Saturday, June 30, 2012

Bondathon Part 26: Quantum of Solace

Part 26 of my Bondathon movie review marathon: Quantum of Solace, the 22nd official James Bond film, and the second to star Daniel Craig as 007. It's also one of the best, despite what some people may have told you.

Friday, June 22, 2012

The Grey

At what point did Liam Neeson become film's biggest bad ass? He's played a Jedi, Zeus, Rob Roy, Irish revolutionary Michael Collins, Hannibal from the A-Team, and now this guy who works as hunter in Alaska who survives a plane crash, leads a team of men through the wilderness, and even punches a wolf in the face. No joke. Liam Neeson's character in this film doesn't just go hand to hand against one wolf, but several. And if I'm being at all unclear, that's awesome!

Anyway, I don't have too much to say about this one, since I already recapped the entirety of the plot: Some guys in Alaska have to survive against the elements and a pack of wolves after their place crashes in the middle of nowhere. As plots go, it's a fine one, but nothing you haven't seen before, but I bet you've never seen it done better, or at least never as fun as this. This is just as entertaining a movie as any I've ever seen, and even at over two hours it never dragged or had me looking at the clock.

Check it out, it's good fun, and Liam Neeson is always fantastic and totally bad ass.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Burning Love Revisted

So the other day I gave my initial impressions of the first couple episodes of the new Yahoo! web series Burning Love. I thought it was pretty funny and worth checking out, but it wasn't exactly the rave of the century. Well, I sat down yesterday and finished off every current episode (there are only 5 so far), and I'm willing to raise my opinion from "pretty funny and worth checking out" to "consistently hilarious and you should definitely check it out."

The premise is still a bit dated, and it would probably be that much more funny to me if I was more familiar with the tropes of the reality genre, but I've seen enough to get the idea, and funny is funny. This show is funny. For a web series, the cast is pretty epic, with Ken Marino giving an amazingly understated performance as the lead. This guy should get a webscar, or whatever awards they give to people who are on the internet. He should win a Golden Chocolate Rain. Is that a thing? Anyway, he's funny, and so is everybody else. If you ever watched Veronica Mars or Party Down, you'll recognize a good amount of the cast, and if you liked them there, you'll like them here. Kristen Bell had a particularly hilarious bit where she gave a stand up comedy act about her life growing up in a cult. I also like Adam Scott's role as the therapist who just makes Marino clean his office by saying things like, "Now imagine the dust on those window blinds are your biggest fear. Wipe them away." Trust me, it's funny. I also laugh every time Marino accidentally calls one of the characters named Titi "titty." You see... the character has big... you know, forget it. You'll catch on.

Michael Ian Black plays the show's host, and if you've ever liked him before, you'll like him here. But that begs the question: Does anybody really like Michael Ian Black?

Anyway, the episodes can be watched online for free, and they're all about ten minutes long, so watching every episode posted so far won't even take up an hour of your life. And even if you don't think it's funny, it's still maybe the most amazing collection of women you'll ever see in one series.

Check out the first episode at yahoo, or by following that link I posted above.

The Mugato's Blog: Star Trek TNG: Episode 29 - Where Silence Has Leas...

The Mugato's Blog: Star Trek TNG: Episode 29 - Where Silence Has Leas...: I have to keep reminding myself that this show is from the late 80's. But, damn the villain in this episode is so stupid looking. I'm gues...

Friday, June 15, 2012

Burning Love

Who wouldn't be excited to watch a Yahoo! original series? Especially one that's a parody of the Bachelor, which came out... what?  ten years ago? Anyway, I wasn't excited, but I watched the first couple episodes so you don't have to... but you may as well, since it's pretty funny.

I only watched it after I learned that Ken Marino was the star. Marino is one of the funniest actors I've ever seen and I don't know why he's not more famous. I've never once seen him in anything where he didn't make me laugh. Here he mostly plays the straight man as a bacheloresque character who is the center of attention for a dozen or so women fighting for the chance to be his fiance, but he's still funny. Like I said, he's never not funny. If you like Marino, check this out. The writing is pretty weak and the idea of making fun of realty shows lacks bite at this point, but Marino is good and so are lots of the ladies, many of whom are quite lovely. There's also a few familiar faces in there who must be friends with the producers or something. I'm sure Kristen Bell and Malin Akerman did this as a favor to somebody.

Anyway, I'm embedding the first episode down below, and I don't recommend you don't watch it:

Monday, June 11, 2012


If you're anything like me, you saw the trailer for this film and came away thinking, "wow! That looks amazing and strange and fascinating, and I wonder how all of that is going to come together into an actual story." Well, if you're anything like me, you just saw the actual film and came away thinking, "wow! That was amazing and strange and fascinating, and I wonder if all of that was supposed to come together into an actual story."

But if still you're anything like me, you'll enjoy it and have no regrets about seeing it, but you maybe won't love it, and you'll kind of regret the fact that it didn't really come together the way it should have. But you'll like it.

Over the course of its long history -- and I feel as though I've been hearing about it for years -- this film has gone from being a prequel to the original Alien to a totally unrelated film and then finally to being a film that isn't a prequel to Alien, but one that just takes place in the same universe and precedes it chronologically... in other words, a prequel. If you see this movie, you'll understand that it most definitely is a prequel in every sense of the word. The spaceship Prometheus's design looks just like the Nostromo from the original film, there are references to the Weyland Corporation, and the "space jockeys" and one of their ships makes an appearance. Oh... and there's a freakin' alien at the end. This is absoltuely, 100% a prequel to alien. But don't worry if you haven't seen Alien. You don't have to be knowledgeable about the Alien series in order to make sense of this film, since nothing will help you make sense of this film because it makes no sense.

The film opens with a scene that either takes place on Earth or on some alien world  -- it's never made clear -- about an alien that drinks some potion and then dissolves as he falls off a waterfall. This was a striking way to open a film, but I have no idea what it meant and I can't quite figure out how it fit into the rest of the film. From there we cut to the Scottish highlands near the end of the 21st century, where a team of scientists have found some cave drawings that match up with other drawings, hieroglyphics, and engravings from a dozen other civilizations across the globe, all which point toward the same constellation in the sky. Of course, the Weyland corporation puts together an interstellar excavation team to follow the clues and discover what these drawings are trying to tell us. If they ever figured it out, they never told the audience, but it sure was fun watching them try. That's the basic premise of the film, and that's pretty much about as much of a backstory as we're given, as well as front, middle, and end story as well.

But that's ok, because it was neat. The first thirty minutes or so of this movie were just about the most amazing, epic thing I've ever seen. I was ready to crown this the best science fiction film I've ever seen. But then they landed on the alien planet and the scientist started acting like idiots (seriously, this entire film would've been avoided if I had been in charge of this exhibition, because I would've had simple rules like "don't take off your helmet even thought the atmosphere is breathable" or "if you see an alien, don't walk up and try to pet it."), so that was the point where the film kind of went of the rails and stopped making sense. The film stayed visually sumptuous and got very, very scary, but it never really went back onto the rails, nor did the characters or the script ever get as smart as they were in the beginning. At some point the film stopped being a science fiction film and just turned into a mindless action movie. But that's ok, because it was a pretty awesome action movie.

Visually, this was maybe the best looking movie I've ever seen. I saw it in 3D, and I can honestly say this was the best presentation of that format I've ever experienced. The 3D was flawless and I think it added a layer of beauty and realism that I've never experienced before in any other film. If every 3D film looked this amazing, nobody would ever see a 2D film again. If you get anything at all out of this review, let it be this: go see this movie in 3D. You won't be disappointed, and it will distract from the fact that there was no real story to speak of.

So that's Prometheus. I was going to go on about what I thought of the story -- or the lack there of -- and how I felt about the cast (which included Michael Fassbender as one of the best robots in film history, Guy Pearce in a lot of old guy makeup, and Charlize Theron looking as gorgeous as I've ever seen her), but what's the point? Here's all you really need to know about Prometheus: The story makes no sense, the characters all act like idiots, and nothing happens nor is anything explained, but it's still worth watching because it's gorgeous, exhilarating, scary, and features lots of monsters.

Check it out. It's good fun.

John Carter

I didn't finish this one... but it wasn't my fault. The Blu Ray I rented from the Redbox crapped out after about 40 minutes or so, as they are want to do. What do you expect when you pay two bucks to get a movie from a vending machine. Anyway, I feel as though 40 minutes was long enough, since it gave me enough of an impression of the movie to leave me feeling as though it would've been fine to finish it, but not all that regretful that I didn't get the chance.

It was just ok.

Visually it was pretty nice to look at, but it says something about a sci-fi epic that the earlier scenes in New York of the 19th century and the desert of Arizona were more visually interesting and beautiful than the Maritian Landscapes to which our hero is transported. The Martian vistas were just a little bland, and the alien technology and architecture didn't thrill me all that much. I did love the look of Tars Tarkas, however, and I felt that he was perfectly captured and just about the best character in the film. The CG on Tars and the others was great, but some of the other effects (especially the ships) was kind of weak, which was odd considering this film's notorious budget.

Storywise, it was fine, although it did seem to meander quite a bit. It didn't have the sense of urgency or adventure that made the novels so thrilling and fun. This had a nice, lighthearted tone that was still reverent to original author Edgar Rice Burroughs, but all in all it just made me want to go reread the books instead of finding a new Blu Ray so I could finish the movie. But if you're a big fan of the novels, you won't find much new here, but at least you won't find anything off-putting or offensive. And if you're never read the books, maybe you'll find this more exciting and original than I did. It's certainly fun and likable enough.

But the absolute worst thing about this movie was our hero. John Carter, the Warlord of Mars himself, was played with an otherworldly blandness by Taylor Kitsch. This guy was seriously boring and sunk just about every scene he was in, which is a shame because he's the star and his character's name is even the title of the movie. This was an odd casting choice in my opinion, not only because he was so wrong for the role (too young, too bland, too... just not very good), but because the rest of the cast included such wonderful actors like Samantha Morton, Mark Strong, Bryan Cranston, Dominic West, Ciaran Hinds, and the voice of Willem Dafoe. Other than our star, that's a cool cast. So why didn't they get somebody cool to play our hero?

Anyway, this movie was ok, but maybe I'd feel less ok about it had I sat through more of it. Then again, matbe the ending was amazing and I missed the worst part. I'm ok with never finding out.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Bondathon Part 24: Die Another Day

Part 24 of my Bondathon movie review marathon: Die Another Day, the 20th official James Bond film and the fourth (and last) to star Pierce Brosnan as 007. This review went on way too long, but I guess I had a lot to say, since I had to bash it and praise it, since I both hate it and love it. Well... like it. Sorta.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Before Watchmen: Issue #1

Yesterday saw the release of DC's first Watchmen prequel "Before Watchmen: Minutemen." Well, since we are still here today, it's safe to say that the world didn't explode, the rapture never took place, and life as we know it didn't cease to exist. Despite all the doom and gloom that was predicted by the people who swore that this comic was the worst idea ever and it would no doubt lead to the collapse of the comic book industry itself, only one really notable think happened yesterday: DC put out a pretty god damned great comic book.

Turns out "Before Watchmen," or at least this premiere issue, is brilliant.

And I like to think that "brilliant" isn't a word I throw around casually, but in this case, I think it fits. It was just a damn good comic with exceptional art and an entertaining story, but what elevated it to the level of brilliance was how it fit so perfectly into the Watchmen universe and added something worthwhile and thoughtful. I know people put Watchmen on a pedestal and think it's the most sacred, holy thing ever writ by the hand of man, and even if it is, every great story ultimately ends up as a jumping off point for even more stories to come. Those stories shouldn't always come, of course, since I read the novel Casablanca 2 and it was terrible, but a truly brilliant, unique story or mythology stays with you after you finish reading the last page, keeping the characters and concepts and ideas in your brain for years to come.

All that is my long-winded way of saying that I never opposed the idea of the Watchmen prequels. In theory I opposed it at first, I guess, but after DC publicized its plan and the list of creators, I got excited because they put together a group of people whose work I love to work on some characters whose previous story I enjoyed. Original Watchmen writer Alan Moore wasn't happy, of course, but I'm not sure if he ever is. He talks endlessly about how DC and other companies crap on his ideas and characters even while he writes his own stories where he turns the Charlton Comics characters into rapists, The Inivisble Man into a pedophile, and Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz into a sex-crazed slut. I love all of those stories, of course, I'm just pointing out that his ideas on creators' rights is a bit suspect.

But, anyway, at the end of the day all that matters is this: Darwyne Cooke's first issue is fantastic. Cooke is a comic creator who has always been great at faithful adaptations of characters from days of yore. He wrote the only great Spirit comics since the passing of Will Eisner, and his New Frontier series reinvigorated the Justice League. And now he's writing about the Minutemen, the original vigilante team from Watchmen. This wasn't so much a story as an attempt to set the scene for the rest of the series. We were reintroduced into the world of the Watchmen and given a fresh look at some of the characters, as told from the point of view of the original Night Owl. Then entire issue was written as an excerpt from his autobiography, which saves it from having to match the voice and style of Alan Moore. Frankly, Cooke writes a better Night Owl than Moore did anyway.

Does it feel like Watchmen? Sure, but not completely... but that's not a bad thing. This comic was a story about building up various characters, while the original Watchmen was an attempt to deconstruct various character archetypes. I'm not going to say which was better (we'll give the win to Watchmen, of course), but I certainly enjoyed both for similar and yet different reasons. Anyway, long story short: Go buy this comic. But it and read it if you liked the original Watchmen or even if you hated it. This was just a darn good story with some great comic book art. Check it out.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

In Memoriam: Richard Dawson (1932 - 2012)

If you grew up in the 70s and 80s you knew who Richard Dawson was and you loved him. He was one of those performers who was so unique and managed to have one of those careers where he did something for everybody.

Mom loved him as the host of Family Feud.

Dad loved him as Newkirk on Hogan's Heroes

And, of course, anybody who reads my blog loved him as Killian in The Running Man.

But to be perfectly honest, most people just loved him for being Richard Dawson, since he was almost most successful and beloved when he played himself... no doubt an idealized version of himself, but a version of himself all the same.

For whatever reason youtube has disabled the embedding of all clips from The Running Man, but watch this clip and tell me you don't love this guy too.