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July 27, 2012

Spawn

Spawn: Shit

Well it’s about a mercenary who gets killed. He goes to Hell and is turned into a soldier for the Devil’s army.

Thats it…

The Story is fine, but its the late 90’s (1997). So sadly like most films from the 90’s unlike T-2 (1991), Jurassic Park (1993), who the Director worked on and somewhat ID4 (1996) the CGI sucks! Really any other film from the 90’s has such bad CGI. Somethings in this film look fine but the worst is Hell, especially the Devil, who you would think “should” look good. When the Devil talks his mouth stays open? He might be the worst thing you have ever seen. Seriously its that bad! You would think if they couldn’t get the Devil to work and look right, they just have him in the darkness somewhere where all you see is the Devil’s eyes. I mean, I even remember in ’97 when I saw this film on HBO the Devil still looked like shit. Such a easy fix, yet I guess they give up.

Lets be honest there are a few other big issues with this film but the worst that makes this film unwatchable was the Devil’s look.

By the way this film won a Best Special Effect award in 1997. Only award it won, yet I have no idea how…Oooo and ILM did the special effects, yep that Industrial Light and Magic. If you don’t know who that is google it.

Your world will be blown because you will see clearly they gave up on this film.

Now I gotta go delete my browser history since I googled this film…

July 27, 2012

Simplistic TV: Suits

UNDERVALUED

There hasn’t been a lot of great lawyer shows in a while.(I hear Damages is ok but I’m still in the process of watching it.) Probably not since David E. Kelly’s show Boston Legal. I don’t count any of the Law & Orders because they focus solely on the cases and let the personal lives of the characters fall by the wayside. Making it a show about law and not about lawyers. However, the USA show Suits is finally a return to the lawyer show. And not just a Boston Legal or an Alley McBeal type show. Suits harkens back to Steven Bochco’s 80s classic LA Law, while still having modern appeal and wit.

Created by Aaron Korsh and produced by Doug Liman, Suits in a nutshell is this. What if a higher functioning Rain Man joined a law firm headed by Tony Stark. An interesting concept to say the least. Most people dismiss USA Network shows as procedural fluff. And some of them are. However, Suits has fast become one of the network’s stand outs. I attribute it’s steady increase in quality to the fact they begun downplaying the Rain Man gimmick actor Patrick J. Adams portrays in Mike Ross. If you rely on a gimmick, viewers will begin figuring out your shows before they’re over. It’s the Batman utility belt method. No matter what jam Batman gets in, the viewer is just waiting to see what deus ex machina he’ll whip out to solve it. Suits recognized it wasn’t the premise that was the strength of the show, rather the relationships of the lawyers. That is where the show shines.

Harvey Specter, the Tony Stark-like hot shot lawyer, is played brilliantly by Gabriel Macht. An actor who you’ll probably only remember from this travesty. What Macht and Robert Downey Jr.(Yes, I’ve noticed how many times I mention him) do with both their characters is make them an *sshole but still an *sshole you can like and root for.

Suits walks that tight line of Boston Legal fun and The Practice seriousness.  And it walks it well.  Its a show that week in and week out presents UNDERVALUED performances by its cast and satisfying weekly stories that allow them to flourish.  You haven’t experienced real joy until you’ve seen a Harvey Specter ownage of Louis Litt.  Give the series a chance….the first episode especially…then tell me I’m wrong.

July 26, 2012

Simplistic TV: Sherlock

BRILLIANT

I am a big fan of Robert Downey Jr.’s Sherlock Holmes films.  That may be because I think RDJ is my favorite actor working today.  However, the best version of the famous detective is definitely the BBC series Sherlock.  It is possible to be a fan of both the way I am because they do possess significant differences.  And not the fact that the films are set during the 19th Century and tv show is set during modern day.

For example’s sake, here is Robert Downey Jr.’s Sherlock.  And here is Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sherlock.  Robert Downey Jr. nails the manic and playfulness of Sherlock Holmes.  While Cumberbatch, an actor who will be a household name after next year’s Star Trek 12, nails Sherlock Holmes’s cold stoic BRILLIANCE.  Both work tremendously.  Downey Jr. gives Sherlock a bit of a giddiness at his own intellect when explaining clues.  Cumberbatch treats it more like an uncontrollable condition.  His delivery feeling similar to someone fed up answering a nagging five year old who constantly keeps asking “why?”.

Both Jude Law and Martin Freeman are equally great as Watson.  Law, mostly for theatrical sake, plays Watson a bit more over the top while Freeman keeps Watson’s frustrations with Sherlock more internal.  Though, we do see Freeman’s Watson at the beginning of his relationship with Sherlock while Law’s Watson is well used to him by now.

All that said, the most important thing in creating a great incarnation of Sherlock Holmes is getting the chemistry right.  And Sherlock does this as well if not better than the films.  While the films give you more style, the tv show gives you more substance.  Its mystery first and set pieces second.  Thats what puts this ahead.

The series does cheat its substantiveness a bit by having each season broken down into three 90 minute episodes.  They play like mini movies and are each enjoyably different while still connected through a ongoing plot thread.  Don’t be alarmed by the modern day setting either.  Sherlock fits into our world smoothly and creates interesting situations that 19th Century Sherlock couldn’t do.  Like interrupting a police press conference by texting all the reporters simultaneously the truth the police chief is leaving out.

That leads me to mention a storytelling device the editors use on the show.  To illustrate how Sherlock’s mind works, the show uses in scene captions to draw the audience to his conclusions instead of having him always explaining everything.  This is very well done, as apposed to how Tony Scott overuses it in some of his films…Domino comes to mind.

An American version of this modern day Sherlock Holmes is in the works now.  However, I am sure it won’t have the same quality acting, writing, directing, and teeth this show has.  You watch one episode and it’ll hook you.  Go ahead…watch one…I’ll wait…….still waiting……..see?  Tell me I’m wrong.

July 25, 2012

Marked for Death

Marked for Death: Seagal

It’s a Steven Seagal film, enough said…

Why watch it? Because Keith David is in it!

Tagline: He’s a good cop. In a bad mood.

Best Line: “You fuck with my family, you die.”


July 25, 2012

The Scout

The Scout: Curveball

It’s a Baseball film. If your’re a Baseball fan or comedy fan, I’m sure you will enjoy this film. There is a nice turn around where you find out a “dark” past which switches nicely from baseball to real life. Also a handful of cameos including George Steinbrenner, Bob Costas, Tony Bennett, Keith Hernandez and a few more. The story is that of King Kong which gives a nice spin on a Baseball film that we have never really seen before…Hey if you have sometime to kill, it’s not a bad film to kill with. Plus it’s always a win win Albert Brooks.

July 24, 2012

The Dark Knight Rises (Matt’s Take)

The Dark Knight Rises – Scope

Growing up, I could give a damn about DC Comics.  I couldn’t relate to Superman, Wonder Woman was a chick, and I didn’t have any jewelery, so screw the Green Lantern.  Hell, I’ll say it, I didn’t even care about Batman.  It took me a long time to really develop a relationship with The Dark Knight being that I was way more of a Marvel Man anyway.  I don’t remember going to the theaters in 1989 to see the second “Batman” movie (yes, I’m still counting the Adam West “Batman” movie as the first one) but I distinctly remember going to the movies in 1992 with my parents to see “Batman Returns.”  It wasn’t like anything that I had seen before: Dark, moody, Gothic, and the music (don’t get me started, I’ve been a Danny Elfman mark since “Beetlejuice“)  But even while being impressed by “Batman Returns,” I never got into the comics, I still cared way too much about X-Men and even Image Comics’ “Spawn.”

This brings me to Chris Nolan, the man who took over the Batman franchise after it had been thoroughly fisted by Joel Schumacher and his bat-nipples.  Nolan, who had already made a name for himself with “Memento,” was the last person you would have thought could helm a Batman re-boot, but people thought the same thing about Tim Burton after he did “Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure” and the aforementioned, “Beetlejuice.”

Within Nolan’s Gotham City, the Scope increased movie by movie, moving away from one man’s fight against crime to a city finally banning together to fight against a force so big that it even overwhelmed Batman.  “The Dark Knight Rises” takes many of its cues from three books in my opinion:  “The Dark Knight Returns” “Knightfall” and “Vengeance of Bane II.”  Moving away from the fantastic elements of these books, Batman, and Bruce Wayne, face real world problems such as lost friendship, hopelessness, and bankruptcy, and it is just enough to wear him down to the point of Bane being able to “break him.”  With Batman out of the picture, the movie points the focus directly on Gotham, its police force, and average citizens, and this is my biggest problem with the movie.  The point of the Batman is to inspire average citizens to step up and take on an enemy greater then them and fight.  The movie really only comes down to a few characters, mostly cops, who fight, while the citizens are huddled in their home, hiding.  I have a problem with this, and while Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) tries to inspire the citizens drawing Batman insignias on walls, it seems like a forced act from Nolan.

But this is a small gripe, and takes nothing away from what Nolan has created;  a living, breathing city that you actually care about and don’t want to see destroyed.  There are points in the movie where you completely forget that this is a Batman movie, which is amazing, and tells you something about the filmmaker, who has crafted a story that could, unfortunately, happen.

As far as acting and characters go, I enjoyed Tom Hardy as Bane, even if he did sound a lot like an out of breath Sean Connery.  I thought his eyes told his story, and despite the fact that he was a ruthless terrorist, you still saw a human being looking for his place in the world, very much like Batman in the counterpoint.  Anne Hathaway was fine as Selina Kyle, and you did see some sassy Michelle Pfeiffer in her acting and mannerisms, and the more I think about it the addition of an extra “hero” in Gotham did lighten the load for Batman.  But the standout for me was Michael Caine.  He has brought more to the Alfred character then any other actor and his portrayal in “Rises” was heartbreaking and got me choked up a few times.  You finally see how much he cares about the Wayne family and their legacy to the city of Gotham.  Overall, the acting was as strong as you’re going to get from a comic book movie.

As far as Easter eggs go, there were quite a few that I thought worked very well.  The inclusion of Lazarus Pits were told in an interesting way with Bruce Wayne giving Selina Kyle the “Clean Slate” program, a practical way of explaining exactly what the Pits do.  Also, the little mention of “Killer Croc” by Blake was awesome and shows that the writers love to throw little bones to the comic fans.

Overall, the first true Batman trilogy was a complete success.  All three movies exuded different emotions, “Begins” with hope, “The Dark Knight” with apprehension, and “Rises” with dread, but the Scope of the movies grew and grew until Nolan had created a series of movies that will be held up as a litmus test for not just comic book films, but film in general.

Fun Fact:  “The Dark Knight Rises” has the biggest ensemble of Batman’s rogues gallery (not counting the Adam West “Batman”)  Bane, Catwoman, Killer Croc, Ra’s al Ghul, Scarecrow, Talia al Ghul are all seen or mentioned in the movie.  And I’d like to believe that Bane’s right-hand man who was an expert sniper is a nod to “Deadshot.”  Just saying.

July 24, 2012

Split Second

Split Second: Throwaway

It’s the kind of film that you see when you’re a child and it sticks into you’re mind till you reach age 24. You sit down one day and pop it in. It’s not bad, but not good. You watched it once, so you throw it away never to be watched again…because it’s a Throwaway.

July 24, 2012

The Three Stooges

The Three Stooges: Ouch

I only cut myself 8 times watching this… 


July 24, 2012

Simplistic TV: The Newsroom

HEAVY-HANDED

Now let me make something clear. I love Aaron Sorkin. I love A Few Good Men. I love The American President. I love Charlie Wilson’s War. I love The Social Network. I love Moneyball. I love Sports Night. I ABSOLUTELY love The West Wing. I even sorta loved Studio 60. But its in my nature to love them. I’m a writer. I love to see movies or tv shows where the emphasis is on the writing and not some ‘epic’ explosion sequence involving Shia LaBeouf.(I haven’t ragged on Transformers in a while) And Aaron Sorkin’s stuff is always all about the writing. Newsroom is no different. However, Newsroom’s greatest strength is also its main weakness.

A show about a borderline Republican tv news anchor seems like a walk in the park subject for Sorkin. And it is. A news show gives him the opportunity to talk about a multitude of things going on in the world and have it not feel forced as it sometimes was with West Wing and Studio 60. But its too easy. And because its too easy Sorkin seems to fall into his own trappings and reaffirm his critics as to his knack of overwriting a scene or an episode. Subtly abandoned for clear cut messages he is trying to force feed. He flexes his writing chops and his agenda to the point where predictability begins to leak in. In essence, Sorkin is the pretty girl at the party who KNOWS she’s pretty. People like me eat it up while others might not want the hassle of a cerebral workout while watching a ten o’clock show on HBO.

All that said, Newsroom is worthy of your attention. It has great actors. It has great ideas. It has Jane Fonda and Sam Waterston swearing. All good things. However, it is a hard pill to swallow for the Sorkin uninitiated. And even with a supposed middle of the road politically affiliated main character, it leans very liberal. Case in point, last weeks episode had a character LITERALLY punch a television with Rush Limbaugh babbling on it. This is something I’ve come close to doing on a number of occasions but it is still a little HEAVY-HANDED.

The media have bashed Newsroom for some of the reasons I’ve brought up. However, I think they really bash it because the show shines a light on some of the shady and unscrupulous things the media actually does to get a story or avoid telling one. And BOY it is about time someone did that. Watch it…then tell me I’m wrong.

July 23, 2012

Something Wild

Something Wild: Sunday

By Sunday I mean if you’re free on a Sunday and it rains and you’re stuck inside, then this film isn’t too bad to sit and watch. Jeff Daniels gets kidnapped by Melanie Griffith and they go on a adventure. Melanie robs a liquor store, steals cars and has sex with Jeff, all in all it’s not bad. It contains a ton of cameos and Ray Liotta pops up as the ex-boyfriend of Melanie’s character. He gives a frighting performance which make me wonder way he Scorsese never worked again after Goodfellas (one of my all time fav). It’s not a bad film, check it out on a rainy day.

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