Saturday, March 31, 2007

New Movie Review: "Blades of Glory"

Will Ferrell makes funny movies. He makes successful movies. He is part of the influential "Frat Pack". So can his new movie, "Blades of Glory", live up to his reputation?

The movie follows Ferrell's and Jon Heder's ice skaters, once rivals, now teammates, Chazz Michael Michaels and Jimmy McEnvoy. They hate each other, but in order to skate once more after being banned from the sport, the need to become pairs skaters. Ferrell's typical boorish persona plays well against Heder's innocence. Chazz is a lot more self-destructive than Ferrell's typical characters, and since his fall happens early in the movie, the Ferrell egotistical, dumber than he looks portrayal never really plays out. It is more like Chazz is an original character with Ferrell's stamp on it than a character that Ferrell created himself. CMM is still funny, but he is a little toned down from Ron Burgandy or Ricky Bobby.

Joining Heder and Ferrell are Will Arnett (Arrested Development) and Amy Poehler (Saturday Night Live) , their pairs skating competitors. The married couple play brother and sister in the movie, and they use their real life chemistry to bring an undercurrent of weirdness to the screen. Arnett and Poehler play their villains like typical comedic roles, with over-the-top scheming and evil plans that don't sound quite that serious. They also tend to wear outlandish costumes both on and off the ice. At one point, their figure skating routine is an "Ode to Hip-Hop" and it is quite the visual gag to see blonde-haired Poehler and lanky Arnett try to be "ghetto" on the ice. Jenna Fischer (The Office) plays the sister of Arnett and Poehler, who is manipulated by the duo through guilt. Fischer's character is essential Pam Beesley on ice, a woman who is made to be plain and not really strong enough to break out of the rut that Fate handed her. In certain parts of the movie, Fischer actually uses some body language that I have seen her use on The Office, which is an interesting choice, if it was a conscious one.

Also joining the cast is Craig T. Nelson, as the singularly named Coach. Of course, Nelson played Coach on TV, in Coach. That makes for a long running joke that is neither really funny or really serious. There are little cameos sprinkled throughout the movie, from real life figure skaters to other popular comedians. Unlike other movies with Ferrell, these cameos aren't funnny because it is a cameo, merely, they are funny because they actually serve the joke.

While BOG isn't a laugh-a-minute like Ferrell's previous movies, it was less random and more coherent. Ferrell isn't the main attraction due to the great supporting cast. The movie is fun and zippy and has the right amount of silliness to make it an enjoyable, if not completely ridiculous, film.

3 1/2 Nancy Kerrigan references out of 5.

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Thursday, March 29, 2007

Lost: "Expose" Review

Nina and Pablo, I mean Nikki and Paolo get their moment in the sun in the Lost episode "Expose". The duo was much derided due to the blunt way in which they were introduced onto the show this year. They popped out of no where and seemingly added nothing to the show. Well, after tonight's episode, you might say they added nothing, but the way they were subtracted was immense.

We learned, through their combined flashbacks, about their pre-Island life and how they spent their time on the Island. Nikke and Paolo killed a man to steal his diamonds. On the Island, they searched for those diamonds, eventually leading them to the small plane of Eko's brother and the Pearl hatch before anyone else stumbled upon them. It was like a greatest hits volume of Lost. Nikki and Paolo were there for Jack's big speech in the fourth episode of the series. They became friends with the late, blown-up Dr. Arzt. They even encountered Boone and Shannon, in a return to the series from Maggie Grace and Ian Somerhold. Their return was welcomed and unexpected.

As the episode unfolds, in present time, Nikki and Paolo are found in the jungle, apparently dead with no marks on them. As the flashbacks unravel, we see their search for the diamonds on the Island tears them apart. Paolo eventualyl finds the diamonds and hides them in the Pearl hatch. Nikki finds out that Paolo has the diamonds and attacks him with a spider that Dr. Arzt left behind. The spider bites Paolo, paralyzing him...

...Then the sound of the monster is heard and more spiders arrive to bite and paralyze Nikki. so both people are paralyzed, unable to move or speak and that is how the survivors find them. Since they appear dead, the survivors bury Nikki and Paolo. Let me repeat that, they bury those two alive! It was a dark twist for the episode.

There were ither highlights for the episode. There were a lot of meta-references, such as when Nikki, as an actress, says that all guest stars die and when Nikki tells Paolo before they board the plane that she doesn't want them to become like Shannon and Boone who had just made a rude entrance. Also, Charlie confessed to Sun that he and Sawyer were the one who kidnapped her. Sun seemed to let Charlie off the hook, but she ends up slapping Sawyer.

The episode might not have advanced any significant plot points, but it was a great standalone episode.

4 Toliet Flushes out of 5.

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Monday, March 26, 2007

The Simpsons: "Homerazzi" Review

From the opening couch gag of the evolution of Homer to the closing bit about Marge and her "Mrs. Mom" movie idea, "Homerazzi" was firing on all funny cylinders. The Simpsons definitely picked up the slack from their last (unfunny) episode.

Through a series of events that could only unfold on this show, Homer becomes a paparazzi and stalks/snaps pictures of Springfield's local celebs. Homer reports to the editor of the local tabloid, whose palyed by J.K Simmons (Spider-Man). This is the second appearance of Simmons this season, each time playing a riff on his portrayal of J. Jonah Jameson. Homer also meets up with Betty White, who actually cares for Homer although he is a shutterbug. Jon Lovitz makes his ninth appearance on The Simpsons as a rival cameraman hired to make Homer look bad (which is very easy).

Eventually, Homer and celebrities make nice and things work out in the end. The funny part of the episode were the celebrities. You had Paris Texan, the parody of Paris Hilton. You had Kent Brockman and Mayor Quimby dressed up in interesting costumes. And Homer's main foe was Rainer Wolfcastle, the Schwarzenegger homage. At one point, Homer crashes his wedding to Maria Shriver Kennedy Quimby, completing the parody. It was interesting to see The Simpsons biting humor take on the rich and the famous. It was both a loving ode and a cutting satire.

This episode really stood out and I felt it was one the best ones in recent years.

4 1/2 Hidden Cameras out of 5.

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Sunday, March 25, 2007

Book Review: "Cell"

Cell, written by horror master Stephen King, tells the story about the end of the word via cell phones. A message, unknown in intent and origin, is broadcast one day turning listeners into telepathic zombies. They aren't dead, but they aren't quite human anymore. One man, a father, embarks on a journey from Boston to Maine to see his son and wife. Along the way, he meets up with other people, runs afoul of "phoners" and seeks a happy ending.

King has done the Apocalypse saga before, in The Stand. Unfortunately for Cell, The Stand does it better. King's description of the chaos caused by "The Pulse" pales in comparison to his work in The Stand. It seems like King couldn't decide between describing the anarchy or moving the plot forward and the first half of the book suffers for it. Also, the main character, Clay, worries about his wife and son in every other chapter in the first half of the book. The repetitive nature grates as the reader gets the point. Also, the dynamic King assigns to the relationships Clay has with his wife (they recently separated) and his dear son makes the ending apparent after reading the first description.

However, the book does pick up in the second half, with a Randall Flag character emerging and more of the "phoners" background is explored. The plot feels like it is actually heading somewhere, and some of the cliches that King uses feel excusable. Clay and his band of survivors committ a "sin" and become outcasts in a rather predictable circumstance, but after that, the story heads into high gear. The story never becomes a bone-chiller, a story you are afraid to read at night, but it does fall in line with recent King works that are more about the characters than the horror.

One problem I had with Cell and I had the same problem with Brad Meltzer's The Book of Fate is the use of short chapters. King divides his novel into main sections with "sub" chapters. However, these sub chapters are only a few pages long and can start in the middle of the page. It causes a little chopiness when trying to read and doesn't allow for a good jumping off place if you want to stop reading for a while.

This isn't a masterpiece and as said, Cell is a cheaper version of The Stand. However, it was far from horrible and is a good light read.

2 1/2 Ringtones out of 5.

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Thursday, March 22, 2007

Lost: "The Man from Tallahassee" Review


Lost knows how to end its episodes. Even though you might guess what is going to happen a few minutes before the end, the reveal is always mindblowing. That aspect of Lost was fully on display in "The Man from Tallahasssee". With Locke's father issues, when Ben started to talk about how the Island can give you your deepest wish, the fact that Anthony Cooper, Locke's dad, was in The Others' care was not too surprising. But the set up and execution was excellent. Locke's final cry of "Dad?" harkens back to the other J.J. Abrams show, Alias, first season finale, when Syndeny cried out "Mom?".

Let's backtrack a bit though. In the episode, The Island Swat Team tries to rescue Jack. Jack, however, wants no rescue and tells Kate that he is leaving the Island. Kate feels betrayed, but Locke didn't come to Otherville for Jack. No, he wants revenge on Ben and The Others, who he feels is violating the Island's mysticism. Locke intends to blow up The Others' submarine and strand them on the Island. Ben wants this too, because he doesn't want Jack to leave because that would undermine Ben's leadership. Ben manipulates Locke, who doesn't seem to care, and in the end they both get what they want. Also, a partnership of sorts is forged, as Locke can communicate with the Island, which Ben wants desperately to do. Ben seems to want to be the Obi-Won to Locke's Luke (or possibly Anakin) Skywalker.

Secrets are revealed in this episode. Sayid encounters Alex and let's her know that her mother is still alive. Locke was paralyzed when his father pushes him out a window to plummet 8 stories. Dr. Alpert, who recruited Juliet in her flashback, is on the Island. Suddenly, the story and plot are building towards something...something big it seems.

Lost, like a train in the 1800s, has been picking up steam lately and is barreling straight ahead.

4 1/2 C-4 out of 5

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Saturday, March 17, 2007

My Name is...A Review of Alias: The Complete Series

Before Lost, there was Alias for J.J. Abrams. Alias follows the life of superspy Sydney Bristow, played by Jennifer Garner. The supporting cast included Victor Garber (Titanic) as her spy daddy and Kevin Weisman (Clerk II) as her tech support. The show lasted 5 seasons, though that last season was only 17 episodes long. The show's plot had Garner dressing up as various pseudonyms and included some outrageous wigs. Also, although there were many stand alone episodes, there was an overarcing storyline to each season, and yes, a reoccuring theme to the whole show.

That theme involved a 16th century prophet named Rambaldi. Ron Rifkin played Sydney's archnemesis and sometimes ally, Arvin Sloane. Sloane is obsessed with Rambaldi and his prophecies. The interplay between Rifkin and Garner and especially Rifkin and Garber are the highlights of the show. Garber and Rifkin, refine actors that they are, did not underplay their roles. They generally seemed comfortable and seem to respect their characters. Throughout the series, Garber's Jack evolves for a detached dad to a dedicated father to Garner's Sydney. Slowly, his veneer cracks and Sydney's emotional walls concerning her dad come down. Rifkin's Sloane fluctuates between genuine love for Sydney (and another character that emerges at the end of the third season) and genuine evil. Rifkin straddles the line very well, and at times, you root for Sloane, even as he double crosses everyone in his life that he cares for.

Sydney's main love interest (and for a short time, her real life boyfriend) Michael Vaughn, played by Michael Vartan also excels. So does Weisman, who makes his character, Marshall, the lovable nerd. Carl Lumbly rounds off the main cast as Syndey's long time partner, Dixon. Again, a J.J. Abrams show has strong casting taht enhances the experience. Even reoccuring parts, from David Anders' sneaky Sark to Lena Olin's Irina make each episode they are in sparkle. Even Terry O'Quinn, who would go on to become Locke in Abrams' Lost, showed up in a handful of episodes.

One of the main criticisms of the show was that after its second season, the show started to fall apart. While it is true that certain people's backstories became convoulted and continuity was sometimes confusing, the show's pace remained the same, at least on DVD. Watching a string of episodes back-to-back heightened plotlines and made it easier to follow. Much like when I first started watching Lost on DVD, there were many times where I felt the need to finish a disc of four episodes after watching just one. However, seasons two, three, and four each had a big secret, that while suspenseful, also lead to an annoyed feeling of "When are they going to find out?" Although twists that only the audience knows about are par for the course in a show like Alias, after a while they become tedious. Thankfully, by the fourth season, that season's secret was downplayed and wasn't as emphasized as it was during the second and third seasons. Also, each season found a new big bad terrorist organization to go against, which is sorta eye-rolling at times.

The cinematography on the show was spectacular. There was definitely an action movie vibe, from the lighting to the special effects. a behind-the-scenes featurette showed that there is extensive use of blue screens and other devices. Garner definitely pulls off the action star role, though it didn't translate as well on the big screen in Elektra. Everybody on the cast, even Weisman's nerd character, gets a chance to kick butt in at least one episode. In general, the action seems realistic, with very little high-wire kung fu.

I was thoroughly entertained by the series. I got the opportunity to watch the last three seasons through my purchase of the complete set, which came in a Rambaldi box (which was involved in a few episodes). The extras were good, but I have yet to listen to any commentary, so I am hoping that too will be entertaining. I recommend picking up the first season and based on those viewing, deciding if you want to continue. If the first season captures you, you will not be disappointed with the rest of the show.

4 J.J.s out of 5.

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Funny Lost Music Video

There was a Lost music video, featuring Weird Al's Bohemian Rhapsody as the music, that circulated the net.

Well, I just found another Weird Al/Lost mash up, and it is pretty funny.


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Thursday, March 15, 2007

Lost: "Par Avion" Review


That's what this episode of Lost's title means. And it makes sense, both literally, as Claire successfully tried to attach a message to a migratory bird, and figuratively, as the episode was fast paced and brought the plot from point A to point B.

The Claire-centric episode told the story of a teenage Claire, involved in a car accident with her mother, feeling alone and guilty for her actions in her Flashbacks. On the Island, Claire is not so alone anymore, but with Charlie acting suspicious around Desmond, she fears abandonment. She comes up with an idea to get everyone rescued, but Charlie's reluctance pains her. Eventually, she finds out from Desmond that the Scot sees Charlie's death and it seems like each time, Claire is inadvertantly involved.

This mirrors Claire's flashback, as the she feels directly responsible for the car accident that causes her mother to fall into a coma. A brunette Claire is a rebellious teen, and with her mom in a come, she can never take back the horrible things she said. Things don't look much better when an American doctor, one Christian Shephard shows up. Jack's father reveals that he is also Claire's father, but Claire is taken aback when Dr. Shephard suggests that she let her mother die. She is so upset she doesn't even want to know his name. I screamed at the screen at this point, yelling "Bastards!" as Claire choses not to know her father's name and her connection to Jack.

The B-plot picked up from last week's hatch encounter, with The Island Strike Force, Sayid, Locke, Kate, and Rousseau, bring a prisoned Mikhail on their quest to find Othersville. Mikhail laughs at the assumption that The Others know nothing abotu the survivors, listing the full names of each of the survivors and almost revealing that Locke was paralyzed. On their way, they run into a lethal fence that uses soundwaves to kill. Locke, angry, pushes Mikhail into the fence and kills him. Sayid also finds the C4 from the Flame station in Locke's backpack, leading to the reveal that Locke knew that the station would possibly exploded when he entered 77. His apparent anger at the Others for all their manipulations seems to be boiling over.

Tension is high in the group as they jerry-rig an apparatus to scale the fence. They finally reach the Barracks. They see Jack running. Kate goes to call for him, but Sayid stops her. They then see Jack catch a football and celebrate an imagianry touchdown with Other Tom. He seems happy. And then the Lost end title comes up. At this closing scene, I laughed for about 5 minutes. But it was a good laugh. I wasn't shocked (I read about this scene in an EW article), but it was pretty funny to see the dramatic Lost music and closing as Jack playing football.

This episode was pretty solid. Again, it was pretty light on mythos, but it was great storytelling. Lost is definitely picking up momentum.

3 1/2 Auntie Suns out of 5.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Box Office Bombings: Box Office Breakdown 3/12/07

Tonight, we dine at the movies! Yes, it's the Weekend Box Office for Monday, March 12th, 2007.

1. 300
Last Week Rank: N/A
Weekend Gross: $70 million
Total Gross: $70 million
Weeks Out: 1
Musings: Yes, that's right, 70 million. How about that for an opening? Breaks the record for largest March opening and the 3rd largest R-rated opening. That's one hell of a Frank Miller epic there.

2. Wild Hogs
Last Week Rank: 1st
Weekend Gross: $27.6 million
Total Gross: $77 million
Weeks Out: 2
Musings: 300 nearly made more than this movie did in 2 weeks, but sadly people are still going to see this stupid crap. What can I say, it's a pig indeed.

3. Bridge To Terabithia
Last Week Rank: 4th
Weekend Gross: $6.8 million
Total Gross: $66.9 million
Weeks Out: 4
Musings: Wait a minute, this one went UP in the rankings. Wow, that is saying something about the power of fantasy kids films doesn't it? To be fair, the next two were very close to beating this out, but it's impressive nonetheless.

4. Ghost Rider
Last Week Rank: 3rd
Weekend Gross: $6.7 million
Total Gross: $104 million
Weeks Out: 4
Musings: Congrats to Marvel for another $100 million movie. Not so congrats to Nicholas Cage, because this may give him the bad idea that he's a good actor and Wicker Man says otherwise.

5. Zodiac
Last Week Rank: 2nd
Weekend Gross: $6.6 million
Total Gross: $23.6 million
Weeks Out: 2
Musings: Doesn't look all that good for this one now, it was outlasted by films out 2 weeks longer than it. Maybe Jake doesn't have quite the star power he thinks he does.

6. Norbit
Last Week Rank: 6th
Weekend Gross: $4.3 million
Total Gross: $88.3 million
Weeks Out: 5
Musings: Oh boy, it stagnated at 6, not cool. Stop seeing this movie! Stop giving Eddie money! Let it fall, please.

7. The Number 23
Last Week Rank: 5th
Weekend Gross: $4.1 million
Total Gross: $30.2 million
Weeks Out: 3
Musings: Aha, there's the number 23 in 30.2, close enough. Jim, maybe you want to start making comedies again? Not saying you should, but this isn't really the way to go.

8. Music And Lyrics
Last Week Rank: 7th
Weekend Gross: $3.7 million
Total Gross: $43.8 million
Weeks Out: 4
Musings: It's got no competition in romantic comedies so no surprise. May take an unfortunate amount of time to fall off the rankings.

9. Breach
Last Week Rank: 10th
Weekend Gross: $2.5 million
Total Gross: $29 million
Weeks Out: 4
Musings: Well hold the phone, what I thought would drop off also went up and may not fall out immediately, hard to say. Either way, that's impressive for a film almost no one cares about.

10. Amazing Grace
Last Week Rank: 11th
Weekend Gross: $2.5 million
Total Gross: $11.4 millionWeeks Out: 3
Musings: This is an even bigger surprise, completely falling off the rankings and actually making a comeback to the top ten. Not that it'll even be on the list next week, but kudos indeed.


Saturday, March 10, 2007

Book Review: "Good Omens"

Good Omens, written by Neil Gaiman (American Gods) and Terry Pratchett (Discworld) is a book in the syle of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy in that it takes a decidedly British, fractured look at the Apocalypse. Here is a story about the boy Anti-Christ, a demon with sunglasses, a proper sounding angel, and the event they have to stop. Even the characters' names are funny and full of awkward, subtle humor.

This book was written in the late 80s, before Gaiman's American Gods and his work on the Sandman series, but you can see his love of mythology play. The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse make an extended appearance, and appear in forms that are unique and interesting. Pollution has replaced Pestilence, and the reasoning behind that switch is made clear. The Anti-Christ, Adam Young, has his own gang to hag out with and is keenly unaware of his destiny. Though the plot revolves around Adam, for the most part, the novel focuses on other key characters. In fact, before the novel even begins, the reader is given a primer on all those who show up. It's nice to reference this list as the ball gets rolling.

A B-plot revolves around a book of predictions made 300 years ago that are totally correct, if not a little hard to decipher. Another B-plot involves a witchfinder and his reluctant protege. All these plots do come together in the end to a delightful conclusion. Since the book is meant to be funny, the jumping around is not detrimental to the flow and works to great effect.

Of course, religion plays a big role in the story, but the book isn't religious. You just have to accept that there is a Heaven and Hell and that's it. The book mirrors the creation, in that the action takes place over six days. There is some religious allegories going on, but those are mainly either from the Book of Revealations (which talks about the End of the World) or Old Testament references. Nothing will offend in this book.

Of course, since the story is written by two Brits, some of the humor gets lost on this American reader. The story takes place in one area of England. There is extensive humor derived from that highway system England employs and some of the terminology is purely English. Jokes are made abotu certain English items and towns. So while the tone is humorous and one tell that a joke is being made, it is hard for an American to truly laugh at certain parts. Still, overall, the book is enjoyable.

I would recommend picking up this book if you are a fan of Gaiman or Pratchett or Armaggedon. It's not a heavy read and the paperback edition fits nicely into small spaces.

3 1/2 Prophecies out of 5.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Crazy Lost Timeline

After the Lost episode "Enter 77" where we learn that there were people on the Island, pre-Dharma, I've been trying to put together a timeline. What follows is my theory based on crazy guesses and my own mad thoughts.

This is based on Mikhail's story being somewhat true:

Sometime BC - The Island, presumably being somewhere in the Pacific, near the Phillipines, becomes inhabited. See the book Guns, Germs, and Steel about how the Pacific Rim islands became inhabited and each one having a different culture. The inhabitants are mystical in nature, and become the "Atlantis" of the Pacific. The natural phenemon on the Island, the electromagnetic field, lends credence to the seemingly mysterical view of the Island. They build the four toed statue

1600-1800s AD - The Island is discovered by a few European explorers, and they try to either convert the natives or try to wipe them out.

Late 1800s - The Black Rock, slave ship owned by Magnus Hanso, ancestor of Alvar Hanso (source: The Lost Experience) lands on the Island. The ship and its crew get integrated into the native culture, perhaps violently. Hanso dies and is bured (source: the Blast Door Map)

1970s AD - Dharma arrives on the Island, after Alvar Hanso and his Foundation recall Magnus's voyage. Although they are aware of the Natives, they set up shop anyways. A few years later, the "Incident" occurs due to a Native attack and the Swan Hatch (and Flame) have to be modified to take into account this attack.

1988 AD - Danielle and her crew crash on the Island. The Others get to her crew before Dharma people find out and take her baby. They also, perhaps unintentionally, infect Rousseau and her crew with a virus. Again, see Guns, Germs, and Steel about how virus played a large part in migration patterns. Could also be why Dharma wanted it's workers to be "Quarantined" to avoid native viruses. Eventually though, a cure is found.

1990s AD - Dharma gets fed up with constant Native presence, or the Natives get fed up with Dharma's intrusion onto their "Holy Land" and the "Purge" happens. Kelvin is stuck in the Swan Hatch, but the Natives take over all of Dharma's operations, posing as them to receive money and food and to manipulate the outside world.

Sometime After the Purge - Ben assumes leadership of Island Natives, while "Jacob" is either a real person, the Native "Chief" or the name of their god. The Natives rapidly educate themselves about the outside world and start to make incursion into our world.

2001 AD - Desmond crashes his boat. Kelvin has to quickly drag him to the hatch to avoid the Hostiles. As Kelvin is now allowed to venture more and more outside with Desmond at the button, he starts to feel that the Hostiles are gone or not bothersome anymore. That leads him to find a way to escape the Island and the button.

2004 AD - The Lostaways crash. The Natives are violent towards them because of their heritage of violent incursions. They believe they are the good guys, because they are the rightful inhabitants of the Island. People like Juliet, who they recruited, are trapped by the Others cult-like mentality.

I guess one question is why The Others, if Mikhail's story is to be believed, took over Dharma operations. They obviously have some outside influence, as they recruited Juliet and have contact with the outside world. If Dharma was trying to save the world, via what we were told in the Lost Experience, are The Others trying to end the world that caused them only pain?

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Heroes: "Parasite" Review

Another day, another dollar, another hero added to the mix. You guys better enjoy this one, cause we won't see Heroes again until April 23rd! That's just too long to wait, especially after this episode.

Diving right in, we pick up with the death of Simone, Isaac shoots at Peter a bit but Peter gets away. Isaac doesn't know what to do. Meanwhile Claire has run away with the Haitian, but really wants to go with Peter. She manages to sneak away from the Haitian at the airport however, not because she wants to be with Peter but because she refuses to go to Canada, damn canucks. We also learn that Mrs. HRG knows what's going on and has been pretending to not know, signaling Bennet when needed but he's still not really in control of things.

Nathan meanwhile is in Vegas to work with the FBI on spying on Linderman. Peter found this out back in his office when Nathan advised to talk to Mohinder and not incriminate Peter on the Simone issue. In Vegas though, Nathan meets up with Hiro who can't seem to get in to see Linderman but Nathan vouches for him. Yes ladies and gentlemen, Hiro actually gets his sword finally! Though the curator catches him, the first guard to arrive is noneother than Ando! Surprises galore. They get out of there by going ahead in time but wind up in a very dreadful future of New York. Still probably more friendly than being surrounded by Isaac's paintings.

Speaking of which, Isaac is met with the police, but luckily Simone walks in unharmed. Wait what was that? Yep she's just fine, you know except for the blood stains. Oh but wait, it's not her, but the shapeshifting Candace, aka NOT MYSTIQUE. NOT MYSTIQUE also fools HRG into thinking he's talking to his wife again, but Eric Roberts ain't no fool, no sir.

Back in Vegas, Nathan re-meets Jessika, friendly and not. She actually helps him on a mission to kill Linderman. When we finally meet him, it's none of than Chef Malcolm McDowell. Chef McDowell is preparing a pot pie that does not include a dash of murder on Nathan's part. Frankly, Nathan's stuck here moreso now that we know for sure the Chef knows all about the powered people. Oh of course, I figured McDowell would watch Heroes, makes sense. Just make sure you don't get caught in the Nexus with him, Nathan.

You want surprises? Here's one. Our local parasite, Sylar, is duped by Mohinder! Huzzah, Mo ain't a foo either and drugs Sy while tying him up and giving him a funky IV. Mo wants to use his DNA sample to help him out and then shoot Sylar. Except Sylar doesn't give a damn, as Mo let him be for too long and Sylar has managed to escape. Unfortunately for Peter, he picks the wrong time barge in, not unlike apparently Claire who barged in on her Grandmother Petrelli, where the Haitian is stationed (yeah I said it). Sylar takes hold of Peter, who realizes that Mo is trapped on the goddamn ceiling and proceeds to cut open his head. To be continued...

Hot damn, after last week's "contained" ep, we're treated to a shapeshifter, a wise Eric Roberts, Mohinder, and life-like Linderman, not to mention the loss of Peter's locks! No doubt, it's time for Gonch's Gold Medal of McDowell. Sylar may be one dangerous fellow, but nobody messes with the McDow.


Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Lost: "Enter 77" Review

We have to keep Locke away from hatches, don't we?

After a mythos-light episode last week, this episode jumps feet (or head, depending on your point of view) into mythology. We learn that The Others (or Hostiles as they once were called) are not part of Dharma in any way. Dharma tried to "purge" the Island of these Hosthers (TM Adam Entertainment), but failed. How recent was this purge? Three years ago, when Desmond first landed on the Island, Kelvin, the guy in the Swan, said the Hostiles were still out there and that Dharma was still active. However, were the Hostiles involved in the "Incident" that occured when Dharma first started? So many questions!

We also that the cable that Sayid found in Season 1 is for a sonar beacon. The sonar beacon helps guides ships and that the Dharma Initiative, and now the Hosthers, have a submarine. The Flame was a communication hatch, but after the sky turned purple the satellite dish is not working. That is why Patchy, Mikhail, and Mrs. Klugh, making a return appearance, are in the Flame, trying to fix it. Klugh's reapperance was a pleasant surprise. Her exit though was the shocking part.

The flashbacks centered on Sayid and the consequences of his tortuous past. He gets kidnapped and locked up by the husband of a former victim. He gets put through the wringer until he admits he tortured the woman and is released. The parallel on the Island is that Sayid, Locke, Rousseau and Kate have found Patchy from the Pearl feed in a new hatch: The Flame. After a bit of misconception on both sides, Sayid gains the upper hand and fishes for some info. Is the admitted truth, cold and harsh, better than the lie? Should pain and death be the ultimate price for truth?

Of course, we also get another instance of the Island using animals to communicate with the survivors. First, it was the boar for Sawyer in Season 1, then Kate's black horse in Season 2, and now a cat from Sayid's past. It is a reoccuring theme. I hope no survivors flushed a goldfish down the toliet.

Back on the beach, Sawyer starts a Ping Pong game to get his stuff back. If he loses, and you know he is going to, he can't make any nicknames for a week. Hurley soundly beats him, much to Sawyer's chagrin. I am glad they didn't spend too much time on the beach with this storyline. It was fun, but the main focus should have been and was on the new hatch.

Now Sayid and company have a map and are on the path to Othersville. There is a confrontation coming.

3 1/2 Saddled Horses out of 5.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Dreamweaver: "Terra's Eyes"

Unfortunately, our country is at war. Whether or not you think it is a just war is a topic that an entertainment blog will not discuss. What it will discuss is something that's been lacking since the end of the Cold War: a comedy about world events. I am talking about a Dr. Strangelove type of movie. Sometimes, serious times demand not so serious movies.

Since the War on Terror is a sensitive topic, I can see why a movie in the mold of a silly yet relevant satire such as Strangelove hasn't been made. But all the ingredients are there to be satired: the ease of pointing fingers, an administration that sometimes doesn't look like they know what they are doing, a president who seems out of his league. But the key is not to make it a parody of Bush and company, but government in this day and era in general.

Like I said, for the movie to work, you can't go for the easy jokes. You have to have some different levels of humor going. Also, you would have to make fun of us, the American public. Have us believing one thing one minute, then completely doing a 180 the next. Have the characters that are in power constantly taking polls of what the public thinks and having the questions and the answers be totally ridiculous. Sample dialogue: "Sir, the latest polls are in! 60% of Americans think we should invade Mars, based on it's sinister sounding name!" "Sir, our approval ratings are down to 40% and our Nielson rating is only a 8.7!" You could have the military constantly changing targets to bomb as more and more "evidence" comes in. Also, repeat the title outloud. It's a pun! And memorable!

Look to "Team America: World Police" as to what a satire about today's world can be. Sure, that movie was crude, but it was funny and a satire. Right now, it is the Strangelove of the 21st century. But I think there could be a better, more funny, more subtle, and more beloved movie in that vain.

I have a lot more plot and scenes I could discuss, but I don't want to be flagged for anything!

Monday, March 05, 2007

Box Office Bombings: Box Office Breakdown 3/5/07

I bet you're starting to feel a bit queasy. I advise you catch up with the Weekend Box Office for Monday, March 5th, 2007 and call me in the morning. Or not, it's all the same really.

1. Wild Hogs
Last Week Rank: N/A
Weekend Gross: $38 million
Total Gross: $38 million
Weeks Out: 1
Musings: I am deeply saddened for this country's moviegoing culture. Wild Hogs? Are you kidding me? Not to mention it pulled in the 2nd biggest haul of 2007. This movie is a joke, 3 washed up actors and the totally out of place William H. Macy do not a good film make. John Travolta, Tim Allen, and Martin Lawrence? Did they put them all together so we'd be able to avoid them all at once? Felicity Huffman is not impressed, Will.

2. Zodiac
Last Week Rank: N/A
Weekend Gross: $13.1 million
Total Gross: $13.1 million
Weeks Out: 1
Musings: That's a little better. Jake Gyllenhaal (don't care if I spelled that right) is a cartoonist tracking the real life Zodiac killer in San Francisco, back when San Fran wasn't Anchorman territory. What makes the movie unfortunate is not its lack of thrills but apparently its overwhelming length and the fact that we know this guy was never caught. A lack of resolution doesn't always sit well with audiences...especially those who've been there for 2 and a half hours.

3. Ghost Rider
Last Week Rank: 1st
Weekend Gross: $11.5 million
Total Gross: $94.8 million
Weeks Out: 3
Musings: Another Marvel movie prepares to make $100 million. They'll be happy but the diehard fans aren't so much. Apparently Johnny's deal with the devil isn't played out exactly as it is in the comics and any change in the continuity of a second rate character is sure to spawn hate across tens of message boards on the interweb.

4. Bridge To Terabithia
Last Week Rank: 3rd
Weekend Gross: $8.6 million
Total Gross: $57.9 million
Weeks Out: 3
Musings: Following closely in Ghost Rider's coattails, it's still the premeire kids movie out there, not to mention the only fantasy movie. Well, if you don't count the fantasy that John Travolta still has star power.

5. The Number 23
Last Week Rank: 2nd
Weekend Gross: $7 million
Total Gross: $24.7 million
Weeks Out: 2
Musings: Awww, I would have changed that to $23 million myself but I didn't want to lie. Hey, at least they made it past that mark. Let this be a lesson to Jim Carrey though, never work with Joel Schumacher. The fact that he partially help build up your career as the Riddler is not enough, or did you not see the rest of his work?

6. Norbit
Last Week Rank: 5th
Weekend Gross: $6.4 million
Total Gross: $83 million
Weeks Out: 4
Musings: Bah, not falling fast enough. This total turd should drop off before I have to see it pass the dreaded $100 million mark. Again nothing more than a round number, but everytime this one makes a dollar it hurts my head just a little bit.

7. Music And Lyrics
Last Week Rank: 6th
Weekend Gross: $4.9 million
Total Gross: $38.7 million
Weeks Out: 3
Musings: Hugh Grant clings to life and oddly enough not Julia Roberts. Oh god, why did I even bring her name up? We haven't had to forgo one of her films in sometime and I've just incurred her wrath of moviemaking. Well at least we can get rid of Drew Barrymore by making a fake set and telling her it's the new Charlie's Angels movie; that should get rid of her for a few months.

8. Black Snake Moan
Last Week Rank: N/A
Weekend Gross: $4 million
Total Gross: $4 million
Weeks Out: 1
Musings: Wait, what? A movie with snake in the title. Starring Samuel L. Jackson. Who has Christina Ricci chained up. And no one bothered to see this? That's it, I have had it with these [expletive] stupid moviegoers in these [expletive] theaters.

9. Reno 911!: Miami
Last Week Rank: 4th
Weekend Gross: $3.8 million
Total Gross: $16.4 million
Weeks Out: 2
Musings: Laughter may not be the strong suit, as the film is destined to be a two week wonder and disappear for good. Perhaps the group needs to stick to television or not enough people know who or what these guys are. I'm thinking too many people are afraid that it's Police Academy: Assignment Miami all over again. Yeesh.

10. Breach
Last Week Rank: 7th
Weekend Gross: $3.5 million
Total Gross: $25.4 million
Weeks Out: 3
Musings: Farewell Breach, we hardly knew ye. No really, I don't think most people knew or cared about this one. I mean, why see this when you can watch overblown sad sack actors ride motorcycles or Eddie Murphy in a fat suit. I need to go lie down.


Sunday, March 04, 2007

The Simpsons: "Yokel Chords" Review

Meh. That's one word I'd use to describe this episode. You want two more? How about "subpar musical"? The Simpsons has always had a good instinct when it comes to incorporating songs into their episodes, but this outing, the music seemed shoehorned in and nonsensical.

Basically, Bart needs psychological help and finds in a character with the voice of a Meg Ryan. This plot had its moments, when it delved into why Bart acts out. Unfortunately, it was paired with Lisa trying to civilize Cletus, the slack-jawed yokel's children. And she feels the need to do this through song, much like how she civilized Willie before. In fact, replace Willie with children, and you pretty much get this episode.

While there was some good bits, the gothic animation of Bart's scary story, some of the Krusty gags, the episode lacked. I just wasn't that entertained. Hopefully, the Simpsons' upcoming 24-styled episode will capture me again. Until then, I remain unamused.

2 Children's Heads out of 5.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Heroes: "Company Man" Review

You know how you love all those wild characters on Heroes, like Peter, Sylar, Mohinder, Isaac, Jessika, etc? Well guess what? None of them are on this week! That's right, we stay focused in one place for the first time in the series run, that of the Bennet house, and go right into Super Mega Ultra Lost Flashback mode with Mr. HRG Bennet.

So here's the thing, Matt Parkman and Ted Sprague, who combined are Radioactive Mind, coming soon to a concert hall near you, have broken into the Bennet home. Seems like a calm thing to do, until the family shows up. Ted thinks fast and finds himself coercing Matt to hold them hostage until they get their answers. We see what we saw last week as they confront them and things don't go down as much as they had hoped.

During this time, Bennet has his flashbacks. We see him getting his front of a paper company from Eric "I am not a Vulcan" Roberts. The Whobo, Claude, is looking ok here and is Bennet's new partner. Eventually Bennet screws things up a bit and he has to call in the Teen Haitian, complete with matching reference to Jessika's tattoo. What does that mean? I'm sure we'll find out next season. Bennet is also handed over the baby Sulu himself, the father of Hiro. Hiro is even there as a kid, pushing up glasses and all with his videogames. Bennet is clearly answering to both Sulu and Roberts, which makes him less of a threat than we think, I think. In the end, we learn Claude was protecting a hero, meaning HRG has to kill him. They go to a bridge and he begins to shoot him, but the Whobo disappears and we all know where he winds up.

So where is this all going? In the current time frame, Matt is trying to get answers and realizes that Claire knows more than she lets on. Ted begins to freak out and Matt combined with HRG's thoughts sees that he needs to shoot Claire to make the situation better. Matt finds out that Claire can heal and it's all to hold off Ted. So Matt and HRG go to Primatech to get the info Ted wants, the Haitian there as well. HRG is not happy with the Haitian but that will have to wait, there's an exploding man just itching to get revenge...and not so much answers.

Roberts screws it all up when he runs in and shoots Ted, causing him to start up his nuclear timer. They rush to get everyone out, but Claire goes to neutralize Ted. Eventually the house is seriously burning down and has a little explosion, but the sucker doesn't really go nuclear so we can assume it was nothing big. What is big, is Claire coming out looking like all hell, pure walking charred remains, an image that will last with you. She slowly heals it up and it begs the question, what exactly does this cheerleader need being saved from again?

As Ted is kept locked up (yeah that worked so well last time with Sylar) and Matt may become HRG's next partner, Roberts wants Claire brought in. In an act of beautiful kindness and love, HRG wants the Haitian to shoot him on the bridge, just enough that it will look like they got away and he lives. He then gets mindwiped by the Haitian as Claire cries on. Clearly the Haitian and Claire will be on there ways out of Odessa and to something better, we hope. But HRG, he won't remember a damn thing, a shame.

A rather powerful episode in the end, that even though we didn't get multiple storylines, was more tense and taut than most so far. It really had to be seen to know how well executed it was. I'll gladly give this one Gonch's Gold Medal of Paper Mindwiping. Godspeed, Claire.


Thursday, March 01, 2007

New Movie Review: "The Departed"

Newly minted Best Picture winner The Departed made its way into my hands and I eagerly viewed it. Based on the Chinese film Infernal Affairs this ensemble piece is directed by Martin Scorsese (who finally won Best Director) and stars Leo DiCaprio and Matt Damon. It's a typical cops vs robbers film, just with the Scorsese twist.

What's the Scorsese twist? Gritty realism. Nothing in this movie was too outlandish, as far as gangster movies go. No big chase scenes, no exploding buildings. It is more about the moles in the mob and in the police force. You might actually think this sorts of stuff go on in the real world, but maybe not so much with this amount of beautiful people. Mark Wahlberg, who was nominated for Best Supporting Actor, is probably the weakest link in the movie, as he plays a foul-mouthed detective. Other than that, all the roles are strong, if not a bit subdued. Even Jack Nicholson doesn't chew up as much as the scenery as he usually does.

Basically, this movie was an Oscar movie parading as an action movie. I maintain that Scorcese as decline a bit over the years, and while this movie indicates an upswing, it still doesn't rival what Taxi Driver or Raging Bull were liek in their day. Those were the movies that deserved to win. However, I can live with The Departed winning awards and getting praise because it is not the typical shoot 'em up movie. It is more thoughtful than it has right to be and that's good. Everybody said there is a big twist at the end, but I didn't view the ending as twist, more like a typical Scorsese ending. I enjoyed the film. I would recommend picking up this movie if you want to say you saw an Oscar movie this year.

3 1/2 Boston Accents out of 5.

Lost: "Tricia Tanaka is Dead" Review

Light and fluffy. Those are the words I would use to describe the Hurley-centric episode "Tricia Tanaka is Dead". Although "light and fluffy" would usually have a negative connotation, after 9 episodes of The Others breaking and rebreaking Jack, Kate, and Sawyer and the death of Eko, lught and fluffy was what was needed. Lost can be deep and serious on one epside and light-hearted in another and it remains entertaining.

"TTID" focused on Hurley, as he has seemed to loss hope. His girlfriend on the Island, Libby, was ckilled by Michael is Season 2. To the best of his knowledge, The Others still have Jack, Kate, and Sawyer. Charlie is moping around after Desmond's revelation that he will die. Hurley seeks out some ray of sunshine. To that end, a sign comes from Vincent, the god: Vincent has found an old Dharma VW bus. Hurley believes this is the thing that can cheer up the survivors by fixing it up.

Fixing a car has always been a source of hope for Hurley, as his flashback shows. His father left him and the old car they were fixing when he was young. After Hurley wins the lotto and is "cursed" by the Numbers, Hurley's father, played by Cheech Marin, comes back. Hurley further mires himself in his curse (he recently purchased his old place of work, Mr. Cluck's, only to see it get hit by a meteor and the Tricia of the title get killed inside). He also gets his father to admit that he came back for Hurley's money. However, Mr. Reyes says that he now wants to stay for his son and doesn't care about the money anymore. He even urges Hurley to give up the money. However, at this point, Hurley believes he needs to go to Australia to get rid of the curse and leaves his poor father behind.

Back on the Island, Hurley tries to rally the people, but only Jin comes to help at first. Of course, the language barrier gets played, but Jorge Garcia and Daniel Dae Kim have great chemistry together and don't let the cliches get to them. Hurley has a plethora of good lines in this episode, including his definition of "crafty" (It means you are good with crafts). Eventually, Kate and Sawyer reach the beach for a reunion. Sawyer then goes off to find Hurley because he helped steal some of Sawyer's supplies in the Desmond episode. Kate, on the other hand, goes to find some help to get Jack and seeks out Rosseau, the French woman. When Sawyer meets up with Hurley and Jin, his interactions are priceless. He finds some skunked Dharma beer and is satisfied. Eventually Hurley gets Charlie to stop moping and join him in testing the car.

The car eventually starts after being pushed down a steep hill and some drama with a pile of rocks, and Jin, Sawyer, Hurley and Charlie all have a good time driving around a meadow. Hope is found again! And Kate finds Rosseau and tells her that the Other Alex is probably Rosseau's daughter and she should join Kate, Locke, and Sayid to go after the Others.

This episode wasn't very much in way of mythos, but it was a charming, little, and ultimately inconsequental episode. I am more pleased with this epsidoe than I was with last week's.

4 Roger Work Mans out of 5.