Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Review: Pixels

Okay, how much crap am I going to get for admitting I actually enjoyed Pixels? I think i had expectations set to the lowest possible setting, not just because of the reviews, but more because that's my default setting for any Adam Sandler movie. It was VERY stupid, intentionally so, but not especially so for a Sandler movie, in fact, it's pretty much his Citizen Kane, and yes I'm including Punch Drunk Love in that calculation. So I'm not a fan, but, I'll be honest, I laughed a lot and I caught myself being actually anxious to see if these videogame has-beens could save the day even though the end was never in doubt. Yes, I actually bought into the premise and managed to suspend disbelief. That's gotta count for something. Throw in that and some 80s nostalgia, and yeah, it had me. I enjoyed it far more than Minions, which seemed just like the summation of a 15 minute pot fueled bullpen session with little thought beyond the merchandising tie-ins. Pixels more than cleared that hurdle and actually made me care about these creepy and intentionally unlikable losers.
Was it the greatest film ever? Hardly, but it was just egregiously stupid fun. Sometimes I wonder what bee got up the critics' posterior. The whole thing from start to finish was just one long lampshade and should have been treated with the Everest size grain of salt it warranted. Yes we are doing it and yes it's ridiculous, so just go with it. You would have thought they were promised the video game equivalent of Wuthering Heights and got...well...a typical Adam Sandler movie.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Jessica Jones! Um...cool, I guess?

Marvel's Jessica Jones!
By the same people who did Daredevil.
Wicked cool.
Gritty Film Noir hard drinking private eye drama complete with with voiceovers and a glass door with her name on it.
Sooooo cool.
And she has superpowers!
I love you.
And a lot of PTSD and abandonment psychological issues.
Um...still cool...I guess.
Cuz it makes for an awesome psychological thriller.
Oh...okay, in that case VERY cool.
Cause we more or less drop the voiceovers and Film Noir vibe after the first three episodes anyway.
Oh...well that could still be awesome if you play up on the psychological drama.
Oh we do, but not before we wander though a lot of other territory.
Oh yeah, for a big chunk there it just turns into a really creepy rape trauma body horror revenge thing...
With lots of borderline torture porn.
Just barely above a snuff film at times really...
Did I mention the dismemberment scenes?
Um no.
(ahem.) DAVID TENANT!!
He's the villain!
He wears a lot of purple!!
I don't care...STILL AWESOME!!
He's a mind-controlling rapist!
Uh...okay...that depends on how you play it...but...
He whines a lot!
Like the whole series, he just totally whines, the whole time.
Seriously, why the heck would you hire Tenant and just have him...
Luke CAGE!!
What? oh...AWESOME!!
Superhero sex!
Okay, kinda less awesome.
That do nothing to advance the plot or develop the characters...
And then Luke leaves for most of the series.
But he comes back at the end.
But he spends most of it knocked out.
With Rosario Dawson's nurse character from Daredevil.
Oh. Okay that's cool.
But she just exists to tie into the larger shared universe and doesn't do much.
I mean she hints around a lot but never even uses Daredevil's name.
Fight scenes that are just people wailing on each other and throwing other people into walls because we didn't hire the guy who choreographed the great fight scenes for Daredevil.
Decidedly LESS awesome.
Really?  Well I guess that's cool...
But one of them is Carrie Anne Moss and there's also one younger hot blonde one.
OH! well okay then...
But no Lesbian sex.
I mean we tease the heck out of it...but don't really show anything.
And we spend a lot of time on this divorce subplot with Carrie Anne Moss that really isn't crucial to the main plot.
Oh and a druggy neighbor, AND a creepy brother/sister pair of neighbors that are super weird and annoying...I mean, we are talking REALLY annoying, but don't worry, most of those are only created so we have plenty of disposable victims you don't care about for the villain to kill cause you know we aren't killing of Luke or Trish because they are major Marvel properties.
Oh, and an older black cop detective close to retirement.
We kill him in a totally offhanded way.
And he doesn't even get killed by the villain.
Shut up.
Did we mention the random Marvel villain shoehorned into the story that is part of some weird secret military experiment to create superwarriors that goes horrible wrong and causes the subjects to go insane?
Get out.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Binge Review 2: Jessica Jones

Okay so I'm only three episodes in but here's my first impression:  Because the series revolves around the titular character, who is also a private eye, they created this wonderful Film Noir opening credits scene.  The conventions of Film Noir are all there too.  Tough hard-drinking P.I.  Glass front office door with the name in gold letters (that get's smashed in the first five minutes) gritty streets, a bigger mystery, all narrated by the main character herself in a seen-too-much confessional style.  So it seems like it's a conventional detective series, only it's not.  It's Marvel which means there's a twist, she's a superhero with PTSD hiding from her past and the villain that made her jumpy is alive, even though he's supposed to be dead.  This villain, Kilgare, played by David Tenant has the power to control minds, which makes things a tad weirder.  It's a dark and gritty vision for sure, and a little grimier than previous Marvel offerings.  Even Daredevil, which I loved for its darker tone didn't get into gutter sex in the first five minutes like this one and it's not even the only one.  We get three sex scenes in the first episode, so fair warning, not for kids, and maybe not for this adult either.  Your mileage may vary.  And the ending of the first episode?  Well not to spoil anything, but it's brutal.

Still, I'm not sure it works.  It should be right up my alley.  I love superheroes, I love Film Noir detective movies, and I love psychological thrillers, all three genres are right up my alley.  I should be over the moon, but this really only works on the last level, the psychological thriller, which fortunately, is pretty darn good.  The detective angle feels tacked on frankly. As far as the superhero plot line goes, I never read the comics, so I have no expectations, which isn't bad.  Daredevil was a franchise I knew well, so it's nice to be surprised by this one though if this is anything like DD I'm sure it strays pretty far from the source material, while still giving fans the appropriate Easter eggs and aha moments.  They earned a lot of trust with Daredevil so I'll probably be sticking this one out too, though more cautiously.

Binge Watch Reviews! Man in the High Castle and The Expanse

Curse this age of online binge watching!  Don't they know I have things to do?  Oh well.

Okay, I finished watching Man in the High Castle last night and since it was already past midnight, I decided to throw the early release of SyFy's The Expanse on the pile as well.

Here's my review of both.

We truly live in the golden age of production design, both of these are beautiful with amazing attention to detail.  Let's start with MitHC.

It's beautifully acted and the performers deserve a lot of credit for keeping you involved.  I say that, because it drags...a lot.  There's an overarching mystery of course, some conspiracies, a resistance and a whole lot of Nazi and Japanese nastiness, but hey that's what they're there for.  What you don't know is what the plot is there for, because they tease an awful lot but really don't resolve anything.

What I'm there for is the performances.  Rufus Sewell is amazing - and horrifying - as New York SS head John Smith.  At first this America seems impossible but after his portrayal you really begin to believe in an Americans could sign up for the third Reich, enthusiastically. He's by far the most interesting character. Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa is just brilliant as trade minister Tagomi as well, but much outside those fantastic portrayals, it begins to feel tedious.  It's amazing to see this world constructed, but I couldn't give two figs for the leads playing Blake and Crain.  I know, I know...they're conflicted, everyone's conflicted. I just don't care. I was rooting for the Marshall at points.  I do care about the films however, but I'm nervous.   The main mystery at the heart of this, the films and the identity of the mysterious eponymous Man in the High Castle, is barely teased.  I feel as if I am being baited.  I've watched a lot of high concept stuff get LOST in the weeds, if you know what I mean, because the writers didn't really know where they were going.  They were just peppering the drama with mysteries with no idea how to resolve them.  Let's hope that's not the case, but I've been burned so many times before, I'll remain wary, though I will check in for the second season, the acting is just that good.  Basically we get an alternate history that is really mesmerizing in its detail and conception overlaid with what can only be described as a paranormal mystery which is a head-scratcher that seems to be moving in the general direction of a big reveal.  It is, after all, based on Philip K. Dick, so that was to be expected.   Let's hope they don't blow it.

Now on to The Expanse.

It was just the first episode but again, just gorgeous, and more importantly, we have ships laid out like real spaceships with decks at perpendicular angles to the engines instead of like the decks of a cruise ship.  They move like real spaceships with thrusters and hard G turns instead of swooping around like biplanes in a vacuum.  No artificial gravity or inertial dampeners either.  Though our expectations of zero-g sex are probably too high, and we still can't seem to get around dark gritty corridor porn.  Seriously, where does sci-fi get this obsession with oodles of dark corridors?!  Outside the Enterprise in Star Trek it's like the future world has never heard of lighting.  Heck, even the dingiest modern oil tanker today isn't this depressing.  Oh well.  Other than that it portrays a believable near future with asteroid dwellers called belters and an inner-solar system political conflict between Earth, Mars, and the human colonies scattered around the asteroid belt fighting over freedom and resources.  The whole thing begins with an amazing fly through shot of the colony on Ceres while some revolutionary is monologuing about oppression,  Any show that gets the science and society that well deserves a prolonged look, it's just...well I'll be honest, it seems utterly conventional beyond that.  The characters are all stock issued, hard nosed detective, handsome leading man, natural leader, and a missing girl who's certain to be at the heart of a mystery that's going to change the fate of mankind...blah, blah, blah.  I hope it rises above this.  All expectations from the book suggests it will.  It is a good but not brilliant beginning.  I will definitely still tune in though.

Okay and now for some house cleaning.

Look I'm not going to bore you with the descriptions of my last few years.  Unemployed author gets serious depression and drops off the radar for years?! The Dickens you say!  Yeah, yeah, I'm a living stereotype, but I've been wanting to come back for a while now, still working on...well...a lot of things, but this review seemed like a good way to get back into the blog and kick it all off.  The hope is to return to the sequel of Limbo's Child and a bunch of other projects.  If you are still there after I've abandoned you for so long, well...thank you, and I hope there is more to come.  More reviews, more writing and more stories.

Thanks for sticking with me.


Monday, February 23, 2015

Sincerity as shock value

People know I'm a fan of Lady Gaga.

Still, if you've made a career of wearing meat dresses and over the top performances, how do you shock the masses anymore?

By an act of pure unadulterated sincerity that really proves you've got the pipes, that's how.


Friday, February 20, 2015

"Holy crap there's a lot of dust bunnies in here."

"More like dust mammoths.  Geez, when did you last clean up this place?"

"I don't know, years maybe, it's not that bad really."

"Not bad? Are you serious?"

"No I think it has a kinda benevolent neglect vibe going on, a sorta shabby chic thing, y'know?"

"Shabby Chic?  Shabby chic is lightly peeling paint on a charming Gothic revival manor, this is more like unsealing the tomb and feeling the  5,000 year old putrid breath of the mummy on your neck kinda chic."

"Ha-ha, very funny, Travis.  Are you going to help or not?"

"Fine, Jonah, give me the power hose.  It's going to take a lot to wash away all these drop shadows."

"What's wrong with the drop shadows?"

"Nothing, it's the finest aesthetic 1998 has to offer."

"Oh shut up and get to work."

"As soon as I get my tetanus shot, fine."


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Black Friday Giveaway!

The book will be available FREE on Amazon Kindle the Friday, Saturday and Sunday after Thanksgiving.

Just my way of saying Thanks to all the fans.

Share the book with all your friends.