Gotham Kills, But Still Misses the Mark

Robyn Lord Taylor as Oswald Cobblepot, "The Penguin"

Robyn Lord Taylor as Oswald Cobblepot, “The Penguin”

I feel like the producers of Fox’s GOTHAM were sure they had found the secret, they knew they had done a lot of things wrong last season and surely it could all be cured with more over the top violence and zany villains.
It’s still not working. I do think they show is better than last year, they seem to have left the villain of the week procedural format behind for an arching vision of the Maniax unleashing hell on Gotham. Still, it really is all a bit much.
Jerome, our new Joker it would appear, is not amazing. Don’t get me wrong, he has some moments that are very good, but the laugh, one of the most important aspects of the Joker, is terrible. It’s far too intentional and over the top, it’s more reminiscent of Caesar Romero’s convulsing hooting than the creepy, naturally evil cackles from Jack Nicholson, Mark Hamill and Heath Ledger. Not to imply these performances should be taken lightly.
As opposed to unleashing an uncontrollable laugh that can’t be contained, this Jerome purposefully jumps into the face of an opponent, or the camera, making it painfully obvious that the laugh is on purpose, for an in your face effect. It is isn’t haunting, it’s a put on.

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The Greatest STAR TREK Film of All Time

The greatest Star Trek movie of all time has got to be “The Wrath of Khan,” it is not only the most famous Star Trek film, it is one of the definitive films of the genre, with one of the most singular villains in all of film.Star Trek expendability

Khan is a bad dude who, on his own, brings the brass of the Enterprise to their knees.It is not a coincidence that the most recent installment, “Into Darkness,” reached to Ricardo Montalban for inspiration, they know that to raise the stakes, they needed a villain who could threaten Kirk and Spock with something more interesting than an armada, something more Machiavellian than mere mass murder.

That being said, maybe the 2009 reboot is actually the best Star Trek we’ve yet seen. Star Trek has seen film after film, and series after series, grab the hearts of sci-fi fans, but never has the Enterprise grabbed the public zeitgeist by the groin the way the Millennium Falcon and lightsabers have for almost forty straight years. The original series only lasted three seasons and, though later itinerations and the films have been ever present, it has never been on the same blockbuster level. It’s possible that the focus on statesmanship and intergalactic politics, while casting aside the high adrenaline dog fights and duels, was not only Star Trek’s most unique characteristic, but also its greatest weakness. Continue reading

Pacific Rim is Giant Action Packed Fun

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Holy Shit. That is all I can say. Pacific Rim is awesome. Easily the most fun movie of the year, and probably the most satisfying movie going experience I’ve had in a long time.Trying to decide if it tops Avengers and Dark Knight Rises, but I have trouble bringing myself to say that. To be fair though, I’m a huge comic book fan, and in the interest of full disclosure I will freely admit to praying at the alter of the Caped Crusader.

I’ve read a couple of reviews saying that characters are two dimensional or heartless and the acting is sub par, but that seems like big action hatering to me. The fact that the co-stars are giant robots and city crushing aliens, in no way detracts from the emotive content of the main characters. Our hero suffers significant loss in the opening scene, loss that is informs his character throughout the film. The central cast has heart, humor and attitude as well as the blessing of working alongside the always awesome Idras Elba.

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And then there is the action, the bruising battles between those giant robots and the city crushing aliens. It’s clean and visually understandable, while still being fast, beautiful and huge; so much better than the mess of mechanics that are the battles in Transformers. The sets are cool and look authentic, characters unto themselves. Guillermo del Toro is at his best creating immersive worlds full of details and idiosyncrasies that give life on the silver screen depth and personality.

In Pacific Rim, del Toro accomplishes all of that and more. He brings to life an engrossing battle for the end of the world with charismatic characters fighting monsters, fear and each other. An underground black market, dealing in the monster’s remains, offers the civilian view of the Earth shaking crisis, and a walk around the war torn city.

Pacific Rim is a huge mind blowing good time. And it is original. Sure it’s inspiration can be seen in Anime and other Asian imports form Voltron to Evangelion. But this is an original story with original characters and something most Americans, not indoctrinated into the world of men piloting giant robots, have never glimpsed before. And it is awesome. Go see Pacific Rim, so we can rave about it later.

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Del Toro’s Unexpected Journey to the Pacific Rim

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Guillermo del Toro is a different kind of cat. Most Hollywood directors live in a safe zone. Pumping out movies that speak a common language; paradigms, digital effects and retread ideas. Del Toro has a long track record of breaking that mold.

He made his big jump into the public eye in 2002 with Blade II, when he took over the vampire comic book franchise, giving it a horror twist. As  opposed to being a straight sequel to a kung-fu superhero film replete with attractive vampires, del Toro’s villains were terrifying monsters, with pathos even.

He followed up by bringing the indie-comic, demon hero Hellboy  to the big screen, another dark, gritty movie that did not fit into the mainstream paradigm for summer blockbusters. Next del Toro constructed the fantasy noir  fairy- tale Pan’s Labyrinth, a dark otherworldly story told against the backdrop of war torn fascist Spain.

But after the successful sequel Hellboy II, del Toro’s directorial career hit a bump; he signed on to direct The Hobbit. But the Tolkien novel’s rights were tied up in endless legal battles, unable to proceed  with anything beyond concepts and preproduction. For the next couple of years the future of the man and the film sat in limbo, nothing happening except for rewrites. Eventually the eccentric artist had to cut ties and hand the reins back Peter Jackson, the man who directed the films predecessor, The Lord of the Rings.

Finally, with Pacific Rim, del Toro makes his long awaited return to silver screens, bringing audiences a sci-fi giant with aliens and giant robots in, get this, an original idea; at least for Hollywood. Viewers of Asian cinema and late night Anime cartoons may not suffer from such culture shock. pacificrim-artbook_medium

Taking many visual cues from shows like Voltron, Evangelion and Gundam, Pacific Rim is tale of humans, using giant mechanical suits of armor to fight enormous monsters that threaten mankind’s existence.

Idris Elba is the face of the movie from everything that I’ve seen, and that excites me. I’ll take any excuse to get Stringer Bell in a movie. And I love sci-fi. Tonight is discount movie night in Green Valley so I am going to check this flick out. I am pumped to see what del Toro has come up with, an I look forward to some awesome summer movie fun. Hopefully with a twist, and not the Shyamalan kind.

Movie review to come in the next blog. Fingers crossed.

If all goes poorly, will have to join Ron Perlman’s crusade for more Hellboy.

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Lone Ranger Fails the Day

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I love movies. I try and get out to the films that are lauded by the critics and cinephiles while bringing in the Oscar nominations. Lord knows I love action packed blockbusters. Growing up a comic fan and Sci-Fi fantasy fan, I’ve been in with the new pop culture obsession with these movies that have come to dominate our summers. Even when they are flawed, I can almost always find redeeming qualities to focus on and enjoy myself.

I wouldn’t say that I had real high expectations for The Lone Ranger, but  I dig westerns, I dig Johnny Depp and many of his eccentric characters and I have no idea who Armie Hammer is. So, I was in expecting it to be fun at the very least. But it was not.

It was long, very long and it was awkward, kind of racist and full of death in an oddly unsettling way. I mean there are scores of Native Americans  massacred and its treated like a weightless sidebar, as its juxtaposed with a pratfallish escape scene. I don’t know if I found it so disturbing because of the context free, emotionless killings or because it was in a movie marketed to children and their families.

Also, I get the impression that no one found this at all racist. Johnny Depp was one of the better parts of the film, and they did attempt to explain away the broken English he speaks … but still. Twenty years after Dances with Wolves and Last of the Mohicans drew great attention for starring actual Native Americans in their portrayals, we couldn’t find a single talent to play this starring role? We had to revert to a white dude in red f … er, white face? If not racist, it’s certainly disappointing.

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And who the hell is Armie Hammer and why is someone trying to convince me he is a movie star? I do not believe it and I am not alone. He has very little charisma, poor comic timing and does nothing to carry this movie. In a movie full of explosions and reckless mayhem I would have expected to prefer the character who dislikes guns and vigilantism, but no. He seems heartless and tongue in cheek in a non self-aware way that is totally out of place in a movie where everyone else attempts to act like their in a modern movie.

I thought Battleship was bad, I was right, but this floptacular bastard at least had a chance before it derailed into an offensive, inexplicably boring failure.