Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Awesomest Man Alive: My review of '127 Hours'!

After seeing Danny Boyle's (one of the most interesting and exciting filmmakers working today) masterful new bio-pic of "real-life superhero" Aron Ralston, I have been struck by the very real fact that no matter what I do in my life, no matter what greatness I've yet to achieve, I will never be a fraction as awesome as Mr. Ralston.

He is better than I am. He is better than you are too. All that any of us can aspire to be in life is no more than a boil on the anus of this Man.

It's impossible for me to discuss this film without going into spoiler territory, so if you are somehow unaware of Ralston's ordeal and wish to remain completely ignorant before you sprint to whatever theater nearest you is showing this film, and you should be sprinting, then stop reading now.

 127 Hours begins with Ralston (James Franco) mountain biking, alone, through the rocky, barren Utah wilderness. He encounters a couple of young ladies, has a quick adventure that shows them, and the audience, how awesome and carefree he is. Then, roughly fifteen minutes into the film, Ralston falls into a crevice and gets his arm pinned under a bolder. This is where the majority of the film's remaining ninety or so minutes take place.

Damn near everyone in the audience knows how this story is going to end. Ralston, with his grapefruit-sized testicles and inhuman tenacity, uses a dull pocket knife, about two inches long, to sever his own arm off at the elbow in order to climb out of the crevice and hike several miles before being rescued. The beauty of this film is the way that Boyle is able to ratchet up the tension virtually non-stop until we get there, the photography is gorgeous and the sound editing is brilliant and haunting. The idea of severing his arm off occurs to Ralston almost immediately, and is foreshadowed constantly, but during the 5 days that he is pinned beneath the bolder, starving and hallucinating due to dehydration, he exhausts all his other options before finally accepting his fate.

This is being heralded as one of those "triumph of the human spirit" stories. And it is, it certainly makes you contemplate on the value of life, and the refusal of the human heart to accept defeat and all that happy Hallmark bullshit. But at no point during the soon to be infamous "severing scene" did I think to myself "yes! I am capable of this level of will power and determination!" Fuck that. I would have died underneath that rock, and most of you would have too. And let's say that you DID find it in yourself to sever through muscle, tendon and nerve endings with a dull blade, would you then have it in you to climb up one cliff, down another and hike 8,000 (roughly) miles? Maybe you would. What the hell do I know? (You wouldn't)

By the end of this movie my nose was sniffling and my eyes were watering because I feel like the world is somehow a greater place for having at least ONE dude as dudely as Aron Ralston in it. Maybe if I'm ever stuck at the bottom of a crevice he will find me and (after heavily sedating me) use his bionic arm powers to rescue me. Because if he doesn't, I'm screwed.

Amazing film. Outstanding performance by James Franco. See it.

                                James Franco as Aron Ralston

                             The Real Ralston (Before)

                            
                             And after.....

Friday, June 18, 2010

Jonah Hex

Jonah Hex, based on a comic book that I've never heard of, is a movie about a Confederate soldier (I think, he may have actually been a Union soldier working as a spy, not really sure) played by Josh Brolin who, in a vaguely told back-story, betrays and shoots his best friend. Then his friend's father, John Malkovich, kills Jonah's whole family as retribution and brands his initials on Jonah's face. Jonah doesn't like having his enemy's initials branded on his face, so he burns them off and is left hilariously disfigured.

All of this is just back-story though, told through confusing and bizarrely edited flashbacks. The main chunk of this movie's 75 minute running time, that's right, SEVENTY-FIVE minutes, is spent on watching Jonah hunt down Evil John Malkovich to exact his vengeance and prevent him from using the most utterly absurd, impractical and nonsensical doomsday weapon ever conceived to destroy the United States.

Seriously, let's discuss this weapon for a minute. It was apparently designed by Eli Whitney and it involves launching a whole bunch of giant glowing orbs at a target, then launching another, different colored orb into the vicinity of the previous orbs, which ignites the initial orbs causing mass explosions. Also, the weapon requires a giant ship to house it. Ridiculous.

Anyway, if you're looking for a (very) quick mindless and disposable entertainment fix, I can think of far worse ways to spend your afternoon. This is 75 minutes of horses with Gatling guns, dynamite launching crossbows and Meghan Fox (whose talent is as non-existent as her waist) in a corset.

It is what it is, and I was entertained. 

Monday, May 31, 2010

Scott Pilgrim Trailer 2!!

Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome.
Awesome.



EVEN AWESOMER IN QUICKTIME!!!


1,000,000 / 5 on the Anticipation Meter

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Red Dead Redemption

So, Red Dead Redemption was released last week, and while I've yet to pick up a copy of it, the reviews that I've read and footage that I've seen have convinced me that it's one of the most awesome video games ever created. Essentially its a Grand Theft Auto game set in the Wild West, to the best of my knowledge no video game publication has given it anything less than a 9.75/10, those are just two reasons why you should run out and buy this game immediately, then give it to me.

As if I wasn't already convinced of this game's limitless potential for awesomeness, filmmaker John Hillcoat, who directed one of the best westerns of the last two decades, The Proposition, along with the suicide inducing The Road, created a short film solely out of footage from Red Dead Redemption. The short airs midnight, May 29th on Fox.

Here's the trailer:

 

Monday, May 24, 2010

LOST- "The End"

Hey everyone, I've been awfully busy job training and preparing to graduate during the past couple of weeks, sorry I haven't been around to share my thoughts and opinions on Lost with you. My wife, Lola Cutter Hensel, had a lot to say about last night's series finale, and I decided to let her come on here and sound off. 

If you're wondering where I personally stand on this subject, my opinions are almost identical to Lola's, only my review would have probably included a few more expletives. Enjoy!


Last night's series finale of Lost reminded me of one of my favorite Jack Handey quotes:

"It's funny that pirates were always going around searching for treasure, and they never realized that the real treasure was the fond memories they were creating."
Mr. Handey's observation about pirates works on a comedic level because it is so delightfully naive.

The Lost series finale didn't work, on an epic level, because it was so sickeningly naive.

At the end, Lost treated us to a large room in a brightly lit multi-faith chapel filled with all most of the show's principle characters. The characters greet each other knowingly, with warm smiles, and embrace. A beautiful white light fills the chapel as everyone holds hands and prepares for whatever celestial hereafter awaits them. From what I've read, many viewers wept at this point.

The whole flash-sideways universe, we have learned, was some kind of post-life, pre-afterlife playground created by the collective unconscious of the flight 815 survivors - a world they designed for themselves so that they could find each other and prepare to "move on." It's a touching concept, but a crappy ending to the show. It's been argued that everything in Lost was resolved, and that's fair; after all, death is the ultimate resolution. However, I had been hoping that there would be some substantial answers - the illumination of some kind of thread that connected everything together, something more quantifiable than the vague, ethereal magic-light-at-the-heart-of-the-island explanation that the writers tossed our way.

So what was the deal with Walt? Remember what a really big, special deal he was? What was up with that whole infertility epidemic on the island? What about the numbers, and the candidates? We were lead to believe that these were topics of great, cosmic importance but then were pretty much told that they were just random selections according to Jacob's whim. The numbers? Oh, Jacob just had "a thing" for numbers. The candidates? Remember when Kate reminded Jacob that she was no longer a candidate because she had been crossed out? Jacob responded, "It's just a line of chalk Kate, the job is yours if you want it." Oh okay, no big deal then, I guess. What about the food drops? The "infection"? Why was Aaron so important (remember how crucial it was that he not be raised by anyone but Claire)?

I felt fully gypped by the flash-sideways storyline. Why was there any sense of urgency there? Christian Shephard told Jack, "There is no now here." It turned out that the whole sideways universe was timeless and consequence-less - it had been mutually created by the survivors so they could find each other in the afterlife, so I think we could rest assured that they all would have come through eventually. All the stakes the writers had raised in this part of the storyline, all the risks they presented, turned out to be purely imaginary.

In the end, it was all about the characters relationships with each other. By ending the show the way they did, the creators of Lost nullified the importance of all the island's mysteries and, along with the mysteries, our investment in them. The creators essentially said, "Hey, remember all the questions we made you care about? Remember how we raised the stakes week after week, hitting you with new twists and mysteries? So... yeah... none of that really mattered. All that mattered were the fond memories that the survivors were creating."

Bullcrap.

I will never regret that I followed Lost with the passion that I did season after season. Ultimately, the characters and their relationships with one another were legitimately moving and wonderfully crafted - that's why the first two seasons were my personal favorites. It's been an amazing ride and I'm so glad I went on it. However, I feel insulted and cheated by the sub-par, escapist finale I was given.

The epic adventure story that I loved was subverted into an extravagant zen parable. And that's not an ending worth applauding.

-LCH

Friday, May 7, 2010

Iron Man 2

Generally speaking, for most superhero franchises the second film is always the greatest. With the origin story out of the way it's time to up the stakes, and the explosions, and kick some major ass. Superman 2, Spiderman 2, X-Men 2, Batman Returns, each of these sequels would find their way onto anyone's top ten superhero film list. Even a moron's.

Sadly, Iron Man 2 does not follow in the tradition of the films listed above. Is it bad? No. But, most importantly, is it AWESOME?...

Kinda...sorta...it has its moments...the acting is great, there are a couple of outstanding set pieces, one at a race track, the other in an atrium, but the script has some major issues and the movie somehow feels a lot smaller than you expect. It's a very personal story, it lacks the scope and grandeur of the sequels listed above.

There's a moment toward the middle of the film where Tony Stark is placed under house arrest, ordered not to have any contact with the outside world, then it cuts to him driving down the highway in a convertible, no explanation given. There are moments like this scattered throughout the film, where you're just left scratching your head, wondering if theres a slew of deleted scenes that will end up on the DVD, or if the script was really just that sloppy.

Marvel Studios is doing something insanely awesome right now by reacquiring the rights to as many of their characters as possible and creating a universe in which they all co-exist. There are a couple (one of which is post-credits) geeky cool moments where we're given glimpses at the awesomeness to come. I really hope they don't mess things up.

I guess that the bottom line here is that I liked Iron Man 2. I liked it quite a bit. It may not have lived up to my lofty expectations but it's far, far better than either Fantastic Four film, or Spiderman 3, or the third  X-Men movie, or Wolverine, or a handful of other sub-par superhero stink-fests that have been released in the past decade, but as a whole its not as good as Iron Man was, and that's really unfortunate.

Does Scarett Johansson have the best ass in Hollywood? Because right now, I'm thinking that the answer is yes.

3 / 5 on the Awesome Meter

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

LOST 6x14- "The Cadidate"

It has been announced that the series finale of Lost will be two and a half hours long. This means that after tonight there are four and a half hours remaining. That comes out to about three hours and twenty-two minutes after commercials.

This means that there are less than three and a half hours left to explain the history of the Island and its two oldest inhabitants and wrap-up numerous plot-lines in two timelines.

No problem.

I have nothing spoiler free to say about tonight's episode,"The Candidate", other than that it was really on a level of awesomeness that this season hasn't reached in a while, so if you haven't watched tonight's hour yet, turn back now.

::::::::SPOILERS BELOWWWW::::::::::::

I, like many astute viewers, went into tonight's episode expecting the death of at least one major character. We haven't had a major character death yet this season, and they're running out of episodes. Characters need to start dying in order to convey a real sense that anything can happen during the show's finale. The audience needs to believe that no one is safe in order for there to be any valid element of suspense.

That being said, I was thoroughly surprised by the amount of death tonight, and by the ability of the writers to keep us guessing who would make it and who wouldn't.

As soon as Kate was shot I was like, that's it, Kate's (finally) going to die tonight! For better or worse, Kate did not die during tonight's episode, but THREE characters who have been around since the show's very first hour did.

Let's discuss.

Firstly, I became emotionally detached from the character of Sayid a while back. Ever since he shot Lil' Ben Linus last season he's just kind of floated around, getting mortally wounded and ultimately infected by the Man in Black. He's spent most of this season walking around zombie like, killing without remorse and doing everything that FLocke orders him to. I was happy and surprised a couple weeks ago when we saw (well we didn't actually see it, but c'mon it was pretty obvious...) Sayid spare Desmond. I'm still not sure how this whole "infected" thing works, I had been under the impression that it eradicates free will, but both Claire and Desmond have recently been exercising their independent decision making ability. Is this because the Man in Black's influence over them is fading? Anyway, it was great to see Sayid, a character I had previously thought lost forever, complete his journey toward redemption tonight.

What is there to say about Jin and Sun? My friend texted me from Cinema Salem and told me that half of the audience was blubbering after their death scene. I got another text after the episode from a friend who told me that he was sobbing like Hurley. I'm not surprised, it was one of the most tragic and beautifully executed cinematic moments in recent history. My eyes remained miraculously dry the entire time, which is peculiar because I tear up watching pet food commercials, but I doubt I'll be able to watch the episode a second time without welling up at least a little bit. Jin was so in love with his wife that he chose to drown to death rather than leave her alone again. That's devotion.
                                            Heartbreaking.

Lastly, I want to discuss Frank Lapidus. Poor, poor Frank Lapidus. While his death is certainly overshadowed by the deaths of three original cast members, I think that everyone needs to take at least a moment and appreciate the tragedy of this unfortunate, doomed Lawnmower Man turned doomed airline pilot. Frank probably thought he would live a nice simple life once he left Oceanic and started working for Ajira, until the day that he realized he was flying a plane full of former castaways across the ocean. Once he was back on the Island all he ever wanted was to leave, and he got thrust into a lot of bizzaro crap that he really never should have been involved with, and to the best of my recollection he never once complained about any of it.

All the poor guy wanted to do was to get off the Island so that he could put on a Hawaiian shirt, grow his beard long and spend the rest of his life drinking pina coladas and listening to Jimmy Buffet. Instead he got unceremoniously hit in the skull by a big metal door.

Poor bastard.

As a special bonus I have included, for your delight, the following image from "The Candidate":
 Check out the old lady at the hospital where Jack visits Anthony Cooper. She's lookin' at Jack like a ham sandwich!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Awesome or Not?: Matthew McConaughey

My buddy Ed suggested that I start a new feature on here where I pick an actor or filmmaker and then through close examination of their career decide whether they are awesome, or not.


For my first go at this I decided to examine the career of Matthew McConughey, an actor whose first major role, that of David Wooderson in Dazed and Confused, was inarguably his most awesome. Really, it was all downhill for him after that.

Lonestar was pretty great. A Time to Kill, Frailty... those were both at least kind of awesome, but how can we be asked to excuse Surfer, Dude, or Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, The Wedding Planner, Fool's Gold?

Personally, I can't excuse them. I don't care how awesome his dragon-killing beard was in Reign of Fire, aside from Tropic Thunder it's been almost a decade since I've been interested in anything this guy's put out.

Matthew McConaughey = Not Awesome

This one was pretty much over before it began. Next time I'll try to pick someone who has a better shot at everlasting awesomeness.







Monday, April 19, 2010

The Room!!

Last Friday night I had the privilege of attending a midnight screening of The Room at the Coolidge Corner theater in Brookline. The film's enigmatic director/writer/producer/executive-producer/star Tommy Wiseau was in attendance for a Q&A session pre-screening and an autograph signing after the film. The big surprise of the night was that Tommy brought co-star Greg Sestero along with him.

For those of you unfamiliar with the cult-phenomenon that is The Room I suggest you check out the wikipedia entry on it, HERE.

The gist of it is this: made in 2003, The Room, a melodrama about a doomed love triangle, is considered the "Citizen Kane of bad movies." Everything about this film, from the atrociously inept acting and dialogue, the strangely un-erotic and gratuitous sex scenes, the bizarre use of green screen, the characters and sub-plots that are randomly introduced and then dropped, will leave you scratching your head, wondering how it all came together in the first place. After an initial theatrical run in L.A where it grossed a total of $2,000 and had audience members literally rolling in the aisles laughing at how terrible it is, Tommy decided to re-market the film as a "black comedy." Eventually the film began to find an audience at midnight screenings around the world and is now well on it's way to becoming this generations Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Here's a scene from the movie:


This movie is terrible beyond compare, but I defy you to look away from it. It's like a train-wreck, or a Michael Bay film. You don't want to watch, but you can't help yourself, you have to keep watching in order to see exactly how horribly it will turn out. Watching this film is a truly bizarre experience, while watching it you feel like you're looking at something that can't possibly exist, something that must be a huge joke, but it's not. I don't know how else to explain it, other than to say that watching this film with a passionate crowd of die-hard fanatics is truly a singular experience.

So, read that Wikipedia article that I linked to above, go to youtube and watch the film's trailer, and as many scenes as you can find. When you're done with that, if you're still intrigued, go HERE to read one of the best interviews ever conducted with Tommy Wiseau, who looks like a cross between Sylvester Stallone and The Scarecrow and has an accent that's completely unidentifiable. His origin is a complete enigma. Whenever questioned about his Nation of origin he simply says that he is an American and refuses to discuss the topic with any candor. AMAZING.

This is truly one of the more bizarre and intriguing cultural phenomenons in recent memory. If you have the opportunity to check out a midnight showing, especially one where Tommy will be in attendance, do it. I know I plan on going again the next time Coolidge Corner has a screening. Hopefully I'll see you there.

The Movie: 0 / 5 on the Awesome Meter

The Experience: 11 / 5 on the Awesome Meter

Exactly how did Tommy Wiseau come up with the six million dollars used to fund The Room?

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

LOST 6x12

"Everybody Loves Hugo."

It's true. I think that one of the only universal truths accepted by all Lost fans is that Hugo "Hurley" Reyes is nearly 400 pounds of pure awesomeness.

For six seasons Hurley has brought to this program some much needed levity and comic relief. He has often acted as a sort of bridge between the show and its viewers, expressing confusion over the things that we, watching at home, are confused about, asking the questions that we most want answered.

Hurley has exhibited great moments of heroism, remember when he came crashing down in the Dharma van, just in the nick of time, Han Solo style, to save the day during the season three finale? And heart-wrenching humanity, delivering eulogy upon eulogy for nearly every deceased cast member, back before things got so chaotic, when they used to have time to bury their dead.

Despite all of this, one thing that Hurley has never really come across as, for me at least, before tonight, is "real."  

I'm not completely sure why. Maybe it's because of his enormous size, and his jolly good-naturedness that goes with it. Maybe it's because of the way his giant man-boobs bounce up and down when he runs. Maybe it's because of how often it seems like his character is nudging and winking to the audience. It could be because his father is portrayed by Cheech Marin, and his mother is such a typical, over the top Latino stereotype.

None of these things have ever stood in the way of me enjoying his character immensely, but they have combined to prevent me from ever taking ol' Hugo too seriously. Earlier this season, when it was revealed that Hurley's name was on the list of potential "candidates" to take over for Jacob as the custodian of the island, I immediately dismissed him as a viable possibility. He's just on there because he's such a fan favorite, I thought, clearly this is going to come down to Jack and Sawyer. After tonight's hour, I'm not so sure.

I feel like Hurley has finally come into his own. The flash-sideways scenes with him and Libby were excellent. Seeing Hurley exhibit some confidence, and not always relying on someone to tell him what to do next is a great thing. I know Hurley didn't act completely on his own tonight, he had Desmond and Michael guiding his actions, but still, he definitely exhibited more leadership potential than I would have thought likely from his character. I never thought that we'd see Jack following Hurley around the island on a crazy mission.

Is Hurley the next Jacob? I'm still not ready to believe that Jack has just been a red-herring this entire time (JACk and JACob have the same three letters! It HAS to be him), but I am now a lot more willing to accept this as a possibility.

OH, Desmond hit Locke with his car. HARD.

I can't wait for next week.

5 / 5 on the Awesome Meter

Monday, April 12, 2010

Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans

WOWOWOWOW!

Let me just start by saying that I LOVE THIS MOVIE.

This is Nicholas Cage's best performance since his Oscar winning role in Leaving Las Vegas. This may in fact be Nicholas Cage's best performance ever. I'm actually having a hard time with the fact that he wasn't nominated for an Oscar for this movie, his performance is absolutely the best that I have seen in any film this year, without question. Maybe the Academy members would have felt too grimy voting for Cage in this role? I really don't know.

I'm not surprised by the lack of commercial success that this film had at the box office. This movie is vicious, raw and gritty with a protagonist that, on the surface, is utterly despicable. I'm not going to go into spoilers for this movie, because I'm sure most of you reading this haven't seen it yet, and you really should, but I'll just touch on some of the basic plot elements.

The film is set in post-Katrina New Orleans and features Cage as a cocaine addicted, degenerate gambler, police Lieutenant who is dating a prostitute played by Eva Mendes. When an entire family of illegal immigrants is murdered it hits Cage hard and a whole lot of absolute crazy awesomeness ensues.
Nick Cage's performance as the titular "bad lieutenant," Terrence McDonagh, is brilliant. I'm pretty sure I've mentioned that already, but it really bares repeating. Cage is always at his best when he's playing a character who is slightly unhinged (he really kind of sucks as a straight man..) and here, under the amazing direction of Warner Herzog, he plays a character who is balls-to-the-wall crazy. McDonagh isn't actually so much a "bad cop" as he is a completely insane one. This isn't to say that he's "good" either, but he does seem to have some type of morality driving him. He's actually a thousand times better, as a human being, than his complete scum-bag partner, awesomely portrayed by Fat Val Kilmer, whom I greatly enjoy and hope that we see a lot more of in Hollywood in the years to come.

This movie isn't perfect. The story is at times predictable and the ending is going to piss some people off (I loved it), but I haven't stopped thinking about it since I saw it two days ago. Somebody please call N.C's agent. I want Nicholas Cage to only accept roles like this from now on. His career will soar to heights he never dreamed possible.


See this movie.

4.5 / 5 on the Awesome Meter

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

LOST 6x11

Just got back from watching Lost at Cinema Salem. I feel bad that I have yet to publicly address the fact that there is a theater in Salem, MA that shows Lost on the big screen every week. For free! How awesome is that?

If you aren't already checking it out you should show up next week. Get there early because it tends to draw a near capacity crowd.

And how did this near capacity crowd react to tonight's Desmond-centric episode, "Happily Ever After?" They seemed to love every single moment of it, and I did too.

Almost...

The scenes with Desmond and Charlie in the bar, and Des and Chucko in the hospital, while good, went on a little too long for my liking. That's probably because at this point in the season, with only 7 (seven!) hours left after tonight, I'm not sure that they have a minute to spare.

But, I would say that atleast 35 of the 42 minutes of tonight's episode were rock solid. I mean, friggin' Faraday showing up and offering the closest thing to an 'explanation' of the LA X universe that we've gotten thus far? Awesome. Desmond surviving an "electromagnetic incident" completely unscathed? Also awesome. Desmond's scowl when Widmore tells him that he's back on the Island? Double awesome. The idea that love transcends dimensions...I don't care how much of a cynic you are, when Desmond and Penny reunited at the stadium it gave me goosebumps, and if it didn't warm the cockles of your heart at least a little bit, then you have no business watching this show.

How does Eloise Hawking know so much in this reality? How much does she really know? Is Desmond now going to beat everyone on 815 to within an inch of their lives so that they too can each have an epiphany?

I don't know!

Creepy, apathetic, infected Sayid is so badass.

Next week's episode is titled "Everybody Loves Hugo," and in honor of Hurley I'll be having fried chicken with the usual crew before we head down to the theater. 

I can't believe that in less than two months this will all be over for good. I need a new show to obsess over.

Preferably one that doesn't suck.

Suggestions?

5 / 5 on the Awesome Meter. Obviously. Desmond rocks.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Douchebag Celebrity Encounter: Jamie Kennedy

The other night I found myself in the presence of greatness.

Let me begin this piece by saying that I have a good understanding of proper etiquette for celebrity encounters. I understand that celebrities do not like being approached by fans when they are out relaxing. It gets tiring when people are constantly harassing you for autographs and photographs and all you want to do is knock back a couple of drinks with your friends. I have ascertained, through my own various celeb encounters, as well as reading about and listening to the anecdotes of others, that anything beyond a quick wink, head-nod or wave, can make you a nuisance.

Ninety-nine percent of the celebrities out there will happily return your winks and head-nods with a smile on their faces. However, there is a miniscule fraction of the celebrity populace that is made up of individuals who are so magnificent that they transcend humanity in their awesomeness. I refer to these deity-like beings as the "mega-celebrities."

This past Friday I was out enjoying the evening with my lovely wife, Lola Cutter Hensel, at a local drinking establishment here in Salem, MA called Tavern in the Square (TITS). We were there for no more than twenty minutes when our phenomenal waitress, our friend Sarah, informed us that perhaps the most mega of all mega-celebrities, Jamie Kennedy, was in the restaurant, seated a mere two tables behind us.

Mr. Kennedy had performed a much publicized stand-up comedy show earlier that evening at Salem State College, so I was not surprised to see that he had found his way to TITS afterward, it being one of the largest and "hottest" bars in town.

Despite the fact that this devastatingly handsome A-lister was seated at a booth in Sarah's section, she opted to pawn him off on another server. This is because it can be extremely awkward to wait on a celebrity, especially when the celebrity in question has co-starred in such unforgettable Hollywood classics as Son of the Mask, Scream 3 and Curious George 2: Follow That Monkey.

Sarah also must have had her husband in mind when she decided not to wait on this legendary Hollywood player. Certainly she realized that if she were to approach The Jamie and take his order that she would have been overwhelmed with adulterous temptations; by avoiding him altogether she was able to finish up her shift and return home with the sanctity of her marriage still intact.

During the hour or so that Lola and I were at the restaurant we only witnessed The Jamie being approached once. Two foolish girls, who were so naive as to not realize the inappropriateness of approaching such a sacred and powerful being, wandered over to his table giggling like morons. They were quickly sent on their way, and no one dared to approach the table after that.

It must have been out of pure fear and respect that everyone else in the entire restaurant completely ignored him for the rest of the night. What could possibly be the alternative? That no one recognized him, or cared about the fact that he was there?

Ridiculous!

After Lola and I decided that it was time to leave we paid our check and headed for the exit. I had made the decision that upon passing Mr. Kennedy I would give him a wink and a nod. I know what you're thinking, this is highly inappropriate behavior. This is the type of thing that human-beings do when seeing each other. I had no business attempting to commit an act of cordiality with a mega-celebrity. Well, as we passed his table I became overwhelmed, and instead of my sly wink, I gave a bit of a wave and a smile. Mr. Kennedy responded by rolling his eyes, and mumbling "what's up man?" and then turning away.

He was right to roll his eyes at me. How could I have possibly been so foolish to expect any other response?

When I got home, once I finally stopped crying, I decided that maybe I was wrong about Jamie Kennedy. That despite the fact that he starred in Malibu's Most Wanted, maybe he wasn't the world class modern day Lawrence Olivier that I had made him out to be, maybe, in fact, he was just a complete and total douche, a poor man's Seth Green.

I went to the computer, intent on discovering that he was a loser who hasn't accomplished anything worthwhile in the past five years. A quick internet search led me to a profoundly troubling fact. Jamie Kennedy, a Hollywood C-lister, a dickhead who can't bring himself to return a wave, is dating Jennifer Love Hewitt, a woman who at one point in my life I would have committed murder to be with. Apparently, he is her co-star on a show that I have never seen called Ghost Whisperer. He must be at least kind of cool to land such a hot girlfriend.....

And this is why I am happy that a case of writer's block prevented me from finishing this piece for an entire week: It has just been announced that Jennifer and Jamie have split up "amicably"!!!!

Amicably my ass.

Maybe if he had returned a wave or two without rolling his eyes at people they'd still be together.

Jamie Kennedy, you sir, are a giant douchebag.


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

LOST 6x09

Alright, I'm back. I apologize for the lack of content on this blog over the past couple of weeks, and I especially apologize for not reviewing last week's episode of Lost, as I know there are many of you who rely on me to tell you how to feel about this show from week to week.

I was in NYC for a couple of days last week, and I didn't catch last week's episode, "Recon", until Wednesday night. I didn't feel like putting the review up a day late, and I have been filled with a general sense of laziness lately. I'm truly sorry, I'll try not to let it happen again.

In case you're still confused about how you should feel about "Recon", I'll tell you. It was good. Cop Sawyer and Cop Miles were pretty damned awesome. As a whole, the episode was not on par with the phenomenal "Sundown" or "Dr. Linus", but it was good.

4 / 5 on the Awesome Meter.

There you go.

So, onto tonight's Richard Alpert origin story, "Ab Aeterno". I, like most of you reading this blog, have been looking forward to tonight's episode for years. Ever since the character of Richard Alpert was introduced in the third season fans have been filled with questions regarding his mysterious origins:

Why doesn't he age?
Where does he come from?
What is his connection to the Black Rock?
Is he wearing eye liner? And if so, why?

Until tonight none of these questions, with the exception of the last one, had been answered.

He is not wearing eye liner, actor Nestor Carbonell just has naturally long, ridiculously thick eyelashes.

Tonight, "Ab Aeterno", which in Spanish means "eternity", answered all of the remaining questions above, and then some.

Did the episode answer all of the questions in satisfying and conclusive ways? Mostly.

Was I pleased with the answers given? Yes, I was, for the most part.

This should go without saying by now, but I will be heading into spoiler territory so on the off chance that any of you haven't seen it yet. ::::SPOILERS:::

I had kind of been hoping that Alpert was a 4,000 year old Egyptian slave with connections to Moses. There was an ominous Moses reference made by Ben to FLocke in the season finale last year, and there is certainly some sort of tie between the island and ancient Egyptian civilization, with the abundance of hieroglyphics all over the damn place and the gargantuan statue of Tawaret that Jacob used to live underneath. I was disappointed to have my theory invalidated, though that seems to happen to me a lot in regards to Lost, so I'm pretty used to it by now.

I was also disappointed that the statue of Tawaret was destroyed by the Black Rock. I had envisioned some sort of uprising in which the statue was brought to the ground by a previous group of people on the island, as a blatant defiance of Jacob. It's a bit anticlimactic to see that it was destroyed by a ship accidentally bumping into it during a storm.

Speaking of the storm, would it really be possible for a ship to wind up on the middle of the island due to violent weather? I mean, the storm that the Black Rock was caught in did appear to be pretty epic, and the waves looked massive, but unless I'm mistaken (and I'm not) the ship winds up pretty far inland.

I enjoyed the revelation that Richard, despite his 130 or so years on the island, appears to know very little. It was a similar revelation with Ben Linus, where we have a character that the audience is led to assume knows all kinds of secrets, only to learn that the secrets that they do know are barely scratching the proverbial surface.

What else did we learn this week? That the island's true purpose is to act as a "cork" that keeps pure evil from escaping and spreading throughout the world, presumably infecting everyone on Earth as it has done to Sayid and Claire. That's pretty awesome, I guess. It's certainly setting up some very high stakes.

So I guess this means that the Island is a bit like Pandora's Box, and the Man in Black/Flocke is the embodiment of all evil?

There's only nine hours left to go, which means that we're exactly half-way through the season, and it seems like we still have so much to learn. Tonight's hour did a great job of filling in some gaps, even if I wasn't one-hundred percent satisfied with the answers.

4.5 / 5 on the Awesome Meter

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Predators Footage is Online!!

The very first sneak peek at the Robert Rodriguez produced, Nimrod Antal directed Predators was shown to an enthralled crowd at SXSW in Austin, Texas yesterday. The footage is now online, and I have to say that it looks AMAZING. I consider the original Predator to be one of the most awesome movies of all time, and it looks like Rodriguez has cooked up something here that will be very different, but potentially as awesome in it's own right.

Go HERE to check out the official website.



Awesome, right?

5 / 5 on the Anticipation Meter

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Alice in Wonderland (2010)

I just got home from seeing Alice in Wonderland in Imax 3-D. Firstly, if you ever go to the Jordan's Imax theater in Reading, MA, make sure that you get there early. We got there ten minutes before showtime and had to sit much too close to the screen, so I spent the first ten minutes of the film waiting for my eyeballs to acclimate. Secondly, I've finally decided that I'm really not down with this whole 3-D revolution. Whenever there's motion on screen everything gets all blurry, and I find that unless I keep my head aimed straight ahead, the image doesn't look quite right. I find this extremely distracting and it always pulls me out of the film. Does that happen to everyone else, or just to me?

As for the film itself, I have some pretty strong opinions. Everyone has been saying that this is the single most divisive film of the year. I've spoken with two people since viewing the film. Person number one loved it, saying that he considered it "far better than Avatar", while person number two not only despised the film, but has decided that he may be losing faith in Tim Burton as a filmmaker.

I'm not sure if I can bring myself to say that I 'hated' Alice in Wonderland, but I sure didn't like it, any of it, at all. Also, I tend to agree with person number two about Tim Burton. The last film that he made that I love was 1994's Ed Wood. God I love that movie. 1996's Mars Attacks was enjoyable, in a fun, pulpy kind of awesomeness, and I really enjoyed, but didn't love, 2003's Big Fish. Everything else directed by Burton in the past decade and change has ranged from the passable, Sweeney Todd, to the terrible, Planet of the Apes. This film ranks up there (or down there) with his worst.

I'm not sure why Burton decided to make a Hook-like sequel to the original story, instead of just remaking the original. While I have no problem with the fact that this film is a sequel, what I do have a problem with is the fact that this sequel lacks any of the charm, wit and fun that the original had in spades (HAHAHA a card pun in an Alice in Wonderland Review!) The story here is paper thin. Onion paper thin. It makes the story in Avatar seem deep by comparison. Here's the "story":

Alice, Mia Wasikowska, is now a young woman. She has no recollection of her childhood adventures in Wonderland, but every night, much to her confusion, she dreams the same dream about disappearing cats and talking caterpillars. At the beginning of the film she is at an aristocratic society function where she learns that a very rich, yet awkward and ugly, nobleman plans to ask for her hand in marriage. Alice doesn't want to marry him, and she follows a white rabbit in a top-coat down a rabbit hole to Wonderland. Once in Wonderland we learn that the Red Queen has assumed control, and is chopping everyone's head off like crazy. There's a magical piece of parchment that predicts that Alice is destined to kill the queen's pet Jabberwocky (some big dragon that breathes lightning) on some holiday, and freedom will be brought to the land. The rest of the movie is Alice running around telling everyone that she's dreaming as we're taken on a veritable "who's who" of Wonderland as Alice is reunited with all her old friends and enemies.

Johnny Depp is annoying as the Mad Hatter. I've hated his appearance in this film since the very first production stills were released almost a year ago, but I was holding on to a little bit of hope that he might be able to do something fun and interesting with the character. He doesn't. He never comes across as particularly 'mad'. Aside from speaking in two distinctive accents, one of them Scottish, and doing some bizarre dance at the end of the film, he doesn't really do anything crazy. Oh, every once in a while he gets pretty excited about what he's talking about and someone has to cut him off. Pretty crazy!

Did you know that Anne Hathaway is in this film? I had no idea until she showed up halfway through dressed as the White Queen. Why is Anne Hathaway in this movie? There's not a moment when she's on screen that you won't be looking at her thinking, "Hey! You're Anne Hathaway. Why are you here?" That's because every moment she's on screen there is an expression on her face that says, "Hey! I'm Anne Hathaway. Why am I here?" It's really just one of those bizarre WTF casting decisions...

I really don't like the look of anything in this movie, aside from Tweele Dum and Tweedle Dee and Helena Bonham Carter's giant-headed Red Queen. If there was one thing in this film that I 'almost' enjoyed, it was Bonham Carter, but after she said, "Off with his head!" for the twelfth time, I began to find her pretty annoying.

There's a moment near the end of the film where Alice finally admits to herself that she isn't dreaming, and is ready to accept her destiny and slay the Jabberwocky. It's supposed to be a grand, epic moment, but packs all the emotional punch of an episode of Garfield and Friends.

Why is Alice the only one who can wield the magical sword and slay the Jabberwocky? Why is Alice warned that the sword must not be used for anything aside from this single purpose? Why does Johnny Depp always need to wear white face paint in Tim Burton's movies? These are just a few of the questions that this film raises but fails to answer.

Go read Lewis Carroll's novel, or watch the Disney animated film. Or, go see this movie, since it appears that (somehow) approximately fifty percent of the people who see it have an opinion that completely opposes mine. 

2 / 5 on the Awesome Meter

Check out this plethora of Alice adaptations!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

LOST 6x07

Two weeks ago I wrote about how Lost seems to be on a Star Trek-esque rotation, where the even numbered episodes are all fantastic and the odd numbered episodes aren't up to par. I am happy to report that with tonight's episode, "Dr. Linus", the pattern appears to be broken, and I think that from here on out Lost will be bringing the awesome, full force, for the series' remaining eleven hours.

Tonight's episode slowed down the pace quite a bit after last week's epic temple massacre, and presented us with the single best character study so far this season. Michael Emerson's Benjamin Linus has undergone quite the progression since he was introduced in the middle of the show's second season. He has gone from the diabolical, enigmatic leader of the Others, to a frightened, powerless, broken man, scurrying about the island while desperately seeking acceptance.

Whether or not Ben would ultimately wind up 'good' or 'evil' has been a topic of discussion for a couple of seasons now, and tonight's episode has apparently resolved this matter.

He may still look like a bug-eyed creepy weirdo, but Benjamin Linus is officially a good guy.

Last week, my friend Ed proposed a theory. Since Ben had been healed in the temple as a young boy, just as Sayid had been at the beginning of this season, it would stand to reason that he would have been subjected to the same battery of tests that Sayid was. Tests designed to somehow determine which side of the karmic balance his "scale" was leaning toward. Since Ben was released from the temple, and returned safely to his home at the Dharma Initiative, instead of given a pill filled with poisonous black powder, one can logically conclude that Ben's "scale" must have been tipped to the side of good.

Tonight's episode, it seems, has proven that Ed's theory is correct.

Good job Eddie!

Is Ben an angelic character? No.

Is he a killer who assisted in the genocide of the Dharma Initiative? Yes. Nobody's perfect.

But honestly, the D.I were really a bunch of faux-hippy tool bags who were encroaching on other people's land and messing around with forces far beyond their understanding. There was probably a very good reason for wiping them all out.

What we all saw in tonight's episode is that deep down Doctor Linus is a good man. A good man who has made an awful lot of bad decisions. A good man who (like so many others) became corrupted by too much power, and like most men, was unwilling to relinquish his power when the time came to do so.

Tonight's episode ended with Ben being offered the opportunity to join up with Team Evil, and to be given complete control of the island. Ben rejected this offer and decided to stick it out with the good guys instead.

Let's hope he can keep on making the right decisions.

I feel like there was a lot more that happened tonight that I wanted to discuss, but I'm exhausted and I have a long day ahead of me tomorrow. The scene between Richard and Jack in the Black Rock..........Mega Awesome..........The flash-sideways with Ben, also awesome! The most effective use of that storytelling device so far.

Next week's episode is Richard Alpert-centric, and I can't wait. 

***AMENDMENT*** The Richard-centric episode "Ab Aeterno" is scheduled to air March 23rd, in two weeks. Next week's episode is titled "Recon". 

I hope to be back on tomorrow night with an Alice in Wonderland review.

Buy your Lost  DVD's, Blu-Rays and Merchandise Here!!:

Monday, March 8, 2010

New Iron Man 2 Trailer!!

This became available online sometime last night and is already EVERYWHERE on the internets, but in case you haven't seen it yet, or in case you want to watch it for a second (or hundredth) time, I have embedded the unbelievably awesome Iron Man 2 trailer for you below.

This is the movie that I am most looking forward to this summer. I love the look of War Machine, and Mickey Rourke can do no wrong in my eyes right now. Also, is it possible to be any hotter than Scarlett Johansson?

Everything about this movie looks awesome. Expect this film to make trillions of dollars and kick the ass of everything else this summer.

Enjoy!

Click HERE to see the trailer in quicktime HD. 

Sunday, March 7, 2010

The Five Suckiest Movies of 2009

Looking over the list of movies that received wide releases in 2009 I realize that there are a great many films released last year that I have not seen. Therefore, a more appropriate name for this article would be: "The Five Suckiest Movies of 2009, That I've Seen"

Doesn't exactly roll of the tongue, does it?

So, I bring you:

The Five Suckiest Movies of 2009!

As I write this, the 82nd annual Academy Awards ceremony is well underway. So far, Christoph Waltz has won for his awesome breakthrough roll as Hans Landa, The Jew Hunter, in Quentin Tarantino's Inglorious Basterds (YAY!), Up, to the surprise of no one, has been awarded best Animated Film, and Mark Boal walked away with the Best Original Screenplay award for my beloved The Hurt Locker.

Sorry Quentin.

So, onto the list!

Coming in at number five is a film that I had extremely high hopes for, a film that I tried my damndest to like, but wound up hating:

Terminator Salvation, oh why, oh why did you have to suck so bad? This film, directed by the ego-maniacal, utterly visionless, ridiculously named McG is an abject failure and a disgrace to James Cameron's original two films.

I'm not exactly sure who deserves the majority of the blame here. Supposedly the original script centered around Sam Worthington's character, Marcus Something-or-other, and the character of future messiah John Connor was supposed to be nothing more than a cameo. Then along comes Christian Bale, fresh out of the bat-suit, with enough industry clout to do pretty much anything he wants. Bale sent the script out to some writer friends of his who beefed up the role of John Connor to be that of a main character. So what we are left with is a bloated mess of a film, one that devotes equal time to the boring and pointless story of Marcus and Anton Yelchin trying to reach the resistance to warn them about.....something, and to another boring and ultimately pointless story about John Connor yelling and growling at people about something else.

I don't even remember what anybody was yelling about or trying to accomplish in this film. Whatever it was, it wasn't very intriguing. I think they were trying to stop production of the Schwarzeneger model Terminators, but they didn't. This added nothing even remotely interesting to the Terminator mythos.

Oh, there was a really big robot, and motorcycle terminators. And Helena Bonham Carter.

Fail.

Next up is a film by a director that at one point in time had an awful lot of "promise" (what a dumb thing to say....I'm sorry...) but who, for whatever reason, hasn't been able to make a really good movie in the past thirteen years or so:

Alex Proyas' Knowing is the first of two (see if you can guess what the second one will be!) films on this list that deals with the "end of the world as we know it". The gist of this movie is that Nicolas Cage finds some long list of numbers, then somehow figures out that each of the numbers represents a disaster. He is able, through means beyond my comprehension, to deduce that the final number on the list represents an impending cataclysmic event that will eradicate all life on Earth.

Also, there are some weird angels/aliens running around in black trench coats, up to something mysterious. 

At the end of the movie the world ends, the angels/aliens take a bunch of kids to heaven/another planet, and the viewer is left wishing that the world had ended before he/she had wasted two hours watching this terrible movie.

Number three on our list is a film that you likely haven't heard of, let alone seen:

Somehow, this is the only horror movie to make it on to this list. I find that a little surprising since 2009 wasn't exactly the best year for the genre...but I have decided that this film is the worst of the worst.

The Collector falls into the sub-genre not-so-affectionately referred to as "torture porn." There are films that fall into this category that I have a lot of respect for. This style of filmmaking has been huge in Japan for decades, and there are some quality films out there that can be dubbed "torture porn."

This is not one of them.

The film's villain is amongst the least scary that I have ever seen, and even the gore, which, let's be honest, is why you watch a movie like this,  is almost entirely boring and cliche. There's one *almost* creative scene that involves a knife, a dude's stomach and a jar of cockroaches, but even that ends up being stupid.

Number two on our list is another movie that I really wanted to like. I went into this movie with an open mind, and I did my absolute best to appreciate it. There was so much about it that I *almost* liked:

The Box was directed by Richard Kelly, of Donny Darko fame, and based on a short story written by the legendary Richard Matheson. In my mind, this is a pretty impressive pedigree.

The film's premise is this: a stranger (the brilliant Frank Langella, with half of his face missing!) presents a married couple with a box . On this box is a button. If either the husband or the wife chooses to push this button within 24 hours two things will happen, 1) a man will show up at their house with a million dollars, cash, and 2) someone, somewhere in the world, someone they don't know, will die. 

AWESOME! I love stuff like this. Crazy morality plays coupled with weird science-fictiony devices and horribly deformed people, how can this go wrong? I'm not sure, but it does. Horribly.

This is absolutely one of the weirdest movies I have ever seen. Not weird in the good Blue Velvet or Twin Peaks sort of way, weird in the too much barbeque before bed nightmarish kind of way. I'm still not exactly sure what I saw going on in this movie. It had something to do with Mars, and lightning, and the judgment of all mankind...

There are people out there who love this film. I'm pretty sure it's one of those divisive movies where people feel strongly one way or another. I can respect that, but it made my head hurt and gave me weird dreams.

Finally, we have our second end of the world opus. The number one worst movie, seen by me, of 2009 is:

See what it says at the top of this poster for Roland Emmerich's latest disaster film, 2012? It says "We Were Warned." I think that is a sort of apology from Columbia Pictures to the audience for allowing this film to be made.
"We were warned, after The Day After Tomorrow came out, we were warned not to let Roland make any more disaster pictures. I'm sorry, someone was asleep at the wheel. We forgot. It won't happen again."
Alright, imaginary studio executive. It had better not!
How many times does one movie need to show us a plane taking off just as the earth crumbles beneath it? According to this film, the answer is three.
The only thing slightly enjoyable in this movie was Woody Harelson as a lunatic, but even that was really pretty lame. Every time a new disaster movie comes out I get tricked into seeing it, because there's a part of my brain that loves watching things fall down and blow up. Well, I'm not falling for it anymore. I've already seen plenty of things fall down and blow up, and if you expect me to sit through a disaster film again then I demand that you write some sort of cohesive narrative and at least one character who I can care about. Thank you.

Alright, that wraps up my list. As stated above, there was an awful lot that I didn't see this year, so I'm sure there's quite a bit of crap that I've omitted. I will do my best to watch more movies so that next year my list can be more conclusive.

While I've been typing this a bunch of other people have won some awards.

Good job!

Friday, March 5, 2010

The Ass-Kicking Adventures of Titus Pullo and Lucius Vorenus to (Possibly) Continue!

HBO's Rome was inarguably one of the most awesome television series of all time.

Tragically, the series was only allowed to run for two seasons, but according to THIS article from Entertainment Weekly, the adventures of Pullo and Vorenus may have a chance to continue on the big screen.

The series concluded with the rise of Cesar Augustus, and the dawning of the Golden Age of Rome, as well as with ::Spoiler:: the apparent death of one of the lead characters. However, according to the article above, both Pullo and Vorenus will be prominently featured in the film, when and if it ever gets made.

I'm extremely excited about the possibility of seeing this movie for two reasons:

First, these are two of the most badass characters ever created, and the idea of watching them kick all kinds of ass in Germany, which is where the article suggests the story will take place, has me giddy.

Secondly, If this film gets made, then it gives me hope that someday HBO and Daniel Knauf can straighten out their issues over ownership of Carnivale, and we can finally see that series resurrected as well...

5 / 5 on the Anticipation Meter

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

LOST 6x06

Holy Crap!

Tonight's episode, "Sundown", was the strongest yet this season. Traditionally I've been breaking these reviews into two sections, one where I list the most awesome moments, and one where I list the least awesome. Tonight, I am abandoning tradition because for the first time this season I feel that EVERYTHING was awesome.

Also, I'm tired of writing these without spoilers, so be forewarned that from now on I am going to just assume that if you're reading these reviews then you have:

A) seen the episode which I am writing about, or, B) you don't really care about having anything spoiled for you. 

I am going to write this for you one more time, in bold, capitalized letters, then you can never say that I haven't warned you.

:::::::::::::::::::SPOILERS:::::::::::::::::::::::::::

OKAY!

So, tonight's episode completely kicked ass and washed away any doubt created by last week's lukewarm Jack-isode.

The fight between Sayid and Dogen at the beginning of the show was amazing. I kind of wish that Sayid hadn't killed Dogen at the end of the episode, just so that we could have had a chance to see a little into his history, and learn how he went from being a businessman to a badass samurai.

Speaking of Sayid killing Dogen, I can't believe how many people got killed tonight. I was expecting the entire season to build toward some sort of epic good vs. evil showdown at the temple. I was shocked when Locke/Smokey got into the Other's temple tonight and killed everyone who wouldn't join him. Now I really have no idea where the season is headed, and I like that.

Oh, Keamy was in tonight's episode! Keamy!

Did anyone else think that the episode was going to end with Claire killing Kate? I mean, Claire said that if Kate had taken Aaron that she would have to kill her, and then Kate told Claire about how she had taken Aaron home to L.A and raised him herself, so...

Also, Kate lied to Claire and told her that Aaron was "beautiful." Anyone who has ever seen Aaron knows that he is horribly ugly. Kate really shouldn't have lied to his mother about it.

I had a feeling going into tonight's episode that Sayid was going to die. And, while he technically survived the hour, I think it's pretty clear that the old Sayid, just like the old Claire, is gone forever.

Bye Sayid!

5/5 on the Awesome Meter

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

LOST 6x05

Every Star Trek fan knows that the even numbered films are all great, while the odd numbered films...not so much. This pattern was broken by JJ Abrams last year when he released the eleventh, and arguably best Star Trek film to date.

My reason for bringing this up is because it seems that so far the sixth season of Lost is following the exact exact same pattern, with the first hour of the season being the exception.

That hour was mega-awesome.

Tonight's episode was Jack-centric, which should have been a dead giveaway that it would not be as phenomenal as last week's. Some of the worst episodes of the series have been centered around Jack. Remember the season 3 episode "Stranger in a Strange Land", with Bai Ling, the episode devoted to explaining why Jack has so many tattoos? Awful.


Not all was bad in tonight's episode, in fact we got yet another major revelation, and it was a great one.

Awesome moments of the week: Hurley's interactions with Jacob, "Why don't you go back to the courtyard?", THE LIGHTHOUSE!, "Why haven't we seen it before?", "Maybe we weren't looking for it.", "That's not Locke, this is my friend."

And that's really about it.

Least awesome moments of the week: Once again, everything in alternate reality Los Angeles. Especially everything pertaining to Jack and his son. On one hand, I think it's interesting how in this reality Jack has a son. It's yet another example of how we are not simply seeing "what would have happened if the plane hadn't crashed?" But rather, we are seeing how the detonation of Jughead has created an entirely new reality, one in which these characters have lived their lives without the guidance of Jacob. On the other hand, I don't think that the relationship between Jack and his son warrants even a fraction of the time that it was given in tonight's episode. There is so much else that I would rather be seeing.

Where is Charles Widmore? Desmond? Walt?

Next week's episode is an even numbered one, which means that we should all be in for an hour of awesomeness!

Let's hope that they break this cycle, and the season reaches a point where EVERY week has me as excited as last week's episode.

2.5 / 5

My Name is Jonah- Teaser Trailer

I've always been intrigued by sub-cultures and the delightfully eccentric weirdos who inhabit them.

Some folks that I know have created a fascinating looking documentary about a man named Jonah Washnis, a 57 year-old self-proclaimed "real life warrior, adventurer and musician" from upstate New York who dresses up in a variety of costume, including Conan the Barbarian and The Punisher, and plays a mean harmonica. I don't really know what to expect from this film, as I have yet to see any footage beyond that shown in the trailer embedded below.

Does Jonah LARP (Live Action Role Play) in his spare time? Does he dress up in costumes and rescue children from burning buildings? Does he fight crime?

I honestly have no idea. But I am extremely intrigued to learn more!

Check out the trailer below and visit the film's official website HERE!


Keep checking back to Awesometown Reviews for news and updates as this project develops...

Monday, February 22, 2010

Bioshock 2

I have a love/hate relationship when it comes to video games, primarily when it comes to first person shooters. I love them because they're awesome, and I can get lost in them for hours on end. I hate them because they are difficult. I am not exceptionally good at playing them, and therefore I often spend an awful lot of time under enormous amounts of stress, grinding my teeth, swearing and yelling at the television set.

Reaching the end of a video game is a lot different from reaching the end of a movie. Whenever I complete a great video game I feel two things. First, I'm filled with a ridiculous sense of accomplishment. I stand up and parade around my living room triumphantly; I call friends on the telephone so that they can share in my moment of greatness. Second, I feel a profound sense of loss. After spending so many hours involved with these characters, in this world, the countless moments of aggravation and the excitement felt after each victory, there's a real "what now?" feeling that comes with completing a great game. That's why I'm always so excited to find out when a sequel is being released to a game that I love.

One of the greatest/most frustrating and completely rewarding video game experiences I have had in the past few years was with the original Bioshock on the X-Box 360.

The premise of the original Bioshock is that in the 1950's a city, named Rapture, is constructed beneath the sea. This city serves as a mecca for artists, scientists and free-thinkers to live and work in without any sort of moral or governmental oversight. One of these scientists discovers some chemical that occurs naturally in a rare type of sea slug, a chemical that, once injected into the blood stream, speeds up evolution and gives individuals a wide variety of super-powers (WHAT?!) such as shooting lightning bolts and fireballs out of their hands. The residents of Rapture all become wildly addicted to this chemical and absolute chaos ensues, resulting in some sort of civil war that leaves the city in ruins and inhabited by genetically altered monsters.

There is a lot more to the story, but when you're playing the game what it boils down to is that you're alone in this crazy, scary, art deco looking nightmare city, everything is trying to kill you, and you have to defend yourself by using large weaponry and by shooting lightning out of your hands. Sound awesome? It is.
The scariest, and most difficult enemies that you encounter in the game are called Big Daddies. Big Daddies (as seen at the top of the article in the cover art for Bioshock 2) are enormous hulks in diving suits with giant-ass drill hands.

The thing that originally excited me about Bioshock 2, once details about the sequel began leaking out about a year ago, is that in this game the player gets to control a Big Daddy. I began day-dreaming about what it would be like to run through Rapture, nearly invincible, using my giant drill arm to effortlessly smash and gore everything I saw.

But where would the challenge be in that?

The folks at 2K Games were smart enough to understand that if the player was too powerful, then the game would only be fun for an hour.

I'm happy to say that I'm about twelve hours and half-way through my first run through and I'm still having a lot of fun.

This game is set ten years after the events of the first game, so Rapture is in an even larger state of disrepair, and the remaining inhabitants of the city are even crazier and scarier than they were in the previous game.

Difficulty wise, despite the fact that you're a Big Daddy, this game is every bit as difficult as the first one was, and you seem to die just as easily as you did in the first game when you were just some dude who wasn't in a giant diving suit. Luckily, Rapture is filled with "Vita-Chambers" and every time you die you simply re-spawn in the nearest one. There is an option to turn the Vita-Chambers off, so that when you die the game is over. Personally, I think that's insane, and I would be forever stuck on the first level if I tried to play with that option. But, like I said, I'm really not very good.   


This game, like its predecessor, looks positively amazing. The world of Rapture is one of the most stylistically unique and beautifully rendered environments ever created for a video game. Also like the first game, the story is extremely involving, fun and weird.

I highly recommend this game to anyone who has ever wanted to smash a freak in the face with a drill.

4 / 5 on the Awesome Meter

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Shutter Island

I love Martin Scorcese. There are few filmmakers in the history of cinema who are as capable of crafting a cinematic tour de force as he is. He is part of a great generation of filmmakers that includes Steven Spielberg, George Lucas and Francis Ford Coppola, and of that generation he is the only one who is still consistently pumping out kick-ass movies. All of the filmmakers above have each directed at least one total stinker.
Not Marty though.
For me, Scorcese's films generally fall into three categories. There are the masterpieces, this category includes the indisputably awesome Raging Bull, Goodfellas, Taxi Driver and The Departed; there are his films that while good, for one reason or another fall shy of greatness, these include Bringing Out the Dead, Gangs of New York, Kundun and Casino; finally there are the films where it seems he's stepping outside of his comfort zone and experimenting with different genres. This last category includes his remake of Cape Fear, After Hours, The King of Comedy and his latest film, Shutter Island.

Shutter Island is Scorcese's first foray into the horror genre since 1991's Cape Fear. The film, based on a book (which I have not read) of the same title by novelist Dennis Lehane, is set in the 1950's on an island in Boston Harbor that houses a psychiatric institution for the criminally insane. Leonardo Dicaprio and Mark Ruffalo play a pair of U.S Marshals who travel to the island in order to investigate an escaped inmate. Once on the island, the Marshals quickly realize that everyone, including the two lead psychiatrists (portrayed by the always great Ben Kingsley and Max Von Sydow) are keeping secrets from them. It is clear that there is more going on than they had originally expected, paranoia and claustrophobia ensue. This is an extremely tough film to write about without giving anything away, and I strongly recommend that you get yourselves to the theater and check this one out as blindly as possible.

The entire cast deliver outstanding performances, and if this film were released later in the year I would say that Dicaprio would be guaranteed a nomination for next years Oscar. I hope that the Academy, not prized for their long term memory, can keep ol' Leo in mind. This is absolutely the most deeply layered and interesting role he has ever tackled.  

To be honest, there are issues that I have with this film. Again, I'm walking a thin line here while trying to say something without really saying anything, but I will say that in the hands of lesser talent this film could have been a silly convoluted mess. However, in the exquisitely clever paws of Scorcese, and with the enormous amount of talent on the screen, the end result is an extremely creepy, atmospheric thriller that's sure to crawl around in your brain for hours after you finish viewing it.

3.75 / 5 on the Awesome Meter