Friday, August 31, 2007

Boldly going... where others have gone before, only slightly differently

Well, it seems that one key detail about the new Start Trek movie coming out next year has been revealed via Moriarty at Ain't it Cool, and summarized a bit better at Chud.

It seems that it's going to be a reboot of sorts... it'll be an alternate timeline of Trek, a Trek where Captain James T. Kirk doesn't exist. Could be cool - a fresh start is what this franchise desperately needs, but by tying it into lame time travel shenanigans they may be tying it too much to the existing universe.

Hopefully not... hopefully, it'll be more of a clean slate. Time will tell.

Transformers (2007)

Transformers (2007)

Michael Bay's big screen adaptation of the 80's toy line 'Transformers' was unleashed upon mankind this year and has become a massive hit worldwide. I've finally seen it, and yes it is superior to the turgid 'Transformers: The Movie' that came out in the eighties.

The story revolves around a race of giant alien robots from the ruined planet Cybertron who divided into two warring factions, the heroic Autobots and the evil Decepticons (with a name like that, could they be anything but?). They screwed up their own planet in a foolish war, then sent the object that gave life to their world, a cube called the 'Allspark' (lame name, dudes), out into space where it ended up on Earth. This all happened thousands of years ago. In the present, the Autobots and Decepticons have arrived on Earth to find the powerful Allspark, and inevitably continue their war on our little rock as the Autobots struggle to keep it out of Decepticon hands.

A teenager named Sam Witwicky (Shia LeBeouf), who just wants to catch the attention of school hottie Mikaela (Megan Fox), ends up getting more than he bargained for when the new car he bought to impress her turns out to be an Autobot. See, these crafty giant robots are able to transform from humanoid shapes into vehicles like automobiles, tanks, and airplanes, and thus hide themselves from mankind while sitting out in plain sight. Anyway, Sam and Mikaela get caught up in the robot conflict thanks to his Autobot friend and also because his great grandfather had the location of the Allspark etched onto his glasses during an expedition to the Arctic. As a result, all of these mechanical behemoths are trying to get their hands on them. Seriously, this is a giant robot movie where the robots are looking for a pair of spectacles! Meanwhile, the U.S. military machine attempts to contend with the sudden onslaught of the Decepticons, who have started to attack and overwhelm mankind, while a secret organization called Sector 7 operates behind the scenes and knows a lot more about what's going on with these giant robots than anyone else.

The movie starts off with a spectacular and explosive assault by a Decepticon on a U.S. military base in Quatar before settling down for a while by cutting away to the resulting chaos in the Pentagon and to the efforts of Sam to woo Mikaela. The story structure is that of a disaster movie, with the first half being setup and exposition with a sense of impending doom - though there is plenty of action thrown in there as well - before building up to a relentlessly action packed final act. The military stuff is all generic and fairly forgettable, with people scratching their heads in puzzlement and looking pensive. There's also a second military subplot involving a cliched and bland military unit, which comprises cookie cutter characters, in Quatar trying to get some vital information back to their superiors; this plot-line serves only to add some action and introduce a few human characters capable of actually fighting the Decepticons.

The stuff with Sam as he first deals with his hormonal conundrums before being forced to try and stay alive and help the Autobots, is actually surprisingly good. A major reason for this is that Shia LaBeouf is excellent in the role and plays every beat perfectly - it's a rare thing where a human being manages to register in a special effects extravaganza, especially given how incredible most of the effects are in 'Transformers'. The guy manages to sell the idea that all of this wacky stuff is happening to him with genuine reactions and emotions, as if he were swept up in something huge and beyond his control, while still being funny as a smart aleck teenager. Megan Fox actually provides a reasonable foil for him to play off of, plus there's no denying that the girl is ridiculously well proportioned. As for the rest of the cast, apart from John Turturro's crazed performance as an agent of Sector 7, they're simply serviceable. From the Transformers themselves, Peter Cullen, who was in the original cartoon, acquits himself well as the voice of noble Autobot leader Optimus Prime.

The storyline and characters (apart from Sam) are humdrum, and the writing can get a bit... erm, poor, but the script does have a healthy dose of humour and facetiousness mixed into it and seems to realize that the subject matter can't be taken too seriously. Unfortunately, director Michael Bay plays up much of the human stuff too dramatically, particularly the military elements which I wish had been trimmed down. Conversely, some of the humour also becomes grating, such as the scene where the Autobots try to hide outside Sam's house - this starts off as humourous but drags on too long and ultimately draws attention to the utter stupidity of the situation. Still, despite some unwelcome material and a slightly too long running time, the film doesn't ever really drag thanks to the doses of excitement being doled out on a regular basis.

Which brings me to the film's main selling point, which is giant robots causing mayhem. The last thirty plus minutes of the movie are literally a non-stop action free-for-all as the Autobots and the military withstand the onslaught of the Decpticons. Plenty of explosions take place and robots wrestle with each other while devastating the city around them. It's a bit much, truth be told, and becomes more than a little repetitive, but at the same time it's incredibly spectacular and unlike anything I've ever seen in a film. The special effects are virtually flawless - they're massive in scale and scope but never draw you out of the film. The interaction of the effects with characters and environments is seamless. It's a shame that the robots themselves don't look that cool though, with ugly designs that make it nearly impossible to distinguish who they are when up close. And that's another problem - the action has a feel of realism to it thanks to lots of chaotic close up shots, but those same shots make the robot action a little messy and incoherent. All in all, the action scenes blew me away but even on my first viewing they began to try my patience, which makes me wonder how they'll hold up during repeat viewings.

All the other aspects of the production are, needless to say, top of the line - it seems that the well oiled Hollywood machine can, with enough money, create just about anything nowadays. The costumes, sets, props, and effects all exhibit that polished 'big movie' sheen. The effects are the big selling point and, as I've mentioned, they definitely succeed in holding one's attention and selling the story.

So basically, 'Transformers' is a good if not great spectacular blockbuster; a silly story and cheesy writing buoyed by a great performance, terrific effects and mostly effective action scenes. It doesn't really raise the bar for action/special effects filmmaking, but I think it manages to clear the existing bar quite well by utilizing all of the state-of-the-art tools available today to make an entertaining and exciting film, one that has a tone suited to its subject matter and that manages to stay in your memory for a while after the end credits have rolled. It's dumb, but it knows it and has fun. Worth seeing for the spectacle (s?) alone.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Ghost Rider (2007)

Ghost Rider (2007)

Nicholas Cage finally appears in a superhero movie. Shame then that the movie, the adaptation of Marvel Comic's 'Ghost Rider', is so risible.

Johnny Blaze (Nicholas Cage) is a stunt motorcycle rider, the best in the business. He's a superstar. Unfortunately, when he was younger he made a deal with Mephistopheles / the Devil (Peter Fonda) to save his dying father (Dad copped it anyway, proving that a deal with the Devil will get you screwed no matter what) - he gave up his soul. Mephisto wanted Blaze to one day be his 'Ghost Rider', a sort of demonic bounty hunter / henchman. Sadly for Blaze, fate has awful timing; just when he is reunited with his childhood sweetheart Roxanne (the luscious Eva Mendes), he's forced into service, turning into a super powered flaming biker with an exposed, flaming skull! A Demonic guy named Blackheart and some of his henchmen are looking for a hidden 'contract' that belonged to Mephisto which, if acquired, would give him power to rule the world. Mephisto orders Ghost Rider to stop Blackheart and his demonic henchmen from getting the power that is rightfully his. Being Ghost Rider takes its toll on Blaze however, and threatens his personal and professional life. Blaze is finally pushed to the edge when sweet and innocent Roxanne's life is put in peril!

Actually, thus far it sounds fairly decent if decidedly generic, but it's in the execution that things get truly bad. Director Mark Steven Johnson tries to take things a bit too seriously but can't come up with the goods to match the intended tone. The plotting and characterization are anemic and perfunctory and more than a little dumb, and the performances seem to live up to the script. Everyone seems bemused. The only (sort of) exceptions to this are Peter Fonda as the sinister but one dimensional Mephisto and Sam Elliott as the enigmatic 'Caretaker', an ally to the Ghost Rider. Cage himself barely registers, although the effects driven Ghost Rider persona is quite fun. The film admittedly doesn't look too bad; in fact it looks quite decent at times, especially when the effects are firing on all cylinders and the Ghost Rider is blazing across the landscape. Sadly, the close ups of the flaming skull just come across as ludicrous and are poorly animated - I'm not really sure how anyone could have made it an effective live action visual, but then again it didn't need to be quite as cheesy as it is here. Which brings me to the action - there is none to really speak of. Seriously, Ghost Rider engages in a couple of fights with Blackheart's goons but they're over before you know it, and the final 'battle' is also mostly uneventful.

'Ghost Rider' is an uninspired and only marginally entertaining comic book adaptation. A part of me feels that these superhero origin stories are way past their sell by date, and that no matter how good this film could have been there would still have been a feeling of deja vu. We've even already seen a guy mucking about with figures from Heaven and Hell in the far superior Constantine, which interestingly enough wasn't an origin story. So perhaps the Ghost Rider origin story never stood a chance. Another part of me realizes, however, that regardless of how stale the movie template is, this film is weak on all other merits and could have been better.

Dune Again?

Chud is reporting on the possibility of a new version of Dune for the big screen! It would be pretty cool if someone made a worthy cinematic adaptation of this classic book - as Devin points out neither of the current adaptations work, though I do have a fondness for the Lynch film.

Even if it does come about, I would be wary given the apparently lax quality control being exercised by those in control of the property and (again, as Devin points out) the inherent difficulty in capturing the essence of the novel.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Deadwood - Season 1 (2004)

Deadwood - Season 1 (2004)

Created by David Milch of 'NYPD Blue' fame, 'Deadwood' is a gritty, violent, lewd, and foul mouthed drama that, like other HBO shows, pushes the boundaries of propriety on the small screen. It's about the establishment and growth of the town of Deadwood in the 1870s, and the prominent individuals who were present and involved in events at the time. Though based on real history and real people, it apparently takes a few liberties. I recently finished watching the first season, and found it to be an impressive and engaging show.

'Deadwood' is less about straightforward narrative and more about characters and their interactions. The overall story is that the town of Deadwood is up and coming and is soon to be annexed to the US, prompting many entrepreneurs to settle in town to establish businesses early or look for gold in the hills. It's a somewhat lawless place full of violence and scheming. The show is very dialogue heavy and mostly comprises scenes with characters plotting and second-guessing each other's actions, playing politics, or having heated confrontations, but there is a fair bit of raw and brutal action interspersed throughout as well. One of the defining and most endearing aspects of the show is the idiosyncratic style of dialogue, which runs the gamut, from monosyllabic words uttered by the illiterate to the verbose monologues of the more gifted orators in town. Another key facet of the show are interesting, well defined, and sometimes atypical relationships - friendships, alliances, and romances - that have a pervasive influence on characters and events.

The roster of characters in Deadwood are many and varied, but two stand out as the focal points. One is Al Swearingen (Ian McShane), the ruthless owner of a bar / brothel who is the de facto man in charge of the town; the other is Seth Bullock (Timothy Oliphaunt), a tough and honourable former Sheriff who wants to make a fresh start in Deadwood. These two immediately butt heads and are seen as key figures by everyone around them, and much of what goes on in town links up with them in one way or another. All of the other characters are no less compelling, being diverse and well fleshed out. They include wealthy widow Alma Garret (Molly Parker), hotelier E. B. Farnum (William Sanderson), Swearingen rival Cy Tolliver (Powers Boothe), Seth's business partner Sol Star (John Hawkes), prostitute Trixie (Paula Malcomson), Doctor 'Doc' Chochran (Brad Dourif), and drunken loudmouth Calamity Jane (Robin Weigert).

The performances are fantastic all round, but McShane and Oliphaunt really own the show and are the iconic standouts, one a verbose and sinister businessman and the other a stoic symbol of strength and honour. But as I said, everyone's good; the ones who come to mind as my other favourites are Robin Weigert's Calamity Jane, Sanderson's Farnum, and the always interesting Brad Dourif as the Doc.

Needless to say, this HBO show has stellar production values. The sets, locations, and costumes all seem, to my untrained eye, to be perfectly evocative of the period depicted and steep the show in verisimilitude. The stark and desaturated visuals and the music round out the package and sell the gritty atmosphere perfectly.

'Deadwood' may not be to everyone's taste - some people seem to be turned off by the very look and subject matter of the show - but those who sit back and let themselves be immersed in the world depicted will be well rewarded. To be fair it is very deliberately paced, with the whole season taking place over the course of weeks (or a few months at most) and no 'big' events taking place for much of that time. But that doesn't matter to the show, because it's more concerned with how the little details and small scale events cumulatively determine the fate of the town. An excellent and unique series that thoroughly deserves its good reputation.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Lost - Season 3 (2006-2007)

Lost - Season 3 (2006-2007)

Its second season dipped slightly in terms of quality, but season 3 found 'Lost' firing on all cylinders and back to the greatness of its first. This is now my joint favourite TV show currently on air, together with 'Battlestar Galactica', although I think this season of 'Lost' was arguably of a consistently higher quality than even BSG could maintain. Virtually every episode had me dying to see the next one.

At the end of Season 2, Jack (Matthew Fox), Sawyer (Josh Holloway), and Kate (Evengeline Lilly) were in the clutches of the mysterious 'Others', a group ostensibly led by a man named Ben Linus (Michael Emerson), while Hurley (Jorge Garcia) had been released to warn the Losties to stay away. John (Terry O'Quinn), Eko (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), and Desmond (Henry Ian Cusick) were in the hatch with the strange magnetic anomaly being triggered and turning the sky purple, forcing Desmond to turn the 'failsafe' key. Charlie (Dominic Monaghan) and Claire (Emilie de Ravin) were safe on the beach, while Sayid (Naveen Andrews), Jin (Daniel Dae Kim), and Sun (Yunjin Kim) were on Desmond's boat trying to help Jack.

As with the previous seasons, the opening minutes of the first episode reveal the focus of the show. The first was about the survivors on the beach and the second was about the hatch; the third season is all about the 'Others'. The opening third of the season is split between the incarceration and manipulation of Jack, Kate, and Sawyer by the Others in a Dharma station called the Hydra, and the activities back on the beach involving everyone else. Beyond the first third, well, things twist and turn spectacularly and there is a lot of incident. There is a fracturing of narratives throughout the season as the focus jumps back and forth between the main group of Losties, the Others, and smaller groups who go off questing on their own. Most of the episodes tie in with the overall story with only a few being standalone, but those are also quite good (if not as propulsive) and add to the texture of the world and to the characters. Summarizing the events of a show like Lost, where there are myriad events that add details to the big picture layer by layer while fleshing out the characters and their relationships, would be counterproductive, so I'm going to leave it at that.

As always, the recurring themes of the show - faith vs science, free will vs fate / destiny, father figure relationships, and contrition - make themselves felt on a regular basis. In typical Lost fashion, a lot of details about the Dharma Initiative, the Hostiles, and the island's secrets are provided in the midst of introducing new mysteries, leaving viewers with plenty to chew on without giving everything away. The final episode is indeed terrific and climactic, and sets up all kinds of interesting possibilities for the next season. The storyline really seems to be coming together now, and has a cohesive quality that indicates that the writers have a good idea where they're going and how everything is going to end up; this is a conclusion that I couldn't have arrived at with quite as much confidence based on the first two seasons. It bodes well for the remaining 48 episodes, though I hope the ultimate resolution manages to live up to the standards the show has set for itself!

Despite my skepticism about the flashbacks remaining compelling for a third season, they do so for the most part. There are some nice variations on the flashback format that diverge from the norm, such as several flashbacks to events on the island itself. The characters we know and love are as well written as ever, and while their personalities are familiar the situations they are thrown into are fresh and manage to avoid things from becoming overly predictable (though some predictability from the characters is, and should be, expected by now). One complaint I had with last season has thankfully been addressed, and that's the relegation of supporting characters. It's still there to an extent, but this time round everyone pops up at routine intervals to make their presence felt, occasionally getting involved in events in a big way. The introduction of new regular characters Ben and Juliet (Elizabeth Mitchell) adds tremendously to the dynamic of the show; they have an enigmatic presence and interesting and completely unique backstories, and their proclivity for mindgames and questionable actions ratchets up the suspicion and hostility levels of the Losties to all new highs.

The cast is, predictably enough, as good as the last two seasons! Honestly, I can't point at any one of these actors and say they performed poorly, as they each acquit themselves well while bringing something unique to the table. There are a few who stand out though - the newcomers, Michael Emerson and Elizabeth Mitchell, are fantastic and it's amazing how compelling they are despite being, ostensibly, the villains. From the regulars, Josh Holloway steals the show at every turn with his sardonic attitude and wisecracks, and his Sawyer is now my favourite character. Terry O'Quinn is also excellent in the role of Locke, a character that you can love and hate with equal measure. Naveen Andrews as Sayid continues to be the pragmatic badass, and it was nice to see more of him after his limited presence in season 2. I must also mention Dominic Monaghan and Henry Ian Cusick, each of whom is great on their own but together make a terrific team full of fun banter (the British slang and Cusick's accent adds a lot of charm to their relationship, brutha!).

I'm not going to bother dwelling on the production values, which are up to the same high standards of the earlier seasons. I was pleased to note, however, that music plays a bigger role this season than the last; the lack of Giachhino's engaging music was another of my complaints regarding season 2.

Season 3 of 'Lost' is fantastic; sure, there are niggles here and there, such as the Nikki / Paulo moments (two additions to the group who are ultimately dealt with quite satisfactorily!), but they are few and far between. Overall, this is as good as the first season and an improvement over the second. 'Lost' continues to deliver an engaging and addictive mixture of character drama, action, adventure, comedy, romance, and mystery; the wait for Season 4 is going to be bloody interminable!

Monday, August 06, 2007

The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada (2005)

The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada (2005)

Tommy Lee Jones, best known as an actor, made his cinematic directorial debut with this non-mainstream film, and what a debut it is. "The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada" is, if the name doesn't give you enough of a hint, something decidedly idiosyncratic and unique; it's an unconventional character based 'western'.

Melquiades Estrada (Julio Cedillo) is an illegal Mexican alien living in Texas who gets a job working for Pete Perkins (Tommy Lee Jones). The two men are of a similar disposition and become fast friends. Mike Norton (Barry Pepper) is a Border Patrol officer who together with his wife Lou Ann (January Jones) moves into the small town where Perkins and Melquiades live. He's a brutal man who uses force against people attempting to cross the border at every opportunity. He accidentally shoots and kills Melquiades while on patrol, and hides the body away. It is later discovered but the local sheriff Belmont (Dwight Yoakam) decides not to pursue the case. Perkins is enraged, and upon learning that Mike Norton was responsible, he kidnaps him and takes him and the decomposing body of Melquiades on horseback towards Mexico to honour a promise he made to his friend - that he would bury him back in his hometown.

As they travel they encounter many obstacles, and the two of them develop a strange relationship, with Norton in particular taking an emotional and physical battering during his ordeal. In addition to the main narrative - which has a surprising and affecting conclusion - there are several substories relating to the protagonists, including a restaurant waitress named Rachel (Melissa Leo) and her relationship with the Sheriff, Perkins, and Lou Ann.

'Three Burials' is a fascinating film. It starts off with a fractured style that jumps back and forth in time setting up the events that lead to the journey of Perkins and Norton. Taken at face value it's a lean and simple story, but it is has complex representations of themes like friendship, honour, redemption, and faith deeply entwined into the fabric of the film. It also has rich characterization, with every character, even minor ones, being multi-faceted and believable. Both Perkins and Norton go through a profound emotional experience, with Perkins' faith being tested and Norton being slowly transformed into someone with humanity. While there is an overriding sense of stoicism and melancholy, the film is surprisingly funny at times and also has moments that exhibit a great deal of warmth. Also, the macabre aspects of hauling a rotting corpse are addressed and dealt with most satisfactorily! Adding to the character of the film are the simply gorgeous desolate vistas of rocky and desert landscapes and the restrained and subtle score that permeates the film.

The performances are uniformly great, but not in a showy way. Most of the emotions are played beneath the surface, and come to the fore only on select occasions. Tommy Lee Jones is fantastic as the unflappable and uncompromising Pete Perkins, but the real surprise comes from Barry Pepper who manages to believably turn his Mike Norton from someone wholly loathsome to someone sympathetic. The rest are very good in their roles, but the two who stood out the most for me were Julio Cedillo as Melquiades and Levon Helm as an old man encountered during the journey. Cedillo plays a key role in selling the friendship between Melquiades and Perkins, and his wistful longing for his home forms the basis for the journey that constitutes much of the film. The corpse of Melquaides makes a strong impression as well by the way, but I don't think it was Cedillo in those scenes, especially not when it gets set on fire. Levon Helm's role as a lonely old man living out a miserable existence in the middle of nowhere is a minor but memorable one.

As always I have to trot out the disclaimer that I'm not generally a fan of 'western' types of films, but there are some that demand recognition regardless of that fact, and 'The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada' is one of them. The film is always engaging and despite how outrageous events are it never rings false; Tommy Lee Jones has made a terrific film that deserves to be seen.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Stargate (1994)

Stargate (1994)

Amazing what time and a little objectivity can do. I never regarded this film as being great, but I remember it as being pretty good and fairly entertaining the last time I saw it. Seven or eight years later, watching 'Stargate' is a trying experience, because the film has not aged well at all.

The plot revolves around an ancient and mysterious ring like device discovered in Egypt. Dr. Daniel Jackson (James Spader), a historian/linguist with radical and unpopular views on ancient Egypt, is brought to a secret military base where he is tasked with deciphering the markings associated with the device. Jackson has the mystery cracked in a few weeks (after years of unsuccessful wheel spinning by the inept military boffins) and figures out how the 'Stargate' device works. Turns out it's a teleportation machine that links up to another Stargate on a distant planet. Dr Jackson accompanies a military team led by Colonel Jack O'Neil (Kurt Russell) to the alien world, only to discover that he can't re-open a portal back to earth without first locating some key information. Stuck on the planet, the group find a village / labour camp nearby and befriend the locals, but the arrival of the evil alien Ra (Jaye Davidson) - he of Egyptian mythology, who here is worshipped by the planet's people - in a giant pyramidal space ship throws a spanner in the works.

'Stargate' has a pretty interesting, if not exactly original, concept - a powerful alien traveling the cosmos as a god and subjugating people taken from the earth thousands of years in the past, an entire culture and language based upon the society created by said god, and a nifty teleportation system. The designs and locales are also very cool, obviously owing much to real ancient Egyptian society.

Having said that, the problems are many. The story is sketchy at best, but worse still is the actual script which sees things happening in the most perfunctory and unconvincing manner possible. There's not even the slightest attempt at grounding the film in anything that remotely approaches reality. Jackson cracks the secrets of the Stargate almost randomly, this after having put the rest of the experts to shame mere minutes after his arrival on the military base. He then manages to get a team sent to the planet without explaining to anyone exactly how he's going to get them back - apparently he's still the only one who can understand how the Stargate works even after he's explained it to them! Once on the planet, Jackson just happens to accidentally get dragged to the nearby village by a really fake looking alien creature. The military team that is sent in have no clearly defined mission (apart from Colonel O'Neal's super secret one) - what did the rest of these eggheads think they were supposed to be doing on the planet? There are poorly executed cliches aplenty as well, with 'comical' communication mishaps with the natives, inept gung ho soldiers (atrociously cast and acted), overblown military blowhards, hollow comic relief, and an unlikely and unconvincing romance, to name a few.

As I said earlier, there's no sense of reality. Humans have discovered the presence of alien life, alien technology thousands of years old, teleportation to a planet thousands of light years away, and a completely alien culture living there, and yet none of this appears profound to anyone in the film, and to most it's not even remotely interesting! Despite outward appearances 'Stargate' isn't even sci-fi light, with its few interesting ideas touched upon only superficially. The irony is that the film plays it all straight, as if it were a serious sci-fi epic, which further compounds its badness. As an adventure film, it isn't that exciting either. Apart from a few spectacular money shots that establish the scope of the film, most of it is fairly small scale, unexciting and dull. The action scenes that take place are dreadful, lacking in tension and shot and edited more like a TV show from the eighties than a big budget movie. The effects may have been state of the art at the time, but apart from the Stargate effect the rest of it is fairly generic and unimaginative. As for the characterization, it's non existent, and the resultant interaction between characters is humdrum. Spader and Russell are adequate in their roles, but pretty much everyone else is forgettable with the exception of Jaye Davison, who is quite good as the creepy and malevolent Ra.

The best things about 'Stargate' are its visuals from a design standpoint, the music - in particular, the memorable main theme - and the decent to mediocre TV show that it inspired, which actually developed the overall idea in a far more interesting way than the movie. Today's vapid spectacles easily trump this in terms of action and effects, so even if it had those things going for it in 1994, it's truly redundant now. It's true that apart from the script no other aspect of the film truly stinks; but is "doesn't completely suck" the type of accolade one would use to describe a film worth watching? Nope.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Season 3 of Lost Ends Spectacularly!

Whoa! The fantastic third season of Lost, which I've just finished watching, ends with one of the best season ending cliffhangers I've ever seen. I had a few complaints about the second season, but this season is quite a bit stronger, with the last half in particular being absolutely riveting. A lot of things are explained, other things are hinted at, and in typical Lost fashion, a whole new boatload of questions are raised. The show-runners claim to have the story all laid out now and will be doling it out over another 48 episodes (3 seasons of 16 episodes each), and based on how things are starting to come together I don't doubt their claims.

Surprisingly, despite my skepticism about the writers' ability to keep the flashbacks interesting, they managed to do so with aplomb. The introduction of two major new and compelling characters helped. The final episode saw the departure of one of my favourite characters in moving and heroic fashion. The episode also hints at all kinds of possibilities, with a potential new structure for the show and a new story thread that one couldn't possibly have seen coming. It's going to be a long wait till early 2008, that's for sure... More detailed thoughts on this season to come later...

Also, who the hell was in that bloody coffin???

Blade Runner DVD Release!

I wrote over a year ago about how I was looking forward to the highly anticipated release of the 'Final Cut' of Ridley Scott's 'Blade Runner', a cleaned up and patched up definitive version of the film on DVD together with comprehensive extras put together by acclaimed DVD producer Charles de Lauzirika. Well, it's finally been officially announced! Bloody hell does that look like a spectacular DVD release or what? I say again... can... not... wait! To my mind this is the last major classic film that's been crying out for a great DVD release (of the types of films that are conducive to fabulous special edition DVDs, at any rate), and it's finally on the way for real!