Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The Idiot Box: Defiance 1x03 - "The Devil In The Dark" Review

This is more like it. Last week I was a bit worried that some of the luster had come off of this show in the sophomore outing, which didn't exactly bode well for the rest of the season, but thankfully now that we're far enough away from the immediate consequences of the pilot and can focus on some new and original stories, we're back to the kind of show I always hoped and expected this would be. From giant subterranean bug monsters to kinky food fetishism, any and all doubts I might have had concerning my continued enjoyment of this show have, at least for the moment, been assuaged.

Sexily assuaged

The Idiot Box: Warehouse 13 4x11 - "The Living And The Dead" Review

When we left off with Warehouse 13 last year, one of our crew was murdered, an ancient disease was flying off to infect the world, and a schizophrenically evil Artie was dying with a knife wound in his chest. Now we're back, with a convenient artifact-y explanation for why a guy who should be dead is just in a coma, a crazy trip into the mind of no-longer madness, and a mad dash across the world and under the streets of France to put the genie back in the bottle before MSNBC gets the first reports of everyone being dead. Yeah, I still kinda like this show.

Monday, April 29, 2013

The Idiot Box: Game Of Thrones 3x05 - Kissed By Fire

The latest episode of Game of Thrones starts off with a fight to the death that isn't, an invasion that won't be, and a merry-go-round of marriage plans cancelled and re-arraigned. All that and some dead baby fetuses in creepy green tubes, and we're off to another good run that isn't quite as viscerally satisfying as the last episode, but certainly on the high end for this season. Oh, and I think we've officially sorted out the absolute worst thing you could possibly say after sex, and that is "When was the last time you had a bath?"

Sunday, April 28, 2013

The Cinema File #165: "Vamp U" Review

A while back I reviewed a movie called Liberal Arts, where I marveled at the notion that a movie so boring could have been someone's passion project. In retrospect, I have no reason to think it even was, but I just have always assumed that something so big and unwieldy as a movie production has to at some point be based on a dream to do something really cool, even if the final product doesn't live up to it. I just watched a movie called Vamp U, which despite a notable uptick in quality in the second half might just be my least favorite film of 2013 so far, and beyond being really bad, in fact perplexing and somewhat gobsmacking in its badness in some respects, I just can't for the life of me comprehend how this concept even got past the first outline with anyone thinking it was a good idea.

The Idiot Box: Doctor Who 7x10 - "Journey To The Centre Of The TARDIS" Review

Okay, first off, its Center, not Centre. There's British idiosyncrasies, and then there's just basic phonetics. Come on people. Anyway, I just watched the latest episode of Doctor Who, a just barely out of the bottle show delving deep into the multi-dimensional labyrinth of the TARDIS as the Doctor and a crew of mostly uninteresting salvage operators out to sell the blue box for scrap search for a lost Clara to avert self destruction. After ruminating last week on the incredible drop in quality so far this year as compared to past New Doctor seasons, I was hoping this episode would renew my faith in this once reliably entertaining series, but while it was definitely a cut above some of the recent poor efforts, it didn't quite wow me enough to reverse my opinion on this show's decline.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

The Idiot Box: Hannibal - 1x04/1x05 "Œuf" and "Coquilles" Review

Welcome back to another week of Hannibal reviews, this time with a double dose of episodes to discuss, or maybe more like one and a half a dose. If you weren't aware of the behind the scenes shenanigans related to episode four, you may not have realized that the episode that aired this week was actually episode five, the unaired fourth episode only shown online in an abbreviated web series format, apparently due to some material in that episode that was thought to be somewhat insensitive in the wake of recent events. I gather the events in question were the shootings in Newtown rather than the more recent Boston Marathon bombings. In any case, that's why you might have been confused when the previously on segment started showing scenes you'd never seen before.

Friday, April 26, 2013

The Cinema File #164: "The Numbers Station" Review

I've only ever had a vague notion of what numbers stations are from my casual interest in cryptozoology and urban legends. From what I understand they are the source of mysterious broadcasts, seemingly random or at least as yet indecipherable sequences of numbers sent from secret locations, their purpose unknown and disavowed by all world governments. There was an episode of Fringe that focused on them and the cult of people obsessed with figuring out the pattern in the numbers, and I have to imagine the Numbers from Lost were somewhat inspired by them as well. The new film The Numbers Station uses perhaps the most widely held theory surrounding this phenomenon as a springboard for a fairly rote and cliche action thriller about black ops spooks and the women they love. I'd say it was a by the numbers plot, but then I don't want to be that guy.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Cinema File #163: "Why Stop Now" Review

I hate when movies start at the end, then flashback to show us how we got there. Rarely is this ever something that actually has a point to the story or the structure, and most of the time its just a cheap gimmick to try to do something other than a linear narrative, while being too lazy to actually think of an original way of telling a story.  To be fair, the movie I just watched, an indie comedy from last year called Why Stop Now, only sort of does this. It starts out with what we eventually learn is a flash forward to the middle, with a good 45 minutes left to go after we get back to the opening scene, and given how little happens before and after this moment, the preview of it is particularly unnecessary. Actually, now that I think about it, “particularly unnecessary” is pretty much this whole movie in a nutshell.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Idiot Box: Zombieland The Series - "Pilot" Review

Despite the unfortunate presence of poor man's Micheal Cera Jesse Eisenberg, I still quite enjoyed the original movie Zombieland. Tonally it was a new twist on the zombie genre without needing to take it too far into Warm Bodies style geek betrayal territory, its probably one of the best performances of Woody Harrelson's career, and has easily one of the funniest celebrity cameos in history when the still great Bill Murray shows up. When I heard they were making a series based on it, enacting what was originally the plan for the concept even before the movie was produced, I was skeptical that it would work in an episodic format. Even with The Walking Dead proving that zombies can work on TV, that's a horror drama, not a comedy, and this take on zombies is a much tougher tightrope to climb. After watching the pilot, I'm a bit conflicted as to whether or not it ultimately succeeds.

The Idiot Box: Defiance - 1x02 "Down In The Ground Where The Dead Men Go" Review

When I reviewed the opening episode of Defiance, I made the perhaps bold claim that it had the potential to be to science fiction television what Game of Thrones is to fantasy television. When I said that, I was specifically referring to the vast amount of very complicated and intricate world building that the HBO show is known for, and that this one clearly seems to be emulating. Other than that, the shows are quite different, and while it remains to be seen whether Defiance lives up to that potential, comparing the level of excitement I feel after watching this week's episodes of both shows is like night and day, coming off of one of the best Thrones installments in the show's short history into a lackluster sophomore effort from Defiance that left me wondering if maybe I'm seeing more than is actually there with this series.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Cinema File #162: "42" Review

Okay, right off the bat (no pun intended) I’ve got to say that I am probably the absolute last guy who should be reviewing this movie. First off, I’m not a baseball guy. Like most Americans, I’m not a fan of the great American past time, and while I appreciate the nerdy obsession many people have with it as intellectually superior to the macho, homoerotic passion of your average football fan, at the end of the day, its just not for me. Also, and perhaps more importantly, I’m a twenty something white dude, so the kind of racism I’m going to be talking about is not something that I have ever had or will ever have any direct experience with, at least in any form directed against me personally. If you want to know how faithful this movie is to the history of baseball, ask Ken Burns; if you want to know how faithful it is to the history of American racism, ask Henry Louis Gates. I’m just the guy who likes it when sharks take shotgun blasts to the face. So please, when I talk about why I didn’t like the movie 42 (thankfully not the prequel to Movie 43), take my opinion with the tiniest possible grain of salt

Alright then, moving on –

Monday, April 22, 2013

The Idiot Box: My Thoughts On The Following

Okay, I know I'm kinda late on this one, and I'm going to try to keep this relatively brief, but I just saw the first episode of the Kevin Williamson serial killer procedural The Following, and I kinda had to vent a little. This isn't going to be the kind of thing like I do with other shows where I review each episode week to week, or like the occasional season retrospectives I always give up on. This is just a one shot, because that's frankly all I could stomach from this fucking terrible show.

The Idiot Box: Game Of Thrones - 3x04 "And Now His Watch Is Ended" Review

One of these days I want someone from Westeros to look up at the sun through a telescope and reveal that it actually has those cool engraved spinning rings around it. That sort of thing is why they probably don't let me write for this show. Well, that and the whole Drowned God/Rhyllor wrestling match thing. Anyway, here's what I thought about the latest episode of Game of Thrones, And Now His Watch Is Ended.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

The Cinema File #161: "Scary Movie 5" Review

A while back I reviewed the film A Haunted House, produced by the same people who brought us the original films in the Scary Movie franchise, before that series was taken over by David Zucker, one of the fathers of the modern day parody genre that the Wayans brothers were contributing to in the first place. If that wasn't convoluted enough, the Scary Movie films, still bearing the original working title for Scream, a movie series not even relevant enough to parody anymore, gave birth to the careers of Friedberg and Seltzer, who would go on to pervert said genre into the shallow reference-sans-humor, lowest common denominator monster it is today, the fans of which David Zucker now regrettably has to appeal to. I've just seen Scary Movie 5, and while there are brief moments within the film that remind me of the writer's classic work, enough to probably put it over the top as least worst post-Wayans parody film to date, the good bits ultimately only serve to remind me of how far we've come, and how much we've lost since the good old days of Naked Gun and Airplane.

The Idiot Box: Doctor Who 7x09 - "Hide" Review

Yep, its official, Neil Cross still sucks at writing Doctor Who. Yeah, I know he did Luther, and of the one season I watched, two episodes of that were decent, and yes, I know he also wrote Mama which I heartily enjoyed. The thing is, you can be a good writer and still not be a good Doctor Who writer. I'm fairly certain I wouldn't be very good at it, but then again I'm not being expected to actually do it. After The Rings Of Akhaten, if you needed anymore proof that this very accomplished screenwriter should stay as far away from this series as possible from now on, you need only watch his second effort (apparently his first to be produced, Akhaten being the second), a lackluster sci fi take on haunted house stories called Hide.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

The Idiot Box: Warehouse 13 Geekery, And A Top 5 List!

The Syfy Channel original series Warehouse 13 comes back from its mid-season four hiatus next week, and since it took that break just before I started this blog last year, I never had any reason to do the kind of weekly review series I now do for other shows like Who, Hannibal, and that I will be doing for the new series Defiance. Evidently the first new episode is available online, but I'm waiting for the official airing before I post a review. Now that its here again, I figured this was the perfect time to discuss my thoughts about the show as an introduction to more episodic reviews to come, and as a flimsy pretext for more blog content.

The Cinema File #160: "Bait 3D" Review

Believe it or not, despite my well documented appreciation for schlock, I'm not actually a big fan of killer shark movies. Outside of the first Jaws movie and the fourth one where it got personal, I tend to only enjoy them if there's some scifi twist involved to make it interesting. I've reviewed two killer shark movies on this blog before, the first because I was curious if it would live up to the director's much better giant wasp movie, and the second because of my obsession with the ultra low budget distributor TomCat Films and producer Brett Kelly. Today's film represents the first time I've picked up a somewhat traditional shark movie based solely on the premise, in this case a shark in a flooded grocery store, and I enjoyed myself enough that I'm seriously reconsidering my previous deliberate avoidance of this genre.

Friday, April 19, 2013

The Idiot Box: Hannibal 1x03 - "Potage" Review

Before I get into the meat of the current Hannibal episode (no pun intended), I want to make a quick note on the subject of episode naming conventions. I know it seems like a really small thing to focus on, but I love when TV shows establish a pattern or theme for episode titles. Even if its something as simple as all one word titles or the Friends gimmick of adding "The One With" before everything, its a nice little Easter egg that I always appreciate. That being said, I'm wondering if the theme of this show might be a little too esoteric. The thing about titles is, you still have to be able to tell the episodes apart by them, and as we get more and more obscure French culinary references for each episode, its going to be that much harder to refer back to individual stories. Not sure how I feel about that just yet, but even though I had to Wiki it to find out what it meant, I still enjoyed "Potage" quite a bit.

Incidentally, Potage is some kind of stew. In case you were interested.

The Cinema File #159: "Oblivion" Review

I recently reviewed the jukebox musical Rock Of Ages, a movie that I missed initially in theaters that from a quality standpoint might just be my biggest surprise from 2012. In that review I noted that Tom Cruise, an actor who I rarely dislike generally, turned in probably his best performance in a movie in quite some time. Admittedly, the last movie I'd seen him in prior to that was the somewhat underwhelming but still mildly satisfying Jack Reacher, but still, I was enamored. Anyway, I've just seen Cruise's latest film, the twisty, pseudo-political sci fi epic Oblivion, and while his character here is much more of a standard understated action hero, and the film as a whole has some minor problems, I think its safe to say that Maverick's track record still stands pretty strong.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Cinema File #158: "The House At The End Of The Street" Review

Somewhere, my fellow podcaster Nate Zoebl is masturbating furiously. 

I know I'm more than a little late with this one (though technically it was still released in 2012 so its not past my cut off), but considering my previously stated distaste for America's newest sweetheart Jennifer Lawrence and her recent historic (and historically undeserved) Oscar win, I was inspired to watch a movie I initially skipped based on the assumption that it would be terrible. Oh, and it certainly was that my friends. If you've seen House At The End Of The Street and still harbor the delusion that Jennifer Lawrence can act, than I frankly don't know what can dispel you from the twisted mesmerism she has you under. And if you love the woman and haven't seen this yet, please do so, because I'm starting to feel like Kevin McCarthy at the end of Invasion of the Bodysnatchers on this issue.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Idiot Box: Defiance 1x01 - "Pilot" Review

What's this now? An actual science fiction show? On the SyFy Channel? I could have sworn that the whole reason this channel was called Syfy now instead of just SciFi was because they just plum ran out of original science fiction programming. At least that's what I assumed what with the last decade or so of high fantasy shows, reality shows, and professional wrestling re-broadcasts polluting the network at the expense of the real stuff. So, four years after their last great sci fi epic Battlestar Galactica ended with a whimper, we finally get another potentially good one, and those are the two best words I can use to describe the opening pilot movie of Defiance, good in its own right, and just positively brimming with potential.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Cinema File #157: "Amour" Review

If you've read enough of my other reviews to get a good idea of the kind of movies I like, and the kind of movies I hate, you would probably correctly assume that I am the last person on Earth one would expect to enjoy a slow paced meditative French drama like Amour. That's certainly what I assumed going in, and as I began to doze off at about the ten minute mark, that assumption was nearly confirmed. But then, something strange and wonderful happened. As I slowly began to acquiesce to what this film was trying to do, I realized that I was not only enjoying myself, but I was engrossed in the film despite its almost punishingly inaccessible outward nature, and against all odds, I walked away incredibly moved by the experience.

From The Idea Hole: Keep It In The Family

Okay, this is a quick one, just a little idea for a dark comedy I had that I think might make a good one act play, or maybe a small scale indie movie. Its called Keep It In The Family, and it starts with an elderly married couple discussing the horrible secret they just discovered about their son and his fiancee. It turns out that the girl their son is marrying is in fact the daughter they gave up for adoption a few years before they had their son, who they decided to keep. The two adult children do not know that they are siblings, but their parents have invited them to dinner to break the news. Complications arise when the two young lovers reveal their own big news, that she's pregnant with their first unknowingly incestuous child.

And Wacky Hi-jinx Ensue.

Monday, April 15, 2013

The Idiot Box: Game Of Thrones 3x03 - "Walk Of Punishment" Review

For me, Game Of Thrones is the ultimate binge show, with each season literally a novel in serialized form, best appreciated as a whole rather than as a series of installments. Ten years from now when we've finally done away with the outmoded model of weekly television, where whole series will be available all at once for every show, perhaps we will look back on this one as the prototype for how all TV will be then. Until that day, I've got to suffer through another hour by itself, where I have just enough time to settle in and start enjoying myself and becoming immersed into the world of Westeros before its over and I have to wait until next week to again become frustrated by this stupid schedule.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

The Idiot Box: Doctor Who 7x08 - "Cold War" Review

I've always liked the Ice Warriors. In many ways, I think they could have been the Doctor Who equivalent to the Klingons if they had been pursued as more of a regular villain, threatening and war-like, and yet at the same time possessing a certain honor and nobility that sets them apart from the typical tyrannical Who bad guys. There have been a few vague references to the creatures in the new Who series, two off the top of my head being The Christmas Invasion and The Waters Of Mars, and in light of almost every new season bringing back a classic villain in some capacity, I've been holding out hope that the Ice Warriors would be next. Well, I've finally got my wish, and while being a stand alone it isn't perhaps everything I might have wanted, its definitely a step up from the majority of this season, and an indication that we might just be on the right track after all.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

The Idiot Box: Hannibal 1x02 - "Amuse-Bouche" Review

While I planned to start reviewing the new episodes of Game of Thrones and Doctor Who this season, I wasn't originally intending to do Hannibal as well, beyond the pilot anyway. I was certainly convinced to keep watching after the first episode, but I didn't think I would necessarily have enough to say week to week to justify a third weekly television show review. That is, until I watched the second episode and saw the unique way this series is being executed in serial form. These will still probably be shorter than a typical movie review, especially now that I'm back to single episodes, but there's definitely enough going on that I want to talk about it.

Kevin Sorbo Has Once Again Inspired Me...

Fair warning, this is going to be a baldly political post on a blog not typically known for it, so if you aren't into that sort of thing, feel free to skip to the next bit where I'm probably talking about zombies or poop or something.

So anyway, I was on Facebook the other day when I happened to notice a post from beloved (to me anyway) cult actor Kevin Sorbo about Obamacare. If you didn't know or care, apparently Sorbo is a fairly staunch conservative Republican, which I should stress before I get into this, is completely fine. I hate that I even have to note that, as if the fact that we disagree about a lot of things somehow means I must hate him or think he's crazy. Though his political views are evidently diametrically opposed to my own, that doesn't mean either of us are bad people or that I can't appreciate his work as an actor and even respect his right to an opinion, just that if he ever runs for president, I'll probably vote for the other guy. Anyway, moving on.

Friday, April 12, 2013

The Cinema File #156: "Rock Of Ages" Review

I'd had Rock of Ages in my queue of movies to watch for a while now, but I'd been putting it off because I didn't think it was going to be good. Despite being a fairly exuberant 80's-phile, every review I'd read for it said it was terrible, and everyone I'd talked to who had seen it confirmed as much. So, the other day when I was home sick from work and laid up on the couch with nothing to do, I decided to pop it in and see for myself, and I have to say, spitting in the face of a nearly unanimously negative critical consensus, I simply loved it. I loved this movie so hard right in the mouth. Rock of Ages isn't just good or better than people say it is; it is one of the most entertaining movies of 2012 and one of the best movie musicals in years. It's so good, I'm pretty sure the endorphins it forced out of my brain cured the illness I was suffering from the day I watched it, and while I haven't tested my theory, it may just hold the cure for cancer. I don't want to oversell it of course, but the point is, it's a really good movie and you should see it for yourself. 

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