Monday, February 27, 2012

The Walking Dead S2E10 "18 Miles Out" (2/26/12)

Zombies.  Lots of zombies.  Oodles of them, chasing Shane and Rick while Randall (impaled kid from prior episode), who has his hands and feet tied, inchworms his way to a knife on the ground.  Apparently the plan to drop ol' Randall off somewhere away from the farm is not going quite as planned.

Some time prior (although there's no title card): Rick and Shane pause in the middle of the road.  They're driving Randall eighteen miles out to leave him - Randall is tied, hooded and earphoned and stuck in the trunk of the car, by the way - but Rick wants to have a talk first.  This talk goes on for quite some time.  Rick says that he heard what really happened with Otis and wants to know if it was for survival purposes.  Shane says yeah, one shot to the leg and Carl lived.  Rick then asks him if he truly thinks that Rick can't protect his family, which includes the unborn baby.  Shane's all, you can't make the hard choices, man.  Rick says that he needs Shane but that Shane is going to have to accept that he has no claim to Lori or the baby and if he doesn't, Rick will have to deal with him.  Then they check to see if Randall is still tied securely in the trunk - he is - and keep driving.

Back at the farm, Beth has regained consciousness, so that's good.  Lori brings her a lunch tray.

Rick drives further than eighteen miles, looking for a good spot.  They find a town and drive up to the high school and/or public works department.  A couple of zombies lurch up and the men kill them with their knives, trying to save ammunition and keep quiet.  They walk around, checking things out, finding some burned bodies and a school bus that folks had been living in.  As Rick scavenges some gasoline, Shane looks over the two zombies they killed.  He can't find any bite marks on them but rather than consider that horrific possibility, they decide that they must have been infected via scratches rather than bites.  They finish scouting and haul poor Randall out of the trunk.

When Lori checks on Beth, the girl is crying.  Lori tries to cheer her up, saying encouraging, never-give-up words.  She takes away the untouched lunch tray but notices that the knife is missing when she gets to the kitchen.  Lori goes back up to Beth's room and takes the knife away.  Beth is crying again.  Lori runs out to Andrea, who is atop the RV, keeping watch, and asks her to find Maggie and/or Herschel.  Then she runs back to the house.

Rick and Shane drop Randall on the ground, hands and feet tied, but also drop a knife several yards away.  Randall begs for them not to leave him to die.  As he pleads, he lets slip that he went to school with Maggie. Shane is all, WTF? and draws his gun, ready to shoot Randall on the spot.  If Randall knows Maggie, he knows where the farm is and if he gets back with his group, he'll tell them where it is.  Rick is not ready to kill the kid and says he wants to think about it.  Shane has had all he can take and bellows that Rick is absolutely not tough enough to do what it takes to keep their people alive.  They lunge at each other, snarling and kicking and head-butting.  It is an ugly fight.  Randall, meanwhile, inchworms unnoticed towards the knife.  Soon enough, drawn by the ruckus, the local zombies appear, in frigging droves.  Randall cuts his feet loose and manages to stand up; Shane runs for it; Rick hides under a dead zombie.

Maggie scolds Beth that she can't give up and kill herself.  It's selfish and would destroy Herschel.  They start screaming at each other.  Downstairs, Andrea tells Lori that she shouldn't have taken the knife away from Beth - that was just like Dale taking her gun away from her and it's not right to remove the only choice Beth has.  So then Lori lays into Andrea for being all guns and glory and getting involved with the men's work and not helping out with the wimmenfolk's chores.  (Seriously, Lori?  We get a zombie apocalypse and we're back in the 1800s?)  They're kind of both right - the defense of the group is crucial but it's also important to establish a life of normalcy, order and sanitation - but since I don't like Lori, I'm taking Andrea's side.  She tells Lori that out of everyone in their group, Lori is the only one who hasn't lost everyone she loves, so she's got a lot of effing nerve being such a goddamn Pollyanna.  Andrea storms off.  It's difficult to tell whether anything she said sank in.

Back 18+ miles away, Rick falls down and shoots the zombie coming after him.  The zombie falls on top of him and another one lurches forward.  Rick shoots that one, which falls on top and then a third zombie joins in - pigpile!  Rick gasps for breath under the pile of zombies.  He tries to shoot the live one but it keeps batting his gun away.  So he sticks the barrel into the open mouth of the first dead zombie and shoots the third one right through its head.  He struggles out from underneath.  That was kind of awesome.

Maggie and Beth have stopped shouting at each other because Beth has proposed that the two of them commit suicide together.  She feels things are hopeless, she doesn't want to get bitten or gutted.  She wants to die in her bed, tonight, with her sister beside her.  Maggie is in tears.  Andrea comes up and tells Maggie to go take a break - she'll stay with Beth.  After Maggie leaves, Andrea tells the younger girl that the pain doesn't go away, you just make room for it.  Then she goes too, leaving Beth alone.  When Maggie comes back, Beth has locked herself in the bathroom.  There is the sound of glass breaking and crying.  Lori comes  up and they break the door down.  Beth has cut one wrist (not too terribly, it doesn't seem) and whimpers, "I'm sorry."

Trapped in the school bus, Shane starts lobotomizing zombies one at a time through a crack in the door, luring them close with a smear of his own blood.  Rick and Randall find each other and observe the horde of walkers swarming Shane's bus.  Randall suggests that they just leave, now, while the walkers are distracted, especially since Shane tried to kill Rick.  Rick pauses for a moment and then agrees.  They head for the car. Shane sees them go and is all, I can't believe that he's picking now of all times to sack up!

On their way back to the car, Rick and Randall pass the original two zombies.  They had been security guards and Rick grabs their guns from their belts.  They jump into the car, Randall driving, and charge up to Shane's school bus, Rick leaning out the window and shooting zombies.  Shane climbs out the back of the bus and dives into the car.  Inside, he stares at Rick, this time like he can't believe he came back for him.  They drive out of town, then pull over, tie Randall up and stuff him in the trunk again.  Rick tells Shane that (1) he's going to have to try harder if he's going to kill him, (2) they'll probably end up having to kill Randall but Rick wants to think about it first, and (3) if Shane wants to stay with the group, he's got to follow Rick's lead and trust him.  "It's time for you to come back," Rick says, handing Shane a gun.

Andrea runs back up to the farmhouse after hearing about Beth cutting herself.  Maggie is furious and bans her from the house.  Andrea is hurt but says that Beth has made her choice - she won't try it again.  As she walks away, Lori tells Maggie that while she doesn't condone what Andrea did, she's right in that Beth has chosen to live.  "Sometimes you have to cross the line."  Maggie sniffs and heads inside to her family.

I had my doubts given the looooooooooooong conversation between Rick and Shane at the start, but that was a pretty action- and zombie-packed episode.  Good deal.

Previously on The Walking Dead / next time on The Walking Dead

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Movie review: The Boondock Saints

Written and directed by Troy Duffy, 1999's The Boondock Saints is a variation of the gangster movie, where the antiheroes at the center wreak havoc around themselves.  Connor and Murphy McManus, Irish-Catholic brothers (possibly fraternal twins) from South Boston, are tough customers.  When they interrupt Mass to pray by themselves up at the altar, nobody says anything - these boys are not to be messed with.  But they're good boys, loyal, and when some Russian thugs decide to close down their favorite pub, they stand up for their friends and kill the Russians.  The McManuses turn themselves in but the Boston cops treat them like heroes rather than arresting them, and the boys decide it's a message from God: they should clean their city up.

Aided by a doofus Italian mafia errand boy who knows all the players, Connor and Murphy start a killing spree that wipes out a number of high-level Russian mobsters and then start in on the Boston mafioso, developing their own rituals and saying prayers over their kills.  An FBI agent is sent after them because of the mob angle but he's always one step behind, plus he actually approves of what they're doing.

The Boondock Saints is a much-loved cult-level film, full of violence, cuss words and loving homages to Boston.  The McManuses are played by Sean Patrick Flanery and my current crush, Norman Reedus ("Darryl" on The Walking Dead), Willem Dafoe is the flamboyant FBI Agent Smecker and Billy Connolly is an implacable murderer sent after the boys by the Italian don.  The accents are sketchy - except for Detective Greenley, who is played by Maine comic Bob Marley (I totally didn't recognize him) - but Boston landmarks are everywhere, from the Pru to Copley Square to the "salt and pepper bridge".

I had a good time watching the entertaining TBS although I'm not going to rave about it as do many fans.  It's quite violent and then funny in spots, but not nearly as violent, funny or clever as similar films from Tarantino or Ritchie.  The plot is simple and the characters largely undeveloped, although the two leads are pretty dang cute.  I'm glad I watched it, having heard so much about it, and it was nice to revisit Boston, but I don't think I'm going to run  out and watch the sequel right away (which by all accounts is far inferior and incoherent compared to this first one).

Monday, February 20, 2012

The Walking Dead S2E9 "Triggerfinger" (2/19/12)

Lori regains consciousness in her crashed car as a couple of zombies slaver and crawl over the windows.  What a dumb ass - I so hope she gets eaten.

In the aftermath of the shooting at the bar - and it's now nighttime, when I don't think it was before - Rick checks to see if Glen and Herschel are okay.  Rather than being pissed off about all the shooting, Herschel seems grateful that Rick defended the farm like that.  Then they see headlights and duck out of sight.  It's Dave and Tony's people, coming to check things out after hearing the shots.  Amazingly, they don't go into the bar but spread out through town, including sending one kid up on the rooftops.

At the crash site, the hungry zombies begin to force themselves in through the shattered windows.  Lori can't find her gun but manages to grab a screwdriver (?) and stick it through the zombie's eye, killing it.  She climbs out of the car and another walker grabs her.  She whacks it with a hub cap, then sees her gun in the car wreckage.  She grabs the pistol and finishes off the second zombie.

Back at the farmhouse, folks are sitting down to dinner.  Then they realize Lori isn't there and dinner is forgotten as everyone runs around looking for her.  Stupid Lori.

Dave and Tony's compatriots finally decide to check the bar.  They call out that they don't want any trouble, they're just looking for their friends.  Rick decides that the only way out is to announce that Dave and Tony drew first and now are dead.  Herschel watches in disbelief as Rick lies through his teeth, saying it was self-defense.  Then Dave and Tony's friends start shooting up the bar.  Which is worse: having to kill the dead walkers or having to kill the living survivors?

Carol runs out to where Darryl is camped by himself, informing him that Lori is missing.  Darryl:  "That dumb bitch must have gone out lookin' for 'em.  Told her I was done bein' an errand boy."  Carol stares at him, then pleads with him to rejoin the group as she's already lost her daughter and doesn't want to lose him.  "That ain't my fault neither," he spits.  Carol reports to the group that Lori went to town after the guys and Shane immediately jumps into another car and rushes off to save her.  He soon finds the wreck and the dead zombies, but no Lori.  He tries calling for her but hears something - gunfire? thunder? - and runs back to the car.

Back at the bar, Rick tells Herschel and Glen to sneak out the back and get their truck while he covers the front.  Glen is not happy about this plan because he'll be the one doing the sneaking; Herschel grumps that he can actually shoot but doesn't like to.  Glen makes a run for it and one of Dave and Tony's pals shoots at him.  Herschel shoots the shooter, who falls screaming.  Rick goes to check on Glen - who is fine but freaked out - as dozens of zombies start closing in, drawn by the gunfire and the screaming.  The rest of Dave and Tony's friends skedaddle, leaving the screaming shooter (who is soon torn to shreds by walkers) and the kid on the rooftop.  The kid jumps off the rooftop to try to catch up with his friends but instead manages to impale his leg above the knee on a wrought iron fence.  Herschel thinks they should just perform a mercy killing on the impaled kid; Glen suggests that they amputate; the kid hates both of these suggestions. Finally, running out of time as the walkers lurch closer, Rick just rips the kid's leg off the spike and drags him off to the truck.  There is now much more screaming.

Shane finally finds Lori staggering down the road.  He wants to get her back to the farm so when she asks where Rick is, he lies and says he's already back safe.  When they get to the farm, however, his lie immediately comes out and she calls him an asshole, furious.  He replies that he's trying to take care of her and, in front of the whole group, says he has to make sure the baby is okay.  Everyone is like, baby?  Later, when Shane tries to explain his actions, Loris comes out and asks him what really happened with Otis.  Shane: "What happened with Otis was because I love you and I love Carl."  Then she tells him that Rick knows about their affair.  He freaks out a little: did you tell him you thought you were a widow?  Did you tell him it was a mistake?  Then Shane backpedals and says that no, it wasn't a mistake, it was real.  Lori won't look at him (but won't deny it, either) and he stomps off.

Carol goes back to Darryl's camp and finds his grisly collection of severed ears.  He yells at her, lashing out, feelings hurt.  She takes his abuse, holding back the tears.

Morning comes and Rick, Herschel and Glen are still not back.  Beth is still pretty much comatose so Maggie and Andrea sit with her as Maggie relates a family story.  Andrea reassures her that Rick and Glen will bring her dad back.  "Glen's a good guy," says Maggie.  "Yeah, he is," Andrea agrees.

Later, when Shane is organizing a rescue party to go after the missing three, Dale tries to talk Andrea out of going, saying Shane is not to be trusted.  She retorts that Shane has done more to keep this group alive, even more than Rick.  Before the rescue party can take off, however, the three missing men return.  Maggie runs out and throws her arms around Glen, but he pushes her away, too upset.  T-Dog points into the truck: "Who the hell is that?"  Glen: "That's Randall," blindfolded and dazed but alive.

Then everyone fights about what to do with Randall: keep him here, kill him, fix him up and set him out on the road with a canteen.  The concern is that his group of people will come after him and there'll be a big ol' survivors war.  Rick points out that nothing is going to happen today so everyone should just chill.  They all disperse.  Maggie tries to get Glen to talk to her.  He says that he froze under pressure because now he has to think of her as well as himself - he's got something to lose and it's messing him up.  He walks away and Maggie slumps against the wall, unbelieving.

Herschel tends to Beth when Maggie finds him.  She accuses him of drinking again and shouts that he left and she didn't know what to do without him.  He just sits there.

Meanwhile, Lori tells Rick that Shane thinks the baby is his: "No matter what, it's yours."  She says that Shane is delusional and dangerous, a liar.  She says that she thinks he killed Otis, not just to save Carl but because he thinks he is supposed to be with her.  Rick confesses that he killed Dave and Tony to protect her.  She whispers that Shane thinks that she belongs to him, and the baby too, and that Rick can't protect them.  Rick stares off into the distance, knowing that a showdown with Shane is in his future.

Meh.  Started strong with some decent action and then everyone just talked about everything again.

Previously on The Walking Dead / next time on The Walking Dead

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Book review: Best Served Cold by Joe Abercrombie

Monzcarro Murcatto, the Snake of Talins, the Butcher of Caprile, mercenary general of the Thousand Swords, the center of Joe Abercrombie's Best Served Cold, is not a woman to trifle with.  Feared and hated by her enemies and her rivals, beloved only by her brother, Benna, she has won a lot of battles for her employer, the Duke of Orso, moving him into a position of power and collecting a fortune for herself.  She is beautiful and ruthless, a deadly soldier, popular among the Duke's subjects.  When the Duke summons her and Benna, they go to his stronghold obediently, only to find themselves betrayed, Orso nervous that she might attempt to overthrow him.  Benna is murdered and Monza is very nearly killed as well, strangled and stabbed and beaten and thrown off the castle walls.  So much for loyalty.

Monza survives, somehow, rescued by a very strange and creepy fellow who sets her many broken bones and stitches her back together.  When she is healed (or mostly healed), she is but a shadow of her former self, scarred and aching, her sword hand mangled beyond use.  What is intact is her single-minded quest for vengeance and that focused fury drives her on.  She collects a motley team, including a murderer with a numbers fixation, the realm's best poisoner and his apprentice, a torturer, a besotted mercenary and a Northman who is trying to be a good man.  Once Monza has her crew in place, she goes after the seven men who betrayed her and killed her brother: the Duke, his two sons, his banker, a general in Orso's army, a mercenary and a thug.  One by one she sets them up to take them out in this bloody and exciting revenge fantasy.

As I mentioned before, Best Served Cold is a stand-alone novel set within Abercrombie's First Law universe. The order of the five books is the First Law trilogy, then BSC, then The Heroes.  I'm going at this rather backwards, having read the last novel first and the second to last one second; I promise that I will read the actual trilogy in order, although it hasn't really mattered in these stand-alones.  Except for one thing: the Northman who joins Monza's crew is Caul Shivers, a Very Scary Dude in The Heroes.  In BSC, we learn how Shivers goes from a talented fighter who wants to do the right thing to the one eyed, murdering beast.  I kind of liked having met him a the monster first, because it made his descent more interesting to me.

I loved Best Served Cold.  It is violent and bloody as hell, funny (although not quite as funny as TH) and fast-paced with betrayals, deceptions and double-crosses.  Monza Murcatto is not at all a nice person but she makes for a wonderfully flawed and interesting protagonist.  On the strength of these two novels I am fast becoming a huge Joe Abercrombie fan.  I cannot wait to get to the first volume of the First Law trilogy.

Monday, February 13, 2012

The Walking Dead S2E8 "Nebraska" (2/12/12)

Welcome back to The Walking Dead!  Tonight's theme will be hope, to have or have not.

We pick right up where we left off, with Rick putting a bullet through Zombie Sophia's head.  Carol breaks away from Darryl's arms and runs off.  Everyone else is stunned.  Herschel's stepdaughter Beth runs to her mother's corpse, sobbing.  The zombie is not quite dead, however, and attacks Beth.  Rick's people spring into action, pulling the girl away to safety and Andrea finally putting a pickaxe through the zombie's skull.  As Herschel and his people head back to the farmhouse, Shane gets riled up about how they've been searching for Sophia when she was in the barn the whole time.  Herschel protests that he didn't know she was in there and tells Rick that he's got to get his people off this farm.  Rick lays into Shane, telling him that he'd been handling things but Shane scoffs, saying that Rick had them all out searching for a little girl whom they knew in their hearts was dead.  "You're just as delusional as Herschel."  Shane has a point but I also think he's over compensating for not having been able to put Sophia down himself.

Darryl finds Carol hiding out in the RV.  He sits there with her, not saying a word.Glen follows Maggie into the house, asking again if she knew Sophia had been in the barn.  She just stares at him.  He thinks that now that they've found her, even though she's dead, maybe they can move on.  Maggie wonders how people can just move on.  Outside, Laurie decides that they should dig graves for Sophia, Herschel's wife and his stepson; they'll burn the rest of the bodies.  As the others move off to start digging, Rick whinges about how he's supposed to be taking care of people but they keep getting hurt.  After the graves have been dug, Laurie goes to fetch Carol for the burial service.  Carol doesn't want to go: "That's not my little girl, that's some other ... thing."  Darryl stares at her, then heads to the gravesites.  Inside the house, Herschel packs up his dead wife's things.  He'd been holding onto them in the vain hopes that she'd get better.  He finds a flask in a drawer and stares at it.  We don't see the burial service - just an overhead shot of the group dispersing afterwards, everyone seeming lost and alone.

Carol wanders out into the fields and starts ripping up all the Cherokee roses she can find.  Andrea and T-Dog load up the dead zombies to take them out to burn.  There's a small spat about what just happened: Andrea and T-Dog are on the "damn right we should kill the walkers in our backyard" side of things; Rick, Laurie and Dale think that things might have been handled better.  Maggie asks Glen if he'd consider staying on the farm with him if his group leaves, but before they can get into it, Beth faints in the kitchen.  She is catatonic, feverish, in shock.  No one can find Herschel and it is determined that he's off the farm.  They find the flask and Maggie says that he'd never allow booze on the farm.  Looks like he's rediscovered its charms.  Glen and Rick decide to go to town to check the bar.  Laurie doesn't want Rick to go, saying he needs to stay and be a father; Shane doesn't think they need to do anything to aid Herschel; Rick says he owes it to the man to see that he's safe.

Shane sees Carol come staggering out of the woods, half in shock herself and covered in thorns.  He helps her clean up at the pump, telling her how sorry he is about Sophia.  Meanwhile, Dale tells Laurie his theory about Shane having sacrificed Otis to escape the zombies.  "He's dangerous, Laurie, sooner or later he's gonna kill somebody else."  Beth is not getting any better and Laurie decides to ask Darryl to run into town and fetch back Herschel and Rick - which makes no sense seeing how Rick was planning on bringing the old veterinarian back as soon as he found him.  Darryl calls her Olive Oyl (heh) and tells her to piss off and go after them herself.  He's done looking for people.  I love Darryl.

Blah blah blah on the drive into town, Glen babbles to Rick about how Maggie said she loves him but he didn't say it back.  Ugh, just get into town already and DO something.  When they get to town, they do find Herschel at the bar, working his way through a bottle of whiskey.  They tell him about Beth but he's like, what can I do?  He is feeling sorry for himself, saying that he was a fool and Rick's people saw through that immediately.  "My daughters deserve better than that."

That goddamn Laurie takes a car and drives towards town.  While she's looking at a map (there's like one road out there, what does she need a map for?), a zombie wanders into the road.  She sees it too late and instead of just running it down, clips it and overcorrects, sending the car rolling up and over and into a ditch. What an effing dumbass.

Now Herschel rails at Rick, saying that he did the Christian thing by taking Rick's people in, and they destroyed everything.  Then he switches tacks and rants about how he had been delusional, thinking there was a cure, thinking that there was hope.  "You know that now, don't you?" he says, "There's no hope for any of us."  Rick snaps back that death has always been here for all of them - cancer, heart attacks, now walkers.  "It isn't about what we believe [meaning, yes, he's feeling bereft too], its about them."  Then the door to the street opens and two strangers walk in.  "Sonofabitch, they're alive!" one of them says.

The strangers are Dave (Rene from True Blood) and Tony, recently from Philadelphia.  They've been following rumors around the country and burst Rick's bubble when they tell him that they met a soldier from Fort Benning who said the base was overrun with "lamebrains."  They've been considering Nebraska: low population and lots of guns.  Then, Dave and Tony start asking pointed questions about where Rick, Herschel and Glen are staying, how many survivors are with them, etc.  They invite themselves and their group of people to join our gang out at the farm, saying that there's safety in numbers.  Rick and Herschel present a united front, saying that they can't take any more people in.  Tony is coarse and crude, Dave smoother.  I don't trust him.  He says that his group has gone through a lot, done things they shouldn't have had to - "we can't stay out there, you know what it's like."  Rick demurs: "the farm is too crowded, you'll have to keep looking."  Heh, grunts Dave, and lunges for his gun.  Rick drops him with one shot to the head (so much for Rene from True Blood) and then turns and puts three bullets in Tony.

The music swells up and we cut between Shane and T-Dog lighting the zombie bonfire and Herschel and Glen just staring open-mouthed at Rick.

Previously on The Walking Dead / next time on The Walking Dead

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Movie review: Attack the Block

Ooh, bruv, Attack the Block's amazin' movie, innit?  Really loved it, didn't I?  In the land of low budget, under the radar alien invasion movies, this one ranks right up there with District 9.  In other words, good stuff.

A gang of teenage ruffians patrol the streets around their council estate flats (the "block") in south London, causing trouble, mugging people.  One night, while all of London is celebrating something with fireworks, they pick on a pretty young nurse as she's on her way home (to her flat in the block, although they don't recognize her), steal her money, knock her to the ground.  Before too much damage can be done, however, something falls out of the sky: a toothy little alien.  The young gang kills it and totes it off to the smartest guy they know - the local pot dealer, played with excellent humor by Nick Frost - to see if he can identify it.  While they're talking with him, more aliens plummet to earth and the boys decide that they're up for more mayhem.  They collect weapons and go out to do battle.

Trouble is, this second round of aliens is not like the first.  These are big, black, furry monsters, sort of a cross between a gorilla and a wolf, with many rows of huge, fluorescent teeth.  The boys retreat to the block, which soon becomes besieged.  They meet up with the nurse - who is at first not inclined to help treat their injuries in light of how they first met - but soon the ragtag group is waging war in earnest.  The block is their home and they are not going to give it up without a fight.

I don't even know where to start with how much I liked this movie.  It's only 87 minutes long (which, if he liked sci-fi movies, would have been perfect for Mr. Mouse) and never lets up the headlong pace.  The gang of boys is clearly developed into individual characters: the scene where they run off to collect weapons from their various apartments gives a nice glimpse into who they are.  Their leader, Moses, played by total newcomer John Boyega, is terse and threatening at first, but evolves into a real hero, trying to keep his crew alive.  The action is strong, bloody (but not too much so) and realistic (for a movie about aliens).  It's scary in spots and quite funny in others, diffusing the tension nicely before it ramps back up.  The aliens are simply wonderful - practical effects, not CGI.  The way they move (kudos to the stunt guys inside the suits) is so natural looking, fluid and strong.

There are English subtitles available on the DVD - even though everyone in the movie speaks the Queen's English, it is rife with imprenetrable British slang - but I ended up not using them.  Sure, I missed some dialogue, but you don't need to understand every word to follow what's going on: aliens invade, kids fight back.  It's not complicated but it's a ton of fun and really well done.  I liked it so well that I think I'm going to watch it again before I send the DVD back - this is actually a movie I wouldn't mind owning.  See it soon if you haven't yet.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012


Rats - I have two book reviews that I need to get up here but our DVR is on the verge of filling up so we HAVE to clear some shows off that tonight instead. I mean, it's pretty much dire.  So stay tuned.

Oh, I did watch the two hour premiere of ABC's The River.  Not that scary (when competing against The Walking Dead and even American Horror Story).  Way too frantic with the "found footage" racing and jerking through the jungle.  Totally Smoke Monster derivative (if you saw it you should know what I mean).  And I didn't care about any of the undeveloped characters - seriously? a mystic native in this day and age? - although Thomas Kretschmann is yummy.  The next LOST this ain't.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Mini movie review: Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, directed by Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz), is the mostly live action adaptation of Bryan Lee O'Malley's beloved graphic novels, in which Scott Pilgrim, a 23 year old Toronto slacker, must do battle with hipster girl Ramona Flowers's seven evil exes in order to win her love.  I bought the books but have only read them once: they're very funny and hip and clever, inundated with Canadian 20-something hipster culture, plus local bands, plus video games.  Scott is cute and charming but really juvenile and thoughtless; Ramona is sometimes cruel; and the secondary characters are often more pleasant to be around than the main characters.

I thought the movie did a very good job of translating the books.  Michael Cera as Scott is self-centered and clueless, but also sweet (although the actor is growing out of his cute boyish looks and entering a more awkward phase).  Mary Elizabeth Winstead is pretty good as Ramona, I guess, but I'm not sure she's that good an actress.  Ellen Wong, playing Knives Chau, and Kieran Culkin, as Scott's gay roommate Wallace, steal every scene they're in.  And the line-up of Ramona's seven evil exes was well-cast (Chris Evans! Jason Schwartzman! Mae Whitman!), although Brandon Routh does nothing for me.

I enjoyed the videogame battles between Scott and the exes, something that seems so natural in the books - I do imagine that people who saw the movie without having read the books were like, WTF is going on?  My thoughts here are a little incoherent since I saw the movie a couple of days ago and things are slipping away from me, sorry.  But I had a lot of fun watching SPvtW: it's not deep, but it's pretty and interesting and fun, and pays a nice homage to the source material.  Ain't nothin' at all wrong with that.