Sunday, February 2, 2014

Disney's Frozen Review

Disney's "Frozen" warms the heart and is sprinkled with comedic moments that make it a really great film. I appreciate movies that don't follow the same mundane formula, movies that actually challenge the form, and "Frozen" does that in spades. It earns a solid 4 out of 5 stars.

American Horror Story: Coven Review


Overall, I'm sad to say that I really did not enjoy this season.  Some of the episodes were hard to get through or even get amped up enough to even play/watch them on my DVR.  It was VERY difficult to care about ANY of the characters because none of them had any redeeming value.  The overall themes of witchcraft and Voodoo are not really themes that interest me, but I was hoping the show would have changed that;  it did not.  The convoluted plot and multiple storylines added little enjoyment to the ultimate direction of the show which, in my opinion, was finding a new Supreme and ensuring the future of the school.

Specifically, in the finale, it felt like Cordelia (Sarah Paulson) was Professor X, recruiting witches instead of X-men to her academy.  Also, the witches testing their abilities of all Seven Wonders at one time in the same episode felt forced and rushed.  I would have thought that maybe the writers would have put the witches in positions where they needed to use one of the Seven Wonders to save herself or a loved one from trouble throughout the season, but that didn't seem the case and the witches pretty much did whatever they wanted.  Why even have a school then?  Why save and ensure a future for something we don't care about?  The school was just a centralized location that brought together a bunch of witches that repeated the same mistakes of the past but somehow came out smelling like roses in the end.  The final twist was this was supposedly Fiona's (Jessica Lange) plan the whole time to get her daughter to realize her power?  Sorry, but that’s bull, very farfetched, and very out of character for her.  I expected Fiona to have a second knife hidden to kill her daughter and regain her power during the final hug.  When she just died so did her entire character that had been presented this whole time.  Disappointing.

Other thoughts:  I don't think the Kathy Bates character or even Stevie Nicks was needed.  All the past events added nothing to the present.  It would have been better if the school was actually in Kathy Bates character’s old house, but they were two separate locations and I felt it wasn’t really needed.  Also, the Axeman character and his story felt out of place.  Papa Legba also felt shoe-horned into this season.  If the writers had introduced him earlier on, it could have made the show more enjoyable.  Lastly, it's hard to care when a character dies when death isn't treated as a final destination and a character could come back at any time.

I don’t like being negative about a show and even though I didn't like this season of American Horror Story, I’ve enjoyed Ryan Murphy’s work up until this point and I hope he has something better in store for Season 4, something that really pushes the boundaries of television and entertainment.

Friday, September 27, 2013

"Dexter" Series Review

Season 1 was actually spoiled for me.  I was at a friend's house and he put on the current episode at the time (season 2, episode 2) to show me how good of a show it was.  Since I really didn't understand what was going on, he proceeded to tell me what I had missed, and in turn, spoiled the events of the first season.  Regardless of being spoiled, I went back and watched the first season.  The characters, Dexter’s inner monologue with his Dark Passenger, and the entire concept of a serial killer that only killed bad people was intriguing and very well written.  I thought the Ice Truck Killer was a great villain and the big reveal that it was actually Dexter’s brother was very well done.  The first season did a great job of not only entertaining, but overall it set the stage for the future of the series. 

Building on the momentum of first season, Season 2 pulled no punches and threw Dexter right back into the thick of it where it appeared all eyes were on him.  I really did think that he could get caught.  His blood slides representing the trophies of his past victims served as his most prized possession AND the one thing that could destroy him.  Since Dexter was the hero of the story, anyone against him was the villain and this time it was his coworker Doakes.  I remember really hating Doakes but now I think of him with fondness (due to the flashback scenes with him that would be revealed in the seventh season).  He really was a guy you loved to hate, and while his acting was cheesy at times, it somehow worked and the season was a success.  This second season, as well as its predecessor, wrapped up everything nicely, with no strings left untied.

Season 3, while a bit hazy to me, wasn’t as strong as the first two seasons, but I do remember that Jimmy Smits’s character Miguel Prado, was introduced as someone Dexter could trust.  Having zero friends Dexter could confide his secret with, it looked very promising that these two would make a great team.  Ultimately, Prado would turn out to be a loose cannon that needed to be dealt with, just as every other character that knew or found out Dexter’s secret, and Prado’s fate was sealed on Dexter’s table.  Dexter’s kill room had become an important character itself, and as a viewer, I loved the meticulous organization of it and I came to admire it.  Dexter stuck to his code, he continued to avoid suspicion and capture, and while hiding in plain sight tried to do the best that he could to balance his normal life while dealing with his dark side.

Unfortunately, for Dexter, in Season 4, he would come against, what I would consider, his greatest foe.  The Trinity Killer, a serial killer with 20 years of experience (if I remember correctly), was just as, if not more meticulous and cunning than Dexter.  Trinity, magnificently played by John Lithgow, had the perfect cover of a family and his "habit for humanity" type of business.  I believe Trinity represented the future of what Dexter could have evolved into, but not all monsters are created equally.  Dexter had many opportunities to kill Trinity, but Dexter was trying to learn from him.  Sadly, Dexter would pay the price for his hesitation and he ends up losing his wife Rita in the most epic season finale I have ever experienced.  Dexter’s infant son, sitting in a pool of his mother’s blood harkened back to Dexter’s origin that was revealed in the first season and set the stage for what could have been the best stories yet to come.

Regrettably, Seasons 5 and 6 were a total let down.  Season 5 continued where 4 left off, with Dexter dealing with the murder of his wife and not being able to take revenge on her killer, Trinity, because he already killed him without prior knowledge of the aforementioned event of Rita’s murder.  Dexter seemed lost and with him so was the audience.  Dexter stumbled upon a new partner - a rape victim named Lumen.  Her goal was to get revenge on her four perpetrators.  The protege events harkened back to season 2, but sadly, the plot was as weak as the villains as was Lumen as the love interest / victim.  Lumen, with the help of Dexter, achieved her revenge and just walked off into the sunset.  Did this help Dexter to grow as a person or a killer?  Why was he so comfortable with leaving a loose end like that?  I believe this is where Dexter, as a character, began to fall apart.

Season 6 introduced the Doomsday Killer which brought a religious undertone to the entire season.  Would religion be the answer to help Dexter grow?  It would appear not, and the two villains turned out to be one villain as the one villain had his own Dark Passenger just as Dexter did.  Due to poor writing, this revelation was unraveled by the keen observer in first episode of the season when it was actually revealed seven or so episodes later.  This resulted in another weak season, but it did set up a finale where Dexter’s secret was finally revealed to the person he loved most – his sister Deb.  The reveal was slightly tainted as Deb’s main conflict during the entire season was that she believed she was falling in love with her brother.  Sure, they weren’t blood related, but it a bad choice by the writers and it did not work well with the audience.

Luckily, Season 7 moved away from the brother/sister love story fairly quickly and dealt with the matter at hand, that Deb had been lied to her entire life, not only by her brother, but her father as well.  Just as much as the show has been about Dexter, the second strongest character that the audience cared about was Deb, and Jennifer Carpenter really owned her role in this season.  Harkening back and mentioning events from the first four seasons, this season was as strong as ever.  The conflict between brother and sister built the entire way to the ending in the shipping container where Deb was given a choice.  Did Deb make the right decision to kill La Guerta and not Dexter?  It could be argued both ways, but with the final season in the back of my mind, the writers had no intention of killing Dexter and that was their mistake.

In the weakest season and series finale ever written, the television show Dexter and the story of a vigilante serial killer has come to a close.  There were few good things about Season 8, but there was a lot of bad and the bad heavily outweighed the good.  When reflecting on the series as a whole, Dexter hadn’t really learned anything.  He thought love, family and maybe religion would help him destroy and move away from his Dark Passenger, but he was blind to the fact that it was always there and it would never go away.  As a result of Dexter's ignorance, his sister paid the ultimate price, just like Rita had.  With Deb's death, Dexter died as well as he drove into a hurricane.  If the story had ended there, then I would have been happy,  Unfortunately, it’s revealed that Dexter somehow survived and became a lumberjack.  The love that he had for Hannah and his son, Harrison, a love that supposedly turned off his need for killing were both abandoned.  So Dexter chose a life away from the ones he loved, the ones that supposedly made him a better person, so he wouldn’t end up hurting them.  But what about himself?  Who’s going to protect him against himself and killing again?  Is living his life away from the ones he loves punishment for all that he has done?  Sure, he only killed bad people, but killing is wrong and he’s left feeling sorry for himself.  Are we supposed to feel sorry for him too?  As an audience, are we supposed to be happy with this as the end of an eight year journey?  I’m sure as hell not, and I’m very disappointed.  I take solace in the fact that, as a viewer, we got at least four good seasons.  It’s a shame that we also had to get four bad ones that ended the series.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Louie C.K. "Oh My God" Review

Before watching this hour of comedy, I listened/watched an hour and a half interview that Louie did with Howard Stern. They touched on many subjects, one of which being the "Oh My God" comedy special on HBO, which is probably the whole reason Louie was on Howard in the first place - to promote it. I'm glad he did because I had forgotten about it and luckily I stumbled onto the interview on Youtube. In the interview, I was also surprised to hear that once Louie performs the jokes in the special, he will never do those same jokes again. He likened it to an author writing a book. I was taken aback by that. If something was really funny I'd hope to see him revisit it again, maybe in another special or maybe on his show on FX (of which he's taking a break and returning to it in 2014). This worry was taken away at the end of his performance.

When you title your show, "Oh My God", it carries with it a certain expectation. Lately, I've really gotten into Anthony Jeselnik and Nathan Fielder (Nathan For You) and their style is very smart, offensive, and perfectly delivered. The same can be said about Louie C.K., especially since he doesn't give a fuck about anyone else save for his daughters. He holds nothing back and tells it like it is. He DOES do this in "Oh My God", but I was expecting more shocking moments, maybe a little more offensive comments, but as I sat back and watched it, it felt pretty tame. It wasn't until the last 10 minutes where the began a routine where the topic was "legal murder". Up until that point, I did chuckle a few times, but it wasn't until the end that I was laughing out loud which is one of my determining factors of which I use to decide if I really liked something or not. The ratio of "LOL" moments to non "LOL" moments is the simple formula I use. If the LOL moments are greater than the non, then thumbs up, and if vice versa, then thumbs down.

At the time of this review and my first viewing, this special has earned a thumbs down. But due to the nature of the strong ending, I will probably revisit this special in the future and my opinion may change. (On a related note, the movie "Due Date" was on cable this weekend, a movie I haven't seen since I saw it in the theater. Back then, I thought it was just OK, and had no intention of seeing it again. Upon a second viewing, I really enjoyed it and even caught myself watching it a third time during a re-airing. While it's not a very strong movie, I'd recommend watching it while doing something else, maybe cruising the internet, doing homework, crocheting, balancing your check book, or any other task at hand.)

Oh My God?
Oh My Gosh...
Oh My...
Oh.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Wii U review

SETUP:

As instructed by the Quick Start Guide, I needed to charge the Wii U GamePad. It said in the guide that it would take 2.5 hours. While I waited for it to charge, I unwrapped my Wii U, the power cord, the sensor bar, the HDMI cable, the stands for the console, and the GamePad charging station and stand. I took my time setting it up, and enjoyed some late night TV (Saturday Night Live). I got my Wii U at midnight and I was running out of energy. Since the GamePad wasn't charged fully, I just ended up going to bed at 2 AM. Ignoring the charging time I'd say I spent about an hour on unpacking, reading, and connecting cords for the next day.

 * * *

The next day, a large chuck of time, about an hour, was spent downloading an update and waiting for it to install. Once that was done, I proceeded to transfer my data from my Wii to my Wii U. It wasn't complicated but it took a good 45 minutes. Setting the date and time, TV remote feature, and internet connection was a breeze. I doubt that I'll be using my GamePad as a remote control, but I thought that feature was pretty neat and it was the first thing that made me smile. I had to create a new Mii for my Wii U. It was pretty cool that I was able to take a picture of myself with the camera on the GamePad which helped in creating my Mii. I added my beard and tweaked a few things before finally finishing. I'd say I spent about 3.5 hours total on setting up the software on the Wii U. (Netflix need to update which took about four minutes.)

GAMEPLAY:

After working out and having dinner, I finally got the chance to put in "NintendoLand". After 20 minutes of game play, I noticed the battery light on the GamePad was flashing. I checked the manual and when it's flashing it means that it's about to die so I turned off the game and threw it on the charger. I played "The Legend of Zelda: Battle Quest" - Archery mode. It was fun and challenging at the same time. I'm definitely looking forward to playing more of that mini game and the other mini games that are available.

* * *

REVIEW:

At the time of this review, set up and installation time has been greater than actual play time.  The "NintendoLand" mini games that I've played thus far continue to be a combination of fun and challenging, bordering frustration.  There are some elements that have made me smile, while others leave me scratching my head.  So far, I'm enjoying the little nuances that Nintendo has attempted to make this console feel like the next gen of gaming, but I don't know if the Wii U totally feels like a true next gen console.  I'd definitely recommend the system to hardcore Nintendo fans, but my Wii sat unused a lot and I feel that the Wii U might do the same.  I will reserve my full judgment of the system until later on in its lifetime;  it feels way too early to praise or condemn it fully.  My hope is that Nintendo releases an HD Zelda, Metroid, or Mario Galaxy game fairly quickly - something that is fun to play, has a great story line, and ultimately demonstrates the power of this new console.

Monday, September 10, 2012

John Carter review

John Carter - I enjoyed John's story line (wife and kid scene strung together with fighting all the aliens) and the green alien race story line (father/daughter relationship). I didn't care for Lynn Collins as an actress. She drop dead gorgeous, but I didn't like her. And I really didn't get the puppet masters who were supposed to be "protecting" the Goddess...they gave the dumb guy the power to vaporize everything. Once in Helium, why didn't he break out that weapon and lay waste to the city in seconds? This one is hard to recommend, but if you like science fiction, action adventure and a semi decent story line, then it's worth a rent.

Monday, July 23, 2012

The Dark Knight Rises review

I very much enjoyed "The Dark Knight Rises". It was a fitting conclusion to Nolan's Batman story. His trilogy has set a new standard in the superhero movie industry where he successfully built a world around Batman, not Batman around a world. I highly recommend seeing it in IMAX. 4 out of 5 stars.