big season for killing characters. The most notable one was Lori, given a c-section with buck-knife to save her baby and then shot in the head by Carl so she wouldn't turn (and those of you who bitched about wanting a zombie baby: no, that would've ruined the moment). I'll be honest, I cried. It was actually a credit to the writers, taking one of the most hated characters in the entire show and make people weep over her death in what was probably the best episode of the series thus far. T-Dog died in the same episode. Yeah. Omar and Axl, a couple of guys they found in the prison, died too, and I actually did care a little bit. Merle's death really managed to get me, though, probably had something to do with his becoming a zombie and Daryl having to ice him. It was sad. Milton's death I actually found myself caring about, just because I liked his character. And he killed Andrea (hooray!). As far as Andrea's death went, it was obvious that the writers were going for the same thing they got with Lori's death, but it just didn't work. And yet, through all this, Maggie's sister Beth, who most people don't even know the name of, somehow survived. Go figure.

All the death aside, this was a great season for character development: Rick went insane after Lori died, and while the hallucinations are over, I really doubt he's out of crazy town yet. Hershel basically became the spiritual adviser the group (makes sense, what with Dale being dead and all), Daryl, now a fan-favorite, became Rick's uber-badass second in command. Yeah, he's awesome. And of course, Carl. In season two, Carl was a brat who wouldn't stay in the damned barn. Now, he's believably become a total BAMF and expert zombie-killer who put his own mother down. Some folks are actually complaining that he's not getting enough screen-time anymore. And then in the season finale he kills a guy in cold blood. Long story short, he's turning into Shane. I can't wait to see where that goes.

Michonne has a bit of a rocky introduction: a lot of people didn't like her at first (she was kind of pouty). I didn't dislike, but I didn't genuinely start to like her character until the second half of the season (when Morgan came back, hell yeah!), which is when most people started warming up to her. Give it another season, everyone'll love her (it's weird, because the first time I ever watched the show, I remember thinking "there should be someone with a sword").

So, season was going well, Andrea aside, all the pieces were falling into place, we were all set up for a big, epic fight in the season finale. And we got it... for exactly three minutes. It was the single most anitclimactic thing I've seen since the eighth season finale of Smallville. I have mixed feelings at best about the final moments of the season. I think everyone just expected the Governor to die this season that we were all put off by it. It was a let down for sure. I just don't know how they'll keep the character as a viable threat for another season. As far as the remnants of Woodbury moving into the prison with the gang and forming the People's Republic of Rick goes: meh. Again, it was underwheliming, and while it could yield some cool stuff next season, it could also suck hard. I won't quit watching, but next season had better have some major payoff.

All in all, great season, disappointing ending.

Final Rating: 85%

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Doctor Who: The Bells of St. John Review

Okay, finally, Doctor Who is back for more than one month this time, so let's talk about it!

Full spoilers for the episode follow

Okay, so, after the events of The Snowmen, the Doctor is hiding out in a monastery in 1207, when the phone on the TARDIS rings. And it's been established that it shouldn't do that. And who's on the other end? The latest incarnation (or something like that) of Clara Oswald, this time in todayland. And she's in danger from this weeks bad guy, but more on that later.

No, more on that now: there's something in the WiFi, something nefarious that consuming human souls and trapping them. And it wants Clara. So, after a bit of coaxing and the invention of the quadracycle, Clara and the Doctor are on the run.

The entire time you really can tell that the Doctor wants to tell Clara everything that's happened to her, but he can't, and it hurts him, and I liked seeing that. Heck, I just liked seeing Clara again, this time without her dying at the end of the episode. As usual, she and Matt Smith had great chemistry, banter, the whole nine yards. The best way that I can describe it is like this: they're like David Tennant and Billie Piper were in terms of how well they worked together and how much fun they were to watch. Don't get me wrong, I thought Eleven and Amy were great together, but Clara is basically the 11th Doctor's Rose. And it's awesome.

As per usual, there were some fantastic moments, between the plane scenes and of course the Doctor riding a motorbike up a skyscraper. Also, and this is unrelated, and I know I said this when I reviewed the Christmas Special, but I love the new intro and TARDIS interior. They just look great. Also, when Clara told the kid, who was reading chapter 10 of a book, that 11 was the best and that he'd cry, I laughed. I mean I actually paused it so I could laugh without missing the episode.

There are going to be a lot of people who complain that the actual monster of the episode felt undercooked. These will be the same people who made that same complaint about the Christmas Special. And I'm gonna say the same thing I did in that review: it doesn't matter, because that wasn't the point of episode. The point of the episode was to further establish and develop Clara's character. How you feel about that is up to you. That's the beauty of the internet: as Felicia Day once said: You're judgement is not my problem. (James, did you just slap your own readers, all ten of them, in the face?! That is cold!) And in the respect that I just described, the episode was a success, and, in my opinion, great.

Lastly, while I will agree that the Shard could've been better with more development, I quite liked the reveal at the end that the Great Intelligence was behind it (again). Granted, I saw it coming, but still liked it. Looks like we've got a new Big Bad on our hands!

Final Rating: 86%

Also, and while this doesn't pertain to the episode, it absolutely pertains to the show, I thought I should mention one thing, for those of you who haven't heard: David Tennant and Billie Piper have officially confirmed that they'll be returning for the 50th anniversary. This makes me very happy. Am I curious as to how they'll do it? Yes, even though we all kind of expected it to be some kind of multi-doctor story. Granted, I do wonder how they'll justify only Tennant and Piper returning (I'm not gonna hold my breath on Eccleston or McGann, and all the others are either too old or no longer with us), but whatever happens, I'm just excited to see the those two return to the Whoniverse.

Oh, and Happy Easter everybody!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Bates Motel: First You Dream, Then You Die Review

Okay, so for those of you who ever wondered what I look like, I look exactly like Freddie Highmore. Seriously. It's kinda scary.

Full Spoilers follow.

Alright Bates Motel is Lost alum Carlton Cuse's modern reinterpretation/prequel to Pyscho. Basically, its the story of Norman Bates when he was a teenager and before he was... well, you get the idea. And it is good.

Also, I'm just gonna establish this right now: yes, I have seen Pyscho. I didn't see it when I first heard about the show, but I did watch it recently because, well, I wanted to watch the show and decided I needed to see the movie first.

All start with the acting: it's awesome. Freddie Highmore plays the young Norman Bates and he kills it; he does this whole fish out of water thing because he's put in positions he's never been in before, he does a good job as a teenage boy who has, at the very least been smothered by his mom, and plays it really well when his character keeps getting traumatized by the all dead bodies his mom seems to result in. His mom is played by Vera Farmiga, and she's messed up. She really is; the first seen is Norman finding his dad's body, and the implication is that Momma Bates killed him. Further enforced when she kills another guy later. And you can tell that she's going out of her way to control her son in every way possible. Part of the idea of the show is that Norman was pretty messed up to begin with and his mom's complete lack of parenting skills just made matters worse, and she really sells it. And she's creepy. And hot. Just saying.

Its not just them either, pretty much all the characters have their own qualities and are interesting on their own, like Norman's hot blond (of course she's blond) potential love interest whose name I can't remember (you can tell she's not just their as a love interest either... which is good, given what would probably wind up happening to any love interest for Norman Bates). They all have something going for them, is what I mean. And based on the trailers for the show, the whole town's pretty messed up. It's a messed world. And they had a few good very good twists and cliffhangers in there, (translation, Norman's brother and and bit at the end with injections) and I'm very interested to see they proceed.

The show does a really good job of homaging the movie, too; the motel and house look pretty much exactly like they did, and they replicated just the right number of shots. It's not shot for shot, it's not the Pyscho remake with Vince Vaughn (yeah, that actually happened), but they through in enough of them as nods that I was pretty happy. That being said, they also did a good job of updating things for the modern times, and not making anything too anachronistic (whoa James, big words, calm yourself).

Two complaints, and one's a total nitpick: first, and this is the nitpick, I was hoping the show would be in black-and-white. I know, that's asking for way too much, and doesn't take away anything from the actual show, but when I first heard about this, I remember thinking "I hope it's in black-and-white". Second, and this is the actual complaint, I hope they don't make disposing of bodies a regular part of the show. Look, I know that this is a dark, disturbing, and heavy story line they're working with, but if the Bates' have to dump a body in the lake every episode its just gonna get ridiculous.

All in all, I really enjoyed the episode, I'll be sticking around for the next episode for sure, and I'm glad the show is here.

Final Rating: 86%

Friday, March 8, 2013

Much Ado About Nothing Trailer Review

Okay, right now I could be talking about the Justice League movie rumors, or the new episode of Supernatural, or a million and five other movie and TV related things, but I don't care, I'm talking about this.

Alright, the first trailer for the Joss Whedon's Much Ado About Nothing has hit the web. For those of you who don't know, it's a zero budget adaptation of the Shakespearean play of the same name that he made at his house over the course of twelve days while on vacation using only his favorite actors and the hand held cameras in black and white. And yes, I know its already been screened at every film festival in existence, alas, none of those are near where I live. It gets released theatrically in June, and I'm excited.

I will admit this is not my usual kind of movie, were it not made by Joss Whedon, I wouldn't have heard of it, I wouldn't care about it, and I wouldn't see it. But, if you've been reading this website long enough, you know that I'm a HUGE Whedon fan. And yes, I liked his work before he was mainstream, i.e., before the Avengers came out. And, since, Mr. Whedon is the director and screenwriter, I'm intrigued.

The trailer has this sweet music in it that really plays up the nefarious nature of the movie, and all the imagery really helps, and it just feels really out there and unique. When this comes out, it'll probably be my first real indie film experience. I saw Seven Psychopaths, but this will be the first real one.

Part of the fun for me was ID'ing all the regular Whedonverse actors in the trailer. I spotted Alexis Dennisoff and Amy Acker, obviously, but also Reed Diamond, Fran Kanz, Tom Lenk, Clark Gregg, Sean Maher, Emma Bates, and of course, Nathan Fillion. This will be the most Whedonverse-regular heavy work ever, even more so then Dollhouse or seasons 4-5 of Angel. Cue nerdgasm.

I should probably confess right now that I've never read/seen the actual play, probably should, we'll see how that turns out. Best case scenario this is Shakespeare mixed with Whedon's unique style of wit, flare, and irony, becoming one of the most hilarious film experiences of 2013. But there is that part of my brain telling me that this could just be a wicked self-indulgent uber-art house flick that'll bore the hell out of me. Fortunately, all the positive critical reception speaks against that, as does this excellent trailer. Can't wait till June.

So, Much Ado About Nothing, have you seen the trailer, what'd you think of it, and are you excited for it? Comment below, let me know!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Dark Skies Review

Okay, this is my first new movie review of 2013! And how was it? Uh...

Okay, so Dark Skies stars Felicity, a MLB player, a Phantom Menace-Anakin Skywalker look alike, and Generic Horror Movie Kid. They play this suburban family that keeps having weird stuff happen to them, eventually leading to the conclusion that aliens are stalking them. There you have it.

And how was this Insidious rip-off. Yeah, funny that I know its a rip-off in spite of having never seen Insidious (go ahead and hate me all you want). The answer to the aforementioned question is... okay. Let me explain: this movie is 1 hour and 40 minutes long. The first hour and 20 minutes are not good at all. The best way to describe them is narmy, or full of narm.

What is narm you ask? Narm is when something that's supposed to be dramatic or scary (the latter, in this case) is executed so terribly due to bad directing or bad delivery or the fact that it was just silly to begin with (all three in this case, folks) that it becomes unintentionally funny. And believe me you, that happened a lot in this movie. The sheer number of times I laughed, along with my friend and everyone else in the theater laughed is absurd. It got to the point where it became acceptable to start making Mystery Science Theater-esque snarky comments (granted, the fact that most of the audience was teenagers might've had something to do with that) about the absurdity we were watching. And that was more entertaining then the movie at that point. Maybe it didn't help that the last trailer before the movie started was for Scary Movie 5. Yeah, not a good way to set the tone. If they'd stopped with the add for The Last Exorcism Part 2 maybe, but... you get the idea.

It wasn't even really the fault of the actors, either (except the little kid, he was a crap actor). Kari Russel was good in this, she acted like she was trying to give this thing some actual credibility. Josh Hamilton (not the same guy) and the kid from Real Steel were fine, too. The directing and the writing were the biggest problem, especially the writing. It's written and directed by the same guy, and he's a better director. Heck, in terms of set design and visuals, the directing is fine, it's just he made the actors deliver a lot of lines badly. And a lot of the script is just silly. That's why I kept laughing, because a lot of the stuff that he wrote to scare the audience made said audience laugh, and that's the biggest problem the movie has. Narm.

In this narm-fest there are one or two moments that were kind of off-putting, but not really. Not enough to make me stop laughing anyway.

But then we get to the last twenty minutes, the climax, for all intents and purposes, of the movie and it became a horror movie. It was legitimately scary. My hearty rate was up and I wanted to look away but I couldn't bring myself to, which is what I want to happen when I watch a horror movie. The scares were finally done well and not narmy, I was freaked out, I really was. There was a general air of fear going around. The rest of the audience seemed to agree, too, because there was no more MST3K-ing at that point, and I even heard one or two people scream. I don't want to spoil it... but I will say that the main plot points and concepts finally became relevant and came home and... came to fruition, I guess. The ending wasn't perfect though, because at the very end, like in the last two minutes, the movie kind of explained itself in a way that just came off as wicked condescending. And then the very very end happened, and I was freaked out again.

The question is, is it worth $10 dollars to see a movie that's 80% laughably bad and 20% terrifying? Answer: No, its not. I'm actually sort of proud of the fact that I used a movie pass to see this and didn't actually support it with my money. If its on cable or Netflix Instant (which it probably will be in like a month) or MAYBE if you need to see a movie this weekend and you don't think anything else looks good and its a matinee, then fine, go ahead and watch it, you might like it more then I did.

And, I actually had to create a whole new rating for this one. Its between Fun Time-Killer and Avoid Paying To See It. Here you go:

Ladies and Gentlemen, Dark Skies might make good background noise.

So, Dark Skies; have you seen it, what did you think of it? Comment below, let me know!

Top 10 Animated Series

Okay, I am doing this list for no reason whatsoever other then I'm bored and I like cartoons. Needs no further explanation. So yeah.

Also, just a quick note, if you notice the high concentration of super hero cartoons... we'll that's just what I grew up watching. You didn't? Well this is a top 10 list, it's where I get to be wicked biased. So yeah. Moving on.

10. Futurama

Ah Futurama. The cancellation of which is another example of why FOX sucks. Basically, pizza boy Phil Fry accidently winds up in a cryogenic freezer and wakes up in the year 3000. The show from there follows his cosmic adventures on his descendants spaceship with his friends Bender the robot and Leela the cyclops. The show has the same style of humor as the Simpsons (it was created by Matt Groening, so that's kind of a foregone conclusion) while also being a sci fi show, which shouldn't work when you think about it, but it just does. And really well, too, because it's hilarious. And FOX cancelled. Because they suck. And Comedy Central brought it back. Because they're awesome.teen

9. Teen Titans
Ah, nostalgia. This was basically the show I was raised on, and I still love it to this day. Based DC's best-selling title of the same name, Teen Titans is, well, a team of teenage superheroes, featuring Robin, Beast Boy, Cyborg, Raven, and Starfire. The show was best known for two things: creating Meriquanime (the fusion of western and anime style art design, though they kept all the weirdness associated with the later, much to my delight) and having Ron Pearlman voice Slade Wilson, which may've actually been the greatest thing ever. The show was just the right combination of hilarious and epic at the same time and was very much a big part of my childhood.

8. Young Justice
Ladies and gentlemen, lets celebrate a show that has... what, three weeks left to live? Yes, that other show about a team of teenage DC superheroes (this time Robin, Superboy, Kid Flash, Aqualad, Miss Martian, and Artemis, at least at first, they have since... expanded their roster, shall we say), the one that just keeps getting screwed over via constant hiatuses, general executive meddling, and the recent anouncment that they're being cancelled in favor of a CGI Batman. What is wrong with Cartoon Network? But don't let that discourage from checking out this great big pile of awesome, which includes some of the best executed action sequences any cartoon has ever had, ever. Get whelmed.

7. Spongebob Squarepants
Need I explain. Okay, fine, this show was, at one point, freaking hilarious, no matter what your age is. The only real reason this isn't higher on the list is because some time, I think around 2006, it quite epiclly jumped thoe shark. No, that's an understatement; it flew over the shark at 37,000 feet and then crashed to the ground and burned. But hey, at one point mayonnaise was an instrument.

6. Robot Chicken
It's like Seth Green and Matt Senreich once thought "Hey, we've got ADHD, and we still play with toys. Let's make a show out of it!" And I'm glad they did. Robot Chicken is basically a ten minute long weekly show that does a series of stop-motion vignettes of pop-culture, usually no more then 45 seconds each, using toys and action figures... with a demented twist. Said twist is the show's bizarre, somewhat sick sense of humor (some of the things they make the toys do may or may not disturb emotionally) that makes me laugh of so much. They recently concluded their sixth season, which, among other things, included a DC comics special (a sort of follow up to their spectacular three part Star Wars special). And it was awesome. Things are all set for season 7.  Bear warning, if you're at all interested in jumping on board, this is the single weirdest show on TV... ever.

5. Batman Beyond
It shouldn't have worked. But it did. It do oh so very much. Forty years into the future (okay, about thirty at this point), Bruce Wayne is old. Like, he needs a cain to walk old. Enter stage Terry McGinnis, who Bruce trains to become the new Batman amidst the crime of Neo-Gotham. And it was awesome. And it culminated in the greatest direct to video movie ever made, Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker (heads up, it's freaking disturbing).

4. Batman: The Animated Series
Some have tried to make the case that this is the greatest incarnation of Batman outside of the comics. I think people with that opinion have really got an argument there. Plus, Mark Hammil as the Joker.

3. The Simpsons
'Nuff said.

2. Avatar: The Last Air Bender
When I was a kid (okay, a younger kid), this was the show that my dad sat down to watch with me and my sisters. Heck, it was the show my sisters sat down to watch with me. Because it's that awesome. You probably already know what the show's about (if you don't, where have you been?), and you therefore know how awesome it is in every way, from the action to the humor to the story lines to the characters to the animation style. It's just... epic. I miss it so much. Oh well, there's always the Legend of Korra.

1. Justice League Unlimited
After creating Batman: The Animated Series, Superman: The Animated Series, and Batman Beyond, Bruce Timm took on the immense challenge of creating a Justice League TV show. Said TV show's became evidence to Timm's genius. The show was simply "Justice League" for two seasons, with only Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Green Lantern, Hawkgirl, and Martian Manhunter as members. Then in season three they relaunched as Justice League Unlimited, incorporating nearly every character the DC universe has seen. And it was the single greatest animated series of all time, adapting the best parts of the DC universe into the amazing CADMUS story line, as well as putting a unique spin on classic heroes. And I loved every second of it. Plus, Michael Rosenbaum was the the Flash.

Alright, those are my picks, what are yours? Comment below, let me know!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Arrow: The Odyssey Review

Ladies and gentlemen, it's official: Arrow has grown the beard.

Spoilers follow.

Okay, I don't know if the writers planned this or they're making it up as they go and they just picked up on the fact that everyone loves the flashbacks, but long story short, after confronting his mother in costume, Arrow hesitates, only to take a bullet. From his mom. He manages to get away and winds up having Felicity of all people drag him back to the Arrow Cave (wouldn't the Quiver make much more sense?), where she and Diggle operate on him, thus giving us an excuse to spend most of the episode in Ollie's memories, exploring the early days of his time with Slade Wilson on the island. And it was awesome.

For awhile, my biggest complaint about the show, save for Thea, has been that they're under-using the island flashbacks. As a result, this episode won me over pretty quick. The main point is Slade training Oliver (who, if you hadn't worked it out by now, at that point was basically a priss) so they can hijack the supply plane. Manu Bennet as Slade... holy crap! This guy was amazing as Slade. He kicked an absurd amount of ass, he really toughened Oliver up (which was a little weird, given that the two are always bitter enemies in the comics. Maybe they're going for a Professor X-Magneto thing), and he just perfectly embodied the whole rugged soldier thing. Do we know if he's actually going to be Deathstroke (who is one of my favorite comic book villains ever, like in the top five, by the way)? Not yet, but that's just a testament to the fact that island flashbacks are really complicated (what is about islands and flashbacks that makes shows so complex?).

Basically, Slade's awesome (now if only they could get Seth Gabel to dial back on the Count, and they'll have executed all three villains that make of GA's rogues gallery well). And as a result, he lead to some sweet action scenes, which continue to improve steadily with each episode. Even Island-Oliver had a BAMF moment at the end.

Even though Slade stole the show, Oliver was great too. For me personally, its the first time I've really been able to see how the guy on the island could become the guy in Starling City, as the flashbacks show him starting to take a level in badass. Not only that, but I really liked two moments he had: when he got to call Laurel and had this silent breakdown, which was about as effective as they come, and when he went back for Yao Fei. He's nothing if not loyal, even though Yao Fei's working for Fyres. We know why that is, too. They have his daughter, who's got the same tatoo as Oliver does. Curious. My guess is she's China White, but who knows what could happen.

Only real complaint is when Billy Wintergreen (the guy in the Deathstroke mask who tortured Oliver) talked. He's played by a stuntman, so yeah. Granted, the fight between him and Slade was awesome, but still.

Even though most of the episode was flashback, some good stuff happened in the present, too. Thus far, I've been a fan of Felicity, so I'm pretty happy that she's brought onto the team, and she and Diggle had some great dialogue, especially when Dig recounted the worst thing he's ever done.

The bottom line is this is the best episode of the show so far, and I'm liking it more and more each week.

Final Rating: 95%

Monday, February 11, 2013

The Walking Dead: The Suicide King Review

Ladies and gentlemen, where the true horrors of war happen: the home-er... prison-front.

Spoilers follow

Alright, last night TWD came back from a three month hiatus with a vengeance. I've been missing this show so much since episode 7's cliffhanger, which is exactly where the episode picks up. Daryl and Merle are cornered by the Governor, who wants them to fight to the death, which starts to happen until our heroes arrive and bail them out in a sweet but disappointingly short second raid. They start going back to the prison whilst Woodbury is in chaos. And now for the aftermath.

Long story short, Rick-and Glenn- refuse to take Merle back to the prison, so Daryl goes on the road with him. I had mixed feelings about that because I didn't want him to leave the group, but I know that him abandoning his brother to survive on his own would've felt wicked contrived. And judging by the promos for the next episode, the fact that Norman Reedus is still in the opening credits, and the fact that Michael Rooker isn't anymore... well, take a guess. Hey, I could be wrong, but I could also be right. Here's hoping Daryl does it.

Back at the prison everyone is reeling from what just happened: Glenn is pissed (I'm done) and probably is gonna do something stupid but awesome, he and Maggie are barely talking, and Rick is... we'll get to that later. Carol sure come a long way, judging by her conversation with Beth (who, in spite of my initial groans, the writers have actually found a decent amount to do for), which is good, given the show's track record with female characters. And I just like to point out that they actually mentioned Oscar is dead. Nobody actually seemed to care to much save for Axl, but hey, at least they didn't never bring him up again. Granted, he'll never get brought up again from this point on, but still.

And now onto the new token black character. We'll hopefully not so much on the token part, as he seems like a solid character thus far. Yeah, Tyronne is basically Rick except still sane (again, more on that later). In other words, what Rick was in season 2. He's even sort of got a Shane. Basically, he comes off as a reasonable guy, and as much as I want Rick to accept him and let him and his group integrate, I know he's not gonna. I still like where things are going with Tyronne and his group though, and I'm looking forward to seeing where it goes.

Michonne said literally nothing the whole episode. If you're one of many who don't like her, you may've been pleased by that. I, on the other hand, was kinda curious to see where the character goes after her little emotional breakdown in the last episode. But nothing. Andrea on the other hand... dear God, Andrea is an idiot. See, as usual, the prison scenes were better then the Woodbury scenes. The Governor's apparent sanity slippage was cool, and I want to see more of the that, but the rest of the town... their actions were reasonable, I guess, but it was honestly ridiculous that Andrea's corny speech was enough calm everyone down.

Back at the prison we have Rick, who's not only hallucinating Lori's voice, but now her body (in a white dress, no less). Disturbing? Yes. Wicked cool? Hell yes. His break down at the end of the episode, fueled some great acting, was fantastic, and I REALLY wanna see where this goes, especially because I thought that not enough attention was paid to his insanity scenes in the first half of the season.

All in all, TWD came back strong, and I can't wait for next week.

Final Rating: 85%  

Saturday, February 9, 2013

The Departed Movie Review

First classic movie review of 2013! Woo! Granted, this only came out like five years ago so I'm not sure you can really call it a classic, but in my mind it is. So yeah.

No spoilers, don't worry.

Okay, so I need to review more older movies, and why not start with one of my favorite movies. So, The Departed stars Leonardo Dicaprio, Matt Damon, Marky-Mark, Jack Nicholson, Alec Baldwin, Martin Sheen, and Kristen Wig. Whether or not any of them other than Damon and Whalberg can actually do a Boston accent is up to you.

Basically, Jack Nicholson plays a mob boss in Boston fending off the State Police, Matt Damon plays Jack Nicholson's mole inside the Massachusetts State Police, and Marky-Mark and Sygon play State Police officials who get state cop Leonardo Dicaprio- who's family has ties to the mob- to their mole in Jack Nicholson's organization. Long story short, Damon and Dicaprio spend the movie trying to figure out who the rats are in their respective organizations that they're rats for. And thus begins one of the most epic cat and mouse games ever.

I'll start with the obvious thing to talk about: the acting. Everyone is so good in this movie. Matt Damon's great, obviously; Jack Nicholson's great and, in all seriousness, probably didn't know he was being filmed (him, Liam Neeson, and Bryan Cranston are the actors who I'm convinced never know they're being filmed. It's more like "Guys, Jack Nicholson's doing stuff, quick, get a camera, we'll put it in something); Marky-Mark... played himself, and that's always fun to watch; Dicaprio's really good in this, and I think part of that is he's not playing his usual character, you like the whole tortured soul schtick he's famous for. In this he's this really angry jerkass. And it was awesome. Martin Sheen, 'nough said.

Kristen Wig and Alec Baldwin weren't in it much, they were good when they were it in, and Baldwin had a couple of absolutely hysterical lines, the only problem was that out of everyone, they had the worst Boston accents. Especially Kristen Wig, because half the time it's like she didn't know she was supposed to be doing an accent and just spoke sans, and the other half she had one. They weren't awful, and if you've never been to Boston you might actually be fooled by them, but I live in Boston (well, suburb of Boston). I'm weathering one of Boston's many snowstorms as I write this. I know what a good accent sounds like. Again, it wasn't awful, just took me out of the movie a few times.'

This is basically the epitome of a dialogue driven mob movie. There are a few action scenes, one shout out in last act, and they're really good, but that's not the point. The point is the awesome dialogue. It is a lot like Pulp Fiction that way, because the dialogue carries the movie, and there are times when it's wicked funny but other times when it's wicked dramatic. The entire time it's entertaining though. If you like good dialogue/if you like Pulp Fiction, you will love this, is what I'm saying. It does, however, out do Pulp Fiction in terms of the sheer number of f-bombs dropped per minute. Didn't think that was possible either.

It was directed by Martin Scorsese, and I shouldn't need to explain that, but I will: he REALLY out did himself with this movie. It's that awesome. Almost everything about the direction is perfect, especially the way the scenes flow into each other. This may not make sense, or may be you didn't notice it when you saw it, but when I watched it, the scenes and the shots flowed together so well it was like the movie was moving at a million miles per hour. Which is good, because it's two and a half hours long. Part of it is the script is that good, part of it is the shots are so long, and part of is I don't know. But it really enhances the movie.

The bottom line is that The Departed is an awesome movie that you should all see if you haven't already.

In the end, I saw The Departed and there was much rejoicing.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Community: History 101 Review

Okay, I only got into Community recently on the advice of a friend, watched all three seasons in one weekend, fell in love with it, and then found out about all the behind the scenes drama that's happened. And even though I don't usually review comedy, this was way big a deal for me not to.

Spoilers follow.

Okay, so the episode started off and I was genuinely concerned due the whole sans Dan Harmon thing, and when it started off like a cheesy, multi-cam sitcom with a laugh track, I was really worried. But then it was okay because Pierce was the guy from Anchorman, and because it was all just part of Abed's happy place, where the study group is going to be in Greendale forever. And then I laughed.

It was basically the new showrunners' way of saying "we know you guys are worried, but don't fret, this is still Community, not Two and a Half Men." That and I really appreciated the whole bit of Pierce being played by someone else, what with Chevy Chase leaving the show and all. I personally think they revisited it a few too many times (did they really need to use it for the ending gag?), but I still laughed the first time.

Anyway, this season picks up at the start of the study group's last year at Greendale (a good way to acknowledge that this season is probably it), Jeff is only one history credit away from graduating, and he wants the whole group to take History of Ice Cream with him. Cut to the Dean- whose entire office is now Dalmatian- hosting a Hunger Games spoof for spots in the class, where "New" Jeff is competing to win spots for the whole group. Abed looks on in terror whilst Pierce tries to come up with the perfect ball gag. Jeff's competing, especially against Leonard and Annie Kim, was funny, as well as the Dean's cross dressing antics. Say what you will about the character having lost all subtlety, which he has, it was still funny, as was his reaction to his stapler being moved and Jeff's to the Dean moving in next door to him. I'm genuinely shocked he didn't give a big no.

Abed's coping mechanism, which, like I said up top, got old after a few visits, was revived by something very strange indeed: imaginary Abed going to his happy place, a cartoon world where they're all babies a la Baby Looney Tunes. I laughed. Hard. Right up until the point where cartoon baby Jeff begins giving one of his Jeff speeches that addressed both Abed's fears and the fandom's, continued by fake Jeff in multi-cam world, reassuring Abed. (Abed: Nice speech Jeff. Jeff: What speech, I just walked over here? Abed: You gave it in my head. Nice job).

As far as Troy and Britta and their relationship, if you can call it that much, went, I was entertained. The scenes at the fountain, and Donald Glover's delivery in general, were priceless. Heck, I'm genuinely curious to see where it goes.

The only real let down this episode was Annie and Shirley's prank on the Dean, which felt tacked on and undercooked. Plus, it appears Annie may've taken a step back in terms of development. Not good.

And lastly, I was very happy about Chang's cameo at the end (why does he think his name's Kevin?! And Changnesia?!).

All in all, this was a welcomed return to Greendale. Best season opener ever? No. Best episode ever? No. Funny and entertaining? For the most part, yes, and it's still to early to say that the show's best days are behind it.

Final Rating: 83%

Friday, February 1, 2013

The Following: Chapter Two Review

Alright, so I did a quick review of the pilot episode for this show, I didn't really feel the need for a full review, but now I'm here and I'm gonna do a full on review. Let's do this!

Spoilers follow (no pun intended)

Okay, so the Following came back this week with it's second episode. Episode 2 is usually where I step back and lower my expectations a bit; I don't why, but for me, episode 2 of new show's have, historically, been kinda... bad. And fortunately we were given an exception this week.

Just gonna start off by saying that they averted the "follower of the week" format, at least for this one, and I'm really glad they did. I was afraid it was gonna turn into another generic murder of the week cop show, only with FBI agents and HBO level violence (and I'm genuinely amazed that they've been able to get away with a TV-14 rating).

Anyway, so follower/lacky Jordy commits his first act this week, but that's not the point. It's more like a subplot that becomes relevant towards the end. The real point is the kidnapping of Carol's son Joey by the Follower 3 and Hardy and Co.'s investigation of it. They brought in this new girl in the investigation, replacing the one from last week, which is good because she's a lot more interesting. I'm not really sure what to make of her; at first she came off as this uptight FBI lady who didn't look like she wanted to be there or even address how serious the situation was, but then she goes all psycho-analysis on Carol at Emma's house and dissects him down to tee. She says that she specialized in cults, but she seems almost... euphoric about the whole thing. And she gives Carol that book at the end, further begging the incredibly obvious question that I won't even bother to state. I mean she could just be really into her work and is employing some alternative interrogation techniques... or she could a serial killer. It's a Cylon hunt!

And now for the other main point of the episode: fleshing out the supporting characters, AKA, the Follower 3. I'm just happy that the writers are going the extra mile to make the supporting cast relevant and interesting in general, but the story lines for the 3 was, at least in my opinion, the highlight of the episode. Emma's back story was not only interesting-yet-disturbing (that appears to be the show's MO, and I love it), but reinforces and explores the idea of who Carol's followers are: lonely, damaged people with some issues who get won over by this charismatic man who puts meaning into their lives. Emma and Jacob's little relationship hit all the right marks, and I really liked how it's basically making the third guy who's name escapes me (well aware of how unprofessional that is, you don't need to remind me) start to loose it. I use the term loose it loosely here, obviously, because these people are all quite thoroughly out of their minds; it's more like whatever illusions of mental structure he had are breaking down.

I'm glad they didn't give the kid too much screen time either. I get that he's important, even if I don't know what for, and I liked that Hardy actually said what I thought after watching the pilot: to them, Joey must be some sort Messianic son-of-God type figure, but still, I'm glad he wasn't being shoe-horned into every scene.

And last but not least is Hardy. I like his character so far, even though I feel like I'd care about him less then I would if he wasn't played by Kevin Bacon. And his shooting Jordy at the end of the episode was cool and it shows that he's making progress. But the best part of the episodes ending came with the needed sit-down with Carol. I loved how at first Carol thought everything/his novel is proceeding according to plan, you with that evil smirk on his face, and then that just got crushed when Hardy told him Jordy's still alive. The look on Carol's face when that happened... I can't even describe it; It's like Hardy just slapped him in the face is the best I can do. Makes you wonder just how much control he has, especially when maintaining the appearance of being in control is a huge part of his schtick.

A few side notes: mixed in with all this good were some annoyingly melodramatic moments, unnecessary screen time for Carol's wife who really only seems to be there to be in danger and cry, and a couple cheap scares. Also, if the episode's ending is anything to go by, looks like the man in the mask is getting the spotlight next week. Also also, I very much appreciated the playing of Massive Attack's Angel in the closing scenes (or at least what sounded like a cover of it).

Final Rating: 84%

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Following

Hey, guys, I'm a little pressed for time right now, so I'm just gonna do a quick micro-review of the pilot episode of the Following. Yes, I watched it, yes I really liked it, and if you enjoy dark, disturbing crime thrillers with villains who are a different breed of crazy, then you will to.

Being Human: (Dead) Girls Just Wanna Have Fun Review

Hey guys guess what? This is the first time I've ever reviewed Being Human before! Hurray!

Spoilers follow.

After a strong season opener, our heroes (?) are reunited fairly quickly. Rather then Sally, Nick, and Stevie all sharing a body, which, I'll admit is kinda what I was hoping for, Nick and Stevie woke up in there graves. I personally thought it was a bit of a cop out at first, just because it wasn't what I wanted, but given the route things seem to be going now, I'm cool with it. More on that in a minute. Anyway, Aiden manages to reemerge from the car crash and has a reunion with Josh and Sally that turns hilarious pretty quickly when he realizes Sally's solid and Josh no longer smells like dog (the show's always been funny, but that was hilarious).

Aiden is now desperate for blood, and that's hard to come by now, thus leading to return of the wayward son Henry. I had mixed feelings about Henry in season 2; sometimes he lead to so cool story lines, moral dilemmas, and character development for Aiden, other times he was an annoying pain in the ass. Fortunately, he went the latter route this time. The man was compelling woman to being his hostage and letting him milk her blood, for crying out loud! I'll let you fill in the blank for what that's a metaphor for.

I really enjoyed seeing that play out too; Aiden went nuts when he was grounded, and now that he's back, he's in more of a grey territory then ever. Even in the face of death, he's basically resisting a world that's trying to force him into doing the wrong thing. Take notes, TV writers, this is how you develop a character.

Sally, meanwhile, is the reasoning behind the name of this episode. She runs into someone from her past (apparently a friend of her brother who's never been mentioned before), and they start making out against all common sense. Everything's looking up for Sally. But wait, the next he's dead (I'm not gonna make the black widow joke because it is going to come off as racist)! What is going on?!

Josh, meanwhile, is Mr. Rainbows and Puppies right now (incredibly lame pun intended). And while there were a few cheesy moments between him and Nora this time out, it's really hard not to be happy for the guy; he's not only no longer a werewolf, but he's not an orderly any more either, he's spent his first full moon since becoming human sitting outside of Nora's storage locker, and he's gonna propose Nora (like, the morning after she changes, while she's still naked and beat-up looking. Sally went to town with this).

One small problem, Brynn and Connor's dad has come to town after promptly mowing down the Dutch in a thoroughly badass establishing character moment. He knows Connor's dead, he can't find Brynn anywhere (he might wanna check NBC), and like all purebreds, he's an irrational, temperamental, kinda crazy dick. Like, to the point where he locked himself and Nora in Nora's storage locker minutes before the change comes, thus leading to the episode's cliffhanger.

All in all, this was another solid episode, with a few great humorous moments mixed in with the usual awesome. On a side note, I'm really liking how they've established that now that vampires are an endangered species, werewolves have sorta come to power in the supernatural world. Makes for a good mythos shake up.

Final Rating: 85%

Friday, January 18, 2013

Supernatural: Torn and Frayed Review

Okay, so just so we can be clear on this, I still review TV shows on this website. I haven't done it a lot lately, but I still do. That being said, let's talk about Supernatural.

Spoilers follow.

So, SPN is back from it's mid season break and  this week, Alfie- you remember Alfie, right, you know that angel with an obscure name who's possessing some teenager- is being tortured by Crowley. Let's be honest, torture is rarely more entertaining then on this show, but this week, information is actually gained from it for once. So, Naomi tells Castiel of this, and Cas, who obviously doesn't remember he's under orders, gets Dean, and they go to find Alfie.

The episode starts off right after the last one pretty much, in that Sam is still pissed at Dean for lying to him and letting Benny walk. That's a nice touch of course, just because I've always liked that show is willing to go the extra mile in terms of replicating how human beings actually behave. Plus, it's always entertaining seeing Dean and Cas interact (I nearly died laughing at the laptop scene), and just having Cas around (the guy's my favorite character, sue me) in general.

As far as Sam and Amelia's little jaunt this week goes, I'm glad they put it in the episode for two reasons: one, it's provided some good character development for Sam, and two, it, hopefully concluded that little story line. As hot as Amelia is, I've been consistently bored out of my mind during the flashbacks to her and Sam's relationship. I get why they've done that story line, to give Sam some development like I said before, but it was still boring. But hopefully that's over now that Cas has told Sam and Dean they're both being stupid and Sam has grown in a way that doesn't involve severe physical/ emotional trauma, and we can get to the good stuff.

Good stuff like Naomi for instance. This season's been really good about keeping the intrigue levels at 11 so far, and an exception this was not. First, I really liked that all the angels are hardwired with basic programming to serve God and protect the tablets. And of course there's the big reveal that there is an angel tablet, which serves as an opposite to the demon tablet and can trap all the angels in heaven. In spite of team free will demolishing the angel's rule by destiny three seasons, because those feathery bastards are control freaks and apparently still have quite a bit of say over what happens on Earth, they do not want this to happen. Nor do I, because if it does, we can say good-bye to holy tax accountant.

This was all in like the last 15-20 minutes of the episode too, so I was pretty much on the edge of my seat. I was actually kinda disturbed, too (in a good way; trust me, I watch The Walking Dead AND Being Human; I know when disturbing is good), when I saw that Naomi had been scrubbing Cas' memory the same way Crowley was torturing Alfie, and I guess that's how she maintains control over heaven. What I wanna know is has she always been sort of in control upstairs, you know, like a man behind the curtain type deal, or did she just come power after Michael and Cas both went AWOL and Raphael died? Plus, does she actually have full control, or is she still just like the Angelic CIA? Important questions, folks.

And, just to mention some other stuff, I also appreciated seeing Kevin and Crowley again, the action was good, I loved the opening song, etc.

I only had two complaints about the episode: one was that I thought the scenes with Benny felt a little tacked on, and two, I was hoping Garth would be in it. I know I'm one of maybe three people who actually likes Garth, but yeah.

The bottom line: great episode in what has thus far been a great season. Next week: the return of Felicia Day (and there was MUCH rejoicing!).

Final Rating: 93%