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Category: Reviews

[Movie Review] Captain America: Civil War

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Welcome to Marvel Phase Three.
Another Free Comic Book Day, another Marvel Movie.
I have to ask: Just what the whiskey tango foxtrot happened to Age of Ultron while Civil War is amaze balls.
Don’t get me wrong, Age of Ultron had it’s moments, like the farmhouse which I personally loved because sometimes you need the heroes to rally and lick their wounds. Less, cave of exposition and more farmhouse.

[Movie Review] Batman VS. Superman

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Batman VS. Superman (2016)

It’s that time of year folks, the comic book movies have arrived with Batman VS. Superman. A movie some people will tell you had been mentioned in I am Legend back in 2007.
Bennett North and myself went to go see it. Her review can be found here.
Either love’em or hate’em you’ll probably be watching two actors in their underwear beating the crap out of each other or a CGI enemy with a bombastic soundtrack in a darkened theater and wonder: Why is this happening, again?

[Movie Review] Jurassic Park's World

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Jurassic Park has a special place in my heart.
It was released on June 11, 1993. I had just graduated from High School and after a dinner at either a TGI Fridays or Applebees to celebrate with the parents myself and several friends went to go see the midnight showing. Having not read the book it was based on it was jaw dropping and fun.
Now, two sequels later, the Jurassic Park franchise has gotten the dust blown off it with a new movie, aptly titled: Jurassic World.
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Shot on the same locations as the first movie and using a heap ton more CGI, John Hammond’s dream has come true. Jurassic World exists, the tourists have been flocking to the island and so far nothing has gone wrong, even if there are several warning signs bubbling under the surface.
The movie, like it’s predecessor brings up chaos theory and how man is now wielding science to make money to pay for all this. Michael Creighton certainly had an ongoing theme of chaos from Westworld to Jurassic Park and Jurassic World doesn’t disappoint when the shit does hit the fan even if the characters aren’t as well written as the originals. Less quotable dialogue too.
The only returning cast member from Jurassic Park is BD Wong who has pushed the limits of cloning and genetic testing to create a new dinosaur from different animals, the Indominus Rex. People wanted more and people who have different plans for dinosaurs have plans for Indominus Rex, the military applications and such. If this sounds like something Weyland Yutani would do, you’re not too far off the mark. Thankfully the brief Aliens homage is brief.
The cast’s varying age allows for the plot to split like the first movie, the adults deal with the behind the scenes while the kids gawk at the park. The kids, Gray and Zach played by Ty Simpkins and Nick Robinson are sent to their park by their parents to be guests of their aunt, Claire played by Bryce Dallas Howard, she is running the park with the funding from Simon Masrani played by Irrfan Khan and his company. Owen Grady played by Chris Pratt is asked to advise on the new attraction. His training for on raptors has made him popular with both Masrani and the head of security, Hoskins played by Vincent D’Onofrio.
Until, as always, something goes wrong when man underestimates nature and it’s tourists on the menu when Hoskins tries to deal with the problem with firepower and just makes it worse. For a PG-13 movie the amount of deaths are implied but nothing is shown except for reaction shots of the humans or crunching noises.
Chris Pratt gave a fine performance, Bryce Dallas Howard was rather iconic in several scenes to almost being on the nose in several poses. She evolved quite well from bureaucrat to almost Ripley. I wouldn’t mind seeing her in the sequel having gone full Ripley. D’Onofrio didn’t chew scenery as much as I expected. Simpkins and Robinson were cute, I’d wished the writers would’ve given them a little more something to do during their pinball ride around the park. If you’re going to show the oldest attempting to flirt with the girls at least follow it up with them saving said girls. Sure it adds more people to remember and to put into danger but something different is nice every so often.
Like the first the movie, everything is introduced in the first act so there’re really no surprises. The CGI Raptors have advanced so much they practically should get billing. The action is top notch and could be followed easily even if the re-introduction to the T-Rex could’ve been tweaked a bit more in my not so humble opinion.
There are many people who will bring up the fact that why are people expecting a different outcome after the last three movies. And I’ll agree with them on that a bit, the whole island attraction going haywire goes back to Westworld in 1979 but people are still flocking to see it no matter how many people get eaten. How many times do we go back to the well before it’s dry?
Overall, it’s a fun movie that lives up to it’s predecessor and it should be seen on the big screen. I can’t comment on the 3-D, I saw in 2D.

[Television Review] Mr Robot Pilot + video

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The video below is the pilot for Mr Robot in it’s entirety, is completely legal and should be watched since it’s a good pilot.

Mr Robot stars Rami Malek as Elliot, a cyber-security expert by day and by night he’s trying to keep his demons at bay. Demons like men following him that may or may not be real according to his shrink, Krista Gordon played by Gloria Ruben. Krista’s problems are just one of many plot lines in the pilot. The majority of the pilot concerns Elliot’s company providing cyber security for a company with the same icon as Enron and for the rest of the pilot is known as Evil Corp.
Elliot knows a lot about people but can’t really interact with them as well as he should until one day during a emergency at work he finds a file that leads him to one of his demons, Mr Robot, played by Christian Slater. Mr Robot leads him down the rabbit hole about the secret war between his group and Evil Corp.
I found Mr Robot to be a very good show. The hacking isn’t Hollywood it looks real enough. It has good direction and the characters were well rounded and hopefully Christian Slater will get a show that can last more than a season. This is his second espionage show after Breaking In and Mind Games. With the exception of guest staring on Archer he’s starting to become the male version of Summer Glau: television series kryptonite.
My minor quibble I had with it was trying to figure out why this isn’t The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo TV show. The English adaptation of the movie was perfect even if it didn’t do bang at the box office. Translating the concept of a bi-sexual, woman white hat hacker sticking it to the man doesn’t take much. Replacing Sweden with New York or San Fransisco isn’t that far of a stretch, either.
Mr Robot will be debuting on USA on 6/24 and so long as it can keep it’s production quality high it shouldn’t have any problems lasting a few seasons.

[Book VS. Movie Review] Gone Girl

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Thursday, I spend at my door awaiting for my iPhone 6 to arrive. Physically at my door reading Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. My printer died and there was no way to print out a signature form.
The movie premiered today directed by David Fincher. David has directed Alien 3, The Game, Se7en, Social Network, the American adaptation of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and others.
He is one of my favorite directors so when the trailer dropped I loved it when they announced Atticus Ross and Trent Reznor were doing the soundtrack like they had done with Social Network and all three hours of Dragon Tattoo, it felt perfect.
I hadn’t read the book so with nothing else to do on Thursday, I read it cover to cover. Suffice to say, I finished before my iPhone 6 arrived.
Gone Girl, the novel, written by Gillian Flynn is thriller about newspaper writer Lance Nicolas Dunn and his soon to be wife, Amy, a writer of personality tests. Her psychologists parents are the geniuses behind Amazing Amy, a series of children’s books that made money and thus she has a trust fund.
They marry and the couple live in New York until the recession hits they lose their jobs just in time for to bring Nicolas home to care after his mother who is going through cancer treatments, his father is in a home due to going through Alzheimer’s. Using up the last of Amy’s trust fund money, Nicolas and his twin sister Margo buy a local bar.
During all this, Nicolas gets a job at the local college while Amy is the stay at home wife with little to do and like every anniversary she leaves clues for Nicholas involving their life. It takes a while for Nicolas to figure out the clues since Amy is in the New England vernacular: wicked smart.
Until on the morning of their fifth wedding anniversary Amy disappears.
Now, before you say, I know how this movie ends: You don’t.
And I’m not going to ruin it for you. Go read the book first then watch the movie.
The good news is the trailers reveal nothing of the twists and turns of this movie. Often times the trailers do and I groan but not this time.
This a faithful adaptation and doesn’t adhere to the book as much as it needs to. Which is a good thing because the book only has two point of views: Amy and Nic.
The movie has a third point of view, that of Detective Rhonda Boney played by Kim Dickens which solves a few wandering plot threads from the book.
It should be noted Gillian also wrote the screenplay. So the movie feels like a re-polished final draft, in my opinion. While most of the novel is first person the movie dialogue more than makes up for missing beats from the novel. So much so, sometimes the actors are talking too quick.
The police investigation led by Detective Boney begins looking into Nicolas and Amy’s life and the cracks begin to appear from the debt on the credit cards to Amy’s diary entries going from sunny to darker and darker to Nicolas cheating to Amy’s life insurance policy being upped and more. It’s just heaped on.
The only thing neither the movie or the novel can figure out is how to land the dismount and win the gold.
The suspension of disbelief is stretched thin. I’m not talking about Chief Brody in Jaws the movie, shooting the oxygen tank and blowing up the shark, that ending made perfect sense and I cheer every time it happens.
It’s the suspension of disbelief that Tom Cruise’s son survived and magically re-appears at the end of The War of the Worlds so everyone can have a happy ending.
Or as one of the over fifty crowd behind me in the crowded small movie theater said: That was a stupid way to end the movie to which I replied that’s how the book ended, too. She was surprised there was a book.
The actors in the movie are perfect. The direction is spot on. The music is right. The lighting is all David Fincher.
I’ll probably see it again, when I don’t have to sit in the front row.

[Doctor Who Review] Listen

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Don’t turn round.
This is the episode that horror writers/directors should watch to see the tension get wretched up without the cheap thrills, blood or music. Written by Stephen Moffat it takes it’s themes from Don’t Blink and Silence in the Library without the use of the Angels that have become the Borg to the Doctor’s Enterprise.
Listen begins with Doctor positing a theory: Are we actually alone when we talk out loud or do we have a companion? He does this by himself in the TARDIS. Writing things down and pacing around the set. Capaldi nails it like Tennent would’ve while Smith probably wouldn’t have nailed the dismount.
I know some Smith fans may not want to hear this but the Doctor on a caffeine high has left the building. I hope a Neil Gaiman Capadi episode but it doesn’t look like that’s gonna happen this season.
While the Doctor sets the mood, Clara and Danny Pink have a first date. The date doesn’t go well and Clara comes home to find the Doctor and the TARDIS occupying 3/4 of her bedroom.
In the post haze of the bad date, the Doctor uses the TARDIS to focus on Clara’s timeline and pop back to see where Clara had that dream everyone has about something under the bed. Except, instead of Clara’s timeline we get to Rupert Pink and soon find out that yes, there probably is something under the bed and all it takes is a bed sheet, Capaldi and good direction and we get a successor to Blink.
But, it doesn’t stop there. Clara asks to go back to the date and retry with Danny until Clara name drops Rupert and everything implodes again because Danny is Rupert. It implodes even more when the orange spaceman suit walks into the restaurant and motions Clara to follow him.
It’s at this point no one gets up and demands to know why, this is Cardiff after all, the populace is so desensitized to the Doctor’s shenanigans that no one blinks at the strange. Torchwood should’ve been like this: Oh, more alien crap, thattaway, Torchwood and go back to their tea.
The man in the spacesuit isn’t the Doctor but Orson Pink and the Doctor found him 100 years into Clara’s timeline, they launched him into space and he promptly got Buck Rogers and now he’s the last man in the universe but he’s not alone.
Once Orson saves the Doctor, Clara tries to fix things and goes back down the timeline and lands in a barn and gives a crying child a good speech about the things that go bump in the night. The barn didn’t make sense at first until we find out why. The why was nicely done and I won’t ruin it here but it’s a great call back that I didn’t see coming and it really worked.
Clara’s dialogue with the new Doctor continues to be a highlight while she gets her history filled in even if it’s possible future.
Danny’s soldier days while not big speed bump like they were in Into the Dalek is better this time round. I think he’ll make a good addition to the companions once we see him in action and not him as a child or his great grandson.
It was a good episode all around and highly enjoyed it.

[Doctor Who Review] The Robot of Sherwood

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For everyone who complained (not me) about episodes 1+2 being off and Episode 3 being back on track were half right.
Episode 3 is a classic Doctor Who historical episode.
Clara makes a request to go see a fictional character and while the Doctor tries to dissuade her, she puts down her foot and we return to Nottingham, 12th century and are instantly greeted by Robin Hood much to the Doctor’s annoyance.
The tropes are there, Doctor and Robin fight on a bridge, each man besting each other. #3’s fencing comes in handy, although not as one might expect. The Merry Men are all introduced and the Sheriff while not as menacing as Alan Rickman, he’s still wants power and is willing to do anything to get it.
And they all fight with English accents. Ha za!
As always something is wrong and the Doctor begins looking for it within the men then the environment and finds it when as the tale goes, Robin walks into a trap and the Sheriff unleashes his robotic knights and thus begins our trip down the rabbit hole to figure out: 1. Is Robin and the Sheriff robots? 2. Why is the Sheriff taking all the gold? 3. Robotic knights with cross lasers in their foreheads?
The fact Robin and the Doctor don’t get along is better than expected. Most of the time, the Doctor and his new friends generally get along well but the constant back and forth between him and the Earl of Loxley was refreshing. All the while, Clara can’t stand any of it since the Doctor’s normal plan is to use his now stolen sonic screwdriver.
I’ve been enjoying Capaldi since episode 1 and this episode felt right on the money. No picking up Clara, just straight into the story. Tardis arriving shot and the whole nine.
Clara gets a bit more to work with besides the added tae kwon do (which makes great sense with all the adventuring) when she’s interrogating the Sheriff of his plans. Thankfully, he’s not a robot because we’ve had that trope before and it’s been done to death.
The robots from episode 1 make a re-appearance but not as clockwork as they were before and we’re given enough backstory that they landed here from the 29th Century headed to The Promised Land to make repairs to the engines and forged an alliance with the Sheriff.
The Doctor rallies the prisoners in the Sheriffs dungeon and destroys most of the robots in the simplest fashion for the time without his sonic screwdriver.
The only thing missing is Missy and not welcoming the Sheriff to The Promised Land but we don’t want to repeat ourselves from last episode.
Overall, great episode. Throughly enjoyed it.

[Doctor Who Review] Into the Dalek

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(Image courtesy of David Catterall)
The carry over from the Matt Smith years continues with the Doctor in the beginning of his journey only to have to pick Clara up from school before dashing off to face down the pepper shakers of doom.
The ole’ Daleks are back! Ha za! No more Skittle colored Daleks to be found! No Devros. No Emperor Dalek. No eye stalks coming out people’s heads. No creep factor that was Asylum of the Daleks. Instead, we do actually go to the most dangerous place in all the universe.
Taking place on a human ship hiding in an asteroid belt from the Daleks, the Doctor rescues, Journey Blue played by Zawe Ashton just as her space ship is about to be blown up and returns her to her uncle, Col. Morgan Blue played by Michael Smiley on board the aforementioned spaceship, Aristotle and is greeted by an imprisoned Dalek that cares.
Meanwhile, Clara is introduced to Danny Pink played by Samuel Anderson, a former soldier who from most reports will be another companion this year. Danny isn’t dragged along this time and is left for most of the episode so the Doctor, Clara, Journey and 2 red shirts can be micronized into a Dalek to see what’s wrong with it.
Yep, it’s Doctor Who meets Fantastic Voyage (which oddly enough hasn’t been remade, yet).
The interior of the Dalek is a fun set piece. It may look like people climbing through a big computer. But anything with roving eyes that act as anti-bodies is pretty creepy cool. It feels more real than the dungeon set piece from Deep Breath.
The Daleks and the Doctor may have been enemies before but since the Time War it’s gotten worse. Once the Dalek’s problem is fixed it goes back to the same ole’ Exterminate routine and the solution to the problem works until the Doctor goes one step further and we get a similar problem to The Fourth Doctor’s situation in The Face of Evil. Kids, never imprint your 900+ year old brain onto anyone, m’kay?
The conclusion feels foreboding enough and one might wonder if the Doctor’s hatred will cool because of this or if two angry people are going to their separate corners of the universe only to come back for a rematch.
Capaldi continues to handle things well. He’s a bit sharp around the edges which is both good and bad. His treatment of the red shirts and women in particular does need a bit fine tuning to say the least. Most of the time he’s great then sometimes you have to wonder why the writers typed that in.
Thankfully he’s surrounded by strong women this episode and more than once gets slapped and pushed against the wall demanding to know why he just let someone die after giving them false hope.
Journey tries to hop a ride but the Doctor turns her down due to her tenancy to shoot first and ask politely later. If and when the next companion slot opens up, I hope they’d return to the character to see if she’s changed.
The ongoing plot thread for this season is Missy. First introduced in last weeks episode and welcoming the antagonistic robot to the “promised land”, she welcomes one of the red shirts to “Heaven” and offers her tea.
So who is Missy, exactly? Theories are running the gamut from Rani to TARDIS to Master. I’m happy we’re getting something. The last season with the Great Intelligence wasn’t so great and lack any emotional punch or set up. The Doctor does need an ongoing plot in the background to keep things interesting from a crack in the wall to John Saxon.