Friday, May 29, 2009

Up Discussion

Sam and Jordan discuss Up, its effect on their tear ducts (or its effect on the reviewer WITH tearducts, anyway), and the seeming infallibility of Pixar in the comments section. Enjoy!

Sam's Review: UP

Pixar just doesn’t care. It does not give one shit. This new movie UP was just the biggest middle finger they could give to every Disney marketing executive. So here’s the pitch, an old man named Carl Fredrickson (Ed Asner) goes on a balloon adventure with a boy scout named Russell (Jordan Nagai) who accidentally joined him on his journey to South America to fulfill his late wife’s wish of having a house there. Oh yeah the movie starts with maybe the most devastatingly sad (but beautiful) sequence of an entire life in a Disney movie (I cried, like tears cried. Deal with it.).

After being told he had to leave his house which he built with his late wife, Carl decides to embark on this adventure by floating away by attaching hundreds and hundreds of balloons. Carl is a balloon salesman so that’s how he got that many balloons. OK? Carl discovers Russell was on his porch so he comes along for the ride. What started Carl and his wife Ellie’s obsession with going to South America was the adventurer Charles Muntz who is introduced at the beginning of the film in a well made sequence of a newsreel in the 30’s. Carl and Russell go on a wild adventure and meet some really great characters in Dug the talking dog (well, his collar talks) and Kevin who happens to be an extremely rare bird. Both Dug and Kevin are played for laughs and they both succeed. Of course things aren’t easy for the crew to get to the special spot called Paradise Falls. Turns out Kevin is being hunted. Hmmm.

I know the plot doesn’t sound like much but I don’t want to give too much away because I know the millions of people who read this blog would be oh so upset. But it actually works very well and is not as thin as it seems.

When judging a movie I try to keep it simple separating what I liked and what I didn’t like. Honestly, I can’t think of anything I didn’t like. Director Peter Docter did a magnificent job at making me care for these characters. Who knew an old man could carry a Disney movie? But the film packed so much of an emotional punch it was almost shocking. Thinking about this, I realized this isn’t Disney, this is Pixar. Disney is the company that made Bolt and will be releasing the not anticipated at all adaptation of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. Pixar made Toy Story and Wall-E. Before the film started I saw a preview for another Disney movie called G-Force. It’s a collaboration between Disney and Jerry Bruckheimer. It’s about guinea pigs who are also spies. Genius! There was also a preview for the new Ice Age movie where they meet dinosaurs. Anachronism! So then I saw UP and was actually moved to tears in the first 10 minutes. Is there anyone else making these movies?

The animation in this film really shows how Pixar is the dominant force in more than just storytelling but in artistic merit. I always look for what Pixar is working on and improving in each movie. In this movie the small details like how balloons floated in air and how dogs walked and ran were brilliant and just showed how they’re a step above everyone else. The storytelling is also incredibly well done, using flashback to start the movie which really ties many of the things in the film together. Amazingly, Pixar was able to make a movie that kids could enjoy that was about growing old.

Confirmation of what I already knew was given to me by people around me in the theatre. A couple of adults behind me (no children with them) were laughing throughout the movie. One of the six little kids in front of me gave her review of the movie as soon as the credits rolled saying, “This was the best, longest movie ever!” And some good for nothin’ teenager, likely early high school age, said, “This was so sad. Disney movies aren’t supposed to be this sad!” He was right. Thank god Pixar doesn’t give a shit.


Note: Another great thing about Pixar are the shorts before the movies. For UP it started with a short called Partly Cloudy, which was cute and funny. Basically every Pixar short ever.

Jordan's Review: Up

There is little doubt in my mind that Pixar has the best track record of any studio around. It can be argued that they have yet to make a bad movie (I didn’t see Cars myself, but I’ve never heard it was anything worse than mediocre), so when the new Pixar movie comes out, you can inevitably count me in. To say that I was excited to see Up would be an understatement—I expected it to be nothing less than phenomenal, and I’m glad to say that its easily the best movie released so far this year (though, as a qualifier, it has been a fairly weak year so far).
The film opens with a young boy watching a news reel of his favorite explorer Charles Muntz (Christopher Plummer) as he sets off for South America. On the way home from the film, the boy meets Ellie, a young girl with a penchant for adventure. Soon viewers are whisked, via an engaging, moving, and nearly wordless montage, through the lives that these two characters make together. They are married, they buy the house in which they met, and they begin saving to take their own adventure to the place where Muntz went before them—Paradise Falls, South America. The segment beautifully captures an entire life—both the joys, like picnicking together, decorating their house, and reading side-by-side, and the tragedies, from the pitfalls of everyday life that keep draining their vacation savings to their deterioration into an elderly couple, and finally to Ellie’s death. Where their relationship ends, however, is where the film truly begins.
Carl Fredericksen (Ed Asner) is 78 when the story picks back up, and about to lose his house to a development project. He’s pretty much your standard curmudgeon, annoyed by a neighborhood kid named Russell (Jordan Nagai), and ready to take his cane to one of the developers who destroys the mailbox he and Ellie built together. His act of desperate passion ends up costing him his house, and he must prepare to be shipped off to a retirement home. Carl doesn’t plan to be defeated that easily, and so he rigs his house with thousands of balloons and takes to the sky, determined to have the adventure he and Ellie never got to share.
The film is surprisingly moving for one directed at kids, partially because of Asner’s wearied, pained vocals. Carl misses his wife dearly, and still talks to her as if she was there. And Russell, the neighborhood kid who winds up tagging along on Carl’s quest, is neglected by his father and desperately seeks approval. As the two wind up in South America, and Carl sets about pulling his own house (in an act of committed strength that is downright Sisyphus-ian) to the spot Ellie had dreamed of, they encounter some odd wildlife—both a giant, rainbow colored bird, and a talking dog, who complicate Carl’s quest.
The film is as visually dazzling as it is heartwarming; a gem of a story told in a way that both amuses and endears. Up lacks the tight plotting of some other Pixar projects, which allows it to wander to unexpected places, and actually makes it in many ways more tense and exciting. Several times throughout the movie I actually found myself on the edge of my seat, so committed to these characters that any potential danger legitimately worried me. The studio has always excelled at economy of storytelling, and that is present here too, with the opening montage serving as a perfect encapsulation of an entire life and brilliantly setting up Carl’s character in a way that allows the audience to empathize with his grief and cheer for him even when he is off-putting towards the needy Russell. Pixar continues to push the boundaries of what is acceptable in children’s movies and refuses to talk down to its audience, two qualities I greatly respect.
The movie is complex, both narratively and emotionally, yet it always has faith that the audience will keep up. With a perfect mixture of heartfelt emotion (both tragic, in Carl’s remembrances of his wife, and heartwarming, as Carl forms a bond with Russell) and kid-friendly comedy (the talking dogs provide plenty of laughs for all ages), Up is a marvel of a movie from a studio that has proved gems are their stock in trade.

Grade: A

Monday, May 25, 2009

Terminator Salvation Discussion

Note: The following conversation is filled with SPOILERS so beware. As you were.

Trying something a little different this time. Sam and I debate our vastly different reviews via AIM. Sam is FrogCD and I am BobChanning2o5. Enjoy!-Jordan

FrogCD (8:13:10 PM): very different reviews
BobChanning2o5 (8:13:34 PM): indeed
BobChanning2o5 (8:13:39 PM): i knew id like it more than you
FrogCD (8:15:21 PM): i'm not excited to see what's next it ended with james cameron in my mind
FrogCD (8:15:33 PM): t2 was one of the best sequels ever
FrogCD (8:15:46 PM): i truly believe that and i wish cameron made this movie instead of mcg
FrogCD (8:16:03 PM): and that the third didn't exist
BobChanning2o5 (8:16:54 PM): hehehe
BobChanning2o5 (8:17:05 PM): i agree that T2 was a great sequel
BobChanning2o5 (8:17:15 PM): but i think if the next one is more robot killing, ill be happy
BobChanning2o5 (8:17:20 PM): i guess we had different expectations
BobChanning2o5 (8:17:26 PM): lets do the discussion
FrogCD (8:17:43 PM): i think ultimately i would not want this movie to be made at all
FrogCD (8:18:17 PM): the idea of the first two was that by saving john connor (unborn or scrappy pre-teen) the humans would win that's it
BobChanning2o5 (8:18:25 PM): right
BobChanning2o5 (8:18:27 PM): and they will
BobChanning2o5 (8:18:32 PM): but they were always going to
BobChanning2o5 (8:18:38 PM): its not really a nihilistic series
FrogCD (8:18:41 PM): those movies also had emotional depth because they discussed the future of the world
BobChanning2o5 (8:18:43 PM): now we just get to see how they do
FrogCD (8:18:53 PM): now the future already happened and its who gives a fuck?
FrogCD (8:19:20 PM): i don't know, i'd have to believe cameron stopped for a reason
BobChanning2o5 (8:19:38 PM): i was never really invested in the "emotional punch" f the future thing
BobChanning2o5 (8:19:50 PM): i got invested in the relationship between john and the terminator in t2
FrogCD (8:19:52 PM): that's what makes a great action movie great, provides the 'splosions and gives u something to think about
BobChanning2o5 (8:19:57 PM): other than that it was all about killing things for me
BobChanning2o5 (8:20:03 PM): and they do a lot of that in this movie
FrogCD (8:20:03 PM): its the tradition of the franchise even if its not the goal of all action moives
FrogCD (8:20:39 PM): like the goal of die hard was to blow the fuck out of shit, and it was perfect
FrogCD (8:20:42 PM): and had some laughs
BobChanning2o5 (8:20:58 PM): why are we doing this here?
FrogCD (8:20:59 PM): the terminator series was like we gotta stop this terrible shit from happening to earth. Are we doomed
BobChanning2o5 (8:21:11 PM): but you already knew the stuff would happen to earth
FrogCD (8:21:14 PM): cause i'm lazy, y don't u just copy and paste this convo
BobChanning2o5 (8:21:20 PM): not a bad plan
BobChanning2o5 (8:21:29 PM): 9how meta of this once its published)
FrogCD (8:21:29 PM): they still try to stop skynet in the second movie
BobChanning2o5 (8:21:36 PM): right, but clearly they fail
BobChanning2o5 (8:21:42 PM): or no terminators would ever come back
BobChanning2o5 (8:22:01 PM): you know at the end of the second movie that they fail, if memory serves
BobChanning2o5 (8:22:09 PM): which was resonant for me as well
BobChanning2o5 (8:22:17 PM): they knew they would fail, but they tried anyway
BobChanning2o5 (8:22:23 PM): because it was the right thing to do
FrogCD (8:22:33 PM): yeah which is about trying to control one's destiny
BobChanning2o5 (8:22:41 PM): right
BobChanning2o5 (8:22:51 PM): and the terminator movies say pretty clearly that you cant do that
FrogCD (8:22:55 PM): that's something to think about that isn't just someone yelling "Hold On!"
BobChanning2o5 (8:22:57 PM): whats bound to happen is bound to happen
FrogCD (8:23:03 PM): yeah but they said something
BobChanning2o5 (8:23:21 PM): i may disagree with that point, but its maintained throughout the three movies worth talking about
FrogCD (8:23:25 PM): this movie basically grabbed a handful of already used sci-fi cliches and threw them on the screen
FrogCD (8:23:35 PM): what makes us human?
BobChanning2o5 (8:23:36 PM): i mean you know that john and kyle live, but you always knew that
FrogCD (8:23:37 PM): c'mon
BobChanning2o5 (8:23:55 PM): from the original you knew how kyle died and that john would save humanity
BobChanning2o5 (8:24:35 PM): so watching him do that becomes an exercise in the definition of humanity (which is overdone, but an exceptible "idea" to explore in an action movie) as well as kick ass action
FrogCD (8:24:36 PM): but in the second they send ANOTHER terminator to try to change the future which is what it's all about. can you change the future? in this movie we are already in the future
BobChanning2o5 (8:24:45 PM): ill buy the premise of an overdone idea if the action is good
BobChanning2o5 (8:25:23 PM): well, sort of
FrogCD (8:25:24 PM): the action was fine but this did not hold a candle to T2.
FrogCD (8:25:38 PM): it wasn't great but its not only about the action with series
BobChanning2o5 (8:25:40 PM): i mean, really "the future" talked about throughout the series would be humanity's victory over skynet
FrogCD (8:25:50 PM): its the ar
BobChanning2o5 (8:25:50 PM): it does seem like a sort of forced extension of the story
FrogCD (8:25:53 PM): *war
BobChanning2o5 (8:25:57 PM): but i think they made it seem natural
BobChanning2o5 (8:26:21 PM): see, i think we strike on a fundamental difference between our views here
BobChanning2o5 (8:26:27 PM): i never LOVED the terminator movies
FrogCD (8:26:32 PM): it didn't feel like a terminator movie to me, it felt like a normal sci-fi, featuring special guest...the terminators
BobChanning2o5 (8:26:33 PM): i just thought they were good action flicks
BobChanning2o5 (8:26:42 PM): and so was this one
FrogCD (8:26:52 PM): i thought T2 was an example of a brilliantly done sci-fi/ action
BobChanning2o5 (8:26:56 PM): plus, my expectations were so tremendously low that i came out surprised
FrogCD (8:27:30 PM): my expectations were in the middle, if that makes sense. after the third one i thought it could only go up
BobChanning2o5 (8:27:54 PM): really? you though McG guaranteed an improvement
BobChanning2o5 (8:27:55 PM): ?
BobChanning2o5 (8:28:05 PM): i though Christian Bale was the one thing this movie had going for it
FrogCD (8:28:08 PM): over the last piece of shit, yeah
BobChanning2o5 (8:28:18 PM): turns out he wasnt even the strongest performance in it
FrogCD (8:28:21 PM): i think he kinda slipped in and out of his batman voice
FrogCD (8:28:34 PM): which was a bit annoying
BobChanning2o5 (8:28:41 PM): i think John Connor could have been more compelling, but that wasnt the aim
FrogCD (8:28:43 PM): sam worthington's accent drove me nuts
BobChanning2o5 (8:28:45 PM): this was really Marcus' story
BobChanning2o5 (8:28:56 PM): heh...i just ignored it because he was killing things
FrogCD (8:28:57 PM): they should have just made him austrailian
FrogCD (8:29:05 PM): and made it easy for the poor guy
FrogCD (8:29:24 PM): bale is allowed to do an american accent cause he can pull it off, worthington didn't even seem to try
BobChanning2o5 (8:29:28 PM): let me put it to you this way, to perhaps justify what must seem like a high grade
FrogCD (8:29:36 PM): how about the impossibly sexy fighter pilot
BobChanning2o5 (8:29:44 PM): I measured this movie by the "awesome" quotient
FrogCD (8:30:06 PM): i judged it by the "how good is the movie" quotient
BobChanning2o5 (8:30:06 PM): i.e. i looked at how many times I said "Awesome!" vs. how many times i rolled my eyes or way annoyed by something
BobChanning2o5 (8:30:13 PM): was*
FrogCD (8:30:20 PM): i likely rolled my eyes a few more times than you
BobChanning2o5 (8:30:31 PM): yeah, i was clearly just pulled in by the movie
FrogCD (8:30:33 PM): i laughed out loud for reals at one line
BobChanning2o5 (8:30:34 PM): which speaks well to it
BobChanning2o5 (8:30:40 PM): see, i didn't
BobChanning2o5 (8:30:46 PM): and im usually the guy mockingthe movie
FrogCD (8:30:46 PM): "your heart is so strong"
FrogCD (8:30:49 PM): i just had to laugh
FrogCD (8:31:05 PM): because-he-is-a-ro-bot
BobChanning2o5 (8:31:14 PM): for some reason i was willin to overlook all of the eye-roll moments because the action was incredibly well done
FrogCD (8:31:15 PM): a lot of it reminded me of jack's little short movie
BobChanning2o5 (8:31:34 PM): everybody loves a robot, indeed
BobChanning2o5 (8:31:37 PM): especially moon bloodgood
BobChanning2o5 (8:32:27 PM): i mean, ill admit my grading was a little soft on it
FrogCD (8:32:47 PM): on a normal action movie i'd probs be softer, but this is an established franchise
FrogCD (8:32:58 PM): which is why i think so lowly of the third as well
BobChanning2o5 (8:33:04 PM): but i stand by it because i was so drawn in by what was supposed to be drawing me in that i avoided mocking the stuff that wasnt
BobChanning2o5 (8:33:10 PM): i looked at this as straight up action
BobChanning2o5 (8:33:19 PM): anything not an action scene wasn't of much use to the movie
BobChanning2o5 (8:33:26 PM): and the action scenes were ncredibly strong
BobChanning2o5 (8:33:33 PM): something you failed to really note in your review
BobChanning2o5 (8:33:40 PM): can we agree on that point at least?
FrogCD (8:33:51 PM): no i noted it , i just disagreed. biig difference
BobChanning2o5 (8:34:14 PM): you didn't think the action was very solid?
BobChanning2o5 (8:34:38 PM): that motor-home chase, ending with him leaping onto the hovercraft?
FrogCD (8:34:41 PM): it was solid, but not great, there weren't any memorable action scenes in my mind, that i will remember
FrogCD (8:34:45 PM): that's redundant
BobChanning2o5 (8:34:52 PM): im definitely remembering that for a while
FrogCD (8:34:57 PM): sorry
FrogCD (8:35:03 PM): the part you just said i forgot
BobChanning2o5 (8:35:29 PM): heh
BobChanning2o5 (8:35:53 PM): so, to sum up: you wanted this to be an emotionally resonant, philosophically deep action/sci-fi thriller?
BobChanning2o5 (8:36:03 PM): if thats true, youre grade makes sense
BobChanning2o5 (8:36:07 PM): and is even, perhaps, a bit high
FrogCD (8:36:43 PM): i wanted it to have a bit more of a brain than it did, the cameron movies were not just sitting and sulking but they gave you something to actually think about for a minute unlike this movie
BobChanning2o5 (8:36:56 PM): i get that
BobChanning2o5 (8:37:04 PM): it might just be that i havent seen the others in so long
BobChanning2o5 (8:37:13 PM): i usually go back and marathon through a series before the new one
BobChanning2o5 (8:37:29 PM): but, as my review noted, i only bought them hours before i saw the new one
FrogCD (8:37:37 PM): don't get me wrong, they're not 2001 or anything like that but they at least give you a little something to take away other then 'splotions
BobChanning2o5 (8:37:42 PM): I intend to go back and re-watch them with my brother soon
FrogCD (8:38:11 PM): i think 2 is far superior to 1, but at the time both movies were incredibly innovative
BobChanning2o5 (8:38:13 PM): i dont recall being that provoked to thought by them though
BobChanning2o5 (8:38:25 PM): i remember thinking one was a very solid genre flick
BobChanning2o5 (8:38:34 PM): and 2 was a flat out awesome action movie
BobChanning2o5 (8:39:13 PM): after i saw one, i was blown away by two
FrogCD (8:39:35 PM): i think 1 and 2 may have more thinkin' just because they dealt more with the plot and dealing with skynet, in this movie it all already happened so they could clear it up really quickly in a few lines
BobChanning2o5 (8:40:09 PM): yeah, i think i noted throughout my review this wasnt a plot heavy movie
BobChanning2o5 (8:40:20 PM): perhaps my distance from the series allowed me to not mind that
BobChanning2o5 (8:40:37 PM): just a quick aside: how much do you love helena bonham carter?
FrogCD (8:40:57 PM): a lot, but not that much in this movie, i mean she was only in it for like 5 minutes
BobChanning2o5 (8:41:05 PM): sshe was really the non-action high point for me though
BobChanning2o5 (8:41:26 PM): when she was the voice of skynet, i actually thought "wow, the movie has a bad guy...with a plan!'
FrogCD (8:41:39 PM): sure, she was the best actor in the movie probs. except bale might beat her on a good day, and her on a bad day
BobChanning2o5 (8:41:48 PM): whenever it switched to another actor, i just wanted it to still be her
FrogCD (8:42:54 PM): i didn't understand why john was so fucking surprised to see a robot that looked like a human, uhhh the 2nd terminator when he hung out with a terminator that looked human
BobChanning2o5 (8:43:14 PM): i think he was just shocked when it started moving and kicking his ass
BobChanning2o5 (8:43:24 PM): the resistance new those terminators were being designed
BobChanning2o5 (8:43:29 PM): they just didnt know they were ready
FrogCD (8:43:56 PM): but still, john was acting like he never saw one before, which he had
BobChanning2o5 (8:44:08 PM): i didnt get that
BobChanning2o5 (8:44:32 PM): i think it was like if you saw your cool uncle who died thirty years ago walk out of a room when you were in a high stress situation
FrogCD (8:44:41 PM): perhaps
BobChanning2o5 (8:44:45 PM): when he knew the terminator, they were only allies
BobChanning2o5 (8:44:50 PM): and they had a strong bond
BobChanning2o5 (8:45:09 PM): then, however long in the future, one pops out before he knows its ready and starts throwing him around
FrogCD (8:45:12 PM): yeah but his mom freaked the fuck out, rightfully so, when john and the terminator came to get her
BobChanning2o5 (8:45:25 PM): yeah, because she knew it as a villain
BobChanning2o5 (8:45:30 PM): he only knew it as a hero
FrogCD (8:45:40 PM): ur talking about when the arnold robot was fighting john
BobChanning2o5 (8:45:44 PM): the series really misses linda hamilton, btw
FrogCD (8:45:48 PM): i'm talking about when john found out marcus was a robot
FrogCD (8:45:56 PM): totally missed linda hamilton
BobChanning2o5 (8:45:57 PM): well he was a new kind of robot
FrogCD (8:46:03 PM): but thanks to the third movie she died of cancer
BobChanning2o5 (8:46:08 PM): yeah
BobChanning2o5 (8:46:17 PM): that whole movie was cancer
FrogCD (8:46:20 PM): how was he different then arnold in the second
BobChanning2o5 (8:46:28 PM): if she didnt have it before hand, it wouldve given it to her
BobChanning2o5 (8:46:34 PM): ...fictionally speaking
FrogCD (8:46:43 PM): yeah, i was gonna say
BobChanning2o5 (8:46:48 PM): marcus is half robot haldf human
FrogCD (8:46:53 PM): meh
BobChanning2o5 (8:46:53 PM): arnold was always all robot
FrogCD (8:47:04 PM): i'd say like 95% robot
FrogCD (8:47:10 PM): he had a human heart
BobChanning2o5 (8:47:11 PM): ok, now we're quibbling
BobChanning2o5 (8:47:16 PM): i have to go
BobChanning2o5 (8:47:21 PM): so lets sum this whole thing up
FrogCD (8:47:26 PM): c+
FrogCD (8:47:28 PM): there
BobChanning2o5 (8:47:32 PM): hehehe
BobChanning2o5 (8:47:35 PM): fair enough
BobChanning2o5 (8:47:43 PM): whereas, i defned it as a very solid action movie
FrogCD (8:47:47 PM): u want me to try to copy and paste this bad boy?
BobChanning2o5 (8:47:59 PM): ill do it
FrogCD (8:48:03 PM): thanks
BobChanning2o5 (8:48:05 PM): sure
BobChanning2o5 (8:48:16 PM): Coming this week: Up

Sam's Review: Terminator Salvation

The first Terminator was good, the second was great, the third was exceptionally bad, and that brings us to T4, excuse me, Terminator Salvation. This installment stars Christian Bale as the hero of the saga, John Connor, and he fights alongside death-row inmate from the past Marcus who is played by Sam Worthington.

I think everyone can agree that the third Terminator movie was a fucking joke. I least I thought it was. So for logic’s sake, I’m considering director McG’s (of Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle fame) installment the logical third movie in the series. Think about it for a second and it makes sense. Terminator I was about the robot coming from the future to kill the mother of the guy who would bring down Skynet. T II was about killing the kid himself because they messed up last time. For some reason the third movie does not take the logical step to the adult John Connors fighting the machines and that being it. But no, they had to have young-adult pill-popping John Connor fight she-robot with an old Schwarzenegger. Anyway, I digress; this was the movie that should have come after the second film. Oh yeah, it should have been directed by the genius behind the first two movies, James Cameron, not a guy who sounds like a cereal spokes-cartoon.

The plot of the movie is pretty standard if you’re familiar with the series. It’s the not too distant future (2018, really you want the movie to be that dated, I mean I think Skynet was supposed to go apeshit in 1997, why do they date the movies like this? I’ve got to calm down). John Connor is leading the good fight against the machines and is looking for his father to be, Kyle Reese (Anton Yelchin) who will go back in time and protect (and fuck) his mother from the Terminator sent back to kill her. We meet a death-row inmate who mysteriously comes back to life after being executed. I wonder how that comes about. Hmmmm, it’s a Terminator movie, gonna have to stretch the brain cords on that one. Anyway the point of the movie is to blow the fuck out of stuff, oh and also what separates humans from machines.

Ok, so let’s start with the good before we get to the bad and the ugly. I think McG had really good intentions going into this and was clearly a fan of the earlier Terminator movies. The set design and tone of the movie are much more in line with what Cameron set the future up to be. The choice to have many of the robots be actual robots was a nice touch in an age where every fucking thing can be CGI when it doesn’t need to be (I’m looking at you Lucas). It was a fitting tribute to Stan Winston (the movie is dedicated to his memory) who was the man responsible for all the kickass makeup and sfx from the original films. I also think some of the action scenes were pretty cool.

So now the stuff I didn’t like so much. The first thing that was bugging me about the movie was that John Connor seems to have forgotten a bunch of stuff about Terminators considering he hung out with one for a while, like the idea that they can take human forms but that’s me nerding out. Christian Bale’s performance was adequate and that’s it really. He earned his paycheck but did not justify his outrageous tirade. Whatever “zone” he was trying to get in was not worth the verbal lashing that guy got from him. Sam Worthington could not cover his accent for anything. I honestly never heard of him or seen him in anything else and I knew almost immediately that he was Australian and not a good ‘ol boy. Don’t worry there was plenty of good ole fashioned bad acting in this one from Common (who played essentially soldier number 23) and Moon Bloodgood, who aside from having a cool name did not offer anything as the sexy jet pilot who falls for Marcus.

The problem with the movie is out of its control to some extent. Part of what makes an action movie good is building suspense that its main characters are in trouble. In Terminator Salvation I knew that John Connor would be fine. I know the resistance will be fine and they’ll win. I’ve known that since Terminator II. McG tried to make a great action movie but he’s just not James Cameron and this feels just like an empty Sci-Fi movie with the Terminator brand stamped on it. It’s better than the third installment but so was hotel for dogs.


Jordan's Review: Terminator Salvation

Yesterday I found myself, as I so often do, browsing for blu rays in a Best Buy. I came across a sale on all three Terminator movies and automatically picked up the first two. When I didn’t pick up the third, my brother inquired as to why I wouldn’t buy all three (I am, after all, obsessed with owning a full series if I own one movie, even if I dislike one of the movies in said series, just for the sake of having the entire thing). I told him that the third one was not really worth owning, but that if Terminator: Salvation (the colon is mine, as I feel like that is more grammatically correct. They aren’t trying to save the terminators, people!) was good enough, I would have to return and buy it. I will tell you that I am now the proud (ok, somewhat reluctant) owner of Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines.
McG (insert snicker about why he would choose that name for himself or joke about how you’ll never hear, “And the Oscar goes to…McG” here) has honestly outdone himself here, and my never before existent faith in him has grown exponentially. The film is set in the near future, after the nuclear holocaust that ended the last installment. After a brief opening scene set in 2003, which introduces us to Marcus (Sam Worthington) a remorseful death row inmate who signs up for some controversial (read: probably has to do with Skynet, the computer overlord that is yet to be) medical research on his body that will give him a second chance. The offer, by Dr. Serena Kogan (the always excellent Helena Bonham Carter) starts off the movie on an ominous tone.
Meanwhile, in the future, savior in waiting John Connor (Christian “I can carry a franchise excellently” Bale) is a part of a mission lead by the resistance into a defunct lab used by Skynet. There, after his entire team is destroyed in a machine attack, the resistance manages to discover what they believe is the key to winning the war against Skynet. They also manage to awaken the long sleeping Marcus, who discovers the world is not quite as he left it.
Marcus, wandering in a dystopian future that is remniscient of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, only, you know, with huge fucking killer robot, comes upon a young resistance fight named Kyle Reese (Anton Yelchin, who either has the best agent or the best luck in Hollywood right now, having just appeared as Chekov in Star Trek) who die hard fans, and John Connor, know will eventually travel back in time and impregnate Sarah Connor, conceiving John and giving humanity its last hope. Unfortunately, Skynet knows this too, and so Kyle is put at the top of their kill list.
What follows is pretty much a long train of set pieces, pitting Marcus, Kyle, John, and the resistance as a whole against hordes of robot killing machines as each attempts to fulfill their own agendas—Marcus wants redemption, Kyle wants survival, and John wants Kyle’s survival, as well as ultimately victory against the machines. If the idea of a long train of set pieces in which humans fight robots doesn’t make you jump up and go see this movie, then Terminator: Salvation (Still using my colon, damnit!) may not be the film for you. There are a few scenes of Christian Bale soulfully emoting, a throwaway subplot involving his pregnant wife (Bryce Dallas Howard), and some of the obvious philosophical questions a movie like this raises (what really makes someone human? What would we give away to preserve our humanity? Is it worth it?), but for the most part, it’s all about the action.
And every scene delivers. From an early chase sequence involving a motor home, Terminators on motorcycles, and a hover craft, through the climactic battle against several new off the line T-800s (which allows for a much expected Arnold Schwarzenegger cameo. All I could think was, A. Shouldn’t he be making sure California doesn’t go bankrupt right about now, and B. The Terminator! Awesome!) the film absolutely delivers. As a philosophical treatise, the movie is utterly lacking, but as a pulse pounding action thriller set in a dystopian future, the film fires on all cylinders.
The performances are very good, the action is excellent, and the direction is surprisingly competent from the man who brought you Charlie’s Angels. It of course inevitably sets up the potential for sequels, but unlike the third film, this time I’m excited to see what comes next.
Grade: A-

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Feature: Jordan's Movie Quest: The Year 2001

My journey through the last decade in film continues, with my Top Ten movies of 2001 list, including a blurb about each film:

10. Spirited Away-Hayao Miyazaki’s masterful story of a sullen girl named Chihiro, and her adventure through the spirit world to save her parents. During their move to a new house, Chihiro’s parents decide to stop to check out an abandoned theme park. Upon examination, they find a delicious looking buffet, which they immediately begin gorging themselves on. Their unthinking gluttony results in them being turned into pigs by the sorceress that rules the spirit world. Chihiro’s quest to save them takes her on a journey through a modern day wonderland as she discovers the importance of friendship and the maturity it takes to face your problems with determination and perseverance. A children’s movie that allows viewers to look at the world in an entirely new way, as only Miyazaki can show it to us.

9. Donnie Darko- Gothic girls the world over may sing its praises, but the film has untold merits outside its appeal to the recreationally despondent among us. Donnie Darko (Jake Gyllenhaal) is your normal angsty teenager with apocalyptic visions delivered by a six foot tall invisible bunny rabbit named Frank. Frank tells Donnie that the world is going to end in a month’s time, and Donnie may be the only one able to stop it. With help from his science teacher (Noah Wiley), his girlfriend (Jena Malone), his English teacher (Drew Barrymore) Donnie must try and sort out the metaphysical rules that may be leading to the destruction of the universe in a compelling psychological thriller.

8. Amelie- The story of innocent and adorable Amelie Poulain (Audrey Tautou) who devotes her life to helping the eccentrics around her, including her father, a failed writer, a stalker, a hypochondriac, a suppressed young soul, and the love of her life. When Amelie realizes she cannot live her life simply for those around her, she sets off to win the love of her life. One of the most adorable movies of all time, Amelie is a feel good film about the joy of life and the simple pleasures of human connection.

7. Zoolander-Derek Zoolander (Ben Stiller) is the world’s top male model, at least until Hansel (Owen Wilson) wins the best male model award. After Derek’s friends die in a freak gasoline fight accident he decides to retire, until a scheme by fashion mogul Mugatu (Will Ferrell) to assassinate the Prime Minister of Malaysia by brainwashing Derek with an ‘80s one hit wonder. Stiller, Wilson, and Ferrell are all at the top of their game, and the movie’s inspired idiocy, including brilliant cameos by David Bowie and Billy Zane, makes it a classic comedy.

6. Waking Life-Richard Linklater takes viewers on a quest of questions as Wiley Wiggins travels through life, unsure whether or not he is dreaming. A philosophical epic that dares to ask important questions in thought provoking ways. Animated over live action footage to give the film its dreamlike quality, Waking Life makes us wonder about the line that separates dreams from reality, life from the afterlife, and humanity from true understanding.

5. Iris-Renowned author and philosopher Iris Murdoch ( Oscar nominated Judy Dench) is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. As her husband (Jim Broadbent in an Oscar winning role) attempts to deal with Iris losing her mind, he remembers Iris as he first met her (played by Oscar nominee Kate Winslet). The story of a lifelong love between two very different people, and the burdens placed on that love by degenerative disease, Iris is excellently acted by all parties, and moving in its depiction of the utter devotion between a husband and wife.

4. Mullholland Dr. - A car wreck on the titular Los Angeles street renders a woman (Laura Harring) amnesic, and she is taken in by a doe eyed aspiring actress (Naomi Watts) trying to make it in Hollywood. As the two try to discover the newly christened Rita’s real identity they become entangled in a web involving a cuckolded movie director (Justin Theroux), a mysterious cowboy, and the terrifying entity that exists in the alleyway behind the local Winky’s restaurant. The compelling, intense mystery garnered director David Lynch an Oscar nomination and features enough chills and twists to stick in your mind long after the credits roll.

3. In the Bedroom-Matt Fowler (Tom Wilkinson) and his wife Ruth (Sissy Spacek) are living an idyllic life in New England. They get along well with their college-age son (Nick Stahl) and are even adapting to his much older girlfriend (Marisa Tomei) when tragedy strikes and threatens to dismantle the relationships of all involved. The wrenching drama from director Todd Field was nominated for 5 Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Actor, and Best Actress and examines the ways that loss can affect those left behind.

2. Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring- Young Frodo Baggins (Elijah Wood) inherits his uncle’s magic ring, and must embark on a quest across mystical Middle Earth to destroy it before it falls into the hands of the evil Lord Sauron who intends to use it to destroy all good in the world. With the help of the powerful wizard Gandalf (Ian McKellan), a mighty ranger (Viggo Mortensen), an elf (Orlando Bloom at his least annoying) and a dwarf (John Rhys-Davies) Frodo and his friends have to climb mountains, delve into mines, and avoid a burgeoning army of Orcs as they try to avoid capture and find their way into Mordor to destroy the ring. Director Peter Jackson created one of the grandest epics of all time, dealing with fate, responsibility, human weakness, loyalty, and the endless struggle between good and evil.

1. The Royal Tenenbaums- The Tenenbaum children were all prodigies in their youth, but two decades of failure, betrayal, and disaster have stripped them of their former glory. Playwright Margot (Gwyneth Paltrow) is trapped in a loveless marriage with neurologist Raleigh St. Clair (Bill Murray) and an equally passionless affair with overwrought writer and long-time family friend Eli Cash (Owen Wilson). Chaz Tenenbaum (Ben Stiller, in his greatest performance) is experiencing a nervous breakdown in the wake of his wife’s death, and is subsequently shielding his sons from the real world. Richie Tenenbaum (Luke Wilson) has retired from tennis and now travels the world aimlessly trying to deal with his love for Margot. Things start to come to a head for the Tenenbaum family when their mother Etheline (Anjelica Huston) becomes engaged to her long time friend Henry Sherman (Danny Glover), the children all move back into her home, and their long-estranged father Royal (an Oscar-worthy Gene Hackman) returns into their lives, claiming to be dying of stomach cancer. The Royal Tenenbaums tells the story of a family strangled by its own successes and restrained in its multitudes of failure. But more than that, Wes Anderson’s gem of a film looks at the ties that bind even the most dysfunctional families together, and what it takes to repair those relationships that have broken apart.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Sam's Feature: Neutral Milk Hotel/Jeff Mangum Hidden Gems

To say that Neutral Milk Hotel has songs that are hidden gems might sound a bit redundant because basically the band's entire body of work is a hidden gem. They happen to be my favorite band and after some late night Youtube surfing I stumbled upon a song of theirs I had never heard. This was a shock to me because I have both of their albums (On Avery Island and the best album ever recorded, In the Aeroplane Over the Sea) as well as their EP (Everything Is). As any NMH fan knows, the bands singer-songwriter/super music genius Jeff Mangum just stopped making music after Aeroplane. So to find these songs was the closest I've come to hearing a new album of their's. These songs just make it even more frustrating that Mangum doesn't release any music because he is a genius. There is no other word to describe him. So here's some songs that were never released by the band.

Little Birds
This song is classic Jeff Mangum form. The video opens with Mangum explaining the song he's about to sing as if he knows he's crazy or he thinks his stuff isn't that good. In classic form he sings an incredibly emotional song with rich, kinda disturbing lyrics which sound anything but "not finished". If you go to the YouTube page the poster put up the lyrics which are worth reading.

This studio recorded song actually has another version. This one is commonly referred to the "drone" version because of its guitar backing. Somewhere out there is an "organ version" with (duh) an organ. The song is slow and beautiful and pretty simple, which is what I think the band did best.

Ferris Wheel on Fire
It's videos like this one which makes me wish I was born about 10 years earlier, because then I would have at least had a chance to make ONE of NMH's concerts and as its clear from the next video, Mangum didn't really hold back while singing any of his songs.

Rubby Bulbs
This next song is less "Holland 1945" and more "Communist Daughter" in that its a bit more introspective and there is clearly such a deep focus on these lyrics. See how long Jeff sings the words angels and try to do it yourself, it's a fun game. Another beautiful song that would fit perfectly in either of NMH's albums.

This song is a cover of another Elephant 6 Band, The Gerbils. This song starts with another member of NMH singing and Jeff later joining. If I had to guess as to who was singing the beginning of the song it sounds a bit like Robert Schneider of The Apples in Stereo who I know produced for the band but it could just as likely be anyone else. All I know is the duet sounds great. As great as this song is, the video the poster put up gets annoying really quickly so just close your eyes and enjoy the music on this one.

My Dream Girl Don't Exist
I'm surprised this was never released on On Avery Island because it makes a great single but as Jeff says at the beginning it woulld likely never be released. This would be a great song to sing along to in the car, if you ask me. You will also likely recognize the end of this song from a song that WAS released.

Lastly there is a song that Jeff did outside of NMH called When the Stars Shine by The Instruments. Its on iTunes and recommend getting it or illegally downloading however you roll is cool. Anyway most of these songs in the post were on NMH's demo tapes. I wish I could tell you why they haven't been released but they should judging by this small sample.

Monday, May 18, 2009

How I Met Your Mother Season 4, Episode 24 Discussion

Sam and Jordan gave the episode the same grade! Do you get it? You will, because we'll explain it to you.

Sam's Review: HIMYM : The Leap

Followers of How I Met Your Mother know that this season’s output of shows was largely made up of episodic shows that do not really move the plot of the show. They were just stand alone episodes some hit and others miss. As Jordan knows from my weekly complaining, I thought the episodic episodes this year were mostly weak. But they were really only there to draw in more fans who were less familiar with the show. While I recognize this, I can only think of it as treading water before the finale. Well god damn it, they delivered.

Let’s start with what a lot of people have been waiting for in the HIMYM universe, the goat. This fucking goat really must have been pissing off these writers. Fans have been waiting a year to find out what the hell happens with Ted and the goat on his 31st birthday. What happens? Well, pretty bland humor actually. I mean, what can you do with the goat? The whole got thing saved after Ted was sent to the hospital via goat attack. When Ted gave his account of what happened with the goat, there was a display of hilarious goat on human ultra-violence.

If the goat montage didn’t suit you (pun absolutely intended) there was Barney and Robin question. When Barney finally gathers up the courage to tell Robin how he truly feels he is surprised to hear her say I love you before he can. This immediately turns him off to her completely which is initially a giant letdown to everyone who knows that they are perfect for each other. Later it is revealed this is all a ploy by Robin to “Mosby” Barney because she doesn’t really love him. I love that this way of getting someone to really not be interested in you is named for our beloved Ted.

Barney eventually finds out about this through Lilly. At the hospital barney calls out Robin’s use of “the Mosby” and this begins probably the best scene of this season and one of the best displays of talent the show has had in its run. First there is Barney’s great line responding to Robin saying she doesn’t want the trouble of going through the emotional stuff, Barney responds uncharacteristically but still in his character, “Maybe I don’t want to be saved the trouble. Maybe I want the trouble” This is Barney’s character finally growing up a bit after all these seasons. The two have a back and forth as Robin goes to the I love yous and Barney recoils but recognizes she’s doing it and they go back and forth until they kiss. Hooray! On behalf of everyone who watches the show. Of course, the extent to which they are together is pretty hazy, let’s say it’s a step forward for these two.

Oh, Ted has a story too. He is still struggling with his restaurant project. Well, that’s not that exciting but it is really just the impetus for the other things in the episode which are hilarious. “The Leap” is really the most important one to the series. Because Ted has been struggling (and failing) so much with his Mosbius Designs, Lilly tells him he just has to take a leap of faith that his life will work out, even if the path he is on now is not the path that is right for him. This leads him to teaching which is where he will meet the mother. Or not. But the mother is in the class he is teaching. Maybe she’s an 18 year old freshman, I sure as hell hope not. Lilly’s “leap” speech also gives Marshall the courage to finally take the jump across to the other building which was actually a callback to the episode where the boys buy a bar. Jason Segal was at his best, which he always is.

I feel like I did not do justice to how funny I thought this weeks show was so I want to stress that it WAS funny, really funny. It had heart, it had callbacks, it had flash forwards, it had a goat, it had cute Lilly and Marshall shit, it had Robin and Barney, it had a Ted I actually like now, it had everything that makes this show my favorite comedy on TV.



-Oops this review went a bit long, ay?

-“You are now, because I explained it to you”- Barney after explaining the incredibly obvious
Robin as suits metaphor in the cold open, I will use this

-Hey, where is Neil Patrick Harris’ Emmy and Jason Segel’s?

-Another “I’m pregnant” joke, those writers must watch as much Scrubs as Jordan and me

-Hey Jordan, was that New Pornographers at the beginning and the end of the show? AC Newman? Neither and I’m an idiot?

-I liked in the bit where they’re all jumping across the buildings there is a clear body double for Alyson Hannigan

-I like how the Rib Town guys kinda break up with Ted

-Nice Sven callback

-Barney planned on being a violinist—everyone tells Lilly everything

-Notice someone in yellow shirt in class? Hmmm. Teaching makes sense for Ted

-Nice everything HIMYM (except most of the goat stuff and the jumping across the buildings was a bit hokey but I forgive)

Jordan's Review: How I Met Your Mother, Season 4, Episode 24

Episode: The Leap

Tonight's episode wraps up the fourth season of How I Met Your Mother, and what a way to go. To borrow Sam's words (which I disagreed with last week) this episode had almost everything I look for in an episode. It advanced the master plot in an arguably serious (though truthfully minor) way, it played with time (though admittedly less than the best episodes do), it was adorable. Oh yeah, and it was very funny too.

This week found Ted still at work on his soul-crushing project to design a cowboy hat shaped rib joint. Marshall tries to get Ted upstairs to the roof for a surprise party (which he plays off hilariously poorly) for Ted’s 3st, but Ted refuses—he can’t have any fun, he’s doing the job he used to love. Meanwhile, barney has decided to admit his feelings to Robin, but only after receiving Ted’s permission with an obvious suit metaphor (Canadian Double Breasted).

As Barney attempts to find the courage to admit his feelings to Robin, Marshall tried to find the courage to jump to the adjacent roof, a feat he has been trying to accomplish for years. Lily attempts to stop him with what was easily the biggest scare of the night for me—she tells him she’s pregnant. Thank god it was another of the writer’s clever jokes about Hannigan’s pregnancy, as everyone knows a baby can kill a show (see my Scrubs retrospective for more proof of that), especially one that takes place majorly in a bar. So the episode has set up its premise—all of the male characters are taking a leap in the finale. I’d like to examine each of them individually:

Marshall’s Leap:

Let’s tackle the least interesting first. Marshall has been attempting to leap to the adjacent roof for several years, ever since he and Ted filled up a kiddie pool on the roof, only to find a hot tub sitting just one roof over (for the record, Barney and Ted in the kiddie pool as Marshall prepared to jump was an inspired moment). Perhaps the best moment in Marshall’s storyline was when he leapt off the ledge and safely back onto the roof. He stumbled, squeaked a bit and seemed entirely incapable of even a simple jump like that, much less a feat of Knievel-like proportions. Of course Marshall eventually takes the leap, but we’ll come back to that in a moment.

Barney’s Leap:

I have been waiting all season for this moment, and finally it came. Barney admitted his feelings to Robin tonight, and the writer’s managed to make it adorable, hilarious, and true to both of their characters. Barney attempts to tell Robin how he feels, only to find out (TWIST!) that she loves him. Which of course makes him immediately lose all attraction to her. Of course Lily lets him in on a secret: Robin knew what he was about to say, having overheard his conversation with Ted (TWIST) and was admitting her love only to push him away (a move Marshall and Lily have hilariously termed “The Mosby.”) Barney, hip to her scheme, decides he does still love Robin, which leads to a hilarious back and forth as the two, both confused and terrified by their own feelings as well as repelled by the idea of a serious commitment, try to talk out their relationship. There was no better way this could have come across. As Robin admitted she had feelings for Barney, he lost all interest in her, only to realize she was trying to “Mosby” him, which made him interested again. And Robin attempted to hide her real potential feelings by…pretending she had those feelings because she knew it would push Barney away. While this catch-22 of hilarity never really reached a conclusion (and we’re likely seasons away from a serious declaration of commitment from these two) their kiss at the end was all I needed to see. Barney and Robin are involved, and I’m as happy with the way it happened as I could be.

Ted’s Leap:

While the gang is upstairs enjoying his party, Ted is in the apartment having the much ballyhooed showdown with the goat. This story has been built up since the first season, and when the writer’s pulled a fairly cheap stall tactic last year and pushed the deadline back, I suspected they had nothing. What we got after four years was a pretty ridiculous scene of Ted wrestling with the goat, and Ted’s second trip to the hospital in as many season finale’s. I’m willing to forgive this pretty weak resolution however, for a few reasons. Firstly, the goat mark on Ted’s head in the hospital made me laugh. But more importantly, I am willing to forgive it because the rest of Ted’s story was more important. Ted has become disillusioned wit h a lot this season. He lost his faith in love, he lost his consciousness (and record as a civilized gentleman), he lost his job, and now he has lost his love for his dream job. Ted simply isn’t enjoying being an architect anymore. And so, as I predicted, Ted takes a leap and becomes a teacher. And the season leaves us with the knowledge that somewhere in his class is seated the future mother of his children.

As the episode ends, Marshall, and the rest of the gang, take the leap from their roof to the adjacent one (to the New Pornographer’s no less!). Each character has made some major steps forward this year, and I am very satisfied with this season’s conclusion, and very excited to see where Season Five takes us.

Grade: A


· I love Marshall and Lily’s reaction to Robin’s sarcastic dream of moving to the suburbs with Barney. They’re so na├»ve and romantic.
· Marshall, rejecting Robin: “You’re very pretty, but you’re freakishly tall and you don’t believe in ghosts.”
· Two Barney moments that made me happy, both in regards to Robin: “But with you the trouble doesn’t seem so troubling.” Aww! And when he said, “You little minx!” It was adorable and funny simultaneously.
· Great Sven callback!
· Marshall shaking his head and refusing to watch Robin’s show. Subtle, but awesome.
· Barney looked at Robin before jumping! If you didn’t find that cute, I have nothing to say to you.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Scrubs Discussion

Sam and Jordan talk to each other about Scrubs. Blog Five!

Sam's Scrubs Retrospective

Scrubs ended a couple of weeks ago and I wish it had come a few years sooner. Scrubs has to be on my list of all-time favorite sitcoms but for the last three years or so it has fallen lower and lower on that list. I shouldn’t have been so happy to see a show end but it just lost its funny and it was time to go. To my surprise ABC has reportedly RENEWED Scrubs. WHY?? It seems having your main character(Zach Braff’s JD) leave the show is just another reason to continue to drag this rotting corpse of horse. More surprising is that Braff is signed on for six episodes. WHY??

This post was supposed to be about the final episode of this season which felt like a series finale and at the worst just a Zach Braff finale. The last episode was really great which was classic Scrubs, funny throughout and packing a strong emotional punch. We find out Janitor’s real name, JD walks down the hallway at Sacred Heart to see all the people he’s known there (dead and alive) and then there is a beautiful final dream sequence. It is projected on the back of the sheet hanging outside the hospital which reads “Goodbye JD”. With Peter Gabriel’s cover of “Book of Love” playing over JD’s possible future which includes having a kid with Elliot and his son marrying Turk’s daughter. It was really sweet and Scrubs-y. And the show ends. Perfect. Show Over. But no.

ABC has refused to let this show die in peace. It was a lot of fun with a great cast and they are just going to ruin it with every subsequent episode of “Scrubs: The New Class!” or whatever the fuck the show will be in the future. Maybe Dr. Cox will have a new doctor to mentor named K.E. who’s looking for a father figure. I’ve got to hand it to the Brits here; they know when to stop a good thing. In the US we do not know when to end a series (usually when it stops being profitable or one of the cast members demands to be paid 20 million an episode).

The next season(s) of Scrubs will just water down the brilliance of the first few seasons and make people forget why they even watched this show in the first place. To remind myself of why I watch the show, I check out the reruns on Comedy Central sometimes. I always like to go and watch the first episode of the show and compare it to the season’s that’s on. It is like another universe. The tone and quality are completely different. Watching Scrubs became simply a habit rather than something I looked forward to. I just wanted to see how it would end. But the big storyline of the show (JD and Elliot) was resolved last year to little surprise or fanfare BECAUSE IT CAME YEARS TOO LATE! As the show smartly pointed out in a nice bit of self-awareness, no one cares about JD and Elliot. We may have cared if that’s how they ended the show.

I may sound like someone who just hates this show but I watched every week and always looked forward to it. Well, until Kim told JD she was pregnant. It was the only time in my life I wished someone would have a miscarriage. She had the baby, but you wouldn’t know cause JD’s CHILD never shows up on the show unless there is a storyline that can somehow loosely relate to having a kid.

I don’t think there’s a show that has made me laugh for so many years and then made me angry for years like Scrubs. Why is it so hard to stop? Doesn’t everyone have a boatload of money already? Didn’t you all make a boatload of money when the show became syndicated? I have no idea how this show keeps going. It’s not like the show gets great ratings either, it never has. Scrubs was always something that managed to get low ratings but everyone I knew in high school watched and enjoyed.

So as Scrubs somehow begins to plan out its 9th and probably not last season (but I’m sure its most embarrassing), I’ll say this, Scrubs was a great show that was the best at being absolutely absurdist and at times incredibly based in reality dealing with issues like death. I wouldn’t say the show was groundbreaking, but it was really funny. I can only hope that the shows weaker recent seasons won’t make people forget how good it once was. Enjoy season 9 because I won’t.

Jordan's Scrubs Retrospective: Requiem for a Sitcom

Last week marked the end of Scrubs, a sitcom I had been watching religiously (if not always joyfully) since I was in seventh grade. It’s always sad to watch a show go, especially a sitcom in an era that isn’t exactly kind to comedies. The show had its low points, and certainly jumped the shark when it allowed three characters to become pregnant in one episode (and I will never forgive Elizabeth Banks for her role in that catastrophe) yet in its prime it was one of the funniest shows on television and certainly a bright spot in my week.
The show told the story of the eccentric J.D. (Zach Braff) and his early years as a doctor at Sacred heart Hospital. Always at his side were his best friend Turk (Donald Faison) and his on-again-off-again love interest Elliot (Sarah Chalke). Complicating his efforts to excel were a heartless Chief of Medicine (Ken Jenkins), a vengeful Janitor (Neil Flynn) and a cynical mentor (John C. McGinley). Scrubs always managed to mix the right amount of zany comedy (often brought in through J.D.’s fantasies) and heartfelt moments, both between the characters and with patients. And, at the end of the day (as J.D. want wont to say) the characters usually learned a life lesson as well.
In the early days (while Sam and I may disagree, I maintain that Scrubs was consistently very good through its first five seasons, before that baby-related shark jump in the season five finale) you could always count on the show for quick, quirky writing and excellent performances by the main cast, especially the always under-rated John C. McGinley who brought the perfect amount of pathos to his character while endlessly torturing the rest of the cast with overdrawn, and usually hilarious, rants. How McGinley managed to walk away from this show without a single Emmy is a miracle to me, though it also shocks me that the show never took home the Best Comedy Series prize back in its prime.
As much as I could stay mired in a discussion of Scrubs during its heyday, it’s also important in my eyes to look at how things ended. The finale was nearly perfect, which made me happy as the rest of this season rarely rose above mediocre. In the closing episodes, J.D. moved 40 minutes away to be closer to his son and decided to take a job at a nearby hospital. The Janitor had been married off in a recent episode and Ted the sad-sack lawyer decided to move in with his girlfriend, tying off a few of the smaller plotlines. In terms of the largest lingering thread, J.D. and Elliot, the show’s writers were on the money when they introduced a running gag about how no one cared about Elliot and J.D. as a couple anymore, yet the final episode still gave them some nice moments.
The big question going into the finale for me was how the final moment between J.D. and Dr. Cox would play out. I hoped almost as much as J.D. that he would get that hug he’d been angling at for eight long years and that Dr. Cox would finally give J.D. the respect he’d earned. This moment was played perfectly, with J.D. using one of the interns to set Dr. Cox up, allowing the closed-off cynic to open up about J.D. without betraying his character just to satisfy the fans. The show also surprised me with J.D.’s fantasy flash-forward, which allowed us to see a lot of the moments yet to come for the group. Watching J.D. and Elliot get married and seeing Elliot pregnant actually killed my apathy toward them and made me feel the requisite warm fuzzies at the idea of these two really ending up together. The real clincher for me in the final moments was the scene of the whole gang, Dr. Cox and Jordan included, gathering for Christmas. The idea that these characters would stay close was important to me, and seeing that, even if it was only in J.D.’s mind, closed off the series in a way that was both realistic and satisfying.
Scrubs has given me a lot of good over the years. The relationship between Turk and J.D. was everything you could ask for, a perfect example of “guy love” in the age before the word “bromance” was ever created. I loved watching Dr. Cox and Jordan, both too cynical and emotionally closed-off to admit their love (and in fact, Jordan telling Dr. Cox she loved him in the Bahamas was one of the bright spots in Season 8). But most of all I just loved watching these characters interact and live their crazy, emotionally stunted lives. Scrubs wasn’t always great, but I loved it anyway, and it will truly be missed.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Feature: Top Ten Reasons to Be Excited for Dollhouse Season 2

With the announcement today that fans will get at least 13 more episodes of Dollhouse, It seemed time to debut another of our intended features: The Top Ten List. The following are the top ten reasons you should be excited for more Dollhouse (SPOILER WARNING):

10. Whiskey-The season finale revealed a whole new doll, and a whole new set of questions: What is her back story? Why does she hate Topher (other than that he's Topher, of course. Though the man has grown on me considerably, but we'll get to that in a minute)? What are the potential consequences of having a self aware doll tending to the others? How will her existential turmoil affect her?

9. The Mole-Season 1 left us wondering which Dollhouse employee is secretly working to bring down the dollhouse? Additionally, how will that person take to Ballard working there?

8.Spy in the House of Love-The twisty episode with the time-bending construction and the perfect mixture of master-plot exposition and episodic Alias-style action is the perfect blueprint for how Season 2 episodes should be constructed.

7. Buffy The Vampire Slayer Season 2/Angel Season 2-If Whedon's past works are any indicator of future success, Dollhouse is going to get a hell of a lot better in the coming season.

6. Whedon Guest Stars-We've already seen one (who I'll get to in a moment), but another season opens up a world of potential guest stars (The idea of Nathan Fillion on Dollhouse makes my heart sing).

5. Backstories-We know that Echo used to be a really annyoing environmental activist, but what about the other Dolls? Additionally, we have seen excellent character development from a few of the players and more episodes means we'll likely get a lot more depth from everyone involved.

4. Olivia Williams-In Season 1 we saw Adelle Dewitt go from consummate professional to cold hearted interrogator to vulnerable and lonely lover. A second season gives Olivia Williams 13 more chances to blow our minds.

3.Victor-whil I'm a huge fan of the show, no one is going to be throwing Elisa Dushku any Emmy's in the near future. But Enver Gjokaj has been incredible, both as the child-like Victor and as the multitude of personalities he's been implanted with (his stint as Dominic was chilling in its accuracy).

2. The Rossum Corporation-We know that they fund the Dollhouse in its entirety, and we know that all of the employees claim the Dollhouse may do evil but is actually accomplishing some good. Why is Rossum funding them, and what are there eventual goals?

1. Alan Tudyk-His turn as Alpha was both hilarious (the Stephen Kepler persona was hilariously eccentric) and terrifying (his psychotic breaks). Here's to getting a closer look at the other 42 personalities Alpha has lodged in his cranium.

All in all, there are many reasons to be excited about Dollhouse Season 2. If you haven't seen the show yet, its time to get on board.-Jordan

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Feature: Jordan's Movie Quest: The Year 2000

As you may have noticed, faced with Sam's declaration of his favorite movie, I conspicuously avoided naming mine. This is because I have never been able to come up with a satisfying answer as to what is my favorite movie of all time. A few years ago I began to compile a Top Ten Movies of the Year list. As this year began I realized it was the last of the decade, and decided to expand my efforts to include a Top Ten list for every year in the decade, culminating in my Top Ten Movies of the Decade list, which you can look for in December. With any luck I shall move on to other decades subsequently, with my eventual goal being to create a top ten list for every decade from the 1940's on, and from there, develop my Top Ten Favorite Movies. In furtherance of that goal, here is my Top Ten Movies of 2000 list, with a tiny blurb included about each:

10. Best in Show-Christopher Guest was at the top of his game when he crafted this mockumentary (though Guest hates the term) that goes behind the scenes of the ultra-competitive, never say die world shows. The whole Guest troupe (including hilarious performances by Eugene Levy, Michael McKean, Catherine O'Hara and Parker Posey) is at their best, and the hilarity is all the more impressive for the fact that the film is almost entirely improvised.

9. You Can Count on Me-The always phenomenal Laura Linney carries the show (and earned herself a deserved Oscar nomination) as a high strung single mother (to the incredibly capable young Rory Culkin) who tries to hide her disappointment when her black sheep of a younger brother (Mark Ruffalo) returns to town, stirring up memories of the accident that left them orphans years ago. Matthew Broderick rounds out the cast as Linney's anal new boss to whom she finds herself oddly attracted to, even while they are at odds over how he manages her bank. An excellent study of co-dependence, the burden of familial ties, and the trials that make us who we are.

8. Meet the Parents-When Greg Focker (Ben Stiller) wants to ask Pam Byrnes (Teri Polo) to marry him, only one thing stands in the way: he must first ask her ex-CIA operative father (Robert DeNiro, realizing exactly how funny he can be) for permission. Along the way he encounters a toilet trained cat, Pam's ex-boyfriend (Owen Wilson), and airport security. Stiller balances physical comedy perfectly with snarky one liners to create a hilariously awkward weekend from hell.

7. In the Mood For Love-Wong Kar-Wai crafts a beautiful story of forbidden attraction between neighbors (Maggie Cheung and Tony Leung) married to other people in 1962 Hong Kong. Their relationship may be platonic, but their attraction to one another clearly runs deeper, and Kar-wai fills the film with enough romantic tension that when the couple's graze hands in the backseat of a cab your heart flutters with anticipation. Gorgeously shot and wonderfully constructed, In the Mood For Love is a phenomenal story of two people's unrequited love in the face of commitments made to people who no longer love them.

6.Memento-Director Christopher Nolan (of Batman Begins, The Prestige, and The Dark Knight fame) broke into the mainstream consciousness with this complex, twisty thriller. The story of Leonard (Guy Pearce) and his efforts to combat his short-term memory loss and solve the murder of his wife would be complex enough if it were told in straight-forward fashion. But the film unfolds in reverse, in five minute spurts, revealing what happened to Leonard before jumping back and revealing how he got to each place. Throw in the shady Natalie (Carrie-Anne Moss) and Teddy (Joe Pantoliano) whose loyalties are never sure and you get one of the most labrynthine, high-octane thrillers of all time.

5. Billy Elliot-The story of the titular teen (Jamie Bell) and his struggle to become a ballet dancer in the face of the strike that is putting his father (Gary Lewis) and brother (Jamie Draven) out of work may seem schmaltzy, and it is, but it packs a more emotional punch than you might expect. Billy is helped in his quest by dance teacher Mrs. Wilkinson (an Oscar nominated Julie Walters) whose encouragement helps him to overcome adversity and gives him the strength to follow his dreams. Give the film a chance and you'll find yourself far more invested in the journey of Billy Elliot than the premise might lead you to believe.

4.Wonder Boys-Professor Grady Tripp (Michael Douglas) has been writing his latest novel for seven years—its now over two thousand pages long and still not done. When his wife leaves him, his mistress and boss (Frances Mcdormand) announces she's pregnant, his agent (Robert Downey Jr.) comes to town to pressure him on the book, and an eccentric student (Toby Maguire) begins to entwine himself in Grady's life, things are about to come to a head. Vacillating in a pot-induced haze, Grady takes the student under his wing and between covering up for the murder of the dean's dog and losing a jacket once owned by Marilyn Monroe, the professor has his hands full. The film investigates the dangers of success, the politics of academia, and the beauty of second chances with a wry sense of humor and a heart in the right place.

3. O Brother, Where Art Thou?- One of the Coen Brothers most underrated films, O Brother, based on Homer's The Odyssey, tells the story of Everett McGill (a winning George Clooney), who, along with cynical Pete (John Turturro) and dim-witted Delmar (Tim Blake Nelseon), breaks out of prison in search of buried treasure. The trio gets into many adventures as they travel across the depression-era south. From becoming radio sensations to avoiding the temptations of the beautiful sirens, the three attempt to avoid the law and strike it rich. Endlessly witty and rewarding on multiple views, the film is at once a satire of the 1930's and a commentary on human nature in general.

2. Requiem for a Dream-The lives of a low-level drug dealer (Jared Leto), his best friend (Marlon Wayans), his girlfriend (Jennifer Connelly) and his mother (Oscar nominated Ellen Burstyn) unravel as they each sink deeper into a downward sprial of drug addiction and dying dreams. Not for the faint of heart, this movie will empty out your soul. Burstyn gives the performance of a lifetime and director Darren Aronofsky (Pi: Faith in Chaos, The Wrestler) commandingly documents the destruction of these compelling characters.

1. Almost Famous (Director's Cut)-The story of high schooler William Miller (Patrick Fugit) who nabs an assignment for Rolling Stone magazine to follow rising band Stillwater around the country and document their tour. Packed with nostalgia for '70's rock and roll and the mysterious bonds that form on the road, director Cameron Crowe's masterpiece seemlessly ties together the coming of age of William Miller with the systematic destruction and potential fall of Stillwater as tensions rise between the lead singer Jeff (Jason Lee) and the more popular guitarist Russell (Billy Crudup). Along for the ride is the enigmatic groupie Penny Lane (Oscar nominee Kate Hudson, in what appears to be the only great role she'll ever play) who catches the affections of William while trying to maintain an affair with Russell. At turns hilarious and heartbreaking, nostalgic and knowing, the movie is the perfect document of life on the road, and of what it feels like to be a band on the fringe of fame.

Monday, May 11, 2009

How I Met Your Mother Season 4, Episode 23 Discussion

Hey guys,
It's time for Sam and I to discuss this week's "How I Met Your Mother" by discussing each other's reviews and addressing the other's questions. Check it out in the comments section!-Jordan

Sam's Review: HIMYM

As Fast as She Can
This week’s HIMYM gave me just about everything I normally like about the show. Well almost everything. The plot around this week’s show was that Stella returns to Ted’s life and Barney accepts another crazy challenge of trying to talk his way out of a speeding ticket.

Let’s first handle the less plot-y stuff with Barney’s storyline. I was more excited about this than the prospect of watching Ted and Stella but it turns out the opposite was true about which I’d enjoy more. This B-Story felt a bit too much like a stop gap between the Stella and Ted story. That’s not to say that Barney wasn’t, for lack of a better word, awesome. Neil Patrick Harris reminds us every week why he needs to have a shelf filled with Emmys. Just seeing Barney scream when a lady cop points a gun at him made me laugh out loud. Besides the exchange with the cop and Barney landing in the big house I thought this segment fell a bit flat, but by no means was it bad, just OK.

On the flip side of this episode was the Ted and Stella plot which I was a bit worried about. Those fears were quickly put to rest. Stella’s boyfriend Tony (played by the always funny Jason Jones) comes a knockin’ on Ted’s door to try to patch things up seeing as Tony took away Ted’s bride to be. Tony comes offering Ted a job at Columbia to be a professor and a series of designing jobs as a way to pay him back. This plan hilariously fails as Ted visits some creepy dude’s house to make a “laundry room” which is really a cover as a place to murder people. This makes for a big laugh as Ted tells this story to Marshall and Robin.

As the episode moved into its second half I was glad to see the direction this show was taking with Ted. Stella’s boyfriend Tony breaks up with her after Ted rambles about some shit with her leaving him at the altar. Stella later comes to Ted to ask him to talk to Tony and try to patch things up. After an argument outside of Ted’s apartment, he gets a call from the recently incarcerated Barney. Stella gives him a ride as a favor and it leads to really the most important part of tonight’s episode and maybe one of the most important parts of the season.

In a conversation in Stella’s car Ted talks about how he wants what Stella and Tony have. We’ve known this from the beginning of the run of HIMYM, but somehow Ted saying, “I want that” made me (someone who is not a big fan of Ted) feel for the guy and really let us into his character. The scene in the car is really what I love about this show. It is the show’s mixture of craziness (tonight’s Barney story) and sweetness (Ted wanting “that”). I think these types of moments are necessary for a show like this because it really makes us care about what happens to these characters. Tonight’s episode is not a classic HIMYM, but it gave me a few laughs and a reason to start liking (gasp!) Ted.



-Robin on Marshall’s accusation that she gets out of tickets because she is pretty, “That is outrageous… and factual” They really are giving Robin more and more funny stuff

-Funny as hell yelling moments from Marshall yelling, “Don’t Design the Murder House!” and Barney’s scream of fear with the cop is worth 4 fucking Emmys

-Who is that old lady from across the hall? Meh, I’m sure Jordan knows

-I thought Ted would start to date Stella but was relieved when Tony got back with her

-“She’s on her way Ted, she’s getting here as fast as she can.” Sigh.

-Can’t wait to revisit Tony’s movie “The Wedding Bride”-Hey look, Lilly’s back….wait….no come back, the show needs…eh I guess we’ve got to wait some more

Jordan's Review: How I Met Your Mother, Season 4, Episode 23

Episode: As Fast as She Can

After last week’s shocking lack of mother reveal (ok, not that shocking but a guy can dream, right?) I expected an episode chock full of mother-iffic plotline. Unfortunately (but unsurprisingly) it looks like the writers are saving all of that stuff for the finale.
Instead, this week found Ted re-united with Stella, and much more awkwardly, with Tony. Tony felt bad for stealing Stella from Ted, and so wanted to make it up to him. This leads to one of the classic How I Met Your Mother tropes in which the whole gang tries to one up each others jokes—this time the one-ups are not nearly as inspired as I’ve come to expect from the show (fat jokes? Really guys?). Instead, Tony offers Ted a teaching job, which Ted, pretentious as he is, scoffs at and refuses. Ted also refuses to design a house for an eccentric billionaire who wants his laundry room to be prepared in some very specific, and very creepy ways (as Marshall screeches, “Ted, you can’t design a murder house!”).
The B-story is also surprisingly weak in this episode. It centers around Barney’s continuity destroying attempts to talk his way out of a ticket (Fans will recall that the episode “Arrivederci, Fiero” establishes that Barney is terrified of driving. I wish the writers would do the same as they have ignored this fact in numerous subsequent episodes, none of which have been worth it. At least throw in a line of dialogue on how he learned to drive guys! You’re usually so good with continuity!). While I did find Marshall’s Minnesotan flashback quite funny (“You a brat man Jorgenson?”) and Robin’s blatant admittance that she talks her way out of tickets funny, Barney’s attempts to follow suit were all very lame and un-Barney.
Additionally, the episode failed to ever truly tie the A and B plots together, as so many classic episodes do. There was a lame attempt in Stella’s speech at the end, but it never connected in any sort of realistic way for me. Fortunately the episode did provide a fer sweet moments at the end. Ted re-uniting Stella and Tony was great, as we get to see Ted doing something truly nice and showing his romantic side. I’ve really missed romantic Ted (though douche Ted is pretty funny) and I’m glad to see him back in form. I also quite enjoyed when Ted and Stella have a real talk and Ted admits that he still desperately wants to find the one. I am rooting for Ted, perhaps even more than most, and knowing how badly he wants to find the mother will make it all the sweeter when he finally does. Ted and Stella’s real and affecting scene saved an otherwise mediocre episode from being completely unforgettable. Let’s hope the writer’s come at it next week with all guns blazing, giving us some great laughs and some real plot along the way.

Grade: B

· Honestly this episode was a B- until the Ted and Stella scene at the end. Curse my romantic side!
· I loved the Ted and Tony exchange, “I’m a small business owner. It’s the backbone of the economy.” “No its not.” And everyone generally thinking that’s a ridiculous notion.
· Robin’s reaction to Ted breaking Stella and Tony up: “I am very sorry…but I’m going to have to insist that you BUMP THIS!”
· Barney’s, “The only difference between my real life and a porno is my life has better lighting.” It’s too bad that line was a lie, and came on the back of such an incredibly lame joke/side-plot.
· Ted’s ringtone is “Let’s Go To The Mall”
· Tony’s new movie The Wedding Bride is coming in 2010. Bets that’ll be a plot point in Season 5?
· LILY IS BACK! I never realized just how badly this show needed her until she left. Can’t wait to see more in the finale!

Star Trek Discussion

Hey everybody, here's where I ask Jordan some questions about his review and he asks some about mine. Check it out in the comments section.

Sam's Review: Star Trek

No need to fear Trekkies, Star Trek is in good hands, and I would have been the last person to guess it. Months ago seeing the teasers for Star Trek which opened last Thursday, I scoffed and thought, “That Abrams sonofabitch is going to butcher it into some sort of island puzzle Alias bullshit.” Buy you know what, he made a really fun movie.

This version of Star Trek begins with the original crew getting introduced one by one focusing on, of course, James T. Kirk who is played by Chris Pine. The origins of the movie also focus a lot on Spock who is played by Heroes’ Zachary Quinto. The plot of the movie is pretty simple and standard for an action movie . There’s a planet in trouble, a bad guy (played a bit over the top by Eric Bana), Star Fleet has to kick some ass. But there are some nice twists in it including time travel which allows the movie to really change the original origin story of the entire crew. It also allows us to (LITTLE SPOILER) meet future Spock played by Leonard Nemoy who played the pointy eared badass in the original series.

So the real fun in this movie comes from its self-awareness and its action sequences. No, there isn’t any cinema changing action like that found in the Matrix or anything but it moves fast and is fun. I mean, Sulu (played by Harold and Kumar’s John Cho) uses a samurai sword on a giant drill. Convinced to see it yet?

The banter between characters in the movie is also a surprising treat. There are a few references that would give any Trek fan a laugh and even if you’re not familiar with the series, you should have heard “Live long and prosper” in your lifetime. Chris Pine’s performance as Kirk really surprised me because I thought they were just looking to put a pretty face in that role but he stepped up and was funny when he had to be and captain-like when he needed to. No, he was not as all over the place as Shatner, but who is?

In my opinion the two best things in this movie were Zachary Quinto and Simon Pegg. As mentioned before Quinto played a pitch perfect Spock, which was probably a more daunting task than finding a suitable Kirk. Spock is a character without emotion, yet still has to have some cause he’s part human. Spock’s a tough role to play, especially since he’s so beloved. Besides Quinto’s great performance the show was really stolen by Simon Pegg who plays Scotty. Pegg first appears in the movie a bit late and isn’t used that much, but when he is, he is hilarious. Abrams direction knocked himself off my list of “people who are loved but I really don’t care too much for” list. I can’t wait to see this crew come back in a sequel. With more Quinto and Pegg it should be a fun ride.
-Uhura’s (Zoe Saldana) job of being really hot was a success
-More Pegg PLEASE!
-Karl Urban had a nice turn as Dr. McCoy, I also must say he looks a lot like him.

Jordan's Review: Star Trek

“Space. The final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise.” So begins every episode of the hit 1960’s series Star Trek which has since spawned numerous other television shows and movies, and created legions of dedicated fans. I should preface my review of the new Star Trek film with a disclaimer: I am not one of these fans. This is not to say I couldn’t become a convert, but I have yet to watch a single episode of any Star Trek series, and prior to this installment, I had only seen one other film, on a lark when I was seven years old (imdb tells me this would have been First Contact, but the fact that I had to look it up shows you how strong my memory of it is). I tell you all of this just to give you some insight into how I view this movie.

Now, to the film itself. It opens on the USS Kelvin where we are treated to the high octane birth of James Tiberius Kirk amidst a battle with a gargantuan and deadly space ship. The film then quickly details the early life of Kirk in rural Iowa and the early life of half-Human half-Vulcan Spock on Vulcan. Kirk is a rebellious youth, while Spock shows remarkable intelligence, though he is oft-bullied for his mixed heritage.

The adult Kirk (Chris Pine) joins Starfleet partially out f a desire for something more and partially out of a need to prove to Captain Pike (Bruce Greenwood) that he is as capable a man as his father. Pine plays Kirk as a carefree charmer, cool and collected under pressure and ready and willing to trade witty barbs at any time. The adult Spock (Zachary Quinto) has already excelled in Starfleet due to his superior intelligence. Quinto was born to play Spock (and in fact, has been playing basically an evil version of him on Heroes for three years already) but he brings emotional resonance to the cold, calculating character. His Spock may attempt to be strictly logical as the Vulcans are, but it is clear early and often that the character has inner depths. The rest of the Enterprise crew, McCoy (Karl Urban), Uhura (Zoe Saldana), Sulu (John Cho), Chekov (Anton Yelchin), and Scotty (a scene-stealing Simon Pegg) come on board throughout the rest of the film.
The basic story has Kirk sneaking aboard the maiden voyage of the U.S.S. Enterprise after his suspension and attempting to prevent the ship from running afoul of the very ship that killed his father. Along the way Kirk is constantly at odds with first officer Spock, until a meeting with an older Spock (Leonard Nimoy, reprising his role from the original series) helps him to understand what his destiny might be, and how he might attain his goals.
The film moves at breakneck speed, which occasionally leaves a little bit of character development in the lurch. J.J. Abrams (the creative force behind Lost, Alias, and Cloverfield) directs confidently—he knows he is at the helm of a treasured series, but also a summer blockbuster and he takes great pains to please both crowds, including an explosion for every nod to the old series. The script, written by Abrams’ cohorts Robert ORci and Alex Kurtzman is full of one liners and witty wordplay and definitely keeps viewers interested throughout.

As the movie ended I couldn’t help but wish this was the pilot to a brand new television series, and that’s a very good thing. I found the characters interesting, the plot compelling and the dialogue snappy. The action was good and the pacing was excellent. The plot may have seemed a bit simple, and at times gimmicky, but as the credits rolled, I found myself perfectly satisfied, if not overjoyed, by what I had seen. Star Trek may not be the smartest movie you’ll see all year, but it certainly was a lot of fun and as the summer begins, fun is certainly not a bad thing to be.

Grade: B

Haaaaaave you met Sam and Jordan?

For our very first review Jordan and Sam tackle How I Met Your Mother. It should be good since the show kicks fucking ass. We'll have our reviews of tonight's episode up and it hopefully will be the first of many. Check back later...

Something to Be Excited About:

So I may not be able to post a trailer for my favorite movie yet, but I can post something that should make everyone excited. If you've already seen it, be excited again, if its your first time, WATCH IT ALREADY! -Jordan

To see all of the cool people involved in this movie, or to read what some less intelligent people are saying about it on message boards, check out its imdb page HERE

Sam's Favorite Movie

thought it would be a good way to introduce myself, here's a trailer for my favorite movie of all time, Brazil. Just don't ask jordan what his favorite movie of all time is....

If you want to learn more about Brazil check out it's IMDB Page HERE

Hey, It's Jordan

Hi everyone. After years of hoping to avoid dooming myself to a life of blogging, I have finally relented to join co-critic Sam in the formation of this here blog. Over the coming months we shall review movies, tv shows (and, as Sam said, perhaps music) in a "he said, he said" format to give you each of our unique viewpoints. We may be no A.O. Scott, but hey, we aren't Leonard Maltin either. Enjoy and feel free to disparage us anytime you disagree!

Hey, it's Sam

Hi everybody! By everybody I mean Jordan, who will be my trusty co-blogger/reviewer/critic etc. The goal of the site is to see what Jordan and I think of TV, Movies, and maybe music. We will each give our own review of the same thing to give the blogosphere a different take. Think of it as ebert & roeper without the years of writing and experience. but we're younger and better looking so that makes up for it i guess. It could be worse, we could be a critic with the last name LYONS. Uggh. Enjoy!