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Prometheus Review

poster from the 20th Century Fox film Prometheus

This movie is an Alien prequel. Everyone knows that, right? Because I went to Prometheus with a friend who was under the impression that it was a modern adaptation of the Greek myth. She was unaware that there would be face hugging and stomach exploding, which is the reason we all go to Alien movies in the first place. So just to clarify, this is an Alien film and the name of their ship is Prometheus and the story is only slightly reminiscent of the myth:

A team of scientists travel to a distant world searching for the aliens they believe jumpstarted humanity and end up fighting to prevent humanity’s extermination.

Prometheus looked amazing in the trailers, but after my failure to like some of Ridley Scott’s other movies (Robin Hood, American Gangser, Blader Runner, etc.) I was cautious. But it was an Alien movie so of course I went, and it was totally awesome! Maybe even my favorite of the series.

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Sucker Punch Review

poster from the Warner Bros. film Sucker Punch

This was an awfully lean week for new movies. My choices were limited to Roderick Rules, which I could only be induced to suffer through in exchange for a large pile money, and Sucker Punch, which was greatly anticipated by comic book nerds but looks retarded. Stupid won out over torturous, of course. Sucker Punch is Zack Snyder’s third blowout action movie, the other two being 300 (dumb) and Watchmen (decent). It looks like another comic book movie, but actually it’s not. He made up the whole thing and it goes like this:

A young woman finds refuge in escape plans and fantasy worlds after she is committed to an institution for the criminally insane.

The thing about his making up the whole thing himself is that there’s no one else he can blame when the movie turns out badly. I’m guessing a lot of people will be sucked in by the trailer’s visuals forget to think about that crucial, make-or-break element: story. I’ve watched the movie. I’ve seen the visuals. I know the story. So I can now tell you that my suspicions were correct. Sucker Punch is retarded.

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Life As We Know It Review

poster from the Warner Bros. Pictures film Life As We Know It

Somewhere in Hollywood, there is a machine that pairs up famous actors for romantic comedies. It may or may not look like a Magic 8 ball. And like a Magic 8 ball, it sometimes gives you terrible advice. The theory is that two people who are attractive and famous will make a cute couple, but this is not always the case. Gerard Butler + Hillary Swank = cute. Katherine Heigl + James Marsden = cute. Gerard Butler + Katherine Heigl = dud. It’s weird how these things work. Anyway the latest pairing that the rom-com-o-matic generator has churned out is Katherine Heigl + Josh Duhamel. The story they’re in goes like this:

A single woman and a single man who can’t stand each other end up parenting a baby together when their mutual best friends die in a car accident.

The fact that there’s death right there in the premise might have you thinking this is a drama rather than a comedy, but it’s not. Life As We Know It is a romantic comedy. So of course you know that the two of them have to end up together in the end. That’s a given for the genre. So it’s the journey that’s the deciding factor. And I for one enjoyed getting there.

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The Devolution of a TV Show

Though there are some shows that get cancelled after a single season (like Firefly), and some shows that run for over a decade (like Law & Order), I’ve noticed a pattern that the majority of one-hour dramas seem to follow that ultimately leads to their downfall in about five seasons. It goes something like this:

Season 1

The show’s premise is fresh, with the possibility of thousands of different scenarios stemming from it to create drama, like patients coming into a hospital or crimes being investigated. But the actors and writers are still finding their way with the new characters. No one’s quite sure how the relationships are going to shake out, so it’s not perfect yet.

Example: In the first season of Bones, the premise of forensic anthropologist + FBI agent as a crime fighting team yields plenty of interesting cases involving everything from suicide bombers to pirate treasure. However, Brennan (Emily Deschanel) and Booth (David Boreanaz) are still a little wary of each other and haven’t settled into their full partner dynamic yet.

Booth and Brennan from Bones

I feel that we should have some sort of ritual. Perhaps involving diners and pie?

Season 2

The show has hit its stride. The characters are all fully rounded now and have intricate interpersonal relationships. Their jobs/lives provide a seemingly limitless source of external conflict, and it seems like with the premise they picked, the writers can keep coming up with great new ideas for stories until the end of time.

Example: During Season 2 of Alias, Sydney Bristow (Jennifer Garner) helps to bring down the villainous spy cell she unwittingly worked for, freeing her up to do a myriad of different official missions for the CIA and to give in to sexual tension and actually have a relationship with her former handler Michael Vaughan (Michael Vartan).

Vaughan and Sydney kiss on Alias

This is so perfect! I’ve been wanting to kick ass and suck face since the first episode!

Season 3

The show is still operating at peak efficiency and there still seems to be plenty of drama to be had from the premise. In fact, the show is so popular that the network execs are preparing to give some supporting characters their own spinoffs. Sometimes these spinoffs are introduced during episodes in this season. In preparation for filling the gaps next season, the writers introduce some fresh new secondary characters.

Example: During the third season of Grey’s Anatomy, the character of Addison (Kate Walsh) leaves Seattle Grace Hospital to take a trip to Los Angeles, where she meets up with an old friend and is invited to join her practice, thus setting the scene for the Addison-centric show Private Practice, which will start next season. Mark Sloan (Eric Dane) moves into the hospital to fill her spot.

Addison and Naomi from Private Practice

NAOMI: You should so totally move here.
ADDISON: You are so totally right!

Season 4

The departure of the spinoff characters alters the dynamic of the show. In addition, the writers are running out of credible interpersonal problems to give the remaining cast. Writers force secondary and guest characters to step up and shoulder more responsibility, often forgetting that those characters were secondary because they weren’t very interesting. The writers put some of the original characters in mortal peril (or if the show is an action based show, in really serious mortal peril) as a way of forcing fans to stick around and find out what happens.

Example: In the fourth season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the characters have graduated from high school. David Boreanaz, who plays Buffy’s vampire boyfriend Angel, departs for his own show, Angel. His place is rather inadequately filled by a college TA named Riley (Marc Blucas).

Riley and Buffy from Buffy the Vampire Slayer

RILEY: I’m your new TA. Bone me?
BUFFY: My vampire boyfriend cut out on me, so why not?

Season 5

Things are starting to fall apart. Some of the other actors are leaving to pursue other projects, forcing the original secondary cast to become the primary cast. Any remaining original characters have long since exhausted all avenues of interpersonal conflict with one another and now interact almost entirely with guest or supporting characters. Additionally, the writers are running out of story ideas that have to do with the original premise, and they turn more and more to extra-premise storylines and mortal peril to keep things going. For many shows, this is the last season.

Example: By the fifth season of McLeod’s Daughters, main characters Claire and Becky are gone, as are a lot of popular secondary characters. The writers bring in previously unmentioned friends and cousins to round out the cast. Episodes, which were previously based on the trials and tribulations of running a cattle station, start to be more about other things, like drag racing, organized crime, and mining rights.

McLeod's Daughters peril

You got run over by a car? But I only just rescued you from being kidnapped yesterday!

Further Seasons

If the show has a strong, loyal fan base that is miraculously not driven away when the show’s premise stops being relevant to what’s happening on screen, the show may malinger for several more seasons. After this point, the cast has often been almost totally replaced. Secondary characters are repeatedly introduced and discarded when they don’t fit in, and the external conflict becomes increasingly ridiculous. Eventually the show slips quietly under the waves to die.

Example: By the seventh season of One Tree Hill, the writers are really reaching. They lost their “high school” premise at the end of Season 4 when the characters graduated, and they lost main characters Lucas and Peyton at the end of Season 6. Episodes in this season revolve around pregnancy scandals and moviemaking. Lucas’ brother Nathan is now the main character and his wife’s new sister Quinn and former secondary characters Clay, Mouth, and Millie moving up to the main cast.

Haley and Jamie from One Tree Hill

JAMIE: So daddy went dancing with another lady, and now I’m going to have a half brother?
HALEY: Something like that.

I was thinking of this because Private Practice seems to be devolving at an alarming rate. Last season was only Season 3, but already they had a bunch of car crashes, were lost in the wilderness, were attacked by psychos, and killed off. Now in the beginning of Season 4 they’re entering into random chemistryless marriages. It smells like impending show death, so I’ve jumped ship.

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Top Ten Fictional Film Pilots

I love airplane movies, especially fighter plane movies. There’s just something about dodging enemy planes at high speed five feet from the ground that screams “awesome!” But if there’s one thing I’ve noticed from years of watching movies, it’s that the best fictional pilots aren’t always in films that you could classify as plane movies. Sometimes they’re not even the main characters. Even if they’re only in a few scenes, even if aircraft aren’t the primary focus of the film, these pilot characters have mad skillz and they deserve to be recognized. So what follows is a list of the top ten most awesome, most skilled, most interesting movie pilots of all time.

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Charlie St. Cloud Review

poster from the Universal Pictures film Charlie St. Cloud

I feel like I’m watching one of my campers grow up. It seems like just yesterday I was watching Firefly (okay, so it actually WAS yesterday, but only because it’s on DVD), seeing little Zac Efron as Young Simon Tam, all sparkle-eyed and eager like my youngest campers, running around going “look at me! I’m ACTING!”

Then they get a little older and a little broodier and a little more likely to burst into song (okay, maybe not that last part in real life), until all of a sudden you come back to visit one day and they’re all grown up and wanting to be taken seriously as camp counselors themselves (or, you know, as a movie character who is not in high school).

Sometimes it’s hard to adjust your perceptions of youngins when they grow up, and Charlie St. Cloud may only be a baby step away from the angsty halls of High School Musical, but it’s a step nonetheless, so this is me adjusting.

If you haven’t seen the trailer, good. Don’t. It gives away too much. I’ll give you just enough right here:

When Charlie discovers he can see his dead little brother, he gives up college and sailing to be a graveyard caretaker, until sailing re-enters his life in the form of a girl and he finds himself torn between hanging on to the past and letting go.

I can sort of see why they did what they did with the trailer. There’s not a lot of peril inherent in the non-spoiler version. But suffice it to say there is peril, and it is good. As for the rest of it, you’ll have to read the review.

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Human Target Review

Fox has been advertising Human Target since at least September. I came across promos for it while I was compiling my list of new 2009/2010 shows to watch. I thought “meh, looks a bit campy, but maybe I’ll give it a try,” and then mentally filed it away because it didn’t start for like six more months.

By January I’d totally forgotten about it. Then I saw the name of the show listed in the CTV online video library. I had an hour to kill, so I clicked. And it was AWESOME!

You can get the gist of the show by reading the following sentence:

Human Target is a series of weekly hour-long action movies based on the DC comic book of the same name. It follows a former hitman turned undercover bodyguard who infiltrates the lives of clients to draw out and eliminate threats.

Or by watching the trailer. But if you want to know why it’s awesome, you’ll have to watch the show.

…. or you can click below and I’ll tell you.

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Why Movies Are Better Than TV

I think I might be a bad browncoat, but before I tell you why, let’s get one thing straight: I love the ‘verse. So don’t freak out, but I think I hate TV.


devil box o’ torture

And I’m therefore kinda sorta glad that Firefly was canceled and turned into a movie instead. (But I wouldn’t be glad if it was cancelled and there was no movie)

Why am I glad? Because I love movies. I like movie stories about a thousand times better than dragged out one-hour-a-week-supposing-its-not-a-repeat storytelling by multiple writers (each with different takes on what bits are important) where the characters lives are divided into little chunks that half the time aren’t even related to each other and they have to keep coming up with stupid reasons why it’s taken two seasons to get two characters together only to have one die or something so that the other can remain miserable. I hate it.

Know how I figured this out? I looked at the shows I regularly watch on TV, and the ones I refuse to by gut instinct. I watch: CSI, CSI: NY, NCIS, Without A Trace, Criminal Minds, Ghost Whisperer, Numb3rs, Survivor, the Daily Show, SNL and whenever I can catch a new one, the Fairly Odd Parents. Nothing else. I follow my gut and refuse such things as Lost, Desperate Housewives, etc.


Hi, we have no real lives for you to get frustrated with

So let’s break it down:
Survivor – reality show, no real direction of story
CSI et all – crime shows with weekly self-contained stories
FOP – cartoon with no episode arcs
and funny daily/weekly sketch comedy
In other words, I’ve completely rebelled against the kind of TV show that Firefly was.

Now, when the X-Files, Buffy and Angel were on, I watched them, got completely sucked in, and was kind of glad when they were over because it felt like it’d been dragged out too long. Also, the story had gone places I really didn’t like. (Though I admit Dogget and Reyes did grow on me)


Yeah, yeah, you guys were ok

However, with movies, it’s one sweeping story, written by one person with one vision with character and story development that proceed in linear fashion instead of in fits and starts. If you don’t like where the story goes, you reject the whole movie and you don’t end up with those ambivalent feelings towards it. AND you get the whole story at once rather than being feed tantalizing snippets on a weekly basis.

To illustrate, I’ll take the example I’ve been thinking of:

Simon and Kaylee in Firefly and Serenity


Simon and Kaylee enjoying a laugh before one of them screws up the relationship for the thousandth time

In Firefly, Kaylee (Jewel Staite) and Simon (Sean Maher) had obvious chemistry, but despite repeated attempts to get together never managed it before the end of the series. Either Simon would say something that Kaylee could interpret in the worst possible way, or one of them would get distracted and/or lack the guts to say/do something. This was cute for a few episodes, but after a while it started to get repetitive and a little irritating. No doubt if the show had kept on they would have dragged it out for the whole season (at least).
Total filibustering time: about 15 hours, and still no result

In Serenity, they had obvious chemistry, it stewed, they were oblivious, and they GOT OVER IT and got together by the end of the movie.
Total filibustering time: about 2 hours, with positive result

The funny thing is, despite all my bitching, I really do love Firefly. The stand-alone parts of the episodes were brilliant and funny and touching and I love all the characters. Though, I suspect I might have come to love it (the STORY not the characters) slightly less had it dragged on. And I know I’d go insane between episodes.

Therefore, in my opinion, although we would have gotten MORE story from a long-running TV show, I think we got a BETTER story from the movie.

To sum up:



Great


Greatest Thing Ever in the World

There are a number of potential explanations for why I think this way:

1) I have no patience, therefore cannot sit through slow story development on TV

Attention Span =

2) I watched the movie before the TV show, so I look at the TV show as kind of an extra prequel story.

3) I loved Enterprise and then came “These are the Voyages” and it destroyed all of my faith in TV. It was so bad I re-wrote it to ease the pain. And I’m still bitter.


I loved you, then your awesome world was butchered by your own creaters’ delusions of being able to write

Buy Firefly: The Complete Series on DVD

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Serenity

If you want a synopsis or a review or whatever of Serenity, go have a look at:
Serenity: The Official Movie Website

But if you want to know the real reasons why you should go see it, keep reading:

I have never loved a movie like I love Serenity since I saw Return of the Jedi when I was nine. Just to give you an idea of how much I loved Return of the Jedi, my parents had to return it to the video store while I was outside playing Jedi with my little brother, otherwise the store would still be looking for it. Every time I went to a store I looked for copies of the Star Wars movies to buy but there were none. Not until they re-released them in the late ’90s. I can’t TELL you how excited I was for that. And for the prequels too, even though they weren’t as good as the originals….I’m getting side tracked. Sorry. I have the attention span of a chimp.

Anyway, that’s the kind of love I’m talkin’ about. Now this movie Serenity, it sticks in the exact same place in your heart. The story is so captivating that you need more NOW. The dialogue is so clever that even after the movie you’ll find yourself laughing out of nowhere because your brain has randomly delivered up one of the lines. The acting and the special effects are flawless – at no point will you point to the screen and say “I don’t believe that”…mostly because you’ll spend the whole movie with your jaw on the ground, rendering you incapable of saying anything other than “gaaa”.

You’ll have a hard time choosing a favorite character because you love them all and when bad things happen to them you will discover that it’s NOT COOL AT ALL…but that’s good, because it means you care, and that’s the whole idea. You’ll be on the edge of your seat the whole time, and when it’s over, you’ll not only be pumped to see more (why do movies take so LONG to make!?) (luckily there was a series) (unluckily there are only 15 episodes) but you’ll also be pumped to go have your own adventures…even if it’s only rescuing helpless boxes of macaroni from your own evil basement lair.

So if you haven’t already seen it, now you know you want to. So what are you waiting for? Oh, right, we’re in the grey zone: that weird limbo between a movie being on the big screen and on DVD. (is it just me or are grey zones getting shorter and shorter?? [I’m not complaining]) I guess you can download it off PTP but ONLY if you PROMISE to buy it when it comes out on December 20th. (Hah, I don’t even need to make you promise cause you’ll want to anyway!)

Remember buying the DVD = more return on studio’s investment = increased likelihood of said investment being followed my another investment = more Serenity! So now you know what you have to do, now take your money and get out there so I can be watching Serenity II in 2007.

Buy Serenity on DVD

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