Archive for the ‘Serentity (the movie)’ Category

SIFF MOVIES: Tucker & Dale vs. Evil (2009) AND The Freebie (2009)

May 25, 2010

The Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF) started last Thursday, and over the next three weeks, I’m going to be seeing several of its films.  Most of my selections so far have been from the horror or sci-fi sections,  but I threw in a few “serious” movies just to keep my brain balanced out.  Watch this space — I’m seeing about four or five more this week alone.

Oddly enough, the two movies I saw opening weekend could not have been more different in terms of plot, yet were nearly identical in theme.   I say “oddly enough” because one is a horror comedy and the other is a mumblecore drama about a marriage that takes a bad turn.  Both movies, though, can be boiled down to one simple description:  terrible things can happen when people fail to communicate.

Let’s start with the fun one, Tucker & Dale vs. Evil.  This funny, gory, delightful movie is about two hillbillies, Tucker (Alan Tudyk, better known to us geeks as Wash) and Dale (Tyler Labine, better known to us geeks as Sock), who recently bought themselves a “fixer-upper” summer cabin in the woods of West Virginia.  They’re on their way to their first weekend getaway when they encounter a van full of college fraternity/sorority kids heading to roughly the same area for a camping trip.  The college ladies aren’t too impressed by our heroes (in part because of a hilarious introduction involving Dale and a scythe), and the college guys are downright hostile.  But the two groups soon go their separate ways, and a great weekend appears to be on deck.

Late that first night, the kids decide to go skinny dipping while Tucker and Dale are out on the lake fishing.  When one of the girls, Allison, falls into the lake and nearly drowns, Tucker and Dale save her, pulling her into their boat while her friends look on from the distance.  When Dale yells out, “We’ve got your friend!” they immediately assume the worst and form a posse to try to rescue Allison from the crazy inbred hicks in the woods.  As the miscommunications pile up, the kids keep accidentally getting themselves killed, while all the while, Tucker and Dale are caring for Allison and trying to reunite her with her buddies.

This movie is riotously funny at times — every hillbilly horror movie cliché you can think of is whipped back around in a perfectly curved satirical arc, and the filmmakers didn’t miss a single beat.  For example:  there’s a great scene in which Tucker is out chainsawing some wood when he accidentally cuts into a bee hive.  He begins running, flailing the chainsaw around madly at the bees swarming around him, while the kids look on in horror from the woods, thinking he’s a crazed serial killer straight out of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre.  One kid, in his rush to flee to safety, ends up impaling himself on a broken tree branch, and the bodies keep piling up from there.

Terrified by all the deaths he keeps witnessing, Tucker returns to Dale and, confused as hell, tells Dale the kids have clearly come out to the woods with some kind of suicide pact in place.  Meanwhile, the kids can only see Deliverance, one of them finally completely losing his marbles and going authentically berserk by the end (he becomes the literal “Evil” in the title, but, really, the true evil is assumption — clever job, filmmakers.  I was impressed).

The Freebie, on the other hand, tells the story of miscommunication in a marriage.  It’s about a young couple, Annie (Katie Aselton, who also directs) and Darren (Dax Shepard, playing essentially the same charming character he plays on Parenthood, hurrah), who are happily married but whose sex life has begun to wane.  I found this movie painful to watch, because their communication problems seemed so, so horribly obvious to me (lots of, “Well, do YOU want to?”  “I don’t know — do you?”:  repeat ad nauseum) and the solution to their sex life problem could’ve been as easy as simply sitting down and having a direct conversation with each other about what they were feeling and thinking.  Instead, they decide what they need to do is have a “freebie” night — a night where they go their separate ways, have sex with someone else, and then come back together reinvigorated with passion for each other.

The audience literally groaned in unison when this idea was suggested.  Because, like, STUPIDEST IDEA EVER, you guys.  Jesus.  And not because I necessarily think having sex with someone other than your spouse is a stupid idea — it depends.  But you could tell neither Annie nor Darren was fully on board with the plan — it’s just that neither one wanted to be the one to back out.

Even worse, after the freebie night is over, neither wants to be the first to admit they had sex (or admit they didn’t), and so the communication problem that got them into this mess in the first place continues to spiral out of control, leading to absolute misery and a complete crushing of all trust in their relationship.

Both movies made me go ARGH! about a thousand times in my head, but The Freebie got the most arghs from me total.  Open, direct communication is kind of my thing, see?  The minute you give up on talking, everything — EVERYTHING — will crumble at your feet, in the most painful ways imaginable.  I’ve seen it happen.  There is nothing more frustrating and more avoidable.

Luckily, while both movies are about a serious concept, they also both have excellent comedic timing (I’m so in love with Dax Shepard these days, I can hardly stand it, and that affection was doubled during The Freebie).  Additionally, The Freebie has an interesting story structure, one that confused me initially but became a very powerful construct as the film progressed (it’s told out of order, with chunks of before and after mixed together).  Tucker & Dale vs. Evil, on the other hand, had me laughing so hard and so often my stomach started to hurt, and by the end of the movie, everyone in the audience was madly in love with both those adorable li’l hillbillies.  We were calling out, “awwww!” just as often as “ewwww!” and the entire audience clearly enjoyed the hell out of the entire thing.  (This was less true for The Freebie, I’m afraid — listening to people talk as they left the theater, I got the impression many found it too slow and too long.  Such is the nature of film, I suppose — not for everyone.)

All in all, two terrific films and a superb first weekend at SIFF!  And to all of you readers out there:  TALK TO EACH OTHER.  Otherwise, you may one day find yourself head-first in a woodchipper.  And/or divorced.  (Same thing?)

TUCKER & DALE vs. EVIL:

[Prequeue it at Netflix | View trailer | Official Site (to watch for screenings/release dates)]

Genre:  Horror, Comedy
Cast:  Tyler Labine, Alan Tudyk, Katrina Bowden, Jesse Moss, Chelan Simmons

THE FREEBIE:

[Prequeue it at Netflix]

Genre:   Drama
Cast:  Katie Aselton, Dax Shepard, Joshua Leonard, Bellamy Young

MOVIE: Death at a Funeral (2007)

March 28, 2010

After my review of Withnail & I, a couple of people recommended this British comedy to me in the comments.  It sounded like a great concept for a funny flick — the patriarch of a British clan dies, bringing the family together for the funeral with disastrous results.  (I mean, I guess that doesn’t sound inherently funny, but awkward family moments usually bode well for laughs, in my experience.)

Unfortunately, though, while it’s definitely entertaining and amusing and at least ten times more clever than most American comedies I’ve seen, it wasn’t quite as hilarious as I was hoping it would be.   I think a big part of my disappointment was rooted in the fact I was watching it immediately after the revelatory experience of seeing Withnail for the first time.  What can live up to that, I ask you?    But, for me, it wasn’t really on the same level as Withnail — undeniably funny and extremely entertaining (and I really, really enjoyed it, I should add!) but unlikely to become a quotable favorite the way I think Withnail definitely will.

The main character in Death at a Funeral is the son of the dead gent, Daniel (Matthew Macfayden).  As he was the son who lived closest to his parents (by “closest,” I should say “with”), he got stuck organizing the funeral, despite the fact he’s broke (see above, re: living with Mom) and doesn’t appear to have been all that crazy about either his father OR his over-the-top-with-the-crazy-martyrdom mother.

Coming in for the occasion is Daniel’s famous novelist brother, the very definition of “egomaniac,” and their cousin, whose boyfriend Simon (Serenity ex-Boyfriend Alan Tudyk) is so stressed about finally meeting the family that he takes what he thinks is a Valium, only to discover later it was actually LSD.   He ends up naked on the roof later, which is the least bananas, believe it or not, of all the things about to happen because of that single mislabeled bottle of pills.

The funeral starts off with the undertaker botching the delivery of the body (“That’s not my father!”) and takes an even uglier turn when a mysterious dwarf named Peter shows up (played by the always awesome ex-Boyfriend Peter Dinklage).  When it turns out Peter knows a secret about Daniel’s father and is there to extort the family into keeping it quiet, things get a little, shall we say, psychedelic.

This film is a combination of dark comedy and ridiculous slapstick — a very British combination that works very Britishly (in other words: oddly and well).  But despite the definite sharpness of the whole thing, I didn’t find myself fully riding along.  Again, this may have been a problem of expectations, and a second viewing in a few months might change things completely.  Impossible to say until we give that a shot, I’m afraid.  In the meantime, though, while I’m definitely glad I saw it, if you only have time for one weird British laugher, the choice is clear:  Withnail & I, by a mile.  Make sure you have a bottle of lighter fluid handy in case you get thirsty.

[Netflix it | Buy it]

Genre:  Comedy
Cast:  Matthew Macfayden, Rupert Graves, Peter Dinklage, Alan Tudyk, Peter Egan, Daisy Donovan, Jane Asher

New & Used TV This Week, October 6 – 11

October 6, 2008

Here’s what’s new and returning to the boob tube, better known in France as “le tubeaux des boobez.”  (Not really.) (But you probably knew that already.)

Tuesday, October 7

Obama-McCain Friday Night Smackdown, now on Tuesdays!

DUDE, the networks are TOTALLY trying to kill off this awesome new reality series!  What is the deal with that?  First it’s on Friday night, now they’re moving it to Tuesday, and next week, it’s on WEDNESDAY!  How do they expect us to get into the characters and plots if they keep shifting it around in the schedule all the time?  This is exactly how FOX killed Firefly, you know.  Quick!  Someone start a web petition to Save The Smackdown!  Before it’s too late!  Otherwise, I fear this series may not make it out of October.

And what a shame that would be, as I’m REALLY enjoying that Obama character — it’s so cute when that old white guy tries to patronize him and Obama’s all, “Well, actually, Kissinger DID say that — why don’t you try Googling it next time, Grandpa.”

Though, to be honest, I think the writers probably should’ve gone with someone other than Kissinger for that particular plot twist, as he’s not exactly a model American diplomat, first and foremost, not to mention the fact the target demographic for reality TV is teenagers and low-20-somethings and kids today are probably all, “Kissinger?  Wasn’t he that transvestite guy on M*A*S*H?”

Besideswhich, thanks to the dropping of the Kissinger name, I’ve now had this  Monty Python song in my head for a WEEK.  Oy.  If they have to do Python references this time around, let’s hope it’s something about a one-half bee named Eric, because that’s one I could live with for a while.  “Did did did did and did!”  Hey, it sounds like something McCain might say. . .

Thursday, October 9

CSI — 9pm, CBS, Season 9.  It’s back, Warrick’s dead, William Petersen is leaving and being replaced by Morpheus from The Matrix.  Things are about to get seriously trippy, is all I know.  My advice?  TAKE THE BLUE PILL, GRISSOM!

Eleventh Hour — 10pm, CBS,  Season 1.  This is the first of two British TV remakes premiering tonight (the second is Life on Mars, see next item).  And frankly, it’s caused a bit of a problem for me.  You see, Thursdays at 10pm — that’s the timeslot I have set aside for my weekly hour of torture, courtesy of season 8,917 of ER on NBC (a HELICOPTER!  on ROMANO!).  But I want to watch both these new shows, too, despite the fact I know American remakes of foreign TV shows are typically about as good as American remakes of foreign horror movies.

Which is to say, NOT GOOD AT ALL.  (Speaking of which, Quarantine opens this Friday.)

Thank god for streaming Internet video, is all I can say.  ER can be viewed online on its official NBC web page:  http://www.nbc.com/ER/

Here’s the bigger problem with Eleventh Hour, though — I really like the sound of this series, which is about a biophysicist who teams up with the feebies to fight scientific crime.  But, Holy Roman Empire, it stars Rufus Sewell!  I know, I KNOW, BELIEVE ME I KNOW, you guys all LOOOOOOOOVE Rufus Sewell.  But you know what?  Dude gives me the creeps — I had to erase his eyes in that photo above because I could feel them BORING RIGHT INTO MY SOUL.  I don’t even have to do that with pictures of Christian Bale, for pity’s sake, and that guy looks like he’s a skipped-breakfast away from eating me alive.

Then again, it’s another wacky-science mystery series, and that means I can’t NOT watch it.  Science!  Mystery!  Scientific mystery!  The only thing that could make this show more perfect for me would be, you guessed it, the inclusion of zombies.  Heck, I might even be able to stomach Rufus Sewell as a zombie.  But only if his eyeballs are hanging out of his skull.

So, I’ll be watching. And this despite the fact the IMDb description of this series made me want to send Gloria Steinam a letter of solidarity.  Here’s what it says: “A government scientist and his attractive counterpart try to save people from deadly scientific experiments.”

“Attractive counterpart”?  You mean Special Agent Rachel Young of the FBI?

Up yours, IMDb.

Life on Mars — 10pm, ABC, Season 1.  The problem with this one?  Doesn’t sound all that intriguing, really.  Some cop show, some cop channel.

And yet, it stars Jason O’Mara, who I think is super cute (you may recognize him as Stuart, Marin’s publisher from Men in Trees, or Lt. Meehan from Band of Brothers).   It’s about a modern day cop who is hit by a car and somehow manages to wake up in 1973, which, admittedly, was a very good year for awesomeness (I was born in ’73, natch).  There, Detective Futureboy is forced to solve crimes without all the modern-day scientific gadgetry that makes CSI:Miami bearable despite the presence of David “I Wear My Sunglasses At Night” Caruso.

Plain ‘ol detective work?  No Blackberry?  No cell phone?  No scanning electron microscopes?  NO STARBUCKS?  Damn you, dark ages!

The upside?  The aforementioned Jason O’Mara, as well as Harvey “The Cleaner” Keitel.  The downside?  The aforementioned remake-edness, not to mention what I’m sure will be an absolutely stunning amount of polyester.   I’m intrigued, but am going into this one 100% expectation-free.

That’s it for this week!  More new/used TV next Monday, which is the last week for premieres this season.  Shortly after the premiere season wraps up, I’ll be telling you which shows I’ve decided to stick with this year, and which ones have gotten the Official Meg Wood Boot to the ShinsTM.

New & Used TV This Week, Sept. 29-Oct 5

September 29, 2008

Here’s what’s new or returning on Ye Olde Tube o’ Boob this week:

Monday, September 29

Chuck — 8pm, NBC, season 2 — I actually gave up on Chuck after about the first half of last season, and probably won’t bother with it this season either.  Just wasn’t doing it for me; not sure why.  I wanted to like it.  I love Adam Baldwin.  I just kind of. . . meh.  So, consider this a public service announcement for those of you who watch — it’s back tonight, if you care!

Life — 10pm, NBC, season 2 — This intriguing cop drama, starring ex-Boyfriend Damian Lewis,  returns for a second season tonight — count me in (but please, if you care about me, do stop talking about fruit every thirty seconds)!  You can already watch tonight’s episode online, if you are so inclined.

Note that a second episode of Life will air this Friday at 10pm, the show’s regular day/time this season.

Wednesday, October 1

Pushing Daisies — 8pm, ABC, season 2 — Am I the only one who gets that Ween song about pushing the little daisies in their head whenever they think about this series?  Probably.   But it hardly matters — I was REALLY enjoying this total freakfest last year and had my fingers crossed it would survive the strike.  Miracle of miracles — it did!  Now, it’s got to survive season two.  And you can help!  By watching it!

Yes, I know some of you hate the cheesy voice-overs.  But really?  You’d miss out on watching Chi McBride knit sweaters while solving crimes because of a little ham-handedness?  Dude, your loss, yo.  This show is WEIRD, and we really need more weird on TV these days.

(Also returning tonight is Private Practice on ABC, by the way, but I can’t watch this show because it makes me cry seeing Tim Daly stuck in something this crappy.  Thankfully, I can now watch episodes of Eyes whenever I want to on AOL Video.  Helps with the sting.  I love you, Interwebs!)

Thursday, October 2

Biden/Palin Thursday Night Smack-Down — One, one, ONE night only!  This will be a face-off not to be missed!  WATCH as Joe “No Filter” Biden tries to make his opponent cry!  SEE Sarah “No Brain” Palin string eight unrelated talking points together into a single, completely nonsensical answer about the economy (oh wait, that was the Katie Couric interview — who knows what will come out of this lady’s mouth this time around!).   Who will emerge the victor?

On the one hand, Biden is not really known for his tact and if he goes after Palin too aggressively, he’ll just look mean, which only ever works for the Republicans (hi, Dick Cheney!).  On the other hand, I think all Palin needs to do to score herself a victory at this point is NOT fall completely on her face.  With a little coaching (Ahmadinejad, Ahmadinejad, Ahmadinejad: say it with me, Sarah!), she might be able to pull that off.

More worrisome:  Can Biden spend 90 minutes in a room with her and avoid rolling his eyes and sighing dramatically EVEN ONCE?  If so, we’ll know for sure just how strong his character is — because I didn’t last thirty seconds before I called McCain a “stinkbutted poo-poo pants” last Friday.

Which is, in a nutshell, why I have never bothered trying to run for office.  (In case you were wondering.)

Friday, October 3

Sanctuary — 9-11pm, Sci-Fi Network, season 1– This new Sci-Fi series stars Amanda Tapping from Stargate SG-1 as Dr. Helen Magnu, a scientist who “holds the secrets of a clandestine population:” a group of strange and sometimes terrifying beings that hide among humans. Together with a couple of sidekicks, she tries to keep the freakazoids safe, all the while attempting to determine where they came from.  Dude, I don’t know: could rock, could suck. I’m game to find out which.

Supernanny — 9pm, ABC, season something-or-other — Oh my god, I love this show.  I have no children of my own, so it’s the one time in life I’m allowed to criticize bad parenting skills.  In real life, if you try to say something like, “Hey, have you ever considered giving your kid a time-out when he kicks you in the teeth like that?” to a parent, you immediately get a snarl and a, “How would YOU know what I should do, you barren, childless, non-woman!  Why don’t you take your lame fallopian tubes, shove them up your empty uterus, and go home to your stupid cat!”

But in the privacy of my own home?  Watching Supernanny?  I totally call you kid-whipped.  I mean, seriously, at least my cat doesn’t BITE me when she doesn’t get her way.

Oh, wait. . .

Plus, I love the way Jo says the word “unacceptable.”  Unassesseptible.  That’s just so cute!

Numb3rs — 10pm, CBS, season 5 — Yep, I’m still watching this one.  AND STILL LOVING IT.  I don’t really know why, but I blame a combination of Mr. Universe and The Biscuit.  Also, they talk about math!  EVERY WEEK!  On a popular television show!  That’s like Geek Heaven for those of us who know our sines from our cosines.  Not to mention our quarks from our leptons.  Our string theory from our string cheese.

Mmmm, string cheese. . .  Wait, what was I just talking about?

Sunday, October 5

The CW is starting up two new shows Sunday night, neither of which I’m planning on watching, but I figured I’d give you guys the heads-up in case your Sundays are in need of cheap thrills.

The first is Easy Money, a comedy about a family that owns one of those payday loan places.  It’ll mix stories of the family with funny stuff about firm’s hapless clients.  Because, as we all know, there ain’t nuthin’ funnier than people so broke they are willing to get payday loans with interest rates as high as 400%.  Ha ha ha!  Poor people are so adorable. . .

The second is Valentine, which is about a family of Greek gods living in Los Angeles whose mission it is to help the lovelorn stop being so lorn of love.  Meh, not for me.  If you watch and it’s good, let us know?

That’s it for this week!  Watch Pushing Daisies!  You don’t have to like it, you just have to keep it from being canceled!  FOR MY SAKE!

Live Blogging Act II of Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog

July 17, 2008

Since “live-blogging” seems to be all the rage these days (by which I mean “8 years ago”), I thought it was about time for me to get in on the action.

So now, for your entertainment, I will live-blog my viewing of Act II of Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog (http://drhorrible.com/act_II.html). (Numbers correspond to minutes:seconds in the video, as closely as I could get them.)

00:18 — Neil Patrick Harris does “pained expression” very well.

00:47 — Actually, he also sings very well. Combine the two and you’d have . . . whoa, there it is! Acting! Brilliant! Thank you.

1:00 — Those of you who said you found Felicia Day somewhat forgettable in Act I are going to say it again, only this time we’ll all know it’s out of JEALOUSY that she gets to eat soup with Capt. Tight (Hammer) Pants.

1:19 — Hee, he’s wearing his gloves to eat dinner. I don’t know why that’s funny but it is.

1:31 — God, look at that NOSE! I really can’t explain it, but, once again, the word “lickable” leaps right to mind. Is it wrong for a married woman to want to lick a single man’s nostrils? Or just gross? Or both? Wait, don’t answer that. Especially if the answer is, “Hey, Nathan Fillion isn’t single!”

1:46 — Pay attention to the soup guy(s) in the background.

2:05 — Harmony! Lovely! (No, not Harmony the vampire, harmony the vocals technique. Note: This is a clarification only Joss Whedon fans will require.)

2:12 — You know, I don’t actually care for geese myself, Capt. Tight (Hammer) Pants. That fro-yo sure looks good, though.

2:36 — I started to laugh out loud right here and had to stifle it because of where I was at the time.

3:09 — “I’m a fan of laundry”?? Yep, I hate her too. Except for the part where she eats her fro-yo with a spork — that part’s awesome.

5:00 — Ew. No kissing.

5:20 — “PhD in HORRIBLENESS” also made me laugh out loud and stifle. I need to watch Act III somewhere more appropriate, obviously.

6:27 — The Evil League of Evil isn’t really all that cool, Doog. I’ve been a member since 1974 and I’m telling you, our meetings are about as much fun as Mensa’s.

7:09 — I have the same shoes as Dr. Horrible! They’re even scuffed in the same places! But my legs don’t magically cross in opposite directions as the camera moves in and out of the shot — that’s how you KNOW he’s evil!

8:02 — One too many ballads for me already. You too? Fast-forward to 9:01.

9:01 — Oh thank god, she’s stopped singing.

9:30 — Love the Thunk! when Dr. H runs into Capt. THP. Nice touch!

10:11 — “Apparently the only signature he needed. . . was my fist! Um, but with a pen inside it. . .” Joss, have I told you lately that I love you?

10:43 — Profile of Nathan Fillion; more lickable nose-ness. Times infinity plus one.

11:20 — Whatever you do, do not take a sip of beverage at 11:19, because you’ll just end up guffawing it all over your keyboard at 11:20’s “I’m not the hammer, the hammer is my [omitting because this is a family site].” I’m sending Joss the electronics bill.

12:07 (Or thereabouts.) — Watch for the killer wedgie!

13:00 — Act III: Dr. Horrible Goes all Cloverfield on Their Arses!

The End.

So worth the $3.99 at iTunes, folks, even though every time I see the title, I get that “Mr. Horrible” song by They Might Be Giants stuck in my head.

Act III comes out on Saturday — don’t miss it!

Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog — Act I is Up!

July 16, 2008

Don’t miss Act I of Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, a new online video project written by Joss Whedon and starring Nathon Fillion and his extremely lickable nose, as well as Neil Patrick Harris and Felicia Day. Villians! Heroes! Singing! Mad scientists! It’s got it all!

And even though I usually hate musicals, I will confess to a certain fondness for Joss Whedon’s lyrics ever since that “Bunnies” song from the musical Buffy episode (“And what’s with all the carrots? What do they need such good eyesight for anywaaaaaaay?  Bunnies!  Bunnies, it must be BUNNIES!!”).

Act I is out now, with Act II due on the 17th and Act III on the 19th. After the 20th, I hear the episodes will no longer be offered for free, so get hot!

http://www.drhorrible.com/

Sarah Connor Chronicles, or, River Tam Still Kicks Serious Butt

January 15, 2008

Sunday night, the new sci-fi series Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles premiered on FOX (with a second new episode airing last night).  I was pretty skeptical of it, but I couldn’t resist tuning in anyway.  And, strangely enough, so far I’m really enjoying it!

The series opens a year or two after where Terminator 2: Judgment Day left off, essentially refusing to acknowledge the existence of Terminator 3: Rise of the Hellaciously Insipid (can’t say I blame them for this, obviously).  As the show opens, John and his mother Sarah are about to move for the bazillionth time after Sarah has decided she’s let her boyfriend get too close for comfort.  John’s upset — clearly this boyfriend is someone he’s bonded strongly with, which only makes sense considering the fact he never got to know his own father.  But he has no choice — Mom’s in charge.

Unfortunately, their next move doesn’t go very well.  John signs up for school in their new town, bizarrely choosing as his fake name “John Reese,” which isn’t very fake at all (Reese being his father’s name, after all), and, wonder of wonders, not long after that, a cyborg shows up dressed like a substitute teacher and attempts to blow him to smithereens.

Lucky for John, his new friend, a cute girl named Cameron, turns out to be a cyborg herself, sent from the future to protect him.  Those of us familiar with the films know the background — that a company named Skynet developed robot technology in the future that ended up nearly destroying the world and that John Connor is the hero who organizes what remains of mankind and starts fighting back.  The crazy robots retaliate by sending cyborgs into the past to try to take out first John’s mother Sarah (before she’s given birth to John, see T1), and then John as a kid (see T2).  In T1, John sends his (human) pal Reese into the past to protect Sarah, and Reese ends up knocking her up with John (try not to think too hard about that one — it’ll just make your brain hurt).  And then in T2, John sends an older cyborg model (Ahnold) back, reprogrammed to be a good guy, to save a teenaged John from a wickedly cool liquid metal cyborg model.

In Sarah Connor Chronicles, John has sent an even fancier cyborg back in time, again programmed for good, to protect himself and his mother from the latest round of attacks.  And this time that cyborg is a cute chick named Cameron who bleeds blood and acts a little less roboty than previous models (though, she’s still roboty enough to provide for the inevitable “I don’t know what that [pop culture reference] means” schtick — this I could do without, but whatever).  

Cam’s played by Summer Glau, who has major “action girl” cred from her work as River Tam in the Joss Whedon film Serenity.  And though I confess I kind of cringed when she delivered the famous, “Come with me if you want to live” line, it didn’t take me long to decide I was in love with her. 

Anyway, at the end of episode 1, John, Sarah, and Cameron have decided to jump ahead in the future — to the year 2007 — to try to stop the next incarnation of Skynet.  And so begins what looks like it might be a REALLY entertaining little TV action sci-fi series.

Of course, this show is for fans of the films — the first episode is essentially one big long shoot-em-up scene, just like both movies were.  And while the second episode has a bit more plot, it still goes kinda nutty with the action and guns.  If you don’t like violence, you didn’t like the movies, and you won’t like the series either.  But fans of T1 and T2 might have a pretty decent time with this show, if the first two episodes are anything to go by anyway. 

The bad news is, FOX doesn’t appear to be offering either episode on their web site, so if you missed the premiere this week, I think you’re toast.  Check iTunes?  I’m too lazy to go check for you.  If that doesn’t work and you desperately want to know what you missed, I’m sure you can find dozens of recaps, in varying degrees of detail, all over the web. 

If you did watch the first two episodes, I’d love to hear what you thought of them.  Comment away!

MOVIE: White Noise 2: The Light (2007)

January 14, 2008

White Noise 2Not that this will come as a surprise to ANYBODY who reads this site, but I actually liked the first White Noise movie (starring Michael Keaton). Yes, I recognize that it’s really, really bad, but I can’t help it — I was dorkily fascinated by the whole idea of “EVP” (Electronic Voice Phenomena, which, short version, is when you hear dead people in TV static). Even though the movie itself was kinda bad, the concept was intriguing, and I’ll put up with a lot of garbage for the sake of a good idea.

I saw a preview for this sequel to White Noise a month or so ago, and was surprised to see it starred both Nathan Fillion (from Serenity/Firefly) AND Katee Sackhoff— ex-Boyfriend double whammy (in case you’ve forgotten, Katee Sackhoff was the first, and so far only, female Boyfriend of the Week — Starbuck, I love you!)!

So, as soon as it hit DVD, I grabbed it from Netflix and finally got a chance to settle in and try it out last night.

The film starts out surprisingly decent, for a straight-to-DVD sequel to a universally-recognized-as-bad horror flick (I’m pretty sure I’m one of only 8 people in the entire world who actually enjoyed White Noise, after all). It opens with Nathan’s character, Abe, out enjoying a lovely lunch with his wife Rebecca and son Danny, when both of them start acting strangely. Just as Rebecca goes into convulsions, a strange man walks up to their booth, takes out a gun, and shoots both her and Danny. Abe, stunned, attempts to commit suicide a few days later, but is revived in the emergency room after having a near death experience, or “NDE.”

The NDE has given Abe an unusual gift — he now hears EVP and sees dead people all around him. Even trickier, though, is that he can also tell when someone is about to die (they begin to glow with “The Light”). He starts trying to save people, and one of those he rescues is a young nurse named Sherry (Sackhoff). Sherry had been Abe’s nurse when he was recovering from his suicide attempt, and after he saves her, she kind of takes him under her wing (she lost her husband a year or two ago, and knows what he’s going through, blah blah blah).

Unfortunately, Abe soon learns there’s a serious downside to his gift — and here’s where the movie goes from “decent” to “Seriously? That was the best you could come up with?”  Suddenly there’s all this extremely silly nonsense about the number 666, the phrase “tria mera,” Lucifer, and yadda yadda yadda.  Stop someone from dying when it’s their time, and bad things are bound to happen — dude, anybody who watches The Twilight Zone (or Pushing Daisies, for that matter), could’ve told you that.  Pay attention!

Anyway, the movie is chock-full of careless errors (like when Abe takes a big gasp of air through his mouth after coming back to life, despite the fact he’s clearly been intubated — nice trick!), and lots and lots of really goofy dialogue and dumb plot stuff about the devil. Nevertheless, I have to confess I kind of had fun watching this. It’s not scary AT ALL, so don’t bother renting this if what you are after is a good thrill. But if you’re a fan of Fillion and Sackhoff (and who isn’t, I ask you?), it’s worth watching just to get to see them together. They definitely deserve better than movies like this, but until someone else figures that out, I’m happy they’re at least getting steady work.

Incidentally, fans of Serenity/Firefly will get a huge kick out of this (and the rest of you will have no idea why this is funny, so feel free to skip ahead): There’s a scene in this movie in which Abe (Fillion) is trying to explain to his friend Marty that he can see when people are going to die. Marty says something like, “What, like superpowers?” and Abe says, “No, not like superpowers.” And Marty raises his eyebrows and replies with, “Call it what you want, Abe, but that sure as hell sounds like Captain Tight Pants stuff to me!” Captain Tight Pants! I love inside jokes! For that line alone, worth a rental.

Can’t exactly recommend it, but you could do a lot worse.

[Netflix me | Buy me]

Genre: Horror
Cast: Nathan Fillion, Katee Sackhoff, Craig Fairbrass, Adrian Holmes