Monday, October 6, 2008

Battle Royale

Not in the mood for movies, and in fact, Saturday was kind of a bummer for me until I got my Netflix discs. At the recommendation of a coworker, I watched “Battle Royale” and I was significantly impressed by this modern day version of “Lord of the Flies.” Now, we can’t see every movie that comes out or we will never do anything else with our lives … and it’s true that a lot of great things fly under the radar or we just ignore it (the summer of the great Star Wars floppogy I missed “Batman Begins” because I was just too annoyed to go back to a movie theater for six months.)

Battle Royale is the story of Japan, after an economic collapse, loses control of the youth of the country. In order to regain it, classes are taken to an island, fixed with exploding collars around their necks, and told that in 3 days only one will survive … or they will all die. Sure, there is a lot of gratuitous violence, but not the “Saw” movie kind. In fact, I couldn’t think of a scene in the film that seemed over the top.

From the beginning to the end of the film we seem to know what is going to happen, and yet the ending is confusing (if not made more so by the added “dreams” of specific characters as a coda.) But, what I can say is that I wasn’t bored.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Dark Knight - WHY SO SERIOUS?

Really, there is no way to review this movie as “best comic book movie ever” because it really stepped right out of the comic book realm. I’ve seen this many times now and … well, let’s just say “Batman Begins” left me speechless, “the Dark Knight” leaves me feeling deeply humiliated for all other writers and directors who aren’t named Nolan. Really, come on … this is what Batman has always been about. No super powers, only psychosis which, sadly, breeds psychosis.

The Joker (played far too well for Heath Ledgers ultimate health) is a manifestation of the Dark Knight’s own philosophy. The Joker appears in Batman’s wake and, as he himself says, he is an agent of chaos. He doesn’t care about crime or a plan; he just wants to do insane things. He is honest in that respect and, in a way, at least to the criminal class of Gotham city; he’s just as bad as the Batman.

This movie is still so deeply disturbing that I find it rather hard to describe my feelings, apart from the mere fact that I haven’t walked out of a movie theater feeling like I’d really seen something truly amazing in YEARS. This is not just the best super hero movie ever … it might be one of the best movies ever made.

This is not a review; this is merely a statement of fact.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Noise, Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk

Return of the media monster blog

OK, I’m no critic. Those who can’t create, criticize. But, I do create, but I do have opinions. I’m going to once again attempt to keep up with pop culture in my own obscurest way.

Noise - Tim Robbins stars as a guy living in New York city fighting noise pollution (car alarms particularly annoy him) and he becomes a vigilante called the Rectifier. What I really liked about this quirky movie was the resolution. It isn’t exactly fun all the way through -- his life turns to garbage, Robbins is stoic if not almost dead through the entire thing, and there is a lot of questionably strange activity going on with the younger female stars -- but the ending is worth the watching.

Iron Man - Yes, this is months old but it really was one of the great summer movies. Marvel comics is now making their own films and this one, which really shouldn’t have been very good at all, became my (OK, second) MUST SEE movie the minute I heard Robert Downy Jr. would be playing Tony Stark. As everyone in the critic world has said, Downy Jr. is pretty much Tony Stark in real life … at least the party playboy part. Instantly, you don’t really need much back story. You know this guy and you see his transformation from arms manufacturer to super hero and you feel the change. Jeff Bridges, daringly shaving that incredible head of hair, is an interesting villain adding yet another layer of acting grit to this very good mixture of story structure. Admittedly, the final robot battle was the same old stuff we’ve seen in all Marvel films. Flashy, chaotic, almost impossible to follow, but it doesn’t matter. The tag ending with Sam Jackson turning up as Nick Fury to put together the Avengers team is like that little piece of ice cream on a wonderful cake.

The Incredible Hulk - Personally, I’m one of the few people that will admit to two things that are not popular opinions. 1. I actually liked Ang Lee’s Hulk and 2. I don’t think Ed Norton is that great an actor. He certainly doesn’t have much going on as Banner. Oh, and I never even liked the Hulk, anyway, so I was already in a big corner when I watched this film. Unlike Iron Man, Norton just comes off as an unsympathetic, disaffected prick as Banner and that’s sad. Bixby, in the TV series, was what held that show together. His acting and the feeling of his plight carried the show. Norton seems like some wise ass running from a bunch of cartoon characters. The Hulk’s appearance in this version is actually less affective than Lee’s Hulk, so that’s not so great, either. The only thing that I loved was the end … when Downy Jr. turns up to say “we’re putting a team together.” Again, all leading to an Avengers movie.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Life on Mars ... ABC

Just looking at this picture makes my stomach turn.

One of the worst things we do in this country is take a show that doesn't need a remake (ie, cause its like ... not American ... and stuff ... derp) ... and remake it. I know a lot of you think the American version of "The Office" is a great show (and a lot of you are wrong) ... but really, why do we need to remake shows that are already made? What is it about this culture that makes us believe that we are soooo different than the UK? The accents? And, frankly, how does anyone propose to make a series that only lasted 16 episodes over 2 years ... run for 24 episodes a year?

This really is going to be terrible. The real shame is that this has delayed a US release of the British series on DVD.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Lost – “The Shape of Things to Come”

10/10 – WTF !?!?!?

Seriously, this show is just insane now and hasn’t yet jumped the shark. After a month off, we get right back into the story without much delay. I won’t even try to catch up with that plot. “Lost” has truly proven that American television can do anything if it chooses.

Right from the opening, we are constantly provoked and prodded with both answers to old questions and even more bizarre new puzzles. We learn why Sayid is working for Ben in the future, but now Ben appears to be quite a bit more powerful than we had previously been lead to believe.

Last years “flash forward” trick is now standard in the show and one of the most bizarre “WTF” moments I’ve ever experienced was seeing Ben wake up in the desert (as if he teleported there … no footprints in the sand, etc.) The attack on the compound and the smoke monster sequences are quite amazing in everyway possible.

Frankly, though we do get a few more episodes, it will be hard not having this show to look forward to for the long period between seasons.

Doctor Who – “The Sontaran Stratagem”

4/10 – where’s his sonic lipstick?

Depressingly, the series is still looking cheap and the return of the classic Sontarans was not handled at all well. Helen Rayner, who last year turned in a weak script bloated with massive effects, seems to have turned in a decent idea only to be terribly let down by a low-budget. So far, the sets look like a warehouse and … a school … and a little room somewhere with cheap “old series” looking buttons. I’m a fan of the old series, but here’s the thing … you can’t have a wizbang plot AND a low budget.

A young genius called Luke Rattigan is working with the Sontarans by using their technology to devise a device called Atmos, which makes a car carbon-free and functions as a Sat Nav. However, 52 deaths across the world occur simultaneously when Atmos takes control of several cars. The Doctor receives a call from UNIT employee and former companion Martha Jones, who is now engaged to Tom Milligan. The Time Lord and Donna head to Earth and meet Colonel Mace, who is spearheading a raid on an Atmos factory.

Immediatley, boy genius is always a bad start. Just really … seriously … Adric … we hate the boy genius thing. Then there is UNIT, which should be a welcome reunion, but in truth UNIT now has nothing to do with the past and was really just pushed up as an idea to a.) keep Martha in the picture until she (probably) joins Torchwood in the 3rd series or b.) just some soldiers for the Sontarans to kill …. Probably both.

So far no real care has been taken with these mid-season 2-parters. The Cybermen were poorly handled and the Daleks were shoved into a King Kong homage. The Sontarans appear to be in a Kroft special or “The Sarah Jane Adventures.”

I’m reading various reviews and I seem to be in the minority. There were some fun moments, but the gravity of the situation (excuse the pun) didn't really sink in ... I hope part 2 will be better and someone is saving this cash for a big ending.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Blake's 7 is Coming Back

April 24, 2008

Blake's 7 set to wobble its way back to television screens

Adam Sherwin, Media Correspondent
Science fiction fans can celebrate the revival of a famous cult hit after plans to revive the BBC series Blake’s 7 were announced.

The space-set saga, which ran from 1978 to 1981, was praised for its dark storylines and gained an international following. After years of lobbying by fans, the success of Doctor Who and complex sci-fi series such as Battlestar Galactica has prompted a remake.

The new Blake’s 7 will fly on Sky One after the satellite broadcaster asked the rightsholders of Terry Nation’s creation to develop a fresh series.

The BBC show followed the exploits of Roj Blake as he led a band of reluctant rebels against the totalitarian Federation, which ruled the galaxy.

Launched in the wake of Star Wars’ success, Blake’s 7 challenged viewer expectations with its cynical characters, who were eventually massacred in a shoot-out.

Blake 7 Productions will now have the technology to create the epic space battles which were constrained by the BBC’s budgetary demands in the late 70s.

Producers have mapped out a six-part series reviving Blake, his self-serving lieutenant Avon, Servalan, the ruthless Supreme Commander, and the show’s other fondly-remembered characters.

Although the UK audience will be limited to Sky subscribers, the series will be sold to international broadcasters - the original was shown in 40 territories. The Blake’s 7 brand also has significant potential for programme downloads and DVD sales.

Elaine Pyke, Sky One commissioning editor, told Broadcast: “At a time when science fiction shows often discard good storytellng for overblown visual effects and following the lead of Doctor Who and Battlestar Galactica, the time is ripe for a revival of a show that represents the best traditions of the genre.”

Sky is seeking a show to replace Galactica, praised as a complex allegory about US foreign policy intervention, but which has begun its final series.

The BBC will challenge the revival with a new sci-fi show that echoes Blake’s 7. Outcasts follows the race to find an alternative home to Earth in the Universe. In return for their liberty, a group of social misfits and criminals become the pioneers of a large new settlement on a near planet.

In Blake’s 7, Blake is a political dissident who escapes deportation to a remote planet by forming a gang of reluctant rebels, who include a smuggler and a thief.

Russell T Davies’s popular reinvention of Doctor Who convinced broadcasters that sci-fi was no longer the province of geeks. Life On Mars, with its time-travel scenario, continued the trend.