27 March 2011

X2: X-Men United (2003)

Wolverine: You picked the wrong house, bub.

And right there in the quote I chose for this film, I represent again how well X-Men set up for this movie.  Intentional or not, to me this hearkens back to the line in X-Men where Professor X pities the poor fools who choose to attack his school.

In this case, the attacker is one Stryker, the person responsible for Wolverine's adamantium skeleton.  Stryker would like to destroy all the mutants in the world because Prof. X couldn't help Stryker's powerfully mutant son.  So in one of the most ill advised moves in cinema history, Stryker attacks Xavier's school, so he can kidnap some of the kids and test his mutant killing version of Cerebro.  Bad idea.  Yes, he does take some, but I maintain Stryker's team got the shorter end of the stick.

Speaking of mutants, we also get to see Nightcrawler.  Very cool, very well done.  And he didn't even need to tell us he's invincible.  (Bond joke there.  Look up Alan Cumming, and Goldeneye)

But wait!  In one of my favorite escape scenes, Mystique has injected a guard with iron who somehow gets past the metal detector and walks into Magneto's  plastic cell.  So, Magneto extracts the lead from the poor guard and escapes with a certain panache.  All hell begins to break loose.  Of course, Magneto wants to kill all the humans.  Magneto and Stryker meet, hugs and kisses ensue.

Um, no.  We all meet up at Alkali Lake, the location of Stryker's super secret love shack.  And just as all the mutants are about to be destroyed, Magneto shows up and starts the process on destroying all the humans!

Well, that's not really that important.  No one side gets obliterated.  What we do get is Jean Grey dieing, and setting up for what should be a pretty bad ass telling of the Dark Phoenix saga.

What we got was X-Men: The Last Stand.  Which isn't completely fair, as I think X-Men: The Last stand is pretty decent, but I won't be going into that here.

24 March 2011

X-Men (2000)

Cyclops: Well, what would you prefer? Yellow spandex?

Going into this movie, oh, 11 or so years ago, I knew very little about X-Men other than names of the characters and their powers.  So, I went into this movie with no expectations other than to be entertained.  And I was not disappointed.  This is a great super hero movie.  One of my favorites.

Plot here is simple.  Magneto wants to take over the world, and Professor X is going to stop him.  In the process of this occurring, we are introduced to some of the bigger X-Men and villains.  Cyclops.  Wolverine.  Rouge.  Mystique.  Storm. Toad.

One of the things I forgot about this movie was how well it set up for X2.  One of the cleanest endings to any movie with a predictable sequel.  Not much to review here, just a simple super hero action movie.

I give it 8/13 X-Men

Captain America: The First Avenger FTW!!!

23 March 2011

Star Trek: Generations (1994)

Harriman: It doesn't arrive until Tuesday.
Kirk: Who am I to argue with the captain of the Enterprise? 

Time to boldly go where so many have gone before... reviewing Star Trek movies.

To start with, I'll introduce a segment specific to the Next Generation movies... I call it, Where did Worf come from?

Where Did Worf Come From?
This is an easy one.  At this point he is still assigned to the Enterprise D, so it makes perfect sense that he is in this movie.

So, now that that part is taken care of...

We will address this as Kirk's Time, Picard's Time and Combo!

Kirk's Time
William Shatner returns to the role of Kirk with the same enthusiasm that he first brought to the role all those years ago.  You can clearly see Kirk's discomfort at being on the bridge of a ship named Enterprise, and not be in command.  This is not forced from Mr. Shatner, and lends a lot of credibility to these scenes.  Alan Ruck as Capitan Harriman was perfect.  Mr. Ruck perfectly portrays that sense of awe and nerves being in the presence of living legends. His continual looks to Kirk during the rescue mission were well played and quite believable.

And then it starts to fall apart a bit.

Really?  One of the greatest commanders that Starfleet has ever known goes down to reprogram the main deflector?  *sigh* ok, fine.  I understand this is all part of the plot but still...

Anyway, Kirk dies when the Nexus bitch slaps the Enterprise-B.  Kudos to James Doohan at this moment.  His reaction was well done, and still sends a shiver down my spine to this day.

Picard's Time
To start with, we get Worf's promotion to Lt. Commander.  Its about time! An amusing scene here sets up one of the subplots for the rest of the movie which is Data's decision to install his fucking emotion chip.  This becomes probably the most annoying part of this movie.

Speaking of annoying...

Would it have killed the lighting department to turn on a few lights?  The majority of the Picard's time scenes were barely lit, and was very distracting.

We see Picard get all emotional as he deals with the death of his brother and nephew.  Nice scenes, but pretty much dropped after this episode.... er movie.

So, needless to say, Kirk and Picard meet in the Nexus to take down Soren who apparently couldn't handle being rescued by the Enterprise-B as well as Guinan did.  Cause Guianan and Soren were total pals and on the same ship that the Enterprise-B saved.  Oh right, we STILL don't quite know how Guinana and Picard know each other, but we get to see her quarters...

So, theres some exposition, fighting and Kirk dies.  Yup, they kill off Kirk.  Which, I dunno.  It was good as a passing of the torch kinda moment.  I think though that they could have done a Next Gen movie without Kirk.  But worry not!  William Shatner brings Kirk back to life in the non-canon books.

I wanted one scene with an Admiral reaming out Picard for not keeping Kirk alive...but that's just me.

Final notes:
Lursa and B'etor make an appearance as Soren's lackeys.  One of the better random parts of this movie.  I liked it.  Plus they are responsible for the destruction of the Enterprise-D.  But they die and can't get all the Klingon cred they want.

Uniforms:  Pick one and stay with it.  I understand you wanted to use the DS9 uniforms, but it got distracting seeing two different styles of uniform.

Its all ok though.  First Contact is coming.

I give this 4.3/7 Tuesday deliveries.

15 March 2011

The Starter by Scott Sigler

The Starter is the second book in the Galactic Football League Trilogy, written by Scott Sigler.  What is the Galactic Football League you ask?  Well, its a football league that encompasses the galaxy.  Clearly, we are not talking your basic football story here.  Set some 600 years in the future, The Starter follows the Ionath Krakens as they play to stay in Tier One of the Galactic Football Leauge.  We saw their ascent to Tier One at the end of 'The Rookie', which is the first book of a planned seven.

The starter in question is one Quentin Barnes, a young 19 year old quarterback for the Krakens.  He is from a world where he has been taught that all other races are inferior to humans.  Talk about culture shock when he joins the Krakens!  There are humanoids with blue skin, Heavy G humans, Ki, Sklorno, Creterakians, and a variety of other races thrown in the mix.  While most of Quentin's culture shock is portrayed in The Rookie, there are still situations in this book that bring out the indoctrination of his early years.

But beyond that this book is about football.  Its also about gangsters, which means its also about money.  Believe it or not, once football spread through the galaxy, it got pretty corrupt!  Players also die on a regular basis.  Even with high tech football armor, the sizes of the players involved still cause massive injuries as they crash together on the field of battle.  Quentin, standing at nearly 7 feet, is about an average hight for the players.

Using his deep knowledge of football, Mr. Sigler perfectly breaks down the action, so even this football illiterate reader can understand and follow the plays on the field.  You feel like you are there with the Krakens as they win, lose and travel the galaxy.

I don't want to go into too much more detail, but needless to say, I can't wait for the third book, The All-Pro.  This is a blend of football, mafia stories and sci-fi.  There is a little bit of everything for everybody in this book.

I give it 4/5 touchdowns.

BLOGGER's NOTE:  This post was edited on 17 MAR 11 to reflect the corrections made by the author of this series himself, Mr. Scott Sigler.  My poor research (or bad memory) caused me to incorrectly list the title of the next book, and also to think this was a trilogy.  In fact, it will consist of a planned seven books.  My apologies to Mr. Sigler.

13 March 2011

Cop Out (2010)

Jimmy Monroe: I was in the moment and the moment said smack ya.

I almost wish someone would have smacked me at some point during this movie.  After being so used to watching movies that Kevin Smith both wrote and directed to see one that he only directed was a bit... distracting.  The direction was great in this movie, but the writing was a bit weak I felt.

There were however, some strong points.  The opening interrogation scene was great, as Tracy Morgan's Paul Hodges spouted off movie quotes from cop movies.  Of course there was a 'Yippie-ki-yay motherfucker' to which Bruce Willis's Jimmy Monroe responded: 'Never saw that movie'  However, I saw that line coming.

In short, Hodges and Monroe are suspended after a botched bust, and Monroe needs lots of cash to pay for his daughter's wedding.  Insert the needing to sell a rare baseball card, Sean William Scott stealing said card, and then hijinks's ensue as Hodges and Monroe track it down.

In the end, the card is made worthless, and Monroe's ex-wife's rich husband (played by Jason Lee) ends up paying for the wedding.  The movie felt very uneven, with another high point being Kevin Pollack's DeNeiro impersonation.

I dunno.  The acting was tolerable, but I think part of that was due to the actors and not the writing.  I also think that Kevin Smith should stick to directing his own writing, or be a little more picky when choosing other's writing to direct.  It was like the directing and acting was at a 8, but the writing was somewhere around a 5.

I give it 5/9 stolen baseball cards.

Salt (2010)

Evelyn Salt: By this, I take it you think everybody is who they say they are.

That quote right there is a pretty good summation of the movie.  Angelina Jolie plays Evelyn Salt, a CIA spy in their Russian house.  One fine day, a Russian national walks into the CIA cover business where she works and offers up some tasty pieces of information.  Apparently Evelyn Salt is a Russian agent who will kill the Russian President the very next day.  Clearly, Evelyn claims she is no Russian spy.

We think.  She leads us to believe.  Kinda.  Turns out she is, as we see through flashbacks her training as part of a super dooper double secret KGB program to replace American children with Russian sleeper agents.

And apparently they are everywhere.

I don't want to give too much more away, but no one is quite who they say they are, nor are they doing exactly what you would think they should.  Fun movie, kept ya guessing pretty much right up until the end.  The ending was predictableish; sequel chances I'd say are 20%.

I give it 12/15 cover stories.

12 March 2011

Mortal Kombat: Annihiliation (1997)

Rayden: I am proud to die... a mortal

Ya, well as we saw with the end of Mortal Kombat, a sequel was pretty much a guarantee.  And we got this.  Don't get me wrong, parts of the movie are quite entertaining.  But overall, it was forced and an excuse to get more MK characters on the screen.  Some though, were not named or only on screen briefly, so the appeal of this movie was more towards the hardcore players of the game.

One part of the games is that in addition to fatalities, the characters could also execute animalities.  Yo know, change into an animal and finish off their opponent.  *sigh*  I was not a fan of them in the game, and here they fell flat.

Not to mention the lack of the return of most of the cast from the first one.  Liu Kang and Kitana are the only actors to return.  Unless you also count Johnny Cage, who i killed five minutes in.  Clancy Brown look alike James Remmer played Raiden this time around.  And ya, he brought a certain something to the role that Christopher Lambert didn't.  I dunno.  This was not a film that lived up to its predecessor.

Fun yes. Worth watching?  Yes, but as background noise.  Nothing here really that requires great thought or attention.

I give it 3/5 useless character cameos.

The Other Guys (2010)

P.K. Highsmith: Did someone call 9-1-holy shit!'

Man, oh man did I love this movie.  From the opening narration (done by Ice-T) to the adventures of Highsmith (Samuel L. Jackson) and Danson (Dwayne Johnson) this movie delivered.

And then we got to the other guys (see what I did there?)

In short, Highsmith and Danson meet an...epic end, and there is a void to be filled in the NYPD.  Who but to fill this void but Gamble (Will Ferrell) and Hoitz (Mark Wahlberg)?  Gamble is a forensic accountant who gets on the track of some shad scaffolding permits, and leads him to an embezzlement scheme where the target is the police pension funds.  His partner Hoitz (who once shot a famous person) is less than enthusiastic about this plan.  Major Payne Damon Waynes also stars as a fellow cop and Bruce Wayne Michael Keaton plays their captain...who also works at Bed, Bath and Beyond.

Anyway... oh, did I mention that Eva Mendes plays Gamble's wife?  That gets played out for a couple of good laughs.

Lets see, what else...Oh!  There were two henchmen that I am certain were meant as a nod to Sammy Jacksons character from Pulp Ficton and Uma Thurman's character from the same movie.

While overall a very funny and entertaining movie, the end credits left me with possibly a different take on the movies message.  The end credits are played over slides of information showing how CEOs and banks have tons of money and such.  Given that the movie focuses on taking down a huge investor, is the director trying to send a message about the state of banks in America?  I doubt it, but it does make one pause and re think the movie.

I give this 4/5 desk pops.

08 March 2011

Some of the bigger TV cliffhangers known to man...

TV's Biggest Unresolved Cliffhangers - UGO.com

Once again I bring you commentary on a list found amongst the piles of information that can be, um, found on the  Internet.

In this instance, its a list of the (allegedly) biggest cliffhangers that the producers of television have foisted upon us.  I'm going to come right out and share what number one is, mostly because I disagree with it whole heartedly.


Yup, the painfully obvious choice.  I discount this from ANY spot on the list because unlike some other notables on the list, LOST knew it was ending.  They had plenty of time to give us the answers they wanted to.  I for one am satisfied with all the closure that LOST gave us.

Moving on...

I have not seen everything on this list, so I will contain my ramblings to those shows of which I have personal frustrations.  That being said, our first contestant is...

24. Star Trek: The Next Generation - 'Conspiracy'
This is one that I'm ok with never being resolved.  The short version is that Picard and Riker find out that Starfleet Command has an Invasion of the Body Snatchers thing going on.  At the end of the episode the parasites have sent a message into the great unknown.  And they are never heard from again.  This was written and aired before the onset of overall story arcs, so never resolving it doesn't bother me.  There was more than enough awesome to go around in TNG.

19. Tru Calling
19?  19?!?!  Seriously, this needs to be a bit higher.  Yes, the first season was uneven, but it ended with the question of who is doing the right thing... Tru, by saving people, or her nemesis Jack from making sure those same people die.  In the second season, the idea of what happens if Tru saves somebody who did not ask for her help was setting up for even more awesome.  Oh, and did I mention that Tru's mom had the same power and her dad shared Jack's?  Um, ya.  Needed some serious closure there.

14. Flash Forward
Ya, this one I'm meh about.  Decent show, but plagued by show runner issues it never caught on like it should have.  Yes, the ending was non conclusive, but it worked.

11. Carnivale
Ladies and gentlemen, I present you with what should have been number one.  Out of all the shows I've listed thus far, THIS had the biggest of all the cliff hangers.  The ending shots offered so much potential of what could have happened, and to have it just end...  damn you HBO, damn you.

9. The Sopranos
And here is the other predictable one.  I for one LOVED the ending to The Sopranos, after yelling at my TV. Dead or alive, the Soprano family lives on.

Honorable Mention, or lack thereof

Journeyman.  A Quantum Leap-esq show, this dealt with the main character who was  being thrown through time to figure something out.  I don't remeber much, other than this show was awesome.

05 March 2011

Mortal Kombat (1995)

Shang Tsung: Flawless victory!

It is with great geeky glee I write this review.

I never really played the games as much as some of my friends, but when I heard about this movie, I remember being quite excited for it.

In short, this movie is based on the video game franchise of the same name.  Several of Earth's heroes (Liu Kang, Sonya Blade, Johnny Cage) are persuaded, tricked and trapped into going to the realm of Shang Tsung, a real bad ass sorcerer.  But, good for the Earth Realm peeps, they have the Thunder God Raiden along to help them out as he can.  In the end, the Earth heroes defeat Goro, Kano, Sub-Zero, Scorpion, Reptile and Shang Tsung to protect Earth Realm.  Oh, did I mention that if they lost, that would mean 10 straight victories for Shang Tsung?  Yup, after 10 straight victories that means our world is toasty.  However, all is not well as at the end of the movie, the Emperor Shao Khan appears, and challenges the victory, shall we say.

This was a very well done movie.  Plot, pacing and cinematography are awesome.  Cast is nothing special, with the exception of Christopher Lambert as Raiden.  Also, it seems that Cameron Diaz was originally cast as Sonya Blade.  I read this before I watched the movie, and tried picturing Ms. Diaz in the role.  Wasn't working for me, so I'm glad she ended up not filming the part.

Of course, this spawned a sequel, but that is for a different time.

I give this 4/5 fatalities.

04 March 2011

Double dose of George RR Martin News...

George RR Martin fans rejoice!  Not only did Entertainment Weekly post this AWESOME trailer for the new HBO series...

Go ahead, watch it, I'll wait...

Game of Thrones trailer

Pretty awesome, huh?

But, the next book in the series got its release date!!  Woo Hoo!!

A Dance With Dragons release date...

July 12th of this very year will see the release of this book...

Ya... its a good day to be a George RR Martin fan...