Most of the sci-fi franchises that I grew up loving haven’t been doing too hot this past decade. The lame AvP movies. The disappointing Star Wars prequels. And there hasn’t been any truly great Star Trek around since Deep Space Nine (by far the best series of the franchise) went off the air back in 1999.
So it was with some trepidation that I approached The Sarah Connor Chronicles. I caught a bunch of the episodes last spring, and this week watched (in pretty short order), all nine episodes now available on DVD. My reaction? Well….sort of middle-of-the-road. Actually, I feel about this series almost exactly the same way that I felt about the third, James Cameron-free Terminator film: there’s a lot to enjoy, and it wasn’t nearly as bad as I’d feared, although its still a long way from the brilliance of the first two films.
The series starts off with a bang, with a cool apocalyptic vision of what will happen if Sarah and John fail to stop all the robots — nuclear armageddon, with a metallic Terminator robot, wreathed in flames, choking the life out of Sarah after having just shot John. Of course, its just a dream — but its a pretty great way to kick off the series. Not only does the sequence clearly remind the audience of what the stakes are, but its also a chance for the show to showcase some pretty snazzy effects. I was rather impressed with the visuals throughout the first season — there’s a lot of great action stunt work (car chases, Terminator battles, etc.), and the show is able to show the fully robotic Terminators (as opposed to the ones clothed in flesh that can be played by an actor without special effects) a lot more often, and more convincingly, than I’d expected. (I have no way of knowing, but I wonder if the show’s effects artists haven’t been able to capitalize on the groundbreaking work in this area done by the folks over at Battlestar Galactica. They’ve been able to beautifully incorporate the full metal “toasters” into their live action shots for years now.)
Unfortunately, after the kick-off, things slowed down for the next several episodes. We spend time with a computer programmer Andy Goode, whose chess-playing computer nicknamed “the Turk” may or may not be a first step on the road to Skynet…and with John and Cameron (his female Terminator protector, played by Summer Glau from Firefly) in school…and none of that really held my interest. While there was some interesting serialization beginning to happen (Andy and the Turk’s storyline played out over several episodes, for example), there was also a paint-by numbers … [continued]
I’ve been perusing my copy of Entertainment Weekly‘s “Fall Movie Preview,” and there are some really interesting flicks coming our way in the next few months. Here are some of the films I’m looking forward to:
Burn After Reading — It’s the next Coen Brothers movie, and it stars George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton, and John Malkovich. It looks like the Coens are in goofy comedy mode with this one, which suits me just fine.
Appaloosa — Its a cowboy movie with Viggo Mortensen and Ed Harris. Don’t know too much about this one, but I’m interested.
Body of Lies — Director Ridley Scott is responsible for some of my favorite movies ever (Alien, Blade Runner…I’m even an enormous fan of the longer director’s cut of Kingdom of Heaven), so he always has my ticket. This one has to do with CIA operatives, and its headlined by Russell Crowe and Leonardo DiCaprio.
Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist — After Arrested Development, Superbad, and Juno, I think I’ll watch Michael Cera (who plays Nick) in pretty much anything. Nora is played by Kat Dennings, who was very funny as Catherine Keener’s daughter in The 40 Year Old Virgin. This could wind up being a generic two-teens-looking-for-love chick flick, but the cast (and the sort-of bizarre title) has me interested.
Changeling — Babylon 5 mastermind J. Michael Straczynski wrote the script, and I’m eager to see how his distinct writing translates to the big screen. It has nothing to do with sci-fi, but I’m still curious. Its directed by Clint Eastwood, which helps.
Zack and Miri Make a Porno — I love Kevin Smith, and this one features Seth Rogen and Elizabeth Banks, both of whom are funny in pretty much everything.
RocknRolla — I’m still waiting for Guy Ritchie to make a movie half as good as Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch. Maybe it’ll be this one?
Synecdoche, New York — Charlie Kaufman (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) wrote and directed this film that, according to EW, “follows a frustrated theatre director who sets out to create a masterpiece to impress his estranged wife. His project? A life-size recreation of New York City, with thousands of actors all contained inside an improbably large warehouse.” Um…okay.
What Just Happened? — The book of the same name that this movie is based on is sitting in my to-read pile, and I’m eager to get to it. Its a Hollywood satire, and the film stars Bruce Willis, Robert DeNiro, and Sean Penn.
Religulous — Bill Maher and Larry Charles take on religion. I’ve mentioned this movie before on … [continued]
Well, the summer is winding down, but I’m taking advantage of the lull to catch up on some movies! Here’s what I’ve seen lately:
Tropic Thunder — Just saw this tonight, and let me tell you it is phenomenal. Ben Stiller stars in and directed this tale of a group of self-absorbed hollywood actors filming a big-budget Vietnam action-adventure movie called Tropic Thunder who, through a ludicrous series of circumstances, wind up in an actual Vietnam action-adventure. (Hmmm, that description makes it sound sort of like Space Camp, but rest assured that it is not.) The movie is hilarious, and I mean every scene is hilarious. The cast is terrific. Ben Stiller is Tugg Speedman, the action movie star looking for some respectability after the flop of his oscar-bait role as the mentally challenged Simple Jack…and Stiller plays forlorn self-absorbtion to a tee. Jack Black plays drug-addled Jeff Portnoy, known for playing all the roles (in a variety of fat-suits) in the obese family movie series The Fatties. As you’ve probably read by now, Robert Downey Jr. keeps his summer of success rolling (after Iron Man) with his portrayal of Kirk Lazarus, an actor so devoted to Method that he, well, transforms himself into a black man to play African-American Sgt. Osiris. Those are the stars, but there are so many other juicy roles that are very winningly embodied by a variety of other talents. Brandon T. Jackson plays rapper-turned-actor Alpha Chino (I laughed and laughed at that rapper name), and Jay Baruchel (so great as the lead in the great-but-cancelled Judd Apatow TV series Undeclared) is the requisite baby-faced soldier, Kevin Sandusky. Danny McBride (who’s also having quite a summer, with the long-awaited release of his feature film The Foot Fist Way a few months ago, as well as his role in The Pineapple Express) is the somewhat psychotic pyrotechnics expert Cody. Steve Coogan (Coffee and Cigarettes, Tristan Shandy, and the upcoming Hamlet 2) plays the desperate director Damien Cockburn trying to get his spoiled stars to behave. Nick Nolte is genius playing… well pretty much himself, or at least the world’s perception of Nick Nolte, as the addled “Four Leaf,” the man who wrote the book Tropic Thunder being adapted by these Hollywood dim-wits. And, of course, I cannot forget Tom Cruise, under a you-need-to-see-it-to-believe-it bald cap and hairy chubby suit, playing the gleefully profane studio mogul financing the production. OK, do you want to see this movie yet?? Let me just add that this film is also enhanced by a trio of fake trailers even more enjoyable than the ones in Quentin Tarantino’s Grindhouse from last year. (Speaking … [continued]
Could it be that the theme song for the new James Bond film, Quantum of Solace, has already leaked?
Well, no. But this is still pretty funny!!… [continued]
To all the Battlestar Galactica fans out there who, like me, are very sad to see the show come to a close with the 10 remaining episodes (to air on Sci-Fi later this year) — rejoice!
In addition to the much-discussed and finally green-lit Caprica TV-movie (set 50 years before the show — watch a trailer here), an additional BSG prequel TV-Movie has just been announced — one with much closer ties to the show. It’ll feature many actors from the series (announced so far: Anders, Chief Tyrol, and Cavil), and it’ll be directed by Edward James Olmos. Check out the details here!
Also! Rumor has it that the final BSG episodes will air in “extended” form — longer than the regular hour (or approx. 42 minutes without commercials). Read what Executive Producer David Eick has to say on the matter here!… [continued]
LOTS of fun stuff continuing to hit the interweb in this past week, after the San Diego Comic Con. Check out these links:
Creepy new trailer for Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince can be found here!
Is the new Terminator movie going to be any good? I doubt it. But is this poster pretty cool? Why it surely is.
Speaking of posters, some gorgeous new posters for the Watchmen movie can be seen here.
The entire hour-long Battlestar Galactica panel from Comic-Con (hosted by KEVIN SMITH!) is on-line here.
If you’re going to go see the next X-Files movie, this somewhat humorous recap of the final two rather lame seasons of the show can be found here. Of course, the movie doesn’t deal with any of that stuff. But its a fun trip down memory lane, as well as a reminder of why I haven’t rewatched any of the episodes from those final years of the show recently!
And finally, who better to sum up the entire Comic Con experience for those of us who couldn’t attend than Triumph the Insult Comic Dog. He is merciless.
OK, that should keep you all off the streets for the next little while…… [continued]