Jurassic world review

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By Steven Biscotti

The long anticipated Jurassic World released in theaters this Friday and looks to energize interest in new fans, while providing a nostalgic walk for theater goers such as myself.  I grew up with Jurassic Park on VHS, saw The Lost World opening weekend, and watched Jurassic Park 3 more times than I can remember.  I have the Kenner action figures and I’m positive my mini Ian Malcolm is somewhere in the house.  I was among the first people to see Jurassic World at 7 pm on Thursday, June 11 and two days later, I’m still talking about the fourth film.  If anything,Jurassic World has proven that my interest in big, entertaining, dinosaur filled adventures have not gone extinct.

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The Colin Trevorrow directed film primarily serves in the grey territory of reboot and sequel.  Jurassic World, taking place in the not too distant future, 20 or so years from the first, shows John Hammond’s dream of a fully realized and operating park.  Think San Diego Zoo, but on a much larger scale, and with dinosaurs!  Attendance is high, people are satisfied, but the attractions could have more “wow.”  Trevorrow, along with writers Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver, and Derek Connolly present a surprisingly eerie and haunting statement on today’s generation with their park.  When audiences seem more focused on texting and caught up with their own personal worlds, more so than to watch the latest Mosasaurus attraction, or any dinosaur exhibit for that matter, we begin to wonder how long does our disconnected existences last when thrown into a world that existed 65 million years ago.  To keep the excitement on their animals and less on everything else, Dr. Henry Wu (BD Wong) has dreamed up even more creatures for the park; good thing Dr. Alan Grant and Ian Malcolm aren’t around.  The latest creation is something more terrifying than the Spinosaurus of JP3 and more dangerous than the T-Rex of JP 1 2.  As expected, she breaks free.  In the words of Goldblum’s Malcolm from The Lost World, “Oooh, ahhh, that’s how it always starts.  Then later there’s running and um, screaming.”

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As entertaining and fun Jurassic World is, it does fall into an issue of being original.  So much of the 2 hour and 10 minute film is built on the shoulders of the first three films.  “You stood on the shoulders of geniuses to accomplish something as fast as you could, and before you even knew what you had, you patented it, and packaged it, and slapped it on a plastic lunchbox, and now…”  It’s hilariously ironic on just how much of Goldblum’s lines from the first film represent the issues with Jurassic World.  Colin Trevorrow has created an impressive film, entertaining always, and one of the more genuinely pleasing films this summer, but so much of it is built on the work of Steven Spielberg and JP3‘s Joe Johnston.  Trevorrow is consistent with his thorough knowledge of the series and pays several visual tributes to the original trilogy.  But in moments of new creation, there’s a legitimate sense of “been there, done that.”  Sadly, we’ve grown desensitized by dinosaurs running free, people being eaten, and heroes in peril.  There’s also an issue with our heroes and villains.  While everything conceivably works for Jurassic World‘s sake, it seems as if the studio is looking to present an experience we all had with the original and repackage it for today’s generation.  They don’t request the more mature audience members to forget what came before, but simply hope we’re brought back to our more youthful days, and enjoy a nostalgic walk through their new park.  

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Chris Pratt as Owen Grady is in full action mode here and, if he isn’t the next Indiana Jones, I’m not sure who else could possibly do it.  Owen is your typicalJurassic Park hero.  He’s an adventurer through and through.  Pratt as Owen is perfect.  He’s likable, believable, and a bit of a mixture between Sam Neill’s Grant and Goldblum’s Malcolm.  He’s cynical of the science and weary of the world, but loves the creations  Let’s not forget that Owen has a pack of four raptors that he’s bonded with – Charlie, Delta, Echo, and Blue.  Oh, and if you think you’re cool, just know that you’ll never be as cool as Chris Pratt riding a motorcycle next to raptors cool!  We also have a reliable Vincent D’Onofrio as one of the film’s villains, Vic Hoskins.  He’s the head of InGen security (yup, they’re back) and wishes to use the dinosaurs as weapons.  D’Onofrio plays Hoskins as an amalgamation of all previous Jurassic villains and he’s great.  Jurassic World also gives us two children, Ty Sympkins and Nick Robinson – they play brothers visiting Isla Nublar and provide the most Spielberg-ian elements of the story.  Amidst a family riff, their parents are getting divorced and they have a strained relationship with their aunt, it’s a safe bet that by the time the last dino roars, the family will be back together.  A buffed up Bryce Dallas Howard perhaps is the most interesting character as her intentions aren’t fully clear and she provides the most growth for a film that could have easily presented her operations manager Claire Dearing as a one-note character.  Howard’s Claire, much like Pratt’s Owen and D’Onofrio’s Hoskins, seems rooted in the DNA of players we’ve seen in Jurassic Parkand The Lost World, but spins wildly out of the expectations we think we have of her over the course of Jurassic World.

Jurassic World is an entertaining movie and a very enjoyable one.  I loved every second of it and Trevorrow stages the film well.  In a third act fight, we get one of the most rousing of fights between the T-Rex, raptors, and the Indominus Rex (the new dino) and if you walk out of the theater not liking that scene, well, you might just be a zombie.  The effects are what you’d expect from a big-budget picture by Universal, and it’s gotten harder to tell what exactly is animatronic and what is CGI.  Michael Giacchino scores JW, with themes based off of John Williams’ majestic score and delivers another hit soundtrack.  It’s also worth noting that Giacchino scored The Lost Word: Jurassic Park video game and for die-hard soundtrack fans, there are a few notes that pay homage to his original work.  Jurassic World is a movie that works in every way, but in every way it works for a newcomer, it could serve as a criticism for original fans.  I want Colin Trevorrow, cast and crew to succeed with their movie.  I’d also like to see director Trevorrow develop his own visual style for future films, but for now, Jurassic World deserves to win and people should flock to their movie theaters in the same capacity attendees did nearly 22 years ago to the same weekend.  By the closing moments, while your phones are hopefully off (or silent), just give in to the magic of movie-making and remember that this is the dinosaurs world, not ours.  Roar.

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Jurassic World gets four out of five stars.  The cast highlight the 2 hour and 10 minute film, particularly Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, and New Girl’s Jake Johnson as the theme park’s resident tech nerd.  It’s a big summer film that should be seen in theaters.  Jurassic World is now playing everywhere.

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WELCOME TO SWEDEN: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON

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Last year, a show debuted that seemed like it would be nothing more than just another show to fill a prime time slot.
What we got instead was something so much more. To say it’s all charm and smart would be an understatement.

This show is not only clean cut funny, it has elements that are rich and yet dark at times. You can’t help but fall in love with Bruce and Emma. Their unique situation of the concept “fish out of water” brings tons of laughs.

This DVD is not only a must buy, it can also be a great way to siphon new fans by having the full series in one DVD collection. It’s a perfect Father’s Day gift or just a great pick up for any comedy fan.

The packaging lives up to the show and looks good in your DVD library.

It’s available now wherever discs are sold and it retails for just $34.98.

WELCOME TO SWEDEN: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON

Based on Greg Poelher’s True Life Story, the Hilarious, Top-Rated Rom-Com Arrives May 19 in a 2-Disc DVD Set Containing All 10 Season One Episodes;  Guest Stars Include Amy Poehler, Will Ferrell, Aubrey Plaza and Gene Simmons

Game Of Thrones Product Showcase Event photos

Last week i was invited to an event to cover an Product Showcase from The Game Of Thrones. i took as much pictures as incan as isedn pretty cool products such as cosplay items, figures, props from the show and more merchandise. 

  
                  
   
                 

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Lego and DC Comics Presents: Justice League vs Bizarro Justice League

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In what can only be called a giant in the children’s world, Lego has dominated the world. Their crossover into the realms of licensed properties and the establishment of a film and video game empire has made Lego a global phenomenon and much more then interlocking blocks.

Enter Justice league vs Bizarro Justice League, another smash hit for the team that once again has our old established heroes microsized and absolutely adorable.

The story centers around Bizarro Superman, who (if you ask my 3 year old) steals the show. Bizarro tries in vane to help the city of Metropolis but ends up reaking havoc, forcing Superman to trick Bizarro into going to another world. Of course, things in the DC Universe aren’t as simple as that.
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What happens next, I will ask you to find out by watching the film yourselves.  It’s fast-paced and funny, a film for the whole family.
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There are two distinct reasons to buy the BluRay: first is the gag reel.
The gag real arguably is almost as, if not funnier than, the film. Second is the inclusion of the exclusive Bizarro Batman mini figure.
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I give this film a solid 3.5/5. Your kids will love it and you will too.

Movie Reviews: The Hunger Games- Mockingjay Part 1

Since Harry Potter was put out to grass, The Hunger Games franchise has assumed a massive new significance for Hollywood. The series of films adapted from Suzanne Collins’ novels have made Jennifer Lawrence into a global star and have transformed their producer Lionsgate into as big a player as the the traditional old studios.

Teenagers clamour to see each new episode while box office analysts, after shaky recent times in the global film business, look to the films to provide a major end of year boost. That is why there were such feverish expectations in advance of last night’s world premiere of Mockingjay Part 1.

The film doesn’t exactly disappoint but nor does it satisfy. There is a half a sandwich feel to the latest instalment – a sense that the film makers have denied us a full experience by splitting the movie into two. The film lasts for two hours

The film, based on the final book in the trilogy of novels by Suzanne Collins, lasts for two hours but only takes us some of the way toward the conclusion of the story. (For the real finale, we ill have to wait until this time next year, when Part 2 of Mockingjay is released in cinemas.)

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This is an even darker drama than its predecessors. That is partly because so much of it is set in the murky, subterranean world of District 13 where Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) has been taken by the rebels.

They want her to be the poster girl for the revolution they are busy fomenting against the Capitol’s purring, white bearded dictator President Snow (Donald Sutherland.) The colours are desaturated.

Characters dress simply, in boiler suits.  We see very little daylight. Even the vain and flighty Effie Trinket (Elizabeth Banks) has to adapt to the austerity of her environment and forego her wigs and make-up.

Lawrence is again tremendous as Katniss. She gives her character an emotional depth that you don’t expect in a franchise movie, conveying her vulnerability and doubt as well as well as her fiery determination and Barbarella-like sex appeal.

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Katniss is pining for Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson), her fellow Hunger Games survivor who has fallen into Snow’s clutches and has seemingly been brainwashed or tortured into becoming a spokesperson for the Capitol.

District 13’s steely president Alma Coin (Julianne Moore) is fighting back against Snow, with Katniss as her chief propaganda weapon.

The brilliant and much lamented Philip Seymour Hoffman (who plays Plutarch Heavensbee) died earlier this year before production was complete on Mockingjay Part 2. Digital technology was being used to “complete” his performance but the joints barely show here. This isn’t one of his major roles but he gines a typically assured and witty performance as President Coin’s sly but kind-hearted chief advisor.

 

THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY - PART 1, from left: Patina Miller, Liam Hemsworth, Mahershala Ali,

 

Along with casting Lawrence, one of the filmmakers’ best decisions at the outset of Hunger Games was to fill the series with redoubtable character actors like Hoffman, Moore, Woody Harrelson, Jeffrey Wright and Stanley Tucci.

They bring a gravitas and wit to the project that counters the callow performances of some of the younger actors. The “Hunger Games” themselves (the vicious, reality TV style games contested by selected youngsters) aren’t being contested and these old-timers are therefore far more prominent in this episode.

Director Francis Lawrence isn’t afraid to include grim imagery of war. There are scenes here of blasted cityscapes full of skeletons and of wounded characters crammed together in makeshift hospitals.

What the series has never been able to resolve is how to combine its darker, dystopian elements with the demands of the teen action movie. Mockingjay – Part 1 is full of very jarring juxtapositions.

One moment, we’ll be confronted with scenery of death and devastation – and the next, there will be some cutesy slapstick involving Primrose Everdeen’s pet cat Buttercup. Stylistically, the film veers between gritty realism and Star Wars-like escapism.

Not a great deal happens here plot-wise. Most of the story is taken up with the rebel propaganda comapaign orchestrated by Plutarch, filmed on the battle line by the punkish-looking Cressida (Natalie Dormer) and fronted by Katniss. The rebels blow up a dam and make a raid on the Capitol. That’s about it. The film ends abruptly. You can’t help but wonder if it would have made more sense to release Mockingjay as a single feature rather than split it into two. Part 1 matches its predecessors in terms of performance and production values but still feels like half a movie.

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FROM DUSK TILL DAWN: SEASON ONE Swoops Onto BD/DVD

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“Radically different.  Disruptive. A fascinating ride.”

Frazier Moore, Associated Press

 

FROM EXECUTIVE PRODUCER ROBERT RODRIGUEZ 

AND THE EL REY NETWORK, the debut season of THE CHILLING sUPERNATURAL SERIES, BASED ON 

THE CULT CLASSIC FILM, arrives on blu-ray & dvd 

 

FROM DUSK TILL DAWN: SEASON ONE

 

D.J. Cotrona, Zane Holtz, Robert Patrick and Wilmer Valderrama and Don Johnson Star; the DVD Set Features 

all 10 Season One Episodes

 

Street Date: September 16, 2014

Blu-ray/DVD SRP: $49.98/$39.98

PROGRAM DESCRIPTION

 

From executive producer Robert Rodriguez comes the first season of the original El Rey Network series, FROM DUSK TILL DAWN, swooping onto Blu-ray and DVD, featuring all 10 Season One episodes, including episodes directed by Rodriguez and Eduardo Sánchez(The Blair Witch Project).  This supernatural series, based on Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino’s 1996 cult classic film of the same name (starring George Clooney, Harvey Keitel, Salma Hayek and Tarantino), centers on bank robbers Seth and Richie Gecko, who are wanted by the authorities after a heist leaves several dead.  Escaping across the Mexican border with a family of hostages, the Gecko brothers take a detour to a strip club that’s populated by bloodsucking creatures of the night.

 

FROM DUSK TILL DAWN returns to El Rey Network in 2015 with brand-new episodes for its eagerly awaited second season. 

CAST 

  • D.J. Cotrona (G.I. Joe: Retaliation, Dear John, “Detroit 1-8-7”)
  • Zane Holtz (The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Vampires Suck)
  • Eiza González (“Amores Verdaderos”)
  • Robert Patrick (Terminator 2: Judgment Day, “True Blood”)
  • Wilmer Valderrama (“That ’70s Show”, Fast Food Nation)
  • Don Johnson (“Miami Vice”, “Nash Bridges”, Django Unchained) 

BONUS FEATURES 

  • Audio Commentary from Robert Rodriguez, Producers and Cast
  • Full Length Trailer
  • Best Kills Video
  • On Set: The Making of From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series
  • Behind the Scenes  “On Set: Brought to you by General Motors”
  • Behind the Scenes  “On Set: Brought to you by Dos Equis”
  • Character Bio Featurettes
  • General Motors Commercial featuring Seth Gecko
  • Dos Equis Commercial featuring Carlos Madrigal
  • Big Kahuna Commercial
  • “What’s in the Briefcase” Spot
  • SXSW Featurette
  • Q&A from Premiere at Alamo Drafthouse with Robert Rodriguez 

PROGRAM INFORMATION

 

Type:  BD/DVD (3 Discs)

Catalog #:  (BD) EOE-BD-7801/(DVD) EOE-DV-7753

Running Time:  450 mins. + extras

Rating:  TV-14

Genre:  TV

Aspect Ratio:  (BD) 1080p High Definition (1.78:1)/(DVD) 16×9 (1.78:1)

Audio:  (BD) DTS-HD Master Audio/(DVD) 5.1 Surround Sound

Language:  English with SDH subtitles

 

For the latest breaking news on FROM DUSK TILL DAWN: SEASON ONE and other releases, follow Entertainment One on Twitter: http://twitter.com/eOneHomeVideo 

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Movie Review: The Hunger Games:Catching Fire

Julian Cannon is back with another movie review. And sorry I was late with this one, I was really busy the whole week. Also follow me on twitter @julianexcalibur and check out my show on dailymotion.com/thedarkfoxshow Where I talk about wwe topics, top 10’s, video game reviews and movie reviews. I have done over 20 episodes on Facebook and I got very positive feedback so now I have 6 episodes on that channel so expect more on the way every week. Now let’s get to the review of The Hunger Games : Catching Fire

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RELEASED: November 21, 2013

DIRECTOR:Francis Lawrence
WRITER:Simon Beaufoy, Michael Arndt
CAST: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks
DISTRIBUTOR:Lionsgate
RUNNING TIME: 129 minutes

Gore is upped a notch – or 12 – but the message is as dark and dystopian as The Hunger Games.

After The Hunger Games burned a Mockingjay-shaped mark on filmgoers, the pressure was on for I Am Legend director, Francis Lawrence, who took over from Gary Ross.

Fortunately, Catching Fire is bigger and grittier, slaying us in all manner of malicious ways – poisonous fog and man-eating monkeys included.

But first we begin in a near-identical setup to the first, with Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) back in District 12 and President Snow (Donald Sutherland) plotting something sinister.

He isn’t happy with the District 12 lovebirds and the currant coloured mess they left following the last games. Leaving the Capitol comforts to pay ‘The Girl on Fire’ a visit, Snow informs Katniss that their rule-bending win caused a stir in some of the districts. Rebellion is in the air, and he leaves her with a sinister threat of the district’s destruction that weighs heavy on her shoulders as she leaves for the Victory Tour in an attempt to convince Panem of her ‘love’ for Peeta.

The performances from the main three have stepped up a gear in the interim, with Lawrence and Hutcherson convincingly portraying the struggles of returning to life after participating in a public bloodbath, as well as the mental and physical preparation needed to gear up for round two.

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Liam Hemsworth as Gale is granted a touch more screen time in the build up to what should be a lead role in the next instalment, and newbie tributes, particularly Johanna (Jena Malone), Finnick (Sam Claflin) and Beetee (Jeffrey Wright), manage to make a deep impression in spite of the non-stop action. Another noteworthy addition is Philip Seymour Hoffman as new Head Gamemaker, Plutarch Heavensbee. The Oscar-winner brings gravitas to the role and steals scenes from Sutherland’s increasingly one-note Snow.

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Bigger, better and more garish than ever, the Capitol scenes are breathtaking, its grandeur made obvious due to sweeping exposition shots, brilliantly juxtaposed against shaky and guerrilla techniques used within district-based scenes. But where Capitol colours have brightened, the overall tone has darkened, sticking firmly to the page when it comes to blunt hierarchical messaging.

Public lashings provoke a very real reaction, and when the Quarter Quell commences, the knife-throwing and axe-wielding is more brutal than first time round, though it’s still hampered by it 12A classification.

Inevitably, Catching Fire feels rushed in parts (the book is 400 pages-long), but choices regarding what to ditch, including the novel’s heavy wedding focus, were probably the right ones. A little more time could have been dedicated to the tributes, but with so many strong leads already fighting for screen time, it’s probably best audiences aren’t persuaded to bond too much; we know what happens to those entering the arena.

Author Suzanne Collins’ vision for the clock-shaped battleground, with its 12 sinister segments, has been brought to the big screen brilliantly by Lawrence; the game itself keeping you gripped right up until the moment Katniss fires that fateful arrow. This new tropical setting and its dangers are much more arresting than the forest, and the tension is so palpable that you’ll need a shoulder rub after to relieve it.

The cliffhanger conclusion will undoubtedly split opinion, leaving novel novices dangling in frustration, while fans of the book will appreciate the almost identical finale, right down to Gale’s final revelation, which we’ll keep quiet for the sake of those now running off to power through the trilogy’s pages.

I give this movie a 9/10

Quick Fantasy/Sci-fi/Horror TV Reviews by A. Kirana

The 2013-2014 TV Season is well underway.  Fantasy and horror themed shows seem to be well represented, which isn’t surprising given the cult-like following of shows such as: Supernatural, The Vampire Diaries, Grimm, Once Upon a Time, The Walking Dead, American Horror Story, and many others.  Here is what I think about a few of the new shows.

Hoping to cash in on the popularity of this genre, as well as its predecessor, Once Upon a Time in Wonderland, finds us following the story of Alice.  We first meet Alice as she is climbing out of the rabbit hole, unaware of the length of time she has been away.  When her father answers the door, he at first does not say anything to her, as she began to prattle on about her fantastical journey through Wonderland.  His silence during her narration made her question him.  He answered her, letting her know that she had been gone so long that they assumed her dead.  With her tales of Wonderland being her only explanation of her absence, it was decided she would be committed for her own good.  Upon overhearing this decision, Alice decides to return to Wonderland to bring back proof of its existence.  It was during this journey that she met and fell in love with a Genie by the name of Cyrus.  Of course, being a fairy tale story, the road to their ‘True Love’ was not going to be easy as they found themselves being pursued by the Red Queen, who seemed to have thrown Cyrus to his death.  Alice returns home after she witnessed Cyrus’s death and finds herself committed where Alice seemed to have accepted her fate.  Then in walks the Knave of Hearts, who, upon insistence from the white rabbit, goes to help Alice escape with the message that Cyrus is still alive.  Hearing the words that her love, Cyrus was still alive, Alice steels herself and returns to Wonderland.  Obstacles meet her every move as it is discovered the Red Queen is working with Jafar who are searching for Alice to retrieve the 3 wishes Cyrus bestowed upon her.

I was looking forward to this show, in particular, since I love the original and the glimpses into Wonderland we saw was enough to pique my interest. I really wanted to like this show, but unfortunately, all that I love about the first is not present in this spin-off.  Where I feel it is the strength of the actors that keep OUAT from becoming campy and clichéd, Wonderland cannot say the same.  Alice (Sophie Lowe) is likeable enough, but somehow I do not feel invested in her love to Cyrus (Peter Gadiot).  The Knave of Hearts (Michael Socha), in my opinion, is the only character that I enjoy watching but is not enough to hold my interest. Naveen Andrews’ Jafar seems more cartoonish in his evilness when compared to Robert Carlyle’s Rumplestilskin, and maybe I’ve been spoiled by the talent of Lana Parilla as she plays the Evil Queen, but Emma Rigby’s Red Queen seems more churlish and bratty than evil.  I also feel that just concentrating on the love story that is Alice and Cyrus does not hold the same effect as seeing the love stories on OUAT unfold, as I quickly became bored with Alice and Cyrus.  I prefer watching the myriad of fairy tales stories unfold with the rich tapestry of characters that get turned on its head than just being immersed in the singular world of Wonderland.  I think it would’ve served the story better if Alice and her storyline was just another one of the many chapters and worlds that make up the original Once Upon a Time.  Once Upon a Time in Wonderland air Thursdays at 8 p.m. on ABC.

 

The opposite can be said of Sleepy Hollow, when I first saw the previews and commercials of this show, I was not interested in another retelling of the Washington Irving classic.  I could not imagine how different they could spin it. But after the airing of the season premiere, there was a buzz about this show among my friends, enough that it made me decide to watch it.  I must say that I do not regret doing so.  The previews and ads did not do this show justice.  I was happily surprised with the premiere and subsequent episodes of Sleepy Hollow.  The premiere sets the story up nicely.  In 1781, during the Revolutionary War, Ichabod Crane (Tom Mison), faces and decapitates, the Horseman, but not before he notices a brand on the Horseman’s hand.  Crane, though the victor, was mortally wounded and collapsed on the battlefield.  Forward to 2013, the Headless Horseman awakens and quickly goes about lopping people’s heads off and as that is going on, Ichabod Crane rises from his own grave.  Unaware he has woken up 250 years in the future, Crane makes his way out of his burial tomb.  Confused and lost, he is quickly picked up and arrested for the murders of the headless victims when he is found wandering around town.  For Crane, it goes from bad to worse when he is interrogated and claims he was a soldier in the Revolutionary War under General Washington’s command.  After much laughter at Crane’s expense, he is thrown behind bars.  Meanwhile, another beheading takes place and being that Crane was incarcerated at the time, it was implausible for Crane to be the killer, but because of what the police deemed to be delusional ramblings, the new chief (Orlnado Jones) decided to have Crane committed and Lt. Abbie Mills (Nicole Behrie) would be the one to transfer him.  On the drive, a connection between the pair is established and the Lt. defies orders instead bringing him to his burial site, where he learns the Headless Horseman was Death of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.  A short time later, as Crane slept, he was visited by his dead wife, who he finds out was put to death for being a witch and who told him the Headless Horsemen, upon his awakening, was trying to locate his head which would return his powers and bring forth the Apocalypse.

Laced with horror, mythology, conspiracy theories and a little bit of comedy, this show has quickly become one of my favorite new shows. The cast is quite likeable and seem capable enough of handling the writing without taking themselves too seriously.  Nicole Behrie’s Abbie seemed a bit too stiff in the premiere episode but since has relaxed and embraced the situation she finds herself in.  I’m not too sure if her stiffness was due in part of her character or her acting, but either way she seems to have gotten more comfortable in her skin. Tom Mison is thoroughly enjoyable to watch as he portrays Crane with equal parts confidence and wonder.  The chemistry that has formed between Crane and Lt. Mills works, though I’m hoping that it doesn’t turn into a romantic relationship.  I see their chemistry growing out of teacher/student relationship they have with one another with Crane instructing the Lt. in the arcane and, in turn, the Lt. teaching Crane about the modern world and how to blend in.  My one gripe would be why the Lt. has yet to take Crane shopping to update his attire.  I’m enjoying the mythology being created for the show and each new demon we have run into makes me want to tune in for the next. I wonder where the show will go if good prevails and the Apocalypse is thwarted.  The good news is I can safely get hooked and not fear cancellation since, on October 3rd, 2013, less than a month after its premiere FOX, renewed Sleepy Hollow for its second season.  It’s hard to believe I almost didn’t watch it.  Sleepy Hollow airs Mondays at 9 p.m. on FOX.

 

Technically, American Horror Story is in its third season but being that each season has no connection to each other, with the exception of repeating stars and theme song, I decided to treat it as a brand new show.  American Horror Story: Coven brings us to New Orleans, both in the 1830s and in present day, where we first meet Delphine LaLaurie (Kathy Bates) and her three daughters.  While putting on haughty airs to maintain her high society standing, LaLaurie was keeping a number of her slaves imprisoned in her attic and tortured beyond belief.  Her latest addition was a slave who was caught having sex with one of her daughters.  In her anger, she orders him to be taken to the attic and hung up.  When she confronts him, she tells him that since he enjoyed rutting like a beast, she would turn him into one.  She made another one of her slaves behead a bull and cover the slave’s head with the bull’s head, turning him into a pseudo-minotaur.  Unbeknownst to LaLaurie, the slave she has recently taken a morbid liking to, was the lover of a Voodoo High Priestess/Queen, Marie Laveau (Angela Bassett).  When hearing the fate that has befallen her love, she decides to bestow the gift of immortality to LaLaurie and bury her in an undisclosed location.  In the present day, we meet Fiona Goode (Jessica Lange) who we learn is the Supreme of a coven of witches.  As she feels her own mortality weighing heavily upon her, she becomes obsessed with immortality.  Her daughter, Cordelia Foxx (Sarah Paulsen) runs a private school for young witches to learn how to use their powers wisely and survive in the modern world.  Fiona arrives at the school to oversee her daughter’s teaching, unhappy with the way she is running the school, and takes it upon herself to instruct and discipline the girls as she sees fit. Her search for immortality is always first in her mind. Fiona learns about the tales of Delphine LaLaurie and finds, digs up and returns with her to the school.  And from LaLaurie, Fiona learns that she was tricked into drinking an elixir created by Laveau which caused her immortality, which she has seen more as a curse than a gift since all that she knew and loved has been long since buried.

AHS: Coven is entertaining with enough creepiness weaved through the tale.  Though this may not be of a popular opinion, I feel at times the show tries too hard, but honestly, that is how I felt with all three seasons.  I’m not sure whether the fault lies with the writers or the cast.  The cast is more than capable enough.  Jessica Lange, as usual, is a joy to watch.  Kathy Bates’ Delphine LaLaurie makes her character in Misery seem sweet.  Angela Bassett seems to be enjoying herself as she plays Marie Laveau.  At times I feel they rely too much on clichés.  In the first episode alone I saw glimpses of Harry Potter (a student is taken from their home, to go on a train ride to enroll in a school for witchcraft), and Carrie (a girl uses her telekinetic powers to flip over a vehicle filled with those who have wronged her).  The second episode dealt with a Frankenstein’s Monster theme (body parts were stitched together to create the perfect ‘boyfriend’). Even with the clichés, the show is still enjoyable to watch and continues to keep me tuning in.  I’m looking forward to where the show will go.  American Horror Story: Coven airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. on FX.

Movie Review – WEEKEND OF A CHAMPION,

By Andrew Lamy

Monaco. 1971. Champion race car driver Jackie Stewart is feeling a little on edge. It’s Thursday and it’s raining hard, with the forecast for the bad weather to continue throughout this year’s Grand Prix weekend. Stewart’s friend, famed filmmaker Roman Polanski, is following him around all weekend with a small film crew. This is the remarkable time capsule that is “Weekend of a Champion,” the 1972 documentary produced by Polanski and directed by Frank Simon. It’s raw cinema verite, with no voice-over narration, no talking heads to explain it all.

If you are expecting spectacular mind-blowing racing sequences, like those featured in John Frankenheimer’s masterful “Grand Prix” or Ron Howard’s more recent “Rush,” then this is not the film for you. (Those races were staged; those films were fiction). But if you want to know the nuts and bolts of what it’s actually like to be there, on the ground, with  Stewart and the rest of team’s drivers — to be a fly on the wall, privy to their painstaking preparations, their shared fears and concerns, their shared camaraderie — then the always fascinating and insightful film, “Weekend of a Champion,” is the film you should see.

What makes “Weekend of a Champion” so reverting is Jackie Stewart himself. He is one very perceptive and articulate guy, making it a joy to listen in as he explains to his pal Roman how the relationship between the driver and his car is like a love affair, a marriage. A young whooly-haired Polanski asks all the right questions as Stewart goes into precise detail about his particular driving style, his specific techniques: on how you have to “go slow in order to go fast” — anticipating the needs of the vehicle ahead of the curve, not on the curve, to press on the break easy, not hard — and then to let up on the break just as smoothly.

The film takes us through the whole weekend: the meeting and greeting with the media and the fans and the competing drivers; the various test runs and practices; all the while the under current of tension building, bringing us right to the final race itself, on Sunday, the cars careening through the winding roads that outline the famed Mediterranean principality. And it is only on Sunday that the sun finally comes out — but not for long: that ominous cloud has returned, hovering over the mountainside overlooking the town. What tires should Stewart use? The ones for wet weather or the ones for dry? The decision can be a pivotal one. Jackie is feeling distracted. He has described how, once he gets into that driver’s seat, it’s like a dose of a blissful drug: he is at one with the car, with the road, all else slips away. But lately, every once in a while that wonderful drug has worn off, and then he becomes acutely aware just what a horrid and dangerous world this is. (Stewart would retire from professional racing within five years after this Grand Prix).

After the film’s original ending — wherein Stewart is feted amongst a glamorous jet set who’s who (Beatle drummer Ringo Starr; film star Joan Collins; and of course Princess Grace and Prince Rainier) — this newly restored edition of Weekend of a Champion then provides us with a very special treat: the camera pulls back and there is Roman Polanski and Jackie Stewart, forty years on, the two men now older and grayer, watching the film on a television set as they relax in the same suite of the same hotel where they all stayed decades earlier.

And it is in this wonderful coda that we learn more about Stewart’s early life in Scotland, working as a teenage garage mechanic (having left high school early due to severe — and, at the time, undiagnosed — dyslexia.),  and how through that work as a car mechanic he was given his first opportunity to race. And, it is here, in the coda, that we learn about Stewart’s real legacy to the sport: his single-handily pushing for new safety regulations. During the era when Stewart was racing, in the 1960s and 70s, the casualty rate was staggering: over fifty drivers — some of them Stewart’s close friends — would die horrific deaths on the track. We see archival footage of deadly crashes from that time — when cars would burst into flames, their drivers trapped inside. And then we see footage from more recent years, where the drivers are able to walk away from some truly terrifying disasters — providing the viewer with vivid proof of the lives saved through the implementation of Stewart’s hard fought safety measures.

So, thank you Roman Polanski and Frank Simon for producing and directing this  engrossing and intelligent film; and thank you Jackie Stewart for giving us all a greater understanding of this most exciting past time.

The film will hit New York theaters on November 22nd, with a national rollout and eventual Netflix run to follow.

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31 days of Halloween: Movie Review. Sleepaway Camp 2: Unhappy Campers

Julian Cannon is back again for another movie review. Since October is Halloween, I have a movie review right here, a comedy horror movie that came out in 1988. Here’s one of my favorites, Sleepaway Camp 2: Unhappy Campers.

The first ‘Sleepaway Camp’ is a little bit notorious. It’s not a classic, but the twist ending had people talking and does set it apart. Rather than do the tasteful thing and just leave that story be, there had to be a sequel, set years later. This is known as ‘Sleepaway Camp 2: Unhappy Campers.’ If you didn’t see the first movie and don’t know the twist in it, please stop reading.


Male campers are sitting around a fire telling ghost stories with one female camper who snuck away from her cabin. Head counselor Angela (Pamela Springsteen) scolds the girl and walks her back toward camp, though she is given attitude. Angela then beats the girl over the head with a log, killing her. The next day, the girl’s disappearance is explained by Angela saying that she “sent her home.” This is a recurring theme as the campers begin to disappear one by one when they break camp rules and misbehave.

Will anyone be around by the end of summer? Will Angela continue to impose her morality-driven wrath upon these dumb teens? Will someone show me how to set up a tent?

There is absolutely little suspense to this film but a lot of the death scenes, made me laugh my ass off. You know right before the opening credits that Angela has returned from the first story, that she is in a position of power and that she is back to killing people. It’s hard to say how else this could have been handled, if you wanted to retain the character. Perhaps the best way to look at this is to think of it as a case of the audience knowing more than the characters.

This seems to be as much a comedy as a slasher horror movie, but I will let that slide since the humor is right up to today’s standard even though the movie came out in 1988. There are some goofy pranks and winks to the audience along with some strong references to other popular horror movies of the time. The tone is way sillier and easygoing than the original. Some real thrills and surprises would have been nice, but that would have been too ambitious.

Some of the lines are horrible and some of the acting is good in my point of view. Most of the campers represent different forms of bad behavior: drugs, sex, mean pranks, being disrespectful, etc. While killing them is completely uncalled for and crossing the line, there is a sick justification for Angela’s actions. Angela’s one-liners are a tad unwelcome, though in many people’s eyes but for me, I thought it was hilarious.

The violence is reasonably high though some of it is off-camera. We do get a lot of aftermath and a decent volume, especially by the end. There are some fairly original killings, as improbable as many of them seem to be.

Speaking of the ending, it just sort of happens. We get some big developments and confrontations, but a lot is sped through and after the climax, it all seems rushed. When the movie is barely 80 minutes, isn’t there a few extra minutes to show us one or two things and to have a less random ending? It’s not ironic or clever.

Sleepaway Camp 2: Unhappy Campers has a lot of below-average acting, even for the era and the genre. There is nothing shocking here like there was (relatively) in the original. If you want a straightforward slasher-comedy set at a summer camp and if you don’t mind a plot that doesn’t make a lot, this is a bad movie that fans of the series could find some mild enjoyment from. I was never a fan of the series but something about the this movie made me decide to watch the prequel and sequel. For some reason, all 3 of the movies had a cult following and I can see why. From the cheesy acting to the humor and the questionable one liners, that was basic for most comedy horror flicks in the 1980’s. I went to summer camp every year until I was 13 back in Texas and I never had a horror story when it was the end of the 3 week visit. Then again, I do not want her as my camp counselor ever.  My final rating for this movie is a 6.5/10 since I enjoyed it.

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9_UlTSlJ0D0http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9_UlTSlJ0D0