Saturday, May 31, 2008

Two and a Half Big Lost Theories

The recent "writing staff crossovers" between CSI and Two and a Half Men/The Big Bang Theory got me wondering: if Chuck Lorre and Lee Aronsohn were to write an episode of Lost, would we find out that the mysterious organization on the island is actually the Dharma and Greg Initiative? Would Abrams, Lieber and Lindelof et al have Sheldon move Charlie's house to the north pole?

Any other mashups you'd like to see?

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Want To Read That Comic From Lost?

Some fans of Lost were so intrigued by their glimpse of Mystery Tales # 40 on the show recently that they decided to buy their own copy of it on eBay... and now are posting its interior pages, page by page (slowly). While I don't normally support or even condone scanning and posting entire comic stories online, this is a comic long out of print and not available in reprint form, as far as I know.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Sydney Pollack, 1934-2008

I was going to post something different about Recount, but just read that one of its executive producers, actor, Oscar-winning director and producer Sydney Pollack, died this afternoon. He was responsible for a lot of great films, and it's sad to see him go.

Here's Roger Ebert's remembrance.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Dr. Dorian and Dr. Jones

Two recent tidbits from "writer boy" (and The Border scribe) Dennis McGrath. The first is his comments on an interesting no-punches-pulled interview (excerpt: "Total harsh buzz of not giving a s--t") with Scrubs creator Bill Lawrence. The second is DMc's agonized scream upon reading Salon's two-star review of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull... which is one of the higher ratings I've seen for the film. (Spoiler-free excerpt: "about as unfocused and meandering as the title itself".)

The latter isn't particularly surprising, but I'm still disappointed.

(Monday, 9am) OK, here's a surprise: 3.5 stars.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

The Office (Season 4)

In the interest of satisfying some that would have more posts here, I bring you some comments about the current season of the Office:

"We really got gipped this season." [Ed: because it was so short.]

"Toby used to be cool, but now he's just a creepy jerk."

"They should have written in Angela's pregnancy because she has super-bloaty-pregnancy-face."

"Stupid NBC for making everyone think that the Office would be on when instead it was some stupid Donnie and Marie special. ...Donnie and Marie should be dead..." [Ed: this was followed by rant about how the FCC should fine NBC for colluding with the digital guide providers to trick people into watching Donnie and Marie by falsifying listing data which indicated that the Office was on during the aforementioned "stupid special".]

These comments were lovingly crafted by my wife for local consumption. I found the living room too confining for such wisdom and shared it with you. And, I admit, I felt the need to pad my posting total.

30 Rock Season Two Ends With A Bang

I almost couldn't process just how funny the season finale for 30 Rock was this week. Part of the reason for that reaction, I guess, is that generally Season Two hadn't been quite as funny - for me, anyway - as the inaugural year. At times in the second season it just felt like they were trying too hard, whereas the laughs had come free and easy when no one had had any expectations about the show a year earlier.

Although there were too many hilarious moments in the finale to list them all, I have to give special mention to the following:
  • Jack lifting the shade off the government office lamp to reveal a candle
  • Liz defending herself by saying that she's "been sexually active since I was 25"
  • the look on Jack's face as he listened to Liz's many voicemails about her attitude toward being pregnant
  • Matthew Broderick scratching out a phone number with a paperclip because his government agency can't get any pens ("We're not in a recession!"), and answering the phone by lifting it up and putting it back down again
  • the reveal that ex-boyfriend Dennis, the epitome of all things messed-up, is actually an Islanders fan! (it explains so much!!)
  • the scene where GE's new CEO pulls the toy car out of her mouth, in her office filled to overflowing with stuffed unicorns
I'm sure the fact that Tiny Fey wrote this episode had something to do with how wonderful it was.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Captain Sheridan And Other Heroes

I'm not sure how well it'll all work out, but one of TV's greatest space captains - John Sheridan, from Babylon 5, known by some in this century as plain old Bruce Boxleitner - is coming to Heroes next season. TV Guide has the story here.

So what do we think about Heroes? Will Season Three be good like Season One or uneven like Season Two? Lost certainly picked up its game after the supposed "sophomore jinx," and then cranked it up even more for the current season. But can Heroes follow suit, or has that shark already been jumped?

Monday, May 5, 2008

"Quantum" Leap

So apparently Amy Winehouse won't be doing the theme song for Quantum of Solace. This to me is a good thing. A friend tried to turn me on to her music before all the hype kicked in, and I just couldn't get into it. Not that the Bond themes have ever been the height of musical accomplishment....

Regardless of theme song issues and accidents filming the stunts, I have every reason to believe that the movie will be released on time this winter.

How's that, kimota94? :)

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Review: Iron Man

This is the Iron Man movie that most fans of the character have waited their entire life for... and never really expected to see! Director Jon Favreau, who does double duty by appearing on-screen as Harry "Happy" Hogan in several scenes, has delivered a passionate love letter to Iron Man followers everywhere, for which we all owe him a great big "thank you."

One of the best indicators of how well a superhero movie works is how it's received by viewers who know nothing about the characters before the lights go down. That's hard to measure with well-known icons like Superman, Batman, Spider-Man or even the Hulk (thanks to that 1970s TV show with Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno), but Iron Man? He's practically tabusa rasa for most non-comic folks. For example, my wife Vicki recalls that I bought Tales of Suspense # 39, ol' Shellhead's first appearance, more than a decade ago at The Dragon Lady in Toronto on a snowy day during which we had to walk and walk to find an Automated Banking Machine in order to get some cash for the purchase... but that was about the extent of her Tony Stark background going into the theatre last night. (Not quite true, as she pumped me for a few bits of trivia as we drove there, fearing that she'd be lost in the film. She needn't have worried!) Driving home afterward, all she could talk about was the movie and how good it was, and this morning one of her first comments to me was that she really appreciated how intelligent all of the characters were (for a change, by implication). In fact, we ended up catching a very late showing - 10:30 p.m. start - and I'm not sure I've ever seen my early-to-bed wife so awake and animated at 1:00 a.m. as she was when we got home!

For the comic book fan, the movie is a treat on so many levels. From the inclusion of all three of the early armour versions - grey, gold, and ultimately the now-standard red and gold - right through to the goosebump-inspiring final scene that rewarded those of us who stayed through the entire final credits, Favreau and the screenwriters just hit right note after right note. Iron Man's 1960s origin in the jungles of Viet Nam has been updated to modern day Afghanistan, but it still works! Professor Yinsen is still there, working at the American inventor's side, and providing the cliched-but-vital sacrifice that catalyzes Stark's transformation from hedonistic playboy into conscientious do-gooder. And if memory serves, the first mention of the word "superhero" in the movie is accompanied by Tony saying something along the lines of, "Me, a superhero? Why, that's just too fantastic an idea!" in an obvious nod to Marvel's flagship foursome.

In the casting department, Robert Downey, Jr seems like he born to play Tony Stark, both in his initial cavalier incarnation and then later, as the heroic-but-never-boring man inside the machine. He has enough range to make us like the character at the start and still believe that he'd undergo such a drastic change of heart (no pun intended, for those who know the story). I totally bought Downey as Stark, every second of the way, and that's quite an accomplishment, seeing as I own probably close to a thousand appearances of his in comic form!

I went into this one expecting a lot from the male lead, but had some doubts about what kind of job his opposite number would do. Within a few short scenes, though, all of my reservations about Gwyneth Paltrow as Virginia "Pepper" Potts were blown to smithereens. She's played smart and sexy (but never easy!) throughout, and thankfully isn't turned into the "girl hostage" as so often seems to happen in the other comic movie franchises. You can almost feel her love for Tony and the pain she endures each time he brings his latest trashy conquest home (before moving on to the next one), and the scene where she echoes an earlier confession of his about them only having each other really said it all.

Terrence Howard, as Jim Rhodes, doesn't get a lot of material to work with, but one scene in particular seemed to suggest that bigger things await him. (War Machine, anyone?) Jeff Bridges is good as Obidiah Stane, and kudos to him for shaving his head for the part! Everyone pales beside Downey, though, as he owns every scene he's in. Just owns them!

Particularly fun was the section of the film where Tony Stark works to master the use of his new armour. Some of the biggest laughs I've ever heard in a comic-based movie came during those scenes, and fortunately they each came exactly where they were supposed to! Who knew Iron Man could work as slapstick?

I personally can't wait to see what this franchise has to offer over the next several years. I'd say it's off to as good of a start as Spider-Man was after the first installment, and almost as good as the current Christopher Nolan-helmed Batman series. It's nice to see a Marvel character done so well in the first release that the company's studio was involved with... I just hope The Incredible Hulk can keep the bar from dropping too much! Iron Man is probably one of the 10 best comic movies made to date, and that's a very good sign.

Rating: ****