Archive for August, 2015

Fear The Walking Dead

Fear The Walking Meh, more like.

I’ve said several times before that I’m a sucker for a zombie apocalypse.  Part of me was really looking foward to this show.  I assumed from comments that Robert Kirkman made about the comics a long time ago that he would never bother to revisit the beginning of his zombie apocalypse.  For that aspect at least, I was intrigued.

And then they cast Kim Dickens.  Yay.  I adored her in Deadwood and Tremé.

The result?  Yawn.  Yawn The Walking Dead.

Problem #1: Boring zombies.

Problem #2: The main reason that they’re boring is that Kirkman & co. are using them in the pilot to threaten main cast members.  Anyone following the development of the show or being exposed to the myriad previews knows that those characters will survive the pilot.  Yawn.

Problem #3: Are any of these main characters likeable?  As much as I adored Kim Dickens in Deadwood and Tremé … um, no.  Except possibly Travis, depending on what more we see of him in the next five weeks.

Problem #4: Kirkman & co. have a built-in audience who knows exactly what this apocalypse evolves into years down the road.  Do we hit the ground running here in full-on outbreak mode?  Um, no.  Instead we spend the first hour trying to figure out if an unlikeable oh-someone-please-spare-me-by-feeding-him-to-the-zombies-now junkie is hallucinating or insane.  Yawn.

I understand the desire to go with a slow burn style of storytelling, possibly to differentiate it from the original series, but it just didn’t work for me.  From the moment we saw a flash of Cal’s gun, I knew exactly how the rest of the story was going to play out … until the damn show ended and I was left shaking my head and swearing at my television (“What the fuck, was that it?  Was that all?  They’re ending it there?!?”).

So … I’ll still tune in for the next couple of weeks to see how they end up trying to tell the story, but I am less than impressed.  I have seen the occasional bad-to-mediocre pilot end up becoming an awesome series in the past, but that’s usually an exception to the rule.  And how much faith can I possibly put in a showrunner who was a writer and creative consultant on something as insipid as Defying Gravity?  Ew.

 

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How To Kill Any Further Desire I Have To See Films On The Big Screen

I used to go to the movies all the time. I grew up in the era back when there were little neighborhood cinemas all over the place. The Chelten Theatre was minutes away from the house I grew up in. The Colony and the Marquette were about a half hour drive away. The four Evergreen screens were pretty nice (although I remember when it was just two screens), but my all time favorite was River Oaks 1. I have a LOT of fond memories of seeing films in these now-closed cinemas.

This continued through my college years. My personal best for the most movies I saw in as short a time as possible was one weekend in the early ’80s when I saw seven films in a single weekend (two Friday, three Saturday, two more on Sunday).

Not any more. I hardly ever go anymore. Why?

1) Cost. If I have to pay exorbitant prices just to get into your cinema, I demand to have an enjoyable experience.

2) Further cost. The concession prices are outrageous. But the kids want their snacks, so the price of concessions drives the moviegoing cost up to the point where my demand has shifted. I now demand to be guaranteed an enjoyable experience.

3) Idiots who insist on using their phones after the movie has started. If you’ve paid as much as I’ve paid to be here watching this film, why aren’t you bothering to pay attention to it? And are you really dumb enough that you don’t understand how much your phone screen lights up a darkened auditorium?

4) Idiots who insist on talking after the movie has started. Shut up. Just. Shut. Up. If you need to say something, whisper. If you need to talk (or worse yet, take a phone call), then do us the favor of leaving the auditorium and come back after you’re done. This is just common sense, and I remember learning to behave this appropriately all the way back in grade school.

5) Idiots who have not properly trained their crotchfruit. The two examples that I encounter most often are moronic spawn who will not shut up or who continue to put their feet on and/or kick the back of my chair. There are occasional parents and guardians out there who demand (and force) an end to this behavior as soon as it happens. Bless their souls. But alas, there are far too many more who are either proud of their little brats’ incessant drool-filled yammering or just too bloody scared to publicly dress down their precious snowflakes when the snot goblins truly deserve it.

I’m rather proud of the home theatre system I have in my living room. It’s not any ground-breaking top of the line system, but it’s good enough for me and my family. The MSRP of a new blu-ray is comparable to what I would pay to get the family into a decent modern cinema. If I find it on sale, it costs even less than the cinema. We can eat whatever food we want without having to pay wallet-busting prices. And the only other ignorant or rude audience members that could interfere with our enjoyment of the film would be the ones that I invite to watch it with us.

Ever since I set that home theatre system up, I’ve been going to fewer and fewer movies every year. I hardly see anything on the big screen anymore.

And now … here’s the nail in the coffin, and the motivation for me to rant about this tonight:

Staff at cinemas owned by the Regal Entertainment Group will now be searching backpacks, packages and bags. The exact quote on their notice is, “To ensure the safety of our guests and employees, backpacks and bags of any kind are subject to inspection prior to admission.”

No. Fuck that shit. When I showed that page to my son, he hung his head in disbelief and muttered foul epithets as he walked away.

I will willingly go through a security screening at an airport. If you are now going to add a security screening to my moviegoing experience, you can go fuck yourself. So I will never go to a Regal Theatre again. And if the other chains are stupid enough to follow suit, then I’ll keep on enjoying my own home theatre and the only things I will be missing out on are frustration, annoyances, and overpriced mediocre food.

Mission: Impossible III

My boys have never seen the Mission: Impossible films, so we are slowly working our way through all of them prior to seeing Rogue Nation. I saw the first two in the cinema way back when and my daughter swears up and down that I also saw Mission: Impossible III. Um, nope. I would’ve remembered it based on the beautifully tense pre-credits sequence alone.

Wow. Awesome. Philip Seymour Hoffman plays a wonderfully insidious son of a bitch, the exact level of baddie that was missing from the first two films. The first film got a little too caught up in confusing people with convoluted pseudo-espionage, and as much as I love John Woo the second film focused a little too heavily on overly stylized action set pieces. J. J. Abrams caught the perfect combination of both in this film. Normally I despise flashback-based storytelling and hand-held shakycams, but both worked extremely well here. And the cinematography in this film was gorgeous.

Now I’m really looking forward to finally seeing Ghost Protocol.

Doctor Who: The 12th Doctor Revisited

I meant to type this up a long time ago, so here is another belated post that I can finally scratch off my to-do list.  Let’s finish complaining about Peter Capaldi’s first series as the 12th Doctor.

Kill The Moon – I really wanted to like this episode, to the extent that I tried very very hard to ignore the problems with basic physics.  Didn’t work.  This could’ve been an amazingly scary episode, and yes when the li’l beastie jumped on the Doctor I certainly did jump, but the stoopid problems with basic science kept me from enjoying it as much as I wanted to.

Mummy On The Orient Express – This surprised me.  A lot.  In very good ways.  When I saw the title, I expected I would despise it.  When I saw the synopsis,  I expected I would despise it.  When I saw the “next time” trailer, I downright winced.  But no, this was fantastic!

Flatline – Ditto.  This was a fantastic one-two punch from a writer who has never written for Doctor Who before.  Yowza!  Almost tied with Mummy for the best episode of this series.

In The Forest Of The Night – Yawn.  Major misfire.  Not quite as wincingly bad as Deep Breath, but a major disappointment

Dark Water/Death In Heaven – Oh dear.  An extremely promising opening.  I don’t think I’ve been that stunned at a sudden death in Doctor Who since Earthshock.  Alas, this was no Earthshock.  There is no need to bring back the Master as a woman.  No need whatsoever.  If you need a villainous female Time Lord, bring back the Rani.  Or better yet, let’s please see Romana turn evil.  Oswald’s death was utterly unnecessary, to the point of leaving an extremely bad taste in my mouth.  The mere fact that Moffat is bringing that character back for series 9 tells me he realizes how big of a mistake he made there.  And the so-called “tribute” to the Brigadier was gut-wrenchingly disgusting.  No.  Just no.  Plus … based on what was depicted here, can we assume that every single companion that has died on Earth has been Cyber-ressurected?  Amy?  Rory?  Jamie?!?  Funny thing is, with the recent announcement that this will be shown in cinemas in 3D, I asked my kids if they want to go and … nope.  No interest whatsoever.  This was so bad that they do not want to see it again, at all, not even for the gimmick of big-screen 3D.

Last Christmas – Not bad.  Well … not entirely bad.  Still a few missed opportunities.  Again, another groan out loud when I found out Santa was going to be involved, but Nick Frost sold it to me.  The dream crabs were get-under-your-skin creepy, and I loved the constant playing around with concepts of reality.  And Faye Marsay absolutely rocked!  But my biggest problem (which also relates to the end of Death In Heaven) is how many times are they going to tease Clara leaving?  Originally Jenna Coleman was set to leave the show, and then she wasn’t, and then she was again, and now she’s not again!  Screw that.  I’m tired of Clara.  I would much much rather see her leave for good and have this Doctor take Shona on a trip to go back and pick up Journey Blue.

So overall, some pretty mixed feelings here.  The highs of the series were pretty high, but the lows were pretty low.

My final tally, in order of how much I enjoyed the stories:

1) Mummy On The Orient Express
2) Flatline
3) Time Heist
4) The Caretaker
5) Robot Of Sherwood
6) Into The Dalek
7) Last Christmas
8) Listen
9) Kill The Moon
10) Dark Water/Death In Heaven
11) In The Forest Of The Night
12) Deep Breath