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Posts tagged “Sy-Fy

Better call Saul

tvIt’s odd, I seem to be watching more television than I ever have before. At least more than I’ve watched a very long time, and this is in great part due to the fact that my wife is watching a lot of this with me. Ladies you know that saying that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach? Totally wrong. A way to a man’s heart is by watching his television shows with him.  Seriously sit down and watch an episode of Doctor Who with them or catch the football game with him on Sunday and then talk with him about it – I’m telling you it’s almost better than sex. It’s one of the things that my wife does with me that I love the absolute most.

better-call-saul-premiere-dateSo I watched the premiere of Better Call Saul this weekend, and it has some bad will TheWalkingDeadPosterimmediately because of the way AMC tried to shoehorn it in between Walking Dead and Talking Dead (especially considering how emotional WD was this week!) I understand trying to follow a strong popular series with a new series that you’re trying to promote, but to move the Talking Dead (which is basically the documentary on how each episode is made)further back, it’s too late in the night that for that nonsense and you lose momentum. Better Call Saul needed a very strong series premiere to build over come the bad will there.

This was not that strong Episode.

One of the things that made the Saul character work in Breaking Bad is that he was the comic relief.What I was really hoping for in  Better Call Saul was a single camra comedy with dashes of drama kind of taking itself seriously but still being funny. This is not what we got, and the character lacks the gravitas to really pull the levels of dram they are shooting for. Saul was always designed as a one-dimensional character in this attempt to go back and retcon him into some sort of layered deep character just doesn’t work. I will not be back for the rest of the series and quite frankly I think the entire conception was a Misstep. I realize we’re  following Breaking Bad, but Better Call Saul wasn’t the way to do it.  Better Call Saul would be better served as something lighthearted and funny.

gothamAmong other things you’re watching this weekis Gotham. There was a real misdirect here, I was looking foreward to the Scarecrow episode and to discove it was his father was a little disappoing.  I think the scarecrow could be someone older than Bruce Wayne, in fact I’d love to have seen him actually be one of Wayn’s  teachers, however, being homeschooled now kinda puts the kibosh onthat. The biggest misdirect however was  the way that Edward Nigma was suspended. I thought for sure this is the beginnings of the Riddler and it would make perfect sense for him to be disgruntled after being fired from the police force, but no, by the end of the episode the status quo was restored and he was back on the force. I’m not sure if that was a missed opportunity or not .

We were also delighted to return with Wizard Wars. This series really engaged me, and I think it’s got to do with the way it’s a competition and also with the stage and parlor aspects of it. I tried watch the show following it on SYFY a sort street magic kind of series NUP_159570_729.jpgwhich is interesting in itself,  but I’m not that into street magic I’ve always been drawn far more to parlor and stage magic, indeed that’s the kind of magic that I do.
Sci-fi did manage to raise my ire however. The series premiered the week previous and I missed it and there’s no way of me watching it on sci-fi without loggin in with some arcane credentials from my cable provider. I used to catch up with Hollywood treasure by watching online and it kind of pisses me off that site is making it so much more difficult to keep up onthier shows. Just another reason to hate the network I suppose.

I enjoyed the flash this week as well. The Flash has really been quite a discovery for me, I don’t think I wanted to like this as much as I do (I suppose a misguided loyalty to the 1990 series) but I caught up on the entire series over he Christmas break and found it to be really well done at whole lot of fun. The return of the series has been no exception. We’re back to monster of the week and in fact this a villian we’ve never seen in the comics, but The Flashthere is also another bit with the Pied Piper. The scene with his implants was horrifying and we can see he can be quite a violent character, and I think actually more interesting than anything we’ve seen in the comics.

Really I think this is where the Flash’s strength lies.

They embraced that this is a comic book, something that superhero shows in the past of really shied away from. Arrow even took a long time to get there.

You can see where they are trying to shoehorn Firestorm in to the series. We’re in full back-door pilot mode, though I can’t really see Firestorm carrying his own series. A miniseries or perhaps even setting up appearances in Justice league? This would be the smartest thing at DC could possibly do. Far smarter then steadfastly trying to separate their television and cinematic universe, but that’s a whole other tangent, we don’t really wanna get into that right now.

That’s it for this week, Gotham is on tonight and I will be seeing in front of the television with my wife seeing where we go with the scarecrow ! Can’t wait. (but since we have to, go check out todays Violent Blue!)


The Prometheus trap

Movie banner830262_fThe Prometheus Trap can be summed up in a very simple way. It wants to be Triangle (Imdb referance here) in space. We have a very standard time loop kind of story where the crew is unaware that things are changing .Over all, this film lacks the power of script that Triangle had. Triangle attempts to elevate the above subject matter, and really gives us a sense of dread, playing with the atmosphere and the timeline itself . You’re not really aware that you in some sort of weird time loop period until well into the film. Prometheus on the other hand, wears it like a badge of honor on its sleeve.

The Prometheus Trap has a great poster,now I know you cant judge a book by its cover, in the same is true of any movie, however I checked out the screen grabs insight in arresting costumes nice-looking said and some good-looking ships. That elevated it above a lot of sci-fi dreck that we run into from time to time. The production values are good, and the look is standard that stylized. The real problem here is the script in areas it almost feels like it wants to be terribly philosophical, however it doesn’t have anything to say P1020629(Though, I’ll admit I liked the bit about being programed to know your creator – there some Christian philosophy in there somewhere…) and the plot is just threadbare.

This is a problem because it doesn’t justify the 89 minute running time. One almost gets the impression that the screenwriter figured that because it  going to be repeating events over and over and over again we don’t really need that much plot and character development. This is where the film largely fails and possibly is the starkest contrast to Triangle which is all about character development. I suspect this would have worked better as a short subject rather than a feature film There’s some clever bits here, like the androids being able tThe_Prometheus_Trap_articleo perceive the time loop because thier memories are cloud based, stored outside the bubble, but it’s just not enough.

In the end I’d say don’t waste your time on this one. It’s rare that I say completely pass on something but this one just isn’t worth the time to watch. If you’re flipping channels and find on SyFy  hang out for half an hour or so you’ll get the basic idea and then move along.

Don’t forget, there’s new Violent Blue today!

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RPG films

Movie bannerI miss my gamer days. I actually do, but the problem is I was never a true gamer, but more of a casual player. I just wanted to run a game once a month or so, and it’s hard to find a group like that (even the guys I would play Heroclix with were always way more into it hat me, playing a couple times a week as opposed to me playing a couple times a month). I never did D&D (I know it’s fantasy, but I don’t dig having to deal with other deities. I have one God and he’s sufficient.) but would regularly play Earthdawn, Night Life ( Like Vampire the gdr-posterMasquerade, but less pretentious) and Star Trek (Which turned into the most popular one amongst my group). We even did a game night for one of my three bachelor parties.

I’m sure I mentioned the Gamers 2 on this blog a year or two ago, but I can’t seem to find the post to link to it. In any event, it’s a fun movie that captures the spirit of gaming, moving back and forth between the players sitting at the table playing, and shifting into the scenario itself, showing up the adventure they are having. It’s funny, and has a lot of heart – and despite being a sequal, is actually a superior film to the less than memorable The Gamers.

This weekend I watched Zero Charisma, a crowdfunded take on gamer life which originally screened at the Tribeca Film Festival. The main character is zero chrthe archtype of the loser gamer –  the one who lives with his parents (or in this case grandmother) feels entitled, the rule lawyer and obnoxious type. It’s not a bad film. The direction is good and there really is a story here. The main problem is having someone totally unlikable as the protagonist (and in certain ways antagonist). We don’t see much of an arc with him…he might have grown just a teensy bit at the close of the movie but I’m not sure. I feel I can cut him some slack when I see his mother (who abandoned him at an early age) and the truth is, as obnoxious as he is, he’s right about a few things. That doesn’t save his life from falling apart though, and in the end, you really can’t say he doesn’t deserve it. We spend an hour and a half laughing with him and cringing at him. It manages to be beautifully sad in the end.

I also hit up Knights of Badassdom. This one takes place at a LARP and ask the question what would happen if a bunch of gamers used a real spell book by accident and summoned a real demon? It’s directed by Joe Lynch, who I’ve been enjoying on Holliston and was recommend by Ted over on the Horror Knights_of_Badassdom_1Ect podcast. It’s great. A fun time in gamer culture, with some outside characters to ground us. Peter Dinklidge  is amazing here by the way. This is before Game of thrones, but he is an absolutely brilliant warrior in this. It manages to be tense, funny, bloody and fun all on a budget about equal to what you might pay for a happy meal at McDonalds. This, by the way is exactly my beef with the SyFy channel. They constantly put out soulless boring, stupid films on shoestring budgets with lousy CG on budgets about the same as what we see here. If this were the kind of movie SyFy was running on Saturdays, I’d be glued to the TV. Find some filmmakers with passion and a hook like this and give me some good films and you could win me back I and second. In any event, Knights is a high recommend along with the Gamers 2. Zero Charisma isn’t bad per se, but go in knowing its going to be a little depressing…there’s no rewatchability on that one.

I really have to run and get some Violent Blue done. I’m trying to do a topical series this week, but I can feel the window closing on me before I have to dip into the buffer and post a different strip. Still, before I go I’m going to throw a fun little music video in here. Also well done, though I’m not sure if gamer culture is being celebrated here or satirized…


The Resident Evil series

Movie bannerI finally decided to sit down and watch the Resident Evil series this weekend. I’m not a gamer so while I am aware of the source material, I don’t have any real experience it or any connection to it. I totally get it when my buddy Jason says “forget the movies, just play the game….” but that’s not quite as viable of an option for me! Besides, I liked the first one. It was fine for what it was…..

Hmmm. There’s a question in that statement – what exactly IS this move anyhow?

This is the first thing you have to understand. Resident Evil and all of it’s sequels are not horror movies. I hear “Zombies” and I think “monster movie”. But much like in the Walking Dead, the zombies aren’t really the main antagonists. They’re background. They’re waking props. Resident Evil is far more about the people, and the evil Umbrella corporation. Once you’re past the first film, the Zombies -they’re always there but they really fade in to the background for the most part.

Resident Evil is a sci-fi action series. If you go in expecting a scary movie you will be disappointed. If you go in to see punches and kicks and gunfire, you’re in the right place. Once I realized this it changed my expectations and how I was going to view this series (it also made Milla Jovovich’s casting in the Expendables 3 make a lot more sense). You don’t go into Rambo relooking for great cinema. The quality of these movies across the board is still better than anything I see on the SYFY channel (in fact, if SYFY would just rise a few inches to this level, I’d probably be a fan again)

The thing that surprises me about this series is how uneven it is. What makes that odd is the fact that every one of these films have been written by the same guy. Resident Evil on screen is Paul W.S. Anderson’s baby, without a doubt. You can see it in the continuity and it benefits from having that guiding hand.

However, the second film is just SO BORING. I ‘d swear there wasn’t a scriptwriter here, just story by committee (It was what prompted me to check who the writer was. I was surprised to find it was still Anderson). In fact story is pushing the description a little bit. RE2 just drifts from set piece to set piece, encounter to encounter. Lot’s of action, some nice makeups but no development or plot. The series really isn’t expanded by this movie other than to point out that Umbrella really is evil….a point that one might be able to kind of argue in the first movie. A lot of people will blame this on the director – a newbie on his first film. I’d be quick to jump on him myself, but honestly, the direction is perfectly serviceable. There’s just nothing here for him to direct. RE2 really makes me wonder how RE3 ever got made.
I suspect the answer is two words: Ridley. Scott.

I’m not saying a RE movie is BENEATH Ridley…..well, yeah. Actually that’s exactly what I’m saying. It actually makes NO sense to me why he took this job, but he does a fine job with it. We go post-apocalyptic in this edition and it makes sense. He may have taken in it a little far though – suggesting the entire earth is one big Mad Max-like desert wasteland. That seems to be contradicted a bit in later films (but seriously, who in their right mind was expecting to milk this series for six movies?). Ridley was adamant about setting this one entirely in daylight. It’s an interesting turn, but perhaps not as noticeable as you might expect. These are, after all, action movies. Not horror.

The addition of elements like zombie crows and a chance to really showcase the main character’s powers is a good addition. The series has been around long enough to feature recurring characters and we kind of know the world now.  It’s enough to justify another sequel.

Form here on out, Anderson will direct all of these himself and number four manages to once again impress me, picking up on a thread left over in 3 – the search for a part of the world that is safe and not infected. There’s a little retcon, but nothing to dire and the axe wielding bad guy is another nice addition. RE5 will pick up from about thirty seconds after RE4 leaves off, so closely linked you might have thought they were filmed back to back. However we’re back to meandering territory here. Little story, Lot’s of action and one of Milla’s best outfits.  It almost seems like sometimes the producers feel the need to go back to making the movie look like a video game, just to get back in touch with it’s roots.

It’s a shame, other than the first and third, these films can’t really stand on their own, but it’s a series custom made for marathoning or running in the background of a party. I don’t ever expect much from  Milla Jovovich. She’s nice to look at and I suppose it’s cool to have a female action star, but she’s never had any real acting chops that I’ve observed. Her best role is still in the Fifth Element because she doesn’t have to speak for most of the film. I can absolutely see myself popping this stuff on while I draw Violent Blue and I might even catch the sixth one next year when it comes out, but I can’t imagine going out of my way to really watch any of these again.


Grave Encounters 2

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grave-encounters2-movie-poster-vicious-brothers-itunesI’ve heard such mixed reviews on Grave Encounters. It seems that people either love it or absolutely despise it.  I’m one of those people who actually thought The Blair Witch was scary, so I don’t automatically trash on Found Footage films, but I do get that the market is over saturated with them. Grave Encounters was one of the better ones of recent years though, and the way it spoofed the ubiquitous ghost hunter genre that has grown up around the SyFy channel the last few years was nothing short of brilliant.

That said, there really wasn’t anywhere else to go with the story….or was there?

Blair Witch utterly failed in it’s sequel by going meta and self aware. Grave Encounters goes down the same path here, but with better results. First and foremost, they keep it as a found footge movie. That makes a big difference…you know what to expect.  Secondly, they actually expand the mythology of the abandoned asylum. We find out more about what went on there and perhaps why it’s haunted. We learn more about the ghosts themselves without getting to personal.

The problem is that we don’t get any of this until almost the third act.

The first forty minuets to an hour of this film are almost painful to watch. I’m so glad I didn’t give up on it because it was real close there for a while. None of the characters are likable and you can’t feel sympathy for anyone. All of this works against the film.

The set up is a film student reviews the film, then starts to suspect that it wasn’t just a movie after all, but a real documentary repackaged as fiction. The actors are all missing, but he tracks down the lead’s mother who is suffering from dimensia, and also the producer who gets belligerent but basically confirms what they suspected. He tracks down the asylum they filmed at and that’s when stuff really starts to happen.

At first it’s just a bunch of the same stuff from the first film, but obviously with better effects and a bigger budget. As we get into world building and more explanation of how the building works things really do start to get interesting.

Bottom line, buy the first one, and rent this one. It’s worth watching but I don’t think it’s worth revisiting. (Speaking of revisiting, there’s new Violent Blue up!)


The Monster Channel

I was just thinking yesterday about how I missed “The It’s Alive Show” and how we’d watch the show while posting on the bulletin board about what we were watching. Then, while I was checking my podcasts and Facebook feed, I followed a link over to the Monster channel.

Oh. My. God.

Streaming movies, horror host and live chat in the side window. It’s just the BEST. I watched two gorilla movies and an episode of the old Flash Gordon TV show last night on this site, and it was just fun as could be. It’s just the greatest thing ever. 

They stream 24/7, and are ONLY on the internet. Cable companies, take note. For decades, you’ve squeezed your viewers into your sales model. We’ve always had to buy channel packages, and have never been able to just purchase individual channels. If the channel we want isn’t in the package we have, we’ve got to upgrade and get a hundred channels we will never watch to get the one we want. I’d ditch more than half the channels I currently get if I had the chance. I only watch two shows on SyFy and most of the time that’s online. I my wife misses “Dance Moms” on Lifetime, she hits the website to watch it there. We really don’t even need the cable for a lot of our shows. Cable industry (and that includes you dish guys and the network themselves too), you’re digging your own gave by holding on tight to a business model that’s increasingly irrelevant. The internet and startups like Youtube and the Monster Channel are no, HAVE changed the face of the market. If you keep digging your heels in and trying to force that outdated model on us, you are in serious trouble. I guarantee the first cable company to offer a package with say…80% freedom where you mostly choose your own channels and pay for (mostly) just the channels you want….that company will bury the others.

In the meantime, I’m off for a quick peak at today’s Violent Blue, then an episode of Hollywood Treasure on Syfy’s site, then off to the Monster Channel for the rest of the evening!

You can find  the monster channel at http://www.100ymm.com/

 


Beowulf

Christopher Lambert has the coolest laugh dosen’t he? I’ve been doing a staggered marathon of his films over the last week or so starting with Forteress 2 and finally arriving at Beowulf. This is my first time seeing the movie, though I’ve caught snippets of it on Sy-Fy. It’s one of those I wouldn’t stop to watch a part of because I really preferred to see the whole thing.

I really liked this. It’s a little surprising because I’m wary of anything on Sy-Fy. That’s one strike. I’m also a little wary of reimagined classics-paticularly amid the absolute crowd of Beowulf productions in the last ten years or so. Two strikes.

Nevertheless, this hit all the right notes of a fun action movie. It almost had a superhero vibe to it and I wonder if they were trying for a franchise. I kind of wish they had. I’d like to see more of these in this continuity.

One of it’s biggest strength is in it’s minimal use of CG. They enhance makeups and suits, and occasionally we have a full on CG creature, but rarely for long. The one exception is the climax where the monster is entirely CG with the exception of a few close up shots that don’t quite match up well. Still, it’s forgivable. This was a creature that couldn’t have been achieved practically and if it hadn’t been CG it would have been poor stop motion on a rod puppet. That it’s  so badly done almost makes it more forgivable. They didn’t try to trick you or make you think it was better than it was, they just asked you to suspend disbelief, after all you’ve already come this far huh?

The CG isn’t it’s only problem. I get that they probably didn’t have enough cash to achieve that effect, but the entire film lacks a cohesive look. I don’t believe in the world because there’s no consistent design language – it’s too thrown together without a guiding hand to make it all fit.

Still, all in all, I enjoyed it and will probably get a copy to keep with my other Lambert films. It’s worth checking out if you see it on TV or at the Library. And after that, go check out the new Violent Blue. We’re not doing Sci-Fi action today…but you never know what you might catch the squirrel doing tomorrow….