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Thursday, November 26, 2009

New Moon Review: The Good, The Bad, And the Ugly

Movie: The Twilight Saga: New Moon
Director: Chris Weitz
Rating: PG13
My Rating: 4/5

photos are owned by Summit Entertainment

Blog Note: Entirely spoilerish if you have not read the book. Otherwise, I will be commenting on what may be somewhat considered as the technical aspect. Tread lightly if you want to be surprised.

Let me start by saying that New Moon is moons different from its first movie, Twilight. With a bigger budget and a brand new director helming what could possibly be the most difficult of the 4 books within the Twilight Saga to be immortalized on the silver (or dare I say 'digital') screen, I thought it was pretty good.

The book in itself was dark and torturous. Bella, the heroine, had to struggle with a break-up (Edward), a renewed friendship (Jacob), and a decision to commit to someone eternally, both in the physical and metaphorical sense. Most readers of the series found the book to be slow. Heaven forbid that you're on the Team Edward side. You are basically tortured with the fact that Edward breaks up with Bella and has to find solace in the arms of the potential suitor, Jacob, who in his own ways has his own secrets to keep.

The movie starts pretty much where the book starts: a vision where Bella sees herself running through throngs of people dressed in red. She didn't know why, or how, but her dream was so surreal, it had left her unnerved.

This part was actually captured well. I knew that when I read this book in June, I couldn't wait to delve into the book and find out what her vision was all about. This segment kept the tone of the movie akin to your own personal experience of waking up to a dream you're finding reason to believe that may be a foreshadowing or something to muck up to plain craziness.

The story quickly delves into Bella's birthday celebration, and her party at the Cullens'. I giggled a bit at the papercut scene just because we've all had papercuts. Have you ever bled that much when you get one? I don't think so. Anyway, the overt blood sort of reminded me of the old SNL skit where Dan Akroyd pretends to be Julia Child and chops off her finger, sputtering blood everywhere. It was a little over the top, but hey, I usually yell out a profanity followed quickly by sticking my finger in my mouth. Guess Bella had a better pain tolerance compared to my wimpy state.

Anyone who had read the book would've known that the present that provided the papercut was a ticket to travel to anywhere for Edward and Bella. Somewhat, this wasn't explained, and at the height of the drama in the movie, it kind of made you wonder where Bella got tickets at hand to go rescue Edward.

Anywhoo, the incident of course brought division to the Cullen household, forcing Edward to cut Bella out of his life to "save" her from him and his family. Of course, this didn't sit well with Bella. Months upon months of her lament was depicted by spinning images of the seasons passing her by. Personally, I thought the song used was perfect. The mood Bella presented was painfully depicted. Other than those two observations, I thought this section needed a little help. Edward was wooden (not just the "I don't care" emo crap). He looked constipated. Robert Pattinson looked like he was emoting to a ball. He can't seem to emote to the person in front of him. The lines were cheesy (even the Romeo and Juliet part earlier in the scene... cheesy!!!). If there was a scene that I wish they could rewrite, this would be it. The acting was just... off.


To break her melancholy, Charlie tells her to live. Bella lies, tells him she's off to hang out with Jessica, blah, blah, blah. She realized that she sees Edward when she does something dangerous (ie. stupid). Like a kid, she does things to trigger the Edward vision, including purchasing 2 motor bikes that she eventually takes to Jacob for repair.

I actually liked the Jacob and Bella scenes together NOT because of Jacob-loving on my behalf, but because the chemistry on-screen between these two characters was more organic. Of course, this probably translated well compared to Twilight just because Jacob was both limited on screen time and the connection between Bella and Jacob at this point was more friendship. In this movie, Jacob exploits his friendship with Bella and tries to make their relationship jump to another level.

The friendship between Sam and Jacob, and the wolfpack in general was given a cursory touch. Jacob telling Bella he's afraid of Sam was heartfelt.

Part of me was torn to see that the movie didn't quite delve into the Quileute story as it did in the book, but I did understand that time constraints would've made the movie drag.

Anyway, the date at the movies with Mike, Jacob and Bella takes place. If there was one part of the movie for me to swoon, it was this. Mike goes puking and Jacob tries to put the moves on Bella. I have to credit Kristen Stewart for making it look like she was really torn about staying loyal to a jackass boyfriend that had abandoned her, and finding out "what could be" with a potential new love.

Of course, it's also in this scene that Jacob "gets sick".

Bella goes through the same motions of losing Jacob when he doesn't return her calls. When her dad and Harry go fishing, she goes to the reservation to check up on Jacob. Behold, she sees him wet and half-naked and not wanting to talk to her. Fast forward to Jacob going to her place and pleading with her to remember the story from the beach in Twilight. When she figures it out, she goes back to the reservation, pisses Paul off until he transforms. Bella runs away, only to be defended by Jacob who transforms in front of her.

First, I would like to point out that Alex Meraz as Paul was great. He does this wicked wink at Bella that would make me swoon if I were her. Second, a lot of people gave the CGI work on the werewolves an F. I thought it served its purpose. No, it didn't have the refined look of Gollum in Lord Of The Rings but the wolves were big. The graphics were better than some of the bigger budgeted films I've seen recently. Surely, when this movie is viewed 10 years from now, we'd groan worse than when we saw it the first time. But you know what? The wolves were depicted well enough that it didn't take you out of the story. Lastly, when the flashbacks of the pack devouring Laurent were shown, they were mean and scary, just like they left me shuddering when I read the book.

As Chief Swan and his merry men walk through the forest, Victoria makes her quick appearance. The importance of the scene, of course, was to show that she was still around and that she would be the reason Harry would have a heart attack and die.

Loved the fact that Victoria's outfit was toned down. She doesn't look like a deranged Stevie Nicks wannabe. The effects on how fast and strong she is was well choreographed. Definitely won't mind seeing this 300-like special effects.

The segment was quickly followed by Bella's cliff jumping moment. Again, I thought this was photographed well.

After the incident, Bella finds Alice at her home. Of course, Jacob is overly protective of Bella at this point. He warned her that if the Cullens are back, the pack couldn't protect her from Victoria because of the treaty.

The conversation among these three characters was probably one of the better written sections. Alice was concerned, Bella was agitated... only to be asked why she smelled like "dog". Jacob steps in and the three have a very tense moment. (Then the procurement of said plane tickets!)

The Italy scene was very picturesque. Loved the way it was shot. Loved the way they captured Bella running through the fountain to get to Edward before he exposes himself. (Rather surprised at the lack of sighs when RP disrobes to reveal himself to the society!!!)

The Volturi scene, albeit short, was powerful and disturbing. Michael Sheen as Aro was menacing. He portrayed "vampire" with such flourish. I also had to admit that Dakota Fanning (whom I am not a big fan of) as Jane had the innocent look that just oozed evil. Her expression when trying to inflict pain on Bella was wicked. The action scene rocked! I didn't recognize Daniel Cudmore as Felix. He did major poundage!!!

My only knock in this segment was Alice's vision of Edward and Bella as a transformed vampire. It reminded me of the Old Spice commercial: cheesy character with gap vests and jackets. And Bella's Alice in Wonderland outfit? Get real!!! Could've done without that scene, guys.

When everything's said and done, the world of Team Edward is once again safe. Cullen moves back to Forks to be with Bella. But Jacob gives Cullen a warning. He, too, tries to convince Bella to think again about her relationship with Edward. When she tells Jacob that she loves him but not in the way she does Edward, Jacob tells her, " Que Quowie" (Stay with me forever).

Then the movie ends with a cliffhanger. (You know what it is if you read the book.)

Things I wish would be better on Eclipse:

1. Edward's make-up: AWFUL!!! I thought he was supposed to be luminescent, not marble drab. And if you're the walking dead, why would you have ruby-red lips? I have to give props to the CGI team that made the sparkling less distracting. Thumbs up on that aspect.

2. Bella and Edward dialogue: Just because Edward is old that his colloquillism cannot be written better. With KS and RP being real-life lovers, their dialogue needs to transform their on-life persona.

3. Jacob's dazzling white teeth: Asset as an actor. As a person playing a wolf, distracting. The brilliance can be so out of place.

Monday, September 07, 2009

TV's Back Tomorrow!

Suddenly, my No TV policy will be lifted starting Wednesday when Glee comes back on. But officially, new programming starts tomorrow. Here's a listing of what's back. Greek has already started, so if that's what you're following, you're already behind, yo.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

The Surprising Comeback Kid

Growing up in the 80s and 90s is very interesting, especially when it comes to the music scene. I've seen the evolution of El Debarge (to the Debarge), the rise and fall of Michael Jackson, the re-invention of Madonna, the media shift from Pop to Alternative (hello, Pearl Jam!), and the marriage of alternative, rock and pop mishmashing to become a sound we cannot even put in a category.

Now in the day and age of the iPod and the ability to buy individual songs, dictating what the media should report on based on instant poll updates on the internet, I was rather surprised at this morning's event: the open arms welcome to none other than Whitney Houston.

Whitney Houston, an artist with a pure voice, rocked the 80s with "I Wanna Dance With Somebody" and captured the 90s with Dolly Parton's song "I Will Always Love You" for the soundtrack to The Bodyguard. Then, she spun out of control as she became part of her family's reality show, "Being Bobby Brown". Her volatile relationship with her then husband, Bobby Brown, and her dabble with drugs all of a sudden made her a laughing stock. The topper was her "baptism" in the Black Hebrew tribe. All of a sudden, the once supportive media made her look like a loon.

She disappeared into obscurity as she tried to get her life back. Seven years later, she released her album I Look To You.

As I watched Good Morning America, I realized that despite the fact that I am not a big Whitney Houston fan, I was rather surprised at how her anticipated return had brought so many people together. So much so that I think Madonna wouldn't be able to pull the same magnitude of diversity. Never have I seen so many African-American gay men show up (and not it be the Gay Pride Parade), Asians, Africans (one came all the way from Ghana!), Latin Americans, and anyone in between.

Her die-hard fans were so sincere. Yes, there are the crazies, but there was a genuine feeling of open arm return-- like a hug.

Now if only everyone shared the same feeling for their fellow human beings, not just someone popular as Whitney.

As for Whitney, begrudgingly I'd say, welcome back.

Friday, May 22, 2009

TV This Fall and Movies I May Catch... Eventually

After all the finales had been shown, the major "free TV" markets have tried to manipulate the schedule this fall in hopes of regaining viewer trust, and of course, the winter Olympics.  With that being said, the NBC lineup hopes to profit from viewership. Trying the tactic of split scheduling, NBC tries to save money by ordering shorter seasons for shows that may have lost viewership (like Heroes), and yet save face by showing viewer faves but not making money (Chuck). Also, with Jay Leno moving an hour earlier than his usual slot, now occupied by Conan O'Brien, NBC will probably have to figure out how to keep its young demographic from leaving the channel.

The ABC lineup is trying to be the new happy-happy, joy-joy channel.  Peppered with a lot of new comedy shows (and late season shows like Better of Ted, the dramedy, Castle, and the returning Scrubs, who apparently was able to get Bill Lawrence to come back--sort of, along with Zach Braff, whose season ending was brilliant), this channel may be the best balanced of the main channels. Keeping Dancing With the Stars in its line-up and Supernanny (who watches this show?), reality is alive and kicking. TV regulars like Grey's Anatomy and Private Practice are still going strong in its current time slot, while Ugly Betty is given the ugly Friday viewing hole.

CBS does some rearranging for some of its shows but it keeps a solid comedy Monday as it keeps How I Met Your Mother, Two and a Half Men and Big Bang Theory together. Numb3rs got renewed, as well did Ghost Whisperer, which is now paired with the dropped NBC show, Medium.  The CBS lineup isn't bad if you like your cop/NCIS shows the way they are.

FOX tries to keep its eclectic collection of shows from House and Lie to Me, to Fringe, and Dollhouse, who got a SAVE on the last minute. Despite issues concerning Kiefer Sutherland, 24 is still a go for the upcoming season. Of course, it keeps its lowest common denominator excited with So You Think You Can Dance and American Idol.  Glee, a show I curiously watched last Tuesday, was actually funny. So, if you're trying to find something new to watch (or rearrange your schedule on TiVo or DVR), here's the current listing of the FOX lineup.

Lastly, the CW lineup. Is CW still considered a channel? As Variety pointed out, it's resurrecting TV when I was a kid.  With 90210 and Melrose Place 2.0 being put on the lineup, not much is worth watching in this channel than my favorite, Supernatural.  CW dropped its comedy lineup, and its usual urban demographic love for more "look-at-me, look-at-me" shows. Smallville is still in the grid, as well as the Leyton-less One Tree Hill. Vampire Diaries may be the only show I may even be interested to visit once SN is done with its hour viewing.

Whew, that just took forever. I never thought I'd be done!

Now for movies I may watch. Here's what critics have to say:

and lastly, Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds.

All information within the links are courtesy of Variety. Without them, I am clueless...

Let me know if you have any suggestions, comments, and thoughts on any of these movies, and others I may enjoy watching. Till then, enjoy your long weekend!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Winding Down TV

TV scriptwriters, where did you go?

When the writers' strike took place 2 years ago, I was hoping THIS event would revolutionize (if not make writers) write scripts WE, the viewers, would care about.  

Sadly, this has not been the case.

Bloggers had become the writers for shows like In the Motherhood. Reality TV is still generating ratings, and Heroes, for what it's worth, tried to relaunch itself 3 times, and yet, failed to get viewers to come back and watch. Here's how this season ended.

I am disappointed. Samantha Who? may now be canceled, one of the wittier and funnier comedies this past season. I don't know if Better off Ted will survive the cut.  Chuck, the show that had the most awesome ending last night still has to be renewed (did you buy your Subway sandwich and leave a "Save Chuck" note in the comment box?) Castle may have a chance of being picked up since it held up its share of viewers (albeit only coming second to CSI: Miami). I don't know if I'm the only one who still watched The Unusuals.

The Big 4 are struggling and they're not helping their cause by filling their slots with brain-dead shows, and 24/7 crime dramas. 

I think it's time for me to join the No TV cause and just catch shows on DVD or online. Otherwise, I will be stuck wishing for better TV.

So, what do you suggest I read this summer???

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Watchmen: A Book and Movie Review

Book: The Watchmen
Author: Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons
Type: Graphic Novel
Rating: 4.7/5

Movie Director: Zack Snyder
Rating: 4.5/5

Reading The Watchmen is a commitment. I don't mean that you have to stop everything on the spot to read it, but it definitely is a novel that you can't be watching TV or listening to music while reading. Its characters are flawed. The situations they are in are very specific and daunting. You have to read past the asshole-ishness of the characters to enjoy the book, and that takes commitment. It is what makes this book and movie a great philosophical study.

The year is 1985 and Richard Nixon has been reelected to the Presidential seat for the 5th time.

The novel opens up with Rorschach (played by Jackie Earle Haley) documenting the death of the Comedian (played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan), a man who is hard to sympathize with. The Comedian was a bastard by everyone's standard: he killed pregnant women, he torched villages, he attempted rape on one of his fellow "superhero". So his shocking death was one Rorschach found disturbing. As he documented the deaths of his comrades, he found it his duty to warn the last of the living: Ozymandias (Matthew Goode), Dr Manhattan (Billy Crudup), his girlfriend Silk Spectre II (Malin Akerman), and former buddy, Nite Owl II (Patrick Wilson).

Rorsach contacts Oz, and tells him the troubling news. Panic stricken, Oz promises to look into the case. Rorsach, on his own, tries to find the Comedian's nemesis, Moloch the Mystic (Matt Frewer), to see if he has any connection to the former superhero's death.

Along the way, we find out that Jon Manhattan and Laurie are not getting along well as Jon becomes more separated from the human race after his plasmic change, and Laurie was wanting human bonding that Dr Manhattan cannot provide. Silk Spectre II finally takes off and seeks middle aged and balding friend, Nite Owl II.

As Laurie and Dan meet, Dr Manhattan heads to a TV studio where he gets interviewed. He finds out that his former friend, and girlfriend, and a few people he associated with have cancer and that their conditions were linked to him and his change of state.

Its story, as individual characters, and as a group, shows that everyone, with the exception of Manhattan, has a fear of aging, death, and leaving a legacy. Will that legacy be about birth? Or friendship? Or a trademark of peace? Or revealing that the peace that was formed was a farce?

Alan Moore has layers upon layers of anger, grief, and disillusion written in the story that makes you wonder why at this current day and age, we still suffer from the same ill fate these characters suffer.

The movie was well directed by Zack Snyder. Almost frame by frame, line by line (with a few switches here and there for continuity's sake, and I guess a change of script lines to avoid complete plagarism or offending people who would be offended by the word-- sperm), it was an homage to the novel.

The gore in the movie was akin to that of 300. It was essential, but comic-bookish enough not to make you squirm. I could have done with less shots of the anatomically correct Dr Manhattan as he swings in the breeze, but I like the fact that Snyder had the cojones to keep it in (heehee) the movie to silence the purists. The V-shaped codpiece when he's in his gigantic form was enough tasteful... I was relieved.

I am glad that "Tales of the Black Freighter" and "Under the Hood" are separate from the almost 3-hour movie. Although they are essential (and a great read in the novel itself), it would have made the movie more of a bloaty piece of work rather than a sturdy film. Later to be released as a separate DVD, it definitely would be a great companion to The Watchmen DVD.

If there was one thing I wasn't too thrilled about the movie was the person who played President Nixon. The make-up was horrendous, and the character was very hard to understand. Was he supposed to really represent a former skeleton of himself? Or was that the best the casting crew can do since Frank Langella was already taken?

Overall, you really can't say anything bad about the movie or the book. However, it would be wise to read the novel first before visiting the theater. It surely will take out the Church giggle you'd want to squeak out the moment you see Manhattan, or the rage when you see the Comedian, or the, "Oh dear" statement when you see Nite Owl II or other "why" questions you may have if you decide to see the movie without the book.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Terminator 4 Scoopage

Can't wait to thaw myself in a movie theater this spring, and the one movie I thought I'd lose myself in is Terminator 4: Salvation.

But May 10 is too far for now, so I give you spoilers.

I found this article through Wired Magazine, featuring McG's vision of the future that would be featuring none other than hottie, Christian Bale, who's sole purpose in living is saving the world as John Connor. If that's not creepy/cool enough, how about learning that University of PA may be the next Skynet? And if that's not enough drama for you, how about listening to Christian Bale/John Connor tear a DP a new one? Can you hear an F-Bomb dropping every 6 seconds? I don't know about you, but hearing it made me want to watch a movie with a lot of cussing all of a sudden.

Maybe Ah-nuld can wrap this puppy up and give John a good mouth soaping...

Monday, January 26, 2009

Monty Python Channel- Hurrah!

My life isn't that interesting, and maybe that's one of the reasons why I really never committed to journals. Even with a journal prompter, it is hard to find something I (and in this case, you, my friend, who's reading this posting) relevant.

Amy posted her latest chapter in her story, Peer Pressure, and I remember fondly an incident that involves The Lumberjack Song-- a song that has become legendary thanks to the love-it-or-hate-it Monty Python.

Don't know what I am talking about? Or you want to hear the song? Well, search no more. Apparently, there is a Monty Python Channel. Visit it, and stay tuned. You just don't know what you're missing.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Getting Back on TV

Being a mom has definitely taken me away from the idiot box known as the TV. I am currently suffering from Chuck and Supernatural withdrawal but I still keep tabs on shows either currently on, or about to be canceled.

Let's stick with what's on, shall we?

Scrubs- used to watch this show religiously until the Jman was born, and other shows started piling up on my VCR (yes, I don't TiVo or DVR) or my computer. Since it's on The Comedy Central and other channels as fillers, I wasn't really searching for it, per se. With it moving to ABC, however, I caught up with the current batch. I still love the main cast. Hate the new residents, hate Courtney Cox. Can't wait to watch tonight's set of episodes.

How I Met Your Mother- Seriously? Barney crushing? It was too much! Love NPH and the gang. Can't believe Kim Kardashian is getting so much TV time. Ugh.

Ugly Betty- I think that this season's sucky. I can't believe I am still watching it when I cannot stand Whillie. The fact that I love Betty's "You go, girl!" attitude, I would admit that I would eventually step up and ask someone for some fashion advice, even if it means her nephew puts her clothes together. It's better than watching her look so frumpy every time. Amanda and Marc are the two that keep me glued especially now that Gio is gone. I still think Freddy Rodriguez should've stayed, but with him constantly playing second fiddle, I would've done the same thing: bounce. Apparently, Christina (Ashley Jensen) wants out of her contract. Same thing-- I would bail if I was given such a crappy gig.

I don't know if TV is better since the writer's strike, but I can admit that Tina Fey's rant at the Golden Globes is one of the better writings I've heard since her Sarah Palin parodies-- which I really don't consider "being written" since SP had said the same words herself-- before the skits have been taped!

On the canning front, Prison Break is ending! Good riddance!

Alright, show's over. Get working!