Category Archives: non-book

Movie Review: Looper

Genre fans have pinned a lot of hope of Looper, an action thriller with a clever sci-fi twist.  The good news is the movie not only meets but it exceeds those expectations.

Sixty years in the future, humanity invents time travel and them immediately outlaws its use.   However, criminal elements have set up a clever system where victims are captured, sent back in time thirty years and killed by hired thugs called loopers.  Since the person hasn’t been born yet, it’s technically not murder and not crime to dispose of the body.

The catch comes when it’s time to close your own loop.    The looper is sent back in time and killed by the younger version of himself.   You then get a big payday and are out of the business, free to live your life for the next thirty or so years until it’s time to be popped back in time and die.

However, in the future it appears a new crime boss has appeared on the scene, called the Rainmaker and he’s closing all the loops.

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Movie Review: Hotel Translyvania

Coming out of Hotel Transylvania, my wife turned to me and said, “You’re going to give it a good review, right?”   She was then disappointed when I said, “Probably not” and she’s been after me for the last couple of days to say nice things about the movie.

She really liked it.  The kids we saw it with at the preview screening really liked it.

I, on the other hand, wasn’t overly impressed by the film.  It had some nice isolated moments, but overall the picture feels a bit flat when compared to the work being done by Pixar and Dreamworks Animation.

Maybe I expect too much from an animated feature.  Or maybe it’s my own predisposition against Adam Sandler comedies.  Because that’s what Hotel Transylvania is at its most basic level–an animated Adam Sandler movie.

Sandler has assembled his usual cast of friends from other comedies to lend their voices to some of the great Universal monsters.  Sandler plays Drac, who years ago built a huge castle hidden from humans where he could raise his daughter, Mavis.  Approaching her 118th birthday, Mavis is eager to head out into the world and see if humans are really as bad s her father says they are (he’s got good reason to mistrust them–they killed his wife).  Using an elaborate ruse, Drac tricks Mavis into believing everything he’s told her about humans is true and she decides to live her life in seclusion and safety along with Dracula.

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TV Thoughts: Revolution — Pilot

Watching the first episode of Revolution, I was mildly intrigued but just couldn’t help asking myself one big question–just how long can they sustain this before they’ve either a)provides resolution to all the relevant and interesting questions or b)strung out those answers to the point that I’m frustrated and tune out?

I kept getting this strange feeling that this would work better as a limited run series (in which characters could or would die or be put into more significant peril) or a mini-series.

I’ve heard the show will try to keep interest up with flashbacks to the days between the power going off and the events we’re seeing now.  It sounds a bit like Lost with the flashes with one big exception.  In Lost, I was interested enough in the characters after the initial episodes to want to find out more about them.  So far, there aren’t a lot of characters on Revolution that I find myself wanting to find out more about what they did in the days following the loss of power and where events are now.

I couldn’t help but feel a lot of times during the pilot that this show was an heir to Jericho.  That feeling was further underlined by the tease at the end, where it’s revealed some people have power still and can use it.   It does answer the big question I had during the pilot–namely if the answer for bringing the power back on is on a thumb drive and there’s no computers to read it, is it really of any use?

Of the myriad of characters we met in the pilot, I’ll admit I’m most intrigued by Billy Burke as Miles.   It will give the show credit that the idea that he was once connected to the guy in power on the other side of things is interesting and one I hope will be explored well.

Of course, the show’s big stumble is that I found myself less than interested in the lead of Charlie Matheson.   All during the episode, I kept feeling like the NBC promo department is missing a huge opportunity to tie in to The Hunger Games mania.  Because the character of Charlie really isn’t that far separated from Katniss and it seems like you marketed this show that way, you might draw in some of those rabid fans to your new series .  This is likely while I’m not part of a marketing department, though.

For now, I’ll give Revolution a couple of more episodes and see how it goes.   It could be good addictive fun or it could peter out and frustrated me like Jericho did.

I’m hopeful but not overly optimistic about this one.

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Review: Doctor Who — Dinosaurs on a Spaceship

Doctor Who and dinosaurs haven’t had the best history.   Just ask anyone who’s seen the Jon Pertwee serial “Invasion of the Dinosaurs” (it hit DVD earlier this year without the extra of enhanced dino effects).  Or look earlier in the Pertwee era to “Doctor Who and the Silurians” where a large dinosaur served as a watch-dog of sorts to the aliens of the week (or in this case, seven weeks).

Now as the series comes up on its fiftieth anniversary, Steven Moffat and writer Chris Chibnell seem to want to make up for previous dinosaur related faults with the fairly innocuous “Dinosaurs on a Spaceship.”   In many ways, the story was exactly what I expected–a fun, entertaining story that’s a nice way to pass an hour or so of television viewing.

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Legally Blonde: The Musical

Image: Canon County Arts Center Web Site

After taking in and enjoying the Canon County Arts Center production of Camelot early this year, my lovely wife and I decided to take the plunge on season tickets.   Over the past several months, we’ve enjoyed a lot of great shows including a one-act version of Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, the stage version of Arsenic and Old Lace and a show that was unfamiliar to us before we saw it, Duck Hunter Shoots Angel.

All were great, but the one we took in this weekend really knocked it out of the park and is my new favorite of the season–Legally Blonde: The Musical.

Based on the movie of the same name, it’s the story of Elle Woods and her pursuit of love from the campus of UCLA to Harvard Law School.  After getting dumped by her long time boyfriend for not being serious enough for his law career aspirations, Elle makes up her mind to prove him wrong.  She gets accepted to Harvard Law School and soon begins to shine there, thanks to a tutor, Emmett and her friend, Pamela, a local beautician.

Now, I’ve not seen the original Reese Witherspoon film on which Legally  Blonde is based (some of you are gasping in horror, I know) so I went into the play with no expectations.   I can’t say whether it was faithful to the source material or not, but to me it doesn’t really matter.  From the opening moments all the way to the final big number, the songs were infectious (I’m still humming them two days later), the cast was superb and the production another winner from the Canon County Arts Center.

Next up is their musical on roller skates, Xanadu.  I can’t wait to see what they do with it.  And no, I probably won’t watch the movie of that one before going to the play either….

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Retro Review: Star Trek–Dagger of the Mind

Once again, it’s time to look back at an episode of classic Star Trek.  In this case, it’s “Dagger of the Mind,” which I’ll give you is a lot better than “Miri” but it’s still not one of my favorite first season episodes.

We’ll get into details on “Dagger of the Mind” just as soon as we reminisce about the science lab Christmas party…

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Movie Review: The Amazing Spider-Man

Before I discovered Star Trek or Doctor Who, there was Spider-Man. I fell in love with the character from his appearances on the Electric Company and was an avid comic book collector in my younger days with a large portion of my collection devoted to the web-slinger.  And during all that time of collecting and loving Spider-Man, I always heard rumors that a movie based on the hero was just around the corner.

Turns out that corner took close to two decades before it was turned, but when it was, I was more than pleased by the results.  The original Sam Raimi directedSpider-Man was everything I wanted from a film adaptation of my favorite super-hero and a few years later Spider-Man 2 became the gold standard by which I judge all other comic book movies.  Sure Spider-Man 3 was a bit of a letdown, but I’m one of the few who will defend portions of the film and see how it could have been better had the studio stepped back and let Raimi follow his vision for the franchise instead of forcing certain decisions on him and the script.

So, I’ll admit that when it came time to see The Amazing Spider-Man, I was both optimistic and pessimistic about the whole thing.  On the one hand, I was eager to see a new cast and crew’s take on my favorite super-hero.  On the other hand, I wasn’t exactly eager to experience another origin story movie nor was I certain this set of filmmakers could capture lighting in a bottle again like the Raimi trilogy did.

And that’s the biggest thing working against The Amazing Spider-Man.  No matter how you feel about the Raimi films, there will be inevitable comparisons between the two takes on the super hero.

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Movie Review: Brave

Ever since Up made me tear up in the first five minutes and the final few minutes ofToy Story 3 made me cry, I’ve had fairly lofty expectations when it comes to a Pixar film.  And while I was disappointed a bit with Cars 2, it’s biggest sin is that it’s not quite as great as a lot of the other output Pixar has given us over the years.

As the first non-sequel Pixar has put out in a couple of years, I had some fairly lofty expectations when I sat down to take in Brave.

And while the film doesn’t quite achieve the pinnacle that Up, Wall-E or the Toy Story movies had, it’s still a spectacularly enjoyable film that both kids and adults will really enjoy.

Brave is Pixar’s first attempt at taking on the classic Disney fairy tale formula and giving it a new spin.  Set in Scotland, we meet Princess Merida.  She’s more Katniss Everdeen than Snow White or Aurora, happier to be shooting arrows at targets and riding her horse than learning all the in’s and out’s of being a princess, much to her mother Elinor’s chagrin.   When Elinor and King Fergus decide it’s time to choose her a suitor from a group of three princes, Merida rebels and turns to an old witch for a spell to change her mother.   Unfortunately, Merida isn’t quite specific enough in her request of the spell and she ends up changing her mother in an entirely different way than she imagined.

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Retro Review: Star Trek–Miri

There aren’t many first season episodes of classic Star Trek that I actively dislike–to the point that I’ll rarely bother to watch them if I stumble across them in syndicated repeats or when I’m randomly selecting an episode or two to revisit.

“Miri” falls into the camp.

Returning to the episode for the first time in a long time, I’ll admit there were moments during the first fifteen minutes or so that I wondered why I bore such ill-will toward this voyage of the starship Enterprise.  The the first commercial break rolled around and everything went straight to hell yet again.

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Retro Review: Star Trek: “What Are Little Girls Made Of?

Sometimes watching classic Trek in the original broadcast order, I find myself hoping that certain threads and storylines will make a bit more sense.  For example, the back story for Nurse Chapel.

Just a couple of episodes ago, she’s throwing herself at the emotionally unavailable Mr. Spock, professing her love for him while under the influence of the strange virus from Psi 2000.   Now just a couple of episodes later, we find out that she signed on aboard the Enterprise to search for her missing fiancee, Dr. Roger Korby (who, ironically enough, we’ll also find out is emotionally unavailable, though for entirely different reasons).
However in both running order and production order “What Are Little Girls Made Of?” airs after “The Naked Time.”  It would make a bit more sense if the episodes were reversed–at least from the character standpoint of Christine Chapel.   But I guess that’s not be.
But beyond all that, there’s really a lot that’s memorable about “What Are Little Girls Made Of?” even it it doesn’t quite enter the pantheon of great classic Star Trek episodes.

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