Monthly Archives: July 2008

Where the truth lies.

Do you yearn for simpler times when men were men, sexism was charming and pregnant women could smoke without feeling bad? Then make sure you check out the second season premiere of Mad Men tonight on AMC. Every bit of hype you’ve heard about this show is true.

“So you believe in these kinds of things?”

I had to toss out my first review, because it turned out not to be a review, but a thirty-stanza poem about my love for Gillian Anderson. It’ll eventually be published in a book I’m writing, tentatively titled “My Love For Gillian Anderson”. I’m shopping it around right now. So watch out for it.

I Want To Believe picks up six years after the series’ end. Our ex-agents are in West Virginia, Mulder still in hiding and Scully a doctor. After the disappearance of an FBI agent, the Bureau is contacted by Father Joe Crissman, a convicted pedophile ex-priest who claims he’s having psychic visions that can help them find her. When Father Joe turns up a cut-off arm buried in the middle of an empty field, the FBI gets in touch with Scully and asks her to send Mulder a message. If he can come and weigh in on whether or not Father Joe is legit, they’ll clear his name. It takes a little prodding, but he accepts, and we’re off!

I’m a huge X-Files fan, so I’ll get my complaints out of the way before anything else. As most people know, the film doesn’t really touch on the show’s mythology. Chris Carter’s reasoning being that he wanted to make the movie as accessible to new viewers as possible. I’m not sure if that was the right decision. The movie might attract a few new people, sure, but the people who are really going to want to see it are fans already. So when the government conspiracy that Mulder and Scully spent a decade trying to uncover is barely hinted at, it makes things a little confusing. Where are Doggett and Reyes? What happened to Gibson Praise? Did Toothpick Man and the Syndicate just give up looking for Mulder? Inquiring minds want to know.

About an hour in, the movie’s plot gets a little muddled and you’re confused in the end as to what the bad guys were actually trying to do. The movie’s two subplots, one dealing with a sick child being treated by Scully and the other with Mulder and Scully’s relationship, almost felt like they were arguing with each other over who was more important. It was a little unnatural and made the movie feel more like an extended episode. Now that that’s over with…

The story definitely feels like The X-Files, and that’s enough to bring a lot of fans back in. As Mulder and Scully, Duchovny and Anderson never disappointed and jump right back into their roles here without missing a beat. And Billy Connolly as Father Joe, along with Amanda Peet and Xziibit, make nice additions to the cast. Watching the movie you realize you’re just happy it’s back.

In the end, going back to The X-Files is like sitting on an old couch. One that’s perfectly grooved to the shape of my ass. Comfortable. Reliable. Revisiting these characters is like going back home, and that’s why I can turn a blind eye to any of the movie’s shortcomings. There’s a scene toward the end of the movie when (**SPOILER ALERT!**) AD Skinner turns up, and you heard half the theater go, “There he is!”. Stuff like that is half the fun of these movies. You go in and your already friends with everybody.

There are a lot of people saying that Carter and co. should have skipped another movie altogether. One complaint I’ve heard is that the show’s become irrelevant since it went off the air. Probably one of the dumbest things I’ve ever heard. One, it’s only been six years since the show ended. Two, I think audiences are still hungry for these types of stories. I don’t think I can watch FOX for five minutes without having three or four commercials for Fringe thrown in my face. So… me 1. Haters 0.

The movie has a few structure issues, but it’s a worthy edition to the X-Files universe, especially if Carter follows it up with his proposed sequel dealing with the imminent alien invasion, the date of which was revealed in the series’ last episode. Non-fans won’t mind waiting a few months to check it out, but X-Philes will be eager to jump back on board.

7 out of 10 stars

So You Think You Can Dance musings

I should have had a running commentary going from the beginning of the season, since this one has been so different from the past three. Anyway, these are some random thoughts I’ve had after watching the show these past few weeks…

1. If I woke up one morning and read that Mary Murphy had been hit by a train, would I be sad? (extra points if she’s hit by a Hot Tamale Train)

2. Is it just me, or is Mia Michaels slowly disappearing up her own a**hole?

3. A few years back, my grandfather was diagnosed with cancer. The doctors would go in and operate and then check again, but the cancer was still there. Comfort and Mark are kind of like that (well, Mark anyway).

4. Hey judges, is it possible Jessica had a hard time remembering what a great dancer she was because you constantly told her how much she sucked?

5. Why was it called LL Cool J’s new song when he doesn’t sing?

6. Whether in politics or dancing competitions, I’m not sure the American public can ever be trusted to make the right decision.

7. I miss Lacey Schwimmer.

“And tonight, you’re gonna break your one rule.”

Wow. Wow. The summer blockbuster season might as well pack it in and go home, because it’s over. See you later Step Brothers. Shake a leg Swing Vote, because it’s done son. We’ve been waiting three years for Christopher Nolan’s follow-up to 2005’s Batman Begins, and holy piss, was it worth it. And not only did we get a great film, but the greatest superhero movie ever made.

As Batman continues to clean up the mean streets of Gotham City, desperate criminals are scrambling to save their crumbling empire. Taking advantage of the confusion is one of Gotham’s new breed of criminal, a man they call the Joker. Why does that sound awesome? Because it effing IS.

Watching as all this unfolds is Batman. As the Joker takes control of Gotham’s underworld and the body count begins to rise, Bruce Wayne is forced to ask himself if the creation of such a fantastic hero as Batman is really to blame for all this. If, in his desire to make the city a safer place, he’s only upped the ante in a game he’s not sure he can win. Or rather, a game in which he’s not sure he can do what he needs to in order in win.

I hate to say it, but these types of movies have changed since 9/11. The line between hero and villain has been blurred and they’re presented to us in a much more gritty, realistic way. As far as superheroes are concerned, this method has been met with some criticism. Frank Miller, of Sin City fame, explained it like this…

People are attempting to bring a superficial reality to superheroes which is rather stupid. They work best as the flamboyant fantasies they are. I mean, these are characters that are broad and big. I don’t need to see the sweat patches under Superman’s arms. I want to see him fly.

I think it’s a valid criticism, but not one I necessarily agree with. When superheroes are presented to us as “flamboyant fantasies,” I’m not sure they can progress beyond a certain complexity and ultimately don’t affect us on the level a movie like The Dark Knight does.

The movie’s complexity is served not only by it’s story, but also by it’s actors. Christian Bale, Aaron Eckhart, Gary Oldman. All are in top form from start to finish. And while they were all great and a delight to watch on screen, it was as if God himself looked down on Heath Ledger’s Joker and said, “You are my finest creation.” From his first scene (and it’s AWESOME), his entire performance was brilliant.

There’s a giant internet slap-fight going on right now, with people arguing over who’s better, Heath Ledger or Jack Nicholson from 1989’s Batman. They’re both representative of two different cultural mindsets and I don’t think you can truly compare the two. And while I loved Nicholson’s portrayal and get a little giddy every time I hear the line, “Hubba hubba hubba! Money money money! Who do you trust!”, Ledger’s Joker was much more rounded-out than Nicholson’s and in the end you understand him better. This is really driven home in a scene halfway through the movie (that they’ve hinted at in previews), in which Batman interrogates the Joker at Police HQ. In it, you understand who these two characters are, and why the Joker is considered Batman’s nemesis. For me, it was probably the best part of the whole movie. But then again, I’m stupid like that.

Two small complaints (I’m sorry!). At a hefty 152 minutes, the movie does start to drag a little toward the end. And, Batman does have a few more crazy gadgets that make you scratch your head a little. One of the things I’ve enjoyed most about these two movies is that they don’t really mess with all the crazy bat-crap the comics and the Joel Schumacher movies got bogged down in. But, these are small things and – at the risk of sounding like someone who’s just gulped down a big pitcher full of Batman Kool-Aid – it doesn’t really matter. Everything I liked about this movie completely outweighed the things I didn’t.

The movie is set to make all sorts of money this weekend, so a third installment is as good as in the bank. And honestly, I have no idea where they’re going to take it. Aaron Eckhart plays Gotham D.A. Harvey Dent, and anyone who knows anything about Batman knows what happens to him. With that in mind, I felt that while the focus of the movie would be on the Joker, Dent’s story would set things up for the next film. We’ll just say that all my expectations were dumbfounded. That’s right, they were found to be dumb. I don’t want to spoil too much, but I will say that the Joker doesn’t die. And while I don’t think Nolan would ever try to find anyone to try (because they could only try) and follow up Heath Ledger’s, you’d think they would try and give some resolution to his storyline. I guess we’ll see.

This is the best movie you’re going to see this summer. So if you haven’t seen it already, run out to your nearest IMAX and enjoy it in all it’s six-story, high definition goodness. And then go do it again.

10 out of 10 stars

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New Trek posters.

TrekMovie.com has posted new one-sheets from Paramount’s new Star Trek movie, as seen in this month’s Entertainment Weekly. This is the first time we’ve gotten a look at the actors in character. The posters show Chris Pine as Captain James Kirk, Zachary Quinto as Mr. Spock, Zoe Saldana as Lt. Uhura, and Eric Bana as Romulan baddy Nero.

When their powers combine, you get…

From the look of the posters, it looks like this movie is set to ooze all sorts of sweaty, tatooed sex come May. Get ready for it.

Watchmen trailer hits!

I know I’ve really been slacking off on bringing my gentle readers anything original for a couple of weeks now and I’m really sorry about, but shut up for a minute, would ‘ya? GET THIS. The teaser trailer for Zack Snyder’s Watchmen is out and holy hell does it look awesome! The movie’s not due out until March of next year, so run out and buy the comic book to hold you over. In the meantime, enjoy!

And now for something completely different…

I know we don’t bring you much any music news around here, but this one was definitely worth mentioning. Anyone who’s ever listened to Dream Theater knows they’re easily the best band in the history of the world. And guess what? They have a new DVD due out in September! It’s a two-disc set filmed during the Chaos in Motion World Tour, which the band just finished up last month.

Here’s the setlist…

1. Intro/Also Sprach Zarathustra
2. Constant Motion
3. Panic Attack
4. Blind Faith
5. Surrounded
6. The Dark Eternal Night
7. Keyboard Solo
8. Lines in the Sand
9. Scarred
10. Forsaken
11. The Ministry of Lost Souls
12. Take the Time
13. In the Presence of Enemies
14. Medley: I. Trial of Tears II. Finally Free III. Learning to Live IV. In the Name of God V. Octavarium

And here’s the trailer…

Fantastic. Get those preorders in.