Halloween Scene: Tucker And Dale & Blood Diner

tucker-and-dale-vs-evilI realized after watching the wonderful An American Werewolf In London recently that my horror-comedy knowledge is pretty weak. I’m actually struggling to think of any non-Scary Movie entries that I’ve seen (which are really more “comedy”-horror and also terrible) besides Shaun Of The Dead, Joe Dante’s movies and Cabin In The Woods to some extent. Well, as it happens, I’ve seen a handful so far this season and have had a fair amount of success. Continue reading Halloween Scene: Tucker And Dale & Blood Diner

Book Vs. Movie: I, Robot

Man, I, Robot is bad. I’m speaking of the 2004 movie starring Will Smith and directed by Alex Proyas, not the book which I liked even if it had a few flaws, as I talked about already. It’s kind of funny that my big complaint about the short stories by Isaac Asimov that make up the book were based on characterization because that was my biggest problem with the filmed version. Even funnier is that the film couldn’t nail the character of Dr. Susan Calvin who could be summed up in a few words: cold, calculating scientist. Bridget Moynahan’s interpretation of the character loses her cool so early on that she essentially becomes the damsel in distress, which is about as boring of a character as you can get.

The real problem with the movie is Will Smith. He’s ridiculously annoying in the movie as robot-hating cop Del Spooner (what a terrible name) as he spouts off awful dialog like “You have so got to die.” That kind of stuff works for younger actors, but Smith was roughly 34 when he shot this movie. Don’t get me wrong, I’m no Will Smith hater. I loved Fresh Prince, Independence Day and the Bad Boys flicks, but I, Robot smacks of an older actor not understanding what he’s really good at. One-liners aside, he’s just a generally unlikable character and doesn’t really give us much to latch onto aside from having a bummer of an experience that lost him an arm and resulted in the death of a little girl. Boo hoo, you don’t have to be a dick to everyone.

Smith and Moynahan aside, I really liked the rest of the cast. Bruce Greenwood, Chi McBride, Shia LaBeouf, James Cromwell and Alan Tudyk providing the voice and mannerisms for suspected murdering robot Sonny all do a great job, but even their greatness can’t make the two stars actually shine. In fact, their goodness really highlights how bad Smith and Moynahan are.

I guess I should talk about the plot. Cromwell plays a scientist who was supposedly murdered by robot Sonny. Smith’s on the case, but everyone, including his boss McBride, thinks he’s crazy because of the Three Laws of Robotics. Unconvinced, Smith keeps pushing which leads him to Greenwood’s robot-making company U.S. Robotics which employs Moynahan. As he keeps investigating, Smith uncovers a group of robots ready willing and able to hurt humans. The script was originally written as a completely different story, but got reformatted first to fit in with the Asimov mythology and then again for Smith specifically. I’d be curious to see how the original script compared and how many supposedly awesome moments added in by that last revision.

I don’t want this review to be completely negative, though. I found the movie to be generally boring and not super interesting, but there were some interesting moments. The overall plot was interesting and could have been, but wasn’t, set in Asimov’s world. Effects-wise, Sonny looks kind of amazing and when the robots fight each other, they don’t seem like people in robot suits fighting. On the other hand, the CGI doesn’t look great when too many robots are together. The one on one robot fight towards the end looked great, but the big battle at the storage units just seemed too fake.

You’ll notice I’m not complaining about how far away from Asimov’s book the movie is, most notably that it’s set on an Earth that has robots walking around (they were banned from being used on Earth in the books). I can understand not being able to make a movie based on the entire book. It would have been crazy expensive, though according to Wikipedia Harlan Ellison tried in the late 70s. Deemed too costly, the movie was shelved but the script was eventually published as I, Robot: The Illustrated Screenplay in 1994. I definitely want to check that out. I even like the idea of making a movie that would fit in with Asimov’s stories even if it didn’t directly draw from one of the actual stories, but that’s not what this is. Maybe someone with vision and some clout will come along and work their magic. I won’t be holding by breath.


What Did You Guys Think Of V?

Em was a lot more excited for V than I was. I don’t watch a ton of science-fiction shows, I tried watching the original movie for Battlestar Galactica and was bored to tears. But considering how crappy the Tuesday night prime time line up, I was up for anything. And, for the most part, I dug the show. Not only does it feature Firefly alumns like Alan Tudyk and Morena Baccarin and Elizabeth Mitchell from Lost, but for the most part I was interested in the plot the entire time. I also thought the special effects on the space ships and giant spacecraft were all pretty cool. I liked the idea that the Vs had been there for a while and were acting like a terrorist group. I’m looking forward to seeing what the weird lizard aliens look like, how the world will find out they don’t have Earth’s best interest in mind and what will happen to Mitchell’s son character who is just too dreamy for words. So, what did you guys think?

Firefly: The Series (2002)

As I mentioned in one of these posts over the last few days, the missus and I have been watching a bunch of TV on DVD lately. We burned through the second season of Mad Men and all of Firefly and are four discs into the first season of Alias. I completely missed out on/didn’t care about Firefly when it first aired and didn’t have much interest in it until recently when Rickey and Sam gave it to us to check out and we couldn’t say no (also, nothing else is on). I’ve been told the proper order to consume the entertainment in (TV, both comic series’ and then Serenity), so I figured I’d blog about them in that order.

Damn, this is a great show you guys. I realize I’m super late to the game on this, but Joss Whedon actually really impressed me with this show. I’ve been kind of down on him after being really bored with the one episode of Dollhouse I watched and not being too impressed with Astonishing X-Men. Being a big fan of Buffy, both of those were disappointing for me. Plus, we went back and watched the first season of Angel, which was hard to get into. I was starting to think that Whedon didn’t have the ability to hook viewers with a new show right away. I was getting sick of people saying “Yeah, the early stuff isn’t great, but you’ve got to get through it to get to the good stuff.” What kind of rationale is that? I understand that in the age where we can watch everything online or on DVD that it becomes much easier to go back and catch up on a show that got bad or started off poorly, but why should we? If you want me to watch your show, here’s an idea, wow me from the beginning.

And that’s exactly what Whedon and company did with Firefly. Right out of the gate, BAM, I’m engrossed. The characters are cool and interesting and all have their own mysteries about them. Things are seeded for future episodes (something Whedon does better than most) and the effects are sick. I was surprised throughout the entire series how good the spaceships, space stations and alien worlds looked. Plus, of course, the premise of “cowboys in space” is just too cool.

Firefly also doesn’t get too caught up in the characters that Whedon seems stuck on now. You don’t have the geeky guy and Kaylee only kind of gets into that Kitty Pryde territory that Whedon so clearly loves. Plus, Mal’s just a rad character, kind of Preacher meets Han Solo and Nathan Fillion does an awesome job with him.

I’m also a big fan of Jayne because, to me, he’s the Wolverine of the group. He’s the badass, a/immoral dude who loves what he does and is the best at it (at least amongst the crew). But, unlike the merry mutant, Jayne isn’t over used. He’s like Wolverine at his earliest, a cool character who we got glimpses of without being overloaded on him. It’s a good way to go.

I think my favorite episode has to be “Out Of Gas.” The story structure, presentation and character development are all just crazy awesome, but the finale “Objects In Space” was also pretty sick. I liked Early and was glad to see River not just be a crazy weirdo. These are the kinds of episodes that Whedon excels at, it’s too bad they tend to take place late in a season.

I don’t know why the show was canceled or any of the details (because I didn’t look them up, I don’t want any more spoilers than what I already know), but it really is too bad Firefly didn’t get the proper support from the network (like airing the episodes in the correct order). It came out during my college days, so I assume that’s why I was out of the loop (though I do vaguely remember it’s existence).

Here’s hoping that whatever Whedon’s next project will not only start off strong, but get a network backing it that knows what to do with his kind of show. I’m even contemplating going back and watching Dollhouse’s first season in short order. I keep hearing about some kind of game changer, but, I gotta be honest, I REALLY didn’t like that one episode I saw. I mean, it was BAD. I guess I could skip it (or at least the “most dangerous game” parts. Uch, I don’t even like thinking about it.

Up next? The trades!