Sunday, December 30, 2012

Les Miserables: Anything But

Les Miserables


             When I saw the initial trailer for Les Miserables, my mouth hung open as the dormant inner theater kid came out.  Over ten years ago I saw the musical in London, have read a version of the story, listened to a radio theater production, and seen the Liam Neeson non-musical version.  Needless to say, I love the story   of God, Jean Valjean, Marius, Eponine, Fantine, and the people of France (with British accents of course, because that is logical).  I love the music equally, which made the news that all of the actors would be singing live during the shooting of the film all the better.

           Does the film version hold up to the musical Les Miserables?  Absolutely.  It does not have identical theatricality, but instead highlights the emotion of the story as the camera zooms in on the actors' faces.  The majority of the actors don't go for the pretty version of the song either, which only makes the listener actually feel the meaning of the words. Director Tom Hooper doesn't shy away from the religious themes of Les Miserables through the life of Jean Valjean either. While there are a few slower moments, as a whole the story and music stick.

          As for the actors who were wonderful, I'd have to point out Samantha Barks as Eponine.  Everyone is  mesmerized by Anne Hathaway's performance as the tragic Fantine, but I believe Samantha does just as well.  The story of Eponine becomes all the more heartbreaking in her performance.  Hugh Jackman's emotional range and theater skills made him well suited to the ultimate role as the prisoner who is transformed by a single act of mercy.    Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter provide needed comic relief to the story, creating vivid swindlers, while  Eddie Redmayne's voice carried his role of Marius, the idealistic revolutionary.  Still, the two characters who stole the film were Enjolras (Aaron Tveit), the best friend of Marius, and Gavroche (Daniel Huttlestone), the little boy who joins the cause of the French revolution.  I kept thinking that Aaron Tveit could have easily played Marius as well, with his passion and voice so powerful in the film. I never paid so much attention to the role. As for Gavroche, well he's the heartbreaker of the story.

           While I loved the young version of Cosette, I wasn't crazy about Amanda Seyfried's voice. She did well, it just was a little high.  Russell Crowe acted beautifully as Javert.  His voice, a little on the bombastic, always loud side, was a little distracting.

          All in all, I'm still singing the songs of the film, remembering the story, and appreciating that millions more will discover the beautiful story of love, hope, suffering, bravery, sacrifice, and redemption.  It was wonderful.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Book Rave: Divergent

Divergent, Book 1


          Looking for a series with the edge and heart of The Hunger Games?  You will find it in Veronica Roth's Divergent trilogy.  While I wouldn't say the series is quite on par with The Hunger Games, it is certainly on the cusp of the next big thing.  Following the young Tris (who acts beyond her sixteen years), Divergent takes place in a dystopian Chicago which controls and contains its population into five distinct factions: Abnegation the selfless, Candor the honest, Dauntless the brave, Erudite the curious, and Amity the group.  When Tris turns 16, she leaves Abnegation and chooses Dauntless, undergoing a gruesome training.  If she fails, she ends up in the Factionless-the mysterious underbelly of the society.  Divergent is an easy read with lofty ideas.  Can humans really be resigned to one type of personality?  Are we not more complex?  The second book, Insurgent, delves deeper into the Factionless and the mystery of a city gate locked from the outside.   While Divergent was the stronger of the two novels by far, Insurgent left me ready for the yet to be released third and final installment.
       
           A movie is already in the works and both books can be devoured in days.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Doctor Who: Winter is Coming


Matt Smith and Jenna-Louise Coleman


             Coming into the new Doctor Who Christmas special, especially knowing that the most recent beloved companions were no longer going to be there (Oh Ponds), I was anxious to see how they were going to pull off bringing in Clara, the new companion played by Jenna-Louise Coleman.  Last season, Coleman played Oswin, a modern girl who tragically and heroically died after realizing she was a Dalek.  How then, would the writers of Doctor Who bring her back from the dead?  While the episode only added to the mystery, it managed to offer some truly  terrifying carnivorous snow.  In no particular order the episode was an above par Christmas story for the following reasons.

1.  Matt Smith, the Doctor, grieved for the Ponds, but ultimately couldn't resist the call to save the world and don a bowtie, because bowties, quite like snow, are cool.

2.  The Doctor pretended to be Sherlock Holmes, which is a wink to fans of the BBC's other brilliant show Sherlock, which is also headed by Doctor Who show runner Steven Moffat.  If we can't have new Sherlock episodes until 2014, at least we get a bone.

3.  Gandalf played the voice of the evil snow.  I kept telling my little brother that the villain's voice sounded like Sir Ian McKellen, and was very happy to verify my guess with IMDb.  I kept wanting the snow to shout, "You shall not pass!"

4.  Multiple times, the phrase, "Winter is coming" was uttered.  I love a good Game of Thrones reference.  At least, I really hope it was intentional.

5.  Did I mention that Gandalf was in the episode? That is pretty much the best surprise of all.

6.  The END!  When Clara revealed that she remembered being Owsin, I screamed.  Clara is full of such energy and stands to bring a new, shiny spark to the show.  Her pluck and brains, and of course the mystery surrounding her make her an ideal companion for the show.  As much as saying goodbye to the Ponds made me weep, it was in the spirit of regeneration.

I am so ready for the new season and all the surprises and energy it will bring.  Doctor Who is truly a wonderful Christmas gift, and this year's special was no exception.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

How I Met Your Mother-Fake Out End



            Besides the recent proposal episode, How I Met Your Mother has really outworn its welcome.  A few years back when I stumbled across the popular CBS sitcom, I felt like I was meeting Friends 2.0.  Now however, as the stories grow repetitive and the premise of the show serves as its downfall, I want to bang my head against a wall.  Now, I'll get to do it for another season.  HIMYM will be back for a ninth season.  A good show needs to know when to end.  This lackluster season doesn't deserve another one.  Perhaps though, HIMYM can redeem itself in the final season next year.  That's how I'll look at it.  Otherwise, I may just be tuning in for the finale and nothing else.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Impossible



              While I've heard good things about The Impossible, the film based on one family's experience during the tsunami, it wasn't until reading Reese Witherspoon's raving letter to Naomi Watts and watching the trailer that I realized how profoundly good the film will be.  Coming out days before Christmas, it doesn't have the pomp and hype of Les Miserables, but still appears to paint the human condition tragically and beautifully.  Watch the trailer for it here.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Hobbit Review: Great Expectations




               The famous Dickens book Great Expectations is quite good.  Possessing great expectation for something, on the other hand, can lead to great disappointment or great reward (a theme in Great Expectations, go figure).  There is no doubt that Peter Jackson's journey back into Middle Earth carries the burden of great anticipation and the weight of, well a ring.  There are not enough positive adjectives to describe the sheer brilliance of his Lord of the Rings interpretation. However, there are not words to describe how misguided Jackson's King Kong film was. Thus, when  approaching The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, I tried my best to taper my high expectations.  I knew The Hobbit to be a simpler, less apocalyptic story than The Lord of the Rings, but couldn't help but revel in some of the near-nostalgic hype of a new Tolkien movie.
       
                How then, was the first in the three Hobbit movies?  Well, it's hard to fully answer the question.  Peter Jackson pulled a King Kong in the first 35 minutes (aka he left in unnecessary things that should have just been cut).  I kept wanting to steal Sting from Bilbo and use the blue blade to slice at several scenes.  It took a bit of time to fall into the story because of the first chunk of the movie.  Once I did, I was able to appreciate Thorin the almost Dwarf King (Richard Armitage) and the battles with talking trolls, goblins, and the like.  I wasn't a huge fan of Thorin's almost comical foe The White Orc.  Still, I enjoyed Martin Freeman's hesitant but ultimately brave Bilbo and was grateful to see more of the Middle Earth (and let's face it New Zealand) that I've come to love.  Setting itself up for a battle with a dragon, the possible emergence of a necromancer, and the annoyingly stupid White Orc, The Hobbit featured the truly creepy and inevitable riddles game between Gollum and Bilbo and let us peak into the pre-Rings lives of Gandulf, Bilbo, Elrond, and Galadriel.

             So then, how was the movie?  I still haven't answered the question.  It wasn't the same as the Lord of the Rings.  It isn't the same story though, so really that isn't a fair assessment.  It was entertaining, and featured some lovable dwarfs, wizards, and of course, a hobbit.  With a childlike plot (not necessarily bad, just different), The Hobbit was, by itself, a good film.  Was it great?  No.  Am I still excited about the next two films and incredibly annoyed to wait a year for the second film?  Absolutely.  In fact, I'd say I have rather high expectations for the next films, and only a little trepidation.  After all, to quote Bilbo in the end of the first film.  "I do believe the worst is behind us."  The Hobbit wasn't the worst.  It just wasn't the Lord of the Rings, and could stand to lose 30 minutes, and gain a more interesting villain. From the set up for the next film, it would seem that the stakes are raised and the story will be more action-driven in the sequel. I for one, will still be back next December for another journey.  May it be as worthy of great expectations as Lord of the Rings.
       

Monday, December 17, 2012

Star Trek's New Trailer Reveals an Enemy Within




              Though J.J. Abram's first reboot of the Star Trek film series carried emotion heft, especially in the first few harrowing moments of the film, it appears that Star Trek was almost lighthearted compared to Star Trek Into Darkness.  The new trailer, which debuted today, places the lives of all of the beloved characters in jeopardy.   Their fates are left to the Captain.  Images of futuristic coffins do little to comfort the desperate reality of life and death.  As for the villain, played by Benedict Cumberbatch (Gosh I love his name.  Say out loud. Say it three times out loud. It's awesome.  Also, watch Sherlock.  I can't tell people to do that enough), it would appear that he is an enemy from withing.  The image of him in uniform, as well as the voice over pretty much confirm as much.
          I for one am ready for a weighty and emotional ride.  It raises the stakes.  Seeing Captain Kirk at his end, in duress makes for a great potential film.  Check out all of the gravitas here, in the trailer.

Sarah's Haunting Key



                 When I finally got around to watching the 2010 French film Sarah's Key, based on the wildly popular novel, I knew I was in for an emotional experience.  I wasn't prepared for the devastating reality.  If you've heard of the novel or movie before, you may know that the story follows Julia, a journalist who discovers her apartment once belonged to a French Jewish family who were rounded up by the French police and sent away to camps. Haunted by the urge to uncover the past, Julia unlocks devastating truth. The film's other protagonist is Sarah, the young girl in the Jewish family who hides her little brother in a closet before being rounded up with her family.  Escaping and fighting to make it back to her brother, Sarah's life is irrevocably altered by the choices she is forced to make.
          The heartbreak of the story is acute.  It's the kind of altering films that almost makes you wish you hadn't watched the movie, but somehow unwilling to actually wish it unseen.  Regardless if you see or read Sarah's Key or not, at least listen to a taste of the Max Richter's (Shutter Island) soundtrack.  The music alone offers a slice of the film's overwhelming, poignant emotions.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Happy Hobbit Soundtrack Day

The Hobbit Soundtrack


           I haven't gotten the chance to fully listen to The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey soundtrack yet, but will get cracking with Rolling Stone's free player.  Listen to Howard Shore's score here.  If you are anything like me, you loved his work in The Lord of the Rings and have eagerly awaited for the new music.  What I've heard, I like.  Happy week of Hobbits.  Enjoy the music.

Do you reject Superman?


Man of Steel

         The new Man of Steel full length trailer has dropped.  I'm the first to admit I'm not a big Superman fan.  I always found him too super and not man (flawed, vulnerable) enough.  However, the trailer, much like the teasers that played before The Dark Knight Rises, displays a grittier, more trouble man played by Henry Cavill (The Tudors).  The trailer also gives us glimpses of his parents, Lois Lane (Amy Adams), and of course the signature costume.  What I most like is the simple, thought provoking idea Superman asks in the end.  In voice over, he asks if the world will be ready for him, or reject him, as his father feared?  Weighty stuff for a boy, and heavy stuff for a man.  I may just like Superman after all.  Check out the trailer here.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Star Trek Into Darkness Trailer

Benedict Cumberbatch in Star Trek Into Darkness



            My quick reaction to Star Trek Into Darkness releasing a trailer: Benedict Cumberbatch should narrate every trailer ever.  If you haven't seen the British google commercial featuring his voice talents, you should look it up here. He's basically the British Morgan Freeman.
           As for the film, it looks apocalyptic and ultimate in the brief teaser.  Watch it here, and look forward to more debate over which villain Cumberbatch is playing.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Warm Bodies: A Zombie with a Heart



             I've now got a new book and movie on my radar. The fact that the two are are about the adventures of a zombie who falls in love with a living girl is just gravy.  When I first heard about Isaac Marion's Warm Bodies, I was a little put off.  The zombie craze is huge now, but really, I wasn't sold on the idea of a mostly nameless zombie who may or may not make a snack out of the girl he loves.  After watching the trailer for the film adaptation, I feel very differently.  Not only do I want to read the book immediately, but I really want to see Warm Bodies, which seems like a great companion to the truly hilarious Zombieland.  Look for the film, starring Nicholas Hoult February 1, 2013, just don't eat your heart out.

Merlin's Final Bow



Merlin
             
           
                While I will admit to veering into geeky cool pop culture more often to not, there are some shows that are on the edge of what I like. Merlin, a show mostly unheard of by mainstream culture, has managed to keep me watching for four seasons despite occasional cheese and repetition.  This coming year, the fifth and final season of the BBC production will be released stateside.  Chronicling the early adventures of Prince and ultimate King Arthur and his servant Merlin, the show celebrates the legend while also adding fresh characterizations and relationships.  In this version of the tale, magic is outlawed under penalty of death, forcing Merlin to often play the simpleton servant while actually saving everyone from chaos and death.  The highlight of the show is Arthur and Merlin's deep, sometimes ridiculous bond as they survive King and court.  If you are into weekly adventures that mix a dash of campy fun with surprising deep moments, catch the first four seasons of Merlin on Netflix, then see Merlin's final bow on Syfy January 4, 2012.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Star Trek Into Darkness Debuts Poster



Star Trek Into Darkness 
           Man did I love the newest version of Star Trek.  It was shiny and fresh with emotional gravitas to boot.  The long await sequel, helmed by the modern sci-fi storyteller J.J. Abrams, has just released a new poster.  Featuring Benedict Cumberbatch of Sherlock fame, the poster clearly shows Cumberbatch's character among the devastation he assumably caused.   The name of the villain of Star Trek Into Darkness has yet to be revealed, though it's rumored to be Khan.  While some have been quick to point out the similar look of the poster to The Dark Knight Rises poster, I say, is it such a bad thing to be compared to another great movie?  Look for more teasers and trailers in the months to come.  You don't have to be a Trekkie (I'll admit, I am not at all) to appreciate the building anticipation for what is sure to be an excellent film.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Scandal Never Seemed So Good




           If you're like me, and initially missed Scandal, ABC's glossy spin on dirty bloody politics and the people who cover up the blood and dirt, you my friend need to catch up.  I recently watched the brief first season, which follows ultimate "fixer" Olivia Pope as she covers the scandals of businessmen, jilted women, and even the President with killer confidence and a killer wardrobe.  The trick of Scandal is that Olivia, along with her strange cohort of employees, all are a part of their own dark scandals.  Watch season one on Netflix and catch up with season two before hulu takes more episodes down.  If you like a good secret, it won't let you down.

The New Downton Abbey




           
              Julian Fellows is set to create a New York show set in the 1880's entitled The Gilded Age.  If you haven't stumbled across acclaimed writer Julian Fellowes's brilliant show Downton Abbey, do so now. It spans the upstairs and downstairs drama during the aftermath of Titanic, WWI, and now the roaring 20's.  Fellowes manages to create escapist television with a soul, painting deeply complex, meaningful characters.  Look for The Gilded Age, which is sure to be done in a similar vain, on NBC.

Monday, November 19, 2012

The Mortal Instruments

The Mortal Instruments


         Cassandra Clare's massively popular The Mortal Instruments series is coming to life next August.  The trailer for the film The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones starring Lily Collins as Clary and Jamie Campbell Bower as Jace, the shadow hunting duo in the supernatural underworld of NYC, is here.
         The trilogy of books are fast paced and surprisingly funny, and it's difficult to imagine the strange world Clare created on screen.  When I first heard that Jamie Campbell Bower, best known for a smaller parts in Harry Potter and Sweeney Todd,  was cast as Jace, I was a little confused.  He didn't seem to fit the part of the rebellious and hardened character.  However, after watching the trailer, it looks as though he will make a killer Jace.  I just hope the movie carries the dark yet light tone of the series, and doesn't stumble and fall on it's first film. The casting of Jonathan Rhys Meyers as the villain Valentine bodes well for the film in my book. While the books are not flawless, but they were incredibly addictive.  If done right, the movie could inspire a whole legion of new fans.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

A Very Who Christmas

Doctor Who and his new companion in The Snowman. 


            Ah Christmas.  A time for family, a celebration of the birth of Jesus, a smorgasbord of desserts and traditions, and oh yes, the debut of a Doctor Who Christmas special.  After the departure of Amy and Rory, the Christmas special is set to reintroduce the new companion.  As most whovians know, Oswin (Jenna-Louise Coleman) was already introduced at in The Asylum of the Daleks as a girl turned into a monster.  The question then is, who is she now and how did she survive to be the companion?  Will the Doctor meet her before she becomes a Dalek or after?  Will she be a totally new character who just happens to look like Oswin?  After all, the trailer calls her Clara.  The episode is entitled The Snowman (or Top Hats are cool), and appears to, in the tradition of Doctor Who episodes, make children and adults fear a seemingly innocent thing, in this case snow.  See the trailer here, and look out for it Christmas day. Also, enjoy this gif, I know I did.

Book Rave: Grave Mercy

Grave Mercy, the first in a promising series.


          Every once in a while, you stumble upon a book that is magic.  No, it doesn't have to be filled with witches, wizards, goblins, and fairies.  Instead, the magic of the book  is it's ability to let you read like you did when you were a kid-gobbling up the story without cynicism, totally immersed in another world. It takes a lot for a book to have that kind of power as you and distractions grow.  Robin Lafevers's Grave Mercy is the most recent stunning gem of a book.  I read it in a blur of two afternoons, staying up late, flipping through it with the same sort  fervor I attacked a new Harry Potter book with.  That alone is high praise.

        Grave Mercy is a gorgeous and original hybrid.  It follows Ismae, a girl who survived death as a baby and is thus drawn into St. Mortains, a convent where girls are trained as assassins serving an ancient god of death.  The author plucks Ismae from fantasy, pulling her into history as Ismae must search out villains and friends in the intrigue of the court of Brittany.  With colorful, and deep characters and a vivid and exciting combination of fiction and fact, Lafevers whips up a powerul force of a novel.  I cannot wait for the next to in the series, entitled His Fair Assassin. If Grave Mercy isn't snatched up by a studio and made into a novel, or a miniseries for that matter, than I don't understand hollywood.  History has rarely felt so hightenend.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Argo: A Story Crazier than Science Fiction


Argo


              I went into Argo, Ben Affleck's film about the real-life rescue of 6 American fugitives from Iran, with high expectations.  The film has already received huge praise and is an earlier contender in the race for the Oscars.  I wasn't disappointed.  The film was highly entertaining, informative, and unique.  It's a lesson in history from a certain lens and light. Affleck not only directed Argo, but he also starred in it as Tony, a CIA agent who uses a fake sci-fi movie to help save six hostages who are hunted during the Iran Hostage Crisis.  As a 1990's baby, the events of the end of the seventies and early eighties were foreign to me.  I was happy to be introduced to the conflict in such an engrossing way.  Even though I had somewhat of an idea of the outcome of the events, Affleck maintains the tension, keeping me as a viewer at a constant state of worry and anticipation.  Brian Cranston has a meaty scene as Jack, a CIA agent, as does Alan Arkin as a Hollywood player who helps in the elaborate ruse.
         Where Affleck really showed his strength was in his ability to really create the emotions of the 6 hostages.  Affleck had the actors live together in a 70's style to put them more in the mood of the film, and it really shows.  The film had an authenticity to it, which is key when it is based on the unbelievable true story.
         That's the real greatest of the film.  It is based on the crazy truth covered up until Clinton released it to the public.  Even in the last moments of the film, you can't believe the CIA, and particularly Tony pulls off the impossible.
           While Argo is not a film I would watch over and over again, I would certainly recommend it as a good film about a truly great story.
         

Entertainment Not Guaranteed


The Ad from Safety Not Guaranteed

          Indie movies go one of two ways.  They are either incredibly intimate, important, sad, sweet, and unique portraits of stories and people, or they are boring excuses to watch people move around apartments, pour coffee, scowl in mirrors and live their ordinary lives to a sparse and warbling soundtrack.  For every truly stellar indie movie like Little Miss Sunshine, Once, and Chronicle, there are a hundred truly terrible films pretending to be entertainment.  When I first heard about Safety Not Guaranteed, a movie about a strange, grizzly man who posts an ad in the paper looking for a partner to travel through time, I was weirdly excited about it.  It seemed to have whimsy and charm to spare.  However, and maybe it was because when I watched it at night, but I found myself falling asleep, totally disillusioned with the whole story.  It was simply-lacking.  There is a story in small moments, but when the characters and moments don't connect, it's just darn boring.  Perhaps with a strong cup of coffee and an early morning start, I could give the movie a second chance, but honestly, I just don't want to. Here's hoping some of the other indie movies I've waited to see aren't quite so painful.  Jessie and Celeste Forever, I'm holding out hope for you.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

How Geeks Marathon

Listen to Boromir/Ned Stark

            How would you like to train for a marathon?  What about if I told you preparation included consuming large quantities of sugary soda and extra salted butter while brushing up on your elvish?  Well, extreme Tolkien fans rejoice and indulge like a Hobbit.  Not only are The Hobbit tickets going on sale November 7, but tickets for a super marathon of the extended Lord of the Rings set are also going to be available. By the end, you may feel like you have traveled there and back again....at least to the movie theater bathroom.
         
          As much as I am all for a marathon of a T.V. show or movies at home, I'm not sure I feel the same about a theater marathon.  By the end, I may resemble a zombie from The Walking Dead or at the very least I'll look like Frodo in the third film, mid-Mount Doom.  I think I'll stick to watching Lord of the Rings at home, one by one.  Then again, for the generation who missed seeing The Lord of the Rings in theaters, a marathon viewing may be perfect.  If getting to see The Hobbit is my reward, I'd spend one or two or ten hours in Middle Earth.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Arrow Stays on Target. Surprised?

Arrow Episode 4: An Innocent Man


              Everyone keeps talking about Revolution and what a surprise it's been.  I sort of fell away from it, tired of the over-actioned cliches.  Maybe I'll go back and catch up with it later, but for now, one of the few shows that has kept me watching is the CW's Arrow.  It's hero is genuinely likable and mature, it's setting is more Nolan-esque than Smallville, and the backstory is uniquely riveting.  The flashbacks and mythos that reveal why Oliver went from entitled brat to vigilante hero are well thought out and juicy.  Every episode has a balance of realistic and heightened reality to it, with just enough, "I can't believe they shocked me that way" to please even a superhero skeptic's heart.  I'm not a skeptic.  I've fallen hard for the hero domination in pop culture, and am very happy with the way it is starting to dominate television as well.  The world could use a few more heroes now, even if it's just for inspiration to do something truly heroic.
           As for the future of the Arrow season, I'm very curious ,especially after episode 4 which revealed the rage and turmoil dueling it out inside Oliver as he "kills or survives" on the island and just maybe, in the city. The episode ended with Oliver being arrested, under suspicion of being The Green Arrow.  I'm not a hero expert  but I am curious how the show will handle Oliver's secret identity. Granted, his secret is flimsy, with an oversized hood and shadow as his only cover.  I may have to consult an Arrow expert, but if Arrow is revealed, what will that mean for the season and the show?  Curse the show and it's constant ability to keep me coming back.  Who am I kidding?  I really enjoy it, and loved that Captain Jack (of Doctor Who) appeared as one of many villains to come.  Ok fine, it was just the actor who played Captain, but still, Doctor Who shout outs are the best.
           Look out for Arrow next Wednesday.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Just Shriek and Punch the Zombie Nick.


New Girl Season 2 Halloween 

           When it came to New Girl, I was all about Schmidt for a while, but in the new season, the most memorable moments come courtesy of the Ron-Swanson lite, surly sweet Nick Miller (Jake Johnson, not to be confused Jack Johnson the Hawaiian strumming, sweet styling singer, even though I almost typed his name first).  Sure, Schmidt had a great moment dressed as Lincoln (because according to his logic, everyone thinks of the venerable President at least once a day).  Still, the past two episodes shined when Nick was Nick-confused, emotionally stunted, and yet goofily caring and kind.  Two episodes ago, as he struggled to express his love for Schmidt after Schmidt bought him a cookie, "just cuz,"we got a glimpse of when Schmidt and Nick met in college, which was dumbly true to how shallow most friendships start.  When Nick finally returned the gift with a cookie of his own for Schmidt, he stutters, "You give cookie, I give cookie," in an adorably confused chant until finally breaking down.  It was a great moment of comedy and truth as he struggled to express real emotions.
       In last nights episode, Nick once again had a truly fantastic moment.  Already admitting to having a fear of haunted houses and relationships, essentially saying they are one in the same, Nick braves a haunted house for Jess, worried she's about to tell an unfeeling doctor that she's interested in a relationship.  Nick runs like he's an extra in The Walking Dead, frantically searching for Jess amidst the ghouls and monsters.  Poor Nick is attacked by a zombie, or so he thinks.  He punches the zombie in the face, only to find out he punched Jess.  Shrieking like a banshee  or more accurately a little girl, he's attacked by a pack of monsters,who defend their fellow haunted house worker violently   Poor Nick is caught in his worst nightmare, and it makes for a perfectly hilarious moment.
      Kudos to New Girl for allowing its characters to shine, giving opportunities for all of the characters to develop and be ridiculously awesome.  For all his valiant efforts, poor Nick lets Jess get her revenge, punching him in the face in the last second of the show.  For now at least, he wins the award of my favorite character on the show.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Whales, Wizards, and Frankenstein


Dr. Whale/Frankenstein...and the Wizard of Oz???

             I will not recap all of last night's Once Upon a Time.  I only wish to address a major question.  Last night, it was definitively said that the identity of Dr. Whale's "fairy tale" character is Dr. Frankenstein.  However, the magic-loathing scientist was also called a wizard on more than one occasion.  Add to that the easter egg hints that Rumple and Mad Hatter gave when they discussed a land that could be reached via a pair of shoes (hello ruby slippers).  Until the end of the episode, when Dr. Whale was in his gothic mad-science castle, I was convinced he was in fact the Wizard of Oz.  I am still  pretty intent on Dr. Whale being both characters.  After all, Rumpelstiltskin has turned out to be the Beast, the Crocodile of Peter Pan, and who knows who else.  Once Upon a Time plays with the idea that one person/character can inspire many tales and have many personalities.  The show is certainly playing with characters outside the traditional fairy tale realm.  As the season continues and we learn the identify of Henry's father and the true intent of Captain Hook, perhaps we will revisit the Wizard/Doctor, and maybe even venture down the paved yellow bricks, off to Oz.  I will say last night's episode was a little weak except for the Doctor's scenes.  I hope Emma and Snow are given more to do.  It'd be a shame if the second season falls short of the wonderful debut.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Copper Finale: Fires, Assassins, and Heroes Oh My

Copper Finale


                I've raved about Copper throughout its ten episode first season.  Depicting the complex life of Kevin Cocoran, the charmismatic Irish cop in 5 Points New York, the show built a web of characters and mystery with dramatic flair.  The season finale was no exception.  Without spoiling the ending I can reveal that I found myself more and more rooting for Robert Morehouse, the affluent young man who makes up for his lost limb in wit, charm, and cunning.  He, much more than the Copper himself, proved the real hero as he fought to prevent a plot involving Greek fire destroying most of New York.  While Morehouse, like all characters on Copper, isn't always morally upright, his ultimate choice to risk everything, including his relationship with his father, is downright heroic. As for one of the main ladies of the show,  I wanted to scream at Elizabeth Haverford, a wealthy key player in the Copper world as she revealed she betrayed Robert and the country, having a hand in the fires.  The fact that she consorts with John Wilkes Booth the actor (yes, as in that Booth) is a dead give away to her place in future episodes.

             By episode's end, the protagonist Kevin Cocoran is left broken and destroyed in the wake of revelations about his wife and child. He did have a moment of great moral magnitiude when he was given the choice to let his former friend burn, but it was a little surprising that the final episode of the show was the least Kevin-centered, but then again, so much was revealed about him and his life that they may have wanted to save more for the next season.  I for one am very interested in the future season of Copper, a show that knew it's own idendity from day 1.  Bravo on a riveting season with few flaws.  (I could have handled not having cheesy music during the slower, sweeter moments.  I don't need a few notes to tell me "Say awwww here".)  When season 2 of Copper arrives next year, I will certainly be visiting the sorted and fascinating world of 5 Points.  I just may leave the brass nuckles to Copper.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The One Movie to Rule Them All



               The season of unique, Oscar contending, thought-provoking film is upon us.  That's not to say you can't go out and see a light hearted movie (Wreck it Ralph, Fun Sized, The Legend of the Guardians...).  In no particular order, I'm listing movies I'd like to see coming out in the next few months.  Though let's face it, many of these films will be relegated to dollar theaters or Netflix.  There are a few however that demand to be seen.

October


Cloud Atlas


1.  Cloud Atlas

Maybe it's because  the trailer features one of my current favorite songs Outra by M83 and has the always lovable Tom Hanks as the narrator that I am so intrigued.  This film, from the minds of the Matrix creators, features a bevy of stars in a transcending poem of a movie.  I am incredibly intrigued and confused in equal parts, which certainly makes me want to see this film.  If you don't know who Ben Whishaw (of Bright Star and Brideshead Revisited) is, you will after the film.  Cloud Atlas comes out October 26, 2012.  Read more about it here.




The Perks of Being a Wallflower


2. The Perks of Being a Wallflower

This mainstream/indie hybrid based on the popular novel and featuring Emma Watson and Logan Lerman has already come out.  I may not see it in theaters, but it has enough charm as a  film about finding people who understand you and learning to understand yourself to merit a dvd viewing.





Argo


3.  Argo

Argo is already being considered the movie to beat.  I love a story so preposterous it has to be true.  Ben Affleck's vision of the story of a group of people who pose as sci-fi film makers to smuggle out hostages has gained Affleck immense praise.  I am slightly nervous to see the film (I was burned by Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, a film that would be more accurately labeled.  Talking Talking Sleeping Slumber).  Even so , I'm sure I will cave and see it.  Argo is also already in    theaters.







4.  Looper

This sci-fi film about a renegade time traveler forced into a vicious cycle where he must assassinate himself apparently has a killer ending.  I need to see Looper soon to avoid the ending being spoiled.  The movie, which is out now, stars Joseph Gordon Levitt, Emily Blunt, and Bruce Willis.





Chasing Mavericks


5.  Chasing Mavericks

Another film based on the true life, Chasing Mavericks tackles the life of a surfer willing to sacrifice his life in pursuit of the water's closest thing to Everest.  See a more detailed discussion of the film here.  It releases October 26, 2012.







November


Lincoln 


1.  Lincoln 

This Spielberg film destined to be a classic chronicles the life and struggles of our beloved and complex national legend.  I have already gone into details about the film here.  Lincoln debuts November 9, 2012.  I dare you to pay for your ticket in pennies.








Anna Karenina


2. Anna Karenina 

I am a sucker for Joe Wright films.  Pride and Prejudice is in my top two favorite films of all time, and though Atonement is not the kind of film I want to watch over and over again, I still can appreciate its haunting power as a film.  If you've seen his 3 plus minute long shot of Dunkirk, you know what I'm talking about.  This film features Wright's muse Keira Knightly as the woman torn by power and love in the infamous Russian tale.  Wright's version will take place predominantly in a theater, which baffles some Karenina fans.  I for one like the idea, mainly because I trust in the liberties Wright takes as a visionary.  That, and I'm not very familiar with the details of the book.  The theater film hits theaters November 16, 2012.




Life of Pi





3.Life of Pi

A book beloved by many is now, like so many books before it, the inspiration for a film by Ang Lee.  I never read the book in high school, but after watching the transfixing trailer for the coming of age tale, I may have to catch up with the millions who swear by the story.  Life of Pi comes out November 21



December

Les Miserables


1.  Les Miserables

When it comes to December films, I am sure there are more movies that I will eventually see, but when I first set eyes on the trailer for the musical version of Les Miserables, I knew I was a goner.  It was a moment of "Hello new movie favorite."  For more details on the film which comes out Christmas day, read here.





The Hobbit

2.  The Hobbit

This and Les Miserables are the two movies I have anticipated the most.  It's taken a while, but Peter Jackson's spin on Tolkien's classic is almost here! Martin Freeman is sure to fill the large feet of Bilbo Baggins, which is important, considering those feet are going to be in 3 films.  See more info about the movie coming out December 14, 2012 here.




Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Crocodiles and Captains

Captain Hook from Once Upon a Time


               If you watched last Sunday's Once Upon a Time, "The Crocodile," you now know the beginnings of Captain Hook, at least according to OUAT.   In all of his swashbuckling  Irish, guy-liner glory, Hook inspired fandoms before he even appeared on the show. Played by Colin O'Donoghue, Hook's story was, as always, different from what I expected.  This time, that wasn't always for the better.  Good old Rumplestiltskin loses his wife to the Captain's charms.  Frankly, I hated that part of the story.  Rumple's wife abandons her child and deserts her husband for selfish love.  When Rumplestiltskin rips her heart out later, causing part the Captain's hatred of him, I wasn't that devastated.  The best and most surprising part of the origin tale followed that Rumple, with his slick skin and gleaming trickery, is the crocodile who plagues Captain Hook.  Hook loses his hand over a magic bean that serves as a portal to other worlds.  Rumple slices the Captain's hand clean off to get the bean, only to later discover the Captain tricked him (and went off to Neverland to plot his revenge against "The Crocodile").

               Once Upon a Time, this one time, I didn't love your intro of the Captain.  You redeemed yourself though, with a very interesting and twist filled ending (which promised interesting beginnings).  While I still have a Sheriff sized hole in my heart, I will gladly welcome the addition of the swaggering pirate whose evil/good mixture makes him as dynamic as all of Once's characters.  On a side note, the creators of the show (who just happen to be Lost writers, which explains A LOT) revealed that the Sheriff/Huntsman was originally going to be Sherlock Holmes and that other characters that are not strictly fairytale will appear in future episodes.  I had always assumed the Sheriff was initially supposed to be Robin Hood.  I like the surprise though, and the fact that the show is raiding the shelves of stories for more great characters.  That and the fact that the writers started raving about Benedict Cumberbatch's Sherlock, which made me love them even more.

                Back in Storybrooke, I enjoyed Rumple's alter ego Mr. Gold facing Belle with honesty, owning up to the notion that he collects magic (and power) to hide his fear.  As for Belle, the library scene, and the fact that she's becoming more complex and empowered  made me grateful that Emile de Raven is now a series regular.

              I am certainly excited for next week's episode, where we find out the fairy tale identity of Mr. Whale.  It looks as though he is not the Whale from Pinocchio at least at first, but will instead be Dr. Frankenstein.  I always assumed that Dr. Whale was a man in the fairytale world who did something terrible, causing him to be cursed and turned into a whale.  I doubt I can actually predict OUAT writers, but you've go to admit it's an interesting theory.  To see how wrong I am, tune in Sunday at 8:00 on abc.


Sunday, October 21, 2012

Et tu Internet?


            Okay, so I need to preface this by saying how much I appreciate the internet as a gateway to friends, information, and entertainment.  I love it and can't imagine life without it (and fully acknowledge the irony of using the internet to rant about the internet).  As a member of the generation who used floppy disks and heard the distinct errrchrrrrping of dial-up, I am in awe of the leaps and bounds the internet has made and more than a little scared of how dependent we have become on it.  Still, every so often, you come across a terrible pop-up, comment, or lie that ruins something.  The internet can betray you like Marcus Brutus stabbing Julius Caesar in the back.  Et tu Internet indeed.
     
          Today was such a day.  While looking up a trailer for the new season of Downton Abbey, I accidently stumbled across a truly horrible spoiler for season 3 when I made the rookie mistake of looking at a few of the comments under the video I watched.  The comments revealed a very important and devastating plot twist, which is incredibly frustrating considering series 3 is currently airing in the U.K., not here.  Sometimes, it's nice to know little spoilers, but no viewer wants a spoiler that truly changes everything.  In the age of the internet, shows shouldn't have several month delays between countries.  Viewers may be lost, especially when controversial spoilers are released before the show even airs.
     
          I can't help but paraphrase one of my other favorite shows, Firefly (after just paraphrasing from it in my last blog post.  What can I say, Firefly can be used for everything.)  Curse you internet, for your sudden but inevitable betrayal. Okay, now I can go back to loving the internet  and avoiding comment sections until American programming wises up and airs U.K. hits at the same time as the U.K.
       

Thursday, October 18, 2012

An Arrow in the Back


Oliver washing up on the island with his father.

           Curse you cliffhangers, with your sudden but inevitable betrayal.  Tuning in for the second episode of Arrow, the CW's superhero attempt, I found myself flipping back and forth between it and The Middle.  The lead actor who plays Oliver Queen/Arrow possesses a great deal of charisma as he plays the billionaire with a giant chip (er, island) on his shoulder when he returns after being marooned on an island for five years.  It's just that I don't think the show has is groove yet.  It still doesn't have its identity yet and contains some rather annoying characters (I'm looking at you Oliver's bratty,poor rich girl sister).

         That being said, anytime the episode entitled Honor Thy Father flashed back to Oliver's experience getting shipwrecked I was riveted.  In the first episode, we learned that Oliver's father shot a fellow survivor and himself to give Oliver a better chance out in the open water.  In the second episode, Oliver washes up to an island and desperately grieves for the father he lost.  Maybe I just have an affinity for island narratives (Lost), but I suddenly stopped flipping away from Arrow.  By the end of the episode, I couldn't.  The end gave a taste of how Oliver became Arrow, the hero with a love of all things archery.  As Oliver buries his father on the presumably deserted island, he is shot in the back by a mysterious archer, collapsing to the ground in the final seconds of the show.  Curse you cliffhanger.  Curse you.  Just when I thought I wasn't going to watch Arrow, I was drawn back in by the promise of a unique origin story.  I'll be back for the next episode, which will probably draw me in in the last few moments.  I just hope that the rest of the episode isn't just filler for a good ending.  That would be true betrayal, and will lose viewers faster than Oliver's trigger finger.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Pitch Perfect: Pretty Much



           It's hard to totally lose yourself in a movie now days.  Man does that make me sound old and cantankerous. Still, few movies, especially movies with gimmicks and formulas, totally get it, accomplishing their ultimate goal of entertaining.  Pitch Perfect did it right.  The movie about the surprisingly entertaining world of the competitive college a cappella, hit every note perfectly.  Was it predictable?  Yes, but in the kind of classic way that great eighties movies were predictable.  Anna Kendrick, playing the "tough girl" dj Beca who finds herself suddenly deep in the world of five million part harmonies, classes the movie up like she does in every movie she's in.  Without being heavy handed, the movie is just fun, featuring the hilarious Bridesmaid star Rebel Wilson and the genuine talent of its many unknown stars.  It's what Glee wishes it was- an entertaining mixture of drama, humor, and jams (during times that actually made sense to break out in song-like in practice or competitions, not just randomly and unnaturally belting in the hallway).

        Pitch Perfect deserves the hype.  It wasn't flawless. I wished Beca took control of the group far sooner in the movie and some of the jokes were just sort of gross.  Yes it wasn't perfect, but it sure was close.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Premium Rush: Brakes are Death, but so are Taxis



            If you haven't seen Premium Rush, the movie starring Joseph Gordon Levitt as a bike messenger who ends up with a priceless package, you are not alone.  The movie debuted modestly, and has since hit the dollar theaters.  While I won't pretend it was an absolutely incredible story, I enjoyed the film for embracing its identify as a high stakes car chase story with bikes replacing cars.  If anything, it made the tricks and skills all the scarier knowing that no metal or steel or even plastic protected the body of a biker from slamming into cars, people, and the cold hard ground.  Its star Joseph Gordon Levitt got in some nasty scrapes while filming, as seen here.

        Levitt stars as Wylie (Yes, like the Coyote), a young man who refused to take the bar, opting for life as a struggling bike messenger on a bike with no gears and no brakes.  Wylie claims that "brakes are death," and speaks of donning a suit to go to work as if it were a suit to go into the grave.  He is unbelievably reckless, but handles his bike as if it were a third leg, plotting and weaving the streets of New York with a mind capable of calculating risks in an instant.  The plot of the film picks up when Wylie is given an envelope to deliver.  This envelope contains a ticket to a great deal of money, causing a corrupt and truly over-the-top cop/villain with serious debts to pay to go after Wylie.  The chase begins, churning and accelerating the film with interesting shots and fancy moves.  There were a few moments when the chase became a little tedious and the plot felt a  little more suited to an episode of a USA show, but overall it was an entertaining ride I would recommend renting on Bluray or DVD.
       
          Though Premium Rush was at its core a cheesy action film, it did pose a loose philosophical question.  In life aren't we all pedaling without breaks? Keeping on swimming?  Always moving forward like Wylie feels he must?  If we simply stop, we are stagnant or dead.  While I don't think it is wrong to be a little safer than Wylie (avoiding hitting taxis and pavement) or put on a suit and go to work, I do appreciate his attitude even if I don't agree with it totally.  If we steamroll through life, we may miss out on people, places, and moments that deserve a little peace and slowness.  We should move forward, but not to run away from life, but to run into it.  I think I put more thought into the movie than I should have.  I'm stopping now.  Enjoy the movie for its simple fun dodging taxis and pedaling to the end.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Arrows in the Hearts of Couch Potatoes

Arrow, the CW's new superhero drama


          I  realize  I have a major problem when I sit down to watch new network shows this season.  None of the new crop of series capture my attention enough to make me sit and watch the whole thing.  I end up bouncing around several shows at once, committing to none.  Yesterday was no exception.  I mostly watched the premiere of Arrow, a series about former playboy billionaire Oliver Queen, who after being stranded on a mysterious island for five years returns and takes on the vigilante role of Arrow.   The series has potential, though it feels a little like Smallville trying to be The Dark Knight in its strange hodgepodge of moody lights, brooding billionaires, and light characters.  There was a twist at the end of the episode which may bring me back, but I'm not 100 percent sold on it yet.

         The same goes for Nashville, the new soapy drama about an aging country star played by the always wonderful Connie Britton.  (She was the pillar in Friday Night Lights.  Truly the show wouldn't be half as good without her..)  Britton's character must battle it out with a new up and coming country brat played by Hayden Panettiere as they are forced to go on tour together.  The show feels a little like Revenge if Revenge were twangier and filled with obnoxious tarts.  I didn't stick around for the whole episode.  I may try to watch it again, but I just don't think it deserves the hype it has received.  Lauded as "the best new show on television," Nashville certainly wouldn't get that description from me, at least not yet.  I'll reserve judgement, if I decide to give it another chance that is.  I feel more inclined to watch Arrow over it.

        What then, should a television lover do if new shows are failing?  Turn to tried and true shows, give a few of the new shows a chance to gain momentum and improve, and sample a bit of everything.  Oh, and check out one of my favorite new comedies, Ben and Kate.  You won't have trouble committing to the adorable (and only thirty minute) show about a sweet (only moderately strange) brother/sister relationship.

           At all costs, avoid the competition trap on television.  I can't handle another X Voice Dancing Idol Star.  Give me stories.  Demand them story lovers, and they will come.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Community is Grounded

Annie expressing the feelings of  Community fans.


         Lame. Lame. Lame. Lame.  I was reduced to chanting this like a feisty five year old when I heard the bad news.  NBC has indefinitely delayed the new, shortened season of Community.  The new  fourth season was supposed to air next Friday, but now, NBC is holding it back, saying it will fit it into different scheduling.  They are trying to spin it in a positive way.  Fridays are terrible for new tv and all that, but really, in this age, many of Community's hardcore fans would have watched it online or dvrd it.  Now the possible last season of the quirky, prickly, and absolutely endearing ensemble comedy is in limbo.  Community fans, rally up or wait it out.  Just be on the lookout for when NBC finally airs it.  The show is in your hands, so get out there and watch tv, convert your friends, and demand for six seasons and a movie.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Once Upon A Time: Through the Looking Glass


Charming gives a rousing speech to the citizens of Storybrooke
       
             The second episode of Once Upon a Time's second season didn't shy away from jumbling the timeline and continuing its tradition of pulling out a huge shocker in the end.  If you haven't seen it, stop reading now.  If you have, is your mind beginning to implode as you deal with multiple worlds, storylines, timelines, and characters?  To quote one of my other favorite shows, Doctor Who "people assume that time is a strict progression of cause to effect, but actually, from a non-linear non-subjective viewpoint, it's more like a big bowl of wibbly wobbly, timey wimey ...stuff."  OUAT has always made me question its timeline, and the way that time moves in multiple worlds.  Some characters age, some don't.  Storylines are told out of order, backwards, and sideways.   Like Lost before it, OUAT forces me to give up on understanding everything to save my brain from a headache.  It's worth it when a show is brilliant, which OUAT is.

         This timey wimey episode, Storybrooke recovers from the return of their memories, the reappearance of magic and the attack of the wraiths.  Everyone is desperately displaced, searching for answers and lost loved ones while clamoring for the leadership of Prince Charming.  Charming is too occupied with trying to track down information to help him get to Emma and Snow, who in the last episode were sucked into Fairy World (or the forbidden forest?  I'm not 100 percent sure).  David/Prince Charming tracks down Hatter, who tells him how very stuck everyone is.  Rumpelstiltskin, who brought magic back in the last episode, is for some reason trying to leave, only to discover that no one can leave Storybrooke's borders without losing their memories.  (Theories of why Rumplestiltskin wanted to leave-To find his son?  To hide Belle?  Perhaps for ultimate world domination as the Dark One?  I really want to know.  Everything he does is calculated.)
             
           The backstory between Regina and Rumpel is not particularly interesting   We learn that Rumpel taught Regina's evil mother how to use magic.  Regina, who is still wounded over the loss of her actual love, is tempted into pushing her mother through a looking glass into another world.  She becomes seduced by the power of magic, all the while fearing how much she is becoming like her mother.  Back in Storybrooke, Regina gains her powers back and steals Henry away.  Initially she tries to keep him with her, but gives him up to Prince Charming, telling him she will not force him stay with her.  Regina is another one of those fascinating characters, made more interesting by her seemingly genuine love for Henry.  She is evil evil evil, but there is some shard of good deep in her.  She seems to almost be weak....which cues in....Regina's mother, who turns up in a prison with Snow and Emma in broken Fairy World.  New Villain indeed.

           Not a lot of time was spent on Snow and Emma's story, though that is bound to change in the coming episodes.  I did appreciate the speech Prince Charming/David gave about recognizing his strengths and weaknesses in both his new world character and his story world Prince.  Speaking of Fairy World,  it looks as though Lancelot is set to feature in the next story.  Be ready for more twists, turns, and wibbly wobbly time.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Lincoln: Clothed in Immense Power



          Last night, during the Presidential debate, a new trailer for Steven Spielberg's biopic Lincoln fittingly debuted.  The film, which comes out in November, follows the fascinating, enigmatic,  inescapable and complex President through his life and accomplishments.  While I cannot pretend to be a Lincoln expert, I remember being shocked that Lincoln wrestled with severe depression and guilt throughout his life.  For an American legend now carved in stone, he was after all, a man.
         Spielberg's Lincoln, which stars the scary good Daniel Day-Lewis, seems to acknowledge the strife and struggle Lincoln experiences in his personal life with his wife Mary (Sally Field) and son Robert (Joseph Gordon Levitt), his public life as he battled for change facing the guilt of lives lost in The Civil War, and his own fight with inner turmoil and conviction.  Now days, with the election fastly approaching and everyone fearing a doomsday future, it is refreshing to remember leaders of the past, who helped carry the burden while the country went through unimaginable difficulties that surely must have felt like the end of a nation. Near the end of the trailer, Lincoln proclaims himself as,  "The President of the United States of America, clothed in immense power".  Power and men make for interesting narratives, especially in the hands of a great director like Spielberg.
Watch the newest trailer here.  To see the more theatrical trailer, go here.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Ok Ok Liam Neeson, I'll See Taken 2



              I wasn't expecting Liam Neeson's film Taken to be as good as it was.  I love being pleasantly surprised, and the film, which showcased Neeson's fighting and stunt work in a well paced, downright scary thrill ride of a movie, was a runaway hit.  Still, I was surprised when a second Taken was announced.  I just hope it is a good surprise.  I wrote about Taken 2 once before, but after the relentless marketing campaign (A+ for the pretty piano music in the teaser trailers) and an accidental viewing of Liam Neeson's Inside the Actor's Studio (Could you be anymore pompous James Lipton or Green Tea or whatever your name is?), I relent to the hype.  I want to see Neeson take on the villains once more, though I'm a little weary of high expectations being crushed or the cheese factor being a little too high. Sequels are tricky business when the first movie is such an unexpected success.  I suppose then, that over the next few days I'll keep an eye on reviews of the film before rushing to the theaters or relegating Taken 2 to the dollar theater. For now, I'm a little scared to not see Liam Neeson's film.  I sort of feel like he's an action man's Bettie White meets Chuck Norris, in the best possible way.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Once Upon a Time is Back!!!



          So I did it.  I marathoned through the first season of Once Upon a Time on netflix and was ready for season 2 when it aired last night.  The season two premiere brought us a reunion of Mr. Gold (Rumplestiltskin) and Belle, the return of some strange magic, wraiths like dementors, and a truly exciting reveal.  Once Upon a Time has finally fixed its one flaw in it's initial season.  It's made the present world as riveting if not even more interesting than the fairytale world..  With character remembering their fairytale identities and facing dark magic forces, Storybrooke has new life.
     
            When the story cut to the fairytale world, which we find out still exists, in a broken form, I found myself wishing we were back with the characters we knew.  Instead, the adventure followed Prince Phillip and a mysterious companion who were able to rescue Sleeping Beauty.  To save Aurora, Philip is marked by a wraith, and his soul is taken from him, just as he mysteriously tells either Aurora or his companion (MULAN!!!) that he loves her.  I was interested, though a little too sad for Mulan and too annoyed with Aurora to really enjoy it.  The end of the episode may change my feelings, as  Snow White and Emma were transported back to the broken fairytale world.  Their presence there is certain to cause a lot of drama.

         As for life in Storybrooke, I do love that everything wasn't happily ever after when Emma was reunited with her family Charming and Snow.  Life is complicated, and I appreciated that the show didn't go for the cheesy happy ending.  Happy endings are yet to fully come in Once Upon a Time.  I can't wait to see where the season will take us, as magic comes, and good fights for the true happy ending.  Catch the next episode in this truly magical show Sunday at 8:00 on abc. I personally can't wait for Captain Hook, and to find out what happened to August.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Mark Williams: Best Fictional Dad Ever


Mark Willaims: Best Fictional Dad Ever

           I would just like to take a moment to point out how awesome Mark Williams is, or at least, how awesome the characters that he plays are.  Mr. Mark Williams recently appeared on Doctor Who, playing Rory Williams' (aka The Last Centurian, also known as the most awesome person ever) father.  Harry Potter fans, however, know him as the patriarch of everyone's favorite ginger family, the Weasleys.  Playing Mr. Arthur Weasley, he was in fact the father of my number two favorite ginger, second only to my actual mother.  How can anyone not love the father of Ron Weasley?  Because Mark Williams plays the dad of two of my favorite characters, he deserves his own Best Fictional Dad Ever mug, mouse pad, and commorative key chain.  After all, he has time traveled in a TARDIS and used a magic wand.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Doctor Who and the Weepy Weeping Angels


The Ponds

             I wasn't prepared.  I thought I was, but I was so horrendously wrong.  Tonight's Doctor Who Episode, entitled The Angels Take Manhattan sent me into a full out ugly cry.  My fellow Whovian little brother and I hugged, as all Who-lovers should, mourning the bittersweet end to the story of Rory Williams and Amelia Pond.  It is the nature of Doctor Who to reinvent and regenerate.  It's what has made the show last so long.  However, it doesn't make it any easier.  On a one to David Tennant's departure, this was absolutely  a ten.  (If you get that joke, you have excellent taste in British T.V. We should be friends.)

          The episode started out in the shady 1920's, where weeping angels, ancient creatures who send people back in time and feed off of life energy have taken over Manhattan, pose as statues of babies, mothers, and even the Statue of Liberty. If you look away, if you blink, you will be sent back in time. Everyone's favorite time travel The Doctor must try to rescue all of New York and prevent his companions Rory and Amy from dying in the process.  A mysterious book written by the always fabulous River Song guides their journey through flickering rooms and dark tunnels with terrifying moving statues.  The Doctor however, refuses to look at the last page, the spoiler, the end.  He doesn't do well with endings, and so he rips it out.  Stories, at least the best ones however, need an end.

         When a horrible truth is discovered-that Rory will be taken by the angels, dying alone and away from Amy-Amy like always refuses to let that stand.  She and Rory create a time paradox, sacrificing and saving all of New York in the process.  Just when it seems as though everyone will be fine, and no true end will come, an angel takes Rory back in time. His name appears in stone, on a tombstone in the present day.   Amelia Pond, the brave and fierce woman that she is, must say goodbye to The Doctor and River to join Rory, and live out their days together in a time altered world, a world the Doctor can never visit.  The Doctor, her raggedy man who gave her promises of adventure when she was a child and made good on them when Amy grew up, is forced to say goodbye.  Amelia Pond blinks and is gone, her name appearing on a present-day tombstone.

         Amy leaves one last goodbye to her Doctor in the last page of the mysterious book written by River Melody Song.  The man who hates goodbyes and endings, the man who ripped out the last page of the book, must find the page and find a way to say goodbye, just as he always has.  He loves like a human, but he is not one.  He lives on, loved and remembered by the Ponds, just as we will love and remember them.

          Oh, what a beautiful, sad, tragic, happy ending.  I'm beyond thrilled Amy and Rory spent their lives together, and didn't have a truly devastating end like Donna Noble (who forgot everything about her adventures), but I'm having trouble like The Doctor has trouble saying goodbye to the Ponds.  Oh, weeping angels.  Why are you so terrifying and awesome?  All you do is make everyone incredibly weepy?  I'm left sad over The Doctor, River, Rory's Father, all of them losing Rory and Amy.  I know the show will move on and be wonderful in a new and fantastical way, but for now, I'm going to be sad.  After all, to quote another Weeping Angel survivor, "Sad is happy for deep people."  (If you get that reference, you are my favorite person ever.)