Review: Being Human (UK) Season 1

Being Human (UK) Season 1

Creator: Toby Whithouse

Cast: Lenora Crichlow as Annie the ghost, Russell Tovey as George the werewolf, Aidan Turner as Mitchell the vampire, Jason Watkins as Herrick the vampire and Sinead Keenan as Nina the love interest of George, who later, herself, becomes a werewolf.

Costume design: For the most part the costume design is unremarkable. It doesn’t lend itself the genre and if the point is being human, means being boring, mission accomplished.

Being Human

Set design: the two sets are the interior of an apartment and the interior of a hospital. The apartment, like the costumes are utterly unremarkable. We are to believe that a vampire, 300 years old, works for minimum wage and that’s all the money he has in the world.

Background music: unremarkable and adds absolutely nothing to the series. There is little to no memorable moments. In the latter part of the series they added contemporary pieces, but it was completely destroyed by the complete lack of imagination on the writer’s part by turning the “background” music into a montage. Music montage means -10. One you see a music montage it means the writer gave up.

Plot: The state plot is that a vampire, werewolf, and a ghost live together. They agree to try and be as normal as possible, A.K.A. be human. We are invited to ride along on their escapades while normalcy never happens.

Critique: the stated plot has almost nothing to do with what the viewer is presented. One is not whisked away into a story about an actual vampire, an actual werewolf, an actual ghost. The viewer is painfully aware, the entire time that they are watching 3 actors go through gobs of mundane and quite ordinary dialogue.

The vampire: the vampire is supposed to be 200 or 300 years old. His subplot is that he is trying to avoid drinking blood. Oh for the love of pete, this has been done to death. When Anne Ryce created the modern vampire, this is exactly what she did. For her it worked, because we are whisked away into a story about an actual vampire. BH never, ever transforms you into a world of real vampires, because the series has no special effects whatsoever. They might as well have done this on stage and narrated the story to us, by a man sitting in a chair reading the story to us.

For instance, this vampire, along with every other vampire, eats, breaths, can be choked, goes to the bathroom, walks around in the sun, gets hurt when he stubs his toe, and categorically is not undead, whatsoever, but neither is any other vampire in the show.

This gets a big fat zero. Quit calling the character a vampire if I’m more vampiric than the character.

The ghost: the ultimate rule of a ghost is that, at some point they relive their death or are torn emotionally. Also, a unique characteristic of a ghost is that they appear “ghostlike”. It ruins the imagination and mystery if the ghost is as solid as the football player “The Fridge”.

This character is the most unghostlike ghost ever. She is completely solid, has absolutely no underworld qualities about her, has a full range of emotions, and has little to no subplot. Her boyfriend / fiance supposedly killed her. Mind you the fiance weighs about 125lbs and stands proudly at 5’4, while she’s a solid 160lbs all day long and is not withering violet at 5’10.

What’s more is, although the dialogue is written with the thought that the audience is supposed to feel sorry for her, she is nothing more than annoying, whiny, illogical and 2 dimensional.

Furthermore, like the vampire, there are absolutely no ghost “tricks”. Oh if you count teleport as a ghost trick. Yes, that’s a fantastic special effect, move the actor off screen, viola she teleported.

The werewolf: This character is pathetic. Everything we’ve come to know, love, care about as being werewolf, is completely gone from this character. In this series, a werewolf is a human that has pms one day out of the month. In all other instances, he’s just a regular human.

Frankly this series is a huge waste of time. I don’t know if it’s the budget or simply the writing. There is absolutely nothing supernatural about this series.

At least, the actors read the lines, adequately.

For anyone that actually like werewolves, vampires and ghosts, they should stay away from this series. It offers absolutely nothing.

How to Buy the Same Watch President Obama Wears

How to Buy the Same Watch President Obama Wears

He’s no fashion trend setter, but he is the president.  President Barack Obama is the leading man of the free world.  As such, he commands the attention of a lot of people.  Not only does such attention extend to all of his words and speeches, but how he looks as well.  Not too few people notice he is not goofy looking, like Bush, or  homely like Carter.  He glides into a room and commands attention, all in one fell swoop.  While everyone cannot afford a $5,000 suit or a $2,000 tie / shoes, most anyone can ante up to buy the same exact watch he wears for a few hundred dollars.

Surprised?  Yeah, the price is pretty amazing.  The couple, Michelle and Barack, have some things in common, wearing sensibly priced clothes.  Remember she made it a point to mention, not too few of her dresses were from Old Navy, which tops out at about $30,00 for a dress.  While his clothes were never in question, they did mention he has a “body man”, someone that dresses him and makes sure he is looking neat and clean at all times, among other things.

President Obama Wearing Watch

President Obama has worn the Jorg Gray 6500 Chronograph on many historic occasions since August 2007 and most recently as President of The United States, with sightings including Election Night, the Inaugural Ball and Inauguration Day.

The Commemorative Edition Jorg Gray 6500 Chronograph offered here by Presidential Watches is the same make and model watch worn by President Barack Obama.

Probably the watch will be a collectors item one day. Not everyone even knows the company and watch exist. I can see people putting this one ebay in the near future.

Movie Review: Flipped

Flipped Needs to be Flipped Off

Rob Reiner takes us through a very weird tale of “young love”.  With an all star cast, how could you go wrong with this movie?  But, he does it in style and with aplomb, crashes like a Japanese Kamakazi going down in a blaze of glory.  It is 90 minutes of torture.  I don’t think the Alquaeda could have done a better job.

Cast: Juli Baker by Madeline Carroll; Bryce Loski by Callan McAuliffe; Patsy Loski by Rebecca De Mornay; Steven Loski by Anthony Edwards; Chet Duncan by John Mahoney; Trina Baker by Penelope Ann Miller; Richard Baker by Aidan Quinn; Daniel Baker by Kevin Weisman.

Flipped is a period piece of two very young kids and their changing opinions of each other through the ages from age 4 – 12 years old, and their coming into a mutual affection.  It is an on again, off again affection, on both sides.  The young girl admires the young boy, while the boy dislikes the young girl.  We are made to watch this scenario play out for 8 years of their life.

What was right about the movie?: The movie did have the correct cars and costumes for the period.  There were some wide shots of landscape vistas that were pretty.  That is the only thing the movie did right.

What was wrong with the movie?:

  • first and foremost the movie sexualized children.  It was 90 minutes of cringing.  It was sick, sick, sick.
  • the movie was a period piece and so many things were wrong
    1. none of the dialogue was from the 40s or 50s. The very essence of the period was the very proper and fantastic way Americans spoke at that time. The slang they used in those days was so colorful. All of this was completely gone in the movie and replaced with regular modern vocabulary and 2010 euphemisms. It’s a travesty.
    2. none of the manners that were widely observed in the 40s and 50s were apparent. If this movie is really targeted at baby boomers, as the movie suggests, they will be horrified by how the kids treat the adults.
    3. everyone cursed in the movie. To my knowledge, and I am fairly old, people did not walk around cursing each other out, however in this movie, kids, teens and adults cursed like sailors.
    4. other than people wearing funky clothes, there was nothing that took you back to the 40s and 50s.
  • there was no point to the entire movie. The diaglogue was boring, and the entire screenplay was narrated. To add insult to injury, the narration “flipped” between both lead characters. The only relief of something actually happening was when the kids interacted with the adults in the movie. I don’t hate kids, but come on, they are not fun to watch.
  • Finally, kids acting like kids, but written by hairy old white men, with Harvard Business School vocabularies, removes all semblance of somehow being transported into a “kid’s” world. Someone should have clued Rob Reiner into how kids actually talk, before he sat down to write an entire screenplay about them.

The movie does not fit into any demographic that I could tell. I have no idea who this movie would appeal to. I say that to say, don’t go see it, but if you’re … I have no idea … then go see it, but… I have no idea who would like this trash.  It was agonizing to watch this.

I kept expecting something to happen and … then the movie ended.  It was a very Sopranos ending.  I am sure more than a few people will be angry at having sat through this movie only to have it end without any conclusion to the story whatsoever.

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Movie Review: Predators

Predators 2010

Predators 2010

Predators (2010) directed by Nimrod Antal, stars Lawrence Fishburne, Adrien Brody, Topher Grace.  It is possibly the worst movie I’ve ever seen in my life.  It was boring, one dimensional and added nothing to the franchise.  To say there were plot holes everywhere, would suggest there was a plot of some sort.  After consulting some of the behind the scenes, perhaps the editor of the film itself is to blame, because some of the explanation as to why some characters are doing what in the film made it only to the cutting room floor.

This is no Dark Knight.  Adrien Brody attempts a cool, calm performance with a gruff, raspy voice throughout the film.  Instead of adding color to his character, you just wanted him to go gargle and STOP IT!  I’m not saying the acting was bad but, I’m just saying the acting was bad, or maybe it was the lack of script.

Predators opens up with several humans being dropped on an alien planet, presumably a reserve, predator hunting ground.  The humans all turn out to be various caricatures of earth’s version of “killers”, all except one, or is he?  But, the character has all of 12 lines in the movie so it doesn’t even matter.  There’s a plot twist, there’s that word plat again, but when we realize the “twist” we don’t care, we just want the predator to die and the human to win.

The characters, are all one dimensional portrayals of what we think of as killers here on earth, i.e. soldiers, mass-murderers, serial killers, thugs and mafia types.  It would be one thing if this movie could have explored each of these class of “killers” and add some depth to them, but any such explanation was not even touched upon in this 107 minute movie.  The movie was cut so short, as to appear to be a music video, more than a movie.  At any moment in the movie where you think you might see a glimmer of character coming from one of the members of this elite team of humans, they are killed off, almost always in mid-sentence to actually introducing a plot device.  “By the way I know how you can lure predators in because I used to …”kkkkkkkshuk thunkkkkk dead.  In fact my sarcasm is more interesting than any line in the movie.

Lawrence Fishburne Stars as Noland in Predators

Although Lawrence Fishburne gets top billing in the movie he literally has 5 lines in the movie.  Apparently he was on loan, simply to make a cameo and set up a plot… yeah right.  I already told you there was no plot.  I’m guessing someone got the bright idea to have him make a cameo and pay him untold sums of money for it.  You could literally remove his entire scene and the movie would have not been any different.  It’s literally just that bad.  Oh, not Lawrence Fishburne.  He was amazing.  But, his character and dialogue were… inconsequential to anything going on in the movie.  Except for the Japanese guy got a cool samurai sword from meeting him… racist much?  Here’s a guy that’s an expert with handguns, but apparently he wants to throw that away and get a katana, to fight against the 10 foot tall alien with dread locks and energy beam weaponry.  And, we all know crazy Black men, always have an ancient samurai sword laying around their lair … on alien planets?  Who writes this crap?  It’s like 7 degrees of trash.

Thank God there is no sex scene in this movie, because there is, in fact, a woman in it.  I was just cringing, thinking how they were going to work that in the movie.  And, with whom: the serial killer; the mass murderer; or the unemotional, completely detached and devoid of feelings lead character.  Because everyone knows unemotional, completely detached and devoid of human feelings men always desire to have a sexual encounter in the middle of a jungle, while being hunted down by aliens with ridiculously superior technology, to boot.  Surprisingly, Hollywood did let me down, or up.  I can’t figure out what I want, to disappointed that the movie wasn’t as horrible as I feared it would be or that a cliche’, out-of-place sex scene was not included in the God awful movie.

If I were grading the cinematography, this movie would fail so horribly.  Supposedly they are on a “jungle” planet.  But, they movie from Amazon like flora to … birch trees?  REALLY?  I heard of suspending belief, but this is God Damned Ridiculous.  At one point in the movie they are walking on shale rock.  Who was keeping track for them?  Could they not afford to shoot on location in Brazil for the whole movie?  Or has the rain-forest been decimated that much by clear cutting that you can’t shoot an actor walking in it for more than 5 minutes?

A whole lot of stuff just made no sense in the movie.  And, by no sense, I mean it was just meaningless.  At one point they sick predator looking hounds on the group.  The hounds are called off, and the viewer is left pondering what the point was.  Oh, oh, until the lead character “explains” that it’s just a test.  *FACEPALM*  That’s the best explanation they could come up with and excuse to show a CGI dog?  They literally could have had one of the dumber characters just say, “oh man those were wicked looking,” and it would have made more sense.  Because, that’s what the scene was actually about.  “Let me show you how cool these CGI dogs look.”

Who will like this movie?  Probably boys ages 9 – 14.  I can’t see anyone, with a brain, even sitting through this short film.

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Movie Review: The American "A Must Not Watch"

The American

This is a Gun and Two People in the Movie

So everyone hates Hollywood as much as I do right?  RIGHT?  I thought so.  And, apparently, so does  Director Anton Corbijn, but he’s Dutch so…  Well, anyway, so he directed writer Rowan Joffe’s The American.  He really really REALLY tried to make it minimalist, existensialist and super cool, right?  Yeah, so if I’m reviewing it, you know he failed.  I only review what I think are failed movies.  I’m kidding.  I’m sure I’ve given good reviews of something, somewhere.  I can’t remember.  But this is not one of those, “oh my gosh, what a great movie” reviews.

So, Academy Award winner George Clooney stars in the title role of the American. He plays the role of Jack, a lone assassin. After a gruesom job in Sweden ends, he hidey holes in the a small medieval Italian countryside. Against his better judgement and wishes, he takes on an assignment to construct a weapon for a sexy yet cold contact, Mathilde (Thekla Reuten). To add another layer of suspense to the already “suspenseful” plot ,in the mountains of Abruzzo, Jack becomes the object of friendship of a local priest Father Benedetto (Paolo Bonacelli). To add even more layers to the already convoluted onion wrap, he gets embroiled in a torrid liaison with a “lady”, Clara (Violante Placido). Jack and Clara’s escapades turn into a somewhat nebulous romance, however it does offer an out from his current “profession”.

Director: Anton Corbijn
Writer: Rowan Joffe
George Clooney – Jack
Paolo Bonacelli – Father Benedetto
Thekla Reuten – Mathilde
Violante Placido – Clara
Irina Bjorklund – Ingrid
Johan Leysen – Pavel

So where does it fail?  The entire movie you have NO idea what is going on, who’s on the screen, and why do you care.  It’s as if they cast George Clooney so the audience would just feel like, “oh this must be a great, I don’t understand a damn thing, but it must be great”.  Basic storytelling dictates that you at least tell your listener / viewer who you’re talking about.  This movie never tells you who the characters are.

Father Benedetto who’s Crucial to the Plot Somehow

While the settings are beautiful and the acting superb, there’s just no movie here.  Who can watch a movie where they have no idea what the story is.  You don’ t know who any single character is in the whole thing, nor what their motivation is.  Trust me, I don’t like being spoon fed a story, but at least I’d like to know why the main character is going to be murdered.

Why so many inconsequential subplots?  The entire cast is all of just 5 people.  Outside of the main character, in the end, after remembering the movie, you suddenly realize that half the subplots were meaningless to the story and had absolutely no closure.

This is a: Must Not Watch.

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Movie Review: Howl’s Moving Castle

Howl’s Moving Castle

Howl’s Moving Castle

Howl’s Moving Castle (2004), winner of Best Animated Feature Film 2006, is another anime directed by the legendary Hayao Miyazaki.  It is based on a novel by Diana Wynne Jones.  I’ll admit right away that I don’t always understand Miyazaki’s style of storytelling, but that’s not to say his anime movies are not entertaining.  It is just that the animation is done in the Akira style of animation.  That mean’s that instead of the very easy to do “move the lips only” style of animation, he animates everything on screen, i.e. fruit falling on the floor from a table, facial expressions, jars breaking, someone peeking their head our from behind a door.  Sometimes, however, I feel that in his zeal to animate everything on screen it gets in the way of the story itself.

A specific criticism of Howl’s moving castle is that, although it is set in a fantasy steam-punk world, where you have coal powered trains, yet flapping airplanes and wizards and witches, the story has nothing to do with the setting at all.  This story could have been told in any setting, and probably would have been more understood.

Howl’s Moving Castle is a story of a very unlikely girl named Sofi, who is of normal looks, getting involved in the world of a Casanova wizard, who normally steals the hearts of young beautiful women.  When Sofi, a quiet and reserved hat maker, is seen by the evil Wicked Witch of the Wastes, she is cursed to be aged to be about 70 years old, with the inability to every speak of the curse.  Sofi sets out to find Howl, who got her involved in the first place to remove this curse.

Sofi the Hat Maker

The backdrop to the story is that their country is at war with a neighboring country, when the prince of the neighboring country goes missing.  We are led to believe that the two countries are the only ones that matter and therefore accusations of kidnapping fall on Sofi’s country alone.

That is the setting for the story and backdrop story, but the real moral of the story is that it Sofi has to come to grips with her own self worth.  Although she finds Howl, the dashing wizard, in his moving castle, she feels he is completely unattainable although he’s right next to her.  What solidifies this feeling of the two being separated in the viewers mind is this age curse that is put on her.  She looks 70 years old visually, so even the viewer is led to understand her feelings of being unable to attain what is right before her.

Grandma Sofi

One thing of note about Sofi, is that we see her change shapes throughout the movie.  In one scene she is the old crone with white/gray hair.  In another scene she is the young original version of herself, cute.  The difference is scene by who is looking at her and again her own self-worth.  When Howl looks at her, or she is feeling her love for him, she is young and cute.  When she “comes to her senses” she immediately ages back into the crone.  The impact of this is wonderfully illustrated by the facial expressions sofi goes through, from being happy to having a frown of realization come over her face that she cannot have Howl.

As mentioned before, the story didn’t even need the setting of both fantasy and steam-punk along with it.  Sure it is nice to have that setting, but I would have liked to have the story be about the setting more, and not a simple chick flick, love story.

[ In my personal opinion, I am against chick flicks because it super-imposes the views of the director / writer upon the female population, as if to say, this is how you should act and behave in a love situation. ]

The Witch of the Wastes

Howl’s Moving Castle deals with a lot of psychological drama that is subtly imposed upon the viewer.  Sofi’s self-worth identification.  Howl’s lack of maturity and standing up to the mother figure that is the head wizard.  Howl’s need to stand up to his former lover the Wicked Witch of the Wastes.  Sofi’s overwhelming niceness by inviting the Wicked Witch of the Wastes to come stay with them.  Sofi’s mother backstabbing her own daughter for her own self preservation.

With all of this going on, it is not necessary to have the setting be fantasy steam-punk.  This could easily be set in modern times.  A whole lot of filler is put into the movie to extend the longevity of it.  Sometimes the filler is just put in to make the movie visually interesting, as mentioned above.

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Movie Review: Dragonball: Evolution

Dragonball: Evolution

Goku

Dragonball: Evolution is a 2009 American live-action film extremely loosely based upon the Japanese Dragon Ball media franchise. It was directed by James Wong, produced by Stephen Chow and released by 20th Century Fox. The story centers around the adventures of the lead character, Goku, around his 18th birthday, as he is asked to gather seven Dragon Balls to save the world from evil alien forces. On his journey, he meets several different characters who all join the quest and help him in his task. The film stars Justin Chatwin as Son Goku, Randall Duk Kim  as Grandpa Gohan, Emmy Rossum as Bulma Briefs, James Marsters as Lord Piccolo, Jamie Chung as Chi-Chi, Chow Yun-fat as Master Roshi, Joon Park as Yamcha and Eriko Tamura as Mai.

Let’s be honest, this film had nearly no resemblance to anything in the Dragonball franchise.  I’ve heard of artistic liberty, but this takes the cake.  This was a complete rewrite of the entire Dragonball world.  My only theory is that neither the director, nor producer nor even the security guard on set, saw any of the Dragonball anime episodes.

They literally should have renamed all the characters and slap the title “White Ninja” on it.  It would have been far more believable.  For any Dragonball fan, this was a complete slap in the face.  And, I don’t understand why Hollywood continues to do this.  They take a franchise, with millions of core fans, and bastardize it for some unknown viewer and ruins the entire series.

Lord Piccolo

This movie, in a word, was terrible.  The acting was just, so bad, that it wasn’t even laughable.  Chow Yun-Fat delivered a career ending performance.  If they say that the acting was done to mimic the anime, they are wrong.  There is a difference between an animaniacs style of acting and this travesty on film.  Randall Duk Kim  as Grandpa Gohan started off the entire movie with the most wooden delivery of lines I have ever seen.  Maybe he didn’t have his prunes for the day, but he was rather stiff, if you know what I mean.  James Marsters as Lord Piccolo couldn’t have pulled off a worse performance, in my opinion.  Maybe he should stick to vampires.  It seems like it’s his forte.  Justin Chatwin as Son Goku, leads the show in “line please”.  It was just aweful.

Sometimes you cannot blame the actors, well not completely.  You have to take into account what they’re working with.  The script was just poor.  It was so poorly laid out that one has to piece together what it all meant.  That is the main reason I said it should have been simply named “White Ninja”.  The Dragonball world was never laid out in prain engrish.  I don’t mean treat me like a child and spoon feed me narration, but don’t be so terrible at storytelling that I have to guess what you mean.

Master Roshi

Casting was terrible.  No actor fit any role, with the exception of James Marsters as Lord Piccolo.  For a heavy martial arts film, there was little to no martial arts in the movie and Chow Yun-Fat, whom we all know can deliver in martial arts, did little to no martial arts.  After about one scene of him throwing Goku around, we get little to no action.  I know he’s getting long in the tooth, but if he going to be in a martial arts movie, he better damn well deliver me from karate chops and judo punches damnit.  The star of the show is a white boy with an adolescent body.  I’m sure many of you probably saying he was cute or some rubbish like that.  Dragonball has to be THE quintessential Japanese anime.  It is Japan.  Goku is supposed to have 30 inch pythons [arms] on his worst day, and be very japanese.  A majority of the characters in Dragonball are drawn with the extreme epicanthic fold, or Asian eye fold.  Clearly they wanted the characters identified as Asian.  And, lastly, again with the Black monks.  As I said in The Last Airbender, I am glad Black people are getting work, but this is just too weird.  Why Black monks?  Is that the new pimp for Hollywood?  “Oh, we need a Black guy, should we make him the monk?”  I just don’t get it.  And they had to paint extremely white hair on his  mustache and beard, because Black people do not age.  It was pure comedy.

I knew going in this movie was going to … in a word … suck.  But, to not even be recognizable as Dragonball is just astonishing.

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