Jada Pinkett

September 24, 2014

Simply TV: Gotham (Pilot Episode)

BURN

Gotham – Burn

How can you go wrong with a show that takes in a universe in which Batman exists? There shouldn’t be anything wrong with that……right? Well, how about a universe in which Batman MIGHT exist one day, but in order to get to that one day you have to reside in a universe where you get to follow around a young Jim Gordon, his wise-cracking partner Harvey Bullock, and a bunch of villains who are either not yet the villains you know and love yet, and a female gangster named Fish Mooney. It will clearly be a slow burn for Fox’s “Gotham;” the newest take on the Gotham City and it’s residents. This opening is not meant to bash the show, it’s to clearly state what you are getting into when you prepare to dedicate multiple seasons to a show where you will follow around a young Jim Gordon who is likely not going to fight any “big” villains from Batman’s rogue’s gallery, but hey, I could be wrong.

So “Gotham” or at least the pilot episode, opens with that fateful night; the death of Bruce Wayne’s parents to a mugger’s bullet. The added wrinkle in this origin story is that the murder is witnessed by a young girl who has the slightest resemblance to a cat. Of course we know who she will become, but it’s never mentioned. Moving from Crime Alley, to the GCPD, we meet Jim Gordon and his new partner Bullock. The two couldn’t be less alike, classic case of good cop, bad cop. We also discover that Jim’s father was the former DA of Gotham City. Bullock and Gordon arrive at the scene of the Wayne family murder and while Gordon comforts Bruce, Bullock is trying to find a way to dump the case since he knows something is rotten in Denmark. As the show progresses we meet Renee Montoya, who works for the Major Crimes Unit, Jim’s girlfriend, Barbara Kean, and I might add those two have somewhat of a history, and it’s leaning on the lesbian side, which I can appreciate for obvious male-pig reasons. Along the way we also meet a young Oswald Cobblepot, Edward Nygma, and finally Carmine Falcone, played by “The Wire” alum, John Doman. In my haste we also meet the new Alfred Pennyworth, who delivers one of the funnier lines in the episode as well.

If it seems my synopsis is all over the place, well, that’s because the episode is all over the place. While it’s a slow burn, it’s also a pretty messy burn. There seem to be a few things that you are going to have to get over if you are going to enjoy “Gotham.” One, give up on seeing Batman anytime soon. Unless the show begins to rely on flash-forwards, or skips into the future after the first season, or two, there will be no Batman. And yes, I get it, the show is called “Gotham,” not “Batman” but when one thinks of Gotham City, there is really only one person you think of, but yeah, I get it.

Two, “Gotham” feels like something that could have been called “Gotham High.” Seeing villains like The Riddler, Penguin, and Catwoman as younger versions of their selves just seems odd, and wrong. Of course, this is all based on a pilot where things can change drastically and could improve, but I’m not into it as much as I feel like I should be. While I don’t agree with the direction of Penguin, I have to admit I like how he is being portrayed by Robin Lord Taylor. It’s quite a departure from what I’m used to in my Penguin character, from Danny DeVito’s take in “Batman Returns” to even the comic books, but building up Penguin as a big bad for the future is ballsy, albeit, a slow burn.

Three, I really hope they change how they use Harvey Bullock. Bullock was one of my favorite characters from “Batman: The Animated Series,” and the crooked-cop take on his character, at least to me, is a little too cliched. You’re always going to have one of this bad cop-types characters in a show, but why make Bullock that character? Donal Logue, who I think is vastly underrated in anything he acts in, gives Bullock a certain attitude that I appreciated, but I want the slovenly, fat, fast food eating Bullock, not this Bullock. Again, I like Logue, but I’m trying to figure out this take on the character. Of course, I’m sure there will be an arc where Bullock has to make a choice to do the right thing or the wrong thing, possibly during the season finale, where he will become the Bullock I’ve come to know and love.

To finish up the rants, some of the music and camera work and simply weird. I can’t help but think when I’m watching something in the Batman universe, I imagine listening to either Danny Elfman or Hans Zimmer; Graeme Revell isn’t who I would expect to score the “Gotham” TV show. And nothing again Revell, I loved his portion of the score for “Sin City” and if we got more of that in “Gotham” I would have no complaints, but alas. It just doesn’t seem like the score reflects what I would expect from a pseudo-gritty take on the history of Gotham City.

There are some other nit-picks through the pilot, but as a hopeful viewer, I think some of these things should get addressed. I still don’t buy Ben McKenzie, or Detective O.C., as Jim Gordon, but he has shown he’s got the chops, see “Southland” as a good example. I really hope the show doesn’t push a Selina Kyle/Bruce Wayne teen romance angle, that would just come off as needlessly cheesy. Finally, don’t create and add characters just to create and add characters. If the show is really going to push the “Rise of the Penguin” and Carmine Falcone/Fish Mooney angle, let those angles flesh out and concentrate on making that the best plot line you can make.

Overall, like “Arrow” and I’m sure “The Flash,” “Gotham” will go through it’s growing pains, similar to Bruce Wayne. The biggest thing for “Gotham” is that when you hear Gotham, you think Batman. But how long will that last with audiences who want to see the Dark Knight, not the Adventures of Jim Gordon vs. Fish Mooney. Name recognition is the biggest thing the show has going for it right now, and the fact it’s on Fox, a network notorious for axing shows if they don’t perform up to snuff, it will be interesting to see how long of a leash “Gotham” will have.

Fun Fact: Before he was hitting the street as Gordon, McKenzie was behind the cowl, voicing the Dark Knight in the animated feature, “Batman: Year One.”

October 8, 2013

This Is Halloween: Scream 2

OUTLIER

Scream 2 – Outlier

Certain things sell me on a film, especially a horror film.  The main thing(s) is whether it keeps me interested, engaged, and I’m able to care about a few of the characters.  You wouldn’t normally say that a soundtrack for a film is what made you like the film even more.  However, “Scream 2” is that type of film, an outlier where the soundtrack is as good as the film itself.  But of course there is an excellent movie hidden behind the soundtrack.

“Scream 2” the first sequel in the popular “Scream” series is “The Godfather II” of the horror genre.  Not only is Wes Craven back, with Kevin Williamson penning the screenplay again, but Craven ups the ante and creates a sequel that provides more laughs, more tension, and an even hipper cast than the first film, including Raylan Givens.  Once again we start with a sequence that later in the series becomes standard protocol where a famous person(s) that you wouldn’t think would get killed, gets killed.  Meanwhile, Sidney Prescott, our heroine in the previous film, has gone off the college where she’s followed by Ghostface.  But wait, you might say, “Wait a minute, Ghostface is dead, that was Billy Loomis and his buddy Stu!”  I would rebuttal and say, “You know what would have been cool, if Ghostface Killah played Ghostface!”  I still say we get that petition signed and just cast “Scream 5” with everybody from the Wu-Tang Clan.

While Sidney is trying to adjust to college life, a new boyfriend, and playing Cassandra, her friends are killed one at a time by Ghostface, who just LOVES sequels; they’re bloodier, sillier, and have ridiculous plot twists.  While “Scream 2” is all of this and more, the fact that it’s self-aware without being fully self-aware works extremely well.  The characters never follow their own advice even though they try to justify their decisions for being the typical horror stereotypes.  Just like the first “Scream” the characters are likable and are typical of the slasher genre, but Craven and Williamson do a great job of expanding the world of Woodsboro from it’s small town beginnings in the first film, to a college campus where there is a larger group of suspects in a more condensed, claustrophobic area.

Now, let me get back to the real reason to like this film; the soundtrack.  If you haven’t enjoyed the “Scream 2” soundtrack, do yourself a favor and give it a listen.  The tracks range from Master P to Dave Matthews Band, but I still think there should have been some Wu-Tang on the soundtrack, it just seems like a lost opportunity.

Overall, “Scream 2” would have been a great way to end the series, but what would a horror series be without a few more sequels, which we got with the underwhelming “Scream 3” and the underrated “Scream 4.”  However, “Scream 2” stands alone as a horror sequel that not only meets a fan’s expectations but was so much more than a cooker-cutter sequel to make more money.  While Wes Craven’s record as a horror director had been spotty since “A Nightmare on Elm Street,” the “Scream” franchise gave him a second lease on life, and “Scream 2” stands as one of his best efforts in a career that spans over 40 years.  An outlier indeed, “Scream 2” gives you what you want, but it gives it in a way where excess isn’t required.

Fun Fact:  As if there wasn’t enough to like about “Scream 2,” Danny Elfman, composer of “Batman,” “Spider-man,” and former lead singer of Oingo Boingo, took the time to compose the Cassandra theme heard HERE for the film.

October 10, 2012

31 Nights of Halloween, Tales From the Crypt Presents: Demon Knight

Tales From the Crypt Presents: Demon Knight – Schlock

There is nothing wrong with schlock horror, especially when its well made schlock horror.  The schlockiest of schlock was back in the late-80s when “Tales From the Crypt” premiered on HBO, modeled after the controversial comic books from the 1950s.  There really isn’t a need to get into “Tales” right now because I’m sure I’ll talk more about it down the line.  In the meantime, let’s keep the good times going on the “31 Nights of Halloween” with “Tales From the Crypt Presents: Demon Knight” from 1995.

By the time 1995 rolled around the final season of “Tales” had already ended (sadly) but HBO still had a relatively lucrative property, so the most logical step for the series had to be a movie; and thus “Demon Knight” was born.  “Knight” borrows a lot from other splatter films, and the creature designs have a “Evil Dead” “Hellraiser” and “From Dusk Till Dawn” influence all over them, (“Dawn” came out a year later in 1996).

The film takes place in the fictitious Wormwood, New Mexico where a mysterious drifter named Brayker, played by William Sadler, is on the run from a mysterious collector, played by Billy Zane.  Without giving anything away, Brayker is forced to band together with a group of misfits in a church-turned-boarding house against a demon horde looking to obtain a mysterious key filled with blood (there is a lot of mystery in this movie as you can tell).

All in all, “Demon Knight” is a crap ton of schlock, but fun schlock.  It has chills, spills, thrills, and a ton of blood.  Zane is a standout as “The Collector” and eats up all of his scenes, and the rest of the cast hold their own, including a young(er) Thomas Haden Church, and Jada Pinkett.before she added the Smith.

The shlock factor is in full effect for the entire movie, and actors are hamming it up, but it makes the movie fun and moves swiftly without getting bogged down in too much exposition (it’s there, but it doesn’t dampen the tone).  There’s no reason not to check “Demon Knight.” It’s good clean, bald Billy Zane, fun.

Fun Fact:  Schlock, derived from Yiddish, means something cheap, shoddy, or inferior

Welcome to the new home of SimplisticReviews.net - We're currently still working on the site. You might notice a few issues, please be patient with us. Thanks! (Store also in testing — no orders shall be fulfilled.)
Scroll to top