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Updated: 2 hours 20 min ago

Throwback Thursday: On An Adventure in Time and Space

7 hours 18 min ago

I lied. I couldn't stay away from the TARDIS all the way till Monday. This docu-drama is downright touching, which is the first ... and possibly only word I can use to describe it. I was vaguely aware of the history of William Hartnell's tenure on Doctor Who, and aside from artistic licence, it's quite moving.

Most Idiotic Review

"... if there's a problem with An Adventure In Space And Time it's that it's written with the view that the future of television itself is at stake . This is patently untrue and everything I've read on the origins of the show indicates no one had any inkling of the genie they'd released from the bottle and thought of it as a disposable children's television show that probably wouldn't last . That said the programme begins with a disclaimer - though be it in a pretentious manner - that some artistic licence has been taken by the storytelling." — Theo Robertson (IMDB Reviews)

I wasn't surprised that I had difficulty finding a truly idiotic review for this film. Appealing to a fairly limited and already dedicated audience, my thoughts are that most people who went into this weren't going to be overly critical or ... well trolls. I read some complaints of it being unfocused, and the majority of ire is directed at a single, short cameo, but that aside, it seems this was a resounding smash hit.

Most Accurate Review

"As much as the film celebrates the beginning of the little show that could, it also bittersweetly eulogizes the man who was the definite article. Amid all the winking nods to fan-known futures or characters espousing things said in episodes not yet made, the movie focuses on a man’s realization that he’ll never again be what he once was and the fame he’ll no longer have. It’s very moving, and the special cameo during the filming of the first regeneration only served to bring more of a glisten to the eye. It’s a show we all love, but no one loved it more first than its original star." — Kyle Anderson (Nerdist) 

Slipping between the stories of primarily actor William Hartnell and producer Verity Lambert, we are shown the first beginnings of the show which, at the time this aired, was celebrating its 50th Anniversary. Personally, I could have done without the whole of the Doctor Trilogy and stuck with this and been a happier Whovian. David Bradley captures quite the spirit of Hartnell, although he is arguably a bit more gruff in his portrayal, it is still an undeniably moving performance, and the rest of the cast is fantastically picked ... although, all things considered, I was unsure about the actor cast to play Patrick Troughton, the 2nd Doctor. He seemed to have the energy down, but not quite the age, which is a small complaint, I know. 

What I Say

What can I say? It's always harder to talk about something that really moved you. It either comes across as stilted or gushy. So, on the stilted side of things, I think they did a wonderful job bringing to the screen something so well beloved by so many. On the gushy side, I did well up, more than once, in fact. David Bradley delivers such a candid performance that I, at least, shed a tear and Mark Gaitiss' writing is an obvious love letter to the history of the series and my understanding is he's been trying to get this made since 2003.

I won't go into the plot and character or spectacle here. I feel like this is a less-is-more topic, and that most fans who're walking into see this, will already have a vague notion of the history of the show, and those with no foreknowledge of these events, I'll be damned if I could explain it to you. Doctor Who truly is a 'see it to believe it' situation.

Doctor Who truly is an example of Black Swan theory. Never, ever could it have been predicted. 

You know, the more I think about it, Mark Gatiss should just take over from Steven Moffat. Yes, that's obviously what must be done. 

The Doctor Trilogy Week: The Time of the Doctor

Wed, 08/20/2014 - 21:32

Before we get started, here is another shameless plug for MOVIE MUTTS, my upcoming Webseries! Watch the promo!

So here it is, the climactic entry into the Doctor Trilogy. I'll start off by saying I thought this was seriously the weakest of the three, stories, and if you've turned in for my reviews of The Name of the Doctor and The Day of the Doctor, you know that's saying a lot. 

Pictured: the best way for the Eleventh Doctor to end his
Most Idiotic Review

"... I can’t think of a better way for the Eleventh Doctor to end his tenure .... There were lots of loose ends for writer Steven Moffat to tie up, but somehow he did it." — Kyle Anderson (Nerdist)

I can think of many better ways for the 11th Doctor to end his tenure and I don't think Moffat tied up his loose ends effectively at all. I thought the episode was bloated and the exposition was rushed.

Most Accurate Review

"Every time the Gordian plot-knot gets sonic-screwdrivered into submission for the 60-minute limit, the writers just tap the remnants into Later. What's the deal with the creepy brain-wiping creatures known as The Silence? Later. The name of the Doctor? Later, and then we get The Time of the Doctor, where every second line seems to offer a footnote to some arcane Wikipedia entry on Whovian lore." — Tim Martin (The Telegraph)

In Monday's review, I quoted George R.R. Martin. If you missed it, here it is again. “It's always the question, when do you reveal something, how long do you draw it out? The books are full of little puzzles and enigmas and reversals, and how do you place those? You don't want to give it away too soon, but if you stretch it out too long everybody's going to guess it anyway, so at what point is that? I kind of like having the puzzles and you need to keep at least some of the puzzles till the end, but then again you can't keep them all till the end otherwise or you end with this final chapter that's just one guy endlessly talking about, 'Well there's this and then there's this and the explanation for this is this,' and it's a very boring and not very good chapter."

Now look at this exchange of dialogue 

TASHA: Why did you ever come to Trenzalore?
DOCTOR: Well, I did come to Trenzalore, and nothing can change that now. Didn't stop you trying though, did it?
TASHA: Not me. The Kovarian Chapter broke away. They traveled back along your timeline and tried to prevent you ever reaching Trenzalore.
DOCTOR: So that's who blew up my TARDIS. I thought I'd left the bath running.
TASHA: They blew up your time capsule, created the very cracks in the universe through which the Time Lords are now calling.
DOCTOR: The destiny trap. You can't change history if you're part of it.
TASHA: They engineered a psychopath to kill you.
DOCTOR: Totally married her. I'd never have made it here alive without River Song.
We literally just got four years of reveals in an eight line exchange. That is not good storytelling. 

"The actual plot of The Time of The Doctor itself doesn't really quite hold up to the rest of the storytelling-sewing going on in the background. The carnival of Monsters never feels quite justified, outside of a 'wouldn't it be cool *if*' moment, and the laboured, repeated use of voice over montages to pass time reflects the relatively cramped nature of the script and its ideas battling against the time frame - especially when it comes to the manner of The Doctor's renewed regenerative cycle (which I must admit, as a gift from Gallifrey for having saved him, was rather touching, ending this 'trilogy' of Name, Day and Time as a singular arc) delivered in a bit of a deus ex machina moment. These issues persist throughout, and bring the episode very close to falling flat on its face at points." — Ursus-Veritas (io9)

As I keep saying, Moffat is good at two things, concepts & dialogue. The in-between stuff (structure, characterization, and theme) really seem to fail him. He always seems hung up on 'what looks cool' or my, "Moffat's being subtle again," moments. The episode survives on the basis of the skill of its actors and the altogether atmosphere created by its disparate elements ... although a wooden Cyberman still strikes me as an incredibly stupid leap of logic. 

What I Say

Can we get a new head-writer please? 

Plot — The episode actually really had me hooked with good ol' classic Who vibes for the first 25 minutes. We had small cameos of the Silence, the Weeping Angels, a great big mystery, and some clever humor. Then we got to the planet. We got to the Truth Field in the town called Christmas ... and then the f***ing montages began, complete with whimsical fairy-tale voice-overs. I don't inherently dislike voice-overs like certain prominent names (George R.R. Martin is one), when they're there to add to the story, like spices that add flavoring. However, when major key plotpoints are told via voice-over and montage, that's just unforgivably lazy writing that serves no purpose. If you seriously think a montage/voice-over is the only way to go about telling your story effectively, you're either not trying, or not very talented. There are always better, more effective storytelling methods at your disposal if you just use them. 

So the Doctor finds himself in a standoff between the Time Lords (resurrected narratively by the events of The Day of the Doctor) and all the baddies in the Who universe. It's a nice concept to see the 11th Doctor tied down, but then the oddness starts ... the old-age makeup. This serves little to no purpose in the grand scheme of things. There's no reason to it, other than to suggest that he's been tied down for an extra long time. The way they justify this is by having Clara tricked into leaving twice. The first time, I didn't mind; the second time, I started getting insulted on behalf of Clara, especially considering how she throws it all away once she's reunited with the Doctor. Sure he ditched her, but how can she stay mad at those puppy dog eyes?

I'm also really interested in why the Town of Christmas doesn't technologically progress in three-hundred plus years. It strikes me as damned odd. I know it's going for the whimsical fairy tale, but if it bothered me in The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant (my favorite series of all time) why can't it bother me here? 

So through one of the Cracks in space/time that've been haunting the 11th Doctor since his first outing, the Time Lords give him a new regeneration (since he didn't have anymore), and old-age makeup Matt Smith returns to form (albeit with a wig) and then turns into Capaldi. They wanted him to be old, except for when they didn't. Astounding writing chops there guys. 

Characters — Handles should obviously be the new star of the show. I don't care if he malfunctioned. He's the best companion the Doctor's had in years. 

Matt Smith, as always, does a great job, turning in every possible direction. He really does shine in the episode, which, if that's the point, is, I must admit a resounding success. But I'm too much of a stickler to allow for that. I didn't like the repeated mistreatment of his companions. When Eccleston sent Rose away, it was devastating, for both of them, and for the audience. With Smith ... eh. Less so, especially the second time. 

Clara, as a character, finally unfettered from the Impossible Girl story-arc really begins to shine. I say begins, because after the second time the Doctor tricks her away, she starts to seem overly gullible. She's also been downgraded to crying. A lot. I didn't realize until this week, watching the Doctor Trilogy in succession how many times she cries. It's ... distracting.

Tasha is an interesting addition, torn between flirting incessantly with the Doctor and spouting some of the clunkiest expository dialogue. I wish she'd been introduced earlier and behaved more as a character than a plot point. 

I also want to take a moment to point out Clara's parents ... who I have no investment in seeing again. I feel like Moffat's falling back on his sitcom days with this lot. There's an overabundance of mean-spirited ... humor from the mother and saccharine speeches from the Gran I really couldn't wait for them to get off screen (Gran and Dad don't even get real names in the script). 

Spectacle — At one point the Doctor says, "We saw this planet in the future, remember? All those graves, one of them mine."

All those graves ... and all those mountains
Wait, where the hell did those come from? 
The only thing I could think was, "This isn't what I was expecting." I understand it's a television show and I don't expect something on the Scale of Marvel's series of films or Lord of the Rings, but ... considering the hype that's built up around this event, the Fall of the Eleventh? This was a serious letdown. A single village that never changed in over three hundred years. It's every conservative politician's wet-dream. 

Even if I never liked Amy's character, I would never deny
Karen Gillian's talent as an actress, or her chemistry with
Matt Smith
Matt Smith's regeneration though, almost made up for the fifty minutes prior. It's tender, sweet, and a lovingly crafted specifically to say goodbye to a brilliant actor. When Moffat lets his characters just talk for an entire scene, he can still work magic. 

So. There it is. The Doctor Trilogy. I've been waiting a year to review these three episodes, and there. It's done! It's finished! I can take a break! Until next week when the next episode airs! Looks like I'll be back here in the TARDIS next Monday (and we're still building toward a special new addition. MOVIE MUTTS PROMO).

Here's to new kidneys and new adventures.

The Doctor Trilogy Week: The Day of the Doctor

Tue, 08/19/2014 - 18:48

Before diving in, I have awesome news! Big things are coming to Ginger Mutt Corner in the near future. Would you like to know more? Movie Mutt Promo 1

So, this was it. This was the big one. The 50th Anniversary. The big wazzoo. The really good weed in your pipe.

Did it deliver?

... Eeeeeeeh?Most Idiotic Review
"... it’s Moffat’s confidence in his ability as a storyteller which stands out and makes this complex adventure work, as his attention to detail and passion for the franchise shines throughout, wholeheartedly earning its use of such weighty elements from the series’ fast and ever-growing mythology." — Anthony Ocasio (Screen Rant)

I have never gotten the vibe that Moffat was a confident writer. He stays in very safe areas and dances around his bag of tricks to make the story 'complicated' (not complex, you want complex go watch David Lynch, Cronenberg, or even Gilliam). When we said Farewell to the Ponds, it involved a walking Statute of Liberty. When we said farewell to Rose, it involved a beach and David Tennant turned down to 50% opacity. Ill let you be the one to decide which was more emotionally devastating. 

Moffat, much like his incarnation of the Doctor is more excited by doodads and whistles than his predecessors. The 50th is no exception. Yes, there is passion, and while I might not think of Moffat as a very confident writer, he makes up for it with ego, since I always get a sense of 'F*** you, got mine." 

Most Accurate Review

" ... a clever, chaotic, infuriating combination of nifty, knowing tiny detail and big, hollow, pompous bluster." — Jim Shelley (The Daily Mail)

I don't know if this was meant as nasty as I took it, but the words Big, Hollow, and Bluster certainly do come to mind thinking about this episode. I'll talk about it more indepth below, but Moffat managed to radically change the Doctor Who history, while leaving it completely inconsequential. If anything, the events of the 50th don't resonate even into the next friggin episode. Again, the word I'm going to use is 'safe.' I see no risk factor in anything Moffat has done since the Big Bang, which was so grandiose in its emptiness and inability to make impact. He moves so fast from one emotionally devoid set-piece to the other but covers the seams with pithy witticisms.

What I Say

I wanted to like it? 

Plot — I was almost instantly turned off to this (after a clever opening hearkening way back to Classic Who) by Clara's ability to close the TARDIS door by snapping. What started as a big reveal by for the Doctor, has now expanded to his companion (a companion the TARDIS didn't like just a few episodes ago, mind you), but seeing as the whimsical music plays over this moment, I guess I have to forgive it.

So the TARDIS is picked up and brought to London, even though Kate Stewart reportedly didn't know he was inside the damn thing. So why did she pick it up? She purportedly wanted the Doctor's presence. Assuming he wasn't in the f***ing TARDIS you just successfully stranded him in the middle of bumf*** nowhere. So what's the real reason? 

Moffat's being subtle again.
The 11th Doctor is dropped into a mess involving a 3D painting depicting the last day of the Time War. The 3D is nice and it's a good concept, even if it's usage later on is a bit ... questionable. Anyway, this leads to the other two concurrent storylines. John Hurt plays as the War Doctor, a secret incarnation of the Doctor who fought in the Time War, who's acts of brutality were so heinous the Doctor blocked his existence from his memory, calling him the "one who broke the promise."

This of course has not stopped the Doctor from talking about his actions in the Time War in the first person  in the past. Like when Tennant said, "I was the only one who could end it." Or when Smith tells House, "Fear me. I killed all of them." Still, I'll let it slide. I thought it was a nice addition to the mythos, and John Hurt is fantastic as always.

After leaving a message for the War Council of Gallifrey, "No More," the War Doctor has stolen 'The Moment' a sentient weapon capable of ending the Time War between the Daleks and the Time Lords. It manifests as his future companion Rose Tyler. She grants him the ability to see what becomes of him if he goes through with his plan.

The third, and weakest storyline in the 50th is definitely the 10th Doctor's adventures with Queen Elizabeth I and the monsters the Zygons. Granted I didn't grow up with Classic Who, and my efforts to get into the show have been hampered ... mainly by disinterest. The first few serials weren't all that engaging, but I did enjoy the Three Doctors. That said ... I didn't care for the Zygons. But what can you do? 

The main issue I have with the Zygon storyline is one of weight. They were trying to give all the weight to the Time War storyline, but there is an imbalance, where the Zygon story starts to feel like fluff. As a standalone episode, this would have been pretty weak for the 10th Doctor, all things considered. 

Still it afforded a lovely scene between the Three Doctors while they're locked away in the Tower of London. One of my favorite lines from Matt Smith's Doctor is almost delivered as a throwaway line (I just love those), "It just occurred to me this is what I'm like when I'm alone."

So, without spoiling too much (like I might have done yesterday) the three disparate Doctors and the three disparate storylines continue to build to the Day of the Doctor, the day the War Doctor ended the war. It climaxes with archive footage of all previous Doctors in a, "Here comes the Calvary!" moments, including a brief cameo.

Capaldi Intensifies

Characters — Since everything outside the Time War story-arc feels a bit lackluster, let's look at the characters, which is undoubtedly where the 50th shines. The interactions between the cast is brilliant. David Tennant and Matt Smith are obviously having a ball, and there's plenty of playful joshing (I'm assuming in front of and behind the camera) that you stop seeing them so much as past and future selves but as twin brothers. There's so much fun dialogue, and there are moments, surprisingly to me, where Moffat allows some genuine, open introspection. The Doctor can't hide from himself. Matt Smith is called the one who forgets, and Tennant is the one who remembers. It says a lot about both their incarnations of the Doctor.

Clara is not a bad companion. She's companion-light. There are resounding moments where I love her characters, interspersed among a lot of moments where she's just kind of there. It's the reverse of Amy, who was just kind of there, except for when she's pop off with some dialogue that made me want to strangle her (Karen Gillian though, is a wonderful actress and I'm happy to see her doing well post-Who). Clara is given some tender moments, especially with the War Doctor, and later near the climax with all three of them together. My only question is this. Where the hell did Clara go during the climax? She must be brewing the tea they're drinking in the next scene. 

"Oh, hullo. Where've you been?"
The Moment takes on the form of Rose Tyler, which ... actually I liked more than I expected to. Billie Piper is so much fun to watch on screen, and she plays this wonderful middle-ground between playful and mischievous, grieving and morose, stern and threatening, and calm and understanding. Like the actors playing the Doctor, she's given the opportunity to turn in nearly every direction she can. 

Spectacle — There are some pretty awesome moments in this episode ... granted most of them have to do with just having the actors on screen together, so there's that. The imagery of the Time War was very well done, although ... it's sad, seeing the rich history of the Daleks, that I just don't find them threatening anymore. I could try and make the argument to blame Moffat for that but ... eh, they might just be played out. Thankfully this episode did have some powerful moments, always generated by an undeniably all-star cast. 

"What we do today, is not out of fear or hatred. It is done because there is no other way."

Oh, and my lesbian unicorn pointed out, "... he actually marries Elizabeth II and ten said that he left before the wedding (super nit picky I know), TEN'S HAIR. okay that's not important."

Lastly, I'd be super remiss if I did not mention Tom Baker's lovely cameo as the Museum Curator. He and Matt Smith are obviously having a ball with each other, and it was very well done. 

The Doctor Trilogy Week: The Name of the Doctor & BIG CHANGES (in caps)

Mon, 08/18/2014 - 13:36

Hey, guys, I've been wanting to do this for months now. I, unlike most of my compatriots in the 22 age range, was not introduced to Doctor Who through the revival, nor the original, nor the tv movie, nor any of the expanded universe of books, comics, or radio shows. 

No, I was introduced to the innocuous Blue Telephone Box by a rather random source. 

What the f*** is that? 
During the original Fallout the Time Lord's infamous TARDIS made a special appearance, and as a thirteen year old, I had no idea what the hell it was. It was a serious case of ask and ye shall receive twenty-five years of syndicated television and one shitty TV movie.

Now, I'm not a hipster, but seeing as this was my introduction, I'm obviously better than you. 

Or at least the scum that've made the show famous under a certain Stephen Moffat's watch. Y'see, the show is coming back on the twenty third, and in order to properly rip it a new one, I'm working to set up a totally cool, cool-cool-cool weekly addition (Would you like to know more?).

But till then, I decided to refresh my memory by watching "The Name of the Doctor," "The Day of the Doctor," and, "The Time of the Doctor." You can tell Moffat's straining on these titles. Obviously he poured all his quality writing into the episodes. Or so you'd think. But Moffat is one of those mixed bag writers. There's something we talk about as young actors in class, the 'bag of tricks'. A moderate actor gets by on these-- maybe they're inherently charming, or funny, but they're diversions. Moffat is like that. He's witty and clever (but by no means genius, and moreoften than not, the wittiness and the cleverness just seems like a misdirection from looking to critically at the stories). 

So, for months now I've been saving myself to write an editorial on this. Something with a click-baitey title. If you have any ideas, leave them in the comments below. So to kick off Doctor Who weeks (I can hear some of my fans running for the hills from here in this dingy basement I whole up in.)

Most Idiotic Review

" ... we were barrelled into the main course: a dizzying adventure, packed full of satisfyingly clever – but crucially for head writer Steven Moffat, who tends to over-complicate, not too clever – ideas ....  This climactic episode was ... momentous, moving and thrilling, yet somehow still found time to be very funny in flashes (mainly thanks to the highly quotable Strax)." — Michael Hogan (The Telegraph)

I'll get my main complaint out of the way on this one. There's no real plot in this episode. They contrive a way to drag the doctor to Trenzalore, they contrive a way into his tomb, they contrive a way into his timestream, and they contrive a way for Clara, the Impossible Girl, to rescue him. Conceptually I like the episode. On paper, it should work, but ... Moffat has a tendency to do this. He pushes off reveals for so long, that when it comes time to explain them, you get an entire episode interspersed with witticisms and  rushed exposition. 

For a series known for doing needless two-part episodes (let's face it, some of the two-parters in Doctor Who are kind of padded), it's frustrating when the climactic episodes feel like a series of 'oh gotta explain that'.

Most Accurate Review

“'The Name of the Doctor' is not a good episode of television, but it is a fascinating episode of Doctor Who ... (Great tip for spec script writers: If you have to open your script with an explanatory voice-over then end it by literally writing out the important stuff on the screen, you need to rework your script. Also what is wrong with you?!?)” Chris Lough (Tor.com) 

This has been one of my major beefs with Moffat for sometime. He's conceptually clever. He's good with dialogue. He is not good at the stuff that comes in between. Structurally he's a mess, and while he's got a firm grasp of dialogue, his mastery of characterization swings wildly from lacking to insulting ... like being Ding-Dong Ditched by your girlfriend. Sure you wanna see her but not like that!

What I Say

I hate Moffat, and I'll try to unpack my opinions on the subject more thoroughly than that. There just might be a lot of profanity involved. 

Plot — Lady Vastra (after learning "The Doctor has a secret he will take to his grave. It has been discovered," from a guy we don’t know and will never see again) wrangles together the rest of the Three Stooges, and Clara and River Song who have some romantic tension over who the Doctor likes more. Knowing Moffat's regards for his female characters? The Three stooges are captured by the not-so-threatening Whisper Men, and the Great Intelligence, a curmudgeonly British guy with a stiff-upper lip (I might give Marvel a hard time for sidelining their villains, but this guy is ridiculous) tells them the Doctor has to go to Trenzalore.

After, Clara and the Doctor share a nice scene. It's very sincere, and Matt Smith displays a masterful level of restraint in his acting. To alter Asimov’s quote, "It pays to be subtle, especially if you have a reputation for being obvious," just as the exact opposite. We also get some clever concepts here. "When you are a time traveler there is one place you must never go. One place in all of space and time you must never, ever find yourself .... Trenzalore is where I'm buried." I personally got very excited for the show to go to such a dark place as the protagonist's future grave.

We learn that Trenzalore is a massive battlefield graveyard, and the vivid image of the Tardis having grown to monumental size in the aftermath of the destruction. The Doctor say, "When a TARDIS is dying, sometimes the dimension dams start breaking down. They used to call it a size leak. All the bigger-on-the-inside starts leaking to the outside. It grows. When I say that's the TARDIS I don't mean it looks like the TARDIS, I mean it actually is the TARDIS. My TARDIS from the future. What else would they bury me in?"

This is a great line. Until you think about it. Then you might remember way back when, during "The Parting of the Ways" when Christopher Eccleston's 9th Doctor said, "So this is what you should do: let the TARDIS die. Just let this old box gather dust. No one can open it, no one will even notice it. Let it become a strange little thing standing on a street corner. And over the years, the world will move on, and the box will be buried."

Right ....
 "... no one will even notice it."
Amidst all of this the writers finally decide to confront the Impossible Girl arc, which was on hold for most of the 7th series. Just yesterday, on Talks at Google I watched George R.R. Martin say, “It's always the question, when do you reveal something, how long do you draw it out? The books are full of little puzzles and enigmas and reversals, and how do you place those? You don't want to give it away too soon, but if you stretch it out too long everybody's going to guess it anyway, so at what point is that? I kind of like having the puzzles and you need to keep at least some of the puzzles till the end, but then again you can't keep them all till the end otherwise or you end with this final chapter that's just one guy endlessly talking about, 'Well there's this and then there's this and the explanation for this is this,' and it's a very boring and not very good chapter." Moffat could stand to learn a bit from Martin. Considering how reserved he is with information, one might start to think the 11th Doctor doesn’t respect his companions.

Inside the tomb, we get the next bit of odd Doctor Who lore. Apparently when a Time Lord dies, they release a energy field that is a personal 'Time Tunnel.' So death on Gallifrey? ... take some LSD, throw on Dark Side of the Moon, and hit the graveyard. Why didn’t the Master unleash an energy field when he died in the 10th Doctor's arms? Why isn’t Gallifrey littered with them during “The Day of the Doctor”? Because Moffat isn't as good at this as he might think. Sure you’re in a dying time machine that could achieve the same narrative ends, but what do I know?

So the Great Intelligence enters the time tunnel and scatters himself all across the Doctor's timeline, turning every victory into defeat. But fortunately Clara makes the noble sacrifice that has dominated her characterization for ... ten episodes (had to go check), and leaps in to right the wrongs (sure, the Three Stooges who "cared for [him] during the dark times" just stand there and watch). So the Doctor is restored. and shares one of the episode's other nice, effective moments with River Song, and says goodbye. It is a dignified sendoff considering the best he could come up with to save her was locking her consciousness in a virtual reality computer system. The Doctor is now the equivalent of the machines in the Matrix.

So the Doctor leaps in after and we get at least one more nice scene. Clara is trapped in the Doctor's time-stream, which is collapsing. She sees all of the Doctor's other incarnations, including, John Hurt, who is introduced as, the Doctor. 

The ending I'll give credit where due, is effective, and got me seriously hyped for the 50th. My problems  stemmed from rewatching the episode and realizing, for as much riffing as I could do ... there wasn't much of a plot ... which characterizes the majority of The Doctor Trilogy.

Characters — I'll be brief here, since my last section is longer than some of my blogs. It took me a long time to warm up to the 11th Doctor. Loved Matt Smith. Hated the 11th Doctor. Thought he was written eccentric for eccentricity's sake. Wasn't until Neil Gaiman's episode I felt like I started understanding who Matt Smith's Doctor was. This is one of the 11th's more candid episodes, and on that note it works. In the 50th, we see more of that. In the Time of the Doctor ... not so much, but I'll get to that. 

Clara is ... a tool. Not like a bro douchebag tool. Just a tool for the writers to use. She's not quite as bad as Amy in my opinion, and she has some, again, candid moments that I truly enjoyed. I like that, at best, the romantic aspect of her relationship with the Doctor is conjecture, as it always struck me as just very friendly. I have had those relationships with the opposite sex before after all. They are possible. One of my big gripes, and just a personal one, is having Clara appear to William Hartnell's Doctor and say, "Steal this one. The navigation system’s knackered but you’ll have much more fun." What does that mean for the line, "I wanted to see the universe, so I stole a Time Lord and I ran away. And you were the only one mad enough," from 'The Doctor's Wife'?

The rest? Eh. I was never a fan of River Song, but it was nice to see her get a nice curtain call, so to speak. The Three Stooges are at least consistently written, even if they don't interest me. 

Spectacle — Not much to say here either. It was cool to see even glimpses of the previous Doctors. We get a few nice shots of Trenzalore, but that's about it on the Spectacle. The Time-Steam is not dissimilar to a lightning effect I did in 2008 on a Trial copy of Adobe Aftereffects. The concepts are pretty spectacular. A Time Traveler must confront his future grave, but I still feel like the execution fell far short of the possibilities. 

 Aforementioned Big Changes

I'm starting a webseries. Yay! Would you like to know more? Movie Mutts Promo 1

Throwback Thursday: Remembering Robin Williams 'Dead Poets Society'

Thu, 08/14/2014 - 23:03

I hate admitting, seeing as I'm a Creative Writing minor and a Acting major that I've never seen this film before today. Obviously it was fantastic, and seeing as the kind of week its been, I'm pretty far from an unbiased judge, but there's a little bit in here for everyone. It's spirited and high energy and all the boys are really colorful characters. The writing is sincere about what it means to be a teenager, and that comes with the ups and downs and all the passion that a bunch of cooped up non-conforming teens can muster.

Most Idiotic Review

"Peter Weir's film makes much noise about poetry, and there are brief quotations from Tennyson, Herrick, Whitman and even Vachel Lindsay, as well as a brave excursion into prose that takes us as far as Thoreau's Walden. None of these writers are studied, however, in a spirit that would lend respect to their language; they're simply plundered for slogans to exort the students toward more personal freedom. At the end of a great teacher's course in poetry, the students would love poetry; at the end of this teacher's semester, all they really love is the teacher." ~ Roger Ebert

I'mma lose a lot of my fans. All like ... ten of you over this one, but I've rarely agreed with Roger Ebert over the years. I was a bit young for him when his show was on TV ... or my Grandparents just never put it on. Could go either way. All I remember for certain are the lyrics to the theme songs for Gilligan's Island and Mr. Ed. 

So, renowned as he is, well, I never really agreed with him. Frankly, a film about education is one thing, a film about a teacher's effect is another. I mean, the simple fact that a group of students are getting together outside of class to read poetry in a cave seems to signify to me that they're appreciating the language. Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe they're putting forth the effort and risking the repercussions just to imitate the teacher Ebert is implying they love more than the poetry, but hell, they were doing more than any of the kids I went to school with. It wasn't until college that I got invited to a cave in the desert to read poetry by firelight. And none of them stood on desks as far as I know. 

Most Accurate Review

"Before you run off expecting "Robin Williams Live": He not only turns in an acting performance (and a nicely restrained one at that), but he's not on screen half the time. "Poets" is about his influence, or teacher John Keating's influence, on a crop of impressionable young lads at Vermont's "Welton Academy" (actually Delaware's St. Andrew's), where learning is something you take twice daily, so you can wake up a doctor in the morning ... "Poets" peals a bell for intellectual freedom, creativity and, if nothing else, more Robin Williams movies."

The film made me pull all my books on writing off the shelf. On Writing by Stephen King, Ray Bradbury's Zen and the Art of Writing ... even Strunk and White's The Elements of Style. I guess that means I'm an impressionable young lad then! Me, and I've noticed, a lot of other people who were touched by this movie. As sad as it is to finally see this film after Robin William's passing, it's fortunate that I didn't see it before High School. I'd have been even more difficult to rear in by my teachers, most of whom respected me more as a person than a student already. 

What I Say

Plot & Characters — So what do we have? As previously stated, for I am lord redundant, we have a bunch of impressionable young lads who's minds are expanded by the unorthodox teachings of John Keating's, played wonderfully by Robin Williams. This film has become a rallying cry for so many people, and I can definitely see why. It's not often that one can relate to the majority of an ensemble cast so well. I think we all have a little bit of each character to one degree or another, and depending on who we're with, that changes. 

Sometimes I'm the wild one. Sometimes I'm the brave one. Sometimes I'm the scared one, and the film cycles through these rampant hormonal states with grace and charm. The poetry scenes draw you in, and Keating's speeches are delivered with the kind of power few actors outside Williams could muster ... although I understand at one point Dustin Hoffman was set to play the part. Not that I think he'd have done better, but as talented as Hoffman is, I'd love to have seen his interpretation. 

A Personal Tangent — 

So I want to share something here though that I ... well, I try to keep this blog light on the personal details. I never set out to write a personal blog, and usual find them overly self indulgent. My life is interesting. My daily life is fairly dull. So if you're not interested in personal gobblety-gook, click away now.

When I was just-turned sixteen, I was not an exemplary student. I was oftentimes in danger of failing and usually only passing by the skin of my teeth. I graduated highschool by writing 3 extra papers during the time allotted for the final, raising my English grade from 17% to a B. One of said papers was a research paper (five sources) on a book I hadn't read. No one can accuse me of buckling under academic pressure. 

So just-turned sixteen Godzello is nearly failing his classes, but he has a leading part in the school's Tribute To Broadway Showcase. His father tells him that because of his grades he will have to drop out. The week before we opened the show. 

I was horrified, devastated, and, as many sixteen year olds find themselves, enraged.

So while watching Dead Poets Society, I couldn't help to relate to Robert Sean Leonard's character Neil Perry. I started feeling emotions that I hadn't felt in years. I wish that I'd had a teacher like John Keating at the time (I had some who came pretty close). So, major spoiler upcoming.


When Neil killed himself, it rocked me. I don't know how else to describe it other than the road not traveled. I could have been there. I could have chosen to make that decision. In a weird way, the movie made me realize how close I was. At the time all I was thinking about was the play.

So, in my personal version of the events, after a very heated debate (and when I say heated, I'm abusing understatement) I walked out, at sixteen, creating a domino effect (involving me going back and getting kicked out again) that climaxed in me being informally adopted by my lesbian-ex-girlfriend's family, where I lived for six more years, before transferring to University to study theatre. 

To reel this back in, I can see why this film resonates with so many, and reaffirms my sadness at the loss of Robin Williams to the world. Bangarang, my captain, bangarang.

On Lucy

Wed, 08/13/2014 - 21:10

Wow I did not want to watch this movie. I remember when the first trailer appeared and the only--ONLY thought that went through my head was, "That's not real science. 10% brain usage is an urban myth." Now, admittedly, I forgave Limitless for using the same damned myth, but ... well a few things went into that. I completely missed it the first time I saw Limitless. I just rewatched it to make sure I didn't jam my foot in my mouth while reviewing Lucy. So there's that. It's glossed over instead of being front and center, and very much not the focus of the movie. Bradley Cooper's character Eddie remains relatable even as the story progresses. Lucy purposefully does not. Lucy also keep touting the 10% brain usage myth like a newspaper barker yelling a shitty headline. 

Most Idiotic Review

"[Lucy] smartly goes in a wildly different direction than the amusingly amoral Limitless, in which Bradley Cooper's character abused a similar drug, but used it to gain success, money and power. He was selfish. Lucy is selfless."

Uh-huh. Does anyone else remember that scene near the beginning when she shoots a dozen or more people? And Bradley Cooper kills ... a handful of henchmen? And considering the distinction in capabilities between Cooper's character and Johansson's ... well, you see where I'm going. 

Most Accurate Review

"[Besson] seems more interested in engaging, playfully yet seriously, with the various biological, philosophical and metaphysical riddles that [the film] raises," the story is lacking as an action film and is not "much of a thriller – it's virtually an anti-thriller, devoid of suspense or any real sense of danger due to the fact that its heroine is more or less invincible," and that "at times it's hard to shake the sense that a smarter, more unbridled picture might have found a way to slip the bonds of genre altogether." — Chang 

This is one of my bigger complaints about the film. The ultimate conflict of the story is for Lucy to pass on her newfound knowledge. There is a distinct sense of message (delivered via 2x4 method of insertion) ... less sense of plot. Seeing as Lucy becomes devoid of her humanity (much like Doctor Manhattan did in the Watchmen, and we now know how dull a fill about Alan Moore's God-like character as protagonist might have been.)

What I Say

Boy I'll do my best to refrain from swearing too much, although it's hard. The Telegraph said that the themes of this film derive from Kantian models of transcendental idealism. Great. As one of my oldest friends said, "Kant, one of Rand's boogey-men." I shoulda known that between this and Besson's history (The Fifth Element) that I was in for a treatment as kind as a chemical bath for my ballsack. 

Plot — After being duped by a trick that I don't even think would have worked on a Looney Toon by her boyfriend of two weeks, Lucy ends up a drug runner for a mysterious new drug that enhances a person's measly ten percent brain capacity to superhuman levels, allowing for telekinesis, telepathy, physiological manipulation (including the dead cells in your hair in case you need a makeover), time travel, etc. 

Basically she gets some drug leaked on her and becomes God, and longtime fans of my blog might notice I don't normally capitalize that word, but I'm capitalizing it here. Why? I think this character could wipe the floor with most of Marvel's lineup of Planet-Killers. F*** Thanos and Apocalypse. This drug is more powerful than them all.

Also, curious to note, I don't recall any other examples of people using the drug in the film. Like ... I assume someone must have tried to OD on the damn thing before. Also I can't find much evidence that CPH4 operates at all the way the movie describes it.

So, as I said, Lucy is on her way to transfer her vast new intellect (including the taste of her mother's breastmilk) to the world. She also kills a bunch of dudes. Luckily, the other drug runners (who run surprisingly well for guys with drugs surgically inserted into their 'lower tummys') are all heading to France, so local police captain Pierre Del Rio can apprehend the remaining CPH4 and Lucy can be in the same city as Morgan Freeman's highly misinformed scientist, who keeps blathering on about the 10% myth.

I know I'm overreacting to this, but I'll unashamedly say this pissed me off more than Ninja Turtles, which while stupid, wasn't trying to ram some pseudo-philosophical bull down our throats.

Characters — So we have Lucy, who becomes less and less human as her mental capacities increase. Seeing as this metamorphosis starts fairly early in the film (closing at a surprising 89 minutes) ... we don't have a good sense of who Lucy is prior to the transformation. She has some nice dialogue and Scarlett Johansson is really bringing it, but we don't see her make any choices. Before the change, she's purely reactionary, and that bugged me. Later in the movie she's operating on a level with Neo and Doc Manhattan as who can have the most disinterested poker-face. Since it's intentional I can't say they did it poorly, but it personally didn't interest me. 

I'll admit when the movie does well but just doesn't click with me, as in this case. It's just the, frankly, butchered science and weird pacing that gets to me. 

The rest of the cast is ... kinda forgettable. None of them really have much to do. Morgan Freeman is once again Lord Expositor, King of Exposition, declaring things that, I'll be damned if I know how he knows. I had more than a few moments where he'd say something and I'd respond, "HOW DO YOU KNOW THAT!" I think he and Ken Watanabe's character from Godzilla studied at the same school of exposition. Declare your conclusion without anything to back it up, but do it with authority and everyone will just assume you know what you're talking about. I think that's how religion got started. 

Spectacle — The movie looks nice. It's filmed nice, and while I think it could have breathed a bit without entering padding territory, it doesn't feel rushed, just more brisk than a fan of 2001: A Space Odyssey or A Place Beyond the Pines like me might like. So yes, it looks really nice and the effects execution of Lucy's continually developing powers is very sleek. It was just built on a foundation that instantly turned me off to the movie as a whole. Shame. I thought Scarlett Johansson did a remarkable job. I really hope at least that whatever success comes from this film, she gets the credit and respect she deserves. 

And will people stop producing Besson's movies!

Update Me: Silent Hills with Hideo Kojima, Guillermo del Toro, and Norman Reedus.

Wed, 08/13/2014 - 10:40

Update Me is a new segment I'm going to do when big news breaks in the Pop Culture World. I still intend to post a review later today, (I'm seeing Lucy, and let me tell you, they're lucky I like Scarlett Johansson, because based on the trailer, this looked like some Junior Higher's idea of Sci-Fi).

So yesterday, in the wake of the tragedy of Robin William's passing (yes, his death actually hit me fairly hard), we received this news. Boy, let me tell you, I was conflicted. Silent Hill is up there as one of my all-time favorite ... eh, not the franchise so much. 1-3 were fantastic. 4 ... well, 4 was a different game, and since then, the series has, at best, struggled to inject itself with new life. So what did get? Metal Gear Solid creator Hideo Kojima, filmmaker Guillermo del Toro (Pan's Labyrinth, Hellboy), and starring The Walking Dead's Norman Reedus.

The initial reaction was akin to, "Mahominahomina." This is big news, especially seeing how ... hmmm, rusted and dilapidated the streets of Silent Hill have become in recent games. I'm not usually one to hope in these situations, but frankly, I haven't been this excited since Joss Whedon was announced as writer/director of the Avengers. Hell, they even brought back Akira Yamaoka's soundtrack!

Terrible Tuesday: On Oblivion

Tue, 08/12/2014 - 10:07

After yesterday's news, I was torn between sticking to my schedule or breaking away and doing some reviews of my favorite Robin William's films. I decided I'd stick it out, but I'd been planning on doing some of my top movies in subsequent Throwback Thursdays over the next month (after next weeks Doctor Who return). 

So Terrible Tuesday is still rearing its ugly head, and how you might ask if you haven't looked at the title of this article? As a bloated hodgpodge of better, more iconic, and more memorable Sci-Fi films from previous decades. Oh and it stars Tom Cruise, who I neither greatly love or greatly hate. I think I prefer him playing less than Mission Impossible roles, but I've certainly seen less convincing actors don the action hero mantle.

Most Idiotic Review

"While the premise and some factors of the movie may seem underwhelming going in, Oblivion not only delivers, but makes for an enjoyable and smart sci-fi movie well worth the price of admission." — Greenmember (Metacritic)

I had a hard time finding a review for this one short of dredging into internet comments from butthurt fanboys. So I'm starting to realize I might not have much new to say on the topic of this movie. Will that stop me? [insert southern colloquialism combining habits of chickens, greased-weasels, and/or rain]

So what did I do? I found a fanboy amidst the internet comments. Let me just clear something up, Greenmember, the only delivery of smart sci-fi in this whole film comes in the regurgitated remains of better classics. I get homage. I love homage. I even enjoy the little (blatant) nods in the Expendables films. 

This? This is the sci-fi equivalent of Disturbia, but at least it had the good graces to feel ashamed that it was ripping off Rear Window. 

Most Accurate Review

"Oblivion is not the most exciting or the smartest science fiction experience to ever hit theaters; action fans may be underwhelmed by a limited amount of gunplay, and viewers looking for an especially deep sci-fi world might find too many familiar tropes. Melodrama and predictable reveals keep the film from being the mind-bending creation that Kosinski may have envisioned, but the director still presents a captivating future with rich visuals and an intriguing protagonist." — Ben Kendrick (Screenrant)

I might have taken more ire with this film than most. Somewhere around the, "The Moon was destroyed," I tried turning it off, but my date insisted we finish watching the flick. I wasn't even allowed my usual MST3K behavior. Alas a second date was not in the making. Oh well. Movies are more important.

I think the majority of my reaction is coupled with not just this movie. 

A few months back an article entitled, "EDGE OF TOMORROW Deserves Redemption, For All Our Sakes" was making the rounds, and for several reasons, it burned my ass. It got me loaded up enough on frustration that I threw down with Edge of Tomorrow for a review. 

The bit I took issue with was, "Here was a really terrific SF film, and if it passes unnoticed, if it flops, it might be a while before another one comes by."

Now, I saw the film. It wasn't bad, per se, but it wasn't 'really terrific'. It was really meh. I could go on, but I'll refrain. He goes on to say, "There have, of course, been a number of films very similar to EDGE OF TOMORROW in the last few years, SF movies, all doing similar sorts of business; OBLIVION; ELYSIUM; JOHN CARTER; WATCHMEN – PACIFIC RIM ..."

And personally, I found few of these films at all engaging. I'm totally a snob, I get it. I was raised on Asimov, Heinlein, and Clarke, and I'll refrain from whipping out the Nostalgia Tinted Goggles and talking about how much better sci-fi was in the days of yore. But these movies he's listing are ... well, I thought most of them were deserving of an underwhelming reaction. District 9 had a spectacular response, and I found that movie particularly unengaging. Hmn, mayhap I'll do an editorial post in direct response to the article later this week. I seem to be finding I have a lot to say about it. TUNE IN NEXT TIME!

What I Say

Oblivion was a visual extravaganza of well done images showing us ... a lot of shit we've seen before. Spoilers ahead, me'hearties!

Plot — Aliens show up, clone Tom Cruise to make an army with which to take over the world so they can harvest water. Then they use the clones with false memories to hunt down the remaining humans, who disguise themselves just enough to try and fail to convince the audience that they're aliens. Tom Cruise 49 learns the truth and sets about destroying the alien vagina cube. Oh, and his wife is in there somewhere. She doesn't actually have that much to do.

Character — While I disagree with elements of the Ignatiy Vishnevetsky's review, I was pretty amused by his remarks, "Harper [Tom Cruise] is an idealized man; he's good with a gun, good with his hands, good in bed, loves football and rides a motorcycle. Though most of the movie's characters are women, not one of them is able to do anything without Harper's help — not even the mother triangle that lives in the space uterus."

Sadly it's true, and sadly, I got very little off of the rest of the cast. Morgan Freeman is there ... because of course he is. We have the competing affections of two women, both played well by Olga Kurylenko and Andrea Riseborough respectively, but their characters leave much to be desired. My reactions were underwhelmed to the n'th degree. 

Spectacle — The movie is visually brilliant (Director Joseph Kosinski, as usual, delivers on that front), but if you're looking to be visual stunned by imagery built on a foundation of character and plot ... you know, the story elements, go elsewhere. If you're on shrooms and just don't care? This is the movie for you. The design is meticulous and in many cases awe inspiring. If I could have stopped gnawing at the other failings of the film, it might have been one of my favorites. As it is? I was too frustrated with calling out every plot twist along the way. Clones, humans are the survivors, memorywipes, wives, switcheroos with Morgan Freeman, all wrapped in previously existing (albeit fantastically done) imagery. 

Tentative Reactions to Robin William's Death

Mon, 08/11/2014 - 16:35

 I'm joining legions of fans hit by the news of Robin William's death.

The decision to write this blog came within ten minutes of reading the first news article, and then another, and another, and another. I just couldn't believe it. Much like  Phillip Seymour Hoffman's death earlier this year it hits particularly hard. Hits is the only word that keeps coming to mind, in fact. I, like people in my generation and beyond were raised on Robin William's work. He starred in my favorite movie of all time, What Dreams May Come, a film that helped me through my Step-Father's death and being homeless at sixteen. Robin Williams kept me laughing. 

It's unfair to project my loss when I know he had family and friends who are suffering more than I ever could. The fact that his death is suspected a suicide makes this all the harder. I never want to be in a position to understand the depths of depression that could push a person to make a decision like this. It's a struggle I can't imagine, and while I actually feel physically sick to realize what he was going through ... it's worse to realize how many he left behind. 

I guess there'll never be any real answer to these situations. No one wins. I don't think there's anyone to blame. It's just a shame. I wish there was more we as a culture could do to promote mental healthcare in this culture (I can say that as a fairly emotionally unstable individual). For someone who made so many lives brighter, I wish ... well, I wish things hadn't come to this. 

On Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Mon, 08/11/2014 - 13:00

I wanted to hate this movie. 

I certainly didn't like it ... I didn't hate it. The weirdest thing happened. Within two hours of seeing it ... I had literally forgotten I'd seen it. I was telling my (aforementioned lesbian) friend about the newest stuff Channel Awesome had posted and it suddenly hit me, "Two hours ago I watched Ninja Turtles for my blog. Oh right." And then, as I sat there trying to remember funny lines that weren't already in the trailers ... all I could remember were lines out of Turtles Forever, the 1990 movie, and the first episode of the 1987 cartoon, "Hero in a Helf Shell" (my roommate and I had a Turtles Day). 
Unlike a lot of movies ... this one had next to no impact on me, but I'm here, so let's dive in.

Most Idiotic Review

"Not much of an effort is made to differentiate the personalities of the turtles, who all frankly look as grotesque as a Terry Gilliam cartoon." — Peter Howell (Toronto Star)

I wholly disagree here. One, the Turtles' personalities are intact ... kinda. It feels like they did at least watch the '87 intro before setting out to write the script. Leonardo leads, Donatello is swathed in tech gadgetry. Raphael is cool but through, and Michelangelo is a party dude. This is intact. 


And there's a rather big but in the room. 

They're oddly mean-spirited. I'd have to see the movie again to really analyze what I mean by that, so understand that's more of a gut intuition reaction. I could be wrong, but that was certainly my take. I'm no fan of teenagers, nor have I ever been (even when I was one, and that wasn't at all long ago), so that might be the source of my discontentment.

The other problem I have with what Peter Howell has to say is this. I love Terry Gillaim's cartoons! And while, yes, the Turtles and Splinter are grotesque, and frankly un-fun to look at for more than a few seconds at a time, I find it an abhorrent comparison (jeeze, look at me whipping out the big words. I don't know where that's coming from). 

Most Accurate Review

"Neither entertaining enough to recommend nor remarkably awful, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles may bear the distinction of being the dullest movie ever made about talking bipedal reptiles." — Rotten Tomatoes Site Consensus

Yeah. That. What they said. I'm not normally so damn in line with Rotten Tomatoes, but this time, I feel like they nailed it. I find it so weird how ineffective this movie going experience was. I've talked about 'Paint-By-Numbers Storytelling' but this is f***ing ridiculous. Other than the things they changed, like April being the daughter of the scientist who created the mutagen that transformed the turtles and she ... actually I don't know if she supposedly named them, or just recognized the names. I was half asleep at that point (and I'm not joking ... I really was half asleep for several parts of the film). But other than the things they changed, it just seemed like ... well, the phrase 'designed by committee' certainly comes to mind. They distilled all the elements that made the Turtles recognizable, and then fit them into a distinctly Michael Bay shaped puzzle, and said, "Huzzah! We have pizza and the phrase Cowabunga. Must be a faithful adaptation. Benjamins all around!"

What I Say

Normally I'm a little concerned with spoilers, but today, I really am not invested enough to care. If you're actually concerned that knowing the plot (dare-I-say) twists for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles ahead of time will ruin this movie, you're very naive about what kind of movie this is, and I humbly ask you to leave my blog and never return. 

Plot — Rich-Man baddie Sachs (played by William Fichtner) teams up with baddie Shredder, who has been turned into an odd combo of Batman and Iron Man. He's an angry ninja with a raspy voice and Power Armor (covered in blades). He is every 13 year old boy's idea of badass badguy. He's actually less characterized than the Super-Shredder from the end of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2: The Secret of the Ooze. They're plan is unleash a toxin into the air of New York, killing all the people, and using the mutagen in the Turtle's blood to make an antidote, thus allowing them to ... take over New York because they have the antidote, and make lots of money in the process. 

Makes ... perfect ... sense? 

I think Michael Bay is giving Christopher Nolan a run for his money for silliest supervillain plot after what Nolan did with Bane in Dark Knight Rises. 

So the turtles (aaaand Splinter (who, despite walking and talking does not have the proper mutagen that the turtles have in their blood), voiced by a very not Asian Tony Shalhoub ) were supposedly lost in a fire (from which they were saved from by a young April O'Neil ... because ... she was there ... for ... some reason. Her father lit the place on fire ... with his daughter in the immediate area so she could save turtles. He sounds like Father of the Year). 

So Splinter finds a book on ninjitsu and ... learns ninjitsu, from the book ... so he can teach ... the turtles. 

Okay, that's it, I'm done, moving on. 

Characters — I feel like I should go through each character, but, again, the Turtles personalities have all been distilled to their basest elements ... the '87 theme song. They have nothing beyond that. They're ... garish, and generally unlikable. They have few moments of genuine heart or charisma (the elevator scene is a lot of fun, although still felt rushed ... much like the rest of the film). For the most part they came across as obnoxious. 

April is a gung-ho reporter who's going out there to get her story and, for all her whining about not being taken seriously ... there is something fundamentally wrong with her. No one in their right mind walks in and starts spouting off about 6 ft talking ninja turtles with a single, shitty photo of them in the distance, and then acts wronged when everyone thinks she's crazy. I had already seen the Turtles, hell I grew up with the turtles ... and I was on Whoopi Goldberg's side. In the words of the Honorable Sensie, "Throw de bum out!"

Will Arnett was the only person who I actually liked in the movie, and the only one who grasped the real reason Megan Fox was playing April O'Neil. She has dat ass. And I'm not even unhappy with her acting, or her character. I thought she did very well considering her character was written as something akin to a blundering joke (with nice bewbs). 

Spectacle — Meh? CGI action really doesn't do much to rev my engine. As everyone's been saying, the scene on the snow-capped mountain in the highlight of the film, partially because it's just fun, but also, I'd argue, because it's one of the few times in the movie where the turtles really feel like an ensemble? Like they're working together, like family? Which the movie keeps touting as it's theme, but only in the most contrived, shallow instances. 

I know it's a popcorn movie, so I'm not as angry that the script didn't allow for it. I know not all movies are going to be American Beauty, so I forgive the shallowness, but I still can't shake the feeling of soul-crushing corporate heartlessness and lack of sincere enjoyment.

Also, 21st century action scenes need to die. That's a decree. You want to see a great action scene, an impressive action scene? Watch this scene from Ong-Bak. I think even the camera operator had to be an Olympic athlete to pull this shot off.

At the end of the day, I guess the only words I can use to describe this flick are unpleasant and forgettable. It's not the worst that an adaptation can be, but considering the rich history of the characters, it's filler at best. Maybe the announced sequel can do better. As is, this movie is the equivalent of a Jose Canseco Bat.

On Gone Home

Thu, 08/07/2014 - 15:09

I am not a gamer. I suppose I fit the model more back during Junior High, but during High School, I never got into it. I never owned a console, hell, still don't own a TV. I enjoyed the classic RPGs and I've slipped in here and there for games with really good stories. I want to become a published author at some point and I'm studying acting at University, so games like Skyrim hold next to no appeal to me. I'm not much of a roleplayer, I'm here to get my story on, which is why Ken Levine and Chris Avellone are personal heroes of mine (that said, I'm still looking to get my hands on The Forest, which is a little lacking in narrative structure, but still looks like terrifying, challenging fun). 

So when Gone Home was released, I was pretty hyped to play another interactive story, like To the Moon, which I reviewed a while back here

Most Idiotic Review

I can't find one ... Short of going into forums and comments which mostly are just people unhappy that the game isn't like other games.The biggest complaint I heard that I could sympathize with was the short game-play time compared to the price. As a student, I can really sympathize.

Most Accurate Review

"... realistic, engrossing story that’s beautifully told through environmental clues and audio narration ... many people read books for the opportunity to see life through someone else’s eyes, but it’s rare for a game to do it as well as this one does." — Emily Morganti (Adventure Gamers)

There were quite a few reviews to choose from on this one, but I liked this one. As a writer, one has to spend a lot of time thinking about setting details, even if they don't ultimately make it into the finished manuscript. In Design Analysis class we spent a lot of time talking about how to use Line, Shape, Mass, Value, Color, Light, and Texture. 

Gone Home is a perfect example of having a conscious approach to these elements of design. And yes, I realize what a total dweeb I am for making that connection of all possible connections. Never mind the fact that my sister is gay. No, that flew right over my head. 

What I Think

It's a damn good story. It's not really much of a game. That doesn't bother me. 

Okay, admittedly it's been a little while since I played the game so I'm running on some fumes as far as character and plot are concerned, so I'll keep this brief. You take control of Kaitlin who's just gotten home after a year of traveling to find the house empty. As you explore the house, you uncover clues as to where your family, specifically your little sister Samantha, has disappeared to.

That's pretty much it. There's some puzzling out for you to do, but most of the story involves finding notes and listening to recordings. It's like BioShock without the Splicers and only the Audiologs and the environment ... which still sounds entertaining to me. 

I know some people weren't thrilled by the ending, or underwhelmed would be the better word, but personally, I connected with it. I didn't come from the most average of households. We certainly weren't the Cleavers, so I connected a lot with the story of the little sister as it unfolded. I found it powerful in how understated it was. 

Definitely want to keep my eyes open for more games out there like Gone Home. 

On The Expendables 3

Wed, 08/06/2014 - 11:47

So, after attacking How I Met Your Mother's writers yesterday for failing to understand their fanbase, what could I possibly hold up as an example of writers and filmmakers knowing their audience? Actually? Expendables 3. I might be a David Lynch fan. I might really enjoy every film Danny Boyle releases. I might occasionally be in the mood for the mind-trippery of Cronenburg and Gilliams. 

But more often than not? I want a classic 80s action movie with guys with big muscles, big guns, big explosions, and if I could chose a way to die, drowning in these overly cheesey one-liners would probably be my way to go. 

Most Idiotic Review

"Are there legions of middle-aged weightlifting nuts out there who yearn for the good old days of Chuck Norris mowing down foreign Johnnies with an uzi 9mm?"  — TOM HUDDLESTON (Rotten Tomatoes)

The obvious answer to this review is ... yes. I'm sure. There's a fanbase for anything and everything. Just because I had to be either dragged kicking and screaming or seriously drugged to go see Transformers 2 & 3 in theaters doesn't mean most of my friends weren't ready to kick doors down to see them, and just because I might look down on Dark Knight as ponderously bad storytelling structure and characterization (I'm convinced Joker was saved by Heath Ledger more than the writing), but, to quote the Nostalgia Critic, "... just because I can't understand why, doesn't mean I can't see how," someone likes something.

So here I am, a twenty-two year old Vegas rat who's studying theatre at a school that is 78% LDS, and this movie delivered exactly what I wanted and what it promised in the trailers. I wanted aged actors who're still more intimidating than Tom Cruise has ever been in any of his forrays in the Mission Impossible Jizzbuckets, I wanted a preference to practical effects over CGI, I wanted lots of explosions, and I wanted, as previously mentioned, to drown in cheesy one-liners. 

Just because I worship at the altar of Shakespeare doesn't mean I don't enjoy a f***ing Big Mac on occasion. 

(Also, in Tom Huddleston's full review he uses the word 'loquacious', which means talkative to describe Antonio Banderas' character. All I have to say to that is, 'Cram it up your ass, sir, and fuck yourself with it like a Pogo-Stick you pretentious sack of shit.')

Most Accurate Review

"While there is perhaps too much repetition and exposition it is a film that resolutely delivers exactly what its hard-core fan-base is after." — Mark Adams (Rotten Tomatoes) 

As I said, Shakespeare this is not, but as much as the pacing suffers, I still can't bring myself to admit, I wasn't having a great time. Again and again, the movie was what I wanted. I think the reason I don't hold The Expendables to the lofty heights of other movies is ... it's not trying to be something great. Here me out. 

When Sly went to work on this story, do you think he was considering socio-politcal ramifications? Or heartpounding character drama? What about moral, ethical, and philosophical ponderings? Fuck no, he wanted to tell a story where one set of old dudes shoots up another set of young dudes and things go Boom. And for that? It's exactly as promised. The writing wasn't full of holes as far as I noticed. It was silly and over the top, but I felt like it naturally progressed from one set piece to another, and damned if these actors aren't having a lot of fun with their roles (especially Snipes, Gibson, and Banderas). 

What I Say

I liked it. I cheered at all the cheesy parts and over the top action, and I enjoyed the cast's chemistry and oddball characters. I wish more action movies followed this model. They take the job seriously, they take the action seriously, but they obviously don't take themselves seriously. Suck on that Tom Cruise. 

Plot — So we have the introduction of Mel Gibson's character Conrad Stonebanks, who was one of the original Expendables along with Barney Ross (Sylvester Stalone) who went rogue and became an arms dealer. After a mismatched firefight, Stalone brings on a new set of youngen's to offset his Team's age. From there we get some Mission Impossible tech-gadgets, and a classic 80s 'kick the door down and spray them with bullets' approach.

Characters — One of the things I always really liked about these movies was that all the characters were not quite your action stereotypes, except maybe Stallone. He's just playing Stallone playing leader. Admittedly Statham's romance with Charisma Carpenter in the first film was the highlight of his arc, he's still fun. The rest of the cast, especially the older characters, seem to wear their own neurosis as characters. Mel Gibson is delightfully insane ... as is Wesley Snipes. Actually, I can totally see both these guys walking down the street as those characters. I hardly thought they were acting half the time. I think they just came on set and pulled a Brando. Never looked at the scripts. I'd believe it too.

The cast is a bit bogged down with the newbies, who frankly aren't anywhere near as interesting as the classics, but we do have to sit through them. I also recognized none of them. I would have enjoyed seeing some younger action names and not just MMA fighters (that's what they all looked like) trying to break into the acting world. Part of the strength of the older cast is they're preestablished. The newbies just look dull in comparison. 

But fortunately they're mostly reserved for the action set-pieces and the banter is left to the crowd we know and love. 

Spectacle — Here's the big on I've been hyping, I guess. Does the movie deliver on the spectacle? I'd say so, but maybe this is just that particular story that bypasses all higher brain function and turns me into the equivalent of an X-Box Live player. So the story is simple and the characters are a bit too populous. Here's what I have to say about the action ... breath. Okay, actually, not the action, the editor. The editor needs to take a step back and trust that the action will do the job for them. Alas, that is one side-effect of the modern age these films haven't escaped. They love their fast-cuts and their shakycam. It's not enough to ruin the experience for me, but there were few times where I had to 'fill in the gaps' of what was happening in the action, and at least once in the final fight where it cut from one set of characters to another and I was left confused. On the other hand, the majority of the stunts are practical as opposed to digital, and that's still a win in my book

Hasta la vista, baby. 

Terrible Tuesday: On The How I Met Your Mother Series Finale Ending

Tue, 08/05/2014 - 18:02

Boy, what a mouthful of a title. Jeeze. 

Okay, so it's been a little while since How I Met Your Mother ended, and I've had a fair amount of time to really contemplate it, so here's my two cents. I won't bother really delving into the plot or characters of the episode so much, just my opinion, which does have two sides, but is definitely leaning one way more than the other. I guess that's because, after 9 seasons, I really want to find something in the finale that I really liked. I really want to. It's like watching a nine year engagement go up in flames like the Hindenburg. It's over so quickly you're left wondering why you're on fire and everything you know and love isn't what you thought it was. 

I really didn't like the ending. It didn't work for me, as it didn't work for a lot of people. And personally, here's why; it just plainly didn't fit. When the show was started, they went ahead and filmed bit for the ending that they had envisioned originally when the writers were pitching the show. If you go back and watch, say, the first four seasons, and then skip to the ending? It makes more sense for Robin and Ted to get together. Unfortunately for the writers, the show went on, it grew up, it talked back, and like any good parents, they rubbed its face in it until it did as it was told... I might not be parent material.

So what threw off this original ending so bad? Four extra years of the show. The stories couldn't remain static, so new things were introduced, like Barney and Robin's relationship, which they spent an entire season establishing their wedding weekend. Nearly a whole year was spent with us watching them get hitched. What the writers didn't count on, was their impromptu storylines, that would have no bearing on the ending they'd already shot, would invest their audience. Duh. They spent so much time earning Robin and Barney's relationship, we fell in love with it. We also fell in love with Cristin Milioti as the titular mother. She was wonderful, and after so much time and waiting, we were ready to see Ted happy. I was happy to see Ted happy, and I was happy to see Robin and Barney happy. 

But in the final all that got thrown away (divorce and dead Mother) so the writers could keep their original ending. Bully for them. On one hand, I really respect that the writers stuck to their guns and told the ending they wanted to tell. I just think it was to the wrong story. How I Met Your Mother had grown and developed and moved on to bigger and better things. The audience deserved bigger and better things. Hell the writers had simply improved as storytellers. 

After the fact, you can really see how hard they were trying to accommodate where the story was trying to go, and still stay in the safe zone that afforded the (in their opinion happy) ending where Ted and Robin got back together ... a storyline that was so played out over 9 seasons and that next to nobody was even moderately interested in seeing. If anything, we had 9 seasons to showcase why they shouldn't be together, why it won't work. 

The original ending is very indicative of where the writers were in their lives when they started the show. It's a shame that 9 years later, they were still doggedly holding onto that notion that, frankly, they should have outgrown. Their show would have been more fondly remembered had they simply remembered to kill their darlings.

On the Guardians of the Galaxy

Mon, 08/04/2014 - 17:46

This movie knocked my socks off. I was sick and I still walked half-an-hour to the theater to watch it. Totally worth it. Honestly, my first thought is that this might be my favorite of the Marvel films so far, and for any longtime readers of this blog, you'll know I worship at the altar of Joss Whedon, but even I'll admit that the Avengers was hampered from being what it could have been by what it had to be. There's nothing wrong with that and I'm still super excited to see Age of Ultron. 

Guardians though got to hit the ground running. It had the benefit of all of the experience Marvel Studios has garnered over the past ... what, nine films? But it got to breath freely without being directly anchored to the lesser films in the franchise. 

In a similar way, I'd rank this higher than X-Men: Days of Future Past. Part of the reason that film was so amazing was it was obvious Brian Singer felt just as ashamed of X-Men 3 and Wolverine: Origins as the rest of the fanbase. I don't know if I'd have loved Winter Soldier as much if it wasn't simply better than Captain America: The First Avenger.

Other than merely existing in the same universe as the rest of the Marvel lineup, James Gunn's film stands happily on its own, and is better for it, acknowledging that those other films are out there, but without bringing to mind the sweet odor from films such as Iron Man 3.

Most Idiotic Review

"... terribly overstuffed and many of the jokes get drowned out by the special effects... The pervasive movie references detract from the stab at freshness, and Guardians depends all too much on the whimsy of '70s anthems for an original beat." Jake Coyle (Associated Press)

I talked extensively with my lesbian friend (I'm thoroughly convinced that every straight man needs at least one lesbian in their lives. They are magical creatures. Like Unicorns) immediately after seeing Guardians and one of the points she brought up was that the movie was the perfect length, and I agree, and you should agree too, otherwise you're homophobic.

Also, personally, I can't think of a single other sci-fi space adventure that included movie references and 70s pop songs. I'm sure they exist (maybe not on the same scale) but it was a pretty new experience to me, and it helped me connect with Quill as he journeyed through the galaxy with a talking tree, a racoon, a green woman, and a very pissed off Drax. 

Lastly, while the film has some really breathtaking CGI moments, I never felt like they were drowning out anything. I remember many scenes specifically having to do with the characters speaking with each other in front of unassuming backgrounds (on ships, in the prison, etc).

Most Accurate Review
"Blessed with a loose, anarchic B-picture soul that encourages you to enjoy yourself even when you're not quite sure what's going on, the scruffy Guardians is irreverent in a way that can bring the first Star Wars to mind, in part because it has some of the most unconventional heroes this side of the Mos Eisley Cantina." Kenneth Turan (Los Angeles Times)

I wanna say that this is James Gunn's effect on the film, but it very much embraces that B-picture soul. I agree wholeheartedly. I loved it and the irreverence of the titular characters, who get along and bicker in a way reminiscent, and still totally dissimilar from the Whendonesque banter in the Avengers. 

After I saw those abs, how could I not fall in love?What I Say

I am always concerned with  intellectual properties that get really hyped. I loved Slither and I love James Gunn, and I recognized that it had a fantastic cast and the trailers really made it seem like it had a fantastic sense of humor. That said, I was very leery walking into the theater. Then Chris Pratt appears with his walkman and starts dancing. I cannot lie, I was won over ridiculously fast. I'm almost ashamed at how quickly I flipflopped on this movie. It really hooked me and I loved it. Absolutely loved it. So let's dive in, shall we?

Plot — So what do we have? A ragtag group of misfits: check. A galaxy-wide threat: check. A mystical weapon of mass destruction: check. 70s pop songs and movie references: check. I can't say that there is a whole lot going on in the movie directly relating to the plot, but I only mean that in the same way that there isn't a lot going on in Indiana Jones, or Star Wars, or even the Hellboy films, which this did occasionally remind me of. The stories are fairly simple, and thank Cthulhu that we finally got a memorable villain. Why? Mostly his relationship with Drax (played by Dave Batista) and Gamora (played by Zoe Saldana). It actually works wonders just to have the villain's villainy depicted as off-screen backstory that is driving two of the lead characters. 

Also, you can see Karen Gillan post Doctor Who.
Always good to see talented actors getting work. 
Honestly, I much preferred  Ronan to most of Marvel's cinematic villains, if only because I really felt the threat of his radicalism and zealotry. They made it pretty clear that he was not a guy you wanted to have any power. Not just a little power. You don't want to give him a AAA Battery he's so loony. So of course, he is trying to get his hands on an infinity stone. What is an Infinity Stone? It's what would have happened if Sauron had made a complete set instead of the One Ring. Poor merchandising plan for the Dark Lord on his Dark Throne. 

The rest of the plot involves these colorful underdogs to band together to stop him. Their motivations are different, their characters are different, and the result is a colorful mess that mixes drama and comedy beautifully. 


Peter Quill or, as you might know him ... Star-Lord (played by Chris Pratt) is fantastic. The actor really carries this film, and that's not to say the rest of the cast isn't pulling its weight and delivering stellar performances, but Peter Quill is so lovable and so enjoyable on screen, he should have been Indiana Jones' illegitimate son in Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Seriously, he brings an emotional charm, a sincerity, and an absolute childlike innocence to this overgrown manchild. He is all the things a child of the 80s would have been if he'd been abducted by space-pirates and let loose to terrorize the galaxy with a Walkman in tow. When he behaves altruistically, you totally buy it, and when he behaves selfishly, you totally buy it, and the best part is, he usually does both in the same scene. 

Gamora, I'll admit, I was worried about. Up and to this point, I actually haven't been much a fan of Zoe Saldana, and after seeing this movie, I finally figured it out. I hate how Uhura's character has been portrayed in Abram's Star Trek films, and my opinion of her, is mostly based around her character more than her acting. Same goes for Avatar. There wasn't a lot there for me to really enjoy about that character. Here? I think she does a wonderful job, being open, vulnerable, and full of strength. Also, the movie does pretty well to skimp over the whole 'sex-symbol' aspect ... partially because Quill, you get the feeling, will and does hit on anything, but in this case, does have genuine feelings (of one form or another) for her. Her backstory could have had a bit more fleshing out, but at 122 minutes, I can understand why it was rather speedily handled. Not poorly handled, just speedily. 

I was surprised by Drax, just because I probably never would have guessed that the actor (who's name did sound familiar) was mainly known as a professional wrestler. It might be judgmental and snobbish of the theatre major to say as much, but I was totally invested in Drax's character. He was a nice change from the usual muscled brute one might expect. He was honorable, jovial, haunted, and, as is the source of much great comic-relief, completely literal. The moment where he says to Quill, "You are an imbecile" is going on my list of favorite character reactions of all time. 

I love that they hired Bradley Cooper to voice Rocket. I love that Bradley Cooper is getting to work on some really awesome movies (I loved A Place Beyond the Pines). This was the character that actually sold me on the film. In an interview, Joss Whedon (writer and director for the Avengers) said of James Gunn, "He loves the raccoon. Needs the raccoon ...." That was it for me, that a character as off the wall as Rocket would be embraced instead of mistreated, like Snyder did with Superman. The moment Snyder decided the red briefs had to go, I felt like he and his production company were ashamed of the heritage and source material they were drawing from, but if you wanna hear me rant about that, my Man of Steel Review is right here. Back to Rocket. Rocket is foulmouthed and a little all over the place. HE'S LIKE ME!

What can be said about one of the most endearing characters in the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe? Seriously Groot is hard to get over. There's so much I can say and so little I can really express. The walking tree is adorable. End of story. Everything that Groot does in the film warmed the cockles of my heart. My cockles were burning. To this day, even a decade after the creation of Gollum, I'm always surprised by really well done, emotionally soulful CGI characters. I feel like they're still really rare creations. 

Spectacle — This movie is a visual extravaganza, but unlike films like Avatar, the characters are so obviously the focus, the visuals aren't distracting. They're very carefully constructed to enhance the story. The space-battles, the backdrops, the ... man, this movie was a lot of fun to watch. And I don't compliment that very often. I want to go back and see the film in IMAX now. I NEVER say that. 

If there's one more thing that I can add it is this, and I want you to pay close attention to what I'm about to tell you, "I am Groot." 

~ Godzello

Throwback Thursday: On Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome

Thu, 07/31/2014 - 18:12

Among the genre shows I fell in love with (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Firefly, Supernatural, and Doctor Who primarily) I also had a longstanding affair with the reimagining of Battlestar Galactica. I tried to love Caprica, but I still feel that the show waited until what was unfortunately the end of their run to come out swinging. 

But when Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome was announced, I got frakkin excited. I don't even care if this blog doesn't generate the numbers that pissing all over Christopher Nolan films does, I had to take a moment to talk about this webseries/potential pilot for the (alas) now dead project. I loved this feature-length webseries. I loved it for all the reasons I loved the show, condensed into 90 minutes. For me, this is a prequel done right. 

Most Idiotic Review

"The reason the reboot of Battlestar Galactica worked so well was because of its adult themes, sophisticated characterisation and involving story arcs, performed by a cast of very talented actors. What we have in Blood & Chrome is none of these things ... I can only assume that this substandard, humourless clone of a mediocre episode of Stargate SG-1 was intended to hook a younger (and stupider) audience than the original series because aside from some of the spaceships, it has nothing at all in common with it." — garyX (Rotten Tomatoes)

What I really take umbridge with in this review is how f***ing boring the Battlestar Galactica Miniseries is in comparison to the rest of the show. It's not bad by any means, but it wasn't introducing extremely adult themes, involving story arcs, and my interpretation of the characters after my initial viewing of the Miniseries was that they were archetypal at best, and cliched at worst. Seriously, Saul Tigh is a commander with a drinking problem. Starbuck is the ace-pilot with an authority issues. Adama is the wise captain who is beloved by his crew, except for his son, Lee, who has issues with him. One of the pilots (boomer) has a forbidden relationship with the deck Chief. The only interesting character right off the bat for me was Baltar, and he remained so for the majority of the series. 

The rest of the cast certainly gained depth over time, and I'm not saying they were horrible by any means, but in the Miniseries they weren't winning any awards in my book. Well, this was doubling as a Pilot for a prequel show. Let's face it. These writers have never come out of the gate swinging necessarily. Battlestar just had a leg up that the inciting incident of the show was humanity getting wiped out. After that kind of opener, the story tends to write itself—if you're writing sincerely, and I'm pretty satisfied they were.

The only thing that I really enjoyed more about the reimagining was the theological implications raised by the show (that were dashed pretty badly during the fourth season, but I di-f***ing-gress. Those are nowhere to be found here. I think Blood & Chrome was operating under the 'No atheists in Viper Cockpits.' Ludicrous.

Most Accurate Review

"Much of the production team from the incredible Battlestar Galactica series - executive producers, writers, visual effects supervisor, composer - are on hand to bring this lavish, adrenaline-fueled movie set 10 years into the first Cylon War. Conspicuously absent though is the man who gave the show its true heart & soul, Ronald D. Moore. The followup Caprica series was not as well received by fans for its cerebral storytelling, so they went in the opposite direction with Blood and Chrome - this thing is almost all action .... it was great donning a flightsuit and manning a Viper once again, and the first sight of the Galactica brought a lump to the throat proving that there are many stories left worth exploring in the BSG universe." — DrStrangeblog (Rotten Tomatoes)

I definitely spent a great amount of the run-time thoroughly giddy at simply returning to the BSG. A lot of the sets were recreated digitally, and I'm pretty sure a majority of the budget went to those effects, since some of the other scenes ... weeeeell, let's just say the script's ambition outreached the capabilities of the effects department, who were obviously trying their hearts out, so I'm not bothered. 

It does feel very much like a homecoming for a fan of the reimagining, with the writing, stylized dialogue, and world largely intact. I think actually this is what Star Wars fans were hoping for with the prequels they got slammed with. Poor guys. 

As DrStrageblog pointed out, this show really swings the pendulum the opposite way from Caprica, trying to launch the Viper Firing so to speak (I'm full of puns today ... not sure why). While I might actually prefer the slower pace of Caprica, I think this model had more room to wiggle through. I feel like if you start with a family drama primarily focused around a scientist, a lawyer, and a robot-girl, it's harder to showcase the action (not impossible by any stretch), but a show focused around military-life already has a story that can easily slip into drama ... with explosions too. Win/Win!

What I Say

It's not often I can come out and say how much I love something, but I really loved this. Why? I'll try to be fast.

Plot — The basic premise of the show is following William Adama as a young hotshot on his first covert mission aboard the Battlestar Galactica. It's ten years into the war and things are not as they seem. It's got a real buddy cop element to it with ... I guess a femme-fatale? I will give credit, while the story is not necessarily the most original (which I totally lambasted Dawn of the Planet of the Apes for in my review of it), it has enough twists and turns that it kept me pretty engaged, which is rare for a prequel. Most of the time, there's not really a lot going for the plot to be surprising. You know who'll live, you'll know who'll die, and you know what the ultimate outcome is. It's pretty hard to build tension out of a setup like that, but Battlestar Galactica left most of this area vague enough to still instill some pretty invoking drama.

Character — I know a big complaint about Blood & Chrome was Luke Pasqualino's casting as a young William Adama, taking over the role made iconic by Edward James Olmos. I actually liked his portrayal. He was a bit of an asshole, I'll give him that, but if anything, he seemed like an odd amalgamation of Starbuck and Apollo from the original. He had Apollo's sense of duty and morality, but he had Starbuck's cocksure attitude and independence. The rest of the cast is pretty interesting, but I'll mainly focus of Coker, who's only forty-seven days from retirement, as he will constantly remind you over the course of the show, leading to only one of two possibilities, either he'll die, or he'll reenlist due to the effect our patriotic and idealistic William Adama has over him. That was my takeaway.

Spectacle — As I said, the effects aren't as good as the previous shows, but they're still trying really hard to bring that same weight Battlestar Galatica had, even if they're falling short. The designs are very sleek and nice, and in some cases (like the titular ship) identical, while some things, like the Cylon Centurions, Raiders, and Basestars are updated in a retro way (it is a prequel).

Still, if you're a fan of Battlestar and were a little less than thrilled by Caprica, maybe this will be more your cup of tea. Alas, the show was never picked up. It's a shame, as I personally would have enjoyed seeing the ongoing adventures of young William Adama.

On the Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Wed, 07/30/2014 - 17:53

Okay, so I'm rushing headlong into a major minority opinion. Upon viewing this movie I responded with a resounding, 'Meh.' I was seriously confused as to why the movie received the praise it did. The characters were fine if nothing special, the dilemmas were fine if nothing special, the story was fine ... if nothing special. Outside of the visual effects, I failed to be wowed by the spectacle that was this movie. My main complaint, and I'll get it out of the way here, is that there wasn't a single moment in this film that truly surprised me. If anything, most of Marvel's movies have had more shocking twists in them. This movie struck me as very paint-by-numbers storytelling. 

But, I'll give it this much, instead of feeling that the entirety of the human population that saw this movie is mentally incapable, I am starting to feel like I missed something, like that guy who was grabbing the last Ho-Ho and missed the punchline. Everyone else is laughing, and sure I've got a Ho-Ho, but I'd really like to know what the joke was. So before I unleash the venomous barbs fully, I would like to see the movie again. But it's Wednesday and I need to post a review!

Most Idiotic Review

"There's evident patience and intelligence to the filmmaking all over, as well as an engagement with genuine ideas about diplomacy, deterrence, law and leadership. However often it risks monkey-mad silliness, it's impressively un-stupid." — Tim Robey (The Telegraph)

I might take flak for this, but I'm going to say it anyways, 'un-stupid,' is a f*cking stupid way to describe something. In the English language there are so many antonyms to stupid and so many synonyms for intelligent, I'm a little flabbergasted at what I just read. While I think the direction and visual style of the film is really intelligent and patient, and provides some real interesting stuff to watch ... 'genuine ideas about diplomacy' was not the phrase that came to my mind. The reason for this? I'll let the Most Accurate Review do my talking ...

Most Accurate Review

"... the film’s other main flaw is lacking character development. The bad guys are absent of definition, coming across as bitter, violent and a great contrast to the more morally liberal protagonists. Sadly, Gary Oldman’s character is particularly damned by this disparity, which I felt was a great shame." — Henry Stanley (impactnottingham)

Here's my problem. Imagine you have a great story with really engaging protagonists and some real thought provoking theme and a visually interesting tone. Now make all your antagonists cardboard cutouts. You just blew a tire on the freeway at eighty mile-per-hour.

What I Say

Plot — The plot of this film didn't engage me, not because it was bad, it was just predictable. At first I thought things were playing out intelligently, but without the existence of bigoted psychopathic antagonists and naive overly trusting protagonists, this movie's plot wouldn't have worked. That's my main gripe, and yes I'm going to keep harping on it. I walked into the movie expecting the Planet of the Apes to ... y'know, Dawn. I have seen every other movie in this franchise, so it's not hard to figure how it was going to end, after all. I was hoping that the getting there would have been a bit more thoughtful, but I really am hard pressed to believe it was. 

Characters — So we have Not-James Franco, Gary Oldman playing the same angry character that John Malkovich played in Warm Bodies, Andy Serkis doing another smashing performance as a CGI character, and Kobo the Asshole Monkey. The good guys are good and thoughtful, while Koba and Dreyfus are jarringly. The one thought that really bothered me was that right from the beginning of the movie I thought to myself, "Ah, look, the asshole character(s) who will f*ck everything up." And unfortunately, the movie never proved me wrong.

Spectacle — Since it's always the elephant in the room for me, yes, the movie looks fan-f*cking-tastic. I mean holy hell, does the CGI looks good. I can't deny it, I won't even try. I was really impressed. The apes oftentimes emoted more successfully than their human counterparts, and the decision to keep the apes from talking for the majority of the movie, communicating in only sign language was a really nice tough in my opinion, since I think it let us connect with the apes more as characters than CGI creations. Some really topnotch work. 

So there's my quick rundown on the film. I do plan on seeing it again though, and maybe reevaluating or simply reaffirming my opinions stated here. 

Terrible Tuesday: On Inception

Tue, 07/29/2014 - 15:04

Okay, so I might be abusing the word 'Terrible' but this movie was a real thorn in my craw. I feel like I messed up that colloquialism, but not enough to Google it. Either way, I have a lot of issues with movies that are overly popular without having earned it. In short, no, I didn't think the movie was terrible, but I certainly didn't think it was anything special and was even hovering on the edge of not being good. Why? I'm glad you asked. 


Most Idiotic Review

"... it feels like Stanley Kubrick adapting the work of the great sci-fi author William Gibson ... Nolan delivers another true original: welcome to an undiscovered country." — Empire magazine

Recently I have a harder time finding a review to truly fit this section, to the point where I almost consider cutting the most idiotic review entirely. Today is not one of those days. This review literally drew a, "Fuck you," from my lips upon reading it. I was so astounded by what I had read I actually went ahead an reread the review a couple of times. Kubrick and Gibson included in a review of this? This is what I'm talking about. The movie, I'm sorry fanboys (I'm looking at you WheelsTCW), IS NOT THAT GOOD.

Most Accurate Review

"I found myself wishing Inception were weirder, further out ... the film is Nolan's labyrinth all the way, and it's gratifying to experience a summer movie with large visual ambitions and with nothing more or less on its mind than (as Shakespeare said) a dream that hath no bottom." — Michael Phillips (Chicago Tribune)

Now, this might not be Phillips' point, but what I took away from his statement is that yes, I wanted the movie to be more daring. For a movie with such an out there concept ... it plays it really safe. Like most of Nolan's forays into the film world, he has an out-there-concept with a straightforward solution. Inception is no different, and while it has large visual ambitions ... I don't think there were really that many of them. If anything, I can list them on one hand. You had the flooding hall, the exploding street, the folding city, the hallway battle, the ruined city, aaaaaand ... uh. I'm having trouble thinking of others off the top of my head. So I guess I disagree about the Shakespeare quote. This dream has a hellova shallow bottom if you ask me.

What I Say

I didn't get this movie. I don't mean that it went over my head. If anything it went under my head and a little to the left. It made a nice little whooshing sound on its way by. Then I stepped out of the theatre and I was greeted by the craziest Holy-F*ckery of a movie I'd seen in my lifetime. The internet went crazy. Why? People are stupid. But besides that, I'm going to delve into what Nolan and Co. really produced with this movie. 

Plot  This is a heist film, plain and simple. Normally I'd have no problem with that. But since the film had such an fresh concept, I was really hoping for more. Leonardo DiCaprio plays as Cobb, the proverbial walking thanksgiving meal. Cobb is joined by his fellow dishes  on an epic quest to ... sabotage Ken Watanabe's competitor's company. Riveting. How do they do this? By planting the idea in the heir to the company's head by using illicit military technology.

Throughout the film we descend deeper into Labyrinths created by Not-George Clooney's Ocean's Six. The respective settings are the streets of a nameless city, a hotel, and ... a snow-capped mountain fortress straight out of James Bond villain's layer which is also a hospital. Then there's Limbo, a dreamworld that you can only escape from by killing yourself which you won't know to do unless you realize its not a dream, but for some reason people forget that it's not a dream. Check.

There's also Cobb's dead wife, who's storyline is earily similar to Leonardo's arguably better film, Shutter Island.

So far, so good. I actually like the plot. I don't feel like there's anything wrong with it. I feel that there is a lot more that can be done with the concept of entering dreams, but the film certainly never lied to me about what it's premise was, and at least it restrained itself from flopping like The Cell.

Characters  Aaaaaaand the movie falls apart. I don't connect with any of these characters. None of them, which is astounding, seeing as this is a star-studded cast. And I have a way to demonstrate this fact.

1) What can you tell me about the individuals in this cast?

Now ...

2) What can you tell me about the individuals in this cast?

And here's the thing. I really dislike Tarantino, which I'll explain with another quote. "You only have good taste is you ... find long streams of pointless dialogue that don't have anything to do with the plot of the movie you're watching." (Tired Ov Shitty Movies)

That said, I think my point still stands. Tarantino's characters feel alive, not just plot devices. I know nothing about these characters Nolan populated his film with. Who are they? What's their backstory? What're their hopes and dreams. The most we ever see of the ensemble is what job they perform in the context of the heist. That's it, and for me? That's inexcusable storytelling. As I like to quote, novelist Dennis Lehane (Shutter Island) said, “Character is plot; character is dialogue; character is scene. A story with a few strong characters can occasionally survive a weak plot, but a story with a strong plot cannot— ever— survive weak characters.”

Well, in film, weak characters can be saved by strong actors, and at least to Nolan's credit, he knows how to cast amazing talent who really seem to fill out their cardboard cutouts. I don't necessarily think the characters themselves are inherently bad, they're just never given any way to connect with the audience, so I still think they're poorly written. 

The only character who really gets the focus (oddly it's not the character who's head the ensemble is inside of, his characterization begins and ends at 'Daddy-Issues') is Leonardo DiCaprio. He's haunted by the same backstory of the traumatized widower struggling to maintain his own sanity in the face of having a job to do and questioning reality. I'd probably be less harsh on this if not for the mere existence of Shutter Island (which is coming up in this review a lot) which I think delves into the psyche of its protagonist much more succesfully, which is hilarious considering they were limited to, oh, I don't know, reality? 

So Cobb is haunted by his wife, Nolan favorite Marion Cotillard, who he feels guilty over the death of. He doesn't trust himself at performing his job as an extractor anymore, but this one last job will allow him to return to the states to be reunited with his children. Already I can see a much better story involving Cobb trying to cause Inception in the authorities controlling his expulsion from the US, so that he can return, but I digress. 

This has been a common complaint I've had about Nolan's characters. It rides the line between 'Show Don't Tell' but never really achieves either. We know things about characters, but always as an outside observer, a third party without any ability to participate. We're the people in the stands watching the guy streaking. Sure we can guess as to why his dangly bits are on display for all to see, but other than a chance of strange flashbacks, oftentimes we're not given much else to work with. 

Spectacle — Okay, so last but not least. This movie is visually spectacular ... when it wants to be. And to be honest, I was left wanting. For a movie with a concept with such rich potential it literally fights to stay grounded in reality, and I thought that was cool, right up until I saw Terry Gilliam's Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus. If you want to see a movie that takes its concept and Looney-Toons runs across the chasm on a Acme Rocket, this is the film for you. Only Terry Gilliam's imagination can sustain something so ridiculously over the top and, as always, purposefully strange. Now, personal preference aside, I think Inception should have leaned a bit closer to the strange, especially as they went 'deeper'.

Actually, since this is getting to be a longer review, I'll end on this note. You want to know what I'd have liked to see? This.

On Infamous Second Son

Mon, 07/28/2014 - 18:13

So, my gaming history went something like this, 

  • Roller Coaster Tycoon 
  • Warcraft 2: Tides of Darkness
  • Warcraft 3: Reign of Chaos (and associated expansion packs)
  • Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
  • Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic 2
  • Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn
  • Fallout 1 & 2
  • Planescape: Torment
And ... that's pretty much it. I wasn't much of a bowler, if you know what I mean. So my introduction to modern console games were the 7th generation games BioShock and Infamous (years later I did fall in love with New Vegas and Deus Ex). I loved the former for the story, I loved the latter for it's ability to reach into my deepest fantasies of being the least qualified superhero ever and allowing me to rampage around a city. Granted, I must have liked something else otherwise I'd have probably preferred Prototype ... but I didn't, so moving on.

I'm always a little dubious about sequels. In this day and age, can you really blame me though? I could spend multiple reviews waxing philosophical and ANGRILY TYPING IN CAPSLOCKS about how tired I am of sequels, remakes, franchises, reimaginings, spinoffs, shared universes etc.

But, I have to admit, I was actually pretty excited about Second Son. So, does it hold up to my pretentiously high standards and expectations?

Most Idiotic Review

"[Second Son] speaks to an attitude reflected in the main character: 'We're far too cool and alternative to be put into your little boxes, man! Not like those nerdy spods over there, with their dungeons and Star Wars and all the other shit we pretend we don't know anything about.' But it's all delusion! Second Son stands obliviously in a box clearly labelled 'current-gen'. As in 'same as before but shinier and there's less of it'. Less sandbox, less missions, less of everything except arrogance. Can't see much point in it unless they found a way to erase the previous games from history. Like, say, by making a new console not backwards-compatible with– oh." -- Yahtzee Croshaw (Zero Punctuation)

Well, Yahtzee keeps popping up in my reviews in this section. Surprising. Again, I'm a huge Zero Punctuation fan, but oftentimes I just can't agree with him. I doubt that would bother him. This particular point I chalk up to Yahtzee being a hipster. I can't help it. Maybe it's the goatee and the fedora he so commonly sports, but this part of his review really just sounds like the rallying cries of the hipster population. Maybe it's my Vegas upbringing and the people I surrounded myself with. 

We were an eclectic group to say the least ...
But ultimately it's just a matter of opinion, so I'd best leave it at that. I can't personally agree with Yahtzee on this one, but I can still see where he's coming from.

Most Accurate Review

"While Second Son’s individual beats and characters are well executed, the plot that strings them all together is frustratingly straightforward and limited in scope, depriving the bit players of the chance to make a meaningful impact on the core conflict."

I find myself favoring reviews that appeal to how fun the game is, but how much more the game could have been. There's the shame of wasted potential, but not to the degree that the game we ultimately received was still a lot of fun. 

What I Say

So what is this story trying to offer? We have Delsin Rowe, a twenty-four-year-old Native American who lives with his more conservative cop brother in a fictional Okamish conservation, before he discovers he's a conduit or bio-terrorist who can absorb powers from other conduits he comes in contact with. Delsin is also your regular ol' Juvenile Delinquent, but, being voiced by the Baby-Jesus in real life Troy Baker, he's nothing but charm. 

The antagonist of the story is Brooke Augustine, the director of the D.U.P., a government organization bent on controlling the so-called bioterrorist threat, and the crux of this story involves Delsin trying to absorb her own conduit powers over concrete in order to save the people on the conservation.

This was the first major problem I encountered. I was under the impression that, when Augustine suspects Delsin of hiding something, she hurts the people closest to him and ... leave him behind? Behold the makings of the classic revenge plot that we've all seen a million times. He goes on a quest to get stronger so that he can return home with the chalice and a new sense of self. While it is a classic archetypal story, it rings very tired in this case, no matter how much new characters try to spice it up. 

After that the story pretty much plays out as you'd expect. I won't spoil it, but I'll be honest, it doesn't go anywhere truly surprising, even if it's nicely done.

The characters though are certainly a step up from previous installments. While I never had particular issue with Cole McGravely pants, I certainly see why he's not going to be lauded as revolutionizing video-game characters, he's a MacGuffin in and of himself created in order to get to the gameplay of the stories. That's about it.  

Here, whether you find him charming or grating, Delsin is a pretty fleshed out character, and not too detached from the situation not to enjoy the gameplay as much as the player. He has some pretty solid relationships with the people around him too, especially Reggie, his brother, who goes along with a lot of Delsin's harebrained schemes with a sigh of weariness, hinting that, while Delsin hasn't had powers for very long, this behavior is nothing new. 

Reggie is actually really interesting. The fact that he has an inherent distaste of bio-terrorists supplies the game with some pretty sincere drama as it causes friction between the two brothers, and it also allows the player a direct insight into the minds of those who are antagonistic towards Delsin (and being an action game, there's quite a few). Also, the game works hard to not characterize any of the alternate viewpoints. To some degree, I can see this world legitimately existing.

Fetch is one of the other main Conduits we see in the game, and she's not nearly as interesting as I expected her to be. Actually, outside of the two main characters, most of the rest of the cast is woefully underdeveloped. Fetch has a really interesting backstory, but it really doesn't go too many places. She, like Delsin, seems more like a response to needing a new powers source than as a character called upon by the story. Now that said, her dialogue and voice acting are a lot of fun, and her relationship with Reggie and Delsin are entertaining, I just didn't feel like she was utilized to her fullest extent. 

In a way, she (and Eugene, who was the other main conduit in the the game, who I really don't have a lot to say about) was what I feared The Avengers would ultimately be. I understand Delsin the protagonist, but I remember having a similar sensation during Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn, right at the very end of the game which was the moment someone uttered the line, "Only you can stop the bad guy, rescue the damsel, save the world," ... or something like that. I instantly thought, "Why am I the only one? Why can't we call on an army to do the world saving?" 

Lastly we have the antagonist. I still don't really get Brooke Augustine. Her initial backstory is pretty nice, and while I won't ruin it, I found it pretty interesting ... and completely inconsistent with the character we and Delsin face for the majority of the game. It felt very schizophrenic truth be told, which hurt my overall enjoyment of the story. 

The spectacle of the game though is where the game really shines. The various powers, Smoke, Neon, Digital, and Concrete. While they're visually stunning, they really stretch what constitutes 'elemental' powers. I mean, the moment Angels started flying around their recreation of Seattle ... well, it's not done poorly, it's just a little out there.

Gameplay is smooth and fun, and really builds on what the developers learned in previous Infamous games, but ... it really doesn't add too much knew, in terms of gameplay or story. It's fun, it's flashy, it's enjoyable, and really there isn't too much more to be said. 

No Post Today!

Thu, 07/24/2014 - 18:29
Hey fellas. On the road again. Heading back to the land of the Mormidons, Utardia.

You might be able to tell, I'm not a fan.

But it's a good school, relatively cheap, and it's where I felt like I needed to be. I love Vegas. I almost always have a great time here (despite having encountered some of the strangest scenarios imaginable), and I always miss it a lot. But it wasn't where I needed to be.

So, as I say allons-y to my true home to return to a intermediate stepping stone, I'll say to you, "More reviews are on the way. Catch you on the flip-flop!"

~ Godzello

On Young Adult Fiction and Whether You're Too Old For This Sh*t

Wed, 07/23/2014 - 10:00
For those of you who eschew reading entirely for Hollywood bombardment and suckle at EA's udder, you might have missed out on the back and forth debate raging about Young Adult fiction that took bloggers by storm. My understanding is that it started over Ruth Graham's article for Slate, "Against YA"

So here's my take on it.

I don't give a f*ck what you read. I really don't. I have no qualms about it. And I too have read, and honestly reread some of my treasured Young Adult roots. I'm only twenty-two for christ's sake, so I'm not that far removed yet. But here's the biggest thing I'm noticing in the defense of adults reading YA, 'Live and Let Read,' which is great, and I don't care, and the other is, 'It allows me to connect with my kid,' good for you. BUT.

I remember being a kid. I read things like Pendragon by DJ MacHale and The Mad Scientist Club, and even Winnie the Pooh. Loved these books and I still appreciate and love the part they played in my life. Then something happened. My father, a college English professor, handed me an adult book for the first time. He'd been paying attention to the kinds of YA books I was falling in love with, and found the adult equivalent. I fell head over heels. It was amazing and I loved it. More than a decade later, books are one of the few areas of life that we still really can let lose and talk about together without going for the jugular. Here's the thing though, I'm on his level now, and instead of pandering to my age-range, he and I are equals. 

So back to YA people who read for pleasure and enjoyment. I had the same negative reaction to the Lego Movie. It was fun, clever, well made, and for the little bit of theme it was broaching (if not fully realizing) I can think of half-a-dozen adult equivalents that deal with the topics better, more directly, and more deeply. So it's not that I have any problem accepting that adults make the occasional foray into YA ... it's that it seems they live there. That's creepy to me. It's like Bronies. "It's got a great message, mang!" is the rallying cry. 

Sure it does. That's the point of most kids' shows. So did Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers, and while I used to dress up in costume and yell, "Tyrannosaurus" in a voice that sounded closer to Matt Damon from Team America than I'd like to admit, in my early twenties, that it so not the way I want to self-identify. It's a diluted form of the world, devoid of the rich complexity that starts to hit you in your early twenties and beyond, and maybe it's because I come from a fantastically shitty childhood, but I grew past the rose tinted glasses fast. Give me the unanswering universe, utterly void of purpose or meaning every day of the week. I personally can't relate to YA anymore, nor can I imagine, why anyone would want to.