Archive for the 'Reviews' Category

Apr 22 2014

Hannibal Review: “Su-zakana”

Published by under Reviews,Television

crimescene

“I’m a good fisherman, Jack.”
“You hook him, I’ll land him.”

Even through Hannibal’s plots and relationships are under more strain than ever in a lot of ways, “Su-zakana” returns this incredible show to it’s “murderer of the week” format. The episode, whose title refers to a Japanese palate cleanser, brings us a nightmarish (pun intended) scenario involving a corpse sewed into the uterus of a dead horse. Vintage Hannibal, you might say, if the word “vintage” can refer to a single season earlier.

Still, despite the way that Season Two has — to quote creator Bryan Fuller — “reset” Hannibal’s storytelling, the show cannily manages to move onward and upward instead of simply stalling out.

Exhibit A: Will’s ongoing psychological seduction of Hannibal Lecter. The quote at the head of this writeup comes from the opening ice fishing scene, wherein Jack complains about how much harder it is to catch a fish in the cold, when he’s not even hungry. The parallels to the Lecter situation are blindingly obvious, revealing a fascinating dynamic at play. In short, Will seems to be using himself as bait to expose Hannibal Lecter’s, um, sordid habits.

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Apr 16 2014

Space Dandy: An Inconsequentially Entertaining Anime Acid Trip… In Space!

Published by under Reviews,Television

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Space Dandy is the latest anime from legendary director Shinichiro Watanabe, creator of the gold-standard series Cowboy Bebop and Samurai Champloo. The show is a sci-fi, action, adventure, comedy mishmash that, to quote Bender, “transcends genres even as it reinvents them.” Borrowing trappings from every anime stereotype imaginable as well as Western cultural artifacts like 70s cop dramas or Elvis’s beach movies from the 50s, Space Dandy proves itself a satisfying romp through the cosmos, albeit with little message or consequence. And that’s just fine with me.

A proverbial “show about nothing” in the tradition of Seinfeld or the film The Big Lebowski, Space Dandy is all about having fun with a cast of quirky reprobates. The episodic nature of the show often throws continuity out the window; the plots run the gamut from thrilling to disposable, and they never advance past one episode despite the inclusion of the iconic tsuzuku message before the credits (which translates roughly as “To be continued…”).

In Space Dandy, though, nothing ever does continue. Each episode starts off on the same footing, and even if the eponymous hero is blown up in a planet-engulfing fireball, he’ll be back next week with no explanation needed. Thus, in Space Dandy‘s universe, death is a meaningless setback between episodes. The audience is challenged to forget their notions of causality and sit back and have some fun. Continue Reading »

2 responses so far


Apr 14 2014

Hannibal Review: “Yakimono”

Published by under Reviews,Television

Hannibal - Season 2

Well, the mystery of what Hannibal Lecter was up to in the cliffhanger from last week’s episode had a hell of an answer.

What seemed like a possibly overconfident misstep from fiction’s most famous cannibal turned out to be something of a macabre masterstroke. Hannibal’s unconventional pastimes have been closer and closer to being discovered, but throwing the Miriam Lass wrench into the machine completely upended the course Jack was on.

It also brings us one of the more emotionally potent episodes of the season, and an hour of television that just lays out one ballsy reveal after another. The edges of Hannibal’s plan are beginning to come into view, and it’s gonna be a whopper.

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Apr 14 2014

Game of Thrones Review: “The Lion and the Rose”

Published by under Reviews,Television

lion

The Purple Wedding has arrived.

I’m going to go ahead and ward everyone away who hasn’t watched last night’s episode yet, as there’s really no way to start this review without talking about the biggest event of the night, and what will likely be the biggest event of the season.

Are they gone?

Alright then. Continue Reading »

8 responses so far


Apr 10 2014

You Should Netflix This Now: Blue Is The Warmest Color

Published by under Movies,Reviews

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Right off the bat, let me just say that you should NOT Netflix this now.  At least not “now” in the literal sense.  Blue Is The Warmest Color is a film you have to gear up for.  Not so much in the emotional sense where you’re strapping in to watch 12 Years A Slave and feel absolutely awful for the next 24 to 48 hours.  No, this is more in the practical sense.  There are four things you should know before you go into this one:

1. Weighing in at a hefty 179 minutes, it’s just a hair under 3 hours long.

2. It’s in French.

3. It contains the most graphic, explicit, long sex scenes I’ve ever personally seen in a film.

4. It’s a pretty fantastic movie.

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3 responses so far


Apr 07 2014

The Walking Dead, Season Two, Episode Two: The Toughest Choices You Will Ever Make In A Game

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I sat there, looking at the two tables full of my friends eating. The thing is, there was a clear rift between the two parties at the two tables. A sort of invisible divide between them. I knew it, and they knew it. But there I was, holding my dinner plate of beans and peaches, watching them both gesture for me to come sit with them. Up to this point, there have been moments when I have literally had to choose between which of my friends lived and which ones died an awful, violent death. Hell, in former episodes, I even had to put a bullet in the head of a child, and had mistakenly killed a woman I thought may have been a walker (but wasn’t).

Even with those things considered, picking who I would sit and eat with and who I would alienate proved to be the hardest choice I have had to make yet in a Walking Dead game. That, my friends, is why this series is one of the best series in gaming right now, and EASILY trumps the show and comic it is based on. This is my unofficial (spoiler free) review of Telltale’s Walking Dead game, season two, episode two. Aptly named, A House Divided. Keep in mind, this (sort of) review (sort of dialogue) will be very vague about plot points and specifics, as the experience of the narrative is most of what makes this game so great, and I refuse to risk ruining any nuance of that for you guys. Also, the game plays out very differently for everyone, as decisions you make dictate the story, and we may not have made the same decisions up to this point.

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Apr 07 2014

Game of Thrones Review: “Two Swords”

Published by under Reviews,Television

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Game of Thrones is back for season four, finishing off the second half (and maybe more) of George RR Martin’s third book. Fortunately, there’s so much action packed into Storm of Swords, it can easily create two incredibly impactful seasons, and I think most people are still reeling from last year’s Red Wedding. A TV massacre truly without equal.

Season four didn’t exactly start out with anything like an upheaval. Rather, it was more about setting the stage for what’s to come, and as such we got to touch base with I think nearly every major group of the show, a rarity for the program, and also meet a few of the new characters as well.

King’s Landing is buzzing with preparations for Joffrey’s wedding to Maegary Tyrell, who had the best line of the night referencing Joffrey’s necklace of “dead sparrow heads.” Joffrey didn’t do anything too terrible other than make fun of uncle-father Jaime, who is finding readjusting to life post-capture rather hard.

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Jaime is perhaps the most interesting character going forward for the show. Cersei has rejected his affections, though I’m not precisely sure why. Yes, he was gone a while and lost his hand, but what has turned her away from him to such a degree? Jaime’s father wants him to essentially retire while Brienne is badgering him about “protecting” Sansa, though he has no idea what he’s really supposed to do about that.

In short, Jaime lost nearly everything about himself when he lost his hand, and it’s going to take some time to find himself again. I love Jaime because of the transformation he’s undergone, not just physically, but mentally and emotionally, and that’s only going to continue over time.

Cracks are beginning to form between Shae and Tyrion who rejects sexy fun time because he’s too stressed about his borderline suicidal wife. Sansa has found a new friend in the form of the drunk Ser Dontos, who the “previously on” scenes were careful to reference so we remembered who he was. She’s rather despondent as per usual, and the Red Wedding has affected her more than anyone else. She’s practically a ghost, wandering the halls of King’s Landing, forever grieving as her family members keep getting massacred. I don’t think she knows if any of her family is still alive at all, other than possibly Jon Snow, if she even counts him.

We did go up to the wall briefly where we see that Jon Snow is getting hounded by the new ruling party of the Night’s Watch, ie. that one guy that hates him and that shitty guy who Tyrion fired from security duties at King’s Landing. Snow warns of a massive Wildling attack, and Maester Aemon forces the others to forgive him for his sexy crime of bedding a Wildling girl. And you know, betrayal and all that other stuff. Surprisingly, we saw Ygrette and Tormund even without Snow, as they now have to deal with the menacing Magnar of Thenn, aka the terrifying Albino from Banshee. The Thenns are cannibals, so that’s fun.

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Across like six million oceans and continents is Dany, plotting her next slave-city conquest as her dragons get scary big. The black one, Drogon, is becoming a giant compared to the others, and she’s losing control of them. Will she maintain enough influence to actually be able to ride them at some point? Also, we got our first look at the new Daario, which frankly, is a welcome change. The other actor felt weirdly out of place on the show, and I like the new one quite a bit more. He’s got personality while the other was just a pretty face. Dany accepts his flowers, and who knows what else from him in the future. God, she’s so freaking tiny. I only just noticed that when she was walking through her army. Girl needs some heels. Or you know, a dragon to ride.

The most major new cast addition would be Oberyn Martell of Dorne, whom we meet in a rather dramatic fashion as he rolls through a whorehouse stripping women and stabbing Lannisters. We learn that his whole family has a grudge against the Lannisters as they murdered the children borne by his sister to Rhaegar Targaryen as they swept out the dragon-clan from King’s Landing. With Joffrey’s wedding coming up, all eyes turn to him to see if he’s going to try anything. Soon we’ll get to meet the recast Mountain too, I imagine.

Finally, we get to see Arya get some measure of revenge against the men who killed her friend and captured her long ago. That was an exceptionally badass bar brawl, and Arya was downright cold-blooded once she got in on the action. For some reason, that Needle to the throat kill was one of the most brutal I’ve ever seen on the show, just for how long it was dragged out. Though the Hound impaling that dude’s face on his own knife was pretty rough as well. Arya’s slow transformation into badass killer begins, it seems, which is all we’ve ever wanted for her.

I didn’t watch upcoming scenes so I don’t know if the wedding is next week, but I’m going to guess it’s episode three, just for the amount of set-up it needs. And it will be worth waiting for, I imagine.

Book Stuff (spoilers ahead)

- I was surprised to see them bring Dontos back, and he gives Sansa a necklace rather than a hair net (which is a little less odd). I half expected them to just do away with Dontos and have Petyr Baelish make his intentions somewhat more clear, but it seems they want to keep his involvement a secret like it was in the books. We didn’t see him at all last night.

- I think the show is already setting up Shae’s betrayal of Tyrion better than the book did. I didn’t quite understand why she turned against him, but here, the cracks between them are a lot more obvious. He’s distant, she’s jealous, it will make sense when it happens. Though I don’t remember them being found out by that servant girl, who tells Cersei what’s going on. How will that play into things? Is that how Tywin finds out about her?

- How long will it take for Jaime to get his sword mojo back? Two and a half books later, and he’s just barely starting to be able to wield a sword again. Will he really be out of combat commission for that long, or will they allow him to recover more quickly?

- I’m glad the book isn’t ignoring details like Dontos or the City Watch guy becoming a Crow. It would be easy to simply forget stuff like that, but detail is important.

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- I don’t think Dorne has really been set up too well to this point. I have to imagine show-only-watchers don’t have any idea where Dorne is and who the Martells are. Though to be fair, when we do go to Dorne later in the books, it’s one of the worst sub-plots, right alongside the Iron Islands. Speaking of, where is Reek and the Bastard of Bolton?

- I expect to see relatively little of Bran this season. We’ll meet Coldhands, but Bran’s story is just not that interesting, and I don’t think we’ll see him more than a handful of times.

- I wonder how Ygrette’s death will be handled. It seemed like something of an anti-climax in the book, though now the show is actually giving the Wildling her own segments. Perhaps it’s so the audience gets more attached to her.

- Who gets the other sword? I can’t recall.

- What were Cersei’s “symptoms” that Qyburn was referencing? I honestly can’t remember what that’s about.

- Last season I had JUST read all the books so everything was fresh, but now my knowledge will be a bit more hazy as I’m further away. Apologies if I say anything stupid as a result, and feel free to correct me. Please tag comments with “BOOK SPOILERS” if they apply.

8 responses so far


Apr 03 2014

Unreal Movie Review: Noah

Published by under Movies,Reviews

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It was a rather perplexing thought. Why is director Darren Aronofsky, of Requiem for a Dream, The Fountain and Black Swan, directing an apparently spring blockbuster about the biblical story of Noah? Why would he leave his old friend Hugh Jackman hanging in The Wolverine to do this instead?

At first, it seemed like a possible cash grab, something uncharacteristic for the director. Bible movies/shows are big business, as evidenced by the History miniseries and Mel Gibson’s mammoth hit, The Passion of the Christ. Noah is certainly a Bible story that could be reworked into a CGI-filled blockbuster, but Aronofsky always seemed like an odd choice to helm something like that. Roland Emmerich would have made perfect sense.

But we should have known better. Aronofsky’s Noah is perhaps a bit more accessible than his other work, but still feels distinctly like it’s his. And outside of a select few “battle” scenes, it’s not really the blockbuster the ad campaign claimed.

Rather Aronofsky’s film is a surprisingly personal look the character of Noah himself, and an exploration of what faith means. Ahead of release, critics were saying the film supposedly made no reference to God, which is technically true. The word “God” isn’t uttered, but he is a distinct presence, and called the “Creator” instead. Noah’s relationship with him is the basis for the film, but it’s more complicated than the original Bible story would suggest. Continue Reading »

7 responses so far


Mar 31 2014

The Walking Dead Review: “A”

Published by under Reviews,Television

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Two plotlines became quick and bloody during last night’s finale, one ending and another beginning. As expected, Daryl’s new posse of bandit rapists caught up to Rick, Michonne and Carl and proved that yes, they were indeed bandit rapists.

As soon as I saw the odds, that it was the show’s three biggest badasses (and Carl, but he’s not so bad himself these days) against “only” five guys, it was clear what was going to happen. Rick specifically displayed brutality that we’ve never seen from him on that level before, pulling a Jack Bauer and ripping out Joe’s carotid artery with his teeth. After that, it was all downhill for the bandits, with Rick saving the worst for the leering creep who was about to try and rape Carl.

They got exactly what was coming to them, though I am surprised that wrapped up so abruptly and relatively neatly. I think Daryl sort of got off easy with Rick in terms of palling around with those guys, and it’s hard to know what Carl is even thinking these days. Kid has to be so messed up now, nothing phases him, though almost getting raped was cause for his head on Michonne’s lap in this case, which you can hardly blame him for.

The entire evening was interspersed with flashbacks of Herschel’s (wrong) advice that Rick could totally just be a peaceful gardener and teach his son to be the same. I’m not sure we needed an outright onscreen reminder of how much things had dissolved since the prison, but it was nice to see Herschel again at least. Though nothing is more forced than a scene where Walking Dead actors are forced to laugh after years of scowling and screaming. Continue Reading »

2 responses so far


Mar 25 2014

Unreal Movie Review: “300: Rise of an Empire”

Published by under Movies,Reviews

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300 remains one of my all time favorite guilty pleasures. It’s absolutely absurd, visually fantastic, and cemented Zack Snyder as a blockbuster director with a style all his own (for better or worse). In terms of pure entertainment value, I don’t think you get much better than the stupid fun of the original 300, every cheesy line quotable, every fight scene memorable.

But even through all that, a sequel never seemed like a good idea.

It was long joked about what “301″ might look like. Zombie Leonidas rises from the grave to fight Xerxes’ hordes, and such. But the actual sequel draws on more Greek history, and isn’t really a sequel at all, nor a prequel. I’m actually not quite sure what to call a movie that takes place in a parallel timeline to the original film. But that’s exactly how Rise of an Empire is structured.

While Leonidas holds off Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro) at the hot gates with his Spartans, one of the Persian’s top generals, Artemisa (Eva Green) assaults the Greek with her powerful navy. She does battle with a Greek hero named Themistocles (Sullivan Stapelton) who killed Xerxes’ father King Darius a decade ago, as he tries to unite the Greek city-states to take on the Persians as a unified unit. Continue Reading »

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Mar 24 2014

The Walking Dead Review: “Us”

Published by under Movies,Reviews

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The long, hard march to Terminus continued this week on The Walking Dead, and for some, surprisingly, it actually ended. I figured the big reunion and Terminus reveal would be in the finale, but a few major events happened a week early. Two large group blobs merged as Glenn reunited with Maggie, and in the end, they wandered through the weirdly open gates of this new “haven.”

Time was mostly split between Glenn, Tara and their new merry band of world-savers, and then Daryl learning to assimilate with his new wolf pack. Or should I say, “outdoor cats.”

I’m still not sure what to make of the new group of Abraham, Rosita and Eugene. Though the entire series is based on a graphic novel, Abraham and Eugene are the characters that have most felt like cartoons that we’ve come across in all four seasons of the show. I’d include Rosita in that as well, but they made her stop dressing like a Latino Lara Croft, and replaced her conspicuous booty shorts and tank top with an actual pants and jacket.

Abraham I like, because I was expecting him to be a new villain, but he’s turned out to be a pretty good guy, at least so far. He’s a badass without being brooding and dour, which is often the case between Rick, Michonne, Daryl and Tyreese. He is cartoony (he looks like freaking Yosemite Sam for crying out loud), but I think he rounds out the cast decently well. Continue Reading »

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