Monthly Archives: May 2009

Am I f**king crazy?

A few weeks ago, my wife and I were watching Robert Altman’s Shortcuts. The film, along with thousands of others, stars Peter Gallagher. While we were watching, I pointed at the screen and said, “Hey. It’s Billy Zane.” After my wife told me I was crazy, I looked up the movie on imdb – which truly is the source of all knowledge – and sure enough, it wasn’t Billy Zane, but Peter Gallagher. The mistake was mine, but I told my wife that the two could pass as brothers, to which she replied, “You’re a f**king idiot.” So, gentle readers, I throw it out to YOU! Look at the pictures, and tell me whether or not the Zane brothers resemble each other, then look at our doctored photo to see how a f**king idiot like me could have mistaken one for the other.

Side By Side

Zane Gallagher-ized

I think the answer is obvious.


TRAILER MONDAY – Super Patriotic Edition**

Robert Downey Jr. is certainly popular these days, which only goes to show that you can be a drug addict AND wildly successful. Kids, take note. Anyway, Sherlock Holmes hits theaters this Christmas. In it, Robert Downey Jr. plays a wildly successful opium addict.

Also in time for the holidays is Viggo Mortensen’s The Road, which was adapted from the popular Cormac McCarthy novel, which was recently reviewed on this wildly popular blog. The movie follows Mortensen as he leads his son through a bombed-out wasteland, where roving bands of killers prey on the innocent. Hahaha, no it’s not Mexico.

In 9, the world is also a bombed-out wasteland. Except here, a group of ragdolls are trying to save humanity’s legacy. At least I think that’s what’s going on. It’s entirely possible they’re going to a Coheed & Cambria concert.

**This post contains nothing patriotic.

“If you’re hearing this, you are the Resistance.”

McG’s big-budget continuation of the Terminator franchise has finally hit theaters, and well… it sure has. This time, the audience is given a look at things post-Judgment Day, with John Connor and the human resistance desperately trying to end the war between man and machine. In the middle of it all is former death row inmate Marcus Wright, who’s role in the war may be bigger than he had believed. Caught in the middle is Kyle Reese, John Connor’s father and top dog on Skynet’s kill list. Boocoo spoilers follow.

After the dust settles and all the robots are dead, all I can say is that the movie felt incredibly anticlimactic. For a film that bills itself as a deep look into what it means to be human, there really isn’t a lot of depth here. As a whole, the movie is very disjointed. It was as if plot point after plot point was rushed through just to get to the movie’s final showdown between Connor and the machines. I mean, at one point, the entire resistance leadership dies! Isn’t that kind of a big thing? Nope, Connor’s in charge! Let’s blow sh*t up!

This illustrates my next point. It never feels like the characters are in any sort of real danger. Connor is the prophesied leader of the resistance, and at one point one of the leadership asks him if he thinks they’re just going to hand over control to him because he has a small group of followers. Of course, that’s not what Connor thinks, but a little while later they’re all dead, and Connor’s there to pick up the peices. The prophecy has been fulfilled. So, does anything they do really matter? Can the future be changed, or is everything they do predestined? A big Matrix vibe hangs over Connor’s entire role.

Salvation sure is an action movie, complete with lots of CGI and loud explosions. All of this surprised me a little bit because, in the interviews I’ve seen, McG has talked a lot about how they were trying to stay away from some of the more typical action movie conventions and make this film more character driven. I guess I can say that it’s more character driven than most action movies you’ll see these days, but after the interviews I was expecting a lot more.

It’s completely possible that it was late and I was tired, or that I’m an idiot and simple things fly past me, but it took me a little while to sort out the movie’s plot. Things that are made specific mention of in the trailers, like the machines building Terminators that look like humans, didn’t seem like they were that big a deal in the actual movie. They were there, but the focus of the movie was more on John Connor’s search for Kyle Reese, and trying to get into the heart of Skynet. And as far as plot goes, or more specifically the holes in it, don’t even get me started on this one. T-600s and other cool looking robots roam bombed out cities, wiping out the last human survivors with their super advanced… 1970s machine guns? Why not use heat sensors to find the last survivors? Why is Skynet central guarded by two Terminator and a Macbook Pro? Maybe it’s a mistake to apply logic to movies like these, but maybe that’s what sets us apart from the machines.

As for the actors, Christian Bale is Christian Bale, and I’m beginning to wonder if there’s anything the man can’t do. He does well in the movie, although I suspect that if they had cast him as Batman and had him destroy Skynet, the movie would have been better. But I digress… Anton Yelchin’s Kyle Reese is definitely a major player. But by the time the film is over, I didn’t feel like we had spent enough time with him to really care whether he survived or not. Yes yes yes, I get that he’s John Connor’s father, and that if he dies then John’s never born, and that leads to all sorts of problems… but still. Why does he get a spot at the cool kid’s table when all he did was get caught by that big damn robot thing with a gun for a head? Everyone else’s performance was solid, or as solid as they could be here. Sam Worthington plays Marcus Wright without coming off as an action movie cliche. Bryce Dallas Howard doesn’t say much, but she’s hot. And Common has a beard.

The scifi geeks will like the fact that the movie fleshes out a lot of the Terminator mythos. We’re shown what came before the Arnold Schwarzenegger models from the previous films, as well as some other baddies who could seriously put that wussy Optimus Prime to shame. There’s also a pretty good scene toward the end with a Schwarzenegger model, done with some impressive CGI that people will really like. The entire movie has some great visuals, and props to McG for his eye toward that sort of thing. The movie looks great, it’s just everything else I had a problem with.

From what I’ve read, McG has a second and third movie arced out, so I’m interested to see where he goes with it. The hints he’s dropped make it sound like they’ll be very different from Salvation, and right now I think that’s probably a good thing. Salvation works as an action movie, but really fails to live up to its potential. I give it a B- just because I have a man crush on Christian Bale, and robots blowing stuff up gives me a thrill. I doubt I’ll talk anyone out of seeing this movie, and that’s okay. You should go see it, but it would be better to go in not expecting to be blown away.

Some thoughts on Grey’s Anatomy

An out of town wedding kept me from watching the Grey’s finale for a couple of days, but if my Facebook friends’ statuses were any indication, something BIG had happened. Honestly, after slogging through the train wreck that the show had become these past couple of seasons, I was hoping the big surprise would be that the hospital blew up for some mysterious reason and everybody died, and then HBO brought back Deadwood. But alas, it wasn’t meant to be. Anyway, after watching the show and seeing what really happened, I could almost forgive it for its WTF storylines and horrible acting…almost.

A few weeks ago, as I was watching the show’s 100th episode and telling my wife that I really felt I could see the show disappearing up its own a**hole, it hit me. I finally understood why the show was making me grind my teeth in my sleep. It wasn’t necessarily that Izzie was having sex with her dead boyfriend, or that the writers couldn’t do anything that made sense with Callie’s sex life, it was that everybody on this show (with only a few exceptions) is a conceded piece of sh*t. So when Meredith confronts Christina, complaining that she isn’t excited enough about her engagement to Derek, all Christina can do is stare her down and say, “You know what? I broke up with Owen you BI*CH!” Everyone is convinced that their problems outweigh everyone else’s, and will only back down when their friends guilt them into it.

Dr. Robbins: You might not like it when I say that George joining the Army is awesome, but 9/11!

Callie: … I-I’m sorry.

And the problem isn’t only with the main characters. Every episode invariably features some patient who’s had a straw driven through his throat or was kicked in the face by a horse. But it’s never the one patient. It’s them and some hapless bystander who’s been caught up in it all, so when the injured one is rolled out of the ambulance, they’re right behind them, falling out of their gurney and asking if everything’s going to be alright. And of course, whatever’s happened has ruined someone’s big plans. Like the astronaut who was supposed to be on a shuttle flight that night, before the guy she was standing next to at the bus stop was hit by a car and got a hood ornament stuck in his brain.

Astronaut: You don’t understand doctor, I was supposed to go to the moon tonight. It was my chance to… *sniff* … be a star. (cries)

But while every episode of Grey’s Anatomy is guaranteed to have its dips, it also has its rises. Because Dr. Bailey constantly needs to be reminded that she has a good reason for neglecting her son and guaranteeing him a long future in therapy, there’s the token scene in the end of a doctor giving someone good news, and people hugging, then someone smiles and says, “That right there, ladies and gentlemen, is why we do what we do. Now let’s go cut!” and then everybody jumps up and high fives.

Like I said, I was able to forget about most of this after watching the season finale. I mean, wow, huh? Can’t wait for those DVDs. In any case, one thing’s for sure: Kate Walsh should grow her hair long again and gain five pounds… and come back to the show. I’m still not sure why she ran off to LA to work in that sperm bank or whatever the hell it is. But I loves me some Addison.

FLASHFORWARD by Robert J. Sawyer

It’s possible that you’re one of the five or six people who have heard absolutely nothing about this book, or ABC’s TV adaptation, which was just added to their 2009-2010 Thursday night lineup. Or maybe you have heard of the show, yet in the glitz and glam of modern-day television, did not realize that  before TV, there was the book. In any case, you should waste more time online catching up on things like this.

Flashforward centers around a group of physicists working at the Large Hadron Collider near Geneva, Switzerland, who spend their days smashing subatomic particles together, in search of the elusive Higgs boson. Which, from my own studies in quantum physics is best described as a particle whichssmmmphmmmrmpph. Anyway, during one such experiment, every man, woman, and child on Earth blacks out, where for two and a half minutes, their collective consciousness is thrown twenty one years into the future.

When everyone wakes up, they’re forced to deal with the mass chaos that would understandably follow six billion people blacking out. Planes, cars, and buses have crashed. People undergoing surgery are dead. Others have fallen off of roofs and down stairs. As those who survive come to terms with what’s happened, they slowly begin to piece together what they’ve seen. Some saw visions of their lives twenty one years hence while others saw nothing. Were they sleeping? Were they dead? Slowly, a portrait of the future begins to emerge.

Robert J. Sawyer is one of a small group of authors who writes “hard” science fiction, or science fiction which puts a heavy emphasis on the science behind the fiction. That is to say, he is one of a small group who does it well. A few years back I read Hyperspace, by Michio Kaku. It’s a book about theoretical physics in terms a layman can understand. Most of what I remember is wondering what it would be like to travel back in time, to make sure my parents hooked up at the Enchantment Under the Sea Dance. My point is, if this crap is such a headache to understand, why do I want to spend more of my leisure time reading about it? Well, authors like Sawyer (also see Stephen Baxter and Alastair Reynolds) are able to explain the science without overshadowing their stories or the characters in those stories.

While Flashforward lives safely within the limits of science fiction, there’s a lot of mystery, suspense, and philosophy here, too. Theo Procopides is one of the physicists who sees nothing during his blackout. After others tell him that they saw reports of his murder, Theo sets off on a quest to find out as much as he can about his future killer, and the circumstances surrounding his death. Will he succeed? Can he succeed? Is anyone capable of changing their future, or is free will just an illusion? In the book, arguments are laid out for both, and they’re questions you’ll be asking yourself throughout.

The book gets high marks for a truly original story, and low marks for a somewhat anti-climactic ending, although the scientific a-ha! moments really suck you in. If you’re planning on watching the show this Fall, you’ll definitely want to check this one out. From what I’ve seen, there are major differences between the two, so you won’t be ruining anything for yourself.

7 out of 10 stars

Buy the book from amazon.com.

“These are the voyages…”


Commercials have been advertising the latest Trek movie as, “not your father’s Star Trek.” I hate that tagline. They might as well throw in some squealing guitar riffs playing over girls taking their shirts off. Well, some of the commercials have that, too. All of that aside, this definitely isn’t your father’s Star Trek, or is it? The answer is no, it’s not. Although there’s a good chance he’s gonna dig it.

I’ve been a Star Trek fan for years. I stuck with it through the soaring highs of The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine, and the excruciating lows of Voyager and Enterprise. I clapped wildly when I went to see First Contact, and hung my head in shame after seeing Insurrection. It was sad, but the franchise had been in decline in recent years. Star Trek 9 and 10 were lackluster at best, and although it was getting better toward the end, Enterprise was canceled after its fourth season. So when Paramount announced that JJ Abrams would be bringing the next Trek to the big screen, essentially rebooting the franchise, and that they were going to be giving him millions and millions of dollars to do it, the first thing that came to mind was, “What took you so long?”

And it begins. Star Trek fans are some of the whiniest, bitchiest, hard to please people on the planet, and once it was announced that Abrams would be going back to the days of Kirk and Spock, and recasting all of those iconic characters, message board were aflame with speculation that Abrams, a self-proclaimed non-fan, would do nothing but ruin the franchise. Abrams chose to go back to the very beginning, even before the original series, and make this new Star Trek an origin story. It follows Kirk and Spock, and tells how they both came to join Starfleet and be stationed on the Enterprise. In the film, Kirk and the crew of the Enterprise go up against Nero, a time traveling Romulan who has a grudge against the Federation for reasons we won’t spoil here.

How was it? Totally awesome! People talk about updating the look of the original series while still keeping the feeling, but Abrams was actually able to pull it off. The sets are new and slick, yet still have that retro 60s feel to them. The film’s special effects are top notch. And Michael Giacchino composed a beautiful soundtrack. The casting was inspired. Especially in the case of Zachary Quinto, who seems like he born to play Spock. Chris Pine was able to bring in Kirk’s brash hotheadedness, and Zoe Saldana really breathes life into Uhura, who in the original series I always felt was there just so there would be a woman in the main cast.

My problems with the film were very few. Scribes Robert Orci and Alex Kurtzman did a wonderful job with the script. After Transformers and Eagle Eye, it was better than anything I thought they could do. Still, they threw in the obligatory jokes and sight gags. Some of which worked, while others didn’t. For me, it was all a little hit or miss. I don’t mind comedy in my Trek, but there’s a cutoff point. Also, I had to wonder whether or not the filmmakers trusted the audience to understand the film’s plot. Some of the expository scenes were almost painful to watch. I also had a few problems with Karl Urban’s Doctor McCoy and Anton Yelchin’s Chekov, who at times seemed they were playing caricatures of their characters more than anything else.

Abrams promised he would deliver a movie that would respect all that came before it, while at the same time making it accessible to new fans. And you know what? That’s exactly what he did. Was it 100% perfect? No. But I think he did a hell of a better job than most thought he’d be able to do. Movies come in threes these days, and I’m sure we’ll be hearing about Star Trek XII before long. And rightfully so. This was a good movie. For me – and fans will know what I’m talking about – it was a complete gamechanger. What the filmmakers decided to do with the story really turned Trek into something I wasn’t expecting, but am incredibly excited to see play out over the next few years. I have to give this one an A+. Get out and see it now so that you’re not the only loser who doesn’t know what all your friends are talking about!

Loser College

Because we’re supporters of good television, we heartily endorse this event or product. It’s called Community, stars Joel McHale of “The Soup” fame, and will most likely air as part of NBC’s Fall lineup. So watch the clip, and let’s all laugh together.