Archive for the ‘TV’ Category

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G.I. Joe — Wave 12: Cobra Trooper — Infantry

December 2, 2008

Cobra Trooper — Front COBRA TROOPER — Infantry

  • Body/Accessories — Cobra Trooper (5-Pack #1) 

Another version of Cobra’s infantry trooper, this time with red sigil and red mask. The blue uniform is also a deeper hue than previous versions. I had erroneously thought this trooper would come with molded hair beneath his helmet; unfortunately, this is not the case. A totally boring figure.

Figure: *

 

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G.I. Joe — Wave 12: Dreadnok Ripper — Dreadnok

December 2, 2008

Dreadnok Ripper — Front DREADNOK RIPPER — Dreadnok

  • Body/Accessories — Dreadnok Ripper (cp w2)

Nothing new here since it is just a repaint of the comic-pack figure in uhm, more comic-y colors. It’s cool to get him on a card, but still all in all rather dull.

Figure: **
Excitement Factor: No stars 

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All The Real Girls: No Punches Pulled

November 30, 2008

ALL THE REAL GIRLS (2003)
d. David Gordon Green

Alright, it’s official — Zooey Deschanel is a goddess. She needs to be in more movies like this. Of course, she has help from a great script co-written by David Gordon Green and lead actor, Paul Schneider.

David Gordon Green surpasses his moody first film, George Washington, to create something emotionally powerful and genuine. Both Zooey and Paul wrecked me with their amazing performances that had invisible seams; they inhabit their characters so wholly, and reel off dialogue so naturally you forget that these are actors.

Basically, Paul’s character starts a romance with Zooey’s virginal character, and they have to negotiate her brother’s disapproval because of Paul’s womanizing past as well as parsing their feelings to see if its genuine love or not. Paul is convinced that his feelings are real, but an act on Zooey’s part during a party at a lake house threatens their relationship.

This movie has a singular pacing and feeling that is lyrical and poetic. The music aids this floating feeling, that these characters drift into each other and may drift apart. And once again, the performances all around are very strong. Paul and Zooey wear their wounds openly and and what comes pouring out is revelatory. They convince you that they are trying to figure things out in the moment, and it is effortless.

The scene where Zooey confesses her indiscretion to Paul is a stand out, as well as the one where Paul, in an attempt at reconciliation, changes his mind and punches out the window of his car. Finally, the scene where Paul has it out with his mother, Patricia Clarkson, and she breaks down is devastating.

This film has a more cohesive narrative, but Gordon Green still finds many moments to include ambient “pillow” shots that help support and infuse scenes with an emotional quality missing from most films today. It’s a European sensibility filtered through a midwestern small-town ethos.

***1/2 stars. Highly recommended for great performances and a great script.

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When There’s No Room Left In Hell, The Dead Will Walk The Earth… To Vote! — Masters of Horror: Homecoming

November 17, 2008

MASTERS OF HORROR: HOMECOMING (2005)
d. Joe Dante 

Not as bad as most of the episodes of this Showtime series, Homecoming manages to get a few good laughs with its broad satirical swipe at the Bush administration and its failing War on Terror.

Set on the eve of the 2004 Presidential Election, David Murch, a republican spin doctor inadvertently pulls a page out of the Liar, Liar book and makes a wish that goes horribly wrong. He wishes that the soldiers stationed abroad could come home, and come home they do despite having been killed in battle. And in a great twist on the zombie genre, instead of coming home to feast on brains, the undead have returned to vote against the reigning administration.

Joe Dante, known for The Howling and his segment from Twilight Zone: The Movie does a good job of keeping the satire broad and brisk, even staging scenes like horror films from the 50s to pay homage to its b-movie roots. The script is a little flat-footed with a lot of narration filling in for ellipses in time and feeding us explanations of what’s happening, but it offers some good scenes (between Murch and his mom at the cemetary) and some schmaltzy ones that are actually touching if corny (the undead soldier being sheltered in the cafe by the kindly couple).

And look for the names of movie directors of the undead in Arlington Cemetery when zombies erupt from their graves. Nice touch!

At an hour, it works fine, even if the gag is given away early in the game and there are few surprises at the end.

**1/2

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No Life In This Dead Dog: Masters of Horror: Haeckel’s Tale

November 14, 2008

MASTERS OF HORROR: HAECKEL’S TALE (2006)
d. John McNaughton 

This short is another Masters of Horror episode that starts strong and ends weakly, and I blame the 1-hour limit. It’s fairly typical for all of the episodes in this Showtime series to follow this trend where the ending is not entirely surprising and feels rushed.

Haeckel’s Tale, based on a Clive Barker short story, tells about a young man visiting a necromancer with the petition to raise his just-died beloved from the grave. The necromancer warns him against this, initially refusing his request; however, he is persistent. Relenting, she agrees to do his bidding if he listens to her cautionary tale, and if he still desires his loved one, then she will perform the resurrection.

In the tale she tells, Haeckel is a physician who is skeptical of religion and the mystic arts and boasts that he can reanimate dead flesh. When he attempts to recreate Frankenstein’s experiment and fails, he stumbles across a peasant’s vouching of a Dr. Montesquino (Jon Polito, always fun to watch) and his ability to resurrect the dead. Intrigued but still doubtful, Haeckel watches the Dr. reanimate a dead dog, but still doesn’t believe it. He tries to learn the method, but cannot persuade the doctor to give up his secrets. Haeckel then receives word that his father’s health has turned for the worse and must return home.

On his way home, he is given shelter by a kindly middle-aged man and his gorgeous young wife, Elise. Unable to keep his eyes of Elise, Haeckel notices her weird behavior — always glancing out the window longingly, and feeling herself up. While trying to catch some sleep, he sees the husband pay Dr. Montesquino and Elise leaves the hovel for the nearby necropolis for an illicit rendezvous with her 1st husband who is a decaying zombie where they engage in some naughty love-making whilst other zombies watch.

Needless to say, this reveal is hardly surprising, as it is telegraphed early. And while the writing is fairly strong and compelling in the first act, it steadily falls off and ends with a final twist that is unsuccessful. The only thing to look for is the lead actress’s topless zombie love-making scenes, and the husband being fed upon and torn apart by zombies.

I have been disappointed with most of the Masters of Horror episodes, feeling that it is more hype than substance despite some good actors in roles and some good premises. Anyway, ** stars.

Next up, either another Masters of Horror episode, Joe Dante’s Homecoming, or Aeon Flux.

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Fringe Is Frayed

September 18, 2008

I wanted to like Fringe, the new Fox series from JJ Abrams and “the writers of The Transformers”, and the pilot episode starts out with an amazing/horrifying airplane scene that I haven’t seen since… uh, well since Lost. But after that it’s all one cliche and anti-climax after another. My tip-off should’ve been “the writers of The Transformers.”

There are some good ideas, and some strong direction; but they are outweighed by lots of expository dialogue, poor character motivation and inconsistency and hokey pseudo-science.

As for the cast, Anna Torv is pretty enough — she looks like the love child of Cate Blanchett and Naomi Watts (and, no surprise, a quick look on IMDB reveals she is Australian too) — but then she is limited to two looks: the pouty look meant to invoke serious thought, and the pouty look meant to invoke sadness. Joshua Jackson’s character waffles between skeptic and M.I.T. level genius (minus any endearing eccentricities), and as the layman’s entry into this world of “fringe” science (i.e. bullshit) it means he gets to spout a lot of exposition and repeats what another character just said. John Noble gets the meat of the good lines as the mentally unstable scientist/father of Joshua, but he also gets the most scrutiny for being the Hollywood version of insane in that he is lucid enough at the most convenient times to move the plot forward.

And what is up with those really awful title cards? They don’t work. Are they part of the pattern? Or distracting “Hey look at my CGI skills” irritations?

Now I like science fiction/horror, and X-Files got it right more than wrong, but two episodes into Fringe and it doesn’t look good. Maybe the overarching mythology, I mean pattern, will be better viewed when the 1st season dvd box is out rather than having to wait. For now it’s a wait and see. Hopefully, the series finds its legs sooner than later.