Bio: Follow me on Twitter @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.
Posts by JPRoscoe:
Movie Name: Logan
Studio: Marvel Entertainment
Genre(s): Comic Book/Action/Adventure/Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Release Date(s): February 17, 2017 (Permiere)/March 3, 2017 (US)
MPAA Rating: R
Mutantkind is in its death throes and one of the last mutants is dying. Something is killing Logan (Hugh Jackman) and his once unstoppable powers are slowing down. He spends his day as a driver and joining Caliban (Stephen Merchant) in tending to Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) who is also dying. When Logan is contacted by a woman with a child named Laura (Dafne Keen), Logan finds that Laura might not only be the hope for mutant kind but more like Logan than he ever believed possible. Laura is being pursued by Transigen and its hired agents the Reavers…and getting Laura to safety could be Logan’s last quest.
Directed by James Mangold, Logan is the final film outing for Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine character and loosely based on the Old Man Logan character. Following X-Men: Apocalypse in 2016, Logan was released to positive reviews and a strong box office. The movie featured a preview teaser for Deadpool 2 with Ryan Reynolds.
X-Men: Apocalypse was a disappointment, and the Wolverine movies prior to Logan were pretty questionable. Deadpool added a spark to the X-Men films and allowed them to go R-Rated. Logan continues this trend, but it does have problems.
Logan is dark and gritty and that is a good thing. The X-Men movies almost are too shiny and “superhero-y” at points and the action almost feels incidental in that sense…they don’t feel dangerous. Logan feels dangerous, but almost to a fault. Logan is old and dying…and the movie loves showing that. It crawls and creeps along leading to a fate you can tell at the beginning of the movie. This is slowed down even more by a visit with a family a-la the French Plantation in Apocalypse Now…it might add to the story, but it really just feels like it extends the runtime.
Jackman has mastered Logan and is allowed to play him two ways with X-24. The movie is his character’s swan song and it feels like it is time. The same can be said of Patrick Stewart’s Professor X who is tottery and weak. Stephen Merchant plays Caliban and is better at the role than slick Tómas Lemarquis version in X-Men: Apocalypse. Boyd Holbrook leads the slimy Reavers and Eriq La Salle gets stuck with the ho-hum part of Will Munson to whom Logan brings death.
The breakout of Logan has to be Dafne Keen as Laura aka X-23. She can handle a lot of emotion in her non-talking scenes but also can carry the action scenes when she cuts loose. I do prefer when she isn’t speaking, but it probably was necessary to have her eventually talk…I’d love to see her come back in some form.
Logan is almost a post-apocalyptic movie with a lot of stuff going on in the background and the R-Rating ups the violence. The movie is set in the future and there are some allusions to events going on in the United States right now involving nationalism and men vs technology. It is contrasted by mostly rural settings which play in well with the post-apocalypse themes.
Logan feels a lot like an attempt to recreate the thrills of Mad Max without the grindhouse nature. The movie’s plots have a lot of parallels with Mad Max, The Road Warrior, Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome and even Mad Max: Fury Road (plus it helps that by this point Hugh Jackman is starting to look like Mel Gibson). I wish that the movie had half the energy of those films and kept the energy going with some of the emotion. Logan is definitely the best of the Wolverine films and one of the better X-Men films…but the pacing keeps it from being the best. The future of Wolverine and the X-Men is unknown…but that actually is a good thing.
Fifteen years ago, Danny Rand (Finn Jones) and his family disappeared in the Himilayas and was presumed dead. Now, Danny is back in New York City and discovering his father’s company Rand Industries is being run by Joy Meachum (Jessica Stroup) and her brother Ward (Tom Pelphrey). Their father Harold Meachum (David Wenham) is dead, but he’s actually been resurrected by the Hand…the organization that Danny has been trained to destroy. When Danny meets a dojo master named Colleen Wing (Jessica Henwick), Danny finds help in his battle…but Danny is about to find out that even those closest to him might not be telling the truth.
Iron Fist—Season 1 was released on Netflix on March 17, 2017. The TV series faced early pre-production criticism with some calling for Danny Rand to be a character of Asian descent, but the criticism quickly turned to the series itself upon its release. The series followed Luke Cage—Season 1 released in 2016.
I was on the side of Iron Fist when the series was announced. Iron Fist was one of my favorite Marvel characters and Power Man and Iron Fist was a book I was very fond of growing up. I enjoyed Luke Cage and the chances it took though I feel that some of the series was uneven, but none of the Netflix series face the problems that Iron Fist faced. Due to aspects of the series, a ******spoiler alert****** is in effect.
Danny Rand’s power is that if he focuses his chi that he can create the “Iron Fist”. The Iron Fist drains Danny and it takes a while to recharge…I totally sympathize with Danny because watching Iron Fist takes the energy out of you. The series moves at a snail’s pace. While many Marvel series have you watching six episodes and you feel you’ve only watched four, Iron Fist has you watching four episodes and feeling you like you’ve watched six. The series doesn’t really feel like it has a direction…partially because the characters are really ignorant.
Everyone is unlikable in the series…this kind of includes Iron Fist. Finn Jones is directionless most of the series and unable to see bad guys all around him. Everyone else seems to randomly shift allegiances with little logic. Joy suddenly sides with her father who told her brother not to tell her about him…and is as creepy as hell. For some reason Danny is shocked when the extremely creepy and resurrected Harold Meachum is identified as his parents’ killer. There doesn’t seem to be much though into the character’s writing.
The core of the problem could be Iron Fist. He is supposed to be art in motion, but Finn Jones feels clunky despite his efforts. He’s also supposed to be fun and not a dirty hippie. I don’t think it was white-washing by making Iron Fist white. It is part of his character. No one expects him to be a karate master because he’s white (and in its own way, making him Asian almost seems like a stereotype itself). I was happy to see Colleen Wing as Asian. Her character was supposed to half Asian but always was generally portrayed as a white lady.
Iron Fist feels like Netflix’s first real misstep in their MCU TV series. The series really needs a second series to develop the character, but I don’t know that I could take a second season…teaming him with Luke Cage would just hurt Luke Cage’s story. I don’t think Iron Fist is a character that needs to be tossed and reworked, but I hope that The Defenders cleans up the problems with Iron Fist and redeems a character I like.
Iron Fist—Season 1 Complete Episode Guide:
1.1 Snow Gives Way Release Date: 03/17/17
Danny Rand (Finn Jones) returns to New York City after fifteen years to a world where everyone thinks he is dead. Confronting his old friends Joy Meachum (Jessica Stroup) and her brother Ward Meachum (Tom Pelphrey), Danny tries to find what has become of his father’s company Rand Industries…only to learn that his word isn’t proof enough of his identity. Targeted by Rand Industries’ men, Danny seeks out help and finds a homeless man and a dojo master named Colleen Wing (Jessica Henwick) who doesn’t trust him either. As Danny tries to return to his old life, he learns that going back can be hard.
1.2 Shadow Hawk Takes Flight Release Date: 03/17/17
Finding that he’s been drugged by Joy and Ward, Danny wakes up in an asylum…unable to prove his identity, medicated, and facing permanent institutionalization. With Joy and Ward’s father Harold (David Wenham) revealed to be alive, Danny’s story about K’un-Lun and the Iron Fist are starting to be believed. The revelation that Danny could be the key to stop the Hand could change Harold’s game.
1.3 Rolling Thunder Cannon Punch Release Date: 03/17/17
Danny has escape the asylum and hiding with Colleen Wing. Going to his old family friend Jeri Hogarth (Carrie-Anne Moss) for help, Danny is about to take his war against Joy and Ward to the courts…if he can prove his identity first. Colleen investigates cage fighting in the neighborhood and finds herself drawn into the fight.
1.4 Eight Diagram Dragon Palm Release Date: 03/17/17
Danny is back at Rand Industries and already making changes. Colleen finds her demons coming out in the cage as she returns as the Daughter of the Dragon. Danny finds Joy is the target of the Triads…but the Hand’s involvement at Rand could be deeper than Danny ever expected.
1.5 Under Leaf Pluck Lotus Release Date: 03/17/17
Danny discovers that Rand’s procurement of the docks has allowed a synthetic form of heroin to reach New York. Ward learns that Danny has admitted fault in a Rand Industries pollution case and that it has caused a public problem…and Ward doesn’t take it well. Danny enlists Colleen and her friend Claire Temple (Rosario Dawson) when he goes to find what is being shipped in at the docks.
1.6 Immortal Emerges from Cave Release Date: 03/17/17
Danny is out to find the daughter of Radovan Bernivig (Olek Krupa) and it means taking on the Hand in a hand-to-hand combat challenge. Joy finds Ward’s drug problem is bigger than she thought. Claire and Colleen are forced to take Radovan to the hospital for help, but find the hospital might already be compromised. As Danny battles his way through the Hand, Madame Gau (Wai Ching Ho) changes the rules.
1.7 Felling Tree with Roots Release Date: 03/17/17
Danny discovers the Hand’s involvement within Rand Industries as the board of directors makes its own plans for Danny, Joy, and Ward. Ward looks at his exit plan but Harold might have something to say about Ward’s plans to leave. Danny sets out to shut down the Hand.
1.8 The Blessing of Many Fractures Release Date: 03/17/17
Ward covers up the murder of his father and debates selling out the company. Colleen, Claire, and Danny head to China to find Gao and set to lure her out. Ward and Joy cope with being squeezed out at Rand by the board, and Ward decides Joy needs to learn the truth about what is really going on.
1.9 The Mistress of All Agonies Release Date: 03/17/17
Harold is back from the dead and even worse than before. Ward finds himself pushed to the edge, and Harold realizes Joy might have to be brought into the equation. With Madame Gao as his prisoner, Danny seeks the truth about the accident that killed his family…but a discovery that Colleen might have been poisoned could force Danny to take a different path.
1.10 Black Tiger Steals Heart Release Date: 03/17/17
Danny finds himself in Colleen Wing’s training grounds but learns from Madame Gau that all might not be as perfect as it appears. Harold Meachum is assigned a replacement for Madame Gau named Bakuto (Ramón Rodríguez) by the Hand and learns that regaining his life might be possible. Danny finds an old ally (Sacha Dhawan).
1.11 Lead Horse Back to Stable Release Date: 03/17/17
Davos tries to help Danny hill and purify his chi while Claire tends to his body. Colleen tries to get back in Danny’s favor after hiding that Bakuto and his group are also members of the Hand…but Bakuto has other plans.
1.12 Bar the Big Boss Release Date: 03/17/17
Ward finds a new ally in Bakuto but his father and Danny Rand might be the price of coming clean from his drugs. Danny finds himself led into a trap by Ward and Danny must try to purify his chi for the fight. As Colleen tries to free herself from Bakuto, Danny finds himself in another problem.
1.13 Dragon Plays with Fire Release Date: 03/17/17
Danny and Colleen are on the run from the law, and Danny realizes Harold is behind it. With Harold holding the only evidence that could prove his innocence, Danny must call on his friends to help him…which includes a reformed Ward Meachum?!? If Danny can survive, the path ahead of him is unclear.
Movie Name: Kong: Skull Island
Studio: Legendary Pictures
Release Date(s): February 28, 2017 (Premiere)/March 10, 2017 (US)
MPAA Rating: PG-13
It is 1973, and through satellite technology, the world is growing smaller. Bill Randa (John Goodman) and Houston Brooks (Corey Hawkins) convince a senator to allow their organization Monarch one last chance to prove there are monsters in the world by exploring a secret island named Skull Island before the Soviets find it. Teaming up with a military escort led by Lieutenant Colonel Preston Packard (Samuel L. Jackson) leaving Vietnam, Bill recruits a tracker named James Conrad (Tom Hiddleston) and a photographer named Mason Weaver (Brie Larson) to chronicle the expedition. When the team meets the horror that exists on the island, the giant ape known as Kong becomes the danger…but Kong might only be a gatekeeper for something even worse.
Directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts, Kong: Skull Island is an action monster thriller. The movie is the second film in Legendary’s Monsterverse following Godzilla in 2014. The movie was released to mixed reviews but a strong box office response.
I have a real soft spot for King Kong. The (awful) 1976 version was a big deal when it was on TV when I was little. I can remember watching it and loving it for all its goofiness. It isn’t good, it’s too long, but it is fun in the flashback memories. While Peter Jackson’s movie got the look (and the way too long aspect), it just wasn’t fun and was tedious. Kong: Skull Island falls somewhere between the two and promises future fun.
The plot for Kong: Skull Island blends aspects of the original film and some of the sequels. You have a crew led by a man who ulterior motives walking into a situation that they aren’t prepared for which follows the original but you also have an interesting dynamic set-up with Jackson, the U.S.’s failure in Vietnam, and a misguided war. Thankfully, the movie also essentially gets rid of the “Beauty killed the Beast” storyline of all the Kong films (though Kong has an interest in Mason). They change the story enough that it doesn’t feel like a straight up remake, but not enough to make it alien to the King Kong story.
The cast is strong, but the script doesn’t allow much room for them. It is an action movie and pretty traditional at that. There is a lot of running and gunning. No one is really bad, but all the actors almost feel like typical. Even Samuel L. Jackson is his normal self. There isn’t a lot of down time for character development, but it is a popcorn movie, so I didn’t really expect it.
The special effects are pretty good. Peter Jackson did get that right with his Kong, and here, the movie seems to follow in its footsteps. This King Kong is bigger and I did like all the other monsters on the island (and wish we saw more of them). The action was pretty basic which allowed you to follow what was happening (unlike many big battle movies.
Kong: Skull Island feels like the start of something. If I was a kid, I’d be so excited, but as a jaded adult, I’m just a little excited. Movies have become so episodic with the Marvel films that I worry about a new “universe” of movies…but the kid in me is excited to see King Kong, go head-to-head with Godzilla, Mothra, Rodan, and Ghidorah…now if they can commit to looping in Pacific Rim, we’d be set. Kong: Skull Island is followed by Godzilla: King of the Monsters in 2019 with Godzilla vs. Kong in 2020.
Movie Name: Tommy
Release Date(s): March 19, 1975
MPAA Rating: PG
The “deaf, dumb, and blind kid sure plays a mean pinball”. Tommy Walker (Roger Daltrey) loses his sight, hearing, and the ability to speak after witnessing his father’s accidental murder, but rises to fame as a pinball wizard with the help of his mother (Ann-Margret) and his stepfather (Oliver Reed). Heroes may rise, but the fall can be twice as hard.
Directed by Ken Russell, Tommy adapts The Who’s 1969 “rock-opera” album of the same title. The movie was relatively well received by critics and received Oscar nominations for Best Actress (Ann-Margret) and Best Original Song Score or Adaptation Score (Pete Townshend).
By 1975, musicals were already kind of wearing thin. A new crop of “hippy” musicals like Jesus Christ Superstar, Hair, and Godspell helped to give a slight boost to the genre, but many of the great musicals had already been filmed by this time. Tommy is a perfect fit for these musicals both in theme and style.
The story for Tommy is set up in The Who’s album and already bridges on absurdity. The film flushes out and ties the songs together a bit better and presents a Christ figure like Godspell and Jesus Christ Superstar. Unlike those two musical, Tommy is a false idol that while he himself isn’t evil, he is surrounded by those who use and abuse him…literally and figuratively. Unlike something like A Clockwork Orange or Goodfellas, you kind of want Tommy to succeed, but the commercialism surrounding his miracle is his downfall.
The movie can give a lot of its success to its cast. Robert Daltrey isn’t forced to act much and mostly just plays Tommy as a starry-eyed kid for most of the movie, but there is something electric about his energy and style when Tommy does come alive. Ann-Margret gives it all as Tommy’s mother and even injured herself during her famous baked beans, detergent, and chocolate scene. Oliver Reed is a good slimy guy and other members of The Who John Entwistle, Pete Townshend, and Keith Moon also make appearances. Elton John appears in his famous giant shoes and glasses as the Pinball Wizard, Tina Turner is the Acid Queen, and Eric Clapton plays the Preacher. Jack Nicholson gives a rare singing performance as the Specialist and director Ken Russell plays a cripple.
The actors oddly sing all their own songs. The music doesn’t dub over The Who’s album and modifies some of the music. Some of these actors (like Nicholson and Reed) probably shouldn’t be singing but it gives the movie a more authentic feel, but it is also kind of jarring if you are used to the album. The music combines with some great over the top visuals especially surrounding Tommy’s visions and his camp.
The Who’s Tommy is a different film and as a result is a lot of fun. I concede it isn’t the best musical, but it is world above some of the other musicals produced in the ’70s and ’80s (Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, I’m glaring at you). The spirit and the energy of the film carries over and continues to make Tommy stand-out. Follow Tommy’s teachings…“Hear me, touch me, feel me” and enjoy Tommy.
Movie Name: Looper
Release Date(s): September 6, 2012 (Toronto International Film Festival)/September 28, 2012
MPAA Rating: R
In 2044, loopers are agents in the past that clean up crimes in the future. When a looper’s future self is sent into the past to be killed, the looper’s contract is fulfilled, and the looper “closes the loop” to live the rest of his or her life until they are sent to the past to be executed. Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is saving for his future, but when his future self (Bruce Willis) escapes him, Joe must hunt him down to close the loop and save himself from death from his boss. Unfortunately, the older Joe is hunting someone called “the Rainmaker” who he believes could be eliminated and could change his future forever.
Written, produced, and directed by Rian Johnson, Looper is a sci-fi action thriller. The relatively low-budget movie was released to positive reviews and a strong box office return. The film went on to win a lot of awards and recognition for its screenplay.
Time travel films are notoriously hard to pull off. Looper claims to be a high-concept time travel movie. While this is true for the most part, Looper seems to forget that it wants to be the thinking man’s time travel movie at points and goes for the lazy way out.
Looper is filled with plot problems that are simply wished away by “it’s time travel” (which in this situation is equivalent with “it’s magic”). I admire the basic concepts of the movie like the set-up and the idea of time really being a continuous loop that seems to never be broken…that stuff works. What doesn’t work for me is the basic “we care about time travel sometimes” aspect of the story. Bruce Willis shuts down time travel discussion in the café scene, but Looper is asking you to think about time travel. Here, parallel universes are brought up and time is just slippery…you can scar your arm and it randomly shows up on your future arm (having always been there). If that is the case, parallel universes wouldn’t exist. Willis should have never remembered his wife because it never happened (or reality completely shattered). Damaging a past version kills you? That seems counter-intuitive to the “smart” plot…either establish that parallel worlds exist or that time is linear…Looper can’t seem to decide except when it is convenient.
My second big problem with Looper is the TK thing. The movie randomly throws in people who can use telekinesis. I thought more was going to go into it, but it merely seems to be a plot device to set up “the Rainmaker” character. It doesn’t really seem to add to the plot. It is random and unnecessary. Why can’t the Rainmaker just be a bad guy with a tortured past caused by Willis or Gordon-Levitt? There doesn’t seem much need for psychic powers other than some cool visuals.
The cast cannot be faulted. Joseph Gordon-Levitt does an excellent Bruce Willis and Willis has mastered the stoic, broken man that he’s played for years since movies like The Sixth Sense. Emily Blunt is likable as Sara and Cid played by Pierce Gagnon is genuinely creepy. I wish there had been more Pual Dano and Jeff Daniels and Kid Blue (Nolan Segan) wasn’t developed enough…I figured maybe he’d be the young version of Daniels but that never happened.
Visually, the movie is smart. It was low budget and did a hybrid of naturalistic settings with futuristic objects. The movie is set in 2044 and the movie didn’t try to make the future too advanced which is smart. If you look at 1970 vs. 2000, the future is different but not extreme.
Looper was a bit of a disappointment to me in that it was so hyped. I waited a few years on seeing it and expected more from all the talk. It felt long, was a bit tedious, and I felt the script wasn’t up to the level of its acclaim. Time travel and magic are dangerous plot points because they can be used as lazy write-offs for plot loopholes. Looper seeks to “close the loop” at points but ultimately leaves some of them open.
Game Name: Metroid Prime Pinball
Developer(s): Fuse Games
Platform(s): Nintendo DS
Release Date(s): October 24, 2005 (USA)/January 19, 2006 (Japan)
ESRB Rating: E
Samus Aran has returned, but unfortunately, so have the Metroids. As Samus races to stop the pirates trying to capture and use the Metroids, she must battle her way through armies on the planet Tallon IV, travel to the Phendrana Drifts, and voyage deep into the Phazon Mines. Using the powers of the Morph Ball, Samus will become a weapon herself.
Developed by Fuse Games and published by Nintendo, Metroid Prime Pinball is a pinball themed game based on the Metroid Prime series released in 2002. The game received mostly positive reviews. The game was packaged with a rumble pack for the DS but the rumble pack is not necessary for gameplay.
I like pinball and a game where you transform into a ball is perfect for transformation into a pinball game. There have been various attempts to transform games and movies into pinball games…especially real stand-up pinball machines. Metroid Prime Pinball is one that works.
I will say however that pinball games with real goals are frustrating. I realize there is skill involved with pinball but trying to hit specific targets is a challenge that isn’t always fun…for pinball, sometimes survival is the ultimate goal. Metroid Prime Pinball asks you to advance and target a lot if you want to open up new boards.
In addition to having to hit specific targets, you have to kill enemies that are trying to kill you. You get beetles that capture you and shoot you at the holes, Metroids that drain you, and bosses that will out and out shoot at you. Just keeping the ball going is enough of a challenge…I don’t really need the extra threats.
The graphics aren’t the most powerful graphics (it is just a pinball game), but it does take some adjustment on the fact that the ball goes from top screen to bottom screen and there appears to actually be a bit of a dark area at the joint of the Gameboy. The ball sometimes seems to hide out here for a moment before falling onto the lower screen (or going to the top screen)…it isn’t a lag but it can throw off your ability to respond until you adjust to it.
Metroid Prime Pinball is a fun little pinball game that can be picked up for a relatively low price. It isn’t worth a lot, but it is a good game to pop in if you want to pass a little time without thinking much…when compared to actual Metroid Prime, this can be a quick little adventure to Tallon IV.
Angel Investigations is up and running with Gunn (J. August Richards) joining the team. Cordelia (Charisma Carpenter) deals with the increasing power of her visions as Wesley (Alexis Denisof) tries to hold the whole office together. Angel (David Boreanaz) discovers his past come back to haunt him in the form of Darla (Julie Benz)…the vampire that sired him! As Wolfram & Hart continues to try to maneuver Angel into their clutches, a trip to another dimension could yield a new team member for Angel Investigations.
Angel—Season 2 aired from September 26, 2000 to May 22, 2001. The series aired on the WB and featured a few crossovers with its founding series Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Angel was always kind of the stepchild of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I feel that not as much was put into it (especially these early seasons) and I think as a result, not as much came out. Season 1 was ok…it wasn’t bad and it wasn’t great, and Angel—Season 2 suffered more from some of the continuing storylines that really dragged down the season (especially the end).
I am not a huge fan of the villains and overall plot in Angel. The first half of the season mostly deals with Julie Benz’s Darla character who is resurrected by the attorneys of Wolfram & Hart. Benz’s character’s storyline plays out kind of like Angel’s storyline in Buffy and the whole Wolfram & Hart characters are rather dull…they can only make so many “attorneys are bloodsuckers” jokes.
The second part of the season involves Angel getting back in the good graces of his team at Angel Investigations after going off the deep end with Darla. It is a little better, but I like “Team Angel” more than solo Angel so that hurts the plot a little there. The season ends with an all out fantasy-fest on the Host’s world which is more like an episode of Xena than Buffy (they actually reference Xena)…it isn’t very good and feels kind of cheap.
I feel sorry for the cast because of this. It doesn’t seem to be coming together like the cast of Buffy the Vampire Slayer did. Boreanaz can’t really hold the show himself, and Alexis Denisof, Charisma Carpenter, and J. August Richards feel rather sidelined. I think Andy Hallett as Lorne aka The Host is a bit too silly as recurring cast member but he does work in small doses. Christian Kane, Stephanie Romanov, and Sam Anderson of Wolfram & Hart are also bland no matter how hard they try to spice them up.
Visually, Angel falls in line with Buffy. The monsters-of-the-week are generally cheap looking, but in a consistent way that you forget that they aren’t that great.
I feel Angel has potential that is kind of being wasted at this point. The stories and acting are almost there but haven’t quite made it over the hump. It lacks the young pep that Buffy had (especially in the early seasons), but it also doesn’t feel very adult. I hope Angel gets better (though I admire it for trying it to be something different than Buffy), but even if it doesn’t, I’ll keep plugging along.
Angel—Season 2 Complete Episode Guide:
2.1 Judgment Airdate: 09/26/00
Wesley (Alexis Denisof), Cordelia (Charisma Carpenter), and Angel (David Boreanaz) continue their work in Los Angeles and turn to Wesley’s associate the Host (Andy Hallett) at his karaoke bar for help when Cordelia has another vision of a demon. When Angel accidentally kills a woman’s protector, Angel realizes he has to find the pregnant woman (Justina Machado) to protect her when he learns her unborn child is a target. As Angel’s old ally Gunn (J. August Richards) joins Wesley and Cordelia in their work, Angel decides thing must change which means a visit to Faith (Eliza Dushku).
2.2 Are You Now Or Have You Ever Been? Airdate: 10/03/00
An investigation into a mysterious haunted hotel called the Hyperion in Los Angeles reveals a story of Angel’s past and life in the 1950s. Angel recalls his experience in the hotel and meeting a woman on the run after a robbery.
2.3 First Impressions Airdate: 10/10/00
Angel moves his company into the hotel and has dreams of Darla (Julie Benz), and they begin to affect his waking life. Angel and his team team-up with Gunn to track down a demon, but Cordelia has a vision of Gunn’s death. When Cordelia can’t get ahold of Wesley or Angel, she decides she must protect Gunn herself.
2.4 Untouched Airdate: 10/17/00
Angel tries to help a telepathic girl named Bethany Chaulk (Daisy McCracklin) but doesn’t know that that Lilah (Stephanie Romanov) from Wolfram & Hart already has her claws in her. Angel tries to teach Bethany to control her powers, and Gunn tracks Bethany’s past.
2.5 Dear Boy Airdate: 10/24/00
Wesley and Cordelia struggle with their finances, but Angel finds seeing Darla around Los Angeles is causing him to lose focus. When Darla appears as a woman named DeEtta Kramer, Angel tries to prove DeEtta is lying as Darla and Lindsey McDonald (Christian Kane) plot to trap Angel…pushing Wesley, Cordelia, and Gunn to worry that Angel will revert to his old ways.
2.6 Guise Will be Guise Airdate: 11/07/00
Angel finds himself out of commission when he goes on a quest to rid himself of his obsession with Darla and goes to see a swami named T’ish Magev (Art LaFleur). Wesley finds himself forced to stand in as Angel when he is kidnapped by Magnus Bryce (Todd Susman) and ordered to protect his daughter Virginia (Brigid Brannagh)…but Magnus actually has other plans.
2.7 Darla Airdate: 11/14/00
Darla finds herself suffering from having her soul back and remembers how she was sired by the Master (Mark Metcalf), found Angel, joined him in making Drusilla (Juliet Landau), and joining Angel, Drusilla, and Spike (James Marsters) on their killing. When Lindsey finds Darla has been ordered terminated by Holland (Sam Anderson), Lindsey must decide where his loyalty lies, but Lindsey discovers that Wolfram & Hart has bigger plans.
2.8 The Shroud of Rahmon Airdate: 11/21/00
Angel goes undercover when Gunn learns about the robbery of the Shroud of Rahmon. Replacing a vampire named Jay-Don, Angel is unaware that the Shroud of Rahmon curses those around it…but under the Shroud’s influence, an investigation by Kate Lockley (Elisabeth Röhm) could mean death!
2.9 The Trial Airdate: 11/28/00
Darla discovers she’s dying from syphilis due to being restored to human state. Angel sets out to find a cure for Darla which could mean a series of trials led by a valet (Jim Piddock), but even if Angel succeeds, death could still come.
2.10 Reunion Airdate: 12/19/00
Wolfram & Hart have killed Darla using Drusilla and Angel sets out to kill Darla before she’s reborn. Unfortunately when Darla and Drusilla escape on a killing spree, Angel could be in a showdown with Wolfram & Hart, but Wolfram & Hart might have their own problems with their creations.
2.11 Redefinition Airdate: 01/16/01
Cordelia, Gunn, and Wesley question if Angel has been pushed to the edge after his decision to let Darla and Drusilla have Holland’s Wolfram & Hart party but find asking questions leaves them out of a job. Angel works to deal with Drusilla and Darla while Lindsey and Lilah vie for Holland’s spot at Wolfram & Hart.
2.12 Blood Money Airdate: 01/23/01
Gunn, Wesley, and Cordelia continue work without Angel. Angel runs into a shelter operator named Anne (Julia Lee) who has ties to Wolfram & Hart and learns that Wolfram & Hart is sponsoring a fundraiser called Highway Robbery Ball. A demon named Boone (Mark Rolston) is out to find Angel and get revenge even if it means teaming with Wolfram & Hart.
2.13 Happy Anniversary Airdate: 02/06/01
Angel is contacted by the Host and learns that a man that came into the bar could hold the key to the end of the universe. Gene Rainey (Matt Champagne) works to stop time but finds surprising help from Lubber demons. Cordelia, Wesley, and Gunn open their new office and get the lead on a job from Virginia.
2.14 The Thin Dead Line Airdate: 02/13/01
When Anne comes to Angel Investigations with reports that cops are targeting her wards, Gunn investigates the complaints personally. Angel is forced to go to Kate when he’s assaulted by a police officer that turns out to be a zombie. Someone is reanimating dead officers, and Wesley could be the next casualty.
2.15 Reprise Airdate: 02/20/01
Angel learns that the Review is coming at Wolfram & Hart and that killing the coming Senior Partner could be the only way to stop it. Kate learns that her recent on-job behavior could cause her to lose her job. Wesley confronts Angel’s recent behavior and reinjures himself. Cordelia responds to a call from a former client but doesn’t realize she’s walking into a trap. Angel learns that he might have to make a special trip to Hell to stop Wolfram & Hart…but learns a secret about Los Angeles in the process.
2.16 Epiphany Airdate: 02/27/01
Angel copes with discovery Earth is Wolfram & Hart’s “Home Office” and his night with Darla. When he meets with the Host and learns that Cordelia, Wesley, and Gunn are targeted by Skilosh demons for killing their spawn, Angel is forced into an uncomfortable reunion. Lindsey learns about Darla’s night with Angel and sets out for revenge.
2.17 Disharmony Airdate: 04/17/01
Harmony Kendall (Mercedes McNab) comes for a visit and reveals to Cordelia that she’s a vampire. A vampire co-op is forming in Los Angeles, and Angel Investigations must find a way to stop it…but their newest member Harmony might be the key to infiltrating it.
2.18 Dead End Airdate: 04/24/01
Angel, Wesley, and Gunn worry about Cordelia’s mental state as the psychic flashes become stronger. Wolfram & Hart have replaced Lindsey’s hand but Lindsey finds that the new hand has its own ideas. When Cordelia’s vision places Angel Investigations on the same path as Lindsey, Lindsey is forced to team-up with Angel.
2.19 Belonging Airdate: 05/01/01
Cordelia finds that her dreams of acting are shattered after a bad experience on a commercial. Gunn’s friends report of vampire activity but Gunn discovers his friend George (Darris Love) could pay the price. The Host finds his club invaded by a Drokken demon, and Angel Investigations find that it could be tied to the Host’s past. Cordelia’s vision of a woman named Winifred “Fred” Burkle who disappeared could be tied to the arrival of the Host’s cousin Landok (Brody Hutzler).
2.20 Over the Rainbow Airdate: 05/08/01
Cordelia is trapped in the dimension of the Host (aka Lorne) called Pylea. Gunn finds himself giving up the fight after the death of his friend George. Angel learns Wolfram & Hart is trying to buy Angel’s offices…and evict them. Cordelia discovers her visions might be a danger on Pylea as Angel Investigations heads there on a rescue mission.
2.21 Through the Looking Glass Airdate: 05/15/01
Cordelia’s visions have made her leader of Lorne’s people, but a discovery by Wesley finds Wolfram & Hart might reach into Lorne’s dimension. Angel adjusts to finding popularity among Lorne’s people and the fact he isn’t slave to his vampirism…but after discovering Fred, Angel finds he has other problems on Pylea. As Wesley and Gunn face rebels within the kingdom, Cordelia discovers that an uprising is coming.
2.22 There’s No Place Like Plrtz Glrb Airdate: 05/22/01
Lorne has been beheaded, but Cordelia learns that it might not mean death for him. Gunn and Wesley join the revolt and try to rescue Cordelia. Fred helps free Angel of his demon side, and Angel learns that Fred could be the key to getting back to Earth. Cordelia has a vision of the death her protector the Groosalugg (Mark Lutz) at Angel’s hands.
Movie Name: The Deer Hunter
Studio: EMI Films
Release Date(s): December 8, 1978
MPAA Rating: R
A group of friends living in Clairton, Pennsylvania spend their days working in the steel mill and hunting in the mountain. As war comes to Clairton, Michael Vronsky (Robert DeNiro), Nick Chevotarevich (Christopher Walken), and Steve Pushkov (John Savage) decide to enlist for Vietnam. Steve takes the opportunity to marry, Nick says goodbye to his girlfriend Linda (Meryl Streep), and Michael and the other all have one last hunting party with their friends. When a chance meeting in Vietnam brings them back together, all of them are captured and forced into a dangerous game. When Michael leads an escape, getting free might be easy…but no one truly escapes.
Directed by Michael Cimino, The Deer Hunter was a big success and one of the first Vietnam War films. It won Best Picture (with John Wayne giving away the award at his final public appearance), Best Director, Best Supporting Actor (Christopher Walken), Best Editing, and Best Sound with nomination for Best Actor (Robert DeNiro), Best Supporting Actress (Meryl Streep), Best Cinematography, and Best Writing.
The Vietnam War ripped America open and The Deer Hunter was an early attempt to deal with this. The movie contrasts the ideas glories of the heroes of past wars with the reality that became Vietnam (a meeting with a vet at the wedding foreshadows the change).
The movie is often noted for feeling really long. The movie’s length has a purpose. It shows the life before war, life during war, and life after war. All three men become different people physically and mentally. DeNiro is the only one to come back intact, but even he is uncertain and changed. If the movie wasn’t as long as it was, it wouldn’t have the impact. In spite of this, I do feel it could have been trimmed down and I felt the “God Bless America” singing was a bit too much…I got it by that point.
The movie’s intense most intense scene is obviously its most controversial scene. There were a lot of objections to the use of Russian roulette since there wasn’t any evidence of this occurring even among prisoners of war. Still, this is an incredibly tense scene and really can almost be seen as a symbolic game of Russian roulette that everyone who went to Vietnam was forced to play. Some made it through the war unscathed…others were wounded for life.
The acting in the movie is great. DeNiro’s detached nature before the war allowed him to be detached during war. In scenes like the Russian roulette scene, DeNiro is scary…but I also found him a bit scary during the hunting scene before they went to war when he refused John Cazale (in his final role…he was dying from cancer at the time) his boots. Walken’s deadpan and stoic expression helps make him look crazed when he’s at the end of his rope right before the evacuation. Even Meryl Streep in her relatively small role shows why she became a great actress (she also was given the liberty to ad lib most of her lines).
The Deer Hunter is an interesting film to look at as a historical piece. It was one of the first attempts to understand Vietnam and what it did to people who went there. The horrors seen at home didn’t match the horror that the soldiers went through. The movie might not show the horrible homecomings or resentment that many solders faced returning home, but it does show how even with a supportive home front, the return home wasn’t always possible.
Movie Name: Road to Perdition
Studio: The Zanuck Company
Genre(s): Comic Book/Drama
Release Date(s): July 12, 2002
MPAA Rating: R
Michael Sullivan (Tom Hanks) is a scary man. Irish mafia boss John Rooney (Paul Newman) makes the orders and Sullivan enforces them. To his sons Michael, Jr. (Tyler Hoechlin) and Peter (Liam Aiken), he’s just their father. When Michael, Jr. witnesses a murder, Rooney’s son Connor (Daniel Craig) decides he must silence the Sullivans permanently. When Connor only kills Peter and Michael’s wife Annie (Jennifer Jason Leigh), Michael and his son set out on a mission of revenge, and Michael, Jr. will learn why men fear his father…but blood is thicker than water and Rooney must pick family over friendship.
Directed by Sam Mendes, Road to Perdition is an adaption of Max Allan Collins and Richard Piers Rayner’s 1998 graphic novel. The film featured the last big screen appearance of Paul Newman (he made TV appearances and provided his voice in Cars). The film won an Academy Award for Best Cinematography (given posthumously to Conrad L. Hall) with nominations for Best Actor (Paul Newman), Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Best Sound, Best Sound Editing, and Best Original Score.
Tom Hanks sometimes rubs me the wrong way. I liked him as a comedian and in comedic roles and felt after Philadelphia (including Forrest Gump) that the fun had left his performances and he took himself too seriously with rather blasé performances. Despite a bit of a negative bias against Hanks, I really enjoy this movie.
Borrowing aspects of Lone Wolf and Cub, the movie is really about a son’s view of his father wrapped in a smart crime film. The film uses the two pairings of fathers and sons. You have a father who hates his son own son (Rooney) and thinks of his employee (Sullivan) as his son, but when push comes to shove, blood is thicker. This dynamic helps shape the movie…plus, you get an insane killer.
The star is really Tyler Hoechlin who is the teller of the story and the idea that the story is his version of Hanks character is interesting (though he appears to be a reliable storyteller). Hanks is Hanks, but since he isn’t the lead (and a “bad guy”), it is a bit of a different performance. Paul Newman is good as the pained father who is ashamed of his slimy son played by Daniel Craig. Jude Law is a good killer, but he’s a bit over the top.
The movie looks great. It is the final film of famed cinematographer of Conrad Hall (whose son accepted his Oscar). The movie’s Midwest setting is a bit unusual and the movie’s big showdown in the rain not only has a great noir style and a bit of a Akira Kurosawa look to it.
Road to Perdition was a bit downplayed when it was released in that it was mostly recognized for performances and looks. I think the story has a lot of nuances to it and ends up being a pretty compelling story. Road to Perdition is worth seeing if you want a strong drama with good performances and a great look.
Movie Name: Razorback
Studio: McElroy & McElroy
Release Date(s): November 2, 1984
MPAA Rating: R
Jake Cullen (Bill Kerr) finds his life ripped apart when his grandson is taken by a giant razorback. Jake sets out on a quest for revenge against razorbacks which puts him in contact with an American reporter named Beth Winters (Judy Morris) who is reporting on the hunting of kangaroos. When Beth is attacked by a group of men and killed by a mutant razorback, Beth’s husband Carl (Gregory Harrison) comes to Australia seeking answers, and with Jake and a researcher named Sarah Cameron (Arkie Whiteley), Carl will face the danger of men and monsters.
Directed by Russell Mulcahy, Razorback is a nature horror film. The movie was based on the 1984 novel by Peter Brennan. The film received average reviews and was considered part of the wave of Ozploitation films that were released in the ’80s.
Razorback already seems like a bad idea when you think about it. Wild boar are dangerous, but I also don’t find them very scary. It isn’t like a shark in Jaws that lies under the water…it is a loud, big, smelly pig. Razorback starts out kind of strong, but then fizzles.
Other than Jaws, it also feels like the story of Lindy Chamberlain has ties to Razorback. Like the classic “Dingoes ate my baby” quote, the start of the movie seems to borrow from it replacing dingoes with razorbacks. The movie really doesn’t have much of a path. For a while you think it is about Bill Kerr’s character, then you think it is about Judy Morris’ character, but the movie ends up being about Gregory Harrison’s character…the movie just drags out and ends in a bad, uninspired monster fight.
The acting is so-so. With no clear star, none of the actors seem to get what is due to them. The acting is very average with Bill Kerr being the most dynamic of the character. The Baker brothers that are played by Chris Haywood and David Argue just feel like bad extras from Mad Max. Jeff Bridges was considered for the role played by Gregory Harrison which would have been an improvement.
The movie starts out with some great atmosphere. The film has a dusty desert look that fits the Ozploitation style of the film with interesting lighting and scenery. Unfortunately, the look gets old fast. The style gets overblown, and this is combined with a rather weak “monster” boar that comes off as more goofy than deadly. It also directly steals a few shots from Jaws like the famous beach counter-zoom and the shark rising up out of the water behind Roy Scheider.
Razorback is a bad movie that has some fun in being a bad movie. The movie could have been better with streamlining and a more focused plot, but the movie needs some bigger jumps. The movie has gained a cult audience of the years, but I don’t know that it is very deserving of it. It is a relatively short movie and fans of horror and “animals attack” might want to check it out.