khaosworks: (Spidey)
Re: Thor

I liked it - it wasn't as epic as I was hoping in scope, but it handled the mythos well, there was sufficient humour to ground it, and the grandeur of Asgard and the cosmic avenues it opens up for the rest of the Marvel Movieverse lent that right bit of spice to whet our appetites for the movies to come.

I loved Jaimie Alexander as Sif, though, and wish she had more time. I found her much hotter than Natalie Portman's Jane, but then I'm biased because I've always preferred badass Sif to slightly wet Jane.

I was really happy with the handling of Loki. They could have gotten all comic booky bwah-ha-ha God Of Evil on us, but Branagh and Hiddleston actually gave us a really subtle Loki. You saw the quiet way he was manipulating people, all Iago-like, but ultimately his motivations were not as one-dimensional as mere mischief, conquest or jealousy. The twists in his plan showed how Loki's mind works on multiple levels and people keep underestimating or not being able to comprehend how labyrinthine his schemes are - and that's the way it should be! Kieron Gillen understands this, as seen in the latest issue of Journey into Mystery when Young Loki speaks to the shade of his dead self.

Ultimately, Thor defeats Loki not by outwitting him but the way Thor does best: sheer brute force. And you know that Loki's last move was calculated and he was already working that in as a variable for the rematch. It was reminiscent also of the love-hate Shakespearean struggles between the two and Odin of the Simonson era, where even Loki will take up arms to defend his family and home. Loki as a character and as an actor in this movie was great.

If I could wish for something, it'd be a companion live action Tales of Asgard TV series going along the lines of Game of Thrones...
khaosworks: (Kirk)
Here's the thing: JJ Abrams' Star Trek a good movie. It is even, I dare say, a great movie - moves along at a great pace, well directed, has amazing special effects, nail-biting suspense, nice dialogue and characterisation (well, as much as you can get in a summer blockbuster), and even attempts to drop in the right Easter Eggs to long-time fans.

So don't think I didn't enjoy it, because I did and very much so. Rest assured that this movie is worth watching, wish the franchise the best of luck and look forward to more movies.

But to really, really enjoy it, as a long-time Star Trek fanboy, you got to do one thing. You have to throw out any idea that this might be, as the writers and director has claimed, that this somehow is an alternate universe explainable by changes in time travel. Because you can't. If you can ignore it, it's brilliant. If you can't, then... not so much.

I'll just deal with my rantings below. This bit you can skip if you don't care.

This bit you can skip if you don't care. )
khaosworks: (Love)
Now I've got that title out of my system, let's proceed. There be spoilers.

So I watched 'He's Just Not That Into You' yesterday... )
khaosworks: (Television)
It sounds like the set-up to a bad joke: "A vampire, a werewolf and a ghost share a flat together..."

Being Human review )
khaosworks: (Jay)
Re: The Dark Knight

Good movie, worth watching, great popcorn stuff, but man, was it long. Nolan and Goyer's script was well paced and plotted, but there were a few missteps, which I shall elaborate somewhat on. While some people are hailing this as the ultimate super-hero movie ever made, I still say the crown is staying right on Superman II's head. But that's just me.

As a side note, someone give Christian Bale a lozenge. Please. Or get Kevin Conroy to ADR his Batman speech.

Spoiler review follows. )
khaosworks: (Doctor Me)
I know, I promised that I'd comment about it, but it's been a few days and I haven't gotten the time and energy to really sit down and do a decent review. Also, I've been feeling a bit irritable in recent days so I may wind up being harsher on it than I intend. Bottom line really is that it was entertaining, a crowd pleaser, had a few good bits, but it irked me on several levels... and ye gods, the ending.

Is anyone still interested in a more detailed take on it even after all this time?
khaosworks: (Stargate Command)
Just watched this. Much better than The Ark of Truth, basically because this felt more like old-school Stargate SG-1. A couple of issues with the changing history thing behaving a bit different from how we've seen it work in the past, more for plot expediency purposes, which is a little annoying because it could have been handled in another way and more adroitly (and we know the writers are capable of it because they've done it before).

Otherwise, it holds together pretty well. Even the paradoxes thrown up can be made sense of without brain damage (you hear me, Russell T Davies?) and apart from the glitch mentioned, is consistent with what we've seen before – continuity being one thing that the Stargate television franchise has always done well. Also, the cameos from old characters we've not seen for years for various reasons are well worth it. That, and seeing dear Don Davis as General Hammond one last time.

Only reason I feel okay about watching this before the official release is because I've already pre-ordered the DVD. Much recommended for Stargate SG-1 fans. But then, if you are, you really should be buying this already.
khaosworks: (Doctor Warhol)
Well, that was a thrill ride...

But I'm not going to say what I think about it until the two-parter... or rather, the last two parts, since this is really a three-parter... is over. So come back next week if you're at all interested.
khaosworks: (Smart Boom)
Watched the Get Smart movie last night. I actually found it quite entertaining – and I'm not a big Steve Carrell fan, myself. He was pretty good in The Daily Show, but I found The Office too close to reality to be really comfortable watching or laughing at it, and I hated Evan Almighty from the trailer alone. Now, I do like Anne Hathaway, but that aside, I wanted to watch Get Smart because I have fond memories of the series, which were recently refreshed by getting the complete series on DVD from Time-Life.

I've come to the conclusion that a number of the negative reviews about the film are down to movie critics just dying to use "Missed It By That Much" as a tagline. I've read complaints about how the television show was so much better, how Max should have been more like Don Adams played him, and I'm wondering whether these critics watched the same movie I did.

I approached the movie cautiously, I admit. Watching several episodes of Get Smart in a row shows up both the genius and the flaws of the television show: its reliance on catch-phrase humour, the repeated gags, the slapstick (all of which are present, in moderation, in the movie). Max is certainly capable in the show when he gets going, but he's also a repeated bungler that gets a lot of bystanders killed in the process, and occasionally his cluenessness about his own shortcomings comes off as callousness. The movie version is a lot less buffoonish and a lot cleverer and more competent. While some have derided the movie Max's self-awareness of his shortcomings, this lends Max a depth that you never got to see in the sitcom.

The truth of the matter is, the movie isn't the television series. The historical and cultural context is different, and even the expectations of modern comedy are different. A straight import of the television show to the big screen would have been a disaster, catering only to a small segment of those who remember the original and would probably be happier watching the DVDs anyway. As it was, the little sight gags, allusions to and repeats of the catch phrases, all already pander to those who can recognise them... and perhaps a bit too much, like the appearance of a beloved recurring character in the last few minutes of the movie that, while welcome, seems a little superfluous. Catch phrase humour doesn't really fly anymore, with a post-modern audience. And for Steve Carrell to ape Don Adams, or Anne Hathaway to channel Barbara Feldon would have invited even more comparison and criticism. They take the characters and make it their own, which is probably for the best.

I think of this way: this is Get Smart in sorta kinda the same way that Ronald D. Moore's Battlestar Galactica was when compared to the original Battlestar Galactica. It takes the general spirit of the series, keeps the names, some of the trappings, and changes everything else. It's a reboot, an homage more than a "movie version". As with Max, these rebooted characters certainly have more depth than they ever did in the show (which isn't saying much to be sure, as they were pretty two-dimensional in the original), with the possible exception of Terence Stamp's Siegfried, which was a wasted opportunity and too generic and flat a villain.

Which is not to say it's without its flaws. The pacing kind of sags in the middle, the traitor's motivations are never made clear, and while Alan Arkin as the Chief has the best line in the entire movie, you never really feel the same connection between him and Max as was present between Ed Platt and Don Adams. The action sequences are perfunctory, and in the end, it's a good popcorn movie. It's not deep and it's not meant to be. It may be formulaic, but then consider the source material. If you want travesties, look at what Eddie Murphy and Owen Wilson did with I Spy. Get Smart actually has affection for its sire and hews much closer to the feel of the original show, and that alone brings it up in my estimation.

The people who have criticised the movie for not being the television show are right: but in this case, it might actually be a good thing. Get Smart the movie divests itself of a lot of the outmoded comedy baggage and it has a degree of heart, which is more than you can say for most remakes these days. It won't win any awards, but it's worth a watch.
khaosworks: (Colonel Mace)
And here we are at the 11th episode of this season, Turn Left, which is the equivalent of Utopia from Series 3: that middling to so-so story that only picks up speed in the last five minutes or so, or in this case the last ten seconds or so. This is a prologue to the mega-crossover Infinite Secret Crisis War that will be the two-part season finale.

Unlike Utopia, however, the end of this was more of a teaser and a mystery than the pure awesome exuded by Derek Jacobi and John Simms. On the other hand, as befits a Davies-penned episode, the human element was very present in his portrayal of a standard SF trope: the inevitable alternate universe episode, seen at least once in nearly every science fiction series that's run long enough to make it this far. And sometimes not even then: Stargate SG-1 did it in its first season. Catherine Tate shows more of her acting chops, and while she's convinced me that Donna's a good companion and does the shrill thing a bit better than Tegan (who always came off as whiny, not strong), I think the contingent of people who hate her will never be convinced in any case.

But here's the problem. Here's two problems. The first one, that the episode is filler and we've seen it all before, isn't as big. As filler goes, it's actually more substantial than Utopia was, and the whole supporting cast - not just Tate - do admirably without Tennant around. You can complain about unoriginality about the trope, but on one hand, eventually every damn long-running series gets around to doing it anyway. On the other hand, the original idea for this episode, with the Doctor MIA and the companions Sarah, Rose, Martha and/or Donna having to save the universe without him, might have been a lot more interesting. But this is minor. My bigger problem with the episode is this: it isn't science fiction. It's fantasy.

Oh, you might argue that Doctor Who's science is dodgy anyway, but that's not what I'm talking about. Plot holes aside, there's always been a sense of consistency, of story logic behind Doctor Who, and one based if not on real science, on some degree of technobabble that assures the audience that there is some kind of cause-effect going on underneath it all, even if it boils down to "timey-wimey". In this episode, the plot holes are gaping, and Davies all but abandons any pretense of wanting to explain it away, and concentrates on just doing what he wants.

But more on Turn Left, after the cut. )
khaosworks: (Life On Mars)
In other pre-air pilot news, I just watched the US version of Life on Mars. It's pretty much the same script as the first episode of the UK version, but of course set in 1972 Los Angeles instead of 1973 Manchester.

Given how much I enjoyed the UK version, I don't think I managed to approach it at all objectively, or maybe I'm too used to the original. It's workmanlike, but the performances and the performers had no chemistry at all, and as a result the whole thing seems actually boring and flat - the biggest tragedy of all being that Colm Meany as Gene Hunt is actually unfunny. Meany's a terrific actor, but his Hunt doesn't have the way Phillip Glennister's has of dominating the screen every time he enters it. One of the best things about Life on Mars was seeing the way John Simms and Glennister managed to focus your attention entirely on the relationship between these Sam and Gene: when they were in the same scene, they were the centre of the universe.

Maybe it'd be better received by someone who's never seen the original. I don't know.

But it seems that it's all moot anyway, since this version of the pilot will likely never make it to air as David E. Kelley has left the show and they're not only changing the location from L.A. to New York, but also making changes in the cast. However, given that it's on the Fall schedule, that doesn't give them much time to get their shit together. And it doesn't look like they're going to.
khaosworks: (Television)
Mondays on ABC Family: The Middleman, based on a comic by Javier Grillo-Marxuach, one of the Lost guys. This one actually was pitched as a television pilot years ago, but it was rejected, and Grillo-Marxuach turned it into a comic book. Now it's back as a television show, and it's good campy fun in the tradition of The Tick, Men in Black, and Buckaroo Banzai. The effects aren't spectacular, but it more than makes up for it in terms of surreality. The pilot is still available on the ABC Family website for those in the US or the usual back channel sources for those who aren't.

Basic premise: Wendy Watson (Natalie Morales) is a seemingly ordinary young woman who finds herself recruited by the mysterious Middleman (Matt Keeslar), who receives his orders from a mysterious organization nicknamed OTS2K ("Organization Too Secret To Know"). Their job: to fight evil, so you don't have to. To this end they confront genetically enhanced lifeforms, mad scientists, cursed tubas and so on. Funny and fast paced with snappy dialogue, it's worth a look.

Trust me: quite apart from a hyperintelligent gorilla that quotes from Scarface and The Godfather while trying to take over the mob rackets in the city, anything that is going to involve Kung Fu Mexican Masked Wrestlers is going to be worth your time.
khaosworks: (LOLHulk)
Got back from The Incredible Hulk. Not quite as incredible as I'd hoped, but still pretty darn good and entertaining (and the end fight is a lot better than the one in Iron Man, but then excessive property damage makes me happy).

Everyone knows that this isn't a sequel to the Ang Lee train wreck, but the key thing to keep in mind is that this is actually a reboot of the television series. The opening montage, the lab set-up that Banner has that transforms him into the Green Goliath... it's all right out of the television show. Lou Ferrigno is doing the Hulk roars, for pete's sake.

Norton does a better Banner than Bana, because despite the good muscle tone, he's more geeky sounding and looking. Liv Tyler brings the pretty, but she's more or less emotionally flat as Betty; then again, Tyler has never particularly impressed me with her acting chops. William Hurt is workman-like with Thunderbolt Ross. In fact, generally the characterisation is pretty blah. You're just waiting for Banner to hulk out, really. It says something when the most emotionally interesting character is the CGI'd one. But then again, that's who you paid to see.

Also, lots of nice, non-intrusive call-backs to the television show as well as the comic book. People in the know will notice familiar names, see the set-ups for future villains, and enjoy the background details that make this a part of a unified Marvel Studios universe and Chapter 2 in the overall Avengers saga. And to remind people: no need to stay behind for the credits if you don't wanna: there's nothing after them this time.

And please, guys. Don't fuck up Iron Man 2.
khaosworks: (octoPod)
This song is being used as the title theme for an upcoming HBO vampire series (yeah, another one) called "True Blood", based on the Southern Vampire Mysteries books by Charlaine Harris, with Anna Paquin as the protagonist, telepathic waitress Sookie Stackhouse. There's a pre-air pilot (with some scenes missing) floating around the BitTorrent ether out there, for those interested. It's definitely more, um, adult than Moonlight or Blood Ties were... it's HBO, after all. Not sure what to make of it as yet: it's executive produced by Alan Ball, who created Six Feet Under. Given the fate of vampire shows lately, I think the zeitgeist has passed this genre by now.

But the song's pretty cool.

Before the night is through, I wanna do bad things with you... )
khaosworks: (Colonel Mace)
Oh, Russell, it was almost perfect. You had me until almost the end, and then you just had to piss me off by slipping up. And the sad thing is that it could have been different.

(as an aside, yeah, I've seen the picture for the season finale villain, both the blurry and high-res shots... no, I'm not saying who it is or linking to the picture. Easy enough to Google for...)

Spoilers for Midnight... )
khaosworks: (Kung Fu Panda)
Just came back from Kung Fu Panda. Loved it — in fact, it's probably the first of the Dreamworks CGI-animated movies that I've actually really enjoyed. But then I'm a sucker for the unabashed, whole hog, cannonballing into a swimming pool type of joy and pleasure that Americans seem to take in over-the-top representations of Chinese kung fu movie tropes. It's funny, it's kid friendly, and it moves along at a quick clip.

I can tell you exactly where the movie got me. The moment where I sat back and decided to enjoy the ride. It's in the first couple of minutes of the movie, when Jack Black (as the titular Kung Fu Panda, Po), in response to a emphatic, "How can we ever repay you?" replies:

"There is no charge for Awesomeness."

(Which isn't true: the ticket cost us $9 a pop. But the movie is awesome.)
khaosworks: (Spoiler Alert)
I should really have liked this more than I did. It's not that it's not entertaining, mind, but the second part hasn't really changed my opinion about the first. It's Moffat by the numbers. Oh, there are clever touches, but it all seems a bit hollow compared to his earlier efforts.

Into The Forest of the Dead )
khaosworks: (Spoiler Alert)
Loath as I am to judge a two-parter solely on the merits of the first part, I thought I might just put a few thoughts down. This is, of course, the new Doctor Who's most anticipated annual event: the Steven Moffat story. After whacking us around the head with The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances, causing controversy with The Girl in the Fireplace, earning two Hugos in the bargain and probably again this year for Blink, Moffat has gotten so much hype and such high expectations that you can't help but fear that this is the year he'll slip up. Especially so since this comes on the heels of the announcement that he'll be taking over as the series showrunner. If you want to wade into the fearsome jungle of fandom seasoned with the anonymity of the Internet that is Outpost Gallifrey (sorry, it's the Doctor Who Forum, now), you'll see that the backlash has already begun, even before he's started. Oh, fandom, I really want to kick you in the genitals sometimes.

But enough pleasant imagery. What do we have here, in Silence in the Library? In brief: mad and entertaining enough, with a couple of good old chills, but it's all starting to look a bit familiar.

Spoilers now: )

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