Friday, February 28, 2014
Starring: Anna Torv, Joshua Jackson, John Noble, Jasika Nicole, Lance Reddick, Blair Brown, Michael Cerveris, Kirk Acevado, Seth Gabel, Leonard Nimoy, & Mark Valley
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
It's rare for me to give a television show a perfect rating, but I will say, without hesitation, that Fringe is the best original Science Fiction show to come along in thirty years. When J.J Abrams started working on his follow up to Lost, he wanted to create a show that touched on everything that had been done before it. Fringe takes elements of Star Trek, The X-Files, The Twilight Zone, and others, and incorporates them all into his story. It was a show that was truly ahead of it's time and initially had a lot of network support.
The premier episode on FOX is the most expensive pilot episode ever made and the fans love it. The first two seasons of Fringe were highly rated, but not in the top ten. Not realizing what they had or the cult following it had behind it, FOX started moving the show around, eventually putting in on Friday nights, where it died after just 100 episodes. Today, the show is carried on in books and several of the cast have talked about the possibility of having it turned into a film franchise.
The story of Fringe began in 2008, when an airplane with 250 passengers on board, landed itself in Boston, without any survivors. All the agencies show up, including the FBI, who send their liaison officer, Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv). Dunham and her partner/lover are sent to do the dirty work, but stumble upon something unexpected, which puts them at the head of the investigation team. Not believing what she saw, Dunham goes in search of help, and finds a brilliant scientist, who used to do classified experiments for the U.S. Government. There is a problem of course, as the scientist, Dr. Walter Bishop (John Noble), has been in a mental institution for 17 years. In order to get him out, Dunham must track down and recruit the help of Bishop's son, Peter (Joshua Jackson), who is a con-man, working out of Iraq. With the team in place, they work to solve the impossible case and are asked by Col. Philip Broyles (Lance Reddick), to become part of a classified team of FBI members, who are assigned to work on the strange and unexplainable.
From parallel universes to time travel to human experimentation and even monsters, Fringe really incorporated everything they could into the story, in one way or another. Anna Torv stars as Agent Olivia Dunham and what a star she is. How J.J. Abrams found her is nothing short of amazing in and of itself. Torv hadn't been in very many things, but had an impressive background, that includes her being a martial arts expert, who speaks multiple languages. They put her talents to use and make her the new head investigator of the Fringe division. Torv was the action star of the show, who turned out to be even more, when the cast met their duplicates from the alternate universe in season 3. I really can not express in words how terrific this woman was and how important her character was to every fascist of the story.
As for the other main character of the story, that's Dr. Walter Bishop played by John Noble. Noble is one of those guys, you've seen in movies and on television all the time, but also the kind of guy whose name you probably didn't know. With Dr. Walter Bishop, John Noble established himself as a Sci-Fi legend. Much in the way his former partner William Bell, played by Leonard Nimoy, is associated with Spock, Noble and Bishop will be forever linked. Not only does his character bring a brilliant mind to the cast, but also brings humor to the show. After being locked in a mental hospital for 17 years, there isn't much Walter won't say or do. He loves to eat, do LSD, and tell people exactly what he thinks, leading to some of the best one-liners I have ever heard in a Science Fiction series.
Fringe isn't all about the strange and unusual, it's also about family, action, love, and humor. I can tell you that it is the single most addictive show I've seen in my entire life. I wound up watching all 100 episodes in under 3 months, and now that it's over, I find myself missing it and thinking about it often. Even though I'm a Netflix member with a large collection, for almost 2 weeks now, I have been sampling other series, looking for something to fill the void. I'm finding myself having trouble even getting into similar shows, the way I got into Fringe. It is one of the best television shows I have ever seen. If you're into Science Fiction this show is an absolute must see. If you're not into Science Fiction, there is still a ton of stuff here for you as well. Do yourselves a favor and treat yourself to this remarkable show while it is still streaming on Netflix.
Starring: Colin Farrell, Anton Yelchin, & Imogen Poots
Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5 stars
I am not a fan of remakes, because rarely, if ever, do they do justice to the original film. That being said, I wasn't expecting anything out of the Fright Night remake, except for a cameo by Chris Sarandon. I was however pleasantly surprised, as the young cast was better than expected. For those who don't know the story, it is a classic vampire tale. Charley Brewster (Anton Yelchin) is a normal teenager, whose life revolves around High School and his beautiful girlfriend. Everything is perfect until an old friend tells him that his new neighbor is a vampire. At first Charley doesn't believe him, but the more he watches, the more he realizes that something isn't right. Anton Yelchin opposes Colin Farrell, and while he might not have the name recognition, he easily outshines the veteran actor. Yelchin has a cult following among fans of teen movies, after strong performance in films like Charlie Bartlett and Middle of Nowhere. As with most teen idols, his popularity is not just about his looks, it comes from his smooth relaxed style of acting, that people can relate to. Yelchin's characters are always real and honest, the kind of guy audiences can easily relate to, and that's what makes him as good as he is. Yelchin has help in this film from an all-star cast that includes, Farrell, Toni Collete, Christopher Mintz-Plasse-Mclovin, Dave Franco, and of course the original vampire, Chris Sarandon. The combination of chemistry between new and veteran make for a truly powerful cast, that bring new life to this classic story.
Starring: Jonathan Tucker, Nikki Reed, & Michael O'Keefe
Rating: 1 1/2 out of 5 stars
Wednesday, February 19, 2014
Starring: Sheri Moon Zombie, Bruce Davidson, & Jeff Phillips
Rating: 1 out of 5 stars
What the hell is wrong with Rob Zombie? I get that the guy grew up on Heavy Metal and old black & white Horror movies, but there is twisted and then their is fucking insane. The things that must be going through this mans head, that encouraged him to write something like this, is the true definition of horrific. The film follows a radio DJ in Salem, Massachusetts, who has been seeing some strange things. One day a weird record shows up at the station and the DJ plays it on the air. The seemingly innocent record becomes the most requested song on the station, but not without consequences, as it posses the local female population. I am a fan of his music, so I know how strange and twisted Rob Zombie can be, but even I have my limits. Following one of the best horror films I've ever seen, The Devil's Rejects, I was really looking forward to Zombie's next project. That film was a good story, with strong characters, and an amazing ending. This film is pure garbage, meant to shock and disturb audiences, and it does a very good job of that. From nude elderly women, spitting blood on babies, and opening gateways to hell to scary psychics and beast like creatures running around in the dark, this movie is full of things you just never want to see. Rob's wife, Sheri Moon Zombie stars and the once beautiful, up and coming star of the Devil's Rejects, is now covered in tattoos and looks like she hasn't eaten in months. Her performance is flat and unbelievable, adding to the mountain of manure that this film is offering. I love Horror movies and I love weird shit, but this was just above and beyond freaking weird. I should have turned the film off when nude witches were spitting blood on babies, but I didn't, I stuck with it and I'm sorry I did. I don't know if I'll ever be able to get some of the horrific images out of my head.
Starring: Luke Goss, Caroline Tillette, & Stephen Marcus
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
If this movie wasn't a limited release, overseas film, people would be talking about an Academy Award for Best Picture! On the surface it doesn't look like much and the film also starts out painfully slow, but Interview With A Hitman is an incredible story, with some really imaginative twists in it. The story begins with an aging Director, looking for one more chance to be on top. He finds that chance when one of Interpol's most wanted, a career killer, contacts him, and agrees to tell his story. The Director has to jump through some hoops, but once they sit down, the mysterious man starts to tell the story of his life. The man knows nothing but killing, have working for a variety of organized crime outfits since he was 10 years old. From there, the film plays out like any other mafia film you've ever seen, there are shady deals, rats, set-ups, everything you could possibly want in a film about organized crime. Interview With A Hitman does take place in Europe though, and can be somewhat confusing. Thick accents and weird names make following the story a bit tricky at times, and that's the only reason this film didn't receive 5 stars. That being said, the ending more than makes up for it, with a twist that you will never see coming. Luke Goss (Red Widow, Death Race) stars as this stone cold killer and does an excellent job, in a role that really wasn't much of a stretch for him. He always plays these cold, calculating people, and it wouldn't surprise me one bit if he has killed before, Goss is one scary dude. This is the kind of film that will have you thinking about it long after it's over, something every writer hopes to accomplish. When you're going over the events in your mind days after you've seen the film and you are still in awe of what happened, you know you just saw something very special. Label this one a must see movie, because the story really has everything you could want and more.
Starring: Colin Farrell, Kiefer Sutherland, & Katie Holmes
Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5 stars
Who would have thought a movie about a guy in a phone booth would be as interesting as it was? I suppose when Joel Shumacher is directing an all-star cast, anything, even an entire movie that takes place in a phone booth, can be interesting! Colin Farrell stars as a man who lies, cheats, and does anything it takes to get to the top of his profession. He thinks he's on top of the world, with a wife, a girlfriend, and a group of clients, who don't know what scum he is, but someone has noticed the real Stu Shepard and has trained a rifle on him. Shepard has to do as he is told or risk becoming yet another victim, of a man who has been targeting New York City's businessmen. Colin Farrell is a very versatile actor, it's always been his biggest strength, but generally I find his performances to be kind of flat. Farrell has never been someone who I would consider a top tier Hollywood actor, but looking back on this early performance, I have to tell you, I was impressed. The setting of the film was so limited, that the only way it works is if you have a strong and believable cast, which Phone Booth certainly has. Every character has a unique back story and everyone is interconnected, in a film that is full of intrigue and edge of your seat action. People may not know what a phone booth is anymore, but this film is far from outdated. It is an excellent edge of your seat thrill ride that is perfect for the person who wants a short, but exciting movie.
Wednesday, February 12, 2014
Starring: John Travolta, Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, & Kasia Smutniak
Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5 stars
From Paris With Love plays as though it were the fourth or fifth sequel in a legendary saga, that has reached it's end and is just milking another film out of the story. It's adequate and somewhat entertaining, but nowhere near as good as it should have been. Jonathan Rhys-Meyers stars a a junior C.I.A. agent, working out of the U.S. Embassy in Paris. Until now he's been asked to do simple things. His role quickly changes once and international terror cell sets up shop in his backyard. Rhys-Meyers is quickly paired with a veteran C.I.A. hit-man. The kind of guy you call when you want things done quickly and under the radar, but years of killing has taken it's toll. The mysterious man has become cold and reckless to a fault. The story here is painfully predictable, in a film that is about half as long as it should have been. Yes, the film is basically non-stop action, but it moves in such a way that the story is rushed to the point of confusion. Jonathan Rhys-Meyers was terrific in an opposites attract kind of way. John Travolta on the other hand was much too old and out of shape to be believable as this crazy, over the top hit-man. The chemistry between the two and the amazing non-stop action make this movie a pretty entertaining one, but the predictability and rushed story take too much away to make it the kind of film that keeps audiences buzzing after it's over.