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.


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."


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.


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?... 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.

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!