Wednesday, March 30, 2016

"Bees don't have teeth."

I remember watching Sherlock Holmes when I was 8 years old. Basil Rathbone played the great detective when I first saw him on the screen. The first ever story I read about him was the Hound of the Baskervilles, which was a junior version of the story my mum got me for my 8th or 9th birthday. Ever since then, I have been hooked on the detective and have watched many depictions of him on the screen, and read the books and stories of course. The best Sherlock Holmes in my opinion was played by Jeremy Brett, although Robert Downey Jr. is also quite good. When I heard that Ian McKellen would play an aged version of the man, I decided that would be delightful, and that is exactly what Mr. Holmes is in my opinion. Of course Ian McKellen shines as the timeless detective giving him both wit, humor, and great emotional depth, which was not something the character was keen on displaying most or any of the time. Laura Linney played the housekeeper Mrs. Munro, who was an interesting character, and someone I don't think they fleshed out as well as they could have, but she added a type of restraint and realism to the elderly Mr. Holmes' desires. Her son Roger, played by Milo Parker, was such a great contrast to not only the character of Holmes but to McKellen's great acting as well. The two of them paired together was refreshingly delightful and was how the film worked. These three formed the core of the film and there were some other supporting actors and actresses who did very well, one of which was Hiroyuki Sanada, who's had large roles in The Last Samurai and The Wolverine. In this film Sherlock Holmes is trying to remember his last case and why it so adversely affected him to the point he retreated from the world. His housekeeper and her son help him with his bees, and tend to him as he pieces together his last case which was so many years ago. Bill Condon did a fine job of directing the film, although his track record of films he's directed hasn't been very good. The writing and screenplay were pretty good by Jeffrey Hatcher as he adapted it from the novel written by Mitch Cullin, but I have to be honest and say that some parts dragged and things were occasionally boring. Mostly though, my attention was kept with very little distraction. Carter Burwell did a fine job on the music, but there wasn't anything that was overly memorable. The film was beautifully shot though; such exquisite cinematography by Tobias A. Schliessler, it really captured the beauty of the English countryside, and the refined interior of upper class London. All in all it was very lovely film and suited for children and family viewing alike. Definitely will watch it again, but it's not my favorite Sherlock Holmes to watch...that would be Jeremy Brett. Been busy writing the lyrics of my musical and so far so good, although much work remains to turn them into amazing songs, but the groundwork is there. I think I only have six more to go before I start writing the book. After that, who knows. I wish I could say ignore the news, but it really does seem like things are getting worse and worse on planet earth everywhere, and all of the people who should be inspiring are just merely saying how horrible things are. Not very comforting or helpful.

Mr. Holmes trailer

Ian McKellen on playing Sherlock Holmes

Jeremy Brett as Sherlock Holmes (some good moments from the BBC series)

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

The Capes Are Coming.....

Let me start off by saying that I still think comic book themed films are being overdone. However, because of the money in box office receipts and products the studios reap I highly doubt they will be slowing down anytime soon. I didn't think that Batman vs. Superman was going to be that good, but I was surprisingly delighted with the end result of the film. So the film pretty much takes place right after the events of Man of Steel where Bruce Wayne blames Superman (along with some other people) for all of the devastation and death that has been caused since his arrival (this line of self-righteous thinking was at times a little preachy, kind of annoying) and thus he begins to go on a warpath to destroy Superman. But Clark Kent/Superman doesn't like the vigilante style of justice that Batman dishes out and decides to intervene; they clash and have a fairly interesting fight. In the middle pulling strings left and right is Lex Luthor, and boy does he pull the strings well. So after Adam West, Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer, George Clooney, and Christian Bale now, Ben Affleck dons the caped crusader's armor. Well, he wasn't dreadful, but he wasn't great either; I think he did well enough, but I don't think it was his performance that sold it. Henry Cavill as Superman/Clark Kent didn't get as much character development as his counterpart, which would have been better, but he remained the moral compass and is that boy/chivalrous man that all men deep down wished that they were. Amy Adams did well as Lois Lane, even though at times her character seemed to really lack a purpose for why she was present. Jessie Eisenberg as Lex Luthor was perhaps the most interesting of all the leading roles. He truly depicted psychotic evil in a way I've never seen it depicted before in this type of film or story; I was actually cheering against him (which isn't typical for me as I mostly cheer for the villains). Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman was great. I was actually pleasantly surprised how well they pulled off her entry since her character oftentimes does seem so over the top, but it was nicely executed, and I would have liked to see her have a larger role in the film, but what was there was good. And I do have to say that Jeremy Irons as Alfred was excellent, but that may be that I am biased since I think he is one of the most amazing actors in the world.
Now, I mentioned above that it wasn't Affleck's performance that sold the film, but rather it was Zack Snyder's direction of the entire project that made the entire film work; without him, I doubt it would have worked at all. Yes, he is one of my favorite filmmakers so there is a slight bias, but I have to say that I was impressed with the story (David Goyer gets a lot of credit for that). I don't remember ever being bored or that the plot wasn't on pace. The music by Hans Zimmer and Junkie XL I thought was awesome, and worked so well with the film (Junkie XL is definitely someone I'll be looking out for in the film composition scene). What really worked was how all of the movie was filmed. There was excellent cinematography, fantastic sound design, and rather dynamic action sequences which has been lacking from a lot of comic book films (Captain America: The Winter Soldier was one that had all of that recently). The 3-D was also pretty good, although I may be getting so used to it, or was so engrossed in the film because I don't remember anything 3-D really standing out. I think it was a well done film, and was rather entertaining. From what I hear it doesn't follow the comics as closely as some would prefer, but it is after all an adaptation, and as a writer I can attest to the difficulty to bring something from page to screen. I would see it again, and I think a lot of people would enjoy it; it is dark, but that's probably another reason I enjoy it so much; the gritty realism, as opposed to Marvel's popcorn fantasy more often than not. It should be interesting where they go from here for the rest of the DC universe.

Batman vs. Superman trailer

Batman vs. Superman interviews

Alice Through the Looking Glass trailer (actually looks quite good).

Monday, March 28, 2016

"One batch, two batch. Penny and dime...."

So season 1 of Daredevil was amazing, so naturally my expectations for season 2 were equally set. Honestly, my take on the second season of this Netflix show is very much like a roller coaster. There were stretches of episodes where it was fantastic, then boring and irritating, then interesting, then ridiculous, then fantastic again. With that much fluctuation I can't really say that the second season was really that good. There was a lot of over the top drama happening amongst the characters that came off as juvenile and annoying frequently, especially with the character Foggy Nelson, whom I cannot really stand as a character. So in this season enter The Punisher and Elektra and a weird ninja organization (which was never really resolved or explained) and you'd think that with that combination this entire season would be in the bag, but not quite. The story revolved essentially around those two characters and all of the chaos and problems they created. Now I'm just waiting for Blade to pop in (that should be interesting; vampires in Daredevil). So Charlie Cox as Daredevil is perfect and his character got more complex and interesting in this season, but they could have made him more complex, but they really kept that "knight in shining armor" look for him, which really only seems to work completely for Captain America. They had several opportunities for him to become darker and complex, and they never went for it. Eldon Henson as Foggy Nelson was irritating in my opinion all of the time, and very, very preachy to a tiresome degree (there was a lot of preaching in this season from many characters). Deborah Ann Woll as Karen Page did good with her character in this season, but her crusading naivety was also tiring as well; her character became more than just a victim and took charge of her life, but her naivety was quite taxing. So Jon Bernthal as Frank Castle the Punisher was for the most part awesome; the best scene in the entire second season was with him and Daredevil, but I don't think his character was explored very well and was used mainly as an element in action sequences. Elodie Yung as Elektra was also quite perfect, and even though I know very little about the character, I think she was definitely an improvement over Jennifer Garner. She was a great foil for Daredevil, I just don't think their relationship, or her character were fleshed out or written very well. There was a lot of predictable lover's drama going on, which was at times exasperating. Thank goodness for Scott Glenn as Stick and Vincent D'Onofrio as Wilson Fisk, even though they had smaller roles in comparison to some of the other characters, they were perfection and those episodes they were in tended to be the better ones. Both men are excellent actors and brought those qualities to their characters, and it really showed. Rosario Dawson was also good in the show with her nurse character Claire, but she was also quite preachy.
So the show was pretty much a bunch of shooting and killing for the first five episodes or so; I thought it was fairly boring, but then it finally got interesting and then was up and down after that for a bit. I really hope they don't give The Punisher or Elektra their own shows, I feel like that would be far too much, and personally I'm getting really comic booked out; that seems to be all that is coming out. Give it some time though, and the same thing will be happening with Star Wars. The second season of Daredevil was good, but not that good. Netflix I think is starting to have a problem with their shows where the first season is stupendous and then they have trouble following up with equally astounding seasons of their shows. If they want to stay in the long run of program creation they're going to have to find a way to make certain their shows are always getting better, not worse. Should be interesting to see what the future of Netflix and Amazon are, as well as traditional cable and satellite programming.

Daredevil season 2 trailer

Interview on Daredevil and Punisher characters

Ben-Hur trailer (new movie, new ideas....looks terrible).

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

"We Make the Terror."

"Do you know the main thing that separates a politician from the the rest of the species? A politician is the one who would drown a litter of kittens for 10 minutes of prime time." -Frank Underwood

So I have finished season 4 of House of Cards, and I have to say that the show redeemed itself after what I would consider a disastrous season 3. Frank and Claire finally came back together in a single united purpose (there were some surprises along the way) to fight their enemies, and it works so much better when it is like that as opposed to them being on separate paths. Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright are beyond divine, and fantastic and really continue to grow their characters. I'm a little bummed that Kevin Spacey doesn't speak as much to the camera as he did in the first 2 seasons, but the show is still very strong, and as long as the two mains keep coming up on top, I think it will continue to go that way. Michael Kelly who plays Doug Stamper (chief of staff) was a lot more flat of a character in this season than perhaps any other one I thought with season 3 being the most intense for him. Neve Campbell had a nice role in the season as an assistant to Claire, and Ellen Burstyn played Claire's mother which was a great story and character arc; the two had such great and powerful chemistry together. Jayne Atkinson as Cathy Durant (Secretary of State) came into a much more interesting character than in any previous season; she is a fantastic actress, and I love her character in this show. I like where they took Donald Blythe's character (vice-president) in this season; some really excellent character growth. One very excellently crafted character was the Republican presidential challenger Will Conway played by Joel Kinnaman; it's like watching a conservative version of Frank Underwood, very well done. Granted, season 1 is still the best in my opinion, and season 2 the second best, but then comes season 4 and I honestly don't even really want to rank season 3 as of yet (yeah, I think it was that poor). I will say that season 2 had the best ending with Frank assuming control of the presidency; the music and the staging and cinematography as he made his may to the desk in the oval office. It was great. Season 4 had a great ending as well, not as good as season 2, but it was awesome! I really like where the show is going now, and I hope the writers keep the Underwoods strong and powerful, and yes I know I am cheering for "the villains" and yes I did by a t-shirt from Target that had Underwood 2016 emboldened on it. I will not speak of current, American politics other than saying there are a few Underwood like candidates currently vying to become the next U.S. President. I'm looking forward to season 5 of House of Cards, although, I am now wondering how the writers are going to finish it all up. I would like to say that it was ironic that I watched the last episode of season 4 today of all days due to the terrorist attack that happened in Brussels (when you watch the episode you will understand). I don't know what it is like to be personally attacked by terrorists even though it has happened to my country a number of times, but it must be something beyond dreadful to experience, especially firsthand. May God comfort the people of Belgium and the victims and families who suffered personally in the attack, and may all of you find peace one day despite the fear, violence and hatred that Islamic terrorists are attempting to spread throughout the world.

House of Cards season 4 spot

The Hunstman: Winter's War trailer 3

Saturday, March 19, 2016

"That is Not my Testimony...."

When people think of Robert Downey Jr. their minds go to Sherlock Holmes or Iron Man. And granted he excels in those roles effortlessly, yet his skill as an actor really shines through in his fantastic performance in The Judge with Robert Duvall. Mr. Downey plays a Chiacago lawyer that oozes charm, skill, wit, immeasurable talent, and brims with assured confidence. He returns home to Indiana when his mother dies, to his splintered family and his father the Judge played by Mr. Duvall who is tough and estranged to his son. Both men are the center of the film and really make the entire story compelling and work so well. I was never bored as both the main characters made the film continuously compelling, and the supporting characters assisted in that regard as well. Vincent D'Onofrio played one of Mr. Downey's brothers and played someone who was vulnerable and soft, which I thought was a good departure of his usual roles. Jeremy Strong played the youngest brother, and I thought he was amazing as his character had a form of autism (I believe, although it was never stated) and how that behavior came in and weaved throughout his character and the film I was quite lovely. Vera Farmiga played Mr. Downey's former high school sweetheart, and she was both a breath of fresh air, yet a strong willful foil to his character. Billy Bob Thorton played a skillful and confident assistant district attorney, and was yet another good foil to Mr. Downey's character. Some good cameos included Dax Shephard, Ken Howard, Balthazar Getty, and David Krumholtz. I have to say that the film was directed and shot beautifully and so tastefully; at one point in the film as Mr. Downey's character is riding a bike down an Indiana highway in the country it reminded me of my own home and growing up in rural Wisconsin and the kind of things that I used to do with my sisters when we were younger. The screenplay was very well written, and provided that excellent material for the cast to shine so powerfully. I highly recommend this film, and if you like good character films, excellent acting, and a powerful story that is compelling than I suggest that you watch this film. In other news, I have progressed quite far on my musical and am working away on the songs, just started Act II and then once I have the songs finished I'm going to begin work on "The Book" itself and get some staging and all of the dialog written down. Work on Book 3 has been.......extraordinarily slow, but it is coming along. There isn't much positive news in the world either domestically or internationally; somehow (not to sound apocalyptic) powerfully evil men and women seem to be becoming ever more popular and powerful with each passing day throughout the globe. Aside from violent deterrents, the best form of opposition and containment of that is knowledge and discernment; the more people know, the harder it is to overcome them.

The Judge trailer

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children trailer (looks so good!)

Game of Thrones Season 6 trailer (should be interesting)