Tuesday, July 9, 2013

A Very Special Episode of TFNC...Guest Starring...JAY MIMS!!!!!

Hello Gentle Readers,

So, for the record, The Forgetful One is one of my top 3 favorite Scotsmen. The other two being David Tennant and John Barrowman.

However, for the record I have to mock him a wee bit. See, when I asked him what post he’d like I said “Since your blog focuses on movies, how about I review a Christmas film. Your choice: Miracle on 34th Street (Classic), Santa Claus The Movie, or Ernest Saves Christmas?”

To which he replied “Santa Claus The Movie? You mean, The Santa Clause (legal pun) starring Tim Allen?? If so, Tim Allen!!!”

I just don’t have the heart to tell him this is a real thing.  

So, without further ado, here’s a Mimsey review of “The Santa Clause” starring TIM ALLEN!
Truly a god among men. Also insert Captain Hammer joke.  

Some background here, I actually remember seeing this film when it first came out in theatres in 1994. This was pretty much the high-period for Tim Allen, as he also released his first book around this time.

It offers humor AND good advice.   

So, this flick ended up being #1 at the box office meaning that Allen had a #1 New York Times bestseller, a #1 hit show with Home Improvement and a #1 hit film. 1994 was a good year for the Tool Man.

2007 not so much.

The flick opens with what has to be the best Christmas party short of Die Hard as Scott Calvin (Tim Allen) has just had a very successful run with a line of toys. Yes, SC the Toymaker.    


The only downside is that Tim Allen, yes I know he has a name but screw it. The guy grunts, barks, and acts a fool…this is Tim Allen ya’ll. So, Tim “The Tool” Allen has been neglecting his son, Charlie, played by Eric Lloyd. For a minute there I did a double-take to check to make sure this wasn’t the kid from Episode I. It isn’t, but I do admire the guy for agreeing to play the same character in both Santa Clause sequels.

It’s more work than this dude has done. 

So, Charlie is dropped off at his father’s house by Mom and Stepfather, because apparently Tim’s wife found a better tool.

And that tool’s name is Judge “I’m game for Beverly Hills Cop 4” Reinhold.

The Mom is played by a lady who I thought was the same Mom from Mrs. Doubtfire. It’s not, but I do give the lady props for murdering Macaulay Culkin in The Good Son.

I’d do it too.

It’s Christmas Eve and Tim Allen proves the case for sole custody as he nearly burns the house down in an attempt to make dinner, and then takes Charlie to the apparent home for all divorcee dads, Denny’s. No, seriously, there’s like three other dad’s at this restaurant. Are we just proving all men are incompetent at cooking?


After a wonderful meal of whatever the Japanese businessmen, who apparently think doing business in America on Christmas Eve is a swell idea, aren’t eating, it’s back to Casa De La Tool Man. The story is appropriately “Twas The Night Before Christmas” because obviously a Santa Claus story is not going to have ANY bearing on future events.

And after explaining what “There arose such a clatter” means, because that’s what the kid from a broken home is going to ask about. The obvious plot convenience. Certainly not “When are you and Mommy going to get back together so I can get away from the Tool?”

It’s off to bed! When suddenly, and I know this will be a surprise to you, THERE IS A CLATTER! Charlie wakes up his dad, and Father and Son immediately rush out to see why a noise is on the roof. Because THAT’S the best idea. Not call the cops. Not turn on some lights. Nope, stroll into the snow in your boxers.

For the record, I did a Google search for “Santa Clause Tim Allen underwear” and this came up. Just putting it out there. 

Tim Allen surprises a man on the roof…look, I’m just going to jump in here and say it. Tim Allen kills Santa. There’s no other way to explain this, and I hate even saying it. Yes, I wrote a murder mystery about someone killing not one but MULTIPLE Santas, and I still find the idea troubling.

So, The Tool Man kills Santa, climbs onto the roof, and finds Santa’s sleigh. With Charlie’s encouragement, Tim then takes the suit (Santa conveniently disappears, because murder is always better when there’s no body), and jacks Santa’s ride. He then wears the suit and has to start delivering the toys.

 It’s going to be better for all of us if you just roll with it.  

After spending the night delivering the toys, Tim is taken back to the North Pole where he meets that dude from Numb3rs.

 For the stoners he’s also that guy from Harold & Kumar. For the geeks he’s Mr. Universe from Serenity. For the stoner geeks he’s that guy from Harold & Kumar.

Bernard the Elf (played by the ruggedly handsome David Krumholtz), explains to Tim that he is now under contract for the rest of his natural life, bound by an iron-clad clause to work for a sinister and mysterious organization that solely wants to move product to the unwitting children of the world.

Sometimes the jokes just write themselves.

Tim gets a pair of pajamas and is allowed to sleep off his shock, while also being hit on by an elf who, up until I looked her up, I would have sworn was Angela from Bones.
If only.

The next morning The Tool Man awakens thinking it’s all a bad dream. OR IS IT! Over the next few months, Tim starts to gain weight, grow a beard, and isolate himself from his friends.

I can relate.

Tim’s slow and inevitable transformation into Santa Claus (or George R.R. Martin) begins to worry his wife, played by Wendy Crewson who, HOLY SNIKEYS WAS IN AIR FORCE ONE!!!!
This is George R. R. Martin finding out he gets lobster AND to meet Harrison Ford. Or just lobster. Seriously, that is a happy looking dude. 

So, like the sensible and loving parent, she yanks visitation from Tim Allen like a magician with a table cloth. Around Thanksgiving Scott drops by to see his son, which is kind of a surprise because he doesn’t really seem like that great of a Dad. This just makes Charlie love him more, shockingly, and it’s Charlie’s undying love that spurs Tim Allen to accept his role as Santa Claus. Sexy David Krumholtz shows up to whisk The Tool Man and Charlie off to the North Pole.

Because this is the face of a man you should trust around small children.

The kidnapping of her son leads to Mom calling the police, as you should, and leads to the HILARIOUS set-up of everyone gunning for Santa Claus.

This leads to Santa being put into jail, the elves having to rescue him, and Tim Allen having a pretty emotional moment with his son. In all honesty, the ending, specifically when Santa convinces Mom and her new boy toy that he is the real deal, is probably one of my favorite moments in Christmas movies. Santa delivers presents to Mom and Judge Reinhold, and we fade out on the man blowing a weenie. 

 Not a metaphor AT ALL!

There’s a cute button with the kid summoning his dad back thanks to a magic snow globe, and father and son ride off into the night to make millions of children happy.

And into a terrible sequel!

All kidding aside, I love this flick. I love Tim Allen, I love the family dynamic, and I didn’t even mention Peter Boyle as The Tool Man’s boss. Mostly because the guy is completely forgettable in the role. I just like to pretend Tim’s talking to one of Boyle’s many much better roles.

There’s a ton of deep stuff regarding fatherhood, the impact divorce has on family, and on the role of a man in modern society. There are some truly sweet moments, a lot of heart, and a fairly good performance from everyone involved. Even if it didn’t star Michaela Conlin.

Missed! Opportunity!

Jay Mims is a great wingman, believes in miracles, and has a life ambition of casting The Forgetful North Carolinian in a movie. He accidently adopted his neighbor’s cat, who he named Eartha Kitty, has a love-hate relationship with a lizard named Bob, and may have adopted a second cat Meowthezar. Jay’s roommate is a passive-aggressive Dalek named Steve. He writes books and is far funnier on Facebook then in real life. He is terrible at Twitter. His next book "The Gray Ghost Inn" is due out October 15, 2013. Feel free to email him here.

What’s more American then free? Jay Mims is celebrating Christmas in July by giving out 5 (count ‘em FIVE) prizes! Enter to win below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Review: Man of Steel

*Gonna try and keep this as spoiler free as humanly possible, but if you're one of those people who absolutely wants to know NOTHING before you go to the theatre...I think it goes without saying to stop here.*

I've said for awhile now, since the superhero genre really caught fire at the box office, that comic book heroes are almost our 21st century pantheon of gods. They're the legends that we hand down from generation to generation. They serve as cautionary morality tales, tales to inspire bravery and heroism, and tales that serve as an escape from the mundane reality of everyday life. Their powers make them unlike any of us, so they're set apart. Often, they come from among us, be they chosen by cosmic forces (Green Lantern) or the victims of an accident that brings about a transformation (Spider-Man, and countless others). So if these heroes are a pantheon, Superman is pretty much the Zeus/Apollo/Odin/Ra etc. He's the ultimate. The standard bearer. His morality and sense of justice seem to be pitch perfect (not to mention black-and-white), he's essentially indestructible, and he has no agenda for world domination. His presence as a benevolent beacon of light, who saves people from unthinkable fates at times, might harken to another famous Figure from the pages of a Book. So basically, when you make a movie about Superman A) it's hard to create conflict and a sense of urgency when the hero is an indestructible Christ-like Boy Scout and B) he has SUCH a key place in pop culture, you'd better not screw it up.

SO....did they???????

My answer? No. Not in the slightest.

Before I proceed ANY further, let me say this: I'm anything but a Superman purist. I was always a Batman kid growing up (Adam West was in re-runs daily, The Animated Series premiered and was AWESOME, and Michael Keaton was lighting it up the box office. It was a good time to love Batman.). I watched the old George Reeves television series with my dad on Nick-At-Nite religiously, saw a bit of Lois & Clark here and there, and missed Smallville entirely, and the Chris Reeve films were before my time. So, like many in my generation, Superman wasn't all that accessible, and could pretty much only be found on television (Lois being very short lived, and Smallville COMPLETELY over-staying its welcome, not to mention being far too teen angsty for where I was in life when it premiered) and in comics. So it was hard for me to form a die-hard connection with Supes. As such, the liberties taken with his origin story, etc in Man of Steel do not bother me at all. Some might hate them with every fiber of their being. I get that. But I digress. Let's get back to the movie.

It became apparent to me within MINUTES of the movie's start that JJ Abrams has made a big impact with his Star Trek movies. Man of Steel is RIFE with lens flares, shaky handheld shots, and the sudden zooms (usually a double zoom...pay close attention to both and you'll see what I mean). So if you hate those things about JJ, that might be strike one for you right out of the gate. I don't mind it in theory, I just mind it if it's ripping off another filmmaker's signature look. And it felt that way to me several times. 

The film shifts gears notably as it unfolds, and it almost feels like 3-4 separate movies in one, in retrospect. Act I is on Krypton, as you can imagine, and these scenes felt STRAIGHT out of the Star Wars prequels to me, specifically Attack of the Clones. HEAVY use of CGI for epic battles on a large scale. It's impossible to take in every single thing happening onscreen, that's how big these fights scenes are. I realize invoking the Prequels sounds like an indictment, with the stigma they carry. I don't mean it in a negative way at all. But the visual effects, creatures, and shot compositions had me mentally comparing it to SW the entire time. Couldn't help it. Another thought that occurred to me was "WHY couldn't Green Lantern have been more like this?!"

Act II onwards is set on earth, with the film making jumps back and forth through time, often without warning. It can be a bit jarring at first, but you grow accustomed to it after awhile. Each point in time has a different look, with the past being very cool blue tones, almost washed out to be monochromatic in appearance. The present is more colorful by comparison, but even at its highest example of this, Man of Steel ain't exactly a Lisa Frank piece, if you get my meaning. Its colors and tone are very muted, and almost mournful in a way. More on that later.

Another thing that has occured to me since leaving the theatre was the lack of a discernible theme song for Superman. The John Williams score from the Chris Reeve era is iconic and instantly recognizable. In Man of Steel, I could perceive no such theme. If I tried to whistle the music I heard last night, I'd probably get light headed and pass out. That's a recent trend that has really upset me since the superhero explosion began. Green Lantern had about 5 notes I could hum to you as being distinct. Just makes me realize how much of a class to himself John Williams truly is. Indiana Jones, Star Wars, Superman...even the NBC Nightly News!!!!! All classic, all instantly recognizable, ALL John Williams.

Many critics have complained that the film is much too somber and gloomy. While it's not a stretch to notice Man of Steel doesn't resemble it's cinematic brethren from the 70's and 80's in campy, sunny feels, why does this have to be a negative?? And this is where not being a Superman fanboy personally will almost certainly come into play. The comics are known for keeping it light and fun, not brooding and miserable. I get that. Many Spider-Man aficionados had the same complaint with Andrew Garfield's outing last summer. Both are meant to be fun. But in the times we live in, it does not seem that audiences want to be distracted by nonsense they feel to be inauthentic (for those of you who tend to make snarky observations, YES, I realize that's odd to say about the superhero genre. But it has been proven there are ways to ground it in as much reality as possible without sacrificing good storytelling). 

Audiences seem to want to see something gritty and emotional, that makes them feel a connection with the hero onscreen. And Superman is about the hardest hero to relate to in history, for reasons too numerous to list. Focusing on his isolation, his self doubt, his quest for meaning in the world (done in a VERY on-the-nose way in the film, but I won't say more than that) is the ONLY way audiences filled with people struggling to pay bills and provide for their families can connect with a demi-god. Otherwise, why should they care? What does he POSSBLY have to lose, given his immeasurable strength and unworldly abilities? The only way to threaten Superman, truly, is to make the people he desperately loves, cares for, protects and saves, fear or reject him. It's as simple as that. That isolation is more effective for Superman than Kryptonite could EVER be.

The casting for Man of Steel was especially wonderful, and outside of the costumes and visuals in space, my favorite part of the movie. One of the most glaring flaws of Superman Returns was the casting of Kate Bosworth as Lois Lane. She just never felt right. Amy Adams rectifies this perfectly, with a great blend of fearlessness and tenderness that gives the character a genuine feel. She is not relegated to the role of screaming damsel constantly mucking about and needing rescuing (see: Kim Basinger as Vicki Vale in 1989's Batman). Rather, she assists in any way she can, showing fear on her face, but continuing on regardless. Lawrence Fishburne raised eyebrows upon the announcement he'd been cast as Perry White, but blew any concerns out of the water. Perry is the kind of character Fishburne was born to play. There is no Jimmy Olsen whatsoever, which really does show that Snyder and Co. were determined not to play this thing for cheap laughs. Costner and Lane as Ma and Pa Kent are fantastic, and Russell Crowe does his best at making the Jor-El character all his own. That is extremely difficult, given that his cinematic predecessor was Marlon Brando. Crowe takes the character in a different direction, and breathes new life into it. Michael Shannon also shines as Zod, and the script does an amazing job making his motivations a bit more sympathetic. Zod in Man of Steel is a classic example of the misunderstood, truly acting in a way he sees as honorable in the end, and even admitting that his methods to achieve his goals are fairly reprehensible. To him, his people are all that matter.

Last but not least, I was VERY pleasantly surprised by the scope (or rather, the lack thereof) of Superman's powers. In his cinematic past, his abilities border on the insane and terrifying (even for a comic book character). Donner's first film had Superman going and changing the earth's rotation to reverse time as a way to solve the problem, which in ITSELF creates a whole host of new problems and questions. In Superman II, his kisses can roofie women. We won't even get into the funky cellophane "S" he can throw at unsuspecting villains. In Singer's film he literally lifts an ENTIRE continent on his back, alone, and hauls it into space. In Man of Steel, it's made apparent that he is powerful, but not to those fantastic extremes. He struggles to keep a collapsing crane on an oil rig from collapsing, so you really don't get the feeling he'll be hurling continents like a shotput anytime soon. 

As a side note, I found it incredibly interesting that they made it a point to emphasize Superman revealing himself to the world at the age of 33. The circumstance of this revelation are his wanting to present himself as a sacrifice to Zod in the place of mankind. It has never been a subtle point that Superman is a Christ-ish figure (Brandon Routh's Superman falling to earth in the crucifix pose wasn't at all what you'd call 'subtle'), and according to scripture, 33 was the age of Jesus when handed over to the Romans for execution. This could perhaps be  nothing more than a huge coincidence, but I was so intrigued by its inclusion, I felt it necessary to point out. If nothing else, it opens the door for many interesting conversations.

On the whole, Man of Steel is breathtaking in its spectacle, poignant in its emotion, and well paced from beginning to end. The science behind Zod's plan of attack is so far beyond false and ridiculous, it goes without saying. So if you're an MIT intellect without the ability to overlook such things, you likely won't be having a good time. Cavill brings a quiet sadness to his Clark/Superman, but also exudes kindness and love for mankind. There are several points where you just want to give the poor guy a hug. This, to me, is the sign of an excellent performance. If this film is a sign of things to come for other DC properties, I am extremely excited about the future. I loved Man of Steel, and I'm already planning when I'll be able to see it again. I hope you enjoy the film, and if you've seen it, please start a discussion below! Did you love it? Hate it? Agree or disagree with anything I've said? Let me know! Thanks for reading and have a great weekend!

Friday, June 14, 2013

This Week In Headlines- June 14th

Hope everyone is staying cool as the temperatures are on the rise...and safe from any tornadoes and other crazy weather! Let's talk entertainment!

Buddy comedy The Internship had a very disappointing opening frame, as duo Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson failed to generate a spark similar to their runaway hit, Wedding Crashers. The reason for this could be attributed to several causes, chief of which is cynicism over the fact that its entire plot centers on a corporate tie-in. It can also be argued, somewhat persuasively, that the PG-13 limitations kept it from really covering any distinct or outrageous territory, a problem Crashers certainly did not have (nor did Vaughn's comedy with brother Luke, Old School) (...whatever happened to Luke Wilson, anyway????). The Internship's $17.3 million opening weekend doesn't come close to Wedding Crashers' opening weekend of $33.9 million, a fact that becomes more significant when you factor in 8 years worth of inflation and difference in ticket prices (yes, it's been EIGHT years since that movie was in theatres). I saw the film and enjoyed it, but I won't be putting in a pre-order on Amazon anytime soon. It was funny, but in the end, forgettable and formulaic.

Fanboys of Sony and Microsoft have begun to draw their battle lines and pick sides this week, as the two major companies unveiled details of their upcoming PS4 and XBOX One consoles, respectively. It was not an overly flattering week for Microsoft, as many have raised their voices in complaint over the system's limitations and requirements. It seems that, in their efforts to exert more creative control over their product, Microsoft has come off as totalitarian and uncaring for their fan base. A quote from one major higher-up essentially stated that unhappy fans have a solution: Microsoft's 8 year old console, XBOX 360. The negative press surrounding XBOX One's unveiling gave Sony a tremendous advantage, leaving them in the coveted just-don't-screw-up-and-you're-good position. As long as their presentation did not involve execs wearing clothing featuring racial slurs while using drugs and abusing puppies with prostitutes, they were coming out smelling like a rose (and, this reporter is pleased to announced, nary a puppy was found). However, it's ridiculous to count Microsoft out, current negative press notwithstanding. The console DOES have positives to it, and will likely give Sony a run for its money in this round of the console wars. I'll be eager to see who emerges victorious*.

*Kid brother Nintendo could not be reached for comment, but could be seen peering in through the window on a stack of phone books, mouth agape in an apparent (and very sad) bid for attention. 

A bombshell was dropped in Hollywood this week, as burning effigy and whipping boy M. Night Shyamalan was revealed to have been the scribe behind the emotional, gripping, Shakespearan-level epic She's All That. Said Shyamalan, "See, I haven't always sucked! And I'm still kinda good!" Replied America, "Yes you have. And no you aren't." They promptly went out and did not buy tickets for After Earth.

In reference to After Earth, it appears Will Smith has his first bonafide flop of his career, as the big-budget sci-fi film has grossed $49.5 million in 2 weeks time. Apparently audiences did not want to pay $10 to see a father and son bitch at each other via Bluetooth for over an hour when they can simply go outside or to Wal-Mart and see the same free of charge. The concept of taking the film's largest draw, immediately incapacitating him, sticking him behind a desk, sucking out all energy and personality that his box office drawing characters are known for, and then letting his young son without the chops to carry a movie all by himself run around onscreen as the star, is ASTOUNDING to me. And I'm not knocking Jaden. He seems like a GREAT kid, with a lot of promise. He'll grow into this eventually (or his parents will die trying). But that kind of role is very difficult. TOM HANKS barely pulled it off with Castaway, and even THEN, depending on who you ask, you might get told even HE didn't. Don't take it bad, Jaden. We'll all just blame M. Night, set him adrift on an ice floe like we SHOULD have done in 2004 after The Village, to spare us the horror that was Lady In the Water, and happily pretend like none of this eeeeeeeeever happened. Our secret.

Any opinions on this week's topics? Any major topics I didn't cover that you want to discuss? Sound off in the comments below! Happy Friday, and thanks for reading!

Friday, June 7, 2013

This Week In Headlines- Doctor Who Edition- June 7th

I plan to revisit the headlines feature later today, but I wanted to get my thoughts out on an occurrence near and dear to my heart first. I had a lot more to say on the subject than I realized when I sat down to write, so I felt like it should have its own little entry all to itself. Without further ado...

     After weeks of speculation (more like months or years, even), the BBC announced actor Matt Smith would be hanging up his bow tie and suspenders this Christmas, as the now famous young actor leaves the international sensation "programme" Doctor Who. Whovians, as Who fans are called, have been letting their sadness and disappointment over Smith's inevitable departure be known this week, with many citing him as their favorite ever Doctor (contrary to popular belief, the character is NOT called "Doctor Who," but merely The Doctor).
     It hasn't always been this way for Smith, now 30. Cast at the tender age of 26, not only was he the youngest actor ever cast in the role, but he was also an unknown, following arguably the most popular Doctor of all time, David Tennant (the Tom Baker/David Tennant debate will likely rage on for eternity). Fans were hesitant to embrace his take on the iconic role at first, especially given their sadness over the loss of Tennant. These days, young Smith has found himself beginning a blossoming film career, and will be seen on American movie screens next year, as a cast member in Ryan Gosling's directorial debut How To Catch a Monster. Speculation as to the identity of his replacement has been rampant, with the BBC and showrunner Stephen Moffat keeping silent on their casting status (for any Who fans reading, that's not meant as a pun).
     Before Smith signs off, he will be starring in the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary special in November (the show has been around a LONG time, if I hadn't mentioned that before), alongside previously mentioned Who legend alum David Tennant, and the annual Christmas Special as well on 25 December. It's likely a good time to leave, as someone only just getting started will want to avoid typecasting as much as possible (poor Mark Hamill). I for one enjoyed his time, but I will say he was hardly my favorite. This has less to do with his abilities as an actor, and for for the gimmicky season long story arcs Moffat has insisted on playing out during his run. Those sorts of things were absolutely present during Tennant's time as well, but they weren't the primary focus. Stand-alone adventures have been the cornerstone of the show since its inception in 1963. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. Bring on the Twelfth Doctor!

What are your thoughts on Matt Smith's Eleventh Doctor? Will you be sad to see him go, or are you ready for a fresh face? Sound off in the comments below!

Friday, May 31, 2013

This Week In Headlines- May 31st

Part of my hopes with this blog is to introduce regular weekly features. Friday is an opportune time to take a look back at the week and talk about some of the big stories going on. Have an idea for a feature you'd like to see? Sound off in the comments below!

Without further ado...

It seems like everyone's FAVORITE American Idol judge, Nicki Minaj, will not be returning to the program next season. On Twitter, she announced it was time to "focus on the music" (she must be using that term loosely, of course). Her wealth of talent, wisdom, and articulately phrased critiques ("YES MA'AM. BABY GIRL, YOU HAVE ARRIIIIIVED.") will be sorely missed.

Sequel The Hangover: Part III had an extremely disappointing opening frame this week, taking in only $69,448,603 in 6 days. In comparison, its predecessor, widely disliked, still managed to grab $148,915,509 in the same span. The disparate nature of the revenue pacing doesn't seem to bode well for III. This is what happens when studios rush to cash in while a property is still "hot." I don't really know of anyone who was walking around last summer saying, "MAN, you know what I really could use right now??? ANOTHER Hangover movie!" There was no buzz, no demand. Just ill will for a cookie cutter sequel that was identical to the first movie in all the wrong ways. With this failure, the whole franchise seems to even go back and tarnish the first movie, joining such blunders as The Matrix films, the Star Wars prequels, and the old Spider-Man movies. In fact, director Todd Philips, in his infinite wisdom, has come out and said he was angered by the backlash Part II received. So much so, he almost INTENTIONALLY used the same "wake up" formula again for Part III, just as a middle finger of sorts to fans and critics who complained so much. Now if that doesn't sound like the kind of guy you want running a franchise, I don't know what does!

Star Trek Into Darkness, while not being as publicly derided as The Hangover, continues to curiously underperform as well. While $162 million is nothing to sneer at, it is following the pace of the 2009 entry almost identically. Traditionally, the first sequel is expected to outperform its predecessor based sheerly on the fan base that's supposed to have been created (amongst many other reasons). But it seems folks are a bit frustrated with JJ and co. coming out and lying DIRECTLY to the press about the identity of the villain. Were Trek fans honestly expected to believe there was some major villain in the show's collective history they just somehow forgot??? The Gary Mitchell speculation kept things interesting for awhile, but eventually it became pretty obvious who the villain was. I STILL say Mitchell would've been an amazing choice. People already SAW Wrath of Khan. And loved it. Why mess with that??? Perhaps they were trying to pull a Chris Nolan with The Dark Knight, who went and re-introduced a classic 80's cinematic villain widely regarded as perfect, but totally went and blew the lid off those opinions? Either way, JJ has said he's not a Trek fan, and now I think it's become obvious. Perhaps it's best he not helm the third entry, focus on possibly ruining Star Wars for a second time in a generation, and leaves the work to someone a little more dedicated to the source material. Either way, this is a franchise that will need to tread VERY softly on the next go-round, with almost an apology film in order. You know who they should get? Todd Philips!! I hear he's PERFECT in that sort of situation.

Fans of television racked up a major win this week, with critical darling and ratings disappointment Arrested Development coming back from the grave via the online service Netflix. And WHAT a resurrection it's been. The shows are woven together like a tapestry, with the content building with each character. An event that takes place in the background of one episode will be front and center in the next, bringing the jokes full circle. I've never seen a structure like this before, and it figures the geniuses over with Mitch Hurwitz would be the ones to do it. Comedic timing has never been better, and the cast chemistry has lost NOTHING in the past 7 years since we last saw the Bluth family. I was nervous that, with it coming back, it might be missing that certain spark. I've never been more happy to be proven wrong. WELCOME BACK, Bluths!!!

Any major events you feel should be added? Please feel free to comment! Happy Friday to you all, and thanks for reading! This has been a great first week for my little blog, and I hope to only grow, improve, and reach more people as time goes on! Thank you for your help in making that happen.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Oh By the Way...

Want to feel old? Sure you do! The Mission: Impossible film franchise is almost TWENTY years old. I remember being on the PLAYGROUND at RECESS talking about the first one (which 6th grader me did NOT understand). This summer marks 17 years since Brian De Palma's first entry hit theatres. *gulp*

Review: Fast and Furious 6

*Some very mild spoilers ahead...be warned*

It's no secret that when a franchise gets a little long in the tooth (i.e. a fifth sequel), the quality gets to be....a little lacking (looking at you, Resident Evil). So the Fast series seriously comes as a pleasant surprise to me. It seems like, with the sixth entry, we're only just now really getting started. Fast Five was by far my favorite entry, which you NEVER hear about a fourth sequel (in fact, at the time of this post, Fast 6's 4-day box office total is $120,019,000 compared to Fast Five's $92,430,005 through the same amount of time). So I tried to keep my expectations in check sitting down for #6. What I found was a movie that's just plain FUN. Are there inconsistencies and miracles of physics that make its events pretty much impossible? Are there runways that magically extend for hundreds of miles like some sort of cosmic treadmill to allow for a 30 minute sequence of action??? OF COURSE. But if you're going in expecting a documentary on real life events, then you deserve to be miserable for 130 minutes.

What's good about this series is not the quality of acting. There won't be any Oscars handed out to this crew. But their chemistry is irresistible. You really get the feeling these folks enjoy working with one another, and aren't just there to cash a check. Check-cashing is usually all ANYONE is around for by the time a fifth entry hits (looking at you, Die Hard. Can't wait for Die Hard VI: Die Dammit, Die! coming 2016 to a theatre near you).  What I also love about the Fast films is their ability to bring in new characters. The addition of Dwayne Johnson to #5 was probably the best move the franchise could've made. He could probably make an hour and a half of reading the phone book on camera seem fun and b.a. The addition of MMA Amazon Warrior Goddess Gina Carano was another amazing choice. When she's in a fight scene, you cannot take your eyes off the screen. If you haven't seen her in Haywire, stop reading now and take care of that. Go ahead. I'll wait.

Wasn't that INSANE???? Even if the movie itself was a little lacking, watching her absolutely demolish people never gets old. Right, so moving on!

Another high point of #6 is its pacing. The filmmakers did an extraordinary job of keeping the events rolling, without huge sections of lag. A very common mistake is to OVER compensate and assault the audience's senses to avoid the appearance of lag. 2004's Van Helsing is an EXCELLENT example of this. I was downright exhausted by the end, because it was just too busy. This movie has a lot going on, but it's stretched out nicely. I loved the Mission: Impossible-esque teamwork element it has going. All the characters have their own little side mission to do, and you get to see how each one impacts the overall objective as it goes along.

As for the drawbacks.... A major element of the plot involves amnesia. Yep, that old cinematic chestnut that never seems to go away. I understand they had to find a way to work that character back in, but I just wish it could've been done in a different way. That's a minor gripe, though. Also, the villain seemed a little two-dimensional, taking a backseat (no pun intended...it IS a car movie, after all) to the action. Finally, you'll be hard pressed to give a fig about the cyber-warfare MacGuffin that the ENTIRE film revolves around. I'm still not sure I'm entirely clear as to what all it does. Kinda sounds like a mix between the titular GoldenEye weapon and the Rabbit's Foot from Mission: Impossible III (whatever the heck THAT thing was). Oh well. If you can't approach a movie like this with a little extra suspension of disbelief, again, you probably won't enjoy it.

The bottom line is, Fast 6 is a perfect example of a summer spectacle. Go in, sit down, laugh, oo and ahh, and just have a good time. Don't take things too seriously, and don't wonder what a fall from x height would do to a human body or a car's suspension. Even if you're unfamiliar with the series so far, you won't have a single problem rolling in and feeling like an old pro by the end. It's loud, flashy, colorful fun.

Grade: A-

P.S. There's rumor of a Hobbs movie...bring it!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Have You Seen: Hemlock Grove

Didn't think I'd find something I felt strongly enough to write about so soon, but here goes. Netflix has really been expanding their borders lately, much to my (pleasant) surprise. Original programming through an online medium has been rumored to be a thing of the future for quite some time. Well, with hits like House of Cards beginning to rise in the public eye (through some excellent word-of-mouth, especially with HoC), and Arrested Development set to hit 26 May (AHHHHHHHHH!!!!! :-D), the future seems bright for the medium. BUT...just got a look at the first episode of Netflix's Hemlock Grove. It looks like the good folks over there are keen to cash in on the Twilight/True Blood/Vampire Diaries (and the graddaddy of them all, Buffy)  fandoms with some angsty, sexually charged, supernatural horror drama of their own. 

Initial reaction? Not impressed.

It really seemed to wander, and had no characters I really felt like I could latch onto (as I re-read this, that could actually be taken as a pun. Unintentional, I promise). That might even be excusable in a pilot if the pacing was good and the story was interesting. I really didn't find either one here. Something about... gypsies, and werewolves, and possibly vampires? I dunno, it all blurred together after awhile. Not really feeling too eager to put on another episode in exchange for an hour of my life. Has anyone had a chance to see the show yet? If you're a fan of any of the shows I mentioned earlier, I'd be interested in your opinion especially. Did you like it? Hate it? Did it earn the ** 1/2 star rating I see? Let me know!

Introductions are in order, I believe...

If there's one thing I could talk about endlessly, all day every day, for no money at all (though, if someone feels inclined to write me a check...), it would be talking about pop culture. Film, television, games, literature...anything that sparks curiosity, imagination, and tells a story. So that's the focus here. If you're into these things, please feel free to come back as often as you like.

I will say these two things, as we get started:

1. I'm not a professional writer (shocker, I know. I thought ALL bloggers on the internet were supposed to be!!!). However, I do know the proper uses of your, you're, there, their, they're...so rest easy in that regard. But also, if you're looking for a polished, 30-draft entry that Stephen King would be proud to claim as his own, I can't guarantee that's what you'll get. I'll try to make it sound good, though. How's that?

2. I do NOT care about celebrity gossip. You will not find discussions about a celebrity's personal life, unless it directly impacts their art in SOME way (Brad Pitt's DUI arrest prevents him from taking part in a remake of Casablanca, for instance). I do not care if an actor or actress is gay, straight, sexually attracted to various forms of plant life...OR what god, goddess, or primordial energy field they pray to. I do not care who they vote for, or what causes they publicly speak out on. Those things do not enter my mind as I'm watching them perform, so I do not feel they are relevant in my analyses of said performances.

Also, the views and opinions I hold and post here are exactly that. They are not meant to be taken as a sweeping indictment on you, the reader, or your personal tastes in performers, shows, etc. I am not here to make anyone feel small or ashamed of...WHATEVER you enjoy. Believe me, I have just as many guilty pleasures as the rest of you. If you're into the Real Housewives shows, or Honey Boo Boo, etc etc etc...go for it. Whatever works for you. But I will not pretend to find the value, merit, or inspiration in those shows I simply do not enjoy (those two just happened to be examples that leapt to mind). But know that, if I express this, it is not a personal attack on you. K?

I enjoy seeing the latest films and posting my thoughts on them...it's not usually a long, drawn-out affair. And very rarely are any spoilers involved. If I DO post something that falls into the category of a "spoiler," I will always notify you ahead of time. So hopefully no issues there.

Those are really the high points, I guess...If I think of anything else that's pertinent, I'll be sure to come back and add it. In terms of comments, you're going to disagree with me. Sometimes often. I don't mind that. But vulgar, personal attacks won't stay up. Nor will spam links, hate speech, etc. Just...act like you've got some sense, please? I know that's a pretty tall order on the internet in the year 2013, but I'd like to think it's still SOMEWHAT possible.

Thanks for reading! I hope to make this an enjoyable part of your...day, week...however often I update it. If you have any ideas for topics, certain movies or shows you'd like to hear about, etc, let me know!