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Archive for the 'Film/TV' Category

09 Jun

National Treasure 2, Thirteen Days, and Bruce Greenwood

My husband and I rented “National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets” last night. We had thought the first movie was passably entertaining despite it’s flaws, and thought we’d give the sequel a shot. It wasn’t long before I’d formed the opinion that Book of Secrets contained most of the same flaws, and maybe some new ones. The film was watchable and even made me chuckle here and there, but it was, as I often like to say, nothing special.

Small side characters like Harvey Keitel come and go like the wind, appearing when necessary to the plot (such as it is) and nothing more. Which is a bit disappointing since I like/admire many of the big names in the movie. I mean, Helen Mirren, Jon Voight, Ed Harris, for goodness sake - all largely wasted in this fluffy adventure film. The action is swift and frequent, but the plot and circumstances surrounding it only makes you shake your head. The “bad guy”, played by Ed Harris, doesn’t come off as scary or dangerous, for one thing - he’s just a little kooky and determined to be written about in history books. Poor Ed. Now, one doesn’t typically expect realism in this type of film - but characters are so thin that there’s no excitement, no emotional drama, to any of the action. Another big car chase, will our heroes get away, ho hum. Still, despite all this, Book of Secrets would satisfy those who liked the first film, and it’s watchable enough to pass the time on a Sunday evening with.

The best part of the movie is the segment dealing with the kidnapping of the President of the United States. The President is played by Bruce Greenwood, and some of the brief script exchanges between him and Nicholas Cage as they explore a hidden tunnel/rooms are priceless. Bruce Greenwood is a wonderful character actor, and watching him in Book of Secrets made me want to watch “Thirteen Days” again…where he plays another US President: JFK during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Thirteen Days is an awesomely entertaining political drama/suspense movie…like most historical-drama films, it takes some liberties with history and characterizations, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a fantastic flick. Bruce Greenwood is (or was) an oft underrated actor who’s been in many films - one of those actors where you might recognize his face but not remember his name. In case you’re one of those who can’t place a face to the name, here’s a small picture:

bruce greenwood

He’s most excellent - if you haven’t seen Thirteen Days yet, go rent it. You’ll have to ignore Kevin Costner’s bad Boston accent, but other than that, it’s an A+ movie in my book, mostly because of Mr. Greenwood. So yeah, as you can tell, I think he’s awesome….and best of all, I hear he’s been slated to play Christopher Pike in the upcoming Star Trek movie. I haven’t been too eager over the prospect of a new ST film, since I think Paramount has just about bled that franchise to nothing, but now I have a reason to go see it.

06 Jun

Iron Man mini-review

Hubby and I decided at the last minute to see “Iron Man” instead of Indiana Jones. Mostly because I remembered I wanted to see Iron Man, and I figured that it wouldn’t be in the theater too much longer. While Indiana Jones will likely still be around for a few weeks, at least…even with the rapid cycling turnover of current theater schedules. This was our first trip to the movie complex that’s closest to our new digs…an expansive and modern Century theater in the middle of downtown. The sound system was pretty decent, even for my very treble-sensitive ears. They had the bass so the seats and your heart vibrated with every huge bass note…which was sorta cool, except that to my ears, the bass wasn’t very bass-y. All vibration/shake w/none of the super-deep yet subtle bone shaking. In other words, to me, there’s a difference between bass that makes your pulse beat wildly in time with it and bass that makes your bones resonate but doesn’t make your muscles and pulse feel like they’re being zapped with an industrial vibrator. If that makes sense. No theater yet has beaten the effect of the specific place/sound system/seat rumble effect when I saw Jurassic Park and the T-Rex/watercup scene. So awesome…but alas, that sound system no longer exists in that theater.

We parked in the ‘downtown entertainment’ multi-story parking complex (theater validates your ticket so it’s free), which was the first time I ever encountered/used a soda-like vending machine to pay for the parking ticket. Or in our case, not pay, since we had theater validation. This is a cumbersome automated system…you pull into the lot, grab a ticket to make a bar go up so you can get into the parking space areas. Then when you leave, you have to find a vending-machine like box to push your ticket in - if you owe money for the time, you put in your bills. Then you walk back to your car, drive towards the exit, and put your ticket into yet another machine to raise the flimsy auto-block bar so you can leave. I guess it saves on having to have parking lot employees, but meh.

Anyway….um…hey….what did I think of the actual movie, you patiently ask?

It’s a modern-day, super-CGI, high-tech version of RoboCop, only instead of a sad, tormented soul in the body of a cyborg, there’s a “real live guy” just rattling around inside a hi-tech suit. The suit is powered by something the film calls an “arc converter” power source - wisely, they don’t try to explain how it works, although apparently, when harnessed into a small unit, it glows like radioactive blue lightbulbs. Batman’s cape, Batmobile, grappling hooks/flash powders etc, seem like wooden wagon wheels by comparison. I liked all the character build-up/character conversion and suit-inventing scenes, even if they did go on just a tad too long. The suit CGI effects were awesome. Robert Downey Jr. was awesome.

I guessed who the “real” bad guy was going to be 10 minutes into the movie, however. Plus the ending was weak, since it fell back on the (currently) typical ‘big showdown’ between good and evil counterparts, where our suited-hero and the dastardly evil dude (in a bigger suit) trade unnecessary/delay-device quips and declarations of evil intent at each other between every few blows, while tearing up a city street/buildings during the process. It would’ve been nice if they’d figured out a way to make an ending that was a bit different from the rest of the pack, to go along with the more humanistic aspect of our suited rich-man hero.

But it was an entertaining comic-book movie. For it’s genre, I’d give it 8/10.

19 May

CSI:Las Vegas season finale - Noooo, not Warrick!

The season finale of CSI shocked me by killing off one of its main characters…when I tuned in the other night to watch the last episode of CSI for this season, I had no idea that Gary Dourdan - the actor who plays Warrick - was leaving the show/wanted to leave the show…nor did I know about his recent drug possession arrest/alleged drug issues. All I knew was that as the episode was nearing its end with the team celebrating at some small diner/pub in a ‘team-bonding’ scene, I knew something awful was going to happen. And yup, it did. Warrick walked down that (conveniently) dark and empty alley to his car and was gunned down. What threw me for a loop was the finality of the scene…since I didn’t know about Gary leaving the show, that took me totally by surprise.

Now, I was never a huge fan of Warrick’s character, but the thing is, he was part of a whole. An integral part of what makes the CSI ensemble “click”. So now we have Sara gone (which I didn’t personally mind much), Warrick gone, and worst of all, I hear Grissom (William Peterson) isn’t going to be in all the episodes next season. I’ve loved CSI for years, one of the few shows I try to keep up with - not to mention buy the DVD sets when they come out - but this is the point where one wonders if a series should just close its doors, before it sinks into mediocrity.

It’s remotely possible that they could, next season, say that someone heard the shots and rushed out in time to save Warrick, in order to leave it open for him to occasionally come back as a guest-star (it’s TV-land, after all), but that death scene looked pretty damn final to me, and in real life, it would be. To have him not be “dead” would be very cheesy and unworthy. I wonder if Gary Dourdan wanted such an absolute ending to his character, or if that was a producer idea.

So long, Warrick…and perhaps soon…goodbye CSI.

Gary Dourdan

11 May

Michael Biehn makes Planet Terror even more awesome

First, you have to understand that ever since I first saw the film “Terminator”, I’ve had a crush on actor Michael Biehn. In the early stages of this actor-crush, I was fanatic in my worship. I had to find every one of his films and watch them - the 1985 TV-movie “Deadly Intentions” is melodrama camp at it’s best, and I still have it on videotape. I re-watched Terminator (and Aliens and Abyss) over and over. If a new movie came out that Michael was in, I had to see it, no matter how terrible it likely was going to be (Navy Seals….).

I’m not sure exactly when I stopped caring about Michael’s movies. Somewhere down the line I realized “hey, he’s usually in terrible movies.” Also, I began to realize he’s not a great actor. He’s a good actor in certain types of roles, but his range is a bit limited. So slowly I stopped paying attention to what he was up to. He never became “A” list type famous, and it was easy to forget about him. But then several months ago I caught a re-run of Law & Order:CI, and there he was, guest starring as the father of a young female crime victim. It amused me to see him, after mostly ‘forgetting’ about him all these years, and I think I watched that episode three times. It was like a trip down fandom-lane. Then I forgot about him again.

Until I rented “Planet Terror” this week, one of the two movies in the Grindhouse horror ‘double-feature.’ I’d already seen “Death Proof”, but hadn’t gotten around to seeing Planet Terror yet. When the starting credits started to roll and I saw Michael’s name, I let out a hoot of amused laughter and suddenly knew I was going to like this film a lot more than I might have. And I wasn’t wrong.

Planet Terror is an intentionally “bad” horror film. A sort of homage to 50’s drive-in horror films, or something, if you will. The movie itself is grand fun, full of zombie-like people-munching, eccentric/oddball characters, oodles of violence and silly one-liners. It also introduced me to Freddy Rodriguez, who I may have to start keeping an eye out for….Planet Terror is a great piece of amusement-horror, a complete package of goodness, but that’s not what I’m blogging about today. I’m talking about Michael Biehn. He’s still good-looking, for being over 50, although his upper-lip curl/snarl seems a bit more toothsome than it used to be. Still, the memory of that old infatuation fluttered in my brain whilst he was on-screen.

michael biehn photo

Oh sure, Michael was once again playing his type-casted role of a straight-laced authority type figure who ends up hurt, maimed, and (often) dead in some semi-heroic fashion, but he did it with panache. And the added bonus of Jeff Fahey playing his BBQ-loving brother was like icing on the cake. In their few bits of interaction, they worked really well together.

Side note: Why does Michael almost always die in his movies? Seriously, think about it….

Anyway, to close this completely random and useless posting, I have to say getting to watch Michael ham it up was just plain awesome - every time Michael got to say “dumbass” or any other ridiculous line I cackled insane laughter. I didn’t know Michael had such great sarcastic comedy timing. It’s peeped out here and there, but Planet Terror gave him a chance to revel in it. I think he could make a late-stage career playing in campy/oddball horror movies. He could be a blond and more “serious” version of Bruce Campbell…ie, slightly less over-the-top camp as Bruce tends towards (I like Bruce Campbell, btw, so no insult towards him). Gogo Michael.

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go watch my old and scratchy video copy of “Deadly Intentions” before bed.

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