Saturday, April 29, 2017

Mini movie review: Red (2010)

Red is a light-weight action comedy about a group of retired spies coming together one last time to close a case that happened decades ago.  It should have been much better than it was, based on the cast alone.  Helen Mirren.  John Malkovich.  Morgan Freeman.  Bruce Willis.  Mary Louise Parker.  Brian Cox.  Richard Dreyfus (whom I didn't recognize at first).  Karl Urban.  Don't get me wrong - I found it entertaining for a Friday night zone-out.  Mirren, Freeman and Malkovich seem to be enjoying playing against type.  Willis doesn't do much more than smirk and act tough, although he looks to be in some of the best shape of his life.  But the tone is uneven and an awful lot of bullets fly around without actually hitting all that many people, so the over-the-top violence seems inconsequential.  I liked Red well enough while I was watching it but the more I think about it, the more I have to give it a shrug and a meh.  No harm, no foul, I guess, but no great shakes either.

Image result for red movie

Thursday, April 20, 2017

In absentia

Good lord n' butter, I went on an unintentional hiatus here.  The Walking Dead finished up its mediocre season and I just went AWOL.  Well, I'm not back in any big way yet but thought I'd check in to prove that FMS has not been entirely abandoned.

Upcoming:  Season 2 of AMC's Preacher starts back up on Monday, June 19, and I am all excited about getting back into that brand of batshit-crazy.

Ongoing:  I have been trudging through Netflix's Marvel's Iron Fist and I have to say that it is tedious in ways that none of the prior three Defenders series - Daredevil, Jessica Jones and Luke Cage - were.  The main character is a doofus, really, who is supposed to be the greatest martial artist on the planet.  Finn Jones in no way makes me believe that Danny Rand is an amazing fighter.  And I'm supposed to care about the sibling shenanigans with a big billion-dollar corporation?  The prior three "street level" heroes were all just scraping by: a blind man; a broken, abused, alcoholic woman and a wrongfully-accused black man and now I'm supposed to care about a poor little rich boy?  No thank you.  Seriously, the best part about Iron Fist is whenever Claire Temple (Rosario Dawson) is on-screen, rolling her eyes at what a twit Danny Rand is.

In print:  I've caught up on all The Expanse novels (and am also enjoying the television series on SyFy) and now what am I going to do?  When does the next one come out?  I guess I'll have to track down the novellas and short stories (or else just hope Joe Abercrombie comes out with something soon).

What about you?  What are you reading/watching these days?

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

The Walking Dead S7E16 "The First Day of the Rest of Your Life" 4/2/17

We open with Sasha in the dark, listening to headphones.  She has a funny expression on her face, like she's stoned or having sex or dying or something.  Then she wakes up.  And we're in either a dream sequence or a flashback (or combination of the two) as it's daytime in Alexandria, on the day that the gang takes Maggie to Hilltop, and Abraham is there.  And then her cell door opens, and it's now, with Sasha locked up in the Sanctuary, and Negan has delivered her breakfast and informed her that today she will be helping "solve some shit" so that not many people have to die.  One or two, but not many.  And then it's definitely a flashback: to Sasha and Maggie, post Abraham's and Glenn's deaths by Lucille, sitting on a stump watching the sun go down.

This structure is going to be a HUGE pain in the ass to recap.  Rest assured that this happens a LOT throughout the episode and I will henceforth be shorthanding things.

Back at Alexandria, Rick, Daryl, Tara, Michonne etc. confront Dwight.  Daryl lunges forward again, drawing a bigass knife and threatening to stick it in Dwight's eye.  Tara urges, "Do it!" and the rest of them just watch.  Dwight says that he wants Negan dead and he can help.  Daryl gets himself under control and Dwight says that the Saviors will be arriving at Alexandria tomorrow.  He can slow them down, give Rick et als. a chance to get organized.  He continues, saying that if the Alexandrians can kill Negan and the crew, he will lead the Alexandrians back to the Sanctuary: they can kill the soldiers, convert the workers and then go outpost to outpost and finish things.  They think it sounds good and let him go.  As they watch him leave, Daryl's all, if he's lying, I'm killing him slow, and even if he's not lying, I'm going to just kill him anyway.  Rick points out that if Dwight is lying, they're all fucked and it's all over anyway.


More Sasha interludes.  Lots of talking with her and Abraham.  I can't decide if seeing him again cheapens his death or not.  Plus, the show never invested in their relationship when he was alive so I'm having a hard time caring about it now.  At the Sanctuary, Negan has relayed the plan to Sasha off-screen.  She says that she can play her part but no one has to die.  He's all, yes they do.  This is punishment.  It's all part of it.  But, okay, just one person has to die.  She thinks about it a moment and says, okay.  Just one person has to die.  [Do you think she means him or herself?]

Jesus has returned to Hilltop from Alexandria.  Apparently Gregory has scarpered [do we care? does it matter?] and it's up to Maggie to decide whether the Hilltop helps Alexandria against the Saviors.  Of course she's going to bring Hilltop to help Alexandria.  Also, Ezekiel (with Shiva), Carol and a small band of Kingdom warriors are heading to Alexandria on foot, ready to pledge their assistance.  They find Morgan en route, still a little crazy and trying to take out walkers and Saviors on his own.  He has sharpened the end of his bo staff (which makes me sad).  He doesn't want to join them, saying he's stuck and better off on his own.  But Carol and Ezekiel are all, don't be stupid, we all need to fight together, come with us.  So he does.

Jadis and her Garbage Dwellers roll into Alexandria, per their agreement.  There's quite a few of them.  Rosita etc. set up explosives and everyone takes strategic positions around town.  Michonne and an unnamed Garbage chick set up on top of one of the taller houses so they can be snipers.  And now we just wait for the Saviors to show up.

Where are the Saviors?  Having to clear the trees that Dwight brought down across the road.  Negan paces impatiently and Eugene takes advantage of the delay to ask if he can try to negotiate with the Alexandrians, to "slow their roll," as it were.  Negan shrugs: sure, why not?

Another Sasha/Abraham interlude (she tries to convince him that they don't need to help take Maggie to Hilltop: so this is a combination flashback/dream/wishful thinking sequence).

The Saviors show up at Alexandria.  Eugene is speaking over a bullhorn, saying that all contingencies have been considered and "compliance and fealty are [the Alexandrians] only escape ... The jig is up and in full effect."  Rick ignores him and is all, where's Negan?  Rick gives Rosita a nod and she hits the switch for the explosives.  But nothing happens: either they wired it wrong or someone sabotaged it.  Oops.  Also oops:  Jadis and the Garbage people pull their guns on the Alexandrians and open the town gate.  They have struck a deal with the Saviors and doublecrossed our heroes.  And Rick never saw it coming because he is the WORST.

So Negan gets out of the truck and prances about, swaggering and talking and talking.  Dwight and Simon set a coffin up on the back of a flatbed and Negan's all, but what about Sasha?  And he raps on the coffin.  "I brought her so I wouldn't have to kill all of you!"  Negan tells Rick that he wants all the new guns they've managed to collect, he wants all of the Alexandrians' food, he wants Daryl ("I gotta get me my Daryl back!"), he wants Rick to pick one of his own people for Lucille and he wants the pool table and its accoutrements - and then Sasha doesn't have to die.  "You suck ass, Rick.  I don't want to kill her but I will!"  Rick's like, I want to see her first.

Sasha/Abraham interlude.  And in the just-before-now, Negan and Eugene take Sasha to a flatbed truck.  There's a coffin loaded on the back.  Eugene gives Sasha an iPod to listen to; Negan asks if she's going to be okay in there without a light.  She says yes, she's just going to sleep for the drive over.  So they put her in the coffin and once they're on the road, she takes that poison pill that Eugene gave her last episode.  So those weird little scenes, where she's in the dark, listening to the headphones, gasping and smiling - she's dying from that pill.

So when Negan opens up the coffin, it's ZombieSasha who lurches out, scrabbling at his face and throat.  Excellent.  Things quickly devolve into chaos, with Alexandrians having to fight two fronts: against the Saviors and the Garbage people.  Rosita gets winged and Tara pulls her to safety.  ZombieSasha manages to eat one Savior (not Negan, unfortunately).  Jadis shoots Rick in the side and pushes him off the wall, telling him to sit down.  Michonne and the unnamed Garbage chick on the roof have a truly ugly, brutal fight, slugging it out, bashing each other bloody.  For a minute it looks like the Alexandrians might actually get the upper hand but no, this is one of Rick's plans and it is obviously going to fall to shit.

The Saviors and the Garbage people subdue the Alexandrians and Negan gets to speechify some more.  He puts Rick and Carl on their knees next to each other and basically says that he's going to Lucille Carl to death and then he's going to pulp Rick's hands (but not kill him).  Carl is pretty stoic about it.  Off in the distance, a woman falls screaming to her death off the roof of that mansion.  Rick and Carl are all OMG that was Michonne and Negan is all, oooo was that someone you cared about?  Rick quavers and drools for a while, then he grows a pair and snarls that it doesn't matter who Negan kills or what Negan does to him, he is totally going to kill Negan - probably not today though.  Negan thinks that's pretty cute but it's clobberin' time now.  He stands up and takes position behind Carl, Lucille cocked back over his shoulder.  It almost looks like Carl is going to get it.

And then my favorite part:  from out of nowhere, Shiva the tiger charges in and eats the face off the Savior standing next to Negan.  To his credit, Negan is like, WTF a goddamn tiger?!!!  The rousing music turns up as the Kingdom charges in, King Ezekiel shouting NOT THIS DAY, and then the Hilltop shows up, guns ablazin' (and unfortunately Negan takes notice of Maggie).  The Alexandrians get their shit together and there are a LOT of bullets flying around.  It's a ridiculous scene because we are never worried that any of the named characters will get killed (not even Michonne because it was the Garbage chick who got knocked off the roof), but everyone gets in on the action and I do kind of love it, it's so stupid.  Shiva eats another Savior.  And MORE TIGER is definitely what this show needs.

The Garbage people fire off some smoke bombs to cover their retreat and they and the Saviors get away, Alexandrians, Kingdom and Hilltop following to pick off stragglers.  But it's over, for now.  The only time that I was really nervous was at the very end, when Daryl climbs up on top of a truck to check the area - right out in the open, with no cover - and I worried that he might get shot then by some bad guy lying in wait.  But no, this isn't that kind of season finale.  Even though back at the Sanctuary, Negan is all THIS IS FUCKING WAR, it ends on a slightly hopeful note:  other than Sasha, no one important was killed (Jesus and Maggie find ZombieSasha out in the woods and tearfully put her down off-camera) and the three communities have banded together against a common enemy and actually gained some ground.  Yay team!

Seriously though, MORE TIGER, please.

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